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Vanguards of the Plains by Margaret McCarter

Part 6 out of 6

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beside him always--to have him safe with us again."

As I turned to look at Eloise something was in her big, dark
eyes--something that disappeared at once. I caught only a fleeting
glimpse of it, and I could not understand why a thrill of something near
to happiness should sweep through me. It was but the shadow of what
might have been for me and was not.

"Do you recall our prophecies here that night when we were children?"
Eloise asked.

"Yes, every one. Mat wanted a home, Bev to fight the Indians, and you
wanted me to keep Marcos Ramero in his place. I tried to do it," I

And both of us recalled, but did not speak of, the warm, childish kiss
of Little Lees upon my lips, and how we gripped hands in the shadows
when the moon went cold and grey. Life was so simple then.

"It may be, if our problems and our tragedies crowd into our younger
years, they clear the way for all the bright, unclouded years to
follow," Eloise said, as we rose to go back to the camp-fire.

"I hope they will leave us strong to meet the bright, unclouded years,"
I answered her.

On the next day the cavalrymen left us for a time, and we went on alone
southward toward our journey's end.

Autumn on the mountain slopes, and in the mesa-girdled valleys of New
Mexico hung rainbow-tinted lights by day, with star-beam pointed paths
trailing across the blue night-sky. And all the rugged beauty of a
picturesque land, basking in lazy warmth, out-breathing sweet, pure air,
made the old trail to Santa Fe an enchanting highway to me, despite the
burden of a grief that weighed me down. For I could not shut from my
mind the pitiful call of Little Blue Flower that had come to Eloise, nor
all the uncertainty surrounding my cousin somewhere in the Southwest
wanting us.

The little city of adobe walls seemed not to have changed a hair's turn
in the six years since I had seen it last. Out beyond the sandy arroyo
again Father Josef waited for us. The same strong face and dark eyes,
full of fire, the same erect form and manly bearing were his. Except for
a few streaks of gray in his close-cropped hair the years had wrought no
change in him, save that his countenance betokened the greater
benediction of a godly life upon it. As we rode slowly to the door of
San Miguel I fell behind. The years since that day when the saucy little
girl had called me a big, brown, bob-cat here came back upon my mind,
and, though my hope had vanished, still I loved the old church.

Before we had passed the doorway Eloise left her wagon and stood beside
my horse.

"Gail, let us stop here with Father Josef while the others go down to
Felix Narveo's. It always seems so peaceful here."

"You are always welcome here, my children," Father Josef said,
graciously, as I leaped from my horse and stuck its lariat pin down
beside the doorway.

Inside there were the same soft lights from the high windows, the same
rare old paintings about the altar, the same seat beside the door.

The priest spoke to us in low tones befitting sanctuary stillness. "You
have come on a long journey, but it is one of mercy. I only pray you do
not come too late," he said.

"Tell us about it, Father," Eloise urged. "The men will get the story
from Felix Narveo, but Gail and I seem to belong up here." She smiled up
at me with the words.

I could have almost hoped anew just then, but for the thought of

"Let us pray first," the holy man replied.

Beverly and I had been confirmed in the Episcopalian faith once long
ago, but the plains were hard on the religion of a high-church man. And
yet, all sacred forms are beautiful to me, and I always knew what
reverence means.

"You may not know," Father Josef said, "that I have Indian blood in my
veins--a Hopi strain from some French ancestors. Po-a-be, our Little
Blue Flower, is my heathen cousin, descended from the same chief's
daughter. The Hopi's faith is a part of him, like his hand or eye, and I
have never gained much with the tribe save through blood-ties. But
because of that I have their confidence."

"You have all men's confidence, Father Josef," I said, warmly.

"Thank you, my son," the priest replied. "When Santan, the Apache, came
back from a long raid eastward, he told Little Blue Flower that Beverly
had spared his life beside a poisoned spring in the Cimarron valley,
urging him to go back and marry her; life had other interests now to
white men who must forget all about Indian girls, he declared, and with
Apache adroitness he pressed his claims upon her. But Santan had slain
Sister Anita beside the San Christobal Arroyo. A murderer is abhorrent
to a Hopi, who never takes life, save in self-defense or in legitimate
warfare--if warfare ever is legitimate," he added, gravely.

"My little cousin was heart-broken, for all the years since her rescue
at Pawnee Rock she had cherished one face in memory; and maybe Beverly
in his happy, careless way had given her cause to do so."

"We understand, I think," Eloise said, turning inquiringly to me.

I nodded, and Father Josef went on. "She knew her love was foolish, but
few of us are always wise in love. So Santan's suit seemed promising for
a time. But the Hopi type ran true in her, and she put off the Apache
year after year. It is a strange case in Indian romance, but romance
everywhere is strange enough. The Apache type also ran true to dogged
purpose. Besides being an Apache, Santan has some Ramero blood in his
veins, to be accounted for in the persistence of an evil will. He was
as determined to win Po-a-be as she that he should fail. And he was
cunning in his schemes."

