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THE ARIZONA REPUBLICAN, SUNDAY MORNING, MAY 16, 1909.
IT WAS a well-defined case of"nerves'' that sent V andenbcrg to spend the bum mer in the Rockies. To be sure, no physician with a reputation to maintain had been so inconsistent as to prescribe the nerve-trvinz altitudes in a very obvious case ot nervous collapse ; on the contrary, the Bos ton neurologic had specifically recommended the pine woods of Maine, or the quietest fishing hamlet on the East Shore. Eut it was one of Vandenberg's failings to go about seeking advice, and when it was had and paid for to disregard it as painstakingly as possible. So, when the physician had advised rest and relax ation in some rural or piscatorial sanitarium in the lower altitudes, Vandenberg straightway booked his passage for the Colorado sky -had; ar.J once on the ground mounted by successive step? to Idaho Springs, to Georgetown, and finally to a little Sum mer cam? hotel in Middle Park, pausing here be cause this cliii.ced to be the altitudiueus apex of all the mountain hostelries known to him. As for the nervous collapse, it was real enough. Six months previous to the westward flight Yanden Urji had launched his third ship-of-the-line on the r.ncertain sea of literature; a novel into which he had put whatever reserves of faithfulness and cour age a rather long apprenticeship to the craft had left him. Eight weeks of crucial suspense had fol lowed, and at the end of these, being fully persuaded that the ship-of-the-line was hopelessly stuck on the launching-ways, he had flung himself into a fresh effort, toiling as they toil who recklessly overdraw Nature's account to the farthest limit. At first Vandenberg was vastly incredulous; would believe nothing of it, in fact, till the royalty checks began to come in. Then he went smash, as an overworked drudge" of the ink-pot wilL After which there was nothing for it but rest or madness; or rest and madness, as ne came afterward to phrase it. As for the idleness prescribed, he made sure of that by leaving the manuscript of his next book locked up in his desk. But the madness was not to : be so easily parried, and it thrust him suddenly one morning when he had strayed a little farther than usual from the Summer hotel in the Park. . It was such a morning as only the sky-reaching altitudes can breed: with an atmosphere Summer warm and genial, and so crystal clear that the great gray peaks of the westward range seemed to lessen their distance from its twenty miles of reality to an hour's saunter of eye-measuring. Such days bring healing on their wings; and as Vandenberg length ened his morning walk, letting the grandeur saturate him afresh at each fresh viewpoint, he forgot that no longer ago than yesterday he had found the writing of a mere friendly letter a sheer impossibil ity forgot it and hoped that he was getting the better of the nervous unstringing. This comforting hope was uppermost when a turn in the trail brought him to 'a foot-log crossing the snow-fed little river which comes down from Argen tine Pass. But at the foot-log the hope vanished, and he was moved to swear a little. He was a King's College man, and in his callow days he had earned a mid-term vacation for doing a turn a la Blondin on the sharp ridge-pole of the chapel roof in tights and trunks. But now this bit of quick water spanned by a log daunted him. It was when the ordeal was fairly overpassed and he was reaching tremendously for some hand-grip .on the far side, that the madness began. A clear, "ringing laugh greeted his cautious arrival, and Van denberg swore softly and drew himself up with what dignity there was in him. The witness to his igno minious compromise with the vertigo was a young woman, and though it was scarcely a moment tor literary prefiguring, he thought she might pose as the goddess of mirth. She had reined up her horse in the fringe of aspens and was laughing so heartily that she seemed in imminent danger of losing her scat in the man's saddle. "Oh, I beg you will forgive me!" she gasped, when breath was to be had. "But if you could only know how how " How perfectly ridiculous it was," he acqui esced, helping her out. "Yes, I suppose it was to you. But it was anything but that to me. I assure you; it was simply maddening, t I " He had a sudden return of the vertigo and had to stop to sit down and hold his head in his hands. When his sight