The North Platte semi-weekly tribune. (North Platte, Neb.) 1895-1922, February 20, 1920, Image 2
NOttTir PLATTE SKMMVEKKLY TT?TRUTF. By VICTOR ROUSSEAU (Copyright, 1010, by Gcorgo n. Doran Co.) "YOU WAN' TO FIGHT, EH? ALL RIGHTl" Zynopsls. Hilary Askew, young1 Amorlcan, comes Into possession of tho timber and other right on a considerable ncctlon of wooded land In Quebec tho Itosny seigniory. Lamartlne, his undo's lawyor, tollH him tho property Is of little vnlus He visits It, and finds Morris, the mnnager, away. From Lafo Connell, mill foreman, Askew lonrns his uncle Iihh boon systematically robbed. Ho Bees Madelclno Itosny, tho Seigneur's beautiful daughter. Askew and Con nell reach an understanding, nnd Askew realizes the oxtont of tho fraud prac ticed on hl uncle. Askew loams that Morris, whllo manager of his (Askew's) property, Is associated with tho Sto. Mario company, n rlvnl concern, of which Edouard Brousscau Is tho ownor. Hilary discharges Morris. fifes CHAPTER Ill-Contlnucd. 3 "Ah, yes, Monsieur Askew. But, you sec, Mr. Morris he pay the men their wages." "Call them here," rxild nilary. Jean-Mario called, nnd tho men came forward. "Now tell them what I havo told .you," Hilary continued. Jean-Marie's translation wns met with a volley of Interjections. The little timekeeper began half a dozen explanations and finally gavo up in despair. "They say It's Monsieur Brousscuu's orders," ho explained. "You see, nion nleur, wo know now that tho property Is yours, but Monsieur Broussenu hires the mill hands." "Tell them In future I shall hire the mill hands. Tell them It Is my mill." This was met with blank Incredulity. Evidently Brousscau'B lease of mill rights hud passed for ownership. "Anyway, say that their Jobs nro good for tho coming year," announced Hilary, und wondered whether ho dared hope to make good on that state ment. "Where's Lafo Connell?" ho added. "Lnfe, ho Is discharged, too," an swered Jean-Marie. "Uc go right nwny "What Are You Deserting For?" io catch tho boat home, carrying his bag.. See, Monsieur Askew 1" Hilary looked up. On tho crest of tho hill behind Rocky river, against tho skyline, was u solitary figure, tridlng along with a bag In Its hand. Tho down boat to Quebec wns al most duo. Looking seaward, Hilary aw tho whlto hull rounding the light houso point, und the black smoko from her funnels an Inverted cono against tho heavens. Evidently Lnfo would bo homeward bound within a half hour; and no tlmo ws to bo lost if ho hoped to stop him. He jumped Into tho buggy nnd urged tho horso through tho disputing crowd. Without Lafo Connell ho felt that his chauco was almost n hopeless one. Ho drovo madly along the cliff and down tho Inst descent. As ho reached tho stablo tho ship was being attached to tho wharf. Hilary Jumped out and ran to tut wharf. A few passengers were gnthered about the Uttlo baggage ofllco and others were standing before tho gnngway, waiting to ombnrk Among them was Lafo, with a carpet- bug. Hilary Hung himself upon hhn tst as ho Bet foot upon tho planks. Lafo spun round und looked sullenly at him. Hilary held to his arm. "What tho mutter, Lafo?" ho nsked. what are you deserting for?" . "What's that you say?" dotunnded Safe ferociously. "Desortlng what? escrtlujr "ho? I guess I don't hnvo to stuy horo when l'vo boon fired, do I, vun if my contract Is good till Octo ber ono? Just let go my urml" Tho passengers had embarked; the oUors stood waiting for Lafo before Broiling back tho gnngway. "Como back to your senses, Lafe," nald Hilary. "I haven't llred you, and I guess you can't go off that way with out giving mo notice. It's nil right taptaln. Ho Isn't coming," ho called Tho snllors pulled In tho gangway, Tho ropes wore cast off. Tho paddle began to churn tho water Into froth Lafo flung his enrpot-bng to the lloor pngrlly. "Now supposo you tell me what the trouble Is," suggested Hilary. "What right you got to stop mo?" do manded Lnfe. "Say, If It wasn't you I won't unswor for what I wouldn't have dono to you." "What's happened, Lafo?" "WhatV happened? Didn't you tell tuo you were going to hold fast? I thought you wns going to fire Morris, and he comes out and fires me and or ders mo off the concession. That's n grand way to start standing by your word, Mr. Askew." "I hnvo fired