“I think,” Mr. Crawford said, quietly, as he sent his horses racing into the night, “that Oliver Swinnerton won’t be looking for any more trouble from now on.”
Where the road forked, one branch running straight on to Crawfordsville, the other turning off toward Deep Creek, Mr. Crawford took Conniston’s horse, and Conniston got into the buckboard. Mr. Crawford was to ride alone to Crawfordsville, see Colton Gray, of the P. C. & W., tell him that the Crawford Reclamation Company had made good its part of the contract, invite him out to Dam Number One to see what was done, and to insist that the P. C. & W. keep to its part of the contract, beginning work immediately upon the railroad into the Valley. Conniston and Argyl were to drive on to the dam, and to open the gates controlling the current to be poured into the big flume.
The darkness had not yet gone, but was lifting, turning a dull gray, when Argyl and Conniston came to the dam. And now the engineer told her of two things which until now he had mentioned to no one save the men whom he had been obliged to call in to do the work for him. From Dam Number One for thirty miles, reaching to Valley City, there were small groups of his men stationed a mile apart. Each group had piled high the dry limbs of trees, scrub brush, and green foliage brought from the mountains. Each group was instructed to watch for the water which was to be turned at last into the ditch and to set fire to its pile of brushwood when the precious stuff came abreast of them. And so, by day or night, there was to be thirty miles of signal fires to proclaim with flame and smoke that the Great Work was no longer a man’s dream, but an accomplished, vital thing.
The second thing he explained as Argyl walked with him to the dam across Deep Creek. He showed her the accomplished work, showed her the deep, wide flume, and as they stood upon the dam itself pointed out an intricate set of levers controlling the great gates.
“Argyl,” he told her, speaking quietly, but knowing that there was a tremor in his voice which he could not drive from it—“Argyl, do you know how much to-day means to me? Do you know that it is the most gloriously wonderful day I have ever known? Do you know that I have fought hard for this day, and that the hardest fighting I had before me was the fight against Greek Conniston the snob? Do you know that at least I have tried to make a man of myself, even as I have tried to build ditches and dams? You do know it, Argyl? You do know that as hard as I have worked for reclamation I have worked for regeneration! And I have not failed altogether.”
His tone was suddenly firm, suddenly stern. He was a man weighing himself and his work, and he was speaking with a voice which rang with simple frankness and deep sincerity.
“There is the work to say that I have not failed utterly. There it is, ditch and dam, to say that I have done a part of the thing I have set my hand to. I am not boasting of it, for what many men could have done I should have been able to do. But I am proud of it. And, Argyl, while I am not a man yet as I would be, not a man full grown as your father is, while I can never hope to be the man your father is, yet I have done what I could to be less of a fop, less of a drone in the world. Do you understand me, Argyl?”