returned she was laughing again, and it made him hotly angry angry that she should think it was the memory of the passage perilous that overcame him. "You are a most sympathetic young person!" he prowled. Have you ever known what it is to be ill?" "You don't look ill," she retorted, imitating his frankness. "But I am," he insisted morosely. "I am a wreck; a miserable, inconsequent, idiotic wreck!" She slipped quickly from her horse and came to him with the bridle rein looped on her arm, her mood changing in the turning of a leaf from mock ery to instant contrition. "Oh, I'm awfully sorry sorry that I laughed at you. Won't you take my pony to ride back to the .hotel?" He looked up to make sure that she was not laughing at "him again, and the pit of foolishness gaped for him and he fell in. For notwithstanding the simple gown and the cowboy hat, she was fair and sweet and good to look upon; not in any of hit thirty-odd years had he seen her like, in living woman or in literary imaginings. In the face of such convictions coherence is not to be had for the asking, but he managed to ac knowledge in halting fashion her offer of the pony. "Thank you; I I couldn't think of taking your horse; I shall be better presently," he stammered. Then, in an impulsive attempt to defend himself: "I hope you won't always think of me as you did a few moments ago." She did not say whether she would or not; and after a moment of two of silence he got up and stood beside her. Then he saw that she was small, but with a womanly figure and a certain supple grace of carriage that spoke of trained strength and . dauntless courage; the strength that is 'compacted like that of a silken cord, with fine-fibered resolution to match. Yet she was doubtless the daughter of . some neighboring ranchman, with no thought above the daily round of homely duties. " "Are you as strong as you look?" he asked, let ting his thought slip into words without stopping to measure the impudence of it. And if he had needed additional evidence the she was a free-born daughter of the altitudes, knowing little and caring less about the conventionalities, he would have had it in her laughing answer "I can do some things that tV n can't d if that is what you mean. I broke thi cayuse after Pete had given him up; and I can 'rope down' and 'cut out' with the rest when we're short-handed." Vandenberg nodded. "I would put nothing bc vond you," he said, with the calm assurance of one whos.- art it is 'to discern the possibilities in work- "Do you know what you The flapping hat held on by a head-string, cow boy fashion, slipped , to her shoulders when she shonk her head. "No," she said., ; - , "It is of something that you have probably never heaxd of a figure in one of the Sirus bronzes." ''What are they?" She asked the question art lessly, with a smile to match. "A collection of. Greek antiquities; the best ex amples of their metal work that have come down to us." ' . . When he had thanked her he ventured to introduce himself and was not flattered when his name evoked no flash of recognition in the gray eyes. Clearly, this sweet young savage did not read the periodicals. "'Huso Vandenberg, " she echoed. "That is what Pete would call a highfalutin' name. You don't look it the least little bit." . The open-eyed lapse into personalities took him " aback, but before he could reply she was smiling up at him ingenuously. "I guess I didn't mean just that, cither," she amended, quickly. "But it sounds more like a made name; like a name you'd expect to find in the story papers: 'Her Lost Lover, by Hugo Vandenberg,'. you know." He plunged deep into the smiling eyes at that, but there was no hint of guile in them, and he took comfort in the thought that it was no more than a random shot. "You haven't told me your name yet," he said going from defense to attack. "Haven't 1? They call me 'the little un at the ranch, but I suppose I'll have to give you my my store name. How would Madge do? Madge Bus-', hong?" i At this he was sure she was laughing at him, but as before the guileless eyes disarmed suspicion. "I don't like it," he said, retaliating for her frank ness; "it doesn't fit you. I shall translate it into French and call you Marguerite. If I come to the ranch will you teach me how to break cayuses and to 'rope down' and 'cut out'?" "Maybe. But you can't come, you see." "Why can't 11" "Because" she was poised on the foot-log, ready for flight