Glen of the High North by H. A. Cody
Chapter XXV. By the Inland Lake
It seemed to Glen as if the morning would never wear away as she sat and guarded her prisoner. The severe strain was showing its effect upon her face, which was unusually pale. Her eyes never once left the man before her, and the revolver, as it rested lightly upon her lap, was pointed straight toward him, ready for immediate action. She would not allow Curly to speak, and whenever he made the attempt she sternly checked him and menacingly raised her weapon of authority. Her brain was very active, and her thoughts were by no means happy ones. Suppose her father and lover should be shot ere Sconda could do anything, what would be the outcome? she asked herself. She was well aware that Sconda and Natsu would be more than a match for Dan, but he might escape and get back to the cabin first. Her face became stern as she thought of this, and she made up her mind what she would do. She could deal with Curly all right, and settle his account. She would then have only Dan to face. Anyway, she was determined that she would never fall into the hands of those two villains so long as her revolver held true and while the last cartridge remained.
And thus she retained her post through the slow morning hours. The sun rode high in the heavens and beat upon her throbbing head. Birds flitted and sang around her, and squirrels chattered and scolded among the trees. Would Sconda never return? she wondered. What could be keeping him! At times she felt that she could endure the strain no longer, but when she realised how much was at stake she always nerved herself by a mighty effort.
Curly watched Glen's every movement, and seeing how weary she was becoming trusted to catch her off guard, spring forward, strike the revolver from her hand, and seize her in his arms before she could shoot. This was his only hope, but whenever he was on the point of making the desperate attempt, the stern word of command and the slightly lifted weapon caused him quickly to desist. Glen seemed to divine his purpose, and always checked him in time.
So desperate did Curly at length become that he decided to throw all caution to the wind. He was very anxious over Dan's tardiness in returning, and feared lest his scheme had failed. He knew full well that if Jim Weston should suddenly appear and find him in such an embarrassing situation it would go hard with him. It would be death, anyway, without any chance of defending himself. He knew how furious Weston would be at the attempt made not only upon his own life but upon his daughter's honor. The perspiration poured in great beads down his face as he thought of this. Glen saw his agitation, and attributed it to the heat of the sun and weariness. She little knew what was passing through the villain's mind. And, in fact, she never learned, for at this critical moment Sconda bounded from the forest and stood by her side. A cry of joy escaped Glen's lips as she beheld her deliverer and knew that she was saved.
In a twinkling Sconda grasped the situation, and with a terrible roar of rage be brought his rifle to his shoulder and would have shot Curly where he stood, had not Glen leaped to her feet and laid her hand firmly upon the smooth barrel.
"Don't shoot!" Curly yelled, wild with terror, ere Glen could say a word. "Fer God's sake, let me go!"
But the enraged Indian was not easily diverted from his purpose, and it was only with much difficulty that Glen was able to make him listen to reason.
"Curly bad," he argued. "Curly all same black bear. Ugh!"
"I know that, Sconda," Glen agreed. "But I want you to mind me now, and let him go. Search him, and take his gun."
Very reluctantly Sconda obeyed, and in a few seconds he was holding in his hand Curly's revolver and a big, sharp, dangerous knife.
"There, I feel safer now," and Glen breathed a deep sigh of relief. "Take him away, Sconda," she ordered. "I want to get him out of my sight."
As Sconda seized the wretch roughly by the arm, and was about to hurry him away, Curly emitted a cry of fear, and turned toward Glen.
"He'll kill me!" he yelled. "I can see it in his eyes. He'll get me down among the trees an' shoot me! Don't let him take me! Save me! Fer God's sake, save me!"
"You need not be afraid of Sconda," Glen replied, while her eyes flashed with contempt. "He is a true man, and respects me and my orders. He will not harm you, so you need not fear him. But there are others you might well fear should they Hear of what you have done to-day. That is all I have to say. Take him away, Sconda."
