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   Chapter 40 No.40

They of the High Trails By Hamlin Garland Characters: 38150

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Helen and the ranger left the room together, and no sooner were they free from the crowd than she turned to him with a smile which expressed affection as well as gratitude.

"How much we owe to you and Dr. Carmody, and what a sorry interruption we've caused in your work."

He protested that the interruption had been entirely a pleasure, but she, while knowing nothing of his impending arrest, was fully aware that he had undergone actual hardship for her sake, and her plan for hurrying away seemed at the moment most ungracious. Yet this, after all, was precisely what she now decided to do.

"Is there time for us to catch that eastbound express?" she asked.

Her words chilled his heart with a quick sense of impending loss, but he looked at his watch. "Yes, if it should happen to be late, as it generally is." Then, forgetting his parole, in a voice which expressed more of his pain than he knew, he said: "I hate to see you go. Can't you wait another day?"

His pleading touched a vibrant spot in her, but she was resolved. "I have an almost insane desire to get away," she hurriedly explained. "I am afraid of this country. Its people scare me!" A quick change in her voice indicated a new thought. "I hope the Kitsongs will not continue in pursuit of you."

"They won't have a chance to do that," he replied, gloomily. "I'm leaving, too. I have resigned."

"Oh no! You mustn't do that."

"I turned in my papers this morning." He suddenly recalled his parole. "I shall soon be free-I hope-to go anywhere and do anything-and I'd like to keep in touch with you-if you'll let me."

She evaded him. "I shall be very sorry if we are the cause of your leaving the service."

"Well, you are-but not in the way you mean. You have made me discontented with myself, that's all, and I'm going to get out of the tall timber and see if I can't do something in the big world. I want to win your respect."

"I respect you now. Your work as a forester seems to me very fine and honorable."

"The work is all right, but I'm leaving it, just the same. I can't see a future in it. Fact is, I begin to long for a home; that lunch in your cabin started me on a new line of thought."

The memory of his visit to her garden in the valley seemed now like a chapter in the story of a far-off community, and she could hardly relate herself to the hermit girl who served the tea, but the forester-whom she recognized as a lover-was becoming every moment nearer, more insistent. A time of reckoning was at hand, and because she could not meet it she was eager to escape-to avoid the giving of pain. His face and voice had become dear-and might grow dearer. Therefore she made no comment on his statement of a desire for a home, and he asked:

"Don't you feel like going back to your garden once more?"

"No," she answered, sharply, "I never want to see the place again. It is repulsive to me."

Again a little silence intervened. "I hate to think of your posies perishing for lack of care," he said, with gentle sadness. "If I can, I'll ride over once in a while and see that they get some water."

His words exerted a magical power. She began to weaken in resolution. It was not an easy thing to sever the connection which had been so strangely established between herself and this good friend, who seemed each moment to be less the simple mountaineer she had once believed him to be. Western he was, forthright and rough hewn, but he had shown himself a man in every emergency-a candid, strong man. Her throat filled with emotion, but she walked beside him in silence.

He had another care on his mind. "You'd better let me round up your household goods," he suggested.

"Oh no. Let them go; they're not worth the effort."

He insisted. "I don't like to think of any one else having them. It made me hot just to see that girl playing your guitar. I'll have 'em all brought down and stored somewhere. You may want 'em some time."

She was rather glad to find they had reached the door of Carmody's office and that further confidences were impossible, for she was discovering herself to be each moment deeper in his debt and correspondingly less able to withstand his wistful, shy demand.

Mrs. Carmody, a short, fat, excited person, met them in the hall with a cackle of alarm. "I'm awfully glad you've come," she exclaimed. "Your father has been taken with a cramp or something."

Helen paled with apprehension of disaster, for she knew that her father had been keenly suffering all the morning. "Here I am, daddy," she cheerily called, as she entered the room. "It's all right. The inquest is over and we are free to go."

Kauffman, who was lying on a couch in a corner of the office, turned his face and bravely smiled. "I'm glad," he weakly replied. "I was afraid they would call me to the stand again."