him." "What?" yelled Lnfe, spinning round. "I fired him after we'd hnd n talk, Lafe. And I guess ho put on a front In order to get rid of you, because you know too much, hoping that It would mean nothing to me. But It docs, Lafe. Tell mo what made you muko that crazy dash for tho steamer." "Because I'm sick to death of this darned country," answered Lnfe. "Be causo I can't stand the people, or the cllmntc, or Father Lucy praying out fires, or tho verandas. I'm sick of It, Mr. Askew, nnd Clarice and the kids Is In Shoeburyport. That's why. I guess," ho said, raising his head and looking at Hilnry plaintively. "I guess my feelings kind of got tho better of mo." Illlnry thumped him on the shoulder. "That's all right. Lafe," ho said, "but you're going to Blgn on with mo for a year from October first Just one year more. And you're going to sign us manager, at Morris' salary." Lafo Connell looked nt him ns if it was all n dream. Lafo had been work ing nt forty-live dollurs n week since his arrival. "Mr. Askew," ho said, when ho could steady his voice, "I guess l'vo been un grateful. But when Morris told me I was discharged I naturally concluded that he'd bought you out. I'll stay, Mr. Askew, and I'll do nil I can to help clenn up this mess nnd put things on a puylng foundation. I guess everyone's been cheating your uncle, Mr. Askow, from Morris and Brousscau and Le- blanc down to Jenn-Bnptlste tho scaler. knew they wero swindling you, nnd Brousscau telephoned mo to keep you la tho dark, and I tried to do It." "Never mind, Lnfe. You nnd I will go over tho books together and clean up." "And I tell you this," went on Lafe. "GIvo fellows like Baptlsto Baptlste and rat an example of honest work, and you'll seo they'll follow you nnd take a pride In tho business. It's the big fellows wo want to get." Hilary held out his hand. "We'll shako on that," ho said. "You accept tho post, Lafe, and you won't make a break for homo again?" "Never again, so long ns wo'ro on tho Job together," Lafo answered. Far oft the steamship was pursuing her wny townrd Quebec. Hilary, watching her, was conscious of a zest of living which his conversion of Lafo did not wholly explain. What, ho won dered, was tho secret of his Interest In St. Bonlfuco? CHAPTER IV. The First Encounter. Next morning Hilary drove slowly through his property. Ho noticed with approval a splendid growth of white spruce. It wns n great timber coun try; Hilary had already come to thnt conclusion, nnd to this: that, properly worked and managed, tho St. Bonlfaco tract had tho possibilities of consider able profits, perpetual ones, If ho cut wisely and carefully. After driving at a slow pace for half an hour ho emerged into a little burned-over district, from which lie could seo for a good distance on every side of him. Ho stopped tho pony nnd looked about him, trying to get his bearings. Tho road must run down to tho gorge, where was tho main way be tween tho mill and the Interior of tho seigniory, Hilary decided. He drovo on again. Tho track had been disused that season nnd was over grown with creeping raspberry briers, which mado progress dllllcult. Sud denly tho undergrowth fell away, and tho road ran upward again, hard and linn, toward u bridgo that spanned n wide creek tributary to Rocky river. Now Hilary knew where he was. It was tho crook which ho had passed that morning when ho drovo out with Connell to Inspect tho seigniory. Ho was about to continue his way along the main road to tho mill, hut an Impulse urged him to turn tho horso ubout and seek tho road that led to Le blanc's old concession. Presently ho heard tho sound of axes among the trees. Ho came upon the clearing, to llnd tho old camp still standing, and n great pllo of newly hewn timber stacked tip undor the trees. At Hilary's uppoarnnco two or three men looked up from the logs which they were sawing and whispered. They seemed to draw together. At thnt mo Illustrations by ment Illlnry had n clenrly defined Im pression of nppronciilng trouble. Ho got down from the buggy nnd fastened tho horso to a tree. Ho ap proached a little group that had form ed. "Where's Monsieur Leblanc?" he asked the nearest man. Tho tnnn scowled and shrugged his shoulders. He glanced townrd the camp. Hilary, looking that wny, saw Black Pierre emerging from