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The Rim of the Desert by Ada Woodruff Anderson

Part 4 out of 7

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bring me a cup of coffee. It had a pleasant aroma, and the cream with
which she cooled it gave it a nice color. You don't know how that first
draught steadied me. 'I am sorry, madam,' I said, 'but I have had a hard
experience in these woods, and I expected to catch the mail boat for
Seattle; but that singing down-stream means I am cut off.'

"She started a little and looked me over again with new interest. 'The
squaw,' she said, 'is mourning for her papoose. It was a terrible
accident. A young hunter up the Dosewallups, where the Indians were
berrying, killed the baby in jumping a log.'

"'Yes, madam,' I answered, and rose and put the cup down, 'I am the man.
It is harder breaking trail to the Lilliwaup than coming by canoe, and the
Indians have beaten me. I must double back now to the Duckabush. By that
time, they will have given up the watch.'

"'Wait,' she said, 'let me think.' But it did not take her long. A turn
the length of the table, and her face brightened. 'Why, it's the easiest
thing in the world,' she said. 'I must row you to the steamer.' Then when
I hesitated to let her run the risk, she explained that her party had
moved their camp from the mouth of the Dosewallups after these Indians
arrived there; they knew her; they had seen her rowing about, and she
always carried a good many traps; an easel, sun umbrella, cushions, a
steamer rug. I had only to lie down in the bottom of the boat, and she
would cover me. And she drew back the flap of the nearest tent and told me
to change my clothes for a brown suit she laid out, and canvas shoes.
'Come,' she urged, 'there's time enough but none to waste; and any minute
the Indians may surprise you.'

"She was waiting with the rug and pillows and a pair of oars when I came
out, and helped me carry them to the boat which was beached a short
distance below her camp. When it was launched, and I was stowed under the
baggage, with an ample breathing hole through which I could watch the
rower, she pushed off and fell into a long, even stroke. Presently I
noticed she had nice eyes, brown and very deep, and I thought her face was
beautiful. It had the expressiveness, the swift intelligence that goes
with a strong personality, and through all her determination, I felt a
running note of caution. I knew she saw clearly while she braved the
extremity. After a while her breast began to rise and fall with the
exercise, her cheeks flushed, and I saw she had met the flood tide. All
this time the voice of the squaw grew steadily nearer. I imagined her, as
I had seen others before, kneeling on the bank, rocking herself, beating
her breast. Then it came over me that we were forced to hug the shore to
avoid one of the reedy shallows that choked the estuary and must pass very
close to her. The next moment there was a lull, and the girl looked across
her shoulder and called 'Clahowya!' At the same time she rested on her
oars long enough to take off her hat and toss it with careless directness
on my breathing hole. The squaw's answer came from above me, and she
repeated and intoned the word so that it seemed part of her dirge.
'Clahowya! Clahowya! Clahowya! Wake tenas papoose. Halo! Halo!' The
despair of it cut me worse than lashes. Then I heard other voices; a dog
barked, and I understood we were skirting the encampment.

"After that the noise grew fainter, and in a little while the girl
uncovered my face. The channel had widened; the tang of salt came on the
wind; and when I ventured to raise my head a little, I saw the point at
the mouth of the river looming purple-black. Then, as we began to round
it, we came suddenly on a canoe, drifting broadside, with a single salmon
hunter crouching in it, ready with his spear. It flashed over me that he
was one of the two Indians who had tracked me to the Duckabush; the taller
one who had tried to drink at the rill; then he made his throw and at the
same instant the girl's hat fell again on my face. I heard her call her
pleasant 'Clahowya!' and she added, rowing on evenly: 'Hyas delate
salmon.' The next moment his answer rang astern: 'Clahowya! Clahowya! Hyas
delate salmon.'

"At last I felt the swell of the open, and she leaned to uncover my face
once more. 'The steamer is in sight,' she said, and I raised my head again
and saw the boat, a small moving blot with a trailer of smoke, far up the
sapphire sea. Then I turned on my elbow and looked back. The canoe and the
encampment were hidden by the point; we were drifting off the wharf of the
small town-site, almost abandoned, where the steamer made her stop. There
was nothing left to do but express my gratitude, which I did clumsily

"'You mustn't make so much of it,' she said; 'the first thing a
reservation Indian is taught is to forget the old law, a life for a life.'

"'I know that,' I answered, 'still I couldn't have faced the best white
man that first hour, and off there in the mountains, away from reservation
influences, my chances looked small. I wish I could be as sure the men who
were with me are safe.'

"She gave me a long, calculating look. 'They will be--soon,' she said. 'My
brother Robert should be on the steamer with the superintendent and
reservation guard.' And she dipped her oars again, pointing the boat a
little more towards the landing, and watched the steamer while I sifted
her meaning.

"'So,' I said at last. 'So they are there at that camp. You knew it and
brought me by.'

"'You couldn't have helped them any,' she said, 'and you can go back, if
you wish, with the guard.' Then she told me how she had visited the camp
with her brother Robert and had seen them bound with stout strips of
elk-hide. They had explained the accident and how one of them, to give me
time at the start, had put himself in my place."

Tisdale halted a moment; a wave of emotion crossed his face. His look
rested on Mrs. Weatherbee, and his eyes drew and held hers. She leaned
forward a little; her lips parted over a hushed breath. It was as though
she braved while she feared his next words. "That possibility hadn't
occurred to me," he went on, "yet I should have foreseen it, knowing the
man as I did. We were built on the same lines, practically the same size,
and we had outfitted together for the trip. He wore high, brown shoes
spiked for mountain climbing, exactly like mine; he even matched the marks
of that heel. But Sandy wouldn't stand for it. He declared there was a
third man who had gone up Rocky Brook and had not come back. One of the
squaws who had seen me agreed with him, but they were bound and taken to
the encampment. The next morning an Indian found my coat and shoes lodged
on a gravel bar and picked up my trail. The camp moved then by canoe
around to the mouth of the Duckabush. taking the prisoners with them, and
waited for my trailers to come down. They had discovered me on the log
crossing when it fell, and believed I was drowned."

There was another pause. Mrs. Weatherbee sighed and leaned back in her
chair; then Mrs. Feversham said: "And they refused to let your substitute

Tisdale nodded. "He was brought with Sandy along to the Lilliwaup. The
Indians were traveling home, and no doubt the reservation influence had
restrained them; still, they were staying a second night on the Lilliwaup,
and when Robert spoke to them they were sullen and ugly. That was why he
had hurried away to bring the superintendent down. He had started in his
Peterboro but expected to find a man on the way who would take him on in
his motor-boat. Once during the night John had drifted close to the camp
to listen, but things were quiet, and they had bridged the morning with a
little fishing and sketching up-stream.

"'Suppose,' I said at last, 'suppose you had been afraid of me. I should
be doubling back to the Duckabush now. As it is, I wouldn't give much for
their opinion of me.'

"'I wish you could have heard that man Sandy,' she said, and--did I tell
you she had a very nice smile? 'He called you true gold.' And while she
went on to repeat the rest he had told her, it struck me pleasantly I was
listening to my own obituary. But the steamer was drawing close. She
whistled the landing, and the girl dipped her oars again, pulling her
long, even strokes. I threw off the rug and sat erect, ready to ease the
boat off as we came alongside. And there on the lower deck watching us
stood a young fellow whom, from his resemblance to her, I knew as brother
Robert, with the superintendent from the reservation, backed by the whole
patrol. Then my old friend Doctor Wise, the new coroner at Hoodsport, came
edging through the crowd to take my hand. 'Well, well, Tisdale, old man,'
he said, 'this is good. Do you know they had you drowned--or worse?'"

Tisdale settled back in his chair and, turning his face, looked off the
port bow. The Narrows had dropped behind, and for a moment the deck of the
_Aquila_ slanted to the tide rip off Port Orchard; then she righted and
raced lightly across the broad channel. Ahead, off Bremerton Navy Yard,
some anchored cruisers rose in black silhouette against a brilliant sea.

"And," said Marcia Feversham, "of course you went to the camp in a body
and released the prisoners."

"Yes, we used the mail steamer's boats, and she waited for us until the
inquest was over, then brought us on to Seattle. The motor-boat took the
doctor and superintendent home."

"And the girl," said Elizabeth after a moment, "did you never see her

"Oh, yes." The genial lines deepened, and Hollis rose from his chair.
"Often. I always look them up when I am in Seattle."

"But who was John?"

"John? Why, he was her husband."

The Olympics had reappeared; the sun dropped behind a cloud over a high
crest; shafts of light silvered the gorges; the peaks caught an amethyst
glow. Tisdale, tracing once more that far canyon across the front of
Constance, walked slowly forward into the bows.

The yacht touched the Bremerton dock to take on the lieutenant who was
expected aboard, and at the same time Jimmie Daniels swung lightly over
the side aft. The Seattle steamer whistled from her slip on the farther
side of the wharf, and he hurried to the gang-plank. There he sent a
glance behind and saw Tisdale still standing with his back squared to the
landing, looking off over the harbor. And the _Press_ representative
smiled. He had gathered little information in regard to the coal question,
but in that notebook, buttoned snugly away in his coat, he had set down
the papoose story, word for word.



Tisdale did not follow the lieutenant aft. When the _Aquila_ turned into
Port Orchard, he still remained looking off her bows. The sun had set, a
soft breeze was in his face, and the Sound was no longer a mirror; it
fluted, broke in racy waves; the cutwater struck from them an intricate
melody. Northward a few thin streamers of cloud warmed like painted
flames, and their reflection changed the sea to running fire. Then he was
conscious that some one approached behind him; she stopped at his elbow to
watch the brilliant scene. And instantly the spirit of combat in him
stirred; his muscles tightened like those of a man on guard.

After a moment she commenced to sing very softly, in unison with the music
of the waves along the keel,

"How dear to me the hour when daylight dies."

Even subdued, her voice was beautiful. It began surely, insistently, to
undermine all that stout breastwork he had reared against her these
twenty-four hours. But he thrust his hands in his pockets and turned to
her with that upward look of probing, upbraiding eyes.

The song died. A flush rose over her face, but she met the look bravely.
"I came to explain," she said. "I thought at the beginning, when we
started on that drive through the mountains, you knew my identity.
Afterwards I tried repeatedly to tell you, but when I saw how bitterly
you--hated--me, my courage failed."

Her lip trembled over a sighing breath, and she looked, away up the
brilliant sea. Tisdale could not doubt her. His mind raced back to
incident on incident of that journey; in flashes it was all made clear to
him. Even during that supreme hour of the electrical storm had she not
tried to undeceive him? He forgave her her transgressions against him; he
forgave her so completely that, at the recollection of the one moment in
the basin, his pulses sang. Then, inside his pockets, his hands clenched,
and he scourged himself for the lapse.

"I was in desperate need," she went on quickly. "There was a debt--a debt
of honor--I wished to pay. And Mr. Foster told me you were interested in
that desert land; that you were going to look it over. He caught me by
long distance telephone the night he sailed for Alaska, to let me know.
Oh, it all sounds sordid, but if you have ever come to the ragged edge of

She stopped, with a little outward, deprecating movement of her hands, and
turned again to meet Tisdale's look. But he was still silent. "I believed
when you knew me," she went on, "you would see I am not the kind of woman
you imagined; I even hoped, for David's sake, you would forgive me. But I
did not know there was such friendship as yours in the world. I thought
only mothers loved so,--the great ones, the Hagars, the Marys. It is more
than that; it is the best and deepest of every kind of love in one. I
can't fathom it--unless--men sometimes are born with twin souls."

It was not the influence of her personality now; it was not any magnetism.
Something far down in the depths of him responded to that something in
her. It was as though he felt the white soul of her rising transcendent
over her body. It spoke in her pose, her eloquent face, and it filled the
brief silence with an insistent, almost vibrant appeal.