Kneeling at his side, she studied his face with anxious care. "Are you worse, daddy? Has your pain increased?"

"Yes, Nellie, it is worse. I fear I am to be very ill."

She took his hand in hers, a pang of remorseful pity wrenching her heart. "Don't say that, daddy," she gently chided. "Keep your good courage." She looked up at the ranger, who stood near with troubled brow. "Mr. Hanscom, will you please find Dr. Carmody and tell him my father needs him?"

With a quick word of assurance he hurried away, and the girl, bending to the care of her stepfather, suffered from a full realization of the fact that he had been brought to this condition by the strength of his devotion to her. "For my sake he exiled himself, for me he has been assaulted, wounded, arrested"-and, looking down upon him in the light of her recovered sense of values, she became very humble.

"Dear old daddy," she wailed, "it's all my fault. What can I do to make amends? You've sacrificed so much for me."

Sick as he was, the old man did his best to comfort her, but she was still sitting on the floor, with head bowed in troubled thought, when Hanscom and Carmody hurried in. Her relief, made manifest by the instant movement with which she gave way to him, was almost childlike.

"Oh, Doctor, I'm glad to see you!" she cried out. "I was afraid your legal duties might keep you."

"Luckily my legal duties are over," he replied, quickly, "and I'm glad of it. I hope I never'll have another such case."

A brief examination convinced him that the sick man should be put to bed, and he suggested the Palace Hotel, which stood but a few doors away.

"He can't travel to-day," he added, knowing that Helen had planned to take the train.

Kauffman insisted on going. "I can walk," he said, firmly. "I feel a little dizzy, but I'll be all right in the coach."

Hanscom was at his side, supporting him. "You'd better wait a day," he said, gently; and Helen understood and sided with him.

Together they helped the sick man to the door and into the doctor's car, and in a few minutes Kauffman was stretched upon a good bed in a pleasant room. With a deep sigh of relief he laid his head upon the soft pillow.

"I am glad not to entrain to-day," he said. "To-morrow will be better for us all."

"Never mind about to-morrow," said Hanscom. "You rest as easy as you can."

Helen followed Carmody into the hall. "Tell me the truth," she demanded. "Is he injured internally?"

"It's hard to say what his injuries are," he cautiously replied. "He's badly bruised and feverish, but it may be nothing serious. However, he can't travel for a few days, that's certain."

She was not entirely reassured by his reply, and her voice was bitterly accusing as she said: "If he should die, I would never forgive myself. He came here on my account."

"There's no immediate danger. He seems strong and will probably throw this fever off in a few hours, but he must be kept quiet and cheerful."

There was a rebuke in his final words, and she accepted it as such. "I'll do the best I can, Doctor," she replied, and returned to her duty.

Hanscom, divining some part of the passion of self-accusation into which the girl had been thrown, eagerly asked, "Is there something more I can do?"

"If you will have our bags brought, I shall be grateful. We may not be able to leave for several days."

"I'll attend to them at once, but"-he looked aside as if afraid of revealing something-"I may be called away during the afternoon on business, and if I am, don't think I'm neglecting you."

"How long will you be gone?"

"I can't tell-for a day or two, perhaps."

The thought of his going gave her a sharp pang of prospective loneliness. "I know you must return to your work," she said, slowly, "but I shall feel very helpless without you," and the voicing of her dependence upon him added definiteness and power to her regret.

He hastened to say: "I won't go if I can possibly help it, be sure of that; but something has come up which may make it necessary for me to-to take a trip. I'll return as soon as I can. I'll hurry away now and bring your baggage; that much I can surely do," and he went out, leaving her greatly troubled by something unexplained in the manner of his going.

Stopping at Carmody's, Hanscom again thanked him for his kindness and warned him not to say one word to Helen about his fight with Abe nor about the warrant that was hanging over him.

"She has enough to worry about as it is," he said; "and if they get me, as they will, I want you to look after her and let me know how she gets on."

