Berea suffered a restless night, the
most painful and broken she had known in all her life.
She acknowledged that Siona Moore was prettier, and
that she stood more nearly on Wayland’s plane
than herself; but the realization of this fact did
not bring surrender she was not of that
temper. All her life she had been called upon
to combat the elements, to hold her own amidst rude
men and inconsiderate women, and she had no intention
of yielding her place to a pert coquette, no matter
what the gossips might say. She had seen this
girl many times, but had refused to visit her house.
She had held her in contempt, now she quite cordially
“She shall not have her way
with Wayland,” she decided. “I know
what she wants she wants him at her side
to-morrow; but I will not have it so. She is
trying to get him away from me.”
The more she dwelt on this the hotter
her jealous fever burned. The floor on which
she lay was full of knots. She could not lose
herself in sleep, tired as she was. The planks
no longer turned their soft spots to her flesh, and
she rolled from side to side in torment. She would
have arisen and dressed only she did not care to disturb
the men. The night seemed interminable.
Her plan of action was simple.
“I shall go home the morrow and take Wayland
with me. I will not have him going with that girl that’s
settled!” The very thought of his taking Siona’s
hand in greeting angered her beyond reason.
She had put Cliff Belden completely
out of her mind, and this was characteristic of her.
She had no divided interests, no subtleties, no subterfuges.
Forthright, hot-blooded, frank and simple, she had
centered all her care, all her desires, on this pale
youth whose appeal was at once mystic and maternal;
but her pity was changing to something deeper, for
she was convinced that he was gaining in strength,
that he was in no danger of relapse. The hard
trip of the day before had seemingly done him no permanent
injury; on the contrary, a few hours’ rest had
almost restored him to his normal self. “To-morrow
he will be able to ride again.” And this
thought reconciled her to her hard bed. She did
not look beyond the long, delicious day which they
must spend in returning to the Springs.
She fell asleep at last, and was awakened
only by her father tinkering about the stove.
She rose alertly, signing to the Supervisor
not to disturb her patient.
However, Norcross also heard the rattle
of the poker, opened his eyes and regarded Berrie
with sleepy smile. “Good morning, if it
is morning,” he said, slowly.
She laughed back at him. “It’s almost
“You don’t tell me!
How could I have overslept like this? Makes me
think of the Irishman who, upon being awakened to
an early breakfast like this, ate it, then said to
his employer, an extra thrifty farmer, ’Two suppers
in wan night and hurrah for bed again.’”
This amused her greatly. “It’s
too bad. I hope you got some sleep?”
“All there was time for.”
His voice changed. “I feel like a hound-pup,
to be snoring on a downy couch like this while you
were roughing it on the floor. How did I come
to do it? It’s shameful!”
“Don’t worry about me. How are you
feeling this morning?”
He stretched and yawned. “Fine!
That is, I’m sore here and there, but I’m
feeling wonderfully well. Do you know, I begin
to hope that I can finally dominate the wilderness.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I got so I could
ride and walk as you do, for instance? The fact
that I’m not dead this morning is encouraging.”
He drew on his shoes as he talked, while she went
about her toilet, which was quite as simple as his
own. She had spent two nights in her day dress
with almost no bathing facilities; but that didn’t
trouble her. It was a part of the game. She
washed her face and hands in Settle’s tin basin,
but drew the line at his rubber comb.
There was a distinct charm in seeing
her thus adapting herself to the cabin, a charm quite
as powerful as that which emanated from Siona Moore’s
dainty and theatrical personality. What it was
he could not define, but the forester’s daughter
had something primeval about her, something close
to the soil, something which auréoles the old
Saxon words wife and home
and fireplace. Seeing her through the savory
steam of the bacon she was frying, he forgot her marvelous
skill as horsewoman and pathfinder, and thought of
her only as the housewife. She belonged here,
in this cabin. She was fitted to this landscape,
whereas the other woman was alien and dissonant.