Father Josef paused and looked at Eloise.

"To make the story short," he began again, "Santan could not make the
Hopi woman hate Beverly, although she knew that her love was hopeless,
as it should be. Pardon me, daughter," Father Josef said, gently. "She
heard you two talking in a little porch one night at the Clarenden home,
and she has believed ever since that you are lovers. That is why she
sent for you to come to help her now."

"I saw Beverly give Little Blue Flower a brotherly kiss that night, and
I told him, frankly, how it grieved me, because I had known at St. Ann's
about her love for him. I had urged her to go with me to the
Clarendens', hoping that when she saw Beverly again she would quit
dreaming of him."

I looked away, at the paintings and the crucifix above the altar, and
the long shafts of light on gray adobe walls, wondering, vaguely, what
the next act of this drama might reveal.

"Beverly was always lovable," Father Josef said. "But now the message
comes that he is out in the heart of Hopi-land, and because Little Blue
Flower is protecting him her people may turn against her. For Beverly's
sake, and for her sake, too, my daughter, we must start at once to find
her and maybe save his life. She wants you. It is the call of
sisterhood. Sister Gloria and I will go with you. I have much influence
with my Hopi people."

"Will they put Beverly to death?" I asked.

"I cannot tell, but--see how long the arm of hate can be, my
son--Santan, the Apache, has been informed of Beverly's coming by Marcos
Ramero, gambler and debauchee. And Marcos got it in some way from
Charlie Bent, a Cheyenne half-breed, son of old Colonel Bent, a fine old
gentleman. Maybe you knew young Bent?"

"Yes, he holds a grudge against the Clarenden name because we made him
play square with us at the old fort when we were children," I told the
priest. "He yelled defiance at us in the battle on the Prairie Dog Creek
last August. Bev shot his horse from under him just to humble the
insolent dog! Beverly never was a coward," I insisted, all my affection
for my cousin overwhelming me.

"This makes it clearer," Father Josef said. "Through Bent to Ramero and
Ramero to Santan, the word went, somehow. The Apache has gathered up a
band of the worst of his breed and they are moving against the Hopis to
get Beverly. You and Jondo and Clarenden and Krane will join the little
squad of cavalry you left up in the mountains, and turn the Apache back,
and all of us must start at once, or we may be too late. May heaven
bless our hands and make them strong."

We bowed in reverence for a moment. When we hurried from the dim church
into the warm October sunlight, Aunty Boone sat on the door-step beside
my horse.

"'He's jus' gone out,' I told 'em so, back there on the Missouri River.
He's gone out an' I'm goin', hot streaks, to find him, Little Lees.



And though there's never a grave to tell,
Nor a cross to mark his fall,
Thank God! we know that he "batted well"
In the last great Game of all.


We left Santa Fe within an hour, and struck out toward the unknown land
where Beverly Clarenden, in the midst of uncertain friends, was being
hunted down by an Apache band. As our little company passed out on the
trail toward Agua Fria, I recalled the day when we had gone with Rex
Krane to this little village beside the Santa Fe River. Eloise and
Father Josef and Santan and Little Blue Flower were all there that day;
and Jondo, although we did not know it then. Rex Krane had told Beverly,
going out, that an Indian never forgets. In all the years Santan had not

To-day we covered the miles rapidly. Jondo and Father Josef rode ahead,
with Esmond Clarenden and Felix Narveo following them; then came Eloise
St. Vrain with Sister Gloria; behind them, Aunty Boone, with Rex and
myself bringing up the rear. Three pack-mules bearing our equipment
went tramping after us with bobbing ears and sturdy gait.

I looked down the line of our little company ahead. The four men in the
lead were college chums once, and all of them had loved the mother of
the girl behind them. I have said the girl looked best by twilight. I
had not seen her in a coarse-gray riding-dress when I said that. I had
seen her when she needed protection from her enemies. I had not seen her
until to-day, going out to meet hardship fearlessly, for the sake of one
who wanted her--only an Indian maiden, but a faithful friend. In the
plainest face self-forgetfulness puts a beauty all its own. That beauty
shone resplendent now in the beautiful face of Mary Marchland's

The world can change wonderfully in sixty minutes. As we rode out toward
the Rio Grande, the yellow sands, the gray gramma grass, the purple
sage, the tall green cliffs, and, high above, the gleaming snow-crowned
peaks, took on a beauty never worn for me before. Why should a hope
spring up within me that would die as other hopes had died? But back of
all my thought was the longing to help Beverly, and a faith in Aunty
Boone's weird, prophetic grip on things unseen. He had just "gone out"
to her--why not to all of us? I could not understand Little Blue
Flower's part in this tragedy, so I let it alone.

A day out from Santa Fe we were joined by the little squad of cavalrymen
with whom we had parted company back at the Fort Bent camping-place.
With these we had little cause to dread personal danger. The Apache band
was a small, vicious gang that could do much harm to the Hopis, but it
seemed nothing for us to fear.

