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The Patrol of the Sun Dance Trail by Ralph Connor

Part 7 out of 7

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"You see Mr. Smith has come to mean a great deal to me--to us--"

"So I should imagine," replied the doctor.

"His self-sacrifice and courage during those terrible days we can
never forget."

"Exactly so--quite right," replied the doctor, standing stiffly
beside his horse's head.

"You do not know people all at once," continued Moira.

"Ah! Not all at once," the doctor replied.

"But in times of danger and trouble one gets to know them quickly."

"Sure thing," said the doctor.

"And it takes times of danger to bring out the hero in a man."

"I should imagine so," replied the doctor with his eyes on Smith's
childlike and beaming face.

"And you see Mr. Smith was really our whole stay, and--and--we came
to rely upon him and we found him so steadfast." In the face of
the doctor's stolid brevity Moira was finding conversation

"Steadfast!" repeated the doctor. "Exactly so," his eyes upon
Smith's wobbly legs. "Mr. Smith I consider a very fortunate man.
I congratulate him on--"

"Oh, have you heard? I did not know that--"

"Yes. I mean--not exactly."

"Who told you? Is it not splendid?" enthusiasm shining in her

"Splendid! Yes--that is, for him," replied the doctor without
emotion. "I congratulate--"

"But how did you hear?"

"I did not exactly hear, but I had no difficulty in--ah--making the


"Yes, discovery. It was fairly plain; I might say it was the
feature of the view; in fact it stuck right out of the landscape--
hit you in the eye, so to speak."

"The landscape? What can you mean?"

"Mean? Simply that I am at a loss as to whether Mr. Smith is to be
congratulated more upon his exquisite taste or upon his extraordinary
good fortune."

"Good fortune, yes, is it not splendid?"

"Splendid is the exact word," said the doctor stiffly.

"And I am so glad."

"Yes, you certainly look happy," replied the doctor with a grim
attempt at a smile, and feeling as if more enthusiasm were demanded
from him. "Let me offer you my congratulations and say good-by. I
am leaving."

"You will be back soon, though?"

"Hardly. I am leaving the West."

"Leaving the West? Why? What? When?"

"To-night. Now. I must say good-by."

"To-night? Now?" Her voice sank almost to a whisper. Her lips
were white and quivering. "But do they know at the house? Surely
this is sudden."

"Oh, no, not so sudden. I have thought of it for some time;
indeed, I have made my plans."

"Oh--for some time? You have made your plans? But you never
hinted such a thing to--to any of us."

"Oh, well, I don't tell my plans to all the world," said the doctor
with a careless laugh.

The girl shrank from him as if he had cut her with his riding whip.
But, swiftly recovering herself, she cried with gay reproach:

"Why, Mr. Smith, we are losing all our friends at once. It is
cruel of you and Dr. Martin to desert us at the same time. Mr.
Smith, you know," she continued, turning to the doctor with an air
of exaggerated vivacity, "leaves for the East to-night too."

"Smith--leaving?" The doctor gazed stupidly at that person.

"Yes, you know he has come into a big fortune and is going to be--"

"A fortune?"

"Yes, and he is going East to be married."

"Going EAST to be married?"

"Yes, and I was--"

"Going EAST?" exclaimed the doctor. "I don't understand. I
thought you--"

"Oh, yes, his young lady is awaiting him in the East. And he is
going to spend his money in such a splendid way."

"Going EAST?" echoed the doctor, as if he could not fix the idea
with sufficient firmness in his brain to grasp it fully.

"Yes, I have just told you so," replied the girl.

"Married?" shouted the doctor, suddenly rushing at Smith and
gripping him by both arms. "Smith, you shy dog--you lucky dog! Let
me wish you joy, old man. By Jove! You deserve your luck, every
bit of it. Say, that's fine. Ha! ha! Jeerupiter! Smith, you are
a good one and a sly one. Shake again, old man. Say, by Jove!
What a sell--I mean what a joke! Look here, Smith, old chap, would
you mind taking Pepper home? I am rather tired--riding, I mean--
beastly wild cows--no end of a run after them. See you down at the
house later. No, no, don't wait, don't mind me. I am all right,
fit as a fiddle--no, not a bit tired--I mean I am tired riding.
Yes, rather stiff--about the knees, you know. Oh, it's all right.
Up you get, old man--there you are! So, Smith, you are going to be
married, eh? Lucky dog! Tell 'em I am--tell 'em we are coming.
My horse? Oh, well, never mind my horse till I come myself. So
long, old chap! Ha! ha! old man, good-by. Great Caesar! What a
sell! Say, let's sit down, Moira," he said, suddenly growing quiet
and turning to the girl, "till I get my wind. Fine chap that
Smith. Legs a bit wobbly, but don't care if he had a hundred of
'em and all wobbly. He's all right. Oh, my soul! What an ass!
What an adjectival, hyphenated jackass! Don't look at me that way
or I shall climb a tree and yell. I'm not mad, I assure you. I
was on the verge of it a few moments ago, but it is gone. I am
sane, sane as an old maid. Oh, my God!" He covered his face with
his hands and sat utterly still for some moments.

"Dr. Martin, what is the matter?" exclaimed the girl. "You terrify

"No wonder. I terrify myself. How could I have stood it."

"What is the matter? What is it?"

"Why, Moira, I thought you were going to marry that idiot."

