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Title: Glen of the High North
Author: Cody, H. A. (Hiram Alfred), 1872-1948
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Glen of the High North" ***

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GLEN OF THE HIGH NORTH

by

H. A. CODY

Author of "The Frontiersman," "The Lost Patrol,"
"The Chief of the Ranges," "The Touch of Abner," etc.

McClelland and Stewart
Publishers : : : Toronto
George H. Doran Company

1920



To

ALL TRUE MEN AND WOMEN

Of the Outer Trails of the Yukon,

Where for Years the Author Lived and Travelled,

This Book is Affectionately Dedicated.



CONTENTS

      I  ONE FLEETING VISION
     II  WHEN THE FOG-BANK LIFTED
    III  A BIG BLAZIN' LAUGH
     IV  BEYOND THE GREAT WHITE PASS
      V  COMRADES OP THE TRAIL
     VI  A SHOT THAT TOLD
    VII  BOTTLES WILL DO
   VIII  LOVE VERSUS GOLD
     IX  THE OUTER TRAIL
      X  ADRIFT IN THE WILDERNESS
     XI  INTO THE GREAT UNKNOWN
    XII  THE GIRL OF GLEN WEST
   XIII  WHEN THE STORM BURST
    XIV  ANOTHER PRISONER
     XV  JIM WESTON
    XVI  THE ORDEAL
   XVII  MAN TO MAN
  XVIII  THE PREPARED ROOM
    XIX  THE TURN OF EVENTS
     XX  A SHOT FROM THE GOLDEN CREST
    XXI  THE PLOTTERS
   XXII  THE CABIN IN THE HILLS
  XXIII  AT THE REVOLVER'S POINT
   XXIV  WHEN THE RIFLES CRACKED
    XXV  BY THE INLAND LAKE
   XXVI  THROUGH THE STORM
  XXVII  IN THE TOILS
 XXVIII  HELP FROM THE HILLS
   XXIX  THE OLD TRUE STORY
    XXX  THE UNMASKING
   XXXI  OUTWARD BOUND



  "Something lost beyond the Ranges,
    Lost; and calling to you.  Go."

  KIPLING



  "She had grown, in her unstained seclusion,
  bright and pure as a first opening lilac,
  when it spreads its clear leaves to the
  sweetest dawn of May."

  PERCIVAL



GLEN OF THE HIGH NORTH


CHAPTER I

ONE FLEETING VISION

It all happened in less than two minutes, and yet in that brief space
of time his entire outlook upon life was changed.  He saw her across
the street standing upon the edge of the sidewalk facing the throng of
teams and motors that were surging by.  She had evidently attempted to
cross, but had hurriedly retreated owing to the tremendous crush of
traffic.  The gleam of the large electric light nearby brought into
clear relief a face of more than ordinary charm and beauty.  But that
which appealed so strongly to the young man was the mingled expression
of surprise, fear and defiance depicted upon her countenance.  It
strangely affected him, and he was on the point of springing forward to
offer his assistance when she suddenly disappeared, swallowed up in the
great tide of humanity.

For a few minutes the young man stood perfectly still, gazing intently
upon the spot where the girl had been standing, hoping to see her
reappear.  He could not account for the feeling that had swept upon him
at the sight of that face.  It was but one of the thousands he daily
beheld, yet it alone stirred him to his inmost depths.  A few minutes
before he had been walking along the street without any definite aim in
life, listless and almost cynical.  But now a desire possessed him to
be up and doing, to follow after the fair vision which had so
unexpectedly appeared.  Who could she be, and where was she going?
Should he ever see her again, and if he did would he have the slightest
chance of meeting and talking with her?

These thoughts occupied his mind as he continued on his way.  He walked
erect now, with shoulders thrown back, and with a more buoyant step
than he had taken in many a day.  His blood tingled and his eyes glowed
with a new-found light.  He felt much of the old thrill that had
animated him at the beginning of the Great War, and had sent him
overseas to take his part in the titanic struggle.  An overmastering
urge had then swept upon him, compelling him to abandon all on behalf
of the mighty cause.  It was his nature, and the leopard could no more
change its spots than could Tom Reynolds overcome the influence of a
gripping desire.  Ever since childhood thought and action had always
been welded in the strong clear heat of an overwhelming purpose.  It
had caused him considerable trouble, but at the same time it had
carried him through many a difficult undertaking that had daunted other
men.  It was only the afterwards that affected him, the depression,
when the objective had been attained.  So for months after the war
ended his life had seemed of no avail, and he found it impossible to
settle comfortably back into the grooves of civilian life in a
bustling, thriving city.  Everything seemed tame and insignificant
after what he had experienced overseas.  Time instead of lessening had
only increased this feeling, until Reynolds believed that he could no
longer endure the prosaic life of the city.  Such was the state of his
mind when he beheld the face across the street, which in some
mysterious manner gave him a sudden impulse and a new outlook upon the
world.  After a short quick walk, he turned into a side street and
stopped at length before a building from which extended a large
electric sign, bearing the words _Telegram_ and _Evening News_.  He
entered, and at once made his way through several rooms until he
reached the editorial office at the back of the building.  The door was
open, and seated at the desk was an elderly man, busily writing.  He
looked up as Reynolds appeared, and a smile illumined his face.

"You are back early, Tom.  Found something special?"

"Yes," Reynolds replied as he sat down upon the only vacant chair the
office contained.  "But nothing for publication."

The editor pushed back his papers, swung himself around in his chair
and faced the visitor.

"What is it, Tom?" he asked.  "You look more animated than I have seen
you for many a day.  What has come over you?  What is the special
something you have found?"

"Myself."

"Yourself!"

"That's just it.  I'm through with this job."

The editor eyed the young man curiously yet sympathetically.  He was to
him as a son, and he had done everything in his power to help him since
his return from the war.  But he was well aware that Reynolds was not
happy, and that newspaper work was proving most uncongenial.

"Where are you going, Tom, and what are you going to do?" he presently
asked.

"I have not the slightest idea, sir.  But I must get away from this
hum-drum existence.  It is killing me by inches.  I need adventure,
life in the open, where a man can breathe freely and do as he likes."

"Haven't you done about as you like, Tom, since you came home?  I
promised your father on his death-bed that I would look after you, and
I have tried to do so in every possible way.  I sincerely hoped that
your present work would suit you better than in an office.  You are
free to roam where you will, and whatever adventure has taken place in
this city during the past six months you were in the midst of it, and
wrote excellent reports, too."

"I know that, sir, and I feel deeply indebted to you for what you have
done.  But what does it all amount to?  What interest do I take in
trouble along the docks, a fight between a couple of toughs in some
dark alley, or a fashionable wedding in one of the big churches?  Bah!
I am sick of them all, and the sooner I get away the better."

Reynolds produced a cigarette, lighted it and threw the match upon the
floor.  From the corner of his eye he watched the editor as he toyed
thoughtfully with his pen.  This man was nearer to him than anyone else
in the world, and he was afraid that he had annoyed him by his plain
outspoken words.

"And you say you have nothing in view?" the editor at length enquired.

"Nothing.  Can you suggest anything?  Something that will tax all my
energy of mind and body.  That is what I want.  I hope you do not
misunderstand me, sir.  I do not wish to seem ungrateful for what you
have done."

"I do understand you, Tom, and were I in your position, and of your
age, I might feel the same.  But what about your painting?  Have you
lost all interest in that?  When you were in France you often wrote
what impressions you were getting, and how much you intended to do when
you came home."

"I have done very little at that, and the sketches I made are still
uncompleted.  Some day I may do something, but not now."

"You certainly have lost all interest, Tom, in the things that once
gave you so much pleasure."

"It is only too true, although I have honestly tried to return to the
old ways.  But I must have a fling at something else to get this
restless feeling out of my system.  What do you suggest!  Perhaps it is
only a thrashing I need.  That does children good sometimes."

The editor smiled as he pulled out a drawer in his desk, and brought
forth a fair-sized scrapbook.  He slowly turned the pages and stopped
at length where a large newspaper clipping had been carefully pasted.

"I do not think you need a thrashing, Tom," he began.  "But I believe I
can suggest something better than that.  Here is an entry I made in
this book over fifteen years ago, and the story it contains appeals
strongly to me now.  I read it at least once a year, and it has been
the cause of many a day-dream to me, and night-dream as well, for that
matter.  Did you ever hear of the mysterious disappearance of Henry
Redmond, the wealthy merchant of this city?  But I suppose not, as you
were young at the time."

"No, I never heard of him," Reynolds acknowledged.  "Was he killed?"

"Oh, no.  He merely disappeared, and left no trace at all.  That was,
as I have just said, over fifteen years ago, and no word has been
received from him since."

"What was the trouble?  Financial difficulties?"

"Not at all.  He simply disappeared.  It was due to his wife's death,
so I believe.  They were greatly attached to each other, and when she
suddenly died Redmond was a broken-hearted man.  I knew him well and it
was pathetic to watch him.  He took no interest in his business, and
sold out as soon as possible.  Then he vanished, and that was the last
we heard of him.  He was an odd man in many ways, and although one of
the shrewdest men in business I ever knew, he was fond of the simple
life.  He was a great reader, and at one time possessed a very fine
library.  This article which I wish you to read tells the story of his
life, how he built up his business, and of his sudden disappearance."

"How do you know he wasn't killed?" Reynolds asked.

"Because of this," and the editor laid his forefinger upon a small
separate clipping at the bottom of the larger one.  A short time after
Redmond disappeared, and when the excitement of all was intense, this
was received and published.  Although it bore no name, yet we well know
that it was from Redmond, for it was just like something he would do.
This is what he wrote:


"'I go from the busy haunts of men, far from the bustle and worry of
business life.  I may be found, but only he who is worthy will find me,
and whoever finds me, will, I trust, not lose his reward.  From the
loopholes of retreat I shall watch the stress and fever of life, but
shall not mingle in the fray.'"


"Queer words, those," Reynolds remarked, when the editor had finished
reading.  "What do you make of them?"

"I hardly know, although I have considered them very carefully.  I
believe they contain a hidden meaning, and that the finding will
consist of more than the mere discovery of his person.  It must refer
to something else, some quality of heart or mind, that is, the real
personality behind the mere outward form."

"A double quest, eh, for anyone who undertakes the venture?"

"It seems so, Tom, and that makes it all the more difficult.  But what
an undertaking!  How I wish I were young again, and I should be off
to-morrow.  I was a fool not to make the try fifteen years ago.  I
would not now be chained to this desk, I feel certain of that."

"And as you cannot go yourself, you want----?"  Reynolds paused and
looked quizzically at the editor.

"I want you to go in my stead," was the emphatic reply.  "You are
young, strong, and anxious for adventure."

"For what purpose, sir?  Why do you wish me to undertake this
wild-goose chase?  For such it seems to me."

"I wish you to go for three reasons.  First, for your own good; as an
outlet to your abundant energy, and to give you some object in life.
Next, to satisfy a curiosity that has been consuming me for years.  I
am more than anxious to know what has become of Henry Redmond.  And
finally, for the sake of my paper.  If you should prove successful,
what a write-up it will make, for you will have a wonderful story to
tell.  Doesn't the thing appeal to you?  Why, it makes my blood tingle
at the thought of such an undertaking."

"It does stir me a bit," Reynolds acknowledged.  "But where am I to go?
Have you any idea where Redmond is?  The world is big, remember, and
without any clue, the chase would be absolute folly."

"I am well aware of all that.  I have no idea where Redmond is, and
that makes the venture all the more interesting.  If I could tell you
where he is, and you merely went and found him, bah! that would not be
worth the trouble.  But the uncertainty of it all is what appeals to
me.  The whole world is before you, and somewhere in the world I
believe Henry Redmond is living.  Your task is to find him.  Can you do
it?"

For a few minutes Reynolds did not speak.  He was interested, but the
undertaking seemed so utterly hopeless and ridiculous that he
hesitated.  If he had the slightest clue as to the man's whereabouts it
would be different.

"How old a man was Redmond when he disappeared?" he at length asked.

"About fifty, I understand, although he appeared much older at times.
He was a fine looking man, over six feet in height, and a large head,
crowned with a wealth of hair streaked with gray, when last I saw him.
His commanding appearance attracted attention wherever he went, and
that should aid you somewhat in your search."

"Had he any family?" Reynolds questioned.

"One little girl only, for he married late in life.  His friends
thought that he would remain a permanent bachelor, and they were
greatly surprised when he unexpectedly took to himself a wife much
younger than himself, and very beautiful.  They lived most happily
together, and when his wife died Redmond was heartbroken."

"Perhaps her death affected his mind," Reynolds suggested.

"I have thought of that, and his sudden disappearance, as well as the
peculiar letter I read to you, lends color to the idea."

"What became of the child?"

"No one knows.  He evidently took her with him, and that is another
reason why I believe no harm befell him as you suggested.  The whole
affair is involved in the deepest mystery."

"And did no one attempt to solve it?" Reynolds asked.  "Was no effort
made to find the missing man?"

"There was at the time, and the newspapers far and near made mention of
his disappearance.  It was the talk of the city for several weeks, and
I understand that several men thought seriously of searching for him.
But the interest gradually waned, and he was forgotten except by a few,
of whom I am one."

Reynolds rose to his feet and picked up his hat.

"Suppose I think this over for a few days?" he suggested.  "If I get
the fever I shall let you know.  In the meantime I shall plug away at
my present job.  I can't afford to be idle, for 'idleness is the
holiday of fools,' as someone has said."

"That's fine, Tom," and the editor's face brightened with pleasure.
"And, remember, you shall be supplied with all the money you need, so
do not worry about that."

"Thank you, but I have a little of my own that will last me for a
while.  When I run through with it I may call upon you."

"Very well, do as you like, Tom.  But think it over and let me know of
your decision as soon as possible."



CHAPTER II

WHEN THE FOG-BANK LIFTED

The _Northern Light_ was lying at her wharf preparing for her long run
to the far Northern Pacific, through the numerous islands studding the
coastal waters of British Columbia, and the United States Territory of
Alaska.  All day long she had been taking on board great quantities of
freight, and now on the eve of her departure passengers were arriving.
The latter were mostly men, for new gold diggings had been discovered
back in the hills bordering the Yukon River, and old-timers were
flocking northward, anticipating another Klondyke, and all that it
might mean.

Tom Reynolds stood on the wharf noting the excitement that was taking
place around him.  Apart from the article he would prepare for the next
day's issue of _The Telegram_; he was more than usually interested in
what he beheld.  As he watched several bronzed and grizzly veterans of
many a long trail and wild stampede, a desire entered into his heart to
join them in their new adventure.  He would thus find excitement enough
to satisfy his restless nature, and perhaps at the same time share in
the golden harvest.

This longing, however, was held in check by the thought of the story he
had heard the evening before, and also by the hope of seeing again the
face he had beheld for a few fleeting seconds at the street crossing.
In fact, he had thought more of it than of the mysterious disappearance
of Henry Redmond.  For the greater part of the night and all the next
day the girl had been in his mind.  He tried to recall something more
about her, the color of her hair, how she was dressed, and whether she
was tall or short.  But he could remember nothing except the face which
alone stood out clear and distinct.  Several times during the day he
had been on the point of transferring his impressions to paper, but he
always deferred action, preferring to muse upon the beautiful vision he
had seen and to dream of meeting her again.  She must still be in the
city, he reasoned, and should he go away now his chance of finding her
would be lost forever.  That he would find her he had not the slightest
doubt, for among the crowds that passed daily along the streets he
would surely see her, and when he did--well, he was not certain what
would happen.  Anyway, he would know more about her than at present.
He was standing watching an old man with a long gray beard and wavy
hair falling below a broad-brimmed slouch hat.  He was evidently a
prospector, for he bore a good-sized pack across his right shoulder,
and was dressed as if for the trail, with a pair of coarse boots upon
his feet.  His figure was commanding, almost patriarchal, and Reynolds
watched him with much interest as he walked stately and deliberately up
the gangway.

As Reynolds turned from his observation of the old man, he gave a great
start, and his heart beat wildly, for there but a few feet from him was
the very girl he had seen at the street crossing.  She had just
alighted from an hotel auto, and was pointing out her baggage to one of
the cabin boys when Reynolds noticed her.  He leaned eagerly forward to
catch the sound of her voice, but the noise around him made this
impossible.  But he had a chance to feast his eyes upon her face, and
to note her neat dark-brown travelling suit which fitted so perfectly
her well-built erect figure.  She was of medium height, and carried
herself with complete assurance as one well accustomed to travel.  She
was apparently alone, for no one accompanied her as she presently went
on board the steamer.

Reynolds was all alert now, and his old-time enthusiasm returned.  She
was going north, and why should not he go too?  Once more thought and
action became welded, and finding that it would be three-quarters of an
hour before the steamer's departure, he hurried back to his boarding
house, gathered together his few belongings, including his artist's
outfit, thrust them into a grip, settled his board bill, and almost
raced to the _Telegram_ and _Evening News_ building, where he found the
editor who had just arrived for his nightly duties.

"I am off at once," he announced.  "How will that suit you?"

"Good for you!" was the pleased reply.  "Decided upon the Great Quest,
eh?"

"Yes, all settled, and away in twenty minutes."

"Where to?"

"Up north, to the edge of nowhere.  How will that do?"

"Found a clue?"  The editor was quite excited now.

"All the clue I need," was the evasive reply.  "I shall write as soon
as possible, telling of my wanderings.  So, good-by; I must be away."

"Have you enough money?"  The editor was on his feet now, grasping the
young man's hand in a firm grip.

"Yes, all that's necessary for the present.  If I need more I shall let
you know."

An hour later the _Northern Light_ was steaming steadily on her way.
Reynolds had been fortunate enough to obtain an upper berth, his
roommate being a young clerk destined for a branch bank in a northern
mining town.  Reynolds strolled about the boat hoping to catch a
glimpse of her who was much in his mind, but all in vain.  It rained
hard most of the next day, and the outside decks were uncomfortable.
It was toward evening that he saw her, walking slowly up and down the
hurricane deck abaft the funnel.  She was with the captain, a fine
looking, middle-aged man, and they seemed to be on very friendly terms,
for the girl was smiling at something her companion was saying.

Reynolds lighted a cigar and began to pace up and down on the opposite
side of the deck.  Others were doing the same, so no one paid any heed
to his presence.  A casual observer might have thought that the silent
young man took no interest in anything around him.  But Reynolds missed
hardly a movement of the girl but a few feet away.  He always kept a
short distance behind and was thus able to study her closely without
attracting attention.  She wore a raincoat, of a soft light material,
and her head was bare.  The wind played with her dark-brown hair, and
occasionally she lifted her hand and brushed back a wayward tress that
had drifted over her forehead.  At times he caught a glimpse of her
face as she swung around at the end of the beat, and it was always a
happy, animated face he beheld.

For about fifteen minutes this walk was continued, and Reynolds had
been unable to distinguish any of the conversation between the two.
But as they ended their promenade, and started to go below, they almost
brushed him in passing, and he heard the captain say, "Jack will be
home soon, and he will----"  That was all Reynolds was able to
overhear, and yet it was sufficient to cause him to stop so abruptly
that he nearly collided with a man a few steps behind.  Was all that
talk about Jack? he asked himself, and was that why the girl seemed so
happy in listening to her companion?  Was Jack the captain's son, and
did he have the first claim upon the girl?  Perhaps he was overseas,
and was expected home shortly.  No doubt the girl had been visiting his
people.

Such an idea had not occurred to Reynolds before, but as he thought it
all over that night as he sat silent in the smoking-room, it did indeed
seem most reasonable.  Why should he think any more about the girl? he
mused.  He had been a fool for allowing his heart to run away with his
head.  How could he for one instant imagine that such a girl would be
left until now without many admiring suitors, with one successful over
all the others?  And no doubt that one was Jack, whose name had fallen
from the captain's lips.

Although Reynolds felt that the girl was not for him, yet he could not
banish her from his mind.  She had aroused him from the paralysis of
indifference, for which he was most grateful.  He would make a
desperate effort not to be again enmeshed in such a feeling.  He would
throw himself ardently into the search for gold, and then turn his
attention to Henry Redmond, and strive to solve the mystery surrounding
the man.

After breakfast the next morning he went out on deck, and found the
girl already there comfortably seated in a large steamer chair.  She
had evidently been reading, but the book was now lying open upon her
lap, and her hands were clasped behind her head.  Reynolds caught the
gleam of a jewel on one of her fingers, and he wondered if it was an
engagement ring she was wearing.  Her eyes were looking dreamily out
across the water, away to a great fog-bank hanging and drifting over
the face of the deep.  Reynolds, too, looked, and the sight held him
spellbound.  The mass of fog slowly rose and rolled across the
newly-bathed sun.  Then it began to dissolve, and dim forms of trees
and islands made their appearance, growing more distinct moment by
moment.  The scene fascinated him.  It was truly a fairy world upon
which he was looking.

And as he looked, his eyes rested upon a dark speck just beneath the
overhanging fog.  For a few minutes it made no impression upon his
wandering mind.  But slowly he began to realize that the object was in
motion, and moving toward the steamer.  Then he saw something dark
being waved as if to attract attention.  He was all alert now, feeling
sure that someone was hailing the steamer.  In a few minutes she would
be past, when it would be too late to be of any assistance.

Turning almost instinctively toward the pilot-house, Reynolds' eyes
fell upon the captain, who was again talking to the girl.  Only for an
instant did he hesitate, and then walking rapidly along the deck, he
reached the captain's side and touched him lightly upon the arm.

"Excuse me, sir," he began, as the officer wheeled suddenly around.
"Someone seems to be signaling to you over there, just where that
fog-bank is lifting," and he pointed with his finger.

The captain and the girl both turned, and their eyes scanned the watery
expanse.

"Can you see anything, Glen?" the captain asked.  "My eyes must be
failing me."

"I do now," was the reply.  "Over there to the left," and she motioned
with her hand.  "I see it quite plainly.  It is a boat of some kind
with people in it, and they are waving to us."

"So it is!" the captain exclaimed.  "Who can it be?  However, we shall
soon find out."

He hurried away, and soon a long raucous blast ripped the air.  Then
the steamer swerved to the right and made for the small craft which was
now plainly visible.  Many of the passengers were already crowding the
rail, all greatly interested in this new diversion.

Reynolds stepped back and gave his place to another.  He could watch
the approaching boat just as well here, and at the same time study to a
better advantage the girl who was standing close to the rail.  He had
accomplished something, anyway, which was worth a great deal to him.
He had heard her speak and learned her name.  He liked "Glen," and it
seemed to suit her.  But Glen what?  He longed to know that, too.  Her
voice was soft and musical.  It appealed to him.  Yes, everything
seemed to be in harmony, he mused.  Name, voice, dress, and manner, all
suited the girl admirably.  It was a happy combination.

From where he was standing he could watch her unobserved.  He could see
the side of her face nearest to him, and he noted how flushed it was
with excitement.  She was keenly interested in the approaching boat,
and her eyes followed it most intently.

The steamer had already slowed down, and its movement now was scarcely
perceptible.  Reynolds looked at the small approaching craft, and to
his surprise he saw that it was a large canoe, being paddled by four
stalwart Indians.  There were several white men on board, although he
could not distinguish their faces.  Who could they be, and where had
they come from? he wondered.  A man standing nearby asked the same
question, though no one seemed to be able to give a satisfactory answer.

By this time the canoe was so near the steamer that from his position
Reynolds could see nothing more owing to the men crowding the rail.  He
glanced toward the girl just as she turned suddenly away from the side
of the steamer and walked rapidly across the deck.  She seemed much
agitated, and the flush had fled her face, leaving it very white.  All
this Reynolds briefly noted, and when she had disappeared through a
door leading into the observation room, he stood wrapped in thought,
wondering as to the cause of the remarkable change that had so suddenly
taken place.  Was there some mystery connected with her life, and had
she recognized someone in the canoe she did not wish to meet?  He
determined to learn what he could about the picked-up men, and to keep
his eyes and ears open for further developments.



CHAPTER III

A BIG BLAZIN' LAUGH

"Fine sight that, sir."

Reynolds turned sharply at these words, and saw the old man with the
long beard and flowing hair standing at his left.  Although he himself
was almost six feet in height, he seemed small by the side of this
stranger, who was looking calmly out over the water toward the
fog-bank, which had now lifted and was slowly dissolving.

"Ye don't see the likes of that often," he continued, "an' it ain't
everyone who kin read its meanin', either."

"What do you see there?" Reynolds asked, more interested in hearing the
man's deliberate drawl than the meaning of the fog-bank.

"Wall, it seems to me that a fog-bank hasn't a ghost of a chance fer
life when the sun hits it good an' hard."

"That one hasn't, anyway," Reynolds replied, as he watched the cloud
gradually thinning and drifting away.

"It's the same with all clouds, sir, an' it makes no difference whether
they're hangin' over the water or over one's life.  They're bound to
disappear when the sun gits after 'em."

"Do you think so?"

"I sartinly do.  Why, there isn't a cloud but'll gather up its skirts
an' run when a good big blazin' laugh gits after it.  An' that's what
we want in this world to-day; more cheerfulness, more of the joy of
life."

"Have you tried it?"

"Y'bet I have, an' it's allus worked like a charm.  I could tell ye of
many a squabble that's been settled by the means of a smilin' face an'
a good hearty laugh.  There's nuthin' like it."

"You're an optimist, I see," and Reynolds smiled for the first time in
many a day.  He could not help it, for this stranger radiated a
stimulating influence of cheerfulness and goodwill.

"I try to be, sir, an' when I see a fog-bank hoverin' over people like
that one did out yonder a little while ago, I consider it my duty to
act like the sun an' drive it away.  Then, there's good feelin' all
around, 'specially among the ones who were under the cloud."

"I imagine it is that way with those men who have just been picked up.
They must feel happy over the lifting of the fog at the right moment."

"That's jist what I mean.  It meant much to them."

"Do you know who they are?"

"Miners, no doubt, who wish to go north.  They've been prospecting
mebbe, on some of the islands along the coast, an' started out to hail
a passin' steamer.  They do it at times."

"And the steamers always pick them up?"

"Sure; they wouldn't go by without takin' 'em on board, no matter who
they are.  It's the great Brotherhood of man, ye see, back of it all,
an' ye'll find that spirit stronger the farther north ye go.  It's
different here from what it is in the big cities, an' the more ye
preach of that the better."

"Preach!  What do you mean?" Reynolds asked in amazement.

"You be one of them missionary chaps, ain't ye?"

Reynolds laughed.  "What makes you think so?"

"Dunno, 'cept yer solemncoly face, an' the way yer dressed.
Missionaries ginerally come north lookin' about as you do, to turn the
sinner from the error of his way, an' to convart the heathen Injun.
They're not overly pop'lar up thar."

"Why not?"

"Oh, they've too high an' mighty notions about the way men should live;
that's the trouble."

"And so you think they should make themselves popular with the men, eh?
In what way?"

"By bein' one of 'em, an' not bein' too hard on what they do."

"Do you think that their great Master ever said that they would be
popular, and that they were to please all men?" Reynolds defensively
asked.

"I dunno.  Guess I can't recall anything He ever said about the
matter," and the old man scratched his head in perplexity.

"Didn't He tell His first disciples that they would be hated of all men
for His name's sake when He sent them forth to do His work?"

"I believe He did," was the reluctant assent.  "But that was a long
time ago.  Things are different now."

"Only outwardly, remember.  The heart is the same in all ages; you
can't change that.  If it is evil and full of vileness, it is bound to
hate the good.  Surely you know that."

"Then you really are one of them missionary chaps?" and the old man
eyed Reynolds curiously.

"No, I am not," was the emphatic reply.

"But ye quote Scripter like a parson, though.  I thought mebbe ye was."

"Is it necessary to be a parson to know something about the Bible?
Isn't this a Christian land?  Why shouldn't I know something about the
greatest Book in the world?  My mother taught it to me when I was a
child, and I learned a great deal about it when I went to Sunday
school.  I did not value it so much then, but when over in France, with
death on all sides, much of it came back to me, and I honestly confess
it was a great comfort."

"An' so ye was over thar, young man?  Wall, that's sartinly
interestin'.  Fer how long?"

"Nearly four years.  I enlisted at the beginning of the war."

"An' come through all right?"

"Look," and Reynolds bared his left arm, showing a great scar.  "I have
several more on my body, some worse than that."

"Ye don't tell!  My, I'm glad I've met ye.  Got some medals, I s'pose."

Reynolds made no reply, as he already felt ashamed of himself for
having told this much.  It was not his nature to speak about himself,
especially to a stranger, and he was determined to say nothing about
the medals he had received for conspicuous bravery, and which he
carried in his breast pocket.

"Do you smoke?" he suddenly asked.

"Yes; an old hand at it.  Good fer the nerves."

"Well, suppose we go and have a smoke now.  I am just in the mood for
one myself."

Together they made their way to the smoking-room, which was situated
well aft.  It was partly filled with men, smoking, chatting, and
playing cards.  The air was dense with various brands of tobacco,
making it impossible to see clearly across the room.  No one paid any
heed to the two as they entered, sat down in one corner of the room,
filled and lighted their pipes.  Reynolds noted that his companion
became suddenly silent, and seemed to be deeply interested in four men
playing cards at a small table a short distance from where they were
sitting.

"Do you play?" Reynolds asked, thinking that the old man might be fond
of cards.

"No," was the brief and absent-minded reply.

Reynolds said no more, but watched the four men.  His attention was
chiefly centered upon one who was facing him, and who was doing most of
the talking.  He was a young man, with a dark moustache and black curly
hair.  He played with keen interest and in a lofty dominating manner.
Reynolds did not like his appearance, and the more he studied him the
stronger became his repugnance.  It was not only the low brutal face
that compelled this feeling, but the coarse language that reeked from
his lips.  This so disgusted Reynolds that he was about to leave the
room, when in an instant a commotion took place among the players.
They sprang to their feet, and a miniature babel ensued.

"You're cheating."

"I'm not."

"You're a liar."

These were some of the terms hurled forth in sharp rasping sentences,
and it seemed as if blood must surely be shed ere the confusion ended.
As the word "liar" rang out, a sudden silence followed, and at once
hands rested upon butts of revolvers concealed in four hip-pockets.
But before they were drawn a peculiar noise broke the stillness, which
caused Reynolds to start, for the sound came from the old prospector's
lips.

"Me-o-o-o-ow.  Me-o-o-o-ow.  Bow-wow-wow.  Bow-wow-wow."

So unexpected was this interruption that all in the room stared in
amazement, and even the four angry men turned to see whence the sound
came.  So perfect was the imitation, and so humorous the expression
upon the face of the old man, that the onlookers burst into a hearty
laugh, which caused the four inflamed players to shuffle uneasily, and
to look sheepishly at one another.  Then their mouths expanded into a
grin, and the storm was over.

The curly-haired man at once left his place and strode over to where
the prospector was sitting.

"Frontier Samson!" he exclaimed, gripping him firmly by the hand.  "Is
it really you?"

"Sure, it's me, all right, Curly.  Who else did ye think it was; me
ghost?"

"Not when I heard that cat-call, an' the bow-wow."

"Heard 'em before, eh?  Guess this isn't the first scrape I've got ye
out of, is it?"

"Should say not.  But where in h---- did ye drop from, Sam?  I didn't
know ye were on board."

"Oh, I'm jist on a visit from the outside.  An' it's mighty lucky that
I'm here, or else I don't know what 'ud have happened.  Better leave
cards alone, Curly, if ye can't play without fightin'.  They make
people act like a bunch of kids."

"It was those d---- fools' fault, though, Sam."

"Thar, now, don't make excuses an' blame others, Curly.  That's jist
what kids allus do.  An' cut out them unholy words.  There might be a
parson around."

Curly flung himself down upon a seat, and lighted a cigarette.  He cast
a furtive glance at Reynolds, thinking that perhaps he might be the
"parson."

"What have ye been doin', Curly?" the old man asked.  "An' why was ye
driftin' out under that fog-bank?  Ye nearly got left, let me tell ye
that."

"I know we did, and I thought that d----, excuse me, Sam," he
apologized, as he again glanced toward Reynolds.  "I mean, I thought
that the fog-bank would never lift.  We've been doing some of the
islands for several months."

"Strike anything?"

"Nothing, an' nearly starved in the bargain.  If it hadn't been fer an
Indian mission, we wouldn't be alive now."

"Then missionaries are of some use after all, Curly.  You was allus
hard on 'em, if I remember right."

"Umph!  They're all right when one's starving.  If they'd only leave
the Gospel dope out, it wouldn't be so bad."

"Got a dose of it, eh?"

"Should say I did.  Morning, noon an' night I had to go to church with
the Indians.  I've had enough to last me the rest of me life.  Say,
weren't we glad to get away!"

"Goin' north agin?  I thought ye was through, up thar?"

"So did I.  But we heard of the new strike at Big Draw, an' decided to
try our luck once more."

"Think ye'll hit it this time?"

"I hope so.  But it isn't altogether the gold that's taking me back.
There's something more attractive."

"So I imagined."

"I thought you would understand."  Curly's voice was eager now.
"She'll not escape me this time.  Gad, she's a beaut!  But as wild as a
hawk."

"An' so ye think ye'll corner her, eh?"  There was a peculiar note in
Samson's voice which Reynolds was quick to detect, but which Curly
missed.

"Just you wait an' see," the latter reminded.  "That old cuss thinks
he's got a regular Gibraltar behind those hills with his lousy Indians.
But I'll show him a thing or two."

"Ye've never been thar, have ye?" Samson queried.

"Never.  But the bird comes out of her nest sometimes, ye know, an'
then----"

"You'll be the hawk, is that it?" Samson asked as the other paused.

"Oh, I'll be around," Curly laughed.  "One doesn't run across the likes
of her every day, an' she's the gold I'm really after."

"Wall, all I kin say is this," the prospector replied, as he rose
slowly to his feet, "that ye'd better be mighty keerful, young man.
That Giberalter, as ye call it, is guarded by a lion that ain't to be
fooled with.  He's got claws that reach from sun-up to sun-down as
several smarter ones than you have found out to their sorrow.  Leave
him alone, an' he'll bother nobody.  But interfere with that lass of
his, an' the hull north won't be big enough to hide ye.  That's my
warnin', an' if yer not a fool ye'll heed it."

Reynolds had a good long sleep that afternoon.  He had been much
disturbed the night before by several men in the next room, who shouted
and sang until early morning.  During the evening he went out upon
deck, well forward, as he wished to be alone, and away from the men who
were drinking and gambling in other parts of the steamer.  It was a
beautiful evening, with scarcely a ripple disturbing the surface of the
water.  The air was mild, and when the sun went down, the moon rose big
and cheery above the dense dark forest away to the right.  Reynolds
thought over the conversation he had heard between Frontier Samson and
the man known as "Curly."  That the latter was a scoundrel he had not
the slightest doubt.  His face alone would have betrayed him even if he
had not spoken a word.  He was curious concerning the reference to
"Gibraltar," the "lion," and the "lass."

As he thus sat and mused, listening to the zip-zip of the vessel as it
cut through the water, his mind naturally drifted off to her of the
street crossing incident.  He wondered what had become of her.  Why had
she left the railing in such a hurry, and what was the cause of the
sudden pallor that had come upon her face?  Had Curly anything to do
with her agitation, and was it possible that she was the girl to whom
he referred?  As this idea flashed into his mind, he sat bolt upright
in his chair.  It did seem reasonable when he considered it.  In fact,
it gave him a certain degree of pleasure as well.  If his suspicions
were true, then the girl needed protection from that brute, and was it
not his duty to keep a sharp lookout, and if necessary to protect her
from all harm?

And as he thought of this, the girl herself came upon deck, and walked
at once toward the bow close to the tall flag-staff, which pointed
upwards like a quivering slender needle.  Reynolds could see her
plainly as she stood looking straight before her.  A cloak was thrown
carelessly over her shoulders, and her head was bare.  What a perfect
picture of gracefulness she presented to the admiring young man as he
watched her by the light of the full-orbed moon.  How he longed to go
forward, speak to her, and listen to her voice.  But, no, he did not
dare to do that.  He must adore her at a distance and wonder what she
was thinking about.

Presently an idea leaped into his mind that thrilled his entire being.
He was pushing out into the Great Unknown, with all its dangers and
uncertainties.  But standing there before him was his guiding star, the
one girl in all the world who unconsciously had inspired and stirred
him to action.  Was she really to be his guiding star?  Anyway, the
sight of her standing before him seemed to be a favorable portent of
the future.

For almost half an hour the girl stood silently at the bow, apparently
unconscious that anyone was near.  Reynolds remained a long time after
she had gone.  It was good to be there on such a night, with no one to
disturb him, alone with a fair vision before him, and a sweet peace in
his soul.



CHAPTER IV

BEYOND THE GREAT WHITE PASS

"All aboard!"

The train was on the point of pulling out from the little coast town of
Skagway on its run inland of one hundred and ten miles.  There had been
much bustle and excitement ever since the steamer landed early that
morning.  But now everything was in readiness, the signal had been
given, and the train began to move.

Reynolds was comfortably seated and looking out of the open window,
when Frontier Samson came and sat down by his side.  The old prospector
was much out of breath and panting heavily.

"I nearly missed the train," he explained.  "She was movin' when I
swung on board."

"Sight-seeing, eh?" Reynolds queried.

"That's about it, I guess.  Watchin' a mix-up, an' gittin' Curly out of
a scrape.  That's what delayed me."

"What was the trouble?"

"Oh, the same old story.  Curly kin never mind his own bizness.  He's
allus pokin' his nose into other people's affairs.  He's too sassy."

"Where is he now?"

"In the smoker.  I had to drag him along with me, an' that's what made
me late."

"Why didn't you leave him behind?"

"I should have done that.  But it's the Brotherhood, ye see, that made
me do it.  That feller ain't safe runnin' at large, an' somebody's got
to keep an eye on him, 'specially up here."

"It seems to me that you have undertaken a big task," and Reynolds
smiled.

"Indeed I have an' no one knows that better'n me.  If I had my way,
he'd be shipped off to some Penitentiary.  That's the right place for
the likes of him.  An' he'll land thar some day, as sure as guns.  But
in the meantime somebody's got to watch him."

Reynolds made no reply.  In fact, he hardly heard his companion's last
words, for his eyes were riveted upon the wonderful sights around him.
Above towered the peaks of the White Pass Range, grand and majestic.
Away to the left, and far above, could be seen the railway track,
twisting along the mountain side like a thin dark thread.  It seemed
incredible that the train could make such a tremendous climb.

"Do we go up there?" he asked in amazement.

"Sure.  We'll be thar in a short time, but it takes four engines,
though, to tug us up.  Then ye'll see something that'll make ye wonder.
Guess thar's nuthin' like it in the hull world.  We'll go up three
thousand feet, an' it'll be the nearest to heaven that some of the
chaps on this train'll ever be.  Jist look at that, now!"

Reynolds was indeed looking.  Far down below a few cabins appeared like
little toy houses, while away beyond could be seen the blue cold waters
of the North Pacific.  The air was becoming keen.  But it was bracing
and stimulating.

"Say, I'd like to paint that!" he mused half aloud.  "It is grand,
stupendous, appalling!  And what a work to build this road!  How was it
ever done!"

"It sartinly was, young man.  It cost a mint of money, to say nuthin'
of the lives sacrificed.  Thar was some mighty bad accidents on this
bit of road, though thar was some funny ones, too.  I often have a good
laugh to meself whenever I think of one of the stories that was told."

"What was it?" Reynolds asked.  He was interested in everything now.

"Wall, ye see, the company that built this road was considered mighty
mean, an' ground the men down to the last cent.  One day a big blast
went off before its time, an' a feller was blown high into the air.
Everybody thought fer sure that thar wouldn't be a speck of him left.
But strange to say, in about fifteen minutes he came down pat on his
feet, an' but fer a few bruises an' a bad shakin' up he was as chipper
as ye please.  He got another shock, though, at the end of the week
which nearly put him out of bizness."

The old man paused, and a smile overspread his face as he gazed
thoughtfully out of the window.

"Yes," he continued, "it sartinly was some shock, an' no mistake.  When
he went to the office to be paid fer his week's work, he found that the
company had docked him two-bits fer the fifteen minutes he was absent
on that air-trip when the blast went off.  Now, what d'ye think of
that?"

"Close shaving, I should say," was the reply.  "It's a good yarn,
though, and worth remembering.  But, my, isn't that a wonderful sight!"
And Reynolds motioned to the great mountains away in the distance.  "We
seem to be surrounded by them."

"So we are, young man.  Ye can't escape 'em in the north any more'n ye
kin git clear of the sky-scrapers in New York.  But them over thar are
the work of the Almighty, an' a grand job He made of 'em.  This hull
land reminds me of a big cathedral; the woods an' valleys are the
aisles, an' the mountains are the spires pointin' man to heaven.  I
tell ye, it's a great place out alone on the hills to worship.  Yer not
cramped thar, an' it doesn't matter what kind of clothes ye have on.
It's wonderful the sights ye see an' the things ye hear.  Talk about
music!  Why, ye have the finest in the world when nature's big organ
gits to work, 'specially at night.  I've shivered from head to toe when
the wind was rippin' an' roarin' through the woods, down the valleys,
an' along the mountain passes.  That's the music fer me!"

"You seem to love this country," Reynolds remarked, as he noted the
intense admiration upon his companion's face.

"I sartinly do, young man.  It grips me jist as soon as I cross this
range.  Thar's nuthin' like it to my way of thinkin', though it takes
ye years to find it out.  Yet, it doesn't altogether satisfy the soul,
although it helps.  Thar's something within a man that needs more'n the
mountains an' the wonderful things around him.  But, thar, I must see
what Curly's doin'.  He may be up to some more mischief."

Although Reynolds was much interested in the scenery and in listening
to the philosophy of the old prospector, yet his mind turned
continually to Glen, for it was by that name he now thought of her.  He
knew that she was on the train, for he had seen her as she stepped
aboard but a few minutes before it left the coast.  She had passed
close to where he was standing, carrying a grip in her hand.  He had
caught sight of the leather tag fastened to the handle of the grip, and
had strained his eyes in a futile effort to read the name written
thereon.  He was determined in some manner to find out what that name
was, as he feared lest he should lose her altogether when the journey
by rail was ended.  He must have something more definite than the one
word Glen.

This opportunity was afforded him when he entered the principal hotel
of the little town of Whitehorse at the terminus of the railway.  It
was just across the street from the station, and when he arrived at the
office she was there before him, and about to enter her name in the
hotel register.  He stood by her side and watched her write.  It was a
firm sun-browned hand that held the pen, and she wrote in a rapid
business-like way.  "Glen Weston" were the only words Reynolds saw
there as he wrote his own name a minute later below hers.  She had not
even mentioned where she was from--that space was left blank.  He also
noticed that the hotel clerk seemed to know who she was, for he was
more affable to her than to anyone else.  She asked him if her father
had yet arrived, and she appeared disappointed when he answered in the
negative.

The name "Glen Weston" kept running through Reynolds' mind all that
evening.  He liked it, and it suited her admirably, so he thought.  But
who was she, and where was she going?  That was what he wished to know.

The town of Whitehorse was of considerable interest to Reynolds as he
strolled that evening through its various streets.  It was a surprise
to him as well, for he had not expected to find such a settled
community.  He had imagined that all such towns in the north were wild
and almost lawless places, abounding in desperate characters, ready to
shoot on the slightest provocation.  But here all was order, and it was
little different from one of the many small conventional towns in
Eastern Canada.  There were several up-to-date stores, a large post
office, bank, churches, and comfortable dwelling houses, though many of
the latter were built of logs.  The Royal Northwest Mounted Police had
their large barracks at the rear of the town under the brow of a high
hill, where all day long the flag of the clustered crosses floated from
its tall white staff in the centre of the square.

It was the time of year when the light of day reaches far into the
night, and deep darkness is unknown.  The sun merely dips for a few
hours below the mountain Crests, and skims along the horizon, thus
illuminating the western sky, and holding back the heavy draperies of
night.  The light on the far-off ranges and the glory of the distant
heavens fascinated Reynolds.  He had beheld many beautiful sunsets, but
never such a one as this, and his entire soul was stirred within him.

Leaving the level of the town, he climbed the hill, and there on the
edge of the steep bank he feasted his eyes upon the wonderful panorama
stretched out before him.  Like a silver thread the river wound its
sinuous way between its steep banks, and faded from view amidst its
setting of dark firs and jack-pines; around rose the mountains, their
great sides either bathed in the glow of evening, or lying sombre and
grim, telling of crouching valleys and funnel-like draws from which the
light of day had retreated.  And below lay the little town, silent save
for the occasional bark of a dog, or the shrill voices of children away
to the right.

For some time Reynolds remained here.  He was in no hurry to go
elsewhere, for the evening was mild and conducive to thought.  There
was nothing to take him back to the hotel, and he preferred to be out
of doors.  Just what he was to do next he had no clear idea.  He knew
that somewhere out from this town was the new mining camp for which he
had started.  But where it was and how to reach it he had not the
faintest knowledge.  In truth, he had never been sufficiently
interested to make any inquiries, even from Frontier Samson.  What had
become of the prospector, he wondered, as he had not seen him since his
arrival in town.  And where was Glen?  He had followed her this far,
and was he to lose her after all?  She had aroused him to action, and
caused him to take this long and apparently foolish journey.  But he
had not spoken a word to her, and so far as he knew she was totally
unaware of his existence.  He smiled at the thought, and wondered what
his friend, the editor, would say if he knew of it.  And what about his
search for the missing man, Henry Redmond?  Instead of throwing himself
earnestly and actively into the quest he was frittering away his time,
following the will-o'-the-wisp of a fancy, and going daft over a mere
slip of a girl who moved serenely apart from his world of thought and
being.  He called himself a fool and chided himself over and over
again.  But for all that, he was unable to tear her out of his heart
and mind.  She seemed to belong to him, and to no one else.

"I believe that my experiences in France have affected my brain," he
muttered, as he at length rose to his feet.  "I am sure I was not like
this before the war.  But here I am now dazzled and mystified by a fair
face, a pair of sparkling eyes, and the charm of a name.  This will
never do.  I must shake off this fascination, or I shall be good for
nothing."

He walked rapidly down the hill, and then along a trail that wound
through a thicket of small fir trees.  This brought him in a few
minutes to one of the streets leading straight to the river.  He walked
slower now, much interested in the quaint log houses, with here and
there a miner's or a prospector's tent.  Presently he saw before him a
large building, with galvanized roof and sides.  People were entering
the place, and drawing nearer, the sound of music fell upon his ears.
A band was playing, he could easily tell, and it was dancing music at
that.

Reaching the building, Reynolds paused and listened.  The music was
good, the best he had heard in a long time.  Through an open door he
could see men playing billiards and pool.  It was a lively and an
attractive scene, which caused him to enter and stand for a while near
the door watching the games.  No one paid any attention to him, and
from what he observed there were others like himself, strangers, who
found the time hanging heavily on their hands, and had dropped into the
place for the sake of companionship.  There were several large tables,
and these were all occupied by eager players.  Nearby was a bar, where
drinks of various kinds were being served.  The room was brilliantly
lighted by electricity, and the whole atmosphere of the place was most
congenial.

At one end of the billiard room were two doors, and here a number of
people were standing watching the dancing that was going on in the main
part of the building.  Reynolds presently joined them, and he was
greatly surprised at the size of the room, and the number of people
upon the floor.  There was a gallery immediately overhead, and here the
band was placed.

For a few minutes Reynolds stood and watched the dancers in a somewhat
indifferent manner.  He learned from a man standing by his side that
this building belonged to a town club, and that such dances were not
uncommon, at which most of the people attended.

At first Reynolds could not recognize anyone he knew, but as he
watched, he gave a great start, for there but a short distance away was
Glen, and her partner was none other than the rascal, Curly.  He could
hardly believe his eyes, and he followed them most intently as they
moved about the room.  He felt certain now that Glen was the girl
mentioned by Curly on the steamer in his conversation with Frontier
Samson.  He had found her, and was it to her liking? he wondered.  He
recalled her pale face and agitated manner as Curly boarded the vessel
along the coast.  Was he the cause of her distress, or was it someone
else?  It seemed then as if she wished to keep clear of the fellow, and
her seclusion during the remainder of the voyage lent color to this
idea.  But here she was dancing with him, and apparently enjoying
herself.  All this puzzled Reynolds as he stood there, unheeding
everything else save those special two.

