Brandon of the engineers

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TheProjectGutenbergeBook,BrandonoftheEngineers,byHaroldBindloss ThiseBookisfortheuseofanyoneanywhereatnocostandwith almostnorestrictionswhatsoever Youmaycopyit,giveitawayor re-useitunderthetermsoftheProjectGutenbergLicenseincluded withthiseBookoronlineatwww.gutenberg.org Title:BrandonoftheEngineers Author:HaroldBindloss ReleaseDate:June28,2008[eBook#25923] Language:English Charactersetencoding:ISO-8859-1 ***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK BRANDON OF THE ENGINEERS*** E-textpreparedbyRogerFrank andtheProjectGutenbergOnlineDistributedProofreadingCanadaTeam (http://www.pgdpcanada.net) BRANDONOFTHEENGINEERS BYTHESAMEAUTHOR ALTONOFSOMASCO LORIMEROFTHENORTHWEST THURSTONOFORCHARDVALLEY WINSTONOFTHEPRAIRIE THEGOLDTRAIL SYDNEYCARTERET,RANCHER APRAIRIECOURTSHIP VANEOFTHETIMBERLANDS THELONGPORTAGE RANCHINGFORSYLVIA PRESCOTTOFSASKATCHEWAN THEDUSTOFCONFLICT THEGREATERPOWER MASTERSOFTHEWHEATLANDS DELILAHOFTHESNOWS BYRIGHTOFPURCHASE THECATTLEBARON’SDAUGHTER THRICEARMED FORJACINTA THEINTRIGUERS THELEAGUEOFTHELEOPARD FORTHEALLISONHONOR THESECRETOFTHEREEF HARDINGOFALLENWOOD THECOASTOFADVENTURE JOHNSTONSOFTHEBORDER BRANDONOFTHEENGINEERS “‘YOUMUSTCOME ICAN’TLETYOULIVEAMONGTHOSEPLOTTERSAND GAMBLERS.’”—Page224 BRANDONof theENGINEERS BYHAROLDBINDLOSS Authorof“JohnstoneoftheBorder,”“Prescott ofSaskatchewan,”“Winstonof thePrairie,”etc NEWYORK FREDERICKA STOKESCOMPANY PUBLISHERS COPYRIGHT,1916,BYFREDERICKA STOKESCOMPANY PUBLISHEDINENGLANDUNDERTHETITLE“HISONETALENT” ALLRIGHTSRESERVED CONTENTS CHAPTER I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI PAGE APROMISINGOFFICER DICK’STROUBLESBEGIN THEPUNISHMENT ADVERSITY THECONCRETETRUCK ASTEPUP DICKUNDERTAKESA RESPONSIBILITY ANINFORMALCOURT JAKEFULLER LAMIGNONNE CLAREGETSASHOCK 11 22 34 44 54 65 75 85 97 107 XII XIII XIV XV XVI XVII XVIII XIX XX XXI XXII XXIII XXIV XXV XXVI XXVII XXVIII XXIX XXX XXXI XXXII DICKKEEPSHISPROMISE THERETURNFROMTHEFIESTA COMPLICATIONS THEMISSINGCOAL JAKEGETSINTODIFFICULTIES THEBLACK-FUNNELBOAT DICKGETSAWARNING JAKEEXPLAINSMATTERS DONSEBASTIAN DICKMAKESABOLDVENTURE THEOFFICIALMIND THECLAMP THEALTEREDSAILINGLIST THEWATER-PIPE THELINER’SFATE THESILVERCLASP ROUGHWATER KENWARDINETAKESARISK THELASTENCOUNTER RICHTER’SMESSAGE IDAINTERFERES 118 129 140 151 161 172 184 194 205 215 225 237 247 259 270 282 294 304 314 326 336 BRANDONOFTHE ENGINEERS CHAPTERI APROMISINGOFFICER Thelengtheningshadowslayblueandcoolbeneaththealdersbythewaterside, thoughthecornfieldsthatrolledbackupthehillglowedacopperyyellowinthe lightofthesettingsun Itwashotand,forthemostpart,strangelyquietinthe bottomofthevalleysincethehammershadstopped,butnowandthenanorder wasfollowedbyatrampoffeetandtherattleofchain-tackle Alongonebankof theriverthereflectionsofthetreesquiveredindark-greenmasses;therestofthe waterwasdazzlinglybright Apontoonbridge,dottedwithfiguresinkhaki,crossedadeeppool Atitshead, whereawhiteroadrandownthehill,adetachmentofengineersloungedinthe shade Their faces were grimed with sweat and dust, and some, with coats unbuttoned,sprawledinthegrass Theyhadtoiledhardthroughtheheatofthe day, and now were enjoying an “easy,” until they should be called to attention whentheirworkwasputtothetest AsLieutenantRichardBrandonstoodwherethecurvewasboldestatthemiddle of the bridge, he had no misgivings about the result so far as the section for which he was responsible was concerned He was young, but there was some groundforhisconfidence;forhenotonlyhadstudiedallthattext-bookscould