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He tried to disengage the hand that she wrung with passionate entreaty.
“No, no! Cyrus, you will forgive me — you will forget the past! God has sent you here to-day. You will come with me. You will — you must — save him!”
“ Save who ?” cried Cyrus hoarsely.
The blow was so direct — so strong and overwhelming — that even through her own stronger and more selfish absorption she saw it in the face of the man, and pitied him.
“I thought — you — knew — it !” she faltered. He did not speak, but looked at her with fixed, dumb eyes. And then the sound of distant voices and hurrying feet started her again into passionate life. She once more caught his hand.
“Oh, Cyrus! hear me! If you have 'loved me through all these years, you will not fail me now. You must save him! You can! You are brave and strong — you always were, Cyrus! You will save him, Cyrus, for my sake — for the sake of your love for me! You will -- I know it! God bless you!”
She rose as if to follow him, but at a gesture of command she stood still. He picked
up the rope and crowbar slowly, and in a dazed, blinded way that, in her agony of impatience and alarm, seemed protracted to cruel infinity. Then he turned, and raising her hand to his lips, he kissed it slowly, looked at her again — and the next moment was gone.
He did not return. For at the end of the next half-hour, when they laid before her the half-conscious, breathing body of her husband, safe and unharmed but for exhaustion and some slight bruises, she learned that the worst fears of the workmen had been realized. In releasing him a second “cave” had taken place. They had barely time to snatch away the helpless body of her lusband before the strong frame of his rescuer, Cyrus Hawkins, was struck and smitten down in his place.
For two hours he lay there crushed and broken-limbed, with a broken beam lying across his breast, in sight of all, conscious and patient. For two hours they had labored around him, wildly, despairingly, hopefully, with the wills of gods and the strength of giants, and at the end of that time they came to an upright timber which rested its base upon the beam. There was a cry for axes, and one was already swinging in the air, when the dying man called to them, feebly
“Don't cut that upright ! ” “ Why?”
“It will bring down the whole gallery with it."
“ How?” “It's one of the foundations of my house.”
The axe fell from the workman's hand, and with a blanched face he turned to his fellows. It was too true. They were in the uppermost gallery, and the “cave” had taken place directly below the new house. After a pause, the Fool spoke again, more feebly. “ The lady! — quick!”
They brought her — a wretched, fainting creature, with pallid face and streaming eyes — and fell back as she bent her face above him.
“ It was built for you, Annie, darling,” he said in a hurried whisper, “and has been waiting up there for you and me all these long days. It's deeded to you, Annie, and you must - live there — with him! He will not mind that I shall be always near you — for it stands above — my grave!”
And he was right. In a few minutes later, when he had passed away, they did not move him, but sat by his body all night, with a torch at his feet and head. And the next day they walled up the gallery as a vault, but they put no mark or any sign thereon, trusting rather to the monument that, bright and cheerful, rose above him in the sunlight of the hill. For they said: “This is not an evidence of death and gloom and sorrow, as are other monuments, but is a sign of Life and Light and Hope, wherefore shall all men know that he who lies under it — is a Fool!”
THE ROMANCE OF MADROÑO
The latch on the garden gate of the Folinsbee Ranch clicked twice. The gate itself was so much in shadow, that lovely night, that “old man Folinsbee,” sitting on his porch, could distinguish nothing but a tall white hat and beside it a few fluttering ribbons, under the pines that marked the entrance. Whether because of this fact, or that he considered a sufficient time had elapsed since the clicking of the latch for more positive disclosure, I do not know; but after a few moments' hesitation he quietly laid aside his pipe and walked slowly down the winding path toward the gate. At the Ceanothus hedge he stopped and listened.
There was not much to hear. The hat was saying to the ribbons that it was a fine night, and remarking generally upon the clear outline of the Sierras against the blueblack sky. The ribbons, it so appeared,