instantaneous "because it's on the other v side ot the creek, and you can't cross alone." She was gone at the word, across and a-horse and away; and Vandenberg had only the memory of a mocking laugh for her leave-taking. He figured it all out to his own satisfaction that evening, sitting out the sunset hour on the porch of the hotel and smoking his after-supper cigar in re flective deliberation. As to the better acquaintance, that was a mere matter of detail; and he went about the prelimi naries he next morning, making guarded inquiries of the hotel clerk. There were several ranches near by, and on one of these there was a herder whose name would be "Pete." With Pete for a starting point, Vandenberg felt his way cautiously into the particulars. The ranch in question was the "X-bar-X," and its menage consisted of old Eliphalet Win ters, its owner; his wife, and a small family of cow punchers. Vandenberg marvelled that there was no mention of the young woman, but was much too wary to be tray the source of his own curiosity. Could the inn stables furnish forth a horse gentle enough for a sick man to ride? And was the trail to the "X-bar-X" practicable for a rider with a complicated case of "nerves"? With affirmative assurances on both heads Van denberg set out on his voyage of discovery. An hour's ambling along the mountain boundary of the Park brought him to the door of the isolated ranch llAMr. .. . I I. .1 I T .1 T T ' 1 . 1 ! ' If nuat. aiiu il wa me ?r c i r. Dna rr n nmf it who bade him dismount "to rest his face and hands," and who fetched him the drink of water which was His excuse tor the call. Also the young woman was there; and since she promptly took up the thread of acquaintance at its day-before dropping, his wel come was assured. Though he taxed his ingenuity in setting traps to draw her out, the young woman herself would give him no clue to her proper identity. At times she was so heartily at one with her encompassmetits that Vandenberg could go back securely to his first impression the "daughter of the wilderness" im pression. But at other times she led him into the blind alley of doubt; as once, when he was describ ing his first visit to the art treasures of the Louvre, she hung upon his words with lips parted and the gray eyes alight, giving hhn such a thrilling glimpse of unsuspected intensenesses in her that he went near to forgetting what he wa stalking about. That was on one of their gallops in the Park, and before the midsummer madness had demanded to be reckoned with. For after the reckoning there were no more thrills of wonderment; there was only the conviction that life without some daily, communion with this sweet-hearted girl would be scarcely worth living. When this day of reckoning came, Vandenberg put in a miserable, fortnight. When a man has passed unscathed beyond his third decade he may love with, all the might of maturity, but he can no longer be the fatuous lover of the early twenties-, reckless of consequences and the willing thrall of desire. Vandenberg came of inbred stock, and one of his inheritances was a very just horror of mesalliances mismatings of the kind that ask for a miracle of blending to make some ort of a living compound out ot two persons hopelessly dissimilar in their able literary material, remind me of?" .. . m , l Was IlOl Idl lu acn. X vi (tic nuiiuituiii null. in. upbringing Try as he would, he could not help,had resolvctl to set Us convenances at defiance, to .o,r.n8 l .cp,ouaolc consequences or transplant- i ing this wild flower of the solitudes from the moun- tarn ranch to his own particular social warden in Boston. He had seen other men try it, and always with failure to mark the grave of the buried ideal. In most cases the wild flower had developed into a mot unbeautiful hybrid, unloved of all; in a few it had drooped and withered and died. .