Our care was to reach Beverly before the Hopis should rise up against
Little Blue Flower, or the band led by Santan should fall upon them.
Father Josef had sent a runner on to tell them of our coming and to warn
them of the Apache raid. But runners sometimes come to grief.

It is easy enough now to sleep most of the hours away across the and
lands that lie between the Rockies and the Coast Range mountains, where
the great "through limiteds," swinging down their long trail of steel,
sweep farther in one day than we crept in two long, weary weeks in that
October fifty years ago. Only Father Josef's unerring Indian accuracy
brought us through.

We crawled up rugged mountain trails and skirted the rims of dizzy
chasms; we wound through canons, with only narrow streams for paths,
between sheer walls of rock; we pitched our camp at the bases of great,
red sand stone mesas, barren of life; we followed long, yellow ways over
stretches of unending plain; we wandered in the painted-desert lands,
where all the colors God has made bewilder with their beauty, in the
barest, dreariest, most unlovely bit of unfinished world that our great
continent holds; the lands forgotten, maybe, when, in Creation's busy
week, the evening and the morning were the sixth day, and the Great
Builder looked on His work and called it good.

We found the Hopi trails, but not the Hopi clan that we were seeking. We
found Apache trails behind them, but only dimly marked, as if they blew
one moccasin track full of sand before they made another.

The October days were dreams of loveliness, and dawn and sunset on the
desert were indescribably beautiful. But the nights were bitterly cold.
Eloise and Sister Gloria were native to the Southwest and they knew how
to dress warmly for it. Aunty Boone had never felt such chilling night
breezes, but not one word of complaint came from her lips in all that

One night we gathered into camp beneath the shelter of a little butte.
We had overtaken Father Josef's Indian runner an hour before. He had not
found the Hopis yet, and so we held a council.

"The Hopi is ahead of us northwest," the Indian declared.

"Is the Apache following?" Jondo asked.

The runner nodded. "They have been pursued, but they have slipped away;
the Apache goes north, they turn north-west. They take the dry lands and
the pine forests beyond; their last chance. If they hold out till the
Apache leaves, they will return safely. You follow them, wait for them,
or go back without them. It is your choice."

We turned toward the three women, one in the bloom of her young
womanhood, one with the patient endurance of the nun, one black and
strong and always unafraid.

"I do not want to leave Little Blue Flower in her hour of peril," Eloise

"I can go where I am needed," Sister Gloria declared.

"This is my land, I never know Africa was right out here. I thought they
was oceans on both sides of it. I go where Bev's gone out an then I come
here and stay. Whoo-ee!"

We smiled at her mistaken dream of her far African home, and, cheering
one another on, when morning came we moved northwest.

Jondo rode beside me all that day, and we talked of many things.

"Gail," he said, "Aunty Boone is right. This is her Africa. I don't
believe she will ever leave it."

"She can't stay here, Jondo," I replied.

"She will, though. You will see. Did she ever fail to have her way?"

"No. She is a type of her own, never to be reproduced, but like a great
dog in her faithful loyalty," I declared.

"And shrewder than most men," Jondo went on. "She supplied the lost link
with Santan for me last night. Years ago, when Little Blue Flower
brought me a message from Father Josef on the morning that we took
Eloise from Santa Fe, I caught a glimpse of the Apache across the plaza
and read the message--_'trust the bearer anywhere'_--to mean that boy.
Aunty Boone had just peered out and scared the little girl away. She
told me all about it last night, when she was bewailing Beverly's hard
fate. How small a thing can open the road to a big tragedy. I trusted
that whelp till that day at San Christobal."

"I hope we will finish this soon," I said. "I don't understand Beverly
at all and I marvel at Little Blue Flower's love for him. Don't you?"

Jondo looked up with a pathos in his dark-blue eyes.

"Don't hurry, Gail. The trails all end somewhere soon. Life is a
stranger thing from day to day, but the one thing that no man will ever
fully understand is a woman's love for man. There is only one thing
higher, and that is mother-love."

"The kind that you and Uncle Esmond have," I said.

"Oh, I am only a man, but Clarenden has a woman's heart, as you and
Beverly and my sister's child all know."

"Your sister's child?" I gasped.

"Yes. When her parents went with yellow fever, too, I could not adopt
Mat--you know why. Clarenden did it for me. She has always known that I
am her uncle, but Mat was always a self-contained child."

I loved Mat more than ever from that hour.

The next day our trail ran into pine forests, where tall, shapely trees
point skyward. Not a dense woodland, but a seemingly endless one. Snows
lay in the darker places, and here and there streams trickled out into
the sunlight, whose only sources were these melting snows. It was a
land of silence and loneliness--a land forgotten or unknown to record.
The Hopi trail was stronger here and we followed it eagerly, but night
overtook us early in the forest.

