Tish, The Chronicle of Her Escapades and Excursions
Mary Roberts Rinehart
Part 6 out of 6
But Aggie was still angry. "Just let some one take you for a
lousy Bedouin, Tish," she said, "and see what you would do. I'm
not sorry anyhow. I never did like the idea."
But Tish dislikes relinquishing an idea, once it has taken hold.
And, although she did not speak to Aggie again for the next
hour, she went ahead with her preparations.
"There's still a chance, Lizzie," she said. "It's not likely
they'll give up easy, on account of hiring the Indians and
About a mile and a half down the trail, she picked out a place
to hide. This time there was a cave. We cleared our saddles for
action, as Tish proposed to let them escape past us with the
girl, and then to follow them rapidly, stealing upon them if
possible while they were at luncheon, and covering them with the
one real revolver and the three wooden ones.
The only thing that bothered us was Bill's attitude. He kept
laughing to himself and muttering, and when he was storing
things in the cave, Tish took me aside.
"I don't like his attitude, Lizzie," she said. "He's likely to
giggle or do something silly, just at the crucial moment. I
cannot understand why he thinks it is funny, but he does. We'd
be much better without him."
"You'd better talk to him, Tish," I said. "You can't get rid of
But to tell Tish she cannot do a thing is to determine her to do
It was still early, only half-past eight, when she came to me
with an eager face.
"I've got it, Lizzie," she said. "I'll send off Mona Lisa, and
he will have to search for her. The only thing is, she won't
move unless she's driven. If we could only find a hornet's nest
again, we could manage. It may be cruel, but I understand that a
hornet's sting is not as painful to a horse as to a human
Mona Lisa, I must explain, was the pack-horse. Tish had changed
her name from Jane to Mona Lisa because in the mornings she was
constantly missing, and having to be looked for.
Tish disappeared for a time, and we settled down to our long
wait. Bill put another coat of stove polish on the weapons, and
broke now and then into silent laughter. On my giving him a
haughty glance, however, he became sober and rubbed with
In a half-hour, however, I saw Tish beckoning to me from a
distance, and I went to her. I soon saw that she was holding her
handkerchief to one cheek, but when I mentioned the fact she
"I have found a nest, Lizzie," she cried. "Slip over and
unfasten Mona Lisa. She's not near the other horses, which is
I then perceived that Tish's yellow slicker was behind her on
the ground and tied into a bundle, from which emerged a dull
roaring. I was wondering how Tish expected to open it, when she
settled the question by asking me to cut a piece from the
mosquito netting which we put in the doorway of the tent at
night, and to bring her riding-gloves.
Aggie was darning a hole in the tablecloth when I went back and
Bill was still engaged with the weapons. Having taken what she
required to Tish, under pretense of giving Mona Lisa a lump of
sugar, I untied her. What followed was exactly as Tish had
planned. Mona Lisa, not realizing her freedom, stood still while
Tish untied the slicker and freed its furious inmates. She then
dropped the whole thing under the unfortunate animal, and
retreated, not too rapidly, for fear of drawing Bill's
attention. For possibly sixty seconds nothing happened, except
that Mona Lisa raised her head and appeared to listen. Then,
with a loud scream, she threw up her head and bolted. By the
time Bill had put down the stove brush she was out of sight
among the trees, but we could hear her leaping and scrambling
through the wood.
"Jumping cats!" said Bill, and ran for his horse. "Acts as
though she'd started for the Coast!" he yelled to me, and flung
When he had disappeared, Tish came out of the woods, and,
getting a kettle of boiling water, poured it over the nest. In
spite of the netting, however, she was stung again, on the back
of the neck, and spent the rest of the morning holding wet mud
to the affected parts.
Her brain, however, was as active as ever, and by half-past
eleven, mounting a boulder, she announced that she could see the
Ostermaier party far down the trail, and that in an hour they
would probably be at the top. She had her field-glasses, and she
said that Mrs. Ostermaier was pointing up to the pass and
shaking her head, and that the others were arguing with her.
"It would be just like the woman," Tish said bitterly, "to
refuse to come any farther and spoil everything."
But a little later she announced that the guide was leading Mrs.
Ostermaier's horse and that they were coming on.
We immediately retreated to the cave and waited, it being Tish's
intention to allow them to reach the pass without suspecting our
presence, and only to cut off the pseudo-bandits in their
retreat, as I have explained.