- It was a little curious that in all his boxing of the conventional compass he thought much of the consequences, and little or . nothing of any uncer- 4 tainty of winning her. There is no love so besotted as that of maturity; and the possibility of her refus- , ing him never suggested itself. But of this, as of ? other things, Ije was presently to learn more. It was after he had given up all hope of making literary "copy" out of her that the incident occurred upon which the story of his earlier fancy would have been wrecked beyond all salvage. The' incident turned upon a curious happening in Lame-Horse Canon. As it chanced, the snows in the higher gulches melted late that year; and one afternoon, when Vandenberg reached the ranch at the portal porgc. the 1'cJ of the canon torrent was as dry as arrova. Madge met him at the corral bars, as had come to be her custom, and after the greetings pointed to V .the dry stream-bed. J "If vmi want a drink to-day, you'll have to climb tt for it," she said; and then she explained that the melting snows had brought down a landslide in the canon, forming a natural dam and cutting off the ranch water-supply. H.ere was an opportunity for a stroll with an object, and Vandenberg seized it promptly. "Let's go and have a look at it," he said, turning his horse into the corral; and so they tramped off up the canon, walking, for the novelty of it, in the dry bed of the torrent. lust beyond the portal gorge they met Pete, "Tennessee Pete," as Vandenberg had christened him coming down. "Whereabouts are you-uns a-goin'?'' the cowboy asked. - " "Up to the slide to get a drink," said Vanden berg. "Is it far?" "Nope; two sights and about half another one. But I wouldn't go, if I was you." "Why?' " 'Tain't nothin' but mud and little rocks. I reckon hit'll b'ust out mighty easy when the water gets backed up high enough. I'm going down to tell the old man." And he went his way. "Shall we go back?" said Vandenberg. The gray eyes flashed up at him. "Of course Jf you are afraid," she said; and at that they went on. Pete's "two sights and half of another" proved to be short measure; this because Lame-IIorsc Cation is like a ram's horn for crookedness. They found the slide at the foot of a steep slope of shale shale with a substratum of potter's clay. After they had climbed to the top of the dyke and had watched the water slowly creeping up to form a miniature lake behind it, they went below again to sit in the shadow of a great rock on the edge of the dry channel . v' VfiS HE rtAVED THE Now ordinarily there was never any dearth of things to talk about, but on this day Vandenberg was curiously tongue-tied, and the young woman's mood seemed to match his. Vandenberg's reason tlwas not far to seek. For the hundredth time he fc courage jn hand to uproot this sweet wild fiower fof s own conservesr and for the hundredtl edth and first time he was, hesitating. It was his companion who first broke the silence. "Are your nerves getting any better?" she asked sweetly. She had taken uo a lump of the soft clay and was patting and pinching it into the semblance of a human head. "Much better, thank you." ."Then I suppose you will be going back to your work before long?" "Yes; I have overstayed my leave siuly, a; it is" "I wish I could go to Boston," she said, r.-ither ir relevantly; and then, standing the miniature bust on her palm: "Is that like any one you know?" Vandenberg came out of his preoccupation vtii'i a start. "Why, it's Eliphalet!" he said. "Where did you learn to do that?" "I don't know. Pete says it must have .c."? from making mud pics when 1 was Tittle. This i t:i-." way he looks when he says it." More pats and niiioiit- !J changed the clay face as by magic to a pi-riect cm- - cature ot the cowboy, and Vanuenberg applaud?-! t"n- "ously. . . "Why. Margharctta mla! it's absolutely m.irvcloui"' he cried. "And to think you have never recognized the gift! it is more than talent; it is geniuo!" Oddly enough, as she thought, he did not take fire at his words; and a cloud creeping up from behind the western canon shoulder seemed to cast a gray shadow of silence upon them with its veiling of the sun. It was Vandenberg who ignored the silencing shadow. "I am glad you showd me this: it simplifies some thing I have been wanting to say for weeks. You said just now that you would like to go to Boston out into the larger world. I love you, Marguerite: will you go as my wife?" She tossed the head of Peter of Tennessee among the bowlders of the dry stream-bed at their feet, and looked up at him with the smile which was childlike and yet it was not altogether childlike, either. "Do you love me now?" she asked. He understood, and answered accordingly. "It be gan at the Castle Creek foot-log. I think. I did not know cf your gift until just now." She smiled again. "Then why did you say, 'it sim plifies ?' " Wantirg to hang it all upon "I love you," Vanden berg found it awkardly hard to go into the word'.y wise particulars. Yet he did it, in some bungling fashion. "There must be some common ground apart from sentiment," he said. "I have been seeking it all along; I knew it was there, it we could only find it." This time her laugh had a tinge of bitterness in it. "And you have found it now or you think you have, is that what you mean ?" "Don't misunderstand me," he pleaded. "I have ' been hodinj your happiness in view quite as much as my own." ..