Read CHAPTER XXVII - NO BRAVER DEED EVER WAS DONE of A Waif of the Mountains , free online book, by Edward S. Ellis, on

The hearts of two of the party were wrung as never before.  Wade Ruggles and Felix Brush saw with noonday clearness the dreadful mistake they had made in the past in hoping to win the heart of the maiden who had declared that if her beloved was to die she would die with him.  It was contrary to nature and the laws of God, and it was characteristic of each that he felt a thrill of gratitude over the belief that no person suspected his secret.  Both would have died rather than allow it ever to become known.

With this awakening came a transformation of feeling toward the couple.  They sympathized with Lieutenant Russell, but more than all, they pitied her whose soul was distraught with grief.  They had never before seen her in the agony of distress and neither could stand it.

“Brush,” whispered Ruggles, “this must stop.”

Hold!” called Brush in a loud voice, striding commandingly forward with his arm upraised; “I have something to say!”

There was a majesty and an impressiveness of mien like that of the Hebrew prophet who hushed the tempest.  Captain Dawson, without moving body or limb, turned and glared at the intruder; Ruggles kept his position; Nellie Dawson, with arms still clasping the neck of her betrothed, looked over her shoulder at her old friend; Lieutenant Russell reached up so as to hold the wrists of the girl, while still retaining his grip upon his rifle and fixed his eyes upon the tall, gaunt figure that halted between him and Captain Dawson and a little to one side of him.

“Lieutenant Frederic Russell, do you love Nellie Dawson?” was the astounding question that fell from the lips of Brush.

“Aye, more than my life,” was the prompt response.

“And you have started for Sacramento with the purpose of making her your wife?”

“That was my resolve with the help of heaven.”

“And, Nellie, you agreed to this?”

“Yes, yes; we shall not be parted in life or death.”

“Such being your feelings,” continued Felix Brush, in the same loud, clear tones, “I pronounce you man and wife, and whom God hath joined together let not man put asunder!”

It was a thunderclap.  No one moved or spoke for a full minute.  Felix Brush was the only one who seemed to retain command of his senses.  Stepping forward, with a strange smile on his seamed countenance, he extended his hand to the groom.

“Allow me to congratulate you, lieutenant; and, Nellie, I don’t think you will deny me my fee.”

With which he bent over and tenderly kissed her.

“O, Mr. Brush, are we really married?” she asked in a faint, wild voice.

“As legally as if it were done by the archbishop of Canterbury and if ­”

But he got no further, for her arms were transferred from the neck of her husband to those of the parson, whom she smothered with her caresses.

“Bless your heart!  You are the nicest, best, sweetest, loveliest man that ever lived, ­excepting Fred and father ­”

“And me,” added Wade Ruggles, stepping forward.

“Yes, and you, you great big angel,” she replied, bestowing an equally warm embrace upon him.

The two rugged fellows had won the greatest victory that can be achieved by man, for they had conquered themselves.  When the great light broke in upon their consciousness, each resolved to let the dead past bury its dead and to face the future like the manly heroes they were.

And no braver deed ever was done.

Poor Captain Dawson!  For a time he believed he was dreaming.  Then, when he grasped the meaning of it all, his Winchester dropped from his nerveless grasp and he staggered and would have fallen, had not Lieutenant Russell leaped forward and caught him in his arms.  He helped him to the boulder from which Nellie had risen and then he collapsed utterly.  The soldier who had faced unmoved the hell blast of battle had fainted for the first time in his life.

Nellie ran to the brook a few paces away, and catching some of the water in the hollow of her hand darted back and flung it into his face.

“There, dear father; it is all right; rouse yourself; O, Mr. Brush, suppose he is dead!” she exclaimed, turning terrifiedly toward him.

“He is as likely to die as you are, and you don’t look just now as if you mean to put on wings and fly away.”

In a few minutes the veteran revived and looked confusedly around him.  He seemed unable to comprehend what it all meant and his gaze wandered in a dazed way from one countenance to another without speaking.  Nellie was still caressing him, while Lieutenant Russell stood back a couple of steps, looking pityingly into the face of the man who had suffered so much.

Felix Brush was the hero of the occasion.  Turning to the group, he said: 

“Leftenant, you and Nellie and Ruggles and Vose move off for a short distance and leave him with me for a little while.”

Understanding his purpose the three withdrew, and the two men were left alone.  The captain instantly roused himself.

“What does all this mean, Brush?”

“It means that you and Ruggles and I have been the three infernalist fools that ever pretended to have sense.”


“How?  In every way conceivable.  Wade and I, as we told you, saw that those two were in love with each other; instead of persuading you to consent, we have helped you to prevent it.  I must say, captain, that though Wade and I played the idiot, I think the championship belongs to you.”

“I begin to suspect it.”

“There’s no doubt of it.”

“But, you see, parson, I had never thought of anything like this.”

“Which goes to prove the truth of what I have just said.  If you hadn’t been blind you would have seen it.”

“I got the belief into my head that his intentions were not honorable toward Nellie.”

“You never made a greater mistake; Lieutenant Russell is the soul of honor; heaven intended him for the husband of Nellie, and we were flying in the face of Providence when we tried to prevent it.”

“I suppose it is all right; but how is it possible for a man to make such a consummate ass of himself?”

“You have just given a demonstration of how it is done, Wade and I adding material help in the demonstration.”

The captain looked to the ground in deep thought.  When he raised his eyes there was an odd twinkle in them.

“I say, parson, wasn’t that a rather cheeky performance of yours, when you made them man and wife?”

“The circumstances warranted it.  There’s no saying what might have happened, if it had been deferred for only a few minutes.”

“True,” replied the veteran thoughtfully; “it begins to look as if the hand of Providence was in it.”

“It is in everything that occurs in this life.  It was in your coming to New Constantinople; in the blessed influence of your child upon that barbarous community; in the impulse that led you to bring Lieutenant Russell to us, and now comes the crowning Providence of all in their marriage.”

“Parson, you ain’t such a poor preacher after all.”

“Perhaps I can preach a little, but my practice has been away off, though I hope to get back one of these days to where I was, but ­”

He suddenly turned and beckoned to his friends to join them.  They came smilingly forward, for they suspected what it meant.

Captain Dawson rose to his feet, and, without speaking extended his single arm toward his child.  With a glad cry she flew into his embrace and pillowed her head on his breast.  No one spoke, but there was not a dry eye among the spectators, while the silent embrace lasted.

Finally the daughter was released and then the captain reached his hand toward his son-in-law, who eagerly stepped forward and grasped it.

“Yes, lieutenant, we have drunk from the same canteen,” he said, “and now let’s all go home.”

And it was accordingly so done.