It was well that we had concealed the horses also, for the party
stopped near the cave, and Mrs. Ostermaier was weeping. "Not a
step farther!" she said. "I have a family to consider, and Mr.
Ostermaier is a man of wide usefulness and cannot be spared."
We did not dare to look out, but we heard the young lady
speaking, and as Aggie remarked later, no one would have
thought, from the sweetness of her voice, that she was a
creature of duplicity.
"But it is perfectly safe, dear Mrs. Ostermaier," she said "And
think, when you go home, of being able to say that you have
climbed a mountain pass."
"Pass!" sniffed Mrs. Ostermaier. "Pass nothing! I don't call a
wall a mile high a pass."
"Think," said the girl, "of being able to crow over those three
old women who are always boasting of the things they do.
Probably you are right, and they never do them at all, but you--
there's a moving-picture man waiting, remember, and you can show
the picture before the Dorcas Society. No one can ever doubt
that you have done a courageous thing. You'll have the proof."
"George," said Mrs. Ostermaier in a small voice, "if anything
happens, I have told you how I want my things divided."
"Little devil!" whispered Aggie, referring to the girl. "If that
young man knows when he is well off, he'll let her go."
But beyond rebuking her for the epithet, Tish made no comment,
and the party moved on. We lost them for a time among the trees,
but when they moved out above timber-line we were able to watch
them, and we saw that Mrs. Ostermaier got off her horse, about
halfway up, and climbed slowly on foot. Tish, who had the
glasses, said that she looked purple and angry, and that she
distinctly saw the guide give her something to drink out of a
bottle. It might, however, have been vichy or some similar
innocent beverage. and I believe in giving her the benefit of
When at last they vanished over the edge of the pass, we led out
our horses and prepared for what was to come. Bill had not
returned, and, indeed, we did not see him until the evening of
the second day after that, when, worn but triumphant, we emerged
from the trail at the Many Glaciers Hotel. That, however, comes
later in this narrative.
With everything prepared, Tish judged it best to have luncheon.
I made a few mayonnaise-and-lettuce sandwiches, beating the
mayonnaise in the cool recesses of the cave, and we drank some
iced tea, to which Aggie had thoughtfully added sliced lemon and
a quantity of ginger ale. Feeling much refreshed, we grasped our
weapons and waited.
At half-past twelve we heard a loud shriek on the pass, far
overhead, followed almost immediately by a fusillade of shots.
Then a silence, followed by more shots. Then a solitary horseman
rode over the edge of the pass and, spurring his horse, rode
recklessly down the precipitous trail. Aggie exclaimed that it
was Mr. Ostermaier, basely deserting his wife in her apparent
hour of need. But Tish, who had the glasses, reported finally
that it was the moving-picture man.
We were greatly surprised, as it had not occurred to us that
this would be a part of the program.
As he descended, Tish announced that there must be another
photographer on top, as he was "registering" signs of terror--a
moving-picture expression which she had acquired from Charlie
Sands--and looking back frequently over his shoulder.
We waited until he reached timber-line, and then withdrew to a
group of trees. It was not our intention to allow him to see us
and spoil everything. But when he came near, through the woods,
and his horse continued at unabated speed, Tish decided that the
animal, frightened by the shots, was running away.
She therefore placed herself across the trail to check its
headlong speed, but the animal merely rushed round her. Mr.
Oliver yelled something at us, which we were, however, unable to
hear, and kept madly on.
Almost immediately four men, firing back over their shoulders,
rode into sight at the pass and came swiftly down toward us.
"Where's the girl?" Tish cried with her glasses to her eyes.
"The idiots have got excited and have forgotten to steal her."
That was plainly what had happened, but she was determined to be
stolen anyhow, for the next moment she rode into view, furiously
following the bandits.
"She's kept her head anyhow," Tish observed with satisfaction.
"Trust a lot of men to go crazy and do the wrong thing. But
they'll have to change the story and make her follow them."
At timber-line the men seemed to realize that she was behind
them, and they turned and looked up. They seemed to be at a loss
to know what to do, in view of the picture. But they were quick
thinkers, too, we decided. Right then and there they took her
prisoner, surrounding her.
She made a desperate resistance, even crying out, as we coed
plainly see. But Tish was irritated. She said she could not see
how the story would hold now. Either the girl should have
captured them, they being out of ammunition, or the whole thing
should have been done again, according to the original plan.
