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_^^&. SK "So Wykamp will have to go above or below it is that it?" "Yes -without the choice. He'll have to go above. The lay of -the land is such that he can't build below the gap in the Jhog-back,' and if he builds on the site selected by the man who made the preliminary sur vey last summer, my claim will be at the bottom of his reservoir." "I see. But he can go above, can't he?" "It's possible, but it will be ex pensive. He will have to tunnel a small mountain to get his outlet from the head-gates. And that isn't the worst of it." "What is the worst of it?" Macpherson pushed his stool from the table and began to fill his pipe. He was provokingly deliberate, and when the tobacco was fairly alight his explanation was of the vaguest, "If he hasn't already done so, he'll go farther up the canyon and find ids site ready-made and waiting for nim. I only hope he'll take it." CHAPTER VI. FACIL.IS DECENSUS AVERNI. Maopherson left me to my own de vices after the snack-luncheon and went his way hillward to look for strays in the northern gulches. "If you feel like riding a few Hues alter awhile, have Andy saddle ?Ciubfoet' for you. He's forgotten how to 'buck,' and jf you can keep him from breaking "his leg in a dog hole he'll bring you back all right," he said, at parting adding, as a stirrup-word: "But I shouldn't ride too far, if I were you. You're gain ing by kangaroo-jumps now, and you mustn't get a set-bajck." So much for a well man's advice to an ill one who, having ridden more than was meet the previous day, was minded to stay at home and let the saddle-bruises heal. But in mid afternoon one of the microscopic in cidents which change the courses of rivers, decide the fate of nations, and reverse the plans of mice and men, came between, and the horse with the epithetical name had his amble afield. The incident was the inability of Andrew the Desperate to maintain his fair share of any conversation. By two o'clock he was answering in monosyllables by three a direct question elicited no more than a nod or a head-shake at half-past he was quite dumba mute and inglorious camp-cook, fit company for neither gods nor men. At four loquacity surrendered at discretion, the animal with the opprobrious name was put in requisition, and I rode away to be with a silence of Nature's making. Behold, now, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! If the well-in tentioned desperado had possessed a few more phrases to be rehearsed at need, there would have been for his would-be gossip no meditative amble up the valley in the cool of the day no attack of unreasoning and alto gether uncalled-for curiosity no meteoric descent into the Torohtan Avernus and nobut let us not an ticipate. Barring the saddle-bruise remind ers, and the prickings of the thorn in the flesh of illnesswhich use and time will finally dull for the least heroic suffererthe ride up the -val ley was a pure delight. The after noon was perfect. The atmosphere was like a draught of fine old wine the tumbling thunder of the river was sweet music to any traffic bruised ear of the cities and the color-scheme of the mighty moun tains on either hand was full of soft grays and soothing browns. The completeness of it was soul-satisfy ing, and it was easy to understand how, upon such a day and with such encompassments, a well man might rejoice in the mere fact of life. Also, it was less difficult to comprehend the reluctance of one Angus the First to abdicate and go into exile at the decree of any syndicate of them all. It was a hopeless lapse into medievalism, one would say, but at the moment I could cheerfully have seen the plans of the land company, with all the prospective benefits to the many which they contemplated, come to naught to the end that this sequestered corner of great nature's domain should not be marred by dis figuring plowshares. This thought and .its entail rang the reflective changes what time -the bronco was topping the swell from which the settlement at Valley Head came into view. Curiously enough, the clustered farmsteads and tilled fields of the small colony were far from suggesting that they were the precursors of the tidal wave of ag-' riculture and banality which would presently sweep down the pleasant valley in the wake of the great irri gation canal. The line between wild flowers and weeds is not sharply drawn. The bull-thistle is a thing of beauty as a single plant, and it is only when it becomes a ruthless in vader that we wage war upon it and strive to stamp it out. Macpherson's cattle on the rolling swells, and this -small seasoning of humanity at the meeting-point of the mountains, were the artistic accent in great nature's picture. But they sufficed. At the summit of the swell com- The Trouble on the Torolito. 