"Papa is coming, mama! Papa is coming!"
Tommy Briscoe, brimming over with excitement, ran, shouting, across the yard and darted into the kitchen, leaving a half emptied pail of milk standing on the ground before the stable, where a small red calf he had been feeding promptly upset it. In a moment he reappeared in the doorway, his mother and little sister Annie behind him. Mrs. Briscoe, a woman still evidently under middle age but whose sweet, serious face showed plainly the lines which the patient endurance of hardships draw upon the faces of most frontier women, looked down the faintly marked road running away to the [Pg 10]southward, surprise and perplexity in her eyes. Along the road and still some distance away, a horseman was galloping toward them furiously. The road led only to the Briscoe cabin, which was distant a number of miles from its nearest neighbors. The rider could hardly be any other than Mr. Briscoe; moreover, even at that distance his wife could recognize the color and the short, jerking gallop of the horse he was riding.