The Man of the Forest (Chapter 2, page 1 of 17)


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Chapter 2

Milt Dale quietly sat up to gaze, with thoughtful eyes, into the gloom.

He was thirty years old. As a boy of fourteen he had run off from his school and home in Iowa and, joining a wagon-train of pioneers, he was one of the first to see log cabins built on the slopes of the White Mountains. But he had not taken kindly to farming or sheep-raising or monotonous home toil, and for twelve years he had lived in the forest, with only infrequent visits to Pine and Show Down and Snowdrop. This wandering forest life of his did not indicate that he did not care for the villagers, for he did care, and he was welcome everywhere, but that he loved wild life and solitude and beauty with the primitive instinctive force of a savage.

And on this night he had stumbled upon a dark plot against the only one of all the honest white people in that region whom he could not call a friend.

"That man Beasley!" he soliloquized. "Beasley--in cahoots with Snake Anson!... Well, he was right. Al Auchincloss is on his last legs. Poor old man! When I tell him he'll never believe ME, that's sure!"

Discovery of the plot meant to Dale that he must hurry down to Pine.

"A girl--Helen Rayner--twenty years old," he mused. "Beasley wants her made off with.... That means--worse than killed!"

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