ono of tho huts. Ho went toward him, und the two men met face to face. Still without reason lo believe In Pierre's hostile Intention, Illlnry sud denly became nwnro thnt they wero ringed by n circle of men, who gradu ally drew In toward them. "Morning," said nilary, nodding. "Where Is Monsieur Leblanc?" "I don' know," nnswered Pierre, scowling. "Look for him If you want him. He's your man, ain't he?" "Ho Is, but you are not. What are you doing on my land? And these men are they yours?" "What you mean, your lnnd?" de manded Pierre. "I work here for Mon sieur Brousscau, with Monsieur Brous seau's men." Hilary saw, out of the corner of his eye, that tho ring was swiftly con tracting. It struck him thntPlorre and ho wero posted face to face, like prlze- tlghtcrs. He tried to keep his temper nnd to remember Connell's counsel. Pierre thought ho was afrnld. He sneered openly. "Last tlmo I camo here," said nilary calmly, disregarding tho other's trucu- lonce, "Monsieur Leblnnc wns in charge of this territory. Now I find you hero In Leblanc's place. I have not hlred'you. Again I ask what you are doing here." "I don know whnt you mean," snort ed Pierre, "an' I got no tlmo to waste In damn foolishness. This here Is tho Ste. Marie limits. Monsieur Broussenu an' Monsieur Morris run tho Sto. Marie limits. Leblanc he work for them Ins' year. Now 1 got Leblanc s place. ' "Tho Ste. Mario limits lire on the other side of tho Itlvlero Rocheuse," said Hilary. "Holy Name, nln't I this side of Ri viere Rocheuse? Dldn' you cross him coming hero?" "That creek Is not tho Rlvlero Ro cheuse, ns you know very well, Pierre."; Blnck Pierre thrust his face forward' Into Hilary's. "Say, I got no tlmo to waste wit' you," ho snarled. "If you come to light, sny so." "I'll glvo you flvo minutes to get off my land." "You wan' to fight, eh? All right." growled tho other, suddenly stripping off his short, open Jacket. Hilary had just time to fasten tho top button of his coat before Pierre, with a bellow, chnrged him, his head, down, his nrms working like flails. Pierre mado short, vicious stabs at him; ho was musclo-bound and could not extend the elbow-joint with any force, but any of his short blows, deliv ered from u shoulder like n mutton Joint, would havo knocked n man sense less. Illlnry stepped nsldo as Pierre pre cipitated himself upon him, and gavo him n short uppercut with tho left Pierre went reeling past him, tripped over n projecting trunk of a tree, and fell sprawling to tho ground. A second later he was up again, rush ing nt nilary. Despite Hilary's blows, which nenrly blinded him, nnd covered his faco with blood, ho mannged to get He Rose, Spitting the Dlood Out of His Mouth, and Rushed at Hilary Again. homo two body deliveries which knock ed tho wind out of the American. Hil ary was forced to give ground. Ho had boxed at college a good deal ; that was several years before, but tho mem ory Instinctively came back to him. "It's foot-work wins," his teacher had told him. He stepped from side to side, guarding himself against Pierre's furi ous lungoti duxtorously, until the op portunity for u telling cross-counter with the riht scut Pieno crushing backward. Irwin Myers Ho rose, spitting tho blood out of his mouth, nnd rushed nt Hilary again. This time ho mnnaged to lock his arms about him and, holding him securely with the left, pummcled him. Hilary forgot his science and shot Ills right upward between tho arm n.nd the body, landing on Pierre's chin. Picrro reeled, but he did not let go his hold, lie grasped Hilary like n bear, hugging him till tho brenth was nearly out of his body, and forcing the point of his chin In under1 nilnry's collar-bone. Pierre was. several years tho older, nnd winded by fast living, but his mus cles wero ns firm ns a young man's. Knowing that his enemy's science was more than n match for his superior strength, he maintained tho clinch, but gradually shifted his grasp upward, first pinioning Hilary's arm, then grip ping his shoulder, until ho had him by the throat. Hilary, gasping under tho relentless pressure, saw tho faces of tho lumber men swim round him. He saw tho tri umph nnd the joy, tho mockery and tho hatred on each; there was no.plty for tho American; mnny an old land question, ninny n racial conflict had be come