Part 5 out of 7
"You mean he told that yarn purposely to head us off?"
"That's the way it seemed to me afterwards. He spun it out, you know; it
lasted to Bremerton, where I got off. But it was interesting; the best I
ever heard, and I took it all down, word for word. It was little use,
though. The chief gave one look at my bunch of copy and warned me, for the
last time, the paper wasn't publishing any novels. What I had gone aboard
the _Aquila_ for was to write up her equipment and, incidentally, to pick
up Hollis Tisdale's views on Alaska coal."
They had reached the entrance to the Morganstein box; the orchestra was
playing again, the curtain began to rise on the second act, and Daniels
hurried back to his place. But during the next intermission, an usher
brought the young reporter a note. It was written concisely on a business
card, but Jimmie read it through slowly a second time before he handed it
to the Society Editor.
"Mrs. Feversham wants to see that story," so it ran. "Leave it at my
office in the morning. She may take it east with her. Knows some magazine
people who are going to feature Alaska and the Northwest."
After a thoughtful moment Miss Atkins returned the card to Jimmie. "Is it
the Indian story?" she asked.
Daniels nodded, watching her face. His smouldering excitement was ready to
flame. "They will read it for Mrs. Feversham,"--Geraldine's voice trembled
slightly--"and they will take it. It's a magazine story. They ought to pay
you handsomely. It's the best thing you ever wrote."
Marcia Feversham saw possibilities in that story. Indeed, writing Jimmie
from Washington, she called it a little masterpiece. There was no doubt it
would be accepted somewhere, though he must expect to see it cut down
considerably, it was so long. Then, presumably to facilitate the placing
of the manuscript, she herself went over it with exceeding care, revising
with her pencil, eliminating whole paragraphs, and finally fixing the end
short of several pages. In the copy which her husband's stenographer
prepared, the original was reduced fully a third. After that it mellowed
for an interval in Marcia's drawer.
At the close of November, it was announced that Stuart Foster, the junior
defendant in the first "Conspiracy to defraud the Government" trial, was
weather-bound in Alaska. This, taken in consideration with the serious
illness of Tisdale, on whom the prosecution relied for technical
testimony, resulted in setting the case for hearing the last week in the
following March. It was at this time, while Hollis was lying unconscious
and in delirium at a hospital, that his great wealth began to be
exploited. Everywhere, when inquiries were made as to his health, fabulous
statements followed about the Aurora. To mention the mine was like saying
"Open Sesame!" Then, finally, it was whispered and repeated with
conviction by people who "wouldn't have believed it of Hollis Tisdale" at
the beginning, that he had defrauded the widow of his dead partner--who
had made the discovery and paid for it with his life--of her share.
Then, at last, early in December, Jimmie's masterpiece was forwarded to a
new magazine in New York.
"_Dear Mr. Sampson_;--" so Marcia wrote--
"Here is a story of Western life that I believe will be of interest to
you. The incident actually occurred. The man who killed the Indian child,
and who amused my brother's guests with the story while we were cruising
lately on the _Aquila_, was Hollis Tisdale of the Geographical Survey. He
is probably the best known figure in Alaska, the owner of the fabulously
rich Aurora mine. His partner, who made the discovery, paid for it with
his life, and there is a rumor that his wife, who should have a half
interest, is penniless.
"Mr. Tisdale will he a leading witness for the Government in the pending
Alaska coal cases. Strange--is it not?--since a criminal is barred from
testifying in a United States court.
"The last issue of your magazine was most attractive. Enclosed are lists
of two thousand names and my check to cover that many sample copies of the
number in which the story is published. March would be opportune. Of
course, while I do not object to any use you may care to make of this
information, I trust I shall be spared publicity.
Frederic Morganstein did not wait until spring to open his villa. The
furnishings were completed, even to the Kodiak and polar-bear rugs, in
time to entertain a house-party at Christmas. Marcia, who came home for
the event, arrived early enough to take charge of the final preparations,
but the ideas that gave character to the lavish decorations were Beatriz
Weatherbee's. She it was who suggested the chime of holly bells with
tongues of red berries, hung by ropes of cedar from the vaulted roof
directly over the stage; and saw the two great scarlet camellias that had
been coaxed into full bloom specially for the capitalist placed at either
end of the footlights, while potted poinsettias and small madrona trees,
brought in from the bluffs above the grounds, finished the scheme with the
effect of an old mission garden. Then there were a hundred more
poinsettias disposed of, without crowding, on the landings and inside the
railing of the gallery, with five hundred red carnations arranged with
Oregon grape and fern in Indian baskets to cap the balustrade. To one
looking up from the lower hall, they had the appearance of quaint
There was not too much color. December, in the Puget Sound country, means
the climax of the wet season when under the interminable curtain of the
rain, dawn seems to touch hands with twilight. It was hardly four o'clock
that Christmas eve when the _Aquila_ arrived with the guests from Seattle,
but the villa lights were on. A huge and resinous backlog, sending broad
tongues of flame into the cavernous throat of the fireplace, gave to the
illumination a ruddier, flickering glow. To Foster, who was the first to
reach the veranda, Foster who had been so long accustomed to faring at
Alaska road-houses, to making his own camp, on occasion, with a single
helper in the frosty solitudes, that view through the French window must
have seemed like a scene from the Arabian Nights. Involuntarily he
stopped, and suddenly the luxurious interior became a setting for one
living figure. Elizabeth was there, arranging trifles on a Christmas tree;
and Mrs. Feversham, seated at a piano, was playing a brilliant bolero; but
the one woman he saw held the center of the stage. Her sparkling face was
framed in a mantilla; a camellia, plucked from one of the flowering
shrubs, was tucked in the lace above her ear, and she was dancing with
castanets in the old mission garden.
The next moment Frederic passed him and threw open the door with his
inevitable "Bravo!" And instantly the music ceased; Marcia started to her
feet; the dancer pulled off her mantilla, and the flower dropped from her
"Go on! Encore!" he laughed. "My, but you've got that cachucha down to a
science; bred, though, I guess, in your little Spanish feet. You'd dance
all the sense a man has out of his head."
"That's the reason none of us heard the _Aquila_ whistle," said Marcia,
coming forward. "Beatriz promised to dance to-night, in a marvelous yellow
brocade that was her great-grandmother's, and we were rehearsing; but she
looked so like a nun, masquerading, in that gray crepe de Chine, I almost
forgot the accompaniment. Why, Mr. Foster! How delightful you were able to
get home for Christmas."
"I am fortunate," he answered, smiling. "The ice caught me in the Yukon,
but I mushed through to Fairbanks and came on to the coast by stage. I
just made the steamer, and she docked alongside the _Aquila_ not fifteen
minutes before she sailed. Mr. Morganstein brought me along to hear my
"I guess we are all glad to have you home for Christmas," said Elizabeth.
She moved on with her sister to meet the other guests who were trooping
into the hall, and Foster found himself taking Mrs. Weatherbee's hand. His
own shook a little, and suddenly he was unable to say any of the friendly,
solicitous things he had found it so easy to express to these other
people, after his long absence; only his young eyes, searching her face
for any traces of care or anxiety the season may have left, spoke
eloquently. Afterwards, when the greetings were over, and the women
trailed away to their rooms, he saw he had forgotten to give her a package
which he had carried up from the _Aquila_, and hurried to overtake her at
the foot of the stairs.
"It was brought down by messenger from Vivian Court for you," he
explained, "just as we were casting off, and I took charge of it. There is
a letter, you see, which the clerk has tucked under the string."
The package was a florist's carton, wide and deep, with the name Hollywood
Gardens printed across the violet cover, but the letter was postmarked
Washington, D.C. "Violets!" she exclaimed softly, "'when violet time is
Her whole lithe body seemed to emanate a subdued pleasure, and settling
the box, unopened, in the curve of her arm, she started up the staircase.
Foster, looking up, caught the glance she remembered to send from the
gallery railing. Her smile was radiant.
She did not turn on the electric switch when she closed her door; the
primrose walls reflected the light from the great plate-glass window, with
the effect of candle glow. She put the box on a table near the casement
and laid the letter aside to lift the lid. The perfume of violets rose in
her face like liberated incense. The box was filled with them; bunches on
bunches. She bent her cheek to feel the cool touch of them; inhaled their
fragrance with deep, satisfying breaths. Presently she found the florist's
envelope and in it Tisdale's card. And she read, written under the name in
a round, plain woman's hand, "This is to wish you a Merry Christmas and
let you know I have not forgotten the project."
The sparkle went out of her face. After a moment she picked up the letter
and compared the address with the writing on the card. It was the same
and, seating herself by the window, she broke the seal. When she had read
the first line under the superscription, she stopped to look at the
signature. It was Katherine Purdy. She turned back and began again:
"_My dear Mrs. Weatherbee:_
"I am the night nurse on Mr. Tisdale's ward. He dictated the message on
his card to me, and I learned your address through ordering the violets of
the Seattle florist for him. It set me wondering whether he has ever let
you know how desperate things were with him. He is the most unselfish man
I ever saw, and the bravest that ever came on this floor. The evening he
arrived the surgeons advised amputating his hand--it was a case of
blood-poisoning--but he said, 'No, I am ready to take the risk; that right
hand is more than half of me, my better half.' He could joke, even then.
And when the infection spread to the arm, it was the same. After that it
was too late to operate; just a question of endurance. And he could endure
all right. My, but he was patient! I wish you could have seen him, as I
did, lying here hour after hour, staring at the ceiling, asking for
nothing, when every nerve in his body must have been on fire. But he won
through. He is lying here still, weak and pale enough, but safe.
"Maybe I seem impertinent, and I suppose I am young and foolish, but I
don't care; I wouldn't be hard as nails, like some in this clinic, if it
was to cost me my diploma. I came from the Pacific west--I am going back
there as soon as I graduate--and a girl from there never can learn to
bottle her feelings till she looks like a graven image. Besides, I know I
am writing to a western woman. But I want to say right here he never made
a confidant of me, never said one word, intentionally, about you, but
there were nights when his temperature was running from a hundred and four
degrees that he got to talking some. Most of the time he was going all
over that terrible trip to find poor Mr. Weatherbee, and once, when he was
hunting birds along some glacier, he kept hearing David singing and
calling him. Again he was just having the best, quiet little visit with
him. My, how he loved that man! And when it wasn't David, it was you. 'I
know you couldn't marry a man like Morgan,' he said. 'You may think so,
but you will not when the time comes.' And once it was, 'Beatrice,
Beatrice, in spite of everything I can't help believing in you.' Then one
night, his worst before the crisis, he seemed to be helping you through
some awful danger, it was a storm I think, and there were wild beasts and
mountains, and at last when it was all over, he said quietly: 'You do owe
your life to me, but I shall never hold you to the debt; that would be too
monstrous.' And a little later it was, 'Head high, hold fast, it will be a
stiff fight, soldier. My dear, my dear, do you think I don't know how near
you came to loving me?' I guess you know how he said that. There are
certain tones in his voice that sink straight to the bottom of your heart;
I couldn't keep from crying. And it seems to me that if you really knew
how much he thought of you, and how sick he had been, and how he has
wanted you, nothing could keep you from packing up and coming straight to
Washington. I know I should. I could go anywhere, through Alaska or the
Great Sahara, it wouldn't matter which, for a man, if there is one in this
world, who could love me that well."
Beatriz Weatherbee folded the letter and replaced it in the envelope. The
action was mechanical, and she sat twisting it with a kind of silent
emphasis, looking out into the thick atmosphere. A dash of hail struck the
window; the plate glass grew opaque. Then, suddenly, she lifted her arms
to the table and dropped her face; her body shook. It was as though she
had come at last to her blank wall; the inevitable she had so persistently
evaded was upon her; there was no escape.
