Part 6 out of 6
Dorothy glanced at the mail. "All for daddy--except this circular. H'm!
'Intelligent clothing for Intelligent People.' Isn't that awful? How in
the world do such firms get one's address when one lives 'way up here
in the sky. Do you ever get advertisements like this?"
"Oh, yes; heaps of them."
"Well, _your_ gowns are beautiful," sighed Dorothy.
"You are a darling," said Alice, caressing Dorothy's cheek.
"So are you, dear." And Dorothy kissed her. "And you coaxed Lorry to
come to dinner, after all! I don't know what made him so grumpy, though.
I would have been sorry if he hadn't come to dinner, even if he was
"Do you like him?" queried Alice.
"Of course; he has been so nice to us. Don't you?"
Alice's lips trembled. Suddenly she hid her face in her hands and burst
"Why, Alice, what _is_ the matter?"
"Nothing," she sobbed. "I'm just tired--of everything."
"It must be the altitude," said Dorothy gravely. "Father says it does
make some persons nervous. Just rest, Allie, and I'll come in again."
Without telling her father anything further than that she was going for
a ride, Dorothy saddled Chinook.
Dorothy was exceedingly trustful, but she was not at all stupid. She
thought she understood Alice's headache. And while Dorothy did not dream
that her friend cared anything for Lorry, she was not so sure that
Lorry did not care for Alice. Perhaps he had said something to her.
Perhaps they had become rather well acquainted in Stacey last summer.
Dorothy rode toward the Big Spring. She had no definite object in view
other than to be alone. She was hurt by Lorry's incomprehensible manner
of leaving. What had she done to cause him to act so strangely? And why
had he refused her invitation and accepted it again through Alice? "But
I'll never, never let him know that I care about that," she thought.
"And when he comes back everything will be all right again."
Just before she reached the Big Spring her pony nickered. She imagined
she could see a horse standing back of the trees round the spring. Some
ranger returning to Jason or some cattle outfit from the south was
camped at the spring. But when Chinook nickered again and the other pony
answered, she knew at once that Lorry was there. Why had he stopped at
the spring? He had started early enough to have made a camp farther on.
Lorry saw her coming, and busied himself adjusting one of the packs. As
she rode up he turned and took off his hat. His face was flushed. His
eyes did not meet hers as she greeted him.
"I didn't look for you to ride up here," he said lamely.
"And I didn't expect to find you here," she said as she dismounted. She
walked straight to him. "Lorry, what is the matter? You're not like my
ranger man at all! Are you in trouble?"
Her question, so frank and sincere, and the deep solicitude in her
troubled eyes hurt him, and yet he was glad to feel that hot pain in his
throat. He knew now that he cared for her more than for any living
being; beyond all thought of passion or of selfishness. She looked and
seemed like a beautiful boy, with all the frankness of true comradeship
in her attitude and manner. And she was troubled because of him--and not
for herself. Lorry thought of the other girl. He had taken his pay. His
lips burned dry as he recalled that moment when he had held her in his
Dorothy saw the dull pain in his eyes, a sort of dumb pleading for
forgiveness for something he had done; she could not imagine what. He
dropped to his knee, and taking her slender hand in his kissed her
"Don't be silly," she said, yet her free hand caressed his hair. "What
is it, ranger man?"
"I been a regular dam' fool, Dorothy."
"But, Lorry! You know--if there is anything, anything in the world that
I can do--Please, _please_ don't cry. If you were to do that I think I
should die. I couldn't stand it. You make me afraid. What is it? Surely
it is not--Alice?"
He crushed her fingers. Suddenly he stood up and stepped back. The
sunlight shone on his bared head. He looked very boyish as he shrugged
his shoulders as though to free himself from an invisible hand that
oppressed and irritated him. His sense of fair play in so far as Alice
Weston was concerned would not allow him to actually regret that affair.
To him that had been a sort of conquest. But shame and repentance for
having been disloyal to Dorothy were stamped so clearly upon his
features that she understood. She knew what he was about to say, and
"Don't tell me," she said gently. "You have told me. I know Alice is
attractive; she can't help that. If you care for her--"
"Care for her! She was playin' with me. When I found out that--"
Dorothy caught her breath. Her eyes grew big. She had not thought that
Alice Weston--But then that did not matter now. Lorry was so abjectly
sorry about something or other. He felt her hand on his sleeve. She was
smiling. "You're just a great big, silly boy, ranger man. I'm really
years older than you. Please don't tell me anything. I don't want to
know. I just want you to be happy."
"Happy? And you say that!"
"Well, mebby I could be happy if you was to set to and walk all over
"Oh, but that wouldn't do any good. Tell me why you stopped here at the
spring. You didn't expect to meet any one, did you?"
"I--stopped here--because we camped here that time."
"Well, Lorry, it's really foolish of you to feel so badly when there's
nothing the matter. If you wanted to kiss Alice and she let you--why,
that isn't wrong. A boy kissed me once when I was going to school in the
East. I just boxed his ears and laughed at him. It is only when you act
grumpy or feel badly that I worry about you. I just want to be your
little mother then--and try to help you."
"You make me feel like I wasn't fit to ever touch your hand again," he
"But you mustn't feel that way," she said cheerily. "I want you to be
brave and strong and happy; just as you were that day we camped here.
And you will, won't you?"
"Yes, ma'am. I'm takin' orders from you."
"But you mustn't wait for me to tell you. Just be yourself, and then I
know you will never be ashamed of anything you do. I must go now.
She gave her hand, and he drew her to him. But she turned her face away
as he bent his head above her.
"No; not now, Lorry. I--can't. Please don't."
"I--guess you're right. I reckon you showed me just where I stand. Yes,
you're plumb right about it, Dorothy. But I'm comin' back--"
"I'll wait for you," she said softly.
He turned briskly to the ponies. The pack-horses plodded up the trail as
he mounted Gray Leg and rode over to her.
She reached up and patted Gray Leg's nose. "Good-bye, everybody!" she
chirruped. And she kissed Gray Leg's nose.
Back in the ranges, far from the Big Spring, Lorry made his camp that
night. As he hobbled the horses he talked to them affectionately after
his manner when alone with them.
"And you, you old trail-hitter," he said to Gray Leg, "I reckon you
think you're some ladies' man, don't you? Well, you got a right to be
proud. Step along there, and 'tend to your grazin' and don't go to
rubbin' noses with the other horses. You're a fool if you do."