Incnrnnle In that fight under tho pines. Illlnry realized that It was a battle, not for the timber tract, but for his own life. Pierre's face grinned Into his own mnlignnntly, plastered with dust und smenred with the sweat that drove whlto furrows across it. Hilary let his hands fall limply. For just n second Pierre relaxed his grasp, to shift It so the thumb-knuckles should close on tho carotids. Then Hilary put all his strength Into a terrific drive with tho left. Tho blow caught Pierre between the eyes, his arms went up, releasing Hilary, and ho tottered bnckward. The yells of tho lumbermen, which had been continuous, suddenly censed. Before Pierre could recover himself Illlnry let him have It with tho right. Pierre went to the ground. Hilary still only hnlf conscious, und hardly seeing the prostrate body, drew In a deep chestful of air. A black cloud filled with dancing specks swam be fore his vision. Out of it he snw tho face of one of tho nearest spectators. It was filled with an anticipation so pungent that Instinctively Hilary leap- led aside. Out of tho cloud he saw ,Black Pierre plunge forward, knife In his hnnd. The spent blow cut Hilary's sleeve. Pierre recovered himself and rushed at the Amorlcnn, a fearful spec tacle, dripping sweat and blood. Illl nry caught him with tho right under the Jaw, sending him flat. The knife went whirling away Into the under brush. Black Pierre lay still. Hilary turned to the nearest of the awed lumbermen. "Bring him n cup of water," ho ordered. Tho man understood and ran Into Pierre's hut. But Pierre was sham ming; ho opened his eyes, fixed them with burning hnto on Hilary, and mum bled. "Get up!" snld Illlnry. Pierre rose sullenly, edging out of tho rench of tho expected blow. He was cowed, the fighting spirit was out of him, ns It was out of his compan ions. As civilized men fenr the law, tho lumbermen feared the unknown forces thnt lay behind Illlnry and manifested themselves through the strength of his nrm. "I'll give you five minutes to get off tho St. Boniface territory Into tho Ste. Marie limits, the other side of Rocky river," Hilary snld. He turned to tho spectators. "I'll thrash every man not employed by me who comes upon my lnnd," ho nnnounccd. Whether they understood the mean ing of tho words or not, they realized tho significance of tho gesture. Blnck Pierre, among his companions nt the edgo of tho clearing, stopped his re treat. He meant nt least to save his faco by threats. But Hilary had de liberately turned his back on him nnd, without npparent fear of danger, was examining the shncks, and poking tho moss out of the Interstices between the logs with n forked stick. When he turned the last of the Ste. Mario men was disappearing out of the clearing down the road. Ho waited long enough for them to rench the fork, before re entering the buggy. He was thoughtful on tho drive homeward. lie knew that It was only the unexpected nature of his action which had cleared the concession. That had been a paramount duty; at any cost he must preserve tho Integrity of ids land. But, given Broussenu's lead ership and active hostility, they could put up a fight which would render him Impotent. Physical forco could bring him nowhere In the end. It took about an hour for the embel lished story to filter through to tho mill. Before work was knocked off that afternoon Hilary became conscious of a now deference In his hands' manner, of gnplngjooks that followed him when ho went from olllce to mill, or back. For the first tlmo St. Bonlfaco began to bellevo that tho Morris regime had really passed. "Wv''ve still got Brousscau, though," said Hilary to Lafe. "When do you supposo he's going to declare himself?" "Spon." said Lafo, "You've seen to that, Mr. Askow." "Well," nnswered Hilary cheerfully, "we'll meet that troublo when It comes. Meanwhile, don't spare the teams In brenklng up those piles nnd sending them through the mill. I've got to get out n record load next month, and I'm going to credit nil the wood that goes through the mill to the St. Boniface tract and let Broussenu take any ac tion he likes ubout It." Broussenu was not long In declnrlng wnr. On the following afternoon, as he sat In his olllce, Hilary, looking through the window, saw Madeleine Rosny driving a rig along tho road