Glen of the High North by H. A. Cody
Chapter XVIII. The Prepared Room
The trip down to the big river was not altogether to Glen's liking. She preferred to stay at home, as she hoped to be able to spend part of the day with Reynolds, But her father had insisted upon her accompanying him, for he well knew why she wished to remain behind.
"It will do you good," he told her. "You need a change."
"I certainly do," was the emphatic reply. "I wish you would leave this place, daddy. I am tired living up here, where there are no people of my own age with whom I can associate."
Weston looked at his daughter in surprise.
"You used to be happy here, Glen. What has come over you?"
"I am older now, daddy, and see things in a different light. What is the good of my education if I am to spend the rest of my days in a place like this? The north is all right in a way, but for a girl such as I am the life is too narrow. It is a splendid region for a person who wishes to lead the quiet life, but I am not ready for that at present."
Weston made no reply to his daughter's words, but remained silent for some time as he stood with Sconda in the wheel-house. A worried expression appeared in his eyes, and his brow often knit in perplexity. He was keenly searching his own heart and mind such as he had not done in years. It was the first time that Glen had spoken to him so candidly about leaving the north, and he realised that she meant what she said.
There was a large bag of mail waiting for them, at the trading-post, and among the letters Glen found several from a number of her girl friends of the Seminary. As she read these on her way back upstream, she became more discontented than ever. They all told of the good times the girls were having in their various homes during their holidays, of parties, auto rides, and the numerous incidents which mean so much to the young. Glen laid each letter aside with a sigh. It was the life for which she longed, and what could she write in return? There was only one event which deeply interested her, and of that she could not speak.
She was tired when she reached home, and after supper went at once to her own room. She took with her a number of books, magazines, and newspapers, and although the latter were several weeks old, she eagerly read the doings of the outside world, especially items of news about persons she knew. She was lying upon a comfortable couch as she read, near the window fronting the lake. The light from the shaded lamp on the little table at her head threw its soft beams upon the printed page, and brought into clear relief the outlines of her somewhat tired face. It was a face suddenly developed from girlhood into womanhood, as the bud blossoms into the beautiful flower. Glen's heart cried out for companionship, and the bright sunshine of happy young lives surrounding her.
Throughout the day her thoughts had been much upon him who had recently come into her life. The sight of him standing upon the shore that morning had thrilled her, and she longed to give him a word of encouragement. So lying there this evening, with her paper at length thrown aside, she wondered what he was doing, and how he was enduring his captivity. Surely her father would not submit him to the Ordeal after what she had told him about her love. She tried to think of something that she could do, but the more she thought the more helpless she seemed to be.
At last she arose and went downstairs. She heard voices in her father's room, but who was with him she could not tell, as the door was almost closed. Going at once to the piano, she struck the few notes which brought Reynolds to her side. His unexpected presence startled her, and by the time she was on her feet, he had her hand in his and his strong arms around her. Not a word was said for a few seconds as he held her close. A great happiness such as she had never known before swept upon her. He loved her! That was the one idea which surged through her wildly-beating heart. Time was obliterated, fears and doubts vanished, and with him whom she loved holding her in his arms, it seemed as if heaven had suddenly opened. Her face was upturned to his, and in an instant Reynolds bent and imprinted a fervent kiss upon her slightly parted lips.
With a start Glen glanced toward the door, and gently untwined her lover's arms. Her face, flushed before, was scarlet now. Never before had the lips of man except her father's touched her own, and the rapture of the sensation was quickly succeeded by a strong maidenly reserve. What should she do? she asked herself. How could she atone for her indiscretion? She turned instinctively to the piano.
"Play. Sing," Reynolds ordered in a low voice, charged with deep emotion.
"What shall I play?" Glen faintly asked as she mechanically turned over several sheets of music.
"Anything; it doesn't matter, so long as you play. There, that, 'The Long, Long Trail'; I like it."
Touching her fingers lightly to the keys, Glen played as well as the agitated state of her mind would permit. And as she played, Reynolds sang, such as he had never sung before. Presently Glen joined him, and thus together they sang the song through.
Across the hall Weston sat alone and listened. The stern expression had disappeared from his face, and his head was bowed in his hands.
"It has been a long, long trail to me," he murmured, "but the end seems in sight."
The music of another song now fell upon his ears. Again they were singing, and he noted how perfectly their voices blended. Ere long the music was interrupted by laughter, the cause of which Weston could not tell, but he was fully aware that the young couple were happy together, and apparently had forgotten all about him. At one time this would have annoyed him, but it affected him now in a far different manner, at which he was surprised.
Glen and Reynolds, however, had not forgotten the silent man in the other room, and at times they glanced anxiously toward the door. They both felt that their happiness would soon end, and then would come the cruel separation. But as the evening wore on and nothing occurred to mar their pleasure, they wondered, and spoke of it in a low whisper to each other. They sang several more songs, but most of the time they preferred to talk in the language which lovers alone know, a language more expressive in the glance, the flush of the cheeks, and the accelerated heartbeats, than all the fine words of the masters of literature. Time to them was a thing of naught, for they were standing on the confines of that timeless kingdom, described on earth as heaven.