The week following Lorry's departure the Westons left for the East. As
for Dorothy, she confessed to herself that she was not sorry. While
Alice had been unusually nice to every one, Dorothy felt that Alice was
forcing herself to appear natural and happy. Mrs. Weston knew this, and
wondered what the cause could be. Mrs. Weston had found Dorothy
delightful and Bronson interesting, but she had been so long in the West
that its novelty had worn thin. She did not regret it when they shipped
their machine from Stacey and took the Overland for New York.
A few days after they had gone, Bud Shoop rode up to the Blue Mesa. It
was evident that he wanted to talk with Bronson, so Dorothy coaxed
Bondsman to her favorite tree, and sat stroking his shaggy head as she
read from a new book that Shoop had brought with the mail.
The genial Bud was in a fix. Perhaps Bronson, who had been a newspaper
man and knew something about politics, could help him out. Bronson
disclaimed any special keenness of political intelligence, but said he
would be glad to do anything he could for Shoop.
"It's like this," Bud began, seating himself on the edge of the
veranda; "John Torrance, who was supervisor before you came in, got me
this job and put it up to me to stick. Now, I like John, and I figure
John ain't scared of me. But here's where I lose the trail. A ole
friend, the biggest shipper of sheep in this State, goes and gets it
into his head that they's a State Senator over there drawin' down pay
that ought to come to me. Recollec', I said he was a sheepman--and I
been for the longhorns all my days. And he's got the nerve to tell me
that all the sheepmen in this here county are strong for me if I run for
the job. If I didn't know him like I know this here right hand, I would
say he was gettin' hardenin' of the brain in his ole aige. But he's a
long ways from havin' his head examined yet.
"Then along comes a representative of the Cattlemen's Association and
says they want me to run for State Senator. Then along comes a committee
of hay-tossers from up around St. Johns and says, polite, that they are
waitin' my pleasure in the matter of framin' up their ticket for
senatorial candidate from this mesa country. They say that the present
encumbrance in the senatorial chair is such a dog-gone thief that he
steals from hisself just to keep in practice. I don't say so. 'Course,
if I can get to a chair that looks big and easy, without stompin' on
anybody--why, I'm like to set down. But if I can't, I figure to set
where I be.
"Now, this here war talk is gettin' folks excited. And ridin'
excitement down the trail of politics is like tryin' to ride white
lightnin' bareback. It's like to leave you so your friends can't tell
what you looked like. And somebody that ain't got brains enough to plug
the hole in a watch-key has been talkin' around that Bud Shoop is a
fighter, with a record for gettin' what he goes after. And that this
same Bud Shoop is as honest as the day is long. Now, I've seen some
mighty short days when I was tradin' hosses. And then this here stingin'
lizard goes to work and digs up my deputy number over to Sterling and
sets the papers to printin' as how it was me, with the help of a few
parties whose names are of no special int'rest, settled that strike."
"So you were at Sterling?"
"Uh-uh. Between you and me, I was. And it wa'n't what you'd call a
girl's school for boys, neither. But that's done. What I'm gettin' at
is: If I resign here, after givin' my word to Torrance to stick, it
looks like I been playin' with one hand under the table. The papers will
lie like hell boostin' me, and if I don't lie like hell, boostin'
myself, folks'll think I'm a liar, anyhow. Now, takin' such folks one at
a time, out back of the store, mebby, where they ain't no wimmin-folks,
I reckon I could make 'em think different. But I can't lick the county.
I ain't no angel. I never found that tellin' the truth kep' me awake
nights. And I sleep pretty good. Now, I writ to Torrance, tellin' him
just how things was headed. What do you think he writ back?"
"Why, he told you to go ahead and win, didn't he?"
"Yep. And he said that it was apparent that the State needed my services
more than the Service did. That's somethin' like a train with a engine
on each end. You don't know which way it's headed."
"I'd take it as a sincere compliment."
"Well, I did swell up some. Then I says to myself: 'Bud, you ain't no
fancy office man, and even if you are doin' good work here, you can't
put it in writin' for them big bugs at Washington.' Mebby John is so
dog-gone busy--like the fella with both bands full and his suspenders
broke--- that he'd be glad to get behind 'most anything to get shut of
"I think you're mistaken. You know you can't keep a born politician out
"You're the type."
"By gravy, Bronson! I never seen you hidin' your watch when I come up to
visit you before."
"See here, Shoop. Why don't you write to Torrance and ask him
point-blank if he has had a hand in getting you nominated for Senator?
Torrance is a big man in his line, and he probably knows what he is
Shoop grinned. "You win the pot!" he exclaimed. "That's just what I been
thinkin' right along. I kind of wanted somebody who wasn't interested in
this deal to say it. Well, I reckon I bothered you long enough. You got
your alfalfa to--I--you got your writin' to do. But they's one thing. If
I get roped in and got to run, and some new supervisor comes botherin'
around up here, puttin' some ranger in my camp that ain't like Lorry,
all you got to do is to move over into my cabin and tell 'em to keep off
the grass. That there four hundred and eighty is mine. I homesteaded it,
and I got the papers. It ain't on the reserve."
"I thought it was."
"So do some yet. Nope. I'm just east of the reservation line; outside
the reserve. I aimed to know what I was doin' when I homesteaded that
piece of sky farm."
"And yet you took exception to my calling you a born politician."
Shoop chuckled. "Speakin' personal, I been thinkin' about that job of
State Senator for quite a spell. Now, I reckon you got sense enough not
to get mad when I tell you that I just been tryin' out a little speech I
framed up for my constituents. Just a kind of little alfalfa-seed talk.
Outside of ijuts and Mexicans, it's about what I aim to hand to the
voters of this here district, puttin' it up to them that I was roped
into this hocus and been settin' back on the rope right along. And
that's a fact. But you got to rub some folks' noses in a fact afore they
can even smell it."
"And you have the nerve to tell me that you framed up all that stuff to
get my sympathy? Shoop, you are wasting time in Arizona. Go East. And
forgive me for falling for your most natural appeal."
The genial Bud chuckled and wiped his eyes. "But it's true from the
start to the wire."
"I must congratulate you." And, "Dorothy!" called Bronson. "Come and
shake hands with our next Senator from the mesa country."