He moved his arms about and shook
his legs with comical effect of trying to see if they
were still properly hinged. “It’s
miraculous! I’m not lame at all. No
one can accuse me of being a ‘lunger’ now.
Last night’s sleep has made a new man of me.
I’ve met the forest and it is mine.”
She beamed upon him with happy pride.
“I’m mighty glad to hear you say that.
I was terribly afraid that long, hard walk in the rain
had been too much for you. I reckon you’re
all right for the work now.”
He recalled, as she spoke, her anguish
of pity while they stood in the darkness of the trail,
and it seemed that he could go no farther, and he
said, soberly: “It must have seemed to you
one while as if I were all in. I felt that way
myself. I was numb from head to heel. I couldn’t
have gone another mile.”
Her face clouded with retrospective
pain. “You mustn’t try any more such
stunts not for a few weeks, anyway.
But get ready for breakfast.”
He went out into the morning exultantly,
and ran down to the river to bathe his face and hands,
allured by its splendid voice. The world seemed
very bright and beautiful and health-giving once more.
As soon as she was alone with her
father, Berrie said: “I’m going home
“Going home! What for?”
“I’ve had enough of it.”
He glanced at her bed on the floor.
“I can’t say I blame you any. This
has been a rough trip; but we’ll go up and bring
down the outfit, and then we men can sleep in the
tent and let you have the bunk you’ll
be comfortable to-night.”
“Oh, I don’t mind sleeping
on the floor,” she replied; “but I want
to get back. I don’t want to meet those
women. Another thing, you’d better use
Mr. Norcross at the Springs instead of leaving him
here with Tony.”
“Well, he isn’t quite
well enough to run the risk. It’s a long
way from here to a doctor.”
“He ’pears to be on deck
this morning. Besides, I haven’t anything
in the office to offer him.”
“Then send him up to Meeker.
Landon needs help, and he’s a better forester
than Tony, anyway.”
“How about Cliff? He may make trouble.”
Her face darkened. “Cliff
will reach him if he wants to no matter
where he is. And then, too, Landon likes Mr.
Norcross and will see that he is not abused.”
McFarlane ruminated over her suggestion,
well knowing that she was planning this change in
order that she might have Norcross a little nearer,
a little more accessible.
“I don’t know but you’re
right. Landon is almost as good a hustler as
Tony, and a much better forester. I thought of
sending Norcross up there at first, but he told me
that Frank and his gang had it in for him. Of
course, he’s only nominally in the service; but
I want him to begin right.”
Berrie went further. “I
want him to ride back with me to-day.”
He looked at her with grave inquiry.
“Do you think that a wise thing to do?
Won’t that make more talk?”
“We’ll start early and ride straight through.”
“You’ll have to go by
Lost Lake, and that means a long, hard hike. Can
he stand it?”
“Oh yes. He rides well.
It’s the walking at a high altitude that does
him up. Furthermore, Cliff may turn up here,
and I don’t want another mix-up.”
McFarlane was troubled. “I
ought to go back with you; but Moore is over here
to line out a cutting, and I must stay on for a couple
of days. Suppose I send Tony along?”
“No, Tony would be a nuisance
and would do no good. Another day on the trail
won’t add to Mrs. Belden’s story.
If she wants to be mean she’s got all the material
for it already.”
In the end she had her way. McFarlane,
perceiving that she had set her heart on this ride,
and having perfect faith in her skill and judgment
on the trail, finally said: “Well, if you
do so, the quicker you start the better. With
the best of luck you can’t pull in before eight
o’clock, and you’ll have to ride hard
to do that.”
“If I find we can’t make
it I’ll pull into a ranch. But I’m
sure we can.”
When Wayland came in the Supervisor
inquired: “Do you feel able to ride back
over the hill to-day?”
“Entirely so. It isn’t
the riding that uses me up; it is the walking; and,
besides, as candidate for promotion I must obey orders especially
orders to march.”
They breakfasted hurriedly, and while
McFarlane and Tony were bringing in the horses Wayland
and Berrie set the cabin to rights. Working thus
side by side, she recovered her dominion over him,
and at the same time regained her own cheerful self-confidence.
