The Baboon's Sister
The Baboon's Sister
Octavus Roy Cohen
The monkey married the baboon's sister;
Kissed so hard he raised a blister—"
THE red-grimed men on the commissary steps stared curiously toward the slender youth who marched blithely up the steep grade and whose clear tenor rang up defiantly against the sweltering heat of Alabama August.
As he came closer, he seemed little more than a boy. His skin was pink and clear as that of a baby, his eyes wide open, blue and guileless, his step light, his manner that of a man at peace with the world and determined to remain so.
He actually seemed to enjoy the final steep pull to the commissary. The sun glaring down from a cloudless sky and begetting little heat-waves, which danced mercilessly above the dusty red of the road, seemed to hold no terrors for him.
As for the men in the hot, breezeless shade of the veranda, they gazed in wonder. They were nearly prostrated, and the mercury in the thermometer tube gave them just cause. It registered an even hundred. Even the leaves on the few trees which served to relieve in some small measure the starkness of the landscape, drooped in utter dejection.
The young man paused before the commissary. His voice soared clearly:
"Kissed so hard he raised a blister—"
And then, with a sweep of the broad felt hat from his curly head, he made obeisance to the crowd on the gallery: "Howdy, fellows! Beautiful, sunshiny day, isn't it?"
Somebody laughed and the stranger joined him. There was an infectious quality in his chuckle which brought smiles to the lips of all save one giant man who sat humped against the wall, sucking a soft drink through a straw. The youth introduced himself.
"My name is Dane," he said easily, "Jimmy Dane—at your service, and if some one will tell me where I can get a nice yellow drink like the one in that man's bottle, yonder"—he pointed toward the big, lantern-jawed man crouched against the wall—"I'll be forever his debtor."
Five minutes later,he emerged from the interior of the commissary with the coveted beverage in his hand. He seated himself on the steps, shoulders against an upright and grinned genially at the crowd.
"Beautiful camp—this Red Ore—isn't it?"
His sarcasm brought an approving grin from the wondering men, for Red Ore, although one of the most productive iron camps in the northern Alabama district, could lay small claim to beauty.
A red, rocky hill rose sheer behind the commissary; a hill almost barren of vegetation and split by a work railroad, a branch of one of the mineral lines which radiate from Birmingham. The commissary itself was a gaunt, unimposing structure, which had been painted red against the day when it should be dyed that color by the ore-dust which covered the entire camp.
Next to the commissary was the one pleasant spot in the camp: the company offices. The building was low and rambling and constructed like a huge bungalow. About it was a lawn framed by a carefully trimmed hedge, and within it worked the engineering and clerical forces.
Beyond the offices one could see three skeletons rising in silhouette against the burnished sky; the three tipples which marked the entrances to the trio of slopes up and down which the skips rattled day and night.
From the commissary steps the road fell sharply away for several hundred yards. It was intersected at regular intervals, by rough, ungraded streets. On that road and on those streets were the tiny, whitewashed cottages of the miners. Even the newly painted home of the superintendent was far from an artistic triumph. There was little which was physically attractive about Red Ore.
The stranger who had introduced himself as Jimmy Dane sipped his drink with a relish. He nodded toward the three tipples, the first of which showed no signs of life. "Holiday?" he queried easily.
One of the miners, on whose face tiny streams of perspiration had made white valleys in the encrusted red grim, shook his head.
"Not quite," he said. "Accident in No. 1 mine."
"No—and it's a miracle there wasn't."
"Need drill men?"
"Yes— Say, sonny, you ain't makin' out to be an ore miner, are ye?"
Dane nodded. "Sort of—maybe."
"I know something about it?"
"Well, I'll be ding-busted. How old are ye?"
"Younger than my daddy, and not quite as young as that little boy yonder."
The deep, booming voice of the big man against the wall, broke in gruffly: "He ain't old enough to be anything but a fool!"
Dane turned until his baby-blue eyes rested fully on those of the big man.
"How'd you guess that?" he inquired cheerfully.
"Any fool could see it."
"And you caught on right away!" Dane chuckled, the miners roared with laughter and the big man rose to his feet and towered menacingly over the newcomer.
"You didn't happen to mean nothin' personal by that, did ye?"
Dane smiled. "Me? Personal? My goodness, no! I never get personal with grown men. It isn't respectful."
