A TALE OF THE THIRD GENERATION
HARRY LEON WILSON
Illustrated by O'NEILL LATHAM
To L. L. J.
The wanderers of earth turned to her—outcast of the older lands— With a promise and hope in their pleading, and she reached them pitying hands; And she cried to the Old-World cities that drowse by the Eastern main: "Send me your weary, house-worn broods and I'll send you Men again! Lo, here in my wind-swept reaches, by my marshalled peaks of snow, Is room for a larger reaping than your o'ertilled fields can grow. Seed of the Main Seed springing to stature and strength in my sun, Free with a limitless freedom no battles of men have won," For men, like the grain of the corn fields, grow small in the huddled crowd, And weak for the breath of spaces where a soul may speak aloud; For hills, like stairways to heaven, shaming the level track, And sick with the clang of pavements and the marts of the trafficking pack. Greatness is born of greatness, and breadth of a breadth profound; The old Antaean fable of strength renewed from the ground Was a human truth for the ages; since the hour of the Edenbirth That man among men was strongest who stood with his feet on the earth!
SHARLOT MABRIDTH HALL.
I. The Second Generation Is Removed
II. How the First Generation Once Righted Itself
III. Billy Brue Finds His Man
IV. The West Against the East
V. Over the Hills
VI. A Meeting and a Clashing
VII. The Rapid-fire Lorgnon Is Spiked
VIII. Up Skiplap Canon
IX. Three Letters, Private and Confidential
X. The Price of Averting a Scandal
XI. How Uncle Peter Bines Once Cut Loose
XII. Plans for the Journey East
XIII. The Argonauts Return to the Rising Sun
XIV. Mr. Higbee Communicates Some Valuable Information
XV. Some Light With a Few Side-lights
XVI. With the Barbaric Hosts
XVII. The Patricians Entertain
XVIII. The Course of True Love at a House Party
XIX. An Afternoon Stroll and an Evening Catastrophe
XX. Doctor Von Herslich Expounds the Hightower Hotel and Certain Allied Phenomena
XXI. The Diversions of a Young Multi-millionaire
XXII. The Distressing Adventure of Mrs. Bines
XXIII. The Summer Campaign Is Planned
XXIV. The Sight of a New Beauty, and Some Advice from Higbee
XXV. Horace Milbrey Upholds the Dignity of His House
XXVI. A Hot Day in New York, with News of an Interesting Marriage
XXVII. A Sensational Turn in the Milbrey Fortunes
XXVIII. Uncle Peter Bines Comes to Town With His Man
XXIX. Uncle Peter Bines Threatens to Raise Something
XXX. Uncle Peter Inspires His Grandson to Worthy Ambitions
XXXI. Concerning Consolidated Copper and Peter Bines as Matchmakers
XXXII. Devotion to Business and a Chance Meeting
XXXIII. The Amateur Napoleon of Wall Street
XXXIV. How the Chinook Came to Wall Street
XXXV. The News Broken, Whereupon an Engagement is Broken
XXXVI. The God in the Machine
XXXVII. The Departure of Uncle Peter—And Some German Philosophy
XXXVIII. Some Phenomena Peculiar to Spring
XXXIX. An Unusual Plan of Action Is Matured
XL. Some Rude Behaviour, of Which Only a Western Man Could Be Guilty
XLI. The New Argonauts
"The fair and sometimes uncertain daughter of the house of Milbrey"
"'Well, Billy Brue,—what's doin'?'"
"The spell was broken"
"'Why, you'd be Lady Casselthorpe, with dukes and counts takin' off their crowns to you'"
"'Remember that saying of your pa's, "it takes all kinds of fools to make a world"'"
"'Say it that way—" Miss Milbrey is engaged with Mr. Bines, and can't see you"'"
The Second Generation is Removed
When Daniel J. Bines died of apoplexy in his private car at Kaslo Junction no one knew just where to reach either his old father or his young son with the news of his death. Somewhere up the eastern slope of the Sierras the old man would be leading, as he had long chosen to lead each summer, the lonely life of a prospector. The young man, two years out of Harvard, and but recently back from an extended European tour, was at some point on the North Atlantic coast, beginning the season's pursuit of happiness as he listed.
Only in a land so young that almost the present dwellers therein have made it might we find individualities which so decisively failed to blend. So little congruous was the family of Bines in root, branch, and blossom, that it might, indeed, be taken to picture an epic of Western life as the romancer would tell it. First of the line stands the figure of Peter Bines, the pioneer, contemporary with the stirring days of Fremont, of Kit Carson, of Harney, and Bridger; the fearless strivers toward an ever-receding West, fascinating for its untried dangers as for its fabled wealth,—the sturdy, grave men who fought and toiled and hoped, and realised in varying measure, but who led in sober truth a life such as the colours of no taleteller shall ever be high enough to reproduce.
Next came Daniel J. Bines, a type of the builder and organiser who followed the trail blazed by the earlier pioneer; the genius who, finding the magic realm opened, forthwith became its exploiter to its vast renown and his own large profit, coining its wealth of minerals, lumber, cattle, and grain, and adventurously building the railroads that must always be had to drain a new land of savagery.
Nor would there be wanting a third—a figure of this present day, containing, in potency at least, the stanch qualities of his two rugged forbears,—the venturesome spirit that set his restless grandsire to roving westward, the power to group and coordinate, to "think three moves ahead" which had made his father a man of affairs; and, further, he had something modern of his own that neither of the others possessed, and yet which came as the just fruit of the parent vine: a disposition perhaps a bit less strenuous, turning back to the risen rather than forward to the setting sun; a tendency to rest a little from the toil and tumult; to cultivate some graces subtler than those of adventure and commercialism; to make the most of what had been done rather than strain to the doing of needless more; to live, in short, like a philosopher and a gentleman who has more golden dollars a year than either philosophers or gentlemen are wont to enjoy.
And now the central figure had gone suddenly at the age of fifty-two, after the way of certain men who are quick, ardent, and generous in their living. From his luxurious private car, lying on the side-track at the dreary little station, Toler, private secretary to the millionaire, had telegraphed to the headquarters of one important railway company the death of its president, and to various mining, milling, and lumbering companies the death of their president, vice-president, or managing director as the case might be. For the widow and only daughter word of the calamity had gone to a mountain resort not far from the family home at Montana City.
There promised to be delay in reaching the other two. The son would early read the news, Toler decided, unless perchance he were off at sea, since the death of a figure like Bines would be told by every daily newspaper in the country. He telegraphed, however, to the young man's New York apartments and to a Newport address, on the chance of finding him.
Locating old Peter Bines at this season of the year was a feat never lightly to be undertaken, nor for any trivial end. It being now the 10th of June, it could be known with certainty only that in one of four States he was prowling through some wooded canon, toiling over a windy pass, or scaling a mountain sheerly, in his ancient and best loved sport of prospecting. Knowing his habits, the rashest guesser would not have attempted to say more definitely where the old man might be.
The most promising plan Toler could devise was to wire the superintendent of the "One Girl" Mine at Skiplap. The elder Bines, he knew, had passed through Skiplap about June 1st, and had left, perhaps, some inkling of his proposed route; if it chanced, indeed, that he had taken the trouble to propose one.
Pangburn, the mine superintendent, on receipt of the news, despatched five men on the search in as many different directions. The old man was now seventy-four, and Pangburn had noted when last they met that he appeared to be somewhat less agile and vigorous than he had been twenty years before; from which it was fair to reason that he might be playing his solitary game at a leisurely pace, and would have tramped no great distance in the ten days he had been gone. The searchers, therefore, were directed to beat up the near-by country. To Billy Brue was allotted the easiest as being the most probable route. He was to follow up Paddle Creek to Four Forks, thence over the Bitter Root trail to Eden, on to Oro Fino, and up over Little Pass to Hellandgone. He was to proceed slowly, to be alert for signs along the way, and to make inquiries of all he met.
"You're likely to get track of Uncle Peter," said Pangburn, "over along the west side of Horseback Ridge, just beyond Eden. When he pulled out he was talking about some likely float-rock he'd picked up over that way last summer. You'd ought to make that by to-morrow, seeing you've got a good horse and the trail's been mended this spring. Now you spread yourself out, Billy, and when you get on to the Ridge make a special look all around there."
Besides these directions and the telegram from Toler, Billy Brue took with him a copy of the Skiplap Weekly Ledge, damp from the press and containing the death notice of Daniel J. Bines, a notice sent out by the News Association, which Billy Brue read with interest as he started up the trail. The item concluded thus:
"The young and beautiful Mrs. Bines, who had been accompanying her husband on his trip of inspection over the Sierra Northern, is prostrated with grief at the shock of his sudden death."
Billy Brue mastered this piece of intelligence after six readings, but he refrained from comment, beyond thanking God, in thought, that he could mind his own business under excessive provocation to do otherwise. He considered it no meddling, however, to remember that Mrs. Daniel J. Bines, widow of his late employer, could appear neither young nor beautiful to the most sanguine of newsgatherers; nor to remember that he happened to know she had not accompanied her husband on his last trip of inspection over the Kaslo Division of the Sierra Northern Railway.
How the First Generation Once Righted Itself
By some philosophers unhappiness is believed—rather than coming from deprivation or infliction—to result from the individual's failure to select from a number of possible occupations one that would afford him entire satisfaction with life and himself. To this perverse blindness they attribute the dissatisfaction with great wealth traditional of men who have it. The fault, they contend, is not with wealth inherently. The most they will admit against money is that the possession of much of it tends to destroy that judicial calm necessary to a wise choice of recreations; to incline the possessor, perhaps, toward those that are unsalutary.
Concerning the old man that Billy Brue now sought with his news of death, a philosopher of this school would unhesitatingly declare that he had sounded the last note of human wisdom. Far up in some mountain solitude old Peter Bines, multimillionaire, with a lone pack-mule to bear his meagre outfit, picked up float-rock, tapped and scanned ledges, and chipped at boulders with the same ardour that had fired him in his penniless youth.