“You’re a wonder!”
he exclaimed, as he watched her deft adjustment of
the dishes and furniture. “You’re
“I have to be to hold my job,”
she laughingly replied. “A feller must
play all the parts when he’s up here.”
It was still early morning as they
mounted and set off up the trail; but Moore’s
camp was astir, and as McFarlane turned in much
against Berrie’s will the lumberman
and his daughter both came out to meet them. “Come
in and have some breakfast,” said Siona, with
cordial inclusiveness, while her eyes met Wayland’s
glance with mocking glee.
“Thank you,” said McFarlane,
“we can’t stop. I’m going to
set my daughter over the divide. She has had
enough camping, and Norcross is pretty well battered
up, so I’m going to help them across. I’ll
be back to-night, and we’ll take our turn up
the valley to-morrow. Nash will be here then.”
Berrie did not mind her father’s
explanation; on the contrary, she took a distinct
pleasure in letting the other girl know of the long
and intimate day she was about to spend with her young
Siona, too adroit to display her disappointment,
expressed polite regret. “I hope you won’t
get storm-bound,” she said, showing her white
teeth in a meaning smile.
“If there is any sign of a storm
we won’t cross,” declared McFarlane.
“We’re going round by the lower pass, anyhow.
If I’m not here by dark, you may know I’ve
stayed to set ’em down at the Mill.”
There was charm in Siona’s alert
poise, and in the neatness of her camp dress.
Her dainty tent, with its stools and rugs, made the
wilderness seem but a park. She reminded Norcross
of the troops of tourists of the Tyrol, and her tent
was of a kind to harmonize with the tea-houses on the
path to the summit of the Matterhorn. Then, too,
something triumphantly feminine shone in her bright
eyes and glowed in her softly rounded cheeks.
Her hand was little and pointed, not fitted like Berrie’s
for tightening a cinch or wielding an ax, and as he
said “Good-by,” he added: “I
hope I shall see you again soon,” and at the
moment he meant it.
“We’ll return to the Springs
in a few days,” she replied. “Come
and see us. Our bungalow is on the other side
of the river and you, too,” she addressed
Berrie; but her tone was so conventionally polite that
the ranch-girl, burning with jealous heat, made no
McFarlane led the way to the lake
rapidly and in silence. The splendors of the
foliage, subdued by the rains, the grandeur of the
peaks, the song of the glorious stream all
were lost on Berrie, for she now felt herself to be
nothing but a big, clumsy, coarse-handed tomboy.
Her worn gloves, her faded skirt, and her man’s
shoes had been made hateful to her by that smug, graceful,
play-acting tourist with the cool, keen eyes and smirking
lips. “She pretends to be a kitten; but
she isn’t; she’s a sly grown-up cat,”
she bitterly accused, but she could not deny the charm
of her personality.
Wayland was forced to acknowledge
that Berrie in this dark mood was not the delightful
companion she had hitherto been. Something sweet
and confiding had gone out of their relationship,
and he was too keen-witted not to know what it was.
He estimated precisely the value of the malicious
parting words of Siona Moore. “She’s
a natural tease, the kind of woman who loves to torment
other and less fortunate women. She cares nothing
for me, of course, it’s just her way of paying
off old scores. It would seem that Berrie has
not encouraged her advances in times past.”
That Berrie was suffering, and that
her jealousy touchingly proved the depth of her love
for him, brought no elation, only perplexity.
He was not seeking such devotion. As a companion
on the trail she had been a joy as a jealous
sweetheart she was less admirable. He realized
perfectly that this return journey was of her arrangement,
not McFarlane’s, and while he was not resentful
of her care, he was in doubt of the outcome.
It hurried him into a further intimacy which might
At the camp by the lake the Supervisor
became sharply commanding. “Now let’s
throw these packs on lively. It will be slippery
on the high trail, and you’ll just naturally
have to hit leather hard and keep jouncing if you
reach the wagon-road before dark. But you’ll
“Make it!” said Berrie.