teachhimbuthehadtheconstructor’seye,whichseeshalf-instinctivelywhere strengthorweaknesslies Brandonbeganhismilitarycareerasaprizecadetand aftergettinghiscommissionhewasquicklypromotedfromsubalternrank His advancement,however,causednojealousy,forDickBrandonwasliked Hewas, perhaps,atriflepriggishabouthiswork—cock-sure,hiscomradescalledit—but aboutothermattershewasnaïvelyingenuous Indeed,acquaintanceswhoknew himonlywhenhewasoffdutythoughthimsomethingofaboy Inperson,hewastallandstronglymade,withafrank,sunburnedface Hisjaw was square and when he was thoughtful his lips set firmly; his light-gray eyes wereclearandsteady Hewasgenialwithhiscomrades,butusuallydiffidentin thecompanyofwomenandoldermen Presently the Adjutant came up and, stopping near, glanced along the rippling linethatmarkedthecurveofthebridge “These center pontoons look rather prominent, as if they’d been pushed upstream a foot or two,” he remarked “Was that done by Captain Maitland’s order?” “No, sir,” Dick answered with some awkwardness “For one thing, I found they’dliesteadieroutoftheeddy.” “Theydo,butIdon’tknowthatit’smuchofanadvantage Hadyouanyother reasonformodifyingtheconstructionplans?” Dickfeltembarrassed HegavetheAdjutantaquickglance;buttheman’sface was inscrutable Captain Hallam was a disciplinarian where discipline was needed,butheknewthevalueofwhathecalledinitiative “Well,” Dick tried to explain, “if you notice how the wash of the head-rapid sweepsdownthemiddleofthepool——” “I have noticed it,” said the Adjutant dryly “That’s why the bridge makes a slightsweep Butgoon.” “Wefoundaheavydragonthecenterthatflattenedthecurve Ofcourse,ifwe couldhavepusheditupfarther,we’dhavegotastrongerform.” “Why?” “It’sobvious,sir Ifwedisregardthemoorings,astraightbridgewouldtendto curve downstream and open out under a shearing strain As we get nearer the archformitnaturallygetsstiffer,becausethestrainbecomescompressive After makingthebridgestrongenoughfortraffic,theproblemistoresistthepressure ofthecurrent.” “True,” the Adjutant agreed with a smile “Well, we’ll let the pontoons stand ThetraditionsoftheBritishArmyarechangingfast,butwhilewedon’tdemand the old mechanical obedience, it might be better not to introduce too marked innovations Anyhow, it’s not desirable that they should, so to speak, strike a commanding officer in the eye Some officers are conservative and don’t like thatkindofthing.” HemovedonandDickwonderedwhetherhehadsaidtoomuch Hewasaptto forget his rank and comparative unimportance when technical matters were discussed In fact, it was sometimes difficult not to appear presumptuous; but whenoneknewthatonewasright—— Inthemeantime,theAdjutantmettheColonel,andtheystoppedtogetheratthe bridge-head “Ithinkwehavemadeagoodjob,butthebrigade’stransportisprettyheavy,” theColonelremarked “I’m satisfied with the bridge, sir; very creditable work for beginners If the otherbranchesofthenewarmiesareasgood——” “The men are in earnest Things, of course, are changing, and I suppose oldfashioned prejudices must go overboard Personally, I liked the type we had before the war, but we’ll let that go Young Brandon strikes me as particularly keen.” “Keenasmustard,”theAdjutantagreed “Inotherways,perhaps,he’smoreof thekindyouhavebeenusedto.” “Now I wonder what you mean by that! You’re something of what they’re pleased to call a progressive, aren’t you? However, I like the lad His work is good.” “Heknows,sir.” “Ah,”saidtheColonel,“IthinkIunderstand Butwhataboutthedrawingsofthe newpontoons?Theymustbesentto-night.” “They’reready