Chapter XX. A Shot From the Golden Crest
 

Glen was greatly agitated when her father summoned Reynolds into his presence. She felt that the critical moment had arrived, and she dreaded what might follow. Although she loved her father, yet at times she feared him. Suppose he should send Reynolds away at once, and forbid his return to Glen West? He had treated others in a harsh manner, and why should he act differently now? Her only ray of hope lay in the thought that he had allowed the young man to stay at the house over night, and had permitted him to sleep in the room which had never before been occupied.

She sat for some time after Reynolds had left, with her elbows upon the table, and her hands propping her chin. Her appetite had suddenly left her, and her coffee remained untasted. The morning sun flooding the room, fell upon her hair and face, and had her lover seen her then, he would have admired her more than ever. She was in a most thoughtful mood, and at the same time she listened intently for any sound of strife that might come from her father's study.

At length she arose, picked up her broad-rimmed straw-hat, and went out of doors. It was a hot morning with not a breath of wind astir. The water was like a mirror, and the high hills were reflected in its clear depths. It called to her now, and appealed to her as of yore, and urged her to seek comfort upon its placid bosom.

Walking swiftly down to the wharf, she launched her light canoe, one which had been brought in from the outside for her own special use. Sconda was standing near The Frontiersman, and he offered to accompany her. But Glen smilingly told him that she wished to be alone this morning, and that perhaps Klota needed him more than she did. The Indian was quite surprised at her refusal, and somewhat piqued as well. It was the first time she had ever spoken to him in such a manner, and he stood silently watching the girl as she settled herself in the canoe, and dipped her paddle into the water. Then he wended his way slowly homeward, wondering what had come over his young imperious mistress.

But Glen was not thinking about Sconda, and she had no idea that she had in any way annoyed the faithful native. She paddled straight across the creek until she reached the opposite side. Here she ran the canoe ashore, and watched most intently the big house in the distance.

She remained here for some time anxiously observing all that was taking place around the house, expecting at any moment to see Reynolds come forth. And when he did come, would he at once go down to the village, to be conducted beyond the pass? Perhaps her father might send for the guard, who would lead him forth as a prisoner. At this thought a tremor shook her body, and she nervously drove the paddle into the water, and sent the canoe reeling from the shore. Only in action now could she endure the strain of waiting.

She had just reached the middle of the creek, when, glancing toward the house, her heart gave a great leap, for there coming down to the wharf was the very one of whom she was thinking. He was walking rapidly and at the same time waving his hand to her. Instantly she headed the canoe for the shore, and when its graceful bow touched lightly against the wharf, he was standing there waiting to receive her. The smile upon his face and light of joy in his eyes told her that all was well, and so great was her happiness that for a moment she had no word to say. Her cheeks were flushed with the invigorating exercise, and the eyes which were turned to her lover's were moist with tears, and gleamed like sparkling diamonds. Reynolds, too, was speechless for a few seconds. A feeling of almost sacred awe swept upon him as he looked upon that fair pure face. Although his life was clean and above reproach, yet he felt most unworthy when in the presence of such a beautiful, unsullied being. It never had affected him so intensely as on this bright morning on the shore of that inland water. What right had he to presume to love such a girl? he asked himself.

For several seconds neither spoke. It was that mysterious silence which sometimes comes when heart responds to heart, and where love is true and deep. Then they both laughed and the spell was broken. Just why they laughed they could not tell, although they felt very happy.

"Come for a spin," Glen suggested. "I want to hear all. You paddle," she ordered, as she turned herself about in the canoe. "I have already had my morning's exercise."

"And so have I," Reynolds laughingly replied, as he seated himself astern and sent the canoe from the wharf.

"But of a different nature, though?" and Glen looked quizzically into his face.

"Quite different. I exercised my lungs, and your father did the same."

"Not in anger, I hope."

"Oh, no. We had a great heart to heart talk, and got on splendidly. We parted like two lambs, and are the best of friends."

"You are!" The girl's lips merely breathed the words, but they told of her great relief.

"Yes, it is true. And more than that, we have already planned for a trip together in the hills, and you are to go with us, that is, if you wish to go."