"Really?" exclaimed Dorothy. "But we will lose our supervisor. Still, I
think Mr. Shoop will make a lovely Senator. You are just the right
"I reckon you're right, missy. Half of the game is lookin' the part
afore election. The other half is not sayin' too much after election. If
any man gets a promise out of me afore election, it'll have to be did
with a stump-puller."
"But we won't see you any more," said Dorothy. "You will be so busy and
so important. Senator Shoop will speak here. And Senator Shoop will
speak there. And--let me see! Oh, yes! The Senate adjourned after a
stormy session in which the Senator from Mesa County, supported by an
intelligent majority, passed his bill for the appropriation of twenty
thousand dollars to build a road from Jason to the Blue Mesa. What fun!"
Bud polished his bald head. "Now, I reckon that ain't such a joke. We'll
build a road plumb through to the old Apache Trail and ketch them
tourists goin' into Phoenix."
"You see," said Dorothy, turning to her father, "I know something about
politics. I read the local papers. Mr. Shoop's name is in every one of
them. I read that article about the Sterling strike. I have been
Shoop immediately called attention to Bondsman, who was gently tugging
at the supervisor's pants leg.
"Now, look at that! Do you know what he's tellin' me? He's tellin' me I
got a piano in that there cabin and we ain't had a duet for quite a
spell. That there dog bosses me around somethin' scandalous."
Bondsman slipped from beneath Dorothy's hand as she stooped to pat him.
He trotted to Shoop's cabin, and stood looking up at the door.
"Would you be playin' 'Annie Laurie' for us?" queried Shoop.
Dorothy played for them, unaccompanied by Bondsman. Shoop shook his
head. Either the tune had lost its charm for the Airedale or else
Dorothy's interpretation differed from Bud's own.
"Thanks, missy," said Shoop when she had finished playing. "Guess I'll
be movin' along."
"Oh, no! You'll stay to-night. I'll play for you. Make him stay,
"I wish you would, Shoop. I'd like to talk with you about the election."
"Well, now, that's right neighborly of you folks. I was aimin' to ride
back this evening. But I reckon we'll stay. Bondsman and me ain't so
spry as we was."
After supper Dorothy played for them again, with no light except the
dancing red shadows from the pine logs that flamed in the fireplace.
Shoop thanked her. "I'll be livin' in town,"--and he sighed
heavily,--"where my kind of piano-playin' would bring the law on me,
most-like. Now, that ole piano is hacked up some outside, but she's got
all her innards yet and her heart's right. If you would be takin' it as
a kind of birthday present, it's yours."
"You don't mean _me_?"
"I sure do."
"But I couldn't accept such a big present. And then, when we go away
"Listen to your Uncle Bud, missy. A little lady give me a watch onct. 'T
wa'n't a big watch, but it was a big thing. 'Cause why? 'Cause that
little lady was the first lady to give me a present in my life. I was
raised up by men-folks. My mammy she wa'n't there long after I come.
Reckon that's why I never was much of a hand with wimmin-folks. I wa'n't
used to 'em. And I don't care how old and ornery a man is; the first
time he gets a present from a gal, it kind of hits him where he
breathes. And if it don't make him feel warm inside and mighty proud of
bein' who he is, why, it's because he's so dog-gone old he can't think.
I ain't tellin' no secret when I say that the little lady put her name
in that watch alongside of mine. And her name bein' there is what makes
that present a big thing--bigger than any piano that was ever built.
"Why, just a spell ago I was settin' in my office, madder'n a cat what
had tore his Sunday pants, 'cause at twelve o'clock I was goin' over to
the saloon to fire that young ranger, Lusk, for gettin' drunk. I pulled
out this here watch, and I says to myself: 'Bud, it was clost around
twelve o'clock by a young fella's watch onct when he was filled up on
liquor and rampin' round town when he ought to been to work. And it was
the ole foreman's gal that begged that boy's job back for him, askin'
her daddy to give him another chanct.' And the boy he come through all
right. I know--for I owned the watch. And so I give Lusk another
Dorothy stepped to Shoop's chair, and, stooping quickly, kissed his
cheek. Bondsman, not to be outdone, leaped jealously into Bud's lap and
licked the supervisor's face. Shoop spluttered, and thrust Bondsman
"Things is comin' too fast!" he cried, wiping his face. "I was just
goin' to say something when that dog just up and took the words right
out of my mouth. Oh, yes! I was just wishin' I owned a piano factory."
_The Fires of Home_
Bud Shoop read the newspaper notice twice before he realized fully its
import. The Adams House at Stacey was for sale. "Then Jim and Annie's
patched it up," he soliloquized. And the genial Bud did not refer to the
Because his master seemed pleased, Bondsman waited to hear the rest of
it with head cocked sideways and tail at a stiff angle.
"That's all they is to it," said Shoop.
Bondsman lay down and yawned. He was growing old. It was only Bud's
voice that could key the big Airedale up to his earlier alertness. The
office was quiet. The clerk had gone out for his noon meal. The fall
sunshine slanted lazily through the front-office windows. The room was
warm, but there was a tang of autumn in the air. Shoop glanced at the
paper again. He became absorbed in an article proposing conscription. He
shook his head and muttered to himself. He turned the page, and glanced
at the livestock reports, the copper market, railroad stocks, and passed
on to an article having to do with local politics.
Bondsman, who constituted himself the guard of Shoop's leisure, rapped
the floor with his tail. Shoop glanced over the top of his paper as
light footsteps sounded in the outer office. Dorothy tapped on the
lintel and stepped in. Shoop crumpled the paper and rose. Bondsman was
at her side as she shook hands with the supervisor.
"My new saddle came," she said, patting Bondsman. "And father's latest
book. Why don't you cheer?"
"Goodness, missy! I started cheerin' inside the minute I seen you. Now,
I reckon you just had to have that new saddle."
"It's at the store. Father is over there talking politics and war with
"Then you just set down and tell your Uncle Bud the news while you're
"But I am not _waiting_. I am visiting _you_. And I told you the news."
"And to think a new saddle could make your eyes shine like that! Ain't
you 'shamed to fool your Uncle Bud?"
"I haven't--if you say you know I have."
"'Course. Most any little gal can get the best of me."
"Well, because you are so curious--Lorry is back."
"I reckoned that was it."
"He rode part-way down with us. He has gone to see his father."
"And forgot to repo't here first."
"No. He gave me the reports to give to you. Here they are. One of Mr.