When the music ceased, Glen and Curly walked across the room and sat
down but a short distance from the door.  Reynolds could see the girl's
face most plainly now, and he could tell at a glance that she was
unhappy.  Curly, on the other hand, was very animated and did all of
the talking.  He was speaking in a low voice and seemed very much in
earnest.  Occasionally the girl shook her head, and looked uneasily
around as if fearful lest someone should overhear what was being said.
At length, however, as she glanced to her right, her face brightened,
and the light of joy leaped into her eyes.  Reynolds also turned his
head, and he was surprised to see, standing not far away, a tall and
powerfully-built Indian.  Where he had come from Reynolds had not the
least idea, but there he was, clad in a soft buckskin suit, motionless,
and heeding no one except the young girl sitting by Curly's side.  His
placid face relaxed a little, however, as Glen moved swiftly to where
he was standing and spoke to him in a low voice.  The Indian merely
nodded in reply, and without even glancing around upon the curious
watchers in the room, he at once followed the girl as she passed out of
the building through a side door which opened upon the street.



CHAPTER V

COMRADES OF THE TRAIL

There was no wild stampede to the Big Draw mining camp on Scupper
Creek, where gold had been discovered.  There had been so many such
reports in the past which proved but flurries, that many of the
old-timers became sceptical, and waited for further developments.
There were some, however, who were always on the lookout for anything
new, and the hope of making a strike induced them to hasten away at the
least information of any discovery.  These drifted forth in little
groups by the way of the river and mountain passes.  Among such there
were always newcomers, men from the outside, as well as miners who had
left the country years before.

It was with the latest arrivals that Reynolds made his way into Big
Draw.  He was accustomed to life in the open, and his recent experience
of camp life in France served him in good stead now.  He had just
himself to look after, and, accordingly, he did not need a large
outfit.  He also learned that provisions could be procured at the
mining camp, where a store had been established.  He, therefore, took
with him only what was absolutely necessary, such as a small tent, a
few cooking utensils, a good rifle, and sufficient food to last him for
several days.  A steamer would carry him part of the way, while the
rest of the journey would be made overland on foot.

After her departure from the dance that night, Reynolds saw nothing
more of Glen.  He found that she had left the hotel, but where she had
gone he did not know.  He inquired of the clerk, and was answered with
a curt "Don't know."  He wondered who the Indian could be.  There
seemed to be a mutual understanding between him and the girl, at any
rate, and they must have departed together.  During the remainder of
his stay in town he had wandered about the streets, with the faint hope
that he might again see the girl, or learn something as to her
whereabouts.

Frontier Samson had also disappeared, and no one seemed to know
anything about him.  Reynolds did not mind asking about the old
prospector, as it was different from enquiring about Glen.  In fact,
the girl had become so real to him and such a vital part of his very
existence that should he speak of her to others he might betray his
deep concern.

During the voyage down river he thought much about her and tried to
imagine who she really was and what had become of her.  The idea even
suggested itself that she might be that stolid Indian's wife.  Strange
things often happened in the north, so he had read, and this might be
one of them.  He banished the thought, however, as too ridiculous, and
beyond the bounds of probability.

The voyage was an uneventful one to Reynolds, who kept much to himself
and did not join his companions at cards, which were played day and
night.  At times there was considerable roughness, though no shooting.
Curly was there, and enjoying himself to his heart's content.  He
played most of the time, losing and winning in turn.  Reynolds often
sat and watched him as he played, wondering where the fellow had first
met Glen and what he knew about her.  He had never spoken to the
rascal, and had no inclination to do so.  But several times glancing up
from his cards Curly noticed Reynolds' eyes fixed intently upon him.
Although he had found out that the quiet, reserved man was not a
"parson," yet he knew that he had been with Frontier Samson, and he was
curious to know what the old prospector had told him about his career.
His record was so black that he naturally became suspicious until he at
length imagined that the young man with the steady unswerving eyes was
following him north with some special object in view.  The idea annoyed
him, although he said nothing, but went on with his game.

It took the little steamer some time to reach her destination, as she
had to buck a heavy current part of the way.  When she at length tied
up at the landing where the trail over the mountain began, the
passengers scrambled quickly ashore, and started at once upon their
hard journey, carrying heavy loads upon their backs.  With their long
trip of several thousand miles almost at an end, the excitement of the
quest increased, and eagerly and feverishly they pressed forward, each
anxious to be the first of the party to reach the mining camp.

But Reynolds was in no hurry.  He had not the same incentive as the
others, and so long as his supply of food lasted he was as contented on
the trail as anywhere else.  His pack was heavy and the day promised to
be very warm.  He preferred to be alone, away from the insipid chatter
and profanity of his companions.  It would give him an opportunity to
think and to study the beauty of the landscape.

Leaving the landing, he walked along the trail, which in a short time
began to ascend around the right side of the mountain.  Here he stopped
and looked back.  The river wound below, and the little steamer was
lying at the bank discharging her cargo.  It was the last link between
him and the great outside world of civilization.  In a few hours it
would be gone, and for an instant there came to him the longing to go
back and give up his foolish quest.  He banished the temptation,
however, and plodded steadily on his way.  He had never turned back
yet, and he was determined that this should not be the first time.  He
had the unaccountable conviction that the lap of the future held
something in store for him, and that he would come into his own in due
time.

The higher he climbed the more wonderful became the view.  The trail
twisted around the mountain side, and from this vantage ground the
solitary traveller could look forth upon vast reaches of forest and
great wild meadows far below, with here and there placid lakes,
mirroring trees, mountain peaks, and billowy clouds.  The voices of his
companions had long since died away, and he was alone with the brooding
silence all around, and his own thoughts for company.

At noon he rested under the shade of an old storm-beaten tree, and ate
his meagre lunch.  This finished, he lighted his pipe and stretched
himself full length upon the mossy ground.  He was feeling more
contented than he had been in many a day.  The air was invigorating,
and a desire came over him to be up and doing.  His old indifference to
life seemed to slip away like a useless and impeding garment, leaving
him free for action.  He even thought with pleasure of mingling again
in the activities of civilization, and winning for himself a worthy
reputation.  He would make good in the north, and then go back and
surprise his friend, the editor, and all who knew him.

So strong was this feeling that he sat suddenly up, wondering what had
come over him to cause the subtle change.  "It must be the wild mystery
of this region," he mused.  "It is stimulating and impelling.  It may
be the spirit of the mountains, and the other grand things of nature.
They are carrying out the designs for which they were intended, and
perhaps they have silently rebuked me for being a traitor to the
highest that is in me.  But I shall show them a thing or two, if I am
not much mistaken."

Springing lightly to his feet, he continued his journey.  His step was
more buoyant, his heart lighter, and the pack seemed less heavy than
when he left the river.

He travelled all that afternoon, crossed the summit, and moved swiftly
down the opposite slope.  It was easy walking now, and he hoped to
reach the valley and there spend the night.  He believed that he should
find water among that heavy timber ahead of him, and thither he made
his way.  Neither was he mistaken, for when his steps at length began
to lag he heard the ripple of water drifting up the trail.  As he drew
nearer he smelled the smoke of a camp-fire, and the appetizing odor of
roasting meat.  "Somebody must be camping there," he mused, "and I may
have company.  I am sorry, but then it can't be helped."

The brook was a small one, shallow, and Reynolds easily sprang across.
Gaining the opposite bank, he peered among the trees, and to his
surprise he saw Frontier Samson squatting upon the ground, roasting a
grouse over a fire he had previously lighted.  The old prospector's
face brightened as the young man approached.

"My, y've been a long time comin'," he accosted.  "I thought mebbe ye'd
played out, tumbled down the side of the mountain, or a grizzly had
gobbled ye up.  What in time kept ye so long?"

"And where in the world did you come from?" Reynolds asked in reply, as
he unslung his pack and tossed it aside.  "I never expected to meet you
here."

"Ye didn't, eh?  Wall, ye never want to be surprised at anything I do.
I'm here to-day an' somewhere else to-morrow.  I'm allus on the move,
rovin' from place to place.  It's me nature, I guess."

"A rolling stone gathers no moss, so I've heard.  Is that the way with
you?" Reynolds asked, with a twinkle to his eyes.

"I may git no moss, young man, an' not become a fossil like some of the
fellers in big cities, but I git a heap of rubbin' with me rollin', an'
that keeps me brightened up."

"But how did you get here ahead of me?" Reynolds questioned.  "You were
not on the steamer, and I am certain you didn't walk."

Samson drew the grouse from the fire, and examined it critically.
Finding it not done to his satisfaction, he thrust it back again.

"Jist hand me that fryin'-pan, will ye?" and he motioned to his left.
"I want it handy when the bird's cooked.  Ye didn't expect to find a
supper here to-night, young man, did ye?" and he looked quizzically at
Reynolds.

"Indeed I didn't," was the emphatic reply.

"Neither did ye imagine that it 'ud be a grouse's bones ye'd be
pickin'.  Why, it's no tellin' where that bird was three days ago.  It
may have been fifty miles or more away, fer all we know.  But it's here
now, isn't it?"

"It looks very much like it," and Reynolds laughed.

"Wall, that's jist the way with many other things.  It's allus the
unexpected that happens, an' thar are surprises on every trail, as
ye'll larn if ye haven't done so already.  Meetin' me here is one of
'em, an' my movements are jist as unsartin an' mysterious as were them
of that bird which is now sizzlin' over this fire."

"But with not such an unhappy ending, I hope," and again Reynolds
smiled.

The prospector's eyes twinkled as he drew the bird from the fire, and
laid it carefully in the frying-pan.

"Guess it's done all right this time," he remarked.  "Now fer supper.
I'm most starved."

Reynolds was hungry, and he did full justice to the meal.  Samson had
some excellent sour-dough bread of which he was very proud.

"Made it last night," he explained, "an' it turned out better'n usual.
Thought mebbe I'd have company before long."

"Did you meet the others?" Reynolds asked.

"Oh, yes, I met 'em," Samson chuckled.

"Were they far ahead?"

"Y' bet, an' chatterin' like a bunch of monkeys.  Guess they're thar by
now."

"Were they surprised to see you?"

"H'm, they didn't see me.  I was settin' under a tree well out of
sight.  I didn't want to meet that crowd; they're not to my likin'.  I
jist wished to see if Curly was along."

"You seem to be keepin' a sharp eye on that fellow still," Reynolds
remarked.  He was anxious to draw the prospector out.  Perhaps he might
learn something about Curly's acquaintance with Glen.

"Yes, I do keep me eyes peeled fer Curly," Samson drawled, as he
finished his supper and pulled out his pipe.  "It's necessary, let me
tell ye that.  He ain't safe nohow."

"You have known him for some time, then?"

"Long enough to be suspicious of the skunk."

"He seems to be very friendly with you, though."

"Oh, he's got sense enough not to buck up aginst me.  An' besides, I've
yanked him out of many a nasty fix.  Most likely he'd been planted long
before this if I hadn't been around at the right moment."

"He's up here for more than gold, so I understand."

"How did ye larn that, young man?"  There was a sharp note in Samson's
voice.

"Oh, I merely overheard your conversation with him in the smoking-room
of the _Northern Light_.  That was all, but I drew my own conclusion."

"An' what was that?"

"Nothing very definite.  I simply inferred that he is after a girl
somewhere here in the north, and that she is so guarded by a lion of a
father that Curly hasn't much of a chance."

"An' so that's what ye surmised, is it?" the prospector queried.

"Am I right?"

"Guess yer not fer astray."

"Have you seen the girl?  Do you know her father?"

"Have I seen the girl?  Do I know her father?" the old man slowly
repeated.  "Yes, I believe I've seen her, all right.  But as fer
knowin' her father, wall, that's a different thing.  Frontier Samson
doesn't pretend to know Jim Weston; he never did."

"Weston, did you say?" Reynolds eagerly asked.

"That's what I said, young man.  The name seems to interest ye."

"It does.  When I registered at the hotel in Whitehorse, the name just
before mine was 'Glen Weston,' and the girl who wrote it came north on
the _Northern Light_.  Do you suppose she is Jim Weston's daughter?"

"She might be," was the somewhat slow reply.  "As I told ye before,
it's ginerally the unexpected that happens.  Anyway, ye can't tell much
by names these days."

"But Curly knows her, for I saw them together at a dance the night I
arrived in town."

"Ye did!"  The prospector took his pipe from his mouth and stared hard
at Reynolds.  "Are ye sure?"

"Positive.  Why, I was standing at the door watching the dance, when I
saw the two together upon the floor.  Later they came over and sat down
quite close to me.  Curly did most of the talking, and the girl seemed
quite uneasy.  She left shortly after with a fine-looking Indian, who
had evidently come for her.  I have not seen her since."

"So Curly was dancin' with her," Samson mused.  "Then she must be Jim
Weston's gal.  I wonder what the old man'll say when he hears about it?"

"How will he know?"

"Oh, he'll find out, all right.  There's nuthin' that misses him here
in the north."

"What will he do to Curly?"

"I wouldn't like to say at present.  That remains to be seen."

"Is this Jim Weston a desperate character?"

"The ones who have tried to fool with him say he is, an' I guess they
ought to know.  He's a holy terror when he gits goin', 'specially when
anyone's after that lass of his."

"The men up here all know about her, I suppose?"

"Should say so.  They're about crazy over her.  She's been the cause of
many a row, an' several shootin' rackets."

"Does she favor anyone?"

"Not as fer as I know.  She's in a class all by her lonesome, an' well
able to take care of herself.  She's not anxious fer lovers, so I
understand, at least, not the brand ye find up here.  She's some lass,
all right, an' whoever succeeds in winnin' her'll be a mighty lucky
chap."

"What does her father do?  Is he a miner?"

"It's jist hard to tell what Jim Weston does an' what he doesn't do.
No one seems to know fer sartin.  He lives like a lord on Big Lake, way
over yonder," and Samson motioned to the east.  "All the folks know
that he lives thar with his lass, guarded by a hull pack of Injuns.
But what he does an' what he doesn't do is a mighty problem."

"His daughter travels, though, and alone at that, doesn't she?"
Reynolds queried.

"Occasionally.  Jim's givin' her an eddication, so I hear.  She must be
comin' back now, as this is vacation time."

"But what happened to her, do you suppose, after the dance that night?"
Reynolds asked.  "She disappeared as if by magic, and I believe the big
Indian had something to do with it."

"How d'ye know she disappeared?" was the sudden and somewhat
embarrassing question.

Reynolds laughed, and his face flushed.  He knew that he had betrayed
himself, and that the prospector noted his confusion.

"Oh, I didn't notice her in town," he explained, "and I saw by the
register that she had left the hotel."

"So you're interested in her, too, are ye, young man?"

"I certainly am," was the candid confession.  "From the moment that I
first saw her at a street crossing in Vancouver she has been hardly out
of my mind.  I never saw any girl who affected me so much, and she is
the reason why I am here now."

"Ye don't tell!"  Samson tapped the ashes out of his pipe, and then
stretched himself full length upon the ground.  "Make a clean breast of
it, young man," he encouraged.  "I'm an old hardened chap meself, but I
do like to hear a real interestin' heart-story once in a while.  I git
sick an' disgusted listenin' to brutes on two legs, callin' themselves
men when they talk about women.  But when it comes to a clean young
feller, sich as I take you to be, tellin' of his heart-stroke, then
it's different, an' I'm allus pleased to listen."

And make a clean breast of it Reynolds did.  He was surprised at
himself for talking so freely as he told about his indifference to life
until he first saw Glen Weston.  It was easy to talk there in the
silence of the great forest, with the shadows of evening closing around
and such a sympathetic listener nearby.  He felt better when his story
was ended, for he had shared his heart feeling with one worthy of his
confidence, so he believed.

Frontier Samson remained silent for a few minutes after the confession
had been concluded..  He looked straight before him off among the trees
as if he saw something there.  Reynolds wondered what he was thinking
about, and whether he considered him a fool for becoming so infatuated
over a mere girl.

"I must seem ridiculous to you," he at length remarked.  "Would any man
in his senses act as I have?"

"Ye might do worse," was the quiet reply.  "I am sartinly interested in
what ye've jist told me, an' I thank ye fer yer confidence.  Me own
heart was stirred once, an' the feelin' ain't altogether left me yit.
But ye've got a difficult problem ahead of ye, young man.  Ye want that
lass, so I believe, but between you an' her stands Jim Weston."

"And the girl, why don't you say?"

"Sure, sure; she's to be considered.  But a gal kin be won when she
takes a fancy to a man of your make-up.  The trouble'll be with her
dad, an' don't fergit that.  But thar, I guess we've talked enough
about this fer the present.  I'm dead beat an' want some sleep.  We
must be away early in the mornin', remember."

"What! are you going my way?" Reynolds eagerly asked.

"Sure; if ye'd like to have me along.  I'm bound fer Big Draw meself."

It was just what Reynolds desired.  He liked the old prospector, and
now that he had confided to him his tale of love, he was drawn closer
than ever to this wandering veteran of the trails.



CHAPTER VI

A SHOT THAT TOLD

The life at Big Draw mining camp on Scupper Creek did not appeal to
Reynolds.  He watched the men at work upon their various claims, and
noted how meagre was their success.  They toiled like slaves, lured on
by the hope of a rich strike that never came.  The principal place of
meeting was the roadhouse, where "Shorty" Bill held sway.  He lodged
men, served meals, and conducted a bar.  He was a good-hearted fellow,
rough and uncouth, but well liked by all, and a genial companion.  It
was, therefore, but natural that at this place many of the men should
congregate at night, and at times during the day, for a brief respite
from their labors.  It was here, too, that news would occasionally
drift in from the outside world, which would be discussed by the men as
they played cards, the only amusement for which they seemed to care.
When the mail arrived, as it did at irregular intervals, all work on
the creek was suspended, and the men flocked to the roadhouse to
receive their scanty dole of letters and papers.  Shorty was the
custodian of the mail after its arrival, and he magnified his office.
With a quid of tobacco tucked away in his cheek, he would study each
address most carefully before calling forth the owner's name in a
stentorian voice.

Although mining was not in his line, Reynolds realised that he must do
something.  As he studied the life of the camp, and watched the men at
their work, he thought of his friend, the editor.  What an article he
might write for _The Telegram_ that would make the editor's eyes dance
with joy.  And he could do it, too, he felt certain, if he could only
get up sufficient energy.  He could add a number of sketches drawn from
life, which would be of much value.  He thought of all this as he
wandered aimlessly around, and as he lay at night in his little tent.

Several days thus passed without anything being done.  Frontier Samson
had again disappeared, and no one had any idea where he had gone.
Reynolds soon grew tired with having nothing to do, so he accordingly
turned his attention to the hills.  Fresh meat was urgently needed for
the camp, as the miners would not spare the time to go after it
themselves.  Wild sheep roamed the mountains, and Reynolds decided that
he could make more money by supplying the camp with meat than digging
for the uncertain gold.  It would also satisfy his desire to get away
into the wilds, where he could explore to his heart's content the
mysteries of the foothills, the great valleys, and the vast expanses of
wild meadows.

Reynolds at once put this plan into execution, and each morning he left
camp for a day in the hills.  At night he returned, loaded down with a
mountain sheep he had bagged, and which he readily sold for several
ounces of gold.  When not hunting, he would spend his time either
exploring some creek or lying on the hillside studying the scenery
around him, and imbibing impressions for the masterpieces he planned to
produce.

But it was not always the beauties of nature which occupied his mind.
No matter where he went Glen was ever with him.  In some mysterious
manner she seemed to be near, and he wondered if he should ever see her
again.  He often looked away to the east, for there Frontier Samson had
told him she lived.  How far off was the place? he asked himself, and
if he did find her what would her lion of a father do?  He was tempted
to make the try, anyway, and find out for himself if Jim Weston was as
desperate a character as he had been painted.  He could do no more than
kill him, and he did not fear death.  Had he not often faced it on the
field of battle, and why should he shrink now?

The more Reynolds thought about this, the more inclined he became to
make the effort.  It would be another grand adventure to once again go
over the top.  He might fail, but he would have the satisfaction of
making the attempt and showing Glen that he was not a coward.  He had
been longing for some wild undertaking, and here was the opportunity
right at hand.  It would be far more preferable than spending his time
around camp, or even hunting mountain sheep.

He was thinking seriously of this one beautiful afternoon as he lay on
the side of a deep ravine beneath a big weather-beaten fir tree.
Below, a brook gurgled, now very small owing to the dryness of the
season, but at times swollen by floods into a raging torrent.  Across
this ravine the mountain rose steep and rugged.  Along its side a
narrow trail wound, worn smooth by the feet of Indians, mountain sheep,
and other denizens of the wild.  Reynolds idly wondered whither the
trail led, and he was half tempted to start forth on an exploration
journey.  But it was so comfortable there on the hillside that he gave
up the idea, so, lying full upon his back with his hands under his
head, he watched the tops of the far-off mountains, and the clouds
drifting across the great savannas of the blue.

For some time he remained thus, thinking of Glen and recalling the last
time he had seen her.  He was trying once more to solve the mystery of
her disappearance from Whitehorse, when a sudden noise across the
ravine arrested his attention.  Casting his eyes in that direction,
great was his surprise to see a woman mounted on a magnificent horse
riding slowly down that crooked and dangerous trail.  Then his heart
leaped within him as he recognized Glen.  What was he to do? he
intuitively asked himself.  Should he remain where he was, or hurry
down to the brook to meet her?  But what right had he to go near her?
He had never spoken a word to her, and as she did not even know who he
was, she might resent his appearance.  Would it not be better for him
to remain where he was, and worship at a distance?  But was it
gentlemanly that he should stay there and watch her when she was
unaware of his presence?

And all this time Glen was coming slowly down that winding trail.
Reynolds watched her almost spell-bound.  She was a superb horsewoman,
and rode as one born to the saddle.  How graceful was her figure, and
how perfectly the noble animal she was riding responded to the lightest
touch of the rein as he cautiously advanced.  Reynolds could see the
girl most plainly now.  She sat astride the saddle, with the reins in
her right hand, and a small riding-whip in the other.  She wore
buckskin riding-breeches, a khaki-colored blouse, open at the throat,
and a soft felt hat of the same color.  The sleeves of her blouse were
rolled up to her elbows, thus exposing her strong, supple arms.  All
this Reynolds quickly noticed, and he believed that he had never before
beheld a more beautiful picture of true virile womanhood.

The horse was jet-black, and although walking on such a perilous and
difficult trail, it was easy to tell at the first glance that it was a
splendid thoroughbred.  The animal's carriage showed not only pride in
bearing such a beautiful rider, but a full sense of its responsibility
as well.  Fine were its proportions, reminding Reynolds more of some
victor of the race-track than the rough and hardy cayuses of the north.

And even as he looked and wondered from whence such a pair of creatures
had so unexpectedly come, the horse gave a terrified snort, threw up
its head, and recoiled back upon its haunches.  The cause of this
fright was at once apparent, for around a huge boulder a large hear had
suddenly made its appearance.  Reynolds saw at a glance that it was a
grizzly, the most formidable animal of the north, and the terror of the
trails.  Although greatly startled at meeting the horse and its rider,
the bear had no idea of retreating.  They were blocking his lordly
advance and it made him angry.  Its coarse savage growl sawed the air
as it moved menacingly forward.

All this Reynolds noted as he kneeled upon the ground, firmly clutching
his rifle with both hands.  Beads of perspiration stood out upon his
forehead as he watched the scene across the deep gulch.  The horse was
rearing wildly, and backing slowly up the trail.  There was no room to
turn around, so with remarkable coolness and self-control the fair
rider was keeping him pressed close to the bank and face to face with
the on-coming grizzly.  At any instant the horse might disregard the
guiding hand as well as the friendly words of encouragement, and in mad
terror attempt to swerve suddenly around, and thus hurl itself and
rider into the yawning abyss below.

All this passed through Reynolds' mind with lightning rapidity, and he
realised that there was not a moment to lose.  The bear was advancing
more rapidly now, and in a twinkling he might hurl his full weight of
eight hundred pounds of compact flesh, bone and muscle upon horse and
rider.  But ere it could do this, Reynolds brought the rifle to his
shoulder, took a quick, steady aim, and fired.  The bullet sped true
and pierced the bear's body just back of its powerful right shoulder.
The great brute stopped dead in its tracks.  It swayed for an instant,
and then with a roar that drove the recoiling horse almost frantic with
terror, it leaped sideways and plunged down the precipice, carrying
with it a small avalanche of rocks, earth, and rattling stones.

Reynolds watched the bear until it had plowed its way to the ravine
below, where it remained a confused and motionless heap.  Then a smile
of satisfaction over-spread his face as he lowered his rifle and lifted
his eyes to the trail above.  The girl had the horse under control now,
and was urging him slowly down the narrow way.  But the animal's fear
was most apparent, for he was advancing very timidly, his whole body
quivering with excitement.  The fair rider, however, seemed perfectly
at ease, and not the least disturbed at what had just happened.

After she had passed the spot where the bear had first appeared, she
reined up the horse and looked across to where Reynolds was standing
watching her most intently.  Waving her band in friendly salutation,
she called aloud:

"Come on over."

The young man obeyed with alacrity.  He sped down the hill, leaped
across the narrow stream, and hurried up the trail.  He was panting
heavily when he reached the girl's side, and the perspiration was
streaming down his face.  She looked at him curiously, and her eyes
danced with merriment.

"Do you always do that?" she questioned.

"Do what?" Reynolds asked in reply.

"Hustle like that at a woman's call?"

"I never did so before, simply because I never had the chance.  This is
a new experience to me."

The girl looked at him steadily for a few seconds.  Then she smiled and
held out her hand.

"I wish to thank you for what you have done for me to-day," she naïvely
told him.  "I am certain you saved my life.  My, that was a great shot
you made!"

Reynolds took her hand in his, and a thrill of joy swept through his
body.  It was not a soft hand, but brown and firm as if accustomed to
toil.  Her eyes met his and there was something in her look which
aroused the noblest within him.  It was an expression of admiration,
almost hero-worship, and confidence.  It said to him, "I know I can
trust you, for you are worthy.  You are different from most men in this
region.  Why are you up here?"

"I am glad that I happened to be near," Reynolds replied.  "I was
merely resting and enjoying the scenery when you and the bear appeared.
You must be more careful in the future, as I might not be around."

The girl gave a merry laugh, and brushed back a wayward tress of hair
that had drifted temptingly over her right cheek.

"I forgot to bring my gun," she explained, "and so the bear had me at
its mercy.  It is always the way, isn't it?  Something is sure to
happen when you are not prepared."

"And do you always ride alone in such dangerous places?" Reynolds asked.

"Oh, yes," and again the girl smiled.  "Midnight and I know the trails
well, don't we, old boy?" and she affectionately patted the horse's
sleek neck.  "But we came farther to-day than usual.  But it was worth
it, though, just to see that shot you made.  Won't daddy be interested
when I tell him about it."

"It was nothing much," Reynolds replied, although the sudden flush
which mantled his face told Glen that he was pleased at her words of
praise.  "I am used to shooting brutes.  In fact, it was my special
work for several years."

"Grizzlies?" the girl queried.

"Worse than grizzlies, and far more ugly, crafty, and brutal."

"My, I never heard of such creatures," and the girl's eyes grew big
with astonishment.

"Oh, I guess you have," and Reynolds smiled.  "They raise and train
them in Germany.  I met them in France."

"What! were you over there?"  Glen's interest and admiration were
intense now.

"Yes, almost from the beginning of the war.  I was a sharpshooter, you
see, and so had excellent practice."

"Oh!"  It was all the girl said, but it thrilled the young man's very
soul, and when his eyes again met hers a sudden embarrassment came upon
him.

"Do you live here?" he unexpectedly asked.

This question aroused Glen, and she at once assumed the defensive.  The
expression in her eyes changed, and she looked apprehensively around.

"A long way from here," she replied.  "I must be off at once."

"Let me go with you, Miss Weston," Reynolds suggested.  "You are
unarmed, and may meet another grizzly before you reach home."

"How do you know who I am?" the girl asked.  "You never saw me before,
did you?"

"We travelled up the coast together on the _Northern Light_," Reynolds
explained.  "I was the one who drew the captain's attention to that
canoe when the fog-bank lifted.  You remember that, I suppose."

"Indeed I do, and too well at that.  I wish that the fog had not lifted
just then.  Your eyes were too sharp that morning."

"But the men in the canoe were not sorry, though.  They seemed to be
mighty glad to be picked up."

"It is too bad that the fog lifted when it did," and the girl gave a
deep sigh.

"You know the men, then?"

"Only one, but he is enough."

"I saw you with him at the dance.  I suppose he is the one you mean."

"Where is he now?"  There was a note of sternness in the girl's voice.

"At Big Draw.  Any message I can take to him?"

The girl's face underwent a marvellous change.  It was like the sweep
of a cloud over a sunny landscape.  She touched Midnight with her whip,
and he sprang forward.  Down the trail he clattered at a reckless gait,
and when he had reached the level below his rider swung him sharply
around.  Then he bounded upward, and when near to where Reynolds was
standing, Glen pulled him up with a sudden jerk.

"There is no message," she announced.  "Why have you misjudged me?  Are
all men alike?  Thank you for what you did for me to-day.  Good-by."

She again lifted her whip and it was about to fall upon Midnight's
flank when Reynolds stepped forward and laid his right hand upon the
horse's bridle.

"Forgive me," he pleaded.  "I meant nothing.  I was merely joking.
Perhaps I understand more than you realise.  May I accompany you home?
It is not safe for you to travel alone, unarmed as you are, in a place
like this."

"No, no, you must not come," the girl protested.  "It is much safer for
me than it would be for you.  Never cross the Golden Crest.  I have
warned you, so remember."

Again she touched her whip to Midnight, who leaped forward up the steep
trail, pleased to be away from the place where he had received such a
fright.  Only once did the girl look back to wave a friendly hand to
Reynolds ere a sharp turn in the trail hid her from view.



CHAPTER VII

BOTTLES WILL DO

For a few minutes Reynolds stood and looked up the trail after the girl
and horse had disappeared from view.  He was strongly tempted to follow
to the heights above to see what lay beyond.  He refrained, however, as
the afternoon was fast wearing away, and he had a heavy load to carry
back to camp.  Retracing his steps to the brook, he walked up the
ravine until he came to the spot where the grizzly was lying, half
buried beneath the rocks and earth.

"Too bad, old chap," he remarked, as he looked down upon the brute.
"But, then, it served you right.  You attacked the innocent and
defenseless, little thinking that such swift vengeance was so near.
You were little different, however, from certain two-legged brutes who
tried the same game to their own sorrow.  You did me a great favor
to-day, though, and it's too bad I had to shoot you.  I would like to
take your skin and keep it as a souvenir of this day.  Guess I'll have
to come back for it as I cannot carry it now.  And, besides, I shall
need a shovel to dig you out of that heap."

It was later than usual when Reynolds reached camp.  The way was long
and the sheep he carried was heavy.  But his step was light and his
heart happy.  He had met Glen, had talked with her, looked into her
eyes, and felt the firm pressure of her hand.  Fate was kind to him, he
reasoned, and it augured well for the future.

He was tired and hungry when he reached his little tent on the bank of
the creek.  A supper of broiled lamb, sour-dough bread, stewed dried
fruit, and tea greatly refreshed him.  He then lighted his pipe, and
stretching himself out upon his blankets, meditated upon all that had
taken place during the afternoon.  It was good to lie there and rest
with deep silence all around, the vision of Glen before him, and the
remembrance of her voice and the touch of her hand.  He wondered how
and when he should see her again.  He was determined that it must be
soon, and he smiled at the idea of a terrible father keeping him away
from her.  What did he care for desperate men?  Had he not faced them
over and over again as they lay entrenched behind blazing rifles and
deadly machine-guns?  He had carried his life in his hand on numerous
occasions on behalf of King and country, and he was not afraid to do it
again for his own personal satisfaction.  Just how he was to accomplish
his object he had no definite idea.  It was enough for him as he lay
there to think of Glen's voice, the charm of her face, and the glory of
her kindling eyes.

When he had finished his smoke he arose, and hoisting the sheep once
again upon his back he carried it down to the roadhouse, where he sold
it to Shorty, who had bargained with him the evening before for his
game of the day.  It was much easier than toting it around to the
various tents and shacks, and selling it by the piece to the miners.
He made less, to be sure, but he was satisfied.  In fact, he was
becoming tired of this business, and longed for something else,
especially since he had met Glen in the hills.

Several men had arrived at Big Draw that day, and had brought a number
of letters.  One was for Reynolds, from his old friend, the editor.  It
was a fatherly letter, full of interest for his welfare, and the hope
that he would soon return and enter upon the quest to find the missing
Henry Redmond.


"I cannot get this notion out of my mind," he wrote in conclusion.  "It
is with me night and day since I talked it over with you.  I believe
you are the person best fitted for the undertaking.  Give up your
present wild-goose chase, and come home."


Reynolds smiled as he thrust the letter into his pocket, The editor
called his trip north a "wild-goose chase."  He little knew that it was
a chase of a different kind, and the bird was a fascinating girl.  "I
guess I shall have to tell Harmon that the bird I'm after is not a wild
goose, but a new species, found solely up here, and with only one known
specimen in existence.  But I must write to him, anyway, and tell him
something about my doings and the life at Big Draw."

In an adjoining room men were playing cards.  Reynolds entered and
stood watching them, especially Curly, who was deep in a game.  He was
evidently losing heavily, and he was in a bad frame of mind.  As
Reynolds stood and watched him, he began to wonder when the fellow had
first met Glen.  Was it on the trail, or had Curly ventured beyond the
Golden Crest?  It pleased him to know that the girl disliked the man,
and how she wished that the fog-bank had not lifted just when it did.
He longed to know what was in Curly's mind.  Would he attempt to meet
the girl again?  That he was capable of the basest villainy, he had not
the shadow of a doubt.  Frontier Samson had told him as much, and the
old prospector apparently knew whereof he spoke.  It was not safe for
Glen to travel alone among the hills, he mused.  She was in danger of
meeting a worse brute than the raging grizzly she had encountered that
afternoon.

As Reynolds thought of these things he kept his eyes fixed intently
upon Curly's face, not realising that he was staring so hard.  But
Curly did, and glancing up several times from his cards, he met those
steady, inscrutable eyes.  At first it annoyed him, making him nervous
and impatient.  He wondered what the quiet, reserved fellow meant by
looking at him in such a manner.  At length he became angry, and
noticing that the eyes never left his face, he leaped to his feet with
a savage oath, and moving over to where Reynolds was standing, demanded
of him an explanation.

Brought suddenly to earth, Reynolds started, and asked what was the
trouble.

"Trouble!" Curly roared.  "You'll d---- soon find out if you don't mind
your own business."

"Why, I have been doing nothing," and Reynolds looked his surprise.  "I
was merely watching the game."

"No, you weren't.  You were watching me like a cat watches a mouse, and
I want to know what you mean."

Reynolds laughed.

"I didn't realise I was watching you," he explained.  "My mind was
elsewhere.  I was thinking of more important things.  You seem to be
looking for trouble."

"I am, and you're the trouble, d---- you.  You've made me lose my game."

"H'm, you needn't accuse me.  It must be your own conscience.  I am not
looking for a quarrel, even if you are.  I shall leave at once if my
presence is so objectionable to you.  I'm rather fond of my own
company."

"Coward!"

Reynolds had partly turned as this word smote him like a knife.  He
wheeled in an instant and faced Curly.

"Did you refer to me?" he asked.  His eyes spoke danger, and the
muscles of his body were tense.  But Curly did not heed the signs; he
had thrown caution to the winds.

"I did," he replied.  "And I repeat it, 'Coward!' for that is what----"

Curly never finished the sentence, for a rigid fist caught him suddenly
under the right jaw, and sent him reeling backward upon a small table.
Recovering himself as speedily as possible, and wild with pain and
rage, he ripped forth a revolver from a hip-pocket.  A dead silence
pervaded the room, like a calm before a storm.  And during that silence
something unexpected happened.  It was not the report of the revolver,
but the angry growl of a dog, the spitting of a cat, the bleat of a
sheep, and the crow of a cock.

"Gr-r-r-r, ps-s-s-s, ba-a-a-a, cock-a-doodle-do-o-o."

So incongruous did the peculiar sounds appear, that all stared in
amazement.  Then when they beheld Frontier Samson standing near the
door, their faces broadened into knowing grins, followed by hearty
outbursts of laughter.

The prospector walked at once over to where Curly was standing, and
laid his big right hand upon his shoulder.

"What's all this about?" he asked.  "In trouble agin, eh?"

"I've been insulted by _that_?" and Curly motioned to Reynolds.

"An' so yer goin' to shoot?"

"I certainly am, so leave me alone."

"An unarmed man?"

"What in h---- do I care whether he's armed or unarmed?"

"H'm, I guess ye'd care if he had a gun in his hands."

"Let him do it, Samson."  It was Reynolds speaking.  "An unarmed man is
the only one he would try to shoot.  He took mighty good care to keep
out of range of the German guns during the war."

"You're a liar," Curly yelled, for the taunt stung him to the quick.

"Then the lie is on your own bead," was the quiet reply.  "You and
others have made the boast that you hid in the mountains and could not
be caught when men were so sorely needed at the Front.  If it's a lie,
then you lied first, so don't blame me."

Curly's only response was to raise his revolver and fire.  But Samson's
hand struck the weapon in time to divert the aim, and no harm was done.

"Thar, that's enough of sich nonsense."  The old prospector's voice was
more than usually stern.  "I'm not goin' to stand here an' see a man
shot down in cold blood by the likes of you, Curly.  The chap ye want
to kill is worth ten of you any day.  An' as fer shootin', why, ye
wouldn't have a peek in with him if he had a gun."

"Give him one, then, and see how he can shoot," was the surly reply.

"But give me that first," and Samson laid his hand upon Curly's
revolver.

"What for?"

"Never mind; I'll explain later, so jist let go.  Thar, that's better,"
he commented when Curly had reluctantly obeyed.  "Now, look here, I've
got a suggestion to make.  Let's settle this racket outside.  It's no
use practisin' on human bodies which the Lord made fer something more
important.  Whiskey bottles will do as well, an' the more ye smash of
them the better, to my way of thinkin'.  So s'pose we stick several of
'em up an' let you two crack away at 'em.  That's the best way to find
out who's the real marksman.  Anyone got a rifle handy?"

This suggestion was not at all to Curly's liking.  He preferred to have
matters all his own way, and his opponent completely at his mercy.  But
Frontier Samson, as well as all the miners present, decided otherwise,
and so Curly was forced to bow to the inevitable.

The men entered enthusiastically into this shooting-test, and in a few
minutes three bottles were stuck upon a stump about fifty yards off.  A
rifle was procured, which Samson at once handed to Curly.

"Now, shoot, ye beggar," he ordered.  "Here's the chance to show what
ye kin do."

Curly's hand trembled as he took the weapon.  The miners crowded around
and assailed him with various remarks.

"Go to it, Curly," one encouraged.  "Ye were always good at hitting the
bottle."

"But not so far away," another bantered.  "Curly likes it near, and
full, at that."

Curly looked as if he would have liked to turn the rifle upon the men
instead of the bottles.  He was angry, and an angry man is always at a
great disadvantage, especially where a steady nerve is needed.  He
accordingly fired wild, and when, the third shot had been made, the
bottles remained untouched.

During this performance Reynolds had been standing silently by,
apparently the least concerned of all.  He felt annoyed at the trouble
which had occurred, and he was anxious that Curly should be taught a
salutary lesson.  He picked up the rifle from the ground where his
opponent had flung it in his rage, and brought it to his shoulder.  He
never felt calmer in his life as he took a quick and steady aim.
Thrice he pulled the trigger, and each time a bottle crashed to the
ground, while the excited miners cheered and shouted themselves hoarse.

When he was through, Reynolds quietly handed the rifle to Frontier
Samson.  Then he turned to Curly.

"Are you satisfied now?" he asked, "or do you want some more shooting?
If so, I am ready."

With an oath, Curly turned upon his heel, and was about to walk away,
when the old prospector laid a firm hand upon his shoulder.

"Jist a minute, young man," he ordered.  "I want to give ye a word of
advice, which ye kin take or leave as ye see fit.  Ye've made a
miserable fool of yerself today, though it isn't the first time ye've
done it, not by a long chalk.  If ye want to git along in this camp,
stow that nasty temper of yours, an' mind yer own bizness.  This young
feller wasn't interferin' with you one bit.  The devil was in ye, an'
ye had to spit it out on somebody.  Ye better be more keerful in the
future, as I mightn't allus be around to check ye on yer rampage."

"But he hit me," Curly growled.

"Sure he did, an' wouldn't anyone with the least grain of spunk in him
do the same if he'd been called a coward fer nuthin'?  This young chap
is no coward, let me tell ye that.  He did more'n his bit over in
France when you was hidin' away in the hills.  Oh, I know all about it,
an' whar ye was an' what ye was doin'.  Why, this chap ye wanted to
shoot has more scars on his body an' more medals to his credit than you
have toes an' fingers.  An' yit ye called him a coward!  I guess the
men here know purty well by this time who is the coward an' who isn't.
Thar, that's all I have to say, so ye may go.  I'm sick of the sight of
ye."

Curly was angry, but so fierce and powerful did the old prospector look
that he did not dare to reply.  He slunk away, leaving the miners
greatly amused at his defeat.  But Frontier Samson was not amused, for
he knew Curly better than any of the men gathered there.



CHAPTER VIII

LOVE VERSUS GOLD

The next day Reynolds spent as usual out in the hills, though he did no
hunting.  When not stretched out upon the ground, he was wandering
aimlessly around wherever his spirit listed.  He had no more interest
in the mountain sheep, and he passed several fine flocks without firing
a shot.  His thoughts were elsewhere, upon game of far greater
importance.  He had spent a sleepless night, for Curly's action not
only annoyed but disgusted him.  He did not wish to remain near such a
cur, and the sooner he left, the better it would be for both of them.
His only desire was to be left alone, and that seemed impossible so
long as he stayed at Big Draw.  But where could he go, and what should
he do?  Had he not met Glen Weston it would be an easy task to leave
the north at once.  But since she was here, and just beyond the hills,
he could not bear the thought of going away without seeing her again.

As he lay under a big tree, there suddenly came into his mind the old
fairy tale of "The Sleeping Beauty and the Enchanted Palace."  He
smiled as he recalled it now, for was not he himself something like the
young knight who faced all manner of difficulties and won the prize?
But the knight of the fairy tale did not have to contend with a
desperate father and a tribe of Indians, as all the people connected
with the ancient story were asleep.  This was a much more difficult
undertaking, and a greater adventure by far.  It stirred his blood as
he thought of it, making him anxious to be away upon the quest.

It was about the middle of the afternoon when he at length made his way
to the ravine where he had met Glen the previous day.  There was just
the slightest chance that he might see her again, for something he had
detected in her eyes encouraged him in the belief that she looked upon
him with favor.  But when he reached the place no sign of life could he
behold.  He went to the spot where he had left the grizzly half buried
beneath the rocks and earth.  To his surprise no sign of the bear was
to be seen.  No doubt the Indians had been sent to recover the animal
for its skin and meat.  Had Glen come with them? he wondered, to show
where the animal had fallen?  Such an idea was feasible, and he chided
himself for not being there early in the day when he might have again
met her.

Going to the tree on the bank where he had first beheld the girl on
horseback, he threw himself down upon the ground and kept his eyes
fixed upon the trail across the ravine.  He still cherished the hope
that she might reappear, and this would be the best place to see her.
His earnest longings, however, were of no avail, for no sign of the
girl could he behold.  Birds flitted here and there, while a great
eagle alighted upon a rocky pinnacle and eyed him curiously and
somewhat suspiciously.

"If I only had your power of flight, my fine fellow," Reynolds mused,
"it would not take me long to go beyond the Golden Crest.  I wonder why
human beings were made the most helpless of all creatures?  We are
endowed with aspirations, yet how often they come to naught for lack of
power to achieve them.  But I shall achieve mine.  If I have not the
wings of an eagle, I have the mind of a man, as well as strength of
body.  I shall go to her, no matter what obstacles intervene."  He rose
from his reclining position and began to descend the bank.  He had gone
but half way, when, happening to glance once more across the ravine, he
was surprised to see an Indian mounted upon a horse far up the trail.
Both horse and rider were motionless until Reynolds' eyes rested upon
them, when they vanished as if by magic.  He gazed in amazement,
thinking that perhaps he had seen a vision.  But look as he might,
nothing more could he see, and, much mystified, he continued on his way
back to Big Draw.

Reynolds' mind was now fully made up.  The day of meditation spent in
the hills had proven beneficial.  He would at once undertake the
venture, and find out what lay beyond the Golden Crest.  He would be
the knight of the fairy tale, and either win or die in the attempt to
win the Princess of his heart and mind.

So much was Glen in Reynolds' thoughts that he could think of little
else.  He visioned her mounted upon her horse, facing the grizzly.
What a picture she would make!  Never before had he beheld such a
scene, and his fingers burned to sketch her as she now stood out clear
and distinct in his mind.

Producing a pencil and a sheet of his scanty supply of paper, he was
soon at work before the door of his tent.  The bottom of a biscuit box,
placed at the proper angle on the stump of a jack-pine, formed his
easel.  Perched upon another box, he was soon busily engaged upon the
outline of what was to be his masterpiece.  Forgotten was everything
else as he sat there, devoting all the energy of heart, mind, and hand
to the work before him.  The miners might delve for gold; Curly and his
companions might gamble to their hearts' content; such things were
nothing to him.  He had struck a vein of wealth, the true gold of love,
by the side of which all the treasures of earth were as dross.

And as he worked, a shadow suddenly fell across the picture.  Looking
quickly up, he was surprised to see Frontier Samson standing quietly by
his side, looking intently upon the sketch.

"You startled me," and Reynolds gave a slight laugh, feeling for the
instant a sense of embarrassment.

"Caught in the act, eh?" the prospector queried.

"It seems so, doesn't it?  I wasn't expecting company."

"Oh, I don't mean you, young man.  I was thinkin' of her," and Samson
pointed to the picture.  "Where did ye ketch her?"

"Out on the hills.  Isn't she wonderful?"

"Mebbe she is an' mebbe she isn't," was the cautious reply.

"Have you any doubt about it?" Reynolds somewhat impatiently asked.

"Wall, no, I s'pose not.  I'll take yer word fer it."

"But can't you see for yourself, man, what she is?"

"H'm, d'ye expect me to see what you do in that picter?"

"And why not?"

"Simply 'cause I'm not as young as you are.  Now that," and he pointed
to the sketch, "doesn't tell me much.  I see some drawin's thar of a
gal on horseback, but they don't show me the gal herself.  They don't
tell me anything about the sound of her voice, the look in her eyes,
nor the heavin' of her buzom.  I can't see what her mind's like, nor
her heart, fer that matter.  Them's the things ye can't draw, an'
them's the things by which I judge a gal."

"But good gracious! if you saw her only once you would know what she's
like; the most wonderful creature in the whole world.  Heaven and earth
must have combined in bestowing upon her their choicest graces."

"When did ye see her like that?" and Samson again motioned to the
sketch.

"Yesterday; out in the hills."

"On horseback?"

"Yes, and face to face with a grizzly."

"A grizzly!"

"It certainly was, and a monster, too.  My! you should have seen the
way she handled her horse when the brute was coming toward her.  Some
day I am going to sketch her as she looked when the horse was rearing
backward.  This drawing merely shows her in repose when last I saw her."

"An' what happened to the grizzly?" the old man queried.

"Oh, a bullet hit him, that was all, and he took a header into the
ravine below."

"It did!  An' whar did the bullet come from?  Jist dropped down by
accident at the right moment, I s'pose."

Reynolds merely smiled at the prospector's words, and offered no
explanation.

"Modest, eh?" and Samson chuckled.  "No more trouble to knock over a
grizzly than it was to smash three whiskey bottles without winkin'.  I
like yer coolness, young man.  Now, some fellers 'ud have blatted it
all over camp in no time.  An' that happened yesterday, so ye say?"

"Yes; toward evening."

"An' the gal was thar all alone?"

"It seems so.  I wanted to go home with her, but she would not let me."

"She wouldn't!  An' why not?"

"She said it wasn't safe for me to go beyond the Golden Crest."

"Did she give any reason?"

"None at all, and that's what makes me curious."

"About what?"

"What lies beyond the Golden Crest.  The spirit of adventure is on me,
and I intend to make the attempt to find out for myself about the
mystery surrounding that place."

"Ye do!  Didn't the gal say it wasn't safe?"

"All the greater reason, then, why I should go.  If that girl will not
come to me, I am going to her.  Death is the worst that can happen to
me, and I would rather die than live without Glen Weston."

