MoboReader > Literature > The Uphill Climb

   Chapter 17 No.17

The Uphill Climb By B. M. Bower Characters: 22885

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05

What Ford Found at the Top

Ford Campbell was essentially a man of action; he did not waste ten seconds in trying to deduce the whys and hows of the amazing fact; he would have a whole lifetime in which to study them. He started for the house, and the tracks he made in the loose, shifting snow were considerably more than a yard apart. He even forgot to stamp off the clinging snow and scour his boot-soles upon the porch rug, and when he went striding in, he pushed the door only half shut behind him, so that it swung in the wind and let a small drift collect upon the parlor carpet, until Mrs. Kate, feeling a draught, discovered it, and was shocked beyond words at the sacrilege.

Ford went into the dining-room, crossed it in just three strides, and ran his quarry to earth in the kitchen, where she was distraitly setting out biscuit materials. He started toward her, realized suddenly that the all-observing Buddy was at his very heels, and delayed the reckoning while he led that terrible man-child to his mother.

"I wish you'd close-herd this kid for about four hours," he told Mrs. Kate bluntly, and left her looking scared and unconsciously posing as protective motherhood, her arm around the outraged Robert Chester Mason. Mrs. Kate was absolutely convinced that Ford was at last really drunk and "on the rampage," and she had a terrible vision of slain girlhood in the kitchen, so that she was torn between mother-love and her desire to protect Phenie. But Ford had looked so threateningly at her and Buddy that she could not bring herself to attract his attention to the child or herself. Phenie had plenty of spirit; she could run down to the bunk-house-Mrs. Kate heard a door slam then, and shuddered. Phenie, she judged swiftly, had locked herself into the pantry.

Phenie had. Or, to be exact, she had run in and slammed the door shut in Ford's very face, and she was leaning her weight against it. Mrs. Kate, pressing the struggling Buddy closer to her, heard voices, a slight commotion, and then silence. She could bear no more. She threw a shawl over her head, grasped Buddy firmly by the arm, and fled in terror to the bunk-house.

The voices were a brief altercation between Ford and Josephine, on the subject of opening the door, before it was removed violently from its hinges. The commotion was when Josephine, between tears and laughter, failed to hold the door against the pressure of a strong man upon the other side, and, suddenly giving over the attempt, was launched against a shelf and dislodged three tin pans, which she barely saved from falling with a great clatter to the floor. The silence-the silence should explain itself; but since humanity is afflicted with curiosity, and demands details, this is what occurred immediately after Josephine had been kissed four times for her stubbornness, and the pans had been restored to their proper place.

"Say! Are you my wife?" was the abrupt question which Ford asked, and kissed her again while he waited for an answer.

"Why, yes-what makes you ask that? Of course I am; that is-" Josephine twisted in his arms, so that she could look into his face. She did not laugh at him, however. She was staring at him with that keen, measuring look which had so incensed him, when he had first met her. "I don't understand you at all, Ford," she said at last, with a frown of puzzlement. "I never have, for that matter. I'd think I was beginning to, and then you would say or do something that would put me all at sea. What do you mean, anyway?"

Ford told her what he meant; told her humbly, truthfully, with never an excuse for himself. And it speaks well for the good sense of Josephine that she heard him through with neither tears, laughter, nor anger to mar his trust in her.

"Of course, I knew you had been drinking, that night," she said, when his story was done, and his face was pressed lightly against the white parting in her soft, brown hair. "I saw it, after-after the ceremony. You-you were going to kiss me, and I caught the odor of liquor, and I felt that you wouldn't have done that if you had been yourself; it frightened me, a little. But you talked perfectly straight, and I never knew you weren't the man-Frank Cameron-until you came here. Then I saw you couldn't be he. Chester had known you when Frank was at home with his mother-I compared dates and was sure of that-and he called you Ford Campbell. So then I saw what a horrible blunder I'd made, and I was worried nearly to death! But I couldn't see what I could do about it, and you didn't-"

"Say, what about this Frank Cameron, anyway?" Ford demanded, with true male jealousy. "What did you want to marry him for? You couldn't have known him, or-"

"Oh, you wouldn't understand-" Josephine gave a little, impatient turn of the head, "unless you knew his mother. I did know Frank, a long time ago, when I was twelve or thirteen, and when I saw you, I thought he'd changed a lot. But it was his mother; she was the dearest thing, but-queer. Sort of childish, you know. And she just worshiped Frank, and used to watch for the postman-oh, it was too pitiful! Sometimes I'd write a letter myself, and pretend it was from him, and read it to her; her eyes were bad, so it was easy-"

"Where was this Frank?" Ford interrupted.

