Part 6 out of 7
the empty flask and struggled up.
"Now," he said, "we've got to make that spur where it's safe. Come. It
isn't far; just been up to that place where Banks helped us across; had to
come back for you."
But he was obliged to lift her to her feet and to support her up the
slope. And this, even though the tongue widened above them, threw him
perilously close to the crevasse. Once, twice, the ice broke on the brink
and dropped clinking down, down. It was impossible to make the leap again
to the higher surface they had descended; unhampered, he must have been
physically unfit. Behind them the cloud closed over the Pass and the
mountain top under which the Oriental Limited had stood. His companion no
longer looked back; she moved as mechanically though less certainly than
one who walks in sleep. The fears that possessed him, that she herself had
held so finely in check when they had followed Banks on this glacier, did
not trouble her now. Her indifference to their extremity began to play on
Frederic's unhinged nerves. This white, blue-lipped woman was not the
Beatriz Weatherbee he had known; who had climbed the slope with him that
morning, all exhilaration, spirit, charm; whose example had challenged his
endurance and held his courage to the sticking point.
"Why don't you say something?" he complained. "Have you turned into ice?
Now look where you step, can't you? Deuced fix you got us into, dreaming
there in the clouds, when Lucky Banks had left the spur. Come on, you
bloodless ghost; come, or I'll let you stay where you drop. Nice place to
spend the night in. Almighty God!"
So, upbraiding her when she stumbled, blaming her for their plight,
threatening to leave her if she should fall, and flaying himself on with
renewed panic, he brought her to the top of the double crevasse and the
prospector's crossing. But here, with the levels of the spur before them,
her strength reached low ebb. This time he was not able to rouse her, and
he threw down his alpenstock and took her in his arms, and went slipping
and recovering the remaining steps. He stopped, winded, and stood her on
her feet, but her body sagged limply against him, and the sight of her
still face terrified him. He carried her a little farther, to the shelter
of the crag, and laid her there. Then he dropped to his knees beside her,
and grasping her shoulders shook her, at first slowly, then swiftly, with
the roughness of despair.
"Wake up," he cried thickly. "Wake up! Don't you see we're out of that
hole? Come, Banks will be here any minute. Come, wake up."
She made no response. The sun had set; it was growing bitterly cold, and
there was little protection under the crag. It was a place where cross
winds met. Torn fragments from the sea of cloud below drove against the
pinnacle. It was like a lofty headland breasting rolling surf. Frederic
stood erect and sent his voice down through the smother in a great shout.
It brought no answer, and he settled helplessly on the shelf beside her.
It began to hail furiously, and he dropped his face, shielding it in his
The storm passed and, rousing himself, he searched his pockets vainly for
a match to light his remaining cigar. Later he went through them again,
hoping to find a piece of chocolate--he had carried some that morning--but
this, too, was without result. He fell to cursing the packer, for
appropriating the port and tinned things that were missing at lunch-time.
But after that he did not talk any more and, in a little while, he
stretched himself beside the unconscious figure at the foot of the crag. A
second cloud lifted in a flurry of snow. Every hidden canyon sent out
innumerable currents of air, and gales, meeting, lifted the powdery crust
in swirls, wrapping them in a white sheet. Finally, from far off, mingling
with the skirling pipes of the wind came a different, human sound. And,
presently, when the call--if call it was--was repeated, the man sat up and
looked dully around. But he made no effort to reply. He waited, listening
stupidly, and the cry did not reach him again. Then, his glance falling to
the woman, a ray of intelligence leaped in his eyes. He rose on his knees
and moved her so there was room for his own bulk between her body and the
rock. He had then, when he stretched himself on the snow, a windbreak.
The wind rushed screaming into the vast spaces beyond the mountain top,
and returning, met the opposing forces from the canyon and instantly
became a whirlwind. It cut like myriads of teeth; it struck two-edged with
the swish, slash of a sword; and it lifted the advancing cloud in a mighty
swirl, bellied it as though it had been a gigantic sail, and shook from
its folds a deluge of hailstones followed by snow. Through it all a
grotesque shape that seemed sometimes a huge, abnormal beetle and
sometimes a beast, worked slowly around the crag, now crawling, now
rearing upright with a futile napping of stiff wings, towards the two
human figures. It was Lucky Banks, come to rescue them.
A heavier blast threw him on his face, but he rose to his knees and,
creeping close, squared his shoulders to protect the slighter body. At the
same time the significance of the position of Morganstein's unconscious
bulk struck him. "You rat!" he cried with smothered fury. "You damn
Then he caught up a handful of snow with which he began to rub the woman's
face. Afterwards he removed her gloves to manipulate her cold hands. He
worked swiftly, with the deftness of practice, but the results were slow,
and presently he took the rug from the pack he carried and covered her
while he felt in Frederic's pockets for the flask he had neglected to
return. "Likely there wasn't a drop left when she came to need it, you
brute. And I'd like to leave you here to take your chances. You can thank
your luck I've got to use you."
Banks keyed his voice high, between breaths, to out-scale the wind, but he
did not wait for a reply. Before he finished speaking, he had opened his
big, keen-bladed clasp-knife and commenced to cut broad strips from the
rug. He passed some of these, not without effort, under Morganstein's
body, trussing the arms. Then, wrapping the smaller figure snugly in the
blanket, he lifted it on to the human toboggan he had made and bound it
securely. Finally he converted the shoulder-straps of his pack into a sort
of steering gear, to which he fastened his life-line.
These preparations had been quickly made. It was not yet dark when he
worked this sled over the rim of the spur and began to descend the long
slope. The violence of the wind was broken there, so that he was able to
travel erect, drawing his load. After a while, when the flurry of snow had
passed, a crust formed on the surface, and in steeper pitches he was
obliged to let the toboggan forge ahead, using himself as a drag. With the
change to colder temperature, there was no further danger of slides, and
to avoid the avalanche that had turned Morganstein back, the prospector
shaped his course more directly into the canyon. Soon he was below the
clouds; between their ragged edges a few stars appeared. Beyond a buttress
shone a ruddy illumination. Some firs stood against it darkly. It was the
fire Marcia and Elizabeth were watching at the place where he had cached
the surplus supplies that morning. It served as a beacon when the
crispness ceased, and for an interval he was forced to mush laboriously
through soft drifts. Then he came to a first bare spot. It was in crossing
this rough ground that Frederic showed signs of returning consciousness.
But Banks gave him no attention. He had caught a strange sound on the
wind. Others, far off, rose while he listened. Presently, looking back
beyond the end of the ridge that divided the upper gorge, he saw twinkling
lights. They were the lanterns of the searchers at the wrecked train.
The little man did not exclaim. He did not pray. His was the anguish of
soul which finds no expression.
KISMET. AN ACT OF GOD
Afterwards, some who compared the slope where the Oriental Limited had
stood, with the terrible pitches along the lower switchback, said: "It was
Fate;" and the defense in the damage suits against the Great Northern,
which were decided in favor of the company, called that catastrophe at
Cascade tunnel "An Act of God." In either solution, the fact that counted
was that no avalanche had occurred at this point before; mountain men had
regarded it as absolutely safe. At noon that day, a rumor reached the
stalled train that a slide at the front had struck one of the rotaries.
Laborers, at their own peril, had excavated the crew, but the plow was out
of commission, and the track was buried sixty feet under fresh tons of
snow and rock and fallen timber. The Limited could not move within
forty-eight hours, perhaps three days.
Tisdale picked up his bag and went out to the observation platform. He
knew that to attempt to follow the railroad through those swaths the
avalanches had left, under the burned skeletons of trees ready to topple
at the first pressure of other bodies of snow, was to take one's life
needlessly in his hands; but there was another way. The slope from the
track at the portal dipped through a park of hemlock and fir, and the
blaze that had swept the lower mountainside had not reached this timber;
the great boughs, like fishers' nets, supported their dripping
accumulations. Also, at this altitude, there was no undergrowth. To make
the drop directly into the canyon and follow the river down to Scenic Hot
Springs meant little more to him than a bracing tramp of a few hours.
Snowshoes were a necessity, and the demand at the little station had long
exceeded the supply, but the operator was able to furnish the length of
bale rope Tisdale asked of him. From the office door, where he had
curiously followed to see the line put to use, he watched the traveler
secure two pliable branches of hemlock, of the same size, which he brought
to the station platform, and, having stripped them of needles, bent into
ovals. Then, laying aside one, he commenced to weave half of the rope
net-wise, filling the space in the frame he held. A sudden intelligence
leaped in the agent's face. "That's simple enough," he exclaimed. "And
they'll carry you as far as you want to go."
Tisdale smiled, nodding, and picked up the remaining frame.
"Strange I never saw any one try the scheme before," the operator
commented. "I've weathered a good many blockades up here; seen lots of
fellows, men whose time was money, bucking it out to open track. But I bet
the first time this idea struck you you were up against it. I bet it's a
yarn worth listening to."
Tisdale glanced up; the genial lines deepened. "It was a situation to
clear a man's head. There was snow from three to seven feet deep ahead of
me and going soft. My snowshoes, lost with the outfit at a hole in a Yukon
crossing, were swinging down-stream under the ice. I had two sea biscuit
in my pocket and a few inches of dried venison, with the nearest
road-house over fifty miles away."
"Well, that was hard luck," the agent shook his head gravely.
"It was the best kind of luck," responded Tisdale quickly, "to find myself
with that rope in my hands and a nice little spruce on the bank to supply
frames enough for a regiment. I was rigging a kind of derrick to ease my
sled up the sharp pitch from the crossing."
"I see," said the operator thoughtfully, "and the sled broke through. Lost
it and the outfit. But your dogs--saved them, didn't you?"
"All but two." Tisdale's brows contracted. "They were dragged under the
ice before I could cut the traces. There was leather enough on the leaders
to bind those shoes on, but"--and the humorous lines deepened again--"a
couple of straps, from an old suitcase, if you happen to have one, would
be an improvement."
The operator hurried into the office and, after a vigorous search among
the miscellaneous articles stored under his desk, found an old valise,
from which he detached the desired straps. Tisdale adjusted the improvised
shoes. "I will send them back by a brakeman from Scenic Springs," he said,
rising from his seat on the edge of the platform. "You can keep them for a
"All right," the operator laughed. "If you do, I'll have to lay in a stock
of bale rope."
It was beginning to snow again, big, soft flakes, and the wind, skimming
the drifts, speedily filled the broad, light rings Tisdale left in his
wake. A passenger with a baby in his arms stood on the observation
platform, and the child held out its mittened hands to him, crowing, with
little springs. They had formed an acquaintance during the delay in the
Rockies, which had grown to intimacy in the Cascades, and Hollis slipped
the carrying strap of his bag over his shoulder and stopped to toss him a
snowball, before he turned from the track. "Good-by, Joey," he said. "I am
coming back for you if there's a chance."
The operator, shivering, closed the door. "Never saw such a man," he
commented. "But if he's lived in Alaska, a Cascade blizzard would just be
a light breeze to him." He paused to put a huge stick of wood in the
stove, then, after the habit of solitary humanity, resumed his soliloquy.
"I bet he's seen life. I bet, whoever he is, he's somewheres near the top
of the ladder. I bet, in a bunch of men, he does the thinking. And I bet
what he wants, I don't care what's piled in his way, he gets."
