Chapter XIV. Another Prisoner
 

It was morning when Reynolds opened his eyes and looked around. He believed that he had been dreaming, and a horrible dream it was. In a few minutes his senses returned, and he vividly recalled the terrible experiences through which he had recently passed. But where was he? What had happened to him? Why was he not yet upon the raft, drifting with the wind and tide? He glanced about the room and saw that it was a cozy place, with the sunlight streaming in through an open window on the right. He attempted to rise, but fell back wearily upon the bed. Then he called, and the sound of his own voice startled him, so strangely hollow and unreal did it seem.

A light footstep near the door caused him to look in that direction. An Indian woman was coming toward him, a big motherly-looking person, with a smile upon her face.

"Where am I?" Reynolds asked. "And how did I get here?"

The woman made no reply, but still smiling with apparent satisfaction, she turned and left the room. She was back again in a few minutes, this time carrying in her hand a bowl of steaming broth.

"Eat," she ordered, offering him a spoon. "No talk."

But Reynolds did not take the spoon. He was too famished for that. Seizing the bowl with hands that trembled from weakness and excitement, he drained it to the last drop.

"More, more," he cried. "I'm starving."

Again the woman smiled as she took the bowl.

"No more now," she told him. "Sleep."

"But where am I?" Reynolds demanded. "I must know."

"Bimeby. Sleep now," was all the satisfaction he obtained, as the woman left the room and closed the door.

For several minutes Reynolds lay there uncertain, what to do. But the bed was comfortable, and he was so tired. It was good to rest, and not worry about anything. He was in friendly hands, and that was sufficient for the present.

When he again awoke, he felt much refreshed, and longed to get up. He attempted to do so, but in an instant the same Indian woman was by his side.

"No get up," she ordered, handing him another bowl of broth she had brought with her.

Reynolds drank this more leisurely, the woman watching him closely all the time.

"Thank you," he said, when he had finished. "I feel better now. But please tell me where I am, and how I came----"

The words died upon his lips, for in the doorway Glen had suddenly appeared. She looked at him, and with a bright smile upon her face, came to his side. So surprised was Reynolds that he was unable to utter a word. He merely stared, so great was his astonishment.

"I hope I have not startled you," the girl began. "You look frightened."

"But where have you come from?" Reynolds asked, not yet sure that he was in his right mind.

"From the other room, of course," and again Glen smiled. "You need not look at me that way for I am no ghost. I do not feel like one, anyway."

Reynolds gave a sigh of relief, and a thrill of joy swept over him. It was almost too good to be true. He had found the girl at last!

"Are you feeling better now?" Glen asked.

Reynolds put his hand to his face, and glanced at the rags upon his body.

"I am not sure," he doubtfully replied. "But perhaps I shall when this beard is removed and I get some decent clothes. I must be a fearful looking object."

"I have seen you look better. But, then, you need not worry, Klota will attend to you presently."

"And you know who I am?" Reynolds eagerly asked.

"Certainly. You are my brave rescuer. You saved me from the grizzly on Crooked Trail, didn't you?"

"I know I did, but I am surprised that you recognize me in my present condition."

"Oh, I knew you as soon as you were taken off the raft."

"You did! And so it was you who saved me?"

"I had something to do with it, though not all. But won't you tell me what happened to you? Why were you adrift on the lake?"

"I can not tell you now," Reynolds replied. "I want to forget the terrible experiences through which I have just passed. I hope you do not mind."

"No, certainly not. I am only curious, that's all. When you get well you can tell me everything. I shall leave you now, for you must be tired."

"Don't go yet," Reynolds pleaded. "It is so nice to have you here, and talking does not tire me. Do you mind telling me where I am?"

"Why, at Glen West, of course. Where did you think you are?"

"Glen West," Reynolds repeated. "I cannot recall that name. Is it far from Big Draw?"

"Too far for anyone but you," and the girl smiled. "You are beyond the Golden Crest, remember, and you have heard what that means."

"I am! Why, I thought one could only get here by crossing the range."

"But you came by water; that is the only other way. And it is lucky for you that you did," she added after a slight pause.

"You mean that my life would be in danger had I come over Golden Crest?"

"Most likely."

"And am I safe now?"

The sunny expression vanished from Glen's eyes, and her face became serious. She gazed out of the window, as if watching several Indian children at play. To Reynolds she had never seemed more beautiful, and he could hardly believe it possible that she was standing there but a few feet away. She turned her face suddenly to his, and the look of admiration in his eyes brought a deep flush to her cheeks.

"Pardon me for not answering your question at once," she began. "I am afraid you are not safe, as you are on forbidden ground, though the fact that you were brought here in a helpless condition may make a difference. But, then, one can never tell what daddy will think about it."

"Does your father know I am here?"

"Not yet. He has been away in the hills for some time, and we are expecting him home at any minute."

"What do you suppose he will do with me? I fear he will find my bones poor picking after what I have gone through."