"Oh, I don't know! I never did know. Somewhere out West, we thought. I used to make believe the letters came from Helena, or Butte, because that was where she heard from him last. He was always promising to come home-in the letters. That used to make her so much better," she explained na?vely. "And sometimes she'd be able to go out in the yard and fuss with her flowers, after one like that. But he never came, and so she got the notion that he was wild and a spendthrift. I suppose he was, or he'd have written, or something. She had lots and lots of money and property, you know.

"Well," Josephine took one of Ford's hand and patted it reassuringly, "she got the notion that I must marry Frank, when he came home. I tried to reason her out of that, and it only made her worse. It grew on her, and I got so I couldn't bear to write any more letters, and that made it worse still. She made a will that I must marry Frank within a year after she died, or he wouldn't get anything but a hundred dollars-and she was worth thousands and thousands." Josephine snuggled closer. "She was shrewd, too. I was not to get anything except a few trinkets. And if we didn't marry, the money would all go to an old ladies' home.

"So, when she died, I felt as if I ought to do something, you see. It didn't seem right to let him lose the property, even if he wouldn't write to his mother. So I had the lawyers try to find him. I thought I could marry him, and let him get the property, and then-well, I counted on getting a divorce." She looked up quickly into Ford's face.

"And you know you did promise not to bother me-just to desert me, you see, so I could get a divorce in a year. I thought I'd come and live with Kate till the year was up, and then get a divorce, and go back home to work. My father left me enough to squeak along on, you see, if I lived in the country. Aunt Ida-that's Frank's mother-paid me a salary for staying with her and looking after her house and her rents and things. And then, when you followed me out here, I was furious! Just simply furious!" She bent her head and set her teeth gently into the fleshy part of Ford's thumb, and Ford flinched. It happened to be the sore one.

"Well, but that doesn't explain how you got your loop on me, girlie-though I sure am glad that you did!"

"Why, don't you see, the time was almost up, just for all the world like a play. 'Only one day more-and I must save the pa-apers!' So the lawyer Aunt Ida had for years, heard that Frank was-or had been-at Garbin. I rushed out here, and heard that there was a Cameron (only they must have meant Campbell) at Sunset. So I got a license, and the Reverend Sanderson, and took the evening train down there. At the hotel I asked for Mr. Cameron, and they sent you in. And you know the rest, you-you old fraud! How you palmed yourself off on me-"

"I never did! I must have just been in one of my obliging moods; and a man would have to be mighty rude and unkind not to say yes to a pretty girl when-"

That is as far as the discussion went, with anything like continuity or coherence even. Later, however, Josephine did protest somewhat muffledly: "But, Ford, I married you under the name of Frank Cameron, so I don't believe-and anyway-I'd like a real wedding-and a ring!"

Mrs. Kate, having been solemnly assured by Rock that Ford was sober and as nearly in his right mind as a man violently in love can be (Rock made it plain, by implication at least, that he did not consider that very near), ventured into the kitchen just then. She still looked scared and uncertain, until, through the half-open door of the pantry, she heard soft, whispery sounds like kissing-when the kissing is a rapture rather than a ceremony. Mrs. Kate had only been married eight years or so, and she had a good memory. She backed from the kitchen on her toes, and pulled the door shut with the caution of a thief. She did more; she permitted dinner to be an hour late, rather than disturb those two in the pantry.

* * *

The uphill climb was no climb at all, after that. For when a man has found the one woman in the world, and with her that elusive thing we call happiness, even the demon must perforce sheathe his claws and retire, discomfited, to the pit whence he came.

There was a period of impatient waiting, because Josephine and Mrs. Kate both stoutly maintained that the "real wedding" could not take place until Chester came back. After that, there was a Mrs. foreman at the Double Cross until spring. And after that, there was a new ranch and a new house and a new home where happiness came and dwelt unhindered.


* * *



May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset and Dunlap's list.

THE HARVESTER Illustrated by W. L. Jacobs

"The Harvester," David Langston, is a man of the woods and fields, who draws his living from the prodigal hand of Mother Nature herself. If the book had nothing in it but the splendid figure of this man, with his sure grip on life, his superb optimism, and his almost miraculous knowledge of nature secrets, it would be notable. But when the Girl comes to his "Medicine Woods," and the Harvester's whole sound, healthy, large outdoor being realizes that this is the highest point of life which has come to him-there begins a romance, troubled and interrupted, yet of the rarest idyllic quality.

FRECKLES. Decorations by E. Stetson Crawford

Freckles is a nameless waif when the tale opens, but the way in which he takes hold of life; the nature friendships he forms in the great Limberlost Swamp; the manner in which everyone who meets him succumbs to the charm of his engaging personality; and his love-story with "The Angel" are full of real sentiment.

A GIRL OF THE LIMBERLOST. Illustrated by Wladyslaw T. Brenda.