1 BY FRANCIS LYNDE. (Copyright, 18M, by Francis Lynda.) *rfiE tof13 manding a view of the mountain guarded strath of the settlers, I was minded to turn back but the club footed one- sniffed the cool breeze pouring down from the upper can yon and asked, horsewise, with gentle tuggings and champings, for a free rein. It was given, and we drifted on, past the deserted school house, across the freshly turned fur rows of the land company's canal, and, in due course of leisurely equine stumblings, beyond the last farm house and so on up to the dam at the canyon gateway. Here was the battle-field upon which Macpherson had elected to fight for his kingdom. It was well chosen. Unlike the Six-Mile, whose walls were perpendicular cliffs, the upper canyon was a tortuous gulch with precipitous slopes rising sharp ly from the water's edge. Below the settlers' dam the wedge-like rift widened and narrowed again, leav ing a natural basin between moun tain and "hog-back" which would serve admirably as a reservoir for the great irrigation ditch. In this babin the stream had deposited a bar of silt and glistening mica-schist and white quartz pebbles, the age-old washings of its swift rush down the canyon and this ~was doubtless the placer-ground upon which Macpher son had filed a claim as discoverer. His outline of the status quo be came clearly intelligible. A dam at the final narrowing of the gulch would submerge the bar and above the basin it would have to be car ried to an enormous height in the V-shaped chasm to retain a suf ficiently large body of water. I re membered the stereotyped reply of the Mexican vaqueros to the "Grin go" pioneers and the Santa Fe trail ers: "Carrajo! poco mesa rio!" and wondered how much farther up the river the engineer of the Glenlivat company would have to go to find Macpherson's "ready-made" site for the dam. It was at this point in the medita tive excursion that the fire of curi osity was lighted, and Macpherson's air of mystery added its armful of fagots. There was no good reason why a sick man who was at best but a transient onlooker should trouble himself about the matter, but curi osity knows not age, sex, or previous conditions of servitude to maladies, incurable or otherwise. Wherefore the onlooker must needs slide tremu lously from the saddle, tether the clubfooted beast to a stunted tree growing from a cleft in a near-by bowlder, and make toilful way up the canjon. Wykamp's alternative came into view beyond the second elbow in the wedge-shaped gorge. It was another scooped-out basin, similar to the one below and a blazed fir-tree with blue-pencil markings proved that the engineer had already made his pre liminary reconnaissance. But the in surmountable obstacle to which Mac pherson's mysterious hint pointed was altogether unapparent. Aside from the added expense of tunneling a spur of the mountain for an outlet, the upper basin seemed quite as prom ising as the lowermore promising, in fact, since less masonry would be required. Was there anything in the topography of the canyon to forbid the construction' of the dam at this point? To be sure, the steep slopes were inclined planes of crumbling shale but the native granite could not be far to seek in excavating. And with the everlasting mountains for his dam-anchorages, the engineer might surely possess his soul in se curity, The sharp-pitched acclivity was slippery with an overlaying of broken shale and dry fir-needles. I climbed a little higher to a shallow niche where a projecting rock promised a foothold, and sat down to try to puzzle it out and to gather breath for the return. The thin lipped breeze, with the kiss of the snow-caps lingering in its breath, swept softly down from the bald summit of Jim's mountain and the minimized thunder of the stream be came the sub-bass in a grjeat organ symphony in which the whispering firs played the sibilant treble. From the wider world below, the voice of a woman rose clear and strong in a prolonged double syllablesome farmer's wife or daughter calling her cowand the familiar cry was a re minder that the day was done. If one would not~have a soft-hearted giant and his following out scouring the valley for a stray invalid, one must scramble back and mount and ride. The deed, or at least the begin ning of it, fitted itself to the thought. But in the act of rising, the crum bling foothold gave way, and I shot down the slippery mountain-side into the stream. For a single jubilant in stant joy was uppermost. One may well have a shuddering horror of winning out of life by the consump tive's road, and welcome as a mes senger of God's mercy an end swift and