The big fellow stared hostilely. And then, because there was nothing else for him to do, he turned away, swearing under his breath. Jimmy Dane apparently took no notice of the episode, but the others, who had watched with abiding curiosity, shook their heads apprehensively. The big man was the camp bully, and no man relishes being made the butt of humor—least of all a man of the bully type.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Dane chatted in a wholesome, friendly manner with the men on the veranda—talked with them as if they had been lifelong friends. Within ten minutes he was one of the crowd. And then, in the middle of a sentence, he broke off and sang a few bars of the inevitable song:
"The monkey married the baboon's sister:
Kissed so hard he raised a blister.
"Oh! Boys! Do you raise 'em thatway in Red Ore?"
The object of his remark was a young girl, scarcely more than eighteen years of age, in a voile dress—cool and fresh and beautiful as a morning flower. She rounded into the main road from one of the intersecting streets, nodded genially to the men on the veranda, and entered the commissary. Jimmy Dane stared admiringly and then slapped his knee with approval.
"Does she live in Red Ore?" he inquired.
"She does," answered one of the men.
"Then," asserted Jimmy positively. "Red Ore is where I camp. I apologize for everything I ever thought about the place—which is considerable apology, at that. If you've got princesses here—"
A heavy hand fell on Jimmy's shoulder. Muscular fingers tightened until they dug cruelly into the flesh and the youth was jerked to his feet and whirled around to stare into the eyes of the big man with whom he had just had the verbal run-in.
"Whatja mean by that?" growled the big man ominously.
A glint of steel flashed momentarily in Jimmy Dane's eyes, but his cheery manner did not leave him for an instant.
"Just what I said," he retorted. "I like the scenery in Red Ore and I'm going to stay here."
"If you mean that gal—"
"My dear, big man—I thought I made that very plain. If they raise 'em as beautiful as that here, I think I'll stick around a while and see what I draw."
The big man's idle hand clamped on Jimmy's other shoulder. The mottled face, with jaw out thrust, shoved itself into Dane's. "Apologize!" he ordered.
Jimmy nodded. "Sure—sure, I'll apologize. I don't know what I'm apologizing for—but I'm one of the best little ol' apologizers you ever saw in your life. I apologize humbly. I beg your pardon a million times. I salute you. I love you dearly. Is that enough?"
The big man flung him away and strode into the store. But the men on the veranda were not laughing. Solicitude showed in their eyes.
"Better be moughty careful, sonny," counseled one. "You stepped plumb on his toes that time."
"You don't say? That nice, big, cheerful cuss who's just been manhandling me?"
"Didn't I apologize enough?"
"Too much," came the prompt answer. "Y'see, that there gal happens to be his sister!"
"Good night!" Jimmy Dane sank to the floor with affected grief, and gave forth a lugubrious wail:
The monkey married the baboon's sister;
Kissed so hard he raised a blister.
"Isn't that just my luck?" he wound up. "Just about?"
"He's a bad un," proffered the other.
"What's his name?"
"And his sister's first name?"
"How did it happen that they're fruit of the same tree?"
They're not—quite. She's his half-sister."
"I see—I see." Jimmy rose to his feet. "Those the offices next door?"
"He went down in the mine after the accident. Don't know whether he's got back yet."
Jimmy nodded and strolled away, whistling gaily. The men on the commissary steps gazed after him. The lips of each wore a smile.
"Some feller, that kid." "Yeh! an' in bad with Delaney, more's the pity!" "Jerry 'll squash him one of these days—just like that." "Cheerful kid, ain't he?" "Looks like a youngster." "Or a girl, eh?" "He ain't scared much, though. It took nerve to laugh at Jerry right to his face thataway. It kind of took the big feller down."
The door of the commissary swung back and Delaney and his sister emerged. The man glared about belligerently, and flung a general question at the crowd: "Where's that smarty feller?"
"Gone to see Mr. Jerrold."
"He'd better not try—"
The lilting lyric tale of the matrimonial affairs of the monkey and the baboon's sister came to them from the door of the superintendent's office and Jimmy Dane danced toward them. Apparently oblivious to the presence of Delaney and the girl, he leaped onto the veranda and bowed low to the men.
"Welcome me, brothers," he said. "I'm one of the crowd. Drill helper to start with."
The girl was staring curiously at the effervescent young man. Here was a type new to her. He was as different from the stolid, phlegmatic mining men as night is different from day. Jimmy swung on the crowd.
