One day Betty begged so hard that the girl finally consented to take a holiday and go out with them for a day's fun. But Meggy surrendered reluctantly, in spite of the fact that this invitation of the girls had been like a glimpse of wonderland to her. "I reckon dad can get along one day without me, specially as the hermit can do part of my work. Pa's broke him in so he can be real helpful now "
He never came down to help Dan Higgins and Meggy any more, probably, Grace said, scared off by the bustle and confusion of the new gold boom. Meggy had mentioned casually once or twice that she still took food to the desperate man. "If he only doesn't give himself up to the authorities before we get news from the East!" Betty, worried, exclaimed over and over again.
"But an ordinary hermit wouldn't be able to play like a virtuoso," objected Amy. "Well, nobody said he was an ordinary hermit," retorted Mollie. "To change the subject before you girls get to the hair-pulling stage," laughed Betty, as she turned Nigger's head toward the ranch, "I wish we could do something for Dan Higgins and Meggy.
"You have an awfully mean disposition, Allen," she chided him. Meggy and Dan Higgins were working furiously at their mine, but after a few days Betty was quick to see that they were not progressing as well as some of the others.
So you might think I was foolish to take on so 'bout only a hoss." "We don't think you're foolish, Meggy," said Betty, gently. "We think you're wonderful, and you deserve every bit of the splendid luck that has come to you. And I expect," she finished gayly, "that you will have the most beautiful horse in all Gold Run." Meggy's eyes lighted with joy.
"He pulled the knife that is now in my desk from his pocket, spat on it, and flung it up. 'Dry, the kid's ours, Meggy, he explained; 'wet, he goes to Gavin, I clinched my fist to -But what was the use? He caught the knife, and showed it to me. "'Dry, he said triumphantly; 'so he is ours, Meggy. Kiddy, catch the knife. It is yours; and, mind, you have changed dads.
He wetted the pencil on his tongue to show that it was vain to trifle with him, and Meggy bowed her head. "It'll be through the town that I've joined," she moaned, but Tommy explained that he was there to save her. "I'm willing to come to your house," he said, "and collect the money every week, and not a soul will I tell except the committee." "Kitty Elshioner would see you coming," said Meggy.
The letter he despatched to Ireland, but had the wisdom not to read aloud even to Meggy, contained nothing save her own words, "Dear Kaytherine, if you dinna send ten shillings immediately, your puir auld mother will have neither house nor hame. I'm crying to you for't, Kaytherine; hearken and you'll hear my cry across the cauldriff sea."
"Well, there's no use of crying over it," said Mollie briskly. "We may find a way of being useful to Meggy yet, and until then, as my mother says, 'let's be canty with thinking about it. Oh, look, girls, here comes Allen. I wonder what kind of news he has." They galloped gayly to meet him, and Allen thought they made a very pretty picture as they swept up to him.
Bad luck can kill you if it keeps up long enough." The girls rode home saddened by this brief encounter. It seemed almost wrong for them to be happy when Dan Higgins was "dyin' of a broken heart" and Meggy, brave, splendid girl that she was, had almost lost hope. "If only everybody in the world could be happy," said Grace plaintively.