Back in 1850, a young man of twenty-four, he had joined the rush to California, working his passage as deck-hand on a vessel that doubled the Horn. Landing without capital at San Francisco, the little seaport settlement among the shifting yellow sand-dunes, he had worked six weeks along the docks as roustabout for money to take him back into the hills whence came the big fortunes and the bigger tales of fortunes. For six years he worked over the gravelly benches of the California creeks for vagrant particles of gold. Then, in the late fifties, he joined a mad stampede to the Frazer River gold-fields in British Columbia, still wild over its first knowledge of silver sulphurets, he was drawn back by the wonder-tales of the Comstock lode.
Joining the bedraggled caravan over the Carson trail, he continued his course of bitter hardship in the Washoe Valley. From a patch of barren sun-baked rock and earth, three miles long and a third of a mile wide, high up on the eastern slope of Mount Davidson, he beheld more millions taken out than the wildest enthusiast had ever before ventured to dream of. But Peter Bines was a luckless unit of the majority that had perforce to live on the hope produced by others' findings. The time for his strike had not come.
For ten years more, half-clad in flannel shirt and overalls, he lived in flimsy tents, tattered canvas houses, and sometimes holes in the ground. One abode of luxury, long cherished in memory, was a ten-by-twelve redwood shanty on Feather River. It not only boasted a window, but there was a round hole in the "shake" roof, fastidiously cut to fit a stove-pipe. That he never possessed a stove-pipe had made this feature of the architecture not less sumptuous and engaging. He lived chiefly on salt pork and beans, cooked over smoky camp-fires.
Through it all he was the determined, eager, confident prospector, never for an instant prey to even the suggestion of a doubt that he would not shortly be rich. Whether he washed the golden specks from the sand of a sage-brush plain, or sought the mother-ledge of some wandering golden child, or dug with his pick to follow a promising surface lead, he knew it to be only the matter of time when his day should dawn. He was of the make that wears unbending hope as its birthright.
Some day the inexhaustible placer would be found; or, on a mountainside where the porphyry was stained, he would carelessly chip off a fragment of rock, turn it up to the sun, and behold it rich in ruby silver; or, some day, the vein instead of pinching out would widen; there would be pay ore almost from the grass-roots—rich, yellow, free-milling gold, so that he could put up a little arastra, beat out enough in a week to buy a small stamp-mill, and then, in six months—ten years more of this fruitless but nourishing certainty were his,—ten years of the awful solitudes, shared sometimes by his hardy and equally confident wife, and, at the last, by his boy, who had become old enough to endure with his father the snow and ice of the mountain tops and the withering heat of the alkali wastes.
Footsore, hungry most of the time, alternately burned and frozen, he lived the life cheerfully and tirelessly, with an enthusiasm that never faltered.
When his day came it brought no surprise, so freshly certain had he kept of its coming through the twenty years of search.
At his feet, one July morning in 1870, he noticed a piece of dark-stained rock in a mass of driftstones. So small was it that to have gone a few feet to either side would have been to miss it. He picked it up and examined it leisurely. It was rich in silver.
Somewhere, then, between him and the mountain top was the parent stock from which this precious fragment had been broken. The sun beat hotly upon him as it had on other days through all the hard years when certainty, after all, was nothing more than a temperamental faith. All day he climbed and searched methodically, stopping at noon to eat with an appetite unaffected by his prospect.
At sunset he would have stopped for the day, camping on the spot. He looked above to estimate the ground he could cover on the morrow. Almost in front of him, a few yards up the mountainside, he looked squarely at the mother of his float: a huge boulder of projecting silicate. It was there.
During the following week he ascertained the dimensions of his vein of silver ore, and located two claims. He named them "The Stars and Stripes" and "The American Boy," paying thereby what he considered tributes, equally deserved, to his native land and to his only son, Daniel, in whom were centred his fondest hopes.
A year of European travel had followed for the family, a year of spending the new money lavishly for strange, long-dreamed-of luxuries—a year in which the money was joyously proved to be real. Then came a year of tentative residence in the East. That year was less satisfactory. The novelty of being sufficiently fed, clad, and sheltered was losing its fine edge.
Penniless and constrained to a life of privation, Peter Bines had been strangely happy. Rich and of consequence in a community where the ways were all of pleasantness and peace, Peter Bines became restless, discontented, and, at last, unmistakably miserable.
"It can't be because I'm rich," he argued; "it's a sure thing my money can't keep me from doin' jest what I want to do."
Then a suspicion pricked him; for he had, in his years of solitude, formed the habit of considering, in a leisurely and hospitable manner, even the reverse sides of propositions that are commonly accepted by men without question.
"The money can't prevent me from doin' what I jest want to—certain—but, maybe, don't it? If I didn't have it I'd fur sure be back in the hills and happy, and so would Evalina, that ain't had hardly what you could call a good day since we made the strike."
On this line of reasoning it took Peter Bines no long time to conclude that he ought now to enjoy as a luxury what he had once been constrained to as a necessity.
"Even when I was poor and had to hit the trail I jest loved them hills, so why ain't it crafty to pike back to 'em now when I don't have to?"
His triumphant finale was:
"When you come to think about it, a rich man ain't really got any more excuse fur bein' mis'able than a poor man has!"
Back to the big hills that called him had he gone; away from the cities where people lived "too close together and too far apart;" back to the green, rough earth where the air was free and quick and a man could see a hundred miles, and the people lived far enough apart to be neighbourly.
There content had blessed him again; content not slothful but inciting; a content that embraced his own beloved West, fashioning first in fancy and then by deed, its own proud future. He had never ceased to plan and stimulate its growth. He not only became one with its manifold interests, but proudly dedicated the young Daniel to its further making. He became an ardent and bigoted Westerner, with a scorn for the East so profound that no Easterner's scorn for the West hath ever by any chance equalled it.
Prospecting with the simple outfit of old became his relaxation, his sport, and, as he aged, his hobby. It was said that he had exalted prospecting to the dignity of an art, and no longer hunted gold as a pot-hunter. He was even reputed to have valuable deposits "covered," and certain it is that after Creede made his rich find on Mammoth Mountain in 1890, Peter Bines met him in Denver and gave him particulars about the vein which as yet Creede had divulged to no one. Questioned later concerning this, Peter Bines evaded answering directly, but suggested that a man who already had plenty of money might have done wisely to cover up the find and be still about it; that Nat Creede himself proved as much by going crazy over his wealth and blowing out his brains.
To a tamely prosperous Easterner who, some years after his return to the West, made the conventional remark, "And isn't it amazing that you were happy through those hard years of toil when you were so poor?" Peter Bines had replied, to his questioner's hopeless bewilderment: "No. But it is surprisin' that I kept happy after I got rich—after I got what I wanted.
"I reckon you'll find," he added, by way of explaining, "that the proportion of happy rich to unhappy rich is a mighty sight smaller than the proportion of happy poor to the unhappy poor. I'm one of the former minority, all right,—but, by cripes! it's because I know how to be rich and still enjoy all the little comforts of poverty!"
Billy Brue Finds His Man
Each spring the old man grew restive and raw like an unbroken colt. And when the distant mountain peaks began to swim in their summer haze, and the little rushing rivers sang to him, pleading that he come once more to follow them up, he became uncontrollable. Every year at this time he alleged, with a show of irritation, that his health was being sapped by the pernicious indulgence of sleeping on a bed inside a house. He alleged, further, that stocks and bonds were but shadows of wealth, that the old mines might any day become exhausted, and that security for the future lay only in having one member of the family, at least, looking up new pay-rock against the ever possible time of adversity.
"They ain't got to makin' calendars yet with the rainy day marked on 'em," he would say. "A'most any one of them innocent lookin' Mondays or Tuesdays or Wednesdays is liable to be it when you get right up on to it. I'll have to start my old bones out again, I see that. Things are beginnin' to green up a'ready." When he did go it was always understood to be positively for not more than two weeks. A list of his reasons for extending the time each year to three or four months would constitute the ideal monograph on human duplicity. When hard-pushed on his return, he had once or twice been even brazen enough to assert that he had lost his way in the mountain fastnesses. But, for all his protestations, no one when he left in June expected to see him again before September at the earliest. In these solitary tours he was busy and happy, working and playing. "Work," he would say, "is something you want to get done; play is something you jest like to be doin'. Snoopin' up these gulches is both of 'em to me."
And so he loitered through the mountains, resting here, climbing there, making always a shrewd, close reading of the rocks.
It was thus Billy Brue found him at the end of his second day's search. A little off the trail, at the entrance to a pocket of the canon, he towered erect to peer down when he heard the noise of the messenger's ascent. Standing beside a boulder of grey granite, before a background of the gnarled dwarf-cedars, his hat off, his blue shirt open at the neck, his bare forearms brown, hairy, and muscular, a hammer in his right hand, his left resting lightly on his hip, he might have been the Titan that had forged the boulder at his side, pausing now for breath before another mighty task. Well over six feet tall, still straight as any of the pines before him, his head and broad shoulders in the easy poise of power, there was about him from a little distance no sign of age. His lines were gracefully full, his bearing had still the alertness of youth. One must have come as near as Billy Brue now came to detect the marks of time in his face. Not of age—merely of time; for here was no senility, no quavering or fretful lines. The grey eyes shone bright and clear from far under the heavy, unbroken line of brow, and the mouth was still straight and firmly held, a mouth under sure control from corner to corner. A little had the years brought out the rugged squareness of the chin and the deadly set of the jaws; a little had they pressed in the cheeks to throw the high bones into broad relief. But these were the utmost of their devastations. Otherwise Peter Bines showed his seventy-four years only by the marks of a well-ordered maturity. His eyes, it is true, had that look of knowing which to the young seems always to betoken the futility of, and to warn against the folly of, struggle against what must be; yet they were kind eyes, and humourous, with many of the small lines of laughter at their corners. Reading the eyes and mouth together one perceived gentleness and sternness to be well matched, working to any given end in amiable and effective compromise. "Uncle Peter" he had long been called by the public that knew him, and his own grandchildren had come to call him by the same term, finding him too young to meet their ideal of a grandfather. Billy Brue, riding up the trail, halted, nodded, and was silent. The old man returned his salutation as briefly. These things by men who stay much alone come to be managed with verbal economy. They would talk presently, but greetings were awkward.