At these words, Glen's face underwent a marvellous change.

"Don't go," she pleaded. "Stay where you are."

"Why, what is the matter?" and Reynolds looked his surprise as he paused in a stroke.

"Have you forgotten your dream last night? It was bad, and first dreams in a new place are sure to come true."

Reynolds laughed, as he again dipped the paddle into the water.

"Surely you are not superstitious, Miss Weston. Why should one be alarmed at dreams? They are nothing."

"That may be true," and Glen trailed her hand in the water. "But an uneasy feeling has taken possession of me which I cannot banish. I was brought up among Indians, you know, and they are naturally superstitious."

"And they have filled your mind with nonsense, I suppose."

"I am afraid so," and the girl gave a deep sigh.

They were some distance up the creek now, and the canoe was gliding almost noiselessly through the water. Glen asked Reynolds about his conversation with her father, and he told her all that had taken place. She listened with the keenest interest. Her face was aglow with animation, and her eyes shone with the light of astonishment.

"I can hardly believe it," she exclaimed when Reynolds had finished. "Anyway, I am so thankful that daddy did not get angry, I hope he will not change his mind. He is so gentle and good at times, and again he is so stern and harsh. Oh! what is that?" she cried, as something struck the water with a zip near the canoe.

Reynolds had ceased paddling, and was staring back at a spot where the water had been ruffled, but not by the motion of the canoe. Then he glanced shoreward, and his eyes keenly searched the high ridge of the Golden Crest.

"It must have been a fish leaping for a fly," he somewhat absently suggested.

"But I heard the report of a rifle," Glen declared. "It came from up there," and she motioned to the right.

"Perhaps someone is hunting, and a stray bullet may have come this way."

"It may be so, but let us go home." Glen's face was pale, and her eyes bore an anxious expression.

Reynolds at once swung the canoe around, and paddled with long steady strokes toward the village. He knew that Glen was somewhat unnerved, and he upbraided himself for telling her about his dream. Why are some people so foolish as to believe in such things? he asked himself.

"Suppose we go over to Sconda's," Glen suggested. "I want to see Klota. She is doing some work for me."

"I understand," Reynolds replied. "You wish to find out how that bearskin is getting along."

Glen glanced quickly at him, smiled, and slightly blushed.

"You saw it, then? You recognized it?"

"Sconda showed it to me. It is a beauty."

"Do you want it?"

"Oh, no. I have no place to keep such a thing. It pleases me to know that you are anxious to have it as a----"

"As a souvenir of my deliverance," the girl assisted, as Reynolds hesitated.

"And of our first meeting," he added.

Glen did not reply, but looked thoughtfully out over the water toward the shore. She was glad that Reynolds believed she wished to go to Sconda's merely to see about the skin. But in truth, there was something far more important, and it was this which now disturbed her mind. She did not wish to exhibit her anxiety, so the idea of viewing the bearskin was as good a pretext as any other.

They found Klota at the back of the house busily engaged upon the skin, which was stretched over a log. She paused in her work and smiled as the two approached. Glen spoke to her in Indian, and asked her how she was getting along. Seeing Sconda across the street talking with an Indian, Reynolds went at once to him to discuss the proposed trip into the hills. This suited Glen, as she wanted to be alone for a time with Klota.

"Is Sconda going with us on our trip?" she asked.

"Ah, ah. Sconda is going," was the reply. Then an anxious expression appeared in the old woman's eyes as she turned them upon her fair visitor. "Don't you go," she warned. "Stay home."

"Why, Klota?" Glen asked as calmly as possible, although her fast-beating heart told of her agitation.

"Something might happen out there," and the Indian woman motioned to her left.

"What has Klota seen? Has she heard anything?"

"Klota has seen and heard. Don't go."

"What have you seen and heard?" Glen urged.

"Bad, ugh! Bad dream. Bad white man."

"Curly?" Glen's face was very white.

"Ah, ah, Curly. Bad, all same black bear. Don't go."

