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won't you? You will, - you must not, you cannot say no! You will make him as pure, as gentle, as yourself; and when he has grown up, you will tell him his father's name, — the name that has n't passed my lips for years, — the name of Alexander Morton, whom they call here Sandy! Miss Mary! — do not take your hand away! Miss Mary, speak to me! You will take my boy? Do not put your face from me. I know it ought not to look on such as me. Miss Mary! — my God, be merciful! - she is leaving me!”
Miss Mary had risen, and, in the gathering twilight, had felt her way to the open window. She stood there, leaning against the casement, her eyes fixed on the last rosy tints that were fading from the western sky. There was still some of its light on her pure young forehead, on her white collar, on her clasped white hands, but all fading slowly away. The suppliant had dragged herself, still on her knees, beside her.
“I know it takes time to consider. I will wait here all night; but I cannot go until you speak. Do not deny me now. You will! - I see it in your sweet face, — such a face as I have seen in my dreams. I see it in your eyes, Miss Mary! — you will take my boy!”
The last red beam crept higher, suffused Miss Mary's eyes with something of its glory, flickered, and faded, and went out. The sun had set on Red Gulch. In the twilight and silence Miss Mary's voice sounded pleasantly.
“I will take the boy. Send him to me to-night.”
The happy mother raised the hem of Miss Mary's skirts to her lips. She would have buried her hot face in its virgin folds, but she dared not. She rose to her feet.
“ Does — this man - know of your intention ?” asked Miss Mary suddenly.
“No, nor cares. He has never even seen the child to know it."
“Go to him at once, - to-night, — now! Tell him what you have done. Tell him I have taken his child, and tell him — he must never see — see — the child again. Wherever it may be, he must not come; wherever I may take it, he must not follow! There, go now, please, - I'm weary, and — have much yet to do!”
They walked together to the door. On the threshold the woman turned.
She would have fallen at Miss Mary's feet. But at the same moment the young girl reached out her arms, caught the sinful woman to her own pure breast for one brief moment, and then closed and locked the door.
It was with a sudden sense of great responsibility that Profane Bill took the reins of the Slumgullion Stage the next morning, for the schoolmistress was one of his passengers. As he entered the highroad, in obedience to a pleasant voice from the “inside," he suddenly reined up his horses and respectfully waited, as “ Tommy" hopped out at the command of Miss Mary. “Not that bush, Tommy, — the next.”
Tommy whipped out his new pocket-knife, and, cutting a branch from a tall azalea bush, returned with it to Miss Mary.
“ All right now?”
And the stage-door closed on the Idyl of Il Red Gulch.
HOW SANTA CLAUS CAME TO
It had been raining in the valley of the Sacramento. The North Fork had overflowed its banks, and Rattlesnake Creek was impassable. The few boulders that had marked the summer ford at Simpson's Crossing were obliterated by a vast sheet of water stretching to the foot-hills. The upstage was stopped at Granger's; the last mail had been abandoned in the tules, the rider swimming for his life. “An area,” remarked the Sierra Avalanche, with pensive local pride, “as large as the State of Massachusetts is now under water."
Nor was the weather any better in the foot-hills. The mud lay deep on the mountain road; wagons that neither physical force nor moral objurgation could move from the evil ways into which they had fallen encumbered the track, and the way to Simpson's Bar was indicated by broken-down teams
and hard swearing. And farther on, cut off
As night shut down on the settlement, a