That evening we gathered about a huge fire of pine boughs beneath a low
stone ridge covered with evergreen trees that sheltered us warmly from
the sharp west winds. We heard the cries of night-roving beasts, and in
the darkness, now and then, a pair of gleaming eyes, seen for an
instant, and then the rush of feet, told us that some wild creature had
looked for the first time on fire.

"To-morrow night will see our journey's end," Jondo declared. "The Hopi
can't be far away, and I'm sure they are safe yet, and we shall reach
them before the Apache does."

The Indian runner's face did not change its blankness, but I felt that
he doubted Jondo's judgment. That night he slipped away and we never saw
him again.

We were all hopeful that night, and hopeful the next morning when we
broke camp early. A trail we had not seen the night before ran up the
low ridge to the west of us. Eloise and I followed it up a little way,
riding abreast. The ridge really was a narrow, rocky tableland, and
beyond it was another higher slope, up which the same trail ran. The
trees were growing smaller and the sky flowed broad and blue above their
tops. The ground was only rock, with a thin veneer of soil here and
there. Gnarled, stunted cedars and gray, twisted cypress clung for a
roothold to these barren ledges. The morning breeze swept, sharp and
invigorating, out of a broad open space beyond the edge of this rocky
woodland height. Eloise and I pushed on a little farther, leaving the
others still on the narrow shelf above our camping-place.

Suddenly, as we rode out of the closer timber to where the scattered
growths were hardly higher than our heads, the first heaven and the
first earth seemed to pass away--not in irreverence I write it--and we
stood face to face with a new heaven and a new earth--where, in the
Grand Canon of the Colorado River, the sublimity of the Almighty
Builder's beauty and omnipotence was voiced in one stupendous Word,
wrought in enduring color in everlasting stone. Cleaving its way
westward to some far-off sea, a wide abyss, a dozen miles across from
lip to lip, yawned down to the very vitals of the earth. We stood upon
the rim of it--a sheer cliff that dropped a thousand feet of solid
limestone, in one plummet line, to other cliffs below, that dropped
again through furlongs of black gneiss, red sandstone, and gray granite.

Beyond this mighty chasm great forest trees were, to our eyes, only as
weeds along its rim. Between that rim and ours we could look down upon
high mountain buttes and sloping red tablelands, and dizzy gorges with
pinnacled walls and towers and domes--vast forms no pen will ever
picture--not hurled in wild confusion by titan fury, but symmetrical and
purposeful and calm.

Through slowly crawling millions of patiently wearing years, while stars
grew old and perished from the firmament, with cloud, and frost, and
wind, and water, and sharp cutting sands, these strata of the old
earth's crust were chiseled into gigantic outlines, and all the
worn-down, crumbled atoms of debris were swept through long, tortuous
leagues of distance toward the sea by a mad river swirling through the
lowest depths. A mile straight down, as the crow never flies here, it
rushes, but to us the river was a mere creek, seen only where the lower
gorges open to the channel.

In the early light of that October morning the weird, vast shapes that
filled, the abyss were bathed in a bewildering opulence of color. Pale
gold along the farther rim, with pink and amber, blue and gray, and
heliotrope and rose--all blending softly, tone on tone. Deeper, the
heart of every rift and chasm that flows into the one stupendous
mother-rift was full of purple shadows. Not the thin lavender of the
upper world where we must live, but tensely, richly regal, beyond words
to paint; with silvery mists above, soft, filmy veils that draped the
jutting rocks and rounded each harsh edge, melting pink to rose and gray
to violet. Eternal silence brooded over all this symbol, wrought in
visible form, of His Almightiness, to whom a thousand years are as a
day, and in the hollow of whose hand He holds the universe. Measureless,
motionless, voiceless, it seemed as if all the canons of all the
mountains of our great contienent might have given to it here
their awful depth and height and rugged strength; their picturesqueness,
color, graceful outlines, dizzy steeps and awe-inspiring lengths and
breadths. And fusing all these into itself, height on height, and
breadth on breadth, entrancing charm on charm, with all the hues that
the Great Alchemist can throw from His vast prism, it seemed to say:

"'Twas only in a vision that St. John saw the four-square city whose
twelve gates are each a single pearl! whose walls are builded on
foundation stones of jasper, sapphire, and chalcedony, emerald and
topaz, chrysolite and amethyst; whose streets are of pure gold, like
unto clear glass; whose light is ever like unto a stone most precious.

"To you who may not dream the vision beautiful, the Mighty Maker of all
things sublime has given me a token here in finite stone and earthly
coloring of that undreamed sublimity of all things omnipotent."

My companion and I sat on our horses speechless, gazing down at this
overwhelming marvel below us. We forgot ourselves, each other, our
companions of the journey, its purpose, Beverly, and his enemy Santan,
the desert, the brown plains, green prairies, rivers, mountains, the
earth itself, as we stood there in the shadow of the Infinite.

At last we turned and looked into each other's eyes for one long moment.
In its space we read the old, old story through, and a great,
up-leaping joy illumined our faces. God, who had let us know each
other, had let us stand by _this_ to feel the barrier of
misunderstanding fall away.