"They are," he answered, and the emotion in his own face played softly
through his voice, "I am sure that they are. Weatherbee had other friends,
plenty of them, scattered from the Yukon territory to Nome; men who would
have been glad to go out of their way to serve him, if they had known; but
he never asked anything of them; he saved the right to call on me. Neither
of us ever came as near that 'ragged edge of things' as he did, toppled on
it as he did, for so long. There never was a braver fight, against greater
odds, single-handed, yet I failed him." He paused while his eyes again
sought that high gorge of the Olympic Mountains, then added: "The most I
can do now is to see that his work is carried on."

"You mean," she said not quite steadily, "you are going to buy that land?"

"I mean"--he frowned a little--"I am going to renew my offer to finance
the project for you. You owe it to David Weatherbee even more than I do.
Go back to that pocket; set his desert blossoming. It's your only

She groped for the bulwark behind her and moved back to its support. "I
could not. I could not. I should go mad in that terrible place."

"Listen, madam." He said this very gently, but his voice carried its
vibrant undernote as though down beneath the surface a waiting reserve
force stirred. "I did not tell all about that orchard of spruce twigs. It
was planted along a bench, the miniature of the one we climbed in the
Wenatchee Mountains, that was crossed with tiny, frozen, irrigating canals
leading from a basin; and midway stood a house. You must have known that
trick he had of carving small things with his pocket-knife. Then imagine
that delicately modeled house of snow. It was the nucleus of the whole,
and before the door, fine as a cameo and holding a bundle in her arms, was
set the image of a woman."

There was a silent moment. She waited, leaning a little forward, watching
Tisdale's face, while a sort of incredulous surprise rose through the
despair in her eyes. "There were women at Fairbanks and Seward after the
first year," he went on. "Bright, refined women who would have counted it
a privilege to share things, his hardest luck, with David Weatherbee. But
the best of them in his eyes was nothing more than a shadow. There was
just one woman in the world for him. That image stood for you. The whole
project revolved around you. It would be incomplete now without you."

She shrank closer against the bulwark, glancing about her with the swift
look of a creature trapped, then for a moment dropped her face in her
hands. When she tried to say something, the words would not come. Her
lips, her whole face quivered, but she could only shake her head in
protest again and again.

Tisdale waited, watching her with his upward look from under contracted
brows. "What else can you do?" he asked at last. "Your tract is too small
to be handled by a syndicate, and now that the levels of the Columbia
desert are to be brought under a big irrigation project, which means a
nominal expense to the grower, your high pocket, unimproved, will hardly
attract the single buyer. Will you, then, plat it in five-acre tracts for
the Seattle market and invite the--interest of your friends?"

She drew erect; the danger signals flamed briefly in her eyes. "My friends
can be dis-interested, Mr. Tisdale. It has only been through them, for a
long time, I have been able to keep my hold."

"There's where you made your mistake at the start; in gaining that hold.
When you conformed to their standards, your own were overthrown."

"That is not true." She did not raise her voice any; it dropped rather to
a minor note? but a tremor ran over her body, and her face for an instant
betrayed how deep the shaft had struck. "And, always, when I have accepted
a favor, I have given full measure in exchange. But there is an
alternative you seem to have overlooked."

"I understand," he said slowly, and his color rose. "You may marry again."
Then he asked, without protest: "Is it Foster?"

On occasion, during that long drive through the mountains, he had felt the
varying height and thickness of an invisible barrier, but never, until
that moment, its chill. Then Marcia Feversham called her, and she turned
to go down the deck. "I'm coming!" she answered and stopped to look back.
"You need not trouble about Mr. Foster," she said. "He--is safe."



Frederic had suggested a rubber at auction bridge.

Elizabeth fixed another pillow under his shoulders and moved the card
table to his satisfaction, then took a chair near the players and unfolded
her crochet, while Tisdale, whose injured hand excluded him from the game,
seated himself beside her. He asked whimsically if she was manufacturing a
cloud like the one in the west where the sun had set; but she lacked her
sister's ready repartee, and, arresting her needle long enough to glance
at him and back to the woolly, peach-pink pile in her lap, answered
seriously: "It's going to be a hug-me-tight."

The lieutenant laughed. "Sounds interesting, does it not?" he said,
shuffling the cards. "But calm yourself, sir; a hug-me-tight is merely a
kind of sweater built on the lines of a vest."

He dealt, and Mrs. Feversham bid a lily. From his position Tisdale was
able to watch Mrs. Weatherbee's face and her cards. She held herself erect
in a subdued excitement as the game progressed; the pink flush deepened
and went and came in her cheek; the blue lights danced in her eyes.
Repeatedly she flashed intelligence to her partner across the board. And
the lieutenant began to wait in critical moments for the glance. They won
the first hand. Then it became apparent that he and Morganstein were
betting on the side, and Marcia remonstrated. "It isn't that we are
scrupulous alone," she said, "but we lose inspiration playing second

"Come in then," suggested Frederic and explained to the lieutenant: "She
can put up a hundred dollars and lose 'em like a soldier."

"The money stayed in the family," she said quickly. "Beatriz, it is your

Mrs. Weatherbee was calculating the possibilities of her hand. Her suit
was diamonds; seven in sequence from the jack. She held also the three
highest in clubs and the other black king. She was weak in hearts. "I bid
two diamonds," she said slowly, "and, Marcia, it's my ruby against your
check for three hundred dollars."

There was a flutter of surprise. "No," remonstrated Elizabeth sharply.
"No, Marcia can buy the ring for what it is worth."

"Then I should lose the chance to keep it. Three hundred will be enough to
lose." And she added, less confidently: "But if you should win, Marcia, it
is understood you will not let the ring go out of your hands."

"I bear witness," cried the lieutenant gallantly, "and we are proud to
play second when a Studevaris leads."

But Morganstein stared at her in open admiration. "You thoroughbred!" he

"It shall stay in the family," confirmed Marcia.

Then Frederic bid two lilies, the lieutenant passed and Mrs. Feversham
raised to three hearts. She wavered, and Tisdale saw the cards tremble in
her hand. "Four diamonds," she said at last. The men passed, and Marcia
doubled. Then Morganstein led a lily, and the lieutenant spread his hand
on the table. There were six clubs; in diamonds a single trey.

But Mrs. Weatherbee was radiant. She moved a little and glanced back at
Elizabeth, inviting her to look at her hand. She might as well have said:
"You see, I have only to lead out trumps and establish clubs."

Marcia played a diamond on her partner's second lead of spades, and led
the ace of hearts, following with the king; the fourth round Frederic
trumped over Mrs. Weatherbee and led another lily. Mrs. Feversham used her
second diamond and, returning with a heart, saw her partner trump again
over Mrs. Weatherbee. It was miserable. They gathered in the book before
the lead fell to her. The next deal the cards deserted her, and after that
the lieutenant blundered. But even though the ruby was inevitably lost,
she finished the rubber pluckily; the flush deepened in her cheek; the
blue fires flamed in her eyes. "You thoroughbred!" Morganstein repeated
thickly. "You thoroughbred!"

To Tisdale it was unendurable. He rose and crossed to the farther side of
the desk. The _Aquila_, rounding the northern end of Bainbridge Island,
had come into Agate Pass; the tide ran swift in rips and eddies between
close wooded shores, but these things no longer caught his attention. The
scene he saw was the one he had put behind him, and in the calcium light
of his mind, one figure stood out clearly from the rest. Had he not known
this woman was a spendthrift? Had he not suspected she inherited this vice
from her father, that old gambler of the stock exchange. Was it not for
this reason he had determined to hold that last half interest in the
Aurora mine? Still, still, she had not shown the skill of long practice;
she had not played with ordinary caution. And had not Elizabeth
remonstrated, as though her loss was inevitable? Every one had been
undeniably surprised. Why, then, had she done this? She had told him she
was in "desperate need." Could this have been the alternative to which she
had referred?

The _Aquila's_ whistle blew, and she came around, close under a bluff,
into a small cove, on the rim of which rose the new villa. The group
behind Tisdale began to push back chairs. He turned. The game was over,
and Mrs. Feversham stood moving her hand slowly to catch the changing
lights of the ring on her finger. Then she looked at the loser. "It seems
like robbery," she exclaimed, "to take this old family talisman from you,
Beatriz. I shall make out a check to ease my conscience."

"Oh, no." She lifted her head bravely like his Alaska flower in the bitter
wind. "I shall not accept it. My grandfather believed in the ruby
devoutly," she went on evenly. "It was his birthstone. And since it is
yours too, Marcia, it should bring you better fortune than it has brought
me. But see! The villa roof is finished and stained moss-green as it
should be, against that background of firs. And isn't the big veranda
delightful, with those Venetian blinds?"

The yacht nosed alongside the little stone quay, and preceded by the host,
who was carried ashore in his chair, not without difficulty, by relays of
his crew, the party made the landing.

Tisdale's first impression when he stepped over the threshold of the villa
was of magnitude. A great fireplace built of granite blocks faced the
hospitable entrance, and the interior lifted to the beamed roof, with a
gallery midway, on which opened the upper rooms. The stairs rose easily in
two landings, and the curving balustrade formed a recess in which was
constructed a stage. Near this a pipe organ was being installed. It was
all luxurious, created for entertainment and pleasure, but it lacked the
ostentatious element for which he was prepared.

It had been understood that the visit was made at this time to allow Mrs.
Feversham an opportunity to go through the house. She was to decide on
certain furnishings which she was to purchase in New York, but it was
evident to Tisdale that the items she listed followed the suggestions of
the woman who stood beside her, weighing with subdued enthusiasm the
possibilities of the room. "Imagine a splendid polar-bear rug here," she
said, "with a yellowish lynx at the foot of the stairs, and one of those
fine Kodiak skins in front of the hearth. A couch there in the chimney
corner, with a Navajo blanket and pillows would be color enough."

Morganstein, watching her from his invalid chair, grasped the idea with
satisfaction. "Cut out those Wilton carpets, Marcia," he said. "I'll write
that Alaska hunter, Thompson, who heads the big-game parties, to send me
half a dozen bears. They mount 'em all right in Seattle. Now see what we
are going to need in that east suite up-stairs."

They went trooping up the staircase, but Hollis did not hurry to follow.
His glance moved to the heavy, recumbent figure of his host. He was
looking up across the banisters at Mrs. Weatherbee as she ascended, and
something in his sensuous face, the steady gleam of his round black eyes,
started in Tisdale's mind a sudden suspicion. She stopped to look down
from the gallery railing and smiled with a gay little salute. Then
Elizabeth called, and she disappeared through an open door.

"I'd give fifty dollars to see her face when she gets to that east room,"
Morganstein said abruptly. "But go up, Mr. Tisdale; go up. Needn't bother
to stay with me."

"There's a good deal to see here," Tisdale responded genially. "A man who
is accustomed to spend his time as I do, gathering accurate detail, is
slower than others, I suppose, and this all seems very fine to me."

"It's got to be fine,--the finest bungalow on Puget Sound, I keep telling
the architect. Nothing short of that will do. Listen!" he added in a
smothered voice, "she's in there now."

The vaulted roof carried the echoes down to Tisdale as he went up the
stairs. All the doors were open along the gallery; some were not yet hung,
but he walked directly to the last one from which the exclamations of
surprise had come. And, as he went, he heard Mrs. Weatherbee say: "It was
glorious, like this, the day the idea flashed to my mind; but I did not
dream Mr. Morganstein would alter the casement, for the men were hanging
the French windows. Why, it must have been necessary to change the whole
wall. Still, it was worth it, Marcia, was it not?"