As he descended, the trees closed behind Tisdale, rank on rank, and were
enveloped in the swaying curtain of the snow. Always a certain number
surrounded him; they seemed to march with him like a bodyguard. But he was
oblivious of the peril that from the higher peak had appeared so imminent
to Lucky Banks. When the snow-cloud lifted, the Pass was still completely
veiled from him, and the peak the prospector's party had ascended was then
cut off by the intervening ridge. He had crossed the headwaters and was
working along this slope down the watercourse, when the noise of the first
avalanche startled the gorge. A little later a far shout came to his quick
ear. He answered, but when another call reached him from a different
point, high up beyond the ridge, he was silent. He knew a company,
separated in the neighborhood of the slide, was trying to get into
communication. Then, in the interval that he waited, listening, began the
ominous roar of the mightier cataclysm. The mountain he had descended
seemed to heave; its front gave way; the ridge on which he stood trembled
at the concussion.
Instantly, before the clamor ceased and the first cries reached him,
Tisdale knew what had occurred. His sense of location told him. Then the
fact was pressed on him that some on the unfortunate train still survived.
He saw that the course he had taken from the west portal was no longer
possible, but by keeping the curve of the ridge which joined the mountain
slope and formed the top of the gorge, and by working upward, he should be
able to gain the upper edge of the slide where rose the human sounds. He
took this way. His shoulder, turned a little, met the lower boughs with
the dip and push of the practiced woodsman, and even on the up-grade the
distance fell behind him swiftly. Always subconsciously, as he moved, he
saw that baby crowing him a good-by, and the young father smiling Godspeed
from the observation platform; sometimes the girl mother with tender brown
eyes watched him from the background. Suppose their coach, which had
directly preceded the observation car, had escaped; the snow-cloud,
parting on the mountain top, showed that the roofs of the station still
After a while he noticed two men working downward from the portal along
the swath of the avalanche. One, he conjectured, was the operator, but
they stopped some distance above him and commenced to remove sections of
the debris. Then Hollis saw before him some brilliant spots on the snow.
They proved to be only pieces of stained glass from a shattered transom.
The side of the car with denuded window casings rested a few feet higher,
and a corner of the top of the coach protruded from under the fallen
skeleton of a fir. The voices now seemed all around him. Somewhere a man
was shouting "Help!" Another groaned, cursing, and, deeper in the
wreckage, rose a woman's muffled, continuous screaming. But, nearer than
the rest, a child was crying piteously. He reached the intact portion of
the crushed roof and found the baby sitting unhurt on a clear breadth of
snow. The body of the father was pinned hopelessly beneath the tree, and
the mother lay under the fragment of roof, an iron bar on her tender eyes.
It was as though Destiny, having destroyed them, whimsically threw a
charmed circle around this remaining atom of the family.
"Well, Joey," Tisdale said quietly, "I've come back for you."
Instantly the child stopped crying and turned to listen; then, seeing
Tisdale, he began to crow, rocking his little body and catching up
handsful of snow to demonstrate his delight. The hands and round bud of a
mouth were blue.
"Cold, isn't it, Joey?" And he took the baby in his arms. "We can't find
your coat and mittens, but here is a nice blanket."
He stooped, as he spoke, and pulled the blanket from under a broken door,
and the child nestled its face in his neck, telling him in expressive,
complaining sounds the story of his terror and discomfort.
A man burrowed out of the snow above the log. His leg was injured, but he
began to creep, dragging it, in the direction of the woman's voice. "I'm
coming, Mary," he cried. "For God's sake, stop."
Tisdale picked up a strip from the broken door and hurried to his aid. He
put the child down and used the board as a shovel, and Joey, watching from
the peephole in his blanket, laughed and crowed again. Up the slope the
operator and his companion had extricated a brakeman, who, forgetting his
own injuries, joined the little force of rescuers.
At last the cries ceased. Haste was no longer imperative. The remaining
coaches were buried under tons of snow and debris. Weeks of labor, with
relays of men, might not reach them all. And it was time to let the
outside world know. The telephone lines were down, the telegraph out of
commission, and Tisdale, with the baby to bear him company, started to
carry the news to Scenic Hot Springs.
It had grown very cold when he rounded the top of the gorge. The arrested
thaw hung in myriads of small icicles on every bough; they changed to
rubies when the late sun blazed out briefly; the trees seemed strung with
gems; the winds that gathered on the high dome above the upper canyon
rushed across the summit of the ridge. They fluted every pipe, and, as
though it were an enchanted forest, all the small pendants on all the
branches changed to striking cymbals and silver bells. The baby slept as
warm and safe in his blanket as though he had not left his mother's arms.
Once there came a momentary lull, and on the silence, far off--so far it
seemed hardly more than a human breath drifting with the lighter current
that still set towards him from the loftier peak--Tisdale heard some one
calling him. His pulses missed their beat and raced on at fever heat. He
believed, in that halting instant, it was Beatriz Weatherbee. Then the
gale, making up for the pause, swept down in fury, and he hurried under
the shelter of the ridge with the child. He told himself there had been no
voice; it was an illusion. That the catastrophe, following so closely on
his illness, had unhinged him a little. The Morganstein party had
doubtless returned to Seattle at the beginning of the thaw; and even had
Mrs. Weatherbee remained at Scenic Springs, it was not probable she had
strayed far from the comfort and safety of the hotel. And recalling that
night she had passed in the Wenatchee mountains, he smiled.
As twilight fell, a ruddy illumination outlined the ridge. He conjectured
that the men he had heard early in the afternoon in the vicinity of the
first slide were a party of belated hunters, who had camped in the upper
canyon. They must have known of the greater avalanche; possibly of the
disaster. They may have sent a messenger to the Springs and kindled this
beacon to guide any one who might choose this way to bring the news from
the portal. At least they would be able to direct him to the shortest out;
serve him the cup of coffee of which he was in need. So, coming to the end
of the ridge where the canyons met, he turned in the direction of the
fire, and found--two waiting women.
Their presence alone was an explanation. Mrs. Feversham had only to say
Lucky Banks had led their party, in the ascent of the peak that brilliant
morning, and instantly everything was clear to Tisdale. The voice he had
heard from the top of the ridge was not an illusion. She had called him.
"It was snowing," he said, interrupting the story, "but if they left the
shadow of a trail, Banks found it. There are two of them, though, and up
there--it's cold." Then, having gone a few steps, he remembered the child
and came back to put him in Elizabeth's arms. "His father and mother are
dead," he explained briefly, "but he hasn't a bruise. When he wakes, he is
going to be hungry."
So, forgetting those wearing hours of rescue work, and without the coffee
for which he had intended to ask, he started on the prospector's trail. In
a little while, as he skirted the foot of the slide, he heard a great
commotion on the slope beyond. It was Lucky Banks easing his human
toboggan down the last pitch to the canyon floor.
The two men stood a silent moment scanning each other in the uncertain
light across that load. Tisdale's eyes were searching for an answer to the
question he could not ask, but the prospector, breathing hard, was trying
to cover the emotion Tisdale's unexpected appearance had roused.
"Hello, Hollis," he said at last. "Is that you? I had to see after Dave's
wife, but I thought likely, when I got her to camp, I'd take a little hike
up to the tunnel and look you up."
But Tisdale, not finding the answer for which he looked, sank to his knee
beside the load and loosened the straps. Then he lifted a corner of the
rug that protected her face, and at the sight of it, so white, so still,
his heart cried. "Little soldier!" he said over and over and, as though he
hoped to warm them, laid his cheek gently to her blue lips. "You called
me! I heard you. I failed you, too!"
Then a fluttering breath steadied him. Instantly the iron in the man
cropped through. He felt her pulse, her heart, as though she had been some
stranger from the unfortunate train and, moving her to a level place,
fixed her head low and began firmly, with exceeding care, those expedients
to eliminate the frost and start the circulation that Banks had already
hurriedly tried. His great, warm personality enfolded her; he worked
tirelessly, as though he was determined to infuse her numb veins with his
own vigor. When the prospector would have aided him, he wished to do
everything alone, and directed the miner's attention to Frederic
Morganstein, who showed signs of returning consciousness.
But the intrepid little man failed to respond. "I guess likely he will
pull through," he said dryly. "He had a pretty good shaking up coming
down, and I'd better run around to camp and get a bottle of port I cached
this morning. The snipe got away with my flask; used the last drop,
likely, before she needed it." His voice took a higher pitch, and he added
over his shoulder, as he started in the direction of the fire: "He made a
windbreak of her."
When he returned presently with the wine, Frederic was filling the night
with his complaints and groans. But neither of the men gave him any
attention. That was left for Marcia, who had followed the prospector.
Beatriz Weatherbee was still unconscious. She was carried to the camp and
laid in a sheltered place remote from the fire. Then Lucky Banks
volunteered to go to Scenic Springs with the news of the train disaster,
and to bring an extra man with lanterns and a stretcher. He was well on
the way when Morganstein crept in. Marcia found him a seat on the end of a
log and, wrapping the cached rug about him, regaled him with the recovered
portion of the luncheon. But it was long after that when Beatriz
Weatherbee's eyelids fluttered open. Tisdale drew a little more into the
shadows, waiting, and the first to come within her range of vision was the
child. He was sitting on his blanket in the strong glow, and just beyond
him Elizabeth, who had found a tin of cream in the cache and had been
feeding him, was putting away the cup. Joey faced the waking woman and,
catching her look, he put out his hands, rocking gayly, and crowed.
Instantly a flash of intelligence lighted her face. She smiled and tried
to stretch out her arms. "Come!" she said.
Elizabeth caught up the child and placed him beside her on the rug. He put
out his soft, moist fingers, touching her face curiously, with gathering
doubt. Then, satisfied this was not his mother, as in the uncertain light
he must have supposed, he drew back with a whimper and clung to Elizabeth.
At the same moment Mrs. Weatherbee's smile changed to disappointment. "His
eyes are brown, Elizabeth," she said, "and my baby's were blue, like
mine." And she turned her face, weeping; not hysterically, like a woman
physically unstrung, but with the slow, deep sobs of a woman who has
wakened from a dream of one whom she has greatly loved--and buried.
Tisdale had not seen Beatriz Weatherbee since she had been brought
semi-conscious from the foot of the mountain, but he learned from the hotel
physician the following morning that she was able to travel on the special
train which was coming from Seattle to transport the Morganstein party
home. The first inquiry, after news of the disaster reached the outside
world, was from Joey's grandfather, a lumberman on Puget Sound. Put in
communication with Tisdale, he telephoned he would arrive at the Springs
on the special. So, leaving the child in charge of the housekeeper, Hollis
returned to the west portal, to join the little force of rescuers. It was
then no longer a question of life-saving, but of identification. The Swiss
chalet, which had ceased to be the mecca of pleasure-seekers, had become a
But Lucky Banks, who went with him, had received a message from Mrs.
Weatherbee, and in the interval that Tisdale was busy with long-distance
and disposing of Joey, the prospector went up to her room. She was pale
and very weak, but she smiled as he approached her couch and held out her
hand. "No, the right one," she said, and added, taking it with a gentle
pressure, "I know, now, what it is--to be cold."
The little man nodded. His face worked, and he hurried to conceal the
maimed hand in his pocket. "But the doctor says you'll pull through good
as new," he commented. "I am proud to know that; my, yes."
"And I am proud of you, Mr. Banks. It seems incredible, but Miss
Morganstein told me you rescued her brother, too. I've tried and tried to
remember, but I am not able. You must have carried me, at least, all of
Banks glanced at Elizabeth, who was seated beyond the couch. She had laid
a warning finger to her lips and shook her head. "That was dead easy
coming downgrade," he answered. "And that little blow up there on the
mountain top wasn't anything to speak of, alongside a regular Alaska
blizzard. If I'd had to weight my pockets with rocks, that would have been
something doing. I might have felt then that I was squaring myself with
"I understand," she said slowly, "but," and she smiled again, "I am
grateful, Mr. Banks, just the same. Perhaps, since you loved David so
much, you will regard it as a kind of compensation that I am going on with
"Is that so?" The little man beamed. "Well, the house is all done and
waiting, my, yes, whenever you are ready to move over."
