Rod of the Lone Patrol by H. A. Cody
Chapter XXVII. Jimmy
It took Jimmy Britt many weeks to regain his strength after his serious illness. For a long time he manifested very little interest in what was going on around him. His father and mother wore greatly disappointed and discouraged. He only spoke when spoken to, and spent hours wandering alone along the shore or out in the woods. The scouts annoyed him, and they kept as far from him as possible and he from them. The only conversation he had with his father concerning his past life was the day he spoke about Anna Royanna, and the influence her song had upon him. The captain and Mrs. Britt were afraid that the blow he had received upon his head had somewhat affected his brain, and this caused them considerable worry. The neighbours had already whispered this among themselves, for they had been quick to notice the change which had come over the returned son.
"Look here, Jimmy," his father said that evening after the scouts had left, "I want ye to write a letter fer me. My old hand is so cramped that I kin hardly hold a pen. Ye used to be good at sich work."
"All right," Jimmy replied, rising slowly and bringing down the writing materials from an upper shelf. "Now, fire away; I'm ready."
But the captain hesitated, and was at a loss how to begin. He scratched his head in perplexity.
"Dang it all!" he muttered. "Oh, jist tell him that we have a little sick girl here, who will die if she doesn't git to a specialist in New York, and that I'd like fer him to help out with the expense."
"What are you talking about, dad?" Jimmy asked. "I can't write the letter until you give me the name of the person you want it sent to."
"Oh, didn't I tell ye? Well, that's queer. It's fer my old master, Benjamin Dodge, in the city. He's got the money, and he told me that if I ever needed any help to go to him. I have never bothered him before, and never intended to do so, but this is different. Whyn's life's at stake, and that's reason enough. The scouts are to give all the money they earned fer that prize, but it won't go very far. We need a great deal more, and at once."
"And did the scouts give that money of their own free will?" Jimmy asked. "Did you suggest it to them?"
"No. I never thought about it until Rod came over this mornin' and put the notion into my head."
For some time Jimmy sat toying with the pen he was holding in his hand.
"Why don't ye write that letter?" his father demanded.
"So you say that the girl can't get better unless she goes to a specialist?" his son enquired.
"It's what the doctors say; that's all I know about it. But git on with that letter, will ye?"
"Look here, dad," and Jimmy laid aside the pen. "I'm going to the city in the morning, and suppose I see old Dodge about the matter. It will be much better than writing a letter. I can explain things which I couldn't write."
"Maybe that would be the best way," the captain agreed. "But put it up to him straight, Jimmy. He's a gruff cur at times, but he's got a big heart."
"I'll attend to that, dad. Just leave it to me."
The captain was very restless the next day. He thought that the time for the arrival of the evening boat would never come. Jimmy was to return on her, and suppose Dodge was unwilling to assist! What would he do? His eyes often turned toward the Roaring Bess riding at anchor before the house. Several times he stood in front of the door and looked out over his few acres of land. What his thoughts were he kept to himself, but the expression, of determination in his eyes told of a man who would not easily be balked in the object upon which he had set his heart and mind.
Captain Josh met Jimmy at the wharf, and the two walked down the road together.
"Well, did ye see Dodge?" the captain eagerly enquired.
"No," was the brief reply.
"No?" the old man repeated, while his heart sank low.
"I didn't see him, and I didn't intend to."
"But what about Whyn, Jimmy? Didn't ye promise me that----"
"Oh, that's all right," and the son gave a short laugh. "I have the money, and isn't that enough?"
"Ye've got the money, ye say?" the captain asked in astonishment, stopping abruptly, and looking keenly into the young man's face. "Where did ye git it?"
"Don't worry about that, dad. It's honest money, and I'm glad it's to be spent for a good purpose. But for that little song I heard in New York, it would have been all blown in by this time."
"Jimmy, d'ye tell me that it's yer own money?" the captain demanded. "Or are ye only foolin' me?"
"It was mine, dad, but now it's yours, so here it is," and the son brought forth a big roll of bills from his pocket, and handed it to his father. "Sit down, dad, and see how much is there."