Waring's men, that young Mexican, rode up to the mesa last week and left
word that Lorry's father wanted to see him."
"I aim to know about that," chuckled Shoop. And he smoothed out the
paper and pointed to the Adams House sale notice.
"The Adams House for sale? Why--"
"Jim and Annie--that's Jim Waring and Mrs. Waring now--are goin' to run
the ranch. I'm mighty glad."
"Oh, I see! And Lorry is really Laurence Waring?"
"You bet! And I reckon Lorry'll be fo'man of that ranch one of these
days. Cattle is sky-high and goin' up. I don't blame him."
"He didn't say a word about that to me."
"'Course not. He's not one to say anything till he's plumb sure."
"He might have said _something_" asserted Dorothy.
"Didn't he?" chuckled Shoop.
Dorothy's face grew rosy. "Your master is very inquisitive," she told
"And your little missy is right beautiful this mawnin'," said Shoop.
"Now, if I was a bow-legged young cow-puncher with curly hair, and
looked fierce and noble and could make a gal's eyes shine like stars in
the evenin', I reckon I wouldn't be sittin' here signin' letters."
"He _isn't_ bow-legged!" flashed Dorothy. She was very definite about
that. "And he's not a cowboy. He is a ranger."
"My goodness! I done put my foot in a gopher hole that shake. I sure am
standin' on my head, waitin' for somebody to set me up straight ag'in.
You ain't mad at your Uncle Bud, be you?"
Dorothy tossed her head, but her eyes twinkled, and suddenly she
laughed. "You know I like you--heaps! You're just jealous."
"Reckon you said it! But I only got one ear laid back yet. Wait till I
see that boy."
"Oh, pshaw! You can't help being nice to him."
"And I got comp'ny."
"But really I want to talk seriously, if you will let me. Lorry has been
talking about enlisting. He didn't say that he was going to enlist, but
he has been talking about it so much. Do you think he will?"
"Well, now, missy that's a right peart question. I know if I was his age
I'd go. Most any fella that can read would. I been readin' the papers
for two years, and b'ilin' inside. I reckon Lorry's just woke up to
what's goin' on. We been kind of slow wakin' up out here. Folks livin'
off in this neck of the woods gets to thinkin' that the sun rises on
their east-line fence and sets on their west line. It takes somethin'
strong to make 'em recollec' the sun's got a bigger job'n that. But I
admire to say that when them kind of folks gets started onct they's
nothin' ever built that'll stop 'em. If I get elected I aim to tell some
folks over to the State House about this here war. And I'm goin' to
start by talkin' about what we got to set straight right here to home
first. They can _feel_ what's goin' on to home. It ain't all print. And
they got to feel what's goin' on over there afore they do anything."
"It's all too terrible to talk about," said Dorothy. "But we must do our
share, if only to keep our self-respect, mustn't we?"
"You said it--providin' we got any self-respect to keep."
"But why don't our young men volunteer. They are not cowards."
"It ain't that. Suppose you ask Lorry why."
"I shouldn't want to know him if he didn't go," said Dorothy.
"Missy, I'm lovin' you for sayin' that! If all the mothers and sisters
and sweethearts was like that, they wouldn't be no conscription. But
they ain't. I'm no hand at understandin' wimmin-folks, but I know the
mother of a strappin' young fella in this town that says she would
sooner see her boy dead in her front yard than for him to go off and
fight for foreigners. She don't know what this country's got to fight
for pretty quick or she wouldn't talk like that. And she ain't the only
one. Now, when wimmin talks that way, what do you expect of men? I
reckon the big trouble is that most folks got to see somethin' to fight
afore they get goin'. Fightin' for a principle looks just like poundin'
air to some folks. I don't believe in shootin' in the dark. How come,
I've plugged a rattlesnake by just shootin' at the sound when he was
coiled down where I couldn't see him. But this ain't no kind of talk for
you to listen to, missy."
"I--you won't say that I spoke of Lorry?"
"Bless your heart, no! And he'll figure it out hisself. But don't you
get disap'inted if he don't go right away. It's mighty easy to set back
and say 'Go!' to the other fella; and listen to the band and cheer the
flag. It makes a fella feel so durned patriotic he is like to forget he
ain't doin' nothin' hisself.
"Now, missy, suppose you was a sprightin' kind of a boy 'bout nineteen
or twenty, and mebby some gal thought you was good-lookin' enough to
talk to after church on a Sunday; and suppose you had rustled like a
little nigger when you was a kid, helpin' your ma wash dishes in a hotel
and chop wood and sweep out and pack heavy valises for tourists and fill
the lamps and run to the store for groceries and milk a cow every night
"And say you growed up without breakin' your laig and went to punchin'
cattle and earnin' your own money, and then mebby you got a job in the
Ranger Service, ridin' the high trails and livin' free and independent;
and suppose a mighty pretty gal was to come along and kind of let you
take a shine to her, and you was doin' your plumb durndest to put by a
little money, aimin' to trot in double harness some day; and then
suppose your daddy was to offer you a half-interest in a growin' cattle
business, where you could be your own boss and put by a couple of
thousand a year. And you only nineteen or twenty.
"Suppose you had been doin' all that when along comes word from 'way off
somewhere that folks was killin' each other and it was up to you to stop
'em. Wouldn't you do some hard thinkin' afore you jumped into your
"But this war means more than that."
"It sure does. But some of us ain't got the idee yet. 'Course all you
got to do to some folks is to say 'Fight' and they come a-runnin'. And
some of that kind make mighty good soldier boys. But the fella I'm
leavin' alone is the one what cinches up slow afore he climbs into the
saddle. When he goes into a fight it's like his day's work, and he don't
waste no talk or elbow action when he's workin'."
"I wish I were a man!"
"Well, some of us is right glad you ain't. A good woman can do just as
much for this country right now as any man. And I don't mean by dressin'
up in fancy clothes and givin' dances and shellin' out mebby four per
cent of the gate receipts to buy a ambulance with her name on it.
"And I don't mean by payin' ten dollars for a outfit of gold-plated
knittin'-needles to make two-bit socks for the boys. What I mean is that
a good woman does her best work to home; mebby just by sayin' the right
word, or mebby by keepin' still or by smilin' cheerful when her heart is
breakin' account of her man goin' to war.
