Glen of the High North by H. A. Cody
Chapter XXXI. Outward Bound
It was Saturday night and Andrew Harmon, editor of the Telegram and Evening News, was sitting in an easy chair in his bachelor quarters. It was a cozy room, and the pictures on the walls and the well-filled book-shelves revealed the artistic and literary taste of the owner. The large shaded electric lamp on the table cast its soft light upon Harmon's face as he sat there with his right hand supporting his firm, clean-shaven chin. It had been a trying week, and he was very weary. He was thankful that it was Saturday night, as he would be able to rest the next day, and think over a special editorial he was planning to write.
Harmon was really a lonely man. Of a reserved and retiring disposition, he had no desire for publicity. As editor of one of the leading papers in the city, he could express his views and remain unknown to most of the readers. His editorials were always written with great care and thought, and they were eagerly read by friends and opponents alike. Such work had always given him considerable pleasure as he felt that he was doing his part in moulding the thought of the community along true and strong lines. But to-night it all seemed of little avail. He had labored, but what had been the result? The only one upon whom he had lavished his affection had disappointed him, and was almost a stranger to him now. Mechanically he picked up a telegram from the table and read it again.
"Am leaving to-night on the Princess May.
That was all. It was dated three days ago, from Skagway, Alaska. Harmon held the telegram in his hand for some time, although he was not looking at the words. He was thinking of the sender of that message, wondering what was bringing him home. What would he do with him when he arrived? he asked himself. He tried to think of something that would satisfy Reynolds' restless spirit; that would give an outlet to his abounding energy. He had fondly hoped that Tom would throw himself into newspaper work, and thus make the Telegram and Evening News a greater force than ever. New blood was needed on the staff, he was well aware, and Reynolds was just the man for the work. He sighed as he thought of the futility of his dreams, and how impossible it was to make the young see with the eyes of age and experience.
For some time Harmon sat there, lost in deep thought. At length he arose and prepared himself for dinner. He was about to leave the room, when a knock sounded upon the door, and in another instant Tom Reynolds stood before him. Eagerly Harmon rushed forward, seized him by the hand, and bade him a hearty welcome.
"Tom, Tom!" he cried. "I am delighted to see you. I had no idea the boat had arrived. Come, sit down and tell me all about yourself."
"Just a minute," Reynolds laughingly replied. "Have you had dinner yet? No? Well, that's fortunate, as I want you to come and dine with me at the 'Pacific.'"
"At the Pacific!" Harmon looked his surprise and disappointment. "Why did you go there? I was expecting you here. And, besides, isn't it rather expensive?"
"It was at one time," and again Reynolds smiled. "But I have struck it rich, so I want you to come and have a blow-out with me to-night. You will come, won't you? I shall feel badly if you don't. The car is waiting."
Harmon could not very well refuse, although he much preferred to remain where he was, and hear the young man's story in the quietness of his own room. He was surprised at Reynolds' animated face and happy manner. How he had changed since he had seen him last. He could hardly believe it possible that this was the young man who but a short time before had been so listless and indifferent to life.
Little was said as the car sped onward through the city, until it at length drew up before the big hotel. With the air of one who had the full right of way, Reynolds at once conducted Harmon to a door on the first floor, which he opened and entered. It was one of a suite of rooms, Harmon could tell at the first glance. It was luxuriously furnished, and to live here for even a short time would be most costly.
He had little time, however, to think of such things, for a curtain was suddenly drawn aside, and Redmond and his daughter appeared. Although years had somewhat changed the former, yet Harmon recognized him at once. He stood as if rooted to the floor, so great was his surprise. What happened next he was never able to tell with any degree of certainty. He knew that Redmond seized him by the hand, and presented to him his daughter. He felt that he made a fool of himself, for his eyes grew very misty and his words became confused as he tried to express himself. He saw Reynolds smiling at him good-naturedly as he stared first at Redmond and then at his daughter. He longed to get away to the quietness of his own room that he might think it all over. But there was no chance for that. He was entrapped by these friendly plotters, and here he was forced to stay.