Carmody did not attempt to minimize the seriousness of the opposition. "Abe can make a whole lot of trouble for you, in one way and another, and even if you shake him off, you're in for a settlement with old Cuneo, who will reach here to-night. As near as I can discover, he's one of those pop-eyed foreigners who'd just as soon use a knife as not, and Abe will do his best to spur him into jumping you."

"Well, looks like he'll have hard work reaching me, for, unless somebody goes my bail, I'm likely to be safe in the 'cooler' when he gets here."

Carmody had been decidedly friendly all through this troublesome week, and here was a good place for him to say, "I'll go your bail, Hans," but he didn't-he couldn't. He was poor and not very secure in his position, so he let Hanscom go out, and took up his own work with a feeling that he was playing a poor part in a rough game.

The news of Kauffman's illness reached kindly Mrs. Brinkley and moved her to call upon Helen, to offer her services, and in the midst of her polite condolences she said: "Mr. Hanscom's arrest must have infuriated you. It did me."

Helen turned a startled glance upon her visitor. "I didn't know he was arrested."

"Didn't you? Well, he is," said Mrs. Brinkley.

"Why; that can't be true! He was here less than an hour ago."

"He's just been arrested for assaulting Kitsong."

Helen, still unable to believe in this calamity, stammered: "But I don't understand. When did he-When was Kitsong-assaulted?"

"Last night," replied her visitor, with relish, "and you were the cause of it-in a way."

"I?"

"So the story goes. It seems Abe got nasty about you, and Mr. Hanscom resented it. They had a fight and Abe was hurt. Unless somebody bails him out the poor ranger will have to go to jail."

The memory of the ranger's last look completed Helen's understanding of the situation, and she listened abstractedly while her visitor rattled on:

"Of course, the judge can't do anything, much as he likes Mr. Hanscom, and I really don't see who is to go on his bond. He hasn't any relatives here."

At this point Helen raised her head and interrupted her guest's commiserating comment. "Yes, you can do something for me. I wish you would ask Mr. Willing, the vice-president of the First National Bank, to come over here. I want to consult him on a most important business matter, and I cannot leave my father. Will you do this?"

"Certainly, with pleasure. I was hoping to be of use," said Mrs. Brinkley, and she went away greatly wondering what this strange young woman could possibly want of Mr. Willing.

Helen, with eyes fixed on her father's still form, went over every look and word the ranger had uttered and understood at last that the "little trip" he feared was a sentence to the county jail. She was still in profound thought when Mr. Willing was announced. He was a neat, small man, whose position in the bank was largely social. Being a friend of Mrs. Brinkley, and keenly interested in the reports of Helen's romantic appearance in the courtroom, he came to her door in smiling and elaborate courtliness.

Helen coldly checked his gallant advances. "Mr. Willing," she said, with business-like brevity, "I have an account with the Walnut Hills Trust Company, of Cincinnati, and I want a part of that money transferred, by telegraph, to my credit in your bank. Can it be done?"

"It is possible-yes."

"I need these funds at once. I must have them. Will you please wire Mr. Paul Lyford, president of the company, and have five thousand dollars transferred to my credit in your bank?"

Mr. Willing was cautious. He took the name and address. "I will see what can be done," he said, non-committally. "Is there anything else I can do?"

"Yes, I have just heard that Mr. Hanscom has been arrested. If this is true I want him bailed out as soon as possible. I don't know how these things are done, but I want to go on his bond. He should have a lawyer also. He has fallen into this trouble entirely on my account, and I cannot permit him to suffer. He must be defended."

"I'll do what I can," responded Willing, "but, of course, the matter of release, on bail, lies with the judge."

"What judge?"

"Probably Judge Brinkley."

"I am glad of that. Mr. Hanscom knows Judge Brinkley. As soon as you hear from Mr. Lyford let me know, please."

Meanwhile Hanscom had been stopped while bringing the valises to the hotel and was now in Throop's care. Each hour seemed to involve the ranger deeper, ever deeper, in his slough of troubles, for it was reported that Cuneo had 'phoned in from the Cambria power-dam saying he would reach the town in two hours, and one who had talked with him said the receiver burned his ear, so hot was the sheepman's wrath.