The entrance of Nannie at length broke the spell, and brought them speedily back to earth. They knew that she was the bearer of some message from the master of the house, and what would that message be? But the woman, merely smiled as she came toward them, and informed Reynolds that it was getting late, and that his room was ready.
"Do you mean that I am to spend the night here?" he asked in surprise.
"It is the master's wish," was the reply. "He gave the order, and your room is ready. I will show you the way."
Reynolds glanced at Glen, and the light of joy that was beaming in her eyes told him all that was necessary.
"You are the first visitor to spend the night here," she said. "May your dreams be pleasant, for they are sure to come true.
"'Dreams to-night which come to you Will prove at length to be really true.'"
"May they be pleasant ones, then," Reynolds laughingly replied, as he reluctantly bade the girl a formal good-night, and followed Nannie out of the room.
The latter led him at once upstairs, and showed him into a room on the west side of the house. Reynolds was astonished at the manner in which it was furnished. He looked about with undisguised wonder and admiration.
"Why, this is a room for a prince!" he exclaimed. "I never slept in such a luxurious place in my life. Your master must have notable visitors at times." Then he recalled Glen's words. "But am I really the first visitor who ever stayed here all night?"
"You must be the favored one for whom this room has been waiting," the woman quietly replied. "You must be the prince."
"And this room has never been occupied before?"
"Never. When I came here years ago, the master told me that this room was not to be used, but must always be in readiness, for some day it would be unexpectedly needed. I never understood his meaning until to-night. But, there, I must not talk any more. Good-night, sir, and may sweet dreams be yours."
Reynolds found it difficult to get to sleep, although the bed was soft and comfortable, and he was tired after the excitement of the day and evening. At times he felt that he must be dreaming, for it did not seem possible that he had again met Glen, held her close, kissed her, and she had not objected. His heart was filled with happiness, and when at last he did fall asleep, his dreams were of her. But mingled with his visions was Curly, who appeared dark and sinister, threatening not only himself, but her who was so dear to him. He saw the villain in the act of harming her, while he himself was powerless to assist her. He was bound, and no matter how he struggled, he was unable to free himself.
He awoke with a start, and looked around. It was only a dream, and he gave a sigh of relief. He then remembered what Glen had said to him the night before, and he smiled. He was not the least bit superstitious, and had no belief in such notions. Let Curly or anyone else attempt to lay hands on the girl he loved, and it would not be well for him. He knew that the expelled rascal was capable of any degree of villainy, but that he would venture again near Glen West was most unlikely.
It was daylight now, so hurriedly dressing, Reynolds hastened downstairs. Glen was waiting for him in the dining-room, and a bright smile of welcome illumined her face as he entered. They were alone, and Reynolds longed to enfold her in his arms, and tell her all that was in his heart. He refrained, however, remembering how his impetuosity had carried him too far the previous evening. But it was different then, as he expected it would, be the last time he might see her, and he needed the one sweet kiss of remembrance. Now she was with him, and he felt sure of her love.
Weston and Nannie did not make their appearance, and as Glen sat at the head of the table and poured the coffee, she explained that they already had their breakfast.
"They are earlier than we are," Reynolds replied. "I had no idea it was so late."
"Didn't you sleep well?" Glen asked.
"Never slept better, that is, after I got to sleep. The wonderful events of last night kept me awake for a while."
Glen blushed and her eyes dropped. She did not tell how she, too, had lain awake much longer than anyone else in the house, nor that her pillow was moist with tears of happiness.
"I hope your dreams were pleasant," she at length remarked, "You know the old saying."
Reynolds' mind seemed suddenly centred upon the piece of meat be was cutting, and he did not at once reply. This Glen noticed, and an expression of anxiety appeared in her eyes.
"Do you wish me to tell you?" Reynolds asked, lifting his eyes to hers.
"If you don't mind. But I am afraid your dreams were bad."
"Not altogether; merely light and shade. The light was my dream of you, while the shade was of Curly."
"You dreamed of him!" Glen paused in her eating, while her face turned pale.
"There, now, I am sorry I mentioned it, Miss Weston. I knew it would worry you. But perhaps it is just as well for you to know."
"Indeed it is, especially when it concerns that man. Oh, he is not a man, but a brute. Please tell me about your dream."
In a few words Reynolds told her all, and when he had ended she sat for some time lost in thought. Her right arm rested upon the table, and her sunbrowned, shapely fingers lightly pressed her chin and cheek. She was looking out of the window which fronted the lake, as if she saw something there. The young man, watching, thought he never saw her look more beautiful. Presently a tremor shook her body. Then she gave a little nervous laugh, and resumed her breakfast.
"I am afraid I am not altogether myself this morning," she apologized. "But how can I help feeling nervous so long as Curly is anywhere in this country?"
Reynolds was about to reply when Nannie entered and told him that the master of the house wished to see him. With a quick glance at Glen, and asking to be excused, he left the room, expecting that the storm which had been so mercifully delayed was now about to break.