Billy Brue took one foot from its stirrup and turned in his saddle, pulling the leg up to a restful position. Then he spat, musingly, and looked back down the canon aimlessly, throwing his eyes from side to side where the grey granite ledges showed through the tall spruce and pine trees.
But the old man knew he had been sent for.
"Well, Billy Brue,—what's doin'?"
Billy Brue squirmed in the saddle, spat again, as with sudden resolve, and said:
"Why,—uh—Dan'l J.—he's dead."
The old man repeated the words, dazedly.
"Dan'l J.—he's dead;—why, who else is dead, too?"
Billy Brue's emphasis, cunningly contrived by him to avoid giving prominence to the word "dead," had suggested this inquiry in the first moment of stupefaction.
"Nobody else dead—jest Dan'l J.—he's dead."
"Jest Dan'l J.—my boy—my boy Dan'l dead!"
His mighty shape was stricken with a curious rigidity, erected there as if it were a part of the mountain, flung up of old from the earth's inner tragedy, confounded, desolate, ancient.
Billy Brue turned from the stony interrogation of his eyes and took a few steps away, waiting. A little wind sprang up among the higher trees, the moments passed, and still the great figure stood transfixed in its curious silence. The leathers creaked as the horse turned. The messenger, with an air of surveying the canon, stole an anxious glance at the old face. The sorrowful old eyes were fixed on things that were not; they looked vaguely as if in search.
"Dan'l!" he said.
It was not a cry; there was nothing plaintive in it. It was only the old man calling his son: David calling upon Absalom. Then there was a change. He came sternly forward.
"Who killed my boy?"
"Nobody, Uncle Peter; 'twas a stroke. He was goin' over the line and they'd laid out at Kaslo fer a day so's Dan'l J. could see about a spur the 'Lucky Cuss' people wanted—and maybe it was the climbin' brought it on."
The old man looked his years. As he came nearer Billy Brue saw tears tremble in his eyes and roll unnoted down his cheeks. Yet his voice was unbroken and he was, indeed, unconscious of the tears.
"I was afraid of that. He lived too high. He et too much and he drank too much and was too soft—was Dan'l.—too soft—"
The old voice trembled a bit and he stopped to look aside into the little pocket he had been exploring. Billy Brue looked back down the canon, where the swift stream brawled itself into white foam far below.
"He wouldn't use his legs; I prodded him about it constant—"
He stopped again to brace himself against the shock. Billy Brue still looked away.
"I told him high altitudes and high livin' would do any man—" Again he was silent.
"But all he'd ever say was that times had changed since my day, and I wasn't to mind him." He had himself better in hand now.
"Why, I nursed that boy when he was a dear, funny little red baby with big round eyes rollin' around to take notice; he took notice awful quick—fur a baby. Oh, my! Oh, dear! Dan'l!"
Again he stopped.
"And it don't seem more'n yesterday that I was a-teachin' him to throw the diamond hitch; he could throw the diamond hitch with his eyes shut —I reckon by the time he was nine or ten. He had his faults, but they didn't hurt him none; Dan'l J. was a man, now—" He halted once more.
"The dead millionaire," began Billy Brue, reading from the obituary in the Skiplap Weekly Ledge, "was in his fifty-second year. Genial, generous to a fault, quick to resent a wrong, but unfailing in his loyalty to a friend, a man of large ideas, with a genius for large operations, he was the type of indefatigable enterprise that has builded this Western empire in a wilderness and given rich sustenance and luxurious homes to millions of prosperous, happy American citizens. Peace to his ashes! And a safe trip to his immortal soul over the one-way trail!"
"Yes, yes—it's Dan'l J. fur sure—they got my boy Dan'l that time. Is that all it says, Billy? Any one with him?"
"Why, this here despatch is signed by young Toler—that's his confidential man."
The old man was peering at him sharply from under the grey protruding brows.
"Well, if you must know, Uncle Peter, this is what the notice says that come by wire to the Ledge office," and he read doggedly:
"The young and beautiful Mrs. Bines, who had been accompanying her husband on his trip of inspection over the Sierra Northern, is prostrated by the shock of his sudden death."
The old man became for the first time conscious of the tears in his eyes, and, pulling down one of the blue woollen shirt sleeves, wiped his wet cheeks. The slow, painful blush of age crept up across the iron strength of his face, and passed. He looked away as he spoke.
"I knew it; I knew that. My Dan'l was like all that Frisco bunch. They get tangled with women sooner or later. I taxed Dan'l with it. I spleened against it and let him know it. But he was a man and his own master—if you can rightly call a man his own master that does them things. Do you know what-fur woman this one was, Billy?"
"Well, last time Dan'l J. was up to Skiplap, there was a swell party on the car—kind of a coppery-lookin' blonde. Allie Ash, the brakeman on No. 4, he tells me she used to be in Spokane, and now she'd got her hooks on to some minin' property up in the Coeur d'Alene. Course, this mightn't be the one."
The old man had ceased to listen. He was aroused to the need for action.
"Get movin', Billy! We can get down to Eden to-night; we'll have the moon fur two hours on the trail soon's the sun's gone. I can get 'em to drive me over to Skiplap first thing to-morrow, and I can have 'em make me up a train there fur Montana City. Was he—"
"Dan'l J. has been took home—the noozepaper says."
They turned back down the trail, the old man astride Billy Brue's horse, followed by his pack-mule and preceded by Billy.
Already, such was his buoyance and habit of quick recovery and readjustment under reverses, his thoughts were turning to his grandson. Daniel's boy—there was the grandson of his grandfather—the son of his father—fresh from college, and the instructions of European travel, knowing many things his father had not known, ready to take up the work of his father, and capable, perhaps, of giving it a better finish. His beloved West had lost one of its valued builders, but another should take his place. His boy should come to him and finish the tasks of his father; and, in the years to come, make other mighty tasks of empire-building for himself and the children of his children.
It did not occur to him that he and the boy might be as far apart in sympathies and aims as at that moment they were in circumstance. For, while the old man in the garb of a penniless prospector, toiled down the steep mountain trail on a cheap horse, his grandson was reading the first news of his father's death in one of the luxurious staterooms of a large steam yacht that had just let down her anchor in Newport Harbour. And each—but for the death—had been where most he wished to be—one with his coarse fare and out-of-doors life, roughened and seamed by the winds and browned by the sun to mahogany tints; aged but playing with boyish zest at his primitive sport; the other, a strong-limbed, well-marrowed, full-breathing youth of twenty-five, with appetites all alert and sharpened, pink and pampered, loving luxury, and prizing above all things else the atmosphere of wealth and its refinements.
The West Against the East
Two months later a sectional war was raging in the Bines home at Montana City. The West and the East were met in conflict,—the old and the new, the stale and the fresh. And, if the bitterness was dissembled by the combatants, not less keenly was it felt, nor less determined was either faction to be relentless.
A glance about the "sitting-room" in which the opposing forces were lined up, and into the parlour through the opened folding-doors, may help us to a better understanding of the issue involved. Both rooms were large and furnished in a style that had been supremely luxurious in 1878. The house, built in that year, of Oregon pine, had been quite the most pretentious piece of architecture in that section of the West. It had been erected in the first days of Montana City as a convincing testimonial from the owner to his faith in the town's future. The plush-upholstered sofas and chairs, with their backs and legs of carved black walnut, had come direct from New York. For pictures there were early art-chromos, among them the once-prized companion pieces, "Wide Awake" and "Fast Asleep." Lithography was represented by "The Fisherman's Pride" and "The Soldier's Dream of Home." In the handicrafts there were a photographic reproduction of the Lord's Prayer, illustrated originally by a penman with uncommon genius for scroll-work; a group of water-lilies in wax, floating on a mirror-lake and protected by a glass globe; a full-rigged schooner, built cunningly inside a bottle by a matricide serving a life-sentence in the penitentiary at San Quinten; and a mechanical canarybird in a gilded cage, acquired at the Philadelphia Centennial,—a bird that had carolled its death—lay in the early winter of 1877 when it was wound up too hard and its little insides snapped. In the parlour a few ornamental books were grouped with rare precision on the centre-table with its oval top of white marble. On the walls of the "sitting-room" were a steel engraving of Abraham Lincoln striking the shackles from a kneeling slave, and a framed cardboard rebus worked in red zephyr, the reading of which was "No Cross, No Crown."
Thus far nothing helpful has been found.
Let us examine, then, the what-not in the "sitting-room" and the choice Empire cabinet that faces it from the opposite wall of the parlour.
The what-not as an American institution is obsolete. Indeed, it has been rather long since writers referred to it even in terms of opprobrious sarcasm. The what-not, once the cherished shrine of the American home, sheltered the smaller household gods for which no other resting-place could be found. The Empire cabinet, with its rounding front of glass, its painted Watteau scenes, and its mirrored back, has come to supplant the humbler creation in the fulfilment of all its tender or mysterious offices.
Here, perchance, may be found a clue in symbol to the family strife.
The Bines what-not in the sitting-room was grimly orthodox in its equipment. Here was an ancient box covered with shell-work, with a wavy little mirror in its back; a tender motto worked with the hair of the dead; a "Rock of Ages" in a glass case, with a garland of pink chenille around the base; two dried pine cones brightly varnished; an old daguerreotype in an ornamental case of hard rubber; a small old album; two small China vases of the kind that came always in pairs, standing on mats of crocheted worsted; three sea-shells; and the cup and saucer that belonged to grandma, which no one must touch because they'd been broken and were held together but weakly, owing to the imperfections of home-made cement.