"You can say all you like about patriotism, but patriotism ain't just
marchin' off to fight for your country. It's usin' your neighbors and
your country right every day in the week, includin' Sunday. Some folks
think patriotism is buildin' a big bonfire once a year and lettin' her
blaze up. But the real thing is keepin' your own little fire a-goin'
steady, right here where you live. And it's thinkin' of that little fire
to home that makes the best soldier.
"He's got a big job to do. He's goin' to get it done so he can go back
to that there home and find the little fire a-burning bright. What do
some of our boys do fightin' alongside of them Frenchmen and under the
French flag, when they get wounded and get a furlough? Set around and
wait to go back to fightin'? I reckon not. Some of 'em pack up and come
four, five thousand miles just to see their folks for mebby two, three
days. And when they see them little fires to home a-burnin' bright, why,
they say: 'This here is what we're fighting for.' And they go back,
askin' God A'mighty to keep 'em facin' straight to the front till the
job is done."
Dorothy, her chin in her hand, gazed at Bud. She had never known him to
be so intense, so earnest.
"Oh, I know it is so!" she cried. "But what can I do? I have only a
little money in the bank, and father makes just enough to keep us
comfortable. You see, we spent such lots of money for those horrid old
doctors in the East, who didn't do me a bit of good."
"You been doin' your share just gettin' well and strong, which is savin'
money. But seein' you asked me, you can do a whole lot if Lorry was to
say anything to you about goin'. And you know how better'n I can tell
you or your daddy or anybody."
"But Lorry must do as he thinks best. We--we are not engaged."
"'Course. And it ain't no time for a young fella to get engaged to a gal
and tie up her feelin's and march off with her heart in his pocket.
Mebby some day she's goin' to want it back ag'in, when he ain't livin'
to fetch it back to her. I see, by the Eastern papers Torrance has been
sendin' me, that some young fellas is marryin' just afore they go to
jine the Frenchmen on the front. Now, what are some of them gals goin'
to do if their boys don't come back? Or mebby come back crippled for
life? Some of them gals is goin' to pay a mighty high price for just a
few days of bein' married. It riles me to think of it."
"I hadn't thought of it--as you do," said Dorothy.
"Well, I hope you'll forgive your Uncle Bud for ragin' and rampin'
around like this. I can't talk what's in my heart to folks around here.
They're mostly narrow-gauge. I reckon I said enough. Let's go look at
that new saddle."
"Isn't it strange," said Dorothy, "that I couldn't talk with father like
this? He'd be nice, of course, but he would be thinking of just me."
"I reckon he would. And mebby some of Lorry."
"If Lorry should ask me about his going--"
"Just you tell him that you think one volunteer is worth four conscripts
any time and any place. And if that ain't a hint to him they's somethin'
wrong with his ears."
Shoop rose and plodded out after Dorothy. Bondsman trailed lazily
behind. Because Shoop had not picked up his hat the big dog knew that
his master's errand, whatever it was, would be brief. Yet Bondsman
followed, stopping to yawn and stretch the stiffness of age from his
shaggy legs. There was really no sense in trotting across the street
with his master just to trot back again in a few minutes. But Bondsman's
unwavering loyalty to his master's every mood and every movement had
become such a matter of course that the fine example was lost in the
monotony of repetition.
A dog's loyalty is so often taken for granted that it ceases to be
noticeable until in an unlooked-for hazard it shines forth in some act
of quick heroism or tireless faithfulness worthy of a greater tribute
than has yet been written.
Bondsman was a good soldier.
Ramon was busy that afternoon transferring mattresses and blankets from
the ranch-house to the new, low-roofed bunk-house that Waring had built.
Ramon fitted up three beds--one for the cook, one for an old range-rider
that Waring had hired when his men had left to enlist, and one for
The partitions of the ranch-house had been taken down, the interior
rearranged, and the large living-room furnished in a plain, comfortable
As Ramon worked he sang softly. He was happy. The senora was coming to
live with them, and perhaps Senor Jim's son. Senor Jim had been more
active of late. His lameness was not so bad as it had been. It was true
the Senor Jim did not often smile, but his eyes were kindly.
Ramon worked rapidly. There was much to do in the other house. The bale
of Navajo blankets was still unopened. Perhaps the Senor Jim would help
to arrange them in the big room with the stone fireplace. The senora
would not arrive until to-morrow, but then the home must be made ready,
that she would find it beautiful. And Ramon, accustomed to the meagerly
furnished adobes of old Mexico, thought that the ranch-house was
Waring ate with the men in the new bunk-house that evening. After supper
he went over to the larger building and sat alone in the living-room,
gazing out of the western window. His wounds ached, and in the memory of
almost forgotten trails he grew young again. Again in Old Mexico, the
land he loved, he saw the blue crest of the Sierras rise as in a dream,
and below the ranges a tiny Mexican village of adobe huts gold in the
setting sun. Between him and the village lay the outlands, ever
mysterious, ever calling to him. Across the desert ran a thin trail to
the village. And down the trail the light feet of Romance ran swiftly as
he followed. He could even recall the positions of the different adobes;
the strings of chiles dark red in the twilight; the old black-shawled
senora who had spoken a guttural word of greeting as he had ridden up.
Back in Sonora men had said, "Waring has made his last ride." They had
told each other that a white man was a fool to go alone into that
country. Perhaps he had been a fool. But the thrill of those early days,
when he rode alone and free and men sang of him from Sonora to the
Sweetgrass Hills! And on that occasion he had found the fugitive he
sought, yet he had ridden back to Sonora alone. He had never forgotten
the face of the young Mexican woman who had pleaded with him to let her
lover go. Her eyes were big and velvet black. Her mouth was the mouth
of a Madonna.
Waring had told her that it was useless to plead. He remembered how her
eyes had grown dull and sullen at his word. He told her that he was
simply doing his duty. She had turned on him like a panther, her little
knife glittering in the dusk as she drove it at his breast. The Mexican
lover had jerked free and was running toward the foothills. Waring
recalled his first surprise at the wiry strength of her wrist as he had
twisted the knife from her. If the Mexican lover had not turned and shot
at him--The black figure of the Mexican had dropped just where the road
entered the foothills. The light had almost gone. The vague bulk of the
Sierras wavered. Outlines vanished, leaving a sense of something
gigantic, invisible, that slumbered in the night. The stars were big and
softly brilliant as he had ridden north.
The old wound in his shoulder ached. The Mexican had made a good
shot--for a Mexican.