"Ye've got it bad, haven't ye?" and Samson smiled.  "But mebbe she's
got the fever, too, since yesterday, an' has been back to the ravine to
see if you was thar."

"Perhaps she did, but I was too late.  I was there this afternoon, and
saw no one except an Indian on horseback.  The bear, too, was gone."

"Ye saw an Injun, ye say?  What was he doin'?"

"Merely sitting upon his horse at the top of the trail.  But he
vanished just as soon as I glimpsed him."

"An' the bear was gone, too, did ye say?"

"Yes; nothing left of it.  I suppose the Indians came for it.  Perhaps
Glen was with them, and so I missed another chance of seeing her."

During this conversation Frontier Samson had been standing.  But now he
sat down upon the ground, and remained for some time in deep thought.
He filled and lighted his pipe, and smoked in silence, while Reynolds
continued his work upon the sketch.

"When d'ye expect to leave camp?" Samson at length asked.

But Reynolds made no reply.  He went on steadily with his work, while
the old man watched him with twinkling eyes.

"Completely gone," he mused.  "Deaf to the world.  Can't hear nuthin'.
It's a sure sign."

"What's that?  Were you speaking?" Reynolds suddenly asked.

"Speakin'!  Sure.  Why, me tongue's been goin' like a mill-clapper,
though ye never heard a word I said."

"I was lost, I guess," and Reynolds smiled as he turned toward the
sketch.

"So I imagined.  But, then, I fergive ye, fer I was young once meself,
an' in love, too, so I know all the signs.  I only wanted to know when
ye expect to hit the trail on yer great adventure?"

"To-morrow," was the emphatic reply.  "This place won't keep me an hour
longer than I can help.  I am sick of it."

"How d'ye expect to travel?"

"On foot, of course; straight over the mountains."

"D'ye realise the dangers?"

"Dangers are nothing to me; I am used to them."

"But s'pose I should tell ye it's impossible to git behind the Golden
Crest?"

"Then, I like to do the impossible.  There are plenty to do the
ordinary things.  I want to do the extraordinary, the so-called
impossible.  Did you ever hear the song that the Panama Canal diggers
used to sing to cheer them up?"

"No; what is it?"

"I only know four lines; they go this way:

  "'Got any rivers they say are uncrossable?
  Got any mountains you can't tunnel through?
  We specialize on the wholly impossible,
  Doing the things that no man can do.'

"I like those words, and they have heartened me more than once."

"They're sartinly stirrin', an' I like the spirit of 'em," the
prospector replied.  "But it seems to me that ye've got to use common
sense as well as spirit.  Now reason tells me that ye need someone to
help ye in this undertakin' of yours, an' why shouldn't that someone be
me?"

"You!  Could you help me?" Reynolds eagerly asked.  "Will you go with
me?"

"I might on a sartin condition."

"And what is that?"

"Nuthin' much, 'cept you'll go with me."

"And why shouldn't I?"

"That's jist the pint about which I ain't sure.  Though you've got the
feet of a man, yit from what I gather yer heart an' yer head have
eagle's wings, which'll make ye impatient to foller an old feller like
me, who ain't as spry as he once was, an' whose jints are somewhat
stiff."

"Oh, you needn't worry about that," Reynolds laughingly told him.  "I
hope I have a little sense left yet, although it's quite true what you
say about my heart and my head having eagle's wings.  You lead on and
I'll follow like a dog."

"Now, look here, young man, thar's something else I want to put to ye.
'Twixt two things, one sartin an' t'other unsartin, which will ye
choose?"

"I do not understand.  Explain what you mean."

"Wall, ye see, it's this way: The findin' that gal on which ye've set
yer heart is a mighty unsartin proposition.  But thar's another which
is as sure as the sun, an' about which all the men here in camp, an'
the hull world fer that matter, would go crazy over if they knew about
it."

"What is it?'

"It's gold; that's what it is, an' plenty of it, too."

"Where?"  Reynolds' eyes were big with excitement.

"Oh, back in the hills.  I discovered it over a year ago, an' nobody
knows of it but me."

"Why didn't you report it?"

"H'm, what would be the good of doin' that?  Haven't I seen too many
gold strikes already, an' what have they amounted to?  Look at this
camp, fer instance.  The men have come here an' ruined this place.
They may git some gold, but what good will it do 'em?  They'll gamble
it, or waste it in other ways.  Oh, I know, fer I've seen it lots of
times."

"Why, then, are you willing to reveal the secret of your mine to me?"
Reynolds asked.

"Did I say I was willin'?"

"That is what I inferred from your words."

"I merely asked ye 'twixt which would ye choose: the findin' that gal,
which is an unsartin proposition, or gittin' the gold, which is as sure
as the sun.  That's all I asked."

"But if I choose the gold, then your secret will be known, and there
will be a wild stampede into the place.  You don't want that to happen,
do you?  It would be the same story of other camps, and perhaps worse."

"No, I don't want it to happen, that's a fact.  But, ye see, it's bound
to come sooner or later.  Thar are so many men pokin' thar noses into
every hole an' corner, that they are sure to find my mine before long.
Now, I want someone to my likin' to be first on the ground, an' that
someone is you.  Ye kin then make yer choice an' stake two claims as
discoverer.  Tharfore, which will ye choose, that gal proposition or
the gold?  It's up to you.  Is it hard to decide?"

"Not at all," was the reply.  "I shall take the girl.  One might run
across gold any time, but a girl like that one won't find again.  And,
besides, what good would the gold be to me without her?  I, therefore,
take the girl proposition."

Samson looked at his companion in surprise, as if he had not heard
aright.  Here was a phase of character beyond the bounds of his
experience.

"An' ye don't want the gold?" he asked.

"Certainly I want the gold, who wouldn't?  But you told me I had to
choose it or the girl, didn't you?"

"I surely did, though I never imagined ye'd throw down the gold.  Now,
all the fellers I ever met up here would have taken the gold first."

"Feeling sure of getting the girl later; is that it?"

"That's about the gist of it.  They'd tackle what's sartin first, but
you're willin' to try the unsartin."

"I am, and when can we start?"

"In the morning if it's all the same to you.  We'll need some extry
grub, which we kin git from Shorty.  We won't want much, as we'll find
plenty of meat along the way.  We'll hit out before the camp's astir,
so nobody'll know what's become of us."

"How long will it take us to cross the Golden Crest?" Reynolds asked.

"That depends upon many things.  We might do it in three or four days
by the way we're goin', or, again, it might take six months, an' mebbe
longer.  In fact, we might never git thar at all."

"I planned to do it in a couple of days," Reynolds declared.

"I s'pose ye did.  But things don't allus turn out as ye plan,
'specially if ye undertake to cross the Golden Crest.  Ye see, things
happen thar quick as lightnin' sometimes, an' if yer lucky enough to
git off alive, the patchin'-up process might take a long time.  See?"

"I see," Reynolds replied, as he took the sketch from the improvised
easel, "I have a number of patches on my body already, so a few more
won't make much difference."



CHAPTER IX

THE OUTER TRAIL

A profound silence lay over Big Draw mining camp as Frontier Samson and
Tom Reynolds slipped quietly away among the hills.  The sun had not yet
lifted itself above the horizon, but the speediness of its coming was
heralded in the eastern sky, and the tallest mountain peaks had already
caught the first shafts of its virgin glory.  The valleys were still
robed in semi-darkness, and the two wayfarers seemed like mere spectres
as they sped forward.

"My, this is great!" Reynolds exclaimed as he at length stopped to
readjust his pack.  "I believe I should live to be a hundred or over if
I could breathe air like this all the time.  It's a fine tonic."

"It sure is," Samson agreed, as he laid aside his rifle and pulled out
his pipe.  "Not much like the smell of yer city streets, whar ye
swaller hundreds of disease germs every second."

"Have you ever lived there?" Reynolds asked, curious to learn something
of the old man's history.

"Long enough to know what they're like.  I've poked me nose into a good
many cities, an' they're all the same, to my way of thinkin'.  It's a
wonder to me why so many people live in sich places, crowded, together
like sheep, when thar's all this, an' millions of places like it, whar
ye kin breathe the air as the Lord made it, an' not fouled by the work
of human bein's."

"You are very fond of this wild life, I see," Reynolds replied.  "Have
you lived here many years?"

The prospector threw aside his burnt match, gave his pack an extra
hitch, picked up his rifle and moved forward.

"Guess we'd better git on," he said.  "Thar's a little brook we want to
reach in time fer dinner.  Ye don't find much water in these valleys."

Reynolds moved along by his companion's side, wondering why he did not
answer his question.  It was not until they were eating their dinner by
the side of the brook did Samson vouchsafe any information.

"Ye asked me if I've been long in this country," he began.  "My reply
may seem strange to you, but it's true.  Judgin' by years, I've been
here a long time, but, accordin' to life, only a little while.  I uster
reckon things by years, but I don't do that any longer."

"No?"  Reynolds looked quizzically at his companion.

"I don't count time by years, young man, an' the sooner ye larn to do
the same the better it'll be fer ye.  In the cities ye find clocks an'
watches everywhere, an' they all remind people that time is passin'.
Ye kin hardly walk along a street hut ye'll see funeral processions,
an' the doctors are busy with the sick.  Big hospitals are crowded with
patients, an' accidents happen every minute of the day.  These all tell
that life is brief an' unsartin.  The feelin' gits in the blood an' on
the nerves that death is right near, an' as people think, so they are.
Age an' health are accordin' to the mind, an' don't ye ever fergit
that."

Samson paused and looked around.

"See them big mountains," and he pointed away to the left.  "A man kin
never feel old with them on every side.  They don't remind ye of the
passin' of time an' of dyin'.  They're jist the same as they were
thousands of years ago.  An' so it's purty much like that with other
things up here.  I never feel old when I look around me on the
wonderful sights; I feel young.  An' why shouldn't I?  Thar's so much
to do, an' so many things to see an' larn that I haven't time to think
of dyin'.  Life after all, as I said, ain't to be judged by years, but
by love of livin'."

Samson seemed to be on his pet theme, and he continued his talk as he
and Reynolds again resumed their journey.  Several times the latter
endeavored to find out something about the old man's past history, but
all in vain.  The prospector gave him not the slightest information
concerning himself, but discoursed volubly about the difference between
the ways of the city and the wilderness.

"Money ain't everything," he declared, "even though some seem to think
it is.  It has its uses, I acknowledge, but it was never meant to
starve the soul, though that is jist what it too often does.  I know of
men who sacrificed everything to the pilin' up of money, even love,
without which life ain't worth a straw."

"Have you been able to find love here in the north?" Reynolds asked.

"Thar are different kinds of love, young man," was the somewhat slow
and thoughtful reply.  "The brand you mean, if I understand ye aright,
I've never experienced in this country, an' in fact, I never expect to
find it agin on this side of the grave.  It's the pure love of a true
man fer a good woman, I mean.  I believe you have it, an' yer to be
congratulated.  It's the most wonderful thing in life.  Even the love
of children, though it is great, kin never equal it.  It's in a class
all by itself."

"But suppose the love isn't mutual, what then?" Reynolds asked.

"That'd be a pity, an' no mistake.  Are ye referrin' to yer own case?"

"I certainly am.  I am positive that the only woman in the world I want
cares nothing for me.  She does not even know my name, while I--oh,
well, you know how I feel toward her."

"Jist keep up courage an' plod along, that's my advice.  If she's meant
fer you, ye'll win her all right.  I'm a great believer in the idea
that our own'll come to us some day, an' often in ways we least expect.
But, hello! what's that?"

The trail on which they were now walking wound along the side of a deep
valley, through which flowed a small stream.  Samson was looking across
toward the opposite bank, and as Reynolds turned his eyes in that
direction he saw an Indian on horseback as motionless as the trees
around him.  He was facing the two travellers, and apparently he had
been watching them for some time.

"Where do you suppose he has come from, and what does he want?"
Reynolds asked.

His companion's only reply was to bring his rifle to his shoulder and
fire two shots in rapid succession across the valley toward the
horseman, neither of which took effect.  The Indian quickly unslung his
rifle, fired one shot in return, and immediately vanished into the
forest.

"Is that the best you can do?" Reynolds asked.  "You should have let me
have a crack at him."

"Me aim's unsartin to-day," was the reply.  "I don't allus miss like
that."

"But why did you shoot, anyway?  The Indian was doing us no harm."

"He was skulkin' around, though, an' I jist gave him a hint to move
along."

"So you didn't intend to shoot him?"

"Oh, no.  It was merely a hint, as I told ye."

"A queer hint, I should say," and Reynolds laughed.  "Manners of the
wilderness, I suppose?"

"Sure.  We don't stand on ceremony up here.  We're a bluff bunch, an'
if we don't like a feller's company we tell him so without beatin'
around the bush."

"And did the Indian understand your meaning?"

"Y'bet he did.  He took my shots as sayin', 'Good day.  How are the
missus an' the kids?  Mebbe they need ye.'  His shot in reply jist
said, 'Thank ye; mebbe they do.'  That was all."

Reynolds laughed at this quaint explanation, although he felt certain
that Samson was not telling him the truth.  He said nothing about it,
however, and the prospector did not refer to it again.  But Reynolds
had the feeling that his companion and the Indian understood each
other, and that the shots they had fired were signals, the meaning of
which was known only to themselves.  Who was this Frontier Samson? he
mused.  Was he in some manner in league with the Indians?  Why had he
taken such an interest in him, a complete stranger, and a chechahco at
that?  Why should he wish to reveal to him the secret of his gold
discovery?  He could not for a moment think that Samson had any evil
purpose in mind, but as he thought it all over during the remainder of
the afternoon, he felt that there was something very peculiar and
mysterious about it all.

This feeling was intensified that first night on the trail.  They
camped by a little stream, where the trees stood thick, and larger than
on the uplands.  They had shot a couple of grouse on their way, and
these Samson prepared for supper.

"I'll jist cook both of 'em," he remarked, "an' what we don't eat
to-night will be fine warmed up to-morrow."

"I should like to get a moose," Reynolds declared.  "I haven't shot one
since I came north."

"Don't do it, young man, unless ye kin git nuthin' else," Samson
advised.  "A moose is a purty big animal, an' we could tote only a
little piece of its carcass.  The rest we'd have to leave to spile.
I've allus made a practice of shootin' something that I kin clean up in
a few meals.  Some critters, who call 'emselves men, shoot everything
in sight, an' leave it to spile.  That is wasteful slaughter, an' not
true sport."

Reynolds was glad to roll himself up in his blanket that night, for he
was tired after his day's tramp, with a heavy pack on his back.  Samson
did likewise, and soon silence reigned in the deep forest, broken only
by the ripple of the brook a short distance away.  It was a calm night,
mild, and with not a breath of wind astir.

Some time during the night Reynolds awoke with a start.  He sat up and
looked around.  It was light enough for him to see that his companion
was gone, and he believed that it was his footsteps that had aroused
him.  After waiting for some time and nothing happened, he once again
stretched himself out upon the ground.  But he could not sleep.  What
was the meaning of Samson's departure? he wondered.  Had it anything to
do with the Indian they had seen that day across the ravine?  The more
he thought of it, the more mystified he became.  How long he thus lay
there with every sense alert, he did not know, though it seemed a long
time before the prospector at last returned.  Reynolds pretended that
he was asleep, but his suspicions were now firmly confirmed when the
old man bent over him for a few seconds as if to make sure that he was
not awake.

Reynolds did not refer to the incident the next day, and Samson made no
mention of it.  The latter was in excellent spirits, and talked freely
as they moved on their way.  That night they halted, and made ready
their camp by the side of a small lake.  It was a peaceful and
beautiful spot.  Not a ripple ruffled the surface of the water, and the
trees along the shore were mirrored in the clear depths.  Reynolds was
delighted, and he expressed his admiration to his companion.

"Isn't this great!" he exclaimed.  "I have never seen anything to equal
it!  It is a matchless gem, with a perfect setting."

"Yes, it sartinly is wonderful," the prospector drawled.  "An' I'm glad
ye like it.  Guess thar should be ducks over yonder," and he motioned
to the upper end of the lake.  "A good fat feller'd be nice fer dinner
to-morrow."

Picking up his rifle, he disappeared among the trees, and in another
minute his light tread was unheard.  Reynolds stood for some time
viewing the scene before him.  He longed for his paints and brushes
that he might catch the impressions ere they faded.  Unfortunately he
had left them behind, so he had to satisfy himself with feasting his
soul instead.

At length he turned and walked back to their camping ground.  He had
just reached the place when a magnificent moose trotted majestically by
but a short distance away.  Forgotten was Samson's admonition about the
shooting of big game, so seizing his rifle, he slipped quickly and
quietly after the big animal.  The latter had already passed out of
sight, but expecting to catch a glimpse of it at any instant, Reynolds
hastened forward.  This led him down into a valley, and there he saw
the moose in a small open clearing to the left.  Before he was near
enough to shoot, the animal once more vanished among the trees.  The
fever of the chase was now upon him, and unheeding his bearings, he
pressed rapidly on, expecting every minute to come in sight of the
lordly creature.  But he was doomed to disappointment, and most
reluctantly he was compelled to relinquish the pursuit.

Reynolds had no definite idea how far he had travelled, nor the
direction he had taken.  So intent had he been upon following the
moose, that he had lost all trace of his bearings, and he knew not the
way back to the camp.  This was a most disquieting situation, and he
chided himself for his stupidity.  Night was also upon him, and this
added to his perplexity.

"What a mess I have made of it!" he growled.  "In this labyrinth of
valleys, hills, trees, and wild meadows, how in the name of common
sense am I to find that speck of camping ground?  It must lie over
there," and he looked away to his right.  "The sun was before me when I
started, and by keeping due east I should come somewhere near the
place."

For over an hour he plowed his way through the forest, up hill and
down, each moment expecting to see the lake for which he was searching.
His efforts, however, were all in vain, so wearied almost to the point
of exhaustion, and with clothes torn, hands and face bleeding, he was
forced to give up for the night.

Sinking upon the ground, he tried to calm the agitated state of his
mind.  From the first he had realised his serious predicament, and how
difficult it would be to extricate himself from that vast wilderness.

"I can't go any farther to-night," he declared, "so I might as well
make the best of a bad affair.  I have my rifle, and that's some
comfort.  I needn't starve, anyway, even though I am lost."

He felt for his cartridge belt, and immediately he gave a great start
of dismay.  It was not there!  Then he remembered that he had taken it
off when pitching camp that night by the shore of the lake.  With
trembling hands he next examined the magazine of his rifle, and found
that but three cartridges were left, as he had fired two shots in the
hope of attracting Frontier Samson's attention.  This was a serious
situation, and he realised that upon those three remaining cartridges
his life depended.



CHAPTER X

ADRIFT IN THE WILDERNESS

Nowhere, perhaps, except adrift in mid-ocean, is the sense of
loneliness more appalling than to be lost in a labyrinthine forest of
the mighty north.  Even upon the ocean there is always the chance of
being picked up by a passing vessel.  But lost in the wilderness!
hidden from view, what hope can the stoutest heart entertain of rescue?
Here a man is but a thing of naught, an insect creeping upon the
ground, a mere speck, the veritable plaything of chance.

Reynolds, however, was well hardened to desperate situations.  Often in
France he had been alone in "No Man's Land," with death close at hand.
He had never flinched then, and he was determined that he would not do
so now.

"I told Harmon that I like adventure and desperate undertakings," he
mused.  "I have certainly enough here to satisfy me for a while.  But
it can't be helped, and so I must make the best of it.  Rest is what I
need at present, and I am not going to worry about to-morrow.  'One
thing at a time' has been my motto, and I guess it's a good one."

He awoke early the next morning, though the sun was up ahead of him.
He sprang to his feet and peered around.  But nothing could he see,
except trees on every side.

"I must get out of this," he muttered, "and strike for the high hills.
Perhaps there I may be able to get my proper bearings.  I must find a
breakfast somewhere, but with my scanty supply of ammunition, it is
necessary to be careful."

Picking up his rifle, he started forth, and for several hours moved
steadily onward.  Through a break in the forest he had caught sight of
a high hill, and toward this he laboriously made his way.  He had to
descend first into a deep valley, where a large wild meadow offered an
inviting feeding-ground for moose.  But not a sign of life could he
see, and greatly disappointed he was forced to begin the hard climb up
the opposite side of the hill.

About the middle of the afternoon he succeeded in shooting a rabbit,
which he at once skinned and broiled over a small fire.  He was weak
from hunger and hard, anxious travelling, so this food gave him much
refreshment.  He ate sparingly, nevertheless, knowing that he might not
be able to procure anything more for supper.  With only two cartridges
left, his outlook was far from encouraging.

When the summit of the hill was at length reached, he climbed a large
fir tree from which he was enabled to obtain an excellent view of the
surrounding country.  Far off rose great snow-capped mountain peaks,
over which fleecy clouds were lazily drifting.  A vast sea of forest
stretched on every side, broken here and there by placid, shimmering
lakes.  But which was the one near the camp where Frontier Samson was
no doubt anxiously awaiting the wanderer's return?  That was the
question which agitated Reynolds' mind.  No sign of human life could he
behold, and he wondered in which direction Big Draw mining camp lay.
So completely had he lost his bearings that he had no idea which was
the right course to pursue.  Anyway, it was necessary to keep on the
move, for to remain where he was meant certain death.  If he must die,
he would die fighting, game to the very last.  Surely beyond some of
those outstanding hills he could find a river, which would bear him out
of that wilderness maze.  A high crest to the left looked promising,
and toward this he at once started.

He slept that night in a valley by a little brook which gurgled down to
a lake beyond.  The remains of the rabbit served him for supper, and
where was he to obtain his next meal?  He had startled several grouse
during the day, and once he detected the plunging of a moose.  But
nothing came within the range of his rifle except a few noisy
squirrels, but upon these he did not dare to waste his two remaining
cartridges.  In his extremity he would have welcomed the sight of a
bear, and even a grizzly at that.  He could then afford to exhaust his
ammunition, as the flesh of a bear would last him for many days.  But
no bear had he met, although signs of them were at times abundant,
especially in the valleys.

The next morning in a mood of desperation, he took a long shot at a
flying grouse and missed it.  One cartridge now remained, and it was
absolutely necessary to reserve that for something large.  Down the
valley lay a big wide meadow, and here he believed he might find a
moose feeding.  It was worth trying, at any rate.  Walking warily along
the edge of the forest, he was at length rewarded by seeing a fine
animal some distance off on the opposite side of the meadow.  Reynolds
instantly stopped, and his hands trembled through the excitement of his
discovery.  If he could get a little closer he felt sure that the moose
would be his.  But just as he took a few steps forward, the animal
lifted its great head and sniffed the air.  There was not a second to
lose, so bringing the rifle to his shoulder, he took a quick aim and
fired.  With a startled snort, the moose reared, staggered, and then
with tremendous leaps bounded across the twenty or thirty yards of
intervening meadow and vanished in the forest.  Reynolds could hear it
crashing its way among the trees as he hurried out into the open.  The
sounds grew fainter and fainter, and finally ceased.  The animal had
made good its escape, although evidently wounded.

Reynolds' previous discouragement was nothing to what he experienced
now.  He moved mechanically toward the spot where the moose had been
grazing.  Why he did so he could not tell.  He reached the border of
the forest, and flung himself down upon the grass.  With his last
cartridge gone, what chance had he of life?  He had been in many a dire
strait in the past, but nothing to equal this.  He was face to face
with death, more surely and in a far more terrible form than he had
ever encountered in far off France.

"This is certainly 'No Man's Land,'" he muttered.  "I do not believe a
human being ever trod this region before and it is not likely that
anyone will come here during the next one hundred years.  And to think
that I missed that shot when my life depended upon it!  It must be my
nerves."

A feeling of annoyance swept upon him, and picking up his rifle, he
hurled it among the trees.

"Lie there," he ordered.  "You are of no use to me now, and I have no
strength to tote you along."

Then he laughed, and the hollow sound of his voice startled him.  He
sprang to his feet and looked around.  Why had he laughed? he asked
himself.  Was he going out of his mind?  He glanced at his hands and
shuddered, so bruised and bleeding were they.  His clothes, too, were
in tatters, while his boots were so worn that portions of his feet were
visible.

For a few minutes he stood rigidly still, as if in a dream.  The
intense loneliness of the place was appalling.  It was unnerving him,
and he was losing control of himself.  Suddenly he started and ran as
if for life, back over the track he had recently traversed.  He was no
longer the Tom Reynolds who had started forth from Big Draw, but a
denizen of the wilds.  The desire for food possessed him.  It made him
mad, a demon, ready to fall upon any creature that crossed his path.
He was crafty as well, and reaching the shelter of the forest, he
glided cautiously along the edge of the meadow, up toward the little
brook where he had slept the night before.  No tiger creeping through
the jungle moved more stealthily than did he.  Nothing escaped his
notice, and he eagerly watched for rabbit or squirrel that he might
pounce upon it.

For some time he thus advanced, but nothing could he see.  At length he
came to an opening in the trees, which exposed the brook plainly to
view.  His eyes swept the stream, and as they did so they presently
rested upon a black object crouched upon a fallen tree projecting out
over the brook.  He recognized it at once as a black bear, watching for
fish.  It was lying flat on the log, with one big paw close to the
water waiting for its breakfast.

Reynolds' first impulse was to rush forward and engage the brute in a
deadly conflict.  But a natural caution restrained him, and he
accordingly waited to see what would happen.  Neither did he have to
wait long, for in a twinkling the big paw struck, the water splashed,
and a shiny form hurtled through the air, and fell several yards away.
And after it sprang the bear, but his body had scarcely left the log
ere Reynolds was bounding toward him with such yells and whoops that
the forest resounded on all sides.  Startled and surprised beyond
measure, the bear paused and looked back.  Seeing, but not
understanding the strange creature rushing toward him with wildly
waving arms, and emitting such blood-curdling yells, it uttered a
hoarse growl of fear and rage and lumbered off for the shelter of the
forest as fast as its legs would carry it.

Reynolds paid no more attention to the bear than if it had been a gnat,
but sprang greedily upon the fish, which was wriggling and beating
itself around upon the ground.  It was a young king-salmon, and
although not large, Reynolds thought it the finest fish he had ever
beheld.  It did not take him long to despatch his prize, and in a few
minutes a portion of it was sizzling over a small fire he had lighted.
Never had any food tasted so good, he imagined, and the strength thus
gained brought back his normal state of mind.  He felt more like
himself, and ready for another effort to free himself from his
wilderness prison.  He even smiled as he thought of the bear's fright
and its ignominious retreat.

"Lost your breakfast, old boy, didn't you?" he called out.  "You
weren't expecting company, were you?  But I am grateful to you, and
wish you better luck next time."

Taking with him the remainder of the fish, Reynolds once more continued
his journey.  The high ridge was a long way off, and before it could be
reached it would be necessary to cross several smaller hills and a
number of valleys.  But with strength renewed, he sped onward.

All through the day the heat had been almost over-powering.  It poured
its hot rays full upon him, and not a breath of wind stirred the trees.
He was about half way up the high hill when the weather suddenly
changed.  The sky darkened, and the wind began to howl through the
forest.  Great black clouds massed in vast battalions overhead, and in
less than half an hour the storm burst.

Reynolds had paused on a rocky ledge as the tempest swept upon him.
Never before had he experienced such a storm.  It seemed as if the very
windows of heaven had suddenly opened to deluge the earth.  He looked
hurriedly around for shelter, and seeing an overhanging portion of
rock, he at once made his way thither, and crouched low for protection.
The rain, however, swirled in after him, forcing him to move farther
back.  That he was able to do this surprised him, and feeling with his
hands, he discovered that there was a big open space to the rear, and
that he was at the entrance of a cave, how large he did not know.
Fortunately he was provided with a good supply of matches, so striking
one, he examined his new abode.  The brief feeble light showed that the
cave was about a foot higher than his head, and much larger than he had
supposed.  He had no inclination to explore it just then, for some dry
sticks lying at his feet arrested his attention.  He was hungry after
his hard tramp, so a piece of salmon would be most acceptable.

It did not take him long to light a small fire as near the mouth of the
cave as the rain would permit, and, prepare his meal.  The fire felt
good, too, for the air was damp and chilly.

"I might as well spend the night here," he mused, "for even if the
storm does let up, I would only get soaked from the drenched trees.
And, besides, I cannot see anything from the top of the hill until the
clouds roll away and the air clears."

He ate the nicely browned piece of fish, and when he had finished he
leaned comfortably back, filled and lighted his pipe.  This was the
first time he had thought of smoking since leaving Frontier Samson.  He
wondered where the old prospector was, and whether he was hunting
frantically for his lost companion.  His mind turned naturally to Glen.
He was farther from her now than ever, and should he see her again?
The thought of her had stimulated him during his recent terrible
experiences.  Over and over again she seemed to be standing by his
side, urging him to go on, and renewing his fainting spirits.  He
pictured her now as he had last seen her at the top of that steep
trail, mounted upon her horse.  He recalled for the thousandth time her
clear musical voice, the bright flash of her eyes, and the deep flush
which had mantled her cheeks at the mention of Curly's name.

"I must find her," he emphatically declared, as he stirred up the
dwindling fire, and added a couple of sticks.  "I expected to be with
her before this, but here I am, lodged like a bear in this dismal hole."

He glanced around the cave, and as he did so, he gave a sudden start.
Something in one side of the wall where the fire-light fell attracted
his attention.  It made his heart beat fast, and brought him to his
feet in an instant.  His hand reached up and touched it.  Then he
quickly struck a match, and examined it more carefully.  Yes, he was
right, and he had made no mistake.  It was gold!



CHAPTER XI

INTO THE GREAT UNKNOWN

For a few seconds Reynolds stared upon his new discovery.  Then he
examined the walls elsewhere, and no matter where he looked, he found
nuggets of gold protruding from the earth.  His excitement now became
intense, and seizing a burning stick he began to explore the cave.
Everywhere it was the same.  The earth beneath his feet was even filled
with nuggets, and, they gleamed upon him from overhead.  He felt that
he must be dreaming, or else his terrible experiences of late had
turned his brain.  Could it be possible that he had accidentally
stumbled upon a vein of the precious metal, rich beyond the wildest
bounds of imagination!  He put his hand to his face, and even pinched
himself to make sure that he was awake.

When the brand had flickered out, he walked back to the fire and sat
down.  He tried to calm himself that he might think over his wonderful
discovery.  The rain still pelted down outside, and the wind roared
among the trees.  But Reynolds paid no attention to them now.  He saw
nothing but gold, heaps of it, piled high before him, and himself the
richest man in the whole world.  What would not the miners of Big Draw
give to know of this discovery!  How they would flock to the place,
followed by thousands of others.  What a change would ensue in a short
time.  No longer would it be the desolate wilderness, but alive with
frantic human beings.

But suppose he should never live to tell the tale?  He was lost, far
from any habitation, and with only enough food for a most meagre
breakfast.  No, he must not die.  It was necessary for him to live, to
make his great discovery known; and to reap the rich harvest himself.
And Glen!  Again he thought of her.  He would be able to go to her a
rich man instead of almost a beggar.  He smiled as he recalled what he
had said to Frontier Samson.  The prospector had given him his choice
between gold and the girl, and he had chosen the latter.  His love had
not changed in the least degree, but why should he not have the gold as
well as the girl?

Reynolds sat for a long time that night absorbed in deep thought.  He
slept upon the ground, and his dreams were a jumble of wild animals,
gold, and a beautiful girl.  He awoke early and noted with satisfaction
that the storm had ceased, and the sky was clear.  Having eaten the
last of the salmon, he left the cave and viewed his surroundings in
order to locate his bearings should he ever return to the place.  He
believed that he was about half way up the highest hill in the
immediate vicinity, and that he could not fail to miss seeing it from a
distance.  He noticed that the hill formed the apex of a triangular
formation, while two hills, one to the right and the other to left,
served as base corners.  He was sure that he could remember such
guiding marks, and would be able to return to the cave without any
difficulty.

It was with a feeling of reluctance that he at length left the cave and
again assayed the climb up the side of the hill, which became steeper
and more precipitous the farther he advanced.  At times he was forced
to pull himself up by means of roots and small trees, so his progress
was accordingly slow.  The sun was hot, and often he grew faint from
heat and fatigue.  He watched for any sign of life, of rabbit, bird, or
squirrel.  But the place seemed deserted, and even the plant life was
scant and scrubby.  A fierce thirst came upon him, for no water had
passed his lips since the previous day.

Thus hour after hour he toiled upward.  He did not dare to return to
the brook below, for that would mean certain death.  It had to be ever
on until the summit was reached, and what then?  His courage almost
failed as he thought of what that barren peak might have in store for
him.  He had been disappointed so often, surely Fate would not abandon
him now after he had made such a fierce fight for life.

When but a hundred yards from his goal, he paused for a minute's
respite.  He turned his bloodshot eyes to the sky.  A great eagle was
soaring majestically athwart the blue.  It seemed to mock him by its
easy flight.  It angered him as he followed its every movement.  Why
should a mere bird have such freedom of motion, while man was so
helpless?  To the eagle, distance was nothing; it laughed the highest
mountain peak to scorn, and its food was wherever its fancy led.  He
suddenly thought of the gold he had discovered.  In the world of
civilization what a power it would mean.  What could it not do toward
providing ease and reputation?  And of what use was that treasure to
him now?  It was of no more value than the stones beneath his feet, and
he would gladly have given it all for one good meal and a draught of
refreshing water.

The eagle was still soaring overhead, free and buoyant.  It was nearer
now, wheeling closer and closer to Reynolds as he clung like a snail to
the side of the hill.  And he was made in the image of God!  The
thought stung him.  Why should such things be?  Instantly there flashed
into his mind a picture he had often seen.  It was the side of a steep
cliff, and there a shepherd was rescuing a sheep from its perilous
position.  The man was clinging with His left hand to a crevice in the
rock, while with His right He was reaching far over to lift up the poor
animal, which was looking up pathetically into the shepherd's loving
face.  He knew the meaning of that picture, and it came to him now with
a startling intensity.  Why did he think of it? he asked himself.
Although his life was clean, yet Reynolds was not what might be called
a religious man.  He was not in the habit of praying, and he seldom
went to church.  But something about that picture appealed to him as he
crouched on that burning hillside.  Was there One who would help him
out of his present difficulty?  He believed there was, for he had been
so taught as a little child.  He remembered the Master's words, "Ask,
and ye shall have."  "Here, then, is a chance to test the truthfulness
of that saying," a voice whispered.

"I shall not do it," Reynolds emphatically declared.  "I have not
prayed for so long, that I'm not going to act the hypocrite now, and
cry for help when I'm in a tight corner.  I daresay He would assist me,
but I am ashamed to ask Him.  If I should only think of a friend when I
am in trouble I should consider myself a mean cur, and unfit to have
the friendship of anyone.  And that's about how I stand with Him, so I
do not consider myself worthy of His help."

Although Reynolds reasoned in this manner, yet that picture of The Good
Shepherd inspired him.  He could not get it out of his mind as he lay
there watching the eagle soaring nearer and nearer.

"I wonder what that bird is after?" he mused.  "It is coming this way,
and it seems to be getting ready to alight.  Perhaps it has a nest
somewhere on this hill."

This thought aroused him.  An eagle's nest!  It was generally built on
some high rocky place, and why should there not be one here?  And if
so, there might be eggs, and eggs would mean food for a starving man.

Eagerly and anxiously he watched the bird now, hoping and longing that
it would alight close to where he was crouching.  Neither was he
disappointed, for in a few minutes the eagle drove straight for the
hill, about fifty yards above, and landed upon a rocky ledge.  Seizing
a stick lying near, with cat-like agility, Reynolds sprang forward, and
hurried to the spot where the bird had alighted.  From what he had
heard and read about eagles he surmised that a struggle lay ahead of
him, so he clutched the stick firmly as he advanced.

It took him but a few minutes to reach the place, and as he paused and
looked keenly around for the nest, an infuriated mass of great wings
and feathers hurled itself upon him.  Taken by surprise, Reynolds
staggered back, and lifted his stick to ward off the attack.  How he
saved himself from being torn to pieces by the talons and beak of that
angry bird he never could tell.  It was a mystery to him that he was
able to defend himself at all.  But do it he did, and used his stick in
such a skilful manner that he kept the creature from tearing at his
face.  Fortunately he had a good footing, which enabled him to retreat
at each desperate onslaught, and to meet the bird with a furious blow
as it wheeled and circled close above his head.  But he realised that
he could not endure the strain much longer, for he was weak through
lack of food and hard climbing.  The energy of the eagle, on the other
hand, seemed just as keen as ever, and it might continue the fight for
hours.  Reynolds grew desperate as he thought of this, and he was
determined that he should not leave his body there as food for his
opponent.

He watched as the bird again circled and once more swept to the attack.
But he was ready, and as it swooped close enough he threw his entire
remaining strength into one great swinging blow.  The stick struck the
eagle fair on the head with a resounding crash, and so great was the
force of the impact that the cudgel snapped like a pipestem, and the
broken end hurtled over the ledge.  The eagle's fight was done.  It
swerved from its course, and frantically tried to recover itself.  But
all in vain.  Far out over the hillside it swung, and then a helpless
and inert mass, it dropped down, and crashed into the tops of the firs
and jack-pines, which lifted their heads like pointed spears to receive
the victim.

Reynolds watched until the bird had disappeared.  Then he breathed a
deep sigh of relief, and examined his wounds.  His hands were bleeding,
and such clothes as he had were literally torn into shreds.  He was so
weak that he could hardly stand, and he sank down upon the ground.

"How long will this keep up?" he panted.  "What else lies before me?  I
am a poor specimen of a human being now, and unfitted for another
encounter of any kind.  This was my own fault, though.  That poor devil
I just sent to its doom was merely acting in self-defence.  But the
survival of the fittest is the law of the wilderness just as in the
ways of so-called civilization.  That bird had what I needed; and that
settles it."

This turned his mind upon the nest, which he suspected was somewhere
near.  In another minute he had found it, a mass of sticks, in the
midst of which was a hollow lined with wild grass, and lying there were
three white eggs.  Eagerly he seized one, and held it in his hand.  Was
it fresh? he wondered, or was it ready to be hatched?

Drawing forth his pocket-knife, he perforated each end of the egg, and
smelled the contents.  It was fresh, having been recently laid.  In
another instant it was at his parched lips, and never did he remember
having tasted anything half as refreshing.  Then he looked longingly at
the other two.

"No, I must not eat them now," he told himself.  "I shall need them for
supper and breakfast.  The Lord only knows when I shall get anything
more."

The mention of the Lord brought back to him the picture of The Good
Shepherd rescuing the lost sheep.  "Strange, very strange," he mused,
as he picked up the eggs and continued his climb.  "Can it be possible
that the Lord had anything to do with that eagle coming here just when
I was about all in, and ready to drop from hunger and thirst?  I am not
ashamed, anyway, to confess my gratitude, even though I disliked the
idea of praying."

A few minutes later he stood on the top of the hill, a bleak, desolate
spot, rocky, and devoid of the least sign of vegetation.  But this
mattered nothing to him now, for his eyes rested almost immediately
upon a silver gleam away to the left.  It was water, and a river at
that!  An exclamation of joy leaped from his lips, as from that lonely
peak he viewed the river of his salvation.  Where it led, he did not
know, but surely along that stream he would find human beings, able and
willing to succor him.

Forgotten now was his weariness, and a new hope possessed his soul.  He
could not expect to reach the river that afternoon, for several valleys
and small hills intervened.  But he could go part of the way and on the
morrow complete the journey.  Carefully guarding his two precious eggs,
he hurried down the opposite side of the hill as fast as it was
possible, and night found him by the side of a small wood-enshrouded
lake.  Here he stopped, drank of the cool refreshing water, and built a
small fire.  Finding a smooth stone, he washed it clean, and heating it
thoroughly, he was enabled to fry one of the eggs upon the surface.  In
the morning the other was treated in a similar manner, and thus
strengthened, but his hunger not appeased, he sped onward.

This last lap of his journey to the river was a trying one.  Reynolds
made it more difficult by his feverish impatience, and when about the
middle of the afternoon he heard the ripple of water, and caught the
first gleam through the trees of its sparkling surface, he was
completely exhausted, and had only sufficient strength to drag his
weary form to the river's bank.  A refreshing drink of the ice-cold
water and a rest of a few minutes revived him.  The stream was swift,
far swifter than he had anticipated.  But this encouraged him, for if
once launched upon its surface it would bear him speedily out of that
desolate wilderness.

A craft of some kind was necessary, so searching around, he found
several good-sized trees, stripped and bare, which had been brought
down stream by the spring floods, and left stranded upon the bank.
With considerable difficulty he managed to fashion these into a rude
raft, binding all together with strong, pliable willow withes.  As a
boy he had often made rafts, and the knowledge acquired then served him
in good stead now.

Finding a stout pole, he stepped upon the raft, and to his delight
found that it would easily bear his weight.  Pushing it from the shore,
it was soon caught by the strong current and borne rapidly down stream.
The steering was an easy matter, so, sitting upon the raft, he gave
himself up to the luxury of this new mode of travel.  It was such a
great relief from his fearful wandering through the woods and climbing
the hills, that but for his pangs of hunger he would have been quite
happy.

All through, the night the raft swung on its way, the plaything of the
current which kept it clear of bars and rocks.  Reynolds did not dare
to sleep, for he could not tell what lay ahead.  It might be a
dangerous rapid, or at any minute he might come to some camp along the
shore, and it would be necessary to be wide awake and alert.

But nothing happened, and morning found him still floating onward into
the great unknown.  He was ravenously hungry, and once he ran the raft
ashore and gathered a number of willow twigs.  These he gnawed as he
once more continued his voyage.  This, however, was poor food for a
starving man, and he was well aware that unless he could obtain
something more substantial he must miserably perish.  Game was
plentiful along the river, and several times he saw moose and bears,
while early that morning he ran close to a flock of wild ducks.  But
their presence only mocked him now, weaponless as he was.

This day was a most trying one, for about the middle of the forenoon it
began to rain, and Reynolds was wet to the skin as he sat huddled upon
the raft.  Anxiously he peered forward, hoping that around every bend
something more cheering than the monotonous trees would meet his eyes.
But hour after hour it was just the same, and the rain continued
without any cessation.  Would the river never end? he asked himself
over and over again.  Whither was it bearing him, anyway?  At times the
sinuous water appeared like a demon, carrying him on to destruction.
Its gurgle and ripple sounded in his ears like mocking laughter, and
the great brooding forest in its intense silence seemed in league with
the stream.  Of what avail were all his mighty efforts?  He had escaped
from the tangle of the forest, only to be lured to ruin by the river.

The afternoon waned, and night drew near, and still the raft swept
onward.  Reynolds felt that he could endure the strain but little
longer.  He was chilled to the bone, and cramped from his huddled
position.  He must land, and get some circulation in his body,
providing he had any strength left.

He was about to run the raft ashore, when to his great delight it
suddenly shot forth from its forest prison into the open expanse of a
broad and silent lake.  Reynolds staggered painfully to his feet and
looked around.  He could only see a short distance, as a heavy mist lay
over the water.  His eyes scanned the shore, but no sign of human
habitation could he behold.  There was nothing except the same scene of
desolation which had been his companion for weary days.

The raft was motionless now, some distance out upon the lake.  Slowly
Reynolds forced it to the shore, and secured it in a little cove.

"I might as well stay here for the night," he muttered.  "It may be
clear to-morrow which will enable me to see farther.  Oh, for something
to eat!"

With much difficulty he started a fire, for the wood was wet, and then
warmed himself before the cheerful blaze.  It was not raining so hard
now, for which he was thankful.  He tried to dry his rags of clothes by
hanging them on sticks near the fire.  His boots were off his feet,
with the uppers alone clinging to his ankles.  Removing these, he
examined them.  Then an idea flashed into his mind.  He had heard of
men eating their boots in their extremity, and why should not he!  It
was worth the try, at any rate.

It took him but a second to whip out his knife and cut a piece from the
top of one of the boots.  This he washed clean in the lake, and tasted
it.  Only one on the extreme verge of starvation can in any manner
comprehend what even a portion of a boot means.  There is some
nourishment there, as Reynolds soon found.  Almost ravenously he chewed
that piece of leather, extracting from it whatever life-giving
substance it contained.  When it had been converted to mere pulp, he
helped himself to another piece.  He was in a most desperate situation,
but if he could sustain his strength for another night and day he
believed that his life would be spared.  Surely along that lake he
would find human beings, whether Indians or whites he did not care, who
would give him food.

He awoke early the next morning, and having partaken his breakfast of
another piece of boot, he pushed off his raft.  There was only one way
for him to go, and that was with the breeze which was drawing down the
lake.  The mist was now lifting, and although he strained his eyes, he
could see no sign of life.  He had to pole the raft now, and in order
to do so he was forced to keep close to the shore where the water was
shallow.

Thus all through the morning and far on into the afternoon he urged the
raft forward with all the strength at his command.  There were so many
curves to the shore that following these lengthened the voyage.  From
point to point he moved, each time to be disappointed as he looked
ahead and saw nothing but trees and water.

The sun was hot, and the perspiration poured down his face.  But with
the energy of despair he drove his pole again and again into the water.
As the afternoon waned, and night drew near, the limit of his endurance
was reached, and he knew that he could do no more.  He had struggled
for life, but to no purpose.  Rest was all that he cared for now.  His
head began to swim, and he sank exhausted upon the raft.  And there he
lay, face downward, while the raft drifted at its own sweet will.
Presently a breeze sprang up and cooled the air.  But it did not affect
Reynolds in the least.  He had fought to the last grain of strength,
and when that left him he was beyond all sense of time, place, and
feeling.



CHAPTER XII

THE GIRL OF GLEN WEST

When Glen Weston reached the top of the hill that afternoon of her
encounter with the grizzly, she reined in Midnight and swung him
sharply around.  She was confident that she could not be seen from the
valley below, as a large projecting rock hid her from view.  She was in
no hurry to leave the place, and several times she was tempted to
dismount, peer around the rock to see if her rescuer were still at the
bottom of the trail.  She refrained from doing so, however, lest he
might see her, and thus be induced to follow her.

Glen was not a girl to be easily affected, but she had to acknowledge
to herself that the gallant stranger interested her in an unusual
manner.  He was not like the men she was in the habit of meeting.  He
was different and so courteous.  And he was good looking, too, she
mused.  He had also been at the Front!  That appealed to her, and
aroused her curiosity.  What had he done over there? she wondered.  Had
he performed special deeds of daring, and carried off any medals?

For some time she remained there facing the west.  The sun was riding
over the distant mountain peaks, and the whole landscape was bathed in
resplendent glory.  Midnight was standing close to the rocky ledge,
with ears pointed forward and his large eyes turned to the left.  His
body was still quivering, and every nerve was keenly alert.
Occasionally his right fore-hoof struck the rock, indicating his
impatience to be away.  The slightest sound startled him, for he could
not easily forget his encounter with the bear.

"Steady, laddie," Glen soothed, when he became more restless than
usual.  "I know you are anxious to be off, but I like this place.  I
wonder where we would be now but for that wonderful shot.  Most likely
we would be lying down there in the ravine instead of the grizzly."

For about fifteen minutes longer she remained in this position,
silently looking out toward the great mountains beyond.  Had Reynolds
but seen her then, how the artist soul within him would have rejoiced.
With a remarkable grace and ease she sat there, as one well accustomed
to the saddle.  Her left hand held the reins, and her right the
riding-whip.  Her soft felt hat, caught up at one side, partly shaded
her face.  A deep flush mantled her cheeks, due not to the reflection
of the sun alone, but to buoyant health, and the excitement through
which she had just passed.

Almost wistfully she at length wheeled her horse and headed him away
from the summit.  Midnight needed no urging, and the light of
satisfaction gleamed in his eyes as he sped swiftly and nimbly along
the narrow trail.  No guiding hand directed him, and the reins lay
loose upon his glossy neck, for his mistress' mind was elsewhere.  At
times he was compelled to slow down to a walk where the rocks were
thick, or the trail steep and dangerous.  But whenever possible, such
as on the wild meadows, he laid back his ears and sped like the wind.
This always aroused Glen and brought her back to earth.  She enjoyed
such races, and when they were over, she would pat Midnight on the neck
and utter affectionate words of praise.  Horse and rider understood
each other, which feeling had been developed through years of
companionship on many a hard trail.