"Oh, daddy is not such a cannibal as all that," Glen laughingly replied. "But he is very jealous of this place, as others have found out to their sorrow. I cannot understand him at times, although he is very good to me."

"Have you lived here long?"

"Ever since I was a child. But I am tired of it now, and want to live outside. I was satisfied until I attended the Seminary and saw something of the world beyond the Golden Crest. What is the use of having an education if one must always live in a place like this?"

"I agree with you," Reynolds emphatically declared. "You should induce your father to go outside."

"You do not know daddy, or you would not speak about inducing him. But, there, I must go. I have been talking too much, and you are tired."

Reynolds lay there thinking about Glen long after she had gone. He had found her at last, and she was just as sweet and beautiful as the day he had rescued her on Crooked Trail. Yes, he had found her, but was he not as far from gaining her as ever? he asked himself. He thought about her father, and wondered what he would do when he returned home. Perhaps he would pack him at once across the Golden Crest, if he did no worse. But what could be worse than to be driven from her who had become so dear to him, and for whose sake he had ventured and suffered so much?

The next morning he felt almost like his former self, and when Klota brought him his breakfast, he informed her that he was going to get up. The woman smiled, left the room, and returned when Reynolds had finished the meal, and viewed with satisfaction the empty dishes.

"Did you cook my breakfast?" Reynolds asked.

"Ah, ah," was the reply. "Good, eh?"

"Good! It's the best I've had in a long time. I feel like a new man this morning, and must get up. I wish I had a shave, a bath, and some decent clothes. Look at these," and he pointed to his rags.

"Come," the woman simply ordered. "Me fix you, all right."

Reynolds at once got up, and followed her into the kitchen. He was greatly surprised at the neatness of the place, as he had no idea that an Indian woman could be such a good housekeeper. Klota noted his look of wonder, and smiled.

"Injun all sam' white woman, eh?" she queried.

"Why, yes. You do all this?"

"Ah, ah. All sam' beeg house."

She then opened a door to the left, and pointed within.

"See. All sam' white woman. All sam' Missie Glen. Savvey?"

Reynolds certainly did understand, and with an exclamation of surprise and delight, he entered the little room, where he found a bath-tub partly filled with water, clean towels, a suit of clothes, and a shaving-outfit.

"Where did all these things come from?" he asked.

"Sconda fix 'em all sam' beeg house. Savvey?"

"And are these clothes for me?"

"Ah, ah. Missie Glen send 'em."

Reynolds asked no more questions just then. He was more than satisfied at the kindness he was receiving. He believed it was due to Glen, and that she had instructed the Indians to do all in their power for his comfort. This filled his heart with gladness, for it told him that the girl was interested in his welfare, and that she looked upon him with kindly eyes. He was beginning to understand, too, something of Jim Weston's influence among the Indians. He had taught them the value of cleanliness, at any rate, and if all the natives in the place were like Klota and her husband, it must be an ideal settlement.

An hour later Reynolds came forth looking like a new man, and greatly refreshed after his bath. Klota's eyes beamed their approval as he stood before her.

"Do I look better now?" he asked.

"Good," was the reply. "All sam' white man. No Injun now."

Reynolds laughed as he went out of the house. The woman amused him, although he was most grateful for her kindness. It was a beautiful morning, and not a ripple ruffled the surface of the lake. The village was astir with life, the voices of children and the barking of dogs resounding on every side. No one interfered with him as he walked slowly along the street, but he could easily tell that he was being watched by many curious eyes. He had the feeling, too, that he was a prisoner, and while he could roam about at will, to escape would be impossible. The strong burly Indians he saw seemed to have nothing to do, but he knew that this was their idle season, and that during the winter they would be off to their hunting-grounds.

Reynolds was much interested in the store which he presently reached. A couple of Indians were in charge, who nodded to him as he entered, but apparently paid no further attention to him after their formal salutation. The building was well filled with all kinds of goods, and resembled a large up-to-date store in some large country town such as he had often seen. The sight of pipes and tobacco made him realise that he had not smoked for days, and having his money with him, he soon made his purchase. He stayed for a while at the store, smoking, and watching the customers as they came and went. It was all of considerable interest to him, and he beheld in this trading-place another tangible evidence of Jim Weston's influence.

He spent the rest of the morning wandering about the village, and it was noon by the time he returned to the house, which for the present he called home. Here he found Sconda near the back door carefully examining a large bearskin. He turned as the young man approached, and without the least sign of surprise, motioned to the skin.

"See um?" he asked. "Beeg skin, eh?"

"It certainly is," was the reply. "A grizzly?"

"Ah, ha. You shoot um, eh?"

"Why, that's not the one I shot on Crooked Trail, is it?" Reynolds asked in astonishment.

"Ah, ah. All sam' bear. Skin dry bimeby."

"What are you going to do with it? Will you let me have it?"

Sconda shook his head as he again felt the skin.

"Missie Glen get skin bimeby."

"Is it for her?"

"Ah, ah. She want skin. She send Injuns to Deep Gulch. She tell Sconda make good skin. Bimeby Missie Glen put skin in room, all sam' dis," and Sconda stooped and spread his hands over the ground.