Totellthetruth,IshowedthemtoBrandonandhemadeagood suggestionabouttheroundingofthewaterline.” TheColonellookedthoughtful “Well,theideaofacombinedpontoonandlightboatthatwouldcarrytroopsis bynomeansnew;buttheseareratheranunusualtypeandifitwereknownthat we were building them, it might give the enemy a hint I suppose you told Brandonthething’stobekeptquiet.” “Yes;Imadeitplain,”theAdjutantsaid,andtheywalkedon Dick had been sitting on the bridge, but he jumped up as a rhythmic tramp of feetcamedownthehillside Dustroseamongthecornfieldsandhunginawhite streakalongtheedgeofawood,andthenwithatwinklingflashofsteel,small, ocher-coloredfiguresswungoutoftheshadow Theycameoninloosefours,in anunendinglinethatwounddownthesteepslopesandreachedthebridge-head Thenordersrolledacrossthestream,thelinenarrowed,andthemeasuredtramp changedtoasharpunevenpatter Theleadingplatoonwerebreakingstepasthey crossed the bridge Dick frowned impatiently This was a needless precaution Theengineers’workwasgood;itwouldstandthepercussiveshockofmarching feet Hestoodatattention,withasparkleinhiseyes,asthehotanddustymenwent by Theywere,forthemostpart,youngmen,newlyraisedinfantry,nowbeing hardenedandtempereduntiltheywerefittobeusedasthearmy’sspear-headin some desperate thrust for which engineers and artillery had cleared the way It wassometimebeforethefirstbattalioncrossed,butthelongyellowlinestillran backupthehillsidetothespotatwhichitemergedfromthedeepeningshade, and the next platoon took the bridge with unbroken step It swayed and shook withacurious regulartrembleasthefeetcamedown;buttherewasnogiving way of tie and stringer-beam, and Dick forgot the men who were passing, and thoughtoffasteningsandstressedmaterial Hewasyoungandthepompofwarhaditseffectonhim,butthehumanelement begantotakesecondplace Althoughanofficerofthenewarmy,hewasfirstof allanengineer;hisbusinesswastohandlewoodandironratherthanmen The throboftheplanksandtheswingofthepontoonsastheloadpassedoverthem fascinated him; and his interest deepened when the transport began to cross Sweating,spume-fleckedhorsestrodthequiveringtimberwithiron-shodhoofs; grindingwheelsjarredthestructureasthewagonspassed Hecouldfeelityield and bend, but it stood, and Dick was conscious of a strange, emotional thrill This,inasense,washistriumph;thefirstbigtaskinwhichhehadtakenaman’s part; and his work had passed the test Taste, inclination, and interest had suddenlydeepenedintoanabsorbingloveforhisprofession Afteratime,theAdjutantsentforhimandheldoutalarge,sealedenvelope “These are the plans I showed you,” he said “Colonel Farquhar is driving to Newcastle, and will stop at Storeton Grange for supper at midnight The plans mustbedeliveredtohimthere Youhaveamotorcycle,Ithink?” “Yes.” “Verywell;itisnotalongride,butI’llreleaseyoufromdutynow Don’tbelate atStoreton,takecareofthepapers,andgetColonelFarquhar’sreceipt.” Therewasamanufacturingtownnotfaroff,andDickdecidedtogothereand spend the evening with a cousin of his They might go to a theater, or if not, Lance would find some means of amusing him As a rule, Dick did not need amusing,buthefeltthathemustcelebratethebuildingofthebridge LanceBrandonwasbecomingknownasanarchitect,andhehadagooddealof constructive talent The physical likeness between him and Dick was rather marked,buthewasolderandtheydifferedinotherrespects Lanceknewhowto handlemenaswellasmaterial,andperhapsheowedasmuchtothisastohis artistic skill His plans for a new church and the remodeling of some public buildings had gained him recognition; but he already was popular at country houses in the neighborhood