Helen, greatly troubled, in an agony of impatience awaited Willing's return, and the housekeeper of the hotel, who came to offer her advice, did not help to tranquillity.

"It's a good thing the ranger's locked up," she said, "for old Cuneo, father of the girl, is in town and on the ranger's trail with blood in his eye."

Of course the eager gossip did not know that the ranger and this handsome girl were something more than acquaintances, hence she felt free to enlarge upon and embroider each scrap of rumor, after the fashion of her kind, and Helen had great difficulty in concealing her increasing anxiety and self-accusation.

"Don't say any of these things in my father's hearing," she sharply urged. "He must be kept free from excitement."

It was a singular, a most revealing experience for Helen to find that her deepening care for her stepfather and a grave sense of responsibility toward Hanscom were bringing out decision and determination in her own character. She increased in vigor and perception. "They shall not persecute this man because he is poor and alone," she declared, recalling with keen sense of pity his frank statement that all his property consisted of a couple of ponies, a saddle, and a typewriter.

She could not leave her father till a nurse came, and, as there was no telephone in her room, she could only wait-wait and think, and in this thinking she gave large space to the forester. Her apathy, her bitterness were both gone. She was no longer the recluse. The mood which had made her a hermit now seemed both futile and morbid-and yet she was not ready to return to her friends and relatives in the East. That life she had also put away. "What if I were to make a new home-somewhere in the West?" she said, and in this speculation the worshipful face of the ranger came clear before her eyes.

She was restless and aching with inaction when a hall-boy announced the return of Mr. Willing, and, stepping into the hall, she discovered an entirely different Mr. Willing. He was no longer gallant; he was quietly respectful. With congratulatory word he handed to her two telegrams, one addressed to her, the other to the bank. One was from the president of the Walnut Hills Trust Company. It read: "Place five thousand dollars to Miss McLaren's credit. See that she wants for nothing. Report if she needs help. Her family is greatly alarmed. Any information concerning her will be deeply appreciated. Ask her to report at once."

The other was to Helen from Mr. Lyford, whom she had known for many years. As she read her face flushed and her eyes misted; then a glowing tide of power, a sense of security, swept over her.

"After all, I am alive and young and rightful owner of this money," she said to herself. "I will claim it and use it for some good purpose, and at this moment, what better purpose than to see that a brave, good man shall not lie in prison?" And, thanking the banker for his aid, she added: "If Mr. Rawlins, the supervisor, is still in town, I wish you would find him and ask him to come to me; tell him I want to see him immediately."

Willing took occasion, as he went through the hotel office down-stairs, to call the proprietor aside and say: "Anything Miss McLaren wants you'd better supply. She's able to pay."

The landlord, who had shared the general suspicion abroad in the community, stared. "Are you sure of that? I was just wondering about these folks. They have the reputation of being as poor as Job's off ox."

"You needn't worry. The girl has a balance in our bank of several thousand dollars."

"You don't tell me!" exclaimed the landlord.

Willing went on, smoothly: "Better give her the parlor and put an extension 'phone in for her use. She needs a trained nurse, but I'll attend to that if you'll see to the 'phone."

In theory, we all despise money; in fact, we find it of wondrous potency. Behold this hotelkeeper mentally taking his feet from his desk and removing his hat when he learned that one of these hermits had unlimited credit at the bank. Mr. Willing's cashier was also deeply impressed and puzzled.

"What did such a girl mean by living away up there with that Shellfish gang of rustlers and counterfeiters? What's the idea?" he asked, irritably. "She certainly has acted like a fly-by-night up to this time."

"Well, she's established herself now. Her connections are first class," Willing rejoined. "Here's another telegram from Louisville asking full information concerning Miss McLaren and Arnold Kauffman. They don't stop at expense. Evidently they have all been in the dark about the girl's whereabouts and want the facts. Some story to put into a telegram, but I'll do my best."

"Don't scare 'em," cautioned Knight. "Say she's all right and surrounded by friends."