"It certainly is unique," admitted Mrs. Feversham. Then Tisdale stopped on
the threshold, facing a great window of plate glass in a single pane,
designed to frame the incomparable view of Mount Rainier lifting above the
sea. And it was no longer a phantom mountain; the haze had vanished, and
the great peak loomed near, sharply defined, shining in Alpine splendor.

It was a fine conceit, too fine to have sprung from Morganstein's
materialistic brain, and Tisdale was not slow to grasp the truth. The
financier had reconstructed the wall to carry out Mrs. Weatherbee's
suggestion. Then it came over him that this whole building, feature by
feature, had been created to win, to ensnare this woman. It was as though
the wall had become a scroll on which was written: "'All these things will
I give thee, if thou wilt fall down'--and marry me."

Suddenly the place oppressed him. He walked through the room to the
smaller one of the suite and out on a broad sleeping-porch. The casement
was nearly waist high, and he stood grasping the ledge and looking with
unseeing eyes into a grove of firs. So this was the alternative. And this
was why Foster was safe. The young mining engineer, with little besides
his pay, had fallen far short of her price.

But the salt wind was in his face; it quieted him. He began to notice the
many small intruding influences of approaching night. The bough of a
resinous hemlock, soughing gently, touched his arm, and his hold on the
shingles relaxed. He moved, to rest the injured hand on the casing, and
its throbbing eased. His glance singled out clumps of changing maple or
dogwood that flamed like small fires on the slope. Then he caught the
rhythm of the tide, breaking far down along the rocky bulkhead; and above,
where a footbridge spanned a chasm, a cascade rippled in harmony.

"Nice, isn't it?" said the lieutenant, who came onto the porch with

"That is a pergola they are building down there," she explained. "It's to
be covered with Virginia creeper and wistaria and all sorts of climbing
things. And French doors open into it from the dining-room. A walk winds
up from the end--you see it, Mr. Tisdale?--across the footbridge to a
pavilion on the point. It is almost too dark to see the roof among the
trees. Mrs. Weatherbee calls it the observatory, because we have such a
long sweep of the Sound from there, north and south. You'd think you were
aboard a ship at sea, lieutenant, in stormy weather. It gets every wind
that blows."

The lieutenant wished to go to the pavilion, but Tisdale excused himself
from joining them, and was left alone again with his thoughts. Then he was
conscious the other women had remained in the apartment. They had come
into the inner room, and Mrs. Feversham, having found an electric button,
flooded the interior with light. On the balcony a blue bulb glowed.
Tisdale turned a little more and, leaning on the casement, waited for them
to come through the open door.

"What do you say to furnishing this suite in bird's-eye maple?" asked
Marcia. "With rugs and portieres in old blue."

Mrs. Weatherbee shaded her dazzled eyes with her hand and looked
critically around. "The maple would be lovely," she said, "but--do you
know," and she turned to her companion with an engaging smile, "these
sunrise rooms seem meant for Alaska cedar? And the rugs should be not old
blue, but a soft, mossy blue-green."

Mrs. Feversham laughed. "Home industry again! We don't go to New York for
Alaska cedar. But you are right; that pale yellow wood would be simply
charming with these primrose walls, and it takes a wonderful polish. That
leaves me only the rugs and hangings." She turned to go back through the
wide doorway, then stopped to say: "After all, Beatriz, why not see what
is to be had in Seattle? I had rather you selected everything for this
suite, since it is to be yours."

"Mine?" She paused, steadying her voice, then went on with a swift
breathlessness. "But I see, you mean to use when I visit you and
Elizabeth. These rooms, from the first, have been my choice. But I am
afraid I've been officious. I've been carried away by all this beautiful
architecture and the pleasure of imagining harmonious, expensive
furnishings. I never have fitted a complete house; it's years since I had
a home. Then, too, you've spoiled me by listening to my suggestions.
You've made me believe it was one way I could--well--cancel obligations."

Mrs. Feversham raised her hand and, turning it slowly, watched the play of
light on the ruby. "There isn't a stone like this in America," she said.
"You don't know how I've coveted it. But you need not have worried,
Beatriz. I disposed of your note to Frederic."

"To Mr. Morganstein?" Her voice broke a little; she rocked unsteadily on
her feet. It was as though a great wind had taken her unawares. Then, "I
shall try to pay him as soon as possible," she said evenly. "I have the
land at Hesperides Vale, you know, and if I do not sell it soon, perhaps
he will take it for the debt."

Mrs. Feversham dropped her hand. "Beatriz! Beatriz!" she exclaimed. "You
know there's an easier way. Come, it's time to stop this make-believe. You
know Frederic Morganstein would gladly pay your debts, every one. You know
he is building this villa for you; that he would marry you, now, to-day,
if you would say the word. Yet you hold him at arm's-length; you are so
conservative, so scrupulous about Public Opinion. But no one in Seattle
would breathe a suggestion of blame. And it isn't as though you had worn
first mourning. The wedding could be very quiet, with a long honeymoon to
Japan or Mexico; both, if you wished. And you might come home to open this
house with a reception late in May. The twilights are delightful then.
Come, think, Bee! You've been irreproachable; the most exacting would
admit that. And every one knows David Weatherbee practically deserted you
for years."

Tisdale saw her mouth tremble. The quiver ran over her face, her whole
body. For an instant her lashes fell, then she lifted them and met Marcia
Feversham's calculating look. "It was not desertion," she said. "He
contributed--his best--to my support. I took all he had to give. If ever
you are where people are--talking--do me the favor to correct that
mistake. And, now, if you please, Marcia, we will not bring David
Weatherbee in any more."

Mrs. Feversham laughed a little. "I am willing, bygones are bygones, only
listen to Frederic."

"You are mistaken, too, about Mr. Morganstein's motive, Marcia. He built
this house for all his friends and Elizabeth's. He owes her something; she
has always been so devoted to him." And she added, as she turned to go
back to the gallery, "He knows I do not care to marry again."

Tisdale had not foreseen the personal drift to the conversation. And it
had not occurred to him he was unobserved; the balcony light was directly
over him, and he had waited, expecting they would come through to the
porch, to speak to them. Now he saw that from where they had stopped in
the brilliant interior, his figure must have blended into the background
of hemlock boughs. If they had given him any thought, they had believed he
had gone down with Elizabeth and the lieutenant. To have apologized, made
himself known, after he grasped the significance of the situation, would
only have resulted in embarrassment to them all. He allowed them time to
reach the floor below. But the heat rose in his face. And suddenly, as his
mind ran back over that interview in the bows of the _Aquila_, his
question in regard to Foster seemed gross. Still, still, she had said she
did "not care to marry again." That one fact radiated subconsciously
through the puzzling thoughts that baffled him.

Behind him a few splendid chords rolled through the hall to the vaulted
roof, then pealed forth the overture from Martha. That had been
Weatherbee's favorite opera. Sometimes on long Arctic nights, when they
were recalling old times and old songs, he himself had taken Plunkett's
part to David's Lionel. He could see that cabin now, the door set wide,
while their voices stormed the white silence under the near Yukon stars.
His eyes gathered their absent expression. It was as though he looked
beyond the park, far and away into other vast solitudes; saw once more the
cliffs of Nanatuk looming through fog and heard clearly, booming across
the ice, the great, familiar baritone.

The notes of the organ ceased. Tisdale stirred like a man roused from
sleep. He turned and started through to the gallery. A woman's voice,
without accompaniment, was singing Martha's immortal aria, _The Last Rose
of Summer_. It was beautiful. The strains, sweet and rich, flooded the
hall and pervaded the upper rooms. Looking down from the railing, he saw
Elizabeth and the lieutenant at the entrance below. The men who had
installed the organ, were listening too, at the end of the hall, while
beyond the open door the crew of the _Aquila_ waited to carry the master
aboard. As he reached the top of the stairs, Mrs. Feversham appeared,
seated near the invalid in the center of the hall, and finally, as he came
to the first landing, there was the diva herself, acknowledging the
applause, sweeping backward with charming exaggeration from the front of
the stage.

"Bravo!" shouted Frederic. "Bravo! Encore!" She took the vacant seat at
the organ, and the great notes of the _Good-night_ chorus rolled to the
rafters. Responding to her nodding invitation, the voices of the audience
joined her own. It was inspiring. Tisdale stopped on the landing and
involuntarily he caught up his old part.

"Tho' no prayer of mine can move thee
Yet I wish thee sweet good night;
Now good night, good night, good night!"

She looked up in quick surprise; her hands stumbled a little on the keys
and, singing on, she subdued her voice to listen to his. Then, hesitating
a little over the first chords, she began the final prelude, and Tisdale,
waiting, heard her voice waver and float out soft and full:

"Ah, will Heaven indeed forgive me."

Her face was still lifted to him. It was as though her soul rose in direct
appeal to him, and in that moment all his great heart went down to her in

It was over. Morganstein's heavy "Bravo!" broke the silence, followed by
the enthusiastic clapping of hands, Mrs. Weatherbee rose and started down
the hall to join Elizabeth and the lieutenant, but Marcia detained her.
"It was simply grand," she said. "I hadn't believed you had the reach or
the strength of touch. This organ was certainly a fine innovation."

"Sure," said Frederic hazily. "It will make old Seattle sit up and take
notice. Great idea; your schemes always are. Confess though, I had my
doubts, when it came to this organ. I hedged and had that other jog built
in over there for a piano. We can use it sometimes when we want to rag."

"It is a splendid instrument; much more expensive than I thought of, I am
afraid. But," and she looked back at the elaborate array of pipes with the
exhilaration showing in her face, "it's like giving the firs and the sea a
new voice."

She passed on, and Frederic's glance followed her, puzzled, but with a
blended respect and admiration. When she went out with Elizabeth and the
lieutenant, he called his men to convey him to the yacht. Marcia walked
beside him. Night had fallen, and the _Aquila_ blazed like a fire ship.
Her lamps sifted the shadows and threw long, wavering flames on the tide.
Aft, where the table was spread, for the convenience of the host, who
could not hazard the companionway, a string of electric lights illumined
the deck. Japanese screens, a dropped awning or two, tempered the breeze,
and the array of silver and flowers, and long-stemmed glasses, promised
more than the informal little dinner to which Mrs. Feversham had referred.

She stood looking the table critically over, while the sailors settled the
invalid's chair. While the rest of the party loitered in the bow, she
turned to brother. "Has it occurred to you," she asked, "that Beatriz may
be interested in some other man?"

"No," answered Frederic, startled. "No. Hadn't thought of that--unless--
it's Foster."

"I don't know; he seems the most possible, if there's any one. She says
she does not care to marry again. In any case, it is advisable to keep him
in Alaska. You might send him on from the Iditarod to look over the Aurora
mine." And she added slowly: "Beatriz Weatherbee, backed by the
Morganstein money, will be able to carry the social end of the family
anywhere; but Beatriz Weatherbee, holding a half interest in one of the
best-paying placers in Alaska in her own right--is a wife worth straining
a point for."

Frederic's round eyes widened; his face took an expression of childlike
goodness; it was the mask with which he habitually covered his avarice.
Then he said: "I understood Hollis Tisdale had exclusive, brass-bound,
double-rivited possession of the Aurora."

"Hush," cautioned Marcia, "they are coming." And she added, in a still
lower tone: "There is a loose rivet, but contrive to marry her before she

That dinner covered the homeward cruise, and from the wharf Tisdale went
directly to his rooms. There he telephoned the Rainier-Grand hotel. "Give
me John Banks, please," he said. "Yes, I mean Lucky Banks of Alaska." And,
after an interval, "Hello, Banks! This is Tisdale talking. I want you to
come up to my rooms. Yes, to-night. I am starting east in the morning.
Thank you. Good-by."