and was courted by the leading inhabitants of the town Dick and he dined at the best hotel and Lance listened sympathetically to the descriptionofthebridge Hewasnotrobustenoughforthearmy,buthehinted thatheenviedDick;andDickfeltflattered HesometimesbanteredLanceabout hissocialgiftsandambitions,buthehadneverresentedthefavorshisfatherhad shown his cousin Lance had been left an orphan at an early age and the elder Brandon—a man of means and standing—had brought him up with his son TheyhadbeengoodfriendsandDickwaspleasedwhenhisfatherundertookto giveLanceafairstartattheprofessionhechose HeimaginedthatnowLance wasbeginningtomakehismark,hisallowancehadstopped,butthiswasnothis business Lancewasaverygoodsort,althoughhewascleverinwaysthatDick wasnotandindeedratherdespised “Whatshallwedonext?”Dickaskedwhentheyhadloungedforatimeinthe smoking-room Lance made a gesture of resignation as he stretched himself in a big chair He wasdressedwithquiettaste,hisfacewashandsomebutrathercolorless,andhis movementswerelanguid “You’resuchanenergeticbeggar,”hecomplained “Theonlytheaterwherethey put on plays worth seeing is closed just now, but there’s a new dancer at the nearest hall and we might look in I hope my churchwarden patrons won’t disapprove if they hear of it, because they talk about building an ornamental missionroom.” Dicklaughed “Theywouldn’tfindfaultwithyou Somehow,nobodydoes.” “There’ssometruthinthat;thesecretisthatIknowwhentostop Onecanenjoy lifewithoutmakingthepacetoohot Peoplearen’treallycensorious,andeven the narrow-minded sort allow you certain limits; in fact, I imagine they rather admire you if you can play with fire and not get singed Women do, anyhow; and,inasense,theirjudgment’slogical Thethingthatdoesn’thurtyoucan’tbe injurious,anditshowsmoderationandself-controlifyoudon’tpassthedanger line.” “Howdoyouknowwhenyouhavecometotheline?” “Well,”smiledLance,“experiencehelps;butIthinkit’saninstinct Ofcourse,if you show signs of damage, you’re done for, because then the people who enviedyouthrowthebiggeststones.” “Let’s start,” said Dick “I’m not much of a philosopher Building bridges and diggingsapsisgoodenoughforme.” “They’re healthy occupations, so long as you don’t get shot; but, considering everything,it’sstrangethattheystillmonopolizeyourinterest.” Dickcolored Heknewwhathiscousinmeant Hehadbeenattractedbyagirlof whom his father approved and who was well-bred, pretty, and rich Dick imaginedthathisfather’sviewswereagreeabletoHelen’srelativesandthatshe wasnotignorantofthis Still,nothinghadbeenactuallyarranged,andalthough headmiredHelen,itwouldbetimeenoughtothinkofmarriagewhenhewasa captain,forinstance “Pontoonsandexcavationshavetheircharmformenwithconstructivetastes,” Lancewenton;“butyoumayfindlaterthattheydon’tsatisfyallyourneeds.” “Getyourhat!”Dickreturnedwithasmile,jumpingupashespoke The music-hall was badly filled The audience seemed listless and the performance dragged Even the much-praised dancer was disappointing, and there was an unusual number of shabby loungers in the bar Dick had come preparedtoenjoyhimselfafteradayofarduouswork,andbywayofdoingso, he ordered a drink or two that he did not really want As a rule, he was abstemious,butthehallwasveryhot Itstruckhimasglaringandtawdryafter the quiet dale where the water sparkled among the stones; and the pallid loungers with their stamp of indulgence differed unpleasantly from the hard, brown-facedmenheled “Let’sclearout,”hesaidatlast “Isthereanywhereelsetogo?” “Myrooms,”Lancesuggested “Oh,Iwantsomethingfreshto-night,”Dickrepliedwithasmile