Out on the Arizona mesa, against the half disk of gold, was the black
silhouette of a horseman. Waring stepped to the doorway. Ramon was
seated just outside the door, smoking a cigarette. The southern stars
were almost visible. Each star seemed to have found its place, and yet
no star could be seen.
"It is Lorry," said Ramon. "He has ridden far."
Waring smiled. Fifty miles had not been considered a big day's ride in
his time. _In his time!_ But his day was past. The goddess he had
followed had left him older than his years, crippled, unable to ride
more than a few hours at a time; had left him fettered to the monotony
of the far mesa levels and the changeless hills. Was this his
punishment, or simply a black trick of fate, that the tang of life had
evaporated, leaving a stagnant pool wherein he gazed to meet the blurred
reflection of a face weary with waiting for--what end?
Unused to physical inactivity, Waring had grown somber of mind these
latter days. Despite the promise of more comfortable years, he had never
felt more lonely. With the coming of Lorry the old order would change.
Young blood, new life would have its way.
The sound of pattering hoofs grew louder. Waring heard the old familiar,
"Hi! Yippy! Yip!" of the range rider. Young blood? New life? It was his
own blood, his own life reincarnate in the cheery rider that swung down
and grasped his hand. Nothing had changed. Life was going on as it
"Hello, dad! How's the leg?"
Waring smiled in the dusk. "Pretty fair, Lorry. You didn't waste any
time getting here."
"Well, not much. I rode down with Bronson and Dorothy."
"Do you call her 'Dorothy'?"
"Ever since she calls me 'Lorry.'"
"Had anything to eat?"
"Nope. I cut across. How's mother?"
"She will be here to-morrow. We have been getting things ready. Let
Ramon take your horse--"
"Thanks. I'll fix him in two shakes."
And in two shakes bridle and saddle were off, and Gray Leg was rolling
in the corral.
While Lorry ate, Ramon laid a fire in the big stone fireplace. Alter
supper Lorry and his father sat gazing at the flames. Lorry knew why he
had been sent for, but waited for his father to speak.
Presently Waring turned to him. "I sent for you because I need some one
to help. And your mother wants you here. I won't urge you, but I can
offer you Pat's share in the ranch. I bought his share last week. You'll
have a working interest besides that. You know something about cattle.
Think it over."
"That's a dandy offer," said Lorry. "I'm right obliged, dad. But there's
something else. You put your proposition straight, and I'm going to put
mine straight. Now, if you was in my boots, and she liked you enough,
would you marry her?"
"You haven't told me who she is."
"Why--Dorothy Bronson. I thought you knew."
Waring smiled. "You're pretty young, Lorry."
"But you married young, dad."
"Yes. And I married the best woman in the world. But I can't say that I
made your mother happy."
"I guess ma never cared for anybody but you," said Lorry.
"It isn't just the caring for a person, Lorry."
"Well, I thought it was. But I reckon you know. And Dorothy is the
prettiest and lovin'est kind of a girl _you_ ever seen. I was wishin'
you was acquainted."
"I should like to meet her. Are you sure she is your kind of girl,
Lorry? Now, wait a minute; I know how you feel. A girl can be
good-looking and mighty nice and think a lot of a man, and yet not be
the right girl for him."
"But how is he goin' to find that out?"
"If he must find out--by marrying her."
"Then I aim to find out, if she is willin'. But I wanted to tell
you--because you made me that offer. I was askin' your advice because
you been through a lot."
"I wish I could advise you. But you're a man grown, so far as taking
care of yourself is concerned. And when a man thinks of getting married
he isn't looking for advice against it. Why don't you wait a year or
"Well, mebbe I got to. Because--well, I didn't ask Dorothy yet. Then
there's somethin' else. A lot of the fellas up in the high country have
enlisted in the regulars, and some have gone over to Canada to join the
Foreign Legion. Now, I don't want to be the last hombre on this mesa to
"There has been no call for men by the Nation."
"But it's comin', dad. Any fella can see that. I kind of hate to wait
till Uncle Sam says I got to go. I don't like going that way."
"What do you think your mother will say?"
"Gosh! I know! That's why I wanted to talk to you first. If I'm goin', I
want to know it so I can say to her that I _am_ goin' and not that I aim
"Well, you will have to decide that."
"Well, I'm goin' to--before ma comes. Dog-gone it! You know how it is
tryin' to explain things to a woman. Wimmin don't understand them kind
"I don't know about that, Lorry."
Lorry nodded. "I tell you, dad--you kind of set a pace for me. And I
figure I don't want folks to say: 'There goes Jim Waring's boy.' If
they're goin' to say anything, I want it to be: 'There goes Lorry
Waring knew that kind of pride if he knew anything. He was proud of his
son. And Waring's most difficult task was to keep from influencing him
in any way. He wanted the boy to feel free to do as he thought best.
"You were in that fight at Sterling," said Waring, gesturing toward the
"But that was different," said Lorry. "Them coyotes was pluggin' at us,
and we just nacherally had to let 'em have it. And besides we was
workin' for the law."
"I understand there wasn't any law in Sterling About that time."
"Well, we made some," asserted Lorry.
"And that's just what this war means. It's being fought to make law."
"Then I'm for the law every time, big or little. I seen enough of that
"Think it over, Lorry. Remember, you're free to do as you want to. I
have made my offer. Then there is your mother--and the girl. It looks as
though you had your hands full."
"You bet! Business and war and--and Dorothy is a right big order. I'm
gettin' a headache thinkin' of it!"
Waring rose. "I'm going to turn in. I have to live pretty close to the
clock these days."
"See you in the mornin'," said Lorry, giving his hand. "Good-night,
_The High Trail_
Black-edged against the silvery light of early dawn the rim of the world
lay dotted with far buttes and faint ranges fading into the spaces of
the north and south. The light deepened and spread to a great crimson
pool, tideless round the bases of magic citadels and mighty towers.
Golden minarets thrust their slender, fiery shafts athwart the wide
pathway of the ascending sun. The ruddy glow palpitated like a live
ember naked to the wind. The nearer buttes grew boldly beautiful. Slowly
their molten outlines hardened to rigid bronze. Like ancient castles of
some forgotten land, isolated in the vast mesa, empty of life, they
seemed to await the coming of a host that would reshape their fallen
arches and their wind-worn towers to old-time splendor, and perfect
But the marching sun knew no such sentiment. Pitilessly he pierced their
enchanted walls, discovering their pretense, burning away their shadowy
glory, baring them for what they were--masses of jumbled rock and
splintered spires; rain-gutted wraiths of clay, volcanic rock, the
tumbled malpais and the tufa of the land.