toward the mill. Beside her sat a man whom ho had never seen before. IIo surmised nt once that It was Brousscau, hut ho hardly expected that tho girl was bringing him to tho office. Such proved to be the case. Tho rig Stopped at the door and Hilary had n glimpse of Madeleine's averted, scorn ful fnco as she sat waiting, as If Hilary was bencuth her pride, as If to stop there was no more thnn to stop at any laborer's shack. Her companion leuped out nnd enme briskly to tho door. no wns a man of something more thnn forty, but nctlvo and young-looking. He came into tho office nnd glared down at Hilary, who at onco rose nnd faced him. "I'm Mr. Brousscau," said tho visitor. "I've heard of you," said Hilary. "You'll hear more of me. You as saulted one of my men yesterday. Do you think you can como Into this coun try and knock my men about like that for doing their duty?" "He wns on the Rosny seigniory, and cutting my timber." "IIo wns on the west side of Riviere Rocheuse," snnried Brousscau. "Tho Riviere Rocheuse has never been sur veyed. What you call the creek Is the upper part of Riviere Rocheuse. Le blanc had permission to cut that tract for Mr. Morris because our two com panies worked hnnd In hnnd. It Is not my wny to make explanations, Mons ieur Askew, but take that for whnt It Is worth." "I do so, and It is worth nothing," nilnry answered. "Whnt is your prop osition?" "You assaulted my man." "Never mind your man. He started it, and he needed It. If I find him on my limits I'll assault him again.- You haven't come here to complnln nbout that, Monsieur Broussenu. What have you come for?" Brousscau advanced nnd banged his fist on the desk. "I've come here to tell you that you're a fool, young man," lie answered. "My word goes In this pnrt of the country, nnd you can't come In hero nnd light me." "Your proposal, please," said Hilary quietly. "Now you're talking sense. This ain't the United States, whore you rich men can como into a territory and grab It away from tho people under their noses. You'll put Mr. Morris back as manager nnd go homo, or" else you'll sell .out to mo." "Yes, It does come to nbout the same thing," said Hilary. "Why don't you ask me to make you a free gift of the concession?" Broussenu scowled savagely at the sarcasm. He was educated enough to be stung by banter, but not quick enough to retaliate In kind. "Now I'll mnkc yon my own proposi tion," said nilary. "It's this. You can either submit your books to my Inspec tion and make good on that lumber that Morris stole from me last year, and keep your men on your own limits, or you can give up tho mill rights after October first and build your own mill." Brousscau turned white with rage. "I'll run you out of this country," he raved. "I'll freeze you out before the winter's over, Monsieur Askew. You watch mo I" "Maybe," snld nilary. "Meanwhile, I think you're keeping the buggy wait ing, and there Is no use In prolonging this conversation unless you want to accept my terms." Broussenu shook - with wrath; ho opened his mouth to speak, but snorted Instead; ho shook his fist furiously nnd, turning upon his heel, stamped out of the olllce. From his desk Hilary watched him climb Into the buggy and drive nwny. His head was bent to ward Madeleine Rosny's, nnd ho was talking emphatically and gesticulating freely. "War's declared," said nilary to him self, with relief, as he settled himself in his chair. Illlnry talked the matter over with Lafe later In the day. "If wo can get a good shipment out before tho Gulf closes," he said, "we can carry on till spring. But of course wo can't haul lumber out of the woods until there's several feet of snow on the ground." "And that won't bo till navigation's ended for tho year," said Lafe. "So I'm going to put through tho mill every cord of lumber In the river." con tinued Hilnry. "We'll keep Dupont busy. And we'll wind up tho yenr with a substantlnl'bnlanco to our credit." "The Ste. Marie lumber," mused Lnfe. "I guess they call It so. But I be llevo It's all ours. Wo've got the whip hand of Brousscau there, because it's our mill, and Dupont's Independent of Hrousseau. Brousscau can't stop me using that lumber, and ho daren't go to law about It." Lafe approved tho scheme, with warnings to Hilary about going slow. They went up to tho