Presently some one knocked. And instantly her intrepid spirit was up, on
guard. She sat erect and pressed her handkerchief swiftly to her eyes.
Then Marcia Feversham opened the door and, finding the button, flashed on
"Why, Beatriz," she exclaimed. "Are you here in the dark? You must have
fallen asleep in your chair."
"And dreaming." She rose, shading her eyes from the sudden glare. "But it
was a wretched dream, Marcia; I am glad you wakened me. Where is
"Making Frederic's cocktail. He needed a bracer to go through a business
meeting with Stuart Foster; but she will be here directly. I thought,
since we are to share your rooms, we had better dress early to be out of
the way. And I sent Celeste in to the Hallidays; Elizabeth can do
everything for me."
"Much better than Celeste," she agreed. "And while you are busy, I shall
go for a bracing little walk."
"A walk?" echoed Marcia in astonishment. "Why, it's storming. Hear that!"
Another burst of hail struck the window. Mrs. Weatherbee turned,
listening, and so avoiding Marcia's penetrating eyes, dropped her hand
from her own. "I have my raincoat and cap," she said, "and a smart brush
with the wind will clear my head of cobwebs."
With this she hurriedly smoothed the letter and laid it between the pages
of a book; lifting the violets from the table, she carried them out of the
steam-heated apartment to the coolness of the sleeping-porch. Mrs.
Feversham followed to the inner room and stood watching her through the
"Violets!" she exclaimed. "At Christmas! From wherever did they come?"
"From Hollywood Gardens," she responded almost eagerly. "Isn't it
marvelous how they make the out-of-season flowers bloom? But this flurry
of hail is the end of the storm, Marcia; the clouds are breaking, and it
is light enough to see the path above the pergola. I shall have time to go
as far as the observatory."
Before she finished speaking, she was back in the room and hurrying on her
raincoat. Mrs. Feversham began to lay out various toilet accessories, but
presently, when the gallery door closed behind Beatriz, she walked to the
table near the plate-glass window and picked up the book. It was a
morocco-bound edition of Omar's _Rubaiyat_, which she had often noticed at
the apartment in Vivian Court, yet she studied the title deliberately, and
also the frontispiece, before she turned to the pages that enclosed the
letter. But it was natural that, holding both her brother's and Beatriz
Weatherbee's interests so at heart, her scruples should be finally
dispelled, and she laid the volume face down, to keep the place, while she
read the night nurse's unclinical report. After that she went to the box
of violets in the sleeping-porch and found Tisdale's message, and she had
slipped the card carefully back and stood looking meditatively off through
the open casement when her sister entered from the gallery. At the same
time Mrs. Weatherbee appeared on the path above the pergola. But she had
not escaped to the solitude she so evidently had desired, for Foster
accompanied her. When they stopped to look down on the villa and the
little cove where the _Aquila_ rocked at her moorings, Marcia waved her
hand gaily, then turned to the brilliant room.
Elizabeth met her at the threshold. "What has sent Beatriz out in this
weather?" she asked.
"Why, you see,"--Marcia answered with a little backward gesture to the
figures on the slope,--"since this is Stuart Foster's first visit to the
villa, he must be personally conducted through the park."
"She tried her best to discourage him. They were standing at the side
entrance when I came through the dining-room. She warned him first
impressions were everything and that it would be blowing a gale at the
observatory; besides, if Frederic was waiting, she would not be
"But, 'come what will, what may'"--and meeting her sister's look, Marcia's
eyes gathered brilliancy--"the man must have his hour."
"That is what he told her. He said the syndicate had had his time and
brains, he might as well add his soul, for three months steady, and now he
was entitled to his hour. I wonder--" Elizabeth's even voice wavered--"Do
you think she will refuse him?"
"I haven't a doubt." And Marcia crossed to the dressing-table and began to
remove the shell pins from her glossy black hair.
"She seemed so changed," pursued Elizabeth following. "So, well, anxious,
depressed, and you know how gay she was at the time the _Aquila_ came. And
I happened to be near them when we started up-stairs. It was plain she was
glad to see him. But he gave her a package that had been forwarded from
Vivian Court. There was a letter; it may have been from Lucky Banks."
Marcia was silent. She lifted her brush and swept it the length of her
"If it was," resumed Elizabeth, "if he has experimented far enough and
wants to forfeit that bonus, I am going to buy that piece of Wenatchee
desert myself. The Novelty mills will pay me enough for my tide lands."
"No, Elizabeth. You will hold on to your tide lands, every foot." Mrs.
Feversham paused to watch her sister's eyes capitulate under the batteries
of her own, then said: "But you need not worry; Frederic will probably
take that option off Lucky Banks' hands. Now, please do my puffs; high,
you know, so as to use the paradise aigrette."
Foster, too, had felt the change in Mrs. Weatherbee's mood since he left
her at the foot of the staircase; the exhilaration that had been so
spontaneous then, that had seemed to expand to take him in, was now so
manifestly forced. And presently it came over him she was making
conversation, saying all these neutral things about the villa and grounds
to safeguard the one vital thing she feared to have him touch.
"Tell me about yourself," he interrupted at last. "You don't know how I've
worried about you; how I've blamed myself all these slow months for
leaving you as I did. Of course you understood the company decided to send
me in to the Iditarod suddenly, with only a few hours' notice, and to
reach the interior while the summer trails were passable I had to take the
steamer sailing that day. I tried to find you, but you were out of town;
so I wrote."
"I received the letter," she responded quickly. "I want to thank you for
it; it was very pleasant indeed to feel the security of a friend in
reserve. But you had written if there was anything you could do, or if,
any time, I should need you to let you know, and there was no reason to. I
saw I had allowed you to guess the state of my finances; they had been a
little depressed, I confess, but soon after you sailed, I gave an option
on that desert land east of the Cascades and was paid a bonus of three
"Then Tisdale did take that property off your hands, after all. I tried to
make myself believe he would; but his offer to buy hinged on the
practicability of that irrigation project."
"I know. He found it was practicable to carry it out. But--I gave the
option to Mr. Banks."
"Lucky Banks," questioned Foster incredulously, "of Iditarod? Why, he
talked of a big farming scheme in Alaska."
"I do not know about that. But he had thought a great deal of David. They
had been partners, it seems, in Alaska. Once, in a dreadful blizzard, he
almost perished, and David rescued him. He knew about the project and
offered to make the payment of three thousand dollars to hold the land
until he found out whether the scheme was feasible. I needed the money
very much. There was a debt it was imperative to close. So I accepted the
bonus without waiting to let Mr. Tisdale know."
Foster's brows clouded. "Well, why shouldn't you? Tisdale has himself to
blame, if he let his opportunity go."
There was a silent interval. They had reached the brow of the bluff and,
coming into the teeth of the wind, she dipped her head and ran to gain the
shelter of the pavilion. Then, while she gathered her breath, leaning a
little on the parapet and looking off to the broad sweep of running sea,
Foster said: "It was that debt that worried me up there in the wilderness.
You had referred to it the evening after the theater, a week before I went
away. You called it a debt of honor. You laughed at the time, but you
warned me it was the hardest kind of debt because an obligation to a
friend kept one continually paying interest in a hundred small ways. You
said it was like selling yourself on a perpetual instalment plan. That
wasn't the first time you had spoken of it, but you seemed to feel the
pressure more that night and, afterwards, up there in the north, I got to
thinking it over. I blamed myself for not finding out the truth. I was
afraid the loan was Frederic Morganstein's." He paused and drew back a
step with a quick uplift of his aggressive chin. "Was it?" he asked.
"Yes." She drew erect and turned from the parapet to meet his look. "My
note came into his hands. But I see I must explain. It began in a yearly
subscription to the Orthopedic hospital; the one, you know, for little
deformed children. I was very interested when the movement started; I sang
at concerts, danced sometimes you remember, to help along the fund. And I
endowed a little bed. David always seemed just on the brink of riches in
those days, his letters were full of brilliant predictions, but when the
second annual payment fell due, I had to borrow of Elizabeth. She
suggested it. She herself was interested deeper, financially, than I. All
the people we knew, who ever gave to charity, were eager to help the
Orthopedic; the ladies at the head were our personal friends; the best
surgeons were giving their services and time. I hadn't the courage to have
my subscription discontinued so soon, and I expected to cancel the debt
when I heard again from David. But the next spring it was the same; I
borrowed again from Elizabeth. After that, when she wanted to apply the
sum to the hospital building fund, Mrs. Feversham advanced the money, and
I gave my note. My bed, then, was given to a little, motherless boy. He
had the dearest, most trusting smile and great, dark eyes; the kind that
talk to you. And his father had deserted him. That seems incredible; that
a man can leave his own child, crippled, ill, unprovided for; but it does
happen, sometimes." She paused to steady her voice and looked off again
from the parapet. "The surgeons were greatly interested in the case," she
went on. "They were about to perform an unusual operation. All his future
depended on it. So--I let my subscription run on; so much could happen in
a year. The operation was a perfect success, and when the boy was ready to
go, one of the Orthopedic women adopted him. He is the happiest, sturdiest
little fellow now.
"At the end of the summer when the note fell due Mrs. Feversham did not
care to renew it; she was going to Washington and wished to use the money
in New York. The desert tract was all I had, and when Mr. Morganstein
planned the motoring trip through the mountains and down to Portland, he
offered to take a day to look the land over. He did not want to encumber
himself with any more real estate, he said, but would advise me on its
possibilities for the market. An accident to the car in Snoqualmie Pass
obliged him to give up the excursion, and Marcia disposed of the note to
him. She said it could make little difference to me since her brother was
willing to let the obligation rest until I was ready to meet it. I do not
blame her; there are some things Marcia Feversham and I do not see in the
same light. It isn't so much through custom and breeding; it's the way we
were created, bone and spirit." Her voice broke but she laid her hand on
the parapet again with a controlling grasp and added evenly, "That is the
reason when Mr. Banks came I was so ready to accept his offer."
"So, that was your debt of honor!" Foster began unsteadily; the words
caught in his throat, and for an instant her face grew indistinct through
the mist he could not keep back from his eyes. "You knew you were
traveling on thin ice; the break-up was almost on you, yet you handicapped
yourself with those foundlings. And you never told me. I could have taken
over that subscription, I should have been glad of the chance, you must
have known that, but you allowed me to believe it was a loan to cover
She met the reproach with a little fleeting smile. "There were times when
those accounts pressed, I am going to admit that, in justice to Elizabeth.
She always buoyed me through. I have known her intimately for years. We
were at Mills Seminary together, and even then she was the most
dependable, resourceful, generous girl in the school. I never should have
had the courage to dispose of things--for money--but she offered to. Once
it was the bracelet that had been my great-grandmother's; the serpent, you
remember, with jewelled scales and fascinating ruby eyes. The Japanese
consul bought it for his wife. And once it was that dagger the first
American Don Silva wore. The design was Moorish, you know, with a crescent
in the hilt of unique stones. The collector who wanted it promised to give
me the opportunity to redeem it if ever he wished to part with it, and
Elizabeth had the agreement written and signed."
"Like a true Morganstein. But I knew how much she thought of you. I used
to remind myself, up there in the Iditarod wilderness, that you had her
clear, practical sense and executive ability to rely on."
"That has been my one rare good-fortune; to have had Elizabeth. Not that I
depreciate my other friends," and she gave Foster another fleeting smile.
"There was Mrs. Brown who in the autumn, when I saw the necessity to give
up my apartment at Vivian Court, asked me to stay in exchange for piano
and dancing lessons. I had often taught her little girls for pleasure,
they were so sweet and lovable, when they visited in my rooms. Still,
afterwards, I learned the suggestion came from Elizabeth. Now you know
everything," she added with determined gaiety. "And I have had my draught
of ozone. We must hurry back, or they will wonder what has become of us."