"Why, Beatriz," said Elizabeth in alarm, "I am going to take that desert
tract off your hands. I've been interested in reclamation work for
months." And looking at Banks, she added significantly: "I am afraid she
is talking too much."
"Likely," replied the prospector, rising, "and I am due to take a little
hike up the canyon with Hollis Tisdale."
"Mr. Tisdale?" she asked, with a quick brightening of her face. "Then he
is quite well again. Miss Morganstein told me he was saved--from that
unfortunate train," and she added, shivering and closing her eyes, "I
"I couldn't have got there in time," Banks hurried to explain, "even if
you had given up making the summit. Likely I'd have got caught by the
slide, and Hollis was half-way to the Springs and 'feeling fit as a moose'
when it started. Well, good-by, ma'am; take care of yourself."
"Good-by, Mr. Banks," and she smiled once more. "You may expect me at
Hesperides Vale in a few days; as soon as my things at Vivian Court are
packed." And she added, with the color softly warming her cheek, "Mr.
Tisdale might like to know that. He always wished to see David's project
And the little man replied from the door: "I'll tell him, ma'am, my, yes."
The special, which brought other seekers besides Joey's grandfather, also
conveyed Jimmie Daniels. It was his last assignment with the _Press_; he
and Geraldine were to be married within the week and assume the editorial
position at Weatherbee. And he pushed up over Tisdale's trail, now become
well broken, eager to make a final scoop and his best one. Hours later,
when he should have been back at Scenic Hot Springs, rushing his copy
through to his paper, he still remained on the slope below the west portal
to carry out the brief and forceful instructions of the man who directed
and dominated everybody; who knew in each emergency the one thing to do.
Once Jimmie found himself aiding Banks to wrap a woman's body in a blanket
to be lowered by tackle down the mountainside. She was young, not older
than Geraldine, and the sight of her--rounded cheek, dimpled chin, arm so
beautifully molded--all with the life snuffed out without a moment's
warning--gave him a sensation of being smothered. He was seized with a
compelling desire to get away, and to conquer his panic, he asked the
prospector whether this man was not the superintendent of the mountain
The mining man replied: "No, that's the railroad boss over there with the
gang handling the derrick; this is Tisdale, Hollis Tisdale of Alaska and
Washington, D.C. You ought to have heard of him in your line of business
if you never happened to see him before."
Then Jimmie, turning to look more directly at the stranger, hastily
dropped his face. "You are right," he said softly, "I've known him by
sight some time."
Afterwards, while they were having coffee with the station master, Daniels
asked Banks how he and Tisdale happened to be at Cascade Tunnel. "I was
putting in a little time at the Springs," Banks responded, "but Hollis was
a passenger on the stalled train. He took a notion to hike down to the
hotel just ahead of the slide."
"You mean that man who has taken charge out there," exclaimed the
operator. "I had a talk with him before he started; he was rigging up some
snowshoes. He said he was from Alaska, and I put him down for one of those
"He is," said Banks in his high key. "What he don't know about minerals
ain't worth knowing, and he owns one of the finest layouts in the north,
Dave Weatherbee's bore."
"The Aurora mine," confirmed Daniels. "And I presume there isn't a man
better known, or as well liked, in Alaska."
Banks nodded. "Dave and him was a team. The best known and the best liked
in the whole country. And likely there's men on the top seats in
Washington, D.C., would be glad of a chance to shake hands with Hollis
"I knew he was somewhere near the top," commented the operator. "He can
handle men. I never saw such a fellow. Why, he must have got half-way to
the Springs when the slide started, but he was back, climbing up along the
edge of it to the wreck, almost before it quit thundering. And he took out
a live baby, without a damage mark, and all its folks lying right there
dead, before the rest of us got in earshot."
Daniels put down his sandwich and took out his neglected notebook. He
gathered all the detail the ready operator could supply: how Tisdale had
wrapped the child in a blanket and carried him from place to place,
talking to him in his nice, friendly way, amusing him, keeping him quiet,
while he worked with the strength of two men to liberate other survivors.
And how, when none was left to save, he had taken the baby in his arms and
gone to break trail to the Springs to send out news of the disaster. All
that the station master and Banks could not tell him, with the name and
prominence of Joey's family, Jimmie added later at the chalet, and he
finished with a skilful reference to the papoose, killed by accident so
many years before. It was a great story. It went into the paper as it
stood. And when the day came to leave the _Press_ office, the chief,
shaking hands with his "novelist," said it was a fine scoop, and he had
always known Jimmie had it in him to make good; he was sorry to lose him.
But the Society Editor, reading between the lines, told him it was the
greatest apology he could have made. She was proud of him.
At Vivian Court late that afternoon, Elizabeth read the story to Beatriz
Weatherbee. Her couch was drawn into the sunny alcove, where, from her
pillows, she might watch the changing light on Mount Rainier. Finally,
when Elizabeth finished, Beatriz broke the silence. "He must have passed
down the canyon while we were there."
"Yes, he did. He carried one end of your stretcher all the way to the
Springs." Then Elizabeth asked: "Don't you remember the baby, either? He
had brown eyes."
"I seem to remember a child," she answered slowly, "a baby sitting in the
firelight, but"--and she shook her head, "I've dreamed so many dreams."
"He was a fact; a perfect dear. I should have adopted him, if his
relatives hadn't been so prominent and rich. And you, too, fell instantly
in love with him. You wanted him in your arms the moment you opened your
Elizabeth paused with a straight look from under her heavy brows and while
she hesitated there was a knock at the door. She threw it open and a
porter brought in one of those showy Japanese shrubs in an ornate
jardiniere, such as Frederic Morganstein so often used as an expression of
his regard. His card hung by a ribbon from a branch, like a present on a
Christmas tree, and when the boy had gone, she untied it and carried it to
Mrs. Weatherbee. "I wish you could marry Frederic and settle it all," she
said. "Japan is lovely in the spring."
Beatriz, who had taken the card indifferently, allowed it to drop without
reading it. Her glance rested again on the shining dome.
"I told him I would ask you to see him a few moments to-night," Elizabeth
resumed. "He is feeling miserably. He says he was ill when we made the
ascent that day and never should have left the hotel; his high temperature
and the altitude affected his head. He believes he must have said things
that offended or frightened you--things he wasn't responsible for." She
paused, then, for a woman who had been so schooled to hold herself in hand
as Elizabeth Morganstein, went on uncertainly: "He is just a plain
business man, used to going straight to a point, but not many men care so
much for a woman as he does for you. You could mold him like wax. He says
all he wants now--if he did make a mistake--is a chance to wipe it out;
start with a clean slate."
Mrs. Weatherbee rose from the couch. She stood a moment meeting
Elizabeth's earnest look. The shadow of a smile touched her mouth, but
well-springs of affection brimmed her eyes. "We cannot wipe out our
mistakes, dear," she said. "They are indelible. We have to accept them,
study them, use them as a rule from which to work out the problems of our
lives. There is no going back, no starting over, if we have missed an
easier way. Elizabeth, in one hour on that mountain I saw more of the true
Frederic Morganstein than in all the years I had known him before. In the
great moments of life, I should have no influence with him. Even for your
sake, dear, I could not marry him. I do not want to see him any more."
There was a silence, then Elizabeth said: "In that case, I am going to
ease things for you. I am going to buy that desert land. Now, don't say a
word. I am going to pay you Lucky Banks' price, and, of course, for the
improvements whatever is right."
"But it is not on the market," replied Beatriz. "I told you I had decided
to live there. I hoped--you would like to go with me. For awhile, at
least, you might find it interesting."
Elizabeth tried to dissuade her. It was ridiculous. It was monstrous. She
was not strong enough. It would be throwing her life away, as surely as to
transplant a tender orchid to that burning sage-brush country. But in the
end she said: "Well, Bee, then I'll go with you."
BACK TO HESPERIDES VALE
The Mayor of Weatherbee stopped his new, six-passenger car at the curb in
front of the completed brick block; not at the corner which was occupied
by the Merchants' National Bank, but at the adjoining entrance, above
which shone the neat gilt sign: "Madame Lucile's." He stood for a moment
surveying the window display, which was exceedingly up-to-date, showing
the prevailing color scheme of green or cerise in the millinery, softened
by a background of mauve and taupe in the arrangement of the gowns. A
card, placed unobtrusively in the corner of the plate glass, announced
that Madame Lucile, formerly with Sedgewick-Wilson of Seattle, was
prepared to give personal attention to all orders.
Bailey himself that day was equipped in a well-made suit from the
tailoring establishment on the opposite side of the building. Though he
had not yet gathered that avoirdupois which is associated with the dignity
of office, there was in his square young frame an undeniable promise.
Already he carried himself with the deliberation of a man whose future is
assured, and his mouth took those upward curves of one who is humorously
satisfied with himself and his world.
There were no customers when he entered, and since it was the hour when
her assistant was out at lunch, Madame, attired in a gown of dark blue
velvet, her black hair arranged with elaborate care, was alone in the
shop. And Bailey's glance, having traveled the length of the soft green
carpet to the farthest mirror, returned in final approval to her. "This
certainly is swell," he said, "It's like a sample right out of Chicago.
But I knew you could do it, the minute Mrs. Banks mentioned you. Why, the
first time I saw you--it was on the street the day I struck Wenatchee--I
told myself: 'This town can't be very wild and woolly if it can turn out
anything as classy as that.'"
Madame laughed. "I must have looked like a moving fashion plate to attract
attention that way. I feel a little over-dressed now, after wearing the
uniform in Sedgewick-Wilson's so long; but Mrs. Banks said I ought to wear
nice clothes to advertise the store."
Bailey tipped back his head at that, laughing softly. "I guess your silent
partner is going to be the power behind the throne, all right."
Madame nodded, with the humor still lingering in her brown eyes. "But it
was good advice. I sold a gown like this to my first customer this
morning. And she had only come in to see millinery; she hadn't meant to
look at gowns. But she liked this one the moment she saw it."
"Is that so? Well, I don't wonder. It certainly looks great--on you."
Madame flushed and turned her face to look off through the plate glass
door. "Why," she exclaimed, "you didn't tell me your new automobile had
come." She moved a few steps, sweeping the car with admiring eyes. "Isn't
it luxurious though, and smart? But you deserve it; you deserve everything
that's coming to you now, staying here, sticking it out as you have in the
heat and sand. I often thought of it summer days while I was over on the
"You did?" questioned Bailey in pleased surprise. "Well, I am glad to know
that. I wonder whether you ever thought over the time we tramped the
railroad ties up to Leavenworth to that little dance?"
"Often," she responded quickly. "And how we came back in the Oleson wagon,
riding behind with our heels hanging over, and the dust settling like
powder on our party clothes. But I had the loveliest time. It was the
starriest night, with moonlight coming home, and I danced every number."
"Seven times with me," returned the mayor.
"I wanted to learn the two-step," she explained hastily.
"And I wanted to teach you," he laughed. "But say, how would you like to
take a little spin up the Leavenworth road this evening, in the new car?"
"Oh, that would be delightful." Madame Lucile glowed. "With a party?" she
"Well, I thought of asking Daniels and his wife to go with us. I am on the
way to the station now, to meet them. And Mrs. Weatherbee and Miss
Morganstein are due on the same train. I promised Mr. Banks I would take
them out to the Orchards in the machine; but we are to motor around to the
new bungalow first, to leave the bride and Jimmie and have luncheon."