The new cabinet, haughty in its varnished elegance, with its Watteau dames and courtiers, and perhaps the knowledge that it enjoys widespread approval among the elect,—this is a different matter. In every American home that is a home, to-day, it demands attention. The visitor, after eyeing it with cautious side-glances, goes jauntily up to it, affecting to have been stirred by the mere impulse of elegant idleness. Under the affectedly careless scrutiny of the hostess he falls dramatically into an attitude of awed entrancement. Reverently he gazes upon the priceless bibelots within: the mother-of-pearl fan, half open; the tiny cup and saucer of Sevres on their brass easel; the miniature Cupid and Psyche in marble; the Japanese wrestlers carved in ivory; the ballet-dancer in bisque; the coral necklace; the souvenir spoon from the Paris Exposition; the jade bracelet; and the silver snuff-box that grandfather carried to the day of his death. If the gazing visitor be a person of abandoned character he makes humourous pretence that the householder has done wisely to turn a key upon these treasures, against the ravishings of the overwhelmed and frenzied connoisseur. He wears the look of one who is gnawed with envy, and he heaves the sigh of despair.
But when he notes presently that he has ceased to be observed he sneaks cheerfully to another part of the room.
The what-not is obsolete. The Empire cabinet is regnant. Yet, though one is the lineal descendant of the other—its sophisticated grandchild—they are hostile and irreconcilable.
Twenty years hence the cabinet will be proscribed and its contents catalogued in those same terms of disparagement that the what-not became long since too dead to incur. Both will then have attained the state of honourable extinction now enjoyed by the dodo.
The what-not had curiously survived in the Bines home—survived unto the coming of the princely cabinet—survived to give battle if it might.
Here, perhaps, may be found the symbolic clue to the strife's cause.
The sole non-combatant was Mrs. Bines, the widow. A neutral was this good woman, and a well-wisher to each faction.
"I tell you it's all the same to me," she declared, "Montana City or Fifth Avenue in New York. I guess I can do well enough in either place so long as the rest of you are satisfied."
It had been all the same to Mrs. Bines for as many years as a woman of fifty can remember. It was the lot of wives in her day and environment early to learn the supreme wisdom of abolishing preferences. Riches and poverty, ease and hardship, mountain and plain, town and wilderness, they followed in no ascertainable sequence, and a superiority of indifference to each was the only protection against hurts from the unexpected.
This trained neutrality of Mrs. Bines served her finely now. She had no leading to ally herself against her children in their wish to go East, nor against Uncle Peter Bines in his stubborn effort to keep them West. She folded her hands to wait on the others.
And the battle raged.
The old man, sole defender of the virtuous and stalwart West against an East that he alleged to be effete and depraved, had now resorted to sarcasm,—a thing that Mr. Carlyle thought was as good as the language of the devil.
"And here, now, how about this dog-luncheon?" he continued, glancing at a New York newspaper clutched accusingly in his hand. "It was give, I see, by one of your Newport cronies. Now, that's healthy doin's fur a two-fisted Christian, ain't it? I want to know. Shappyronging a select company of lady and gentlemen dogs from soup to coffee; pressing a little more of the dog-biscuit on this one, and seein' that the other don't misplay its finger-bowl no way. How I would love to read of a Bines standin' up, all in purty velvet pants, most likely, to receive at one of them bow-wow functions;—functions, I believe, is the name of it?" he ended in polite inquiry.
"There, there, Uncle Peter!" the young man broke in, soothingly; "you mustn't take those Sunday newspapers as gospel truth; those stories are printed for just such rampant old tenderfoots as you are; and even if there is one foolish freak, he doesn't represent all society in the better sense of the term."
"Yes, and you!" Uncle Peter broke out again, reminded of another grievance. "You know well enough your true name is Peter—Pete and Petie when you was a baby and Peter when you left for college. And you're ashamed of what you've done, too, for you tried to hide them callin'-cards from me the other day, only you wa'n't quick enough. Bring 'em out! I'm bound your mother and Pish shall see 'em. Out with 'em!"
The young man, not without embarrassment, drew forth a Russia leather card-case which the old man took from him as one having authority.
"Here you are, Marthy Bines!" he exclaimed, handing her a card; "here you are! read it! Mr. P. Percival Bines.' Now don't you feel proud of havin' stuck out for Percival when you see it in cold print? You know mighty well his pa and me agreed to Percival only fur a middle name, jest to please you—and he wa'n't to be called by it;—only jest Peter or 'Peter P.' at most; and now look at the way he's gone and garbled his good name."
Mr. P. Percival Bines blushed furiously here, but rejoined, nevertheless, with quiet dignity, that a man's name was something about which he should have the ruling voice, especially where it was possible for him to rectify or conceal the unhappy choice of his parents.
"And while we're on names," he continued, "do try to remember in case you ever get among people, that Sis's name is Psyche and not Pish."
The blond and complacent Miss Bines here moved uneasily in her patent blue plush rocker and spoke for the first time, with a grateful glance at her brother.
"Yes, Uncle Peter, for mercy's sake, do try! Don't make us a laughing-stock!" "But your name is Pish. A person's name is what their folks name 'em, ain't it? Your ma comes acrost a name in a book that she likes the looks of, and she takes it to spell Pish, and she ups and names you Pish, and we all calls you Pish and Pishy, and then when you toddle off to public school and let 'em know how you spell it they tell you it's something else—an outlandish name if spellin' means anything. If it comes to that you ought to change the spellin' instead of the name that your poor pa loved."
Yet the old man had come to know that he was fighting a lost fight,—lost before it had ever begun.
"It will be a good chance," ventured Mrs. Bines, timidly, "for Pishy—I mean Sike—Sicky—to meet the right sort of people."
"Yes, I should say—and the wrong sort. The ingagin' host of them lady and gentlemen dogs, fur instance."
"But Uncle Peter," broke in the young man, "you shouldn't expect a girl of Psyche's beauty and fortune to vegetate in Montana City all her life. Why, any sort of brilliant marriage is possible to her if she goes among the right people. Don't you want the family to amount to something socially? Is our money to do us no good? And do you think I'm going to stay here and be a moss-back and raise chin whiskers and work myself to death the way my father did?"
"No, no," replied the old man, with a glance at the mother; "not jest the way your pa did; you might do some different and some better; but all the same, you won't do any better'n he did any way you'll learn to live in New York. Unless you was to go broke there," he added, thoughtfully; "in that case you got the stuff in you and it'd come out; but you got too much money to go broke."
"And you'll see that I lead a decent enough life. Times have changed since my father was a young man."
"Yes; that's what your pa told me,—times had changed since I was a young man; but I could 'a' done him good if he'd 'a' listened."
"Well, we'll try it. The tide is setting that way from all over the country. Here, listen to this editorial in the Sun." And he read from his own paper:
"A GOOD PLACE TO MOVE TO.
"One of the most interesting evidences of the growth of New York is the news that Mr. Anson Ledrick of the Consolidated Copper Company has purchased an extensive building site on Riverside Drive and will presently improve it with a costly residence. Mr. Ledrick's decision to move his household effects to Manhattan Island is in accordance with a very marked tendency of successful Americans.
"There are those who are fond of depreciating New York; of assailing it with all sorts of cheap and sensational vituperation; of picturing it as the one great canker spot of the Western hemisphere, as irretrievably sunk in wickedness and shame. The fact remains, however, that the city, as never before, is the great national centre of wealth, culture, and distinction of every kind, and that here the citizen, successful in art, literature, or practical achievement, instinctively seeks his abiding-place.
"The restlessness of the average American millionaire while he remains outside the city limits is frequently remarked upon. And even the mighty overlords of Chicago, falling in with the prevailing fashion, have forsaken the shores of the great inland sea and pitched their tents with us; not to speak of the copper kings of Montana. Why is it that these interesting men, after acquiring fortune and fame elsewhere, are not content to remain upon the scene of their early triumphs? Why is it that they immediately pack their carpet-bags, take the first through train to our gates, and startle the investing public by the manner in which they bull the price of New York building lots?"
The old man listened absently.
"And probably some day I'll read of you in that same centre of culture and distinction as P. Percival Bines, a young man of obscure fam'ly, that rose by his own efforts to be the dashin' young cotillion leader and the well-known club-man, and that his pink teas fur dogs is barked about by every fashionable canine on the island."
The young man continued to read: "These men are not vain fools; they are shrewd, successful men of the world. They have surveyed New York City from a distance and have discovered that, in spite of Tammany and in spite of yellow journals, New York is a town of unequalled attractiveness. And so they come; and their coming shows us what we are. Not only millionaires; but also painters and novelists and men and women of varied distinction. The city palpitates with life and ambition and hope and promise; it attracts the great and the successful, and those who admire greatness and success. The force of natural selection is at work here as everywhere; and it is rapidly concentrating in our small island whatever is finest, most progressive, and best in the American character."
"Well, now do me a last favour before you pike off East," pleaded the old man. "Make a trip with me over the properties. See 'em once anyway, and see a little more of this country and these people. Mebbe they're better'n you think. Give me about three weeks or a month, and then, by Crimini, you can go off if you're set on it and be 'whatever is finest and best in the American character' as that feller puts it. But some day, son, you'll find out there's a whole lot of difference between a great man of wealth and a man of great wealth. Them last is gettin' terrible common."
Over the Hills
So the old man and the young man made the round of the Bines properties. The former nursed a forlorn little hope of exciting an interest in the concerns most vital to him; to the latter the leisurely tour in the private car was a sportive prelude to the serious business of life, as it should be lived, in the East. Considering it as such he endured it amiably, and indeed the long August days and the sharply cool nights were not without real enjoyment for him.
To feel impartially a multitude of strong, fresh wants—the imperative need to live life in all its fulness, this of itself makes the heart to sing. And, above the full complement of wants, to have been dowered by Heaven with a stanch disbelief in the unattainable,—this is a fortune rather to be chosen than a good name or great riches; since the name and riches and all things desired must come to the call of it.