She turned to the path, and the young engineer followed in silence. He did
not know everything; deep in his heart the contradiction burned. Whatever
may have caused her exhilaration at the time the _Aquila_ arrived, it was
not his return, and while her explanations satisfied him that she was in
no immediate financial distress, he felt that her confidence covered
unplumbed depths she did not wish him to sound.
They had reached the footbridge over the cascade when he said abruptly:
"After all, I am glad Lucky Banks got ahead on the irrigation project. He
will find it feasible, if any one can. He grew up on an Oregon farm, and
what he hasn't learned about sluicing in Alaska isn't worth knowing. It
leaves Hollis Tisdale no alternative."
She turned waiting, with inquiry in her eyes.
"I mean in regard to the Aurora. He hasn't the saving grace of an excuse,
now, not to convey that last half interest back to you."
"I do not want a half interest in the Aurora mine." She drew herself very
straight, swaying a little on the balls of her feet. "You must not suggest
it. I should not accept it even through a United States court. It belongs
to Mr. Tisdale. He furnished the funds that made my husband's prospecting
trip possible. And all the gold in Alaska could not repay him for--what he
did. Sometimes, when I think of him alone on that terrible trail, he
stands out more than a man. Epics have been written on less; it was a
friendship to be glorified in some great painting or bronze. But then he
touched so lightly on his own part in the story; in the incense he burned
to David he was obscured."
Foster stood watching her in surprise. The color that the wind had failed
to whip back to her cheeks burned now, two brilliant spots; raindrops, or
tears, hung trembling on her lashes, and through them flamed the blue
fires of her eyes.
"So," he said slowly, "so, Tisdale did hunt you up, after all; and, of
course, you had the whole hard story from him."
"I heard him tell it, yes, but he left out about the--wolves."
"Wolves?" repeated Foster incredulously. "There were no wolves. Why, to be
overtaken by a pack, single-handed, on the trail, is the worst that can
happen to a man."
She nodded. "Mr. Banks told me. He had talked with the miners who found
him. It was terrible." A great shudder ran through her body; for a moment
she pressed her fingers to her eyes, then she added with difficulty,
almost in a whisper: "He was defending David."
"No, no! Great Scott! But see here,"--Foster laid his hand on her arm and
drew her on down the path, "don't try to tell me any more. I understand.
Banks shouldn't have told you. Come, remember Tisdale won through. He's
After a silence, she said: "I doubt if you know how ill he has been."
"Tisdale? No, I hadn't heard."
"I only learned to-day; and he has been in a Washington hospital all these
months. The surgeons advised amputating his hand," she went on with a
tremulous breathlessness, "but he refused. He said he would take the risk;
that right hand was more than half of him, his 'better half.'"
Involuntarily Foster smiled in recognition of that dominant note in
Tisdale. "But he never seemed more physically fit than on the night I left
Seattle," he expostulated. "And there isn't a man in Alaska who
understands the dangers and the precautions of frostbite better than
Hollis Tisdale does."
"It was not frost; it was a vicious horse," she answered. "It happened
after you saw him, on that trip to Wenatchee, while he was leading the
vixen over a break in the road. We were obliged to spend the night at a
wretched way-house, and the hurt became infected."
Foster stopped. "You were obliged to spend the night?" he inquired.
"Yes. It happened in this way. Mr. Tisdale had taken the Milwaukee line
over the mountains, intending to finish the trip on horseback, to see the
country, and I, you remember, was motoring through Snoqualmie Pass with
the Morgansteins. His train barely missed colliding with our car. Mr.
Morganstein was injured, and the others took the westbound home with him,
but I decided to board the eastbound and go on by stage to Wenatchee, to
see my desert tract, and return by way of the Great Northern. I found the
stage service discontinued, so Mr. Tisdale secured a team instead of a
saddle-horse, and we drove across."
"I see." Foster smiled again. So Tisdale had capitulated on sight. "I see.
You looked the tract over together, yet he hesitated with his offer."
She did not answer directly. They had reached the pergola, and she put out
her hand groping, steadying herself through the shadows. "Mr. Tisdale
believed at the beginning I was some one else," she said then. "I was so
entirely different from his conception of David Weatherbee's wife. In the
end he offered to finance the project if I would see it carried through. I
"Of course you refused," responded Foster quickly. "It was preposterous of
him to ask it of you. I can't understand it in Tisdale. He was always so
broad, so fine, so head and shoulders above other men, so, well,
chivalrous to women. But, meantime, while he hesitated, Banks came with
"Yes. While he was desperately ill in that hospital. I--I don't know what
he will think of me--when he hears--" she went on with little, steadying
pauses. "It is difficult to explain. So much happened on that drive to the
Wenatchee valley. In the end, during an electrical storm, he saved me from
a falling tree. What he asked of me was so very little, the weight of a
feather, against all I owe him. Still, a woman does not allow even such a
man to finance her affairs; people never would have understood. Besides,
how could I have hoped, in a lifetime, to pay the loan? It was the most
barren, desolate place; a deep, dry gulf shut in by a wicked mountain--you
can't imagine--and I told him I never could live there, make it my home."
They were nearly through the pergola; involuntarily she stopped and,
looking up at Foster, the light from a Japanese lantern illumined her
small, troubled face. "But in spite of everything," she went on, "he
believes differently. To-day his first message came from Washington to
remind me he had not forgotten the project. How can I--when he is so ill--
how can I let him know?"
Foster had had his hour; and, at this final moment, he sounded those
hitherto unplumbed depths. "It will be all right," he said steadily; "wait
until you see what Lucky Banks does. You can trust him not to stand in
Tisdale's way. And don't think I underrate Hollis Tisdale. He is a man in
a thousand. No one knows that better than I. And that's why I am going to
hold him to his record."
"AS MAN TO MAN"
In January, when Mrs. Feversham returned to Washington, her brother
accompanied her as far as Wenatchee. He went prepared to offer Banks as
high as five thousand dollars for his option.
At that time the Weatherbee tract was blanketed in snow. It never drifted,
because Cerberus shut out the prevailing wind like a mighty door; even the
bench and the high ridge beyond lifted above the levels of the vale smooth
as upper floors. Previous to that rare precipitation, gangs of men, put to
work on both quarter sections, had removed the sage-brush and planted
trees, and the new orchard traced a delicate pattern on the white carpet
in rows and squares. Banks had hurried the concrete lining of the basin
walls, and when it became necessary to suspend construction on the flumes,
he saw with satisfaction that the reservoir would husband the melting
snows and so supply temporary irrigation in the early spring. All the
lumber estimates had been included in his orders for building material in
the autumn, and already the house on the bench showed a tiled roof above
its mission walls, while down the gap and midway up the side slope of
Cerberus rose the shingled gables of Annabel's home.
To facilitate the handling of freight, the railroad company had laid a
siding at the nearest point in Hesperides Vale; then, for the convenience
of the workmen, the daily local made regular stops, and the little station
bore the name of Weatherbee. Later, at the beginning of the year, it had
become a post-office, and the Federal building included a general store.
Also, at that time, the girders of a new brick block rose on the adjoining
lots, and a sign secured to the basement wall announced: "This strictly
modern building will be completed about June first. For office and floor
space see Henderson Bailey."
The financier, who had motored up the valley in a rented car, noted these
indications of an embryo town with interest.
"Who is Henderson Bailey?" he asked.
And the chauffeur answered with surprise: "Don't you know Bailey? Why,
he's the man that got in on the ground floor. He owns the heart of
Hesperides Vale. That was his apple orchard we passed, you remember, a few
minutes ago. But the man who is backing him on that brick block is Lucky
Banks of Alaska. They are pulling together, nip and tuck, for Weatherbee."
"Nip--and Tuck," repeated Morganstein thoughtfully. "That reminds me of a
young team of bays I considered buying last fall, over at North Yakima.
Rather well named, if you knew 'em. But they were a little too gay for
Seattle hills and the lady I expected would drive 'em. George, though,
they made a handsome showing. A dealer named Lighter owned 'em, and they
won the blue ribbon for three-year-olds at Yakima and Spokane."
"I know them," replied the chauffeur. "They are owned here in the valley
now; and Lucky Banks' wife is driving them. You can meet her most any day
speeling down to the Columbia to see her goats."
"Goats?" queried Frederic.
"Yes, sir. Didn't you know she used to keep a flock of Angoras up here? It
was her land before she was married. But when Banks turned up with his
pile and started the orchards, the goats had to go. It wouldn't have taken
them a week to chew up every stick he planted. So she hired a man to
winter them down on the Columbia, where she could keep an eye on them.
Strange," the chauffeur went on musingly, "what a difference clothes make
in a woman. Nobody noticed her much, only we thought she was kind of
touched, when she was herding those billies by herself up that pocket, but
the minute Banks came, she blossomed out; made us all sit up and take
notice. Yes, sir, she's sure some style. To see her in her up-to-date
motoring-coat, veil to match, cape gloves, and up behind that team, you'd
think the Empress of India had the road."
"Just what I said first time I saw her," Morganstein chuckled thickly. "Or
I guess it was the Queen of Sheba I called her. Happened to be grand-opera
night, and she wore a necklace made of some of Banks' nuggets. George, she
could carry 'em; had the throat and shoulders. It isn't the clothes that
make the difference, my boy; it's the trick of wearing 'em. I know a slim
little thoroughbred, who puts on a plain gray silk like it was cloth of
gold. You'd think she was walking tiptoe to keep it off this darned old
earth. Lord, I'd like to see her in the real stuff. George, I'll do it,
soon's we're married," and he laughed deeply at the notion. "I'll order a
cloth of gold gown direct from Paris, and I'll set a diamond tiara on her
proud little head. Bet it don't out-sparkle her eyes. Lord, Lord, she'll
make 'em all stare."
The chauffeur gave the financier a measuring glance from the corner of his
eye, but he puckered his lips discreetly to cover a grin, and with his
head still cocked sidewise, looked off to the lifting front of Cerberus,
whistling softly _Queen Among the Heather_. But the tune ceased abruptly
and, straightening like an unstrung bow, he swerved the machine out of the
thoroughfare and brought it to a stop.
It was not the Empress of India who held the road, but little Banks in his
red car. Slackening speed, he shouted back above the noise of the exhaust:
"Hello! Is that you, Mr. Morganstein? I guess likely you're looking for
me. But I can't stop. I've got to catch the local for Wenatchee; the
eastbound don't make our station, and I'm booked for a little run through
to Washington, D.C."
"That so?" answered Morganstein thoughtfully. "I came over just to look at
this orchard of yours. See here, wait a minute." He unbuttoned his heavy
coat and, finding a pocket, drew out a time-card. "You will have a couple
of hours to waste in Wenatchee between trains. Give me half an hour, long
enough to show me a bird's-eye view of the project--that's all I want in
this snow and I guarantee to put you in Wenatchee on time for your
eastbound. The road is in good shape; driver knows his car."
Banks left his roadster and came over to the larger car. "I'll risk it
since you've broke trail," he said, taking the vacant seat behind. "But I
knew if I took chances with snow, in this contrary buzz-wagon of mine,
she'd likely skid off the first mean curve."
Morganstein, laughing, changed his seat for the one beside the prospector.
"It's like this, dry and firm as a floor, straight through to Wenatchee.
These are great roads you have in this valley; wish we had 'em on the
other side the range."