"I know. Mrs. Banks is going to have the table in that wide veranda
looking down the river. I would like to be there when they find out that
dear little bungalow is their wedding present. It was perfectly lovely of
Mrs. Banks to think of it; and of you to give them that beautiful lot on
the point. You can see Hesperides Vale for miles and miles to the lower
Bailey smiled. "Mrs. Banks said it was a good way to use up the lumber
that was left over from the ranch house. And that bungalow certainly makes
a great showing for the town. It raised the value of the adjoining lots. I
sold three before the shingles were on the walls, and the people who
bought them thought they had a snap."
"All the same, it is a lovely present," said Madame Lucile.
"There's the train, whistling up the valley," said the mayor, but he
paused to ask, almost with diffidence, as he turned to the door: "Say,
what do you think of this tie?"
"I like it." She nodded, with a reassuring smile. "And it's a nice shade
for you; it brings out the blue in your eyes."
The mayor laughed gaily. "I ought to wear it steady after that, but I am
coming to black ones with a frock coat and silk hat. I am going to begin
to-morrow, when those German scientists, on their way home from the
Orient, stop to see Hesperides Vale."
"Oh, I hope you will wear this nice business suit, unless they come late
in the afternoon. It seems more sensible here on the edge of the desert,
and even if you are the first mayor to do it, I know, the world over,
there isn't another as young."
Bailey grew thoughtful. "The mayor in Chicago always wore a Prince Albert.
Why, that long coat and silk hat stood for the office. They were the most
important part of him. But good-by," he said hastily, as the train
whistled again, nearer, "I'll call for you at seven."
Ten minutes later, the mayor stood on the station platform shaking hands
with Mrs. Weatherbee. "Say, I am surprised," he said. "I often wondered
what you thought of the vale. Lighter told me how you drove those colts
through that day, and I was disappointed not to hear from you. You didn't
let me know you had an investment already, and it never occurred to me,
afterwards, that you were our Mrs. Weatherbee."
Then, introductions being over, he assisted Miss Morganstein into the
tonneau with the bridal couple and gave the seat in front to Mrs.
Weatherbee. He drove very slowly up the new thoroughfare, past the Bailey
building, where she expressed her astonishment at the inviting window
display of the millinery store. He explained that offices for the
_Weatherbee Record_ had been reserved on the second floor, and that in the
hall, in the third story, the first inaugural ball was to be given the
following night. It had been postponed a few days until her arrival, and
he hoped he might have the privilege of leading the grand march with her.
And, Mrs. Weatherbee having thanked him, with the pleasure dancing in her
eyes, Bailey pointed out the new city hospital, a tall, airy structure,
brave in fresh paint, which was equipped with a resident physician and
three trained nurses, including Miss Purdy, the milliner's sister, who was
on her way from Washington to join the force.
After that they motored through the residence district, and Mrs.
Weatherbee expressed greater wonder and delight at the rows of thrifty
homes, each with its breadth of green lawn and budding shrubbery, where
hardly six months ago had been unreclaimed acres of sage. And so, at last,
they came to the city park, where the road wound smooth and firm between
broad stretches of velvety green, broken by beds of blossoming tulips,
nodding daffodils, clumps of landscape foliage putting forth new leaves.
Sprinklers, supplied by a limpid canal that followed the drive, played
here, there, everywhere, and under all this moisture and the warm rays of
the spring sun, the light soil teemed with awakening life. Then, finally,
the car skirted a low, broad mound, in which was set the source of the
viaduct, a basin of masonry, brimming with water crystal clear and fed by
two streams that gushed from a pedestal of stone on the farther rim. "How
beautiful!" she exclaimed. "How incredible! And there is to be a statue to
complete it. A faun, a water nymph, some figure to symbolize the spirit of
"I can't tell you much about the statue," replied Bailey, watching the
curve ahead. "Mr. Banks engaged the sculptor; some noted man in the east.
He is carrying the responsibility; it was his idea. But it was to have
been in place, ready to be unveiled by the fifteenth, and there was some
After that, the mayor was silent, devoting his attention to the speeding
car. They left the park and, taking the river road, arrived presently at
the bungalow. The shingles still lacked staining, the roof was incomplete,
but a sprinkler threw rainbow mist over the new lawn, which was beginning
to show shades of green. A creeper, planted at the corner of the veranda,
already sent out pale, crinkled shoots.
Lucky Banks came beaming down the steps, and Annabel, in a crisp frock of
royal blue taffeta, stood smiling a welcome as the automobile stopped.
Then Bailey, springing down to throw open the door of the tonneau, lifted
his voice to say: "And this--is the home of the Editor of the _Weatherbee
Record_ and Mrs. Daniels."
They did not at once grasp his meaning, and the prospector made it clear
as they went up to the veranda. "The house is a wedding present from Mrs.
Banks," he said; "and Mr. Bailey, here, put up the lot, so's I thought
this would come in handy; it will take quite a bunch of furniture."
There was a silent moment while Geraldine stood regarding the envelope he
had put in her hand. She was looking her best in a trim, tailored suit of
gray. There was a turquoise facing to the brim of her smart gray hat, but
her only ornaments were a sorority pin fastened to the lapel of her coat
and a gold button that secured her watch in the small breast pocket made
for it. At last she looked up, an unusual flush warmed her face, and she
began: "It's perfectly lovely of you--we are so surprised--we never can
thank you enough."
But Jimmie turned away. He stood looking down the valley in the direction
of that place, not very far off, where his mother had carried water up the
steep slope in the burning desert sun. His forehead creased; he closed his
lips tight over a rising sob. Then Geraldine laid her hand on his arm. "Do
you understand what these people have done for us?" she asked
unconventionally. "Did you hear?"
Jimmie swung around. His glance met Annabel's. "I can't explain how I feel
about it," he burst out, "but I know if my mother could have been here
now, it--this--would have paid her for all--she missed. I don't deserve
it--but Geraldine does; and I pledge myself to stay by the _Weatherbee
Record_ as long as you want me to. I don't see how I can help making
Then Annabel, winking hard, hastily led the way over the house; and,
presently, when the party returned to the table in the veranda, and the
Japanese boy she had brought from the ranch house was successfully passing
the fried chicken, she wanted to know about the wedding.
"Yes, we tried to have it quiet," responded Jimmie, "and we planned it so
the taxi would just make our train; but the fellows caught on and were
waiting for us at the station, full force, with their pocketfuls of rice
and shoes. They hardly let us get aboard."
"Gracious!" exclaimed Annabel. "You might as well have been married in
church. You'd have looked pretty in a train and veil," she said,
addressing Geraldine, who was seated on her right. "Not but what you don't
look nice in gray. And I like your suit real well; it's a fine piece of
goods; the kind to stand the desert dust. But I would have liked to see
you in white, with a blaze of lights and decorations and a crowd."
Geraldine laughed. "We had a nice little wedding, and the young men from
the office made up for their noise. They gave the porter a handsome case
of silver at the last moment, to bring to me."
"And," supplemented Jimmie, "there was a handsome silver tea service from
the chief. He told her she had been a credit to the staff, and he would
find it hard to replace her. Think of that coming from the head of a big
daily. It makes me feel guilty. But she is to have full latitude in the
new paper; society, clubs, equal suffrage if she says so; anything she
writes goes with the _Weatherbee Record_."
"If I were you, I'd have that down in writing." Annabel looked from
Daniels to the bride, and her lip curled whimsically. "They all talk that
way at first, as though the earth turned round for one woman, and the
whole crowd ought to stop to watch her go by. He pretends, so far as he is
concerned, she can stump the county for prohibition or lead the
suffragette parade, but, afterwards, he gets to taking the other view.
Instead of thanking his lucky stars the nicest girl in the world picked
him out of the bunch, he begins to think she naturally was proud that the
best one wanted her. Then, before they've been married two years, he
starts trying to make her over into some other kind of a woman. Why, I
know one man right here in Hesperides Vale who set to making a Garden of
Eden out of a sandhole in the mountains, just because it belonged to a
certain girl." She paused an instant, while her glance moved to Banks, and
the irony went out of her voice. "He could have bought the finest fruit
ranch in the valley, all under irrigation and coming into bearing, for he
had the money, but he went to wasting it on that piece of unreclaimed sage
desert. And now that he has got it all in shape, he's talking of opening a
big farm in Alaska."
Banks laughed uneasily. "The boys need it up there," he said in his high
key. "Besides, I always get more fun out of making new ground over. It's
such mighty good soil here in Hesperides Vale things grow themselves
soon's the water is turned on. It don't leave a man enough to do. And we
could take a little run down to the ranch, any time; we could count on
always wintering here, my, yes."
Annabel smiled. "He thinks by mid-summer he can take me right into the
interior, in that cranky red car. And I don't know but what I am ready to
risk it; there are places I'd like to see--where he was caught his first
winter in a blizzard, and where he picked up the nuggets for my necklace.
You remember it--don't you?--Mrs. Daniels. I wore it that night in Seattle
we went to hear Carmen."
"I certainly do remember. It was the most wonderful thing in the theater
that night, and fit for an empress." Involuntarily Geraldine glanced down
at her own solitary jewel. It flashed a lovely blue light as she moved her
Annabel followed the glance. "Your ring is a beauty," she said. "Not many
young men, just starting in business for themselves, would have thought
they could afford a diamond like that."
Geraldine laughed, flushing a little. "It seems the finest in the world to
me," she replied almost shyly. "And it ought to show higher light and
color than any other; the way it was bought was so splendid."
"Do you mean the way the money was earned to buy it?" inquired Annabel.
Geraldine nodded. "It was the price, exactly, of his first magazine story.
Perhaps you read it. It was published in the March issue of _Sampson's_,
and the editors liked it so well they asked to see more of his work."
Jimmie looked at his wife in mingled protest and surprise. He had believed
she, as well as himself, had wished to have that story quickly forgotten.
"It is an Indian story," she pursued; "about a poor little papoose that
was accidentally killed. It was a personal experience of Mr. Tisdale's."
Mrs. Banks had not read it, but the prospector pushed aside his sherbet
glass and, laying his arms on the table, leaned towards Geraldine. "Was
that papoose cached under a log?" he asked softly. "And was its mother
berrying with a bunch of squaws up the ridge?"
"Yes," smiled Geraldine. "I see you have read it."
"No, but I heard a couple of men size it up aboard the train coming from
Scenic Hot Springs. And once," he went on with gathering tenseness, "clear
up the Tanana, I heard Dave and Hollis talking it over. My, yes, it seems
like I can see them now; they was the huskiest, cleanest-cut,
openest-faced team that ever mushed a trail. It was one of those nights
when the stars come close and friendly, and the camp-fire blazes and
crackles straight to heaven and sets a man thinking; and Tisdale started
it by saying if he could cut one record out of his past he guessed the rest
could bear daylight. Then Dave told him he was ready to stand by that one,
too. And Hollis said it was knowing that had taken the edge off, but it
hadn't put the breath back into that papoose. Of course he never
suspicioned for a minute the kid was in the road when he jumped that log,
and the heart went out of him when he picked it up and saw what he was
responsible for. They had to tell me the whole story, and I wish you could
have heard 'em. Dave smoothing things when Hollis got too hard on himself,
and Hollis chipping in again for fear I wouldn't get full weight for
Dave's part. And the story sure enough does hinge on him. Likely that's
why Tisdale gave it to your magazine; to show up Dave Weatherbee. But
those men on the train--they had the seat in front of me so's I heard it
plain--lost their bearings. They left out Dave and put Hollis in a bad
light. He was 'caught red-handed and never was brought to an honest
trial.' And it was clear besides, being 'hand in glove with the Secretary
of the Interior' he had a 'pull with the Federal court.' I couldn't stand
for it." The prospector's voice reached high pitch, his forehead creased
in many fine lines, his eyes scintillated their blue glacier lights, and
he added, striking the table with his clenched hand, "I up and says: 'It's
all a damn lie.'"