For over an hour they thus moved steadily onward, and at length there
loomed before them the high frowning ridge of the Golden Crest.  At
first it seemed to form an impassable barrier to their advance.  But as
they continued, an opening suddenly appeared, flanked on either side by
huge projecting rocks.  It was Nature's great doorway in one of the
mighty partitions of the house not made with hands.  Through this
Midnight speedily loped and ere long swept out upon a wild meadow which
extended to the left farther than the eye could see, and over a mile in
width.  Horses were feeding here, and at once Midnight lifted up his
voice in a friendly neigh of salutation, which was immediately answered
by several horses in the distance.  In fact, he was on the point of
slowing down and swerving from the trail, but a light flick of the whip
reminded him that his mistress had other business on hand which had to
be attended to first, so again throwing back his ears, he dashed onward.

The wild meadow crossed, they reached a wooded region where the trail
ascended and wound up a steep hill.  Midnight took this with a bound,
and in a few minutes he was at the top, panting heavily from his
vigorous exercise.  Here Glen reined him in, and sat silently looking
straight before her.  And truly it was a magnificent scene which was
thus so suddenly presented to her view.  Below stretched a dense
forest, lying sombre beneath the shades of evening.  Away in the
distance rose the mighty mountains, sentinel-like and austere, while
between, flashing like a jewel in its dark stern setting, was a large
body of water.  Not a ripple ruffled its surface, and nothing could
Glen discern there, although her eyes scanned it most intently.

A word to Midnight, and down the incline they moved, and in a short
time emerged from the forest, when a large open clearing burst into
view.  To a stranger the sight would have been startling, for a short
distance away was a neat village, close to the water's edge.  But to
Glen it was not at all out of the ordinary.  She had been accustomed to
it from childhood, and to her it was home.

The village consisted of well built log houses, at the doors of which
children were playing, and dogs lying around.  The former smiled as the
girl rode by.  She did not stop as was her wont, to talk to them, but
at once made her way to a building larger than the others.  This was a
store, in front of which a number of Indians were gathered.

As Glen rode up and stopped, a tall, powerfully built native came forth
and laid his hand upon the horse's bridle.  It was the same Indian
Reynolds had seen that night at the dance in Whitehorse.  He was
evidently accustomed to waiting upon Glen, and needed no instructions.
But on this occasion the girl did not dismount.  She merely leaned over
and whispered a few words to her attendant, who simply nodded, and let
his hand drop from the bridle.  Then as Glen continued on her way, he
walked by her side through the street, up along the water-front.

In a few minutes they passed from the village and entered a grove of
trees which extended down to the shore of the lake.  In the midst of
this was a clearing, and situated here was a log building of generous
proportions, well made, and altogether different from the rest in the
settlement.  It was a two-story building, facing the water, with large
windows, and a spacious verandah sweeping around the front and both
sides.  Wherever it was possible, paint had been liberally applied, and
the white on the sashes, the green on the corner-boards, and the red on
the roof gave it a striking appearance.  It might well have been the
home of some millionaire, who had thus sought seclusion in the
wilderness, adding to his domicile a few touches of the world of
civilization.

The grounds were well kept, showing that much attention had been
bestowed upon them.  Flowers bloomed in profusion, and off to the left
a vegetable garden showed what the north could produce.  A gravelly
walk led to the water, and here at a small wharf floated a motor-boat,
graceful in appearance, and capable of carrying passengers and freight.
Several Indian men were standing on the wharf, while others, including
women and children, were paddling in canoes but a short distance away.
It was a scene of peace and seclusion, a regular fairy-land nestling
there in the wilds.  Even the storms of winter could not affect the
place, for besides the sheltering trees which surrounded it on all
sides, the frowning ridge of the Golden Crest formed a mighty barrier
to the rear.

But Glen noticed none of these things, for something else occupied her
mind this evening.  She had remained silent since leaving the store,
but now that the house was in sight, she halted Midnight at the edge of
the woods and looked at her Indian companion.

"Is daddy home yet?" she asked, speaking in the rhythmical native
language with which she was so familiar.

"Not home," was the brief reply.

"He said that he might come to-day, didn't he?"

The Indian, merely nodded.

"He has been gone for nearly a week now," Glen continued, "and I wonder
what can be keeping him.  Do you think he will come to-night?"

"Sconda doesn't know.  Big white chief alone knows."

Glen laughed and stroked Midnight's neck with an impatient hand.

"I guess you are right, Sconda.  Daddy alone knows what he is going to
do, for he never tells me, at any rate.  But as he is not here I must
take matters into my own hands.  You know Deep Gulch beyond the Golden
Crest?" and she motioned to the left.

Again the Indian nodded.

"Well, then, there is a dead bear in the Gulch, Sconda, and I want you
to take men and bring it in, see?"

A new light now shone in the native's eyes, and he looked enquiringly
into the girl's face.

"Bear?" he asked.  "In Deep Gulch?"

"Yes, and a grizzly at that; a monster.  Oh, it was terrible!" and Glen
shivered as the recollection of the brute's fierce charge swept upon
her.

"Bear dead, eh?" Sconda queried.

"Yes, dead, and lying in the ravine, half covered with earth and rocks.
Go down Crooked Trail to the bottom, then up the gulch, and you will
find it."

"Who shoot grizzly?" the Indian asked.

"A white man.  And, oh, Sconda, you should have seen what a shot he
made!  It was wonderful!  I am sure you never did anything like it."

"Greater than Sconda made at Saku, when he shot grizzly, and saved
Injun, eh?"

"Greater?  Listen, Sconda.  That white man shot the grizzly from the
other side of Deep Gulch.  He was way up on the hill, and he hit the
bear in the heart."

The Indian's eyes showed his astonishment as he studied the girl's face
as if to make sure that she was telling the truth.

"It is true, Sconda.  I was there and saw him do it."

"What was bear doing?"

"Coming at me for all it was worth, and Midnight was almost frantic
with fright.  If it hadn't been for that white man we would be down
there now where that grizzly is lying."

"And you want Sconda to fetch bear to camp, eh?"

"I do.  Take as many men as you need and go in the morning.  Tell the
women to be ready to prepare the meat.  And, Sconda, I want you to look
after the dressing of the skin.  Get Klota to do it.  Tell her it is
for me, and she will understand.  That is all, I guess."

Glen dismounted, and handed the reins to the Indian.

"Midnight is hungry, Sconda.  Look after him yourself, and see that he
gets a good bite of grass.  And, Sconda," she added, as if an
afterthought, "you will be sure to go with the men in the morning?"

"Ah, ah, Sconda will go."

"That's good.  And I want you to do something for me.  Keep a sharp
watch to see if that white man comes again to Deep Gulch.  You will,
won't you?"

"Sconda will watch."

"But don't let him think you are watching, remember.  You stay behind
when the others have brought the bear home.  But don't let the white
man see you."

Into Sconda's eyes flashed an expression of understanding.  He knew now
what the girl meant.  What would he not do for her? the white girl he
had known since she was but a child, and whose word to him was law, not
of force but of affection.

"Now, don't forget, Sconda," Glen warned.  "Stay there, if necessary,
until night, and watch him carefully from the top of Crooked Trail.
And don't tell anybody, not even Klota.  Her eyes and ears are sharp,
and she might suspect something.  This is the greatest secret I have
ever had.  You have never failed me yet, Sconda, and I know that I can
trust you now."



CHAPTER XIII

WHEN THE STORM BURST

Glen West Lodge, the name of this fine building on the shore of that
inland lake, was a comfortable and cozy abode.  The rooms were not
large, but their furnishings and decorations showed the artistic taste
of the owner.  The pictures adorning the walls had evidently been
chosen with careful discrimination, most of them representing nature
scenes, with a few well known paintings of the world of civilization.
Each room contained a fire-place, and over the mantel of the
livingroom, which opened off the hallway, was Watt's symbolical figure
of "Hope."  Glen had often seen her father standing before this,
studying it most intently.  Once he had told her its meaning.  "You see
that woman sitting on the top of the world," he had said.  "The strings
of her harp are all broken but one, and upon that she is making the
best music she can.  It teaches us, Glen, never to despair, but with
the one string of limited power to do our best."

In one corner of this room was a piano, and the piece of modern music
above the key-board showed that someone had been recently playing.  A
lamp of neat design hung from the wainscoted ceiling, while another
with a soft shade stood upon a centre-table.  The chairs in the room
were comfortable, the largest being placed near the big southern
window, close to which was a case well filled with books.  The floor
was covered with a rich carpet, of a quiet pattern, while before the
fire-place was stretched a great bearskin rug.  It was a room to
delight the heart, especially on a night when a storm was raging over
the land.

It was through this that Glen passed after entering the house.  She
went at once into the dining-room, adjoining, where she found the table
all set for supper, and a white-haired woman standing before the
side-board, arranging knives and forks in a drawer.  She turned as Glen
entered, and a bright smile of welcome illumined her face.

"You are late, dear," she reminded.  "Supper has been ready for some
time."

"I am sorry, Nannie," the girl apologized.  "But I went farther to-day
than I intended.  There is no word from daddy, I suppose?"

"None at all, dearie.  But, hurry and change your clothes, as your
father may arrive at any minute.  He will be angry if he knows that you
have been far beyond the Golden Crest, for he has warned you to be
careful.  It is not safe for a girl to be riding alone since the miners
have come into this region."

Glen smiled gaily at the woman's fears, and hastened away to her own
room.  In about a quarter of an hour she returned, but in that brief
space of time a marvellous transformation had taken place.  In a soft
white dress, open at the throat, her beauty was enhanced ten-fold.  Her
luxuriant wavy hair had been hurriedly brushed back, and her cheeks
bore the deep flush of health and youth.  The woman at the head of the
table looked at her with undisguised admiration as she passed her a
piece of nicely browned fried salmon which an Indian servant girl had
brought in from the kitchen.

"It is too bad that your father isn't here to see you, Glen," she
remarked.  "I never saw you look prettier.  If we were outside, I might
suspect that the color in your cheeks is not due to health and exercise
alone."

"I am afraid you are flattering me, Nannie," Glen laughingly replied.
"You will make me vain, if you are not careful."

"I am not in the habit of flattering without good reason, as you well
know, dear.  But I have been thinking lately what a great pity it is
that you should be wasting your young life in a place like this."

"Losing my sweetness on the desert air; is that it, Nannie?  But what
about you?"

"Oh, I do not signify," and again the sad expression came into the
woman's eyes.  "I might as well be here as anywhere else.  But with you
it is different.  You need companions of your own age, and a more
agreeable life than this place can provide."

"I certainly do," was the emphatic assent.  "I never realised it until
my return from the Seminary.  What is the use of all my education if I
am to spend the rest of my days here, with not a girl friend, and not
a----"

Glen floundered and paused, while her cheeks flushed a deep crimson.

"I understand, dear, so do not try to explain.  It is only natural that
you should wish to be admired.  I was the same when I was your age.
But you cannot expect to find admirers up here, that is, the right
kind, and especially the one above all others."

Glen looked keenly into her companion's eyes, as if to divine her
meaning.  But she saw nothing there which might lead her to suspect
that the secret of her heart was known.

"Do you think that daddy will ever consent to leave this place?" she
asked.  "I have not spoken to him about it, for I was quite satisfied
with this life until recently."

"I have mentioned it to him," was the reply.  "Ever since you were a
child I have been urging him to leave the north, for your sake, if for
nothing else.  He always said that he expected to do so some day, but
here we are the same as ever, and I see no signs of his going."

"I wonder what in the world daddy ever came here for, anyway?"

"Why, for trading purposes, of course.  He has done wonderfully well,
and understands the Indians better than any white man in this country.
You know they will do anything for him, because he is so fair and just
in all his dealings."

"Yes, I know that, Nannie.  But daddy never goes outside, and he will
not allow white men to come here.  You know as well as I do that he
turns the Indians upon every white stranger who comes across the Golden
Crest or by water.  Daddy never mentioned it to me, but both Sconda and
Klota have told me how the miners fear this place, and think that daddy
is a terrible monster.  When I asked them what became of the white men
who ventured here, they wouldn't tell me, but looked at each other in a
queer way.  There is something mysterious about it all, and it has
puzzled me ever since I was able to understand anything."

"There, dearie, never mind worrying your brain about it now," her
companion soothed.  "You are too young to have wrinkles in your smooth
skin.  Play that nice piece you were singing before you left to-day.  I
never heard it before, and it did me so much good.  The piano has been
idle all winter, so it must make up for lost time now."

Glen told Nannie nothing about her experiences that afternoon.  She was
afraid that this woman, gifted with more than ordinary insight, might
read her heart.  It made her feel somewhat guilty, nevertheless, for
Nannie was the only mother she had ever known, and she lay awake a long
time that night thinking it all over, and wondering whether she should
tell her secret to the one woman in the world in whom she should
confide.  She had studied herself more carefully than usual in her
large mirror before retiring, and what she beheld there was far from
displeasing.  She knew that she was beautiful, and her heart told her
that her brave rescuer had looked upon her with admiration.  Should she
ever see him again? she asked herself, or had he already forgotten her?

Glen awoke early the next morning, and after breakfast she went down to
the store.  Here she learned that Sconda and a dozen men had gone to
Deep Gulch after the grizzly.  Formerly, women would have done most of
the heavy work, but the ruler of Glen West had changed all that.  The
men did not take kindly to this at first, but Jim Weston had been firm.

"If you do not like this order of things, you can go elsewhere," he
told them.  "Women are not going to do men's work here.  You bring the
game into camp, and then let your wives attend to it."

Thus the custom of the men bringing in the bear or moose became
established, and no one left, for the objectors knew that they were far
better off at Glen West than they had ever been in their lives, and
that it was to their advantage to obey their Big White Chief, as they
called Weston.

Glen waited impatiently for the men's return, and the hours dragged
slowly by until their arrival about the middle of the afternoon.  They
had skinned the bear, and cutting up the carcass, they had strapped the
pieces upon their horses.  They rode gaily into camp, and most of the
inhabitants of the place were gathered around the store to acclaim
their arrival.  All had heard of the wonderful shot across Deep Gulch,
and they were naturally curious to see the monster which had dared to
face the Big Chief's daughter.  There was the certainty, too, of fresh
meat, which added much to the interest.

Sconda, however was not with the returned men, and Glen was greatly
disappointed.  Her rescuer, then, had not come back to the gulch, so he
evidently had no more thought for her.  She had imagined that he would
be anxious to obtain the grizzly's fine skin as a souvenir of his
meeting with her.  At first she was tempted to ride forth toward
Crooked Trail and await Sconda's return, but changing her mind, she
launched her light canoe, and was soon skimming out over the water of
the big lake.  She generally took an Indian girl, or Sconda with her.
But now she wished to be alone, that she might think as she drifted or
paddled.

For over an hour she remained on the water, and when she returned,
Sconda was waiting for her on the shore.  Her face brightened as she
saw him, and she at once questioned him about her rescuer.

"Did you see him?" she asked.

"Ah, ah.  Sconda see white man."

"And did he see you?"

"Ah, ah."

"Oh!  Did he stay long at Deep Gulch?"

A shake of the head was the native's only response.

"Did he seem surprised when he found that the grizzly was gone?" Glen
asked.  "Did he look up Crooked Trail as if expecting to see someone
there?"

"White man act queer," the Indian explained.  "He stay on big hill
watching trail.  He saw Sconda once."

"What did he do?"

"Nothing," and the Indian's eyes twinkled.  "Sconda leave quick."

"And you didn't see him again?"

"Sconda come to Glen West.  White man go to Big Draw, maybe."

Although Glen was not altogether satisfied at what Sconda told her, yet
it was some comfort to know that her rescuer had returned to Deep
Gulch, and stayed there for a while watching the trail as if expecting
to see someone.  And was that someone herself? she wondered.  She had
the feeling that it was, and the thought pleased her.

Glen now found the life at Glen West more irksome than ever.  She
missed her companions of the Seminary and the excitement of the city.
She did not even have her father, for several days had now passed since
his expected return.  She had no idea what was keeping him, and she
naturally became very anxious.  Several times she discussed his delay
with Nannie.

"Did you ever know daddy to stay away as long as this?" she asked one
evening as they sat at supper.

"I have known him to be away much longer," was the reply.  "Once he was
gone for a whole month.  He is prospecting for gold, you know, and goes
far off at times."

"But he has never discovered anything, has he?"

"Nothing of great value as yet, although he is always expecting to do
so some day.  You need not worry about him, dearie, for he is well able
to take care of himself, and I understand that an Indian always keeps
in touch with him.  He has a comfortable cabin out in the hills where
he sleeps at night."

"Well, I wish to goodness he would come home," and Glen gave a deep
sigh.  "He might think of me, and how much I need him.  If he doesn't
come soon, I shall pack up and go outside again.  I believe a trip to
Whitehorse would do me good, for I am tired of staying here with
nothing to do."

"Your father would not like it," her companion reminded.  "He would be
very angry if he came home and found that you had left Glen West.  Why
not take a spin on the lake this evening?  You once were very fond of
the boat."

"I suppose I might as well go," and again Glen sighed as she rose from
the table and looked out of the window.  "Sconda is on the wharf now,
and that will save my going after him.  Won't you come, too, Nannie?  A
spin will do you good."

"Not this evening," was the reply.  "Your father may come at any
minute, and it would not do for both of us to be away from the house."

Sconda's eyes brightened as Glen came down to the wharf and asked him
to take her out upon the water.  _The Frontiersman_, the name of the
motor-boat, was the pride of Sconda's heart.  When he had been
appointed captain of the craft, his highest ambition was reached.
This, together with the fact that he was the special guardian of the
Big Chief's daughter, gave him a high standing in the camp.  No one
knew the waters of the north better than did he, and Jim Weston's mind
was always easy when Glen was with him.

In a few minutes _The Frontiersman_ was cutting through the water out
into the open.  Sconda was at the wheel, with Glen by his side, while
Taku, an Indian with special mechanical gifts, looked after the engine.

"Which way?" Sconda at length asked, after they had run out of the
sheltered creek into the main body of water.

"Up-stream," Glen replied.  "Daddy came down the Tasan once on a raft,
and he had a hard time getting home.  He may be coming that way now, so
we may be able to pick him up."

Sconda at once gave the wheel a sharp turn to the left, and the boat
swinging obediently to its master's will, rushed rapidly forward.  A
stiff breeze was now blowing dead ahead, and this Glen thoroughly
enjoyed.  It suited her nature, especially this evening, and she longed
for a tempest to sweep upon them.  Adventure and excitement she dearly
enjoyed, and she had often bewailed the fact that she was a woman and
not a man.

"Women are supposed to be demure quiet creatures," she had more than
once declared.  "They are not supposed to run any risks, but must stay
safely in the house.  That may satisfy some, but it does not suit me."

Her father and Nannie had always smiled at these outbursts of
impatience, thinking that as she grew older her mind would change, and
she would see things in a different light.  But Glen did not change,
and the longing for adventure was as strong in her heart now as ever.
The sweep of the wind this evening not only tossed her hair but
thrilled her very being, and for the first time since her return home
she felt how good it was to live in such a place.

For about half an hour they sped onward, with the wind steadily
increasing.

"Big blow soon," Sconda casually remarked, as he glanced at the heavy
clouds massing over the mountains.  Then he gave a start, and peered
keenly forward.  His eyes had caught sight of something unusual.

"What's that?" he asked, pointing to the left.

Glen's eyes followed his outstretched arm, and presently she was
enabled to detect a dark object upon the water.

"It's only a stick, isn't it, Sconda?"

"No; it's a raft," was the reply.  "There's something on it."

"Oh; maybe it's daddy!" Glen exclaimed, now thoroughly aroused.  "Make
the boat go faster.  He will be swamped by these waves!"

The boat, however, was running at full speed, and in short time they
were able to view the object more clearly.  It was certainly a raft,
and the form upon it looked like a human being.  Glen almost stopped
breathing as they drew nearer.  Could it be her father? she asked
herself.  Who else would be out there on the lake?

As the boat slowed down and ran close to the raft, Sconda called aloud
to the figure huddled upon the logs.  But there was no reply.  The wind
was tossing the rags which once were clothes, and the waves were
speedily breaking the rude craft asunder.  There was no time to lose,
so in another minute Sconda had the boat close alongside, and with the
aid of Taku the helpless man was lifted from his perilous position.

When Glen saw that the rescued man was not her father, she breathed
more freely.  But the first glimpse of his face, bearded though it was,
reminded her of someone she had seen before.  Then the light of
recognition leaped into her eyes, and with a cry of surprise she
dropped upon her knees by the side of the prostrate man as he lay upon
the deck.

Almost instantly the impending storm burst with terrible fury over that
inland body of water.  The raft went to pieces like matchwood, and
Sconda had all that he could do to manage the boat.  With the
assistance of Taku, the unconscious man was carried inside, and as Glen
watched by his side, unable to do anything for his relief, the tempest
raged without.  It was one of those terrific storms which at times
sweep down so suddenly from deep mountain draws, and lash the lake in
wildest fury.  _The Frontiersman_ reeled and plunged as she struggled
through the hurricane, and the waves dashed continuously over the deck,
threatening to smash the glass in the cabin where Glen was keeping
watch.  That large lake, so peaceful at morn, was now a raging monster.
Many an unwary voyager had been caught in such a storm, and in bygone
days the natives always used their stoutest charms in their efforts to
propitiate the demon of the mountains.

Sconda's hands firmly grasped the wheel, and his alert eyes studied
every wave as he guided the boat on her plunging course.  He realised
how much was at stake, for was not his master's daughter on board, and
he responsible for her safety?  Could he have run straight before the
gale, it would not have been so difficult.  But the creek was over
there to the right, hence it was necessary to run in a diagonal manner
which caused the boat to ship a great deal of water.  But keep this
steadfast course he did, and after a desperate struggle, _The
Frontiersman_ poked her nose into the opening of the creek, and was
soon gliding calmly over the smooth water within.



CHAPTER XIV

ANOTHER PRISONER

It was morning when Reynolds opened his eyes and looked around.  He
believed that he had been dreaming, and a horrible dream it was.  In a
few minutes his senses returned, and he vividly recalled the terrible
experiences through which he had recently passed.  But where was he?
What had happened to him?  Why was he not yet upon the raft, drifting
with the wind and tide?  He glanced about the room and saw that it was
a cozy place, with the sunlight streaming in through an open window on
the right.  He attempted to rise, but fell back wearily upon the bed.
Then he called, and the sound of his own voice startled him, so
strangely hollow and unreal did it seem.

A light footstep near the door caused him to look in that direction.
An Indian woman was coming toward him, a big motherly-looking person,
with a smile upon her face.

"Where am I?" Reynolds asked.  "And how did I get here?"

The woman made no reply, but still smiling with apparent satisfaction,
she turned and left the room.  She was back again in a few minutes,
this time carrying in her hand a bowl of steaming broth.

"Eat," she ordered, offering him a spoon.  "No talk."

But Reynolds did not take the spoon.  He was too famished for that.
Seizing the bowl with hands that trembled from weakness and excitement,
he drained it to the last drop.

"More, more," he cried.  "I'm starving."

Again the woman smiled as she took the bowl.

"No more now," she told him.  "Sleep."

"But where am I?" Reynolds demanded.  "I must know."

"Bimeby.  Sleep now," was all the satisfaction he obtained, as the
woman left the room and closed the door.

For several minutes Reynolds lay there uncertain, what to do.  But the
bed was comfortable, and he was so tired.  It was good to rest, and not
worry about anything.  He was in friendly hands, and that was
sufficient for the present.

When he again awoke, he felt much refreshed, and longed to get up.  He
attempted to do so, but in an instant the same Indian woman was by his
side.

"No get up," she ordered, handing him another bowl of broth she had
brought with her.

Reynolds drank this more leisurely, the woman watching him closely all
the time.

"Thank you,"  he said, when he had finished.  "I feel better now.  But
please tell me where I am, and how I came----"

The words died upon his lips, for in the doorway Glen had suddenly
appeared.  She looked at him, and with a bright smile upon her face,
came to his side.  So surprised was Reynolds that he was unable to
utter a word.  He merely stared, so great was his astonishment.

"I hope I have not startled you," the girl began.  "You look
frightened."

"But where have you come from?" Reynolds asked, not yet sure that he
was in his right mind.

"From the other room, of course," and again Glen smiled.  "You need not
look at me that way for I am no ghost.  I do not feel like one, anyway."

Reynolds gave a sigh of relief, and a thrill of joy swept over him.  It
was almost too good to be true.  He had found the girl at last!

"Are you feeling better now?" Glen asked.

Reynolds put his hand to his face, and glanced at the rags upon his
body.

"I am not sure," he doubtfully replied.  "But perhaps I shall when this
beard is removed and I get some decent clothes.  I must be a fearful
looking object."

"I have seen you look better.  But, then, you need not worry, Klota
will attend to you presently."

"And you know who I am?" Reynolds eagerly asked.

"Certainly.  You are my brave rescuer.  You saved me from the grizzly
on Crooked Trail, didn't you?"

"I know I did, but I am surprised that you recognize me in my present
condition."

"Oh, I knew you as soon as you were taken off the raft."

"You did!  And so it was you who saved me?"

"I had something to do with it, though not all.  But won't you tell me
what happened to you?  Why were you adrift on the lake?"

"I can not tell you now," Reynolds replied.  "I want to forget the
terrible experiences through which I have just passed.  I hope you do
not mind."

"No, certainly not.  I am only curious, that's all.  When you get well
you can tell me everything.  I shall leave you now, for you must be
tired."

"Don't go yet," Reynolds pleaded.  "It is so nice to have you here, and
talking does not tire me.  Do you mind telling me where I am?"

"Why, at Glen West, of course.  Where did you think you are?"

"Glen West," Reynolds repeated.  "I cannot recall that name.  Is it far
from Big Draw?"

"Too far for anyone but you," and the girl smiled.  "You are beyond the
Golden Crest, remember, and you have heard what that means."

"I am!  Why, I thought one could only get here by crossing the range."

"But you came by water; that is the only other way.  And it is lucky
for you that you did," she added after a slight pause.

"You mean that my life would be in danger had I come over Golden Crest?"

"Most likely."

"And am I safe now?"

The sunny expression vanished from Glen's eyes, and her face became
serious.  She gazed out of the window, as if watching several Indian
children at play.  To Reynolds she had never seemed more beautiful, and
he could hardly believe it possible that she was standing there but a
few feet away.  She turned her face suddenly to his, and the look of
admiration in his eyes brought a deep flush to her cheeks.

"Pardon me for not answering your question at once," she began.  "I am
afraid you are not safe, as you are on forbidden ground, though the
fact that you were brought here in a helpless condition may make a
difference.  But, then, one can never tell what daddy will think about
it."

"Does your father know I am here?"

"Not yet.  He has been away in the hills for some time, and we are
expecting him home at any minute."

"What do you suppose he will do with me?  I fear he will find my bones
poor picking after what I have gone through."

"Oh, daddy is not such a cannibal as all that," Glen laughingly
replied.  "But he is very jealous of this place, as others have found
out to their sorrow.  I cannot understand him at times, although he is
very good to me."

"Have you lived here long?"

"Ever since I was a child.  But I am tired of it now, and want to live
outside.  I was satisfied until I attended the Seminary and saw
something of the world beyond the Golden Crest.  What is the use of
having an education if one must always live in a place like this?"

"I agree with you," Reynolds emphatically declared.  "You should induce
your father to go outside."

"You do not know daddy, or you would not speak about inducing him.
But, there, I must go.  I have been talking too much, and you are
tired."

Reynolds lay there thinking about Glen long after she had gone.  He had
found her at last, and she was just as sweet and beautiful as the day
he had rescued her on Crooked Trail.  Yes, he had found her, but was he
not as far from gaining her as ever? he asked himself.  He thought
about her father, and wondered what he would do when he returned home.
Perhaps he would pack him at once across the Golden Crest, if he did no
worse.  But what could be worse than to be driven from her who had
become so dear to him, and for whose sake he had ventured and suffered
so much?

The next morning he felt almost like his former self, and when Klota
brought him his breakfast, he informed her that he was going to get up.
The woman smiled, left the room, and returned when Reynolds had
finished the meal, and viewed with satisfaction the empty dishes.

"Did you cook my breakfast?" Reynolds asked.

"Ah, ah," was the reply.  "Good, eh?"

"Good!  It's the best I've had in a long time.  I feel like a new man
this morning, and must get up.  I wish I had a shave, a bath, and some
decent clothes.  Look at these," and he pointed to his rags.

"Come," the woman simply ordered.  "Me fix you, all right."

Reynolds at once got up, and followed her into the kitchen.  He was
greatly surprised at the neatness of the place, as he had no idea that
an Indian woman could be such a good housekeeper.  Klota noted his look
of wonder, and smiled.

"Injun all sam' white woman, eh?" she queried.

"Why, yes.  You do all this?"

"Ah, ah.  All sam' beeg house."

She then opened a door to the left, and pointed within.

"See.  All sam' white woman.  All sam' Missie Glen.  Savvey?"

Reynolds certainly did understand, and with an exclamation of surprise
and delight, he entered the little room, where he found a bath-tub
partly filled with water, clean towels, a suit of clothes, and a
shaving-outfit.

"Where did all these things come from?" he asked.

"Sconda fix 'em all sam' beeg house.  Savvey?"

"And are these clothes for me?"

"Ah, ah.  Missie Glen send 'em."

Reynolds asked no more questions just then.  He was more than satisfied
at the kindness he was receiving.  He believed it was due to Glen, and
that she had instructed the Indians to do all in their power for his
comfort.  This filled his heart with gladness, for it told him that the
girl was interested in his welfare, and that she looked upon him with
kindly eyes.  He was beginning to understand, too, something of Jim
Weston's influence among the Indians.  He had taught them the value of
cleanliness, at any rate, and if all the natives in the place were like
Klota and her husband, it must be an ideal settlement.

An hour later Reynolds came forth looking like a new man, and greatly
refreshed after his bath.  Klota's eyes beamed their approval as he
stood before her.

"Do I look better now?" he asked.

"Good," was the reply.  "All sam' white man.  No Injun now."

Reynolds laughed as he went out of the house.  The woman amused him,
although he was most grateful for her kindness.  It was a beautiful
morning, and not a ripple ruffled the surface of the lake.  The village
was astir with life, the voices of children and the barking of dogs
resounding on every side.  No one interfered with him as he walked
slowly along the street, but he could easily tell that he was being
watched by many curious eyes.  He had the feeling, too, that he was a
prisoner, and while he could roam about at will, to escape would be
impossible.  The strong burly Indians he saw seemed to have nothing to
do, but he knew that this was their idle season, and that during the
winter they would be off to their hunting-grounds.

Reynolds was much interested in the store which he presently reached.
A couple of Indians were in charge, who nodded to him as he entered,
but apparently paid no further attention to him after their formal
salutation.  The building was well filled with all kinds of goods, and
resembled a large up-to-date store in some large country town such as
he had often seen.  The sight of pipes and tobacco made him realise
that he had not smoked for days, and having his money with him, he soon
made his purchase.  He stayed for a while at the store, smoking, and
watching the customers as they came and went.  It was all of
considerable interest to him, and he beheld in this trading-place
another tangible evidence of Jim Weston's influence.

He spent the rest of the morning wandering about the village, and it
was noon by the time he returned to the house, which for the present he
called home.  Here he found Sconda near the back door carefully
examining a large bearskin.  He turned as the young man approached, and
without the least sign of surprise, motioned to the skin.

"See um?" he asked.  "Beeg skin, eh?"

"It certainly is," was the reply.  "A grizzly?"

"Ah, ha.  You shoot um, eh?"

"Why, that's not the one I shot on Crooked Trail, is it?" Reynolds
asked in astonishment.

"Ah, ah.  All sam' bear.  Skin dry bimeby."

"What are you going to do with it?  Will you let me have it?"

Sconda shook his head as he again felt the skin.

"Missie Glen get skin bimeby."

"Is it for her?"

"Ah, ah.  She want skin.  She send Injuns to Deep Gulch.  She tell
Sconda make good skin.  Bimeby Missie Glen put skin in room, all sam'
dis," and Sconda stooped and spread his hands over the ground.

Reynolds understood, and his heart bounded with joy.  So Glen was going
to keep the skin as a souvenir of her rescue on Crooked Trail.  Then
she must care something for him after all, more than he had expected.
The thought made him happier than he had been for days, and he was
grateful to Sconda for what he had told him.

That afternoon Glen came again to see him.  She was greatly pleased at
the change in his appearance, and suggested that they should go for a
spin upon the creek.

"I want to show you what a beautiful place Glen West really is," she
told him.  "We can take Sconda's canoe, which is at the shore."

Reynolds was delighted, and eagerly he agreed to the proposition.  Glen
seated herself in the middle of the canoe, and the deft manner in which
she handled the paddle showed that she was well accustomed to the
water.  Reynolds paddled aft, and headed the light craft up the creek.

"I am anxious for you to see what a wonderful piece of water this arm
of the lake is," Glen remarked.  "I have never seen anything like it in
the north, and we are all very proud of it.  Oh, if more people could
only see it!"

She sighed as she drove the paddle into the water.  Reynolds was more
intent upon watching the graceful poise of her body as it swayed to the
rhythmic stroke of the paddle than he was in viewing the scenery.  He
could hardly believe it true that she was seated there before him, and
that he was privileged to watch her to his heart's content.  He was
very happy, and to him Glen West was the most delightful place in the
world.

At length they came in front of the big house, and when Reynolds saw
it, and also _The Frontiersman_ lying at her wharf, his interest was
intense.  He ceased paddling, and stared in amazement.

"Am I dreaming, or have I taken leave of my senses?" he asked.

Glen laughed, as she rested on her paddle, and turned partly around.

"That is where I live," she explained.  "And that is our boat.  You
were brought in on it the day we picked you up on the lake."

Reynolds made no immediate reply, but drove his paddle suddenly into
the water.  He knew that this girl had been largely instrumental in
saving his life, and he was learning more and more what an important
part she was playing in his life, and how one by one the links were
being formed to bind them closer together.

Reynolds believed that he had seen the most wonderful sights in the
north, but he had to confess that the grandest of all had been reserved
for him that afternoon.  As they moved on their way, the creek
narrowed, and passing through an opening with high frowning rocks on
both sides, they ran into a body of water of unruffled calmness, with
steep banks, wooded to the shores.  On the left rose the high ridge of
the Golden Crest, as it shouldered in close to the stream, while on the
right towered another crest, grand and austere.  Their pinnacles were
reflected in the lake, which was one of nature's jewels of surpassing
brilliance, set by unseen hands on the fair bosom of the virgin north.

Many were the things the happy young couple talked about that
afternoon.  They did not paddle all the time, but often were content to
let the canoe drift or lie still along the shore.  Glen described the
life at the Seminary and at Glen West, while Reynolds told of his
terrible experiences in the hills and his voyage on the raft down the
river.

"I am afraid that Frontier Samson is still hunting for me," he said.
"He is a fine old man, so kind and humorous.  Have you ever met him,
Miss Weston?"

"Not to my knowledge," was the reply, "although I have heard a great
deal about him."

"He has never been here, I suppose?"

"Oh, no.  Daddy never permits any white man to come, not even that old
prospector."

"But I am here," Reynolds reminded.

"I know you are.  But you came in a different way, you see.  I believe
you are the first white man who ever stayed this length of time here."

"I would like to stay here forever," Reynolds fervently declared.  "I
have never been so happy in my life as I have been since I came to this
place.  I wonder what your father will do when he comes home."

"I wish I knew," and Glen sighed.  "Anyway, it's no use to worry about
that now.  Let us enjoy ourselves while we can."

It was supper time when they at length reached Sconda's shore, where
they pulled the canoe out of the water.  They then walked up to the
house, talking and laughing like two children.  They had just reached
the street, when a strange noise to their left arrested their
attention.  Looking in that direction, they saw a number of Indian men
and children surrounding a man, who was evidently a prisoner.  As they
drew nearer, Reynolds saw that it was a white man, and that his hands
were tied behind his back.

"Another prisoner, I believe," he remarked.  "I shall have company."

Then he gave a sudden start, and took a quick step forward as if to
obtain a better view.

"Why, it's Curly!" he exclaimed.  "What in the world is he doing here!"

But Glen made no reply.  Her eyes were fixed upon the prisoner, and her
face was very white, as she turned slightly, as if about to flee into
the house.  In another minute Curly was near, and a most wretched
figure he presented.  His clothes were torn and his face dirty and
bleeding.  He had apparently received severe treatment at the hands of
his captors.  He walked with a shambling and unsteady gait, with his
eyes fixed upon the ground.  But as he came to where Glen and Reynolds
were standing, he suddenly lifted his head, and seeing the two, he
stopped dead in his tracks.  For an instant he stared as if he had not
seen aright.  Then his face became contorted with a mingled expression
of surprise and hatred.  He strained at his bonds in a desperate effort
to free himself, but he was immediately checked by his Indian
guardians, who caught him by the arms, and hustled him along.  He
struggled violently for a few seconds, pouring forth at the same time a
stream of blood-curdling oaths, abuse and vile words, which caused Glen
to put her hands to her ears, and flee hurriedly into the house, while
Reynolds slowly followed.



CHAPTER XV

JIM WESTON

Glen's mind was greatly agitated as she made her way slowly homeward.
Curly's presence was the cause of this, as she feared that her father
would be so angry with the villain that it would make it hard for
Reynolds.  He might imagine that the two were in league with each
other, as they were both from Big Draw.  She despised Curly, knowing
what a vile loathsome creature he was, and she had a very fair idea why
he had ventured across the Golden Crest.  Had he not avowed his
affection for her at the dance, and had told her that he would run any
risk to meet her again?  How glad she had been that night when Sconda
came for her, and she could free herself from her unwelcome and
insistent suitor.  And Curly was now a prisoner at Glen West!  She
shuddered as she recalled the look on his face when he saw her and
Reynolds together.  And his language!  She could not get the terrible
words out of her mind.  The meaning of some she did not know, never
having heard them before, but she fully realised that they must be very
bad, or else Curly would not have used them in his rage.  And should he
now escape, there was no telling what his revengeful spirit might lead
him to do, either to herself, or to him who was now beginning to mean
so much to her.

Thinking thus, she reached the house, and as soon as she entered she
knew that her father was at home, for the door of his private room was
open.  He was seated at his desk when he turned and saw her.  Springing
to his feet, he caught her in his arms, kissed her on both cheeks, and
then holding her at the full length of his powerful arms, he looked
eagerly and lovingly upon her now flushed and excited face.

"Why, you are getting better looking every day," he declared.  "Just
like your dear mother at her age.  My, my, how the time has gone! and
it seems but yesterday that I first met her.  But, there, there, I must
not give way to such feelings on this my first night home.  Come, sit
by my side and tell me all about yourself, and how things are going at
Glen West."

For the first time in her young life Glen was sorry that her father had
come home.  She was really more than sorry, for a nameless fear
possessed her heart, which restrained her usual free and happy manner.
Her father's keen intuition noted this, and that her words seemed
forced.  Her enthusiasm over his arrival was not so hearty and natural
as formerly, and he wondered why.

"What is the matter, dear?" he asked after Glen had somewhat haltingly
told him about her music and certain household affairs.  "You do not
seem like yourself.  Has anything out of the ordinary happened at Glen
West since I have been away?"

"Yes, lots of things, daddy," was the reply.  "One of the most
important is your absence from home for such a length of time.  You
should be ashamed of yourself."

Weston laughed, although he felt quite sure that she was evading the
real issue.

"I am sorry, dear, and I make my humble confession now.  But what else
of importance has been taking place?"

"I was nearly eaten up by a bear on Crooked Trail, and it was a grizzly
at that."

Glen was surprised that her father did not seem more concerned, and she
told him so.

"You take it very coolly, daddy.  Just think, you might have come home
and not found me here."

"I am very thankful that you escaped, dear, but did I not forbid your
going so far alone beyond the Golden Crest?  I hope your experience has
taught you a lesson.  How were you saved from the grizzly?"

"Oh, a hunter shot it just in the nick of time," Glen explained as
indifferently as possible, although she knew that her cheeks were
aflame.  "And, oh, daddy, you should have seen the shot he made; it was
wonderful!"

"Where was the hunter from, Glen?"

"From Big Draw mining camp, so I understand."

"Were you talking to him?"

"Yes, just for a few minutes."

"And have you seen him since?"

Glen's eyes dropped and the flush left her cheeks.  Her father noted
this, and he laid his right hand suddenly upon her arm.

"Speak, Glen, and tell me at once whether you have seen him since."

Something in her father's voice startled the girl, and she looked up
quickly into his face.

"Tell me," he again demanded.  "What is the matter?  Have you seen that
man lately?"

"Yes, I have."

"Where?"

"Here."

"At Glen West?  He has been here, and you have seen him?  Are you sure?"

"I am certain.  I was with him this afternoon in the canoe.  But,
daddy, what is the matter?  Oh, don't get angry.  I didn't do anything
wrong."

Jim Weston had risen to his feet, and was looking down upon his
daughter.  He was a powerfully-built man, of more than ordinary height.
The northern winter was in his thick hair and heavy moustache, while
his steady light-blue eyes and firm, well-built chin betokened a strong
will power of unyielding determination.  Glen had often expressed her
unbounded admiration for her father, and believed him to be the most
handsome man in the world.  But now he seemed like an avenging god,
about to visit upon her the force of his wrath.  For the first time in
her life she cowered before him, and hid her face in her hands.

"And you say that your rescuer is here?" Weston at length asked.  "When
did he come, and where is he staying?"

"We saved him from a raft out on the lake just before that fearful
storm," Glen faintly replied.  "He was almost dead, and in a minute
more he would have been drowned.  Oh, it was terrible!  He is now at
Sconda's."

"Another miner's trick, I suppose, to get here," Weston growled.  "It
has been tried before, but with scanty success.  This must be one more
fool who was trying the same game."

"He is not a fool," Glen stoutly protested, lifting her eyes defiantly
to her father's face.  "Mr. Reynolds is a gentleman.  He is different
from the rest of the miners."

"What was he doing out on the lake?" her father asked.

"He got lost in the hills, and nearly died.  He drifted down the Tasan
River on a raft which he built.  He was almost starved to death."

"And what was he doing in the hills?"

"Prospecting, so he told me.  He was with Frontier Samson, and, going
after a moose, lost his way."

"H'm," Weston grunted.  "A trumped-up yarn, no doubt.  Don't you think
it looks rather suspicious?"

"It might if it were someone else.  But he is different, and I believe
he told me the truth."

"Well, we shall soon find out, Glen.  If he begins any of his lies or
fancy tales to me, he will learn his mistake.  I am not going to have
any young man wandering about this region, let me tell you that.  It
has been tried too often already, so we might as well make a special
example of him in order to warn others.  It's the 'Ordeal' for him, all
right."

At these words Glen sprang to her feet and confronted her father.  Her
eyes were blazing with intense emotion, and Jim Weston stared at her in
amazement.  A feeling of pride welled up within him at her appearance
and courage.

"You shall not lay hands on him," Glen passionately declared.  "He is
an innocent man, and it would be unjust to hurt him."

"Glen, Glen, what is the meaning of this?" her father demanded.  "You
seem to be greatly interested in this fellow.  I am surprised at you."

"I am interested, daddy.  Nay, I am more than interested, for I love
him with my whole heart, so there.  Don't you dare to touch him."

The strain of this interview was telling upon Glen.  As soon as this
confession had left her lips, she was wild with regret.  Why had she
done this? she asked herself, as she stood with big staring eyes
watching her father.  What would he say?  What would he not do to her?
Her body trembled, a weakness swept upon her, and sinking down into her
chair, she buried her face in her hands and sobbed as if her heart
would break.

If Jim Weston was astonished before, he was dumbfounded now at what his
daughter had told him.  His heart went out in a great rush of pity to
his only child and he longed to take her in his arms and comfort her.
But he felt that he must be firm and not give way to any feeling of
emotion at a time like this.  Instead, he laid his hand somewhat
heavily upon her shoulder.

"Does this fellow, Reynolds, know of your love?" he asked.

"No, no; he has not the least idea of it," was the low reply.

"And he has not avowed his love to you?  Are you sure?"

"I am certain.  He has never given the least sign that he cares for me
more than if I were an ordinary acquaintance.  But he is a gentleman
both in word and action."

For a few minutes Jim Weston stood lost in thought.  It seemed to Glen
as if he would never speak.  The silence of the room was so intense
that she was sure her fast-beating heart could be distinctly heard.

"I must have time to think this over, Glen," her father at length
informed her.  "You may go now and get ready for supper.  Nannie has
been kept waiting too long already."

Never before had Glen heard her father speak to her in such a cold,
peremptory manner.  Slowly she rose to her feet and walked across the
room.  Her head was aching, and she was glad to get away, anywhere in
order that she might be alone, and from her father's stern, accusing
eyes.

She had almost reached the door, when Sconda stood suddenly before her.
She paused, while the Indian entered and walked at once toward his
master.

"Well, Sconda, what is it?" the latter demanded, annoyed at the
native's intrusion at this critical moment.  "Anything wrong?"

Weston spoke in the Indian language, with which he was most familiar.

"Big White Chief," Sconda began, "the Golden Crest has been crossed.
Another white man is here."

"I know it," was the curt reply.  "He came by water this time, so I
understand."

"Not by water, Big White Chief, but through the pass, over Crooked
Trail."

"He did!  Why, Glen, you told me he came by way of the lake.  Have you
been deceiving me, girl?"

"Indeed I have not," was the emphatic and somewhat angry denial.  "I am
surprised that you think I would deceive you, daddy.  Sconda refers to
someone else.  It is Curly who came by the pass, and not Mr. Reynolds."

"Curly!  Curly here, did you say?" Weston almost shouted the words, and
so fierce did he look that the Indian retreated a step.

"Ah, ah, Curly here," Sconda replied.

"When did he come?"

"To-day.  He was caught as he came through the pass.  He shot, but
missed."

"Where is he now?"

"At Taku's."

Weston placed his hand to his forehead in perplexity.

"This is certainly a great home-coming," he muttered.  "Trouble
everywhere, with white men entering the place by lake and pass.  Look,
Sconda, bring Curly here in one hour.  See?"

The Indian merely nodded.

"And get ready for the Ordeal at once.  Savvey?"

"Ah, ah, Sconda savvey," was the reply, and with that he left the house.

Glen went, too, without another word to her father, and hurried to her
own room.  It was a cozy place, fitted up with every comfort, and she
loved it dearly.  But now it seemed to her like a prison.  She longed
to throw herself upon the bed and give vent to her feelings in a flood
of tears.  But she knew that her father would be expecting her
downstairs, so it was necessary to make haste.

When at last she entered the dining-room, Weston was already there,
talking with Nannie.  The latter noticed Glen's pale face, but made no
comment.  With her naturally keen intuition, she divined the cause of
the trouble and discreetly said nothing.

During the meal Weston seemed like an altogether different man, and
talked and laughed in the most animated manner.  He told a number of
his experiences in the hills, several of which were of a humorous
nature.  Glen tried to be interested, although she found it difficult
to follow what her father was saying.  He puzzled her more than ever.
Why was he so stern and cruel at times, and again so bright and merry?
He did not seem the least angry now at her, neither was he apparently
concerned about the two prisoners at Glen West.

When supper was ended, Weston pushed back his chair and lighted a cigar.

"My, that tastes good," he commented.  "It's the first I've had in a
long time.  Now for some music, Glen."

Music!  Glen started and looked at her father, as if she had not heard
aright.  What did he mean?  Was he going to add further torture to her
racked brain by asking her to play and sing?  She had hardly spoken a
word during the meal, and had barely tasted her food.  This Weston
noted, and he well understood the reason.  How much will she safely
stand? he asked himself.  He was about to repeat his suggestion, when
Sconda arrived, and with him came Curly, guarded by two stalwart
Indians.  Glen breathed a sigh of relief at this timely interruption,
and leaving the table, she fled at once to the seclusion of her own
room.



CHAPTER XVI

THE ORDEAL

"What are you doing here?"

Curly was a sorry looking specimen of humanity as he stood before his
stern questioner, the ruler of Glen West.  His clothes were torn, and
his face dirty and unshaven.  His eyes glowed with a sullen light of
hatred, mingled with a nameless fear as he glanced furtively around the
room.

"What are you doing here?" Weston repeated.  "Why don't you answer?
Are you deaf?"

"I was prospectin'," was the surly reply.

"Where?"

"In the hills, north of Crooked Trail."

"And why did you come through the pass?"

"Me pardner an' I got lost; that's why."

"Who was your partner?"

"Slim Fales, from Big Draw."

"Where is he now?"

"Search me.  He escaped, while I got pinched."

"Did you expect to find gold near the Golden Crest?"