"I sent a scraper up from the station ahead of me," said Banks. "And,
driver, we may as well run up the switchback to the house. It's level
there, with room to turn. And it will give you the chance to see the whole
layout below," he went on, explaining to Morganstein. "The property on
this side the mountain belongs to my wife, but we ain't living here yet;
we are stopping with folks down by the station. Likely we'll move, soon's
I get back from my trip. That is, if the boys get busy. Seem's if I have
to keep after some of them all the time. To-day it's the lathers. I've got
to stop, going through Weatherbee, to tell my wife to have an eye on them.
They get paid by the bundle, and they told me this morning lathe would run
short before they was through. I knew I had ordered an extra hundred on
the architect's figgers, but I didn't say anything. Just prospected 'round
and came back unexpected, and caught one of them red-handed. He was
tucking a bunch between the ceiling and the upper floor, without even
cutting the string. I made them rip off the lathe, and there they were
stored thick, a full bundle to 'bout every three they'd nailed on."
"That's the way," commented Morganstein, "every man of 'em will do you, if
he sees a chance. Mrs. Banks will have to keep both eyes open, if you are
leaving it to her. But it will be compensation to her, I guess, driving
those bays over from the station every day. Handsomest team in Washington.
I'll bet," and he turned his narrow eyes suddenly on Banks, "Lighter held
you up for all they were worth."
"The team belongs to Hollis Tisdale," answered Banks. "He bought them at
Kittitas last fall and drove them through. They were in the valley when I
came, and he asked me to look after them while he was east. My wife
exercises them. She understands horses, my, yes. One of those colts had a
mean trick of snapping at you if you touched the bit, but she cured him
complete. And she took such a shine to that team I thought likely they'd
do for a Christmas present. Tisdale told me in the fall if I had a good
chance, to sell, so I wrote and made him an offer. But his answer never
came till last night. A nurse at the hospital in Washington wrote for him;
he had been laid up with a case of blood-poison all winter, and it started
from a nip that blame' colt gave him on the trip from Kittitas. He refused
my price because, seeing's the team wasn't safe for a full-sized man to
drive, it went against his conscience to let them go to a lady."
"He was right," said Morganstein. "George, that was a lucky escape. I was
within an ace of buying that team myself. But I put down Tisdale's
sickness to frostbite; often goes that way with a man in the north."
"Sure; it does." Banks paused, while his glance fell to the empty fingers
of his right glove. "But that colt, Nip, gets the credit this time. It
happened while Hollis was trying to lead him over a break in the road. He
said it didn't amount to anything, the night I saw him before he left
Seattle, but he had the hand bandaged, and I'd ought to have known it was
giving him trouble."
Morganstein pondered a silent moment, then said slowly, "Kittitas is close
enough to be a suburb of Ellensburg, and that's where the Wenatchee stage
meets the Milwaukee Puget Sound train. Friend of mine made the trip about
that time; didn't say anything of a break in the road."
"There's just one road through," answered Banks, "and that's the one they
used for hauling from the Northern Pacific line while this railroad was
building. Likely there was a stage then, but it ain't running now."
Frederic pondered again, then a gleam of intelligence flashed in his eyes.
"Did Tisdale make that trip from Kittitas alone?" he asked.
Banks shook his head. "He didn't mention any passengers. Likely it was
having to drive himself, after his hand was hurt, that did the mischief.
Anyhow, he's had a close call; fought it out sooner than let the doctors
take his hand; and he never let one of us boys know. That was just the way
with Dave Weatherbee; they was a team. But I'm going to look him up, now,
soon's I can. He had to get that nurse to write for him. Likely there
ain't a man around to tend to his business; he might be all out of money."
"I guess, with the Aurora mine to back him, you needn't worry."
The little man shook his head. "It will take more security than the Aurora
to open a bank account in Washington, D.C. I ain't saying anything against
Dave Weatherbee's strike," he added quickly, "but, when you talk Alaska to
those fellows off there in the east, they get cold feet."
Morganstein looked off, chuckling his appreciation. They had arrived at
the final curve; on one side, rising from the narrow shoulder, stood
Annabel's new home, while on the other the mountain sloped abruptly to
Weatherbee's vale. Banks pointed out the peach orchard on the bench at the
top of the pocket; the rim of masonry, pushing through the snow, that
marked the reservoir; the apple tract below.
"I see," said Frederic, "and this mountain we are on must be the one Mrs.
Weatherbee noticed, looking down from that bench. Reminded her of some
kind of a beast!"
Banks nodded. "It looked like a cross between a cougar and a husky in the
fall. One place you catch sight of two heads. But she'll be tamer in the
spring, when things begin to grow. There's more peaches, set in narrow
terraces where the road cross-cuts down there, and all these small
hummocks under the snow are grapes. It's warm on this south slope and
sheltered from the frosts; the vines took right ahold; and, with fillers
of strawberries hurrying on the green, Dave's wife won't know the mountain
by summer, my, no."
"Presume," said the financier abruptly, "you expect to supply both tracts
with water from those springs?"
"My, no. This quarter section belongs to my wife, and it's up to me to
make the water connections safe for her. I can do it." Banks set his lips
grimly, and his voice shrilled a higher key. "Yes, sir, even if I have to
tunnel through from the Wenatchee. But I think likely I'll tap the new
High Line and rig a flume with one of these new-style electric pumps. And
my idea would be to hollow out a nice little reservoir, with maybe a
fountain, right here on this shoulder alongside the house, and let a
sluice and spillways follow the road down. There'd be water handy then,
and to spare, in case Dave's springs happen to pinch out."
Morganstein's glance moved slowly over the sections of road cross-cutting
the mountain below, and on up the vale to the distant bench. Presently he
said: "What are you building over there? A barn, or is it a winery for
"It's neither," answered Banks with sharp emphasis. "It's a regular,
first-class house. Dave Weatherbee was counting on striking it rich in
Alaska when he drew the plans. The architect calls it California-Spanish
style. The rooms are built around a court, and we are piping for the
Frederic grew thoughtful. Clearly an offer of five thousand dollars for
Lucky Banks' option on the Weatherbee tract was inadequate. After a moment
he said: "What is it going to cost you?"
"Well, sir, counting that house complete, without the furniture, seven
thousand would be cheap."
After that the financier was silent. He looked at his watch, as they
motored down Cerberus, considering, perhaps, the probabilities of a
telegram reaching Marcia; but he did not make the venture when they
arrived in Wenatchee, and the nearest approach he made to that offer was
while he and Banks were waiting at the station for their separate trains.
They were seated together on a bench at the time, and Frederic, having
lighted a cigar, drew deeply as though he hoped to gather inspiration.
Then he edged closer and, dropping his heavy hand on the little
prospector's shoulder, said thickly: "See here, tell me this, as man to
man, if you found both those tracts too big to handle, what would you take
for your option on the Weatherbee property?"
And Banks, edging away to the end of the seat, answered sharply: "I can
handle both; my option ain't for sale."
THE DAY OF PUBLICATION
It was a mild evening, the last in February, and Jimmie, who had received
two copies of the March issue of _Sampson's Magazine_ direct from the
publisher, celebrated the event by taking the Society Editor canoeing on
Lake Washington. Instead of helping with the bow paddle, of which she was
fully capable, Miss Atkins settled against the pillows facing him, with
the masterpiece in her lap. The magazine was closed, showing his name
among the specially mentioned on the cover, but she kept the place with
her finger. She had a pretty hand, and it was adorned by the very best
diamond that could be bought at Hanson's for one hundred and fifty
She waited, watching Jimmie's stroke, while the Peterboro slipped out from
the boathouse and rose quartering to the swells of a passing launch. Her
hat was placed carefully behind her in the bow, and the light wind
roughened her hair, which was parted on the side, into small rings on her
forehead. It gave her an air of boyish camaraderie, and the young author's
glance, moving from the magazine and the ring, swept her whole trim figure
to the mannish, flat-heeled little shoes, and returned to her face. "This
is my red-letter day," he said.
"It's the proudest in my life," answered Geraldine, and the way in which
she said it made him catch his breath.
"It makes me feel almost sure enough to cut loose from the _Press_ and go
into business for myself."
"Oh, I shouldn't be in a hurry to leave the paper, if I were you," she
replied, "even though _Sampson's_ has asked to see more of your work."
"It isn't the magazine opening I am considering; though I shall do what I
can in that way, of course. But what would you think of an offer to take
full charge of a newspaper east of the Cascades? It's so." He paused,
nodding in emphasis to the confirmation. "The letter is there in my coat
pocket. It's from Bailey--you remember that young fellow I told you about
who made an investment in the Wenatchee valley. Well, it seems they have
incorporated a town on some of that property. His city lots are selling so
fast he has raised the price three times. And they have put him up for
mayor. He says it's mighty hard to run an election without a newspaper,
and even if it's a late start, we will be ready next time. And the valley
needs advertising; people in the east don't know where Wenatchee apples
grow. You understand. He will finance a newspaper--or rather he and Lucky
Banks are going to--if I will take the management. He is holding offices
now, in a brick block that is building, until he hears from me."
"Is it in Hesperides Vale, where the Bankses live?"
"Yes. The name of the town is Weatherbee. And I heard from that little
miner, too." Jimmie paused, smiling at the recollection. "It was a kind of
supplement to Bailey's letter. He thought likely I could recommend some
young fellow to start a newspaper. A married man was preferred, as it was
a new camp and in need of more ladies."
Geraldine laughed, flushing softly, "Isn't that just like him?" she said.
"I can see his eyes twinkling."
"It sounds rather good to me," Jimmie went on earnestly. "I have
confidence in Bailey. And it was mother's dream, you know, to see me
establish a paper over there; it would mean something to me to see it
realized--but--do you think you could give up your career to help me
Geraldine was silent, and Jimmie leaned forward a little, resting on his
stroke. "I know I am not worth it, but so far as that goes, neither was my
father; yet mother gave up everything to back him. She kept him on that
desert homestead the first five years, until he proved up and got his
patent, and he might have stayed with it, been rich to-day, if she had
"Of course I like you awfully well," said Geraldine, flushing pinkly, "and
it isn't that I haven't every confidence in you, but--I must take a little
time to decide."
A steamer passed, and Jimmie resumed his strokes, mechanically turning the
canoe out of the trough. Geraldine opened the magazine and began to scan
the editor's note under the title. "Why," she exclaimed tremulously, "did
you know about this? Did you see the proofs?"
"No. What is the excitement? Isn't it straight?"
"Listen!" Miss Atkins sat erect; the cushion dropped under her elbow; her
lips closed firmly between the sentences she read.
"'This is one of those true stories stranger than fiction. This man, who
wantonly murdered a child in his path and told of it for the amusement of
a party of pleasure-seekers aboard a yacht on Puget Sound, who should be
serving a prison sentence to-day, yet never came to a trial, is Hollis
Tisdale of the Geographical Survey; a man in high favor with the
administration and the sole owner of the fabulously rich Aurora mine in
Alaska. The widow of his partner who made the discovery and paid for it
with his life is penniless. Strange as it may seem--for the testimony of a
criminal is not allowable in a United States court--Hollis Tisdale has
been called as a witness for the Government in the pending Alaska coal
The Society Editor met Jimmie's appalled gaze. "It sounds muckraky," she
commented, still tremulously. "But these new magazines have to do
something to get a hold. This is just to attract public attention."
"They'll get that, when Tisdale brings a suit for libel. Hope he will do
it, and that the judgment will swamp them. They must have got his name
from Mrs. Feversham."
"It looks political," said Geraldine conciliatingly, "as though they were
striking through him at the administration."
"Go on," said Jimmie recklessly. "Let's have it over with."
And Geraldine launched quickly into the story. It had been mercilessly and
skilfully abridged. All those undercurrents of feeling, which Jimmie had
faithfully noted, had been suppressed; and of David Weatherbee, whom
Tisdale had made the hero of the adventure, there was not a word.