Black shadows shifted. That which had been the high-arched entrance to
a mighty fortress was now a shallow hollow in a hill. Here and there on
the western slope of the mounds cattle grazed in the chill morning air.
Enchantments of the dawn reshaped themselves to local landmarks.
From his window Lorry could discern the distant peak of Mount Baldy
glimmering above the purple sea of forest. Not far below the peak lay
the viewless level of the Blue Mesa. The trail ran just below that patch
of quaking asp.
The hills had never seemed so beautiful, nor had the still mesas,
carpeted with the brown stubble of the close-cropped bunch-grass.
Arizona was his country--his home. And yet he had heard folk say that
Arizona was a desert, But then such folk had been interested chiefly in
guide-posts of the highways or the Overland dining-car menu.
And he had been offered a fair holding in this land--twenty thousand
acres under fence on a long-term lease; a half-interest in the cattle
and their increase. He would be his own man, with a voice in the
management and sale of the stock. A year or two and he could afford to
marry--if Dorothy would have him. He thought she would. And to keep in
good health she must always live in the West. What better land than
Arizona, on the high mesa where the air was clean and clear; where the
keen August rains refreshed the sunburned grasses; where the light
snows of winter fell but to vanish in the retrieving sun? If Dorothy
loved this land, why should she leave it? Surely health meant more to
her than the streets and homes of the East?
And Lorry had asked nothing of fortune save a chance to make good. And
fortune had been more than kind to him. He realized that it was through
no deliberate effort of his own that he had acquired the opportunity
which offered. Why not take advantage of it? It would give him prestige
with Bronson. A good living, a good home for her. Such luck didn't come
to a man's door every day.
He had slept soundly that night, despite his intent to reason with
himself. It was morning, and he had made no decision--or so he thought.
There was the question of enlisting. Many of his friends had already
gone. Older men were now riding the ranges. Even the clerk in the
general store at Stacey's had volunteered. And Lorry had considered him
anything but physically competent to "make a fight." But it wasn't all
in making a fight. It was setting an example of loyalty and
unselfishness to those fellows who needed such an impulse to stir them
to action. Lorry thought clearly. And because he thought clearly and for
himself, he realized that he, as an individual soldier in the Great War,
would amount to little; but he knew that his going would affect others;
that the mere news of his having gone would react as a sort of endless
chain reaching to no one knew what sequestered home.
And this, he argued, was his real value: the spirit ever more potent
than the flesh. Why, he had heard men joke about this war! It was a long
way from home. What difference did it make to them if those people over
there were being starved, outraged, murdered? That was their own
lookout. Friends of his had said that they were willing to fight to a
finish if America were threatened with invasion, but that could never
happen. America was the biggest and richest country in the world. She
attended to her own business and asked nothing but that the other
nations do likewise.
And those countries over there were attending to their own business. If
our ships were blown up, it was our own fault. We had been warned.
Anyway, the men who owned those ships were out to make money and willing
to take a chance. It wasn't our business to mix in. We had troubles
enough at home. As Lorry pondered the shallow truths a great light came
to him. "_Troubles enough at home_," that was it! America had already
been invaded, yet men slumbered in fancied security. He had been at
Lorry could hear Ramon stirring about in the kitchen. The rhythmically
muffled sound suggested the mixing of flapjacks. Lorry could smell the
thin, appetizing fragrance of coffee.
With characteristic abruptness, he made his decision, but with no
spoken word, no gesture, no emotion. He saw a long day's work before
him. He would tackle it like a workman.
And immediately he felt buoyantly himself again. The matter was settled.
He washed vigorously. The cold water brought a ruddy glow to his face.
He whistled as he strode to the kitchen. He slapped the gentle-eyed
Ramon on the shoulder. Pancake batter hissed as it slopped over on the
"Cheer up, amigo!" he cried! "Had a good look at the sun this mornin'?"
"No, senor. I have made the breakfast, si."
"Well, she's out there, shinin' right down on Arizona."
"The senora?" queried Ramon, puzzled.
"No; the sun. Don't a mornin' like this make you feel like jumpin' clean
out of your boots and over the fence?"
"Not until I have made the flapcake, Senor Lorry."
"Well, go the limit. Guess I'll roust out dad."
* * * * *
Bud Shoop scowled, perspired, and swore. Bondsman, close to Shoop's
chair, blinked and lay very still. His master was evidently beyond any
proffer of sympathy or advice. Yet he had had no argument with any one
lately. And he had eaten a good breakfast. Bondsman knew that. Whatever
the trouble might be, his master had not consulted him about it. It was
evidently a matter that dogs could not understand, and hence, very
grave. Bondsman licked his chops nervously. He wanted to go out and lie
in the sunshine, but he could not do that while his master suffered such
tribulation of soul. His place was close to his master now, if ever.
Around Shoop were scattered pieces of paper; bits of letters written and
"It's a dam' sight worse resignin' than makin' out my application--and
that was bad enough," growled Shoop. "But I got to do this personal.
This here pen is like a rabbit gone loco. Now, here I set like a bag of
beans, tryin' to tell John Torrance why I'm quittin' this here job
without makin' him think I'm glad to quit--which I am, and I ain't. It's
like tryin' to split a flea's ear with a axe; it can't be did without
mashin' the flea. Now, if John was here I could tell him in three jumps.
The man that invented writin' must 'a' been tongue-tied or had sore
throat some time when he wanted to talk awful bad. My langwidge ain't
broke to pull no city rig--or no hearse. She's got to have the road and
plenty room to sidestep.
"Now, how would I say it if John were here? Would I start off with 'Dear
John' or 'Dear Old Friend'? I reckon not. I'd just say: 'John, I'm goin'
to quit. I tried to do by you what I said I would. I got a chanct to
bust into the State House, and I got a good reason for bustin' in. I
been nominated for Senator, and I got to live up to the name. I'm
a-goin' to run for Senator--and mebby I'll keep on when I get started,
and end up somewhere in Mexico. I can't jine the reg'lars account of my
physical expansibility and my aige, so I got to do my fightin' to home.
I'm willin' to stick by this job if you say the word. Mebby some folks
would be dissap'inted, but I can stand that if they can. What do you
reckon I better do?'