Seating himself upon a stone, the captain spread out the bills upon his knee, by fifties and hundreds.
"A thousand dollars!" he gasped, when he had finished. His hands trembled, and his body shook from the vehemence of his emotion. "Jimmy----" It was all he could say.
"There, there, dad, that will do," and the son laid his right hand affectionately upon his father's shoulder. "When you want any more, let me know. But don't give that girl a hint where that money came from. Tell her a friend gave it, see? Come, now, let's get home. Mother will be waiting tea for us."
The captain said very little during supper, and when the meal was over, he sat smoking for some time in deep thought. Then he laid aside his pipe, and went to Whyn's room. He knocked gently upon the door before entering. The girl gave him a wan smile of greeting, and reached out her thin hand. The captain held it for awhile, and Whyn was content to let it remain there.
"How are ye feelin', little one?" he asked.
"Tired," was the reply. "But mamma is coming to-morrow, and I must be better when she is here."
"Sure, sure. But we're goin' to have ye better all the time soon, so keep up courage."
"I'm afraid not," and Whyn gazed sadly and thoughtfully toward the window where the westering sun was casting its beams. "I shall never be better, captain."
"Tut, tut. Don't say sich a thing."
"But I know it, so what's the use of pretending? Didn't the doctors say that I can't get better unless I go to a specialist?"
"Well, why can't ye go?" the captain queried. "What's to hinder ye?"
"It's the want of money," was the slow reply. "It would cost so much, and we are poor. I know that Douglas would help if he could, but he can't do much now."
"But suppose ye had the money, and could go, would it make ye happy?"
"Don't tease me, captain," and the girl gave the hard hand which was holding hers an affectionate little squeeze.
"I'm not, Whyn, really I'm not. The scouts are goin' to send ye."
"There now, never mind any of yer exclaimin'. I knew it would surprise ye. Yes, the scouts have decided to send ye to a specialist. Everything is all arranged."
"But I can't allow it, captain," Whyn protested. "Do they mean to take their money and use it upon me?"
"Yes, that's jist what they're goin' to do."
"But what about the prize, and the motorboat?"
"Don't ye worry about sich things. That matter is all settled. The boys love ye so much that they're willin' to do anything."
Whyn lay very still for awhile, her eyes moist with tears. The captain, sitting by her side, watched her in silence.
"It is too much for them to do," the girl at last murmured.
"Oh, not at all," the captain replied. "They are only lendin' ye the money, and ye kin pay them back when ye git well and write that book of yours."
"How lovely that will be!" and Whyn clasped her hands before her in delight, something like her old manner. "It will take some time, though. But I shall do it, and the first money I get shall go to the scouts."
Suddenly an expression of anxiety came into her eyes as she fixed them full upon the captain's face.
"What is it, little one?" he asked.
"But the scouts won't have enough money, will they?" she enquired.
"Hardly enough, Whyn. But a kind friend has given some to help out. He doesn't want ye to know his name, and will it worry ye much if I don't tell ye?"
"No, not at all. You have been so good to me that I have no right to ask. Oh, I am so happy, and won't mamma be delighted when she hears the news."
The day after Mrs. Sinclair's arrival, preparations were made for the removal of the invalid girl. All knew that the trip would be a serious undertaking, but they said nothing about this to Whyn. Her mother was going with her, and Captain Josh and Mrs. Britt were to go as far as St. John. But before leaving, Whyn had one special request to make. She wanted to see the scouts, to thank them and to bid them good-bye.
They came the evening before she left, and filed silently into her room. It had been months since they had seen her, and all were shocked to see how she had failed. Whyn greeted them with a bright smile, and held out her hand to each one in turn.
"I can't talk much, boys," she began, "for I am very tired now. But I want to thank you all for what you have done for me. Be sure and keep the troop together. I want each one of you to write to me, and tell me all the news."
How the scouts got out of her room they could hardly remember, but at last they found themselves standing before the house looking out over the river. All wanted to say or do something to hide their real feelings. It was Rod who rose to the occasion.
"Come, boys," and his voice was low as he spoke, "let's have a swim. The water's fine."