The story of a girl of the Michigan woods; a buoyant, lovable type of the self-reliant American. Her philosophy is one of love and kindness towards all things; her hope is never dimmed. And by the sheer beauty of her soul, and the purity of her vision, she wins from barren and unpromisin

g surroundings those rewards of high courage.

It is an inspiring story of a life worth while and the rich beauties of the out-of-doors are strewn through all its pages.

AT THE FOOT OF THE RAINBOW. Illustrations in colors by Oliver Kemp. Design and decorations by Ralph Fletcher Seymour.

The scene of this charming, idyllic love story is laid in Central Indiana. The story is one of devoted friendship, and tender self-sacrificing love; the friendship that gives freely without return, and the love that seeks first the happiness of the object. The novel is brimful of the most beautiful word painting of nature, and its pathos and tender sentiment will endear it to all.

Ask for compete free list of G. & D. Popular Copyrighted Fiction

Grosset & Dunlap, 526 West 26th St., New York

* * *



May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grossett and Dunlap's list.

THE TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE. Illustrated by F. C. Yohn.

The "lonesome pine" from which the story takes its name was a tall tree that stood in solitary splendor on a mountain top. The fame of the pine lured a young engineer through Kentucky to catch the trail, and when he finally climbed to its shelter he found not only the pine but the foot-prints of a girl. And the girl proved to be lovely, piquant, and the trail of these girlish foot-prints led the young engineer a madder chase than "the trail of the lonesome pine."


This is a story of Kentucky, in a settlement known as "Kingdom Come." It is a life rude, semi-barbarous; but natural and honest, from which often springs the flower of civilization.

"Chad." the "little shepherd" did not know who he was nor whence he came-he had just wandered from door to door since early childhood, seeking shelter with kindly mountaineers who gladly fathered and mothered this waif about whom there was such a mystery-a charming waif, by the way, who could play the banjo better that anyone else in the mountains.

A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND. Illustrated by F. C. Yohn.

The scenes are laid along the waters of the Cumberland, the lair of moonshiner and feudsman. The knight is a moonshiner's son, and the heroine a beautiful girl perversely christened "The Blight." Two impetuous young Southerners' fall under the spell of "The Blight's" charms and she learns what a large part jealousy and pistols have in the love making of the mountaineers.

Included in this volume is "Hell fer-Sartain" and other stories, some of Mr. Fox's most entertaining Cumberland valley narratives.

Ask for complete free list of G. & D. Popular Copyrighted Fiction

Grosset & Dunlap, 526 West 26th St., New York

* * *


May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap's list


A charming story of a quaint corner of New England where bygone romance finds a modern parallel. The story centers round the coming of love to the young people on the staff of a newspaper-and it is one of the prettiest, sweetest and quaintest of old fashioned love stories, * * * a rare book, exquisite in spirit and conception, full of delicate fancy, of tenderness, of delightful humor and spontaniety.


Miss Myrtle Reed may always be depended upon to write a story in which poetry, charm, tenderness and humor are combined into a clever and entertaining book. Her characters are delightful and she always displays a quaint humor of expression and a quiet feeling of pathos which give a touch of active realism to all her writings. In "A Spinner in the Sun" she tells an old-fashioned love story, of a veiled lady who lives in solitude and whose features her neighbors have never seen. There is a mystery at the heart of the book that throws over it the glamour of romance.


A love story in a musical atmosphere. A picturesque, old German virtuoso is the reverent possessor of a genuine "Cremona." He consents to take for his pupil a handsome youth who proves to have an aptitude for technique, but not the soul of an artist. The youth, has led the happy, careless life of a modern, well-to-do young American and he cannot, with his meagre past, express the love, the passion and the tragedies of life and all its happy phases as can the master who has lived life in all its fulness. But a girl comes into his life-a beautiful bit of human driftwood that his aunt had taken into her heart and home, and through his passionate love for her, he learns the lessons that life has to give-and his soul awakes.

Founded on a fact that all artists realize.

Ask for a complete free list of G. & D. Popular Copyrighted Fiction

Grosset & Dunlap, 526 West 26th St., New York

* * *




May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap's list

WITHIN THE LAW. By Bayard Veiller & Martin Dana. Illustrated by Wm. Charles Cooke.

This is a novelization of the immensely successful play which ran for two years in New York and Chicago.

The plot of this powerful novel is of a young woman's revenge directed against her employer who allowed her to be sent to prison for three years on a charge of theft, of which she was innocent.

WHAT HAPPENED TO MARY. By Robert Carlton Brown. Illustrated with scenes from the play.

This is a narrative of a young and innocent country girl who is suddenly thrown into the very heart of New York, "the land of her dreams," where she is exposed to all sorts of temptations and dangers.

The story of Mary is being told in moving pictures and played in theatres all over the world.

THE RETURN OF PETER GRIMM. By David Belasco. Illustrated by John Rae.