Lancepondered “Well, I can show you some keen card-play and perhaps a clever game of CHAPTERXXXII IDAINTERFERES OnhisreturntoSantaBrigida,DickwenttoseeaSpanishoculist,whotooka morehopefulviewthantheKingstondoctor,althoughheadmittedthattherewas somedangeroftheinjuryprovingpermanent Dickfeltslightlycomfortedwhen he learned that the oculist was a clever man who had been well known in Barcelona until he was forced to leave the city after taking part in some revolutionary plot He was, however, unable to resume his work, and while he broodedoverhismisfortunesatouchofthemalariahehadalreadysufferedfrom hindered his recovery One of the effects of malaria is a feeling of black depression He was feebly struggling against the weakness and despondence whenFullerarrivedandsoonafterwardscametoseehim Dick,whowassitting inthedarkestcorneroftheveranda,hadgotridofhisbandage;butanugly,livid markcrossedhisforeheadtotheshadeabovehiseyesandhisfacelookedworn Fullertalkedaboutthedamforatime,andthenstoppedandlookedhardathis silentcompanion “Iimaginedallthiswouldinterestyou,butyoudon’tsaymuch.” “No,”saidDick “Yousee,it’sgallingtolistentoplansyoucan’ttakepartin In fact,IfeelIoughttoresign.” “Why?” “ItlooksasifitmaybealongtimebeforeIcangettoworkandImayneverbe ofmuchuseagain.” “Well, I suppose it’s natural that you should feel badly humped, but you don’t knowthatyou’llloseyoureye,andifyoudid,you’ddoyourworkallrightwith the other However, since you started the subject, I’ve something to say about ourcontract Ifthenewschemewe’renegotiatinggoesthrough,asIthinkitwill, I’ll have to increase my staff Should I so, you’ll get a move up and, of course,betterpayforamoreimportantjob.” Dick,whowastouchedbythismarkofconfidence,thankedhimawkwardly,and although he felt bound to object that he might be unable to fill the new post, Fullerstoppedhim “All you have to is to lie off and take it easy until you get well I know a usefulmanwhenIseehimanditwon’tpaymetoletyougo WhenI’vefixed things withthePresident I’llmake youanoffer Now Stuyvesant’s waitingfor meandIunderstandmydaughteriscomingtoseeyou.” Hewent awayand soonafterwards IdaFullercamein Dick rather awkwardly gotherachair,forhisshade,whichwascloselypulleddown,embarrassedhim, but she noticed this, and his clumsiness made a strong appeal She liked Dick andhadsomegroundforbeinggratefultohim Forhalfanhourshetalkedina cheerfulstrainandDickdidhisbesttorespond,butshesawwhattheeffortcost andwentawayinathoughtfulmood IdaFullerhadbothsympathyandself-confidence,andwhenthingswentwrong with her friends seldom felt diffident about trying to put them right In consequence,shetookJakeawayfromtheothers,whomherfatherhadaskedto dinnerthatevening “What’sthematterwithDickBrandon?”sheasked “It’s pretty obvious His trouble began with broken ribs and may end with the lossofhiseye;butifyouwantalistofhissymptoms——” “Idon’t,”saidIda “Doeshistroubleendwiththeinjurytohiseye?” Jakegaveherasharpglance “Ifyouinsistonknowing,IadmitthatIhavemy doubts ButyoumustrememberthatDickhasatouchofmalaria,whichmakes onemorbid.” “Butthisdoesn’taccountforeverything?” “No,”saidJake,wholightedacigarette,“Idon’tthinkitdoes Infact,asIknow yourcapabilitiesandbegintoseewhatyou’regettingafter,there’snotmuchuse inmytryingtoputyouoffthetrack.” Idasatdowninacanvaschairandponderedforaminuteortwo “YouknowMissKenwardine;ifIrecollect,youwereratherenthusiasticabout her Whatisshelike?” Jake’s eyes twinkled “You mean—is she good enough for Dick? He’ll be a luckymanifhegetsher,andIdon’tmindconfessingthatIthoughtofmarrying