Klota resumed her work upon the skin, and although Glen questioned her further, she only shook her head, and refused to talk. What had this woman heard? Glen asked herself, or was it only a dream? She knew how much stress the Indians laid upon dreams, and how she herself had been so strongly influenced since childhood by weird stories she had heard from the natives.

She was unusually silent and thoughtful as she and Reynolds walked slowly up the street toward the big house. She longed to tell her companion what Klota had said, but she hesitated about doing so. Would he not consider her weak and foolish? She knew that her father would only laugh at her if she told him. She did not wish to make herself ridiculous in their eyes, and yet she could not get her lover's dream nor Klota's warning out of her mind. She thought of them that afternoon as she made preparations for the journey. Her father had told her that they were to start early the next morning, and if she wished to go she must be ready. She did want to go, for she enjoyed the life in the hills. Nevertheless, she often found herself standing at the window looking out over the lake. Why should she go if there was any risk? she asked herself. She knew that Curly was capable of almost any degree of villainy, but was he not far away at Big Draw? It was hardly likely that he would again venture near the Golden Crest. But if he did, would she not have her father and Reynolds to protect her?

Hitherto she had only thought of harm to herself. But there suddenly came into her mind the fear that something might happen to another, and she flushed as she thought who that other would be. Had she not seen Curly's face, and heard some of his terrible words the day of his arrest as he was being taken up the street? It would, therefore, be upon Reynolds that he would endeavor to give vent to his rage. Just how he would do this, she could not tell, but it would be necessary for her to be ever on guard.

A feeling of responsibility now took possession of her such as she had never known before. She felt that the life of her lover was in her keeping, and perhaps her father's as well. She knew that they would not listen to any warning from her, and so she might as well keep silent. The dream and Klota's words might amount to nothing, yet it was well to be ready for any emergency.

Opening a drawer in her dresser, she brought forth a revolver, and held it thoughtfully in her hand for a few minutes. As a rule she carried it with her on all her trips beyond the Golden Crest, and she had been well trained in the use of the weapon since she was a mere girl. She was a good shot, and was very proud of her accomplishment.

"A girl should always be able to take care of herself," her father had told her over and over again.

"In a country such as this one never knows what might happen, and it is well to be prepared."

That evening as she sat at the piano and played while Reynolds sang, she forgot for a time her anxiety. His presence dispelled all gloomy fears, and the sound of his voice thrilled her very being. They were both happy, and all-sufficient to each other.

Across the hall in his own room, Jim Weston sat alone, ensconced in a big comfortable chair. He was re-reading one of his favorite books, "Essays of Nature and Culture." He was engrossed in the chapter, "The Great Revelation," and as he read, the music across the way beat upon his brain, and entered into his soul. "Every bit of life is a bit of revelation; it brings us face to face with the great mystery and the great secret." . . . He paused, and listened absently to the music. "All revelation of life has the spell, therefore, of discovery." . . . The words of the song the young people were now singing again arrested his attention. He liked "Thora"; it was a song of the north, and Glen had often sung it to him. "There is the thrill, the wonder, the joy of seeing another link in the invisible chain which binds us to the past and unites us to the future." The words of the essay startled him. He laid aside the book, and rested his head upon his hand. "Another link in the invisible chain which binds us to the past." He thought of her who had made his life so pleasant. He glanced above his desk, and a mistiness came into his eyes. Memory now was the only link which bound him to the past, to those sweet days of long ago.

And as he sat there, the singing still continued. He only half comprehended the meaning of the words, for he was living in another world. But presently he started, clutched the arms of his chair, and bent intently forward.

  "'Tis a tale that is truer and older
  Than any the sagas tell;
  I loved you in life too little,
  I love you in death too well!"

In the adjoining room the happy young couple went on with their singing, and when the song was finished, they stopped, said something in a low voice, and then laughed joyously. But the ruler of Glen West paced restlessly up and down his study. He heard no more singing that night, for he had softly closed the door. Long after the rest had retired, and the house was wrapped in silence, he continued his pacing, only stopping now and then to gaze longingly at the picture above his desk. Since his return from the hills Jim Weston had learned a new lesson, but before it could be applied, it was necessary for him to undergo the severest mental and spiritual struggle he had ever known.