measurably painless. But the in stinct of self-preservation does not take into account a possible lack of things worth living for. The plunge into the icy waters of the Torolito was sharply reactionary, and with the gasping baptism tjie battle for life was on. 2JJSM&& ~& -*fc'5raT. Measured by agonizing* it lasted long. The water was no more than waist-deep, but the might of a strong man would have availed little against the swift down-rush of the torrent in its bowlder-studded bed. Twice and yet once again, I made frenzied shift to struggle to foot or knee in the boiling raceway ana at the final emergence had a vanishing glimpse of the embankment of the Selter dam with some one standing thereon. It was a woman, and her figure -was outlined against the wedge of blue sky beyond the canyon gateway,. So much I saw in the catching of a breath, but when I would have cried to her the torrent uprose in its might and effaced me. CHAPTER VII. "BACK TO THE EARTH AGAIN If the immortal soul of man be a conscious entity, as some assert, what becomes of it in those lapses of the realities when the wheels of the mental recording machinery stop, and some buffet or bruise of the body corporeal tears a leaf out of the book of time? For a certain curious onlooker, whose queryings sent him to plunge unwillingly into the icy waters of the Torolitan Aver nus, time's clock stopped with a glimpse of the dam, an outlined fig ure of a woman, and a mighty din ning of the flood in his ears. When it began to tick again, it was night, and the point of view was the pil low of a bed in a strange room. A lamp was burning on a small table at the bed's head, and the room ap peared as a half-story chamber in a substantial log house, with the rough rafters pitching low over the bed. A murmur of voices came from be low, and an intermittent clatter of knives and forks on ironstone china. Presently a chair complained in the room beneath, and a slow step mounted the stair. I closed my eyes wearily to open them when the leisurely steps reached the bedside. The man who stood over me was tall, lean, leathern-skinned and with no more beard than an Indian. If he had not worn his hat at the sup per-table below, he had put it on to come upstairs. He was in his shirt sleeves, and his manner was of those to whom coats are unmeaning luxu ries. "Mandy, she thort she hearn ye stirrin,'" he said, and his speech as sociated itself with my recollection of the leisurely step on the stair. "Done foun' yourself ag'in, at last, have ye? Feel like ye could eat a little something?" I wagged my head on the pillow, and asked the stereotyped question of the lately resuscitated: "Where am I?" "Ye're here," he replied, with a simple directness which left nothing to be desired. "Nan, she fished Te out 'n the creek, an' we cyarr'd-je up to the house, 'mongst us, an' ye've been here ever since." "Nan?" I queried. "Oomhoo she's my daughters *She was 'sooeyin'' the cow, an' she saw V^c. IT WAS A WOMAN. you floppin' 'round in the run-away 'bove the dam. What-all was ye try in' to do, anyhow?" "Trying to get out, if I remember correct]}. What is this for?" I put my hand to the bandage on my head. "Hit's a purty tolerable bad cut bumped it ag'inst a rock, I reckon. Hurts some, don't it?" "Not much but I'm as weak as a child. You say your name is Selter?" "Naw I didn't say so, but hit air. An' ye're the tenderfoot from Mac pherson's. I've hearn the name, but I misremember hit." "Halcott," I said and this was my informal introduction to the Selter household. "Reckon ye couldn't eat anything," he said, hospitably, after an uneasy pause. "No, I think not." He left me at that, shuffling as he had come and a few minutes after ward there was a lighter step on the stair and a tap at the half-open door. I said "Come," thinking it was -the daughter. It was Miss Sanborn. She had improvised a tray out of a tin kettle-cover, and was bringing me a slice of toast and a cup of tea. Hun ger was not in me, but her thought ful kindness stirred some faint sim ulacrum of it. "Thank you, Miss Sanborn that is very good of you. But I don't be lieve I could eat a mouthful." "You must," she insisted. "You are getting better now, but you won't gain strength until you begin to eat. We mustn't let you starve yourself." "There isn't much danger of that, is there?" I queried. "I ate a very hearty dinner, as I remember it." She made the pillows comfortable and sat down at the bedside to hold the improvised tray. "When was that?" she asked. "To-day two or three hoSirs*!e SbJfr,' FEimuJgfTit THNSK fore I started out to ride up the val- ley." Her smile waa a cordial in itself. "Nature is kind to ussometimes. You have suffered dreadfully, and have been very near to death with out realizing it. Your hearty dinner was eaten just three weeks ago to- day." It was blankly incredible, and I said so. 