Rowdy Finds Happiness

: Rowdy Of The Cross L

Miss Conroy was rather listlessly endeavoring to persuade the First

Reader class that "catch" should not be pronounced "ketch," when she saw

Rowdy ride past the window. Intuition of something amiss sent her to the

door before he reached it.

"Can't you give the kids a day off?" he began, without preface. "I've

got such a lot to talk about--and I don't come very often." He thought

that his tone was perfectl
natural; but all the same she turned

white. He rode on to a little tree and tied his horse--not that it was

necessary to tie him, but to avoid questions.

Miss Conroy went in and dismissed the children, although it was only

fifteen minutes after nine. They gathered up their lunch-pails and

straggled out reluctantly, round-eyed, and curious. Rowdy waited until

the last one had gone before he went in. Miss Conroy sat in her chair

on the platform, and she was still white; otherwise she seemed to have

herself well in hand.

"It's about Harry," she asserted, rather sharply.

"Have they--caught him?"

Rowdy stopped half-way down the aisle and stared. "How did you know they

were--after him?"

"He came to me night before last, and--told me." She bit her lip, took

firm hold on her honesty and her courage, and went on steadily. "He

came because he--wanted money. I've wanted to see you since, to tell you

that--I misjudged you. I know all about your--trouble, and I want you

to know that I think you are--that you did quite right. You are to

understand that I cannot honestly uphold--Harry. He is--not the kind of

brother--I thought."

Rowdy went clanking forward till only the table stood between. "Did he

tell you?" he demanded, in a curious, breathless fashion.

"No, he did not. He denied everything. It was Pink. He told me long

ago--that evening, just after you--the last time I saw you. I told him

he--lied. I tried not to believe it, but I did. Pink knew I would; he

said so. The other night I asked Harry about--those things he did to

you. He lied to me. I'd have forgiven him--but he lied. I--can't forgive

that. I--"

"Hush!" Rowdy threw out a gloved hand quickly. He could not bear to let

her go on like that.

She looked up at him, and all at once she was shaking. "There's

something--tell me!"

"They didn't take him," he said slowly, weighing each word and

looking down at her pityingly "They never will. He--had an accident. A

horse--fell with him--and--he was dead when they picked him up." It was

as merciful a version as he could make it, but the words choked him,

even then. "Girlie!" He went around and knelt, with his arms holding her


After a long while he spoke again, smoothing her hair absently, and

never noticing that he had not taken off his gloves. His gray hat was

pushed aslant as his head rested against hers.

"Perhaps, girlie, it's for the best. We couldn't have saved him

from--the other; and that would have been worse, don't you think? We'll

forget all but the good in him"--he could not help thinking that there

would not be much to remember--"and I'll get a little home ready, and

come back and get you before snow flies--and--you'll be kind of happy,

won't you?

"Maybe you haven't heard--but Eagle Creek has made me foreman of his

outfit that's going to Canada. It's a good position. I can make you

comfortable, girlie--and happy. Anyway, I'll try, mighty hard. You'll be

ready for me when I come--won't you, girlie?"

Miss Conroy raised her face, all tear-stained, but, with the light of

happiness fighting the sorrow in her eyes, nodded just enough to make

the movement perceptible, and settled her head to a more comfortable

nestling-place on his shoulder.