Our Western-born youth of twenty-five had the wants and the sense of power inherited from a line of men eager of initiative, the product of an environment where only such could survive. Doubtless in him was the soul and body hunger of his grandfather, cramping and denying through hardship year after year, yet sustained by dreaming in the hardest times of the soft material luxuries that should some day be his. Doubtless marked in his character, too, was the slightly relaxed tension of his father; the disposition to feast as well as the capacity to fast; to take all, feel all, do all, with an avidity greater by reason of the grinding abstinence and the later indulgence of his forbears. A sage versed in the lore of heredity as modified by environment may some day trace for us the progress across this continent of an austere Puritan, showing how the strain emerges from the wilderness at the Western ocean with a character so widely differing from the one with which he began the adventurous journey,—regarding, especially, a tolerance of the so-called good and many of the bad things of life. Until this is done we may, perhaps, consider the change to be without valid cause.
Young Bines, at all events, was the flower of a pioneer stock, and him the gods of life cherished, so that all the forces of the young land about him were as his own. Yet, though his pulses rhymed to theirs he did not perceive his relation to them: neither he nor the land was yet become introspective. So informed was he with the impetuous spirit of youth that the least manifestation of life found its answering thrill in him. And it was sufficient to feel this. There was no time barren enough of sensation to reason about it. Uncle Peter's plan for an inspection of the Bines properties had at first won him by touching his sense of duty. He anticipated no interest or pleasure in the trip. Yet from the beginning he enjoyed it to the full. Being what he was, the constant movement pleased him, the out-of-doors life, the occasional sorties from the railroad by horse to some remote mining camp, or to a stock ranch or lumber-camp. He had been away for six years, and it pleased him to note that he was treated by the people he met with a genuine respect and liking as the son of his father. In the East he had been accustomed to a certain deference from very uncertain people because he was the son of a rich man. Here he had prestige because he was the son of Daniel Bines, organiser and man of affairs. He felt sometimes that the men at mine, mill, or ranch looked him over with misgiving, and had their cautious liking compelled only by the assurance that he was indeed the son of Daniel. They left him at these times with the suspicion that this bare fact meant enough with them to carry a man of infelicitous exterior.
He was pleased, moreover, to feel a new respect for Uncle Peter. He observed that men of all degrees looked up to him, sought and relied upon his judgment; the investing capitalist whom they met not less than the mine foreman; the made man and the labourer. In the drawing-room at home he had felt so agreeably superior to the old man; now he felt his own inferiority in a new element, and began to view him with more respect. He saw him to be the shrewd man of affairs, with a thorough grasp of detail in every branch of their interests; and a deep man, as well; a little narrow, perhaps, from his manner of life, but of unfailing kindness, and with rather a young man's radicalism than an old man's conservatism; one who, in an emergency, might be relied upon to take the unexpected but effective course.
For his own part, old Peter Bines learned in the course of the trip to understand and like his grandson better. At bottom he decided the young man to be sound after all, and he began to make allowance for his geographical heresies. The boy had been sent to an Eastern college; that was clearly a mistake, putting him out of sympathy with the West; and he had never been made to work, which was another and a graver mistake, "but he'd do more'n his father ever did if 'twa'n't fur his father's money," the old man concluded. For he saw in their talks that the very Eastern experience which he derided had given the young fellow a poise and a certain readiness to grasp details in the large that his father had been a lifetime in acquiring.
For a month they loitered over the surrounding territory in the private car, gliding through fertile valleys, over bleak passes, steaming up narrow little canons along the down-rushing streams with their cool shallow murmurs.
They would learn one day that a cross-cut was to be started on the Last Chance, or that the concentrates of the True Grit would thereafter be shipped to the Careless Creek smelter. Next they would learn that a new herd of Galloways had done finely last season on the Bitter Root ranch; that a big lot of ore was sacked at the Irish Boy, that an eighteen-inch vein had been struck in the Old Crow; that a concentrator was needed at Hellandgone, and that rich gold-bearing copper and sand bearing free gold had been found over on Horseback Ridge.
Another day they would drive far into a forest of spruce and hemlock to a camp where thousands of ties were being cut and floated down to the line of the new railway.
Sometimes they spent a night in one of the smaller mining camps off the railroad, whereof facetious notes would appear in the nearest weekly paper, such as:
"The Hon. Peter Bines and his grandson, who is a chip of the old block, spent Tuesday night at Rock Rip. Young Bines played the deal from soda card to hock at Lem Tully's Turf Exchange, and showed Lem's dealer good and plenty that there's no piker strain in him."
Or, it might be:
"Poker stacks continue to have a downward tendency. They were sold last week as low as eighty chips for a dollar; It is sad to see this noble game dragging along in the lower levels of prosperity, and we take as a favourable omen the appearance of Uncle Peter Bines and his grandson the other night. The prices went to par in a minute. Young Bines gave signs of becoming as delicately intuitional in the matter of concealed values as his father, the lamented Daniel J."
Again it was:
"Uncle Peter Bines reports from over Kettle Creek way that the sagebrush whiskey they take a man's two bits for there would gnaw holes in limestone. Peter is likelier to find a ledge of dollar bills than he is good whiskey this far off the main trail. The late Daniel J. could have told him as much, and Daniel J.'s boy, who accompanies Uncle Peter, will know it hereafter."
The young man felt wholesomely insignificant at these and other signs that he was taken on sufferance as a son and a grandson.
He was content that it should be so. Indeed there was little wherewith he was not content. That he was habitually preoccupied, even when there was most movement about them, early became apparent to Uncle Peter. That he was constantly cheerful proved the matter of his musings to be pleasant. That he was proner than most youths to serious meditation Uncle Peter did not believe. Therefore he attributed the moods of abstraction to some matter probably connected with his project of removing the family East. It was not permitted Uncle Peter to know, nor was his own youth recent enough for him to suspect, the truth. And the mystery stayed inviolate until a day came and went that laid it bare even to the old man's eyes.
They awoke one morning to find the car on a siding at the One Girl mine. Coupled to it was another car from an Eastern road that their train had taken on sometime in the night. Percival noted the car with interest as he paced beside the track in the cool clear air before breakfast. The curtains were drawn, and the only signs of life to be observed were at the kitchen end, where the white-clad cook could be seen astir. Grant, porter on the Bines car, told him the other car had been taken on at Kaslo Junction, and that it belonged to Rulon Shepler, the New York financier, who was aboard with a party of friends.
As Percival and Uncle Peter left their car for the shaft-house after breakfast, the occupants of the other car were bestirring themselves.
From one of the open windows a low but impassioned voice was exhausting the current idioms of damnation in sweeping dispraise of all land-areas north and west of Fifty-ninth Street, New York.
Uncle Peter smiled grimly. Percival flushed, for the hidden protestant had uttered what were his own sentiments a month before.
Reaching the shaft-house they chatted with Pangburn, the superintendent, and then went to the store-room to don blouses and overalls for a descent into the mine.
For an hour they stayed underground, traversing the various levels and drifts, while Pangburn explained the later developments of the vein and showed them where the new stoping had been begun.
A Meeting and a Clashing
As they stepped from the cage at the surface Percival became aware of a group of strangers between him and the open door of the shaft-house,—people displaying in dress and manner the unmistakable stamp of New York. For part of a minute, while the pupils of his eyes were contracting to the light, he saw them but vaguely. Then, as his sight cleared, he beheld foremost in the group, beaming upon him with an expression of pleased and surprised recognition, the girl whose face and voice had for nearly half a year peopled his lover's solitude with fair visions and made its silence to be all melody.
Had the encounter been anticipated his composure would perhaps have failed him. Not a few of his waking dreams had sketched this, their second meeting, and any one of the ways it had pleased him to plan it would assuredly have found him nervously embarrassed. But so wildly improbable was this reality that not the daringest of his imagined happenings had approached it. His thoughts for the moment had been not of her; then, all at once, she stood before him in the flesh, and he was cool, almost unmoved. He suspected at once that her father was the trim, fastidiously dressed man who looked as if he had been abducted from a morning stroll down the avenue to his club; that the plump, ruddy, high-bred woman, surveying the West disapprovingly through a lorgnon, would be her mother. Shepler he knew by sight, with his big head, massive shoulders, and curiously short, tapering body. Some other men and a woman were scanning the hoisting machinery with superior looks.
The girl, before starting toward him, had waited hardly longer than it took him to eye the group. And then came an awkward two seconds upon her whose tact in avoiding the awkward was reputed to be more than common.
With her hand extended she had uttered, "Why, Mr.—" before it flashed upon her that she did not know the name of the young man she was greeting.
The "Mister" was threatening to prolong itself into an "r" of excruciating length and disgraceful finality, an "r" that is terminated neatly by no one but hardened hotel-clerks. Then a miner saved the day. "Mr. Bines," he said, coming up hurriedly behind Percival with several specimens of ore, "you forgot these."
"-r-r-r. Bines, how do you do!" concluded the girl with an eye-flash of gratitude at the humble instrument that had prevented an undue hiatus in her salutation. They were apart from the others and for the moment unnoticed.
The young man took the hand so cordially offered, and because of all the things he wished and had so long waited to say, he said nothing.
"Isn't it jolly! I am Miss Milbrey," she added in a lower tone, and then, raising her voice, "Mamma, Mr. Bines—and papa," and there followed a hurried and but half-acknowledged introduction to the other members of the party. And, behold! in that moment the young man had schemed the edifice of all his formless dreams. For six months he had known the unsurpassable luxury of wanting and of knowing what he wanted. Now, all at once, he saw this to be a world in which dreams come more than true.
Shepler and the party were to go through the mine as a matter of sight-seeing. They were putting on outer clothes from the store-room to protect them from the dirt and damp.
Presently Percival found himself again at the bottom of the shaft. During the descent of twelve hundred feet he had reflected upon the curious and interesting fact that her name should be Milbrey. He felt dimly that this circumstance should be ranked among the most interesting of natural phenomena,—that she should have a name, as the run of mortals, and that it should be one name more than another. When he discovered further that her Christian name was Avice the phenomenon became stupendously bewildering. They two were in the last of the party to descend. On reaching bottom he separated her with promptness and guile from two solemn young men, copies of each other, and they were presently alone. In the distance they could see the others following ghostly lamps. From far off mysterious recesses came the muffled musical clink of the sledges on the drills. An employee who had come down with them started to be their guide. Percival sent him back.