"Great guns!" exclaimed the unfortunate author at the finish. "Great--
But Geraldine said nothing. She only closed the magazine and pushed it
under the pillow out of sight. There was a long silence. A first star
appeared and threw a wavering trail on the lake. Jimmie, dipping his
paddle mechanically, turned the Peterboro into this pale pathway. The
pride and elation had gone out of his face. His mouth drooped
"And you called this your proudest day," he broke out at last.
An unexpected gentleness crept over the Society Editor's countenance. "It
would be great to help create a city," she said then. "To start with it
ourselves, at the foundations and grow." And she added very softly, with a
little break in her voice: "I've decided to resign and go to Weatherbee."
SNOWBOUND IN THE ROCKIES AND "FIT AS A MOOSE"
Tisdale, who was expected to furnish important testimony in the Alaska
coal cases, had been served official notice at the hospital during Banks'
visit. The trial was set for the twenty-fourth of March and in Seattle.
The prospector had found him braced up in bed, and going over the final
proof of his Matanuska report, with the aid of a secretary. "You better go
slow, Hollis," he said. "You are looking about as reliable as your shadow.
Likely the first puff of a wind would lift you out of sight. My, yes. But
I just ran over to say hello, and let you know if it's the expense that's
hurrying you, there's a couple of thousand in the Wenatchee bank I can't
find any use for, now the water-works are done and the house. You can have
it well's not. It ain't drawing any interest." And Tisdale had taken the
little man's hand between both his own and called him "true gold." But he
was in no pressing need of money, though it was possible he might delay in
refunding those sums Banks had advanced on the project. He was able enough
to be on his feet, but these doctors were cautious; it might be another
month before he would be doing a man's work.
He started west, allowing himself ample time to reach Seattle by the
fifteenth of March, when Banks' option expired, but the fourteenth found
him, after three days of delay by floods, snowbound in the Rockies. The
morning of the fifteenth, while the rotaries were still clearing track
ahead, he made his way back a few miles to the nearest telegraph station
and got into communication with the mining man.
"How are you?" came the response from Weatherbee. "Done for? Drop off at
Scenic Hot Springs, if your train comes through. She wrote she was there.
Came up with a little crowd for the coasting. Take care of yourself, and
here is to you.
And Tisdale, with the genial wrinkles deepening at the corners of his eyes
once more, wired: "Fit as a moose. Go fifteenth. Close business."
A judge may pronounce a sentence yet, at the same time, feel ungovernable
springs of sympathy welling from the depths of his heart, and while
Tisdale pushed his way back to the stalled train, he went over the
situation from Beatriz Weatherbee's side. He knew what the sale of that
desert tract must mean to her; how high her hopes had flown since the
payment of the bonus. Looking forward to that final interview when,
notwithstanding his improvements, Banks should relinquish his option, he
weighed her disappointment. In imagination he saw the light go out of her
eyes; her lip, that short upper lip with its curves of a bow, would quiver
a little, and the delicate nostril; then, instantly, before she had spoken
a word, her indomitable pride would be up like a lifted whip, to sting her
into self-control. Oh, she had the courage; she would brave it out. Still,
still, he had intended to be there, not only to press the ultimate
purpose, but to--ease her through. Banks might be abrupt. He was sorry. He
was so sorry that though he had tramped, mushed a mile, he faced about,
and, in the teeth of a bitter wind, returned to the station.
The snow was falling thickly; it blurred his tracks behind him; the crest
of a drift was caught up and carried, swirling, into the railroad cut he
had left, and a great gust tore into the office with him. The solitary
operator hurried to close the door and, shivering, stooped to put a huge
stick of wood in the stove. "It's too bad," he said. "Forgot the main
point, I suppose. If this keeps up, and your train moves to-morrow, it
will be through a regular snow canyon. I just got word your head rotary is
out of commission, but another is coming up from the east with a gang of
shovellers. They'll stop here for water. It's a chance for you to ride
back to your train."
"Thank you, I will wait," Tisdale answered genially. "But I like walking
in this mountain air. I like it so well that if the blockade doesn't lift
by to-morrow, I am going to mush through and pick up a special to the
While he spoke, he brushed the snow from his shoulders and took off his
hat and gloves. He stood another moment, rubbing and pinching his numb
hands, then went over to the desk and filled a telegraph blank. He laid
down the exact amount of the charges in silver, to which he added five
dollars in gold.
The operator went around the counter and picked up the money. For an
instant his glance, moving from the message, rested on Tisdale's face in
curious surprise. This man surely enjoyed the mountain air. He had tramped
back in the teeth of a growing blizzard to send an order for violets to
Hollywood Gardens, Seattle. The flowers were to be expressed to a lady at
Scenic Hot Springs.
After that Tisdale spent an interval moving restlessly about the room. He
read the advertisements on the walls, studied the map of the Great
Northern route, and when the stove grew red-hot, threw open the door and
tramped the platform in the piping wind. Finally, when the keyboard was
quiet, the operator brought him a magazine. The station did not keep a
news-stand, but a conductor on the westbound had left this for him to
read. There was a mighty good yarn--this was it--"The Tenas Papoose." It
was just the kind when a man was trying to kill time.
Tisdale took the periodical. No, he had not seen it aboard the train;
there were so many of these new magazines, it was hard to choose. He
smiled at first, that editor's note was so preposterous, so plainly
sensational; or was it malicious? He re-read it, knitting his brows. Who
was this writer Daniels? His mind ran back to that day aboard the
_Aquila_. Aside from the Morgansteins and Mrs. Weatherbee, there had been
no one else in the party until the lieutenant was picked up at Bremerton,
after the adventure was told. But Daniels--he glanced back to be sure of
the author's name--James Daniels. Now he remembered. That was the
irrepressible young fellow who had secured the photographs in Snoqualmie
Pass at the time of the accident to the Morganstein automobile; who had
later interviewed Mrs. Weatherbee on the train. Had he then sought her at
her hotel, ostensibly to present her with a copy of the newspaper in which
those illustrations were published, and so ingratiated himself far enough
in her favor to gather another story from her?
Tisdale went over to a chair near the window and began to go over those
abridged columns. He turned the page, and his lips set grimly. At last he
closed the magazine and looked off through the drifting snow. He had been
grossly misrepresented, and the reason was clear.
This editor, struggling to establish a new periodical, had used Daniels'
material to attract the public eye. He may even have had political
ambitions and aimed deeper to strike the administration through him. He
may have taken this method to curry favor with certain moneyed men. Still,
still, what object had there been in leaving Weatherbee completely out of
the story? Weatherbee, who should have carried the leading role; who,
lifting the adventure high above the sensational, had made it something
Again his thoughts ran back to that cruise on the _Aquila_. He saw that
group on the after-deck; Rainier lifting southward like a phantom mountain
over the opal sea; and westward the Olympics, looming clear-cut, vivid as
a scene in the tropics; the purplish blue of the nearer height sharply
defined against the higher amethyst slope that marked the gorge of the
Dosewallups. This setting had brought the tragedy to his mind, and to
evade the questions Morganstein pressed, he had commenced to relate the
adventure. But afterwards he had found himself going into the more
intimate detail with a hope of reviving some spark of appreciation of
David in the heart of his wife. And he had believed that he had. Still,
who else, in all that little company, could have had any motive in leaving
out Weatherbee? Why had she told the story at all? She was a woman of
great self-control, but also she had depths of pride. Had she, in the high
tide of her anger or pique, taken this means to retaliate for the
disappointment he had caused her?
The approaching work-train whistled the station. He rose and went back to
the operator's desk and filled another blank. This time he addressed a
prominent attorney, and his close friend, in Washington, D.C. And the
"See _Sampson's Magazine_, March, page 330. Find whether revised or
Toward noon the following day the express began to crawl cautiously out,
with the rotaries still bucking ahead, through the great snow canyons. The
morning of the sixteenth he had left Spokane with the great levels of the
Columbia desert stretching before him. And that afternoon at Wenatchee,
with the white gates of the Cascades a few hours off, a messenger called
his name down the aisle. The answer had come from his attorney. The story
was straight copy; published as received.
THE IDES OF MARCH
In order to prepare for the defense, Miles Feversham, accompanied by his
wife, arrived in Seattle the first week in March. The month had opened
stormy, with heavy rains, and to bridge the interval preceding the trial,
Marcia planned an outing at Scenic Hot Springs where, at the higher
altitude, the precipitation had taken the form of snow, and the hotel
advertised good skeeing and tobogganing. "Make the most of it," she
admonished Frederic; "it's your last opportunity. If Lucky Banks forfeits
his bonus, and you can manage to keep your head and use a little
diplomacy, we may have the engagement announced before the case comes up."
Though diplomacy was possible only through suggestion, Frederic was a
willing and confident medium. He knew Mrs. Weatherbee had notified Banks
she was at Scenic and, watching her that day of the fifteenth, he was at
first puzzled and then encouraged that, as the hours passed and the
prospector failed to come, her spirits steadily rose.
Elizabeth betrayed more anxiety. At evening she stood at the window in
Beatriz's room, watching the bold front of the mountain which the Great
Northern tracks crosscut to Cascade tunnel, when the Spokane local rounded
the highest curve and dropped cautiously to the first snow-sheds. The
bluffs between were too sheer to accumulate snow, and against the dark
background the vague outlines of the cars passed like shadows; the
electric lights, blazing from the coaches, produced the effect of an
aerial, fiery dragon. Then, in the interval it disappeared, an eastbound
challenged from the lower gorge, and the monster rushed from cover,
shrieking defiance; the pawing clamp of its trucks roused the
mountainside. "There is your last westbound," she said. "If your option
man isn't aboard, he forfeits his bonus. But you will be ahead the three
thousand dollars and whatever improvements he may have made."
Mrs. Weatherbee stood at the mirror fastening a great bunch of violets at
her belt. There was a bouquet of them on the dresser, and a huge bowl
filled with them and relieved by a single red rose stood on the table in
the center of the room. "That is what troubles me," she replied, and
ruffled her brows. "It seems so unjust that he should lose so much; that I
should accept everything without compensating him."
Elizabeth smiled. "I guess he meant to get what he could out of the
investment, but afterwards, when he married and found his wife owned the
adjoining unreclaimed tract, it altered the situation. It called for
double capital and, if he hesitated and it came to a choice, naturally her
interests would swing the balance."
"No doubt," admitted Beatriz. "And in that case,"--she turned from the
mirror to watch the train--"I might deed her a strip of ground where it
was discovered her tract overlapped David's. That would be a beginning."
"See here." Elizabeth turned, and for an instant the motherhood deep in
her softened the masculine lines of her face. "Don't you worry about Lucky
Banks. Perhaps he did go into the project to satisfy his conscience, but
the deal was his, and he had the money to throw away. Some men get their
fun making over the earth. When one place is finished, they lose interest
and go looking for a chance to put their time and dollars into improving
somewhere else. Besides,"--and she took this other woman into her abrupt
and rare embrace--"I happen to know he had an offer for his option and
refused a good price. Now, come, Marcia and Frederic have gone down to the
dining-room, you know. They were to order for us."
But Beatriz was in no hurry. "The train is on the bridge," she said and
caught a quick breath. "Do you hear? It is stopping at the station."
Elizabeth, waiting at the open door, answered: "We can see the new
arrivals, if there are any, when we go through the lobby."
Mrs. Weatherbee started across the room, but at the table she stopped to
bend over the bowl of violets, inhaling their fragrance. "Aren't they
lovely and--prodigal enough to color whole fields?"
Elizabeth laughed. "Frederic must have ordered wholesale, or else he
forgot they were in season."
Beatriz lifted her face. "Did Mr. Morganstein send these violets?" she
asked. "I thought--but there was no card."