He put up the receiver and brought Weatherbee's box from the safe to the
table under the hanging lamp. Seating himself, he took out the plan of the
project and spread it before him. He had not closed the lid, and presently
his eyes fell on David's watch. He lifted it and, hesitating to open it,
sat trying to recall that picture in the lower case. He wondered how, once
having seen it, even in firelight and starshine, he could have forgotten
it. The face would be younger of course, hardly more than a promise of the
one he knew; still there would be the upward curling lashes, the
suggestion of a fault in the nose, the piquant curve of the short, upper
lip, and perhaps that pervading, illusive something that was the secret of
her charm. "You were right, David, old man," he said at last, "it was a
face to fight for, wait for. And madam, madam, a woman with a face like
yours must have had some capacity for loving."

His hand was on the spring, but he did not press it. A noise outside in
the corridor arrested him. He knew it was too soon for Banks to arrive,
but he laid the watch back in the box and closed the lid. "You will never
marry Frederic Morganstein," he said, and rising, began to walk the floor.
"It would be monstrous. You must not. You will not. I shall not let you."



Vivian count stood on the first hill. The brick walls of the business
center filled the levels below, and Mrs. Weatherbee's windows, like
Tisdale's, commanded the inner harbor rimmed by Duwamish Head, with a
broader sweep of the Sound beyond framed in wooded islands and the
snow-peaks of the Olympic Peninsula. Southeastward, from her alcove, lifted
the matchless, solitary crest of Rainier. It was the morning following the
cruise on the _Aquila_, and Mrs. Weatherbee was taking a light breakfast
in her room. The small table, placed near an open casement, allowed her to
enjoy both views. She inhaled the salt breeze with the gentle pleasure of
a woman whose sense has been trained, through generations, to fine and
delicate perfumes; her eyes caught the sapphire sparkle of the sea, and
her face had the freshness and warmth of a very young girl's. The elbow
length of the sleeve exposed a forearm beautifully molded, with the
velvety firmness of a child's; and the wistaria shade of her empire gown
intensified the blue tones in the dark masses of her hair. In short, she
stood for all that is refined, bright, charming in womanhood; and not for
any single type, but a blending of the best in several; the "typical
American beauty" that Miles Feversham had named her.

Her glance moved slowly among the shipping. The great steamship leaving
the Great Northern docks was the splendid liner _Minnesota_, sailing for
Japan; the outbound freighter, laden to the gunwales and carrying a
deckload of lumber, was destined for Prince William Sound. She represented
Morganstein interests. And when her eyes moved farther, in the direction
of the Yacht Club, there again was the _Aquila_, the largest speck in the
moored fleet. A shadow crossed her face. She rose and, turning from the
windows, stood taking an inventory that began with the piano, a Steinway
mellowed by age, and ended at a quaint desk placed against the opposite
wall. It was very old; it had been brought in her great-grandfather's time
from Spain, and the carving, Moorish in design, had often roused the
enthusiastic comment of her friends. Appraising it, her brows ruffled a
little; the short upper lip met the lower in a line of resolve. She went
to her telephone and found in the directory the number of a dealer in
curios. But as she reached for the receiver, she was interrupted by a
knock and, closing the book hastily, put it down to open the door.

A bell-boy stood holding a rare scarlet azalea in full flower. In its
jardiniere of Satsuma ware it was all his arms could compass, and a second
boy followed with the costly Japanese stand that accompanied it. There was
no need to read the name on the card tied conspicuously among the stiff
leaves. The gift was from Frederic Morganstein. It had arrived, doubtless,
on an Oriental steamer that had docked the previous evening while the
_Aquila_ made her landing. Mrs. Weatherbee had the plant placed where the
sunshine reached it through the window of the alcove, and it made a gay
showing against the subdued gray of the walls. Involuntarily her glance
moved from it to the harbor, seeking the _Minnesota_, now under full
headway off Magnolia Bluff. It was as though, in that moment, her
imagination out-traveled the powerful liner, and she saw before her that
alluring country set on the farther rim of the Pacific.

The steamship passed from sight; she turned from the window. The boy had
taken away the breakfast tray and had left a box on the table. It was
modest, violet-colored, with Hollywood Gardens stamped on the cover, but
she hurried with an incredulous expectancy to open it. For an instant the
perfume seemed to envelop her, then she lifted the green waxed paper, and
a soft radiance shone in her face. It was only a corsage bouquet, but the
violets, arranged with a few fronds of maidenhair, were delightfully
fresh. She took them out carefully. For a moment she held them to her
cheek. But she did not fasten them on her gown; instead she filled a
cut-glass bowl with water and set them at the open casement in the shade.
A cloud of city smoke, driving low, obscured the _Aquila_; the freighter
bound for Prince William Sound rounded Magnolia Bluff, but clearly she had
forgotten these interests; she stood looking the other way, through the
southeast window, where Rainier rose in solitary splendor. A subdued
exhilaration possessed her. Did she not in imagination travel back over
the Cascades to that road to Wenatchee, where, rising to the divide, they
had come unexpectedly on that far view of the one mountain? Then her
glance fell again to the violets, and she lifted the bowl, leaning her
cheek, her forehead, to feel the touch of the cool petals and inhale their

She had not looked for Tisdale's card, but presently, in disposing of the
florist's box, she found it tucked in the folds of waxed paper. He had
written across it, not very legibly, with his left hand,

"I want to beg your pardon for that mistake I made. I know you never will
put any man in David Weatherbee's place. You are going to think too much
of him. When you are ready to make his project your life work, let me

She was a long time reading the note, going back to the beginning more
than once to reconsider his meaning. And her exhilaration died; the
weariness that made her suddenly older settled over her face. At last she
tore the card slowly in pieces and dropped it in the box.

Her telephone rang, and she went over and took down the receiver. "Mrs.
Weatherbee," she said, and after a moment. "Yes. Please send him up."

The bell-boy had left the door ajar, and she heard the elevator when it
stopped at her floor; a quick, nervous step sounded along the corridor,
the door swung wider to some draught, and a short, wiry man, with a
weather-beaten face, paused on the threshold. "I am Lucky Banks," he said
simply, taking off his hat. "Mr. Tisdale asked me to see you got this

Involuntarily her glance rested on the hand that held the package in the
curve of his arm, and she suppressed a shiver; the dread that the young
and physically perfect always betray at the sight of deformity sprang to
her eyes. "Thank you for troubling," she said, then, having taken the
bundle, she waited to close the door.

But Banks was in no hurry. "It wasn't any trouble, my, no," he replied. "I
was glad of the chance. It's a little bunch of stuff that was Dave's. And
likely I'd have come up, anyhow," he added, "to inquire about a tract of
land you own east of the mountains. I heard you talked of selling."

Instantly her face brightened. "Yes. But come in, will you not?" She
turned and placed the package on the table, and took one of two chairs
near the alcove. The azalea was so near that its vivid flowers seemed to
cast a reflection on her cheeks. "I presume you mean my tract in the
Wenatchee Mountains?" she went on engagingly. "A few miles above
Hesperides Vale."

"Well, yes." Banks seated himself on the edge of the other chair and held
his hat so as to conceal the maimed hand. "I didn't know you had but one
piece. It's up among the benches and takes in a kind of pocket. It's off
the line of irrigation, but if the springs turn out what I expect, it
ought to be worth sixty dollars an acre. And I want an option on the whole
tract for ten thousand."

"Ten thousand dollars?" Her voice fluted incredulously. "But I am afraid I
don't understand exactly what an option is. Please explain, Mr. Banks."

"Why, it's this way. I pay something down, say about three thousand, and
you agree to let the sale rest for well, say six months, while I prospect
the ground and see how it is likely to pan out. Afterwards, if I fail to
buy, I naturally forfeit the bonus and all improvements."

"I see," she said slowly. "I see. But--you know it is wild land; you have
been over the ground?"

"Not exactly, but I know the country, and I've talked with a man I can
bank on, my, yes."

"How soon"--she began, then, covering her eagerness, said: "I agree to
your option, Mr. Banks."

He laid his hat on the floor and took out his billbook, in which he found
two printed blanks, filled according to his terms and ready for her
signature. "I thought likely we could close the deal right up, ma'am, so's
I could catch the Wenatchee train this afternoon. Your name goes here
above mine."

She took the paper and started buoyantly to the secretary, but the little
man stopped her. "Read it over, read it over," he cautioned. "All square,
isn't it? And sign this duplicate, too. That's right. You're quite a
business woman."

He laughed his high, mirthless laugh, and, taking a check from the
bill-book, added some bright gold pieces which he stacked on the table
carefully beside the package he had brought. "There's your three
thousand," he said.

"It's out of a little bunch of dust I just turned in at the assay office."

"Thank you." She stood waiting while he folded his duplicate and put it
away, but he did not rise to go, and after a moment, she went back to her
chair by the scarlet azalea.

"They are doing really wonderful things in the Wenatchee Valley," she said
graciously, willing to make conversation in consideration of that little
pile of clean, new coin that had come so opportunely, "the apples are
marvelous. But"--and here her conscience spoke--"you understand this tract
is unreclaimed desert land; you must do everything."

"Yes, ma'am, I understand that; but what interests me most in that pocket
is that it belonged to David Weatherbee. He mapped out a project of his
own long before anybody dreamed of Hesperides Vale. He told me all about
it; showed me the plans. That piece of ground got to be the garden spot of
the whole earth to him; and I can't stand back and see it parcelled out to

He paused. The color deepened a little in her face; she looked away
through the west window. "I thought an awful lot of Dave," he went on.
"I'd ought to. Likely you don't know it--he wasn't the kind to talk much
about himself--but I owe my life to him. _It_ had commenced"--he held up
the crippled hand and smiled grimly--"when Dave found me curled up under
the snow, but he stayed, in the teeth of a blizzard, to see me through.
And afterwards he lost time, weeks when hours counted, taking care of me,--
operated when it came to it, like a regular doctor, my, yes. And when I
got to crawling around again, I found he'd made me his partner."

"He had made a discovery," she asked, "while you were ill?"

"Yes, and you could bank on Dave it was a good one. He knew the gravel
every time. But we had to sell; it was the men who bought us out that
struck it rich. You see, Dave had heavy bills pressing him down here in
the States; he never said just what he owed, but he had to have the money.
And, my, when he was doing the bulk of the work, I couldn't say much. It
was so the next time and the next. We never could keep a claim long enough
for the real clean-up. So, when I learned to use my hand, I cut loose to
try it alone."

He halted again, but she waited in silence with her face turned to the
harbor. "I drifted into the Iditarod country," he went on, "and was among
the first to make a strike. It was the luckiest move I ever made, but I
wish now I had stayed by Dave. I was only a few hundred miles away, but I
never thought of his needing me. That was the trouble. He was always
putting some other man on his feet, cheering the rest along, but not one
of us ever thought of offering help to Dave Weatherbee. A fine,
independent fellow like him.

"But I sure missed him," he said. "Many a time there in the Iditarod I
used to get to wishing we had that voice of his to take the edge off of
things. Why, back on the Tanana I've seen it keep a whole camp heartened;
and after he picked me up in that blizzard, when I was most done for and
couldn't sleep, it seemed like his singing about kept me alive. Sometimes
still nights I can hear those tunes yet. He knew a lot of 'em, but there
was _Carry Me Back to Old Virginny_, and _Heart Bowed Down_, and _You'll
Remember Me_. I always thought that song reminded him of some girl down
here in the States. He never told me so, always put me off if I said a
word, and none of us knew he was married then; but when he got to singing
that tune, somehow he seemed to forget us boys and the camp and
everything, and went trailing off after his voice, looking for somebody
clear out of sight. I know now, since I've seen you, I was likely right."

