Steadily the dam rose, and steadily the muddy water crept up with it. Men toiled in the bed of the stream with the foaming, coffee-colored water washing about their hips, seething as it climbed up to their great, hairy, panting chests. With no thought of finishing the breakfast which they had barely begun, they worked upon the banks with sweaty, hot bodies and calm, cool minds. Stripped to their waists, almost naked many of them, black with dirt and running sweat, they strained and strove against the rising stream. The morning died, noon came, and Conniston had a dozen men distribute sandwiches and hot coffee. The afternoon wore on and brought with it the men whom Tommy Garton had sent.
Then Conniston called to every man of the hundred who had toiled for him since sunrise to drop his tools. In their places he put a hundred new men. And again the work went on in great strides, and the strange dam rose swiftly. The other men whom Garton had sent, Brayley with them, he put to work to begin the restoration of the broken dam, that the thing which the hapless Hapgood had torn down might be ready against the time of need after the first of October. For he could find no place for more than a hundred men working between the Jaws and upon the banks above them.
* * * * *
Night had come down upon the mountain-slopes. Argyl and Conniston were standing by a sinking camp-fire talking quietly. Lonesome Pete, returned from his errand, had gone into the grove at the edge of which their fire burned for fresh fuel. There came to them through the silence the clatter of hoofs; the vague, shadowy form of horse and rider rose against the sky-line, and Jocelyn Truxton threw herself to the ground. Moaning hysterically, she ran to Argyl!
“Argyl, Argyl,” she cried, stopping abruptly, her two hands pressed to her breast, “I am so wretched! I don’t deserve to live! I have been so mean, so little—” She broke off into passionate weeping.
Argyl went swiftly to her, putting her arms about the girl’s shaking shoulders.
“Jocelyn, dear,” she said, softly. “Don’t!”
“I have been wicked, wicked!” Jocelyn was sobbing. “They told me what has happened—about the dam—about Roger Hapgood!” She broke off, shuddering.
“But,” Argyl was saying, trying to soothe her, “that is not your fault, Jocelyn.”
“Oh!” cried Jocelyn, wildly. “You don’t know. It was I, I who suggested the horrible thing to Roger Hapgood. It is I who am to blame for everything.”
“Hush, child! You have been a naughty little girl, that is all. You didn’t know what it was that you were doing—and you are not a bit to blame!”
“And—and—and I have been such a little fool! I have just been a vain, conceited little fool. And I hated you—because I knew all the time that you were prettier than I am. And—and I was ashamed of Pete, and I made fun of him—and now he has gone away and—and I love him. I don’t care if he has got red hair and can’t read! I love him—so there!”