CHAPTER I. BELSHAZZAR’S DECISION “Bel, come here!” The Harvester sat in the hollow worn in the hewed log stoop by the feet of his father and mother and his own sturdier tread, and rested his head against the casing of the cabin door when he gave the command. The tip of the dog’s nose touched the gravel between his paws as he crouched flat on earth, with beautiful eyes steadily watching the master, but he did not move a muscle. “Bel, come here!” Twinkles flashed in the eyes of the man when he repeated the order, while his voice grew more imperative as he stretched a lean, wiry hand toward the dog. The animal’s eyes gleamed and his sensitive nose quivered, yet he lay quietly. “Belshazzar, kommen Sie hier!” The body of the dog arose on straightened legs and his muzzle dropped in the outstretched palm. A wind slightly perfumed with the odour of melting snow and unsheathing buds swept the lake beside them, and lifted a waving tangle of light hair on the brow of the man, while a level ray of the setting sun flashed across the water and illumined the graven, sensitive face, now alive with keen interest in the game being played. “Bel, dost remember the day?” inquired the Harvester. The eager attitude and anxious eyes of the dog betrayed that he did not, but was waiting with every sense alert for a familiar word that would tell him what was expected. “Surely you heard the killdeers crying in the night,” prompted the man. “I called your attention when the ecstasy of the first bluebird waked the dawn. All day you have seen the gold-yellow and blood-red osiers, the sap-wet maples and spring tracing announcements of her arrival on the sunny side of the levee.” The dog found no clew, but he recognized tones he loved in the suave, easy voice, and his tail beat his sides in vigorous approval. The man nodded gravely.