"Idiot?" exclaimed the girl, drawing herself up. "Idiot? Mr.
Smith? I am not going to marry him, Dr. Martin, but he is an
honorable fellow and a friend of mine, a dear friend of mine."

"So he is, so he is, a splendid fellow, the finest ever, but thank
God you are not going to marry him!"

"Why, what is wrong with--"

"Why? Why? God help me! Why? Only because, Moira, I love you."
He threw himself upon his knees beside her. "Don't, don't for
God's sake get away! Give me a chance to speak!" He caught her
hand in both of his. "I have just been through hell. Don't send
me there again. Let me tell you. Ever since that minute when I
saw you in the glen I have loved you. In my thoughts by day and in
my dreams by night you have been, and this day when I thought I had
lost you I knew that I loved you ten thousand times more than
ever." He was kissing her hand passionately, while she sat with
head turned away. "Tell me, Moira, if I may love you? And is it
any use? And do you think you could love me even a little bit? I
am not worthy to touch you. Tell me." Still she sat silent. He
waited a few moments, his face growing gray. "Tell me," he said at
length in a broken, husky voice. "I will try to bear it."

She turned her face toward him. The sunny eyes were full of tears.

"And you were going away from me?" she breathed, leaning toward

"Sweetheart!" he cried, putting his arms around her and drawing her
to him, "tell me to stay."

"Stay," she whispered, "or take me too."

The sun had long since disappeared behind the big purple mountains
and even the warm afterglow in the eastern sky had faded into a
pearly opalescent gray when the two reached the edge of the bluff
nearest the house.

"Oh! The milking!" cried Moira aghast, as she came in sight of the

"Great Caesar! I was going to help," exclaimed the doctor.

"Too bad," said the girl penitently. "But, of course, there's

"Why, certainly there's Smith. What a God-send that chap is. He
is always on the spot. But Cameron is home. I see his horse. Let
us go in and face the music."

They found an excited group standing in the kitchen, Mandy with a
letter in her hand.

"Oh, here you are at last!" she cried. "Where have you--" She
glanced at Moira's face and then at the doctor's and stopped

"Hello, what's up?" cried the doctor.

"We have got a letter--such a letter!" cried Mandy. "Read it.
Read it aloud, Doctor." She thrust the letter into his hand. The
doctor cleared his throat, struck an attitude, and read aloud:

"My dear Cameron:

"It gives me great pleasure to say for the officers of the Police
Force in the South West district and for myself that we greatly
appreciate the distinguished services you rendered during the past
six months in your patrol of the Sun Dance Trail. It was a work of
difficulty and danger and one of the highest importance to the
country. I feel sure it will gratify you to know that the attention
of the Government has been specially called to the creditable manner
in which you have performed your duty, and I have no doubt that the
Government will suitably express its appreciation of your services
in due time. But, as you are aware, in the Force to which we have
the honor to belong, we do not look for recognition, preferring to
find a sufficient reward in duty done.

"Permit me also to say that we recognize and appreciate the spirit
of devotion showed by Mrs. Cameron during these trying months in so
cheerfully and loyally giving you up to this service.

"May I add that in this rebellion to my mind the most critical
factor was the attitude of the great Blackfeet Confederacy. Every
possible effort was made by the half-breeds and Northern Indians to
seduce Crowfoot and his people from their loyalty, and their most
able and unscrupulous agent in this attempt was the Sioux Indian
known among us as The Copperhead. That he failed utterly in his
schemes and that Crowfoot remained loyal I believe is due to the
splendid work of the officers and members of our Force in the South
West district, but especially to your splendid services as the
Patrol of the Sun Dance Trail."

"And signed by the big Chief himself, the Commissioner," cried Dr.
Martin. "What do you think of that, Baby?" he continued, catching
the baby from its mother's arms. "What do you think of your
daddy?" The doctor pirouetted round the room with the baby in his
arms, that young person regarding the whole performance apparently
with grave and profound satisfaction.

"Your horse is ready," said Smith, coming in at the door.

"Your horse?" cried Cameron.

"Oh--I forgot," said the doctor. "Ah--I don't think I want him
to-night, Smith."

"You are not going to-night, then?" inquired Mandy in delighted

"No--I--in fact, I believe I have changed my mind about that. I
have, been--ah--persuaded to remain."

"Oh, I see," cried Mandy in supreme delight. Then turning swiftly
upon her sister-in-law who stood beside the doctor, her face in a
radiant glow, she added, "Then what did you mean by--by--what we
saw this afternoon?"

A deeper red dyed the girl's cheeks.

"What are you talking about?" cried Dr. Martin. "Oh, that kissing
Smith business."

"I couldn't just help it!" burst out Moira. "He was so happy."

"Going to be married, you know," interjected the doctor.

"And so--so--"

"Just so," cried the doctor. "Oh, pshaw! that's all right! I'd
kiss Smith myself. I feel like doing it this blessed minute.
Where is he? Smith! Where are you?" But Smith had escaped.
"Smith's all right, I say, and so are we, eh, Moira?" He slipped
his arm round the blushing girl.

"Oh, I am so glad," cried Mandy, beaming upon them. "And you are
not going East after all?"

"East? Not I! The West for me. I am going to stay right in it--
with the Inspector here--and with you, Mrs. Cameron--and with my
sweetheart--and yes, certainly with the Patrol of the Sun Dance

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