Her Prairie Knight
B. M. Bower (B.M. Sinclair)
Part 1 out of 3
Scanned by Mary Starr of Glendale, California.
HER PRAIRIE KNIGHT
by B. M. Bower (B.M. Sinclair)
HER PRAIRIE KNIGHT
1. Stranded on the Prairie
2. Handsome Cowboy to the Rescue
3. Tilt With Sir Redmond
4. Beatrice Learns a New Language
5. The Search for Dorman
6. Mrs. Lansell's Lecture
7. Beatrice's Wild Ride
8. Dorman Plays Cupid
9. What It Meant to Keith
10. Pine Ridge Range Ablaze
11. Sir Redmond Waits His Answer
12. Held Up by Mr. Kelly
13. Keith's Masterful Wooing
14. Sir Redmond Gets His Answer
HER PRAIRIE KNIGHT
Stranded on the Prairie.
"By George, look behind us! I fancy we are going to have a storm." Four
heads turned as if governed by one brain; four pairs of eyes, of varied
color and character, swept the wind-blown wilderness of tender green,
and gazed questioningly at the high-piled thunderheads above. A small
boy, with an abundance of yellow curls and white collar, almost
precipitated himself into the prim lap of a lady on the rear seat.
"Auntie, will God have fireworks? Say, auntie, will He? Can I say
prayers widout kneelin' down'? Uncle Redmon' crowds so. I want to pray
for fireworks, auntie. Can I?"
"Do sit down, Dorman. You'll fall under the wheel, and then auntie would
not have any dear little boy. Dorman, do you hear me? Redmond, do take
that child down! How I wish Parks were here. I shall have nervous
prostration within a fortnight."
Sir Redmond Hayes plucked at the white collar, and the small boy
retired between two masculine forms of no mean proportions. His voice,
however, rose higher.
"You'll get all the fireworks you want, young man, without all that
hullabaloo," remarked the driver, whom Dorman had been told, at the
depot twenty miles back, he must call his Uncle Richard.
"I love storms," came cheerfully from the rear seat--but the voice was
not the prim voice of "auntie." "Do you have thunder and lightning out
"We do," assented Dick. "We don't ship it from the East in refrigerator
cars, either. It grows wild."
The cheerful voice was heard to giggle.
"Richard," came in tired, reproachful accents from a third voice behind
him, "you were reared in the East. I trust you have not formed the
pernicious habit of speaking slightingly of your birthplace."
That, Dick knew, was his mother. She had not changed appreciably since
she had nagged him through his teens. Not having seen her since, he was
certainly in a position to judge.
"Trix asked about the lightning," he said placatingly, just as he was
accustomed to do, during the nagging period. "I was telling her."
"Beatrice has a naturally inquiring mind," said the tired voice, laying
reproving stress upon the name.
"Are you afraid of lightning, Sir Redmond?" asked the cheerful
Sir Redmond twisted his neck to smile back at her. "No, so long as it
doesn't actually chuck me over."
After that there was silence, so far as human voices went, for a time.
"How much farther is it, Dick?" came presently from the girl.
"Not more than ten--well, maybe twelve--miles. You'll think it's
twenty, though, if the rain strikes 'Dobe Flat before we do. That's just
what it's going to do, or I'm badly mistaken. Hawk! Get along, there!"
"We haven't an umbrella with us," complained the tired one. "Beatrice,
where did you put my raglan?"
"In the big wagon, mama, along with the trunks and guns and saddles, and
Martha and Katherine and James."
"Dear me! I certainly told you, Beatrice--"
"But, mama, you gave it to me the last thing, after the maids were in
the wagon, and said you wouldn't wear it. There isn't room here for
another thing. I feel like a slice of pressed chicken."
"Auntie, I want some p'essed chicken. I'm hungry, auntie! I want some
chicken and a cookie--and I want some ice-cream."
"You won't get any," said the young woman, with the tone of finality.
"You can't eat me, Dorman, and I'm the only thing that looks good enough
"Beatrice!" This, of course, from her mother, whose life seemed
principally made up of a succession of mental shocks, brought on by her
youngest, dearest, and most irrepressible.
"I have Dick's word for it, mama; he said so, at the depot."
"I want some chicken, auntie."
"There is no chicken, dear," said the prim one. "You must be a patient
"I won't. I'm hungry. Mens aren't patient when dey're hungry." A small,
red face rose, like a tiny harvest moon, between the broad, masculine
backs on the front seat.
"Dorman, sit down! Redmond!"
A large, gloved hand appeared against the small moon and it set
ignominiously and prematurely, in the place where it had risen. Sir
Redmond further extinguished it with the lap robe, for the storm,
whooping malicious joy, was upon them.
First a blinding glare and a deafening crash. Then rain--sheets of it,
that drenched where it struck. The women huddled together under the
doubtful protection of the light robe and shivered. After that, wind
that threatened to overturn the light spring wagon; then hail that
bounced and hopped like tiny, white rubber balls upon the ground.
The storm passed as suddenly as it came, but the effect remained. The
road was sodden with the water which had fallen, and as they went down
the hill to 'Dobe Flat the horses strained at the collar and plodded
like a plow team. The wheels collected masses of adobe, which stuck like
glue and packed the spaces between the spokes. Twice Dick got out and
poked the heavy mess from the wheels with Sir Redmond's stick--which was
not good for the stick, but which eased the drag upon the horses
wonderfully--until the wheels accumulated another load.
"Sorry to dirty your cane," Dick apologized, after the second halt. "You
can rinse it off, though, in the creek a few miles ahead."
"Don't mention it!" said Sir Redmond, somewhat dubiously. It was his
favorite stick, and he had taken excellent care of it. It was finely
polished, and it had his name and regiment engraved upon the silver
knob--and a date which the Boers will not soon forget, nor the English,
for that matter.
"We'll soon be over the worst," Dick told them, after a time. "When we
climb that hill we'll have a hard, gravelly trail straight to the ranch.
I'm sorry it had to storm; I wanted you to enjoy this trip."
"I am enjoying it," Beatrice assured him. "It's something new, at any
rate, and anything is better than the deadly monotony of Newport."
"Beatrice!" cried her mother "I'm ashamed of you!"
"You needn't be, mama. Why won't you just be sorry for yourself, and let
it end there? I know you hated to come, poor dear; but you wouldn't
think of letting me come alone, though I'm sure I shouldn't have minded.
This is going to be a delicious summer--I feel it in my bones."
"Why, mama? Aren't young ladies supposed to have bones?"
"Young ladies are not supposed to make use of unrefined expressions.
Your poor sister."
"There, mama. Dear Dolly didn't live upon stilts, I'm sure. Even when
"Dear me, mama! I hope you are not growing peevish. Peevish elderly
"Auntie! I want to go home!" the small boy wailed.
"You cannot go home now, dear," sighed his guardian angel. "Look at the
pretty--" She hesitated, groping vaguely for some object to which she
might conscientiously apply the adjective.
"Mud," suggested Beatrice promptly "Look at the wheels, Dorman; they're
playing patty-cake. See, now they say, 'Roll 'em, and roll 'em,' and
now, 'Toss in the oven to bake!" And now--"
"Auntie, I want to get out an' play patty-cake, like de wheels. I want
"Beatrice, why did you put that into his head?" her mother demanded,
"Never mind, honey," called Beatrice cheeringly. "You and I will make
hundreds of mud pies when we get to Uncle Dick's ranch. Just think, hon,
oodles of beautiful, yellow mud just beside the door!"
"Look here, Trix! Seems to me you're promising a whole lot you can't
make good. I don't live in a 'dobe patch."
"Hush, Dick; don't spoil everything. You don't know Dorman.'
"Beatrice! What must Miss Hayes and Sir Redmond think of you? I'm sure
Dorman is a sweet child, the image of poor, dear Dorothea, at his age."
"We all think Dorman bears a strong resemblance to his father," said his
Beatrice, scenting trouble, hurried to change the subject. "What's this,
Dick--the Missouri River?"
"Hardly. This is the water that didn't fall in the buggy. It isn't deep;
it makes bad going worse, that's all."
Thinking to expedite matters, he struck Hawk sharply across the flank.
It was a foolish thing to do, and Dick knew it when he did it; ten
seconds later he knew it better.
Hawk reared, tired as he was, and lunged viciously.
The double-trees snapped and splintered; there was a brief interval of
plunging, a shower of muddy water in that vicinity, and then two
draggled, disgusted brown horses splashed indignantly to shore and took
to the hills with straps flying.
"By George!," ejaculated Sir Redmond, gazing helplessly after them. "But
this is a beastly bit of luck, don't you know!"
"Oh, you Hawk--" Dick, in consideration of his companions, finished the
remark in the recesses of his troubled soul, where the ladies could not
"What comes next, Dick?" The voice of Beatrice was frankly curious.
"Next, I'll have to wade out and take after those--" This sentence,
also, was rounded out mentally.
"In the meantime, what shall we do?"
"You'll stay where you are--and thank the good Lord you were not upset.
I'm sorry,"--turning so that he could look deprecatingly at Miss
Hayes--"your welcome to the West has been so--er--strenuous. I'll try
and make it up to you, once you get to the ranch. I hope you won't let
this give you a dislike of the country."
"Oh, no," said the spinster politely. "I'm sure it is a--a very nice
country, Mr. Lansell."
"Well, there's nothing to be done sitting here." Dick climbed down over
the dashboard into the mud and water.
Sir Redmond was not the man to shirk duty because it happened to be
disagreeable, as the regiment whose name was engraved upon his cane
could testify. He glanced regretfully at his immaculate leggings and
"I fancy you ladies won't need any bodyguard," he said. Looking back, he
caught the light of approval shining in the eyes of Beatrice, and after
that he did not mind the mud, but waded to shore and joined in the chase
quite contentedly. The light of approval, shining in the eyes of
Beatrice, meant much to Sir Redmond.
A Handsome Cowboy to the Rescue.
Beatrice took immediate possession of the front seat, that she might
comfort her heartbroken young nephew.