“Of course we’ll make it. Don’t
you worry about that for a minute. Once I get
out of the green timber the dark won’t worry
me. We’ll push right through.”
In packing the camp stuff on the saddles,
Berrie, almost as swift and powerful as her father,
acted with perfect understanding of every task, and
Wayland’s admiration of her skill increased mightily.
She insisted on her father’s
turning back. “We don’t need you,”
she said. “I can find the pass.”
McFarlane’s faith in his daughter
had been tested many times, and yet he was a little
loath to have her start off on a trail new to her.
He argued against it briefly, but she laughed at his
fears. “I can go anywhere you can,”
she said. “Stand clear!” With final
admonition he stood clear.
“You’ll have to keep off
the boggy meadows,” he warned; “these rains
will have softened all those muck-holes on the other
side; they’ll be bottomless pits; watch out
for ’em. Good-by! If you meet Nash
hurry him along. Moore is anxious to run those
lines. Keep in touch with Landon, and if anybody
turns up from the district office say I’ll be
back on Friday. Good luck.”
“Same to you. So long.”
Berea led the way, and Norcross fell
in behind the pack-horses, feeling as unimportant
as a small boy at the heels of a circus parade.
His girl captain was so competent, so self-reliant,
and so sure that nothing he could say or do assisted
in the slightest degree. Her leadership was a
curiously close reproduction of her father’s
unhurried and graceful action. Her seat in the
saddle was as easy as Landon’s, and her eyes
were alert to every rock and stream in the road.
She was at home here, where the other girl would have
been a bewildered child, and his words of praise lifted
the shadow from her face.
The sky was cloudy, and a delicious
feeling of autumn was in the air autumn
that might turn to winter with a passing cloud, and
the forest was dankly gloomy and grimly silent, save
from the roaring stream which ran at times foam-white
with speed. The high peaks, gray and streaked
with new-fallen snow, shone grandly, bleakly through
the firs. The radiant beauty of the road from
the Springs, the golden glow of four days before was
utterly gone, and yet there was exultation in this
ride. A distinct pleasure, a delight of another
sort, lay in thus daring the majesty of an unknown
Wayland called out: “The
air feels like Thanksgiving morning, doesn’t
“It is Thanksgiving for
me, and I’m going to get a grouse for dinner,”
she replied; and in less than an hour the snap of her
rifle made good her promise.
After leaving the upper lake she turned
to the right and followed the course of a swift and
splendid stream, which came churning through a cheerless,
mossy swamp of spruce-trees. Inexperienced as
he was, Wayland knew that this was not a well-marked
trail; but his confidence in his guide was too great
to permit of any worry over the pass, and he amused
himself by watching the water-robins as they flitted
from stone to stone in the torrent, and in calculating
just where he would drop a line for trout if he had
time to do so, and in recovered serenity enjoyed his
ride. Gradually he put aside his perplexities
concerning the future, permitting his mind to prefigure
nothing but his duties with Landon at Meeker’s
He was rather glad of the decision
to send him there, for it promised absorbing sport.
“I shall see how Landon and Belden work out their
problem,” he said. He had no fear of Frank
Meeker now. “As a forest guard with official
duties to perform I can meet that young savage on other
and more nearly equal terms,” he assured himself.
The trail grew slippery and in places
ran full of water. “But there’s a
bottom, somewhere,” Berrie confidently declared,
and pushed ahead with resolute mien. It was noon
when they rose above timber and entered upon the wide,
smooth slopes of the pass. Snow filled the grass
here, and the wind, keen, cutting, unhindered, came
out of the desolate west with savage fury; but the
sun occasionally shone through the clouds with vivid
splendor. “It is December now,” shouted
Wayland, as he put on his slicker and cowered low
to his saddle. “It will be January soon.”
“We will make it Christmas dinner,”
she laughed, and her glowing good humor warmed his
heart. She was entirely her cheerful self again.