hermyselfonlyshemadeitclearthatshehadnouseforme Shewasquiteright; I’dhavemadeaverypoormatchforagirllikethat.” Idawasnotdeceivedbyhishalf-humorousmanner,forsheremarkedsomething thatitwasmeanttohide Still,Jakehadhadnumerousloveaffairsthatseldom lastedlong “Haveyoubeentoseehersinceyoucameback?”sheasked “Yes,”saidJake “Afterhelpingtodriveherfatheroutofthecountry,Iknewit wouldbeanawkwardmeeting,butIfeltIoughttogobecauseshemightbein difficulties,andIwenttwice Onthewhole,itwasareliefwhenIwastoldshe wasnotathome.” “Iwonderwhethershewouldseeme?” “You’reprettysmart,butIsuspectthisistoodelicateamatterforyoutomeddle with.” “I’llbebetterabletojudgeifyoutellmewhatyouknowaboutit.” Jakedidsowithsomehesitation Heknewhissister’stalentsandthatherobject wasgood,butheshrankfrombetrayinghiscomrade’ssecrets “IthinkI’veputyouwise,butIfeelrathermean,”heconcluded “What you feel is not important But you really think he hasn’t sent her Kenwardine’sletter?” JakemadeasignofagreementandIdaresumed: “Theotherletterstatingthathiscousinstoletheplansisequallyvaluableandhis making no use of it is significant Your partner’s a white man, Jake, but he’s foolishandneedsthehelpofajudiciousfriend Iwantbothletters.” “I’vewarnedyouthatit’sadangerousgame Youmaymussupthings.” “ThenI’llberesponsible Canyougettheletters?” “Ithinkso,”Jakerepliedwithanembarrassedgrin “Inaway,it’sashabbytrick, butifhewillkeeppapersinhispocketaftergettingonelotstolen,hemusttake theconsequences.” “Verywell,”saidIdacalmly “Nowwehadbettergoinbeforetheotherswonder whyweleftthem.” NextmorningClaresatinthepatioinverylowspirits Nowordhadcomefrom Kenwardine, and her money was nearly exhausted She had heard of Dick’s return,butnotthathewasinjured,andhehadkeptaway Thiswasnotsurprising andshedidnotwanttomeethim;butitwasstrangethathehadnotcometosee her and make some excuse for what he had done He could, of course, make nonethatwouldappeaseher,butheoughttohavetried,anditlookedasifhedid notcarewhatshethoughtofhistreachery ThensheglancedupasIdacamein ClarehadseenIdainthestreetandknew whoshewas,butshestudiedherwithkeencuriosityassheadvanced Herdress was tasteful, she was pretty, and had a certain stamp of refinement and composurethatClareknewcamefromsocialtraining;butshefeltantagonistic Forallthat,sheindicatedachairandwaiteduntilhervisitorsatdown Thenshe askedwithalevelglance:“Whyhaveyoucometoseeme?” “Iexpectyoumean—whydidIcomewithoutgettingyourservanttoannounce me?” Ida rejoined with a disarming smile “Well, the gate was open, and I wantedtoseeyouverymuch,butwashalfafraidyouwouldn’tletmein Iowe yousomeapology,butunderstandthatmybrotherisafriendofyours.” “Hewas,”Claresaidcoldly “ThenhehaslostyourfriendshipbytakingDickBrandon’spart?” Clarecolored,buthervoicewasfirmassheanswered: “Tosomeextentthatistrue Mr Brandonhascruellyinjuredus.” “Hewasforced DickBrandonisnotthemantoshirkhisdutybecause itwas painfulandclashedwithhiswishes.” “Wasithisdutytoruinmyfather?” “Hemusthavethoughtso;butwearegettingondangerousground Idon’tknow muchaboutthematter Doyou?” Clare lowered her eyes Since Richter’s visit, she had had disturbing doubts aboutthenatureofKenwardine’sbusiness;butafterafewmomentssheaskedin ahard,suspiciousvoice:“HowdoyouknowsomuchaboutMr Brandon?” “Well,” said Ida calmly, “it’s plain that I’m not in love with him, because if I were,Ishouldnothavetriedtomakehispeacewithyou Asamatteroffact,I’m going to marry somebody else before very long However, now I think I’ve cleared away a possible mistake, I’ll own that I like Dick Brandon very much