Still she was silent. But she moved a little and lifted her hand to the
edge of the Satsuma jardiniere; her fingers closed on it in a tightening
grip; she held her head high, but the lashes drooped over her eyes.
Watching her, the miner's seamed face worked. After a moment he said: "The
other night I paid seven dollars for a seat at the Metropolitan just to
hear one of those first-class singers try that song. The scenery was all
right. There were the boys and two or three women sitting around a
camp-fire. And the fiddles got the tune fine, but my, my! I couldn't
understand a word. Seemed like that fellow was talking darn Dago."

At this she lifted her eyes. The shadow of a smile touched her mouth,
though her lashes were wet. "And he was, Mr. Banks," she said brightly.
"He was. I know, because I was there."

Banks picked up his hat and rose to his feet. "We were all mighty proud of
Dave," he said. "There wasn't one of us wouldn't have done his level best
to reach him that last stampede; but I'm glad the chance came to Hollis
Tisdale. There wasn't another man in Alaska could have done what he did.
Yes, I'm mighty glad it was Tisdale who--found him." He paused, holding
his hat over the crippled hand, then added: "I suppose you never knew what
it means to be cold."

She rose. The smile had left her lips, and she stood looking into his
withered face with wide eyes. "I mean so cold you don't care what happens.
So cold you can lie down in your tracks, in a sixty-mile-an-hour blizzard
and go to sleep."

"No." She shivered, and her voice was almost a whisper. "I am afraid not."

"Then you can't begin to imagine what Tisdale did. You can't see him
fighting his way through mountains, mushing ahead on the winter trail,
breaking road for his worn-out huskies, alone day after day, with just
poor Dave strapped to the sled."

She put her hands to her ears. "Please, please don't say any more," she
begged. "I know--all--about it."

"Even about the wolves?"

She dropped her hands, bracing herself a little on the table, and turned
her face, looking, with that manner of one helplessly trapped, around the

"Even about the wolves?" he persisted.

"No. No," she admitted at last.

He nodded. "I thought likely not. Hollis never told that. It goes against
his grain to be made much of. He and Dave was cut out of the same block.
But last night in the lobby to the hotel, I happened on a fellow that met
him in the pass above Seward. There were four of 'em mushing through to
some mines beyond the Susitna. It was snowing like blazes when they heard
those wolves, and pretty soon Tisdale's dogs came streaking by through the
smother. Then a gun fired. It kept up, with just time enough between shots
to load, until they came up to him. He had stopped where a kind of small
cave was scooped in the mountainside and put the sled in and turned the
huskies loose. He had had the time, too, to make a fire in front of the
hole, but when the boys got there, his wood was about burned out, and the
wolves had got Dave's old husky, Jack. He had done his best to help hold
off the pack. There's no telling how many Hollis killed; you see the rest
fell on 'em soon's they dropped. It was hell. Nothing but hair and blood
and bones churned into the snow far as you could see. Excuse me, ma'am; I
guess it sounds a little rough. I'm more used to talking to men, my, yes.
But the fellow who told me said Hollis knew well enough what was coming at
the start, when he heard the first cry of the pack. He had a chance to
make a roadhouse below the pass. Not one man in a thousand would have
stayed by that sled."

His withered face worked again. He moved to the door. "But Dave would have
done it." His voice took a higher pitch. "Yes, ma'am, Dave would have done
the same for Hollis Tisdale. They was a team; my, yes." He laughed his
hard, mirthless laugh. "Well, so long," he said.

She did not answer. Half-way down the corridor Banks looked back through
the open door. She had not moved from the place where he had left her,
though her face was turned to the window. A little farther on, while he
waited for the elevator, he saw she had taken the package he had brought
from Tisdale. She stood weighing it, undecided, in her hands, then drew
out the table drawer and laid it in. She paused another instant in
uncertainty and, closing the drawer, began to gather up the pieces of



On his way down from Vivian Court, the mining man's attention was caught
by the great corner show window at Sedgewick-Wilson's, and instantly out
of the display of handsome evening gowns his eyes singled a dancing frock
of pink chiffon. "She always looked pretty," he told himself, "but when
she wore pink--my!" and he turned and found his way through the swinging
doors. A little later the elevator had left him at the second floor. For a
moment the mirrors bewildered him; they gave a sense of vastness,
repeating the elegant apartment in every direction, and whichever way he
glanced there was himself, seated on the edge of a chair, his square shoes
set primly on the thick green carpet, his hat held stiffly over the
crippled hand. Then an imposing young woman sauntered towards him. "Well,"
she said severely, "what can I show you?"

Banks drew himself a little stiffer. "A dress," he said abruptly in his
highest key, "ready-made and pink."

"What size?"

"Why"--the little man paused, and a blush that was nearer a shadow crossed
his weather-worn face--"let me see. She's five feet seven and a quarter,
in her shoes, and I judge a couple of inches wider through the shoulders
than you." His glance moved to another saleswoman, who came a step nearer
and stood listening, frankly amused. "You look more her figure," he added.

"Takes a thirty-eight." The first saleswoman brought out a simple gown of
pink veiling and laid it on the rack before Banks, and he leaned forward
and took a fold between his thumb and forefinger, gravely feeling the

"This is priced at twenty-five dollars," she said. "How does that suit?"

Banks drew himself erect. "There's one down-stairs in the front window I
like better," he said.

The woman looked him shrewdly over. He had put his hat down, and her
glance rested involuntarily on his maimed hand. "That pink chiffon is a
hundred and twenty-five," she explained.

"I can stand it; the price doesn't cut any figure, if it's what I want."
He paused, nodding a little aggressively and tapping the carpet with one
square foot. "The lady it's for is a mighty good judge of cloth, and I
want you to show me the best you've got."

She glanced at the other saleswoman, but she had turned her back--her
shoulders shook--and she hurried to bring out a duplicate of the pink
chiffon, which she arranged carefully on the rack. Bank's face softened;
he reached to touch it with a sort of caress. "This is more like it," he
said; then, turning to the second girl, "but I can tell better if you'll
put it on. You don't seem very busy," he added quickly, "and I'll pay you
your time."

"Why, that's all right," she answered and came to pick up the gown. "I'll
be glad to; that's what I'm here for."

She disappeared, laughing, into a dressing-room, and presently the first
saleswoman excused herself to wait on new customers. The girl came back
transformed. She had a handsome brunette face, with merry dark eyes and a
great deal of black hair arranged in an elaborate end striking coiffure.
"Isn't it swell?" she asked, walking leisurely before him. "But you'll
have to fasten it for her; it hooks in the back." Then she stopped; the
fun went out of her face; her glance had fallen to his crippled hand. "I'm
awfully sorry," she stammered. "Of course she can manage it herself; we
all have to sometimes."

But the little man was rapt in the gown. "I'll take it!" he said
tremulously. "It suits you great, but, my! She'll be a sight."

"I'll bet she's pretty," said the girl, still trying to make amends. "I'd
like to see her in this chiffon. And I guess your party will be swell."

Banks looked troubled. "It isn't a party; not exactly. You see she's been
away from town quite a spell, and I thought likely she'd be a little short
on clothes. I guess while I'm about it I may as well take along everything
that naturally goes with this dress; shoes and socks and a hat and--

He paused in uncertainty, for the girl had suddenly turned her back again.
"I'd like to leave the rest to you," he added. "Pick out the best; the
whole outfit straight through."

"I'll be glad to." The girl turned again, controlling a last dimple. "You
are the thoughtfullest man I ever saw on this floor. She's in luck; but I
guess you aren't married--yet."

Banks laughed his high, strained laugh and rose. "No," he answered
briskly, "no, not exactly. But I want you to hurry out this bill of goods
in time for the four-ten Great Northern. I can't go without it, and I'm
counting on making Wenatchee to-night."

"Wenatchee?" exclaimed the girl. "Is that where you expect her to wear
this chiffon? Why, it's the dustiest place under the sun. Take my word for
it; I came from there. And, see here, they don't give big parties there;
the people are just nice and friendly; it's a small town. If I were you
I'd choose a tan; a veiling gown, like this first one we showed you, only
tan. Then you could put the difference in price into a coat;--we have some
smart ones in tan,--with a light pongee duster to slip over it all, if
she's driving or using a machine."

Banks nodded. "Sure, tuck them all in; but this pink dress goes, too, and
see it's on top. Likely they'll go best in a trunk. Now, if you will give
me the bill--"

He paused to take out his poke, but the girl laughed. "I can't," she said.
"It will take me half an hour to foot it all up after I've picked out the
things. And unless you give me a limit, I won't know where to stop. Then
there's the hat. I never would dare to choose that for a woman I've never
seen, unless she's my style."

"She is," the little man answered gravely, "that's why I picked you out
when I first come in. I guess maybe the other one was nice all right, but
she was a little too dried-up and froze to do."

"Then I know what I'd like to send; it's a hat I tried on this morning. A
nice taupe--that's about the color of that sage-brush country over there
and won't show the dust--and it's trimmed with just one stunning plume the
same shade and a wreath of the tiniest pink French roses set under the
velvet brim. It looked like it was made for me, but twelve and a half is
my limit and it's twenty-five dollars. Maybe you don't want to go that

Banks untied the poke and poured the remaining gold pieces on the
show-case; then he found a pocket-book from which he took several crisp
bills. "There's three hundred," he said briefly, "and another ten for the
trunk. I want you to pick out a nice little one I can stow in the back of
a one-seated automobile. The hat and this pink dress go on top; and be
sure you get the outfit down to that four-ten train. Good-by," he put out
his hand, and a gleam of warmth touched his bleak face. "I'm glad I met

"And so am I. Good-by." She stopped gathering up the money long enough to
give him her hand. "And good luck," she added.

The first saleswoman, again at leisure, approached and stood looking after
him as he hurried with his quick, uneven steps towards the elevator. "Of
all things!" she exclaimed. "He did buy that pink chiffon. Who'd ever have
thought he had the money or the taste. But I suppose he's one of those
lucky fellows who've struck it rich in Alaska."

The other young woman nodded. "His gold came out of one of those pokes,
and it's fresh from the mint. But I guess he's earned all he's got, every
cent. I'll bet he's starved and froze; suffered ways we don't know. And
he's spending it on a girl. I'd like to see her. Maybe she's the
cold-blooded kind that'll snub him and make fun of this chiffon."

She turned into the dressing-room, and it was then Banks stopped and
brought out the loose change in his pockets. There was a ten dollar piece,
to which he added two and a half in silver. He started back up the room,
but the girl had disappeared, and, while he stood hesitating, a
floor-walker approached.

"Have you forgotten something?" he asked politely.

"Yes," answered Banks, "I forgot to give this money to the young lady who
was waiting on me. She's likely gone to take off a pink dress I bought.
But she's the one with lots of black hair and pink cheeks and a real nice
smile; you couldn't miss her. And you might as well give her this; tell
her it's the other twelve and a half to make up the price of that hat; a
duplicate of the one we were talking about. She'll understand."

He called these final words over his shoulder, for the elevator had
stopped, and he hurried to catch it. Going down, he looked at his watch;
he had spent an hour buying that dress. But on the lower floor he noticed
a telephone booth and saw a way to make up the time.

"Hello!" he called, pitching his voice to a treble. "This is Banks, the
miner you was trying to talk into buying that little red car last week;
roadster I think you said 'twas. Well, I want you to fire up and run down
to the Rainier-Grand quick as you can."

He listened a moment, then: "Yes, likely I'll change my mind, if I get
so's I can drive her all right by three p.m. I'm going east of the
mountains, and if I buy I've got to ship her on the four-ten train--Yes, I
mean the little one with a seat to accommodate two, with a place to carry
a trunk behind. Now get busy and rush her down. I've got some errands to
do, and I want you to hurry me around; then we'll get away from the crowd
out on the boulevard where I can have a clear track to break her on."