"We thought it worth the try."

"You know better now, don't you?"

Curly made no reply, but kept his eyes fixed upon the floor.

"It seems to me that you were prospecting for something more valuable
than gold, weren't you?" Weston queried.

"What do you mean?" and Curly lifted his head.

"You were prospecting for a woman, and that woman happens to be my
daughter.  Deny it, if you dare."

"I do deny it," Curly stoutly protested.  "Your daughter is nothing to
me."

Jim Weston's right hand toyed with a paper-weight on his desk, and his
eyes gleamed with anger.

"You lie, Curly, and you know it," he charged.  "You have had your foul
eyes upon my daughter ever since you first saw her.  You have declared
over and over again that one day she would be yours."

Curly's face grew livid, and he tried to speak.  But Weston lifted his
hand.

"Wait until I am through," he thundered.  "Have you not used my
daughter's name very often while gambling?  And did you not bet a short
time ago at Big Draw that you would cross the Golden Crest and lure my
daughter to a fate worse than death?  You know it is true, and yet you
have the impudence to stand here and deny it."

Curly's eyes were again fixed upon the floor, and he made no reply to
this accusation.  His terror of this man was becoming great.  How did
he know so much? he asked himself.

"Now, what should be done to a thing like you?" Weston continued.
"Your record is well known, not only here but all along the coast.  No
innocent woman or girl is safe when you are around, and you are a
menace to any community.  You leave the marks of your filthy trail
wherever you go.  And you are not alone in your villainous deeds, for
there are others just like you, who defy the laws of God and man.  So
far you have escaped, but now you shall pay for your vile and cowardly
acts.  It would be a sin to allow a creature like you to remain at
large.  It is far better to settle with you immediately and thus make
you incapable of doing more harm in the future.  You took it upon
yourself to enter Glen West to ruin my daughter, and you must abide by
the result."

Curly fully understood the meaning of these words, and his face
blanched with terror.  He lifted his eyes and tried to speak.  But
intelligible words failed to come, for he was almost paralyzed with
fear.

"Death is too good a punishment for you," Weston resumed.  "But as that
is about the only thing which will strike terror into the hearts of
human devils, of which you are the chief, it must be done.  It may
teach others to keep clear of Glen West after this."

With a howl Curly dropped upon his knees.  His teeth chattered, and his
body trembled violently.  He stretched out his hands in a beseeching
manner.

"For God's sake, don't kill me!" he yelled.  "Let me go, an' I swear
I'll never come near this place again."

"H'm, you are too late with your prayers, Curly.  It's nothing less
than the Ordeal for you now, so stop your yelps.  If you don't of your
own accord, we shall be forced to do something to make you."

He then turned to Sconda and gave a brief order in the Indian tongue.
The next instant Curly was hurried out of the house, and down the trail
leading to the village.

Weston sat for a while in his room after the others had gone.  The grim
expression had now left his face, and his eyes twinkled, while a smile
lurked about the corners of his mouth.  Anyone watching would have
pronounced him the most hardened villain in existence.  How could a man
smile who had just sentenced a fellow creature to death?  This man's
heart must be hard and cold as an iceberg.  But Weston's thoughts were
evidently not unpleasant, and when he at length picked up his hat and
left the house he was in an excellent frame of mind.  Could Glen have
seen him then she would have wondered more than ever.

The light of day had not yet faded from the land, although the high
ridge of the Golden Crest placed the village in deep shadows.  The sky
was heavy with big clouds, presaging a storm.  The wind was steadily
increasing, and Weston knew that the rain would shortly be upon them.

He continued on his way down through the village, past the store and
the last house in the place until he came to the edge of a thicket of
firs and jack-pines.  Here he paused and listened intently, but no
sound could he hear.  Advancing fifty yards more, he left the main
thoroughfare and entered upon a narrow trail leading down toward the
lake.  The trees were thicker here, and the ground suddenly sloped to a
valley a short distance ahead.  Weston needed no light to guide him,
and he walked with the assurance of one well acquainted with his
surroundings.

In a few minutes a light gleamed through the trees, and a smile of
satisfaction overspread Weston's face.  He knew that the natives were
obeying orders and doing their part.  Beyond was a small clearing, and
coming to the edge of this, he again paused and watched unseen all that
was taking place.

It was a most gruesome spot, this Valley of the Ordeal, and Curly was
by no means the first who had been conducted hither.  But no one had
ever come in a more cringing manner than did this latest victim.  Some
had shown the craven spirit, and had begged for mercy, while others had
fought and cursed their captors.  But Curly was different.  Whatever
spark of manhood he possessed deserted him the moment he left the big
house on the hill.  He sank upon the ground, and his guards had to drag
him along by main force.

He wept and moaned all the way through the village until the valley was
reached.  Then what he beheld struck him dumb with terror, and for a
while he sat crouched upon the ground, staring wild-eyed upon the
Indians as they began their preparations for the Ordeal.

There were about two dozen natives present, and they knew their work
thoroughly, due, no doubt, to considerable experience in the past.
Near the edge of the thicket, on the opposite side of the clearing from
where Weston was standing, was the blackened stump of a big fir tree.
To this Curly was dragged, and several of the men were forced to hold
him up while he was being securely bound with his back to the trunk.
About his feet dry wood was then placed, and half way up his body.
When this had been accomplished, the Indians formed themselves in a
circle about the unhappy man, and began to chant a slow weird dirge in
the native tongue.

Between them and the tree of punishment a small fire was burning, and
the light from this clearly exposed the face of the bound man.  His
eyes were dilated with terror, his weak lower jaw had dropped, and his
mouth was wide open.  So overcome was he, that he had no strength left
to stand, so his entire weight rested upon his bonds.  Never was there
a more pitiable object of abject terror and cowardice.  But the Indians
did not seem in the least affected by their captive's misery.  With
stern, impassive faces they went on with their chanting, which steadily
increased in weirdness as they continued.

At length they ceased, and at once Sconda seized a burning brand from
the fire and approached the prisoner.  Then wild shrieks rent the air
as Curly frantically struggled to free himself.  He might as well have
addressed his words to the trees which surrounded him, as to those grim
natives of the north.

Sconda had already stooped, as if to touch the brand to the inflammable
material about the victim's feet, when Weston stepped within the ring,
and ordered him to wait.  Sconda immediately straightened himself up
and stepped back.

"Save me!  Save me!" Curly yelled.  "Don't let these devils burn me!
For God's sake, save me!  Oh, oh!"

For a few seconds Weston stood with folded arms looking upon the
helpless man.  Then his lips curled in a sarcastic smile.

"You've got only yourself to blame for this," he began.  "Did you not
bet that you would defy all the power of Glen West, and lure my
daughter to her ruin?  You can't deny it."

"No, no, I don't deny it.  I was a fool, a madman.  But save me, oh,
save me!  Don't let them burn me!"

"Do you think you are worth saving, Curly Inkles?  You are a
plague-spot in any community.  You have brought untold misery upon many
innocent ones, and why should you be allowed to do so to others?"

"I will never do any harm again," Curly whined.  "I swear by all that
is holy that I will change my life."

"Bah, I wouldn't give the snap of a finger for all the oaths you make,
Curly.  You don't know the meaning of an oath.  Your soul is so seared
and blackened that one might as well try to change that stump to which
you are bound into a living one as to transform you into a good
citizen.  No, it is better for you to be off the earth than on it."

"But it's murder!" Curly yelled.  "Would you murder a helpless man?
You will hang for it, and all these devils here."

"How do you dare to speak about murdering a helpless man?" Weston
asked.  "What happened to Bill Ducett, at Black Ravine?"

At these words Curly's eyes fairly started from their sockets, and the
perspiration poured down his face in great beads.

"W-what d'ye know about that?" he gasped.  "W-who are you, anyway?"

"Oh, never mind who I am, or how much I know.  It is sufficient for the
present to say that I have all the knowledge necessary to stretch your
neck.  You have now run the length of your wild career, and it shows
you that it is impossible to escape justice here or anywhere else.
But, there, I've wasted too much time talking to you, so get ready."

"Oh, oh, don't burn me!" Curly shrieked, as Weston turned and spoke to
Sconda.

"Burn you?  No!" was the contemptuous reply.  "I wouldn't foul this
place by burning a thing like you; it wouldn't be fair to others who
have been brought here.  They all were men with some sparks of
manliness and spirit left in their bodies.  But you, bah!"

He motioned to Sconda, who at once cut the bonds, and Curly fell
forward at Weston's feet.

"Get up," the latter ordered, "and never let me catch you again on this
side of the Golden Crest.  The Indians will deal with you now.  After
that, they will dump you beyond the pass, and the sooner you hit the
trail for Big Draw the better it will be for you.  Thank your stars,
Curly Inkles, that you have escaped this time."

There was much suppressed excitement in Glen West that night, for many
had heard the shrieks of terror from the Valley of the Ordeal.  But no
one dared to question the four and twenty men who later that evening
crowded into the store where they received a liberal supply of tobacco
ordered by their Big White Chief.  They were men who could be trusted,
and they well knew how to keep a secret.



CHAPTER XVII

MAN TO MAN

Reynolds learned from Klota of Weston's return home, and he was anxious
to meet the man who ruled Glen West, and was so greatly feared by the
miners throughout the country.  He could not believe that the father of
such a girl as Glen could be the monster he had been depicted.  He
wished to see and learn for himself what the man was really like, and
he hoped that he would be sent for at once to give an account of
himself.  Nothing, however, happened that evening, and he saw no more
of Glen.

He was seated near the house when Curly was dragged by on his way to
the Valley of the Ordeal.  Although the shadows of evening were heavy,
Reynolds realised who the victim was, and that he was being taken away
for punishment, of what nature he could not tell.  Going into the
house, he questioned Klota, but received no satisfaction.  The woman
merely shook her head, and refused to give any information.  This both
puzzled and worried him.  There was some mystery connected with this
affair, and he made up his mind to find out what it was.

Hurrying down the street and past the store, he was almost to the edge
of the thicket, when several natives barred his way, and sternly
ordered him to go back.  There was nothing he could do, so he was
reluctantly obliged to obey.  He returned to the store, and standing
outside listened intently in an effort to learn whatever he could.
Neither did he have long to wait, for presently up from the gloomy
thicket rose the blood-curdling yells of someone in distress, and he
knew that it must be Curly undergoing the Ordeal, whatever that might
be.  A cold chill swept over him, accompanied by a fierce anger.  Was
this village the abode of murderers, with Jim Weston as their leader?
he asked himself.  Were they murdering Curly down there, and had other
men been treated in a similar manner?  And would he himself be the next
victim?

He had heard enough, and as there was nothing he could do, he went back
to the house, where he passed a sleepless night.  He could not get
those cries of distress out of his mind, and he wondered whether he
should not try to escape under cover of night.  He banished this idea,
however, as useless.  He thought, too, of Glen.  Would she allow the
Indians to put him to death?  He recalled what she had said about her
father; how little she understood him, and that she had no idea what he
might do.

Early the next morning he was standing by the side of the lake, when he
saw _The Frontiersman_ cutting through the water, headed downstream.  A
lone figure was standing well aft, and he at once recognized it as
Glen.  She waved her hand to him as the boat sped by, and he could see
her standing there until a bend in the shore hid her from view.  Going
back to the house he learned from Klota that the master of Glen West
had gone down to the Yukon River for his mail.  It was always left at
the trading-post by the steamers on their way down river.  It generally
took a whole day to make the trip there and back.  This information
caused Reynolds considerable disappointment, as he would not be able to
meet Weston or his daughter that day.

The sun was just disappearing beyond the mountain peaks when _The
Frontiersman_ returned, and ran up the creek to her wharf.  Reynolds,
watching, hoped to see Glen upon the deck.  But he looked for her in
vain, and he wondered what had become of her.  Was it possible that her
father had sent her outside? he asked himself.

Sconda did not come home for supper, but about an hour later he
appeared with two other Indians, and informed Reynolds that the Big
White Chief wished to see him.  Reynolds now knew that the critical
moment had arrived, so without the least hesitation he accompanied his
guards, who conducted him at once to the big house on the hill.

Jim Weston was seated at his desk as the prisoner was ushered in.  The
first glance at the man told Reynolds that he was a person who would
stand no nonsense or quibbling.  Boldness must be met with boldness,
and nothing but candour and truthfulness would serve him now.  He
looked about the room.  Shelves well filled with books showed that
their owner was a reader and a student.  The walls were adorned with
trophies of the chase, such as fine antlers of moose, caribou, and
great horns of mountain sheep, while several large and valuable bear
and wolf-skin rugs were stretched out upon the floor.

"What are you doing here, young man?"

These words deliberately uttered brought Reynolds back from his
contemplation of the room.

"Do you really want to know?" he asked, looking Weston full in the eyes.

"Certainly.  What did I ask you for, then?"

"Well, I am here because I was brought in on your boat."

"I know that," wag the impatient reply.  "But what were you doing in
this region?"

"I was looking for your daughter, sir.  That's what I was doing."

Jim Weston's eyes grew suddenly big with amazement at this candid
confession.  Had the prisoner made any other reply he would have known
at once what to say.  But to see him standing so calmly there, looking
him straight in the eyes, disconcerted him for a minute.

"Looking for my daughter, were you?" he at length found voice to ask.

"That's just it.  But she found me instead."

"Are you not afraid to make such a confession, young man?"

"Afraid!  Of what?"

"Of what might happen to you."

Reynolds shrugged his shoulders, and smiled.

"Why should I be afraid?  I have done nothing wrong.  You are the one,
sir, to blame."

"I!" Weston exclaimed in astonishment.

"Yes, you, for possessing such a captivating daughter.  Why, she won my
heart the first time I saw her.  She is the most charming girl I ever
met, and it was love at first sight with me."

"Look here," and Weston shifted uneasily in his chair.  "Are you in
earnest, or are you making fun of me?  Do you realise what you are
saying?  Have you the least idea what my daughter means to me?  Why,
she is more to me than life, and all my interests are bound up in her."

"I can well understand it, sir.  And let me tell you that you are not
the only one.  She is also to me more than life, and all my interests
as well as yours are bound up in her."

"You certainly have a great deal of impudence to speak in such a manner
about my daughter," Weston retorted.  "You surely must have heard what
a risk it would be to venture into Glen West.  Others have come here in
the past, and I suppose you have some idea how they fared."

"I am not worried about what happened to them, sir.  From what I know,
I believe they deserved all that came to them.  But my case is
different.  I love your daughter, and merely came to see her.  If she
does not return my love, that is all there is about it.  I shall go
away and trouble her no more."

"And so you were willing to run such a risk with the vague uncertainty
of winning my daughter?  Did you stop to count the cost?"

"I did.  But it has been said by one, who is considered an authority,
that

  "'He is not worthy of the honey-comb
  'That shuns the hive because the bees have stings.'"

"Who said that?" Weston asked.

"No less a person than Master Shakespeare himself.  He is a safe guide
to all young lovers."

"I like those words," and Weston glanced toward his books.  "I have
read much in Shakespeare, but cannot remember that saying.  I admire
your spirit, too, and it is a great pity that you have not used it in
some other cause.  Were you alone in this fool-chase of yours?"

"Not at all.  For a while I had the company of a fine old man, Frontier
Samson by name.  No doubt you have heard of him."

"Indeed, I have, and a bigger rascal never lived."

"Rascal! do you say?"

"Yes, and a mean one at that.  He is a deceiver, and should be driven
out of the country.  He has given me more trouble than any man I ever
met."

"Then the fault must be yours, sir, and I am sorry for you.  That old
prospector has been to me a true friend ever since I met him on the
Northern Light.  I fear he is much worried over my disappearance, and
no doubt he thinks that I am lying dead somewhere in the wilderness."

"H'm, don't you worry about him.  Most likely he is pleased to be rid
of you."

"I cannot believe that of him," Reynolds stoutly defended.  "Anyway, he
would not treat a man as a prisoner and a criminal such as you do.  He
is a true friend, so I believe, and one of Nature's gentlemen."

"A queer gentleman," and Weston smiled for the first time during the
interview.  "I am surprised that you consider him as one."

"I wish I could consider all I have met in the same light.  Such men
are altogether too rare.  He is the only perfect gentleman, to my way
of thinking, I have encountered since coming north."

"Do you not consider me one?"

"Not from what I have so far observed."

"How dare you say that?"

"I have always been in the habit of fitting my words to whom I am
talking.  To a gentleman I talk as a gentleman, and to a brute as a
brute."

"And a brute you consider me.  Is that it?"

"Not altogether.  I could not imagine a brute of a man having such a
daughter as you are blest with.  There must be something good about
you, but just what it is, I have not yet discovered.  But, there, I
have said enough.  I want to know why you brought me here.  I am not a
child nor a fool, neither am I a criminal, and I do not wish to be
treated as if I were one of them."

"You had better be careful how you speak," Weston warned.  "You are in
my hands, remember, and I can do what I like with you."

"Can you?  But who gave you authority over the lives of others?  Did
you not assume it yourself?  And to aid you in your work of terrorizing
people, you have gathered around you a band of Indians, who obey your
slightest command."

"Talk all you like," and again Weston smiled.  "Your boldness and
impudence are refreshing after the craven spirits which have appeared
before me in the past.  But you will change your tone when you face the
Ordeal."

"Act like Curly did last night?  Is that what you mean?"

"What! did you hear him?"

"How could anyone help hearing him?  I thought he would uproot the
trees with his yells.  What were you doing to him?  Sticking pins in
him?"

"You seem to treat the Ordeal as a joke," and Weston looked keenly at
the young man.

"And why shouldn't I?  In fact, I consider you and your tom-foolery as
the biggest joke I ever heard."

"But it was no joke to Curly."

"Apparently not, judging by the noise he made.  What did you do with
him?"

"What did I do with him!  Just wait until you see the blackened tree to
which he was bound, and then you won't ask such a question."

"I can readily understand how Curly would blacken anything he touched,
even a tree.  But you didn't burn him.  Such a diabolical thing is not
in your makeup."

"What did I do with him, then?"

"Scared him almost out of his wits, and then let him go."

"How did you learn that?" Weston demanded.  "Have the Indians been
telling you anything?"

"I don't have to depend upon the natives for common sense.  I have a
little left yet, thank God, and reason tells me that Curly is now
beyond the Golden Crest, cursing and vowing vengeance upon you and your
associates."

"And no one told you all this?" Weston inquired.  "Are you sure?"

"Certain.  No one told me a word.  You have your Indians well trained."

Weston gave a deep sigh of relief, and remained silent for a few
minutes.  What he was thinking about Reynolds had not the faintest
idea.  Nevertheless, he watched him closely, expecting any instant to
be ordered away for the Ordeal.  He believed that his boldness and
straightforward manner had made some impression upon the ruler of Glen
West, but how much he could not tell.

And as he stood waiting, a sound from the room across the hallway
arrested his attention.  It was music, sweet and full of pathos.
Reynolds at once knew that it must be Glen.  It could be no other, and
he was determined to see her once more ere her father should drive him
from the place.

Turning suddenly, he started to leave the room, but his guards sprang
forward and caught him by the arms.  Savagely he threw them aside, for
nothing but death, could stop him now.  The Indians were about to leap
upon him again, when a sharp command in the native tongue from Weston
caused them to desist.  In another second Reynolds was out of the room,
and hurrying toward her for whom he had ventured so much.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE PREPARED ROOM

The trip down to the big river was not altogether to Glen's liking.
She preferred to stay at home, as she hoped to be able to spend part of
the day with Reynolds, But her father had insisted upon her
accompanying him, for he well knew why she wished to remain behind.

"It will do you good," he told her.  "You need a change."

"I certainly do," was the emphatic reply.  "I wish you would leave this
place, daddy.  I am tired living up here, where there are no people of
my own age with whom I can associate."

Weston looked at his daughter in surprise.

"You used to be happy here, Glen.  What has come over you?"

"I am older now, daddy, and see things in a different light.  What is
the good of my education if I am to spend the rest of my days in a
place like this?  The north is all right in a way, but for a girl such
as I am the life is too narrow.  It is a splendid region for a person
who wishes to lead the quiet life, but I am not ready for that at
present."

Weston made no reply to his daughter's words, but remained silent for
some time as he stood with Sconda in the wheel-house.  A worried
expression appeared in his eyes, and his brow often knit in perplexity.
He was keenly searching his own heart and mind such as he had not done
in years.  It was the first time that Glen had spoken to him so
candidly about leaving the north, and he realised that she meant what
she said.

There was a large bag of mail waiting for them, at the trading-post,
and among the letters Glen found several from a number of her girl
friends of the Seminary.  As she read these on her way back upstream,
she became more discontented than ever.  They all told of the good
times the girls were having in their various homes during their
holidays, of parties, auto rides, and the numerous incidents which mean
so much to the young.  Glen laid each letter aside with a sigh.  It was
the life for which she longed, and what could she write in return?
There was only one event which deeply interested her, and of that she
could not speak.

She was tired when she reached home, and after supper went at once to
her own room.  She took with her a number of books, magazines, and
newspapers, and although the latter were several weeks old, she eagerly
read the doings of the outside world, especially items of news about
persons she knew.  She was lying upon a comfortable couch as she read,
near the window fronting the lake.  The light from the shaded lamp on
the little table at her head threw its soft beams upon the printed
page, and brought into clear relief the outlines of her somewhat tired
face.  It was a face suddenly developed from girlhood into womanhood,
as the bud blossoms into the beautiful flower.  Glen's heart cried out
for companionship, and the bright sunshine of happy young lives
surrounding her.

Throughout the day her thoughts had been much upon him who had recently
come into her life.  The sight of him standing upon the shore that
morning had thrilled her, and she longed to give him a word of
encouragement.  So lying there this evening, with her paper at length
thrown aside, she wondered what he was doing, and how he was enduring
his captivity.  Surely her father would not submit him to the Ordeal
after what she had told him about her love.  She tried to think of
something that she could do, but the more she thought the more helpless
she seemed to be.

At last she arose and went downstairs.  She heard voices in her
father's room, but who was with him she could not tell, as the door was
almost closed.  Going at once to the piano, she struck the few notes
which brought Reynolds to her side.  His unexpected presence startled
her, and by the time she was on her feet, he had her hand in his and
his strong arms around her.  Not a word was said for a few seconds as
he held her close.  A great happiness such as she had never known
before swept upon her.  He loved her!  That was the one idea which
surged through her wildly-beating heart.  Time was obliterated, fears
and doubts vanished, and with him whom she loved holding her in his
arms, it seemed as if heaven had suddenly opened.  Her face was
upturned to his, and in an instant Reynolds bent and imprinted a
fervent kiss upon her slightly parted lips.

With a start Glen glanced toward the door, and gently untwined her
lover's arms.  Her face, flushed before, was scarlet now.  Never before
had the lips of man except her father's touched her own, and the
rapture of the sensation was quickly succeeded by a strong maidenly
reserve.  What should she do? she asked herself.  How could she atone
for her indiscretion?  She turned instinctively to the piano.

"Play.  Sing," Reynolds ordered in a low voice, charged with deep
emotion.

"What shall I play?" Glen faintly asked as she mechanically turned over
several sheets of music.

"Anything; it doesn't matter, so long as you play.  There, that, 'The
Long, Long Trail'; I like it."

Touching her fingers lightly to the keys, Glen played as well as the
agitated state of her mind would permit.  And as she played, Reynolds
sang, such as he had never sung before.  Presently Glen joined him, and
thus together they sang the song through.

Across the hall Weston sat alone and listened.  The stern expression
had disappeared from his face, and his head was bowed in his hands.

"It has been a long, long trail to me," he murmured, "but the end seems
in sight."

The music of another song now fell upon his ears.  Again they were
singing, and he noted how perfectly their voices blended.  Ere long the
music was interrupted by laughter, the cause of which Weston could not
tell, but he was fully aware that the young couple were happy together,
and apparently had forgotten all about him.  At one time this would
have annoyed him, but it affected him now in a far different manner, at
which he was surprised.

Glen and Reynolds, however, had not forgotten the silent man in the
other room, and at times they glanced anxiously toward the door.  They
both felt that their happiness would soon end, and then would come the
cruel separation.  But as the evening wore on and nothing occurred to
mar their pleasure, they wondered, and spoke of it in a low whisper to
each other.  They sang several more songs, but most of the time they
preferred to talk in the language which lovers alone know, a language
more expressive in the glance, the flush of the cheeks, and the
accelerated heartbeats, than all the fine words of the masters of
literature.  Time to them was a thing of naught, for they were standing
on the confines of that timeless kingdom, described on earth as heaven.

The entrance of Nannie at length broke the spell, and brought them
speedily back to earth.  They knew that she was the bearer of some
message from the master of the house, and what would that message be?
But the woman, merely smiled as she came toward them, and informed
Reynolds that it was getting late, and that his room was ready.

"Do you mean that I am to spend the night here?" he asked in surprise.

"It is the master's wish," was the reply.  "He gave the order, and your
room is ready.  I will show you the way."

Reynolds glanced at Glen, and the light of joy that was beaming in her
eyes told him all that was necessary.

"You are the first visitor to spend the night here," she said.  "May
your dreams be pleasant, for they are sure to come true.

  "'Dreams to-night which come to you
  Will prove at length to be really true.'"

"May they be pleasant ones, then," Reynolds laughingly replied, as he
reluctantly bade the girl a formal good-night, and followed Nannie out
of the room.

The latter led him at once upstairs, and showed him into a room on the
west side of the house.  Reynolds was astonished at the manner in which
it was furnished.  He looked about with undisguised wonder and
admiration.

"Why, this is a room for a prince!" he exclaimed.  "I never slept in
such a luxurious place in my life.  Your master must have notable
visitors at times."  Then he recalled Glen's words.  "But am I really
the first visitor who ever stayed here all night?"

"You must be the favored one for whom this room has been waiting," the
woman quietly replied.  "You must be the prince."

"And this room has never been occupied before?"

"Never.  When I came here years ago, the master told me that this room
was not to be used, but must always be in readiness, for some day it
would be unexpectedly needed.  I never understood his meaning until
to-night.  But, there, I must not talk any more.  Good-night, sir, and
may sweet dreams be yours."

Reynolds found it difficult to get to sleep, although the bed was soft
and comfortable, and he was tired after the excitement of the day and
evening.  At times he felt that he must be dreaming, for it did not
seem possible that he had again met Glen, held her close, kissed her,
and she had not objected.  His heart was filled with happiness, and
when at last he did fall asleep, his dreams were of her.  But mingled
with his visions was Curly, who appeared dark and sinister, threatening
not only himself, but her who was so dear to him.  He saw the villain
in the act of harming her, while he himself was powerless to assist
her.  He was bound, and no matter how he struggled, he was unable to
free himself.

He awoke with a start, and looked around.  It was only a dream, and he
gave a sigh of relief.  He then remembered what Glen had said to him
the night before, and he smiled.  He was not the least bit
superstitious, and had no belief in such notions.  Let Curly or anyone
else attempt to lay hands on the girl he loved, and it would not be
well for him.  He knew that the expelled rascal was capable of any
degree of villainy, but that he would venture again near Glen West was
most unlikely.

It was daylight now, so hurriedly dressing, Reynolds hastened
downstairs.  Glen was waiting for him in the dining-room, and a bright
smile of welcome illumined her face as he entered.  They were alone,
and Reynolds longed to enfold her in his arms, and tell her all that
was in his heart.  He refrained, however, remembering how his
impetuosity had carried him too far the previous evening.  But it was
different then, as he expected it would, be the last time he might see
her, and he needed the one sweet kiss of remembrance.  Now she was with
him, and he felt sure of her love.

Weston and Nannie did not make their appearance, and as Glen sat at the
head of the table and poured the coffee, she explained that they
already had their breakfast.

"They are earlier than we are," Reynolds replied.  "I had no idea it
was so late."

"Didn't you sleep well?" Glen asked.

"Never slept better, that is, after I got to sleep.  The wonderful
events of last night kept me awake for a while."

Glen blushed and her eyes dropped.  She did not tell how she, too, had
lain awake much longer than anyone else in the house, nor that her
pillow was moist with tears of happiness.

"I hope your dreams were pleasant," she at length remarked, "You know
the old saying."

Reynolds' mind seemed suddenly centred upon the piece of meat be was
cutting, and he did not at once reply.  This Glen noticed, and an
expression of anxiety appeared in her eyes.

"Do you wish me to tell you?" Reynolds asked, lifting his eyes to hers.

"If you don't mind.  But I am afraid your dreams were bad."

"Not altogether; merely light and shade.  The light was my dream of
you, while the shade was of Curly."

"You dreamed of him!"  Glen paused in her eating, while her face turned
pale.

"There, now, I am sorry I mentioned it, Miss Weston.  I knew it would
worry you.  But perhaps it is just as well for you to know."

"Indeed it is, especially when it concerns that man.  Oh, he is not a
man, but a brute.  Please tell me about your dream."

In a few words Reynolds told her all, and when he had ended she sat for
some time lost in thought.  Her right arm rested upon the table, and
her sunbrowned, shapely fingers lightly pressed her chin and cheek.
She was looking out of the window which fronted the lake, as if she saw
something there.  The young man, watching, thought he never saw her
look more beautiful.  Presently a tremor shook her body.  Then she gave
a little nervous laugh, and resumed her breakfast.

"I am afraid I am not altogether myself this morning," she apologized.
"But how can I help feeling nervous so long as Curly is anywhere in
this country?"

Reynolds was about to reply when Nannie entered and told him that the
master of the house wished to see him.  With a quick glance at Glen,
and asking to be excused, he left the room, expecting that the storm
which had been so mercifully delayed was now about to break.



CHAPTER XIX

THE TURN OF EVENTS

The master of Glen West was sitting at his desk as Reynolds entered.
He was smoking, and at the same time reading a newspaper in which he
was deeply interested.  The latter he at once laid aside, and motioned
his visitor to a chair.  He then picked up a box of cigars lying near.

"Do you smoke?" he asked.  "If so, you will enjoy these.  They are a
special brand."

"Thanks," Reynolds replied, as he lifted one from the box, and
proceeded at once to light it.  This reception was so different from
what he had expected that he hardly knew what to think.  Anyway, the
first move was favorable, and that was a good token.

"You left me very abruptly last night," Weston charged, looking keenly
at the young man.

"I certainly did," and Reynolds smiled.  "But sometimes there is a
virtue in abruptness, especially----"

"Especially what?" Weston queried, as Reynolds hesitated.  "Go on."

"When a situation becomes tense and awkward."

"And you think it was so last night?"

"I am sure of it."

"What is your reason?"

"My own common sense."

Weston was silent for a few seconds, and puffed steadily at his cigar.
Reynolds watching him out of the corner of his eye, wondered what was
passing through his mind.

"Have the Indians been telling you anything?" Weston presently asked.

"About what?"

"Curly, and what happened to him?"

"Nothing.  Didn't I tell you so last night?"

"I know you did, but I can hardly believe it.  Are you sure?"

"I am positive.  They were as silent and mysterious as the Sphinx.  You
deserve great credit, sir, for the way you have them trained."

This seemed to relieve Weston, and he even smiled.

"I was afraid they had been telling you something, but I am thankful to
know that they can be trusted.  But, see here, someone must have told
you.  Was it Glen or Nannie?"

"Oh, no; they are not to blame."

"Well, then, how in the world did you find out?"

"And so I was right?" Reynolds asked.

Weston removed the cigar from his mouth, and looked curiously at his
visitor.

"Were you not sure?" he queried.

"Not at all," and Reynolds laughed.  "I was not sure last night, though
I am now."

A sudden cloud overspread Weston's face, which, passed away, however,
almost instantly.

"I wish I had known this sooner, young man.  You would not have got off
so easily, let me tell you that.  I was positive that you understood
everything.  But tell me, what led you to suspect the truth about
Curly?"

"That you had not burned him alive?"

"Yes."

Reynolds deliberately removed the band from his cigar, and laid it
carefully in the ash-tray.  He was enjoying Weston's perplexity, which
he believed was a new experience for this autocrat of Glen West.  What
a story he would have to tell his old friend Harmon.  The editor would
surely forgive him for going on what he called "a wild-goose chase,"
instead of searching for the missing Henry Redmond.  What a write-up
all this would make for his paper.

"Did you hear what I said?"  Weston's voice was somewhat impatient.

"I beg your pardon," Reynolds apologized.  "My mind was wool-gathering.
You asked what led me to suspect the truth about Curly, did you not?"

"I did."

"Well, apart from yourself, and what I saw in you, there were four
things which influenced my judgment.  I only thought of one until I met
you last night."

"And what are they?"  Weston was keenly interested.

"First of all, I could not imagine that a man would burn a fellow-being
alive who kept that near him," and Reynolds motioned to a book lying
upon the desk.

Weston turned, and his face brightened.

"Oh, you mean the Bible.  So that was one of your reasons, eh?  But do
you not know that the deepest-dyed villain often keeps the Bible close
at hand?  Such a man is generally fearful as well as superstitious, and
so considers the Bible as a charm to ward off evil.  It has been said,
you remember, that the devil himself can quote Scripture for his own
purpose.  I venture to say that his satanic majesty knows the Bible
better than many professing Christians.  It is necessary for him to do
so in order to answer the arguments it sets forth.  Perhaps that is the
way with me.  Anyway, we shall dismiss that evidence as faulty.  What
next?"

"Your daughter, sir.  I cannot believe that any man is a downright
villain who is fortunate enough to have such a daughter."

"I see, I see," and Weston stroked his heavy moustache.  "Did you not
say something of a similar nature last night?  But are you aware that a
man may have a noble daughter, and still be a villain?  Facts of
history bear out what I say, unless I am greatly mistaken."

"That may have been true in some cases, sir," Reynolds replied.
"However, I am not concerned about the past, but the present only.  No
matter what you may say to the contrary, you will not convince me.  And
besides, there is something else which hinges upon this reason."

"And what is that?"

"You are very fond of your daughter, are you not?"

"Certainly.  She is all I have in the world, and she is dearer to me
than life itself."

"Just so," and Reynolds smiled.  "And for her sake, at least, you would
not dare to burn any man alive."

"Wouldn't dare!  Why not?"

"Simply because you would be hunted down as a murderer, and hung.  Why,
the Mounted Police would have had you in their clutches long before
this."

"They would, eh?  What do I care about law?  Am I not a law unto
myself?"

"In a way you are, so long as you do not commit any crime.  But even
though you might not care about yourself, you would not dare to do
anything wrong for your daughter's sake.  She means so much to you,
that you would not dare to commit any desperate act for fear of
disgracing her.  Is not that so?"

Weston made no reply, but sat looking intently into Reynolds' face.

"There is another reason," the latter continued, "to which I feel
certain you can make no objection, and it is _that_."

He pointed as he spoke to a framed picture hanging above the desk.  It
was the face of a woman of remarkable beauty, and closely resembling
Glen, although somewhat older.

Weston, too, looked, and as he did so his face underwent a marvellous
transformation.  He tried to control himself, but in vain.  Rising
suddenly to his feet, he paced rapidly up and down the room.  Once he
stopped and fixed his eyes upon the picture.  At length he turned
toward his visitor.

"It is true.  It is true," he declared, almost fiercely.  "To your
other reasons I could make some defence, but not to this.  I would not
dare to do anything wrong for my dear dead wife's sake.  Her memory is
most precious.  Young man, you have hit me hard."

He paused and looked again at the picture.  Then he sank down upon his
chair, and buried his face in his hands.

Reynolds rose and was about to leave the room, when Weston lifted his
head.

"Don't go yet," he ordered, endeavoring to control himself.  "I am
somewhat unnerved this morning.  There is something more I wish to say
to you.  It is years since I have talked to anyone as I have to you.
Sit down and tell me what you are going to do."

"That remains with you, sir," Reynolds replied, as he resumed his seat.

"With me!  It remains with me!  I do not understand."

"Am I not your prisoner, sir?  It is not what I am going to do, but
what you are going to do to me."

"Ah, yes, quite true," and Weston was silent for a few seconds.  "But
suppose you are given your freedom, what then?" he asked.

"I should go at once in search of my old friend, Frontier Samson," was
the decided reply.  "He must be greatly concerned about my
disappearance, and no doubt he is still seeking for me out in the
hills."

"And should you find him----?"

"We would at once visit the gold mine I discovered when I was lost."

"What! did you discover gold?  Where?"

"On that last ridge before I reached the river," Reynolds explained.
"I took shelter in a cave from a furious storm, and there found more
gold than I ever expected to see in my whole life.  The walls of the
cave are full of it, and it seems to be of the best quality."

"Do you think you can find the place again?" Weston asked.

"I believe so," and Reynolds briefly described the situation.

"I know it!  I know it!" Weston exclaimed.  "It is the highest peak on
that ridge between here and the Tasan.  The side this way is very steep
and rocky, is it not?"

"Yes, and the summit is bare.  It was there I had a desperate fight
with an eagle, killed it, and carried off its eggs, which saved my
life.  From the high point I caught the first glimpse of the river."

"And suppose you find the gold, what then?" Weston asked.

"Oh, I shall take my share of it, of course."

"And after that?"

"I am not altogether sure.  But there is one thing I should do before
undertaking anything else.  In fact, I am almost pledged to it.  Harmon
will never forgive me if I don't."

"Harmon, did you say?" Weston questioned.  "I once knew a man by that
name."

"It is Harmon, editor and principal owner of the _Vancouver Telegram_
and _Evening News_.  He has been a father to me, and is greatly
interested in my welfare.  He has a hobby which I call 'a wild-goose
scheme,' and he thinks that I am the only one who can carry it out.  He
is not the Harmon you knew, I suppose?"

Weston did not at once reply, but sat staring straight before him as if
he saw something strange in the wall.  His bronzed face had a peculiar
pallid color, and his eyes expressed wonder and incredulity.  He was
forced to keep his hands clasped before him, so great was his emotion.
Reynolds watched him curiously, but said nothing.

"And what is Harmon's hobby?" Weston at length found voice to enquire.

"Oh, a pet scheme for the finding of a man who disappeared years ago."

"And the man's name?"  Weston was once more calm.

"Henry Redmond, so he told me.  He was a prominent business man, but
after the death of his wife he mysteriously vanished, and left no trace
of his whereabouts."

"Strange, was it not?" Weston queried, as he furtively eyed the young
man.  "Perhaps he is dead."

"That is what I suggested to Harmon, but he would not entertain the
idea at all."

"Did he give any reason for his belief that the man is alive?"

"He showed me a clipping taken from a paper years ago.  These are the
words which I committed to memory:

"'I go from the busy haunts of men, far from the worry and bustle of
business life.  I may be found, but only he who is worthy will find me,
and whoever finds me, will, I trust, not lose his reward.  From the
loop-holes of retreat I shall watch the stress and fever of life, but
shall not mingle in the fray.'"

"Was there any name signed to that?" Weston asked, when Reynolds had
finished.

"I understand there was none."

"Why, then, does your friend Harmon imagine that it refers to Redmond?"

"Because it appeared immediately after the man's disappearance, and
Harmon told me it was just like Redmond to do such a thing."

"It is all mere conjecture, then?"

"It is."

"And upon the strength of that your friend, would have you undertake
the wild-goose adventure, as you term it.  What are his reasons?"

"He wishes me to find an outlet for my restless spirit; to satisfy his
own curiosity; and finally, to have a series of special articles for
his paper."

"What!  Does Harmon want you to write a full account of your adventure,
and all about the missing man should you find him?"

"It seems so, though I guess he will have to wait a long time.  I must
first of all find Frontier Samson, and get that gold.  Then, perhaps,
something else may interfere with Harmon's plans."

"Yes, yes, you must find the old prospector and get the gold," Weston
agreed.  "But you will need assistance.  I know the region as well as
any man, and I have a comfortable cabin in the hills.  Allow me to go
with you to direct your search."

Reynolds' eyes opened wide with amazement, and he stared at Weston as
if he had not heard aright.  Could it be possible that this man, the
stern ruler of Glen West, and Glen's father, was really offering to
assist him?  Weston divined his thoughts, and smiled.

"I know you are astonished," he told him.  "But, you see, I am not yet
beyond the lure of gold, and should we find that mine, there might be
something in it for me.  We might go partners, eh?"

"That would be great," Reynolds replied with enthusiasm.  "But we must
not leave the old prospector out."

"Oh, no, that would never do.  We shall see that he gets his share,
providing we find him.  I am really anxious to be off at once," and
Weston rose as he spoke.

"When shall we start?" Reynolds asked.

"In a couple of days, if that will suit you.  It will not take long to
make the necessary arrangements for the trip, and we shall take two
Indians to look after our welfare."

Weston was almost like a boy in his excitement, and Reynolds could
hardly believe him to be the same man he had faced the night before.

"You may go and tell Glen about our proposed trip," Weston said.  "She
must be wondering what we are talking so long about."

"And will she go too?" Reynolds eagerly asked.

"Certainly.  It would not do to leave her behind.  She would be very
angry if we did.  And, besides, she must have a share in that mine.
Ho, ho, there will be four of us on the ground-floor, all right, and
the rest can have what we leave, providing there is any.  Hurry away,
now, and tell Glen to get ready.  It generally takes a woman two or
three days to prepare for a journey."



CHAPTER XX

A SHOT FROM THE GOLDEN CREST

Glen was greatly agitated when her father summoned Reynolds into his
presence.  She felt that the critical moment had arrived, and she
dreaded what might follow.  Although she loved her father, yet at times
she feared him.  Suppose he should send Reynolds away at once, and
forbid his return to Glen West?  He had treated others in a harsh
manner, and why should he act differently now?  Her only ray of hope
lay in the thought that he had allowed the young man to stay at the
house over night, and had permitted him to sleep in the room which had
never before been occupied.

She sat for some time after Reynolds had left, with her elbows upon the
table, and her hands propping her chin.  Her appetite had suddenly left
her, and her coffee remained untasted.  The morning sun flooding the
room, fell upon her hair and face, and had her lover seen her then, he
would have admired her more than ever.  She was in a most thoughtful
mood, and at the same time she listened intently for any sound of
strife that might come from her father's study.

At length she arose, picked up her broad-rimmed straw-hat, and went out
of doors.  It was a hot morning with not a breath of wind astir.  The
water was like a mirror, and the high hills were reflected in its clear
depths.  It called to her now, and appealed to her as of yore, and
urged her to seek comfort upon its placid bosom.

Walking swiftly down to the wharf, she launched her light canoe, one
which had been brought in from the outside for her own special use.
Sconda was standing near _The Frontiersman_, and he offered to
accompany her.  But Glen smilingly told him that she wished to be alone
this morning, and that perhaps Klota needed him more than she did.  The
Indian was quite surprised at her refusal, and somewhat piqued as well.
It was the first time she had ever spoken to him in such a manner, and
he stood silently watching the girl as she settled herself in the
canoe, and dipped her paddle into the water.  Then he wended his way
slowly homeward, wondering what had come over his young imperious
mistress.

But Glen was not thinking about Sconda, and she had no idea that she
had in any way annoyed the faithful native.  She paddled straight
across the creek until she reached the opposite side.  Here she ran the
canoe ashore, and watched most intently the big house in the distance.

She remained here for some time anxiously observing all that was taking
place around the house, expecting at any moment to see Reynolds come
forth.  And when he did come, would he at once go down to the village,
to be conducted beyond the pass?  Perhaps her father might send for the
guard, who would lead him forth as a prisoner.  At this thought a
tremor shook her body, and she nervously drove the paddle into the
water, and sent the canoe reeling from the shore.  Only in action now
could she endure the strain of waiting.

She had just reached the middle of the creek, when, glancing toward the
house, her heart gave a great leap, for there coming down to the wharf
was the very one of whom she was thinking.  He was walking rapidly and
at the same time waving his hand to her.  Instantly she headed the
canoe for the shore, and when its graceful bow touched lightly against
the wharf, he was standing there waiting to receive her.  The smile
upon his face and light of joy in his eyes told her that all was well,
and so great was her happiness that for a moment she had no word to
say.  Her cheeks were flushed with the invigorating exercise, and the
eyes which were turned to her lover's were moist with tears, and
gleamed like sparkling diamonds.  Reynolds, too, was speechless for a
few seconds.  A feeling of almost sacred awe swept upon him as he
looked upon that fair pure face.  Although his life was clean and above
reproach, yet he felt most unworthy when in the presence of such a
beautiful, unsullied being.  It never had affected him so intensely as
on this bright morning on the shore of that inland water.  What right
had he to presume to love such a girl? he asked himself.

For several seconds neither spoke.  It was that mysterious silence
which sometimes comes when heart responds to heart, and where love is
true and deep.  Then they both laughed and the spell was broken.  Just
why they laughed they could not tell, although they felt very happy.

"Come for a spin," Glen suggested.  "I want to hear all.  You paddle,"
she ordered, as she turned herself about in the canoe.  "I have already
had my morning's exercise."

"And so have I," Reynolds laughingly replied, as he seated himself
astern and sent the canoe from the wharf.

"But of a different nature, though?" and Glen looked quizzically into
his face.

"Quite different.  I exercised my lungs, and your father did the same."

"Not in anger, I hope."

"Oh, no.  We had a great heart to heart talk, and got on splendidly.
We parted like two lambs, and are the best of friends."

"You are!"  The girl's lips merely breathed the words, but they told of
her great relief.

"Yes, it is true.  And more than that, we have already planned for a
trip together in the hills, and you are to go with us, that is, if you
wish to go."

At these words, Glen's face underwent a marvellous change.

"Don't go," she pleaded.  "Stay where you are."

"Why, what is the matter?" and Reynolds looked his surprise as he
paused in a stroke.

"Have you forgotten your dream last night?  It was bad, and first
dreams in a new place are sure to come true."

Reynolds laughed, as he again dipped the paddle into the water.

"Surely you are not superstitious, Miss Weston.  Why should one be
alarmed at dreams?  They are nothing."

"That may be true," and Glen trailed her hand in the water.  "But an
uneasy feeling has taken possession of me which I cannot banish.  I was
brought up among Indians, you know, and they are naturally
superstitious."

"And they have filled your mind with nonsense, I suppose."

"I am afraid so," and the girl gave a deep sigh.

They were some distance up the creek now, and the canoe was gliding
almost noiselessly through the water.  Glen asked Reynolds about his
conversation with her father, and he told her all that had taken place.
She listened with the keenest interest.  Her face was aglow with
animation, and her eyes shone with the light of astonishment.

"I can hardly believe it," she exclaimed when Reynolds had finished.
"Anyway, I am so thankful that daddy did not get angry, I hope he will
not change his mind.  He is so gentle and good at times, and again he
is so stern and harsh.  Oh! what is that?" she cried, as something
struck the water with a zip near the canoe.

Reynolds had ceased paddling, and was staring back at a spot where the
water had been ruffled, but not by the motion of the canoe.  Then he
glanced shoreward, and his eyes keenly searched the high ridge of the
Golden Crest.

"It must have been a fish leaping for a fly," he somewhat absently
suggested.

"But I heard the report of a rifle," Glen declared.  "It came from up
there," and she motioned to the right.

"Perhaps someone is hunting, and a stray bullet may have come this way."

"It may be so, but let us go home."  Glen's face was pale, and her eyes
bore an anxious expression.

Reynolds at once swung the canoe around, and paddled with long steady
strokes toward the village.  He knew that Glen was somewhat unnerved,
and he upbraided himself for telling her about his dream.  Why are some
people so foolish as to believe in such things? he asked himself.

"Suppose we go over to Sconda's," Glen suggested.  "I want to see
Klota.  She is doing some work for me."

"I understand," Reynolds replied.  "You wish to find out how that
bearskin is getting along."

Glen glanced quickly at him, smiled, and slightly blushed.

"You saw it, then?  You recognized it?"

"Sconda showed it to me.  It is a beauty."

"Do you want it?"

"Oh, no.  I have no place to keep such a thing.  It pleases me to know
that you are anxious to have it as a----"

"As a souvenir of my deliverance," the girl assisted, as Reynolds
hesitated.

"And of our first meeting," he added.

Glen did not reply, but looked thoughtfully out over the water toward
the shore.   She was glad that Reynolds believed she wished to go to
Sconda's merely to see about the skin.  But in truth, there was
something far more important, and it was this which now disturbed her
mind.  She did not wish to exhibit her anxiety, so the idea of viewing
the bearskin was as good a pretext as any other.

They found Klota at the back of the house busily engaged upon the skin,
which was stretched over a log.  She paused in her work and smiled as
the two approached.  Glen spoke to her in Indian, and asked her how she
was getting along.  Seeing Sconda across the street talking with an
Indian, Reynolds went at once to him to discuss the proposed trip into
the hills.  This suited Glen, as she wanted to be alone for a time with
Klota.