Willing took his

turn at smiling. "Didn't look that way this morning, did it? But she's all right now-except that she's terribly wrought up over Hanscom's predicament."

"Well, no wonder. As near as I can figger, he's stood by her like a brother-in-law, and the least she can do is to stick around and help him out."

Conditions between Helen and the ranger were now precisely reversed. It was she who was eagerly trying to save him from the prison cell. She was alarmed, also, by the prediction made by the housekeeper that if the ranger were released on bail he would only be out of the frying-pan into the fire, for old Cuneo would surely meet him and demand satisfaction.

"Perhaps if I were to see Cuneo," she thought, "I could persuade him that Mr. Hanscom had no wish to involve Margarita-that her arrest was only, in a way, incidental to Busby's capture."

She said nothing of this resolution, but sent a note to Throop, requesting him to let Rawlins know that she was ready to bail Hanscom. "It will be a great injustice if he is held on my account."

Throop replied in person, for he liked Helen and was eager to do Hanscom a favor. "Yes," he said, "Hans is in jail, but not in a cell, and I think Rawlins will succeed in reaching the judge and so get out the writ this afternoon."

"Is there not some way for me to help? How much bail is needed?"

"Well, all depends on the judge. The charge the Kitsongs bring is pretty serious. They call it assault with a deadly weapon, and I'll have to testify that Hans was armed when I came into the scrap-and yet Simpson says he left the hotel without his gun-Simpson declares Hanscom said: 'I'm safer without it. I might fly mad and hurt somebody with it!' As I say, I didn't see the beginning of the battle, but when I broke into it, 'peared to me more like a dozen armed men were attacking Hans. They had him jammed up against the wall. He was fighting mad-I must admit that, and later he had a gun. Where he got it, I don't know. However, that shouldn't count against him, for he was only defending himself as any citizen has a right to do."

"Surely the judge will take that into account?"

"He will; but you see the witnesses are mostly all Abe's friends. And then Hans did begin it-he admits he jolted Abe. However, the case will come up before Brinkley, and he's friendly. He'll do all he can."

"Could I see him-I mean the judge?"

"Better not. Judges are fairly testy about being 'seen.' It would look bad-especially after it got noised around that you had money to spend on the case."

"Anyhow, Mr. Rawlins must let me relieve him of the financial part of the burden. It may not be easy for him to sign such a bond."

"It isn't easy-now, that's the truth," admitted Throop. "You see, he's only a young fellow on a salary, and it means a whole lot to a man just starting a home. He might have to pledge his entire outfit."

"Don't let him do that-he mustn't do that! Tell him that I will assume all the hazard."

Throop extended a big paw in a gesture of admiration and his throat needed clearing before he spoke. "You're all right!" he said. "Hans is in big luck to have you on his side."

She submitted to his grip with a fine glow in her face. "I must be on his side, for he has been on my side all along. He was the one soul in all this land that I could trust."

Throop's statement concerning Rawlins was right. To put up a thousand-dollar bond was a serious matter. It meant pledging his whole fortune, and the case was made the more serious by reason of the probable disapproval of the district office, and yet he liked Hanscom too well not to do all he could for him. Hanscom, who realized quite clearly his former chief's predicament, urged him not to sign.

"The office won't like it, Jack-especially as I have quit the work."

They were in the midst of a heated discussion of this point (in Throop's office) when the sheriff returned from his interview with Helen. He entered wearing a broad smile.

"I've got something for you, Mr. Supervisor. I've got you a date with the handsomest girl in the county."

Rawlins remained calm. "There's only one girl in the world for me, and she's in Cambria, getting supper for me. However, I'm interested. Who is the lady?"

Throop dropped his humorous mask. "Miss McLaren wants to see you. She's fairly anxious about Hans-wants to go on his bond with you, or instead of you."

Hanscom gazed at the sheriff in silence, but Rawlins exclaimed: "Bless the girl! That's fine of her, but does she realize what going on this bond means?"

