Chapter XXIX. The Old True Story
 

There was great indignation at Shorty's when the miners heard of the villainous attempt upon Reynolds' life. At first they would hardly believe it, but as they listened to Frontier Samson, whose words were confirmed by Glen, and Reynolds, they knew that it must be true. Then when they learned that Curly was guilty of the murder of his partner, Bill Ducett, they became thoroughly aroused.

These miners were the finest men at Big Draw. They worked hard and minded their own business. They were not given to much talk, due, no doubt, to long years in the wilderness. Neither were they carried away by any sudden impulse on the spur of the moment. They never had anything in common with Curly and his gang, although they had often listened to their vapid boastings. So now when they learned of the despicable affair up the narrow creek, they did not take matters into their own hands, and visit upon the miscreants swift and dire punishment. They decided, after a brief consultation with Frontier Samson, to keep close guard upon Curly and hand him over to the Mounted Police, who were expected back the next day. His companions would be allowed their freedom until needed.

"Such actions must be stopped," one big weather-beaten veteran of many trails declared. "Curly and his bunch, as well as all others of such breed, must learn first as last that the Police are here to give British justice, and a fair trial to every man, no matter who he is. It's not for any of us to deal with such brutes as Curly and his gang."

"I agree with you, Tom," another replied. "But it's a pity we didn't hear sooner about what was taking place up the draw. We'd a been there in no time. I can't understand how that Indian Titsla learned the news. He was here yesterday selling meat, but he never mentioned a word to us."

"I imagine he thought the hull bunch of yez was in the plot," Samson replied, "an' so he hit the trail fer Glen West as fast as he could. That's the way with them Injuns." Then he turned suddenly and walked over to Shorty. "Say, old man," he began, "rustle up some grub fer them Injuns outside, will ye? I'd like to give 'em a good feed before they leave. An' hand out something to the rest of us while yer at it. I'm most starved, an' I guess the rest are, too. I'll foot the bill."

In less than an hour Shorty had the Indians fed, and when Samson had provided each with a large plug of tobacco, they all left in the best of spirits for Glen West.

Reynolds' entire solicitude was for Glen. He thought not of himself, and paid little heed to the miners as they discussed Curly and his companions. His only concern was for her who was sitting in the one arm-chair the room contained with such a weary look in her eyes. The stern expression had vanished from her face, and she was the real Glen again. She did not care to talk, although she listened intently to everything that was said. But after the miners had left, and she sat down to the supper Shorty had prepared, she became more animated.

"Oh, I am so glad that we are alone at last!" and she breathed a deep sigh of relief. "It seems as if I have had a fearful dream."

"You'll be all right, Miss, as soon as ye git a good night's sleep," Samson replied. "Yer a bit used up at present."

"I suppose so. But where shall I sleep?"

"Here, of course. Shorty's goin' to give ye his best room, an' not a soul will disturb ye until mornin'. Then ye must be up bright an' early. Yer dad wants ye at his cabin."

"Is anything wrong?" Glen anxiously asked.

"Nuthin', Miss. But yer dad wants ye as soon as ye kin git thar."

"How does he know I'm here?" and Glen looked her surprise.

"How does he know?" Samson slowly repeated. "Wall, that's fer you to find out. I jist come from thar to-day, so I know that he wants ye. What's the use of askin' how Jim Weston finds things out? Why, he seems to know what a man miles off is thinkin' about. Ye'd almost imagine that he has a wireless outfit fixed up in his head."

Glen and Reynolds laughed, and even the old man smiled. He seemed to like to see them both happy, and when supper was over he told several humorous stories in his quaint, droll fashion. For a time Glen forgot her exciting experiences of the afternoon, and Samson did not once allude to them. At length he arose and laid his hand upon Reynolds' shoulder.

"Come, young man, it's time fer us to be goin' if the lassie is to git any sleep," he reminded. "I know you'd like to sit here all night an' watch. But she'll be as safe as in her own little nest at home. We'll be around early in the mornin', remember, Miss."

Glen held out her hand as she bade each good night. Reynolds held her hand for a few seconds and looked lovingly into her tired eyes. How he longed to put his arms around her to comfort her and tell her how brave and noble she was. But no, he would not do that now, as she might resent it. Instead, he merely bent his head, and lifting her hand touched it lightly with his lips, and hurried out of the building. Alone in the little room that night, ere she laid herself down upon the rough cot, Glen pressed her hand to her lips and kissed the spot where her lover's lips had rested. Tired though she was, a sweet peace stole into her heart. Forgotten was Curly, and she thought only of him she had rescued, and of whose love she felt assured.