This is a novelization of the popular play in which David War, field, as Old Peter Grimm, scored such a remarkable success.

The story is spectacular and extremely pathetic but withal, powerful, both as a book and as a play.

THE GARDEN OF ALLAH. By Robert Hichens.

This novel is an intense, glowing epic of the great desert, sunlit barbaric, with its marvelous atmosphere of vastness and loneliness.

It is a book of rapturous beauty, vivid in word painting. The play has been staged with magnificent cast and gorgeous properties.

BEN HUR. A Tale of the Christ. By General Lew Wallace.

The whole world has placed this famous Religious-Historical Romance on a height of pre-eminence which no other novel of its time has reached. The clashing of rivalry and the deepest human passions, the perfect reproduction of brilliant Roman life, and the tense, fierce atmosphere of the arena have kept their deep fascination. A tremendous dramatic success.

BOUGHT AND PAID FOR. By George Broadhurst and Arthur Hornblow. Illustrated with scenes from the play.

A stupendous arraignment of modern marriage which has created an interest on the stage that is almost unparalleled. The scenes are laid in New York, and deal with conditions among both the rich and poor.

The interest of the story turns on the day-by-day developments which show the young wife the price she has paid.

Ask for compete free list of G. & D. Popular Copyrighted Fiction

Grosset & Dunlap, 526 West 26th St., New York

* * *



Original, sincere and courageous-often amusing-the kind that are making theatrical history.

MADAME X. By Alexandra Bisson and J. W. McConaughy. Illustrated with scenes from the play.

A beautiful Parisienne became an outcast because her husband would not forgive an error of her youth. Her love for her son is the great final influence in her career. A tremendous dramatic success.

THE GARDEN OF ALLAH. By Robert Hichens.

An unconventional English woman and an inscrutable stranger meet and love in an oasis of the Sahara. Staged this season with magnificent cast and gorgeous properties.


A glowing romance of the Byzantine Empire, presenting with extraordinary power the siege of Constantinople, and lighting its tragedy with the warm underglow of an Oriental romance. As a play it is a great dramatic spectacle.

TESS OF THE STORM COUNTRY. By Grace Miller White. Illust. by Howard Chandler Christy.

A girl from the dregs of society, loves a young Cornell University student, and it works startling changes in her life and the lives of those about her. The dramatic version is one of the sensations of the season.

YOUNG WALLINGFORD. By George Randolph Chester. Illust. by F. R. Gruger and Henry Raleigh.

A series of clever swindles conducted by a cheerful young man, each of which is just on the safe side of a State's prison offence. As "Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford," it is probably the most amusing expose of money manipulation ever seen on the stage.

THE INTRUSION OF JIMMY. By P.G. Wodehouse. Illustrations by Will Grefe.

Social and club life in London and New York, an amateur burglary adventure and a love story. Dramatized under the title of "A Gentleman of Leisure," it furnishes hours of laughter to the play-goers.

Grosset & Dunlap, 526 West 26th St., New York

* * *


Thrilling Western Romances

Large 12 mos. Handsomely bound in cloth. Illustrated


A breezy wholesome tale, wherein the love affairs of Chip and Della Whitman are charmingly and humorously told. Chip's jealousy of Dr. Cecil Grantham, who turns out to be a big, blue eyed young woman is very amusing. A clever realistic story of the American Cow-puncher.


A lively and amusing story, dealing with the adventures of eighteen jovial, big hearted Montana cowboys. Foremost amongst them, we find Ananias Green, known as Andy, whose imaginative powers cause many lively and exciting adventures.


A realistic story of the plains, describing a gay party of Easterners who exchange a cottage at Newport for the rough homeliness of a Montana ranch-house. The merry-hearted cowboys, the fascinating Beatrice, and the effusive Sir Redmond, become living, breathing personalities.


Here are everyday, genuine cowboys, just as they really exist. Spirited action, a range feud between two families, and a Romeo and Juliet courtship make this a bright, jolly, entertaining story, without a dull page.


A vivid portrayal of the experience of an Eastern author, among the cowboys of the West, in search of "local color" for a new novel. "Bud" Thurston learns many a lesson while following "the lure of the dim trails" but the hardest, and probably the most welcome, is that of love.


"Weary" Davidson leaves the ranch for Portland, where conventional city life palls on him. A little branch of sage brush, pungent with the atmosphere of the prairie, and the recollection of a pair of large brown eyes soon compel his return. A wholesome love story.


A vigorous Western story, sparkling with the free, outdoor, life of a mountain ranch. Its scenes shift rapidly and its actors play the game of life fearlessly and like men. It is a fine love story from start to finish.

Ask for a complete free list of G. & D. Popular Copyrighted Fiction.

Grosset & Dunlap, 526 West 26th St., New York

* * *

(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top