"Never mind, honey. They'll bring the horses back in a minute, and we'll
make them run every step. And when you get to Uncle Dick's ranch you'll
see the nicest things--bossy calves, and chickens, and, maybe, some
little pigs with curly tails."
All this, though alluring, failed of its purpose; the small boy
continued to weep, and his weeping was ear-splitting.
"Be still, Dorman, or you'll certainly scare all the coyotes to death."
"Where are dey?"
"Oh, all around. You keep watch, hon, and maybe you'll see one put the
tip of his nose over a hill."
"What hill?" Dorman skipped a sob, and scoured his eyes industriously
with both fists.
"M-m--that hill. That little one over there. Watch close, or you'll miss
The dove of peace hovered over them, and seemed actually about to
alight. Beatrice leaned back with a relieved breath.
"It is good of you, my dear, to take so much trouble," sighed his Aunt
Mary. "How I am to manage without Parks I'm sure I cannot tell."
"You are tired, and you miss your tea." soothed Beatrice, optimistic as
to tone. "When we all have a good rest we will be all right. Dorman will
find plenty to amuse him. We are none of us exactly comfortable now."
"Comfortable!" sniffed her mother. "I am half dead. Richard wrote such
glowing letters home that I was misled. If I had dreamed of the true
conditions, Miss Hayes, I should never have sanctioned this wild idea of
Beatrice's to come out and spend the summer with Richard."
"It's coming, Be'trice! There it is! Will it bite, auntie? Say, will it
Beatrice looked. A horseman came over the hill and was galloping down
the long slope toward them. His elbows were lifted contrary to the
mandates of the riding-school, his long legs were encased in something
brown and fringed down the sides. His gray hat was tilted rakishly up at
the back and down in front, and a handkerchief was knotted loosely
around his throat. Even at that distance he struck her as different from
any one she had ever seen.
"It's a highwayman!" whispered Mrs. Lansell "Hide your purse, my dear!"
"I--I--where?" Miss Hayes was all a-flutter with fear.
"Drop it down beside the wheel, into the water. Quick! I shall drop my
"He--he is coming on this side! He can see!" Her whisper was full of
entreaty and despair.
"Give them here. He can't see on both sides of the buggy at once." Mrs.
Lansell, being an American--a Yankee at that--was a woman of resource.
"Beatrice, hand me your watch quick!"
Beatrice paid no attention, and there was no time to insist upon
obedience. The horseman had slowed at the water's edge, and was
regarding them with some curiosity. Possibly he was not accustomed to
such a sight as the one that met his eyes. He came splashing toward
them, however, as though he intended to investigate the cause of their
presence, alone upon the prairie, in a vehicle which had no horses
attached in the place obviously intended for such attachment. When he
was close upon them he stopped and lifted the rakishly tilted gray hat.
"You seem to be in trouble. Is there anything I can do for you?" His
manner was grave and respectful, but his eyes, Beatrice observed, were
having a quiet laugh of their own.
"You can't get auntie's watch, nor gran'mama's. Gran'mama frowed 'em all
down in the mud. She frowed her money down in the mud, too," announced
Dorman, with much complacency. "Be'trice says you is a coyote. Is you?"
There was a stunned interval, during which nothing was heard but the
wind whispering things to the grass. The man's eyes stopped laughing;
his jaw set squarely; also, his brows drew perceptibly closer together.
It was Mrs. Lansell's opinion that he looked murderous.
Then Beatrice put her head down upon the little, blue velvet cap of
Dorman and laughed. There was a rollicking note in her laughter that was
irresistible, and the eyes of the man relented and joined in her mirth.
His lips forgot they were angry and insulted, and uncovered some very
"We aren't really crazy," Beatrice told him, sitting up straight and
drying her eyes daintily with her handkerchief. "We were on our way to
Mr. Lansell's ranch, and the horses broke something and ran away, and
Dick--Mr. Lansell--has gone to catch them. We're waiting until he does."
"I see." From the look in his eyes one might guess that what he saw
pleased him. "Which direction did they take?"
Beatrice waved a gloved hand vaguely to the left, and, without another
word, the fellow touched his hat, turned and waded to shore and galloped
over the ridge she indicated; and the clucketycluck of his horse's hoofs
came sharply across to them until he dipped out of sight.
"You see, he wasn't a robber," Beatrice remarked, staring after him
speculatively. "How well he rides! One can see at a glance that he
almost lives in the saddle. I wonder who he is."
"For all you know, Beatrice, he may be going now to murder Richard and
Sir Redmond in cold blood. He looks perfectly hardened."
"Oh, do you think it possible?" cried Miss Hayes, much alarmed.
"No!" cried Beatrice hotly. "One who did not know your horror of
novels, mama, might suspect you of feeding your imagination upon 'penny
dreadfuls.' I'm sure he is only a cowboy, and won't harm anybody."
"Cowboys are as bad as highwaymen," contended her mother, "or worse. I
have read how they shoot men for a pastime, and without even the excuse
"Is it possible?" quavered Miss Hayes faintly.
"No, it isn't!" Beatrice assured her indignantly.
"He has the look of a criminal," declared Mrs. Lansell, in the positive
tone of one who speaks from intimate knowledge of the subject under
discussion. "I only hope he isn't going to murder--"
"They're coming back, mama," interrupted Beatrice, who had been
watching closely the hilltop. "No, it's that man, and he is driving the
"He's chasing them," corrected her mother testily. "A horse thief, no
doubt. He's going to catch them with his snare--"
"Well, lasso. Where can Richard be? To think the fellow should be so
bold! But out here, with miles upon miles of open, and no police
protection anything is possible. We might all be murdered, and no one be
the wiser for days--perhaps weeks. There, he has caught them." She
leaned back and clasped her hands, ready to meet with fortitude whatever
fate might have in store.
"He's bringing them out to us, mama. Can't you see the man is only
trying to help us?"
Mrs. Lansell, beginning herself to suspect him of honest intentions,
sniffed dissentingly and let it go at that. The fellow was certainly
leading the horses toward them, and Sir Redmond and Dick, appearing over
the hill just then, proved beyond doubt that neither had been murdered
in cold blood, or in any other unpleasant manner.
"We're all right now, mother," Dick called, the minute he was near
His mother remarked skeptically that she hoped possibly she had been in
too great haste to conceal her valuables--that Miss Hayes might not feel
grateful for her presence of mind, and was probably wondering if mud
baths were not injurious to fine, jeweled time-pieces. Mrs. Lansell was
uncomfortable, mentally and physically, and her manner was frankly
chilly when her son presented the stranger as his good friend and
neighbor, Keith Cameron. She was still privately convinced that he
looked a criminal--though, if pressed, she must surely have admitted
that he was an uncommonly good-looking young outlaw. It would seem
almost as if she regarded his being a decent, law-abiding citizen as
Miss Hayes greeted him with a smile of apprehension which plainly
amused him. Beatrice was frankly impersonal in her attitude; he
represented a new species of the genus man, and she, too, evidently
regarded him in the light of a strange animal, viewed unexpectedly at
While he was helping Dick mend the double-tree with a piece of rope, she
studied him curiously. He was tall--taller even than Sir Redmond, and
more slender. Sir Redmond had the straight, sturdy look of the soldier
who had borne the brunt of hard marches and desperate fighting; Mr.
Cameron, the lithe, unconscious grace and alertness of the man whose
work demands quick movement and quicker eye and brain. His face was
tanned to a clear bronze which showed the blood darkly beneath; Sir
Redmond's year of peace had gone far toward lightening his complexion.
Beatrice glanced briefly at him and admired his healthy color, and was
glad he did not have the look of an Indian. At the same time, she caught
herself wishing that Sir Redmond's eyes were hazel, fringed with very
long, dark lashes and topped with very straight, dark brows--eyes which
seemed always to have some secret cause for mirth, and to laugh quite
independent of the rest of the face. Still, Sir Redmond had very nice
eyes--blue, and kind, and steadfast, and altogether dependable--and his
lashes were quite nice enough for any one. In just four seconds Beatrice
decided that, after all, she did not like hazel eyes that twinkle
continually; they make one feel that one is being laughed at, which is
not comfortable. In six seconds she was quite sure that this Mr. Cameron
thought himself handsome, and Beatrice detested a man who was proud of
his face or his figure; such a man always tempted her to "make faces,"
as she used to do over the back fence when she was little.
She mentally accused him of trying to show off his skill with his rope
when he leaned and fastened it to the rig, rode out ahead and helped
drag the vehicle to shore; and it was with some resentment that she
observed the ease with which he did it, and how horse and rope seemed to
know instinctively their master's will, and to obey of their own accord.
In all that he had done--and it really seemed as if he did everything
that needed to be done, while Dick pottered around in the way--he had
not found it necessary to descend into the mud and water, to the ruin of
his picturesque, fringed chaps and high-heeled boots. He had worked at
ease, carelessly leaning from his leathern throne upon the big, roan
horse he addressed occasionally as Redcloud. Beatrice wondered where he
got the outlandish name. But, with all his imperfections, she was glad
she had met him. He really was handsome, whether he knew it or not; and
if he had a good opinion of himself, and overrated his actions--all the
more fun for herself! Beatrice, I regret to say, was not above amusing
herself with handsome young men who overrate their own charms; in fact,
she had the reputation among her women acquaintances of being a most
In the very middle of these trouble-breeding meditations, Mr. Cameron
looked up unexpectedly and met keenly her eyes; and for some reason--let
us hope because of a guilty conscience--Beatrice grew hot and confused;
an unusual experience, surely, for a girl who had been out three
seasons, and has met calmly the eyes of many young men. Until now it had
been the young men who grew hot and confused; it had never been herself.