There was a silence. The self-possession and swiftness of the Japanese boy
saved the sherbet glass and its contents, but the mayor, who had been
interrupted in a confidential quotation of real estate values to Miss
Morganstein, sat staring at Banks in amazement. A spark of admiration shot
through the astonishment in Annabel's eyes then, catching the little man's
aggressive glance, she covered her pride with her ironical smile. Mrs.
Weatherbee was the only one who did not look at Banks. Her inscrutable
face was turned to the valley. She might never have heard of Hollis
Tisdale or, indeed, of David. But Elizabeth, who had kept the thread of
both conversations, said: "You were right. There was a coroner's inquest
that vindicated Mr. Tisdale at the time."
"But," explained Geraldine courageously, "that was left out of the
magazine. Mr. Daniels took it all accurately, just as Mr. Tisdale told it,
word for word; but the story was cut terribly. Nothing at all was said of
Mr. Weatherbee's part. We couldn't understand that, for with names
suppressed, there could be no motive, and he was so clearly the leading
character. But magazines have no conscience. It's anything, with the new
ones at least, to catch the public eye, and they stir more melodrama into
their truths than the yellow journals do. But Mr. Daniels apologized to
Mr. Tisdale, and explained how he wasn't responsible for the editor's note
or for printing his name, and he did his best to make it up in his report
of the disaster at Cascade tunnel. That story went into the _Press_
straight and has been widely copied."
It was in Jimmie's favor that Lucky Banks had read the newspaper story,
and also that they had had those hours of intimacy at the west portal.
"Well, likely you ain't to blame," the prospector admitted finally, "but
there's people who don't know Hollis Tisdale that might believe what the
magazine says. And, if I was you, I'd take a little run over to Washington
or New York, wherever it is--I'll put up the money--and locate that
editor. I'd make him fix it right, my, yes."
"I should be glad to," said Daniels, brightening, "but it's possible those
missing pages were lost on the way."
"Well, I'd find out," persisted Banks. "And there's other stories I got
wind of when I was in Washington, D.C., and Seattle, too, last time I was
down, that ought to be trailed. Maybe it's just politics, but I know for a
fact they ain't so."
The irony had gone out of Annabel's face. She had seen Hollis Tisdale but
once, yet his coming and going had marked the red-letter day of her life.
Her heart championed Banks' fight for him. She turned her dark eyes from
him to Daniels.
"It's too bad you tried to tell Hollis Tisdale's story for him," she said.
"Even if the magazine had got it all straight, it wouldn't have been the
same as getting it first hand. It's like listening to one of those fine
singers in a phonograph; you can get the tune and some of the words, and
maybe the voice pretty fair, but you miss the man."
With this she rose. "We are ready to go out to the Orchards, Mr. Bailey.
Mr. Banks and I are going to change places with the bride and groom." Then
from her silk bag, she brought forth a bunch of keys which she gave to
Geraldine. "Nukui is going to stay to clear away," she explained, "and
bring our car home. And when you have finished making your plans, and want
to go down to see the newspaper office, he will show you a nice short cut
through the park."
So again the mayor's chocolate six-passenger car threaded the park and
emerged this time on a straight, broad thoroughfare through Hesperides
Vale. "This," said Bailey, turning from the town, "is the Alameda. They
motor from Wenatchee and beyond to try it. It's a pretty good road, but in
a year or two, when these shade trees come into full leaf, it will be
something to show."
There were tufts on most of them now and on the young fruit trees that ran
in geometrical designs on either side, covering the levels that last year
had been overgrown with sage. As these infant orchards dropped behind and
the Wenatchee range loomed near, Cerberus detached from the other peaks;
but it was no longer a tawny monster on guard; its contour was broken by
many terraces, luxuriant with alfalfa and planted with trees.
"Why," exclaimed Mrs. Weatherbee, "there is the gap. Then, this must be
the mountain--it reminded me once of a terrible, crouching, wild beast--
but it has changed."
"Yes, ma'am," responded Banks, "she's looking tamer now. The peaches have
taken right hold, and those fillers of strawberries are hurrying on the
green. But you give 'em three years or maybe four, and take 'em in blossom
time,--my, you won't know this old mountain then."
A drive, cross-cutting the bold front, led to the level beneath the
summit, where rose the white walls and green gables of Annabel's home, but
they rounded the mountain into the smaller vale. "This," said the mayor,
with culminating pride, "is Weatherbee Orchards. It shows what money, in
the right hands, can do."
A soft breeze came down over the ridge as they ascended; the flume, that
followed the contour of the roadway, gurgled pleasantly. Everywhere along
the spillways alfalfa spread thriftily, or strawberry plants sent out new
tendrils. All growing things were more advanced in that walled pocket than
in the outer vale; the arid gulf had become a vast greenhouse. Cerberus no
longer menaced. Even the habitation of the goat-woman, that had been the
central distraction of the melancholy picture, was obliterated. In all
that charming landscape there was no discordant note to break the harmony.
The car doubled the curve at the top of the bench and ran smoothly between
breadths of green lawn, bordered by nodding narcissus, towards the house,
which was long and low, with a tiled roof and cream-colored walls that
enclosed a patio. A silence fell over the company. As they alighted, every
one waited, looking expectantly at Beatriz Weatherbee. The music of a
fountain fluted from the court, and she went forward, listening. Her face
was no longer inscrutable; it shone with a kind of inner illumination. But
when she saw the slender column of spray and the sparkling basin, with a
few semi-tropical plants grouped on the curb, a cactus, a feathery palm in
a quaint stone pot, she turned, and her eyes sought Elizabeth's. "It is
all like the old hacienda where grandfather was born, and mother, and"--
her voice broke--"Only that had adobe walls," she finished. "It is like--
"It is simply marvelous," replied Elizabeth, and she added abruptly,
looking at the prospector: "Mr. Banks, you are a problem beyond me."
"It looks all right, doesn't it?" the little man beamed. "Likely it would
about suit Dave. And I was able to stand the investment. My, yes, now your
brother has bought out the Annabel, what I spent wouldn't cut any figure.
But," and his glance moved to the woman who had profited by the venture,
"I'll likely get my money back."
Afterwards, when the party had inspected the reservoirs and upper flumes,
Beatriz found herself returning to the bench with Lucky Banks. It was
almost sunset, and the far Chelan peaks were touched with Alpine fire;
below them an amethyst mist filtered over the transformed vale. They had
been discussing the architecture of the building.
"I had often gone over the map of the project with David," she said, "but
he must have drawn the plans of the house later, in Alaska. It was a
complete surprise. I wonder he remembered the old hacienda so accurately;
he was there only once--when we were on our wedding journey."
"There were a few measurements that had to be looked up," admitted Banks;
"but I took a little run around into lower California last winter, on my
way home from Washington, D.C."
"You were there? You troubled to go all the way to the old rancheria for
"Yes, ma'am. It was a mighty good grazing country down there, but the
people who bought the place were making their money out of one of those
fine hotels; it was put up alongside a bunch of hot springs. Nobody but a
couple of Mexicans was living in the old house. It was in bad shape."
"I know. I know. If I had been a man, it would have been different. I
should have restored it; I should have worked, fought to buy back every
acre. But you saw old Jacinta and Carlos? It was recorded in the title
they should be allowed to stay there and have the use of the old home
garden as long as they lived. My mother insisted on that."
They had reached the level and walked on by the house towards the solitary
pine tree on the rim of the bench. After a moment he said: "Now Dave's
project is running in good shape, there isn't much left for me to do, my,
no, except see the statue set up in the park."
"I wanted to ask you about that, Mr. Banks; we passed the place on the way
to the bungalow. It was beautiful. I presume you have selected a woman's
figure--a lovely Ceres or Aphrodite?"
"No, ma'am," responded Banks a little sharply. "It's a full-sized man.
Full-sized and some over, what the sculptor who made it calls heroic; and
it's a good likeness of Dave Weatherbee."
They had reached the pine tree, and she put out her hand to steady herself
on the bole. "I understand," she said slowly. "It was a beautiful--
"It looks pretty nice," corroborated the prospector. "There was a mighty
good photograph of Dave a young fellow on a Yukon steamer gave me once, to
go by. He was standing on a low bluff, with his head up, looking off like
a young elk, when the boat pulled out, and the camera man snapped him. It
was the day we quit the partner lay, and I was going down-stream, and he
was starting for the headwaters of the Susitna. Tisdale told me about a
man who had done first-class work in New York, and I sent that picture
with a check for a starter on my order. I wrote him the price wasn't
cutting any figure with me; what I wanted was the best he could do and to
have it delivered by the fifteenth of March. And he did; he had it done on
time; and he said it was his best work. It's waiting down in Weatherbee
now. Hollis thought likely I better leave it to you whether to have the
burying with the statue down in the park, or up here, somewhere, on Dave's
"Do you mean," she asked, and her voice almost failed, "you have brought--
Banks nodded. "It was cold for him wintering up there in the Alaska snow."
"Oh, I know. I've thought about--that. I should have done--as you have--
had I been able."
After a moment she said: "What is there I can say to you? I did not know
there were such men in the world until I knew you and Hollis Tisdale. Of
course you believed, as he did, that I was necessary to round out David's
project. That is why, when it was successfully completed, you forfeited
the bonus and all the investment. I may never be able to fully refund you
but--shall do my best. And this other--too. Mr. Banks, was that Mr.
Tisdale's suggestion? Did he share that--expense--with you?"
"No, ma'am, he let me have that chance when we talked it over. I had to
get even with him on the project."
"Even with him on the project?"
"Yes, ma'am. He let me put up the money, but it's got to be paid back out
of Dave's half interest in the Aurora mine. And likely, likely, that's
what Dave Weatherbee would have wanted done."
THE JUNIOR DEFENDANT
It was following a recess during the third afternoon of the trial; a jury
had at last been impanelled, the attorney for the prosecution and the
leading lawyer for the defense had measured swords, when Stuart Foster,
the junior defendant in the "Conspiracy to Defraud the Government," was
called to the stand. Frederic Morganstein, the head of the Prince William
Development Company, straightened in his seat beside the vacated chair. He
was sleekly groomed, and his folded, pinkish white hands suggested a good
child's; his blank face assumed an expression of mildly protesting
innocence. But the man who stepped from his shadow into the strong light
of the south windows was plainly harassed and worn. His boyishness was
gone; he seemed to have aged years since that evening in September when he
had sailed for Alaska. Tisdale's great heart stirred, then his clear mind
began to tally the rapid fire of questions and Foster's replies.
"When were you first connected with the Prince William Development
Company, Mr. Foster?"
"In the summer of 1904."
"You were then engaged in the capacity of mining engineer at a fixed
salary, were you not?" The prosecuting attorney had a disconcerting manner
of arching his brows. His mouth, taken in connection with his strong,
square jaw, had the effect of closing on his questions like a trap.
"Yes," Foster answered briefly, "I was to receive two hundred and fifty
dollars a month the first year, and its equivalent in the company's
"Did you not, at the same time, turn over to the company your interests in
the Chugach Railway and Development Company?"
"Yes," said Foster.
"And was not this railroad built for the purpose of opening certain coal
lands in the Matanuska region, in which you held an interest?"
"Yes, I had entered a coal claim of one hundred and sixty acres."
"All the law allowed to an individual; but, Mr. Foster, did you not induce
others, as many as thirty persons, to locate adjoining claims with the
idea that the entire group would come under one control?"
Foster colored. "It was necessary to co-operate," he said slowly, "in
order to meet the enormous expense of development and transportation. We
wished to build a narrow-gauge road--it was then in course of
construction--but the survey was through the Chugach Mountains, the most
rugged in North America. The cost of moving material, after it was shipped
from the States, was almost prohibitive; ordinary labor commanded higher
wages than are paid skilled mechanics here in Seattle."