"When ladies and gentlemen are present," he hazarded, "it ought to be customary to introduce 'em."
"Meet Jimmy Dane. Miss Eunice—" began one of the men when Jerry growled a surly interruption.
"She'll not be meeting this monk. And as for you, young feller"—turning to Jimmy—"the first time I see you hanging around my sister—"
Jimmy paid no more attention than if he had not spoken. His eyes held those of the girl steadily and he spoke directly to her.
"Remember, Miss Eunice, we've been introduced, so the next time I pass you I'll speak and it won't be polite to cut me."
In spite of herself, the girl laughed, and her laughter fanned the sullen flame of ill-temper in her brother to a white heat. "’Nough of this!" he roared. Then, to Jimmy: "You get th' hell out o' this camp! I'll give you one hour."
"All favors thankfully received—usually, Delaney. But you can have your hour."
"You're not going?"
"Not for a while. I like this place."
"If you don't vamose, quick, I'll—I'll squash you."
"No!" Jimmy, grinning, shook his head. "I don't fight."
"It ain't that," dimpled the young fellow. "I found out that it's bad for my complexion—and it gets my hair all mussed up."
"Sure—sure! Have it your own way. If I was to deny it, it'd be the same as calling you a liar—and that would make me just as impolite as you are."
Eunice placed her hand on her brother's arm. She was flushed and ill at ease and patently ashamed. "Let's go home, Jerry."
They started down the slope together, and scarcely had they gone a dozen steps when Jimmy's clear voice called after them. "Miss Eunice."
Involuntarily she turned.
"Remember," said Jimmy, "we've been formally introduced!"
And despite her obvious fear of her brother, the girl flashed him a smile. "I'll not forget," she said.
Jimmy Dane won straight into the hearts of the men. For two weeks he mixed with them and was one with them.They found him a different sort; always cheery and good-natured, always ready to help, always ready to loan a few dollars when money was needed; a close-lipped confidant and a sound adviser.
Tommy Davis had it that Jimmy looked eighteen and had the wisdom of eighty. And what surprised all of them was that from the ouset, Jimmy Dane proved himself one of the most skilful drill-men in Red Ore.
He seemed tireless and his muscles appeared to be made of chilled steel. He was always ahead with his own work and ever ready to help others. He even did part of the work of a mucker for two days, when one of his drift-crew was sick.
And above all, he paid positive and direct court to Eunice Delaney.
He did not visit the Delaney house; to have done so would have been to invite a clash with Jerry Delaney, whose rancor against the young chap seemed to grow with each meeting, and who seemed to have made a hatred of Jimmy Dane his watch-word. Time and time again, he attempted to force Jimmy into an unequal physical combat, but every time the young drill-helper turned him aside with light jest and merry quip. The men stood back and smiled with silent amusement, although there were many who had grown to like the young newcomer, and who feared for him when the inevitable clash should come.
Nor was Jerry Delaney the only man in Red Ore who looked with unfavorable eyes upon the growing affection between Eunice and Jimmy Dane. There was one other to whom the situation did not appeal.
That man was Harris Jerrold, superintendent of the Red Ore mines.
Harris Jerrold was a big man; physically, the size of Jerry Delaney, although built more along the lines of the smaller Jimmy Dane. He was the trained athlete in every inch of his broad-shouldered, deep-chested six feet. Moreover, he was an unusually handsome man; with a shock of sandy hair brushed straight back from a high fore-head, with steel-gray eyes looking out levelly from under light lashes. He was straight as a sapling and undoubtedly a competent man.
His friendship with Eunice Delaney dated back nearly six months, to the day when she had come home from a two-year course at the University of Alabama. Being egotistical by nature he had fancied to dazzle her with the grandeur of friendship with the superintendent of the mammoth camp. But if she had been dazzled she had not shown it.
However, she welcomed him warmly. He was an infinite relief after the slow-tongued stupidity of the uneducated men with whom she was forced to associate through her status as sister of, and housekeeper to, a miner. But she instinctively distrusted Harris Jerrold and her guard was up against him. She knew him for more or less of asocial butterfly and she realized that he was not the kind of man to offer his hand in marriage to the sister of a miner. And so—while she welcomed his company, she discouraged any attempt at intimacy.
Jimmy Dane looked with pronounced disfavor upon the friendship between the superintendent and the girl. He did not like it. He knew Harris Jerrold's type. And being Jimmy Dane, he did what no other man would have done on such short acquaintance—in his habitual light way he questioned the girl about Harris Jerrold..
