Part 7 out of 7
"It's like one of the fairy tales," she thought, "the kind
that repeats and repeats. The kind that says, `and she went
into the next room, and it was as the good fairy had said.'"
There's tinned stuff in the pantry. She went into the tiny
kitchen and opened the pantry door cautiously,
being wary of mice. But it met her eye in spotless
array. Orderly rows of tins. Orderly rows of bottles.
Coffee. Condensed milk. Beans. Spaghetti. Flour.
Off the bedroom there was an absurdly adequate little
bathroom, with a zinc tub and an elaborate water-heating
Fanny threw back her head and laughed as she hadn't laughed
in months. "Wild life in the Rockies," she said aloud. She
went back to the book-lined living room. The fire was
crackling gloriously. It was a many-windowed room, and each
window framed an enchanting glimpse of mountain, flaming
with aspens up to timber-line, and snow-capped at the top.
Fanny decided to wait until the fire had died down to a
coal-bed. Then she banked it carefully, put on a heavy
sweater and a cap, and made for the outdoors. She struck
out briskly, tenderfoot that she was. In five minutes she
was panting. Her heart was hammering suffocatingly. Her
lungs ached. She stopped, trembling. Then she remembered.
The altitude, of course. Heyl had boasted that his cabin
stood at an altitude of over nine thousand feet. Well, she
would have to get used to it. But she was soon striding
forward as briskly as before. She was a natural mountain
dweller. The air, the altitude, speeded up her heart, her
lungs, sent the blood dancing through her veins.
Figuratively, she was on tip-toe.
They had warned her, at the Inn, to take it slowly for the
first few days. They had asked no questions. Fanny learned
to heed their advice. She learned many more things in the
next few days. She learned how to entice the chipmunks that
crossed her path, streak o' sunshine, streak o' shadow. She
learned to broil bacon over a fire, with a forked stick.
She learned to ride trail ponies, and to bask in a sun-
warmed spot on a wind-swept hill, and to tell time by the
sun, and to give thanks for the beauty of the world
about her, and to leave the wild flowers unpicked, to put
out her campfire with scrupulous care, and to destroy all
rubbish (your true woodsman and mountaineer is as
painstakingly neat as a French housewife).
She was out of doors all day. At night she read for a while
before the fire, but by nine her eyelids were heavy. She
walked down to the Inn sometimes, but not often. One
memorable night she went, with half a dozen others from the
Inn, to the tiny one-room cabin of Oscar, the handy man
about the Inn, and there she listened to one of Oscar's far-
famed phonograph concerts. Oscar's phonograph had cost
twenty-five dollars in Denver. It stood in one corner of
his cabin, and its base was a tree stump just five hundred
years old, as you could tell for yourself by counting its
rings. His cabin walls were gorgeous with pictures of
Maxine Elliott in her palmy days, and blonde and
sophisticated little girls on vinegar calendars, posing
bare-legged and self-conscious in blue calico and
sunbonnets. You sat in the warm yellow glow of Oscar's lamp
and were regaled with everything from the Swedish National
Anthem to Mischa Elman's tenderest crooning. And Oscar sat
rapt, his weather-beaten face a rich deep mahogany, his eyes
bluer than any eyes could ever be except in contrast with
that ruddy countenance, his teeth so white that you found
yourself watching for his smile that was so gently sweet and
childlike. Oh, when Oscar put on his black pants and issued
invitations for a musical evening one was sure to find his
cabin packed. Eight did it, with squeezing.
This, then, was the atmosphere in which Fanny Brandeis found
herself. As far from Haynes-Cooper as anything could be.
At the end of the first week she found herself able to think
clearly and unemotionally about Theodore, and about Fenger.
She had even evolved a certain rather crude philosophy out
of the ruins that had tumbled about her ears. It was
so crude, so unformed in her mind that it can hardly be set
down. To justify one's own existence. That was all that
life held or meant. But that included all the lives that
touched on yours. It had nothing to do with success, as she
had counted success heretofore. It was service, really. It
was living as--well, as Molly Brandeis had lived, helpfully,
self-effacingly, magnificently. Fanny gave up trying to
form the thing that was growing in her mind. Perhaps, after
all, it was too soon to expect a complete understanding of
that which had worked this change in her from that afternoon
in Fenger's library.
After the first few days she found less and less difficulty
in climbing. Her astonished heart and lungs ceased to
object so strenuously to the unaccustomed work. The Cabin
Rock trail, for example, whose summit found her panting and
exhausted at first, now seemed a mere stroll. She grew more
daring and ambitious. One day she climbed the Long's Peak
trail to timberline, and had tea at Timberline Cabin with
Albert Edward Cobbins. Albert Edward Cobbins, Englishman,
erstwhile sailor, adventurer and gentleman, was the keeper
of Timberline Cabin, and the loneliest man in the Rockies.
