As the General pronounced the Judge’s name Bradford involuntarily clenched his fists and stepped back. The Judge turned slowly, looking all the while at the General, thrilled by his eloquent earnestness, and catching something of the General’s admiration for so eminent a man.
“Mr. Bradford,” the General concluded, “this is Judge Manning, of Boston, who came to our rescue financially and helped us to complete this great work to which you have so bravely and loyally contributed.”
“Mr. Bradford, did you say?”
“Well, yes. He’s only Jim Bradford out here, where we are in a hurry, but he’ll be Mr. Bradford in Boston, and the biggest man in town when he gets back.”
All nervousness had gone from Bradford, and he looked steadily into the strong face before him.
“Jim Bradford,” the millionnaire repeated, still holding the engineer’s hand.
“Yes, Judge Manning, I’m Jim Bradford,” said the bearded pathfinder, trying to smile and appear natural.
Suddenly realizing that some explanation was due the General, the Judge turned and said, but without releasing the engineer’s hand: “Why, I know this young man—knew his father. We were friends from boyhood.”
Slowly he returned his glance to Bradford. “Will you come into my car in an hour from now?” he asked.
“Thank you,” said Bradford, nodding, and with a quick, simultaneous pressure of hands, the two men parted.
Bradford has often since felt grateful to the Judge for that five years’ sentence, but never has he forgotten the happy thought that prompted the capitalist to give him this last hour, in which to get into a fresh suit and have his beard trimmed. Bradford wore a beard always now, not because a handsome beard makes a handsome man handsomer, but because it covered and hid the hideous scar in his chin that had been carved there by the Sioux chief.
When the black porter bowed and showed Bradford into Mr. Manning’s private car, the pleasure of their late meeting and the Judge’s kindly greeting vanished instantly. It was all submerged and swept away, obliterated and forgotten in the great wave of inexpressible joy that now filled and thrilled his throbbing heart, for it was Mary Manning who came forward to greet him. For nearly an hour she and her father had been listening to the wonderful story of the last five years of the engineer’s life. When the wily General caught the drift of the young lady’s mind, and had been informed of the conditional engagement of the young people, he left nothing unsaid that would add to the fame and glory of the trail-maker. With radiant face she heard of his heroism, tireless industry, and wonderful engineering feats; but when the narrator came to tell how he had been captured and held and tortured by the Indians, she slipped her trembling hand into the hand of her father, and when he saw her hot tears falling he lifted the hand and kissed it, leaving upon it tears of his own.