* * * * *

A sound of horses' hoofs on the rocky slope below us, a weird Indian
call, and a great shout from our calverymen drew us to earth
again. The Hopis were coming. Father Josef knew the signal. Our Indian
runner had found them in the night and sent them toward us. We dashed
into the forest, keeping close together; and here, a mile away, under
green pines, surrounded by a little group of a desert Hopi clan, was
Beverly Clarenden--big, strong, unhurt and joyful. And Little Blue

The years since that far night when I had seen two maidens in Grecian
robes beside the Flat Rock in the "Moon of the Peach Blossom," had left
no trace on Eloise St. Vrain, save to imprint the graces of womanliness
on her girlish face. But the picturesque Indian maiden of that night
looked aged and sorrowful in the pine forest of her native land, bent,
as she was, with the dull existence of her own people; she, who had
known and loved a different form of life. Only the big, luminous eyes
held their old charm.

We came together in a little open space with pine-trees all about us.
The minutes went swiftly then--and I must hurry to what came hurrying
on, for much of it is lost in mist and wonder.

In the moment of glad reunion Aunty Boone suddenly gave a whoop the
like of which I had never heard before, and, dashing wildly toward
Eloise and Sister Gloria, she drove them in a fierce charge straight
back into the shelter of the pine-trees.

At the same time a sudden rain of bullets, like a swift hail-storm, and
a yell--the Apache cry of vengeance--filled the air. Long afterward we
learned that our Indian runner had met this band and tried to turn it
back--and failed. He would have saved us if he could.

It was over soon--that encounter in the forest where each tree was a
shield. The cavalrymen and maybe, too, we who had been plainsmen, knew
how to drive back a villianous handful of Apaches. In any other
moment since we had ridden out of Sante Fe we would have laughed
at such a struggle. They took us in the most unguarded instant of that
fortnight's journey.

The Hopis fled wildly out of sight. Here and there, from the defeated,
scattered band, an Apache warrior sprang back and lost himself quickly
in the shadows. But Santan, plunging into our very midst, seized Little
Blue Flower in his iron grip, and the bullet from a cavalry carbine,
meant for him, struck her.

He laughed and threw her back and, whirling, dashed--into the arms of
Aunty Boone--and stopped.

We carried our wounded tenderly up the steep wooded slope and out into
the sweet sunlight of its crest, where we laid them down beside that
wondrous rift with its shimmering mist and velvet shadows, and colorings
of splendor, folded all in the magnificence of its immensity and its
eternal silence.

We knew that Jondo's wound was mortal, and Father Josef and Eloise and
Rex Krane sat beside him, as the brave eyes looked out across the
sublimity of earthly beauty toward the far land no eye hath seen,
facing, unafraid, the outward-leading trail.

But Beverly was in the prime of young manhood, and we felt sure of him,
as Esmond Clarenden and Sister Gloria; and I ministered to his wants.

"It's no use, Gail." My cousin lifted a pleading face to mine a moment,
as on that day, years ago on the parade-ground at Fort Leavenworth. Then
the bright smile came back to stay.

"Why, Bev, you have a life before you, and you aren't the only
Eighteenth Kansas man who deserted. We can pull you through somehow--and
people will forget. Even General Sheridan was willing to send a squad
with us, on the possibility of a mistake somewhere."

"Deserted!" Beverly's voice was too strong for a dying man's. "Uncle
Esmond, Jondo, Eloise--all of you--Gail calls me a deserter. Me! Knock
him over that precipice, won't some of you?"

We listened eagerly as he went on:

"Why, don't you know that Charlie Bent and his renegade dogs crawled
into camp like snakes and carried me out by force. They had a time of
it, too, but never mind. Bent told me he left a note for you. I supposed
he would say I was dead. And when Gail stirred, half awake, he went
pacing around the camp, looking so near like me I thought it was myself
and I was Charlie Bent. I was roped and gagged then, but I could see.
Deserter! I'm glad I got that white horse of his on the Prairie Dog
Creek, anyhow."

Beverly's face paled suddenly and he lay still a little while.

"I'd better hurry." The smile was winsome. "They didn't give me a ghost
of a chance to escape, but they didn't harm a hair. They kept me for a
meaner purpose, and, well, I was landed, finally, at Santan's door-step
in the Apache-land. Santan offered to let me go free if I'd persuade
Little Blue Flower--dead down there--to marry him. He had her come to me
on pretense of my sending for her. She hated the brute, and she was a
woman, if she was an Indian. I told him I'd see him in hell first, and I
told her never to give in. Poor girl! It was a cruel test, but Santan
knew how to be cruel. He said he'd fix me, and I guess he has done it."

"Oh no, Bev. You are good for a century," I declared, affectionately,
holding his head on my knee.