"She does, and she's willing to back Hans with two thousand dollars if necessary."

Rawlins, frankly astonished, asked: "Two thousand dollars! Has she got it?"

"She has, and a good deal more. Willing of the First National has been in touch with her people back East, and apparently there's no end to what they're ready to do for her. Somebody, a brother or cousin, has come to her rescue like a savings-bank. Hans, you do beat the devil for luck. I was ready to congratulate you before-now I am just plumb, low-down envious."

So far from filling the forester with joy, this news threw him into dark despair. If Helen turned out to be rich his case was even more hopeless than he had imagined it to be. It was sweet to be so defended, so rescued, but it was also disheartening. With wealth added to the grace which he adored in her, she was lifted far beyond his reach.

"Don't let her go on the bond," he said at last; "it's splendid of her, but if she does that she will be kept here, and I know she is crazy to get away, and we must not let her any deeper into this muss of mine."

Rawlins rose. "Well, I'll go see her, anyway. I'm for letting her help out if she's able and feels like it."

Throop followed him out and down the walk. "That girl's getting terribly interested in Hans-and she has a right to be. No man could have put in better work for a woman than he did for her. She says it's all her fault-and so it is, in a way." He chuckled. "Rather dashes him to find out she's a moneyed person, don't it? But what's the odds? He needn't complain, if she don't."

Helen's deepening interest in the forester expressed itself in the pleasure she took in discussing with Rawlins the means of setting him free.

"All you have to do," the supervisor explained, "is to appear before the judge, deposit a certified check, and sign the paper which the law demands."

"Let us go at once," she said. "My father is sleeping now and the housekeeper will sit with him. I can slip away for an hour."

"The sooner the quicker," agreed Rawlins.

While she was gone on a cautious inspection of the sick-room a messenger-boy came to the door with a telegram. "Gee! but the company is doing business to-day!" he remarked to Rawlins, with a grin. "Here's another fat one."

Rawlins gently pushed him into the hall. "That'll do for you, son," he said. "Fat or thin, you deliver your goods and keep still."

The message was indeed a "fat one," and came, Helen said, from a sister in Chicago, and expressed great anxiety to know exactly what conditions were. "Do you need me?" the writer demanded. "If you do, I will start at once. Let us hear from you. We are all very anxious."

Though visibly affected by this appeal, Helen's reply was brief. "No need of you. I am well and returning East soon. Have all I need."

This she handed in to the operator herself as she and Rawlins were on the way to Judge Brinkley's office; and then with the thought of possibly getting away in a day or two she asked of Rawlins: "When will Mr. Hanscom's trial come off?"

"Not for several weeks, I fear, unless we can do something to have it put forward. You see, they've all conspired to make it a case for the County Court, but the judge may be able to throw it back into the Justice Court, where it really belongs. At the worst, Hans should only be fined, but, of course, we can't say a word. We can only wait till the hearing."

A few hours ago she would have been fiercely impatient at this prospect of delay, but now, most strangely, she found herself accepting, without protest, a further stay in the town, for it came as a part of her pledged service in the aid of an unselfish young man, and she was definitely, distinctly moved at the thought of helping him.

"By the way, Mr. Rawlins, I notice you call Mr. Hanscom Hans. Is that his Christian name?"

"Oh no, that's only his nickname. He signs his reports L. J. Hanscom. I think his real name is Lawrence. I don't know why everybody calls him 'Hans'-probably because he is so friendly and helpful. Everybody likes him except that Shellfish Valley crowd, and they feel, I suppose, that I put him down here to keep tab on them, which is the fact. They're a nest of bad ones-a lot of hold-overs from the past-and would have frozen him out long ago if they could."

Knowing the ranger's first name seemed to bring him still nearer, and she began to feel a little uneasy about the way in which he might take her share in his liberation. "Suppose he should misread it!"

On the street corner near the judge's office they encountered a dozen men, grouped around a small, dark, middle-aged citizen with very black hair, a long mustache, and a fumed-oak complexion, who seemed to be monologuing for the enlightenment of the crowd. He looked like a Mexican, or some exile from the south of Europe, and as Helen and Rawlins paused for a moment they heard him say in a voice of pathetic softness: "I blame nobody but heem, Hart Busby. He steal my girl away. I have no fight with any one else."