andamgratefultohimforthecarehehastakenofmybrother.” “HestoppedJakefromcominghere,”Clarerejoinedwithablush “Thatisso,”Idaagreed “Hehasdoneanumberofotherthingsthatgothiminto difficulties, because he thought it right That’s the kind of man he is Then I understand he was out of work and feeling desperate when my father engaged him,hegotpromotioninhisemployment,andIaskedhimtoseethatJakecame tonoharm Idon’tknowifhekepthispromisetooconscientiously,andyoucan judgebetterthanme ButIthinkyououghttoreadthelettersyourfathergave him.” She first put down Kenwardine’s statement about the theft of the plans, and Clarewasconsciousofoverwhelmingreliefasshereadit Dickknewnowthat shewasnotthethief ThenIdasaid:“Ifyouwillreadthenext,youwillseethat yourfatherdoesn’tfeelmuchofagrievanceagainstBrandon.” Thenotewasshort,butKenwardinestatedclearlythatifClarewishedtomarry Brandonhewouldbesatisfiedandadvisedhertodoso Thegirl’sfaceflushed asshereadandherhandstrembled KenwardinecertainlyseemedtobearDick noillwill Butsincethelatterhadhisformalconsent,whyhadhenotusedit? “Did Mr Brandon send you with these letters?” she asked as calmly as she could “No,Ibroughtthemwithouttellinghim,becauseitseemedthebestthingtodo.” “Youknewwhattheysaid?” “Idid,”Idaadmitted “Theywereopen.” Clare noted her confession; but she must deal with matters of much greater importance “Thendoyouknowwhyhekeptthelettersback?” Idahesitated IfClarewerenotthegirlshethought,shemight,byappealingto her compassion, supply her with a reason for giving Dick up, but if this happened,itwouldbetohisadvantageintheend Stillshedidnotthinkshewas mistakenandshemusttaketherisk “Yes,” she said “I feel that you ought to understand his reasons; that is really whyIcame Itlooksasifyouhadnotheardthatshortlyafterhemetyourfather Dickfelldownthesteamer’shold.” Claremadeanabruptmovementandherfacegotanxious “Washehurt?” “Verybadly Hebroketworibsandthefeverhegotsoonafterwardsstoppedhis gettingbetter;butthatisnottheworst Oneofhiseyeswasinjured,andthereis somedangerthathemaylosehissight.” It was plain that Clare had got a shock, for she sat in a tense attitude and the colorleftherface;butIdasawthatshehadreadhercharacterrightandtakenthe proper course Indeed, she wondered whether she had not unnecessarily harrowedthegirl’sfeelings “Now,”sheresumed,“youunderstandwhyDickBrandonkeptbacktheletters Itisobviousthathelovesyou,butheisdisfiguredandmayhavetogiveuphis profession——” Shestopped,forClare’sfacechangedandhereyesshonewithagentlelight “Butwhatdoesthatmatter?”sheexclaimed “Hecan’tthinkitwoulddauntme.” Ida rose, for she saw that she had said enough “Then perhaps you had better show him that you are not afraid If you will dine with us this evening at the dam,youwillseehim Jakewillcomeforyouandbringyouback.” Whensheleftafewminuteslatershehadarrangedforthevisit,andClaresat still,overwhelmedwithcompassionategentlenessandrelief Herfatherdidnot blameDickandtherewasnoreasonsheshouldhardenherheartagainsthim He knewthatshewasinnocent,buthewastiedbyhonorablescruples Well,since hewouldnotcometoher,shemustgotohim,butshewoulddosowithpride and not false shame It was clear that he loved her unselfishly By and by, however, she roused herself As she was going to him, there were matters to thinkabout,andenteringthehouseshespentsometimestudyingherwardrobe andwonderingwhatshewouldwear ThateveningDicksatontheverandaofhisshack,withashadedlamp,whichhe hadturnedlow,onthetablecloseby HiscomradeswerediningatFuller’stent andhehadbeenasked,buthadmadeexcusesalthoughhewaswellenoughto go Foronething,ithurthimtositinastronglight,thoughtheoculist,whomhe