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HOME > Classical Novels > For the Allinson Honor > CHAPTER VIII THE ISLAND OF PINES
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 When Carnally crawled out, wet and breathless, into the open air with the last of the men, he turned to speak to Andrew.  
"Where's the boss?" he demanded quickly of Grennan.
Just then the roar of a fresh rushing of waters was borne up to them, and Carnally was filled with anxiety as he leaned over the edge of the pit.
"Allinson!" he shouted.
No answer came, and before the scared miners could fully1 realize what had happened, Carnally was sliding down the rope. In the feeble light at the bottom he saw Andrew's arms reaching above his head grasping desperately2 on to the ladder. He seemed unable to pull himself up, but held on with a vise-grip.
"All right, Allinson!" Carnally called across reassuringly3.
Letting go of the rope, a few strokes in the water brought him to the ladder.
"My knee!" explained Allinson, his face gray with pain. "Struck a sharp ledge4 at the bottom!"
With Carnally's assistance, he managed to climb to the top of the ladder, where a dozen arms were extended to pull him to safety. He had a bad gash5 on his knee, his fingers on one hand were bruised6 and bleeding, and there was a large welt on his head where the cross-[Pg 78]beam had struck him; but there seemed to be nothing serious.
He held out his hand to Carnally, and they gripped in silence. Words were unnecessary.
"The cross-pieces of the ladder could not have been properly notched7 in," Andrew said after a while. "I think it was supplied by Mappin?"
"Yes," answered Carnally; "and it's a rough job!"
"I must endeavor to see that Mappin does his work better. But what's to be done about the flooded level?"
"Try to pump it out; it's fortunate that with a wood-burning engine fuel costs you nothing. I expect Watson will start all the boys at the new heading as soon as he gets back."
They discussed the mine until Yan Li called them to supper, and for the next two weeks they worked very hard. Then Andrew went down to the Landing on business, and one day he sat lazily in a rowing skiff on the Lake of Shadows. A blaze of sunshine fell upon the shimmering8 water, which farther on was streaked9 with deep-blue lines, but close at hand it lay dim and still, reflecting the somber10 pines. The skiff was drifting past the shore of a rocky island, on which a few maples11, turning crimson12, made patches of glowing color among the dusky needles, when Andrew saw a girl sitting on the shore. She was near when he noticed her, and it struck him that she was remarkably13 pretty. The thin white dress, cut in the current American fashion, left her finely molded arms uncovered to the elbow and revealed her firm white throat. Her hands were shapely; and, for her hat lay beside her, he noticed the warm coppery tones in her hair. She had gray eyes and her face pleased him, though while observing the regularity14 of her[Pg 79] features, he could not clearly analyze15 its charm. Then feeling that he had gazed at her as long as was admissible, he dipped his oars16, but, somewhat to his astonishment17, she called to him.
"Did you see a canoe as you came?" she asked.
"No," Andrew answered. "Have you lost yours?"
"It floated away; I didn't notice until it was too late. It went toward the point."
She indicated the end of the island, and Andrew nodded.
"It would drift to leeward18. I'll go and look for it."
As he swung the skiff round it struck him that she had kept curiously19 still. Her pose was somewhat unusual, for she sat with her feet drawn20 up beneath her skirt, and skirts, as he remembered, were cut decidedly short. He rowed away and presently saw the canoe some distance off. On running alongside, he noticed a pair of light stockings in the bottom, and laughed as the reason for the girl's attitude became apparent. Pulling back with the canoe astern, he loosed the light craft and drove it toward the beach with a vigorous push.
"Thank you," said the girl, and he tactfully rowed away.
He had not gone far when he heard a hail and saw her standing21 on the point, waving her hand. For a moment or two he hesitated. As the canoe had grounded within her reach, he could not see what she wanted; and, in view of the discovery he had made, he had imagined that she would have been glad to get rid of him. Still, she had called him and he pulled back.