"Is Sconda going with us on our trip?" she asked.

"Ah, ah.  Sconda is going," was the reply.  Then an anxious expression
appeared in the old woman's eyes as she turned them upon her fair
visitor.  "Don't you go," she warned.  "Stay home."

"Why, Klota?" Glen asked as calmly as possible, although her
fast-beating heart told of her agitation.

"Something might happen out there," and the Indian woman motioned to
her left.

"What has Klota seen?  Has she heard anything?"

"Klota has seen and heard.  Don't go."

"What have you seen and heard?" Glen urged.

"Bad, ugh!  Bad dream.  Bad white man."

"Curly?"  Glen's face was very white.

"Ah, ah, Curly.  Bad, all same black bear.  Don't go."

Klota resumed her work upon the skin, and although Glen questioned her
further, she only shook her head, and refused to talk.  What had this
woman heard? Glen asked herself, or was it only a dream?  She knew how
much stress the Indians laid upon dreams, and how she herself had been
so strongly influenced since childhood by weird stories she had heard
from the natives.

She was unusually silent and thoughtful as she and Reynolds walked
slowly up the street toward the big house.  She longed to tell her
companion what Klota had said, but she hesitated about doing so.  Would
he not consider her weak and foolish?  She knew that her father would
only laugh at her if she told him.  She did not wish to make herself
ridiculous in their eyes, and yet she could not get her lover's dream
nor Klota's warning out of her mind.  She thought of them that
afternoon as she made preparations for the journey.  Her father had
told her that they were to start early the next morning, and if she
wished to go she must be ready.  She did want to go, for she enjoyed
the life in the hills.  Nevertheless, she often found herself standing
at the window looking out over the lake.  Why should she go if there
was any risk? she asked herself.  She knew that Curly was capable of
almost any degree of villainy, but was he not far away at Big Draw?  It
was hardly likely that he would again venture near the Golden Crest.
But if he did, would she not have her father and Reynolds to protect
her?

Hitherto she had only thought of harm to herself.  But there suddenly
came into her mind the fear that something might happen to another, and
she flushed as she thought who that other would be.  Had she not seen
Curly's face, and heard some of his terrible words the day of his
arrest as he was being taken up the street?  It would, therefore, be
upon Reynolds that he would endeavor to give vent to his rage.  Just
how he would do this, she could not tell, but it would be necessary for
her to be ever on guard.

A feeling of responsibility now took possession of her such as she had
never known before.  She felt that the life of her lover was in her
keeping, and perhaps her father's as well.  She knew that they would
not listen to any warning from her, and so she might as well keep
silent.  The dream and Klota's words might amount to nothing, yet it
was well to be ready for any emergency.

Opening a drawer in her dresser, she brought forth a revolver, and held
it thoughtfully in her hand for a few minutes.  As a rule she carried
it with her on all her trips beyond the Golden Crest, and she had been
well trained in the use of the weapon since she was a mere girl.  She
was a good shot, and was very proud of her accomplishment.

"A girl should always be able to take care of herself," her father had
told her over and over again.

"In a country such as this one never knows what might happen, and it is
well to be prepared."

That evening as she sat at the piano and played while Reynolds sang,
she forgot for a time her anxiety.  His presence dispelled all gloomy
fears, and the sound of his voice thrilled her very being.  They were
both happy, and all-sufficient to each other.

Across the hall in his own room, Jim Weston sat alone, ensconced in a
big comfortable chair.  He was re-reading one of his favorite books,
"Essays of Nature and Culture."  He was engrossed in the chapter, "The
Great Revelation," and as he read, the music across the way beat upon
his brain, and entered into his soul.  "Every bit of life is a bit of
revelation; it brings us face to face with the great mystery and the
great secret." . . .  He paused, and listened absently to the music.
"All revelation of life has the spell, therefore, of discovery." . . .
The words of the song the young people were now singing again arrested
his attention.  He liked "Thora"; it was a song of the north, and Glen
had often sung it to him.  "There is the thrill, the wonder, the joy of
seeing another link in the invisible chain which binds us to the past
and unites us to the future."  The words of the essay startled him.  He
laid aside the book, and rested his head upon his hand.  "Another link
in the invisible chain which binds us to the past."  He thought of her
who had made his life so pleasant.  He glanced above his desk, and a
mistiness came into his eyes.  Memory now was the only link which bound
him to the past, to those sweet days of long ago.

And as he sat there, the singing still continued.  He only half
comprehended the meaning of the words, for he was living in another
world.  But presently he started, clutched the arms of his chair, and
bent intently forward.

  "'Tis a tale that is truer and older
  Than any the sagas tell;
  I loved you in life too little,
  I love you in death too well!"

In the adjoining room the happy young couple went on with their
singing, and when the song was finished, they stopped, said something
in a low voice, and then laughed joyously.  But the ruler of Glen West
paced restlessly up and down his study.  He heard no more singing that
night, for he had softly closed the door.  Long after the rest had
retired, and the house was wrapped in silence, he continued his pacing,
only stopping now and then to gaze longingly at the picture above his
desk.  Since his return from the hills Jim Weston had learned a new
lesson, but before it could be applied, it was necessary for him to
undergo the severest mental and spiritual struggle he had ever known.



CHAPTER XXI

THE PLOTTERS

After Curly had been dumped unceremoniously beyond the Golden Crest,
and sternly ordered never to return, he had sped hurriedly forward.  He
was careless whither his steps led, so long as he was away from Glen
West and that frowning mountain ridge.  Fear still possessed his soul,
and he believed that he had escaped death as if by a miracle.  He was
so frightened that he did not realise how tired and hungry he was until
he had done a considerable distance, stumbling at every step, and at
times falling prone upon the ground.  His bruises he hardly felt until
he had almost reached the foot of the long slope down which he was
speeding.  Then a great weakness came upon him, and his body trembled.
Then he knew that he was very hungry and a long way from Big Draw.
What should he do?  How could he drag his tired body any farther
through the night, with no trail to guide him?  In fact, he did not
know where he was.  Then the terrible truth flashed upon his mind that
he was lost.  This brought him to his senses, and his terror vanished.
In its stead, a burning rage swept upon him, filled his heart, and made
him once more a brute thirsting for revenge.  Before his distorted
vision rose the mocking face of Jim Weston, and a deep growling curse
spued from his lips.  Then he saw Glen standing with Reynolds by the
side of the street, and turning swiftly around he faced the Golden
Crest, and lifting his dirty bleeding right hand, he shook his clenched
fist, and hurled forth a stream of terrible imprecations.  But every
word sent forth came back with a startling clearness from the
mysterious depths of the brooding forest.  Nature could not contain
such language within her unsullied bosom, but returned it immediately
to the vile source from whence it came.

When Curly's rage had somewhat spent itself, he began to meditate upon
swift and dire revenge.  But first of all he needed food, and
assistance from someone as base as himself.  Big Draw could supply him
with the former, but he had no idea where he could find the latter.  He
thought of Slim Fales, his recent companion.  Him, however, he soon
dismissed from his mind as unsuitable.  Slim had not suffered as he
had, and would not enter heartily into any proposal he might make.
And, besides, Slim had fled and left him to his fate.  No, he must find
someone as desperate as himself upon whom he could thoroughly depend.

This feeling of revenge gave Curly new strength.  He must reach Big
Draw, obtain food, and make whatever plans would be necessary.  Once
more he headed for the valley, lying dark and sullen below.  By
following this, he expected to reach the big creek on which the mining
camp was situated.

Arriving ere long at the bottom of the hill, he moved as fast as
possible down the creek.  There was no trail to guide him, and it was
with much difficulty that he made his way through the forest, which was
here thick and scrubby.  So painful did this at last become, that he
was forced to follow the little brook which flowed down the valley.
This, too, was rough, and at times he was compelled to walk in the
water.  But there were no trees to bother him, so he accordingly made
better progress.

He had thus gone some distance when, rounding a bend in the creek, he
was surprised to see directly before him the light of a camp fire.
Hope at first leaped into his heart.  Then he became cautious, for he
could not tell whether it was the stopping place of friend or foe.
Carefully now he advanced, and when near enough to recognize the face
of a man sitting before the blaze, he emitted a whoop, and rushed
forward.

At this startling sound from the grimness of the forest, the lone
camper started, seized his rifle, and leaped to his feet.

"Who are you?" he demanded.  "Stop, or I'll shoot."

"It's only me," Curly hastened to reply, as he stepped forth, into the
circle of light.  "Ye wouldn't shoot a friend, would ye, Dan?"

The latter lowered his rifle, and stared with undisguised surprise upon
his visitor.

"Well, fer the love of heaven!" he exclaimed, scanning closely the
wretched creature who had so unexpectedly appeared.  "Where did you
drop from? and what has happened?"

"Give me something to eat," Curly gasped, "an' then I'll tell ye.  I'm
almost dead."

Laying aside his rifle, the other opened a bag nearby and produced
several hard-tack biscuits.  Like a ravenous beast Curly seized and
devoured them.

"More, more," he begged.

"I'm short myself," Dan informed him, as he again thrust his hand into
the bag.  "There, take them," and he tossed over two more biscuits.

When Curly had eaten the last crumb, he searched into a hole in his
jacket and brought forth an old blackened pipe.

"Got any tobacco, Dan?  Mine's all gone."

Without a word the latter passed him part of a plug.

"A match," was the next request.

"What d'ye think I am?" was the curt reply; "a store?  Get a light fer
yourself," and Dan motioned to the fire.  "I can't spare any matches."

Curly did as he was ordered, lighted his pipe with a small burning
stick, and then stretched himself out before the fire.  He was a sorry
looking spectacle, and Dan watched him curiously.

"What's the matter, Curly?" he asked.  "Where have you been?"

"Where d'ye think I've been?" was the surly reply.  "Where do I look as
if I'd been?  To a Garden Party?"

"Well, no, judging by your appearance.  Haven't been mauled by a
grizzly, have you?"

"No, worse than a grizzly.  I've been in the hands of devils, that's
where I've been.  And his Satanic majesty was there, too."

"H'm, it's rather early, isn't it, Curly?" and Dan grinned.

"Early!  What d'ye mean?"

"Nothing, except that ye didn't expect to meet the devil an' his bunch
until ye cashed in, did ye?"

"Oh, I see.  But we'll be pardners, then, Dan, never fear.  But if the
devil an' his gang are any worse than the ones at Glen West, then the
outlook isn't very bright for either of us."

"So you've been in Jim Weston's hands, eh?" Dan queried, while his eyes
closed to a narrow squint.

"Should say I have, an' just barely escaped.  It was terrible!"
Curly's hands trembled, and into his eyes came a look of fear as he
glanced apprehensively around.  "Ye don't suppose they've followed me,
do you?"

"Don't be a fool," Dan chided.  "D'ye want me to tell ye something?"

"Sure.  Go ahead."

"Jim Weston and his Indian gang were only bluffing."

"Bluffing!"

"That's what I said.  Look here, Curly, they did the same thing to me,
and scared me nearly to death when I was prowling around Glen West.  I
thought fer certain that I had escaped just by the skin of me teeth.
But since I've talked with several others who were treated in the same
way, I know that the whole thing is a bluff, an' nothin' more."

Curly's eyes were big with amazement, and slowly he comprehended the
meaning of it all.

"An' ye think they wouldn't burn a man alive?" he gasped.

"No.  Take my word fer it, they have never done such a thing yet, an'
never will.  Jim Weston wants to keep all white men away from Glen
West, an' so he puts up that bluff.  It's on account of his daughter.
He knows that more than you an' me have their eyes on her.  That's what
took you there, wasn't it?"

"Sure.  D'ye think it'd be anything else than a woman that would put me
into such a scrape?"

"An' didn't get her after all.  That's too bad."

"But I will get her," Curly declared with an oath.  "That slick
gentleman sucker isn't going to have her."

"Who d'ye mean?"

"Oh, you know, don't ye?  It's that guy who knocked off the bottles.
He's at Glen West now, an' very chummy with Jim Weston's daughter."

"How in h---- did he get there?"

"Search me.  But he's there, all right, an' from all appearance he's
going to stay, for a while at least, until I show me hand."

"What can you do?  It seems to me that you've had enough of that place
already."

"So I have, but not of the girl.  My, she's worth riskin' one's neck
for.  But, say, Dan, what are you doing out here?"

"Prospectin', of course.  What else would I be doin'?"

"Strike anything?"

"Not yet, though I've good prospects in sight, 'specially since you've
arrived."

Seeing the look of surprise in Curly's eyes, Dan laughed.

"Yes," he continued, "I'm prospectin' in the same way that you are.
I'm after Jim Weston's gal."

"You are!" Curly's face brightened.  "How long have you been at it?"

"Oh, fer about a week.  Ye see, I got into the same scrape that you
did, an' was pitched this side of Golden Crest, with strict orders to
head fer Big Draw at once."

"An' did ye?"

"Sure.  I did as I was told.  But I returned, built a shack in the
hills, an' have been prowlin' around ever since waitin' me chance.  Jim
Weston's daughter sometimes rides alone on this side of the Crest, but
so far I've missed meetin' her.  But I'll get her one of these days,
an' then her devil of a father will know that Dan Hivers has some of
the Old Nick in him as well as he has.  It's a mighty poor game, to my
way of thinkin', at which two can't play."

"Yes, and more than two," Curly eagerly replied.  "You're just the man
I need.  Let's work together, Dan, an' we'll be company fer each other.
Have you any grub?"

"Lots of it in me shack.  I brought a good supply from Big Draw, an'
fresh meat is plentiful in the hills.  I've an extra rifle, too, if ye
need it."

"What's your plan?" Curly asked.  "You know this region better'n I do."

Dan did not at once reply, but sat looking thoughtfully into the fire.

"An' ye say that guy's got the cinch on the gal?" he at length queried.

"Seems so.  He was with her when I was led past, an' they seemed mighty
happy together."

"Is that so?  An' I suppose he'll be with her wherever she goes."

"Most likely.  But we can fix him, can't we?"

"We'll have to find some way, but the question is, how?"

"The gun-route might be the best," and Curly motioned significantly
toward the rifle.  "Accidents sometimes happen, ye know."

"But what about the old man?  He might make trouble."

"Then, settle him, too.  He goes alone into the hills, doesn't he?"

"Why, yes.  I never thought of that.  He's got a cabin over yonder.  I
know where it is.  He often spends days alone there, with not a soul
around, prospectin', so I understand."

"Something might happen there, too, eh?" and Curly grinned.  "Then the
girl will be ours."

"But what about the Police?" Dan warned.  "They'd be on our trail like
greased-lightning."

"But it will be an accident like the other, won't it?"

"But suppose the accidents don't happen?"

"The devil do I care.  Let me get the girl, an' I'll look out fer
myself after that.  I've been in such scrapes before, an' I guess you
have, too, Dan."

For some time the two villains sat that night before the fire, and
discussed in detail their nefarious plans.  They were men in whose
bosoms no feeling of pity or sympathy dwelt.  To them a pure noble girl
was merely an object of their vile passions.  Others had been
victimized by these brutes, and they had now sunk so low that they were
willing to sacrifice innocent lives in order to gratify their base
desires.

Next morning found the two plotters moving steadily on their way up
toward the Golden Crest where it curved in to the lake.  They kept away
as far as possible from the pass for fear of watchful Indians.  But
farther north where the land was more rugged, they would be safe.  From
this vantage ground they could look down upon the village and observe
much that was taking place there.  Curly was feeling the effects of his
experiences the previous day and was surly and ugly.  Dan had fed him
and supplied him with a buck-skin jacket which made him more
presentable.  But Curly's temper was bad, and he vented his spleen upon
Reynolds and Jim Weston in no mild language.

The high ridge of the Golden Crest was not reached until about the
middle of the morning, and here from a concealed position the two men
looked down upon Glen West lying snugly by the water's side.  They
could see the big house quite plainly, and they eagerly watched Glen as
she paddled alone upon the creek.  She was beyond their reach, however,
so they were helpless.  But when the girl was at length joined by
Reynolds, and the canoe was headed upstream, Curly's eyes glowed with
the fire of hatred and jealousy, while his hands gripped hard the rifle
he was holding.  He was lying flat upon the ground, peering over the
edge of a big boulder with Dan close by his side.  As the canoe came
nearer, Curly thrust his rifle impetuously forward and fired.  With a
curse, Dan reached out and laid a firm hand upon the weapon.

"What in h---- d'ye mean?" he demanded.  "Ye've spoiled everything."

"I wanted to get that cur down there," was the snarling reply.  "I
missed him that time, but I'll get him yet."

"No, ye don't," Dan declared, as Curly tried to free the rifle from his
companion's grasp.  "If ye shoot again, we'll have a pack of Indians
after us.  There, look now!" and he pointed to the canoe which was
heading down the creek.  "That's what you've done.  You've scared our
game and sent them back to give the alarm.  Most likely they intended
to land somewhere up the creek, an' do some private spoonin'.  We could
have crept down, knocked out the guy, an' carried off the gal.  But
now--bah! ye've spoiled the whole show!"

Curly made no reply, but lay there watching the canoe until it had
reached Sconda's landing.  His heart was bitter with rage as he
recalled his expulsion from Glen West, while his opponent was in full
possession of the girl he was seeking.  Several times during the
morning he voiced his sentiments to his companion.

"Just wait, Curly," Dan comforted.  "Our turn will come, never fear,
providin' ye don't lose yer head as ye did this mornin'.  I know
something about lovers.  They generally like to get off somewhere by
themselves to do their spoonin'.  They'll be wanderin' up along that
trail between here an' the water some time this afternoon, an' that'll
be our chance."

But this time Dan was mistaken.  The young lovers did not come up the
trail, neither did they see them again during the remainder of the day,
although they stayed there until the sun had gone down.  They
accordingly went back to Dan's cabin a sulky and ugly pair.  Lustful,
and filled with the spirit of revenge, they became all the more
determined and desperate the more they were baffled in their plans.

Early the next morning they again took up their position on the high
crest.  They did not have long to wait now, for in less than an hour
they beheld something upon the trail below them which gladdened their
devilish hearts.  At once they vanished from the summit, and like
panthers stole cautiously through the forest, and cautiously began to
stalk their unconscious prey.



CHAPTER XXII

THE CABIN IN THE HILLS

Glen's fears and forebodings of the previous night passed away as she
rode Midnight along the trail on that beautiful summer morning.  For a
time a feeling of security filled her heart.  Was she not well guarded
by her father, her lover, and two reliable Indians, Sconda and Natsu!
Why should she fear?  Curly was evidently at Big Draw, and so
discouraged over his reception at Glen West that he would hardly
venture near the place again.  It was a bright happy face that she
turned to Reynolds as he rode by her side wherever the trail permitted
their horses to ride abreast.  They rejoiced in each other's company,
and words were unnecessary, for love has a silent language all its own.

Jim Weston rode ahead, while the two Indians brought up in the rear.
The horses which the natives rode bore a few extra provisions for
several days' outing, such as tea, coffee, sugar, flour, and a supply
of canned goods.

Glen rode Midnight gracefully.  She was dressed the same as on the day
Reynolds first saw her on Crooked Trail.  She was perfectly at home in
the saddle, and what to Reynolds was difficult riding to her was a
pleasure.  At times she smiled at his awkwardness as he tried to
maintain his position where the trail was unusually rough and steep.

"You are better with the rifle, are you not?" Glen bantered.

"I certainly am," was the reply.  "I have had very little experience on
horse back.  I wish I could ride like you, for you are so much at ease."

"I should be," and again the girl smiled.  "I cannot remember the time
when I did not know how to ride.  But, then, you have not seen me at my
best.  Sconda has, though, and he knows that I can hold my own with the
most expert rider.  Oh, it's great when you're going like the wind,
clearing rocks and fallen trees with tremendous bounds.  Midnight
understands, don't you, old boy?" and she affectionately patted the
horse's glossy neck.

Reynolds watched the girl with deep admiration.  He felt that her words
were no mere idle boast, and he longed to see an exhibition of her
skilful riding.

At noon they stopped by the side of a little stream which flowed out
from under the Golden Crest, and ate their luncheon.

"We shall have a great dinner to-night," Weston informed them.  "We
must do honor to such an occasion as this."

"And if we can find Frontier Samson, all the merrier," Reynolds replied.

"Sure, sure, we must find the old man," Weston agreed.  "But, then,
it's unnecessary to worry about him.  He's all right, never fear,
though no doubt he is somewhat anxious about his runaway partner."

The ruler of Glen West was in excellent spirits.  Glen had never seen
him so animated, and at luncheon he joked and laughed in the most
buoyant manner.  During the afternoon he pointed out to his companions
numerous outstanding features of nature's wonderful handiwork.  At
times he would look back, and draw their attention to a peculiar rock
formation, a small lake lying cool and placid amidst the hills, or to
some beautiful northern flowers by the side of the trail.  Thus the
afternoon passed quickly and pleasantly, and evening found them before
the little cabin in the hills.

It was a beautiful spot where Weston had erected his forest habitation.
The cabin nestled on the shore of a very fine lake.  At the back stood
the trees, which came almost to the door.  The building was composed
entirely of logs, and contained a small kitchen, two bed-rooms, and a
living-room.  A stone fire-place had been built at one end of the
latter, while the walls were adorned with trophies of the chase.  Books
of various kinds filled several shelves, and magazines and newspapers
were piled upon a side-table.  It was a most cozy abode, and Weston was
greatly pleased at the interest Glen and Reynolds took in everything.

"My, I should like to spend a few weeks here," Reynolds remarked, as he
examined the books.  "What a grand time one could have reading and
meditating.  You have a fine collection, sir," and he turned to Weston,
who was standing near.

"I bring only the masters here," was the reply.  "One cannot afford to
pack useless truck over the trail.  In a place such as this the mind is
naturally reflective, and one craves for things that are old and firmly
established."

"But what about those?" and Reynolds pointed to the magazines and
newspapers.

"Oh, they have their place, too," and Weston smiled.  "Even in the
wilderness a man should not lose touch with the busy world outside.  I
consider that the study of the past and present should go together.  By
keeping abreast of the times one can form some idea how the world is
progressing, and by reading the masters of other days one can interpret
all the better the problems of the present."

While Weston and Reynolds discussed the books, Glen was busily engaged
setting the table for supper.  Natsu had taken the horses down to the
wild meadow some distance away, and Sconda was in the kitchen.  The
latter was an excellent cook, and prided himself upon his ability to
provide a most delicious repast, whether of moose meat or fried salmon.
It was the latter he was preparing this evening, the fish having been
brought from Glen West.  Several loaves of fresh white bread, made the
night before, had been provided by Nannie, as well as some choice cake
and preserves.

In a little less than an hour supper was ready, and Glen took her place
at the head of the table.  Cloth for the table there was none, but the
rough boards were spotlessly clean.  The dishes were coarse, and all
the dainty accessories of a modern household were wanting.  But
Reynolds never enjoyed a meal as he did that one in the little cabin by
the mirroring lake.  To him it was the girl who supplied all that was
lacking.  She performed her humble duties as hostess with the same
grace as if presiding at a fashionable repast in the heart of
civilization.  He noted the happy expression in her eyes, and the rich
color which mantled her cheeks whenever she met his ardent gaze.

Glen was happier than she had ever been in her life, and while her
father and Reynolds talked, she paid little attention to what they were
saying.  She was thinking of the great change which had come over her
father during the last few days.  He had made no reference to her
confession of love for the young man, for which she was most thankful.
She believed that he liked Reynolds, and found in him a companion after
his own heart.  Her cares had been suddenly lifted, for in the presence
of the two men she loved her fears and forebodings were forgotten.

After supper they sat for a while in front of the cabin.  The men
smoked and chatted.  It was a perfect night, and not at all dark, for a
young moon was riding over the hills.  Not a ripple ruffled the surface
of the lake, and the great forest lay silent and mysterious around.
Weston told several stories of his experiences in the wilderness,
especially of his encounter with a grizzly.

"I am very proud of the final shot which brought the brute down," he
said in conclusion.  "I wish you both could have seen it."

"I do not believe it was any finer than the one which brought my
grizzly down," Glen challenged.  "You should have seen that, daddy.  It
was wonderful!"

"Where did you learn to shoot so well?" Weston asked, turning to
Reynolds.

"Over in France.  I was a sharpshooter for a while."

"Well, that is interesting," and Weston blew a cloud of smoke into the
air, while his eyes wandered off across the lake.  "Had some lively
experiences, I suppose?"

"Yes, at times.  But, then, no more than others.  All did their share,
and did it the best they could."

"Did you get anything; that is, were you wounded?"

"I have a number of scars; that's all," was the modest reply.

"And were you decorated?  Did you receive a medal?" Glen eagerly
enquired.  She had often wished to ask that question, but had hitherto
hesitated.  She had fondly dreamed that her lover was a hero of more
than ordinary metal, and had carried off special honors.  But he was so
reserved about what he had done that never until the present moment had
she found courage to voice the question.

Reynolds did not at once reply.  It was not his nature to make a
display of his accomplishments.  He thought of the two medals securely
fastened in his pocket.  They were the only treasures he had brought
with him.  All else he had left behind.  But he could not part with the
medals which meant so much to him.  He had not brought them for
exhibition, but for encouragement in times of depression and trouble.
In his terrible wanderings in the wilderness he had thought of them,
and had been inspired.  But why should he not show them now? he asked
himself.  It would please Glen, he was sure, and the medals would tell
her father that he was no coward.

"I have something which you might like to see," he at length replied,
touching his breast with his hand.  "But perhaps we had better go
inside, as it is getting dark out here."

"When once within the cabin, Reynolds brought forth his two medals and
laid them upon the table.  Eagerly Glen picked up one, and examined it
by the light of the shaded lamp.

"'For Distinguished Conduct on the Field,'" she read.  "Oh, isn't it
great!  I knew that you had done something wonderful," and she turned
her sparkling eyes to her lover's face.  "What is the other one for,
daddy?" she asked, for her father was examining it intently.

"This is 'For Bravery on the Field,'" Weston read.  "Allow me to
congratulate you, young man," and he grasped Reynolds by the hand.  "I
am so thankful now that I did not submit such a man as you to the
Ordeal."

Reynolds smiled, although, he was considerably confused.

"You reserved it for this moment, I suppose," he replied.  "This is
somewhat of an ordeal to me."

"Then, let me increase your agony," and Glen's eyes twinkled as she,
too, held out her hand.

Reynolds took her firm, brown hand in his, and held it tight.  He found
it difficult to control himself.  How he longed to stoop, clasp her in
his arms, and take his toll from those smiling lips.  That would have
been the best congratulation of all.  He merely bowed, however, and
remained silent.  His heart was beating rapidly, and his bronzed face
was flushed.

"Suppose you tell us some of your experiences at the Front," Weston
suggested, divining the cause of the young man's confusion.  "It has
not been my fortune to meet anyone who has come through what you have,
and I am sure Glen will enjoy it as well as myself."

Although somewhat loath to tell of his adventures, Reynolds could not
very well refuse such a request, so, seating himself, he simply related
the story of his service under arms.  He said as little as possible
about his own part in the fray, and touched but lightly upon the scenes
wherein he had won his special decorations.  Weston, sitting by his
side, listened as a man in a dream.  At times a deep sigh escaped his
lips, for he himself had ardently longed to enlist, but had been
rejected owing to his age.

Not a word of the tale did Glen miss.  With her arms upon the table,
and her hands supporting her cheeks, she kept her eyes fixed earnestly
upon her lover's face.  Her bashfulness had departed, and she only saw
in the young man across the table her ideal type of a hero.  She had no
realization of the beautiful picture she presented, with the light
falling softly upon her hair and animated, face.  But Reynolds knew,
and as his eyes met hers, he became slightly confused, and hesitated in
his story.  What a reward, he told himself, for all that he had
endured.  He had been happy when the decorations were pinned upon his
breast.  But that reward was nothing, and the medals mere baubles
compared to the joy he was experiencing now.  If the love of such a
woman had been his during the long, weary campaign, what might he not
have accomplished?  How he would have been inspired to do and to dare,
and in addition to those medals there might have been the coveted
Victoria Cross.

"Oh, I wish I were a man!" Glen fervently declared when Reynolds had
finished his tale.  "How I would like to have been 'over there.'  You
needn't smile, daddy," she continued.  "I know you consider me foolish,
but I mean every word I say."

"I understand, dear," was the quiet reply.  "I know just how you feel,
for it is only natural.  However, I am glad that you are not a man, for
you are of greater comfort to me because you are a girl.  But, there, I
think we have talked enough for to-night.  You both must be tired after
to-day's journey, and we have a hard trip ahead of us to-morrow."



CHAPTER XXIII

AT THE REVOLVER'S POINT

Glen awoke early the next morning, tired and depressed.  She had slept
but little during the night, for her old fears had returned as she
recalled the dream and Klota's warning.  Her excitement over Reynolds'
story assisted, too, in driving sleep from her eyes, and she pictured
him on the field of battle, with shells dropping on every side.  He was
the one who stood out in clear relief above all others.  To her he was
the hero in every scene, and she saw all looking to him for inspiration
and guidance.  The glamor of love and hero-worship enwrapped her a
willing victim in its enchanting embrace.

Reynolds was quick to notice the tired expression in Glen's eyes and
the lack of color in her cheeks as she came forth from her room and
took her place at the table.

"What's wrong, dear?" her father anxiously enquired.  "Didn't you sleep
well?"

"I didn't sleep at all, daddy.  Perhaps it was yesterday's excitement
which kept me awake."

"Then, you must not go with us to-day, Glen.  You stay here, and Sconda
can remain with you.  That will delight the old fellow, for he has been
trying to invent some excuse for not going.  In fact, he doesn't want
me to go, either, and suggested that we all should return at once to
Glen West."

"Why, what was his reason?" and Glen looked her surprise.

"Reason!  Did you ever know an Indian to have a reason for anything?
He acts from instinct or superstition, and the latter is what ails
Sconda now.  Klota has been telling him some bosh about a presentiment
she had, that something terrible is going to happen to us out here in
the hills."

"And does Sconda believe it, too?" Glen asked, controlling her feelings
with a great effort.

"Certainly he believes it.  I laughed at him, and told him that he
should have more sense than to pay any attention to such things."

"But suppose he should be right?" Glen queried.  "The natives, you
know, see things at times which are not revealed to us."

"They see too many things, and that's the great trouble with them,"
Weston replied.  "If they would dream less and do more it would be far
better for all concerned.  I never had any faith in their fantastic
presentiments, and I am too old to change my views now.  But Sconda
might as well stay with you to-day, for I do not wish to leave you
alone, and I am not anxious to have the old rascal with me with his
head filled with such nonsense."

Glen made no further reply to her father.  She was well aware how
useless it would be to try to reason with him, and if she told him
about the dream and her fears he would laugh at her, and consider her
childish and foolish.

When breakfast was over, the men began to prepare for their day's trip.
This did not take them long, and soon they were all ready for their
departure.  They decided to leave the horses behind, as there was no
trail, and their course would take them over several hills where riding
would be impossible.  They took only their rifles, while Natsu packed
the scanty supply of food necessary for the day.

"We expect to be back by sundown," Weston informed Glen.  "But should
we be delayed, do not worry as we shall be all right.  We may be longer
than we imagine in reaching the place, and if we discover the gold, we
may take leave of our senses for a time and forget everything else.
But Sconda will look after you, and there is plenty of reading matter
to keep you out of mischief."

As Weston stooped and kissed his daughter, he noted that she clung to
him more tenderly than formerly, and that her body trembled slightly.
Thinking that this was due to her lack of sleep, he did not give it any
attention, but telling her to take a nap through the day, he picked up
his rifle and strode off into the forest.

Reynolds was more deeply concerned about Glen's wearied look than her
father, and after they had gone a short distance he spoke of it.

"She is tired, that's all," was the reply.  "A good sleep will make her
all right again."

"Perhaps she is worried about what Sconda said."

"She may be, but she will soon get over that.  It is a great mistake to
humor people in such nonsense.  I have often talked to Glen, but I
cannot help feeling that the native beliefs have made a considerable
impression upon her mind.  She has been with them so much that I
suppose it is only natural."

Reynolds said no more, but all through the day Glen's tired face and
anxious eyes were ever before him.  How he longed to go back and stay
with her.  The lure of gold had now lost its fascination for him, and
he could only think of the girl in the little cabin by the mirroring
lake.

Glen stood at the window and watched the men as they swung on their
way, until the forest hid them from view.  She could see them for some
distance while they followed the shore before striking across a wild
meadow at the upper end of the lake.  She remained there for several
minutes after they had disappeared.  She felt very tired, lonely and
unhappy.  She thought of her father's words, and they hurt her.  She
knew that he loved her, but for all that she was fully convinced that
he did not understand her.  She longed then, as she had often longed in
the past, for her mother, in whom she could confide the deep, sacred
emotions of her heart.  Her eyes became misty, and tears stole slowly
down her cheeks.

A step in the room startled her, and looking somewhat guiltily around,
she saw Sconda advancing toward her.  The Indian was excited more than
usual, at which Glen wondered, for she had never seen him so agitated
before.

"See, see!" and he pointed out of the window up toward the wild meadow.

"What is it?" Glen asked, brushing away her tears in an effort to see
more clearly.

"White man!  Running, all same wolf.  Ugh!"

Glen looked, and saw a man speeding across the meadow right on the
trail of her father and Reynolds.  Instantly she grasped its meaning,
and with a cry of fear she turned to the Indian.

"Is it Curly?" she gasped.  "Do you think he means any harm?"

"Curly follow Big White Chief," was the reply.  "Curly track white man.
Bimeby Curly shoot."

"Oh! do you think so?"  Glen clasped her hands before her, while her
eyes grew big with apprehension.  "What can we do?  I know.  You go
after that man, and stop him.  Never mind me, for I am all right.
Look," and she thrust her hand into the bosom of her riding-dress and
brought forth her revolver.  "I can shoot and take care of myself.  Go
at once and save daddy and Mr. Reynolds."

Sconda needed no second bidding, for he was anxious to be away.  His
fears had vanished at the presence of the skulking enemy, and no matter
how he might tremble at the thought of unseen ghostly foes, he was
never known to flinch before the face of a living earthly being.  Glen
knew that he was the finest trailsman in the north, and she felt more
satisfied as she watched him, rifle in hand, disappear amid the trees.

For some time she stood at the window, straining her eyes to see Sconda
reappear and cross the wild meadow.  But she watched in vain, for the
native had taken another route, which, though rougher, was less exposed
to view.

Glen was about to turn away from the window, when, happening to glance
to her left, she saw someone coming from the lake toward the house.
She recognized him immediately.  It was Curly!  At first she imagined
that she must be dreaming, for was not Curly away on the trail of her
father and Reynolds?  What did it all mean?  Sconda must have been
mistaken, for there was the villain walking cautiously from the shore.
Intuitively Glen placed her hand to her heart, as if to stop its wild
beating, while she tried to think of some way of escape.  What should
she do?  Where could she go?  she frantically asked herself.  But she
must not remain there, for she was well aware of the purpose of Curly's
visit.  He had planned a plot with the assistance of someone as vile as
himself, and had caught her in his trap.  But he should not take her in
the house, and she knew it would be useless to fasten the door against
him.  She would meet him in the open, and if it came to the worst she
knew what she could do.  Her hand touched her heaving bosom where the
revolver was resting, and it somewhat calmed her fears, and inspired
her with courage.

Swiftly crossing the room, she reached the open door and stepped
outside just when Curly was but a few yards away.  He stopped,
surprised at the girl's unexpected appearance.  He noted her agitation,
and his lips parted in a grin, such as a wolf might assume when about
to pounce upon an innocent lamb.  It was this grin which dispelled
Glen's fear and aroused in her breast an intense anger.  As she looked
upon the dirty and unkempt creature before her, and thought of the mean
advantage he was taking of a woman, the paleness left her face and her
cheeks crimsoned with indignation.  Why should she become a victim to
such a vile thing?

Glen was perfectly composed now, and looked Curly steadily in the eyes.
She had no intention of parleying with the villain, and the sooner he
realised her mettle the better it would be.

"What do you want?" she demanded.  "My father is not here, if you wish
to see him."

"It's you I want to see," Curly replied with a grin.

"What do you want to see me for?"  Glen's words were so cold, firm and
business-like that Curly was somewhat taken aback.

"Oh, I just thought I would drop around an' see ye, that's all," he
prevaricated.

"Well, you might have saved yourself the trouble, for I don't want to
see you."

"Ye don't, eh?" Curly snarled, for the girl's words stung him.  "I
don't care whether ye do or not.  It's not what you want, but what I
want."

"What do you mean by those words?"

"I guess ye ought to know.  Didn't I tell ye at the dance that I love
ye?"

"Love me!" and Glen's eyes flashed.  "Do you know the meaning of the
word love?  I suppose you told the same to many girls you have ruined."

"I never loved anyone as I love you," the villain whined.

"I suppose I should be flattered, but I am not.  I don't want what you
call your love, or anything to do with you."

"D'ye mean that yer goin' to throw me over?"

"Throw you over!  I don't understand you."

"Yes, throw me over fer that slick guy you're so chummy with.  I
suppose he's been tellin' ye what a bad man I am, an' so turned ye
against me."

"What right have you to say that?  You were never anything to me except
just what you are, a creature capable of almost any deed of villainy.
I only met you two or three times in my life, and why should you
presume to think that you had won my affection?"

"Well, if ye think I'm bad to the core, I will soon show you that I am.
It's no use, I see, to beat about the bush any longer.  If I can't get
you one way I will another, an' I'll have you ahead of that d---- guy
who has won your heart.  You're here alone with me, remember, an'
that's all I want."

Curly had thrown aside all pretense now, and his face bore an ugly
expression as he stepped quickly forward.  But it was only a step or
two he took, for he stopped short with a surprised jerk when he beheld
the menacing point of a revolver directed straight at his head.  The
hand that held the weapon was firm, and the blaze in Glen's eyes was
sufficient warning.  This was more than he had expected, and he knew
not what to do.

"Keep back," the girl ordered.

"Surely ye wouldn't shoot, Miss?" the brute whimpered.

"Take another step forward and you'll soon find out."  The voice was
stern and business-like.

"But I won't harm ye."

"No, indeed you won't.  I'll see to that."

"I was only foolin'," the wretch lied.  "I didn't mean anything."

"Well, I'm not fooling, and I mean what I say.  You thought in your
base heart that I would be an easy victim, didn't you?  But you now
know that Glen Weston has some of her father's spirit.  She can shoot,
too, and if you doubt it, just try any more of your nonsense."

Curly was in a trap, and when he found that this slip of a girl was
more than his match he started to give vent to his rage in vile,
insolent language.

"Stop that," Glen sternly ordered.  "It is bad enough to have you here
without having to listen to such language.  Stop; I say," she again
commanded, as Curly was about to continue.  "Yes, I mean it, so you
needn't doubt my word.  And you might as well put your hands together.
Hurry up; I give you two seconds.  You are not to be trusted."

Slowly Curly obeyed, and stood before the girl, his hands clasped, and
completely subdued.  A smile of victory flitted across Glen's face,
though her eyes and mouth were expressive of the deepest scorn.

"You didn't expect this, did you?" she bantered.

"Expect what?"

"To be standing so meekly before a woman.  You imagined that she would
be doing that to you."

"You're not a woman," Curly growled; "you're a she-devil."

"Oh, so you've changed your opinion of me," and Glen laughed.  "I am
very glad of that, for you won't be crazy about me any more."

"Crazy!  Your face an' figure would drive any man crazy."

"Dear me, do I look as horrible as all that?  It's a wonder you are not
a raving lunatic."

"I will if you keep me here much longer.  Let me go an' I'll never
trouble you again.  That slick guy can have you fer all I care.  I
don't want anything to do with a woman who holds ye up at the point of
a gun."

"No, I am sure you don't, Curly.  You prefer to prey upon women who are
helpless, and who cannot lift a hand in self-defense.  But I am
different, as you have found out to your cost."

"Let me go, will ye?" the wretch pleaded.  "I've had enough of this."

"Oh, have you, eh?  Well, that's interesting.  But, look here, I am not
through with you yet.  You came here without any invitation, though in
a way I am glad that you did come, and I intend to keep you here for a
while."

"H'm, ye must like my company after all," Curly sneered.  "You're a
queer one."

"Yes, I like your company at present better than your absence," Glen
confessed.  "I know just where you are, and that you can do no mischief
while you are under my charge.  If I should let you go now it would be
an injustice to others.  You must settle this affair with my father,
and you know what that will mean."

"I'm not worryin' about yer dad, or anyone else," Curly replied.
"He'll have all he can attend to without botherin' about me.  Most
likely he's in a hotter place now than ever he struck on earth."

Into Glen's eyes leaped an expression of wild fear, as the meaning of
Curly's words dawned upon her.

"Ye understand?" Curly sneered.  "Two can play at this game, remember,
an' mebbe more'n two."

"Was that your partner who followed my father?"

"Sure.  It was Dan, an' he means business."

"What business?"

"Oh, Dan'll tell ye when he comes back."

"Do you mean that he intends to shoot my father and Mr. Reynolds?"

"Mr. Reynolds!" Curly mockingly repeated.  "Yes, Mr. Reynolds, too."

Glen's outstretched arm was tired, but these words renewed her
strength, and her fingers clutched more firmly the butt of the
revolver.  Curly was fully aware that the girl was becoming wrought up
to a high pitch of excitement, and he regretted that he had told her
anything about Dan.  What might not this girl do? he asked himself.  In
fact he was very near death just then, for Glen in her agitation was
unconsciously pressing the trigger slightly with her forefinger.  But
Curly knew, and his face blanched.

"Fer God's sake, be careful what yer doin'!" he screamed.  "That gun'll
go off, if ye don't look out!"

"Perhaps it might be well if it did," was the reply.  "I am strongly
tempted to shoot you where you stand.  But I guess I will wait until
Sconda comes back.  And then, remember, if my father and Mr. Reynolds
are dead, you die, and at my hands at that.  You can remain just where
you are, and I shall guard you, even if I have to wait here all day."

"But I can't stand here," Curly whined.  "Let me sit down."

"No, you must stay just where you are, and keep your hands clasped.  I
shall sit down, though," and Glen seated herself upon the doorstep.

Curly started to remonstrate, but was sternly checked.

"I do not wish to hear anything more," Glen emphatically told him.
"You can keep your thoughts and your words to yourself.  And do not
annoy me, or I might lose control of myself and do something rash."

Seeing that the girl was thoroughly in earnest, Curly said no more, but
stood there with his eyes fixed straight forward.  The only time Glen
spoke was whenever she detected his look wavering in the slightest
degree.  Then she called him sharply to attention, and warned him to be
mindful of what he was doing.

Thus slowly and wearily the morning wore away.  With nerves strung to
the highest tension, Glen guarded her prisoner, at the same time
listening anxiously for the sound of Sconda's returning footsteps.



CHAPTER XXIV

WHEN THE RIFLES CRACKED

Ever since leaving for the hills Reynolds had the strong feeling that
the ruler of Glen West was studying him very closely.  In various
subtle ways he could tell that he was being tested, and so this morning
as they moved forward he seemed like one undergoing a peculiar
examination.  That his war record had made a deep impression upon
Weston he was well aware.  But the man did not yet seem satisfied.  He
evidently wished to probe to the very soul of the one who had captured
his daughter's heart.

After Weston had expressed himself concerning Indian superstition,
little was said until they had crossed the wild meadow and partly
encircled the opposite side of the lake.  From here their course would
take them directly overland toward the high hill with the cave of gold.

They were about to leave the shore, when Reynolds suddenly paused and
looked excitedly around.  Then his eyes fell upon the remains of a
campfire, and nearby, fastened to a stick in the ground, he saw a piece
of paper.  This he quickly seized and read the brief message it
contained.  He at once turned to Weston, who had been silently watching
his every movement.

"It's from Frontier Samson," Reynolds explained.  "The old man is
greatly worried over my disappearance, and has been searching for me
several days.  He must have known about your cabin, sir, for he
mentions it here, and advises me to go there at once should I return.
It is strange that he didn't mention it to me."

"He thought it hardly worth while, I suppose," Weston replied.  "You
were not bound that way."

"But we must have been, though," Reynolds insisted.  "How else could we
have reached Glen West but by the trail over which we travelled
yesterday?  Surely he must have known that."

"It is difficult at times to fathom an old prospector's mind," Weston
replied, as he threw his rifle over his shoulder and continued on his
way.  "So you two were bound for Glen West, were you?" he queried,
after they had gone a short distance.

"We certainly were, until I spoiled everything by getting lost."

"You must not be too sure about that, young man.  It is hard to tell
what might have happened to you had you reached Glen West by the trail.
You must have been aware of the risk you were running."

"Oh, the risk is nothing when a great ideal lies ahead.  I for one
would rather die following a noble vision than lie grovelling among the
broken shards of life.  It was that which led so many to sacrifice
their all in the Great War.  Lack of vision means repression, and often
ruin; vision, expression."

"In what way?  Go on, I am much interested."

"In what way?" Reynolds repeated, as he stopped and looked far away
upon some towering mountain peaks which just then were visible through
an opening among the trees.  "Take the steam-engine for example.
Repress the power, and what do you get?  Destruction.  But give that
power expression, and how beneficial it becomes.  So it is with man.
There is a mighty power within him.  Repress that power, keep it back,
and you get nothing.  But let that power be released, and it expresses
itself in thousands of ways for the benefit of mankind."

"But what has that to do with vision?" Weston asked.

"A great deal.  It is the vision, the lure of something beyond, which
calls forth that power and compels it to undertake great things.  All
the wonderful achievements of the past are due to men of vision.  They
saw what others could not see, and in the face of opposition and
discouragement they went steadily forward."

"And what did you expect to accomplish when you started for Glen West?"

At these words Reynolds gave a slight start, and glanced curiously at
his companion.

"I hoped to win the fairest and noblest flower of womanhood that it has
ever been my lot to know except one, and that was my mother."

"Other men have said the same thing, young man," and Weston smiled.
"They, like yourself, followed attractive faces, pleasing forms, and
luring voices, and when it was too late they found out their mistake.
You know the legend of the Sirens, I suppose?"

"That has been true, sir, in many cases.  But mine is different.  Some
women have many outward attractions, but no souls.  The first time I
beheld your daughter I detected something in her that I never saw
before in any woman, and that is saying a great deal.  Since I have
known her better, I have found that I was right, and that she is worthy
of a man's noblest vision.  A woman such as she is would elevate a man
who has the least spark of nobleness."

"You are right, young man, you are certainly right," Weston
acknowledged, and his voice was somewhat husky.  "You are more than
fortunate in having such a vision.  But what will it lead to?"

"That remains to be seen," Reynolds slowly replied.  "Anyway, the
vision I have been following has made a new man of me already.  Before
I saw your daughter on the street one night, I had no aim in life.  I
was ready to drift anywhere and into anything.  But the sight of her
brought me up standing, and gave me a new impulse.  Even though my
vision should never be attained, I am better and stronger, for what the
poet says is true, that 'The striving makes the man.'"

They were crossing a wild meadow now, and before them loomed the high
hill up which Reynolds had so wearily climbed in his great battle for
life.  He could hardly believe that they were so near the place, and he
expressed his astonishment to his companion.

"We have come in a straight course," Weston explained, "and that makes
the difference.  When you were lost, you wandered around for a long
time until you happened by chance upon yonder hill.  It is a wonder to
me that you ever found your way out of this region."

"So it is to me," Reynolds replied.  "And to think that I was so
foolish as to chase that moose after what Frontier Samson told me.  I
see now that the old man was right.  I wonder where he can be.  Perhaps
he has gone back to Big Draw.  I must go there, too, as soon as we
return, for I feel sure that Samson is worrying about me."

"If we find that mine, you will have to hurtle to Big Draw to record
our claims," Weston reminded.  "One of the Indians can go with you to
show the way."

"I suppose the miners will make a wild stampede into this place as soon
as they hear of the discovery."

"Most likely.  But there have been so many 'wild-cat' claims recorded
of late that they may merely consider this another, and pay little
attention to it.  However, do not say much about it, and they may take
no notice.  We can get our haul first, and then they may come as fast
as they like."

After they had crossed the wild meadow it was necessary to travel
several hundred yards up the little stream at which Reynolds had slaked
his thirst.  The meadow ere long ended, and the high, frowning sides of
the two opposing hills shouldered toward each other, thus forming a
deep draw about fifty yards in width.