Frontier Samson made no allusion to Reynolds' presence at Big Draw. He never even asked what had befallen him when he was lost out in the hills. This did not seem strange to Reynolds for a while, as his mind was much filled with the stirring events of the night. But when lying wrapped up in his blankets in his tent he thought it all over, and the silence of the prospector did seem strange. Then he remembered that Samson had been at the cabin in the hills, and no doubt Weston had told him the whole story.

No reference was made to the matter the next day until they were well advanced on the trail. Glen was like her former self once more after her refreshing sleep, and the color had again returned to her cheeks, She was full of spirit and animation, and laughed gaily at Samson's quaint remarks as he rode by her side wherever the trail permitted.

Reynolds, too, was happy, and Glen's buoyant cheerfulness affected him like magic. To listen to her voice and merry laughter made him perfectly contented. Life was very pleasant to him this morning, with the dark clouds all rolled away.

Suddenly a moose appeared on the trail ahead, which gazed for an instant upon the riders, and then bounded off into the woods.

"Like to chase it, eh?" Samson queried, as he looked quizzically at Reynolds.

"Not this time," was the laughing reply. "I have learned a lesson."

"In the school of experience, I guess. It's the only school in which some people'll ever learn anything."

"Chiefly babies and fools, so I've heard," Reynolds replied. "I was certainly a fool, all right, for not obeying orders and leaving a moose alone unless one is in need of meat. But, then, things turned out all right after all. If I had not got lost, I would not have reached Glen West as I did."

"An' not have found the gold, either."

"Why, did you hear about the discovery?" Reynolds eagerly asked.

"Sure. I heard all about it, an' how ye staked a claim fer yer old pardner, Frontier Samson. It was sartinly kind of ye to think of me."

"But I didn't stake any claim for you," Reynolds confessed, while his face crimsoned.

"Ye didn't, eh? An' we was pardners, too! Wall, that's queer."

"Oh, I am sorry," the young man acknowledged. "But I staked two claims, so you shall have one of them. How will that do?"

"No, thank ye. I've got enough to do me, I guess, to the end of me tether. An', besides, mebbe you'll need a hull gold mine to keep a-goin' by the looks of things. Women need a lot these days." His eyes twinkled as he turned them upon Glen's face, and noted that she was blushing, for she understood the meaning of his words. "But, then, it'll all depend upon the woman," he continued, "Now, some wouldn't be satisfied with a dozen gold mines, while others would be perfectly contented with a little log shack, so long as the place was built of love. I guess that'd be the way with you, Miss, from what I've seen of ye. But, hello! who's this? Why, it's the rascal Dan, I do believe! He seems to be in a hurry."

And Dan certainly was in a hurry. He was not at all inclined to talk, but anxious to get along as fast as possible.

"What's yer rush?" Samson asked.

"I want to get to Big Draw before night," was the curt reply.

"Where's daddy?" Glen questioned.

"Blamed if I know. He cleared out shortly after you did, and left me to die out there. I haven't seen him since."

Dan's arm was in a sling, and the haggard expression upon his face showed that he had suffered a great deal both mentally and bodily. The three watched him as he hurried on his way, until a bend in the trail hid him from view.

"An' to think of that critter bein' free!" Samson exclaimed. "Why, he should be linked up with Curly, an' git the same dose. Thar's something comin' to him, an' he'll git it in time, mark my word."

"What do you suppose has become of daddy?" Glen enquired, as they resumed their journey. "Did you hear what Dan said?"

"Oh, yer dad's all right, Miss," Samson assured her. "He knows how to take care of himself. Mebbe he's off to that mine. He's sartinly much interested in it."

"But where did you see Mr. Weston?" Reynolds unexpectedly asked.

"Whar did I see him?" and Samson ran the fingers of his right hand through his hair in an abstracted manner. "Wall, let me see. It was somewhar out in the hills. I've been in so many places that it's hard fer me to tell one from t'other. I do git terribly mixed up these days."