Reynolds understood, and his heart bounded with joy. So Glen was going to keep the skin as a souvenir of her rescue on Crooked Trail. Then she must care something for him after all, more than he had expected. The thought made him happier than he had been for days, and he was grateful to Sconda for what he had told him.

That afternoon Glen came again to see him. She was greatly pleased at the change in his appearance, and suggested that they should go for a spin upon the creek.

"I want to show you what a beautiful place Glen West really is," she told him. "We can take Sconda's canoe, which is at the shore."

Reynolds was delighted, and eagerly he agreed to the proposition. Glen seated herself in the middle of the canoe, and the deft manner in which she handled the paddle showed that she was well accustomed to the water. Reynolds paddled aft, and headed the light craft up the creek.

"I am anxious for you to see what a wonderful piece of water this arm of the lake is," Glen remarked. "I have never seen anything like it in the north, and we are all very proud of it. Oh, if more people could only see it!"

She sighed as she drove the paddle into the water. Reynolds was more intent upon watching the graceful poise of her body as it swayed to the rhythmic stroke of the paddle than he was in viewing the scenery. He could hardly believe it true that she was seated there before him, and that he was privileged to watch her to his heart's content. He was very happy, and to him Glen West was the most delightful place in the world.

At length they came in front of the big house, and when Reynolds saw it, and also The Frontiersman lying at her wharf, his interest was intense. He ceased paddling, and stared in amazement.

"Am I dreaming, or have I taken leave of my senses?" he asked.

Glen laughed, as she rested on her paddle, and turned partly around.

"That is where I live," she explained. "And that is our boat. You were brought in on it the day we picked you up on the lake."

Reynolds made no immediate reply, but drove his paddle suddenly into the water. He knew that this girl had been largely instrumental in saving his life, and he was learning more and more what an important part she was playing in his life, and how one by one the links were being formed to bind them closer together.

Reynolds believed that he had seen the most wonderful sights in the north, but he had to confess that the grandest of all had been reserved for him that afternoon. As they moved on their way, the creek narrowed, and passing through an opening with high frowning rocks on both sides, they ran into a body of water of unruffled calmness, with steep banks, wooded to the shores. On the left rose the high ridge of the Golden Crest, as it shouldered in close to the stream, while on the right towered another crest, grand and austere. Their pinnacles were reflected in the lake, which was one of nature's jewels of surpassing brilliance, set by unseen hands on the fair bosom of the virgin north.

Many were the things the happy young couple talked about that afternoon. They did not paddle all the time, but often were content to let the canoe drift or lie still along the shore. Glen described the life at the Seminary and at Glen West, while Reynolds told of his terrible experiences in the hills and his voyage on the raft down the river.

"I am afraid that Frontier Samson is still hunting for me," he said. "He is a fine old man, so kind and humorous. Have you ever met him, Miss Weston?"

"Not to my knowledge," was the reply, "although I have heard a great deal about him."

"He has never been here, I suppose?"

"Oh, no. Daddy never permits any white man to come, not even that old prospector."

"But I am here," Reynolds reminded.

"I know you are. But you came in a different way, you see. I believe you are the first white man who ever stayed this length of time here."

"I would like to stay here forever," Reynolds fervently declared. "I have never been so happy in my life as I have been since I came to this place. I wonder what your father will do when he comes home."

"I wish I knew," and Glen sighed. "Anyway, it's no use to worry about that now. Let us enjoy ourselves while we can."

It was supper time when they at length reached Sconda's shore, where they pulled the canoe out of the water. They then walked up to the house, talking and laughing like two children. They had just reached the street, when a strange noise to their left arrested their attention. Looking in that direction, they saw a number of Indian men and children surrounding a man, who was evidently a prisoner. As they drew nearer, Reynolds saw that it was a white man, and that his hands were tied behind his back.

"Another prisoner, I believe," he remarked. "I shall have company."

Then he gave a sudden start, and took a quick step forward as if to obtain a better view.

"Why, it's Curly!" he exclaimed. "What in the world is he doing here!"

But Glen made no reply. Her eyes were fixed upon the prisoner, and her face was very white, as she turned slightly, as if about to flee into the house. In another minute Curly was near, and a most wretched figure he presented. His clothes were torn and his face dirty and bleeding. He had apparently received severe treatment at the hands of his captors. He walked with a shambling and unsteady gait, with his eyes fixed upon the ground. But as he came to where Glen and Reynolds were standing, he suddenly lifted his head, and seeing the two, he stopped dead in his tracks. For an instant he stared as if he had not seen aright. Then his face became contorted with a mingled expression of surprise and hatred. He strained at his bonds in a desperate effort to free himself, but he was immediately checked by his Indian guardians, who caught him by the arms, and hustled him along. He struggled violently for a few seconds, pouring forth at the same time a stream of blood-curdling oaths, abuse and vile words, which caused Glen to put her hands to her ears, and flee hurriedly into the house, while Reynolds slowly followed.