"Do you remember the words I wrote?" Redmond asked. "I think you will recall them. I said, 'I go from the busy haunts of men, far from the bustle and worry of business life. I may be found, but only he who is worthy will find me, and he who finds me, will, I trust, not lose his reward.' That is part of my message, you remember."
Harmon merely nodded in reply.
"Very well, then," Redmond continued. "I have been found, and he who found me stands there," and he motioned to Reynolds.
"So I surmised," Harmon replied. "And gold, I suppose, is the reward?"
"No, no," Reynolds protested. "Here is my reward," and he stepped over to Glen's side. "Where are your senses, sir?"
"Sure, sure, what was I thinking about?" and Harmon placed his hand to his head in perplexity. "I seem to be all upset to-night. But, my, my, what a reward! Why didn't I undertake this quest? for then the reward might have been mine."
Redmond and Reynolds smiled, but Glen immediately stepped forward, and putting her arms about the neck of the embarrassed man, kissed him upon the cheek.
"There, you have your reward, sir," she announced. "And if you are willing you may have me as a daughter. How will that do?"
Harmon was now more confused than ever. Not since the last time his mother kissed him had a woman's lips ever touched his face. And this girl had really kissed him, Andrew Harmon, the staid and sober editor of the Telegram and Evening News! What would his associates think and say if ever they heard of it? He thought of all this as he stood there abashed with the girl's twinkling eyes fixed upon him.
"But perhaps you do not consider me a reward, sir." It was Glen speaking, so with an effort Harmon rallied his tumultuous senses. He must rise to the occasion, and say something. He mopped his perspiring brow with his handkerchief, and looked helplessly around.
"Reward!" he gasped. "Not consider you a reward! Oh, Lord! what have I done to merit such happiness? You as my daughter! You the fairest of the fair, the flower of womanhood, you, you----"
"Come, come, sir," Reynolds laughingly chided, as Harmon floundered for words. "You will make me jealous if you are not careful. But suppose we have something to eat, as I, for one, am hungry. Dinner is already served, and waiting for us. This is a part of our surprise; a private dinner, with plates set for four."
"It is certainly wonderful what money will do," was Harmon's comment as he took his seat at the table at Glen's right hand. "Little did I expect such surprises to-night."
"Isn't it delightful!" the girl replied. "I have heard so much about you lately, and what a great man you really are, that I felt quite nervous at the thought of meeting you. But I am not one bit afraid of you now."
Redmond and Reynolds laughed, and even Harmon smiled. The editor was happy and contented, and life seemed very pleasant just then. He was satisfied to listen in silence while Reynolds related the story of his experiences in the north, and his great triumph in winning the only daughter of the dreaded ruler of Glen West.
"It all seems to me like a fairy-tale," Harmon, remarked, when Reynolds had finished. "To think that in so short a time you have undergone such wonderful adventures, discovered my old friend, and won this fair maiden. And the gold; what of it? You will begin mining at once, of course."
"We intended to do so," Redmond replied. "But on our way here we were fortunate enough to sell our interests to one of the largest mining concerns in the United States for a most gratifying sum. You see, there was great excitement in that region when it was learned that gold had been discovered. Miners literally flocked into the place, and the wilderness has been suddenly converted into a busy mining camp. We were offered large sums for our claims, but refused all until we reached Whitehorse. There we were met by the agent of the great Hibberdash Mining Company, and so tempting and liberal was his offer, that we sold out our entire interests. We are perfectly satisfied, as we shall now be free from all mining worries."
"This is really wonderful!" Harmon exclaimed. "What a write-up that will make for my paper. You must let me have the entire story, Redmond. And you will write it, won't you?"
"Business as usual, I see," and Redmond smiled. "When time permits, I shall do what I can. I expect to be very busy for the next two weeks, and after that I must go north again."
"Go north again!" Harmon repeated. "Why, I thought you were through with the north forever."