"It was up there where the eagle fell," Reynolds explained, as he stood
looking up the ravine.  "Poor creature, it was hard when it was merely
doing its duty.  But it saved my life, though, and perhaps that was
something."

"It is always the way," Weston made answer.  "Little is accomplished in
this world without sacrifice, and often the innocent are the sufferers.
And I reckon we shall not get that gold without sacrificing something.
I see that Natsu is not altogether pleased at the prospect of climbing
this hill.  But it cannot be helped, so we might as well begin at once."

It took them some time to ascend, and often they were forced to draw
themselves up by means of rocks and small trees.  Occasionally they
rested, for combined with the steep climb the sun was pouring its fiery
beams full upon their heads.

"I do not believe the miners will find this place in a hurry," Reynolds
panted, as he sat upon a ledge of rock where he had with difficulty
dragged himself.  "When I first climbed up here I worked my way along
the side of the hill, which was somewhat easier.  Short cuts don't
always pay."

"That must have been the reason why you didn't take one to Glen West,"
Weston replied, as he, too, rested upon the rock.

"It's a definite proof, sir, of what I just said, that short cuts don't
always pay.  I was cursing myself for getting lost in the wilderness,
when all the time it was the only way whereby I could reach Glen West
in safety.  Had I gone any other route, by a short cut, for instance,
you would have pitched me at once beyond the Golden Crest."

Weston made no reply, and once more they continued their climb.  Up and
up they slowly made their tortuous way, and at length Reynolds, who was
leading, gave a shout as his eyes fell upon the desired cave.  With a
bound he sprang forward, reached the place and was standing before the
opening when his companions arrived.

"There it is!" he cried, stooping and pointing into the cave.  "And,
look, there are the remains of my fire which the rain nearly put out."

Weston was greatly excited now, and drawing a candle from his pocket,
he lighted it, and together the three made their way into the mine.
They had not proceeded far when the richness of the cave became most
apparent, and Weston stared in amazement at the wealth he beheld on
every side.

"Why, it's a regular King Solomon's mine!" he exclaimed.  "It has never
been worked, and being so far up the side of the hill it has been
missed by the prospectors who have scoured this region.  The place is
full of gold!  Just look at that!" and he held out a handful of earth
he had taken from the right hand wall.  "Our fortunes are made."

"Suppose we get something to eat," Reynolds suggested.  "I am almost
starved.  We can examine our treasure afterwards."

It did not take Natsu long to prepare their simple repast at the mouth
of the cave, as their luncheon consisted merely of sandwiches and cake.
But there was plenty, and they thoroughly enjoyed the meal.  When it
was finished Weston and Reynolds leaned back against a big rock, filled
and lighted their pipes.

"My! this is comfort," Reynolds remarked.  "It is not much like the
first time I visited this place.  I little expected to be here so soon
again."

"And it won't be the last time, either," Weston replied, as he puffed
thoughtfully at his pipe.  "The amount of gold in this cave astonishes
me."

"You thought it was all a cock-and-bull story I was telling you, I
suppose?"

"I really did," was the candid confession.  "I believed that the
fearful experiences through which you passed had affected your brain
for a time, and that you imagined you had discovered a rich mine."

Reynolds laughed as he looked down the steep cliff.

"How are we to get the gold out of this place?" he asked.  "It will be
difficult to take it by the way we have just come."

"Oh, that will be no trouble, as we can easily get it to the Tasan, and
from there take it down on _The Frontiersman_.  I have been some
distance up the river and know that it can be navigated.  We can----"

Weston never finished his sentence, for the sharp crack of a rifle
suddenly split the air, and a bullet, passing through the top of
Reynolds' hat, spattered on the rock close to his head.  Instantly
another shot rang out, farther down the creek, followed immediately by
a wild, piercing shriek of pain.  Then all was still.

Greatly surprised and mystified, the men leaped to their feet, and
stood staring across at the opposite hill from whence the sounds had
come.  But nothing could they see except the great silent wall of rock
and earth.  Each man grasped his rifle in readiness for any emergency,
not knowing what to expect next.

"Who can it be?" Weston asked.  "What is the meaning of that second
shot, and the scream of pain?  There's something wrong over there,
that's quite evident."

"Suppose we cross over and investigate," Reynolds suggested.  "It may
have been a stray shot which went through my hat.  But, hello! who's
that?"

"Where?" Weston asked.

"Don't you see him?" and Reynolds pointed to his left.  "Look, he is
moving along the top of the hill toward where we heard the first shot."

The form of a man could be seen, gliding swiftly and cautiously
forward, carrying a rifle.  Only brief glimpses could be obtained of
him as he emerged now and then from behind rocks and clumps of stunted
trees, so it was impossible to make out whether he was a white man or
an Indian.  At length he vanished entirely for several minutes, while
the curious and anxious watchers waited for him to reappear.

It seemed to them much longer than it really was before they saw him
again, and this time he was standing upon a huge rock motioning with
his arms.

"Why, it's Sconda!" Weston exclaimed in amazement.  "What does he
want?" he asked, turning to Natsu, who all the time had remained
perfectly silent.

"'Come quick,' Sconda say," was the reply.

"Ask him what is the matter," Weston ordered.

This Natsu at once did, but all the answer he received was the request
to hurry.

"What ails the fellow, anyway?" Weston growled.  "Why can't he tell us
what's wrong?  Anyway, we might as well go and find out for ourselves,
for there is something mysterious about this whole affair.  Confound it
all!  I want to make a further examination of this mine and see how far
it extends.  This is certainly provoking."

It did not take them long to reach the bed of the creek, although they
received a number of bruises and scratches in the swift descent.  But
the climb up the opposite hill was a difficult undertaking, and by the
time they reached the top they were almost exhausted.  Here they rested
a few minutes, and then hurried as fast as possible toward the spot
from where Sconda had signalled his message.  The latter they did not
again see until they had scrambled over a series of jagged rocks, and
plowed their way through a tangle of scrubby bushes and trees.  At last
they suddenly beheld him bending over something lying upon a rock,
which as they drew nearer they found to be the form of a man.

Weston now was in the lead, and at the first glance he recognized the
prostrate man.

"It's the villain Dan!" he exclaimed.  "What in time is he doing here?
Is he dead?" he asked, turning to Sconda.

"Dan no dead," was the reply.  "Dan all same sleep."

"Unconscious, eh?" Weston queried as he stooped and felt the man's
pulse.  "He's alive, all right, but bleeding.  Did you shoot him,
Sconda?"

"Ah, ah, Sconda shoot."

"Why did you shoot him?"

"Dan shoot first.  Dan shoot at Big White Chief," and Sconda pointed to
the cave across the ravine.

Weston looked at Reynolds as the light of comprehension dawned upon his
mind.

"It seems to me that there is something in Indian presentiment, after
all," he confessed.  "How did you know that Dan was going to shoot me?"
he asked Sconda.

The latter, however, made no reply.  He merely shook his head and
glanced furtively and anxiously around.  This Weston noticed, and it
aroused his curiosity.

"What's the matter, Sconda?  You seem to be nervous.  Do you expect
more shooting?"

"Sconda no savvey.  More bad white man.  Ugh!"

"Well, then, let us get away from this place as soon as possible."

"What about Dan?" Reynolds asked.  "We can't leave him here."

"That's true," and Weston turned toward the wounded man.  "He deserves
to stay, though, for his base treachery.  But we cannot do that, so
must tote him back to the cabin.  It will be a hard task, and the
villain isn't worth it.  But, come to think of it, we must not let him
die until we hear his story.  There may be others in this plot, and we
must find out who they are.  Come, Sconda, give us a hand.  Surely four
of us can carry him."

An exclamation from Natsu caused the white men to look quickly around,
and as they did so they saw Sconda some distance away, bounding like a
deer from rock to rock.  At first Weston stared in amazement.  Then he
called and ordered him to come back.  For the first time in his life
Sconda paid no heed to his master's command, but sped rapidly forward,
and in a few minutes was entirely hidden from view.



CHAPTER XXV

BY THE INLAND LAKE

It seemed to Glen as if the morning would never wear away as she sat
and guarded her prisoner.  The severe strain was showing its effect
upon her face, which was unusually pale.  Her eyes never once left the
man before her, and the revolver, as it rested lightly upon her lap,
was pointed straight toward him, ready for immediate action.  She would
not allow Curly to speak, and whenever he made the attempt she sternly
checked him and menacingly raised her weapon of authority.  Her brain
was very active, and her thoughts were by no means happy ones.  Suppose
her father and lover should be shot ere Sconda could do anything, what
would be the outcome? she asked herself.  She was well aware that
Sconda and Natsu would be more than a match for Dan, but he might
escape and get back to the cabin first.  Her face became stern as she
thought of this, and she made up her mind what she would do.  She could
deal with Curly all right, and settle his account.  She would then have
only Dan to face.  Anyway, she was determined that she would never fall
into the hands of those two villains so long as her revolver held true
and while the last cartridge remained.

And thus she retained her post through the slow morning hours.  The sun
rode high in the heavens and beat upon her throbbing head.  Birds
flitted and sang around her, and squirrels chattered and scolded among
the trees.  Would Sconda never return? she wondered.  What could be
keeping him!  At times she felt that she could endure the strain no
longer, but when she realised how much was at stake she always nerved
herself by a mighty effort.

Curly watched Glen's every movement, and seeing how weary she was
becoming trusted to catch her off guard, spring forward, strike the
revolver from her hand, and seize her in his arms before she could
shoot.  This was his only hope, but whenever he was on the point of
making the desperate attempt, the stern word of command and the
slightly lifted weapon caused him quickly to desist.  Glen seemed to
divine his purpose, and always checked him in time.

So desperate did Curly at length become that he decided to throw all
caution to the wind.  He was very anxious over Dan's tardiness in
returning, and feared lest his scheme had failed.  He knew full well
that if Jim Weston should suddenly appear and find him in such an
embarrassing situation it would go hard with him.  It would be death,
anyway, without any chance of defending himself.  He knew how furious
Weston would be at the attempt made not only upon his own life but upon
his daughter's honor.  The perspiration poured in great beads down his
face as he thought of this.  Glen saw his agitation, and attributed it
to the heat of the sun and weariness.  She little knew what was passing
through the villain's mind.  And, in fact, she never learned, for at
this critical moment Sconda bounded from the forest and stood by her
side.  A cry of joy escaped Glen's lips as she beheld her deliverer and
knew that she was saved.

In a twinkling Sconda grasped the situation, and with a terrible roar
of rage be brought his rifle to his shoulder and would have shot Curly
where he stood, had not Glen leaped to her feet and laid her hand
firmly upon the smooth barrel.

"Don't shoot!" Curly yelled, wild with terror, ere Glen could say a
word.  "Fer God's sake, let me go!"

But the enraged Indian was not easily diverted from his purpose, and it
was only with much difficulty that Glen was able to make him listen to
reason.

"Curly bad," he argued.  "Curly all same black bear.  Ugh!"

"I know that, Sconda," Glen agreed.  "But I want you to mind me now,
and let him go.  Search him, and take his gun."

Very reluctantly Sconda obeyed, and in a few seconds he was holding in
his hand Curly's revolver and a big, sharp, dangerous knife.

"There, I feel safer now," and Glen breathed a deep sigh of relief.
"Take him away, Sconda," she ordered.  "I want to get him out of my
sight."

As Sconda seized the wretch roughly by the arm, and was about to hurry
him away, Curly emitted a cry of fear, and turned toward Glen.

"He'll kill me!" he yelled.  "I can see it in his eyes.  He'll get me
down among the trees an' shoot me!  Don't let him take me!  Save me!
Fer God's sake, save me!"

"You need not be afraid of Sconda," Glen replied, while her eyes
flashed with contempt.  "He is a true man, and respects me and my
orders.  He will not harm you, so you need not fear him.  But there are
others you might well fear should they Hear of what you have done
to-day.  That is all I have to say.  Take him away, Sconda."

Glen went at once into the cabin, and the coolness of the place was a
great relief to the intense heat outside.  She watched from the window
as Sconda conducted Curly down along the shore of the lake until they
disappeared from view.

In about a quarter of an hour Sconda returned.  Glen met him at the
door, and enquired anxiously about her father and Reynolds.  She spoke
in the Indian language, and this always pleased Sconda.  His face
brightened, and as he looked at the animated face before him his lips
parted in a smile.

"The white men are safe," he told her.  "They will come into camp by
and by."

"And where is Dan?" Glen enquired.  "Did you see him?"

"Ah, ah.  Dan tried to shoot the white men, but Sconda was too quick.
Dan now all same sleep."

"Not dead, is he?"

"No, no; all same sleep."

"Unconscious, eh?"

"Ah, ah."

"And so you came to tell me that daddy and Mr. Reynolds are safe?"

"Sconda ran away.  Big White Chief wanted Sconda to help carry Dan into
camp.  But Sconda run away fast."

"Why?"

"Sconda think maybe Curly here.  Sconda was right, eh?"

"Oh, I understand," Glen replied.  Her eyes were shining with gratitude
as she turned them upon the face of her valiant protector.  "You
thought I might be in danger.  You knew that Dan and Curly had plotted
together, and that when Curly was not out there he must be here trying
to harm me.  How can I thank you, Sconda, for what you have done for me
to-day?  I do not know what would have happened had you not come just
when you did."

"Missie Glen hold up Curly, all same man, eh?" and Sconda smiled.

"Indeed I did.  But I could not have stood it much longer, I was afraid
that I would have to shoot him."

"Why did Missie Glen not let Sconda shoot Curly?"

"Because it would be murder, that's why.  If you had shot Curly, the
Mounted Police would take you away, and most likely hang you.  Just
think of that."

"But Curly bad, ugh!"

"I know that, Sconda.  But it wouldn't make any difference.  You would
be considered a murderer, and I don't want to lose you yet.  And,
remember, Sconda, don't you dare to tell anyone that Curly was here."

"Sconda no tell!  Why?"

"Because if daddy hears of it, he will be so angry that he will kill
Curly.  You must not tell anyone, so daddy and Mr. Reynolds will know
nothing about it.  You will promise, won't you, Sconda?"

With considerable reluctance Sconda agreed to keep the secret.  He knew
that it was not the wisest thing to do, for he was fully convinced that
Curly should be punished.  But he would do anything rather than
displease his young mistress, for whom he had such an unbounded
admiration.

"Missie Glen hungry, eh?" he unexpectedly asked.

"I really don't know," Glen laughingly replied.  "I have not had time
to think about it.  Are you?"

"Ah, ah; Sconda hungry."

"Well, then, you can get dinner ready, and perhaps I shall be able to
eat something, too."

Sconda at once set to work, and in a remarkably short time he had a
simple meal prepared.  He served Glen first, and waited upon her until
she had finished.

"How long will it take the men to come back?" Glen asked as she rose
from the table.

"Till sundown, maybe," was the reply.  "Dan is heavy and hard to carry."

"Well, then, I am going to lie down for a while, Sconda.  I did not
sleep any last night, and the excitement of to-day has made me very
tired.  You will keep watch around the cabin, will you not?"

"Ah, ah, Sconda will watch.  Sconda will shoot Curly if he comes back."

"Oh, I guess Curly will not come here again, especially when he knows
that I have such a noble protector."

Sconda was pleased at these words of praise, and after he had eaten his
dinner he sat and smoked contentedly before the door of the cabin.  He
was happier than he had been in many a day.  He had saved the white
men, knocked out Dan, rescued his master's daughter, and headed Curly
for Big Draw.  His only regret was that he had not been allowed to
shoot Curly, and thus rid the earth of another villain.

Glen was completely wearied out, and a few minutes after her head
touched the pillow she was fast asleep.  She slept soundly for several
hours, and when she awoke the shadows of night were stealing in through
the little window.  The sound of voices in the adjoining room informed
her that her father and Reynolds had returned.  She also heard the
rattle of dishes and knew that Sconda was preparing supper.  Hastily
arranging her hair, and with a final glance in the small mirror, she
softly opened the door.  Weston and Reynolds were already seated at the
table, while the lighted lamp told Glen that it was later than she had
imagined.

"Hello!" Weston accosted, as he turned and beheld his daughter.  "You
are a sound sleeper.  Been sleeping all day, I suppose!"

Reynolds had risen to his feet the instant Glen appeared, and he waited
until she had taken her place at the table ere he resumed his seat.  He
was pleased to see her looking so bright and animated.  The color had
returned to her cheeks, and the expression of fear had vanished from
her eyes.

"Where is the wounded man, daddy?" Glen at once asked.

"In the bunk out there," and Weston motioned to the kitchen.  "He
doesn't deserve all the trouble we've had to-day.  My, he was a heavy
load!  And to think that Sconda should have run away and left us.  I
wonder what came over the rascal?"

"Is Dan seriously wounded, do you think?" Glen enquired, evading her
father's reference to Sconda.

"No, just a scratch, which made him unconscious for a time.  He'll be
all right in a few days, I am sorry to say.  Such a treacherous
creature is better dead than alive."

"What will you do with him, daddy?"

"Keep him here for a while and patch him up.  I must find out why he
tried to shoot us, and if there are others in the plot, I know the
villain is very revengeful, and that may have been his sole purpose for
following us to-day.  How did Sconda know about him, Glen?"

"He saw him hurrying along this side of the lake shortly after you had
disappeared beyond the wild meadow.  I thought it best for Sconda to
go."

"And mighty fortunate you did.  Why, the villain would have shot us all
if Sconda hadn't been on hand."

"Do you intend to stay here a while, daddy?"

"Long enough to look after my patient.  But you must go home, and Natsu
will go with you.  Reynolds has to hurry down to Big Draw to record our
claims."

"And so you found the gold?"  Glen eagerly asked.

"I should say we did.  Why, that cave is full of it.  We shall be as
rich as Croesus in a short time."

"Oh, I am so glad," and the girl gave a sigh of relief.  "When we get
the gold why cannot we leave this country, daddy, and go outside?  I
want to travel and see the world, and enjoy life.  There, now, I know
you will either scold or laugh at me.  But I mean every word I say."

"I shall do neither, dear," was the quiet reply, "so you need not fear.
I have known for some time that you wish to leave this country, and I
have given it very serious consideration.  But you must wait a while,
that is, for a few days at least.  It all depends upon something about
which I do not care to speak now, as I must have more time to think it
over."

Weston rose suddenly from the table and went into the kitchen.  Glen
and Reynolds looked at each other without a word.  They were both
surprised at Weston's words and the abrupt manner in which he left
them.  Moved by the same impulse, they, too, rose from the table and
went out of doors.  It was a beautiful evening, and the sky beyond the
mountain peaks was aglow with the lingering light of departing day.
The lake lay like a mirror, its borders black with the shadows of the
near-by trees.

At the kitchen window Weston stood wrapped in thought.  Forgotten was
the man lying in the bunk, for his mind was upon the two slowly wending
their way to the lake.  The room seemed to stifle him, so he went to
the door and stood there, silent and alone.  He was fighting the
hardest battle of his life, much harder, in fact, than the one he had
fought in his study the night he had first interviewed Reynolds.  He
knew that he was at the parting of the ways.  That Glen had given her
heart to the young stranger he was certain, and he believed that she
would never be happy apart from him.  They would leave the northland,
and should he remain?  That was the question which was now agitating
his mind.  How could he live alone without Glen's inspiring presence?
There was no one to take her place, and he was getting well along in
years.  He thought of her who had meant so much to him in the sweet
days of old.  What agony had wrung his soul when she was taken from
him, and how his whole life had been changed.  A slight groan escaped
the lips of the unhappy man, and mechanically he reached out his hands
into the night.  At once there flashed into his mind the words Glen and
Reynolds had sung together at Glen West:

  "'Tis a tale that is truer and older
  Than any the sagas tell.
  I loved you in life too little--
  I love you in death too well."

The sound of happy laughter from the shore fell upon his ears.  He
started and looked down toward the shore.  He could dimly see the two
standing near the water close to each other, and intuitively he knew
its meaning.  They had forgotten him and everything else.  They were
sufficient to each other, and all cares for the time had vanished.
Weston knew that the old, old tale was being repeated by the shore of
that inland lake, and that two young hearts were responding to the
sweet, luring charm of that divine influence, which banishes all grief
and care, and transfigures life with the halo of romance.



CHAPTER XXVI

THROUGH THE STORM

Next morning Reynolds started with Sconda for Big Draw.  As he mounted
his horse in front of the cabin, Glen stood nearby, and he thought that
he had never seen her look so pretty.  If any man had ever been tempted
to express all that was in his mind he had been the previous evening as
they stood by the shore of the lake.  He believed that Glen loved him,
and he up-braided himself for not speaking and telling her of the deep
feeling of his heart.  But he would return, and then he would not let
such another opportunity pass.

Glen stroked the horse's proudly-arching neck as he champed impatiently
at his bit.

"Take care of your master, Pedro," she ordered, "and bring him safely
back to Glen West."

"Then you wish me to return, eh?" Reynolds queried.

"Why shouldn't you?" and the girl blushed.  "You have to arrange about
that gold, you know."

"So I have.  I am glad you reminded me."  They both laughed, and
Reynolds looked longingly into Glen's eyes.  "You must promise, though,
that the Indians will not drive me beyond the pass, and that your
father will not subject me to the Ordeal."

"I think I can answer for them," was the low reply.  "You are one of us
now, and that makes a great difference.  But here comes daddy; he will
scold me for delaying you."

"I wish I did not have to go," Reynolds declared.  "I would much rather
go with you to Glen West.  But I shall hurry back."

"And be careful of yourself at Big Draw," the girl warned.  "Curly is
there, and he hasn't any love for you."

"Oh, I guess I shall be able to match that villain, so do not worry.
Good-by; I must be off, for Sconda is getting impatient."

Reynolds rode rapidly down the trail, turning once to wave his hand to
Glen, who was watching him before the cabin door.  He was very happy,
for he believed that he had won the heart of the purest, sweetest, and
most beautiful girl in the whole world.  He sang snatches of songs as
he rode along, and at times laughed aloud in boyish glee, much to
Sconda's astonishment.  Life was bright and rosy to him on this fine
summer morning, and the future looked most promising.  He could hardly
believe that he was the same person who had entered the country but a
few weeks before, and who had travelled over that same trail with
Frontier Samson.  He was hoping to find the old prospector at Big Draw;
who would be anxious to hear of his adventures.

About an hour later Glen bade her father good-by.  She was all ready to
start for home.

"Don't stay here long, daddy," she pleaded.  "Come as soon as you can,
for I shall be lonely without you."

"And will you really miss me?" Weston asked.

"Certainly I shall miss you.  Life is not worth living when you are not
at home."

"Not even when Reynolds is present?"

Glen blushed furiously, and her father smiled, a sad smile, which Glen
was quick to notice.  Throwing her arms impulsively about his neck, she
kissed his bronzed cheek.

"I love you dearly, daddy," she murmured.  "But because I love him does
not lessen my love for you."

"I know it, dear, I know it," and Weston's voice was husky as he held
his daughter close.  "I am glad to know that you are happy, and I have
every reason to believe that Reynolds is worthy of your love.  Your
confidence means very much to me.  But, there, now, you had better be
off.  Natsu will look well after you.  I was forced to send Sconda with
Reynolds, as Natsu is not to be trusted at Big Draw.  There are some
unscrupulous fellows at the mining camp who might fill him with bad
whiskey, and when he is half drunk he is liable to talk too much."

Glen enjoyed the ride over the long crooked trail, and her spirits,
which had been somewhat depressed at the parting from her father and
Reynolds, revived.  There was nothing which thrilled and stimulated her
so much as riding on Midnight through the great wilderness.  Her lithe,
supple body swayed in a rhythmical motion as the horse sped on his way.
Riding was one of the few attractions which made the northland
tolerable, and she wondered what she would do outside to replace it.

"I shall take you with me, old boy," she confided, as she
affectionately patted Midnight's neck.  "It would not do to leave you
behind.  My, what a great time we shall have upon the level roads!"

Then she fell to thinking about the joy of visiting different lands,
and seeing strange sights.  But she always associated her travels with
Reynolds.  She pictured him by her side as they went from place to
place, eager and delighted at everything they beheld.  It was certainly
a pleasant dreamland in which she was living on this beautiful morning.
Not a shadow dimmed her vision.  All was rosy and fair, and like
another speeding on his way to Big Draw, she was surrounded by the halo
of romance.

It was supper time when Glen at length reached home, where she at once
handed Midnight over to Natsu, and entered the house.  Nannie was
greatly surprised to see her back so soon, accompanied only by the
Indian.  But a little later, as they sat down to supper, Glen related
the tale of experiences in the hills, omitting only her adventure with
Curly.

"And just think, Nannie!" she enthusiastically exclaimed in conclusion,
"daddy is seriously thinking about leaving the north and going outside.
Isn't it great?"

"Is he, indeed?" and the elderly woman looked her surprise.

"Oh, yes.  When I spoke to him about it he said that he wished to think
it over, and might let me know in a few days.  Oh, I hope that he will
decide to go, don't you?"

Nannie made no reply for a few minutes, but went on with her supper.

"And what will become of me?" she at length asked.

"Why, you must go with us, of course.  You will not mind going, will
you?"

"Not now," was the quiet reply.  "I have been quite happy here because
I had you to think about and love.  But you will be leaving soon, I
feel sure, and how could I endure this place without you?  You have
little idea how much I missed you when you were away at school."

"Why do you think I shall be leaving soon?" Glen asked.

"I am not altogether blind, dear," and Nannie smiled.  "You know the
story of the Sleeping Beauty.  Only the man who was bold enough could
win her, and when he did venture into the enchanted place, a marvellous
change ensued.  So it has happened here."

"But I am not a sleeping beauty, Nannie," and Glen blushed, for she
well understood the meaning of her companion's words.

"A very active beauty, I should say," and the woman looked with
admiration upon the fair face before her.  "But the principle is the
same.  The Prince has come, he has won your heart, and a great change
has been wrought in this place, which has affected even your father.
Now, isn't that true?"

Glen rose suddenly to her feet, and threw her arms lovingly about
Nannie's neck.  There were tears in her eyes, but they were tears of
joy.

"You dear, dear old Nannie!" she cried.  "How in the world did you
learn the secret of my heart?"

"How could I help it?" was the laughing reply.  "Your face alone would
have betrayed the secret, even if I had not guessed it.  And the Prince
really loves you, Glen.  But, there, I suppose he has told you all
this."

"Indeed he has not.  He never said a word to me," was the emphatic
denial.  "I don't believe he ever thought of doing so."

Nannie merely smiled at the girl's charming candour and unaffected
simplicity.  It pleased her to know that Glen was not ashamed of her
love, and it was good to watch her bubbling over with the happiness of
her new-found joy.

Glen spent much of the next morning upon the water in her canoe.  She
visited the places where she and Reynolds had gone that first day they
had been together.  She lived over again that happy time, marred only
by the shot from the Golden Crest.  She had almost forgotten it now,
and her former anxiety had nearly vanished.  She had a slight feeling
of fear as to what Curly might attempt to do to Reynolds at Big Draw,
but when she thought of her lover's strength she smiled confidently to
herself.

About the middle of the afternoon she decided to go down to see Klota.
Telling Nannie that she would not be long, she donned her hat, and had
just stepped out upon the verandah when she saw Sconda riding furiously
toward the house.  His horse was white with foam and panting heavily.
For an instant Glen's heart almost stopped beating, as she was certain
that the Indian bore some bad news.  He had gone with Reynolds, and
what would bring him back so soon and in such a manner unless something
was seriously wrong?  All this flashed through her mind as she hurried
down the steps just as Sconda drew rein in front of the house.

"What is the matter, Sconda?" she demanded.  "Tell me, quick."

"White stranger in trouble," was the brief reply.

"Where?" Glen asked, while her face turned pale.

"At white man's camp.  Curly catch him.  Curly make big trouble."

"Are you sure?  Did Mr. Reynolds send you here for help?"

"White stranger did not send Sconda.  Titsla tell Sconda at foot of
Crooked Trail."

"Oh, I see," Glen mused.  "Titsla was at Big Draw with meat for the
miners, and he found out that Curly was planning to harm Mr. Reynolds,
eh?"

"Ah, ah, Titsla come quick.  Titsla tell Sconda."

"And you rode fast to tell me?"

"Sconda come like the wind.  Look," and he motioned to his weary horse.

Glen was thoroughly aroused now.  She was no longer the happy,
free-from-care girl who had emerged from the house a few minutes
before, but a woman stirred to a high pitch of anger, the same as when
she faced Curly in front of the cabin by the lake.  Her father's spirit
possessed her now, and when Glen Weston's eyes flashed as they did when
she was aware of her lover's danger, those best acquainted with her
knew that she was capable of almost any deed of heroism.  Of a gentle,
loving disposition, and true as steel to those who were true to her,
there was hidden within her something of the primitive life of the
wild, which, when stirred resembled the rushing tempests of her
familiar mountains.

Turning to Sconda she gave a few terse orders, and when the Indian had
received them, he wheeled his horse and headed him for the village.
Glen at once hurried back into the house, went to her own room, and in
a short time reappeared, clad in her riding-suit.  She met Nannie at
the foot of the stairs, and briefly explained the object of her mission.

"But surely you are not going to Big Draw!" the woman exclaimed in
dismay.  "What will your father say?"

"Yes, I am going," was the decided reply.  "What would daddy say if I
shirked my duty?"

"But you are not going alone!"

"No.  I have given Sconda orders to get twenty of the best men in the
village to accompany me.  We shall go by way of Crooked Trail, and
should reach Big Draw by night.  God grant we may be in time!"

"But it isn't safe, Glen," Nannie urged.  "I can trust you with the
Indians, all right, but suppose something should happen to you down
there?"

"Don't you worry, dear," the girl soothed, as she gave the woman a
parting kiss.  "I am quite capable of taking care of myself."

"But where will you sleep to-night, or get anything to eat?"  The
question showed Nannie's thoughtful, motherly concern.

"Oh, I haven't thought about such things.  Anyway, I do not care
whether I eat or sleep.  Most likely the Indians will take some food
with them, and they will share with me.  There, now, I must be off.
So, good-by, Nannie, dear, and do not worry about me."

"You must take your riding-cloak, though," Nannie insisted.  "It may be
cold to-night, and should it rain you will feel the good of it.  There,
that's better," she added, as she placed the garment over the girl's
shoulders.  "I am afraid that your father will blame me for letting you
go."

Glen smiled at the woman's fears as she again kissed her, and picking
up her riding-gloves, she hurried out of the house and down to the
village.  Here she found the twenty men awaiting her arrival, and
Sconda holding Midnight.  She smiled as she saw them, and her heart
warmed as never before to these faithful natives.  They were proud,
too, of their young mistress, and were ready and willing to follow her
anywhere, and to obey her slightest wish.  They were anxious, as well,
for a tilt with the miners at Big Draw, for whom they had no great love.

In a few minutes Glen, mounted upon Midnight, was leading her little
band out of Glen West on their ride over Crooked Trail.  The entire
population of the place was on hand to watch their departure, for word
had speedily spread about the trouble at Big Draw.  Men, women and
children were clustered about the store, who gazed with the keenest
interest as the column of relief pulled out of the village.  Glen's
eyes kindled with pride and animation as she turned and waved them a
cheery good-by.  Then she touched Midnight lightly with her whip, at
which the noble animal leaped forward, up the trail, through the woods,
across the wild meadow, and into the pass.  The Indians found it
difficult to keep pace with their young mistress, for Midnight was the
fleetest horse that ever trod a northern trail.

As they advanced, however, it was necessary to travel slower, for the
way was steep and rough, and it was only with considerable care that
the horses could pick their steps.  Glen became impatient at this
delay, for the sun was swinging low beyond the far-off mountain peaks,
and she realised that if night overtook them in the hills it would
greatly retard their progress, and perhaps make them too late in
reaching Big Draw.

As they were moving slowly down Crooked Trail, the sky suddenly became
overcast, and then black.  Great, threatening clouds were massed
together far up in the hills, and the wind began to draw down the
ravine.  It steadily increased in strength, and in a short time a gale
was upon them.  Then followed the rain, which struck them just as they
reached the valley.  It was one of those sudden mountain storms, the
dread of the most hardened trails-man, and the utter consternation of
the chechahco.  Fortunately the wind was in the backs of the
travellers, and the trail was smoother now.  Never for a moment did
Glen hesitate, and Midnight responded splendidly to the occasion,
inspiring with courage the horses following.  The roar of the wind was
terrific, and the trees bowed like reeds beneath its onslaught.  Never
had Glen experienced such a storm on the trail, and most thankful was
she for the riding-cloak which Nannie had placed upon her shoulders.
Her hat had been torn from her head, and her hair was tossed in the
wildest confusion about her face and half blinded her.  It was
certainly a strange and weird sight as that slight girl led her
determined band down that valley right through the heart of the storm.

It was difficult now to see far ahead, and Glen had to trust entirely
to Midnight.  Not once did the faithful animal stumble or exhibit the
least sign of hesitation.  He seemed to realise that much was at stake,
and that everything depended upon his efforts.  With ears pointed
straight forward, and with head lowered, as if to guard his steps, he
surged onward, every nerve keenly alert, and his entire body quivering
with excitement.

For about an hour the storm beat upon them in all its fury, and
notwithstanding the riding-cloak, Glen became thoroughly soaked.  But
she never once thought of herself, for her mind was ever upon Reynolds.
Would they be in time to help him? she asked herself over and over
again.  She wondered what was the nature of the plot Curly had
concocted, and whether all the miners were involved.  Any danger to
herself never once entered her mind, for she was so sure of the loyalty
of her dusky followers.  To reach the man she loved was the one great
object which upheld her as she rode through that howling tempest.

At length they came to a place where the draw swerved sharply to the
left.  Here the trail left the valley and circled up a small hill
behind the mining camp.  The storm, following the draw as if it were a
funnel, rushed roaring on its way, while the riders gaining the higher
ground were somewhat beyond its reach, and, turning, saw it sweeping
below like a torrent in full spate.

With a great sigh of relief, Glen paused for a moment on the summit,
viewed the magnificent sight, and waited for her followers as they
struggled, one by one, from the grasp of the mighty monster of the
mountains.  Then she spoke to Midnight and moved onward.

It was quite dark now, and the opposite slope which they soon began to
descend was wrapped in the shadows of the hills.  But Sconda knew every
step of the way, and for the first time since leaving Glen West he took
the lead and guided the band.  Not a word was spoken as they defiled
down that steep, narrow trail, and to anyone watching, they would have
appeared like spectres coming from the unseen world.

Glen was nerved now to the highest pitch of excitement, for she felt
that the critical moment, whatever it might be, was not far off.
Anxiously and eagerly she peered forward, and just as they had almost
reached the foot of the trail, a bright light suddenly pierced the
darkness.  Instantly every rider drew rein, and the horses stopped
almost as one.  All eyes were fixed, upon a blazing fire ahead, around
which they could see a number of men moving.  Then Glen gave a slight
cry of dismay, touched Midnight sharply with her whip, and bounded
forward, straight for that burning pile.



CHAPTER XXVII

IN THE TOILS

Curly reached Big Draw only a couple of hours ahead of Reynolds and
Sconda.  He had travelled fast, impelled by a burning rage, eager to
impart to others as vile as himself the story he had concocted in his
venomous mind.  He was seated in the roadhouse, surrounded by his
favorite gang, as Reynolds and his guide rode into camp.  He reminded
his hearers how the former had gone with Frontier Samson in quest of
gold, and that the old prospector had mysteriously disappeared.  He
informed them that he had met Reynolds at Glen West with Jim Weston's
daughter, and that they had both sneered at him.

"I was walking along the street," the liar continued, "when I saw the
two standing together, an' very chummy.  When Reynolds saw me he tried
to hurry away into an Indian's shack.  But I stopped him, an' asked him
what he had done with Frontier Samson.  This made him mad, an' he told
me it was none of my business, an' if I didn't leave Glen West at once
he'd set the Indians upon me."

"What did you do?" one of the listeners eagerly asked, as Curly paused
and lighted a cigarette.

"Oh, I just laughed an' told him that I didn't care a rip for him or
the Indians, an' that I would leave when I got ready.  Then he an' the
girl made fun of me, told me I was a queer looking guy, an' if I was
anxious about the old prospector I had better go an' hunt for him
myself.  I left them at that, an' strolled about the place for a while.
But that night didn't the Indians come upon me.  They took me down into
the woods, tied me to a tree, an' were all ready to burn me alive.
Say, it was hell fer a while, an' I thought sure I was a goner.  But
just as a big devil stooped to light the dry wood at my feet, Jim
Weston arrived, beat them off, an' set me free.  An' all the time I was
tied to that tree, didn't Reynolds stand by an' make fun of me.  He
said he would shut my mouth once an' for all about Frontier Samson.
When I told him I was certain he had killed the old man, he flew into a
rage an' cursed like a pirate.  That's what he did, the cuss.  Hand me
over a drink, Tom; I'm thirsty."

While Curly and his gang were talking and drinking, across the street
Reynolds was recording three double claims, for Jim Weston, Glen
Weston, and himself, as discoverers.  He produced a specimen of the
gold which he carried in his pocket, and explained the exact position
where the claims were situated.  This work completed, he went at once
to the roadhouse, and asked for his mail.  He saw Curly and his
companions, but paid no heed to them.  He was more interested in the
letters awaiting him, for there were two, and from his friend the
editor, at that.

"You've been a long time away," Shorty remarked, as he looked curiously
at the young man.

"Yes, I suppose I have," was the absent-minded reply, for Reynolds was
looking at his letters.

"Strike anything?"

"I believe so.  But, say, is Frontier Samson here?  Have you seen him
lately?"

"W-why, no," Shorty stammered.  He had overheard Curly's remarks, so
this unexpected question somewhat embarrassed him.  "He went with you,
didn't he?"

"He certainly did, but I got lost out in the hills, and haven't seen
the old man since.  I hope nothing has happened to him."

Not a word of this escaped the men at the table, and when Reynolds had
left the building they stared at one another for a few seconds.

"Did ye hear what he said about the gold?" Curly eagerly asked.  "I
believe he's struck it rich, an' most likely he has put Samson out of
the way."

"But he asked about him, though," one of the men replied.

"Oh, that was just a ruse, an' nothing more.  He wanted to find out if
we suspect anything.  I say, Shorty, bring us something," he ordered.
"This is my treat."

When the liquor had been brought, the men drank and talked in low
voices.  What they said Shorty could not hear, although he strained his
ears in an effort to catch the drift of the conversation.  After a
while other men entered the room, and these were soon acquainted with
Reynolds' return, the gold he had discovered, and the mysterious
disappearance of Frontier Samson.  A few agreed with Curly that it was
strange that the old prospector had not been seen for some time, and
that his partner had returned alone.  Where was the discovery made?
they wanted to know.

"Near the Tasan," a man replied.  "I've just been to the Recording
Office, and found that three double claims have been entered there in
the names of Jim Weston, Glen Weston, and Thomas Reynolds.  But I don't
put any stock in that.  Why, I've cruised all over that region, and so
have others.  There's not enough gold there to fill the eye-tooth of a
mouse.  I've been on too many fool stampedes of late, and I'm sick of
them.  What does that chechahco know about gold?"

"But Jim Weston is in with him," Curly reminded.  "What d'ye make of
that?"

"H'm, Jim Weston knows more about robbing Indians than he does about
mining.  He wouldn't know the real stuff from 'fool's gold.'  No doubt
that's what they've found."

The talk now became general and continued for some time.  Several
thought it worth while to go and see what the new discovery was like,
but others scoffed at the idea.  They also discussed the disappearance
of Frontier Samson, and even hinted that perhaps his partner knew more
than he was willing to tell.  Curly suggested that he should be brought
before them and questioned.  This met with considerable favor, although
no one seemed inclined to take upon himself such a responsibility.  It
was late when the men at length left the store, and took themselves off
to their various cabins.  Curly and his band went together, and for the
rest of the night they communed and plotted in a lonely shack some
distance up the creek.

With no idea that he was the centre of such interest, Reynolds slept
soundly in his own little tent, for he was tired after his experiences
in the hills.  It was late when he awoke in the morning, and after he
had eaten his frugal breakfast, he went over to the roadhouse for a
supply of tobacco.  Shorty was the only one present, for most of the
miners were busy up the creek.  Curly and his companions were still
asleep after their night's vigil, and evidently would not show
themselves for several hours.  Shorty tried to learn from Reynolds
something about the gold he had discovered, and also asked about
Frontier Samson.  But so little information did he gain, that he was
much annoyed and became suspicious as well.

Reynolds went back to his tent, filled and lighted his pipe, and
brought forth the two letters he had received, and read them again.
They interested him, for they contained scraps of news of the outside
world.  But they were mostly filled with the editor's expressions of
regret that Reynolds was wasting his time in the north, when he might
be off on the great quest which was so near his heart.


"I hope you will return soon," he wrote, "and begin the search for
Henry Redmond.  Only yesterday I received what I consider a clue as to
his whereabouts.  I met a man who has been overseas, and telling him
about Redmond, he informed me that he believed he knew where he was.
He said that while in Switzerland he came across an old man and his
daughter.  The girl was about eighteen or nineteen years of age, and
that corresponds with the age of the child Redmond took with him, for
she was only three or four at the time of his disappearance.  He said
that the man had plenty of money, lived in a house beautifully
furnished, and possessed a good library.  But he was most reticent
about himself, although he acknowledged that he was acquainted with
Canada, and had lived here for some time.  So you see, I have reason
for believing that the man is Henry Redmond, and that you should go at
once and hunt him out.  Even after you meet him, your task will still
bristle with difficulties, for he is evidently hard to approach."


Reynolds smiled as he read these words.  He knew how anxious the editor
was for him to return that he might start at once upon the search.  But
he had no idea of going to Switzerland, or anywhere else for that
matter, while the northland held such attractions.  He decided to write
and tell his old friend to be patient a while longer, and then perhaps
he would receive the greatest surprise of his life.  He tried to
picture the look upon the editor's face should he unexpectedly walk
into his office with Glen by his side.  He believed that he would be
greatly pleased, for could any man in his right mind resist the girl's
charms?  He knew that Harmon would be somewhat annoyed, for a woman
would ruin his hope of ever finding the missing Henry Redmond.

Reynolds spent part of the afternoon writing a long letter to the
editor.  He had much to tell him about the country, his experiences in
the wilderness, and the mysterious ruler of Glen West.  But of Glen he
said little, nothing, in fact, that would in any way arouse Harmon's
suspicion of the writer's deep interest in the girl.

When the letter was finished he took it over to the roadhouse to mail,
and then spent the rest of the afternoon upon the creek in an effort to
learn, if possible, something about Frontier Samson.  But although he
questioned all the miners he saw, not one could enlighten him in the
least degree.  He thought that several looked at him curiously when he
asked about the old prospector, and he wondered what they meant.

He spent some time far up the creek, and ate the lunch he had brought
with him in a quiet place near the stream which flowed down the valley,
and provided the necessary water for the sluice-boxes where the
precious gold was washed out.  He enjoyed the seclusion, as it gave him
an opportunity to think over what the editor had written, and also
about Glen.  He intended to leave early the next morning for Glen West
by way of Crooked Trail, and he knew that Glen would be waiting and
eager to greet him.  Her face stood out clear and distinct in his mind,
and he recalled the words she had spoken, and her charming manner.  His
heart beat fast as he thought of her, and he believed that she loved
him.  He chided himself for not pouring out his heart to her that
evening as they stood by the side of the inland lake.  The expression
in her eyes and the tone of her voice were those of a woman whose heart
must be filled with love, so he reasoned.  Yes, he would speak to her
just as soon as he reached Glen West.  The way would be short, for she
was his guiding star, and he would speed swiftly to the one he loved.

It was dusk when he at length rose to his feet and started down the
creek.  He did not hurry as he had the whole evening before him, and
there was no one awaiting his coming.  But there would be someone
tomorrow, and his heart thrilled, and his eyes shone with animation as
he thought of the girl beyond the Golden Crest.

Part way down Big Draw valley, and on the left side, was a sharp break
in the bank, where a small creek met the larger one.  This in ages past
had evidently been a river, whose bed was now dry.  It was up this
creek that the trail led out into the hills, the one that Reynolds had
always taken when he went forth on his hunting expeditions.  The
entrance to this draw was now wrapped in semi-darkness, for the high
tree-clad banks shouldered toward each other, thus shutting out the dim
light of departing day.

Reynolds reached this place, and with a glance up the trail which he
would take in the morning, he had almost reached the opposite side,
when, without a word of warning, a light was flashed into his eyes, and
in an instant he was swept from his feet, hurled to the ground, and his
arms securely bound.  He had no chance to defend himself, for
everything happened so quickly.  There seemed to be quite a crowd of
men holding him fast, some sitting upon his body, while others held his
hands and feet.  Although He strained and struggled desperately to free
himself, his efforts were of no avail, and he soon realised that he
might as well reserve his strength for whatever lay ahead.

"Now get on yer feet, an' be d---- quick about it, too."  It was
Curly's voice, and Reynolds knew that the villain was at the bottom of
this affair.

He made no reply, however, but at once struggled to a standing position
and looked around.  There appeared to be more than a dozen men, and by
the dim light he recognized several.  They had been drinking, he could
easily tell, and were in a quarrelsome mood, and wrangled with one
another as to what they should do with their captive.  One was for
stringing him up to a tree; another was for shooting him; while a third
suggested that they should pitch him head first down one of the
mining-shafts.  But Curly would not listen to these propositions, and
gave orders that the prisoner should be taken up the creek in the
direction of Crooked Trail.

"It's safer there," he told them, "an' we don't want our fun spoiled by
the Police."

"There's none in camp to-night," one explained.  "They're all off on
the trail."

"An' lucky fer us," Curly replied.  "Anyway, let's hustle an' get out
of this."

Reynolds was immediately seized and hurried up the creek.  He tried to
think and plan some way of escape.  He realised that the situation was
serious, for with Curly, devilish and full of revenge, and at the head
of a band of half-drunken men as reckless as himself, there was no
knowing what he might do.  But he was determined to be game, and await
further developments as calmly as possible.

As they moved forward he partly learned from the men's conversation why
they had waylaid him.  He found out that Curly had been filling his
companions' minds with gross lies, and now inflamed with impure whiskey
they were willing tools in the hands of their revengeful leader.



CHAPTER XXVIII

HELP FROM THE HILLS

After they had stumbled on for about fifteen minutes Curly called a
halt, and ordered the men to build a fire.

"This is as good a place as any," he told them.  "No one will bother us
here to-night, an' that's all we care."

Cursing and grumbling in a maudlin manner, several of the men gathered
a number of sticks, and soon a fire was started.  As the flames shot up
Reynolds could see plainly the faces of his captors, and as he watched
them his prospects did not seem very bright.  They were men as reckless
as Curly himself, and being half drunk they had lost all sense of
responsibility.  They did exactly what their leader commanded,
notwithstanding their incessant complaints.  This was exactly what
Curly wanted.  He had supplied them with liquor, but had taken little
himself.

When the fire had been lighted, Reynolds was securely tied to a tree
standing near.  The rope which bound him was drawn tight and caused him
considerable pain, although he exhibited no outward sign.  But his
heart was hot within him, especially when he looked upon Curly's
sneering and jubilant face.  If he could only be free for a few minutes
he would attack the entire bunch, and revel in the fight.  But to be
bound and helpless was most galling.

"How d'ye like it?" Curly asked, coming up close to Reynolds.  "Having
a good time, eh?  This is our picnic to-night."

"So I see," and the captive's lips curled in a sarcastic smile.  "But
just let me free for about five minutes, and then you'll see whose
picnic it is."

"Not on yer life.  We've got ye sure now, an' intend to keep ye that
way until we're through with ye.  What would yer little girlie say if
she could see ye now?"

"To whom do you refer?"

"Oh, I guess you know, all right," and Curly grinned.  "She's pretty,
isn't she?  But she has no use for me.  She prefers a white-livered
sucker like you."

"Who was the big white-livered sucker during the war?" Reynolds
retorted.  "I didn't hide away in the hills like you did, Curly.  You
are a coward, and you know it."

"Who killed his pardner, though?" Curly snarled, for the prisoner's
words stung him to the quick.

"What do you mean?" Reynolds asked in surprise.

"Where is Frontier Samson?  What happened to the old man?"

Reynolds' eyes grew big with amazement as the meaning of Curly's words
dawned upon his mind.  So these men believed that he had killed the
prospector!  His face turned pale at the thought.  What could he say in
self-defense?  Curly noted his embarrassment as well as the change of
countenance, and he was greatly elated.

"Ye can't deny it," he charged.  "Look, boys," he shouted.  "See the
white streak about his gills."