This was the dreaded Cuneo, the father of Margarita, whose coming promised death to the ranger! The imaginary savage with ready knife, the infuriated giant with blazing eyes, gave place to the actuality of this gentle, stricken; melancholy little sheepherder, who had no insane desire to avenge himself on any one, much less on Hanscom. Helen's resolution to meet and placate the dreaded Basque gave place to pity and a sense of relief.

Rawlins viewed the matter humorously and laughed softly. "Hans needn't worry about that little mongrel."

"He has suffered-he is suffering now," Helen replied. "I wish he might have his girl and take her home."

Judge Brinkley's chambers consisted of two large rooms stacked with law-books to the ceiling, and in the outer one a couple of rough-looking men and a discouraged-looking little woman were sitting, waiting for an interview. Ordinarily Helen would have passed the woman without a second thought; now she wondered what her legal troubles might be.

The judge gave precedence to Helen and the supervisor and invited them to his private office at once. Although he had some inkling of the romantic attachment between the ranger and this fine young woman, he did not presume upon it in any way, even in his answer to her questions.

"I hardly think a serious case can be made out against Hanscom," he said, "but you will soon know, for a preliminary hearing will be granted within a day or two. Meanwhile," he added, "I am very glad to issue an order for his liberation on bond."

Helen thanked him most warmly, and, with the writ of release in hand, Rawlins asked if she would not like to present it to the sheriff himself. At first she declined, thinking of her own embarrassment, but as she recalled the unhesitating action with which Hanscom had always acted in her affairs, she changed her mind and consented, and with her consent came a strong desire to let him know that her gratitude had in it something personal. Secretly she acknowledged a wish to see his rugged, serious face light up with the relief which the release would bring. His mouth, she remembered, was singularly refined and his smile winning.

On the way Rawlins spoke of Hanscom's resignation in terms of sincere regret. "If he will only stay in the service, I am sure he will be promoted; but I cannot blame him for feeling lonely."

At the jail door Helen's self-consciousness increased mightily. Her resolution almost failed her.

"What will he think of me coming to him in this way?" was the question which disturbed her, and she was deeply flushed and her pulse quickened as Rawlins, quite unconscious of her sudden panic, led the way into the sheriff's office and with eager haste presented her to Throop, who greeted her with the smile and gesture of an old acquaintance.

The supervisor lost no time. "We've come on business," he said. "We want Hanscom, Mr. Sheriff. This young lady has gone on his bond in my stead, and here is an order for his release, signed by Judge Brinkley."

Throop was genuinely pleased. "Hah! I'm glad of that," he said, as he took the paper. After a moment's glance at it he said: "All right, you can have the body. Go into the parlor and I'll send him in to you."

Helen obeyed silently, knowing that Rawlins would remain in the office-which he did-leaving her to receive the ranger alone.

He came in with eyes alight with worship. "I'm heartily obliged to you," he said, boyishly. "I thought I was in for a week or two of cell life and reflection."

She met his gratitude with instant protest. "Please don't thank me; I am only repaying a little of our debt. Won't you be seated?" she added, acting the part of hostess in her embarrassment. "Of course I don't mean that. You must be anxious to leave this place."

"I was, but I'm not so anxious now. How is Mr. Kauffman?"

"Much easier. He was sleeping when I left."

"I'm glad of that. He's had a hard week, and so have you, and yet"-he hesitated-"you are looking well in spite of it all."

"That is the strange part of it," she admitted. "I am stronger and happier than I have been for two years. I have just heard from my family in the East."

His eyes became grave. "Then you will go back to them?"

"I think so, but not at once-not till after your trial-it would be grossly ungrateful for me to go now. I shall wait till you are free."

His fine, clear, serious eyes were steadily fixed upon her face as she said this, and she knew that he was extracting from every word and tone their full meaning, and it frightened her a little.