"I've just been through; I can find my way again."
"Ver' well," said the man, "with the exception that it don't happen something,—yes?" And he stayed where he was.
Down one of the cross-cuts they started, stepping aside to let a car of ore be pushed along to the shaft.
"Do you know," began the girl, "I am so glad to be able to thank you for what you did that night."
"I'm glad you are able. I was beginning to think I should always have those thanks owing to me."
"I might have paid them at the time, but it was all so unexpected and so sudden,—it rattled me, quite."
"I thought you were horribly cool-headed."
"Your manner reduced me to a groom who opened your carriage door."
"But grooms don't often pick strange ladies up bodily and bear them out of a pandemonium of waltzing cab-horses. I'd never noticed before that cab-horses are so frivolous and hysterical."
"And grooms know where to look for their pay."
They were interrupting nervously, and bestowing furtive side-looks upon each other.
"If I'd not seen you," said the girl, "glanced at you—before—that evening, I shouldn't have remembered so well; doubtless I'd not have recognised you to-day."
"I didn't know you did glance at me, and yet I watched you every moment of the evening. You didn't know that, did you?"
"Of course I knew it. A woman has to note such things without letting it be seen that she sees."
"And I'd have sworn you never once so much as looked my way."
"Don't we do it well, though?"
"And in spite of all the time I gave to a study of your face I lost the detail of it. I could keep only the effect of its expression and the few tones of your voice I heard. You know I took those on a record so I could make 'em play over any time I wanted to listen. Do you know, that has all been very sweet to me, my helping you and the memory of it,—so vague and sweet."
"Aren't you afraid we're losing the others?"
She halted and looked back.
"No; I'm afraid we won't lose them; come on; you can't turn back now. And you don't want to hear anything about mines; it wouldn't be at all good for you, I'm sure. Quick, down this way, or you'll hear Pangburn telling some one what a stope is, and think what a thing that would be to carry in your head."
"Really, a stope sounds like something that would 'get you' in the night! I'm afraid!"
Half in his spirit she fled with him down a dimly lighted incline where men were working at the rocky wall with sledge and drill. There was that in his manner which compelled her quite as literally as when at their first meeting he had picked her up in his arms.
As they walked single-file through the narrowing of a drift, she wondered about him. He was Western, plainly. An employee in the mine, probably a manager or director or whatever it was they called those in authority in mines. Plainly, too, he was a man of action and a man who engaged all her instinctive liking. Something in him at once coerced her friendliest confidence. These were the admissions she made to herself. She divined him, moreover, to be a blend of boldness and timidity. He was bold to the point of telling her things unconventionally, of beguiling her into remote underground passages away from the party; yet she understood; she knew at once that he was a determined but unspoiled gentleman; that under no provocation could he make a mistake. In any situation of loneliness she would have felt safe with him—"as with a brother"—she thought. Then, feeling her cheeks burn, she turned back and said:
"I must tell you he was my brother—that man—that night."
He was sorry and glad all at once. The sorrow being the lesser and more conventional emotion, he started upon an awkward expression of it, which she interrupted.
"Never mind saying that, thank you. Tell me something about yourself, now. I really would like to know you. What do you see and hear and do in this strange life?"
"There's not much variety," he answered, with a convincing droop of depression. "For six months I've been seeing you and hearing you—seeing you and hearing you; not much variety in that—nothing worth telling you about."
Despite her natural caution, intensified by training, she felt herself thrill to the very evident sincerity of his tones, so that she had to affect mirth to seem at ease.
"Dear, dear, what painful monotony; and how many men have said it since these rocks were made; and now you say it,—well, I admit—"
"But there's nothing new under the sun, you know."
"No; not even a new excuse for plagiarism, is there?"
"Well, you see as long as the same old thing keeps true the same old way of telling it will be more or less depended upon. After a few hundred years of experiment, you know, they hit on the fewest words that tell the most, and everybody uses them because no one can improve them. Maybe the prehistoric cave-gentleman, who proposed to his loved one with a war club just back of her left ear, had some variation of the formula suiting his simple needs, after he'd gotten her home and brought her to and she said it was 'all so sudden;' and a man can work in little variations of his own to-day. For example—"
"I'm sure we'd best be returning."
"For example, I could say, you know, that for keeping the mind active and the heart working overtime the memory of you surpasses any tonic advertised in the backs of the magazines. Or, that—"
"I think that's enough; I see you could vary the formula, in case—"
"—have varied it—but don't forget I prefer the original unvaried. After all, there are certain things that you can't tell in too few words. Now, you—"
"You stubborn person. Really, I know all about myself. I asked you to tell me about yourself."
"And I began at once to tell you everything about myself—everything of interest—which is yourself."
"I see your sense of values is gone, poor man. I shall question you. Now you are a miner, and I like men of action, men who do things; I've often wondered about you, and seriously, I'm glad to find you here doing something. I remembered you kindly, with real gratitude, indeed. You didn't seem like a New York man either, and I decided you weren't. Honestly, I am glad to find you here at your work in your miner's clothes. You mustn't think we forget how to value men that work."
On the point of saying thoughtlessly, "But I'm not working here—I own the mine," he checked himself. Instead he began a defence of the man who doesn't work, but who could if he had to. "For example," he continued, "here we are at a place that you must be carried over; otherwise you'd have to wade through a foot of water or go around that long way we've come. I've rubber boots on, and so I pick you up this way—" He held her lightly on his arm and she steadied herself with a hand between his shoulders.
"And staggering painfully under my burden, I wade out to the middle of this subterranean lake." He stopped.
"You see, I've learned to do things. I could pick you from that slippery street and put you in your carriage, and I can pick you up now without wasting words about it—"
"But you're wasting time—hurry, please—and, anyway, you're a miner and used to such things."
He remained standing.
"But I'm not wasting time, and I'm not a miner in the sense you mean. I own this mine, and I suppose for the most part I'm the sort of man you seem to have gotten tired of; the man who doesn't have to do anything. Even now I'm this close to work only because my grandfather wanted me to look over the properties my father left."
"But, hurry, please, and set me down."
"Not until I warn you that I'm just as apt to do things as the kind of man you thought I was. This is twice I've picked you up now. Look out for me;—next time I may not put you down at all."
She gave a low little laugh, denoting unruffled serenity. She was glorying secretly in his strength, and she knew his boldness and timidity were still justly balanced. And there was the rather astonishing bit of news he had just given her. That needed a lot of consideration.
With slow, sure-footed steps he reached the farther side of the water and put her on her feet.
"There, I thought I'd reveal the distressing truth about myself while I had you at my mercy."
"I might have suspected, but I gave the name no thought. Bines, to be sure. You are the son of the Bines who died some months ago. I heard Mr. Shepler and my father talking about some of your mining properties. Mr. Shepler thought the 'One Girl' was such a funny name for your father to give a mine."
Now they neared the foot of the shaft where the rest of the party seemed to await them. As they came up Percival felt himself raked by a broadside from the maternal lorgnon that left him all but disabled. The father glowered at him and asked questions in the high key we are apt to adopt in addressing foreigners, in the instinctive fallacy that any language can be understood by any one if it be spoken loudly enough. The mother's manner was a crushing rebuke to the young man for his audacity. The father's manner was meant to intimate that natives of the region in which they were then adventuring were not worthy of rebuke, save such general rebukes as may be conveyed by displaying one's natural superiority of manner. The other members of the party, excepting Shepler, who talked with Pangburn at a little distance, took cue from the Milbreys and aggressively ignored the abductor of an only daughter. They talked over, around, and through him, as only may those mortals whom it hath pleased heaven to have born within certain areas on Manhattan Island.
The young man felt like a social outcast until he caught a glance from Miss Milbrey. That young woman was still friendly, which he could understand, and highly amused, which he could not understand. While the temperature was at its lowest the first load ascended, including Miss Milbrey and her parents, a chatty blonde, and an uncomfortable little man who, despite his being twelve hundred feet toward the centre thereof, had three times referred bitterly to the fact that he was "out of the world." "I shall see you soon above ground, shall I not?" Miss Milbrey had asked, at which her mother shot Percival a parting volley from her rapid-fire lorgnon, while her father turned upon him a back whose sidelines were really admirable, considering his age and feeding habits. The behaviour of these people appeared to intensify the amusement of their child. The two solemn young men who remained continued to chat before Percival as they would have chatted before the valet of either. He began to sound the spiritual anguish of a pariah. Also to feel truculent and, in his own phrase, "Westy." With him "Westy" meant that you were as good as any one else "and a shade better than a whole lot if it came to a show-down." He was not a little mortified to find how easy it was for him to fall back upon that old cushion of provincial arrogance. It was all right for Uncle Peter, but for himself,—well, it proved that he was less finely Eastern than he had imagined.
As the cage came down for another ascent, he let the two solemn young men go up with Shepler and Pangburn, and went to search for Uncle Peter.
"There, thank God, is a man!" he reflected.
The Rapid-fire Lorgnon Is Spiked
He found Uncle Peter in the cross-cut, studying a bit of ore through a glass, and they went back to ascend.
"Them folks," said the old man, "must be the kind that newspaper meant, that had done something in practical achievement. I bet that girl's mother will achieve something practical with you fur cuttin' the girl out of the bunch; she was awful tormented; talked two or three times about the people in the humbler walks of life bein' strangely something or other. You ain't such a humble walker now, are you, son? But say, that yellow-haired woman, she ain't a bit diffident, is she? She's a very hearty lady, I must say!"
"But did you see Miss Milbrey?"
"Oh, that's her name is it, the one that her mother was so worried about and you? Yes, I saw her. Peart and cunnin', but a heap too wise fur you, son; take my steer on that. Say, she'd have your pelt nailed to the barn while you was wonderin' which way you'd jump."