As they rose, the view became magnificent,
wintry, sparkling. The great clouds, drifting
like ancient warships heavy with armament, sent down
chill showers of hail over the frosted gold of the
grassy slopes; but when the shadows passed the sunlight
descended in silent cataracts deliriously spring-like.
The conies squeaked from the rocky ridges, and a brace
of eagles circling about a lone crag, as if exulting
in their sovereign mastery of the air, screamed in
shrill ecstatic duo. The sheer cliffs, on their
shadowed sides, were violently purple. Everywhere
the landscape exhibited crashing contrasts of primary
pigments which bit into consciousness like the flare
of a martial band.
The youth would have lingered in spite
of the cold; but the girl kept steadily on, knowing
well that the hardest part of their journey was still
before them, and he, though longing to ride by her
side, and to enjoy the views with her, was forced
to remain in the rear in order to hurry the reluctant
pack-animals forward. They had now reached a point
twelve thousand feet above the sea, and range beyond
range, to the west and south, rose into sight like
stupendous waves of a purple-green sea. To the
east the park lay level as a floor and carpeted in
It was nearly two o’clock when
they began to drop down behind the rocky ridges of
the eastern slope, and soon, in the bottom of a warm
and sheltered hollow just at timber-line, Berrie drew
her horse to a stand and slipped from the saddle.
“We’ll rest here an hour,” she said,
“and cook our grouse; or are you too hungry
“I can wait,” he answered,
dramatically. “But it seems as if I had
“Well, then, we’ll save
the grouse till to-morrow; but I’ll make some
coffee. You bring some water while I start a fire.”
And so, while the tired horses cropped
the russet grass, she boiled some coffee and laid
out some bread and meat, while he sat by watching her
and absorbing the beauty of the scene, the charm of
the hour. “It is exactly like a warm afternoon
in April,” he said, “and here are some
of the spring flowers.”
“There now, sit by and eat,”
she said, with humor; and in perfectly restored tranquillity
they ate and drank, with no thought of critics or
of rivals. They were alone, and content to be
It was deliciously sweet and restful
there in that sunny hollow on the breast of the mountain.
The wind swept through the worn branches of the dwarfed
spruce with immemorial wistfulness; but these young
souls heard it only as a far-off song. Side by
side on the soft Alpine clover they rested and talked,
looking away at the shining peaks, and down over the
dark-green billows of fir beneath them. Half the
forest was under their eyes at the moment, and the
man said: “Is it not magnificent! It
makes me proud of my country. Just think, all
this glorious spread of hill and valley is under your
father’s direction. I may say under your
direction, for I notice he does just about what you
tell him to do.”
“You’ve noticed that?”
she laughed. “If I were a man I’d
rather be Supervisor of this forest than Congressman.”
“So would I,” he agreed.
“Nash says you are the Supervisor.
I wonder if your father realizes how efficient you
are? Does he ever sorrow over your not being
Her eyes shone with mirth. “Not
that I can notice. He ’pears contented.”
“You’re a good deal like
a son to him, I imagine. You can do about all
that a boy can do, anyhow more than I could
ever do. Does he realize how much you have to
do with the management of his forest? I’ve
never seen your like. I really believe you could
carry on the work as well as he.”
She flushed with pleasure. “You
seem to think I’m a district forester in disguise.”
“I have eyes, Miss Supervisor,
and also ears which leads me to ask:
Why don’t you clean out that saloon gang?
Landon is sure there’s crooked work going on
at that mill certainly that open bar is
a disgraceful and corrupting thing.”
Her face clouded. “We’ve
tried to cut out that saloon, but it can’t be
done. You see, it’s on a patented claim the
claim was bogus, of course, and we’ve made complaint,
but the matter is hung up, and that gives ’em
a chance to go on.”
“Well, let’s not talk
of that. It’s too delicious an hour for
any question of business. It is a moment for
poetry. I wish I could write what I feel this
moment. Why don’t we camp here and watch
the sun go down and the moon rise? From our lofty
vantage-ground the coming of dawn would be an epic.”