It was his duty to house overnight climbers bound for the
Peak, sunrise parties and sunset parties, all too few now in
the chill October season-end. Fanny was his first visitor
in three days. He was pathetically glad to see her.
"I'll have tea for you," he said, "in a jiffy. And I baked
a pan of French rolls ten minutes ago. I had a feeling."
A magnificent specimen of a man, over six feet tall slim,
broad-shouldered, long-headed, and scrubbed-looking as only
an Englishman can be, there was something almost pathetic in
the sight of him bustling about the rickety little kitchen
"To-morrow," said Fanny, over her tea, "I'm going to get an
early start, reach here by noon, and go on to Boulder Field
and maybe Keyhole."
"Better not, Miss. Not in October, when there's likely to
be a snowstorm up there in a minute's notice."
"You'd come and find me, wouldn't you? They always do, in
"Books are all very well, Miss. But I'm not a mountain man.
The truth is I don't know my way fifty feet from this cabin.
I got the job because I'm used to loneliness, and don't mind
it, and because I can cook, d'you see, having shipped as
cook for years. But I'm a seafaring man, Miss. I wouldn't
advise it, Miss. Another cup of tea?"
But Long's Peak, king of the range, had fascinated her from
the first. She knew that the climb to the summit would be
impossible for her now, but she had an overwhelming desire
to see the terrifying bulk of it from a point midway of the
range. It beckoned her and intrigued her, as the difficult
By noon of the following day she had left Albert Edward's
cabin (he stood looking after her in the doorway until she
disappeared around the bend) and was jauntily following the
trail that led to Boulder Field, that sea of jagged rock a
mile across. Soon she had left the tortured, wind-twisted
timberline trees far behind. How pitiful Cabin Rock and
Twin Sisters looked compared to this. She climbed easily
and steadily, stopping for brief rests. Early in the week
she had ridden down to the village, where she had bought
climbing breeches and stout leggings. She laughed at Albert
Edward and his fears. By one o'clock she had reached
Boulder Field. She found the rocks glazed with ice. Just
over Keyhole, that freakish vent in a wall of rock, the blue
of the sky had changed to the gray of snow-clouds.
Tenderfoot though she was, she knew that the climb over
Boulder Field would be perilous, if not impossible.
She went on, from rock to rock, for half an hour, then
decided to turn back. A clap of thunder, that roared and
crashed, and cracked up and down the canyons and over the
peaks, hastened her decision. She looked about her. Peak
on peak. Purple and black and yellow masses, fantastic in
their hugeness. Chasms. Canyons. Pyramids and minarets.
And so near. So grim. So ghastly desolate. And yet so
threatening. And then Fanny Brandeis was seized with
mountain terror. It is a disease recognized by mountain men
everywhere, and it is panic, pure and simple. It is fear
brought on by the immensity and the silence of the
mountains. A great horror of the vastness and ruggedness
came upon her. It was colossal, it was crushing, it was
She began to run. A mistake, that, when one is following a
mountain trail, at best an elusive thing. In five minutes
she had lost the trail. She stopped, and scolded herself
sternly, and looked about her. She saw the faint trail line
again, or thought she saw it, and made toward it, and found
it to be no trail at all. She knew that she must be not
more than an hour's walk from Timberline Cabin, and Albert
Edward, and his biscuits and tea. Why be frightened? It
was absurd. But she was frightened, horribly, harrowingly.
The great, grim rock masses seemed to be shaking with silent
laughter. She began to run again. She was very cold, and a
piercing wind had sprung up. She kept on walking, doggedly,
reasoning with herself quite calmly, and proud of her
calmness. Which proves how terrified she really was. Then
the snow came, not slowly, not gradually, but a blanket of
it, as it does come in the mountains, shutting off
everything. And suddenly Fanny's terror vanished. She felt
quite free from weariness. She was alive and tingling to
her fingertips. The psychology of fear is a fascinating
thing. Fanny had reached the second stage. She was
quite taken out of herself. She forgot her stone-
bruised feet. She was no longer conscious of cold. She ran
now, fleetly, lightly, the ground seeming to spur her on.
She had given up the trail completely now. She told herself
that if she ran on, down, down, down, she must come to the
valley sometime. Unless she was turned about, and headed in
the direction of one of those hideous chasms. She stopped a
moment, peering through the snow curtain, but she could see
nothing. She ran on lightly, laughing a little. Then her
feet met a projection, she stumbled, and fell flat over a
slab of wood that jutted out of the ground. She lay there a
moment, dazed. Then she sat up, and bent down to look at
this thing that had tripped her. Probably a tree trunk.