"Like him, don't you, Eunice?" He had called her "Eunice" from the first, without asking her permission.
"Yes," she answered honestly. "He's a relief."
From these dunderheads?"
"I admire his taste," said the boy, "but the admiration doesn't extend beyond that. Is he serious?"
"Does that interest you—much?" It was very dark along the road where they were walking and he did not see the flush which stained her cheeks.
He waved his hand airily. "Not much. Like to understand my fellow creatures."
His eternal lightness of manner irritated her. The flush of cheek was succeeded by a pallor. "I like Mr. Jerrold more than any man I know."
"Present company excepted?"
"No—not even that."
He bowed low. "Lady, I thank thee for thy honesty. I fancied I was irresistible."
"I know it!" she flamed.
"Seeing that I am not, I wish you luck with him whose charms exceed mine. But, fair lady, I bid thee be careful."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Think it over," he said easily. "You may get the right answer some day. And now, let's talk about something pleasant—like that brother of yours, for instance."
"What about him?"
"For a man who does very little work," said Jimmy Dane frankly, "he has more money than any miner I have ever seen."
She bit her. lip. "Well?"
"Did he inherit it?"
"I don't see—"
"That it's any of my business? It isn't. That's why I enjoy inquiring."
"Since it is none of your business," came her tart answer, "I'll say nothing about it."
"Fine—fine!" He threw back his head, and his clear tenor ascended heavenward:
The monkey married the baboon's sister;
Kissed so hard he raised a blister—"
Suddenly the song broke off. He clasped tense fingers about her arm and pointed up the hill, toward the tipple before mine No. 2: "I say—look at that."
"That," was a fire which crept up the timbers of the giant tipple and in a very short time roared into the clear night air. There was a general exodus from the houses, and up the street could be seen an eddying of the miners and their families toward the scene of the blaze. An extemporaneous fire-company was working in the glare of the fire. Toward the scene of the excitement, Jimmy Dane and the girl ran; she keeping pace with him by a display of agility which surprised and delighted him.
As they rounded the power-house and came within view of the blazing tipple they saw that it was doomed, and that with its destruction work on No. 2 slope would beheld up for perhaps a month, while a new tipple was being' constructed. The fire-fighters were bending their energies to saving the cable-house to the rear of the tipple. All were working under the direction of Superintendent Jerrold.
Jimmy Dane helped but little with the fire-fighting. Instead, he separated himself from Eunice Delaney and worked around to a position near the foot of the burning tipple. Searching the ground, he bent over, then straightened and made his way to Jerrold. That individual—who had developed an antipathy to the young man because of Jimmy's friendship with Eunice—glared at him.
"Well, what do you want?"
"Wanted to show you this," answered Jimmy, extending a handful of small sticks. Jerrold glanced at them.
"What about it?"
"They forgot to light it. I found it at the foot of one of the support timbers."
"Who forgot to light what? What are you talking about?"
"Just this, Mr. Jerrold," said Jimmy quietly. "This pile of tinder was carefully placed at the base of a supporting pillar. It was saturated with kerosene. The entire base of the tipple was soaked with oil; the fire couldn't have spread as it did had that not been the case—
"It means," he finished, "that this fire is incendiary. It is the result of premeditated vandalism—just as all the other 'accidents' which have occurred in the last few weeks, have been caused by somebody who is seeking to injure the Red Ore mines. What do you say to it?"
Jerrold snorted: "You're a damned fool!" he snapped. "Get back and help put that fire out!"
Another "accident," three days later, left Red Ore with a majority of its population unemployed. No. 3 mine was working to capacity, but the destruction of the tipple at No. 2 and the new accident in No. 1 cut down the mine's output by two-thirds.
The company was growing impatient, but the superintendent did not seem flustered. With quiet efficiency he directed the repairs. At that, the task was tedious and the day-and-night efforts of the engineering force did not satisfy the men who were paid by the day or by the ton and were therefore forced into idleness.
Labor agents appeared in Red Ore and a general migration to other camps commenced. The Red Ore Mining Company found that it would be faced by a serious labor shortage as soon as its Nos. 1 and 2 slopes should reopen. It was a virtual certainty that only one of them could be manned.