"Can I be of any further assistance?" he asked, noticing with some relief that she now had her shoes on.
[Pg 80]"Yes," she said frankly22. "I am marooned23 here; there's no paddle in the canoe."
"No paddle? But how could it have fallen out?"
"I don't know; and it doesn't seem an important point. Perhaps the canoe rocked, and it overbalanced."
"I could tow you to the Landing," Andrew suggested.
His manner was formally correct and she felt half amused. This young man was obviously not addicted24 to indiscriminate gallantry.
"I don't want to go to the Landing, and the canoe would tow easier with no one on board. Your skiff should carry two."
He ran the craft in, made fast the canoe, and then held out his hand. When she was seated, he pushed off.
"Where shall I take you?" he asked gravely.
"To the large island yonder—the Island of Pines," she said, indicating it; and he knew that this was Geraldine Frobisher, whom Mappin had discussed. Andrew admitted that his description of her was warranted.
"You have been unlucky," he remarked.
"I've been careless and have had to pay for it. We got breakfast early and I've missed my lunch."
"It's nearly three o'clock," said Andrew, pulling faster. "But how is it no one came to look for you?"
"My aunt goes to sleep in the afternoon; my father had some business at the Landing—if he had been at home it would have taken him some time to find me. He would have searched the nearer islands first, systematically25 and in rotation26." She smiled. "That's the kind of man he is. I suppose you have guessed who I am?"
"Miss Frobisher?"
"And you're Mr. Allinson. It wasn't hard to[Pg 81] identify you. Perhaps you know that your doings are a source of interest to the people at the Landing."
"I can't see why that should be so."
"For one thing, they seem to think you are up against what they call 'a tough proposition'."
Andrew's face grew thoughtful. Since the collapse27 of the heading, he had spent a fortnight in determined28 physical toil29, as his scarred hands and broken nails testified. It had been a time of stress and anxiety, and during it he had realized that the mine would be a costly30 one to work. The ore must carry a high percentage of metal if it were to pay for extraction.
"I'm afraid that's true," he said.
"Then you won't get much leisure for hunting and fishing?"
Andrew laughed.
"After all, those were not my objects in coming out, though you're not the only person who seems to have concluded that they were."
"I have no opinion on the matter," Geraldine declared. "But at the Landing you are supposed to be more of a sportsman than a miner—isn't it flattering to feel that people are talking about you? Then you are really working at the mine?"
"So far, I've saved the Company about two dollars and a-half a day."
"But isn't your voice in controlling things worth more than that?"
"No," Andrew replied; "I'm afraid it isn't."
"Then you don't know much about mining?"
"I believe," Andrew answered dryly, "I know a little more than I did."
Geraldine was pleased with him. The man was humorously modest, but he looked capable and resolute31.
[Pg 82]"Well," she said, "it can't be easy work; though one understands that getting the ore out is not always the greatest difficulty."
"It's hard enough when the roof comes down, and the props32 crush up, and the water breaks in. Still, I believe you're right."
"I know something about these matters," she said, and then surprised him by a sudden turn of the subject. "There's one man you can trust. I mean Jake Carnally."
"Do you know him?"
"He built our boat pier33 and cleared the bush to make our lawn. We often made him talk to us; and I know my father, who's a good judge, thought a good deal of him."
"Jake," said Andrew cautiously, "rather puzzles me: I can get so little out of him, though I like the man. As you seem to know the people I have to deal with, is there anybody else whose trustworthiness you would vouch34 for?"
Geraldine's face hardened.
"No, I don't know of anybody else; but you will soon be able to form your own opinion."
This struck Andrew as significant, because she must have heard of his connection with Mappin, who visited the house. Just then he caught sight of a boat that swung around the end of an island and headed toward them with bows buried in foam35.
"A gasoline launch," he said. "She's traveling very fast."
"It's ours," explained Geraldine. "My father must have got back from the Landing and has come to look for me."
The launch was soon abreas............
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