--.os.,. . STRONG MAN'S FART "I don't misunderstand you; on the contrary, I think I understand you perfectly. You are willing to make some sacrifices and to run some risk. You asked nie once what I had read: a long time ago I read a book in which there is a man called Mr. Worldly Wiseman. I think Mr. Worldly Wiseman was never honestly in love with anyone but himself." "Call it what you will. Marguerite" "Madge," she corrected, but he went on headlong over the inter- ' ruption "I have been a conventional fool. But I do love you dearly and for yourself a'tpne. . Moreover, I need you." , She refused to be placated. "I don't want to be 'needed' in that sense," she rtiortcd, giving him back his own word. "You don't know much about women, Mr. Vandenberg. You said once that I reminded you of the Amazons: I shall never say 'Yes' to a man who is not stronger than I am in every way." Recalling it in after time, Varidenbcrg could never remember the phrasing of the passionate appeal where with he sought to shake her resolution. But that was because of the thing that came between. In the midst of his plea he saw her eyes fill with a very wom anly terror, and she broke him with a word. "Look!" she gasped, pointing past him; and he did look to see the water trickling oyer the top of the land slip dyke to see the dyke itself crumbling and sliding down upon them at the bidding of the mighty pres sure of the pent-up flood behind it. It was a sufficienf proof of Vandenberg's complete 'rrovery that 1 r flayed the strong man's part in w'nt fr.llowcf! With that our backward glance for the sliding a alum-lie, he stooped, gathered the smail ore in his am:'-, anJ ran with her up the steep slope of the canon side with the plunging torrent of mud and water and grinding bowlders snapping at his heels as he climbed. It was all over in a minute or two; but he held her close till she asked to be put down. But now he found their parts were quite reversed; and when they came to make their way down the canon, which they did in the tremulous silence which is the natural aftermath of any narrow escape, she took his offered arm and clung to him as ar.y girl' might. At the corral bars they found Eliphalet Winters and Peter of Tennessee saddling in hot haste to go and look for them, alive or dead; and there was a paean of rejoicing not to be measured iii set phrases or cold-type words. Vandenberg considerately for bore to press his suit; but before he went back to the hotel he had a tinal word with Madge. "I leave the Park to-morrow," he said. "May I come back in the Autumn for you?" "No; not for me," she said; and so it ended, with Vandenberg ambling for the last time back to the Sum mer camp inn. the great blue vault of the altitudes uncharged and unchanging overhead, and the bottom less pit of life-diappointmcnt opening before him. There was a goodly gathering of art-lovers in Mrs. Calmainc's spacious drawing-room.; on Colfax Avenue on the night of the reception given to her young guest; and Vandenberg, who was tarrying a few days in Den ver was one. of the bidden ones. "To meet Miss Mar garet Bcauchamp," was. the way the invitation read; and he had accepted because his friendship with the Cal maines antedated by many years his latti literary suc cess. He argued this all out with himself 'on the way to the hospitable house at the back of Capitol HilL It was for Mrs. Calmainc's sake he was going. IU? knew Miss Beauchamp only by repute as a rising .young sculptor; and with a cr'tsman's otiishncsi would have avoided rather than sought a "reception" meeting of her. But friendship has its claims; ar.d SO Vandenberg went to do the conventional thing. Arrived at the house he found that he was more than fashionably late; and so had some difficulty in finding his hostess in the throrg. "One favor, Mrs. Calmainc," he begged; this after the greetings and apologies. "Please don't introduce me to too many people. I can find my way about." "Oh, but I want you to know Marguerite," said the good lady, making a place for him at her