The general offices in New York were howling. The company was paying enormous penalties for failure to deliver according to ironclad contracts. A field representative came on from New York, and reported back to the general offices that all progress possible was being made. Red Ore had apparently been the victim of circumstance.
What the field officials did not know—but the fact was patent to the sober-faced directors who gathered about a polished mahogany table in the thirty-first floor of a big New York office building—was that the company was facing insolvency.
For two months the Red Ore camp had been paralyzed by a series of supposed accidents, following close on the heels of one another. The fire at No. 2 had been the crowning catastrophe. And when No. 1 slope was eventually opened again it was found that only enough labor remained in Red Ore to work it. Work on the rebuilding of the tipple at No. 2 went on slowly. There was little need for haste. The miners had gone.
After the opening of No. 1 slope. Superintendent Harris Jerrold left for Birmingham one morning on the Mineral accommodation. On the same train was Jimmy Dane, who had not been working for several days. The following night Jimmy returned, and one day later the superintendent again reached the camp, the chief engineer having been in charge during his absence.
Jimmy spent two hours with Eunice that evening. He was breezy as ever, laughing, joking, chatting—refusing to take things seriously and misreading—or not reading at all—the light of invitation in her eyes.
The girl had been considerably worried lately. Superintendent Jerrold had been rather obtrusive with his attentions, and she had exhausted her fund of tact. She instinctively disliked the man. But, woman-like, when Jimmy asked her the question direct, she refused to admit the fact. She evaded a straight answer and left the really earnest, but apparently disinterested, young man totally in the dark as to the condition of her real feelings toward the handsome young mine superintendent.
When they parted that evening Jimmy struck down the hill toward the shack where he had a room. The girl watched him until he was lost in the shadow of a clump of bushes. Then she sighed and turned back into the house. She wondered about the young man. She marveled at his eternal light-heartedness, his refusal to take anything seriously, his perpetual laughing at the serious things of life. And she liked Jimmy; liked him more than she dared admit even to herself.
He was so different from the other two men who played major rôles in her restricted existence—her half-brother, big, brutish, bullying, heavy of muscle and hard of fist, grim, unimaginative, rather repulsive to her, if the truth be known; and Harris Jerrold, a polished man of education, self-opinionated and overbearing but a competent worker and a man who had fostered a friendship with her brother that he might more easily foist his attentions upon her.
Yes—Jimmy was different from them, yet she found it in her heart to wish that he had more of their soberer qualities. His was the irresponsibility of youth. She could not believe that he knew of her love for him.
Had she watched Jimmy after he disappeared in the shadows she would have found food for puzzling thought. For Jimmy did not go straight to his cabin. Instead, he turned down the street on which the superintendent lived, and hid himself behind a boulder. There he waited—motionless as the big rock itself—for an hour. At the end of that time his patience was rewarded.
A big man strode along the road; a man whose huge, angular bulk identified him as Jerry Delaney. He did not see Jimmy, crouched behind the boulder, nor did he see that light-hearted young man as he followed across the main road and pussy-fooled along his trail toward the mouth of No. 3 mine.
Occasionally Delaney paused to glance apprehensively about. The moon was new and shed but little light. Apparently satisfied that he was unobserved, he skirted the hill into which No. 3 slopes burrowed, and struck down into the valley on the other side. A hundred yards behind him, Jimmy Dane followed stealthily.
For a half-mile Jerry walked, then struck into a clump of bushes. Jimmy clenched his fist. He understood now. Jerry had reached a surface opening from No. 3 mine, which led to the water-pumps. The young man no longer doubted what he had before only suspected—namely, that Jerry Delaney was the man who had been responsible for the series of accidents which had placed the Red Ore Mining Company on the verge of bankruptcy. Nor could Jimmy Dane forget for a single instant that this man was the half-brother and sole surviving relative of the girl who in the last few weeks had come to mean so much to him.
He followed Delaney into the stygian darkness of the passage. The big man worked swiftly. In ten minutes the pumping apparatus was out of commission. It was a certainty that by the following morning No. 3 slope's lower levels would be unworkable.
Delaney crawled to the entrance, and there, standing quietly, whistling his eternal "The monkey married the baboon's sister," was Jimmy Dane. The big man started with surprise and then strode forward angrily.
"Whatcha doin' here, Dane?"
"I don't mean that. Was you spyin' on me?"
"Why should I spy on you?"
"I'm askin' of you—you ain't askin' of me."
"Oh! I thought it was fifty-fifty."