"Why, I don't know," said Elizabeth, "but who else would have ordered
whole fields of them?"
Mrs. Weatherbee was silent, but she smiled a little as she followed
Elizabeth from the room. When they reached the foot of the staircase, the
lobby was nearly deserted; if the train had left any guests, they had been
shown already to their rooms.
The Morganstein table was at the farther end of the dining-room, but
Frederic, who was watching the door when the young women entered, at once
noticed the violets at Mrs. Weatherbee's belt.
"Must have been sent from Seattle on that last eastbound," he commented,
frowning. "Say, Marcia, why didn't you remind me to order some flowers
Marcia's calculating eyes followed his gaze. "You would not have
remembered she is fond of violets, and they seem specially made for her;
you would have ordered unusual orchids or imported azaleas."
Frederic laughed uneasily, and a purplish flush deepened in his cheeks. "I
always figure the best is never too good for her. Not that the highest
priced makes so much difference with her. Look at her, now, will you?
Wouldn't you think, the way she carries herself, that little gray gown was
a coronation robe? George, but she is game! Acts like she expects Lucky
Banks to drop in with a clear fifty thousand, when the chances are he's
gone back on his ten. Well," he said, rising as she approached, to draw
out her chair, "what do you think about your customer now? Too bad. I bet
you've spent his Alaska dust in anticipation a hundred times over. Don't
deny it," he held up his heavy hand in playful warning as he resumed his
chair. "Speculated some myself on what you'd do with it. George, I'd like
to see the reins in your hands for once, and watch you go. You'd set us a
pace; break all records."
"Oh, no, no," she expostulated in evident distress. "I shouldn't care to--
set the pace--if I were to come into a kingdom; please don't think that. I
have wanted to keep up, I admit; to hold my own. I have been miserably
afraid sometimes of being left behind, alone, crowded out, beaten."
"Beaten? You? I guess not. Bet anybody ten to one you'll be in at the
finish, I don't care who's in the field, even if you drop in your traces
next minute. And I bet if this sale does fall through to-night, you'll be
looking up, high as ever, to-morrow, setting your heart on something else
out of reach."
"Out of reach?" she responded evenly, arching her brows. "You surprise me.
You have led me to believe I am easy to please."
"So you are," he capitulated instantly, "in most ways. All the same, you
carry the ambitions of a duchess buttoned under that gray gown. But I like
you for it; like you so well I'm going to catch myself taking that
property off your hands, if Banks goes back on you."
He leaned towards her as he said this, smiling and trying to hold her
glance, but she turned her face and looked off obliviously across the
room. There were moments when even Frederic Morganstein was conscious of
the indefinable barrier beyond which lay intrenched, an untried and
repelling force. He straightened and, following her gaze, saw Lucky Banks
enter the door.
Involuntarily Elizabeth started, and Mrs. Feversham caught a quick breath.
"At the eleventh hour," she said then, and her eyes met her brother's.
"Yes or no?" they telegraphed.
It was the popular hour, an orchestra was playing, and the tables were
well filled, but the mining man, marshalled by a tall and important head
waitress, drew himself straight and with soldierly precision came down the
room as far as the Morganstein group. There, recognizing Mrs. Weatherbee,
he stopped and, with the maimed hand behind him, made his short, swift
bow. "I guess likely you gave me up," he said in his high key, "but I
waited long's I dared for the through train. She's been snowed under three
days in the Rockies. They had her due at Wenatchee by two-fifteen; then it
was put off to five, and when the local came along, I thought I might as
well take her."
Mrs. Weatherbee, who had started to rise, settled back in her chair with a
smile. "I had given you up, Mr. Banks," she said not quite steadily.
Then Morganstein said: "How do, Banks," and offered his hand. "Just in
time to join us. Ordered saddle of Yakima lamb, first on the market,
dressing of fine herbs, for the crowd. Suits you, doesn't it?"
To which the little prospector responded: "My, yes, first class, but I
don't want to put you out."
"You won't," Frederic chuckled; "couldn't do it if you tried."
But it was Elizabeth who rose to make room for the extra chair on her side
of the table, and who inquired presently after his wife.
"Mrs. Banks is fine," he answered, his bleak face glowing. "My, yes, seems
like she makes a better showing now than she did at the Corners seven
"Still driving those bays?" asked Frederic.
The mining man nodded with reluctance. "It's no use to try to get her to
let 'em alone long's they are on the place, and I couldn't sneak 'em away;
she was always watching around. She thinks Tisdale will likely sell when
he sees she can manage the team."
"So," laughed Morganstein, "you'll have to come up with that Christmas
present, after all."
"They will do for her birthday," replied Banks gravely. "I picked out a
new ring for Christmas. It was a first-class diamond, and she liked it all
right. She said," and a shade of humor warmed his face, "she would have to
patronize the new manicure store down to Wenatchee, if I expected her to
have hands fit to wear it, and if she had to live up to that ring, it
would cost me something before she was through."
"And did she try the parlors?" asked Elizabeth seriously.
"My, yes, and it was worth the money. Her hands made a mighty fine showing
the first trip, and before she used up her ticket, I was telling her she'd
have to wear mittens when she played the old melodion, or likely her
fingers would get hurt hitting the keys."
Banks laughed his high, strained laugh, and Morganstein echoed it deeply.
"Ought to have an establishment in the new town," he said.
"We are going to," the prospector replied; "as soon as the new brick block
is ready to open up. There's going to be manicure and hair-dressing
parlors back of the millinery store. Lucile, Miss Lucile Purdy of
Sedgewick-Wilson's, is coming over to run 'em both. She can do it, my,
"Now I can believe you have a self-respecting and wide-awake town,"
commented Mrs. Feversham. "But is the big department store backing Miss
"No, ma'am. We ain't talking about it much, but Mrs. Banks has put up
money; she says she is the silent partner of the concern."
"Is that so?" questioned Morganstein thoughtfully. "Seems to me you are
banking rather heavy on the new town."
Banks' eyes gleamed appreciation, but the capitalist missed his
inadvertent pun. After a moment, the mining man said: "I guess the
millinery investment won't break us; but there's no question about
Weatherbee's being a live town, and Lucile can sell goods."
"I presume next," said Mrs. Feversham with veiled irony, "we shall be
hearing of you as the first mayor of Weatherbee."
Banks shook his head gravely. "They shouldered that on to Henderson
"I remember," said Frederic. "Man who started the orchard excitement,
wasn't he? Got in on the ground floor and platted some of his land in city
lots. Naturally, he's running for mayor."
"He's it," responded the mining man. "The election came off Tuesday, and
he led his ticket, my, yes, clear out of sight."
"Bet you ran for something, though," responded Morganstein. "Bet they had
you up for treasurer."
Banks laughed. "There was some talk of it--my wife said they were looking
for somebody that could make good if the city money fell short--but most
of the bunch thought my lay was the Board of Control. You see, I got to
looking after things to help Bailey out, while he was busy moving his
apples or maybe his city lots. My, it got so's when Mrs. Banks couldn't
find me down to the city park, watching the men grub out sage-brush for
the new trees, she could count on my being up-stream to the water-works,
or hiking out to the lighting-plant. It's kept me rushed, all right. It
takes time to start a first-class town. It has to be done straight from
bedrock. But now that Annabel's house up Hesperides Vale is built, and the
flumes are in, she thinks likely she can run her ranch, and I think
likely,"--the prospector paused, and his eyes, with their gleam of blue
glacier ice, sought Mrs. Weatherbee's. Hers clouded a little, and she
leaned slightly towards him, waiting with hushed breath--"I think likely,"
he repeated in a higher key, "seeing's the Alameda has to be finished up,
and the fountain got in shape at the park, with the statue about due from
New York, I may as well drop Dave's project and call the deal off."
There was a silence, during which the eyes of every one rested on Beatriz.
She straightened with a great sigh; the color rushed coral-pink to her
"I am--sorry--about your loss, Mr. Banks," she said, then, and her voice
fluctuated softly, "but I shall do my best--I shall make it a point of
honor--to sometime reimburse you." Her glance fell to the violets at her
belt; she singled one from the rest and, inhaling its perfume, held it
lightly to her lips.
"You thoroughbred!" said Frederic thickly.
THE EVERLASTING DOOR
Sometime during the night of the fifteenth, the belated Chinook wind began
to flute through the canyon, and towards dawn the guests at Scenic Hot
Springs were wakened by the near thunder of an avalanche. After a while,
word was brought that the Great Northern track was buried under forty feet
of snow and rock and fallen trees for a distance of nearly a mile. Later a
rotary steamed around the high curve on the mountain and stopped, like a
toy engine on an upper shelf, while the Spokane local, upon which Banks
had expected to return to Weatherbee, forged a few miles beyond the hotel
to leave a hundred laborers from Seattle. Thin wreaths of vapor commenced
to rise and, gathering volume with incredible swiftness, blotted out the
plow and the snow-sheds, and meeting, broke in a storm of hail. The cloud
lifted, but in a short interval was followed by another that burst in a
deluge of rain, and while the slope was still obscured, a report was
telegraphed from the summit that a second avalanche had closed the east
portal of Cascade tunnel, through which the Oriental Limited had just
passed. At nightfall, when the work of clearing away the first mass of
debris was not yet completed, a third slide swept down seven laborers and
demolished a snow-shed. The unfortunate train that had been delayed so
long in the Rockies was indefinitely stalled.
The situation was unprecedented. Never before in the history of the Great
Northern had there been so heavy a snowfall in the Cascades; the sudden
thaw following an ordinary precipitation must have looked serious, but the
moving of this vast accumulation became appalling. All through that day,
the second night the cannonading of avalanches continued, distant and
near. At last came an interlude. The warm wind died out; at evening there
was a promise of frost; and only the voice of the river disturbed the
gorge. Dawn broke still and crisp and clear. The mountain tops shone in
splendor, purple cliffs stood sharply defined against snow-covered slopes,
and whole companies in the lower ranks of the trees had thrown off their
white cloaks. It was a day to delight the soul, to rouse the heart, invite
to deeds of emulation. Even Frederic was responsive, and when after
breakfast Marcia broached a plan to scale the peak that loomed southeast
of the pass, he grasped at the diversion. "We're pretty high up already,
here at Scenic," he commented, surveying the dome from his chair on the
hotel veranda. "Three or four thousand feet ought to put us on the summit.
Have the chance, anyhow, to see that stalled train."
"Of course it wouldn't be an achievement like the ascent of Rainier," she
tempered, "but we should have chances enough to use our alpenstocks before
we're through; and it should be a magnificent view; all the great peaks
from Oregon to British Columbia rising around."
"With the Columbia River below us," said Elizabeth, "and all those miles
of desert. We might even catch a glimpse of your new Eden over there,
Mrs. Weatherbee nodded, with the sparkles breaking in her eyes. "I know
this is the peak we watched the day I drove from Wenatchee. It rose white
and shining at the top of Hesperides Vale, and it may have another name,
but I called it the Everlasting Door."
Once since their arrival at Scenic Hot Springs they had followed, skeeing,
an old abandoned railroad track, used by the Great Northern during the
construction of the big tunnel, to the edge of the desired peak, and, at
Marcia's suggestion, Frederic invited Lucky Banks to join the expedition
in the capacity of captain and guide. The prospector admitted he felt "the
need of a little exercise" and, having studied the mountain with
field-glasses and consulted with the hotel proprietor, he consented to see
them through. No doubt the opportunity to learn the situation of the
Oriental Limited and the possibilities of getting in touch with Tisdale,
should the train fail to move before his return from the summit, had
influenced the little man's decision. A few spikes in his shoes, some
hardtack and cheese with an emergency flask in his pockets, a coil of rope
and a small hatchet that might serve equally well as an ice-ax or to clear
undergrowth on the lower slopes, was ample equipment, and he was off to
reconnoiter the mountainside fully an hour in advance of the packer whom
Morganstein engaged for the first stage of the journey.