No further reference was made to the matter during the rest of the day, although Reynolds was not at all satisfied with the prospector's lame explanation. He wondered why the old man should have such a sudden lapse of memory as to what had so recently happened. There was some reason for it, he felt quite sure.

It was evening when they at length reached the little cabin in the wilderness. Sconda had ridden on ahead, and had an appetizing supper ready by the time the others arrived.

"I wonder where daddy can be," Glen remarked as they sat down to the table. "I was hoping that he might be here to receive us."

"Oh, he's all right, an' will be back soon," Samson replied. "He'll be here this evenin' fer sure."

The sun had just disappeared beyond the far off mountain peaks as Glen and Reynolds walked down to the shore of the lake. Not a ripple disturbed the water, and the sombre trees along the shore were mirrored in the clear depths. It was a scene of restful peace and quietness.

"Isn't it beautiful here to-night!" Glen exclaimed, while she gave a sigh of contentment. "I have no fear now of any danger lurking within those dark shadows, such as I had the last time we were here."

"And were you fearful then?" Reynolds asked.

"Indeed I was, for I thought Curly might be lurking around. He was here that day, and I do not mind confessing it now." She then briefly told of Curly's visit, and how she had guarded him until Sconda arrived.

They were walking along the shore now, about one hundred yards from the cabin. Reynolds was amazed at the story, and when Glen finished he suddenly stopped.

"Oh, I wish I had known of this sooner," he declared, while his hands clenched hard. "Why didn't you tell me before?"

"I was afraid," Glen confessed in a low voice.

"Afraid! Of what?"

"Of what you might do to Curly."

For an instant Reynolds stared at the girl. Could it be possible that she was concerned about the villain's welfare?

"And you thought I might kill him?" he asked.

"Yes; that was it."

"But he deserves to be killed after doing such a contemptible thing. Why, it is as bad as the Huns would do, and you know what we did to them."

"But that was war," Glen reminded. "If you shot an enemy over there, you were not considered a murderer, and condemned to death, were you?"

"No, certainly not," Reynolds emphatically replied, as the meaning of the girl's words dawned upon his mind. "And so you kept silent for my sake?" he asked. "Were you afraid that I might do something desperate to Curly, and become a murderer?"

"Yes, I was," and Glen lifted her shining eyes to his.

"And you really care that much for me?"

"Why shouldn't I? Wouldn't anyone think of a friend, and his welfare?"

Only for an instant did Reynolds hesitate, while his heart beat wildly with hope. Then he caught the girl's hands in his, and looked longingly into her eyes.

"Glen, Glen!" he passionately cried, using her Christian name for the first time, "is it possible that you love me? I wanted to tell you of my love but I was afraid."

"Why, you did tell me," Glen whispered, making no effort to free her hands.

"I did! When?"

"Don't you remember that night at Glen West when we first sang together?"

"But I didn't say a word to you about my love."

"No, but you showed it in your face and manner. You know what you did."

"I kissed you; that was it."

Releasing her hands, he drew the girl close to him, and imprinted a fervent kiss upon her burning lips.

"Glen, Glen!" he murmured. "You are mine at last. I know you love me, and are now my very own. Tell me that you love me."

In reply, Glen threw her arms around his neck, while tears of joy stole down her cheeks.

"I love you. I love you," she whispered. "Oh, I am so happy! You will never leave me, will you?"

For some time they stood there, lost to the world around them. It was the old true story being repeated by that wilderness lake. It was love made perfect by the union of two young hearts, the flowing together of two souls, the sudden bursting into bloom of the seed of affection, which had been steadily developing for weeks past.

And as they stood there, whispering of things revealed only to true ardent lovers, and their faces aglow with the light of a great and a new-found joy, the atmosphere suddenly changed. Great clouds had massed on the mountains, and the wind was whipping down the valley, ruffling the surface of the lake. The air grew cold, and Glen shivered. Then it was that they first realised the change that had taken place, and they both laughed. But Glen's face grew instantly sober.

"What will daddy say?" she breathed. "We must tell him as soon as he comes home."

"How does he generally punish a thief?" Reynolds smilingly asked as they walked slowly back to the cabin. "I have stolen the greatest treasure he possesses, the heart of his only child."

"That remains to be seen," was the laughing reply. "He may punish you, though, by inflicting upon you for life that which you have stolen. Won't that be punishment enough?"