Beatrice turned her shoulder toward him, and looked at Sir Redmond, who
was surreptitiously fishing for certain articles beside the rear wheel,
at the whispered behest of Mrs. Lansell, and was certainly a sight to
behold. He was mud to his knees and to his elbows, and he had managed to
plaster his hat against the wheel and to dirty his face. Altogether, he
looked an abnormally large child who has been having a beautiful day of
it in somebody's duck-pond; but Beatrice was nearer, at that moment, to
loving him than she had been at any time during her six weeks'
acquaintance with him--and that is saying much, for she had liked him
from the start.
Mr. Cameron followed her glance, and his eyes did not have the laugh all
to themselves; his voice joined them, and Beatrice turned upon him and
frowned. It was not kind of him to laugh at a man who is proving his
heart to be much larger than his vanity; Beatrice was aware of Sir
Redmond's immaculateness of attire on most occasions.
"Well," said Dick, gathering up the reins, "you've helped us out of a
bad scrape, Keith. Come over and take dinner with us to-morrow night. I
expect we'll be kept riding the rim-rocks, over at the Pool, this
summer. Unless this sister of mine has changed a lot, she won't rest
till she's been over every foot of country for forty miles around. It
will just about keep our strings rode down to a whisper keeping her in
"Dear me, Richard!" said his mother. "What Jargon is this you speak?"
"That's good old Montana English, mother. You'll learn it yourself
before you leave here. I've clean forgot how they used the English
language at Yale, haven't you, Keith?"
"Just about," Keith agreed. "I'm afraid we'll shock the ladies
terribly, Dick. We ought to get out on a pinnacle with a good grammar
"Well, maybe. We'll look for you to-morrow, sure. I want you to help map
out a circle or two for Trix. About next week she'll want to get out and
scour the range."
"Dear me, Richard! Beatrice is not a charwoman!" This, you will
understand, was from his mother; perhaps you will also understand that
she spoke with the rising inflection which conveys a reproof.
When Keith Cameron left them he was laughing quietly to himself, and
Beatrice's chin was set rather more than usual.
A Tilt With Sir Redmond.
Beatrice, standing on the top of a steep, grassy slope, was engaged in
the conventional pastime of enjoying the view. It was a fine view, but
it was not half as good to look upon as was Beatrice herself, in her
fresh white waist and brown skirt, with her brown hair fluffing softly
in the breeze which would grow to a respectable wind later in the day,
and with her cheeks pink from climbing.
She was up where she could see the river, a broad band of blue in the
surrounding green, winding away for miles through the hills. The far
bank stood a straight two hundred feet of gay-colored rock, chiseled, by
time and stress of changeful weather, into fanciful turrets and towers.
Above and beyond, where the green began, hundreds of moving dots told
where the cattle were feeding quietly. Far away to the south, heaps of
hazy blue and purple slept in the sunshine; Dick had told her those were
the Highwoods. And away to the west, a jagged line of blue-white
glimmered and stood upon tip-toes to touch the swimming clouds--touched
them and pushed above proudly; those were the Rockies. The Bear Paws
stood behind her; nearer they were--so near they lost the glamour of
mysterious blue shadows, and became merely a sprawling group of huge,
pine-covered hills, with ranches dotted here and there in sheltered
places, with squares of fresh, dark green that spoke of growing crops.
Ten days, and the metropolitan East had faded and become as hazy and
vague as the Highwoods. Ten days, and the witchery of the West leaped in
her blood and held her fast in its thralldom.
A sound of scrambling behind her was immediately followed by a
smothered epithet. Beatrice turned in time to see Sir Redmond pick
"These grass slopes are confounded slippery, don't you know," he
explained apologetically. "How did you manage that climb?"
"I didn't." Beatrice smiled. "I came around the end, where the ascent is
gradual; there's a good path."
"Oh!" Sir Redmond sat down upon a rock and puffed. "I saw you up
here--and a fellow doesn't think about taking a roundabout course to
reach his heart's--"
"Isn't it lovely?" Beatrice made haste to inquire.
"Lovely isn't half expressive enough," he told her. "You look--"
"The river is so very blue and dignified. I've been wondering if it has
forgotten how it must have danced through those hills, away off there.
When it gets down to the cities--this blue water--it will be muddy and
nasty looking. The 'muddy Missouri' certainly doesn't apply here. And
that farther shore is simply magnificent. I wish I might stay here
"The Lord forbid!" cried he, with considerable fervor. "There's a dear
nook in old England where I hope--"
"You did get that mud off your leggings, I see," Beatrice remarked
inconsequentially. "James must have worked half the time we've been
here. They certainly were in a mess the last time I saw them."
"Bother the leggings! But I take it that's a good sign, Miss
Lansell--your taking notice of such things."
Beatrice returned to the landscape. "I wonder who originated that
phrase, 'The cattle grazing on a thousand hills'? He must have stood
just here when he said it."
"Wasn't it one of your American poets? Longfellow, or--er--"
Beatrice simply looked at him a minute and said "Pshaw!"
"Well," he retorted, "you don't know yourself who it was."
"And to think," Beatrice went on, ignoring the subject, "some of those
grazing cows and bossy calves are mine--my very own. I never cared
before, or thought much about it, till I came out and saw where they
live, and Dick pointed to a cow and the sweetest little red and white
calf, and said: 'That's your cow and calf, Trix.' They were dreadfully
afraid of me, though--I'm afraid they didn't recognize me as their
mistress. I wanted to get down and pet the calf--it had the dearest
little snub nose but they bolted, and wouldn't let me near them."
"I fancy they were not accustomed to meeting angels unawares."
"Sir Redmond, I wish you wouldn't. You are so much nicer when you're not
trying to be nice."
"I'll act a perfect brute," he offered eagerly, "if that will make you
"It's hardly worth trying. I think you would make a very poor sort of
villain, Sir Redmond. You wouldn't even be picturesque."
Sir Redmond looked rather floored. He was a good fighter, was Sir
Redmond, but he was clumsy at repartee--or, perhaps, he was too much in
earnest to fence gracefully. Just now he looked particularly foolish.
"Don't you think my brand is pretty? You know what it is, don't you?"
"I'm afraid not," he owned. "I fancy I need a good bit of coaching in
the matter of brands."
"Yes," agreed Beatrice, "I fancy you do. My brand is a Triangle
Bar--like this." With a sharp pointed bit of rock she drew a more or
less exact diagram in the yellow soil. "There are ever so many different
brands belonging to the Northern Pool; Dick pointed them out to me, but
I can't remember them. But whenever you see a Triangle Bar you'll be
looking at my individual property. I think it was nice of Dick to give
me a brand all my own. Mr. Cameron has a pretty brand, too--a Maltese
Cross. The Maltese Cross was owned at one time by President Roosevelt.
Mr. Cameron bought it when he left college and went into the cattle
business. He 'plays a lone hand,' as he calls it; but his cattle range
with the Northern Pool, and he and Dick work together a great deal. I
think he has lovely eyes, don't you?" The eyes of Beatrice were intent
upon the Bear Paws when she said it--which brought her shoulder toward
Sir Redmond and hid her face from him.
"I can't say I ever observed Mr. Cameron's eyes," said Sir Redmond
Beatrice turned back to him, and smiled demurely. When Beatrice smiled
that very demure smile, of which she was capable, the weather-wise
generally edged toward their cyclone-cellars. Sir Redmond was not
weather-wise--he was too much in love with her--and he did not possess a
cyclone cellar; he therefore suffered much at the hands of Beatrice.
"But surely you must have noticed that deep, deep dimple in his chin?"
she questioned innocently. Keith Cameron, I may say, did not have a
dimple in his chin at all; there was, however, a deep crease in it.
"I did not." Sir Redmond rubbed his own chin, which was so far from
dimpling that is was rounded like half an apricot.
"Dear me! And you sat opposite to him at dinner yesterday, too! I
suppose, then, you did not observe that his teeth are the whitest,
"They make them cheaply over here, I'm told," he retorted, setting his
heel emphatically down and annihilating a red and black caterpillar.
"Now, why did you do that? I must say you English are rather brutal?"
"I can't abide worms."
"Well, neither can I. And I think it would be foolish to quarrel about a
man's good looks," Beatrice said, with surprising sweetness.
Sir Redmond hunched his shoulders and retreated to the comfort of his
pipe. "A bally lot of good looks!" he sneered. "A woman is never
"I am." Beatrice sat down upon a rock and rested her elbows on her knees
and her chin in her hands--and an adorable picture she made, I assure
you. "I'm thoroughly convinced of several things. One is Mr. Cameron's
good looks; another is that you're cross."
Oh, come, now!" protested Sir Redmond feebly, and sucked furiously at
"Yes," reiterated Beatrice, examining his perturbed face judicially;
"you are downright ugly."
The face of Sir Redmond grew redder and more perturbed; just as
Beatrice meant that it should; she seemed to derive a keen pleasure from
goading this big, good-looking Englishman to the verge of apoplexy.
"I'm sure I never meant to be rude; but a fellow can't fall down and
worship every young farmer, don't you know--not even to please you!"
Beatrice smiled and threw a pebble down the slope, watching it bound and
skip to the bottom, where it rolled away and hid in the grass.
"I love this wide country," she observed, abandoning her torture with a
suddenness that was a characteristic of her nature. When Beatrice had
made a man look and act the fool she was ready to stop; one cannot say
that of every woman. "One can draw long, deep breaths without robbing
one's neighbor of oxygen. Everything is so big, and broad, and generous,
out here. One can ride for miles and miles through the grandest, wildest
places,--and--there aren't any cigar and baking-powder and liver-pill
signs plastered over the rocks, thank goodness! If man has traveled that
way before, you do not have the evidence of his passing staring you in
the face. You can make believe it is all your own--by right of
discovery. I'm afraid your England would seem rather little and crowded
after a month or two of this." She swept her hand toward the river, and
the grass-land beyond, and the mountains rimming the world.
"You should see the moors!" cried Sir Redmond, brightening under this
peaceful mood of hers. "I fancy you would not find trouble in drawing
long breaths there. Moor Cottage, where your sister and Wiltmar lived,
is surrounded by wide stretches of open--not like this, to be sure, but
not half-bad in its way, either."