"Mr. Foster, were not those coal claims located with a purpose to dispose
of them in a group at a profit?"
"No, sir. I have told you on account of the great expense of development
it was necessary to work together; it was also necessary that as many
claims as possible should be taken."
The prosecution, nodding affirmatively, looked at the jury. "The more
cunning and subtle the disguise," he said, "the more sure we may be of the
evasion of the law. So, Mr. Foster, you promoted an interest in the
fields, selected claims for men who never saw them; used their power of
"Yes. That was in accordance with the law then in force. We paid for our
coal claims, the required ten dollars an acre. The land office accepted
our money, eighty thousand dollars. Then the President suspended the law,
and we never received our patents. About that time the Chugach forest
reserve was made, and we were hampered by all sorts of impossible
conditions. Some of us were financially ruined. One of the first locators
spent one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, his whole fortune, in
development. He opened his mine and had several tons of coal carried by
packers through the mountains to the coast, to be shipped to Seattle, to
be tested on one of the Government cruisers. The report was so favorable
it encouraged the rest of us to stay with the venture."
"Mr. Foster," the attorney's voice took a higher, more aggressive pitch,
"were not many of those claims entered under names furnished by an agent
of the Morganstein interests?"
"Well, yes." Foster threw his head with something of his old boyish
defiance. He was losing patience and skill. "Mr. Morganstein himself made
a filing, and his father. That is the reason all our holdings are now
classed as the Morganstein group."
"And," pursued the lawyer, "their entries were incidental with the
consolidation of your company with the Prince William Development
Foster flushed hotly. "The Prince William Development Company was in need
of coal; no enterprise can be carried on without it in Alaska. And the
consolidation brought necessary capital to us; without it, our railroad
was bankrupt. It meant inestimable benefit to the country, to every
prospector, miner, homesteader, who must waste nerve-breaking weeks
packing his outfit through those bleak mountains in order to reach the
interior. But, before forty miles of track was completed, the executive
withdrew all Alaska coal lands from entry, and we discontinued
construction, pending an Act of Congress to allow our patents. The
material carried in there at so great a cost is lying there still, rotting
"Gentlemen, is it not all clear to you?" The prosecuting attorney flashed
a glance of triumph over the jury. "Do you not see in this Prince William
Development Company the long arm of the octopus that is strangling Alaska?
That has reached out its tentacles everywhere, for gold here, copper
there; for oil, coal, timber, anything in sight? That, but for the
foresight of the executive and Gifford Pinchot, would possess most of
The men on the jury looked thoughtful but not altogether convinced. One
glanced at his neighbor with a covert smile. This man, whom the Government
had selected to prosecute the coal fraud cases was undeniably able, often
brilliant, but his statements showed he had brought his ideas of Alaska
from the Atlantic coast; to him, standing in the Seattle courtroom, our
outlying possession was still as remote. As his glance moved to the ranks
of outside listeners, who overflowed the seats and crowded the aisles to
the doors, he must have been conscious that the sentiment he had expressed
was at least unpopular in the northwest. Faces that had been merely
interested or curious grew suddenly lowering. The atmosphere of the place
The following morning Morganstein took the stand. Though in small matters
that touched his personal comfort he was arrogantly irritable, under the
cross-examination that assailed his commercial methods he proved suave and
non-committal. As the day passed, the prosecutor's insinuations grew more
open and vindictive. Judge Feversham sprang to his feet repeatedly to
challenge his accusations, and twice the Court calmed the Government's
attorney with a reprimand. The atmosphere of the room seemed to seethe
hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness. Finally, during the afternoon
session, Foster was recalled.
Through it all Tisdale waited, listening to everything, separating,
weighing each point presented. It was beginning to look serious for
Foster. Clearly, in his determination to win his suit, the prosecution was
losing sight of the simple justice the Government desired. And a man less
dramatic, less choleric, with less of a reputation for political intrigue
than Miles Feversham might better have defended Stuart Foster. Foster was
so frank, so honest, so eager to make the Alaska situation understood. And
it was not an isolated case; there were hundreds of young men, who, like
him, had cast their fortunes with that new and growing country, to find
themselves, after years of hardship and privation of which the outside
world had no conception, bound hand and foot in an intricate tangle of the
Government's red tape.
The evening of the fourth day the attorney for the prosecution surprised
Tisdale at his rooms. "Thank you," he said, when Hollis offered his
armchair, "but those windows open to the four winds of heaven are a little
imprudent to a man who lives by his voice. Pretty, though, isn't it?" He
paused a moment to look down on the harbor lights and the chains of
electric globes stretching off to Queen Anne hill and far and away to
Magnolia bluff, then seated himself between the screen and the table that
held the shaded reading lamp. "Has it occurred to you, Mr. Tisdale," he
asked, "that a question may be raised as to the legality of your testimony
in these coal cases?"
"No." Hollis remained standing. He looked at his visitor in surprise.
"Please make that clear, Mr. Bromley," he said.
The attorney smiled. "This is a trial case," he began. "A dozen others
hinge on it. I was warned to be prepared for anything; so, when my
attention was called to that article in _Sampson's Magazine_, my
suspicions were instantly awake. It looked much like blackmail and, in
connection with another story I heard in circulation at Washington, seemed
a systematic preparation to attack the Government's witness. Possibly you
do not know it was Mr. Jerold, your legal adviser and my personal friend,
who put me in touch with the magazine. You had wired him to find out
certain facts, but he was unable to go to New York at the time and,
knowing I was there for the week, he got into communication with me by
telephone and asked me to look the matter up. The publishers, fearing a
libel suit which would ruin them, were very obliging. They allowed me to
see not only the original manuscript, but Mrs. Feversham's letter, which I
took the trouble to copy."
"Mrs. Feversham's letter?" Tisdale exclaimed. "Do you mean it was Mrs.
Feversham who was responsible for that story?"
"As it was published, yes. But Daniels was not a pen name. There really
was such a writer--I have taken the trouble to find that out since I
arrived in Seattle. He was on the staff of the _Press_ and wrote a very
creditable account of the catastrophe on the Great Northern railroad, in
which glowing tribute was given you. But since then, and this is what
makes the situation so questionable, he has left the paper and dropped
completely out of sight."
Tisdale drew forward his chair and settled himself comfortably. "There is
no need to worry about Jimmie Daniels," he said; "he is all right. I saw
him at Cascade tunnel; he told me he was about to be married and go to the
Wenatchee country to conduct a paper of his own. It's too bad there wasn't
another reporter up there to tell about him. He worked like a Trojan, and
it was a place to try a man's mettle. Afterwards, before he left, he came
to me and introduced himself. He had been aboard the yacht that day I told
the story. He had taken it down in his notebook behind an awning. He told
me one of the ladies on board--he did not mention her name--who read his
copy later, offered to dispose of it for him."
"So," said the lawyer slowly, "you did tell the story; there was a
papoose; the unfortunate incident really occurred."
"Yes," responded Tisdale, "it happened in a canyon of those mountains
across the Sound. You can barely make out their outline to-night; but
watch for them at sunrise; it's worth waiting for." Then, after a moment,
he said, "I told the story to show the caliber of Weatherbee, the man who
put himself in my place when the Indians came to our camp, looking for me;
but, in editing, all mention of him was cut out. Daniels couldn't
understand that. He said the manuscript was long, but if it was necessary
to abridge in making up the magazine, why had they thrown out the finest
part of the story?"
"Let me see," said the attorney thoughtfully, "wasn't Weatherbee the name
of the man you grub-staked in Alaska, and who discovered the Aurora mine?"
Tisdale bowed, then added, with the vibration playing softly in his voice:
"And the name of the bravest and noblest man that ever fought the unequal
fight of the north."
"Which proves the story was not published to exploit a hero," commented
Bromley. "But now," he went on brusquely, "we have arrived at the other
story. Do you know, Mr. Tisdale, it is being said in Washington, and, too,
I have heard it here in Seattle, that though your own half interest in the
Aurora mine, acquired through the grub-stake you furnished Weatherbee,
will make you a millionaire at least, you are withholding the widow's
This time Tisdale did not express surprise. "I have had that suggested to
me," he answered quietly. "But the stories of the Aurora are very much
inflated. It is a comparatively new mine, and though it promises to be one
of the great discoveries, the expense of operating so far has exceeded the
output. Heavy machinery has been transported and installed, and Mrs.
Weatherbee could not have met any part of these payments. In all
probability she would have immediately disposed of an interest at a small
price and so handicapped me with a partner with his own ideas of
development. David Weatherbee paid for the Aurora with his life, and I
have pledged myself to carry out his plans. But, Mr. Bromley, do not
trouble about that last half interest. I bought it: the transfer was
regularly recorded; Mr. Jerold has assured me it is legally mine."
"I know what Mr. Jerold thinks," replied the attorney. "It nettled him to
hear me repeat that story. 'Why, it's incredible,'" he said. "'There are
documents I drew up last fall that refute it completely.'" Mr. Bromley
paused, then went on slowly: "Last fall you were in a hospital, Mr.
Tisdale, beginning a long, all but hopeless fight for your life, and it
was natural you should have called in Mr. Jerold to settle your affairs. I
inferred from his remark that you had remembered Mrs. Weatherbee, at
least, in your will." He halted again, then added still more deliberately:
"If I am right, I should like to be prepared, in case of emergency, to
read such a clause in court."
Tisdale was silent. He rose and turned to the west windows, where he stood
looking down on the harbor lights.
"Am I right?" persisted the attorney.
Hollis thrust his hands into his pockets and swung around. He stood with
his chin lowered, looking at the lawyer with his upward glance from under
slightly frowning brows. "Well," he said at last, "suppose you are. And
suppose I refuse to have my private papers read in open court?"
"In that case," answered Mr. Bromley, rising, "I must telegraph to
Washington for one of the Alaska coal commission to take your place. I am
sorry. You were named to me at the beginning as a man who knew more about
Alaska coal, and, in fact, the whole Alaska situation, than any other
employee of the Government."
Still, having said this, Mr. Bromley did not seem in any hurry to go, but
stood holding his hat and waiting for a word from Tisdale to redeem the
situation. At last it came. "Is there no other way," he asked, "than to
drag my private affairs into court?"
The attorney gravely shook his head. "You never can tell what a jury will
do," he said. "Less than a prejudice against a witness has swung a
Hollis said no more. He went over to his safe and selected a package
containing three documents held together by a rubber band. After a
hesitating moment, he drew out one, which he returned to its place. The
others he brought to the attorney, who carried them to the reading lamp to
scan. One was a deed to the last half interest in the Aurora, the one
which Weatherbee had had recorded, and the remaining paper was, as Mr.
Bromley conjectured, Tisdale's will; but it contained a somewhat
disconcerting surprise. However, the lawyer seated himself and, spreading
the paper open on the table, copied this clause.
... "The Aurora mine, lying in an unsurveyed region of Alaska, accessible
from Seward by way of Rainy Pass, and from the Iditarod district north by
east, I bequeath to Beatriz Silva Gonzales Weatherbee, to be held for her
in trust by Stuart Emory Poster for a period of five years, or until
development, according to David Weatherbee's plans, shall have been fully
carried out. The profits, above the cost of all improvements and all
operating expenses--which shall include a superintendent's salary of four
thousand dollars a year to said Stuart Emory Foster--to be paid in
semi-annual dividends to said Beatriz Silva Gonzales Weatherbee."
"Stuart Emory Foster," repeated the lawyer meditatively, putting away his
fountain pen. "You evidently have considerable confidence in his
engineering skill, Mr. Tisdale."