side. "Don't lose yourself till I find her." The drift brought him in due course to the rear most of the open rooms, and to an alcove portiered, and lighted from above by studio top-lights. A draped modelling-bench stood in the curtained space, and upon it some of the young sculptor's smaller pieces in the clay were on exhibition. The seme one at the piano began to play an ac companiment: ar.d when the crush drifted musicward, Vandenberg was left alone in the miniature studio. He lifted the damp cloth-covering from one of the pieces at random. It was a replica of one of the Sirus Lronrcs; the very shoulder-plate with the Greek war rior and the Amazon in hih relief that the silken strong figtre of the little mountaineer had called to mind at their first meeting. "By Jove!" he said to himself; ar.d then he lifted another of the damp cloths lilted it and started back with a still stronger exclamation. The second piece was an equestrian group ; a cow boy saddling his cayuse. It was as true to the life as cne of Frederick Remingtons pictures; but for the moment Vandenberg missed t:e artistic triumph, see ing only the good-natured grin .;i the face upturned under the wi !e-tla;;p.d sombrero. It was the face cf Peter of Tennessee. "Do you think it a good likeness?" l ne voice, a voice sow a:iu muMcal, bi't with a tone of laugl'.ing mockery in :, car.:e from behind. Vandenberg v.-hieled qitukiv, stuliing the damn cloth into his pocket in a ccr.fusii notion that it his handkerchief. Notwithstanding all that had was gone ibefore, he had to kok twice to be sure that the ra- sjr.pid njijncaq b 5;i p.,uisjj timuo.-A 3:tno. limp between the portieres vas one and the same with his lost love so m-.:ch may a go-.vn a la mode and the twisted into the commonplace English "Beecham."' "But what were you doing at the ranch?" "Just what you were doing at the Castle Creek Inn; trying to recover from an attack of 'nerves.'" Vandenberg took the dump cloth from his pocket and mopped his face with it. The little alcove seemed suddenly to have grown insufferably warm. "I " can only ask your forgiveness, and say good by. Miss Beauchamp." he il'.X humbly, pocketing the the cloth again and holding out his hand. "Forgiveness? for what?"' The sweet singer at the piano finished with a trill ing roulade, and there was a murmur of applause and a decorous clapping of hands. "For trying to play King Cophetua to your beggar maid: in other words, for making an idiotic block head of myself." "Then you didn't mean what you said? Is that what you want to be forgiven for?" "Don't"' he pleaded. "It's hard enough to know that I have lost you without being reminded of all the different kinds of a laughing-stock you were mak ing of me." He had the damp cloth out again, and she took it from him gently and spread it over Peter of Ten nessee. "The honors are easy, are they not?" she smiled. "You found it a pleasure pastime to make love to a young person who, as P.c would say, didn't know enough to go in when it zained. And the young person " "And the young person found it a matter for mirth- I only wish your diagnosis were the true cne." "Isn't it the true one?" "You know very well it is not. The pastime part of it was all on your side." She looked up with the baffling light in the gray eyes. "Self-preservation is the first law of Nature, isn't it?" He ignored the platiude. "I cannot let you put it upon that ground. I am the loser; you had noth ing at stake." He spoke hurriedly. The guest-tide was flowing again, and he heard Mrs. Calmaine asking if any one had seen Miss Beauchamp. "How very positive you arc," she said, softly: "posi tiveand ungrateful." She was busying herself with the clay models, and the sweet face was averted. At the words the heavens opened to the besotted one. and he beheld a vision. "Madge sweetheart let me see your eyes. Did yor. tell Mrs. Calmaine to ask me here to-night?" Since her answer was not in words, it may not be written down here; but a moment later, when Mrs. Calmaine lifted the dropped portiere with a gasped out: "Well, of all things!" Miss Bcauchamp was blushing piteously, and Vandenberg had the air of a man who pulls himself together to meet a crisis. And he met it manfully. "Forgive me, my dear Mrs. Calmaine. Miss Beau chamo and I are old friends and more': we are to be married in September. Will you be the first to con gratulate us?" And whin Mrs, Calmaine got her breath shcSifl it.