"Oh, no, not at all. I have work to do there yet. It is necessary for me to be present at the trial of that villain, Curly, and that will take some time. Then I wish to visit Glen West, and attend to some matters there. Sconda and his wife will look well after our house, for we plan to go there every summer for a holiday. And we shall take you, too, for I know you would enjoy the scenery."
"That would be a great treat to me," Harmon replied. "But you will have time to write that article before you leave, will you not?"
The others laughed, so anxious was the editor for the welfare of his paper.
"I am afraid I shall not have time now," Redmond told him. "There is much to be done in the two weeks before the great event."
"The great event! I do not understand."
"Look," and Redmond drew his attention to Glen's blushing face. "Now do you understand?"
"Oh, I see," and Harmon smiled. "A wedding; is that it?"
"It seems so from all appearance, and that means a great deal of work for us all."
"And you will live here?" Harmon eagerly asked, turning to Glen.
"We hope to, Mr. Harmon, providing you care to have your daughter so near. If not, we can stay in China or Japan, and you will not be troubled with me."
"Stay in China or Japan! What do you mean?"
"We intend to go there on our wedding trip," Reynolds explained. "We have planned a tour around the world. We expect to see great sights, such as the fine art galleries of the old countries. Then when we come home, I shall continue my painting which I have neglected too long already."
"Lord bless us!" and Harmon held up his hands in amazement. "This is all wonderful, and my poor old head is confused and dizzy. Going abroad! Coming home to carry on your painting! My, what will money not do! So my paper must go to the wall when I am gone, all because of your art. Dear me!"
"Do not feel so badly about it, sir," Reynolds soothed. "Your son and daughter will help you out, and perhaps carry on when you are gone. But you are good for years yet, so do not worry. We shall do our best to cheer you up."
"And you will live here in the city?" Harmon questioned.
"Certainly," Glen replied. "We are going to look for the nicest and coziest place, with a garden and flowers. Nannie will be in charge until we return, and keep us straight afterwards. I could not get along very well without her. And it will be your home, too, Mr. Harmon, whenever you wish to come. I am sure that you and daddy will have wonderful evenings together talking over old times. Oh, won't it be great!" Glen's eyes sparkled, and her face beamed with animation.
Harmon believed that he had never met a more charming girl. As he sat in his own room late that night, and thought over the strange events of the evening, a picture of Glen's face was ever before his mind. It banished his care and weariness, and as he recalled the kiss she had given him, a smile illumined his face, and for a time Andrew Harmon was young again. Once more the fire of youth was kindled within him, and a vision of one fair face he had known years ago stood out clear and distinct, a face he had always cherished in his heart, the only real passion for a noble woman he had ever known. . . .
Two weeks later Glen and Reynolds stood upon the bow of the Empress of China as she headed out to sea. It was early evening, and the glow of the departing sun shed its soft and rosy-tinted light upon the rippling water. They had been quietly married that afternoon in one of the city churches, and Redmond and Harmon had accompanied them to the steamer. They did not need a clamoring crowd to bid them farewell, as they were all-sufficient to each other. So as they stood there in the deepening twilight, they faced the eastern sky, all glorious with the light of the vanished sun.
"How beautiful!" Reynolds murmured, for his soul was stirred at the sight, and his heart overflowing with love and happiness. "It lies right before us, does it not, sweetheart? Perhaps it is a token of the joy that lies ahead."
"Only in a way," and Glen gave a sigh of contentment, as her hand stole gently into his. "That light will shortly fade, and it will be dark over there. But to us the light leading us on must never fade, for the future must be always bright with the glory of a love that never dies."
"You are right, darling," and Reynolds pressed her hand more firmly, and drew her closer. "No matter what happens the light of love shall always surround us and glorify the future. Oh, what happiness is ours! How much life holds in store for us!"
Glen's only reply was the lifting of her happy face to his and nestling closer to his side. And there they silently stood, lost to all around them, facing with the zest of youth and love the mighty Pacific, and at the same time the far greater and more mysterious ocean of life, with all its joys and sorrows, its seasons of tempests, and its days of calm and sunshine.