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- Ruth Fielding of the Red Mill - 26/26 -

"But you had no business to pay Jasper Parloe money for keeping still about it," said the miller, sourly. "Being bled by a blackmailer is never the action of a wise man. When he threatened me I went to your father at once and got ahead of Parloe. We agreed to say nothing about it-- that's about all we did agree on, however," added Mr. Potter, grimly. "Now you children run along. Ruth, come here. I figger I owe you something because of the finding of this box. Yes! I know how much the others had to do with it, too. But they'd never been over there in Olakah Glen if it hadn't been for you. I'll make this up to you. I never yet owed a debt that I didn't repay in full. I'll remember this one, gal."

But so much happened in those next two weeks, following the finding of the cash-box, that Ruth quite forgot this promise on her uncle's part. She realized, however, that he seemed really desirous of being kind to her, and that much of his grimness had disappeared.

Everybody at the Red Mill-- and many other people, too-- had their thoughts fixed upon Mercy Curtis at this time. She had been getting stronger all the while. She had been able to hobble on her two sticks from her bedroom to the porch. She had been to ride half a dozen times in the Camerons' automobile. And then, suddenly, without other warning, Doctor Davison and the strange surgeon who had once examined Mercy, appeared in a big limousine car, with a couch arranged inside, and they whisked Mercy off to a sanitarium some miles away, where she was operated on by the famous surgeon, with Doctor Davison's help, and from which place the report came back in a few days that the operation had been successful and that Mercy Curtis would-- in time-- walk again!

Meanwhile, Ruth had kept up her recitations to Miss Cramp, often walking back and forth to town, but sometimes getting "a lift," and the teacher pronounced her prepared to enter the Cheslow High School. She had taken the studies that Helen Cameron had taken, and, on comparing notes, the chums found that they were in much the same condition of advancement.

"Oh, if you were only going to Briarwood with me, instead of to Cheslow High!" wailed Helen, one day, as they sat on the porch of the Red Mill house.

"Ah, dear!" said Ruth, quietly, "don't talk about it. I want to go with you more than I ever wanted to do anything in my whole life--"

"What's that?" exclaimed Uncle Jabez's gruff voice behind them. "What's that you want to do, Ruth?"

"To-- to go to boarding school, Uncle," stammered his niece.

"Hah!" grunted the miller. "Ain't you calculatin' on going to high school?"

"Oh, Mr. Potter!" broke in Helen, frightened by her own temerity. "That isn't the school Ruth wants to go to. I am going to Briarwood Hall, and she wants to go, too. Do, do let her. It would be-- it would be just heavenly, if she could go there, and we could be together!"

Jabez Potter came out upon the porch and looked down upon his niece. The grim lines of his face could not relax, it seemed; but his eyes did seem to twinkle as he said:

"And that's the greatest wish of your life; is it, Ruth?"

"I-- I believe it is, Uncle Jabez," she whispered, looking at him in wonder.

"Well, well!" he said, gruffly, dropping his gaze. "Mebbe I owe it ye. My savin's of years was in that cash-box, Ruth. I-- I-- Well, I'll think it over and see if it can be arranged about this Briarwood business. I'll-- I'll see your Aunt Alvirah."

And that Uncle Jabez Potter "saw about it" to some purpose is proven by the fact that the reader may meet Ruth and her friends again in the next volume of this series to be entitled "Ruth Fielding at Briarwood Hall; Or, Solving the Campus Mystery."

"Perhaps he isn't such an ogre after all," whispered Helen, when she and Ruth were alone.

"Not after you get to know him," replied the girl of the Red Mill, with a quiet smile.


Ruth Fielding of the Red Mill - 26/26

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