Press enter after choosing selection

The Breton Mills

The Breton Mills image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

Jopyrighted by the Author, and published by arrangement with him, CHAPTER XXX. IÍ.XAUTIOUS DRIVING. "Qood morning, my darling." But there was another letter at Philip Breton's breakfast plate, and tho old look of dread came back to bis face - the dark hollows undor his eyes showed again. He had forgotten for a moment, but he ought never to forget. How could he teil what moment he would be called upon to strain every ncrve to save his darling. He tore open the letter in uncontrollable terror: oh, it was only fro"m Fhilbriek. Had Bertha noticed his excitement and would she question him in wifely concern? He had so much to guard against. But no, her graceful arm was raised to pour his coftee, inclining her head prettily on one side, as women do always at tea and coffee pouring. She did not watch his face as he did hers. She had not even noticed the change that had come over him of late, that shocked every casual acquaintance on the street. But that made it so much the easier for him to keep the secret frorn her; he told himself he ooght to be tfaankf ui for it, instead of ever permitting hisfoolish heart to ache. He ran his eyes rapidly over the letter his white haired friend had sent him. "I Buppose it is paper thrown away, but I want to remind you once more of my offer to take your mili off your hands. I have made up my mind to try my scheme somewbere. I am old and feel as if I would like to do somethingfor my race with my money, which I have now well in hand. Will you let me havo your milis for what I have got? If not I shall try elsewhere. The reason I want your milis is because I propose to give you a chance to take part in my beautiful industrial plan. I will pay you one-third its valuation, one-third you shall keep at 4 per cent. interest till we can buy that in also, the other third I am going to let you give in trust for the benefit of the help as my discretion shall díctate. This is a glorious opportunity, but I suppose I am wild to expect you to take it, except that I have read in the newspapers of growing diseontent among your help. Various ïvasorts are given for it; my explanation is that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. If you were working to stop complaints you should not have begun your reforma x ou may happen to see tlúngs as I do, and be willing to let me try where you have failed. If so, telegraph ine at once and I will come." Philip folded the letter thoughtfully and put it back in its envelope. No, he was not ready for 1 hat yet. But he did not sinile. If it should ever happen that he be called upon to sacrifleé everytbing to save his wife -but Pnilbrick required that he accept at once. Nu, he was not ready yet. "Oh!" said his wife, as if a slen thought had struck lier, "do you remember your promisc, you ure totake me through the milis today' "Did I promise that?' He put back his coffee cup untasted. "Certainly, Philip, and I caunot let you off." "But you must." His 'ace drew dark at the thought that she shouM put at naught all his careful plans to secure t er present safety. Bertha pushed back her ehair and rising angrily to her feet, swept from the room without another word. Philip tried in vaiu to swallow the mouthfuls ot' food he so much needed, then he stai-ted on foot for tho mili. That Bertha should be angry with him seemed tlfe last intolerable blow. Was he not bearing enough bef ore! He had made her unhappy. Perhaps she was weeping hot tears of inapatienee now. She had thought he loved her enough to grant her every wish that might cross her heart. Philip was tempted to go back and explain everything. Then she would not doubt his love, but she would have to' share his agony with him. It were better to bear his burdens alone - even to this last burden of her unmerited reproaeh. His sympathy for her grew stronger than his eonscioui-ness of his own unhappiness. Of course she would be hurt that he had denied her anything; if it had been a ribbon, it would havo been the same. He was tq blame lor letting her leave him in vexation. He bhould have forgotten lüs owb grievances ainl soothed her with gentle words till she smilod on him. It was not because she wantod the thing so mueh, but it was the first time he had ever crossed her wishes. Philip was su absorbed in his thoughts that he did not observe that he was close upon an ezcited erowd "f village people, uutil such words a ; these feil upon his car: "A noice triend ot the jxior man he be, with his tour fancy hosses, his silver dishes toeat his victuals out of. and his house like a kingV palace, whilewelivea and dies indirt and poverty. Who made him better nor us? do he work 'harder! do he sleep less: No, but hf have his venison and his game dinners, while us starves on tea and crackers; he sprawls on his line eushions, and sleeps in his soft beds, while we rot in close átticks. and Ioafs in dirtv saloons, the poor rnan'a only home. What title have he got to have better than we, and gi"e himself aire over us?' Philip was astonished. The man who stood on the stejis of one of the teneinent houses, instructing an audience extending quite across ihe high way, was no other than the ineendiary who had so nearly eaused the ruin of the Breton Mills the night of the great fire. The fellow's hair was cropped as close to his bullet head as it was then. The audience was mostly made up of old men. romen and children, with here and there un able bbdied man, who preferred talking about his rights to deserving anything. One or two had observed the young mili owner, but they took no pains to spread the intelligence, and in a moment more the agitator had caught his breath and went on: fceds his hosses more'n would keep two poor families. The wines hedrinks every day cost enough to keep another two. Perhaps the man was right in his tirade. Perhaps Philip Breton had only begun to grasp the first outlines of the great question he had fancied mastered. "But ye kiss his hand." "No, we won't!" shouted the erowd. There stood Thomas Bailes, Philip's discharged servant, in the middle of the street, shouting with the rest. He could afford to be idle since his last liberal present. "Ye will thank him for his bein' so kind to ye. 