“The little toy dog is covered
But sturdy and stanch he stands;
And the little toy soldier is red with rust,
And his musket molds in his hands.
Time was when the little toy dog was new,
And the soldier was passing fair;
And that was the time when our little boy blue,
Kissed them and put them there.”
“Light-hearted devil, isn’t he?” the Colonel commented approvingly. “And his voice isn’t half bad. Just singing to be defiant, I suppose.”
Shirley did not answer. But a few minutes previously she had seen the singer a raging fury, brandishing an axe and driving men before him. She could not understand. And presently the song grew faint among the timber and died away entirely.
Her uncle took her gently by the arm and steered her toward the caboose. “Well, what do you think of your company now?” he demanded gayly.
“I think,” she answered soberly, “that you have gained an enemy worth while and that it behooves you not to underestimate him.”
Through the green timber Bryce Cardigan strode, and there was a lilt in his heart now. Already he had forgotten the desperate situation from which he had just escaped; he thought only of Shirley Sumner’s face, tear-stained with terror; and because he knew that at least some of those tears had been inspired by the gravest apprehensions as to his physical well-being, because in his ears there still resounded her frantic warning, he realized that however stern her decree of banishment had been, she was nevertheless not indifferent to him. And it was this knowledge that had thrilled him into song and which when his song was done had brought to his firm mouth a mobility that presaged his old whimsical smile—to his brown eyes a beaming light of confidence and pride.
The climax had been reached—and passed; and the result had been far from the disaster he had painted in his mind’s eye ever since the knowledge had come to him that he was doomed to battle to a knockout with Colonel Pennington, and that one of the earliest fruits of hostilities would doubtless be the loss of Shirley Sumner’s prized friendship. Well, he had lost her friendship, but a still small voice whispered to him that the loss was not irreparable—whereat he swung his axe as a bandmaster swings his baton; he was glad that he had started the war and was now free to fight it out unhampered.
Up hill and down dale he went. Because of the tremendous trees he could not see the sun; yet with the instinct of the woodsman, an instinct as infallible as that of a homing pigeon, he was not puzzled as to direction. Within two hours his long, tireless stride brought him out into a clearing in the valley where his own logging-camp stood. He went directly to the log-landing, where in a listless and half-hearted manner the loading crew were piling logs on Pennington’s logging-trucks.