"Little Blue Flower managed, somehow, to fool the Apache dog, and we
escaped and got away to her people," Beverly continued, speaking more
slowly, "then she sent word to Father Josef. But the Hopi folks were
scared about the Apaches coming against them on account of harboring
me, like a Jonah, among 'em; and they were going to make it hard for
Little Blue Flower. I don't know heathen ethics in such things, but a
handful of us had to cut for it. I'm no deserter, though. Don't forget
that. As soon as I could be sure the little Indian woman's life was safe
I was going to get away and come home. I could not leave her to be
sacrificed after she had saved me from Santan's scalping-knife."

Beverly paused and looked at us. His voice seemed weaker when he spoke

"I thought, sometimes, that even if I wasn't to blame for it, I ought to
take Little Blue Flower with me when I got away. Dear little girl! she
gave me one smile and whispered _'Lolomi'_ before she went just now. I
told her long ago I was just everybody's friend. I never meant to spoil
anybody's life, and I can meet her down at the end of the trail and
never fear."

Just then a half-wailing, half-purring cry came from Aunty Boone, who
was standing beside a gnarled cypress-tree.

"I knowed the morning we picked up Little Blue Flower, back at Pawnee
Rock, we was pickin' up trouble for the rest of the trail. I see it
then. You can trust a nigger 'cause they never no 'count, but you don't
know what you gettin' when you trust an Indian. But, Cla'nden, that
Apache Indian, Santan, ain't goin' to trouble you no more. When the
world ain't no fit place for folks they needs helpin' out of it, and I
sees to it they gets it, too. Whoo-ee!" She paused and leaned against
the crooked cypress. Half turning her face toward us, she continued in a
clear, soft voice:

"That man they call Ramero down in Santy Fee--I knowed him when he was
just Fred Ramer back in the rice-fields country. His father, old man
Ramer, tried to kill me once, 'cause he said I knowed too much. I helped
him into kingdom come right then and saved a lot of misery. They blamed
some other folks, I guess, but they never hunted me up at all. Good-by,
Clan'den, and you, too, Felix, and Dick Verra. I've knowed you all these
years, but nobody takes no 'count of niggers' knowin's. Good-by, Little
Lees, and all you boys. I'll see you again pretty soon, I'm goin' back
to my desset now. It's over yonder just a little way. Jondo--but you
won't be John Doe then. Whoo-ee!"

Aunty Boone slowly settled down beside the cypress, with her face toward
her beloved "desset," and when we went to her a little later, her eyes,
still looking eastward, saw nothing earthly any more forever.

Jondo's face seemed glorified as he caught Aunty Boone's last words, and
his voice was sweet and clear as he looked up at Eloise bending over

"Thank God! It is all made right at last. Eloise, the charge of murder
against your father's name would have broken the heart of the woman that
I always loved--your mother. One of us had to bear the shame. I took the
guilt on myself for her sake--and for yours. I have walked the trails
of my life a nameless man, but I have kept my soul clean in God's sight,
and I know His name will soon be written on my forehead over there."

He gazed out toward the glorious beauty of the view beyond him, then
closed his eyes, and, bravely as he had lived, so bravely he went forth
on the Long Trail, leaving a name sweet with the perfume of
self-sacrifice and love.

We did not speak of him to Beverly, for our boy had suddenly grown
restless, and his blood was threshing furiously in his veins, and he was
in pain, but only briefly.

Presently he said, "Let us be alone a little." The others drew away.

"Lean down, Gail. I want to tell you something." He smiled sweetly upon
me as I bent over him.

"I tried to tell you back on the Smoky Hill, but I'd promised not to.
And honor was something to me still. But I'm going pretty soon. So
listen! I loved Eloise always--always. But she never cared for me. She
was only my good chum. I've been too happy-hearted all my days, though,
Gail, to make a cross of anything that would break me down. Men differ
so, you know, and I never was a dreamer like you. Turn me a little,
won't you, so that I can see that awful beauty down there."

I lifted his shoulders gently and placed him where his eyes could rest
on the majestic scene spread out before him.

"Eloise loves you, but she thinks you would not marry her because they
say her father was a murderer. I don't believe that, Gail. I told her
that you didn't, either, not one little minute. You care for her, I
know, and losing her will break your heart. I tried to tell you long
ago, but Little Lees made me promise not to say a word that night at
Burlingame when you had gone away and I thought maybe I had a
half-chance with her. Tell me you'll make her happy, Gail."

"Oh, Beverly, I'll do my best," I murmured, softly.

"Come closer, Gail. Look at those colors there. Is it so far across, or
only seeming so? And see the soft white clouds drop purple shadows down.
Is that the way the trail runs? How beautiful it must be farther on.
Good-by, old boy of my heart's heart, and don't forget, however long the
years, and wide away your feet may go, to keep the old trail law. 'Hold

We laid them away in the deep pine forest--Aunty Boone, of strange,
prophetic vision; Santan, the cruel Indian; the loyal Hopi maiden; Jondo
and Beverly. God made them all and in His heaven they will be rightly

Beside the canon's rim, in the soft twilight hour of that October day,
Eloise St. Vrain and I plighted our troth, till death us do part--for
just a little while. Plighted it not in happy, selfish affection, such
as youth and maiden give, sometimes, each to each; but in the deep,
marvelous love of man and woman pledged where, in sacred moments on
that day, we had seen the mortal put on immortality. To us there could
be no grander, richer, lovelier setting for life's best and holiest hour
than here, where, upon things finite, there rests the beneficent
uplifting beauty that shadows forth the Infinite.