"Dolly grew to love that place, though she did write homesick letters at
first. I was going over, after my coming out--and then came that awful
accident, when she and Wiltmar were both drowned--and, of course, there
was nothing to go for. I should have hated the place then, I think. But
I should like--" Her voice trailed off dreamily, her eyes on the hazy
Sir Redmond watched her, his eyes a-shine; Beatrice in this mood was
something to worship. He was almost afraid to speak, for fear she would
snuff out the tiny flame of hope which her half-finished sentence had
kindled. He leaned forward, his face eager.
"Beatrice, only say you will go--with me, dear!"
Beatrice started; for the moment she had forgotten him. Her eyes kept to
the hills. "Go--to England? One trip at a time, Sir Redmond. I have been
here only ten days, and we came for three months. Three months of
freedom in this big, glorious place."
"And then?" His voice was husky.
"And then--freckle lotions by the quart, I expect."
Sir Redmond got upon his feet, and he was rather white around the
"We Englishmen are a stubborn lot, Miss Beatrice. We won't stop
fighting until we win."
"We Yankees," retorted she airily, "value our freedom above everything
else. We won't surrender it without fighting for it first."
He caught eagerly at the lack of finality in her tones. "I don't want to
take your freedom, Beatrice. I only want the right to love you."
"Oh, as for that, I suppose you may love me as much as you please--only
so you don't torment me to death talking about it."
Beatrice, not looking particularly tormented, waved answer to Dick, who
was shouting something up at her, and went blithely down the hill, with
Sir Redmond following gloomily, several paces behind.
Beatrice Learns a New Language.
"D'you want to see the boys work a bunch of cattle, Trix?" Dick said to
her, when she came down to where he was leaning against a high board
fence, waiting for her.
"'Deed I do, Dicky--only I've no idea what you mean."
"The boys are going to cut out some cattle we've contracted to the
government--for the Indians, you know. They're holding the bunch over in
Dry Coulee; it's only three or four miles. I've got to go over and see
the foreman, and I thought maybe you'd like to go along."
"There's nothing I can think of that I would like better. Won't it be
fine, Sir Redmond?"
Sir Redmond did not say whether he thought it would be fine or not. He
still had the white streak around his mouth, and he went through the
gate and on to the house without a word--which was undoubtedly a rude
thing to do. Sir Redmond was not often rude. Dick watched him
speculatively until he was beyond hearing them. Then, "What have you
done to milord, Trix?" he wanted to know.
"Nothing," said Beatrice.
"Well," Dick said, with decision, "he looks to me like a man that has
been turned down--hard. I can tell by the back of his neck."
This struck Beatrice, and she began to study the retreating neck of her
suitor. "I can't see any difference," she announced, after a brief
"It's rather sunburned and thick."
"I'll gamble his mind is a jumble of good English oaths--with maybe a
sprinkling of Boer maledictions. What did you do?"
"Nothing--unless, perhaps, he objects to being disciplined a bit. But I
also object to being badgered into matrimony--even with Sir Redmond."
"Even with Sir Redmond!" Dick whistled. "He's 'It,' then, is he?"
Beatrice had nothing to say. She walked beside Dick and looked at the
ground before her.
"He doesn't seem a bad sort, sis, and the title will be nice to have in
the family, if one cares for such things. Mother does. She was
disappointed, I take it, that Wiltmar was a younger son."
"Yes, she was. She used to think that Sir Redmond might get killed down
there fighting the Boers, and then Wiltmar would be next in line. But he
didn't, and it was Wiltmar who went first. And now oh, it's humiliating,
Dick! To be thrown at a man's head--" Tears were not far from her voice
"I can see she wants you to nab the title. Well, sis, if you don't care
for the man--"
"I never said I didn't care for him. But I just can't treat him
decently, with mama dinning that title in my ears day and night. I wish
there wasn't any title. Oh, it's abominable! Things have come to that
point where an American girl with money is not supposed to care for an
Englishman, no matter how nice he may be, if he has a title, or the
prospect of one. Every one laughs and thinks it's the title she wants;
they'd think it of me, and they'd say it. They would say Beatrice
Lansell took her half-million and bought her a lord. And, after a while,
perhaps Sir Redmond himself would half-believe it--and I couldn't bear
that! And so I am--unbearably flippant and--I should think he'd hate
"So you reversed the natural order of things, and refused him on
account of the title?" Dick grinned surreptitiously.
"No, I didn't--not quite. I'm afraid he's dreadfully angry with me,
though. I do wish he wasn't such a dear."
"You're the same old Trix. You've got to be held back from the trail
you're supposed to take, or you won't travel it; you'll bolt the other
way. If everybody got together and fought the notion, you would probably
elope with milord inside a week. Mother means well, but she isn't on to
her job a little bit. She ought to turn up her nose at the title."
"No fear of that! I've had it before my eyes till I hate the very
thought of it. I--I wish I could hate him." Beatrice sighed deeply, and
gave her hand to Dorman, who scurried up to her.
"I'll have the horses saddled right away," said Dick, and left them.
"Where you going, Be'trice? You going to ride a horse? I want to,
"I'm afraid you can't, honey; it's too far." Beatrice pushed a yellow
curl away from his eyes with tender, womanly solicitude.
"Auntie won't care, 'cause I'm a bother. Auntie says she's goin' to send
for Parks. I don't want Parks; 'sides, Parks is sick. I want a pony, and
some ledder towsers wis fringes down 'em, and I want some little wheels
on my feet. Mr. Cam'ron says I do need some little wheels, Be'trice."
"Did he, honey?"
"Yes, he did. I like Mr. Cam'ron, Be'trice; he let me ride his big, high
pony. He's a berry good pony. He shaked hands wis me, Be'trice--he truly
"Did he, hon?" Beatrice, I am sorry to say, was not listening. She was
wondering if Sir Redmond was really angry with her--too angry, for
instance, to go over where the cattle were. He really ought to go, for
he had come West in the interest of the Eastern stockholders in the
Northern Pool, to investigate the actual details of the work. He surely
would not miss this opportunity, Beatrice thought. And she hoped he was
"Yes, he truly did. Mr. Cam'ron interduced us, Be'trice. He said,
'Redcloud, dis is Master Dorman Hayes. Shake hands wis my frien'
Dorman.' And he put up his front hand, Be'trice, and nod his head, and I
shaked his hand. I dess love that big, high pony, Be'trice. Can I buy
"Can I buy him wis my six shiny pennies, Be'trice?"
"Mr. Cam'ron lives right over that hill, Be'trice. He told me."
"Did he, hon?"
"Yes, he did. He 'vited me over, Be'trice. He's my friend, and I've got
to buy my big, high pony. I'll let you shake hands wis him, Be'trice.
I'll interduce him to you. And I'll let you ride on his back, Be'trice.
Do you want to ride on his back?"
Before Beatrice had time to commit herself they reached the house, and
she let go Dorman's hand and hurried away to get into her riding-habit.
Dorman straightway went to find his six precious, shiny pennies, which
Beatrice had painstakingly scoured with silver polish one day to please
the little tyrant, and which increased their value many times--so many
times, in fact, that he hid them every night in fear of burglars. Since
he concealed them each time in a different place, he was obliged to
ransack his auntie's room every morning, to the great disturbance of
Martha, the maid, who was an order-loving person.
Martha appeared just when he had triumphantly pounced upon his treasure
rolled up in the strings of his aunt's chiffon opera-bonnet.
"Mercy upon us, Master Dorman! Whatever have you been doing?"
"I want my shiny pennies," said the young gentleman, composedly
unwinding the roll, "to buy my big, high pony."
"Naughty, naughty boy, to muss my lady's fine bonnet like that! Look at
things scattered over the floor, and my lady's fine handkerchiefs and
gloves " Martha stopped and meditated whether she might dare to shake
Dorman was laboriously counting his wealth, with much wrinkling of
stubby nose and lifting of eyebrows. Having satisfied himself that they
were really all there, he deigned to look around, with a fine masculine
disdain of woman's finery.
"Oh, dose old things!" he sniffed. "I always fordet where I put my shiny
pennies. Robbers might find them if I put them easy places. I'm going to
buy my big, high pony, and you can't shake his hand a bit, Martha."
"Well, I'm sure I don't want to!" Martha snapped back at him, and went
down on all fours to gather up the things he had thrown down. "Whatever
Parks was thinking of, to go and get fever, when she was the only one
that could manage you, I don't know! And me picking up after you till
I'm fair sick!"
"I'm glad you is sick," he retorted unfeelingly, and backed to the door.
"I hopes you get sicker so your stummit makes you hurt. You can't ride
on my big, high pony."
"Get along with you and your high pony!" cried the exasperated Martha,
threatening with a hairbrush. Dorman, his six shiny pennies held fast in
his damp little fist, fled down the stairs and out into the sunlight.
Dick and Beatrice were just ready to ride away from the porch. "I want
to go wis you, Uncle Dick." Dorman had followed the lead of Beatrice,
his divinity; he refused to say Richard, though grandmama did object to
"Up you go, son. You'll be a cow-puncher yourself one of these days.
I'll not let him fall, and this horse is gentle." This last to satisfy
Dorman's aunt, who wavered between anxiety and relief.
"You may ride to the gate, Dorman, and then you'll have to hop down and
run back to your auntie and grandma. We're going too far for you
to-day." Dick gave him the reins to hold, and let the horse walk to
prolong the joy of it.
Dorman held to the horn with one hand, to the reins with the other, and
let his small body swing forward and back with the motion of the horse,
in exaggerated imitation of his friend, Mr. Cameron. At the gate he
allowed himself to be set down without protest, smiled importantly
through the bars, and thrust his arm through as far as it would reach,
that he might wave good-by. And his divinity smiled back at him, and
threw him a kiss, which pleased him mightily.
"You must have hurt milord's feelings pretty bad," Dick remarked. "I
couldn't get him to come. He had to write a letter first, he said."
"I wish, Dick," Beatrice answered, a bit petulantly, "you would stop
calling him milord."