"Where ish Samson?" a blear-eyed man demanded, thrusting his
whiskey-reeking mouth up close to Reynolds' face.  "Where ish my old
friend?"

Reynolds made no reply, although it was with difficulty that he
restrained himself.  To try to explain to such men would be useless, he
was well aware.  Others now surrounded him, who asked, not only about
Samson, but about Jim Weston's daughter.  They made the night hideous
with their oaths and vile questions, until they seemed to Reynolds more
like imps of the infernal regions let loose than human beings.  He saw
that they were becoming more and more reckless as they talked, shouted,
and quarrelled with one another, and he expected at any minute to see
them turn upon him and inflict some bodily injury, and, perhaps, tear
him to pieces.

All this pleased Curly immensely, as he stood a little aside and
watched his followers.  His eyes seldom left the captive's face, but he
looked in vain for any show of weakness on Reynolds' part.  This was
not altogether to his liking.  He wished to see his victim show signs
of fear, to cry aloud and plead for mercy.  He had done so himself, and
he longed to find it in Reynolds that he might taunt him with weakness
and cowardice.

When he had waited in vain for fully half an hour, he ordered the men
to pile dry wood about the prisoner's feet.  They readily obeyed, and
all took part, anticipating some rare sport.

"We'll take that sneer off yer face," Curly remarked, as he stepped up
close to Reynolds.  "We'll make ye yell."

"The same as you did at Glen West, I suppose?" Reynolds retorted.
"Your lungs must have been sore after such yelps.  Who showed the white
liver then?"

Curly spat contemptuously at the captive, and motioned the men to bring
a burning stick from the fire.  Several at once hastened to obey,
tumbling over one another in their eagerness.  One, more active than
the rest, extricated himself, seized a flaming torch, and rushed toward
the prisoner.  He had almost reached him, and Reynolds felt that the
moment of doom had arrived.  But just at this critical instant a
peculiar noise fell upon his ears, and he listened intently.  Then his
heart bounded with hope, for it was the sound of galloping horses.  His
captors heard it, too, and the man carrying the torch hesitated and
then stopped.  It was an ominous sound to them, and their hearts smote
them with a great fear.  But they had little time for thought, for at
once nine hundred pounds of quivering horse flesh, bone, and sinewy
muscle leaped out of the darkness into their midst, and reared wildly
when suddenly checked by a pair of strong, tense arms.  With head
tossed high, and champing madly at his bits, Midnight reeled back
almost upon his haunches in such a manner that an inexperienced rider
would have been unhorsed in an instant.  But Glen was not in the least
perturbed by the rearing steed, and maintained her seat with an easy
composure.  In truth, she never thought about herself, but only of him
whose life was in danger.

"Cowards!" she cried.  "Unloose that man!" and she pointed to Reynolds.

But no one moved to obey her imperious command.  The men stared as if
she were an apparition, so sudden and unexpected was her arrival.  And
in fact, she did seem like a leader of the legendary Valkyries, with
her flashing eyes and wind-swept hair, mounted upon that prancing horse
as black as night itself.  It was little wonder that the men trembled
as they watched her, while several crossed themselves as if to ward off
some malign influence.

Curly, who had staggered back aghast at this sudden intrusion, was the
first to recover.  He glanced apprehensively around, as if meditating
flight.  But Glen's keen eyes detected his design, and she sternly
ordered him to remain where he was.  Then she turned and spoke a few
words to her followers in the Indian tongue.  At once a rapid movement
took place, as the natives formed themselves in a circle around the
white men and thus barred every avenue of escape.  This brought the
miners somewhat to their senses, and seeing that their unwelcome
visitors were not ghosts, their hands slipped to their hip-pockets.
But a mighty roar from Sconda paralyzed their hands, causing them to
drop by their sides as the baffled men stared sullenly upon almost a
score of rifles pointing straight at their hearts.

It seemed to Reynolds as if he must be beholding a vision, so wonderful
did it all appear.  He gazed upon Glen with intense admiration.  He
could hardly believe it possible that such a sweet, confiding girl
could be so changed into an imperious leader in such a short time.
Could she be the same who had bade him such a tender farewell by the
shore of the lake in the hills?  She looked more beautiful than ever
now, but it was the beauty of wild abandon in the glory of a noble
cause, which for the time had transformed this tender maiden into a
woman of unselfish daring.  She held him spellbound as she sat so
superbly upon her now quiet horse.  Forgotten were his bonds as he
watched her, and his one thought was of her.  How had she heard of his
trouble? and how had she managed to arrive just at the critical moment?
He longed to hear the story from her own lips.  A passionate desire
swept upon him to enfold her in his arms, to tell her how proud he was
of what she had done, and to press his lips to hers.  And she was the
girl who had been so grossly insulted by his villainous captors!  The
thought stung him, and he turned sharply toward the cringing Curly.
The brute was standing there, sullen and defiant.  Reynolds knew that
he would soon be free, and then he would deal with the cur.  He heard
Glen speak and saw Sconda dismount and disarm the miners.  Last of all
he came to Curly, and when the Indian reached for his revolver, the
serpent spat at him and cursed wildly.  With a marvelous restraint,
Sconda merely took the weapon from the enraged man's pocket, and then
walking over to Reynolds, swiftly cut the cords which bound him to the
tree and freed his hands.

Finding himself unbound, Reynolds cast one glance toward Glen, and saw
her looking at him with a peculiar expression in her eyes.  He seemed
to read there a challenge, which could have but one meaning.  He turned
to Curly, and beholding that sneer of contempt still upon his face, he
sprang forward and confronted the villain.

"I am free now," he cried, "and am able to answer your insult to the
purest woman upon earth.  It is man to man, and we shall settle it
right here."

But Curly was in no mood for a fight; that was not his nature.  He was
a coward at heart, though the failure of his plot made him so angry
that he was daringly reckless.  With a curse he started to turn away,
but Reynolds caught him by the shoulders and swung him roughly around.

"No, you don't get off so easily," he told him.  "One of us must get a
drubbing here to-night, and if you can give it to me, come on."

"Take that, then," and Curly drew off and hit him a savage blow on the
face.

It was all that Reynolds needed, and springing forward, he felled his
antagonist to the ground with a single blow.  And there Curly lay, and
made no attempt to rise.  He had enough, and he knew in his heart that
he was no match for the man standing over him.

"Get up," Reynolds ordered.  "I'm not through with you yet."

But Curly did not move.  He lay there as if dead.  Reynolds did not
know what to do, for he was unwilling to inflict further punishment
upon the creature while he was down.

"Curly."  It was Glen's voice, and it had an ominous note.  "Get up at
once, and explain the meaning of this night's affair.  Why this insult
to Mr. Reynolds?"

To this command, however, Curly paid no heed, but remained as he had
fallen.  Glen's eyes flashed with a dangerous light as she tapped
impatiently with her riding-whip upon the pommel of her saddle.

"Get up," she again ordered, "or I shall hand you over to the Indians.
They will not be so considerate of you as we are."

As Curly still made no effort to rise, Glen uttered just two Indian
words to Sconda.  The latter immediately turned and roared a command to
his followers.  At once half a dozen natives sprang eagerly forward,
but before they could lay hands upon him Curly was on his feet,
trembling violently.  He leaped aside from the natives, his face
ghastly pale.

"Keep them off!" he yelled.  "Don't let the devils touch me!"

"I thought that would bring you somewhat to your senses," and a smile
of contempt hovered about the corners of Glen's mouth as she spoke.
"But I mean what I say, you can be assured of that.  Tell me, now, what
is the meaning of all this?  Why did you bring Mr. Reynolds here, and
what were you going to do to him?"

"He murdered his pardner," was the low reply.

Glen gave a violent start at this accusation, and looked keenly at
Curly.  Her hands trembled, and it seemed to her as if her heart had
stopped beating.

"Who was his partner?" she at length found voice to ask.

"Frontier Samson, of course.  He was a friend of ours, and we were
about to avenge his death, when you interfered."

"But how did you learn that Frontier Samson is dead?" Glen inquired.

"Because no one has seen him since he left camp with this guy," and he
motioned to Reynolds who was standing nearby.  "Samson hasn't shown up
at Big Draw, an' his pardner doesn't care to explain what happened to
him."

For a few seconds there was a dead silence, save for the crackling of
the fire, and the restless movements of the horses.  Then from out of
the darkness came a roar of laughter, and while all turned and stared
in astonishment, Frontier Samson himself bounded into their midst and
confronted Curly.

"Do I look like a dead man?" he demanded.  "D'ye think I've been
murdered by me pardner?"

Curly's only reply was a fearful stare as if he had seen a ghost.  He
tried to speak, but words would not come.

"Frightened, are ye?" and the prospector took a step closer to the
unhappy villain.  "But ye'll be more frightened before I git through
with ye, let me tell ye that.  What's the meanin' of sich actions?  Out
with it."

"I t-thought y-you were dead," Curly stammered.

"An' so ye was takin' the matter of justice into yer own dirty hands,
eh?"

"Somebody had to do it."

"H'm," Samson grunted as he glanced around upon the miners.  "Queer
justice, I call it.  Why didn't ye let the Police look after the
affair, if ye thought me pardner had murdered me?  No, ye can't answer
that," he continued, for Curly made no defence.  "It's yer own bad
heart, that's what made ye do it.  Yer jealous; that's what's wrong.
An' as fer justice, you'll git plenty of it soon, an' more'n ye'll care
fer.  An' you talk about a man murderin' his pardner, an' givin' him
justice!  Who murdered Bill Ducett, at Black Ravine, tell me that?"

Curly's eyes, which were big with fear, now fairly burst from their
sockets as the old prospector laid this startling charge.  His knees
trembled, and it seemed as if he must fall to the ground, so great was
his terror.

"H-how d'ye know about Bill?" he gasped.

"Never mind how I know," Samson replied.  Then he turned toward Glen.
"Excuse me, Miss," and he lifted his old weather-beaten hat, "I'm real
sorry that you have to witness sich a scene as this.  But it can't be
helped, fer thar stands the worst criminal that ever came into this
region.  An' to think of him talkin' about murder an' justice, when he
himself murdered his own pardner!"

"It's a lie!" Curly denied with an oath.  "What d'ye mean by making
such a charge?"

"It's no lie, Curly," and the prospector looked sternly into the cur's
bloodshot eyes.  "I've got all the proof that's necessary to stretch
yer neck.  But it'll keep until the right ones git hold of ye.  In the
meantime, we might as well go down to Shorty's an' git something to
eat.  I'm as hungry as a two-year-old bear.  We'll take these fellers
along," and he motioned to the miners.  "Jist let yer Injuns look after
'em, Miss.  An' ye'd better see that Curly is tied tight so's he can't
git away.  We don't want to run any risk with him."

It took but a few minutes to carry out this latter suggestion, and then
all headed for the mining creek.  The miners were marshalled by the
Indians, with Samson walking watchfully by Curly's side, while Reynolds
kept close to Glen.  No one spoke, and it was a strange procession
which wound its way down the creek, and at length halted in front of
the roadhouse.



CHAPTER XXIX

THE OLD TRUE STORY

There was great indignation at Shorty's when the miners heard of the
villainous attempt upon Reynolds' life.  At first they would hardly
believe it, but as they listened to Frontier Samson, whose words were
confirmed by Glen, and Reynolds, they knew that it must be true.  Then
when they learned that Curly was guilty of the murder of his partner,
Bill Ducett, they became thoroughly aroused.

These miners were the finest men at Big Draw.  They worked hard and
minded their own business.  They were not given to much talk, due, no
doubt, to long years in the wilderness.  Neither were they carried away
by any sudden impulse on the spur of the moment.  They never had
anything in common with Curly and his gang, although they had often
listened to their vapid boastings.  So now when they learned of the
despicable affair up the narrow creek, they did not take matters into
their own hands, and visit upon the miscreants swift and dire
punishment.  They decided, after a brief consultation with Frontier
Samson, to keep close guard upon Curly and hand him over to the Mounted
Police, who were expected back the next day.  His companions would be
allowed their freedom until needed.

"Such actions must be stopped," one big weather-beaten veteran of many
trails declared.  "Curly and his bunch, as well as all others of such
breed, must learn first as last that the Police are here to give
British justice, and a fair trial to every man, no matter who he is.
It's not for any of us to deal with such brutes as Curly and his gang."

"I agree with you, Tom," another replied.  "But it's a pity we didn't
hear sooner about what was taking place up the draw.  We'd a been there
in no time.  I can't understand how that Indian Titsla learned the
news.  He was here yesterday selling meat, but he never mentioned a
word to us."

"I imagine he thought the hull bunch of yez was in the plot," Samson
replied, "an' so he hit the trail fer Glen West as fast as he could.
That's the way with them Injuns."  Then he turned suddenly and walked
over to Shorty.  "Say, old man," he began, "rustle up some grub fer
them Injuns outside, will ye?  I'd like to give 'em a good feed before
they leave.  An' hand out something to the rest of us while yer at it.
I'm most starved, an' I guess the rest are, too.  I'll foot the bill."

In less than an hour Shorty had the Indians fed, and when Samson had
provided each with a large plug of tobacco, they all left in the best
of spirits for Glen West.

Reynolds' entire solicitude was for Glen.  He thought not of himself,
and paid little heed to the miners as they discussed Curly and his
companions.  His only concern was for her who was sitting in the one
arm-chair the room contained with such a weary look in her eyes.  The
stern expression had vanished from her face, and she was the real Glen
again.  She did not care to talk, although she listened intently to
everything that was said.  But after the miners had left, and she sat
down to the supper Shorty had prepared, she became more animated.

"Oh, I am so glad that we are alone at last!" and she breathed a deep
sigh of relief.  "It seems as if I have had a fearful dream."

"You'll be all right, Miss, as soon as ye git a good night's sleep,"
Samson replied.  "Yer a bit used up at present."

"I suppose so.  But where shall I sleep?"

"Here, of course.  Shorty's goin' to give ye his best room, an' not a
soul will disturb ye until mornin'.  Then ye must be up bright an'
early.  Yer dad wants ye at his cabin."

"Is anything wrong?" Glen anxiously asked.

"Nuthin', Miss.  But yer dad wants ye as soon as ye kin git thar."

"How does he know I'm here?" and Glen looked her surprise.

"How does he know?" Samson slowly repeated.  "Wall, that's fer you to
find out.  I jist come from thar to-day, so I know that he wants ye.
What's the use of askin' how Jim Weston finds things out?  Why, he
seems to know what a man miles off is thinkin' about.  Ye'd almost
imagine that he has a wireless outfit fixed up in his head."

Glen and Reynolds laughed, and even the old man smiled.  He seemed to
like to see them both happy, and when supper was over he told several
humorous stories in his quaint, droll fashion.  For a time Glen forgot
her exciting experiences of the afternoon, and Samson did not once
allude to them.  At length he arose and laid his hand upon Reynolds'
shoulder.

"Come, young man, it's time fer us to be goin' if the lassie is to git
any sleep," he reminded.  "I know you'd like to sit here all night an'
watch.  But she'll be as safe as in her own little nest at home.  We'll
be around early in the mornin', remember, Miss."

Glen held out her hand as she bade each good night.  Reynolds held her
hand for a few seconds and looked lovingly into her tired eyes.  How he
longed to put his arms around her to comfort her and tell her how brave
and noble she was.  But no, he would not do that now, as she might
resent it.  Instead, he merely bent his head, and lifting her hand
touched it lightly with his lips, and hurried out of the building.
Alone in the little room that night, ere she laid herself down upon the
rough cot, Glen pressed her hand to her lips and kissed the spot where
her lover's lips had rested.  Tired though she was, a sweet peace stole
into her heart.  Forgotten was Curly, and she thought only of him she
had rescued, and of whose love she felt assured.

Frontier Samson made no allusion to Reynolds' presence at Big Draw.  He
never even asked what had befallen him when he was lost out in the
hills.  This did not seem strange to Reynolds for a while, as his mind
was much filled with the stirring events of the night.  But when lying
wrapped up in his blankets in his tent he thought it all over, and the
silence of the prospector did seem strange.  Then he remembered that
Samson had been at the cabin in the hills, and no doubt Weston had told
him the whole story.

No reference was made to the matter the next day until they were well
advanced on the trail.  Glen was like her former self once more after
her refreshing sleep, and the color had again returned to her cheeks,
She was full of spirit and animation, and laughed gaily at Samson's
quaint remarks as he rode by her side wherever the trail permitted.

Reynolds, too, was happy, and Glen's buoyant cheerfulness affected him
like magic.  To listen to her voice and merry laughter made him
perfectly contented.  Life was very pleasant to him this morning, with
the dark clouds all rolled away.

Suddenly a moose appeared on the trail ahead, which gazed for an
instant upon the riders, and then bounded off into the woods.

"Like to chase it, eh?" Samson queried, as he looked quizzically at
Reynolds.

"Not this time," was the laughing reply.  "I have learned a lesson."

"In the school of experience, I guess.  It's the only school in which
some people'll ever learn anything."

"Chiefly babies and fools, so I've heard," Reynolds replied.  "I was
certainly a fool, all right, for not obeying orders and leaving a moose
alone unless one is in need of meat.  But, then, things turned out all
right after all.  If I had not got lost, I would not have reached Glen
West as I did."

"An' not have found the gold, either."

"Why, did you hear about the discovery?" Reynolds eagerly asked.

"Sure.  I heard all about it, an' how ye staked a claim fer yer old
pardner, Frontier Samson.  It was sartinly kind of ye to think of me."

"But I didn't stake any claim for you," Reynolds confessed, while his
face crimsoned.

"Ye didn't, eh?  An' we was pardners, too!  Wall, that's queer."

"Oh, I am sorry," the young man acknowledged.  "But I staked two
claims, so you shall have one of them.  How will that do?"

"No, thank ye.  I've got enough to do me, I guess, to the end of me
tether.  An', besides, mebbe you'll need a hull gold mine to keep
a-goin' by the looks of things.  Women need a lot these days."  His
eyes twinkled as he turned them upon Glen's face, and noted that she
was blushing, for she understood the meaning of his words.  "But, then,
it'll all depend upon the woman," he continued, "Now, some wouldn't be
satisfied with a dozen gold mines, while others would be perfectly
contented with a little log shack, so long as the place was built of
love.  I guess that'd be the way with you, Miss, from what I've seen of
ye.  But, hello! who's this?  Why, it's the rascal Dan, I do believe!
He seems to be in a hurry."

And Dan certainly was in a hurry.  He was not at all inclined to talk,
but anxious to get along as fast as possible.

"What's yer rush?" Samson asked.

"I want to get to Big Draw before night," was the curt reply.

"Where's daddy?" Glen questioned.

"Blamed if I know.  He cleared out shortly after you did, and left me
to die out there.  I haven't seen him since."

Dan's arm was in a sling, and the haggard expression upon his face
showed that he had suffered a great deal both mentally and bodily.  The
three watched him as he hurried on his way, until a bend in the trail
hid him from view.

"An' to think of that critter bein' free!" Samson exclaimed.  "Why, he
should be linked up with Curly, an' git the same dose.  Thar's
something comin' to him, an' he'll git it in time, mark my word."

"What do you suppose has become of daddy?" Glen enquired, as they
resumed their journey.  "Did you hear what Dan said?"

"Oh, yer dad's all right, Miss," Samson assured her.  "He knows how to
take care of himself.  Mebbe he's off to that mine.  He's sartinly much
interested in it."

"But where did you see Mr. Weston?" Reynolds unexpectedly asked.

"Whar did I see him?" and Samson ran the fingers of his right hand
through his hair in an abstracted manner.  "Wall, let me see.  It was
somewhar out in the hills.  I've been in so many places that it's hard
fer me to tell one from t'other.  I do git terribly mixed up these
days."

No further reference was made to the matter during the rest of the day,
although Reynolds was not at all satisfied with the prospector's lame
explanation.  He wondered why the old man should have such a sudden
lapse of memory as to what had so recently happened.  There was some
reason for it, he felt quite sure.

It was evening when they at length reached the little cabin in the
wilderness.  Sconda had ridden on ahead, and had an appetizing supper
ready by the time the others arrived.

"I wonder where daddy can be," Glen remarked as they sat down to the
table.  "I was hoping that he might be here to receive us."

"Oh, he's all right, an' will be back soon," Samson replied.  "He'll be
here this evenin' fer sure."

The sun had just disappeared beyond the far off mountain peaks as Glen
and Reynolds walked down to the shore of the lake.  Not a ripple
disturbed the water, and the sombre trees along the shore were mirrored
in the clear depths.  It was a scene of restful peace and quietness.

"Isn't it beautiful here to-night!" Glen exclaimed, while she gave a
sigh of contentment.  "I have no fear now of any danger lurking within
those dark shadows, such as I had the last time we were here."

"And were you fearful then?" Reynolds asked.

"Indeed I was, for I thought Curly might be lurking around.  He was
here that day, and I do not mind confessing it now."  She then briefly
told of Curly's visit, and how she had guarded him until Sconda arrived.

They were walking along the shore now, about one hundred yards from the
cabin.  Reynolds was amazed at the story, and when Glen finished he
suddenly stopped.

"Oh, I wish I had known of this sooner," he declared, while his hands
clenched hard.  "Why didn't you tell me before?"

"I was afraid," Glen confessed in a low voice.

"Afraid!  Of what?"

"Of what you might do to Curly."

For an instant Reynolds stared at the girl.  Could it be possible that
she was concerned about the villain's welfare?

"And you thought I might kill him?" he asked.

"Yes; that was it."

"But he deserves to be killed after doing such a contemptible thing.
Why, it is as bad as the Huns would do, and you know what we did to
them."

"But that was war," Glen reminded.  "If you shot an enemy over there,
you were not considered a murderer, and condemned to death, were you?"

"No, certainly not," Reynolds emphatically replied, as the meaning of
the girl's words dawned upon his mind.  "And so you kept silent for my
sake?" he asked.  "Were you afraid that I might do something desperate
to Curly, and become a murderer?"

"Yes, I was," and Glen lifted her shining eyes to his.

"And you really care that much for me?"

"Why shouldn't I?  Wouldn't anyone think of a friend, and his welfare?"

Only for an instant did Reynolds hesitate, while his heart beat wildly
with hope.  Then he caught the girl's hands in his, and looked
longingly into her eyes.

"Glen, Glen!" he passionately cried, using her Christian name for the
first time, "is it possible that you love me?  I wanted to tell you of
my love but I was afraid."

"Why, you did tell me," Glen whispered, making no effort to free her
hands.

"I did!  When?"

"Don't you remember that night at Glen West when we first sang
together?"

"But I didn't say a word to you about my love."

"No, but you showed it in your face and manner.  You know what you did."

"I kissed you; that was it."

Releasing her hands, he drew the girl close to him, and imprinted a
fervent kiss upon her burning lips.

"Glen, Glen!" he murmured.  "You are mine at last.  I know you love me,
and are now my very own.  Tell me that you love me."

In reply, Glen threw her arms around his neck, while tears of joy stole
down her cheeks.

"I love you.  I love you," she whispered.  "Oh, I am so happy!  You
will never leave me, will you?"

For some time they stood there, lost to the world around them.  It was
the old true story being repeated by that wilderness lake.  It was love
made perfect by the union of two young hearts, the flowing together of
two souls, the sudden bursting into bloom of the seed of affection,
which had been steadily developing for weeks past.

And as they stood there, whispering of things revealed only to true
ardent lovers, and their faces aglow with the light of a great and a
new-found joy, the atmosphere suddenly changed.  Great clouds had
massed on the mountains, and the wind was whipping down the valley,
ruffling the surface of the lake.  The air grew cold, and Glen
shivered.  Then it was that they first realised the change that had
taken place, and they both laughed.  But Glen's face grew instantly
sober.

"What will daddy say?" she breathed.  "We must tell him as soon as he
comes home."

"How does he generally punish a thief?" Reynolds smilingly asked as
they walked slowly back to the cabin.  "I have stolen the greatest
treasure he possesses, the heart of his only child."

"That remains to be seen," was the laughing reply.  "He may punish you,
though, by inflicting upon you for life that which you have stolen.
Won't that be punishment enough?"



CHAPTER XXX

THE UNMASKING

Frontier Samson was sitting before an open fire as Glen and Reynolds
entered.  The flames were licking around the big sticks, lighting up
the room, and playing fantastic tricks upon the walls and ceiling.
They fell, too, upon the prospector's face, and had not the young
couple been so full of their own happiness they would have noticed the
sad, far-away look in the old man's eyes.  He was huddled in his chair,
but straightened himself suddenly up at the first sound of approaching
footsteps.  By the time the young people were at his side, he was the
same genial companion as of old.

"Having pleasant dreams?" Glen asked, as she took a seat by his side,
while Reynolds sat opposite.

"Evenin' dreams, Miss," Samson thoughtfully replied, as he looked into
the girl's bright, animated face, and intuitively divined the meaning
of her happiness.  "They're different from day-dreams, ye know,
'specially when yer settin' before a fire like this.  Things come to ye
then which ye imagined ye had forgotten long ago."

"You must have had some wonderful experiences in this land," Reynolds
remarked.  "And what scenes you have witnessed, especially in winter.
If only you were an artist or a poet, what masterpieces you could
produce."

Samson reached for his pipe, filled and lighted it in thoughtful
silence.  Glen and Reynolds gazed into the fire, fascinated by the
leaping, curling flames.  Their hearts were so filled with joy that
they could think of little but their own overflowing happiness.

"Yes," Samson at length began, "I have seen some wonderful sights, an'
no mistake.  I ain't no artist nor poet as fer as puttin' things on
paper or canvas is consarned.  But it's all here," and he tapped his
breast with the fingers of his right hand.  "When I hear the great
mountains a-roarin' at night when the wind is abroad, an' at times
listen to the breezes purrin' down their sides, I tell ye I'm a poet
then.  An' at night, 'specially in winter, when the moon is full an'
ridin' aloft above the highest peaks, an' the hull land is lit up with
a wonderful glory, then I'm an artist.  I s'pose them things are all
right in their way," and the old man gave a deep sigh, as he looked
wistfully into the fire.  "But they don't altogether satisfy the soul.
One needs the touch of human nature, the bond of fellowship, an' the
warm fire of love to make life really worth livin'.  Now, I could tell
ye about a man--but thar, you two don't want to hear a yarn from me
to-night.  You've got other things to think about."

"Indeed we do," Glen declared.  "I'm just in a mood for a story.  It
will help to pass the time until daddy returns.  I wonder what in the
world is keeping him."

"Oh, he'll be here shortly, so don't worry," Samson told her.  "He'll
come so suddenly, mebbe, that ye'll be surprised.  I find that it's
ginerally the unexpected that happens in this world.  An' so ye want to
hear me little yarn, eh?"

"Certainly we do," and Glen settled herself comfortably in her chair.

"Well, I warn ye at the outset that it's about some of the deepest
things of life; of love an' sich like.  But it's true as the Gospel."

"That should make it all the more interesting," Reynolds replied.  "We
are both young, remember, and are fond of such things."

"Sure, sure, I'm well aware of that," and the prospector's eyes
twinkled.  "Now, this story of mine goes back quite a number of years.
It is about a man who was carryin' on a very prosperous bizness in a
sartin city, the name of which I shall not mention jist now.  He had
everything that his heart could desire, sich as money, friends, a good
home, a wife who was one in a million, an' a little child who made that
home full of joy.  Then suddenly a great change took place.  His wife
died, an' the man was left dazed an' helpless.  He no longer took any
interest in his bizness, an' his one object was to git away from
people, far off into the wilderness that he might be alone with his
sorrow.  The day at last came when he was missed in the city, an' his
friends an' acquaintances did not know what had become of him.  But
thar was one thing that made them think he was not dead, an' that was
something which appeared in one of the papers.  I remember the exact
words:

"'I go from the busy haunts of men, far from the worry an' bustle of
bizness life.  I may be found, but only he who is worthy will find me,
an' whoever finds me, will, I trust, not lose his reward.  From the
loopholes of retreat I shall watch the stress an' fever of life, but
shall not mingle in the fray."

Before Samson had ended, Reynolds was on his feet, standing excitedly
before him.

"That man is Henry Redmond!" he exclaimed.  "Did you know him?  Have
you any idea where he is?"

"Set down, young man, set down," the prospector ordered.  "Don't git
excited.  Yes, I'm speakin' of Henry Redmond.  No doubt ye've heard of
him."

"Indeed I have, and if you know where he is, tell me quick."

Samson's eyes twinkled with amusement as he waved Reynolds back to his
chair.

"Jist be patient until I git through with me yarn, will ye?  I'm mighty
glad that yer so interested in the story.  Yes, the man was Henry
Redmond, an', as I told ye, he suddenly lit out to parts unknown.  But
I know what happened to him.  He did leave the busy haunts of men, an'
went far off into the wilderness, takin' with him his little child.  He
lived alone fer a time in a cabin that he built.  He thought that he
could be happy with nature, an' find comfort fer his great heart-ache
in the loneliness of the wild.  But he soon found out his mistake.  He
needed human companionship more'n he could git from his little child.
After a while he jined himself to a band of Injuns, became their
leader, an' ruled 'em with a strong hand.  Fer a time this gave him
some comfort, an' he believed that sich a life was all that he could
desire.  He had his books, an' when he wished he could talk with the
natives, whose lingo he soon larned."

Samson paused and gazed for a few minutes steadfastly into the fire.
Reynolds had listened to every word and he could not tolerate the least
delay.  A startling thought had come suddenly into his mind which
stirred him to a high pitch of excitement.

"Go on," he ordered.  "Finish your story."

Samson aroused from his reverie, and looked keenly into the young man's
eager eyes.

"Whar was I?" he asked.  "Oh, yes, I remember.  It was jist whar
Redmond had settled down among the Injuns.  Me mind was wanderin' a
bit, due, no doubt, to old age.  Well, Redmond tried to find peace an'
contentment in the little village.  From the loopholes of retreat he
did watch the ways of civilization, an' the more he watched, the more
dissatisfied he became.  He longed fer the companionship of people of
his own kind, fer between him an' the Injuns thar was too wide a gap.
He needed the company of white people, an' that he did not have.  He
did not care to visit the outside world fer fear of bein' recognized.
Then something happened which made a great change."

"What was it?" Glen eagerly asked, for she, too, was intensely
interested.

"It was the discovery of gold in the very region whar Redmond thought
he was secure from all contact with civilized life.  The miners flocked
into the place, pokin' their noses into every hole an' corner, until
Redmond found it necessary to keep them at arm's length an' at the same
time strike terror into their hearts, that he might protect his Injuns
from their evil influence."

"Why, that's just like daddy," Glen remarked.  "He won't allow the
miners to come to Glen West."

"Sure, sure.  Any man would have done the same as Redmond did.  Thar
was nuthin' else fer him to do.  But after the miners came, he had a
great longin' to meet 'em, an' talk to 'em in a friendly way.  At first
he didn't know how to manage this without bein' found out.  But by a
lucky chance he came across an old Injun, who had once been a great
medicine-man, an' was a mighty good hand at makin' disguises.  So he
fixed up Redmond in sich a way that no one could tell but what he was a
real old sourdough prospector who had spent most of his life lookin'
fer gold."

A half suppressed exclamation from Reynolds caused Samson to turn
quickly in his direction.

"Hey, anything wrong?" he asked.  "Ye seem to be somewhat excited.
Nuthin' serious, I hope?"

"Yes, there is," was the emphatic reply.  "But go on.  Never mind me."

"I s'pose I might as well git along with me yarn," the old man
continued.  "Yes, Redmond got all fixed up as a prospector, an' then he
visited the minin' camps fer miles around.  No one suspected who he
was, an' so he used to come an' go in a most mysterious manner, to
their way of thinkin'."

"What did he call himself?" Reynolds asked.

"I'll come to that later, young man," and Samson slyly tipped him a
warning wink.  "We'll jist call him Redmond fer the present.  He
sartinly did have a great time of it, an' no one was the wiser.  An' he
uster travel to the outside, too, an' everybody put him down as an old
prospector hardly worth considering Say, it was great fun fer Redmond."

"But where was his child all this time?" Reynolds questioned.

"Oh, she jist stayed at home with a housekeeper Redmond got, an' grew
up to be a fine slip of a gal.  Then when she was old enough, her dad
decided to send her outside to school.  But when she came home fer the
holidays she was somewhat unsettled, an' didn't want to stay in the
north.  She longed fer society, fine dresses, an' sich things.  This
worried her dad a great deal.  But one day she happened to come across
a chap who took her fancy, an' that made all the difference in the
world.  He saved her from a grizzly on Crooked----"

Samson never finished the sentence, for with a startled cry, Glen was
on her feet, her body trembling with emotion, and her eyes wide with
wonder.

"Are you Henry Redmond?" she demanded.  "Are you my father?"

For an instant only did the old man look at the girl, then with a
swift, deft movement he swept the long beard from his face, and the
white hair from his head.

"Daddy!"  It was all that Glen could say.  She trembled, and would have
fallen had not her father caught her in his arms, and held her close to
his breast.  For a time no one spoke, and Glen's sobs were the only
sound heard.

"There, there, dear, don't feel so badly," her father at length told
her.  "Come, let me brush away your tears.  One would think that I had
committed some terrible deed."

"But I can't help it, daddy," the girl replied.  "This is all so
sudden, and such a great surprise.  But I feel better now, so we can
talk it all over.  There are so many questions I want to ask."

The storm had now passed, and once more they resumed their seats.
Glen, however, kept her eyes fixed intently upon her father's face.

"And to think that you have deceived me all these years," she
upbraided.  "Don't you feel thoroughly ashamed of yourself?"

"I suppose I should," was the laughing confession.  "But I have had so
much innocent fun out of it that my conscience doesn't trouble me in
the least."

"And it was you all the time who travelled on the same steamer as I
did," Glen mused.  "I thought it strange that you should be going up or
down the coast whenever I did."

"Yes, I was keeping a good watch over you.  I must confess that you
behaved yourself very well."

"Was it not difficult to play your part as a prospector?" Reynolds
asked.

"Not after I got used to it, though at first it was a little awkward.
But I threw myself so gladly and heartily into the character I had
assumed that I really believed for the time that I was Frontier Samson.
I might explain that he was a prospector I knew years ago, and was one
of the finest men I ever met.  So you see, it was quite easy for me to
imitate him."

"How did you happen to lay claim to me, sir, on the _Northern Light_?"

"Oh, that is easily explained.  I was always on the lookout for young
men different from the ordinary miners who come to this country, and so
spotted you at once.  I surmised from the first that you were not on
your way up here for gold alone, and so I was anxious to learn the
story of your life."

"And did you?"

"Don't you think I did?" and a humorous expression shone in Redmond's
eyes.  "Didn't I listen to your words and study you as you were never
studied before, unless it was by your mother?  But when I found that
you were in love with a girl beyond the Golden Crest I became doubly
interested, and determined to prove your soul and find out your worth.
The final test was made that night you faced me in my study at Glen
West.  Had you faltered then or shown the white streak, you would have
been dumped beyond the pass."

The speaker paused and gazed thoughtfully into the fire.  There was an
expression of sadness in his eyes, and his face was somewhat strained
and drawn.  Both Glen and Reynolds noted this as they watched him in
silence.  At length he turned sharply to Reynolds, and spoke in a rapid
and agitated manner.

"Young man," he began, "you have found me.  I had given up all hope of
anyone doing so.  I was not easily found, as I wrote in that note I
left behind.  You have found more than my mere body--you have found my
soul, my real self, and that was what I meant.  And you have found
something else, which is more important in your eyes--you have found
your reward--the treasure of all treasures to me.  Take her; she is
yours, and may God bless you both."

Outside, the wind howled through the trees and over the lake.  It beat
upon the cabin and drove the rain lashingly against the small
window-panes.  But within the cabin all was peace and happiness.  The
flames from the burning sticks illumined the faces of the men and the
girl as they sat and talked far on into the night.  Many were the
questions asked and answers given.  They opened their hearts to one
another, and as they talked and planned, all the disagreeable events of
the past were forgotten, and the future looked rosy and bright.  It was
especially so to the young lovers as they sat close to each other, hand
in hand, heart responding to heart, each thrilled with a love, deep,
pure and tender--a love which transformed the commonplace into a realm
of enchantment, beauty, and peace.



CHAPTER XXXI

OUTWARD BOUND

It was Saturday night and Andrew Harmon, editor of the _Telegram_ and
_Evening News_, was sitting in an easy chair in his bachelor quarters.
It was a cozy room, and the pictures on the walls and the well-filled
book-shelves revealed the artistic and literary taste of the owner.
The large shaded electric lamp on the table cast its soft light upon
Harmon's face as he sat there with his right hand supporting his firm,
clean-shaven chin.  It had been a trying week, and he was very weary.
He was thankful that it was Saturday night, as he would be able to rest
the next day, and think over a special editorial he was planning to
write.

Harmon was really a lonely man.  Of a reserved and retiring
disposition, he had no desire for publicity.  As editor of one of the
leading papers in the city, he could express his views and remain
unknown to most of the readers.  His editorials were always written
with great care and thought, and they were eagerly read by friends and
opponents alike.  Such work had always given him considerable pleasure
as he felt that he was doing his part in moulding the thought of the
community along true and strong lines.  But to-night it all seemed of
little avail.  He had labored, but what had been the result?  The only
one upon whom he had lavished his affection had disappointed him, and
was almost a stranger to him now.  Mechanically he picked up a telegram
from the table and read it again.


"Am leaving to-night on the _Princess May_.

    "TOM."


That was all.  It was dated three days ago, from Skagway, Alaska.
Harmon held the telegram in his hand for some time, although he was not
looking at the words.  He was thinking of the sender of that message,
wondering what was bringing him home.  What would he do with him when
he arrived? he asked himself.  He tried to think of something that
would satisfy Reynolds' restless spirit; that would give an outlet to
his abounding energy.  He had fondly hoped that Tom would throw himself
into newspaper work, and thus make the _Telegram_ and _Evening News_ a
greater force than ever.  New blood was needed on the staff, he was
well aware, and Reynolds was just the man for the work.  He sighed as
he thought of the futility of his dreams, and how impossible it was to
make the young see with the eyes of age and experience.

For some time Harmon sat there, lost in deep thought.  At length he
arose and prepared himself for dinner.  He was about to leave the room,
when a knock sounded upon the door, and in another instant Tom Reynolds
stood before him.  Eagerly Harmon rushed forward, seized him by the
hand, and bade him a hearty welcome.

"Tom, Tom!" he cried.  "I am delighted to see you.  I had no idea the
boat had arrived.  Come, sit down and tell me all about yourself."

"Just a minute," Reynolds laughingly replied.  "Have you had dinner
yet?  No?  Well, that's fortunate, as I want you to come and dine with
me at the 'Pacific.'"

"At the Pacific!"  Harmon looked his surprise and disappointment.  "Why
did you go there?  I was expecting you here.  And, besides, isn't it
rather expensive?"

"It was at one time," and again Reynolds smiled.  "But I have struck it
rich, so I want you to come and have a blow-out with me to-night.  You
will come, won't you?  I shall feel badly if you don't.  The car is
waiting."

Harmon could not very well refuse, although he much preferred to remain
where he was, and hear the young man's story in the quietness of his
own room.  He was surprised at Reynolds' animated face and happy
manner.  How he had changed since he had seen him last.  He could
hardly believe it possible that this was the young man who but a short
time before had been so listless and indifferent to life.

Little was said as the car sped onward through the city, until it at
length drew up before the big hotel.  With the air of one who had the
full right of way, Reynolds at once conducted Harmon to a door on the
first floor, which he opened and entered.  It was one of a suite of
rooms, Harmon could tell at the first glance.  It was luxuriously
furnished, and to live here for even a short time would be most costly.

He had little time, however, to think of such things, for a curtain was
suddenly drawn aside, and Redmond and his daughter appeared.  Although
years had somewhat changed the former, yet Harmon recognized him at
once.  He stood as if rooted to the floor, so great was his surprise.
What happened next he was never able to tell with any degree of
certainty.  He knew that Redmond seized him by the hand, and presented
to him his daughter.  He felt that he made a fool of himself, for his
eyes grew very misty and his words became confused as he tried to
express himself.  He saw Reynolds smiling at him good-naturedly as he
stared first at Redmond and then at his daughter.  He longed to get
away to the quietness of his own room that he might think it all over.
But there was no chance for that.  He was entrapped by these friendly
plotters, and here he was forced to stay.

"Do you remember the words I wrote?" Redmond asked.  "I think you will
recall them.  I said, 'I go from the busy haunts of men, far from the
bustle and worry of business life.  I may be found, but only he who is
worthy will find me, and he who finds me, will, I trust, not lose his
reward.'  That is part of my message, you remember."

Harmon merely nodded in reply.

"Very well, then," Redmond continued.  "I have been found, and he who
found me stands there," and he motioned to Reynolds.

"So I surmised," Harmon replied.  "And gold, I suppose, is the reward?"

"No, no," Reynolds protested.  "Here is my reward," and he stepped over
to Glen's side.  "Where are your senses, sir?"

"Sure, sure, what was I thinking about?" and Harmon placed his hand to
his head in perplexity.  "I seem to be all upset to-night.  But, my,
my, what a reward!  Why didn't I undertake this quest? for then the
reward might have been mine."

Redmond and Reynolds smiled, but Glen immediately stepped forward, and
putting her arms about the neck of the embarrassed man, kissed him upon
the cheek.

"There, you have your reward, sir," she announced.  "And if you are
willing you may have me as a daughter.  How will that do?"

Harmon was now more confused than ever.  Not since the last time his
mother kissed him had a woman's lips ever touched his face.  And this
girl had really kissed him, Andrew Harmon, the staid and sober editor
of the _Telegram_ and _Evening News_!  What would his associates think
and say if ever they heard of it?  He thought of all this as he stood
there abashed with the girl's twinkling eyes fixed upon him.

"But perhaps you do not consider me a reward, sir."  It was Glen
speaking, so with an effort Harmon rallied his tumultuous senses.  He
must rise to the occasion, and say something.  He mopped his perspiring
brow with his handkerchief, and looked helplessly around.

"Reward!" he gasped.  "Not consider you a reward!  Oh, Lord! what have
I done to merit such happiness?  You as my daughter!  You the fairest
of the fair, the flower of womanhood, you, you----"

"Come, come, sir," Reynolds laughingly chided, as Harmon floundered for
words.  "You will make me jealous if you are not careful.  But suppose
we have something to eat, as I, for one, am hungry.  Dinner is already
served, and waiting for us.  This is a part of our surprise; a private
dinner, with plates set for four."

"It is certainly wonderful what money will do," was Harmon's comment as
he took his seat at the table at Glen's right hand.  "Little did I
expect such surprises to-night."

"Isn't it delightful!" the girl replied.  "I have heard so much about
you lately, and what a great man you really are, that I felt quite
nervous at the thought of meeting you.  But I am not one bit afraid of
you now."

Redmond and Reynolds laughed, and even Harmon smiled.  The editor was
happy and contented, and life seemed very pleasant just then.  He was
satisfied to listen in silence while Reynolds related the story of his
experiences in the north, and his great triumph in winning the only
daughter of the dreaded ruler of Glen West.

"It all seems to me like a fairy-tale," Harmon, remarked, when Reynolds
had finished.  "To think that in so short a time you have undergone
such wonderful adventures, discovered my old friend, and won this fair
maiden.  And the gold; what of it?  You will begin mining at once, of
course."

"We intended to do so," Redmond replied.  "But on our way here we were
fortunate enough to sell our interests to one of the largest mining
concerns in the United States for a most gratifying sum.  You see,
there was great excitement in that region when it was learned that gold
had been discovered.  Miners literally flocked into the place, and the
wilderness has been suddenly converted into a busy mining camp.  We
were offered large sums for our claims, but refused all until we
reached Whitehorse.  There we were met by the agent of the great
Hibberdash Mining Company, and so tempting and liberal was his offer,
that we sold out our entire interests.  We are perfectly satisfied, as
we shall now be free from all mining worries."

"This is really wonderful!" Harmon exclaimed.  "What a write-up that
will make for my paper.  You must let me have the entire story,
Redmond.  And you will write it, won't you?"

"Business as usual, I see," and Redmond smiled.  "When time permits, I
shall do what I can.  I expect to be very busy for the next two weeks,
and after that I must go north again."

"Go north again!" Harmon repeated.  "Why, I thought you were through
with the north forever."

"Oh, no, not at all.  I have work to do there yet.  It is necessary for
me to be present at the trial of that villain, Curly, and that will
take some time.  Then I wish to visit Glen West, and attend to some
matters there.  Sconda and his wife will look well after our house, for
we plan to go there every summer for a holiday.  And we shall take you,
too, for I know you would enjoy the scenery."

"That would be a great treat to me," Harmon replied.  "But you will
have time to write that article before you leave, will you not?"

The others laughed, so anxious was the editor for the welfare of his
paper.

"I am afraid I shall not have time now," Redmond told him.  "There is
much to be done in the two weeks before the great event."

"The great event!  I do not understand."

"Look," and Redmond drew his attention to Glen's blushing face.  "Now
do you understand?"

"Oh, I see," and Harmon smiled.  "A wedding; is that it?"

"It seems so from all appearance, and that means a great deal of work
for us all."

"And you will live here?" Harmon eagerly asked, turning to Glen.

"We hope to, Mr. Harmon, providing you care to have your daughter so
near.  If not, we can stay in China or Japan, and you will not be
troubled with me."

"Stay in China or Japan!  What do you mean?"

"We intend to go there on our wedding trip," Reynolds explained.  "We
have planned a tour around the world.  We expect to see great sights,
such as the fine art galleries of the old countries.  Then when we come
home, I shall continue my painting which I have neglected too long
already."

"Lord bless us!" and Harmon held up his hands in amazement.  "This is
all wonderful, and my poor old head is confused and dizzy.  Going
abroad!  Coming home to carry on your painting!  My, what will money
not do!  So my paper must go to the wall when I am gone, all because of
your art.  Dear me!"

"Do not feel so badly about it, sir," Reynolds soothed.  "Your son and
daughter will help you out, and perhaps carry on when you are gone.
But you are good for years yet, so do not worry.  We shall do our best
to cheer you up."

"And you will live here in the city?" Harmon questioned.

"Certainly," Glen replied.  "We are going to look for the nicest and
coziest place, with a garden and flowers.  Nannie will be in charge
until we return, and keep us straight afterwards.  I could not get
along very well without her.  And it will be your home, too, Mr.
Harmon, whenever you wish to come.  I am sure that you and daddy will
have wonderful evenings together talking over old times.  Oh, won't it
be great!"  Glen's eyes sparkled, and her face beamed with animation.

Harmon believed that he had never met a more charming girl.  As he sat
in his own room late that night, and thought over the strange events of
the evening, a picture of Glen's face was ever before his mind.  It
banished his care and weariness, and as he recalled the kiss she had
given him, a smile illumined his face, and for a time Andrew Harmon was
young again.  Once more the fire of youth was kindled within him, and a
vision of one fair face he had known years ago stood out clear and
distinct, a face he had always cherished in his heart, the only real
passion for a noble woman he had ever known. . . .

Two weeks later Glen and Reynolds stood upon the bow of the _Empress of
China_ as she headed out to sea.  It was early evening, and the glow of
the departing sun shed its soft and rosy-tinted light upon the rippling
water.  They had been quietly married that afternoon in one of the city
churches, and Redmond and Harmon had accompanied them to the steamer.
They did not need a clamoring crowd to bid them farewell, as they were
all-sufficient to each other.  So as they stood there in the deepening
twilight, they faced the eastern sky, all glorious with the light of
the vanished sun.

"How beautiful!" Reynolds murmured, for his soul was stirred at the
sight, and his heart overflowing with love and happiness.  "It lies
right before us, does it not, sweetheart?  Perhaps it is a token of the
joy that lies ahead."

"Only in a way," and Glen gave a sigh of contentment, as her hand stole
gently into his.  "That light will shortly fade, and it will be dark
over there.  But to us the light leading us on must never fade, for the
future must be always bright with the glory of a love that never dies."

"You are right, darling," and Reynolds pressed her hand more firmly,
and drew her closer.  "No matter what happens the light of love shall
always surround us and glorify the future.  Oh, what happiness is ours!
How much life holds in store for us!"

Glen's only reply was the lifting of her happy face to his and nestling
closer to his side.  And there they silently stood, lost to all around
them, facing with the zest of youth and love the mighty Pacific, and at
the same time the far greater and more mysterious ocean of life, with
all its joys and sorrows, its seasons of tempests, and its days of calm
and sunshine.





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