"Yes." His voice mellowed, but he regarded the attorney with the upward,
watchful look. "I have confidence in Stuart Emory Foster in every way. He
is not only one of the most capable, reliable mining engineers, but also
one of the most respected and most trusted men in the north."
There was a silence, during which Mr. Bromley thoughtfully folded his copy
and placed it in his pocket-book. "Thank you, Mr. Tisdale," he said
finally, and rose once more. "You may not be called for several days but
when you are, it is advisable that you have the original documents at
hand. Good night."
TISDALE OF ALASKA--AND WASHINGTON, D.C.
It was evident, after his interview with Hollis Tisdale, that Mr. Bromley
was in no hurry to precipitate the side issue for which he had prepared.
Every one who had taken coal land in the Morganstein group had been on the
witness stand, and many more who had not filed claims had given testimony,
yet the prosecution held him in reserve. Then came a day when Lucky Banks,
recalled to tell what he knew about the Chugach trail, made some
astonishing statements. He had traveled that route with a partner at the
end of a season in the Copper River plateau. They had expected to finish
the distance by the new railroad. The little man was brief but graphic. It
seemed to have been a running fight with storms, glaciers, and glacial
torrents to reach that narrow-gauge track before the first real September
blizzard. "But we could have stood it," he concluded in his high key, "my,
yes, it wouldn't have amounted to much, if we could have had firewood."
"Did you not know the fallen timber was at your service?" questioned Mr.
Bromley. "Provided, of course, you conformed to the laws of the reserve in
building your fire and in extinguishing it when you broke camp."
"There wasn't any fallen timber," responded Banks dryly; "and likely we
would have took it green, if there had been a tree in sight. It was
getting mighty cold, nights, and with the frost in his wet clothes, a man
needs a warm supper to hearten him."
"What?" exclaimed Mr. Bromley sharply. "Do you mean you saw no trees?
Remember you were in the Chugach forest; or did you lose your way?"
"No, sir. We struck the Chugach Railway just where we aimed to, but a
mighty lot of the Chugach reserve is out of timber line. That's why we
banked on Foster's new train to hurry us through. But we found she had
quit running. The Government had got wind of the scheme and sent a bunch
of rules and regulations. First came a heavy tax for operating the road;
and next was an order to put spark arresters on all his engines. He only
had two first-class ones and a couple of makeshifts to haul his gravel
cars; and his sparks would have froze, likely, where they lit, but there
he was, tied up on the edge of a fill he had counted on finishing up
before his crew went out for the winter, and the nearest spark arrester
farther off than Christmas."
A ripple of amusement ran through the crowded room, but little Banks stood
waiting frostily. When his glance caught the judge's smile, his eyes
scintillated their blue light. "Likely Foster would have sent his order
out and had those arresters shipped around Cape Horn from New York," he
added. "They'd probably been in time for spring travel; but he opened
another bunch of mail and found there wouldn't be any more sparks.
Washington, D.C., had shut down his coal mine."
Mr. Bromley had no further questions to ask. He seemed preoccupied and
passed the recess that followed the prospector's testimony in pacing the
corridor. Lucky Banks had been suggested as an intelligent and honest
fellow on whom the Government might rely; but his statements failed to
dovetail with his knowledge of Alaska and the case, and after the
intermission Tisdale was called.
The moment he was sworn, Miles Feversham was on his feet. He held in his
hand a magazine, in which during the recess, he had been engrossed, and
his forefinger kept the place.
"I object to this witness," he said sonorously and waited while a stir,
like a gust of wind in a wood, swept the courtroom, and the jury
straightened, alert. "I object, not because he defrauded the widow of
David Weatherbee out of her half interest in the Aurora mine, though,
gentlemen, you know this to be an open fact, but for the reason that he is
a criminal, self-confessed, who should be serving a prison sentence, and a
criminal's testimony is not allowable in a United States court."
Before he finished speaking, or the Court had recovered from the shock,
Mr. Bromley had taken a bundle of papers from his pocket and stepped close
to the jury box.
"This is an infamous fabrication," he exclaimed. "It was calculated to
surprise us, but it finds us prepared. In ten minutes we shall prove it
was planned six months ago to defame the character of the Government's
witness at this trial. I have here, gentlemen, a copy of the Alaska record
showing the transfer of David Weatherbee's interest in the Aurora mine to
Hollis Tisdale; it bears the signature of his wife. But this extract from
Mr. Tisdale's will, which was drawn shortly after his return from Alaska,
last year, and while he was dangerously ill in Washington, proves how far
it was from his intention to defraud the widow of David Weatherbee." Here
Mr. Bromley read the clause.
Tisdale, standing at ease, with his hand resting on his chair, glanced
from the attorney to Foster. No mask covered his transparent face; the
dark circles under his fine, expressive eyes betrayed how nearly
threadbare his hope was worn. Then, suddenly, in the moment he met
Tisdale's look, wonder, swift intelligence, contrition, and the gratitude
of his young, sorely tried spirit flashed from his countenance. To Hollis
it became an illuminated scroll.
"As to the main charge," resumed Mr. Bromley, "that is ridiculous. It is
based on an unfortunate accident to an Indian child years ago. The
distorted yarn was published in a late issue of a sensational magazine. No
doubt, most of you have read it, since it was widely circulated.
Different--isn't it?--from that other story of Mr. Tisdale which came down
from Cascade tunnel. Gentlemen, I have the letter that was enclosed with
the manuscript that was submitted to _Sampson's Magazine_. It was not
written by the author, James Daniels, but by a lady, who had offered to
dispose of the material for him, and who, without his knowledge,
substituted a revised copy."
Miles Feversham had subsided, dumbfounded, into his chair; his
self-sufficiency had deserted him; for a moment the purple color surged in
his face; his chagrin overwhelmed him. But Marcia, seated in the front row
outside the bar, showed no confusion. Her brilliant, compelling eyes were
on her husband. It was as though she wished to reinforce him, and at the
same time convey some urgent, vital thought. He glanced around and,
reading the look, started again to his feet. He began to retract his
denunciation. It was evident he had been misinformed; he offered his
apologies to the witness and asked that the case be resumed. But the
prosecuting attorney, disregarding him, continued to explain. "In the
Daniels' manuscript, gentlemen, a coroner's inquest exonerated the man who
was responsible for the death of the papoose; this the magazine
suppressed. I am able to offer in evidence James Daniels' affidavit."
Then, while the jury gathered these varying ideas in fragments, Lucky
Banks' treble rose. "Let's hear what the lady wrote." And some one at the
back of the courtroom said in a deep voice; "Read the lady's letter."
It seemed inevitable. Mr. Bromley had separated a letter from the bundle
of papers. Involuntarily Marcia started up. But the knocking of the gavel,
sounding smartly, insistently, above the confusion, brought unexpected
"It is unnecessary to further delay this Court with this issue," announced
the judge. "The case before the jury already has dragged through nearly
four weeks, and it should be conducted as expeditiously as possible to a
close. Mr. Bromley, the witness is sustained."
Marcia settled back in her place; Miles Feversham, like a man who has
slipped on the edge of a chasm, sat a moment longer, gripping the arms of
his chair; then his shifting look caught Frederic's wide-eyed gaze of
uncomprehending innocence, and he weakly smiled.
"Mr. Tisdale," began the prosecution, putting aside his papers and
endeavoring to focus his mind again on the case, "you have spent some
years with the Alaska division of the Geological Survey?"
"Every open season and some of the winters for a period of ten years, with
the exception of three which I also spent in Alaska."
"And you are particularly familiar with the locality included in the
Chugach forest reserve, I understand, Mr. Tisdale. Tell us a little about
it. It contains vast reaches of valuable and marketable timber, does it
The genial lines crinkled lightly in Tisdale's face. "The Chugach forest
contains some marketable timber on the lower Pacific slopes," he replied,
"where there is excessive precipitation and the influence of the warm
Japan current, but along the streams on the other side of the divide there
are only occasional growths of scrubby spruce, hardly suitable for
telegraph poles or even railroad ties." He paused an instant then went on
mellowly: "Gifford Pinchot was thousands of miles away; he never had seen
Alaska, when he suggested that the Executive set aside the Chugach forest
reserve. No doubt he believed there was valuable timber on those lofty
peaks and glaciers, but I don't know how he first heard of a Chugach
forest, unless"--he halted again and looked at the jury, while the humor
deepened in his voice--"those Pennsylvania contractors, who were shipping
coal around Cape Horn to supply the Pacific navy, took the chance of there
being trees in those mountains and interested the Government in saving the
timber--to conserve the coal."
A ripple of laughter passed over the jury and on through the courtroom.
Even the presiding judge smiled, and Mr. Bromley hurried to say: "Tell us
something about that Alaska coal, Mr. Tisdale. You have found vast bodies--
have you not?--of a very high grade; to compare favorably with
"The Geodetic Survey estimates there are over eight millions of acres of
coal land already known in Alaska," replied Hollis statistically. "More
than is contained in all Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio combined.
It is of all grades. The Bonnifield near Fairbanks, far in the interior,
is the largest field yet discovered, and in one hundred and twenty-two
square miles of it that have been surveyed, there are about ten billions
of tons. Cross sections show veins two hundred and thirty-one feet thick.
This coal is lignite."
"How about the Matanuska fields?" asked Mr. Bromley.
"The Matanuska cover sixty-five thousand acres; the coal is a high grade
bituminous, fit for steam and coking purposes. There are also some veins
of anthracite. I consider the Matanuska the best and most important coal
yet discovered in Alaska, and with the Bering coal, which is similar
though more broken, these fields should supply the United States for
centuries to come."
Mr. Bromley looked at the jury. His smile said:
"You heard that, gentlemen?" Then, his glance returning to the witness:
"Why the most important?" he asked.
"Because all development, all industry, in the north depends on the
opening up of such a body of coal. And these fields are the most
accessible to the coast. A few hundreds of miles of railroad, the
extension of one or two of the embryo lines on which construction has been
suspended, would make the coal available on Prince William Sound. Used by
the Pacific Navy, it would save the Government a million dollars a year on
The prosecuting attorney looked at the jury again in triumph. "And that,
gentlemen, is why the Prince William Development Company was so ready to
finance one of those embryo railroads; why those Matanuska coal claims
were located by the syndicate's stenographers, bookkeepers, any employee
down here in their Seattle offices. Mr. Tisdale, if those patents had been
allowed and the claims had been turned over to the company, would it not
have given the Morganstein interests a monopoly on Alaska coal?"
Tisdale paused a thoughtful moment. "No, at least only temporarily, if at
all. Out of those eight millions of acres of coal land already discovered
in Alaska, not more than thirty-two thousand acres have been staked--only
one claim, an old and small mine on the coast, has been allowed." His
glance moved slowly over the jury, from face to face, and he went on
evenly: "You can't expect capital to invest without some inducement. The
Northern Pacific, the first trans-continental railroad in the United
States, received enormous land grants along the right of way; but the
Prince William Development Company, which intends ultimately to bridge
distances as vast, to tap the unknown resources of the Alaska interior,
has not asked for concessions, beyond the privilege to develop such
properties as it may have acquired by location and purchase. Surely the
benefit that railroad would be in opening the country to settlement and in
the saving of human life, should more than compensate for those few
hundreds of acres of the Government's coal."
"Mr. Tisdale," said the attorney sharply, "that, in an employee of the
Government, is a strange point of view."
Tisdale's hands sought his pockets; he returned Mr. Bromley's look with
his steady, upward gaze from under slightly frowning brows. "The
perspective changes at close range," he said. "The Government knows less
about its great possession of Alaska than England knew about her American
colonies, one hundred and fifty years ago. The United States had owned
Alaska seventeen years before any form of government was established
there; more than thirty before a criminal code was provided, and
thirty-three years before she was given a suitable code of civil laws.