Glen went at once into the cabin, and the coolness of the place was a great relief to the intense heat outside. She watched from the window as Sconda conducted Curly down along the shore of the lake until they disappeared from view.
In about a quarter of an hour Sconda returned. Glen met him at the door, and enquired anxiously about her father and Reynolds. She spoke in the Indian language, and this always pleased Sconda. His face brightened, and as he looked at the animated face before him his lips parted in a smile.
"The white men are safe," he told her. "They will come into camp by and by."
"And where is Dan?" Glen enquired. "Did you see him?"
"Ah, ah. Dan tried to shoot the white men, but Sconda was too quick. Dan now all same sleep."
"Not dead, is he?"
"No, no; all same sleep."
"And so you came to tell me that daddy and Mr. Reynolds are safe?"
"Sconda ran away. Big White Chief wanted Sconda to help carry Dan into camp. But Sconda run away fast."
"Sconda think maybe Curly here. Sconda was right, eh?"
"Oh, I understand," Glen replied. Her eyes were shining with gratitude as she turned them upon the face of her valiant protector. "You thought I might be in danger. You knew that Dan and Curly had plotted together, and that when Curly was not out there he must be here trying to harm me. How can I thank you, Sconda, for what you have done for me to-day? I do not know what would have happened had you not come just when you did."
"Missie Glen hold up Curly, all same man, eh?" and Sconda smiled.
"Indeed I did. But I could not have stood it much longer, I was afraid that I would have to shoot him."
"Why did Missie Glen not let Sconda shoot Curly?"
"Because it would be murder, that's why. If you had shot Curly, the Mounted Police would take you away, and most likely hang you. Just think of that."
"But Curly bad, ugh!"
"I know that, Sconda. But it wouldn't make any difference. You would be considered a murderer, and I don't want to lose you yet. And, remember, Sconda, don't you dare to tell anyone that Curly was here."
"Sconda no tell! Why?"
"Because if daddy hears of it, he will be so angry that he will kill Curly. You must not tell anyone, so daddy and Mr. Reynolds will know nothing about it. You will promise, won't you, Sconda?"
With considerable reluctance Sconda agreed to keep the secret. He knew that it was not the wisest thing to do, for he was fully convinced that Curly should be punished. But he would do anything rather than displease his young mistress, for whom he had such an unbounded admiration.
"Missie Glen hungry, eh?" he unexpectedly asked.
"I really don't know," Glen laughingly replied. "I have not had time to think about it. Are you?"
"Ah, ah; Sconda hungry."
"Well, then, you can get dinner ready, and perhaps I shall be able to eat something, too."
Sconda at once set to work, and in a remarkably short time he had a simple meal prepared. He served Glen first, and waited upon her until she had finished.
"How long will it take the men to come back?" Glen asked as she rose from the table.
"Till sundown, maybe," was the reply. "Dan is heavy and hard to carry."
"Well, then, I am going to lie down for a while, Sconda. I did not sleep any last night, and the excitement of to-day has made me very tired. You will keep watch around the cabin, will you not?"
"Ah, ah, Sconda will watch. Sconda will shoot Curly if he comes back."
"Oh, I guess Curly will not come here again, especially when he knows that I have such a noble protector."
Sconda was pleased at these words of praise, and after he had eaten his dinner he sat and smoked contentedly before the door of the cabin. He was happier than he had been in many a day. He had saved the white men, knocked out Dan, rescued his master's daughter, and headed Curly for Big Draw. His only regret was that he had not been allowed to shoot Curly, and thus rid the earth of another villain.
Glen was completely wearied out, and a few minutes after her head touched the pillow she was fast asleep. She slept soundly for several hours, and when she awoke the shadows of night were stealing in through the little window. The sound of voices in the adjoining room informed her that her father and Reynolds had returned. She also heard the rattle of dishes and knew that Sconda was preparing supper. Hastily arranging her hair, and with a final glance in the small mirror, she softly opened the door. Weston and Reynolds were already seated at the table, while the lighted lamp told Glen that it was later than she had imagined.