The sale was made, and the mining man must have applied himself
successfully to his lesson, for the following morning, when the red car
spun out of Wenatchee and up the lifting valley road, a snug steamer-trunk
was stowed in the box behind, and Banks at the steering gear was traveling
alone. To be sure the rising curves were made in sudden spurts and jerks,
but his lack of skill was reinforced by a tireless vigilance gathered
through breaking days of driving and mushing over hazardous trails. And he
had made an early start; few wayfarers were yet astir. But at last, high
up where the track doubled the summit of a slope that lifted in a bluff
overhead, and on the other hand dropped precipitously to the river, the
little man barely averted catastrophe. The driver and the vehicle were
hidden by the curve, but at his warning honk, two percherons that blocked
the way halted and, lunging at his repeated note, crowded back on the team
they led. Then a woman's voice shrilled: "I've got the heaviest load; you
give me right of way."

Banks sprang out and ran forward past the horses. The driver, dressed in a
skirt and blouse of khaki, was seated on a load of lumber. She held the
reins high in yellow-gauntleted hands, and a rope of loosened red hair
hung below a smart campaign hat. "I can't back," she exclaimed
aggressively. "You got to give me right of way."

"Ain't there a man with the outfit?" he asked uncertainly.

"No," she snapped. "Do I look like I need one?" But she hurried on
tremulously: "My husband's running the mill night and day, and Bryant,
down the valley, had to have his boxes for the apple crop. He said send
the boards down, and he'd let a couple of his Japs knock 'em together. So
I thought with an early start and a clear track, I could drive. But you've
got to turn out. I've got the heavy load."

Banks shook his head.

"It's my first trip," he said dubiously, "and I ain't learned to back her
only enough to turn 'round; and it's too narrow. But I used to drive
pretty good seven or eight years ago; and I've been managing a dog team
off and on ever since. Let me climb up there and back your load."

"You can't do it," she cried. "It's up-grade and a mean curve, and that
nigh leader, for a first-class draught horse, has the cussedest
disposition you ever saw. You can't back him short of a gunshot under his
nose, and you got to get that buzz-wagon of yours out of sight before I
can get him past."

"Then," said Banks, and smiled grimly, "I guess it's up to me to back." He
started to return to the machine but paused to add over his shoulder:
"It's all right; don't you be scared. No matter what happens, you forget
it and drive straight ahead."

But destiny, who had scourged and thwarted the little man so many years,
was in a humorous mood that day. The little red car backed down from the
bend in zigzag spurts, grazing the bluff, sheering off to coast the
river-ward brink; then, in the final instant, when the machine failed to
respond to the lever speedily enough, a spur of rock jutting beyond the
roadway eased the outer wheel. It rolled up, all but over, while the next
tire met the obstruction and caught. Banks laughed. "Hooray!" he piped.
"Now swing the corner, lady! All circle to the left."

"Get up!" the driver shrilled. "Get up, now, Duke, you imp!" And the
leader, balking suspiciously at the explosive machine, felt a smart touch
of the whip. He plunged, sidled against the bluff and broke by. There was
barely room to make that turn; the tailboard of the wagon, grating, left a
long blemish on the bright body of the car, but as the load rolled on down
the incline, Banks churned gayly up around the bend.

In less than an hour Hesperides Vale stretched behind him, and the bold
front of Cerberus lifted holding the gap. Tisdale had warned him of the
barbed-wire fence, and while he cautiously rounded the mountain, his old
misgiving rose. What though he had made good; what though the Iditarod had
filled his poke many times over, the north had taken heavy toll. He had
left his youth up there, and what would this smart little automobile count
against a whole right hand? And this trunkful of clothes--what would it
weigh against a good-sized man? Still, still, though she might have taken
her pick of 'em all, Annabel had never married, and she had kept his
goats. Then he remembered Tisdale had said that she too had had a hard
fight, and the years must have changed her. And hadn't she herself told
him, in that letter he carried in his breast pocket, that if he cared to
come and see the goats, he would find his investment was turning out fine,
but he needn't expect she had kept her own good looks?

The little man smiled with returning confidence and, lifting his glance,
saw the cabin and the browsing flock cut off by the barbed-wire fence from
the road. Then as he brought the car to a stop, the collie flew barking
against the wicket, and a gaunt woman rose from a rock and stood shading
her eyes from the morning sun.

He sprang down and spoke to the dog, and instantly his tone quieted the
collie, but the woman came nearer to point at the sign. "You better read
that," she threatened.

His hand dropped from the wicket, and he stood staring at her across the
barbed wire. "I was looking for a lady," he said slowly, "but I guess
likely I've made a mistake."

She came another step and, again shading her eyes, stared back. A look
half eager, half wistful, trembled for a moment through the forbidding
tenseness of her face. "All the men I've seen in automobiles up here were
looking for land," she replied defiantly.

He nodded; his eyes did not move from her face, but they shone like two
chippings of blue glacier ice, and his voice when he spoke piped its
sharpest key. "So am I. I've got an option on a pocket somewheres in this
range, and the lady I'm inquiring for happened to homestead the quarter
below. It sort of overlaps, so's she put her improvements on the wrong
edge. Yes, ma'am, I've likely made a mistake, but, you see, I heard she
had a bunch o' goats."

There was a brief silence then. "Anyhow, you must o' come from that
surveyor," she said. "Maybe he was just a smooth talker, but he had a nice
face; laughing crinkles around his eyes and a way of looking at you, if
you'd done a mean thing, to make you feel like the scum of the earth. But
he happened to be acquainted with the man that made me a present of my
first billy and ewes, and you--favor him a little." She paused, then went
on unsteadily, while her eyes continued to search him. "He was about your
size, but he's been up in Alaska, way in the interior somewheres for
years, and the letter I wrote him couldn't have reached him inside a
month. I figured if he came out, he would just about catch the last
steamer in October."

"So he would, if he hadn't come down to Seattle already." He stopped,
fumbling with the pin, and threw open the wicket. "I guess I ain't changed
much more'n you, Annabel."

The woman was silent. Her chin dropped; her glance sought the earth. Then
Banks turned to fasten the gate behind him, and she started to stalk
mechanically up the field towards the cabin. "I feel all broke up," he
said, overtaking her; "like I'd been struck by a blizzard. Why, there was
a girl down in Seattle, she sold me a bill of goods that looked more like
you than you do yourself. I know I got myself to blame, but I never
counted for a minute on your keeping the goats."

The woman stalked on a little faster, but she could not outstrip the
prospector; she turned her face, in refuge, to the flock. "Goats," she
said unsteadily, "goats--are all right when you get used to 'em. They're
something like children, I guess; a sight of trouble but good company and
mighty comforting to have 'round. And they're just as different. There's
old Dad, the cautious looking one standing off there watching us and
chewing the end of a thistle. It might as well be a toothpick, and I'll
bet he's thinking: 'You can't get the best of me, no, sir.' And that piece
of wisdom next to him is the Professor. Don't he remind you of the old
schoolmaster down at the Corners? And there goes Johnny Banks. See him?
The pert little fellow chasing up the field. You never can tell where
he'll turn up or what he'll do next."

She laughed a dry, forced laugh, and Banks echoed it in his strained key.
"But we are going to get rid of 'em. They're a fine bunch--you've brought
'em up splendid, made a sight better showing than I could--but we are
going to get rid of 'em, yes, ma'am, and forget 'em as quick's we can. We
are going to start right now to make up those seven years."

They had reached the cabin, and he stopped on the threshold. "My, my," he
said softly, "don't it look homey? There's your Dad's old chair, and the
dresser and the melodion. I was 'fraid you'd sold that, Annabel."

"I could have, there's been plenty of chances, but Dad gave it to me,
don't you remember? the Christmas I was sixteen."

"My, yes, and you opened it right there, under the cherry tree, and
started _Home, Sweet Home_. I can hear it now, and the crowd joining in.
I'm glad you kept it, Annabel; a new one wouldn't seem just the same."

"It's traveled though. You ought to have seen me moving from Oregon. The
old delivery wagon was heaping full." Her laugh this time was spontaneous.
"And old Kate couldn't make more than ten miles a day. But I had a good
tent, and when she had done her day's stunt, I just tied her out to feed
and made camp. The hardest was keeping track of the goats, but the flock
was small then, and I had two dogs."

"I see," said Banks. "You kept 'em ahead of the wagon when you was on the
road and let 'em forage for themselves. But I'd like to have a look at old
Kate. She came of good stock."

Annabel went over and, seating herself in her father's chair, untied her
sunbonnet. "Kate died," she said. "I hired her out to a man down the
valley, and he worked her too hard in the heat."

There was a silent moment. She took off the bonnet and laid it in her lap.
The light, streaming through a small window, touched her hair, which was
bound in smooth, thick braids around her head.

"My, my," the little man said, "ain't it a sight? I'd have known you in a
minute without that bonnet down at the gate. My, but don't it make a
difference what a woman wears? I'll bet I can't tell you from the girl I
left in Oregon when you've changed your clothes."

She shook her head. "This denim is all I've got," she said, with a touch
of defiance. "I wore out all I had; goats are hard on clothes."

"I thought likely." His bleak face began to glow. "And I knew you was out
of town away from the stores, so's I brought along a little outfit. You
wait a minute, and I'll fetch it right in."

He was gone before he finished speaking and returned in an incredibly
short time with the trunk, which he deposited on the floor before her.
Then he felt in his pocket and, finding the key, fitted it and lifted the
lid. It was then, for the first time, she noticed the maimed hand.

"Johnny!" she cried, and the pent emotion surged in her voice. "Johnny,
you've been--hurt."

"Oh, that don't amount to anything now, only the looks. I can turn out
just as much work."

He hurried to open the tray, but before he could remove the packing of
tissue paper that enveloped the hat, she reached and took the crippled
hand between her own. Her fingers fluttered, caressing, while with
maternal protectiveness they covered it, and she drew him back to the
broad arm of her chair. The defiance had gone out of her face; her eyes
were misty and tender. "You tell me what happened," she said.

So came Lucky Banks' hour. He saw this woman who had been fond of pretty
clothes, who had once worn them but was now reduced to a single frock of
coarse denim, turn from the fine outfit before it was even displayed;
waiting, with a wondrously comforting solicitude he never had suspected in
the girl whom he had left in Oregon, to hear first that miserable story of
the trail. He told it briefly, but with the vividness of one whose words
are coined straight from the crucible of bitter experience, and while she
listened, her heart shone in her passionate eyes. "What if it had
happened," she broke out at last. "If it had, Johnny, it would have been
my fault. I drove you into going up there. I'm responsible for this hand.
I--I couldn't have stood worse than that."

The little man beamed. "Is that so, Annabel? Then I'm mighty glad
Weatherbee followed that stampede. Nobody else would have seen my hand
sticking up through the snow and stopped to dig me out. Unless--" he added
thoughtfully, "it was Hollis Tisdale. Yes, likely Hollis would. He was the
only man in Alaska fit to be Dave's running mate."

"Do you mean that surveyor?" she asked.

Banks nodded.

"I thought so," she said with satisfaction. "Dad taught me to size people
up on sight. He could tell the first minute he saw a man's face whether he
was good for a bill of groceries or not; and I knew that surveyor was
straight. I bet he knew you was in Seattle when he got me to write. But I
wish I could have a look at the other one. He must be--great."

Banks nodded again. "He was," he answered huskily. "He was. But he's made
his last trip. I wasn't three hundred miles off, but I never thought of
Dave Weatherbee's needing help; it took Tisdale, clear off in Nome, over a
thousand miles, to sense something was wrong. But he started to mush it,
alone with his huskies, to the Iditarod and on to the Aurora, Dave's mine.
You don't know anything about that winter trail, Annabel. It means from
twenty to fifty below, with the wind swooping out of every canyon,
cross-cutting like knives, and not the sign of a road-house in days, in
weeks sometimes. But he made it,"--Banks' voice reached high pitch--"He
beat the records, my, yes."