The heart that's never old! Oh the heart that's never old!--
'Tis a vision of the lavender, the crimson and the gold
Of an airy, fairy morning, when the sky is all ablaze
With an ever-changing splendor, driving back the gloom and haze!

'Tis the vision of an orchard in the balmy month of May,
Where the birds are ever singing, and the leaves are ever gay;
Where the sun is ever shining with a glory never told,
And the trees are ever blooming--for the heart that's never old!


The summers and winters of fifty golden years have brought to the plains
their balmy breezes and blazing heat, their soft, life-giving showers,
and their fierce, blizzard anger. And down through these fifty years
Eloise St. Vrain and I have walked the love trails of the plains

In the early spring of this, our "golden-wedding" year, we sat on the
veranda of our suburban home in Kansas City, above the picturesque Cliff
Drive, rippling with automobiles. The same drive winds in its course
somewhere near the old, rough road that once led from the Clarenden
home, above the valley of the Kaw, down to the little city of great
promise--now fulfilled.

"Eloise, youth may have a charm that is all its own," I said to my wife,
"but I wonder if it really matches the enduring charm of age when one
looks back on busy years of service."

Eloise smiled up at me--the same gracious smile that has lighted all my
days with her.

"You are a dreamer still, Gail. But dreams do so sweeten life and keep
the fires of romance forever burning."

"When did romance begin with you, Little Lees?" I asked.

"I think it was on that day when I came bounding up to the door of the
old San Miguel church," Eloise replied, "and saw you looking like a big,
brown bob-cat, or something else, that might have slept in the Hondo
'Royo all your life. But withal a boy so loyal to the helpless that you
were willing to fight for me against an assailant bigger than yourself.
You became my prince in that hour, and all my dreams since then have
been of you. When did romance begin with you, or have you forgotten in
the busy years of a life swallowed up in mercantile pursuits?"

"My life may have been, as you say, swallowed up in building trade that
builds empire, but I have never forgotten the things that make it fine
to me," I answered her. "Romance for me began one day, long ago, out on
the parade-ground at Fort Leavenworth. I've been a Vanguard of the
Plains since then, bull-whacker for the ox-teams that hauled the
commerce of the West; cavalryman in hard-wearing Indian campaigns that
defended the frontier; and merchant, giving measure for measure always,
like that grand man who taught me the worth of business--Esmond

"On the parade-ground? How there?" Eloise asked.

"It came the day that I first knew we were to go with Uncle Esmond to
Santa Fe--for you. We didn't know that it was for you then. I think I
was born again that day into a daring plainsman, who had been a sort of
baby-boy before. I sat with Mat and Beverly on the edge of the
parade-ground, when I looked up to see, with a boy's day-dreaming eyes,
somewhere this side of misty mountain peaks, a vision of a cloud of
golden hair about a sweet child face, with dark eyes looking into mine.
That vision stayed with me until, one morning, fifty years ago, on the
rim of the Grand Canon--you looked into my eyes again and I knew my life
dream had come true."

I rose and, bending over my wife's cloud of beautiful silvery hair, I
kissed her gently on each fair cheek.

"Gail, why not take the old trail for our golden-wedding anniversary--a
long journey, clear to the mountains?" Eloise suggested.

"There is no trail now; only its ghost haunting the way," I replied,
"but, Little Lees, I don't believe that we who look back on so many
happy years, after the stormy ones of early life, could find any other
path half so dear to us as that long path we knew in childhood and early
youth, and the one we followed together in our first years of mature
womanhood and manhood."

And so we did not celebrate one October day with all of our children and
grandchildren and friends coming to offer us gold coins, gold-headed
canes--which I do not use--and gold-rimmed glasses for eyes that see
farther and clearer than my spectacled grandsons at the university can
see to-day. We made a golden summer of the thing and followed where,
like a will-o'-the-wisp of memory, the Santa Fe Trail of threescore
years ago reached from the raw frontier at Independence on to the
Missouri bluffs, clear to the sunny valley of the Holy Faith.

Only a headstone at long intervals shows the way now--a stone that well
might read:

Here ran the old Santa Fe Trail. This stone, set here, is sacred to
the memory of the Vanguards of the Plains who followed it.