"Say, young feller—I've a good mind to take this chance and knock the everlasting hide offen you."
"And for half a cent—"
"No you wouldn't, Delaney."
"I'd like to know why?"
"I'll tell you why. Unless you had a gun and a pair of knucks you couldn't lay a fist on me in an hour. I'm considerable of a boxer. It may interest you to know-that I held the amateur welter-weight championship of the United States for four years. And if you did lay your hands on me I'd be likely to hurt you and hurt you badly. If you have any doubts—just start in."
Delaney stared into the unflickering eyes of the young man. Dane was laughing, his lips were creasing into a broad, good-natured, mocking smile. And then Dane spoke:
"I see that you realize that I'm telling the truth. That's good. It'll save you a lot of trouble and a good licking. And now, for the other reason—why, you'd be almighty foolish to whip me, even if you could—and that is because you can't afford to get me sore at you. Because if you did, I'd land you in jail, very quickly."
Delaney cringed. "Wha—whadaya mean?"
"I'm a great little meaner to-night, Jerry my lad. I mean that I've just watched you cripple this water-pump apparatus, and I happen to know that you're the man who set fire to the tipple on No. 2."
"That's a lie!"
"Them's harsh words, Adolphus. Besides it isn't a lie. I know that you've been at the bottom of every accident which has occurred here in two months. Now, I'm no fool. I know you're not running these risks for the love of the thing. And I need money. Count me in on the divvy and I'll keep my mouth shut."
"You mean you'll come in with me?"
"Sure. I'm not asking any embarrassing questions, mind you. But I need money—plenty of it. And you've evidently got the secret of landing it. Am I with you or do I squeal to the superintendent about you being the man who is at the bottom of all this dirty-work?"
"You—you're in on it—of course. But, say—I didn't think you were that kind."
"No?" Jimmy Dane threw back his head and laughed joyously: "That innocent look of mine, helps me to get away with a lot of things. Jerry!"
That night marked the beginning of an intimacy between Jimmy Dane and Jerry Delaney which developed into a Frankenstein for the younger man. For with the intimacy between the two men Eunice Delaney snubbed Jimmy Dane completely.
And Jimmy did not know that the reason was because Eunice knew that her brother was the vandal who had virtually wrecked Red Ore, and that now she knew that Jimmy and her worthless brother had formed an alliance for evil.
And although he went his way in his customary lightsome, singing manner, there was the suggestion of worry on his boyish forehead. As for the girl, she did a thing which proclaimed aloud her sheer femininity: she assiduously invited the attentions of the superintendent. Jimmy saw them together many afternoons and many nights. He did not trust the superintendent. But now the girl would have nothing to do with him, and he was deprived even of the satisfaction of warning her.
His alliance with Jerry Delaney was a successful one. He furnished the brains which Jerry lacked, the sly cunning necessary to their work. They crippled machines in the shops, they placed a blast which caused a rockfall in an important drift and held up work on that level for days. They even robbed the crusher of two important bolts and for five days it remained helpless, until new ones could be wrought.
More men were leaving Red Ore daily. Work was too uncertain. The gossip had gone that the camp was hoodooed. After the succesful completion of each dirty job Jerry handed Jimmy his share of the money, and both men seemed satisfied. And Superintendent Jerrold went his way quietly and calmly, unflustered in the face of the series of crippling accidents and apparently happy in the smiles of Eunice Delaney.
And then one night Jerry came to Jimmy Dane with a plan to put important No. 1 slope out of commission for a week or more. They were to file the steel cable on the skip-hoist when they were quite sure that no men would be endangered. It was a certainty that the car, pelting wild from the surface at top speed, would leap the track, tear off rods of trackage and perhaps cause a cave-in. Jimmy hesitated for a moment and then agreed.
Their job was completed that night, near midnight. It worked according to schedule. No one was hurt, but the tracking was ruined, the cable useless until expert repair work could be done, and No. 19 drift closed tight for several days.
Superintendent Jerrold was summoned and visited the scene of the accident immediately. He swore a bit and examined the cable. The following morning he wired news of the latest misfortune to company headquarters and got busy on repairs. No one seemed to suspect either Jimmy Dane or big Delaney.
Two nights later four strangers arrived in camp in a touring car. They proceeded straight to the superintendent's office and interviewed that gentleman privately. A half-hour later, Jerrold left camp in their company. And at eight o'clock that night the front door of the Delaney cabin opened and Jimmy Dane entered. Eunice's lips curled. She rose and would have left the room, but Jimmy restrained her.