'It is true. It was brain rfever, the doctor says. You have been deliri ous all the time when you haven't been unconscious." "The doctor, you say? I didn't know there was one in the valley." "There isn't. But Mr. Macpherson brought Dr. Raynor up from the fort, and has kept him here e\er snee." I had eaten half of the toast slice and was reaching for the other half. She gave it to me. "That is right it will do you good." "That is just like Mac," say. "There is no end to his good-heart edness." "No." She said it frankly, and if there were the faintest flush of self consciousness to go with it, the light was too poor to betray her. It is not to be expected that a man who had just lost three weeks is the chaos of delirium should be wholly responsible, and I said: "It must have been a sore trial to him not to be able to come here to see me." Her straight bVows went up in a little arch of surprise, and there was an alarm signal setting itself in the frank eyes. "Not to be able to come here? He has watched with you every night." I saw my blunder and was not too far gone to tiy to retrieve it. "I didn't know," I said. "I thought the trouble between him and Selter might keep him away." She smiled again. There was re lief in it this time, and the alarm signal in the eyes of serenity took flight. "Your illness has been a blessing in disguise," she said "the trouble be tween them was growing day by day, but Mr. Macpherson's coming here so much has given them a chance to ar rive at a better understanding. Their interests are identical, when all is said." "Yes but I understood that Selter ha,d gone over to the enemy," said I. "He did sell his water-right to the land company but he is sorry for that now. Mr. Macpherson has shown him what the result will be that he will presently have to buy water of the company, at the company's price. Shall I bring you another cup of tea?" "No, thank you. But tell me more about" She shook her head with great de cision. "Not any more to-night. By and by, when you are stronger, Mr. Macpherson will tell you all about it." "Will Mac be here to-night?" "I presume so yes, certainly he will come. Can I do anything more for you?" Her presence was so restful that I tried to think of some pretext for de taining her. Since none offered, I was reluctantly constrained to bid her good-night, and I did it with a firm resolve to stay awake long enough to question Macpherson when he should come. But when she was gone, the opiate in the low hum of voices from below stairs struck hands with weakness, and I slept slept so soundly that I knew not when Macpherson came or went and it was late the following evening when I awoke out of a doze to find the master of the ranch at my bed side. His greeting was large-hearted, with a little quaver of gratitude in the voicing of it. "By jo^e! old man I thought you were going to make a die of it in spite of us," he said, and his eyes were suspiciously bright. "How are you feeling?a bit stronger and bet- ter?" "I'm coming on all right. I think I've slept most of the time for 24 hoursor is it another three weks?" There was a heartening in his laugh "No, it's only a day this time. But you mustn't talk. Doctors are bad people to run up against." "If I can't talk, you'll have to. When I dropped outor rather in we were about to take up arms against a sea of troubles. Piece out the story for me and I'll be as quiet as a lamb. Otherwise I shall have a query-fit and run my" temperature up. What has happened in my tem porary absence?" Macpherson laughed again. "A whole lot of things have happened. Selter has seen the error of his ways and is madslow-mad like an Indian, and after somebody's scalpWy kamp's for preference, though I be lieve he wouldn't hesitate to ambush the entire board of directors after the most approved Tennessee moun taineer style if he had the chance." "What converted him?" "Several things contributed. First, he had to divide the purchase money for the water-right with the other settlers, and there wasn't enough to go around. Then it was discovered that he had been too ignorant or too negligent to secure interim rights water to use while the dam-building goes onand in consequence the whole settlement is likely to go dry through the summer while Wykamp is tearing out and putting in. That stirred up a hornet's nest, right, and when the buzzing began in good earn est he came to me and wanted advice and help." "And you gave both, I presume?" "I gave him a Scotch blessing, and sent him off with a bee in his bon net to keep the hornets company. I was still pretty warm under the col