'No, no!"screamed the women. What a fooi Philip Breton had been tocount on gratitude. Human nature is too progressi ve to be grateful. Perhaps he deserved no thanks. He had done more than others for his help. The more fooi he was, all sides would agree, unless he went further. He ought to have been either a thorough radical, or a thorough conservative. All parties abuse the half way reformer. A vessel of pottery between two jars cf iron, he is certain to be crushed. A carriagt! was struggling down the street. How slow the erowd were to give way. They were so much interested in tneir orator that they did not notice they were obstructing th? highway. ■ "What good is such men as him? our women is stronger than them sort." The horse seemed spirited, or else not properly guided. Ah, the driver ought not to use a whip in such a situation as this. Good heavens! the horse had become unmanageable. A man, it was Bailes himself, and a w ornan had been struck by the shafts and rolled under the feet of the horse, who was now rearing and plunging, while the erowd scattered in all directions with screams and curses. Under the very wheels of the carriage láj 4 woniíiu gtunned und helpless from the blow he had received. Instant death threatened tor, when a mans form rose suddenly out of the dust under the horse's iron shoes and caught the excitad animal by lus bit. The en iwd gathered in moro closely than ever, vvhile a doxen hands dragged out the old woinanfrom hor terrible situatkm and v i pi -d the dust from her white, ghastly face. The orator had ceased his eloquence, and all danger of accident seemed now averted, so Philip Breton, was passing on his way. But Bertha. for the occupant of the carriagrt jvas no other than she, found her way bloeked in all directions by an augry inob. "Pull her out, scarlet face," screamed the women. "Tear her protty rags off from her." The barefooted children threw earth at her; lean, dirty fiugers plucked at her delicate skii-ts. How dared they touch her! she shrank from the pollution of contact with such creatures as these, with a terror that would be inconeervable to a man. She saw them gather around the restire horse, who seemed as impatient of their touch as she; they were beginning to undo his harness. In another moment she would be lost. But the horse was etrong, could he not break through them? She did not care how many he should trample to deatli: she would rathor, a thousaud times rather, die herself, than endure their insulting tuuch. But a rough hand caught the whip from her grasp; the creature's unparcd nails hurt her; another hand was on her shoulders; and vile words, whose meaning she only feit, were on every tongue. Her heart grew sick; oh, she prayed God would not let her famt; oh, not now; oh, not now - yet her visión seemed failing, she could not see the horse's head, and the terrible insults the people hurled at her grew indistinct, like a roaring of many waters in her ears. But she saw a hideous faced hag reach her bare, brawny arm into the carriage and cluteh at her f eet; they were lifting her out. But a hand liko iron Ilung the virago back. "Stand off. Itismywife!" The mili owner's wife. The crowd feil back for a moment, as if it was news for them ; but Philip knew by instinct, the lull would only last for a moment. He must make the most of it. He had only time to refasten a little of the harnees, when a sharp stone struck him on the oheek and drew blood. "How many husbands can a woman have?" screamed a womau on the sidewalk. "JaiTs the place for her," growled a man at his shoulder. Theu the crowd closed in again. "Let go the bit," demanded Philip, never quailing. But Bailes only griuned at him, as Philip had seen him before, and tightened his hold on the horse. "You're too small to give orders; I aint in your pay now." But before the fellow had time to put up a guard, his young master had struck him a blow in the face that fairly staïgered him, large man as he was. "Oh, thafs your game, is it? Make way, boys, all I want is room. Pil finish him up quiek." The man wanted to make use of his weight and strength in the directest way possible, so he rushed forward to close with his antagonist, throwing up his hands to protect himself. But he miscalculated and his cheek bone fairly cracked with the force of the second blow. Bailes drew back for another attack. The smile of contempt was gone frotu his bruised and bleeding face, but a very dangerous look was in his eyes. His young master had lost his first paleness, a bright red spot burned in each cheek and his black eyes flashed forth defianee. The diseharged ser vaut ducked his head and came at Philip like a maddened ox. The crowd held its breath: the slight form of the master would go down, and the victor would pound his young life out of him. "VVas the lad crazy to invite a battle with a man of almost twice his weight? The young man did not flinch a hair's breadth. He raised his ara again. What good of battering agaiust tho fellow's thick skull? He was upon him- no, Philip had leaped aside at the last moment, and, as Bailes went past, had dealt him a blow in the temple that sent his great form reeling to the ground. Before the crowd had time to move Philip had leaped into the carriage and caught the reüis from his fainting wife. He turned his horse into an open space and the half fastened harness let the carriage run against the animal's legs. It was better thau a thousand whips, and he broke into a wild gallop. Bailes had only time to get his feet and shout af ter the young mili owner: "This is only the first round!" Pbilip heard his words and murteml to himself: "I ought to have killed him, since I had to beat him. There isn't gold enough in California to buy him over now." "What did they mean, Philip?" Bertha was lying on the sofa in her owu little blue room. Philip had put a pillow beneath her tired head, and was kneeiing by her side watching for the color to come back to her frightened cheeks. "Tbank God she did not know, not yet." He looked down at the veins in her pretty hands ; how many there wore to-day. " It was ouly their senseless jargon. They ara angry with me, you kuow. Do not think about it again." She opened her great blue eyes on him. She was going to thank him no doubt for her rescue out of the terrible peril. "You look so small and weak. I wouldn't have thought you had any strength." That was all she had for him. i-fO BE CONTiyTTED.J


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News