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CHAPTER XXVI
It was late in the morning when Scott finally awoke. He glanced at Mr. Graham’s bed. It was empty. He listened for quite a while, but there was not a sound in the house. When he glanced at his watch he understood why it was. On the table he found a characteristic note from Mr. Graham. “Sleep your head off if you want to and catch up. I’ll be back this evening.”

Scott felt as though he had earned a rest and when he had washed the breakfast dishes he stretched out in a steamer-chair on the little front porch for a good loaf.

The waves were lapping soothingly on the beach, the line of islands still shimmered in the sunshine on the opposite side of the lagoon, and a little oyster schooner glided lazily across the picture. It was almost the identical picture at which Scott had looked with impatient eyes just nine days before. Just nine days! That was all it was and yet how much had happened since then and how different everything looked now.

Then he had been a stranger in a strange land, very much at sea, and wondering what he had to do. Now it seemed as though he was an old inhabitant thoroughly familiar with the country and the ways of the people. And yet how very little he had really seen. Most of his time had been spent in the swamp and there were hundreds of things outside he wanted to know about. Probably the Washington office would get Mr. Graham’s report in another day or two and would wire him to return at once to his station in the Southwest. He wanted to go back there eventually, but he did wish that they would give him a few weeks longer there in the South to look about him.

All afternoon he just sat there on the porch and dreamed.

About supper time Mr. Graham returned in a high good humor. He shouted to Scott merrily as he rode into the yard and strode up the little oyster-shell walk with buoyant step.

“Well, Burton,” he exclaimed, clapping Scott on the knee with friendly hand, “I’ve just done something which pleases me mightily, but it may not be such good news to you. Maybe you have had enough of the sunny South and are longing to be back in the clear atmosphere of your Arizona desert, but I wanted to see a little more of you and I have been exchanging telegrams with Washington most of the afternoon. Finally persuaded them that it was absolutely necessary for you to stay right here with me till the trial was over and those scoundrels were tight in the pen where they will surely go. What do you think of it?”

Scott jumped from his chair and grasped Mr. Graham’s hand, his face beaming with happiness. “The very thing I have been wishing for all afternoon. It seemed a shame to come away down here for such a short time and have to go back again without seeing much of the country outside of the swamps, but I did not suppose it could be managed. You have certainly been kind to me and I appreciate it.”

“Kind, fiddlesticks,” Mr. Graham exclaimed brusquely. “You’ve gotten me out of a tangle with which I have been vainly struggling for over two years, and I have only just begun to pay you back.”

And so it was that Scott spent three very pleasant months in the little cabin with Mr. Graham and learned how gentle, how courteous, and how thoughtful a really big man could be without in any way detracting from his strength. It was a lesson he never forgot and it stood him in good stead in the future.

Before he left he had the satisfaction of seeing the whole gang of thieves on their way to the penitentiary under a fifteen-year sentence and had received a personal letter of thanks from the chief forester of the United States.

The End


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