"Just a minute, Eunice," he said, "I have something to say to you."
"Nothing that I care to hear."
Jimmy laughed. "Yes it is. I promise— Stay—please."
Jimmy turned on Jerry Delaney. He was smiling broadly: the same care-free Jimmy Dane whom the men in camp—and the girl standing straight on the other side of the room—had learned to love. Dane addressed the girl's brother.
"I thought it might interest you to know," he observed quietly, "that Superintendent Jerrold has just been arrested!"
He saw the girl's bosom rise with a sudden intake of breath. Jerry rose slowly to his feet, his face ghastly with sudden fear.
"Arrested?" he faltered.
"Trying to wreck the mine."
"But—but— Say, we've got to beat it, Jimmy."
Jimmy smiled. "No."
"But if they've got him—"
"You've got to beat it, Delaney."
"You're in it! Deep as I am."
"A little deeper in fact. You see, I swore out the warrant for Jerrold's arrest!"
"You—you swore out— What are you talkin' about?"
"I'm talking about this, Delaney. You've been a fool—a sucker. I came down here from company headquarters. I'm a mining engineer. I'm a stockholder in the company.
"When those accidents started we knew that there was something radically wrong. The company was facing ruin. They sent me down here incognito to investigate.
"I got away with it. And it didn't take me long to suspect that it was you. You had too much money and did too little work. But I didn't want you; you're small fry. You were just the tool, and I knew it. I wanted the man behind you. I knew that whoever it was, he was in authority, and that his idea was to keep his hands clean in case anything went wrong.
"It struck me as peculiar that Jerrold should be so lukewarm in his investigation. He didn't even try to hold the laborers here. He almost encouraged them to leave. Then when that tipple burned, I took pains to prove to him that the fire was incendiary. And he never said a word about it. That proved that he was in on the know.
"I got the goods on you, that night at the water-pump. You accepted me as an ally, where a cleverer crook would have been suspicious of me. After that it was a cinch to find out that the money was coming from Jerrold.
"But then I was puzzled about where Jerrold got the money from and why he wanted to wreck the mining company for which he was working. I followed him one day and was not very much surprised to see that he went to the city and direct to the offices of a rival mining company, which has been trying to buy Red Ore mines.
"It was a cinch that Jerrold was employed by this company. Easier still when I managed to get a look at their records and discovered that he is already a stockholder. Their idea was to force us to sell at rock bottom and allow them to grab a corking good piece of mining property, at a fraction of its values.
"It was a pretty clever scheme. But they carried a good thing too far. And the climax came the night we cut the skip loose. I knew that Jerrold saw that filed cable and I knew that being an engineer he could not fail to realize that it had been deliberately cut. That was when I swore out the warrant and got the deputies out here to arrest him.
"You've been the goat, Delaney. But I'm running this thing my way. I might mention that I'm the new superintendent of Red Ore. You've been criminal, but we have nothing to gain by putting you in jail. Jerrold will do time enough for the pair of you. You've been the dupe, the fool—nothing more.
"You've got forty-eight hours to make your getaway. That's all I've got to say!"
Jerry Delaney apparently had even less to remark. Within an hour he had left Red Ore, his eyes wide with fear. The last anyone in the camp saw of him was when he drove down the road in a hired rig.
For a long time after he had gone the girl stood motionless in the corner. Jimmy, humming softly to himself, gazed at her and compelled her eyes to his. Finally he spoke:
"I—I'm glad you were merciful," she said. "He is my half-brother."
"He has been more foolish than criminal," answered the young man. "But at that, he might have spared a thought for you."
"He never did that in his life," she said bitterly.
"Now, you're alone in the world," said Jimmy softly. Then he smiled. "I've an idea— You've sort of specialized on superintendents—how would it strike you to marry the new one?"
"Marry—" The girl's hands flew to her bosom and her eyes opened wide.
"I—I—guess you need—a sobering influence," she said tremulously. And then she made the discovery that the muscles of his arms were strong as steel.
Jimmy Dane did not leave the girl's cabin until near midnight. And as he trudged down the steeply sloping road she heard his clear tenor floating over the red-grimed camp:
The monkey married the baboon's sister—"
This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.
The longest-living author of this work died in 1959, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 63 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.