dam and looked over the logs In tho river. Rlvlero Ro cheuso wns packed ns fnr as the eye could reach. The sight raised Hilary's spirits. There must bo thousands of dollnrs' worth of lumber in between the high banks, ready to be passed through tho rossing mill for Dupont's schooner. Lnfo camo to him next day. "Tho logs in the dam nro going Into tho mill .all right," ho said, "but they ain't coming dnwu-stream above lty Baptlsto says there's jam In tho gorge." They got tho rig nnd drovo to the spot. At the gorge was u solid wall of logs, packed like the etrnw coverings of wine-bottles. Tho starting of tho logs had wedged them together here. It wns clear that It would bo necessary to start tho mnss with dynamite. "I guess that's the trick," said Lafe. "Baptlsto here Is an expert dynamiter." "Yes, that shift him quick," snld Jenn-Mnrlo. "Mighty quick, muybo. I think, Mr. Askew, It is bettor first to mnke stronger your boom, or else your lumber go over the rnplds Into tho Gulf." "How long will It take?" asked Hil ary. "A week, maybe, for good work. That boom, he will never stand go mnny logs ns thnt, Mr. Askow." "Get n gnng to work nt daybreak to morrow," Hilary Instructed him. That night Hilary congratulated him self on hnvlng started his counter-of-fenslvo ugalnst Brousscuu. In spite of Brousscau Scowled Savagely at the Sarcasm. the man's Influence In tho district, ho felt assured of the loyalty of the bulk of his men. Lnfe was worth n hundred and little Baptlste knew his job per fectly. He went to bed In high spirits. The next morning Broussenu struck his first blow. Hilnry hud just or dered the rig In order to drive ovei to Leblanc's lease and try to stop tho operations about the Chateau when Leblanc appeared In the office, accom panied by four rufilnns whom Hilary recognized ns tho subjobbers. "Well, Leblanc?" asked Hilary. "What's this I hear you make com plaint about my work?" Leblanc de manded. "You've been cutting round tho Chateau, Leblanc, nnd you'll have to stop It," snld Hilary. "You knew you wero not supposed to cut there." "Ain't I got right to cut on my own lenso?" demanded tho jobber trucu lently. "Maybe you have, but anyway you aren't going to cut round the Chateau." "You think so?" nsked Leblanc In solently. "All right. You find another boss jobber. Maybe you llnd one in September whnt couldn't get a Job for next winter, you nre so clever. I don't know. For me, I go to work for Monsieur Morris at Ste. Marie." "So that's your game, Leblanc! How nbout thnt contract?" "That's all right. But If I don't pay on January first, tho contract Is no good. That was your words, which you wrote down. Well, I keep tho lease If you like, Monsieur Askew, an' I cut where I like, or I don't pay ono cent. An' these men say they go wher ever I go. They won't work for you If I go, because you thrash Black Pierre. They ain't dogs, they're men, an' they got families. They don't stand for no beating with fists. May be you change your mind ubout tho cutting?" "Go to the devil I" shouted Hilnry. "Maybe you like to beat these men now, eh?" sneered Leblanc. "No? All right. You find other boss jobber Monsieur Askow." IIo clnpped on his hat, and, as If they had rehearsed the scene, the four rulllans followed Leblanc In solemn and triumphant parade across tho floor and out of the office. This was first blood with a ven geance. Loblnnc's lease was a neces sity; it meant money, and money Just when his cnpltal would be exhausted. It was essential to sub-lease the tract to some one else. But there was no one In St. Bonlfaco capable of assum ing cbnrgo of such a contract. The hnbltants hnd no heads for business and no money to Invest. All thnt was paid out In wages flowed back to the store, owned by the Ste. Marie coinpnny. and to tho Ste. Mario sa loons. Sto. Mnrle was bleeding St. Bonlfaco white In every way. Filled with resentment, nilary coun termanded tho order for tho rig nnd walked up by the mill, nis nerves wero raw and quivering ns ho reached the end of tho strip of lnnd whoro Rocky river pours Into tho gulf bo low. The whistle blow, nnd ho turned townrd St. Bonlfaco and stopped, watching tho mob of men emerging from the mill. "Why do you come here?" she cried. (TO UK CONTINUED.) Ono strong point of many a woman, Is at tho end of a hat pin.