"And something was wrong?" asked Annabel, breaking the pause.

Banks nodded again. "You remember that sheepman down in Oregon they
brought in from the range. The one that ripped up his comforter that night
at the hotel and set the wool in little rolls around the floor; thought he
was tending sheep? Well, that's what was happening. And Hollis was two
days late. Dave had started for the coast; not the regular way to
Fairbanks and out by stage to Valdez, but a new route through the Alaska
Range to strike the Susitna and on to Seward. And he had fresh dogs. He
was through Rainy Pass when Tisdale began to catch up."

"He did catch up?" Annabel questioned again hurriedly.

Banks nodded once more. He drew his hand away and rose from his seat on
the chair arm. His eyes were shining like blue glacier ice. "It was in a
blizzard; the same as the day I lost my fingers--only--Hollis--he was too
late." He turned and walked unsteadily to the door and stood looking out.
"I wasn't three hundred miles from the Aurora," he added. "I could have
been in time. I can't ever forget that."

Annabel rose and stood watching him, with the emotion playing in her face.
"Johnny!" she exclaimed at last. "Oh, Johnny!" She went over and put her
arm protectively around his shoulders. "I know just how you feel; but you
didn't drive him to it. You were just busy and interested in your work.
You'd have gone in a minute, left everything, if you had known."

"That's it; I ought to have known. I ought to have kept track of Dave; run
over once in a while to say hullo. I'd have likely seen it was coming on,
then, in time. When Tisdale found him, he'd been setting out little pieces
of spruce, like an orchard in the snow. You see," he added after a moment,
"Dave always expected to come back here when he struck it rich and start a
fruit ranch. He was the man who owned this pocket."

A sudden understanding shone in Annabel's face. "And that's why you got an
option on it; you want to carry out his scheme. I'll help you, Johnny,
I'll do my level best."

Banks turned and looked at her. "That's all I want, Annabel. I was a
little afraid you'd be sick of the place. But, my, we can go right ahead
and set a crew of men to grubbing out the sage on both sections to once.
Folks might have said, seeing you take up with a undersized, froze-up
fellow like me, you was marrying me for my money; but they can't, no,
ma'am, not when they see the valuable claim you are developing in your own

Annabel laughed. "I guess you're entitled to your turn making fun of me.
But have you got money, Johnny? I never thought of that."

"Likely not. But the Annabel sure brought me luck; that name worked better
than a rabbit's foot. Here's a little bunch of nuggets I saved out of the
first clean-up." He paused to take a small new poke from an inner pocket
and, untying the string, poured the contents in her hand. "I thought
likely you'd want 'em made up in a necklace with a few diamonds or mebbe
emeralds mixed in."

She stood looking at the shining rough pieces of gold in her palm, while a
certain pride rose through the wonder in her face. "My gracious!" she
exclaimed, and a spark of her lost youth revived. "My gracious. And you
named your mine after me. I bet it was on account of that billy and the

"Likely," the little man beamed. "But more than likely it was because that
strike was a sure thing, and you was behind it, Annabel. My, yes, you was
responsible I ever got to Alaska; let alone stuck it out. Sure as a
grubstake, you gave me my start. Now come take a look at this outfit I

He held the poke open while she poured the nuggets back. "I like them
plain," she said, "but I never saw any made up. I leave it to you."

"Then I make it emeralds to match the Green, and mebbe a few sparklers
thrown in." He laughed gayly and, taking her arm, drew her back across the
room to the open trunk; when she was seated again in the armchair, he
knelt to remove the first layer of tissue packing. She took the precaution
to spread one smooth sheet of it on her lap and, leaning forward, saw him
uncover the plume, the entire hat. "Gracious goodness!" she exclaimed
tremulously, as he lifted it awkwardly to her eager hands, "ain't it
splendid? I didn't know they were making them like this. I never saw such
roses; why, they look alive and ready to smell; and ain't they pretty
fixed this way under the brim?" She paused, turning the masterpiece
slowly, like a connoisseur. "I bet I could have worn it when I was in
Oregon. It would have been my style. Do you suppose"--she glanced at Banks
timidly--"I'd dare to try it if my hair was done real nice, and I had on a
better dress?"

"My, yes." Banks laughed again excitedly, and with growing confidence
opened the next compartment to display the chiffon gown. "Wait till you
get this on. You'll be a sight. You always was in pink." He paused to take
the hat and, wheeling, placed it on the old dresser, and so made room for
the frock on her lap. "Now, ain't that soft and peachy and--and rich?"

But Annabel was silent. She lifted her eyes from the gown to Johnny, and
they were full of mist. Then her lip quivered, and a drop splashed down on
the delicate fabric. "My gracious!" she cried in consternation and,
rising, held the gown off at arm's-length. "Do you suppose it's going to

And Banks' laugh piped once more. "I guess it can stand a little salt
water," he replied. "But if it can't, we can get a duplicate. And now you
just take your time and pick out what you want to wear. I am going up the
bench to look around and find Dave's springs. It'll likely take me an hour
or so, and you can be ready to start soon's I get back."

"Start?" she repeated. "Was you counting on going somewhere?"

"My, yes. I was counting on taking you a little spin down to Wenatchee the
first thing, and having a chicken dinner to the hotel. Then, soon's we get
a license and hunt up a sky man, we are going to run down to Oregon and
have a look at the old Corners."

"I never rode in an automobile," she said, glowing, "but I think I'd like
it fine."

"I bet you will. I bet, coming home, you'll be running the machine
yourself half the time."

He hurried away then, laughing his shrillest key, and Annabel laid the
pink chiffon back in the tray to follow him to the door. She stood
smiling, though the mist alternately gathered and cleared in her eyes,
watching him up the vale and waiting to see him reappear on the front of
the bench. But he found her ready when he returned; and the hat was
becoming beyond her hopes. It brought back in a measure the old brightness
that was half a challenge in her air, so that, to the mining man, she
seemed to have gone back, almost, those lost years. Still, his
satisfaction was tempered, and instantly she understood the cause. "The
roses seemed enough pink today," she said tactfully, "till I wear off some
of this tan. But I like this tan cloth awful well, don't you? It's a nice
color for out-of-doors and won't show the dust. And doesn't it fit
perfectly splendid? And look at these shoes. I don't see how you
remembered my size. You've thought of everything. There's even an
automobile veil. A lady that came out here with Mr. Tisdale had one about
the same shade. But you'll have to help me put it on so I won't spoil this

She pushed the pongee coat, which was carefully folded across the back of
a chair, a little aside and, seating herself before the mirror, reached to
take the scarf and exposed a folded paper on the dresser. "I found that
envelope pinned inside the hat," she said still diplomatically, though a
touch of humor shaded her lips. "There's a ten dollar piece in it and two
and a half in silver. Probably it's your change."

But Banks turned the envelope and read pencilled across the front: "There
isn't any duplicate, but thanks just the same."



After that little wedding journey down in Oregon, Banks returned to
Seattle to engage a crew for the first step to reclamation; combining
pleasure with business, he brought Annabel and registered at the New
Washington Hotel. And here Daniels, detailed to learn something in regard
to the Iditarod strike where, it was rumored, the Morgansteins were
negotiating for the miner's valuable holdings, finally traced him.

"Sure we have a Banks of Alaska with us," the clerk responded, smiling,
and turned the page to show the _Press_ representative the strained,
left-handed signature. "He's a sawed-off specimen with a face like a
peachstone; but he said if he put down his regular name, the boys likely
would miss his trail."

"Mrs. Annabel Green Banks Hesperides Vale," read Jimmie.

"Lucky Banks Iditarod and Hesperides Vale.

"This looks like my man, sure; but who is Mrs. Green-Banks? His wife or

"Bride," the clerk replied laconically. "It's a sort of overdue honeymoon.
But she's rather smart looking; fine eyes and tall enough to make up for
him. They're a pair."

"I see. Kernel and peach. But Hesperides Vale," Daniels went on
thoughtfully. "Why, that's in the new fruit belt over near Wenatchee, my
old stamping-ground."

The clerk nodded. "She owns some orchard lands over there and to hear him
talk, you'd think she had the money; Until it comes to ordering; then the
Queen of Sheba isn't in it. 'I guess we can stand the best room in the
house,' he says. And when I showed them the blue suite and told them
Tarquina, the prima donna opening at the Metropolitan to-night, had the
companion suite in rose, it's: 'Do you think you can put up with this
blue, Annabel?' But there comes the cameo now. No, the other way, from the

Jimmie met the prospector midway across the lobby. "Mr. Banks?" he began
genially. "I am the lucky one this time; I came in purposely to see you. I
am Daniels, representing the _Seattle Press_. My paper is particular about
the Alaska news, and I came straight to headquarters to find out about the
Iditarod camp."

Banks kept on to the desk, and Jimmie turned to walk with him. The clerk
was ready with his key. "Mrs. Banks hasn't come in yet," he said, smiling.

"She's likely been kept up at Sedgewick-Wilson's. I introduced her to a
friend of mine there. I had to chase around to find a contractor that
could ship his own scrapers and shovels across the range, and I thought
the time would go quicker, for her, picking out clothes. But," he added,
turning to the reporter, "we may as well sit down and wait for her here in
the lobby."

"I understand," began Daniels, opening his notebook on the arm of his
chair, "that your placer in the Iditarod country has panned out a clear
one hundred thousand dollars."

"Ninety-five thousand, two hundred and twenty-six," corrected the mining
man, "with the last clean-up to hear from."

Jimmie set these figures down, then asked: "Is the rumor true that the
Morgansteins are considering an offer from you?"

"No, sir," piped the little man. "They made me an offer. I gave 'em an
option on my bunch of claims for a hundred and fifty thousand. Their
engineer has gone in to look the property over. If they buy, they'll
likely send a dredger through by spring and work a big bunch of men."

There was a silent moment while Jimmie recorded these facts, then: "And I
understand you are interested in fruit lands east of the mountains," he
said. "It often happens that way. Men make their pile up there in the
frozen north and come back here to Washington to invest it."

"Likely," replied Banks shortly. "Likely. But it's my wife that owns the
property in the fruit belt. And it's a mighty promising layout; it's up to
me to stay with it till she gets her improvements in. Afterwards--now I
want you to get this in correct. Last time things got mixed; the young
fellow wrote me down Bangs. And I've read things in the newspaper lately
about Hollis Tisdale that I know for a fact ain't so."

"Hollis Tisdale?" Jimmie suspended his pencil. "So you know the Sphynx of
the Yukon, do you?"

"That's it. That's the name that blame newspaper called him. Sphynx
nothing. Hollis Tisdale is the best known man in Alaska and the best
liked. If the Government had had the sense to put him at the head of the
Alaska business, there'd been something doing, my, yes."

The reporter finished his period. "Don't let this interview bother you,"
he said. "It's going into my paper straight, Mr. Banks, and in your own

While he spoke, his vigilant glance rested lightly on one of the several
guests scattered about the lobby. He was a grave and thoughtful man and
had seemed deeply engrossed in a magazine, but he had changed his seat for
a chair within speaking distance, and Jimmie had not seen him turn a page.

"What I was going to say, then," resumed Banks, "was that afterwards, when
the orchards are in shape, I am going back to Alaska and take a bunch of
those abandoned claims, where the miners have quit turning up the earth,
and just seed 'em to oats and blue stem. Either would do mighty well. The
sun shines hot long summer days, and the ground keeps moist from the
melting snow on the mountains. I've seen little patches of grain up there
and hay ripening and standing high as my shoulder. But what they need most
in the interior is stock farms, horses and beeves, and I am going to take
in a fine bunch of both; they'll do fine; winter right along with the
caribou and reindeer."