When the man arrived at the foot of the sharp ascent where he was to be
relieved, Banks was finishing the piece of trail he had blazed and mushed
diagonally up the slope to a rocky cleaver that stretched like a causeway
from the timber to firm snow, but he returned with time to spare between
the departure of the packer and the appearance of his party, to open the
unwieldy load; from this he discarded two bottles of claret and another of
port, with their wrappings of straw, a steamer-rug, some tins of pate de
foie gras and other sundries that made for weight, but which the
capitalist had considered essential to the comfort and success of the
expedition. There still remained a well-stocked hamper, including thermos
bottles of coffee and tea, and a second rug, which he rolled snugly in the
oilskin cover and secured with shoulder-straps. The eliminated articles,
that he cached under a log, were not missed until luncheon, which was
served on a high, spur below the summit while Banks was absent making a
last reconnaissance, and Frederic blamed the packer.
The spur was flanked above by a craggy buttress and broke below to an
abyss which was divided by a narrow, tongue-like ridge, and over this, on
a lower level of the opposite peak, appeared the steep roofs of the
mountain station at the entrance to Cascade tunnel, where, on the tracks
outside the portal, stood the stalled train. It seemed within speaking
distance in that rare atmosphere, though several miles intervened.
After a while sounds of metal striking ice came from a point around the
buttress; Banks was cutting steps. Then, following a silence, he appeared.
But, on coming into the sunny westward exposure, he stopped, and with two
fingers raised like a weather-vane, stood gazing down the canyon. His eyes
began to scintillate like chippings of blue glacier.
Involuntarily every one turned in that direction, and Frederic reached to
take his field-glasses from the shelf of the buttress they had converted
into a table. But he saw nothing new to hold the attention except three or
four gauzy streamers of smoke or vapor that floated in the lower gorge.
"Looks like a train starting up," he commented, "but the Limited gets the
right of way as soon as there's a clear track."
Banks dropped his hand and moved a few steps to take the glasses from
Morganstein. "You're right," he replied in his high, strained key. "It
ain't any train moving; it's the Chinook waking up." He focussed on the
Oriental Limited, then slowly swept the peak that overtopped the cars.
"Likely they dasn't back her into the tunnel," he said. "The bore is long
enough to take in the whole bunch, but if a slide toppled off that
shoulder, it would pen 'em in and cut off the air. It looks better
outside, my, yes."
"Here is your coffee, Mr. Banks," said Elizabeth, who had filled a cup
from the thermos bottle, "and please take anything else you wish while I
repack the basket. We are all waiting, you see, to go on."
The prospector paused to take the cup, then said: "I guess likely we won't
make the summit this trip. We've got to hustle to get down before it turns
"Oh, but we must make the summit," exclaimed Marcia, taking up her
alpenstock. "Why, we are all but there."
"How does it look ahead?" inquired Frederic, walking along the buttress.
"Heard you chopping ice."
"I was cutting steps across the tail end of a little glacier. It's a
gliddery place, but the going looks all right once you get past. Well,
likely you can make it," he added shrilly, "but you've got to be quick."
The life of the trail that sharpens a man's perceptives teaches him to
read individuality swiftly, and this Alaskan who, the first day out on a
long stampede, could have told the dominant trait of each husky in his
team, knew his party as well as the risk. Golf and tennis, added to a
naturally strong physique, had given the two sisters nerves of steel.
Marcia, who had visited some of the great glaciers in the north, possessed
the insight and coolness of a mountain explorer; and all the third woman
lacked in physical endurance was more than made up in courage. The man,
though enervated by over-indulgence, had the brute force, the animal
instinct of self-preservation, to carry him through. So presently, when
the buttress was passed, and the prospector uncoiled his rope, it was to
Mrs. Feversham he gave the other end, placing Morganstein next, with
Elizabeth at the center and Mrs. Weatherbee second. Once, twice, Banks
felt her stumble, a sinking weight on the line, but in the instant he
caught a twist in the slack and fixed his heels in the crust to turn, she
had, in each case, recovered and come steadily on. It was only when the
gliddery passage was made, the peril behind, that she sank down in
Banks stopped to unfold his pocket-cup and take out his flask. "You look
about done for," he said briskly. "My, yes, that little taste of glacier
was your limit. But you ain't the kind to back out. No, ma'am, all you
need is a little bracer to put you on your feet again, good as new."
"I never can go back," she said, and met his concerned look with wide and
luminous eyes. "Unless--I'm carried. Never in the world."
Morganstein forced a laugh. It had a frosty sound; his lips were blue.
"Excuse me," he responded. "Anywhere else I wouldn't hesitate, but here, I
draw the line."
The prospector was holding the draught to her lips, and she took a swallow
and pushed away the cup. It was brandy, raw, scalding, and it brought the
color back to her face. "Thank you," she said, and forced a smile. "It is
bracing; my tensions are all screwed. I feel like climbing on to--Mars."
Frederic laughed again. "You go on, Banks," he said, relieving him of the
cup; "she's all right. You hurry ahead before one of those girls walks
over a precipice."
He could not persuade her to take more of the liquor, so he himself drank
the bracer, after which he put the cup and the flask, which Banks had
left, away in his own pockets. She was up, whipping down her fear. "Come,"
she said, "we must hurry to overtake them."
Her steps, unsteady at first, grew sure and determined; she drew longer,
deeper breaths; the pink of a wild rose flushed her cheeks. But Frederic,
plodding abreast, laid his hand on her arm.
"See here," he said, "you can't keep this up; stop a minute. They've got
to wait for us. George, that ambition of yours can spur you to the pace.
Never saw so much spirit done up in a small package. Go off, sometime,
like Fourth o' July fireworks." He chuckled, looking down at her with
admiration in his round eyes. "Like you for it, though. George, it's just
that has made you worth waiting for."
She gave him a quick glance and, setting her alpenstock, sprang from his
"See, they have reached the summit," she called. "They are waiting already
for us. And see!" she exclaimed tensely, as he struggled after her. "It is
going to be grand."
A vast company of peaks began to lift, tier on tier like an amphitheater,
above the rim of the dome, while far eastward, as they cross-cut the
rounding incline, stretched those tawny mountains that had the appearance
of strange and watchful beasts, guarding the levels of the desert, bare of
snow. Glimpses there were of the blue Columbia, the racy Wenatchee, but
Weatherbee's pocket was closed. Then, presently, as they gained the
summit, it was no longer an amphitheater into which they looked, but a
billowing sea of cloud, out of which rose steep and inhospitable shores.
Then, everywhere, far and away, shone opal-shaded islands of mystery.
"Oh," she said, with a little, sighing breath, "these are the Isles of the
Blest. We have come through the Everlasting Door into the better country."
She stood looking off in rapture, but the man saw only the changing lights
in her face. He turned a little, taking in the charm of pose, the lift of
chin, parted lips, hand shading softly shining eyes. After a moment he
answered: "Wish we had. Wish every other man you knew was left out, on the
other side of the door."
Her hand fell, she gave him her sweeping look and moved to join the
Banks came to meet them. "We've stayed to the limit; my, yes, it's the
last call," he explained in his tense key. "There's a couple of places we
don't want to see ourselves caught in when the thaw strikes. And they're
getting a heavy rain down at the Springs now; likely up at the tunnel it's
snow or hail." He paused, turning to send a final glance into the mist,
then said: "Less than ten minutes ago I had a sight of that train, but you
see now she's wiped off the map. It'll be a close race, my, yes. Give me
that stick, ma'am; you can make better time on the down-grade holding on
With this, he offered his able hand to Mrs. Weatherbee and, followed by
the rest of the party, helped her swiftly down the slope. But clearly his
mind was on the stalled train. "Likely, hugging the mountainside, they
don't see how the snow crowds overhead," he said. "And I'd ought to have
taken time to run over and give 'em a tip. I'm going to, I'm going to,
soon's I get you down to that old railroad track where you can make it
"Do you mean the Limited is in danger?" she asked, springing and tripping
to his stride.
And Banks nodded grimly. "Yes, ma'am. It's a hard proposition, even to a
man like Tisdale, who is used to breaking his own trail. He knows he's got
to fight shy of the slides along that burned over switchback, but if he
saw the box that train is in, he would just hike around to this side of
the canyon, where the pitches are shorter, and the green trees stand some
show to hold the snow, and work down to the old track to the Springs."
"Is Mr. Tisdale"'--her voice broke a little--"Mr. Hollis Tisdale on that
"Likely, yes. He was snowbound on her in the Rockies, last I heard, and
'feeling fit as a moose.' Being penned up so long, he'd likely rather take
a hike down to the hotel than not. It would be good for his health." And
the little man piped his high, mirthless laugh.
She stumbled, and he felt the hand in his tremble, but the abrupt incline
of the glacier had opened before them, and he believed she dreaded to
re-cross the ice. "Keep cool," he admonished, releasing her to uncoil the
rope again, "Stand steady. Just recollect if you came over this, you can
But when, presently, the difficult passage safely made, they rounded the
crag and gained the level shoulder where they had lunched, they seemed to
have arrived at a different place. The lower canyon, which not two hours
before had stretched into blue distance below them, was lost in the
creeping sea of cloud; the abyss at their feet gathered immensity, and the
top of the timbered ridge lifted midway like a strange, floating garden.
The station at Cascade tunnel, all the opposite mountain, was obscured,
then, while Banks stood re-coiling his rope, the sounds that had disturbed
the guests at Scenic Hot Springs those previous nights rose,
reverberating, through the hidden gorge. The Chinook had resumed its work.
The way below the spur broke in easy steps to the long and gradual slope
that terminated above the cleaver of rock and, anxious to reach the
unfortunate train, Banks hurried on. Marcia and Elizabeth trailed quickly
after, but Mrs. Weatherbee remained seated on the shelving ledge at the
foot of the crag. Frederic sank heavily into the place beside her and took
out the flask.
"You are all in," he said. "Come, take this; it's diluted this time with
But she gave him no attention, except to push aside the cup. She waited,
listening, leaning forward a little as though her wide eyes could
penetrate the pall. Then, torn by cross currents of wind, the cloud
parted, and the mountain loomed like a phantom peak over the gulf. She
started up and stood swaying gently on her feet while the trees, tall and
spectral and cloaked in snow, opened rank on rank like a uniformed
company. Lower still, the steep roofs of the station reflected a shaft of
the sun, and the long line of cars appeared clearly defined, waiting still
on the tracks outside the portal.
The rent in the cloud closed. She turned with a great, sighing breath.
"Did you see?" she said. "The train is safe."
"Of course." And again, having himself taken the bracer, Frederic rose and
returned the flask to his pocket. "So, that was troubling you; thought
that train might have been struck. Guess if an avalanche had come down
there, we'd have heard some noise. It's safe enough here," he added. "Top
of this crag was built to shed snow like a church steeple."
"But why are we waiting?" And glancing around, she exclaimed in dismay:
"The others have gone. See! They are almost out of sight."
She began to walk swiftly to the lower rim of the shoulder, and Frederic
followed. Down the slope his sisters and Banks seemed to be moving through
a film. They mingled with it indistinctly as the figures in faded
tapestry. But Morganstein laid his hand on her arm to detain her. "What's
your hurry?" he asked thickly. "All we got to do now is keep their trail.
Tracks are clear as day."
"We shall delay them; they will wait."