"Milord's a good name," Dick contended. "It's bad enough to 'Sir' him to
his face; I can't do it behind his back, Trix. We're not used to fancy
titles out here, and they don't fit the country, anyhow. I'm like
you--I'd think a lot more of him if he was just a plain, everyday
American, so I could get acquainted enough to call him 'Red Hayes.' I'd
like him a whole lot better."
Beatrice was in no mood for an argument--on that subject, at least. She
let Rex out and raced over the prairie at a gait which would have
greatly shocked her mother, who could not understand why Beatrice was
not content to drive sedately about in the carriage with the rest of
When they reached the round-up Keith Cameron left the bunch and rode out
to meet them, and Dick promptly shuffled responsibility for his sister's
entertainment to the square shoulders of his neighbor.
"Trix wants to wise up on the cattle business, Keith. I'll just turn her
over to you for a-while, and let you answer her questions; I can't, half
the time. I want to look through the bunch a little."
Keith's face spoke gratitude, and spoke it plainly. The face of
Beatrice was frankly inattentive. She was watching the restless, moving
mass of red backs and glistening horns, with horsemen weaving in and out
among them in what looked to her a perfectly aimless fashion--until one
would wheel and dart out into the open, always with a fleeing animal
lumbering before. Other horsemen would meet him and take up the chase,
and he would turn and ride leisurely back into the haze and confusion.
It was like a kaleidoscope, for the scene shifted constantly and was
never quite the same.
Keith, secure in her absorption, slid sidewise in the saddle and
studied her face, knowing all the while that he was simply storing up
trouble for himself. But it is not given a man to flee human nature, and
the fellow who could sit calmly beside Beatrice and not stare at her if
the opportunity offered must certainly have the blood of a fish in his
veins. I will tell you why.
Beatrice was tall, and she was slim, and round, and tempting, with the
most tantalizing curves ever built to torment a man. Her hair was soft
and brown, and it waved up from the nape of her neck without those
short, straggling locks and thin growth at the edge which mar so many
feminine heads; and the sharp contrast of shimmery brown against ivory
white was simply irresistible. Had her face been less full of charm,
Keith might have been content to gaze and gaze at that lovely hair line.
As it was, his eyes wandered to her brows. also distinctly marked, as
though outlined first with a pencil in the fingers of an artist who
understood. And there were her lashes, dark and long, and curled up at
the ends; and her cheek, with its changing, come-and-go coloring; her
mouth, with its upper lip creased deeply in the middle--so deeply that a
bit more would have been a defect--and with an odd little dimple at one
corner; luckily, it was on the side toward him, so that he might look at
it all he wanted to for once; for it was always there, only growing
deeper and wickeder when she spoke or laughed. He could not see her
eyes, for they were turned away, but he knew quite well the color; he
had settled that point when he looked up from coiling his rope the day
she came. They were big, baffling, blue-brown eyes, the like of which he
had never seen before in his life--and he had thought he had seen every
color and every shade under the sun. Thinking of them and their
wonderful deeps and shadows, he got hungry for a sight of them. And
suddenly she turned to ask a question, and found him staring at her, and
surprised a look in his eyes he did not know was there.
For ten pulse-beats they stared, and the cheeks of Beatrice grew red as
healthy young blood could paint them; Keith's were the same, only that
his blood showed darkly through the tan. What question had been on her
tongue she forgot to ask. Indeed, for the time, I think she forgot the
whole English language, and every other--but the strange, wordless
language of Keith's clear eyes.
And then it was gone, and Keith was looking away, and chewing a corner
of his lip till it hurt. His horse backed restlessly from the
tight-gripped rein, and Keith was guilty of kicking him with his spur,
which did not better matters. Redcloud snorted and shook his outraged
head, and Keith came to himself and eased the rein, and spoke
remorseful, soothing words that somehow clung long in the memory of
Just after that Dick galloped up, his elbows flapping like the wings of
a frightened hen.
"Well, I suppose you could run a cow outfit all by yourself, with the
knowledge you've got from Keith," he greeted, and two people became even
more embarrassed than before. If Dick noticed anything, he must have
been a wise young man, for he gave no sign.
But Beatrice had not queened it in her set, three seasons, for nothing,
even if she was capable of being confused by a sweet, new language in a
man's eyes. She answered Dick quietly.
"I've been so busy watching it all that I haven't had time to ask many
questions, as Mr. Cameron can testify. It's like a game, and it's very
fascinating--and dusty. I wonder if I might ride in among them, Dick?"
"Better not, sis. It isn't as much fun as it looks, and you can see more
out here. There comes milord; he must have changed his mind about the
Beatrice did not look around. To see her, you would swear she had set
herself the task of making an accurate count of noses in that seething
mass of raw beef below her. After a minute she ventured to glance
furtively at Keith, and, finding his eyes turned her way, blushed again
and called herself an idiot. After that, she straightened in the saddle,
and became the self-poised Miss Lansell, of New York.
Keith rode away to the far side of the herd, out of temptation; queer a
man never runs from a woman until it is too late to be a particle of
use. Keith simply changed his point of view, and watched his Heart's
Desire from afar.
The Search for Dorman.
"Oh, I say," began Sir Redmond, an hour after, when he happened to stand
close to Beatrice for a few minutes, "where is Dorman? I fancied you
brought him along."
"We didn't," Beatrice told him. "He only rode as far as the gate, where
Dick left him, and started him back to the house."
"Mary told me he came along. She and your mother were congratulating
each other upon a quiet half-day, with you and Dorman off the place
together. I'll wager their felicitations fell rather flat."
Beatrice laughed. "Very likely. I know they were mourning because their
lace-making had been neglected lately. What with that trip to Lost
Canyon to-morrow, and to the mountains Friday, I'm afraid the lace will
continue to suffer. What do you think of a round-up, Sir Redmond?"
"It's deuced nasty," said he. "Such a lot of dust and noise. I fancy the
workmen don't find it pleasant."
"Yes, they do; they like it," she declared. "Dick says a cowboy is never
satisfied off the range. And you mustn't call them workmen, Sir Redmond.
They'd resent it, if they knew. They're cowboys, and proud of it. They
seem rather a pleasant lot of fellows, on the whole. I have been talking
to one or two."
"Well, we're all through here," Dick announced, riding up. "I'm going to
ride around by Keith's place, to see a horse I'm thinking of buying.
Want to go along, Trix? Or are you tired?"
"I'm never tired," averred his sister, readjusting a hat-pin and
gathering up her reins. "I always want to go everywhere that you'll take
me, Dick. Consider that point settled for the summer. Are you coming,
"I think not, thank you," he said, not quite risen above his rebuff of
the morning. "I told Mary I would be back for lunch."
"I was wiser; I refused even to venture an opinion as to when I should
be back. Well, 'so-long'!"
"You're learning the lingo pretty fast, Trix," Dick chuckled, when they
were well away from Sir Redmond. "Milord almost fell out of the saddle
when you fired that at him. Where did you pick it up?"
"I've heard you say it a dozen times since I came. And I don't care if
he is shocked--I wanted him to be. He needn't be such a perfect bear;
and I know mama and Miss Hayes don't expect him to lunch, without us. He
just did it to be spiteful."
"Jerusalem, Trix! A little while ago you said he was a dear! You
shouldn't snub him, if you want him to be nice to you."
"I don't want him to be nice," flared Beatrice. "I don't care how he
acts. Only, I must say, ill humor doesn't become him. Not that it
"Well, I guess we can get along without him, if he won't honor us with
his company. Here comes Keith. Brace up, sis, and be pleasant."
Beatrice glanced casually at the galloping figure of Dick's neighbor,
"You mustn't flirt with Keith," Dick admonished gravely. "He's a good
fellow, and as square a man as I know; but you ought to know he's got
the reputation of being a hard man to know. Lots of girls have tried to
flirt and make a fool of him, and wound up with their feelings hurt
worse than his were."
"Is that a dare?" Beatrice threw up her chin with a motion Dick knew of
"Not on your life! You better leave him alone; one or the other of you
would get the worst of it, and I'd hate to see either of you feeling
bad. As I said before, he's a bad man to fool with."
"I don't consider him particularly dangerous--or interesting. He's not
half as nice as Sir Redmond." Beatrice spoke as though she meant what
she said, and Dick had no chance to argue the point, for Keith pulled up
beside them at that moment.
Beatrice seemed inclined to silence, and paid more attention to the
landscape than she did to the conversation, which was mostly about range
conditions, and the scanty water supply, and the drought.
She was politely interested in Keith's ranch, and if she clung
persistently to her society manner, why, her society manner was very
pleasing, if somewhat unsatisfying to a fellow fairly drunk with her
winsomeness. Keith showed her where she might look straight up the
coulee to her brother's ranch, two miles away, and when she wished she
might see what they were doing up there, he went in and got his
field-glass. She thanked him prettily, and impersonally, and focused the
glass upon Dick's house--which gave Keith another chance to look at her
without being caught in the act.
"How plain everything is! I can see mama, out on the porch, and Miss
Hayes." She could also see Sir Redmond, who had just ridden up, and was
talking to the ladies, but she did not think it necessary to mention
him, for some reason; she kept her eyes to the glass, however, and
appeared much absorbed. Dick rolled himself a cigarette and watched the
two, and there was a twinkle in his eyes.
"I wonder--Dick, I do think--I'm afraid--" Beatrice hadn't her society
manner now; she was her unaffected, girlish self; and she was growing
"What's the matter?" Dick got up, and came and stood at her elbow.
"They're acting queerly. The maids are running about, and the cook is
out, waving a large spoon, and mama has her arm around Miss Hayes, and
"Let's see." Dick took the glass and raised it to his eyes for a
minute. "That's right," he said. "They're making medicine over
something. See what you make of it, Keith."
Keith took the glass and looked through it. It was like a moving
picture; one could see, but one wanted the interpretation of sound.