"Oh, I know I'm only a tender, teething infant," the young man answered, with masterly satire. "Well, now, as long's you got that bank roll you jest look out fur cupboard love—the kind the old cat has when she comes rubbin' up against your leg and purrin' like you was the whole thing."
The young man smiled, as they went up, with youth's godlike faith in its own sufficiency, albeit he smarted from the slights put upon him.
At the surface a pleasant shock was in store for him. There stood the formidable Mrs. Milbrey beaming upon him. Behind her was Mr. Milbrey, the pleasing model of all a city's refinements, awaiting the boon of a hand-clasp. Behind these were the uncomfortable little man, the chatty blonde, and the two solemn young men who had lately exhibited more manner than manners. Percival felt they were all regarding him now with affectionate concern. They pressed forward effusively.
"So good of you, Mr. Bines, to take an interest in us—my daughter has been so anxious to see one of these fascinating mines." "Awfully obliged, Mr. Bines." "Charmed, old man; deuced pally of you to stay by us down in that hole, you know." "So clever of you to know where to find the gold—"
He lost track of the speakers. Their speeches became one concerted effusion of affability that was music to his ears.
Miss Milbrey was apart from the group. Having doffed the waterproofs, she was now pluming herself with those fussy-looking but mysteriously potent little pats which restore the attire and mind of women to their normal perfection and serenity. Upon her face was still the amused look Percival had noted below.
"And, Mr. Bines, do come in with that quaint old grandfather of yours and lunch with us," urged Mrs. Milbrey, who had, as it were, spiked her lorgnon. "Here's Mr. Shepler to second the invitation—and then we shall chat about this very interesting West."
Miss Milbrey nodded encouragement, seeming to chuckle inwardly.
In the spacious dining compartment of the Shepler car the party was presently at lunch.
"You seem so little like a Western man," Mrs. Milbrey confided graciously to Percival on her right.
"We cal'late he'll fetch out all straight, though, in a year or so," put in Uncle Peter, from over his chop, with guileless intent to defend his grandson from what he believed to be an attack. "Of course a young man's bound to get some foolishness into him in an Eastern college like this boy went to."
Percival had flushed at the compliment to himself; also at the old man's failure to identify it as such.
Mr. Milbrey caressed his glass of claret with ardent eyes and took the situation in hand with the easy confidence of a master.
"The West," said he, affably, "has sent us some magnificent men. In truth, it's amazing to take count of the Western men among us in all the professions. They are notable, perhaps I should say, less for deliberate niceties of style than for a certain rough directness, but so adaptable is the American character that one frequently does not suspect their—er—humble origin."
"Meaning their Western origin?" inquired Shepler, blandly, with secret intent to brew strife.
"Well—er—to be sure, my dear fellow, not necessarily humble,—of course—perhaps I should have said—"
"Of course, not necessarily disgraceful, as you say, Milbrey," interrupted Shepler, "and they often do conceal it. Why, I know a chap in New York who was positively never east of Kansas City until he was twenty-five or so, and yet that fellow to-day"—he lowered his voice to the pitch of impressiveness—"has over eighty pairs of trousers and complains of the hardship every time he has to go to Boston."
"Fancy, now!" exclaimed Mrs. Drelmer, the blonde. Mr. Milbrey looked slightly puzzled and Uncle Peter chuckled, affirming mentally that Rulon Shepler must be like one of those tug-boats, with most of his lines under the surface.
"But, I say, you know, Shepler," protested one of the solemn young men, "he must still talk like a banjo."
"And gargle all his 'r's,'" added the other, very earnestly. "They never get over that, you know."
"Instead of losin' 'em entirely," put in Uncle Peter, who found himself feeling what his grandson called "Westy." "Of course, he calls it 'Ne' Yawk,' and prob'ly he don't like it in Boston because they always call 'em 'rawroystahs.'"
"Good for the old boy!" thought Percival, and then, aloud: "It is hard for the West and the East to forgive each other's dialects. The inflated 'r' and the smothered 'r' never quite harmonise."
"Western money talks good straight New York talk," ventured Miss Milbrey, with the air of one who had observed in her time.
Shepler grinned, and the parents of the young woman resisted with indifferent success their twin impulses to frown.
"But the service is so wretched in the West," suggested Oldaker, the carefully dressed little man with the tired, troubled eyes, whom the world had been deprived of. "I fancy, now, there's not a good waiter this side of New York."
"An American," said Percival, "never can make a good waiter or a good valet. It takes a Latin, or, still better, a Briton, to feel the servility required for good service of that sort. An American, now, always fails at it because he knows he is as good as you are, and he knows that you know it, and you know that he knows you know it, and there you are, two mirrors of American equality face to face and reflecting each other endlessly, and neither is comfortable. The American is as uncomfortable at having certain services performed for him by another American as the other is in performing them. Give him a Frenchman or an Italian or a fellow born within the sound of Bow Bells to clean his boots and lay out his things and serve his dinner and he's all right enough."
"Hear, hear!" cried Uncle Peter.
"Fancy, now," said Mrs. Drelmer, "a creature in a waiter's jacket having emotions of that sort!"
"Our excellent country," said Mr. Milbrey, "is perhaps not yet what it will be; there is undeniably a most distressing rawness where we might expect finish. Now in Chicago," he continued in a tone suitably hushed for the relation of occult phenomena, "we dined with a person who served champagne with the oysters, soup, fish, and entree, and for the remainder of the dinner—you may credit me or not—he proffered a claret of 1875—. I need hardly remind you, the most delicate vintage of the latter half of the century—and it was served frappe." There was genuine emotion in the speaker's voice.
"And papa nearly swooned when our host put cracked ice and two lumps of sugar into his own glass—"
"Avice, dear!" remonstrated the father in a tone implying that some things positively must not be mentioned at table.
"Well, you shouldn't expect too much of those self-made men in Chicago," said Shepler.
"If they'd only make themselves as well as they make their sausages and things," sighed Mr. Milbrey.
"And the self-made man will talk shop," suggested Oldaker. "He thinks you're dying to hear how he made the first thousand of himself."
"Still, those Chicago chaps learn quickly enough when they settle in New York," ventured one of the young men.
"I knew a Chicago chap who lived East two years and went back not a half bad sort," said the other. "God help him now, though; his father made him go back to work in a butcher shop or something of the sort."
"Best thing I ever heard about Chicago," said Uncle Peter, "a man from your town told me once he had to stay in Chicago a year, and, says he, 'I went out there a New Yorker, and I went home an American,' he says." The old man completed this anecdote in tones that were slightly inflamed.
"How extremely typical!" said Mrs. Milbrey. "Truly the West is the place of unspoiled Americanism and the great unspent forces; you are quite right, Mr. Bines."
"Think of all the unspent forces back in that silver mine," remarked Miss Milbrey, with a patent effort to be significant.
"My perverse child delights to pose as a sordid young woman," the fond mother explained to Percival, "yet no one can be less so, and you, Mr. Bines, I am sure, would be the last to suspect her of it. I saw in you at once those sterling qualities—"
"Isn't it dreadfully dark down in that sterling silver mine?" observed Miss Milbrey, apropos of nothing, apparently, while her mother attacked a second chop that she had meant not to touch.
"Here's hoping we'll soon be back in God's own country," said Oldaker, raising his glass.
"Hear, hear!" cried Uncle Peter, and drained his glass eagerly as they drank the toast. Whereat they all laughed and Mrs. Drelmer said, "What a dear, lively wit, for an old gentleman."
"Oldaker," said Shepler, "has really been the worst sufferer. This is his first trip West."
"Beg pardon, Shepler! I was West as far as Buffalo—let me see—in 1878 or '79."
"Dear me! is that so?" queried Uncle Peter. "I got East as fur as Cheyenne that same year. We nearly run into each other, didn't we?"
Shepler grinned again.
"Oldaker found a man from New York on the train the other day, up in one of the emigrant cars. He was a truck driver, and he looked it and talked it, but Oldaker stuck by him all the afternoon."
"Well, he'd left the old town three weeks after I had, and he'd been born there the same year I was—in the Ninth ward—and he remembered as well as I did the day Barnum's museum burned at Broadway and Ann. I liked to hear him talk. Why, it was a treat just to hear him say Broadway and Twenty-third Street, or Madison Square or City Hall Park. The poor devil had consumption, too, and probably he'll never see them again. I don't know if I shall ever have it, but I'd never leave the old town as he was doing."
"That's like Billy Brue," said Uncle Peter. "Billy loves faro bank jest as this gentleman loves New York. When he gets a roll he has to play. One time he landed in Pocatello when there wa'n't but one game in town. Billy found it and started in. A friend saw him there and called him out. 'Billy,' says he, 'cash in and come out; that's a brace game.' 'Sure?' says Billy. 'Sure,' says the feller. 'All right,' says Billy, 'much obliged fur puttin' me on.' And he started out lookin' fur another game. About two hours later the feller saw Billy comin' out of the same place and Billy owned up he'd gone back there and blowed in every cent. 'Why, you geezer,' says his friend, 'didn't I put you on that they was dealin' brace there?' 'Sure,' says Billy, 'sure you did. But what could I do? It was the only game in town!'"
"That New York mania is the same sort," said Shepler, laughing, while Mrs. Drelmer requested everybody to fancy immediately.
"Your grandfather is so dear and quaint," said Mrs. Milbrey; "you must certainly bring him to New York with you, for of course a young man of your capacity and graces will never be satisfied out of New York."
"Young men like yourself are assuredly needed there," remarked Mr. Milbrey, warmly.