"Now, that's what I'd say if John was here. Why in tarnation can't I say
it on paper? Lemme see."
Bud filled a sheet with his large, outdoor script. When he had finished,
he tucked the letter in an envelope hurriedly. He might reconsider his
attempt if he re-read the letter.
He was carefully directing the envelope when Lorry strode in.
'"Bout time you showed up," said Shoop.
Lorry dropped his hat on the floor and pulled up a chair. He was a bit
nervous. Preamble would make him more so. He spoke up quickly.
"Bud, I want to resign."
"Uh-uh. You tired of this job?"
"Nope; I like it."
"Want more pay?"
"No; I get all I'm worth."
"Ain't you feelin' well?"
"Bully! I'm going to enlist."
"Might 'a' knowed it," said Bud, leaning back and gazing at the newly
addressed envelope on his desk. "Got your reports all in?"
"Well, seem' you're quittin' for the best reason I know, I'm right glad.
You done your work like I expected. Your mother knows you're goin' to
jine the army?"
"I told her yesterday. I've been at the ranch."
"Uh-uh. How's your dad?"
"He ain't so spry. But he is better."
"Uh-uh. That young Mexican stayin' at the ranch with him?"
"You couldn't chase Ramon away with a gun."
"Uh-uh. Well, Lorry, I just been sweatin' out a letter tellin' John
Torrance that I've quit. I'm goin' to run for State Senator."
"I knew they would land you. Everybody knew it."
"So we're both leavin' the Service. And we're leavin' a mighty good job;
mebby not such big pay, but a man's job, that has been the makin' of
some no-account boys. For no fella can work for the Service without
settin' up and ridin' straight. Now, when I was a young buster chasin'
cow-tails over the country I kind of thought the Forestry Service was a
joke. It ain't. It's a mighty big thing. You're leaving it with a clean
record. Mebby some day you'll want to get back in it. Were you goin' on
"I figured to straighten up things at the cabin."
"All right. When you come down you can get your check. Give my regards
to Bronson and the little missy."
"You bet I will!"
Bud rose and proffered his hand. Lorry, rather embarrassed, shook hands
and turned to go. "See you later," he said.
"I was going over to Stacey," said Shoop. "Mebby I'll be out when you
get back. But your check'll be here all right. You sure look like you
was walkin' on sunshine this mawnin'. Gosh, what a whoopin' fine place
this here world is when you are young--and--kind of slim! Now, Bondsman
and me--we was young onct. When it comes to bein' young or State
Senator--you can have the politics and give me back my ridin' legs.
You're ridin' the High Trail these days.
"If I could just set a hoss onct, with twenty years under my hide, and
look down on this here country, and the sage a-smellin' like it used to
and the sunshine a-creepin' across my back easy and warm, with a sniff
of the timber comin' down the mawnin' breeze; and 'way off the cattle
a-lookin' no bigger'n flies on a office map--why, I wouldn't trade that
there seat in the saddle for a million in gold. But I reckon I would 'a'
done it, them days. Sometimes I set back and say 'Arizona' just to
myself. I'm a-lovin' that name. Accordin' to law, I'm livin' single, and
if I ain't married to Arizona, she's my best gal, speakin' general.
'Course, a little lady give me a watch onct. And say, boy, if she sets a
lot of store by you--why, you--why, git out of this here office afore I
make a dam' fool of myself!"
And the genial Bud waved his arm, blustering and swearing heartily.
Bondsman leaped up. A ridge of hair rose along his neck. For some
unknown reason his master had ordered Lorry to leave the office--and at
once. But Lorry was gone, and Bud was patting the big Airedale. It was
all right. Nothing was going to happen. And wasn't it about time for the
stage to arrive?
Bondsman trotted to the doorway, gazed up and down the street, and came
back to Shoop. The stage had arrived, and Bondsman was telling Shoop so
by the manner in which he waited for his master to follow him into the
sunlight. Bud grinned.
"You're tellin' me the stage is in--and I got a letter to send."
Bud picked up his hat. Bondsman had already preceded him to the doorway,
and stood waiting. His attitude expressed the extreme patience of age,
but that the matter should be attended to without unreasonable delay.
Shoop sighed heavily.
"That there dog bosses me around somethin' scandalous."
Halfway across the Blue Mesa, Dorothy met her ranger man. She had been
watching the trail. Lorry dismounted and walked with her to the cabin.
Bronson was glad to see him. They chatted for a while. Lorry would have
spoken of his father's offer--of his plans, of many things he wished
Bronson to know, yet he could not speak of these things until he had
talked with Dorothy. He would see Bronson again. Meanwhile--
A little later Lorry went to his cabin to take stock of the implements
and make his final report. He swept the cabin, picked up the loose odds
and ends, closed the battered piano gently, and sat down to think.
He had made his decision, and yet--he had seen Dorothy again; touched
her hand, talked with her, and watched her brown eyes while he talked.
The Great War seemed very far away. And here he was at home. This was
his country. But he had set his face toward the High Trail. He could not
Dorothy stood in the doorway, her finger at her lips. Bronson was busy
writing. Lorry rose and stepped out. He stooped and lifted her to Gray
Leg. She sat sideways in the saddle as he led the pony across the mesa
to the veritable rim of the world.
Far below lay the open country, veiled by the soft haze of distance. He
gave her his hand, and she slipped to the ground and stood beside him.
For the first time the tremendous sweep of space appalled her. She drew
close to him and touched his arm.
"What is it, Lorry?"
"You said--once--that you would wait for me."
"Yes. And now you are here, I'll never be lonesome again."
"Were you lonesome?"
"A little. I had never really waited--like that--before."
He frowned and gazed into the distances. It had been easy to
decide--when alone. Then he faced her, his gray eyes clear and
"I'm going to enlist," he said simply.
She had hoped that he would. She wanted to think that of him. And yet,
now that he had spoken, now that he was actually going--Her eyes grew
big. She wanted to say that she was glad. Her lips trembled.
He held out his arms. She felt their warm strength round her. On the
instant she thought of begging him not to go. But his eyes were shining
with a high purpose, that shamed her momentary indecision. She pressed
her cheek to his.
"I will wait for you," she whispered, and her face was wet with tears of
She was no longer the little mother and he her boy, for in that moment
he became to her the man strength of the race, his arms her refuge and
his eyes her courage for the coming years.