She tried to pass him, but they had reached the step from the spur, and he
swung around to block the narrow way. "Not yet," he said. "This is the
moment I've been waiting for. First time in months you've given me a fair
chance to speak to you. Always headed me off. I'm tired of being held at
arm's length. I've been patient to the limit. I'm going to know now,
to-day, before we go down from this mountain, how soon you are going to
She tried again to pass him but, taking incautious footing, slipped, and
his arm saved her. "I don't care how soon it is," he went on, "or where.
Quietly at your apartments, or a big church wedding. On board the first
boat sailing for Yokohama, after those coal cases are settled, suits me."
She struggled to free herself, then managed to turn and face him, with her
palms braced against his breast. His arm relaxed a little, so that he was
able to look down in her lifted face. What he saw there was not altogether
anger, though aversion was in her eyes; not surprise, not wholly derision,
though her lips suggested a smile, but an indefinable something that
baffled, mastered him. His arm fell. "Japan is fine in the spring," he
said. "And we could take our time, coming back by way of Hawaii to see the
big volcano, with another stop-over at Manila. Get home to begin
housekeeping at the villa in midsummer."
"Oh," she exclaimed at last, "do you think I am a silly girl to be dazzled
and tempted? Who knows nothing of marriage and the cost?"
"No," he responded quickly. "I think you are a mighty clever woman. But
you've got to the point where you can't hedge any more. Banks has gone
back on that option. If he won't buy, nobody else will. And it takes ready
money to run a big ranch like that, even after the improvements are in.
You can't realize on your orchards, even in the Wenatchee country, short
of four years. So you'll have to marry me; only way out."
She gave him her swift, sweeping look, and the blue lights blazed in her
eyes. "I will remember you are Elizabeth's brother," she said. "I will try
to remember that. But please don't say any more. Every moment counts;
Morganstein laughed. As long as she parried, as long as she did not refuse
outright to marry him, he must keep reasonably cool. He stooped to pick up
the alpenstock she had dropped, then offered his hand down the step from
the spur. "Sorry I put it just that way," he said. "I'm a plain business
man; used to coming straight to the point; but I guess you've known how
much I thought of you all these years. Had to keep on a high check-rein
while Weatherbee lived, and tried my best, afterwards, to give him a
year's grace, but you knew just the same. Know--don't you?--I might take
my pick out of the dozen nicest girls in Seattle to-day. Only have to say
the word. Not one in the bunch would turn me down. But I wouldn't have one
of 'em for second choice. Nobody but you will do." He paused, then added
with his narrow look: "And what I want, you ought to know that too, I
She met the look with a shake of the head and forced a smile. "Some things
are not to be bought at any price. But, of course, I have seen--a woman
does--" she went on hurriedly, withdrawing her hand. "There was a time, I
confess, when I did consider--your way out. But I dared not take it; even
then, I dared not."
"You dared not?" Frederic laughed again. "Never thought you were afraid of
me. Never saw you afraid of anything. But I see. Miserable experience with
Weatherbee made you little cautious. George, don't see how any man could
have deserted you. Trust me to make it up to you. Marry me, and I'll show
you such a good time Weatherbee won't amount to a bad dream."
"I do not wish to forget David Weatherbee," she said.
"George!" he exclaimed curiously. "Do you mean you ever really loved him?
A man who left you, practically without a cent, before you were married a
"No." Her voice was low; her lip trembled a little. "No, I did not love
him--as he deserved; as I was able to love." She paused, then went on with
decision: "But he did not leave me unprovided for. David Weatherbee never
deserted me. And, even though he had, though he had been the kind of man I
believed him to be, it would make no difference. I could not marry you."
There was a silence during which they continued to follow the tracks that
cross-cut the slope. But Morganstein's face was not pleasant to see. All
the complaisancy of the egotist who has long and successfully shaped lives
to his own ends was withdrawn; it left exposed the ugly inner side of the
man. The trail was becoming soft; the damp of the Chinook began to envelop
them; already the advancing film stretched like a curtain over the sun,
and the three figures that had seemed parts of a shaken tapestry
disappeared. Then, presently, Banks' voice, muffled like a voice under a
blanket, rose through the pall. And Frederic stopped to put his hand to
his mouth. "All right! Coming!" he answered, but the shout rebounded as
though it had struck a sounding board.
After another plodding silence, the prospector's hail reached them again.
It seemed farther off, and this time Morganstein did not respond. He
stopped, however, and the woman beside him waited in expectation.
"Suppose," he said slowly, "we are lost on this mountain to-night. Make a
difference to-morrow--wouldn't it?--whether you would marry me or not."
The color rushed to her face and went; her breast rose and fell in deep,
quick breaths, but she met his look fearlessly, lifting herself with the
swaying movement from the balls of her feet that made her suddenly taller.
"No." And her tone, the way in which she said it, must have stung even his
small soul; then she added: "You are more brutal than I thought."
She turned after that and herself sent the belated response to Banks. But
though she repeated the call twice, making a trumpet of her hands and with
all the power of her voice, his hail did not reach them again. She started
swiftly down. It was beginning to snow.
Frederic had nothing more to say. He moved on with her. It was as though
each tried to out-travel the other, still they could not make up that
delay. The snow fell in big, soft flakes that blurred the tracks they
followed; soon they were completely blotted out, and though he strained
his eyes continually, watching for the cleaver of rock they had climbed
that morning, the landmark never appeared. Finally, at the same instant,
they both stopped, listening. On the silence broke innumerable small
sounds like many little hurrying feet. The mountain trembled slightly.
"God Almighty!" he cried thickly. Then came the closer rush of a
considerable body, not unlike sheep passing in a fog, and panic seized
him. "We've got to keep on top," he shouted and, grasping her arm, he
swung her around and began to run back up the slope.
In the face of this common peril, personality called a truce, and she
pushed on with him blindly, leaving it to him to choose the way and set
the pace. But their own tracks down the incline had filled with incredible
swiftness; soon they were completely effaced. And, when the noise
subsided, he stopped and looked about him, bewildered. He saw nothing but
a breadth of sharply dipping slope, white, smooth as an unwritten scroll,
over which hung the swaying, voluminous veil of the falling snow. He put
his hands to his mouth then, and lifted his voice in a great hail. It
brought no reply, but in the moment he waited, somewhere far below in
those obscured depths, a great tree, splitting under tremendous pressure,
crashed down, then quickly the terrific sweep and roar of a second
mightier avalanche filled the hidden gorge.
Morganstein caught her arm once more. "We must get back to that shoulder
where it's safe," he shouted. "Banks will come to look us up." After that,
as they struggled on up the slope, he fell to saying over and over, as
long as the reverberations lasted: "Almighty God!"
As they ascended, the snow fell less heavily and finally ceased. It became
firm underfoot, and a cross wind, starting in puffs, struck their faces
sharply with a promise of frost. Then strange hummocks began to rise. They
were upheavals of ice, shrouded in snow. Sometimes a higher one presented
a sheer front shading to bluish-green. They had not passed this point with
Banks, but Morganstein shaped a course to a black pinnacle, lifting
through the mist beyond, that he believed was the crag at the shoulder.
She stumbled repeatedly on the rough surface. Her labored breathing in the
great stillness, like the beat of a pendulum in an empty house, tried his
strained nerves. He upbraided her for leaving her alpenstock down the
slope. But she paid no attention. She looked back constantly; she was like
a woman being led away from a locked door, moving reluctantly, listening
against hope for a word or sign. So, at last, they came to the rock. It
was not the crag, but a hanging promontory, where the mountain broke in a
three-sided precipice. The cloud surged around it like an unplumbed sea.
They crept back, and Morganstein tried again to determine their position.
They were too high, he concluded; they must work down a little to round
the cliffs, so they took a course diagonally into the smother. Then he,
too, began to lose alertness; he walked mechanically, taking the line of
least resistance; his head sagged forward; he saw nothing but the hummocks
before him. These grew larger; they changed to narrow ridges with fissures
between. After a while, one of these breaks roused him. It was exceedingly
deep; he could not see either end of it. The only way was to leap, and he
did it clumsily. Then, with his alpenstock fixed, and his spiked heels set
in the crust, he reached a hand to her. She was barely able to spring to
the lower side, but it did not terrify her. One fear only possessed her.
Her glance, seeking, returned to the hidden canyon. But soon they were
confronted by a wider and still deeper chasm. It was impossible to cross
it, though it seemed to narrow upwards in the direction of the summit. He
took her arm and began to ascend, looking for a way over. The pitch grew
steadily sharper. They entered the thinning edge of the cloud, and it
became transparent like tissue of gold. Suddenly it parted, and Frederic
stopped, blinded by the blaze of a red sunset on snow. He closed his eyes
an instant, while, to avoid the glare, he turned his face. His first
glance shocked him into a sense of great peril. The two fissures ran
parallel, and they were ascending a tongue of ice between. Not far below,
it narrowed to a point where the two crevasses, uniting, yawned in one.
His knees weakened, but he managed to swing himself cautiously around. The
causeway seemed to rock under his weight; then, shading his sight with his
hand, he saw they were almost beneath the shoulder he had tried to reach.
They had climbed too high, as he had believed, but also they had descended
too far. And they had come directly down the glacier, to cross the upper
end of which Banks had found it necessary to use a lifeline. "Be careful!"
he whispered thickly, and laid his hand on her shoulder, impelling her on.
"Be careful, but, for God's sake, hurry!"
He crowded her faster and faster up the incline; he dared not move
abreast, it was so narrow. Sometimes he lifted her bodily, for with every
step his panic grew. Beads of moisture gathered on his face, though the
wind stiffened and sharpened; his own breath out-labored hers, and he
cried again over and over: "God Almighty!" and "Almighty God!" Sometimes
his tone was blasphemy and sometimes prayer.
But the moment came when she could not be farther pressed. Her shoulder
trembled under his hold, her limbs gave, and she sank down, to her knees
at first, then to her elbow. Even then she moved her head enough to look
backward over the abyss. "The train," she whispered and, shuddering,
dropped her face on her relaxed arm.
Morganstein ventured to glance back. Ragged fragments torn from the cloud
below rose swirling across the opposite mountain top, and between their
edges, like a picture in a frame, appeared briefly the roofs of the little
station. But where the Oriental Limited had stood, the avalanche had
passed. "God Almighty!" he repeated impotently, then immediately the sense
of this appalling catastrophe whet the edge of his personal terror.
"Come!" he cried; "come, you can't stop here. It's dangerous. Come, you'll
She was silent. She made no effort to rise or indeed to move. He began to
press by her and on in the direction of that safe spur. But presently
another dread assailed him; the dread of the city-bred man--accustomed to
human intercourse, the swing of business, the stir of social life, to face
great solitudes alone. This cross-fear became so strong it turned him back
in a second panic. Then floundering to keep his equilibrium after an
incautious step, he sat down heavily and found himself skidding towards
the larger crevasse. He lifted his alpenstock and in a frenzy thrust it
into the ice between his knees. It caught fast just short of the brink
and held him astride, with heels dangling over the abyss. He worked away
cautiously, laboriously, shaking in all his big, soft bulk; and would have
given up further attempt to rescue Beatriz Weatherbee had he not at this
moment discovered himself at her side.
He had not yet tried to rise to his feet, so safe-guarding himself with
the alpenstock thrust once more in the ice, he paused to take the flask
from his pocket and poured all that remained of the liquor into the cup.
It was a little over half full. Possibly he remembered how lavish he had
been with those previous draughts, for he looked at his companion with a
kind of regret as he lifted the cup unsteadily to drink. Then, gathering
the remnants of his courage, he put his arm under her head, raising it
while he forced the small surplus of brandy he had left between her lips.
She revived enough under the scalding swallow to push the cup away.
Anywhere else he would have laughed at her feeble effort to throw off his
touch; but he did not urge her to finish the draught, and, as he had done
earlier that day, himself hastily drained the cup. He dropped it beside