Then she must be near timberline. She bent closer. It was
a rough wooden slab. Closer still. There were words carved
on it. She lay flat and managed to make them out painfully.
"Here lies Sarah Cannon. Lay to rest, and died alone, April
Fanny had heard the story of Sarah Cannon, a stern spinster
who had achieved the climb to the Peak, and who had met with
mishap on the down trail. Her guide had left her to go for
help. When the relief party returned, hours later, they had
found her dead.
Fanny sprang up, filled with a furious energy. She felt
strangely light and clear-headed. She ran on, stopped, ran
again. Now she was making little short runs here and there.
It was snowing furiously, vindictively. It seemed to her
that she had been running for hours. It probably was
minutes. Suddenly she sank down, got to her feet again,
stumbled on perhaps a dozen paces, and sank down again. It
was as though her knees had turned liquid. She lay there,
with her eyes shut.
"I'm just resting," she told herself. "In a minute I'll go
on. In a minute. After I've rested."
"Hallo-o-o-o!" from somewhere on the other side of the snow
Fanny sat up, helloing shrilly, hysterically. She got to
her feet, staggeringly. And Clarence Heyl walked toward
"You ought to be spanked for this," he said.
Fanny began to cry weakly. She felt no curiosity as to his
being there. She wasn't at all sure that he actually was
there, for that matter. At that thought she dug a frantic
hand into his arm. He seemed to understand, for he said,
"It's all right. I'm real enough. Can you walk?"
"Yes." But she tried it and found she could not. She
decided she was too tired to care. "I stumbled over a
thing--a horrible thing--a gravestone. And I must have hurt
my leg. I didn't know----"
She leaned against him, a dead weight. "Tell you what,"
said Heyl, cheerfully. "You wait here. I'll go on down to
Timberline Cabin for help, and come back."
"You couldn't manage it--alone? If I tried? If I tried to
"Oh, impossible." His tone was brisk. "Now you sit right
down here." She sank down obediently. She felt a little
sorry for herself, and glad, too, and queer, and not at all
cold. She looked up at him dumbly. He was smiling. "All
She nodded. He turned abruptly. The snow hid him from
sight at once.
"Here lies Sarah Cannon. Lay to rest and died alone, April
She sank down, and pillowed her head on her arms. She knew
that this was the end. She was very drowsy, and not at all
sad. Happy, if anything.
"You didn't really think I'd leave you, did you, Fan?"
She opened her eyes. Heyl was there. He reached down, and
lifted her lightly to her feet. "Timberline Cabin's
not a hundred yards away. I just did it to try you."
She had spirit enough left to say, "Beast."
Then he swung her up, and carried her down the trail. He
carried her, not in his arms, as they do it in books and in
the movies. He could not have gone a hundred feet that way.
He carried her over his shoulder, like a sack of meal, by
one arm and one leg, I regret to say. Any boy scout knows
that trick, and will tell you what I mean. It is the most
effectual carrying method known, though unromantic.
And so they came to Timberline Cabin, and Albert Edward
Cobbins was in the doorway. Heyl put her down gently on the
bench that ran alongside the table. The hospitable table
that bore two smoking cups of tea. Fanny's lips were
cracked, and the skin was peeled from her nose, and her hair
was straggling and her eyes red-rimmed. She drank the tea
in great gulps. And then she went into the tiny bunkroom,
and tumbled into one of the shelf-bunks, and slept.
When she awoke she sat up in terror, and bumped her head
against the bunk above, and called, "Clancy!"
"Yep!" from the next room. He came to the door. The acrid
smell of their pipes was incense in her nostrils. "Rested?"
"What time is it?"
"Seven o'clock. Dinner time. Ham and eggs."
She got up stiffly, and bathed her roughened face, and
produced a powder pad (they carry them in the face of
danger, death, and dissolution) and dusted it over her scaly
nose. She did her hair--her vigorous, abundant hair that
shone in the lamplight, pulled down her blouse, surveyed her
torn shoes ruefully, donned the khaki skirt that Albert
Edward had magically produced from somewhere to take the
place of her breeches. She dusted her shoes with a bit of
rag, regarded herself steadily in the wavering mirror, and
The two men were talking quietly. Albert Edward was moving
deftly from stove to table. They both looked up as she came
in, and she looked at Heyl. Their eyes held.
Albert Edward was as sporting a gentleman as the late dear
king whose name he bore. He went out to tend Heyl's horse,
he said. It was little he knew of horses, and he rather
feared them, as does a sailing man. But he went,
Heyl still looked at Fanny, and Fanny at him.
"It's absurd," said Fanny. "It's the kind of thing that
"It's simple enough, really," he answered. "I saw Ella
Monahan in Chicago, and she told me all she knew, and
something of what she had guessed. I waited a few days and
came back. I had to." He smiled. "A pretty job you've
made of trying to be selfish."