"We'd better ride over," he said quietly. "Don't worry, Miss Lansell; it
probably isn't anything serious. We can take the short cut up the
coulee, and find out." He put the glass into its leathern case and
started to the gate, where the horses were standing. He did not tell
Beatrice that Miss Hayes had just been carried into the house in a
faint, or that her mother was behaving in an undignified fashion
strongly suggesting hysterics. But Dick knew, from the look on his face,
that it was serious. He hurried before them with long strides, leaving
Beatrice, for the second time that morning, to the care of his neighbor.
So it was Keith who held his hand down for the delicious pressure of her
foot, and arranged her habit with painstaking care, considering the
hurry they were in. Dick was in the saddle, and gone, before Keith had
finished, and Keith was not a slow young man, as a rule. They ran the
two miles without a break, except twice, where there were gates to
close. Dick, speeding a furlong before, had obligingly left them open;
and a stockman is hard pressed indeed--or very drunk--when he fails to
close his gates behind him. It is an unwritten law which becomes second
Almost within sound of the place, Dick raced back and met them, and his
face was white.
"It's Dorman!" he cried. "He's lost. They haven't seen him since we
left. You know, Trix, he was standing at the gate "
Beatrice went white as Dick; whiter, for she was untanned. An
overwhelming sense of blame squeezed her heart tight. Keith, seeing her
shoulders droop limply, reined close, to catch her in his arms if there
was the slightest excuse. However, Beatrice was a healthy young woman,
with splendid command of her nerves, and she had no intention of
fainting. The sickening weakness passed in a moment.
"It's my fault," she said, speaking rapidly, her eyes seeking Dick's for
comfort. "I said 'yes' to everything he asked me, because I was thinking
of something else, and not paying attention. He was going to buy your
horse, Mr. Cameron, and now he's lost!"
This, though effective, was not particularly illuminating. Dick wanted
details, and he got them--for Beatrice, having remorse to stir the dregs
of memory, repeated nearly everything Dorman had said, even telling how
the big, high pony put up his front hand, and he shaked it, and how
Dorman truly needed some little wheels on his feet.
"Poor little devil," Keith muttered, with wet eyes.
"He--he said you lived over there," Beatrice finished, pointing, as
Dorman had pointed--which was not toward the "Cross" ranch at all, but
straight toward the river.
Keith wheeled Redcloud; there was no need to hear more. He took the hill
at a pace which would have killed any horse but one bred to race over
this rough country. Near the top, the forced breathing of another horse
at his heels made him look behind. It was Beatrice following, her eyes
like black stars. I do not know if Keith was astonished, but I do know
that he was pleased.
"Where's Dick?" was all he said then.
"Dick's going to meet the men--the cowboys. Sir Redmond went after them,
when they found Dorman wasn't anywhere about the place."
Keith nodded understandingly, and slowed to let her come alongside.
"It's no use riding in bunches," he remarked, after a little. "On
circle we always go in pairs. We'll find him, all right."
"We must," said Beatrice, simply, and shaded her eyes with her hand. For
they had reached the top, and the prairie land lay all about them and
below, lazily asleep in the sunshine.
Keith halted and reached for his glass. "It's lucky I brought it
along," he said. "I wasn't thinking, at the time; I just slung it over
my shoulder from habit."
"It's a good habit, I think," she answered, trying to smile; but her
lips would only quiver, for the thought of her blame tortured her. "Can
you see--anything?" she ventured wistfully.
Keith shook his head, and continued his search. "There are so many
little washouts and coulees, down there, you know. That's the trouble
with a glass--it looks only on a level. But we'll find him. Don't you
worry about that. He couldn't go far."
"There isn't any real danger, is there?"
"Oh, no," Keith said. "Except--" He bit his lip angrily.
"Except what?" she demanded. "I'm not silly, Mr. Cameron--tell me."
Keith took the glass from his eyes, looked at her, and paid her the
compliment of deciding to tell her, just as if she were a man.
"Nothing, only--he might run across a snake," he said. "Rattlers."
Beatrice drew her breath hard, but she was plucky. Keith thought he had
never seen a pluckier girl, and the West can rightfully boast brave
She touched Rex with the whip. "Come," she commanded. "We must not stand
here. It has been more than three hours "
Keith put away the glass, and shot ahead to guide her.
"We must have missed him, somewhere." The eyes of Beatrice were heavy
with the weariness born of anxiety and suspense. They stood at the very
edge of the steep bluff which rimmed the river. "You don't think he
could have--" Her eyes, shuddering down at the mocking, blue-gray
ripples, finished the thought.
"He couldn't have got this far," said Keith. "His legs would give out,
climbing up and down. We'll go back by a little different way, and
"There's something moving, off there." Beatrice pointed with her whip.
"That's a coyote," Keith told her; and then, seeing the look on her
face: "They won't hurt any one. They're the rankest cowards on the
"But the snakes "
"Oh, well, he might wander around for a week, and not run across one. We
won't borrow trouble, anyway."
"No," she agreed languidly. The sun was hot, and she had not had
anything to eat since early breakfast, and the river mocked her parched
throat with its cool glimmer below. She looked down at it wistfully, and
Keith, watchful of every passing change in her face, led her back to
where a cold, little spring crept from beneath a rock; there, lifting
her down, he taught her how to drink from her hand.
For himself, he threw himself down, pushed back his hat, and drank long
and leisurely. A brown lock of hair, clinging softly together with
moisture, fell from his forehead and trailed in the clear water, and
Beatrice felt oddly tempted to push it back where it belonged. Standing
quietly watching his picturesque figure, she forgot, for the moment,
that a little boy was lost among these peaceful, sunbathed hills; she
remembered only the man at her feet, drinking long, satisfying drafts,
while the lock of hair floated in the spring.
"Now we'll go on." He stood up and pushed back the wet lock, which
trickled a tiny stream down his cheek, and settled his gray hat in
Again that day he felt her foot in his palm, and the touch went over him
in thrills. She was tired, he knew; her foot pressed heavier than it had
before. He would have liked to take her in his arms and lift her bodily
into the saddle, but he hardly dared think of such a blissful
He set the pace slower, however, and avoided the steepest places, and he
halted often on the higher ground, to scan sharply the coulees. And so
they searched, these two, together, and grew to know each other better
than in a month of casual meetings. And the grass nodded, and the winds
laughed, and the stern hills looked on, quizzically silent. If they knew
aught of a small boy with a wealth of yellow curls and white collar,
they gave no sign, and the two rode on, always seeking hopefully.
A snake buzzed sharply on a gravelly slope, and Keith, sending Beatrice
back a safe distance, took down his rope and gave battle, beating the
sinister, gray-spotted coil with the loop until it straightened and was
still. He dismounted then, and pinched off the rattles--nine, there
were, and a "button"--and gave them to Beatrice, who handled them
gingerly, and begged Keith to carry them for her. He slipped them into
his pocket, and they went on, saying little.
Back near the ranch they met Dick and Sir Redmond. They exchanged sharp
looks, and Dick shook his head.
"We haven't found him--yet. The boys are riding circle around the
ranch; they're bound to find him, some of them, if we don't."
"You had better go home," Sir Redmond told her, with a note of
authority in his voice which set Keith's teeth on edge. "You look done
to death; this is men's work."
Beatrice bit her lip, and barely glanced at him. "I'll go--when Dorman
is found. What shall we do now, Dick?"
"Go down to the house and get some hot coffee, you two. We all snatched
a bite to eat, and you need it. After that, you can look along the south
side of the coulee, if you like."
Beatrice obediently turned Rex toward home, and Keith followed. The
ranch seemed very still and lonesome. Some chickens were rolling in the
dust by the gate, and scattered, cackling indignantly, when they rode
up. Off to the left a colt whinnied wistfully in a corral. Beatrice,
riding listlessly to the house, stopped her horse with a jerk.
"I heard--where is he?"
Keith stopped Redcloud, and listened. Came a thumping noise, and a wail,
not loud, but unmistakable.
Beatrice was on the ground as soon as Keith, and together they ran to
the place--the bunk-house. The thumping continued vigorously; evidently
a small boy was kicking, with all his might, upon a closed door; it was
not a new sound to the ears of Beatrice, since the arrival in America of
her young nephew. Keith flung the door wide open, upsetting the small
boy, who howled.
Beatrice swooped down upon him and gathered him so close she came near
choking him. "You darling. Oh, Dorman!"
Dorman squirmed away from her. "I los' one shiny penny, Be'trice--and I
couldn't open de door. Help me find my shiny penny."
Keith picked him up and set him upon one square shoulder. "We'll take
you up to your auntie, first thing, young man."
"I want my one shiny penny. I want it!" Dorman showed symptoms of
"We'll come back and find it. Your auntie wants you now, and
Beatrice, following after, was treated to a rather unusual spectacle;
that of a tall, sun-browned fellow, with fringed chaps and brightly
gleaming spurs, racing down the path; upon his shoulder, the wriggling
form of an extremely disreputable small boy, with cobwebs in his curls,
and his once white collar a dirty rag streaming out behind.
Mrs. Lansell's Lecture.
When the excitement had somewhat abated, and Miss Hayes was convinced
that her idol was really there, safe, and with his usual healthy
appetite, and when a messenger had been started out to recall the
searchers, Dorman was placed upon a chair before a select and attentive
audience, and invited to explain, which he did.
He had decided to borrow some little wheels from the bunkhouse, so he
could ride his big, high pony home. Mr. Cameron had little wheels on his
feet, and so did Uncle Dick, and all the mens. (The audience gravely
nodded assent.) Well, and the knob wasn't too high when he went in, but
when he tried to open the door to go out, it was away up there! (Dorman
measured with his arm.) And he fell down, and all his shiny pennies
rolled and rolled. And he looked and looked where they rolled, and when
he counted, one was gone. So he looked and looked for the one shiny
penny till he was tired to death. And so he climbed up high, into a
funny bed on a shelf, and rested. And when he was rested he couldn't
open the door, and he kicked and kicked, and then Be'trice came, and Mr.
