A week later Darrell was duly installed at the mining camp. Mr. Britton ha_lready left, called on private business to another part of the State. Afte_is departure, life at The Pines did not seem the same to Darrell. He sorel_issed the companionship—amounting almost to comradeship, notwithstanding th_isparity of their years—which had existed between them from their firs_eeting, and he was not sorry when the day came for him to exchange th_omfort and luxury with which the kindness of Mr. Underwood and his sister ha_urrounded him for the rough fare and plain quarters of the mining camp.
Mrs. Dean, when informed of Darrell's position at the camp, had mos_trenuously objected to his going, and had immediately stipulated that he wa_o return to The Pines every Saturday and remain until Monday.
"Of course he's coming home every Saturday, and as much oftener as he likes,"
her brother had interposed. "This is his home, and he understands it withou_ny words from us."
On the morning of his departure he realized as never before the depth of th_ffection of his host and hostess for himself, manifesting itself as it did i_ilent, unobtrusive acts of homely but heartfelt kindness. As the storing o_arrell's belongings in the wagon which was to convey him to the camp wa_bout completed, Mrs. Dean appeared, carrying a large, covered basket, wit_now-white linen visible between the gaping edges of the lids. This sh_eposited within the wagon, saying, as she turned to Darrell,—
"There's a few things to last you through the week, just so you don't forge_ow home cooking tastes."
And at the last moment there was brought from the stables at Mr. Underwood'_rders, for Darrell's use in going back and forth between The Pines and th_amp, a beautiful bay mare which had belonged to Harry Whitcomb, and which,
having sadly missed her young master, greeted Darrell with a low whinny,
muzzling his cheek and nosing his pockets for sugar with the most affectionat_amiliarity.
It was a cold, bleak morning. The ground had frozen after a heavy rain, an_he wagon jolted roughly over the ruts in the canyon road, making slo_rogress. The sky was overcast and straggling snowflakes wandered aimlessly u_nd down in the still air.
Darrell, from his seat beside the driver, turned occasionally to speak t_rix, the mare, fastened to the rear end of the wagon and daintily picking he_ay along the rough road. Sometimes he hummed a bit of half-remembered song,
but for the most part he was silent. While not attempting any definit_nalysis of his feelings, he was distinctly conscious of conflicting emotions.
He was deeply touched by the kindness of Mr. Underwood and Mrs. Dean, and fel_ sort of self-condemnation that he was not more responsive to thei_ffection. He knew that their home and hearts were alike open to him; that h_as as welcome as one of their own flesh and blood; yet he experienced a sens_f relief at having escaped from the unvarying kindliness for which, at heart,
he was profoundly grateful. Even late that night, in the solitude of hi_lainly furnished room, with the wind moaning outside and the snow tappin_ith muffled fingers against the window pane, he yet exulted in a sense o_reedom and happiness hitherto unknown in the brief period which held all h_ecalled of life.
The ensuing days and weeks passed pleasantly and swiftly for Darrell. H_uickly familiarized himself with the work which he had in charge, an_requently found leisure, when his routine work was done, for experiments an_ests of his own, as well as for outside work which came to him as his skil_ecame known in neighboring camps. His evenings were well filled, as he ha_aken up his old studies along the lines of mineralogy and metallurgy, pushin_head into new fields of research and discovery, studying by night an_xperimenting by day. Meanwhile, the rocky peaks around him seemed beckonin_im with their talismanic signs, as though silently challenging him to lear_he mighty secrets for ages hidden within their breasts, and he promise_imself that with the return of lengthening days, he would start forth, _umble learner, to sit at the feet of those great teachers of the centuries.
He had occasional letters from Mr. Britton, cheering, inspiring, helpful, muc_s his presence had been, and in return he wrote freely of his present wor_nd his plans for future work.
Sometimes, when books were closed or the plaintive tones of the violin ha_ied away in silence, he would sit for hours pondering the strange problem o_is own life; watching, listening for some sign from out the past; but neithe_ay of light nor wave of sound came to him. His physician had told him tha_ome day the past would return, and that the intervening months or years a_he case might be, would then doubtless be in turn forgotten, and as h_evolved this in his mind he formed a plan which he at once proceeded to pu_nto execution.
On his return one night from a special trip to Ophir he went to his room wit_ore than usual haste, and opening a package in which he seemed greatl_nterested, drew forth what appeared to be a book, about eleven by fiftee_nches in size, bound in flexible morocco and containing some five or si_undred pages. The pages were blank, however, and bound according to a_ngenious device which he had planned and given the binder, by which the_ould be removed and replaced at will, and, if necessary, extra pages could b_dded.
For some time he stood by the light, turning the volume over and over with a_xpression of mingled pleasure and sadness; then removing some of the pages,
he sat down and prepared to write. The new task to which he had set himsel_as the writing of a complete record, day by day, of this present life of his,
beginning with the first glimmerings of memory, faint and confused, in th_arliest days of his convalescence at The Pines. He dipped his pen, the_esitated; how should this strange volume be inscribed?
Only for a moment; then his pen was gliding rapidly over the spotless surface,
and the first page, when laid aside, bore the following inscription:
> "To one from the outer world, whose identity is hidden among the secrets o_he past:
> "With the hope that when the veil is lifted these pages may assist him i_niting into one perfect whole the strangely disjointed portions of his life,
they are inscribed by
> "John Darrell."
Below was the date, and then followed the words,—
> "Until the day break, and the shadows flee away."
After penning the last words he paused, repeating them, vainly trying t_ecall when or where he had heard them. They seemed to ring in his ears like _train of melody wafted from some invisible shore, and blending with the mino_ndertone he caught a note of triumph. They had come to him like a voice fro_ut the past, but ringing with joyful assurance for the future; the assuranc_hat the night, however dark, must end in a glorious dawning, in which n_aunting shadow would have an abiding-place.