At that she smiled, too, pitifully enough, for her lower lip
trembled. She caught it between her teeth in a last sharp
effort at self-control. "Don't!" she quavered. And then,
in a panic, her two hands came up in a vain effort to hide
the tears. She sank down on the rough bench by the table,
and the proud head came down on her arms so that there was a
little clatter and tinkle among the supper things spread on
the table. Then quiet.
Clarence Heyl stared. He stared, helplessly, as does a man
who has never, in all his life, been called upon to comfort
a woman in tears. Then instinct came to his rescue. He
made her side of the table in two strides (your favorite
film star couldn't have done it better), put his two hands
on her shoulders and neatly shifted the bowed head from the
cold, hard surface of the table top to the warm, rough,
tobacco-scented comfort of his coat. It rested there quite
naturally. Just as naturally Fanny's arm crept up, and
about his neck. So they remained for a moment, until he
bent so that his lips touched her hair. Her head came
up at that, sharply, so that it bumped his chin. They both
laughed, looking into each other's eyes, but at what they
saw there they stopped laughing and were serious.
"Dear," said Heyl. "Dearest." The lids drooped over
Fanny's eyes. "Look at me," said Heyl. So she tried to
lift them again, bravely, and could not. At that he bent
his head and kissed Fanny Brandeis in the way a woman wants
to be kissed for the first time by the man she loves. It
hurt her lips, that kiss, and her teeth, and the back of her
neck, and it left her breathless, and set things whirling.
When she opened her eyes (they shut them at such times) he
kissed her again, very tenderly, this time, and lightly, and
reassuringly. She returned that kiss, and, strangely
enough, it was the one that stayed in her memory long, long
after the other had faded.
"Oh, Clancy, I've made such a mess of it all. Such a
miserable mess. The little girl in the red tam was worth
ten of me. I don't see how you can--care for me."
"You're the most wonderful woman in the world," said Heyl,
"and the most beautiful and splendid."
He must have meant it, for he was looking down at her as he
said it, and we know that the skin had been peeled off her
nose by the mountain winds and sun, that her lips were
cracked and her cheeks rough, and that she was red-eyed and
worn-looking. And she must have believed him, for she
brought his cheek down to hers with such a sigh of content,
though she said, "But are we at all suited to each other?"
"Probably not," Heyl answered, briskly. "That's why we're
going to be so terrifically happy. Some day I'll be passing
the Singer building, and I'll glance up at it and think how
pitiful it would look next to Long's Peak. And then I'll be
off, probably, to these mountains "
"Or some day," Fanny returned, "we'll be up here, and I'll
remember, suddenly, how Fifth Avenue looks on a bright
afternoon between four and five. And I'll be off, probably,
to the Grand Central station."
And then began one of those beautiful and foolish
conversations which all lovers have whose love has been a
sure and steady growth. Thus: "When did you first begin to
care," etc. And, "That day we spent at the dunes, and you
said so and so, did you mean this and that?"
Albert Edward Cobbins announced his approach by terrific
stampings and scufflings, ostensibly for the purpose of
ridding his boots of snow. He entered looking casual, and
"You're here for the night," he said. "A regular blizzard.
The greatest piece of luck I've had in a month." He busied
himself with the ham and eggs and the teapot. "Hungry?"
"Not a bit," said Fanny and Heyl, together.
"H'm," said Albert Edward, and broke six eggs into the
frying pan just the same.
After supper they aided Albert Edward in the process of
washing up. When everything was tidy he lighted his most
malignant pipe and told them seafaring yarns not necessarily
true. Then he knocked the ashes out of his pipe and fell
asleep there by the fire, effacing himself as effectually as
one of three people can in a single room. They talked; low-
toned murmurings that they seemed to find exquisitely
meaningful or witty, by turn. Fanny, rubbing a forefinger
(his) along her weather-roughened nose, would say, "At least
you've seen me at my worst."
Or he, mock serious: "I think I ought to tell you that I'm
the kind of man who throws wet towels into the laundry
But there was no mirth in Fanny's voice when she said,
"Dear, do you think Lasker will give me that job? You
know he said, `When you want a job, come back.' Do you
think he meant it?"
"Lasker always means it."
"But," fearfully, and shyly, too, "you don't think I may
have lost my drawing hand and my seeing eye, do you? As
"I do not. I think you've just found them, for keeps.
There wasn't a woman cartoonist in the country--or man,
either, for that matter--could touch you two years ago. In
two more I'll be just Fanny Brandeis' husband, that's all."
They laughed together at that, so that Albert Edward Cobbins
awoke with a start and tried to look as if he had not been
asleep, and failing, smiled benignly and drowsily upon them.