hadseeninthemorning,spokeencouraginglyabouthiseye Indeed,Dickhad begun to think that there was now no real danger of its having received a permanentinjury Forallthat,hewaslistlessanddepressed,becausehehadnot got rid of the fever and malaria is generally worse at night He had been cautionednottoreadandhiscigarettehadabittertaste Therewasnothingtodo but wait until Jake came home Now he thought of it, Jake had accepted his excusesrathereasily Byandby,heheardthelad’svoiceandfootstepsonthepath Jakewasreturning early and there was somebody with him, but Dick wished they had left him alone Herose,however,asIdacameupthestepsandintothelight,whichdid not carry far Dick imagined there was another person as well as Jake in the shadowbehind “Jake brought me over to see his last sketches and I’m going in to criticize them,”shesaid “Asyoucouldn’tcometous,I’vebroughtyouavisitor,whom youknow.” DickfelthisheartbeatashesawClare Shewasdressedinwhite,andthesilver clasp gleamed against a lavender band at her waist It was significant that she woreit,buthecouldnotseeherfaceclearly ThenIdabeckonedJake “Comealong;Iwanttolookatthedrawings.” Theywentintothehouse,andDickmadeanefforttopreservehisself-control Claremovedintothelightandhesawhercolorrise,thoughhereyeswerevery soft “Whydidn’tyoutellmeyouwereill?”sheaskedwithgentlereproach He hesitated, trying to strengthen his resolution, which he knew was breaking down,andClareresumed: “Besides,Idon’tthinkyoushouldhavekeptthatletterback.” Dick instinctively pulled out the leather case, and started as he saw there was nothinginside “It’sgone Youhaveseenit?”hestammered “I’veseenthemboth,”Clareansweredwithasmile “Doesn’tthisremindyouof something?I’mafraidyou’recareless,Dick.” Thecolorrushedintohisface “Ifyouhaveseenthoseletters,youknowwhata suspiciousfoolI’vebeen.” “That doesn’t matter You’re convinced at last?” Clare rejoined with a hint of pride “Inasense,Ialwayswasconvinced IfI’dseenyoutakethewretchedplans,I wouldn’t have held you accountable Because you took them, it couldn’t have beenwrong.” Clareblushed,butlookedathimwithshiningeyes “Iwantedtohearyousayit again But it wasn’t that letter—I mean the one about the plans—that brought me.” Then the last of Dick’s self-control vanished and with a half conscious movementheheldouthishands Clarecameforwardandnextmomentshewas inhisarms Sometimelaterhefelthemustbepracticalandsaidinadeprecatorytone:“But youmusttrytounderstandwhatyouaredoing,dear,andthesacrificesyoumust make Thingsaren’tquiteasbadastheylooked,butIcan’tgohomejustyetand mayalwaysbeapoorengineer.”Heindicatedthegalvanized-ironshack “You willhavetoliveinaplacelikethis,andthoughIthinkmyeyewillgetbetter, there’sthescaronmyface——” Claregavehimaquietsmilingglance “Thatdoesn’tmatter,Dick,andInever reallyhadahome.”Shepausedandaddedgently:“ButIshallhaveonenow.” ***END OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK BRANDON OF THE ENGINEERS*** *******Thisfileshouldbenamed25923-h.txtor25923-h.zip******* Thisandallassociatedfilesofvariousformatswillbefoundin: http://www.gutenberg.org/2/5/9/2/25923 Updatededitionswillreplacethepreviousone theoldeditionswillberenamed Creatingtheworksfrompublicdomainprinteditionsmeansthatnooneownsa UnitedStatescopyrightintheseworks,sotheFoundation(andyou!)cancopy and distribute it in the United States without permission and without paying copyrightroyalties Specialrules,setforthintheGeneralTermsofUsepartof this license, apply to copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark 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