"Hello!" Weston accosted, as he turned and beheld his daughter. "You are a sound sleeper. Been sleeping all day, I suppose!"
Reynolds had risen to his feet the instant Glen appeared, and he waited until she had taken her place at the table ere he resumed his seat. He was pleased to see her looking so bright and animated. The color had returned to her cheeks, and the expression of fear had vanished from her eyes.
"Where is the wounded man, daddy?" Glen at once asked.
"In the bunk out there," and Weston motioned to the kitchen. "He doesn't deserve all the trouble we've had to-day. My, he was a heavy load! And to think that Sconda should have run away and left us. I wonder what came over the rascal?"
"Is Dan seriously wounded, do you think?" Glen enquired, evading her father's reference to Sconda.
"No, just a scratch, which made him unconscious for a time. He'll be all right in a few days, I am sorry to say. Such a treacherous creature is better dead than alive."
"What will you do with him, daddy?"
"Keep him here for a while and patch him up. I must find out why he tried to shoot us, and if there are others in the plot, I know the villain is very revengeful, and that may have been his sole purpose for following us to-day. How did Sconda know about him, Glen?"
"He saw him hurrying along this side of the lake shortly after you had disappeared beyond the wild meadow. I thought it best for Sconda to go."
"And mighty fortunate you did. Why, the villain would have shot us all if Sconda hadn't been on hand."
"Do you intend to stay here a while, daddy?"
"Long enough to look after my patient. But you must go home, and Natsu will go with you. Reynolds has to hurry down to Big Draw to record our claims."
"And so you found the gold?" Glen eagerly asked.
"I should say we did. Why, that cave is full of it. We shall be as rich as Croesus in a short time."
"Oh, I am so glad," and the girl gave a sigh of relief. "When we get the gold why cannot we leave this country, daddy, and go outside? I want to travel and see the world, and enjoy life. There, now, I know you will either scold or laugh at me. But I mean every word I say."
"I shall do neither, dear," was the quiet reply, "so you need not fear. I have known for some time that you wish to leave this country, and I have given it very serious consideration. But you must wait a while, that is, for a few days at least. It all depends upon something about which I do not care to speak now, as I must have more time to think it over."
Weston rose suddenly from the table and went into the kitchen. Glen and Reynolds looked at each other without a word. They were both surprised at Weston's words and the abrupt manner in which he left them. Moved by the same impulse, they, too, rose from the table and went out of doors. It was a beautiful evening, and the sky beyond the mountain peaks was aglow with the lingering light of departing day. The lake lay like a mirror, its borders black with the shadows of the near-by trees.
At the kitchen window Weston stood wrapped in thought. Forgotten was the man lying in the bunk, for his mind was upon the two slowly wending their way to the lake. The room seemed to stifle him, so he went to the door and stood there, silent and alone. He was fighting the hardest battle of his life, much harder, in fact, than the one he had fought in his study the night he had first interviewed Reynolds. He knew that he was at the parting of the ways. That Glen had given her heart to the young stranger he was certain, and he believed that she would never be happy apart from him. They would leave the northland, and should he remain? That was the question which was now agitating his mind. How could he live alone without Glen's inspiring presence? There was no one to take her place, and he was getting well along in years. He thought of her who had meant so much to him in the sweet days of old. What agony had wrung his soul when she was taken from him, and how his whole life had been changed. A slight groan escaped the lips of the unhappy man, and mechanically he reached out his hands into the night. At once there flashed into his mind the words Glen and Reynolds had sung together at Glen West:
"'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."
The sound of happy laughter from the shore fell upon his ears. He started and looked down toward the shore. He could dimly see the two standing near the water close to each other, and intuitively he knew its meaning. They had forgotten him and everything else. They were sufficient to each other, and all cares for the time had vanished. Weston knew that the old, old tale was being repeated by the shore of that inland lake, and that two young hearts were responding to the sweet, luring charm of that divine influence, which banishes all grief and care, and transfigures life with the halo of romance.