At last he said, in a voice which was tense with emotion, "Then I hope I shall never be free."

She hastened to lessen this tension. "The judge has promised to grant you a hearing soon. Mr. Rawlins thinks it only a case for Justice Court, anyway." She rose. "But let me see Mrs. Throop for a few minutes and then we will go."

"Wait a moment," he pleaded, but she would not stay her course-she dared not.

They found Mrs. Throop in the hall, discussing the interesting situation with Rawlins, and when Helen extended her hand and began to thank her again for her kindness, the matron cut her short. "Never mind that now. I want you should all stay to supper."

Helen expressed regret and explained that it was necessary to return to the bedside of her father, and so they managed to get away, although Mrs. Throop followed them to the door, inviting them both to come again. She saw no humor in this, though the men had their joke about it.

Rawlins discreetly dropped back into the office, and the two young people passed on into the street.

"You must let me watch with your father to-night," Hanscom said. "I've been a nurse-along with the rest of my experiences."

"If I need you I shall certainly call upon you, and if you need money you must call upon me."

There was something warmer than friendship in her voice, but the ranger was a timid man in any matter involving courtship, and he dared not presume on anything so vague as the change of a tone or the quality of a smile. Nevertheless he said:

"I cannot imagine how it happens that you are here in this rough country, but I am glad you are. I shall be glad all my life-even if you go away and forget me."

"I shall not forget you," she replied, "not for what you've done, but for what you are." And in this declaration lay a profound significance which the man seized and built upon.

"I am not even a forest ranger now. I am nothing but a dub-and you-they say are rich-but some day I'm going to be something else. I haven't any right-to ask anything of you-not a thing, but I must-I can't think of you going entirely out of my life. I want you to let me write to you. May I do that?"

Her answer was unexpected. "You once spoke of getting a transfer to a forest near Denver. If you should do that, you might see me occasionally-for I may make my home in Colorado Springs."

He stopped and they faced each other. "Does that mean that you want me to stay in the service?"

Her face was pale, but her eyes were glowing. "Yes."

His glance penetrated deeper. "And you will wait for me?"

"As long as you think it necessary," she answered, with a smile whose meaning did not at once make itself felt, but when it did he reached his hand as one man to another. She took it, smiling up at him in full understanding of the promise she had made.

"Right here I make a new start," he said.

"I shall begin a new life also," she replied, and they walked on in silence.

* * *

AFTERWORD

Have you seen sunsets so beautiful that your heart ached to watch them fade? So my heart aches to see the trails fading from the earth.

As I re-enter the mountain forest I am a reactionary. I would restore every hill-stream to its former beauty if I could. I would carry forward every sign, every symbol, of the border in order that the children of the future should not be deprived of any part of their nation's epic westward march.

I here make acknowledgment to the trail and the trail-makers. They have taught me much. I have lifted the latch-string of the lonely shack, and broken bread with the red hunter. I know the varied voices of the coyote, wizard of the mesa. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a silken cord, opalescent dawns and ruby sunsets. My camping-places return in the music of gold and amber streams. The hunter, the miner, the prospector, have been my companions and my tutors-and what they have given me I hold with jealous hand.

The high trail leads away to shadow-dappled pools. It enables me to overtake the things vanishing, to enter the deserted cabin, to bend to the rude fireplace and to blow again upon the embers, gray with ashes, till a flame leaps out and shadows of mournful beauty dance upon the wall.

I am glad that I was born early enough to hear the songs of the trailers and to bask in the light of their fires.

Transcriber's Note

Typographical errors corrected in the text:

Page 108 ranche changed to ranch

Page 109 penon changed to pi?on

Page 171 to changed to do

Page 314 worthy changed to worth

Page 316 misnumbered section V changed to VI

Page 329 misnumbered section VI changed to VII

Page 331 jurisdication changed to jurisdiction

Page 338 misnumbered section VII changed to VIII

Page 358 misnumbered section VIII changed to IX

Page 362 Kaufman changed to Kauffman

* * *

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