Now, to-day, there are no laws operative in Alaska under which title may
be acquired to coal land. Alaska has yielded hundreds of millions of
dollars from her placers, her fisheries, and furs, but the only thing the
Government ever did for Alaska was to import reindeer for the use of the
Another ripple of laughter passed through the courtroom; even the judge on
the bench smiled. But Mr. Bromley's face was a study. He began to fear the
effect of Tisdale's astonishing statements on the jury, while at the same
time he was impelled to listen. In the moment he hesitated over a
question, Hollis lifted his head and said mellowly: "The sins of Congress
have not been in commission but in omission. They are under the
impression, far away there in Washington, that Alaska is too bleak, too
barren for permanent settlement; that the white population is a floating
one, made up chiefly of freebooters and outlaws. But we know the
foundations of an empire have been laid there; that, allowed the use of
the fuel Nature has so bountifully stored there and granted a fair measure
of encouragement to transportation, those great inland tundras would be as
populous as Sweden; as progressive as Germany." His glance moved to the
jury; all the nobility, the fineness, the large humanity of the man was
expressed in that moment in his face; a subdued emotion pervaded his
voice. "We know the men who forged a way through that mighty bulwark of
mountains to the interior were brave, resourceful, determined--they had to
be--but, too, they saw a broad horizon; they had patriotism; if there are
any Americans left who have inherited a spark of the old Puritan spirit,
they are the ones who have cast their fortunes with Alaska."
He paused again briefly, and his eyes rested on Foster. "Do you know?" he
resumed, and his glance returned to the prosecuting attorney, "when I came
out last season, I saw a ship at the terminus of the new Copper River and
Northwestern Railroad discharging Australian coal. This with the great
Bering fields lying at their side door! The people of Cordova wanted to
see that road finished; the life of their young seaport depended on it--
but--that night they threw the whole of that cargo of foreign coal into
the waters of Prince William Sound. It is referred to, now, as the
In the silence that held the courtroom, Tisdale stood still regarding the
lawyer. His expression was most engaging, a hint of humor lurked at the
corners of his mouth, yet it seemed to veil a subtle meaning. Then the
jury began to laugh quietly, with a kind of seriousness, and again the
judge straightened, checking a smile. It was all very disturbing to Mr.
Bromley. He had been assured by one high in the administration that he
might rely on Tisdale's magnetic personality and practical knowledge as
well as his technical information in prosecuting the case; but while he
hesitated over the question he wished to ask, Tisdale said mellowly, no
doubt to bridge the awkward pause: "The Copper River and Northwestern
couldn't mine their coal, and they couldn't import any, so they changed
their locomotives to oil burners."
Then Mr. Bromley said abruptly: "This is all very interesting, Mr.
Tisdale, but it is the Chugach Railway and not the Copper River
Northwestern, that bears on our case. You have been over that route, I
"Yes." Tisdale's voice quickened. "I used the roadbed going to and from
the Matanuska Valley. Also I went over the proposed route once with Mr.
Foster and the civil engineers."
"Was it, in your opinion, a bona fide railroad, Mr. Tisdale? Or simply a
lure to entice people to make coal locations in order that they might be
bought after the patents were issued?"
"It was started in good faith." The steel rang, a warning note, in his
voice. "The largest stockholder had spent nearly a hundred thousand
dollars in opening his coal claim. He was in need of immediate
"This was after the Chugach Company consolidated with the Prince William
syndicate, Mr. Tisdale?"
"No, sir. It was previous to that time. The Chugach Railway and
Development Company had chosen one of the finest harbors in Alaska for a
terminus. It was doubly protected from the long Pacific swell by the
outer, precipitous shore of Prince William Sound. But their greatest
engineering problem met them there at the start. It was necessary to cross
a large glacier back of the bay. There was no possible way to build around
it; the only solution was a bore under the ice. The building of such a
tunnel meant labor and great expense. And it was not a rich company; it
was made up principally of small stockholders, young men, just out of
college some of them, who had gone up there with plenty of enthusiasm and
courage to invest in the enterprise, but very little money. They did their
own assessment work, dug like any coal miners with pick and shovel, cut
and carried the timbers to brace their excavations under Mr. Foster's
instructions. And when construction commenced on the railroad, they came
down to do their stunt at packing over the glacier--grading began from the
upper side--and sometimes they cut ties."
"And meantime," said the attorney brusquely, "Mr. Foster, who was
responsible I believe, was trying to interest other capital to build the
"Yes. And meantime, the Prince William syndicate started a parallel
railroad to the interior from the next harbor to the southwestward. It was
difficult to interest large capital with competition so close." Tisdale
paused; his glance moved from Mr. Bromley to the jury, his voice took its
minor note. "Stuart Foster did hold himself responsible to those young
fellows. He had known most of them personally in Seattle; they were a
picked company for the venture. He had youth and courage himself, in those
days, but he knew Alaska--he had been there before and made good. He had
their confidence. He was that kind of man; one to inspire trust on sight,
anywhere." Hollis paused another instant, while his eyes turned to Foster,
and involuntarily, one after the other, the jury followed his look. "It
was then," he added, "when other capital failed, the Chugach Company gave
up their seaport and consolidated with the Prince William syndicate."
"Thank you, Mr. Tisdale," said the attorney for the prosecution. "That is
Miles Feversham had, as Frederic afterward expressed it, "caught his
second wind." While he listened attentively to the testimony, he made some
sweeping revisions in his notes for the argument which he was to open the
following day. He laughed at, while he congratulated himself, that the
Government's star witness, of whom he had been so afraid, should have
proved so invaluable to the defense. And when court adjourned, and the
trio went down the steps to the street, he assured his brother-in-law
there was a chance for him to escape, under Foster's cloak. To Marcia he
said jocularly, though still in an undertone: "'Snatched like a brand from
the burning!'" And he added: "My lady, had you consulted me, I should have
suggested the April issue. These magazines have a bad habit of arriving
Frederic, released from the long day's strain, did not take this
facetiousness meekly, but Marcia was silent. For once the "brightest
Morganstein" felt her eclipse. But while they stood on the curb, waiting
for the limousine to draw up, a newsboy called: "All about the Alaska
bill! Home Rule for Alaska!"
The special delegate bought a copy, and Marcia drew close to his elbow
while they scanned the message together. It was true. The bill, to which
they both had devoted their energies that season in Washington, had
passed. Feversham folded the paper slowly and met his wife's brilliant
glance. It was as though she telegraphed: "Now, the President must name a
THE OTHER DOCUMENT
The argument, which Miles Feversham opened with unusual brilliancy the
following morning, was prolonged with varying degrees of heat to the close
of another week; then the jury, out less than two hours, brought in their
verdict of "Not Guilty."
And that night, for the first time since Tisdale's return, Foster climbed
to the eyrie in the Alaska building. "I came up to thank you, Hollis," he
began in his straightforward way. "It was breakers ahead when you turned
the tide. But," he added after a pause, "what will the President think of
Tisdale laughed softly. "He heard most of them before I left Washington,
and this is what he thinks."
As he spoke, he took a letter from the table which he gave to Foster. It
bore the official stamp and was an appointment to that position which
Miles Feversham had so confidently hoped, with Marcia's aid, to secure.
"Well, that shows the President's good judgment!" Foster exclaimed and
held out his hand. "You are the one man broad enough to fit the place."
After a moment he said, "But it is going to leave you little time to
devote to your own affairs. How about the Aurora?"
Tisdale did not reply directly. He rose and walked the length of the
floor. "That depends," he said and stopped with his hands in his pockets
to regard Foster with the upward, appraising look from under knitting
brows. "I presume, Stuart, you are through with the syndicate?"
Foster colored. "I put in my resignation as mining engineer of the company
shortly after I came out, at the beginning of the year."
"And while you were in the interior," pursued Tisdale, "you were sent to
the Aurora to make a report. What did you think of the mine?"
"I thought Frederic Morganstein would be safe in bonding the property if
he could interest you in selling; it looked better to me than even Banks'
strike in the Iditarod. This season's clean-up should justify Weatherbee."
"You mean in staying on at the risk of his reason and life?"
Foster nodded; a shadow crossed his open face. "I mean everything but--his
neglect to make final provision for his wife."
Tisdale frowned. "There is where you make your mistake. Weatherbee
persisted as he did, in the face of defeat, for her sake."
Foster laughed mirthlessly. "The proofs are otherwise. Look at things,
once, from her side," he broke out. "Think what it means to her to see you
realizing, from a few hundred dollars you could easily spare, this big
fortune. I know you've been generous, but after all, of what benefit to
her is a bequest in your will, when now she has absolutely nothing but
that hole in the Columbia desert? Face it, be reasonable; you always have
been in every way but this. I don't see how you can be so hard, knowing
her now as you do."
Tisdale turned to the window. "I have not been as hard as you think," he
said. "But it was necessary, in order to carry out Weatherbee's plans, to--
do as I did."
"That's the trouble." Foster rose from his chair and went a few steps
nearer Tisdale. "You are the sanest man in the world in every way but one.
But you can't think straight when it comes to Weatherbee. There is where
the north got its hold on you. Can't you see it? Look at it through my
eyes, or any one's. You did for David Weatherbee what one man in a
thousand might have done. And you've interested Lucky Banks in that
reclamation project; you've gone on yourself with his developments at the
Aurora. But there's one thing you've lost sight of--justice to Beatriz
Weatherbee. You've done your best for him, but he is dead. Hollis, old
man, I tell you he is dead. And she is living. You have sent her, the
proudest, sweetest woman on God's earth, to brave out her life in that
sage-brush wilderness. Can't you see you owe something to her?"
Tisdale did not reply. But presently he went over to his safe and took out
the two documents that were fastened together. This time it was the will
he returned to its place; the other paper he brought to Foster. "I am
going to apologize for my estimate of Mrs. Weatherbee the night you sailed
north," he said. "My judgment then, before I had seen her, was unfair; you
were right. But I could hardly have done differently in any case. There
was danger that she would dispose of a half interest in the Aurora at
once, at any low price Frederic Morganstein might name. And you know the
syndicate's methods. I did not want a Morganstein partnership. But, later,
at the time I had my will drawn, I saw this way."
Foster took the document, but he did not read it immediately; he stood
looking at Tisdale. "So you too were afraid of him. But I knew nothing
about Lucky Banks' option. It worried me, those endless nights up there in
the Iditarod, to think that in her extremity she might marry Frederic
Morganstein. There was a debt that pressed her. Did you know about that?"
"Yes. She called it a 'debt of honor.'"
"And you believed, as I did, that it was a direct loan to cover personal
expenses. After I came home, I found out she borrowed the money originally
of Miss Morganstein, to endow a bed in the children's hospital. Think of
it! And Mrs. Feversham, who took it off her sister's hands, transferred
the note to Morganstein."
Tisdale did not say anything, but his rugged face worked a little, and he
turned again to look out into the night. Foster moved nearer the
reading-lamp and unfolded the document. It was a deed conveying, for a
consideration of one dollar, a half interest in the Aurora mine to Beatriz
Silva Gonzales Weatherbee; provided said half interest be not sold, or
parceled, or in any way disposed of for a period of five years. Her share
of the profits above operating expenses was to be paid in semi-annual
dividends, and, as in the will, Stuart Emory Foster was named as trustee.
Foster folded the document slowly. His glance moved to Tisdale, and his
eyes played every swift change from contrition to gratitude. Hollis
turned. "I want you to take the management of the whole mine," he said
mellowly. "At a salary of five thousand a year to start with. And as soon
as you wish, you may deliver this deed."