"Surely they are," agreed Miss Milbrey, and yet with a manner that seemed almost to annoy both parents. They were sparing no opportunity to make the young man conscious of his real oneness with those about him, and yet subtly to intimate that people of just the Milbreys' perception were required to divine it at present. "These Westerners fancy you one of themselves, I dare say," Mrs. Milbrey had said, and the young man purred under the strokings. His fever for the East was back upon him. His weeks with Uncle Peter going over the fields where his father had prevailed had made him convalescent, but these New Yorkers—the very manner and atmosphere of them—undid the work. He envied them their easier speech, their matter-of-fact air of omniscience, the elaborate and cultivated simplicity of their dress, their sureness and sufficiency in all that they thought and said and did. He was homesick again for the life he had glimpsed. The West was rude, desolate, and depressing. Even Uncle Peter, whom he had come warmly to admire, jarred upon him with his crudity and his Western assertiveness.
And there was the woman of the East, whose presence had made the day to seem dream-like; and she was kind, which was more than he would have dared to hope, and her people, after their first curious chill of indifference, seemed actually to be courting him. She, the fleeting and impalpable dream-love, whom the thought of seeing ever again had been wildly absurd, was now a human creature with a local habitation, the most beautiful name in the world, and two parents whose complaisance was obvious even through the lover's timidity.
Up Skiplap Canon
The meal was ending in smoke, the women, excepting Miss Milbrey, having lighted cigarettes with the men. The talk had grown less truculently sectional. The Angstead twins told of their late fishing trip to Lake St. John for salmon, of projected tours to British Columbia for mountain sheep, and to Manitoba for elk and moose.
Mr. Milbrey described with minute and loving particularity the preparation of oeufs de Faisan, avec beurre au champagne.
Mrs. Milbrey related an anecdote of New York society, not much in itself, but which permitted the disclosure that she habitually addressed by their first names three of the foremost society leaders, and that each of these personages adopted a like familiarity toward her.
Mrs. Drelmer declared that she meant to have Uncle Peter Bines at one of her evenings the very first time he should come to New York, and that, if he didn't let her know of his coming, she would be offended. Oldaker related an incident of the ball given to the Prince of Wales, travelling as Baron Renfrew, on the evening of October 12, 1860, in which his father had figured briefly before the royal guest to the abiding credit of American tact and gentility.
Shepler was amused until he became sleepy, whereupon he extended the freedom of his castle to his guests, and retired to his stateroom.
Uncle Peter took a final shot at Oldaker. He was observed to be laughing, and inquiry brought this:
"I jest couldn't help snickerin' over his idee of God's own country. He thinks God's own country is a little strip of an island with a row of well-fed folks up and down the middle, and a lot of hungry folks on each side. Mebbe he's right. I'll be bound, it needs the love of God. But if it is His own country, it don't make Him any connysoor of countries with me. I'll tell you that."
Oldaker smiled at this assault, the well-bred, tolerant smile that loyal New Yorkers reserve for all such barbaric belittling of their empire. Then he politely asked Uncle Peter to show Mrs. Drelmer and himself through the stamp mill.
At Percival's suggestion of a walk, Miss Milbrey was delighted.
After an inspection of the Bines car, in which Oldaker declared he would be willing to live for ever, if it could be anchored firmly in Madison Square, the party separated. Out into the clear air, already cooling under the slanting rays of the sun, the young man and the girl went together. Behind them lay the one street of the little mining camp, with its wooden shanties on either side of the railroad track. Down this street Uncle Peter had gone, leading his charges toward the busy ant-hill on the mountainside. Ahead the track wound up the canon, cunningly following the tortuous course of the little river to be sure of practicable grades. On the farther side of the river a mountain road paralleled the railway. Up this road the two went, followed by a playful admonition from Mrs. Milbrey: "Remember, Mr. Bines, I place my child in your keeping."
Percival waxed conscientious about his charge and insisted at once upon being assured that Miss Milbrey would be warm enough with the scarlet golf-cape about her shoulders; that she was used to walking long distances; that her boots were stoutly soled; and that she didn't mind the sun in their faces. The girl laughed at him.
Looking up the canon with its wooded sides, cool and green, they could see a grey, dim mountain, with patches of snow near its top, in the far distance, and ranges of lesser eminences stepping up to it. "It's a hundred miles away," he told her.
Down the canon the little river flickered toward them, like a billowy silver ribbon "trimmed with white chiffon around the rocks," declared the girl. In the blue depths of the sky, an immense height above, lolled an eagle, lazy of wing, in lordly indolence. The suggestions to the eye were all of spacious distances and large masses—of the room and stuff for unbounded action.
"Your West is the breathingest place," she said, as they crossed a foot-bridge over the noisy little stream and turned up the road. "I don't believe I ever drew a full breath until I came to these altitudes."
"One has to breathe more air here—there's less oxygen in it, and you must breathe more to get your share, and so after awhile one becomes robust. Your cheeks are already glowing, and we've hardly started. There, now, there are your colours, see—"
Along the edge of the green pines and spruce were lavender asters. A little way in the woods they could see the blue columbines and the mountain phlox, pink and red.
"There are your eyes and your cheeks."
"What a dangerous character you'd be if you were sent to match silks!"
On the dry barren slopes of gravel across the river, full in the sun's glare, grew the Spanish bayonet, with its spikes of creamy white flowers.
"There I am, more nearly," she pointed to them; "they're ever so much nearer my disposition. But about this thin air; it must make men work harder for what comes easier back in our country, so that they may become able to do more—more capable. I am thinking of your grandfather. You don't know how much I admire him. He is so stanch and strong and fresh. There's more fire in him now than in my father or Launton Oldaker, and I dare say he's a score of years older than either of them. I don't think you quite appreciate what a great old fellow he is."
"I admire Uncle Peter much more, I'm sure, than he admires me. He's afraid I'm not strong enough to admire that Eastern climate of yours—social and moral."
"I suppose it's natural for you to wish to go. You'd be bored here, would you not? You couldn't stay in these mountains and be such a man as your grandfather. And yet there ought to be so much to do here; it's all so fresh and roomy and jolly. Really I've grown enthusiastic about it."
"Ah, but think of what there is in the East—and you are there. To think that for six months I've treasured every little memory of you—such a funny little lot as they were—to think that this morning I awoke thinking of you, yet hardly hoping ever to see you, and to think that for half the night we had ridden so near each other in sleep, and there was no sign or signal or good omen. And then to think you should burst upon me like some new sunrise that the stupid astronomers hadn't predicted.
"You see," he went on, after a moment, "I don't ask what you think of me. You couldn't think anything much as yet, but there's something about this whole affair, our meeting and all, that makes me think it's going to be symmetrical in the end. I know it won't end here. I'll tell you one way Western men learn. They learn not to be afraid to want things out of their reach, and they believe devoutly—because they've proved it so often—that if you want a thing hard enough and keep wanting it, nothing can keep it away from you."
A bell had been tinkling nearer and nearer on the road ahead. Now a heavy wagon, filled with sacks of ore, came into view, drawn by four mules. As they stood aside to let it pass he scanned her face for any sign it might show, but he could see no more than a look of interest for the brawny driver of the wagon, shouting musically to his straining team.
"You are rather inscrutable," he said, as they resumed the road.
She turned and smiled into his eyes with utter frankness.
"At least you must be sure that I like you; that I am very friendly; that I want to know you better, and want you to know me better. You don't know me at all, you know. You Westerners have another way, of accepting people too readily. It may work no harm among yourselves, but perhaps Easterners are a bit more perilous. Sometimes, now, a very Eastern person doesn't even accept herself—himself—very trustingly; she—he—finds it so hard to get acquainted with himself."
The young man provided one of those silences of which a few discerning men are instinctively capable and for which women thank them.
"This road," she said, after a little time of rapid walking, "leads right up to the end of the world, doesn't it? See, it ends squarely in the sun." They stopped where the turn had opened to the west a long vista of grey and purple hills far and high. They stood on a ridge of broken quartz and gneiss, thrown up in a bygone age. To their left a few dwarf Scotch firs threw shadows back toward the town. The ball of red fire in the west was half below the rim of the distant peak.
"Stand so,"—she spoke in a slightly hushed tone that moved him a step nearer almost to touch her arm,—"and feel the round little earth turning with us. We always think the sun drops down away from us, but it stays still. Now remember your astronomy and feel the earth turn. See—you can actually see it move—whirling along like a child's ball because it can't help itself, and then there's the other motion around the sun, and the other, the rushing of everything through space, and who knows how many others, and yet we plan our futures and think we shall do finely this way or that, and always forget that we're taken along in spite of ourselves. Sometimes I think I shall give up trying; and then I see later that even that feeling was one of the unknown motions that I couldn't control. The only thing we know is that we are moved in spite of ourselves, so what is the use of bothering about how many ways, or where they shall fetch us?"
"Ah, Miss Khayyam, I've often read your father's verses."
"No relation whatever; we're the same person—he was I."
"But don't forget you can see the earth moving by a rising as well as by a setting star, by watching a sun rise—"
"A rising star if you wish," she said, smiling once more with perfect candour and friendliness.
They turned to go back in the quick-coming mountain dusk.
As they started downward she sang from the "Persian Garden," and he blended his voice with hers:
"Myself when young did eagerly frequent Doctor and Saint and heard great argument About it and about: but evermore Came out by the same door where in I went."
"With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow, And with my own hand wrought to make it grow; And this was all the Harvest that I reaped—' I came like Water and like Wind I go.'"
"I shall look forward to seeing you—and your mother and sister?—in New York," she said, when they parted, "and I am sure I shall have more to say when we're better known to each other."
"If you were the one woman before, if the thought of you was more than the substance of any other to me,—you must know how it will be now, when the dream has come true. It's no small thing for your best dream to come true."
"Dear me! haven't we been sentimental and philosophic? I'm never like this at home, I assure you. I've really been thoughtful."
From up the canon came the sound of a puffing locomotive that presently steamed by them with its three dingy little coaches, and, after a stop for water and the throwing of a switch, pushed back to connect with the Shepler car.
The others of the party crowded out on to the rear platform as Percival helped Miss Milbrey up the steps. Uncle Peter had evidently been chatting with Shepler, for as they came out the old man was saying, "'Get action' is my motto. Do things. Don't fritter. Be something and be it good and hard. Get action early and often."