"And you said you'd help me find my one penny," he reminded Keith,
blinking solemnly at him from the chair. "And I want to shake hands wis
your big, high pony. I'm going to buy him wis my six pennies. Be'trice
said I could."
Beatrice blushed, and Keith forgot where he was, for a minute, looking
"Come and find my one shiny penny," Dorman commanded, climbing down.
"And I want Be'trice to come. Be'trice can always find things."
"Beatrice cannot go," said his grandmother, who didn't much like the way
Keith hovered near Beatrice, nor the look in his eyes. "Beatrice is
"I want Be'trice!" Dorman set up his everyday howl, which started the
dogs barking outside. His guardian angel attempted to soothe him, but he
would have none of her; he only howled the louder, and kicked.
"There, there, honey, I'll go. Where's your hat?"
"Beatrice, you had better stay in the house; you have done quite enough
for one day." The tone of the mother suggested things.
"It is imperative," said Beatrice, "for the peace and the well-being of
this household, that Dorman find his penny without delay." When Beatrice
adopted that lofty tone her mother was in the habit of saying
nothing--and biding her time. Beatrice was so apt, if mere loftiness did
not carry the day, to go a step further and flatly refuse to obey. Mrs.
Lansell preferred to yield, rather than be openly defied.
So the three went off to find the shiny penny--and in exactly
thirty-five minutes they found it. I will not say that they could not
have found it sooner, but, at any rate, they didn't, and they reached
the house about two minutes behind Dick and Sir Redmond, which did not
improve Sir Redmond's temper to speak of.
After that, Keith did not need much urging from Dick to spend the rest
of the afternoon at the "Pool" ranch. When he wanted to, Keith could be
very nice indeed to people; he went a long way, that afternoon, toward
making a friend of Miss Hayes; but Mrs. Lansell, who was one of those
women who adhere to the theory of First Impressions, in capitals,
continued to regard him as an incipient outlaw, who would, in time and
under favorable conditions, reveal his true character, and vindicate her
keen insight into human nature. There was one thing which Mrs. Lansell
never forgave Keith Cameron, and that was the ruin of her watch, which
refused to run while she was in Montana.
That night, when Beatrice was just snuggling down into the delicious
coolness of her pillow, she heard someone rap softly, but none the less
imperatively, on her door. She opened one eye stealthily, to see her
mother's pudgy form outlined in the feeble moonlight.
"Beatrice, are you asleep?"
Beatrice did not say yes, but she let her breath out carefully in a
slumbrous sigh. It certainly sounded as if she were asleep.
"Be-atrice!" The tone, though guarded, was insistent.
The head of Beatrice moved slightly, and settled back into its little
nest, for all the world like a dreaming, innocent baby.
If she had not been the mother of Beatrice, Mrs. Lansell would probably
have gone back to her room, and continued to bide her time; but the
mother of Beatrice had learned a few things about the ways of a wilful
girl. She went in, and closed the door carefully behind her. She did not
wish to keep the whole house awake. Then she went straight to the bed,
laid hand upon a white shoulder that gleamed in the moonlight, and gave
"Beatrice, I want you to answer me when I speak."
"M-m--did you--m-m--speak, mama?" Beatrice opened her eyes and closed
them, opened them again for a minute longer, yawned daintily, and by
these signs and tokens wandered back from dreamland obediently.
Her mother sat down upon the edge of the bed, and the bed creaked. Also,
Beatrice groaned inwardly; the time of reckoning was verily drawing
near. She promptly closed her eyes again, and gave a sleepy sigh.
"Beatrice, did you refuse Sir Redmond again?"
"M-m--were you speaking--mama?"
Mrs. Lansell, endeavoring to keep her temper, repeated the question.
Beatrice began to feel that she was an abused girl. She lifted herself
to her elbow, and thumped the pillow spitefully.
"Again? Dear me, mama! I've never refused him once!"
"You haven't accepted him once, either," her mother retorted; and
Beatrice lay down again.
"I do wish, Beatrice, you would look at the matter in a sensible light
I'm sure I never would ask you to marry a man you could not care for.
But Sir Redmond is young, and good-looking, and has birth and breeding,
and money--no one can accuse him of being a fortune-hunter, I'm sure. I
was asking Richard to-day, and he says Sir Redmond holds a large
interest in the Northern Pool, and other English investors pay him a
salary, besides, to look after their interests. I wouldn't be surprised
if the holdings of both of you would be sufficient to control the
Beatrice, not caring anything for business anyway, said nothing.
"Any one can see the man's crazy for you. His sister says he never cared
for a woman before in his life."
"Of course," put in Beatrice sarcastically. "His sister followed him
down to South Africa, and all around, and is in a position to know."
"Any one can see he isn't a lady's man."
"No--" Beatrice smiled reminiscently; "he certainly isn't."
"And so he's in deadly earnest. And I'm positive he will make you a
"Only think of having to live, all one's life, with a model husband!"
shuddered Beatrice hypocritically.
"Be-atrice! And then, it's something to marry a title."
"That's the worst of it," remarked Beatrice.
"Any other girl in America would jump at the chance. I do believe,
Beatrice, you are hanging back just to be aggravating. And there's
another thing, Beatrice. I don't approve of the way this Keith Cameron
hangs around you."
"He doesn't!" denied Beatrice, in an altogether different tone. "Why,
"I don't approve of flirting, Beatrice, and you know it. The way you
gadded around over the hills with him--a perfect stranger--was
disgraceful; perfectly disgraceful. You don't know any thing about the
fellow, whether he's a fit companion or not--a wild, uncouth cowboy--"
"He graduated from Yale, a year after Dick. And he was halfback, too."
"That doesn't signify," said her mother, "a particle. I know Miss Hayes
was dreadfully shocked to see you come riding up with him, and Sir
Redmond forced to go with Richard, or ride alone."
"Dick is good company," said Beatrice. "And it was his own fault. I
asked him to go with us, when Dick and I left the cattle, and he
wouldn't. Dick will tell you the same. And after that I did not see him
until just before we--I came home, Really, mama, I can't have a
leading-string on Sir Redmond. If he refuses to come with me, I can
"Well, you must have done something. You said something, or did
something, to make him very angry. He has not been himself all day. What
did you say?"
"Dear me, mama, I am not responsible for all Sir Redmond's ill-humor."
"I did not ask you that, Beatrice."
Beatrice thumped her pillow again. "I don't remember anything very
dreadful, mama. I--I think he has indigestion."
"Be-atrice! I do wish you would try to conquer that habit of flippancy.
It is not ladylike. And I warn you, Sir Redmond is not the man to dangle
after you forever. He will lose patience, and go back to England without
you--and serve you right! I am only talking for your own good, Beatrice.
I am not at all sure that you want him to leave you alone."
Beatrice was not at all sure, either. She lay still, and wished her
mother would stop talking for her good. Talking for her good had meant,
as far back as Beatrice could remember, saying disagreeable things in a
"And remember, Beatrice, I want this flirting stopped."
"Flirting, mama?" To hear the girl, you would think she had never heard
the word before.
"That's what I said, Beatrice. I shall speak to Richard in the morning
about this fellow Cameron. He must put a stop to his being here
two-thirds of the time. It is unendurable."
"He and Dick are chums, mama, and have been for years. And to-morrow we
are going to Lost Canyon, you know, and Mr. Cameron is to go along. And
there are several other trips, mama, to which he is already invited.
Dick cannot recall those invitations."
"Well, it must end there. Richard must do something. I cannot see what
he finds about the fellow to like--or you, either, Beatrice. Just
because he rides like a--a wild Indian, and has a certain daredevil
"I never said I liked him, mama," Beatrice protested, somewhat hastily.
"I--of course, I try to treat him well--"
"I should say you did!" exploded her mother angrily. "You would be much
better employed in trying to treat Sir Redmond half as well. It is
positively disgraceful, the way you behave toward him--as fine a man as
I ever met in my life. I warn you, Beatrice, you must have more regard
for propriety, or I shall take you back to New York at once. I certainly
With that threat, which she shrewdly guessed would go far toward
bringing this wayward girl to time, Mrs. Lansell got up off the bed,
which creaked its relief, and groped her way to her own room.
The pillow of Beatrice received considerable thumping during the next
hour--a great deal more, in fact, than it needed. Two thoughts troubled
her more than she liked. What if her mother was right, and Sir Redmond
lost patience with her and went home? That possibility was unpleasant,
to say the least. Again, would he give her up altogether if she showed
Dick she was not afraid of Keith Cameron, for all his good looks, and at
the same time taught that young man a much-needed lesson? The way he had
stared at her was nothing less than a challenge and Beatrice was sorely
Beatrice's Wild Ride.
"Well, are we all ready?" Dick gathered up his reins, and took critical
inventory of the load. His mother peered under the front seat to be
doubly sure that there were at least four umbrellas and her waterproof
raglan in the rig; Mrs. Lansell did not propose to be caught unawares in
a storm another time. Miss Hayes straightened Dorman's cap, and told him
to sit down, dear, and then called upon Sir Redmond to enforce the
command. Sir Redmond repeated her command, minus the dear, and then rode
on ahead to overtake Beatrice and Keith, who had started. Dick climbed
up over the front wheel, released the brake, chirped at the horses, and
they were off for Lost Canyon.
Beatrice was behaving beautifully, and her mother only hoped to heaven
it would last the day out; perhaps Sir Redmond would be able to extract
some sort of a promise from her in that mood, Mrs. Lansell reflected, as
she watched Beatrice chatting to her two cavaliers, with the most
decorous impartiality. Sir Redmond seemed in high spirits, which argued
well; Mrs. Lansell gave herself up to the pleasure of the drive with a
heart free from anxiety. Not only was Beatrice at her best; Dorman's
mood was nothing short of angelic, and as the weather was simply
perfect, the day surely promised well.
For a mile Keith had showed signs of a mind not at ease, and at last he
made bold to speak.