"Well, that's a new idea to me," exclaimed Daniels. "Alaska to me has
always stood for blizzards, snow, glaciers, impregnable mountains, bleak
and barren plains like the steppes of Russia, and privation, privation of
the worst kind."

Banks nodded grimly. "That's because the first of us got caught by winter
unprepared. Why, men freeze to death every blizzard right here in the
States; sometimes it's in Dakota; sometimes old New York, with railroads
lacing back and forth close as shoestrings. And imagine that big,
unsettled Alaska interior without a single railroad and only one
wagon-road; men most of the time breaking their own trails. Not a town or
a house sometimes in hundreds of miles to shelter 'em, if a storm happens
to break. But you talk with any Swede miner from up there. He'll tell you
they could make a new Sweden out of Alaska. Let us use the timber for
building and fuel; let a man that's got the money to do it start a
lumber-mill or mine the coal. Give us the same land and mineral laws you
have here in the States, and homeseekers would flock in thick as birds in

The stranger closed his magazine. "Pardon me," he said, taking advantage
of the pause, "but do you mean that Conservation is all that is keeping
home-seekers out of Alaska?"

Banks nodded this time with a kind of fierceness; his eyes scintillated a
white heat, but he suppressed the imminent explosion and began with forced
mildness, "My, yes. But you imagine a man trying to locate with
ninety-five per cent. of the country reserved. First you've got to
consider the Coast Range. The great wall of China's nothing but a line of
ninepins to the Chugach and St. Elias wall. The Almighty builds strong,
and he set that wall to hold the Pacific Ocean back. Imagine peaks piled
miles high and cemented together with glaciers; the Malispina alone has
eighty miles of water front; and there's the Nanatuk, Columbia, Muir; but
the Government ain't found names for more'n half of 'em yet, nor a quarter
of the mountains. Now imagine a man getting his family over that divide,
driving his little bunch of cattle through, packing an outfit to keep 'em
going the first year or so. Suppose he's even able to take along a
portable house; what's he going to do about fuel? Is he going to trek back
hundreds of miles to the seaport, like the Government expects, to pack in
coal? Australian maybe, or Japan low grade, but more likely it's
Pennsylvania sold on the dock for as high as seventeen dollars a ton. Yes,
sir, and with Alaska coal, the best kind and enough to supply the United
States for six hundred years, scattered all around, cropping right out of
the ground. Think of him camped alongside a whole forest of spruce, where
he can't cut a stick."

The little man's voice had reached high pitch; he rose and took a short,
swift turn across the floor. The stranger was silent; apparently he was
weighing this astonishing information. But Daniels broke the pause.

"The Government ought to hurry those investigations," he said. "Foster,
the mining engineer, told me never but one coal patent had been allowed in
all Alaska, and that's on the coast. He has put thousands into coal land
and can't get title or his money back. The company he is interested with
has had to stop development, because, pending investigation, no man can
mine coal until his patent is secured. It looks like the country is
strangled in red tape."

"It is," cried Banks. "And one President's so busy building a railroad for
the Filipinos, and rushing supplies to the Panama Canal he goes out of
office and clear forgets he's left Alaska temporarily tied up; and the
next one has his hands so full fixing the tariff and running down the
trusts he can't look the question up. And if he could, Congress is working
overtime, appropriating the treasury money home in the States. There's so
many Government buildings to put up and harbors and rivers to dredge, it
can't even afford to give us a few lights and charts, and ships keep on
feeling their way and going to destruction on the Alaska coast. Alaska is
side-tracked. She's been left standing so long she's going to rust."

"If some of our senators could listen to you," said the stranger, with a
swift and vanishing smile, "their eyes would be opened. But that is the
trouble; Alaska has had no voice. It is true each congressman has been so
burdened with the wants of his own State that session after session has
closed before the Alaska bills were reached. We have been accustomed to
look on Alaska as a bleak and forbidding country, with a floating
population of adventurers and lawless men, who go there with the intention
to stay only long enough to reap a mineral harvest. If she had other great
resources and such citizens as you, why were you not in Washington to
exploit her?"

Lucky Banks shook his head. "Up to this year," he said and smiled grimly,
"I couldn't have made the trip without beating my way, and I guess if I
went to some of those senators now and escaped being put down for an
ex-convict, they'd say I was engineering a trust. They'd turn another key
on Alaska to keep me out."

He wheeled to tramp down the lobby, then stopped. Annabel had entered.
Annabel arrayed in a new, imported tailored suit of excellent cloth, in a
shade of Copenhagen blue, and a chic hat of blue beaver trimmed with
paradise. Instantly the mining man's indignation cooled. He put aside
Alaska's wrongs and hurried, beaming, to meet his wife. "Why, you bought
blue," he said with pleased surprise. "And you can wear it, my, yes, about
as well as pink."

Annabel smiled with the little ironical curl of the lip that showed
plainly her good sense held her steady, on the crest of that high wave
whereon it had been fortune's freak to raise her. "Lucile showed me a
place, on the next floor of the store, where I could get the tan taken off
my face while I was waiting for alterations to my suit. They did it with a
sort of cold cream and hot water. There's just a streak left around my
neck, and I can cover that with the necklace." She paused then added with
a gentle conciliation creeping through her confidential tone: "I am going
to wear the pink chiffon to-night to hear Tarquina. Lucile says it's all
right for a box party, opening night. I like her real well. I asked her to
go with us, and she's coming early, in time for dinner, at seven."

"I thought you'd make a team," replied Banks, delighted. "And I'm glad you
asked her, my, yes. It would have been lonesome sitting by ourselves
'mongst the empty chairs."

They were walking towards the elevator, and Daniels, who had learned from
the clerk that the important looking stranger who had seemed so interested
in Banks' information, was the head of the new coal commission, going
north for investigation, stopped the prospector to say good-by.

"I want to thank you for that interview, Mr. Banks," he said frankly.
"I've learned more about Alaska from you in fifteen minutes than I had put
together in five years."

"You are welcome, so's you get it in straight. But,"--and the little man
drew himself proudly erect,--"I want to make you acquainted with Mrs.
Banks, Mr. Daniels."

"I am awfully glad to meet you, Mrs. Banks," said Jimmie cordially,
offering his hand. "I understand you are from Hesperides Vale, and I grew
up over there in the Columbia desert. It's almost like seeing friends from

"Likely," Banks began, but his glance moved from the reporter to his wife
and he repeated less certainly, "likely we could get him to take one of
those chairs off our hands."

Annabel's humor rose to her eyes. "He's hired a box for Carmen to-night;
they were out of seats in the divans, and it worries him because our party
is so small."

"I'd be delighted, only,"--Jimmie paused, flushing and looking intently
inside his hat--"the fact is, I am going to take the Society Editor on my
paper. We have miserable seats, the first row in the orchestra was the
best they could do for us, and she has to write up the gowns. She's an
awfully nice girl, and she has a little trick of keeping her copy out of
sight, so the people in the house never would catch on; would you think me
very bold,"--and with this he looked up directly at Annabel--"if I asked
you to give that place in your box to her?"

He was graciously assured it would make Mr. Banks "easy" if they both
joined the party, and Annabel suggested that he bring the Society Editor
to dinner, "so as to get acquainted" before the opera. All of which was
speedily arranged by telephone. Miss Atkins accepted with pleasure.

The dinner was a complete success; so complete that the orchestra was
concluding the overture when they arrived at the theater. A little flurry
ran through the body of the house when Annabel appeared. Mrs. Feversham in
the opposite box raised her lorgnette.

"I wonder who they are," she said. "Why, the girl in white looks like Miss
Atkins, who writes the society news, and there is your reporter, Daniels."

"Other man is Lucky Banks; stunning woman in pink must be his wife."
Frederic, having settled in his chair and eased his lame knee, focussed
his own glasses.

"George, Marcia," he exclaimed, "do you see that necklace? Nuggets,
straight from the sluices of the Annabel, I bet. Nuggets strung with
emeralds, and each as big as they grow. I suppose that chain is what you
call barbarous, but I rather like it."

"It is fit for a queen," admitted Marcia. "One of those barbarian queens
we read about. No ordinary woman could wear it, but it seems made for her
throat." And she added, dropping her lorgnette to turn her calculating
glance on her brother's face, "Every woman her price."

Frederic laughed shortly. The purplish flush deepened in his cheeks, and
his eyes rested on Beatriz Weatherbee. She was seated in the front of the
box with Elizabeth, and as she leaned forward a little, stirred by the
passionate cry of the violins, her profile was turned to him.

"The price doesn't cut as much figure as you think," he said.

Then the curtain rose. Tarquina was a marvelous Carmen. The Society
Editor, who had taken her notebook surreptitiously from a silk evening bag
and, under cover of a chiffon scarf, commenced to record the names and
gowns of important personages, got no farther than the party in the
opposite box during the first act. But she made amends in the
intermission. It was then a smile suddenly softened her firm mouth, and
she introduced Annabel to her columns with this item.

"Noticeable among the out of town guests were Mr. and Mrs. John Henry
Banks, who entertained a box party, following a charming dinner at the New
Washington. Mrs. Banks, a recent bride, was handsomely gowned in pink
chiffon over messaline, and wore a unique necklace of nuggets which were
gathered from her husband's mine near Iditarod, Alaska. The gold pieces
were linked lengthwise, alternating with single emeralds, and the pendant
was formed of three slender nuggets, each terminating in a matched diamond
and emerald."

While Geraldine wrote this, Frederic Morganstein made his way laboriously,
with the aid of a crutch, around to the box. "How do do, Miss Atkins," he
said. "Hello, Daniels! Well, Mr. Banks, how are you? Greatest Carmen ever
sung in this theater, isn't it? Now, keep your seat. I find it easier to
stand. Just came for a minute to be presented to--your wife."

His venture carried. The little man, rising, said with conscious pride:
"Mrs. Banks, allow me to make you acquainted with Mr. Morganstein. He's
the man that holds the option on the Annabel. And this is Miss Purdy, Mr.
Morganstein; Miss Lucile Purdy of Sedgewick-Wilson's. I see you know the
rest of the bunch."

"I guess it's up to me to apologize, Mrs. Banks," said Frederic, heavily
humorous. "I wouldn't believe my sister, Mrs. Feversham, when she told me
there were some smart women in those Alaska towns." He paused, laughing,
while his glance moved from Annabel's ironical mouth to her superb
shoulders and rested on the nugget chain; then he said: "From that
interview of yours in tonight's _Press_, Mr. Banks, there isn't much the
country can't produce."

"Likely not," responded the little man quickly. "But my wife was an Oregon
girl. We were engaged, my, yes, long before I saw Alaska. And lately she's
been living around Hesperides Vale. She's got some fine orchard property
over there, in her own right."

"Is that so?" Frederic's speculative look returned to Annabel's face.
"Hesperides Vale. That's in the new reclamation country, east of the
mountains, isn't it? I was intending to motor through that neighborhood
when this accident stopped me and put an end to the trip. They are turning
out some fine apples in that valley, I understand. But it's curtain time.
Awfully glad I've met you; see you again. Lend me your shoulder, will you,
Daniels--around to my box?"

While they were crossing the foyer, he said: "That enlargement came out
fine; you must run up to my office, while it's there to-morrow, to see it.
And that was a great write-up you gave Lucky Banks. It was yours, wasn't
it? Thought so. Bought a hundred copies. Mrs. Feversham is going to take
'em east to distribute in Washington. Double blue-pencilled one,
'specially for the President."

Jimmie smiled, blushing. "That's more than I deserve, but I'm afraid, even
if it reaches his hands, he won't take the time to read it."

"You leave that to Mrs. Feversham," replied Morganstein. "Saw that little
scoop, too, about Tisdale. He's the closest oyster on record."

"The trouble was," said Jimmie wisely, "he started that Indian story and
nobody thought to interrupt with more coal questions."

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