“We mustn’t think of that,”
she protested. “We must be going.”
“Not yet. The hour is too
perfect. It may never come again. The wind
in the pines, the sunshine, the conies crying from
their rocks, the butterflies on the clover my
heart aches with the beauty of it. It’s
been a wonderful trip. Even that staggering walk
in the rain had its splendid quality. I couldn’t
see the poetry in it then; but I do now. These
few days have made us comrades, haven’t they comrades
of the trail? You have been very considerate
of me.” He took her hand. “I’ve
never seen such hands. They are like steel, and
yet they are feminine.”
She drew her hands away. “I’m
ashamed of my hands they are so big and
rough and dingy.”
“They’re brown, of course,
and calloused a little but they
are not big, and they are beautifully modeled.”
He looked at her speculatively. “I am wondering
how you would look in conventional dress.”
“Do you mean ”
She hesitated. “I’d look like a gawk
in one of those low-necked outfits. I’d
never dare and those tight skirts would
sure cripple me.”
“Oh no, they wouldn’t.
You’d have to modify your stride a little; but
you’d negotiate it. You’re equal to
“You’re making fun of me!”
“No, I’m not. I’m
in earnest. You’re the kind of American
girl that can go anywhere and do anything. My
sisters would mortgage their share of the golden streets
for your abounding health and so would I.”
“You are all right now,”
she smiled. “You don’t look or talk
as you did.”
“It’s this sunlight.”
He lifted a spread hand as if to clutch and hold something.
“I feel it soaking into me like some magical
oil. No more moping and whining for me.
I’ve proved that hardship is good for me.”
“Don’t crow till you’re
out of the woods. It’s a long ride down
the hill, and going down is harder on the tenderfoot
than going up.”
“I’m no longer a tenderfoot.
All I need is another trip like this with you and
I shall be a master trailer.”
All this was very sweet to her, and
though she knew they should be going, she lingered.
Childishly reckless of the sinking sun, she played
with the wild flowers at her side and listened to
his voice in complete content. He was right.
The hour was too beautiful to be shortened, although
she saw no reason why others equally delightful might
not come to them both. He was more of the lover
than he had ever been before, that she knew, and in
the light of his eyes all that was not girlish and
charming melted away. She forgot her heavy shoes,
her rough hands and sun-tanned face, and listened
with wondering joy and pride to his words, which were
of a fineness such as she had never heard spoken only
books contained such unusual and exquisite phrases.
A cloud passing across the sun flung
down a shadow of portentous chill and darkness.
She started to her feet with startled recollection
of the place and the hour.
“We must be going at once!”
“Not yet,” he pleaded.
“It’s only a cloud. The sun is coming
out again. I have perfect confidence in your
woodcraft. Why not spend another night on the
trail? It may be our last trip together.”
He tempted her strongly, so frank
and boyish and lovable were his glances and his words.
But she was vaguely afraid of herself, and though the
long ride at the moment seemed hard and dull, the
thought of her mother waiting decided her action.
“No, no!” she responded,
firmly. “We’ve wasted too much time
already. We must ride.”
He looked up at her with challenging
glance. “Suppose I refuse suppose
I decide to stay here?”
Upon her, as he talked, a sweet hesitation
fell, a dream which held more of happiness than she
had ever known. “It is a long, hard ride,”
she thought, “and another night on the trail
will not matter.” And so the moments passed
on velvet feet, and still she lingered, reluctant to
break the spell.
Suddenly, into their idyllic drowse
of content, so sweet, so youthful, and so pure of
heart, broke the sound of a horse’s hurrying,
clashing, steel-shod feet, and looking up Berrie saw
a mounted man coming down the mountainside with furious,
“It is Cliff!” she cried
out. “He’s on our trail!” And
into her face came a look of alarm. Her lips
paled, her eyes widened. “He’s mad he’s
dangerous! Leave him to me,” she added,
in a low, tense voice.