"I thought Rex was to be your saddle-horse?" he said abruptly to
"He was; but when Dick brought Goldie home, last night, I fell in love
with him on sight, and just teased Dick till he told me I might have him
"I thought Dick had some sense," Keith said gloomily.
"He has. He knew there would be no peace till he surrendered."
"I didn't know you were going to ride him, when I sold him to Dick. He's
not safe for a woman."
"Does he buck, Mr. Cameron? Dick said he was gentle." Beatrice had seen
a horse buck, one day, and had a wholesome fear of that form of equine
"Oh, no. I never knew him to."
"Then I don't mind anything else. I'm accustomed to horses," said
Beatrice, and smiled welcome to Sir Redmond, who came up with them at
"You want to ride him with a light rein," Keith cautioned, clinging to
the subject. "He's tenderbitted, and nervous. He won't stand for any
jerking, you see."
"I never jerk, Mr. Cameron." Keith discovered that big, baffling,
blue-brown eyes can, if they wish, rival liquid air for coldness. "I
rode horses before I came to Montana."
Of course, when a man gets frozen with a girl's eyes, and scorched with
a girl's sarcasm, the thing for him to do is to retreat until the
atmosphere becomes normal. Keith fell behind just as soon as he could do
so with some show of dignity, and for several miles tried to convince
himself that he would rather talk to Dick and "the old maid" than not.
"Don't you know," Sir Redmond remarked sympathetically, "some of these
Western fellows are inclined to be deuced officious and impertinent."
Sir Redmond got a taste of the freezing process that made him change the
The way was rough and lonely; the trail wound over sharp-nosed hills and
through deep, narrow coulees, with occasional, tantalizing glimpses of
the river and the open land beyond, that kept Beatrice in a fever of
enthusiasm. From riding blithely ahead, she took to lagging far behind
with her kodak, getting snap-shots of the choicest bits of scenery.
"Another cartridge, please, Sir Redmond," she said, and wound
industriously on the finished roll.
"It's a jolly good thing I brought my pockets full." Sir Redmond fished
one out for her. "Was that a dozen?"
"No; that had only six films. I want a larger one this time. It is a
perfect nuisance to stop and change. Be still, Goldie!"
"We're getting rather a long way behind--but I fancy the road is
"We'll hurry and overtake them. I won't take any more pictures."
"Until you chance upon something you can't resist. I understand all
that, you know." Sir Redmond, while he teased, was pondering whether
this was an auspicious time and place to ask Beatrice to marry him. He
had tried so many times and places that seemed auspicious, that the man
was growing fearful. It is not pleasant to have a girl smile indulgently
upon you and deftly turn your avowals aside, so that they fall flat.
"I'm ready," she announced, blind to what his eyes were saying.
"Shall we trek?" Sir Redmond sighed a bit. He was not anxious to
overtake the others.
"We will. Only, out here people never 'trek,' Sir Redmond. They 'hit the
"So they do. And the way these cowboys do it, one would think they were
couriers, by Jove! with the lives of a whole army at stake. So I fancy
we had better hit the trail, eh?"
"You're learning," Beatrice assured him, as they started on. "A year out
here, and you would be a real American, Sir Redmond."
Sir Redmond came near saying, "The Lord forbid!" but he thought better
of it. Beatrice was intensely loyal to her countrymen, unfortunately,
and would certainly resent such a remark; but, for all that, he thought
For a mile or two she held to her resolve, and then, at the top of a
long hill overlooking the canyon where they were to eat their lunch, out
came her kodak again.
"This must be Lost Canyon, for Dick has stopped by those trees. I want
to get just one view from here. Steady, Goldie! Dear me, this horse does
detest standing still!"
"I fancy he is anxious to get down with the others. Let me hold him for
you. Whoa, there!" He put a hand upon the bridle, a familiarity Goldie
resented. He snorted and dodged backward, to the ruin of the picture
Beatrice was endeavoring to get.
"Now you've frightened him. Whoa, pet! It's of no use to try; he won't
"Let me have your camera. He's getting rather an ugly temper, I think."
Sir Redmond put out his hand again, and again Goldie dodged backward.
"I can do better alone, Sir Redmond." The cheeks of Beatrice were red.
She managed to hold the horse in until her kodak was put safely in its
case, but her temper, as well as Goldie's, was roughened. She hated
spoiling a film, which she was perfectly sure she had done.
Goldie felt the sting of her whip when she brought him back into the
road, and, from merely fretting, he took to plunging angrily. Then, when
Beatrice pulled him up sharply, he thrust out his nose, grabbed the bit
in his teeth, and bolted down the hill, past all control.
"Good God, hold him!" shouted Sir Redmond, putting his horse to a run.
The advice was good, and Beatrice heard it plainly enough, but she
neither answered nor looked back. How, she thought, resentfully, was one
to hold a yellow streak of rage, with legs like wire springs and a neck
of iron? Besides, she was angrily alive to the fact that Keith Cameron,
watching down below, was having his revenge. She wondered if he was
He was not. Goldie, when he ran, ran blindly in a straight line, and
Keith knew it. He also knew that the Englishman couldn't keep within
gunshot of Goldie, with the mount he had, and half a mile away--Keith
shut his teeth hard together, and went out to meet her. Redcloud lay
along the ground in great leaps, but Keith, bending low over his neck,
urged him faster and faster, until the horse, his ears laid close
against his neck, did the best there was in him. From the tail of his
eye, Keith saw Sir Redmond's horse go down upon his knees, and get up
limping--and the sight filled him with ungenerous gladness; Sir Redmond
was out of the race. It was Keith and Redcloud--they two; and Keith
could smile over it.
He saw Beatrice's hat loosen and lift in front, flop uncertainly, and
then go sailing away into the sage-brush, and he noted where it fell,
that he might find it, later. Then he was close enough to see her face,
and wondered that there was so little fear written there. Beatrice was
plucky, and she rode well, her weight upon the bit; but her weight was
nothing to the clinched teeth of the horse; and, though she had known it
from the start, she was scarcely frightened. There was a good deal of
the daredevil in Beatrice; she trusted a great deal to blind luck.
Just there the land was level, and she hoped to check him on the slope
of the hill before them. She did not know it was moated like a castle,
with a washout ten feet deep and twice that in width, and that what
looked to her quite easy was utterly impossible.
Keith gained, every leap. In a moment he was close behind.
"Take your foot out of the stirrup," he commanded, harshly, and though
Beatrice wondered why, something in his voice made her obey.
Now Redcloud's nose was even with her elbow; the breath from his
wide-flaring nostrils rose hotly in her face. Another bound, and he had
forged ahead, neck and neck with Goldie, and it was Keith by her side,
keen-eyed and calm.
"Let go all hold," he said. Reaching suddenly, he caught her around the
waist and pulled her from the saddle, just as Redcloud, scenting danger,
plowed his front feet deeply into the loose soil and stopped dead still.
It was neatly done, and quickly; so quickly that before Beatrice had
more than gasped her surprise, Keith lowered her to the ground and slid
out of the saddle. Beatrice looked at him, and wondered at his face, and
at the way he was shaking. He leaned weakly against the horse and hid
his face on his arm, and trembled at what had come so close to the
girl--the girl, who stood there panting a little, with her wonderful,
waving hair cloaking her almost to her knees, and her blue-brown eyes
wide and bright, and full of a deep amazement. She forgot Goldie, and
did not even look to see what had become of him; she forgot nearly
everything, just then, in wonder at this tall, clean-built young fellow,
who never had seemed to care what happened, leaning there with his face
hidden, his hat far hack on his head and little drops standing thickly
upon his forehead. She waited a moment, and when he did not move, her
thoughts drifted to other things.
"I wonder," she said abstractedly, "if I broke my kodak."
Keith lifted his head and looked at her. "Your kodak--good Lord!" He
looked hard into her eyes, and she returned the stare.
"Come here," he commanded, hoarsely, catching her arm. "Your kodak! Look
down there!" He led her to the brink, which was close enough to set him
shuddering anew. "Look! There's Goldie, damn him! It's a wonder he's on
his feet; I thought he'd be dead--and serve him right. And you--you
wonder if you broke your kodak !"
Beatrice drew back from him, and from the sight below, and if she were
frightened, she tried not to let him see. "Should I have fainted?" She
was proud of the steadiness of her voice. "Really, I am very much
obliged to you, Mr. Cameron, for saving me from an ugly fall. You did it
very neatly, I imagine, and I am grateful. Still, I really hope I didn't
break my kodak. Are you very disappointed because I can't faint away?
There doesn't seem to be any brook close by, you see--and I haven't my
er--lover's arms to fall into. Those are the regulation stage settings,
I believe, and--"
"Don't worry, Miss Lansell. I didn't expect you to faint, or to show any
human feelings whatever. I do pity your horse, though."
"You didn't a minute ago," she reminded him. "You indulged in a bit of
profanity, if I remember."
"For which I beg Goldie's pardon," he retorted, his eyes unsmiling.
"And mine, I hope."
"I think it's rather absurd to stand here sparring, Mr. Cameron. You'll
begin to accuse me of ingratitude, and I'm as grateful as possible for
what you did. Sir Redmond's horse was too slow to keep up, or he would
have been at hand, no doubt."
"And could have supplied part of the stage setting. Too bad he was
behind." Keith turned and readjusted the cinch on his saddle, though it
was not loose enough to matter, and before he had finished Sir Redmond
"Are you hurt, Beatrice?" His face was pale, and his eyes anxious.
"Not at all. Mr. Cameron kindly helped me from the saddle in time to
prevent an accident. I wish you'd thank him, Sir Redmond. I haven't the
"You needn't trouble," said Keith hastily, getting into the saddle.
"I'll go down after Goldie. You can easily find the camp, I guess,
without a pilot." Then he galloped away and left them, and would not
look back; if he had done so, he would have seen Beatrice's eyes
following him remorsefully. Also, he would have seen Sir Redmond glare
after him jealously; for Sir Redmond was not in a position to know that
their tete-a-tete had not been a pleasant one, and no man likes to have
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