They stand, these "markers" now, on hilltops and in deep valleys; by
country crossroads and where main streets cut each other in the towns
and villages. They ornament the city parks, they show where splendid
concrete bridges, re-enforced with structural steel, span streams that
once the ox-teams doubled and trebled strength to ford. They gleam where
corn grows tall and black on fertile prairies; where seas of wheat have
flooded barren, burning plains, and perfumey alfalfa sweetens the air
above what was once grassless desolation. They whisper of a day gone by
among the silent mountains, where tunnels let the iron trail run easily
under the old trail's dizzy path. They nestle in the shadows of
gray-green cliffs and by red mesa heights; until the last monument,
sacred to the memory of a day forgotten, speaks at the corner of the old
Plaza in the heart of Santa Fe.

That was a journey long to be remembered--the long, golden-wedding
journey of Gail Clarenden with his wife, Eloise St. Vrain, and all of it
was sweet with memories of other days. Not in peril and privation and
uncertainty did we follow the trail now. The Pullman has replaced the
Conestoga wagon, dainty viands the coarse food smoke-blackened over
camp-fires, and never fear of Kiowa nor Comanche broke our slumber. The
long shriek that cuts the air of dawn was not from wild marauders on a
daybreak raid down lonely canons, but from the throats of splendid,
steel-wrought engines swinging forth upon their solid, certain course.

The prairies still lap up to the edges of the little town of Burlingame,
whose main street is still the old trail's path. The well has long since
disappeared from the center of the place. Where once the thirsty
gathered here to drink, there stands a monument sacred to the memory of
the old trail days. And sacred, too, to the memory of the one
far-visioned woman, Fannie Geiger Thompson, who first conceived the
thought of marking for the coming generations the course of commerce
that built up the West in years gone by.

We never lived in Burlingame, where once--a heart-hungry little boy--I
longed to have a home. But the Krane children and their children's
children still make it an abiding-place for us.

To Council Grove, and old Pawnee Rock, the Cimarron Crossing of the
Arkansas River, the open plain about the site of old Fort Bent--where
only ghosts of walls and the court remain, and on to Santa Fe, dreamy
and picturesque--hoary with age, and sweet with sacred memories, we
wandered on our golden-wedding trail.

The name of Narveo in New Mexico still stands for gentleman. The old
church of San Miguel still shelters troubled hearts, and in the San
Christobal valley the Pictured Rocks still build up a rude stair for
feet that still may need the sanctuary rim of safety set about them.
Along the length of the old trail a marvelous fifty years have enriched
a history whose epic days record the deeds of vanguards, who foreran and
builded for the softer days of golden-wedding years.

The last lap of all that wondrous journey bore us in ease and comfort
beyond the desert--the Africa, of Aunty Boone's weird fancy--to the
Grand Canon of the Colorado. Here, as of old, the riven crust, in its
eternal silence, and sublimity, and beauty indescribable, calmly, year
by year, reveals its mighty purpose:

To quarry the heart of earth,
Till, in the rock's red rise,
Its age and birth, through an awful girth
Of strata, should show the wonder-worth
Of patience to all eyes.

Amid luxurious surroundings we lived the October days upon the canon's
rim, where, half a century ago, we had gone in hardship and looked on
tragedy. We crept down all the dizzy lengths to the very heart of it,
and ate and slept in easy comfort, and gazed upward at the sky-cleaving
edges thousands of feet above us; we stood beside the raging Colorado
River, which no man had explored when we first looked upon it here. In
the serene hours of our sunset years we went back in memory over the
long way our feet had come. Life is easy for us now, made so by all the
splendid, simple forces of those who, in justice, honesty, and broad
human sympathy build enduring empire. Not empire gained by bomb and
liquid fire, defended by sharp entanglement and cross-trenched to shut
out enemies; but empire builded on the commerce of the land, value for
value; empire of bridged rivers, quick transportation on steel-marked
trails that girdle harvest fields and fruitful pastures; empire of homes
and schools and sacred shrines.

Our fifty golden years have seen such empire rise and grow before our
eyes, made great by thrift and business sense, swayed by the Golden
Rule. An empire rich in love and sweet romance and thrilling deeds of
courage and self-sacrifice. Glad am I to have been a vanguard of its
trails upon the Kansas prairies and the far Western plains, sure now, as
always down the years, that its old law is still a righteous one: To
that which is good--





* * * * *




_THE RISING TIDE. Illustrated_
_DR. LAVENDAR'S PEOPLE. Illustrated_
_AN ENCORE. Illustrated_
_GOOD FOR THE SOUL. Illustrated_
_THE HINDS OF ESAU. Illustrated_
_THE IRON WOMAN. Illustrated_
_OLD CHESTER TILES. Illustrated_
_PARTNERS. Illustrated_
_R.J.'S MOTHER. Illustrated_
_THE VOICE. Illustrated_
_THE WAY TO PEACE. Illustrated_





The New Thin-Paper Edition of the greatest living English novelist is
issued in two bindings: Red Limp-Leather and Red Flexible Cloth, 12mo.
Frontispiece in each volume.


* * * * *



* * * * *


_In this book of leisurely wanderings the author journeys among the
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_The California of to-day and the California of yesterday with its
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* * * * *



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