lar. But about that time you were trying your best to drop out, and when he tackled me again I weakened. I told him there wasn't anything to do but to grin and bear itsince he'd thrown up his chance but he'd got wind of the placer claim alternative and he has been crazy to have me jump on. I haven't made a move. I'm holding offjib sheet free and head to the wind, ready to come about at the critical moment. There's no hurry. It's working beautifully without me just now settlers holding indignation meetings in the schoolhouse, where asing and resolving, and everybody mad enough to fight at the drop of the hat. My part has been to pour oil on the troubled waters not too much oil, you know, but just enough to keep somebody from killing some body else and I promise you I've had my hands full. One pot-shot from be hind a bowlder just now would spoil the whole conspiracy." "Is anyone likely to fire it?" I aske.d. Macpherson wagged his head dubi ously. "There are plenty of itching trig ger-fingers hereabouts just now, and one of them is going to crook itself some dark night if Wykamp doesn't have a spasm of common sense. What do you suppose he's up to now?" I made the sign of unknowledge and Macpherson drew his chair nearer and lowered his voice in def erence to the Dionysian-ear quali ties of the loosely built house. "You know his attitude toward toward WinnieMiss Sanborn? Well, he changed it in a day came here two or three times and tried to see her, and when she wouldn't he be gan on the girlSetter's daughter. I don't know how far it has gone, but far enough to make a family row, with the father and mother on one side and the girl on the other. Of course, Nan believes in him and stands up for him but Jake knows, and loads his rifle accordingly." "There'll be a murder," I ventured. "I'm afraid of it. And at this time it would be most confoundedly in opportune. The news of the fight with the land company has gone abroad in the county and the state, and public sentiment is with the set tlers. But if one of them should for get himself and happen to kill the land company's chief engineerwell you see what would happen public sentiment would take the other side in the turning of a leaf." "Assuredly. Can't you bring the girl to her senses?" Macpherson grinned. "I've already burned my fingers in that fire burned them rather badly. You haven't forgotten about the pony and the riding-lessons, have you?" "No." "And, besides, I have a funeral of my own and I can't furnish mourn ers for Wykamp's. I'd much rather furnish the corpse." Silence, for the space of a full min ute, and then I say: "You haven't found out anything more?" "Not a syllable. I've been respect ing her prohibition as much as I could, feeling as I do, and coming here every night. We meet and speak and pass, and that's all there is to it. But I've seen and heard enough to make me feel murderous she fairly shudders at the mere men tion of his name." "I wonder what he did to her?" "I don't know but I'm beginning to suspect that Nan does. Ifif it's anythinganything bad"the words came hard"it would be like the fiend to boast of it to another woman." "You mustn't jump at conclusions, else it will be your itching trigger finger instead of Selter's. Why do you think Nan knows?" "I can't tell it's in the air. I've caught her looking at Winifred in a waybut don't make me talk about itdon't make me talk about any thing. Turn over and go to sleep, or I shall go away." I was too weak to withstand him, and, truly, sleep was again knock ing at the door. But when the door was opened and closed again, a dream came between and I saw Wy kamp directing the work on a dam in a precipitous canyonsaw him and wondered that I had not before remarked that his ears were pointed, and that a pair of satyr-horns curled gracefully over the visor of his out ing-cap. CHAPTER VIII. DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE (Winifred to Priscilla Bradford.) Dear Prissie: Your last letter accuses me of a lack of confidence, and it's so. I have been "talking scenery," as you say, and it is because a thing so dreadful has happened that I haven't been able to bring myself to write about it, even to you. But I shall lose my mind if I do not confide in some one and since you have asked for a share of the burden, you shall have it. Inasmuch as you know all the piti ful foregoings, for you I can com press the dreadful thing into three words: He is here. How he found me out I don't know or if it were design or a mere arrow of spiteful chance but the miserable fact re mains. He is the engineer in charge of an irrigation project which in volves the welfare of the entire set tlement his camp is but a short half-mile from the schoolhouse and I am forced to see him every day. Knowing what this must mean for me, you will wonder that I did not shriek and run away at the very first. That, indeed, was the first im pulsive prompting, and under other circumstances I should have obeyed it unquestioningly. But it is not so easy to disappear when one is far from the highways of travel and there was a second thought potent enough to make me stayand suffer. ^P Put together all the little odds and I ends I have written about Mr. Mac- jt'^ pherson (but you have doubtless ^P^ done this long ago) and draw your TOOk1 own conclusion. There is fuel enough, God knows, to keep the shame-fire burning all through my* miserable life, but this is not of it. Having said so much, you will understand what follows, reading between the lines if you care to. Our first meetingthe only one in which he has had the hardihood to speak to mewas one evening when I was walking home from the school house with Mr. Macpherson. lie was riding past and he recognized me, wheeling his horse to fling himself from the saddle and to add another insult to all that has gone before. Mr. Macpherson resented it promptly, like a man and a gentleman, and he he struck him! After that, I knew I had to stay that otherwise there would be more misery and perhaps bloodshed and however rich his de- "WHY DO YOU THINK NAN KNOWS?" servings, God would require his life at my hands. So I have stayed and suffered, not knowing what a day might bring forth, and drinking the cup of terror to the dregs. Thus far, Mr. Macpher son has amply justified all my be lievings of him. His quarrel with the land company is quite as bitter as that of the settlersthe plans of the company, if carried out, will practic ally dispossess himbut he will not make it a personal matter with the engineerfor my sake, if for no bet ter reason. So long as he does not know the shameful facts, I tell my self there i reason to take courage but if he should find outoh, Pris sie! living as you do in the peaceful quiet of the old New England home you can't understand. But the men of these wildernesses, men reared in homes just like yours, perhaps, be come terribly swift to right their wrongs with the strong hand. You will say that, so long as I keep my "ecret, exposure can come only through the man who will stand a self-confessed villain in the telling and this is true. But the dastardly hardihood of this man is past belief, and I have begun to fear that the worst is yet to come. You will re call my frequent mention of Jacob Selter's daughter. From what I have seen, there is reason to fear that she is in danger of becoming his latest victim. They are together a great deal, and Nan's disbke for me is growing day by day. What he has told her, I can only surmise but her attitude toward me has lately changed from frank aversion to something like contempt. Merciful heaven! If he should boast to her, and it should come to Mr. Macpher son's earsbut I must not antici pate. Write me a good long letter, Pris sie, dear, and try to comfort me if you can. Lovingly, WINIFRED 5 Jl- V, Eugene HaJ- (Richard Grantley to cott.) Dear Halcott: I was foolishly glad to hear from you again glad to learn that Colo rado has given you a little longer lease of life, if no more. Your hand writing is so cheerfully undecipher able that I have not yet mastered your opening sentences, but I gather from a readable word here and there that you were convalescing from an attack of "barn fever," whatever that may be, when you wrote. I don't know the malady but if you are convalescent that is the principal fact. You are right in supposing that I know something of Wykamp. He was a classmate of mine in the school of engineering, and was with me one year on the geodetic survey. He is bad medicine in a moral way is rather unmoral than immoral, I should say the quality seems to have been left out of his make-up. There are localities on the Carolina coast where he doesn't dare show his face and he is no coward, eitherand even here in Boston where his people are known and respected, there are doors which will never again open to him. The episode you refer to occurred in New Hampshire, and the facts were swiftly and deeply buriedby the young woman's people, I suppose. I haven't been able, thus far, to get at the details in any sort of sequence, but there was a marriage, which was no marriage, and a woman scorned, and all that you know the pitiful round of such things. Without knowing anything about the merits of this particular case, I should not hesitate to lay every ounce of the burden of blame on the shoulders of the man. He's bad, as I say and in his peculiar specialty has few equals and no superiors. Tour plan to block his present i *r.