However, as she said, it was not our affair. Our business was to
teach them a lesson not to impose on unsuspecting tourists, for
although not fond of Mrs. Ostermaier, we had been members of Mr.
Ostermaier's church, and liked him, although his sermons were
shorter than Tish entirely approved of.
We withdrew again to seclusion until they had passed, and Tish
gave them ten minutes to get well ahead. Then we rode out.
Tish's face was stern as she led off. The shriek of Mrs.
Ostermaier was still, as she said in a low tone, ringing in her
ears. But before we had gone very far, Tish stopped and got off
her horse. "We've got to pad the horses' feet," she said. "How
can we creep up on them when on every stony place we sound like
an artillery engagement?"
Here was a difficulty we had not anticipated. But Tish overcame
it with her customary resource, by taking the blanket from under
her saddle and cutting it into pieces with her scissors, which
always accompany her. We then cut the leather straps from our
saddles at her direction, and each of us went to work. Aggie,
"I never expected," she said querulously, "to be sitting on the
Rocky Mountains under a horse, tying piece of bed quilt on his
feet. I wouldn't mind," she added, "if the creature liked me.
But the way he feels toward me he's likely to haul off and
murder me at any moment."
However, it was done at last, and it made a great change. We
moved along silently, and all went well except that, having
neglected to draw the cinch tight, and the horse's back being
slippery without the padding, my saddle turned unexpectedly,
throwing me off into the trail. I bruised my arm badly, but Tish
only gave me a glance of scorn and went on.
Being above carelessness herself, she very justly resents it in
We had expected, with reason, that the so-called highwaymen,
having retreated to a certain distance, would there pause and
very possibly lunch before returning. It was, therefore, a
matter of surprise to find that they had kept on.
Moreover, they seemed to have advanced rapidly, and Tish, who
had read a book on signs of the trail, examined the hoofprints
of their horses in a soft place beside a stream, and reported
that they had been going at a lope.
"Now, remember," she said as she prepared to mount again, "to
all intents and purposes these are real bandits and to be
treated accordingly. Our motto is 'No quarter.' I shall be
harsh, and I expect no protest from either of you. They deserve
everything they get."
But when, after another mile or two, we came to a side trail,
leading, by Tish's map, not to Many Glaciers, but up a ravine to
another pass, and Tish saw that they had taken that direction,
we were puzzled.
But not for long.
"I understand now," she said. "It is all clear. The photographer
was riding ahead to get them up this valley somewhere. They've
probably got a rendezvous all ready, with another camera in
place. I must say," she observed, "that they are doing it
We rode for two hours, and no sign of them. The stove polish had
come off the handles of our revolvers by that time, and Aggie,
having rubbed her face ever and anon to remove perspiration,
presented under her turban a villainous and ferocious expression
quite at variance with her customary mildness.
I urged her to stop and wash, but Tish, after a glance, said to
"Your looking like that's a distinct advantage, Aggie," she
said. "Like as not they'll throw up their hands the minute they
see you. I know I should. You'd better ride first when we get
"Like as not they'll put a hole in me," Aggie objected. "And as
to riding first, I will not. This is your doing, Tish Carberry,
and as for their having blank cartridges--how do we know someone
hasn't made a mistake and got a real one?"
Tish reflected on that. "It's a possibility," she agreed. "If we
find that they're going to spend the night out, it might be
better to wait until they've taken off all the hardware they're
But we did not come up with them. We kept on finding traces of
the party in marshy spots, and once Tish hopped off her horse
and picked up a small handkerchief with a colored border and
held it up to us.
"It's hers," she said. "Anybody would know she is the sort to
use colored borders. They're ahead somewhere."
But it seemed strange that they would go so far, and I said so.
"We're far enough off the main trail, Tish," I said. "And it's
getting wilder every minute. There's nothing I can see to
prevent a mountain lion dropping on us most any time."
"Not if it gets a good look at Aggie!" was Tish's grim response.
It began to grow dark in the valley, and things seemed to move
on either side of the trail. Aggie called out once that we had
just passed a grizzly bear, but Tish never faltered. The region
grew more and more wild. The trail was broken with mudholes and
crossed by fallen logs. With a superb disdain Tish rode across
all obstacles, not even glancing at them. But Aggie and I got
off at the worst places and led our horses. At one mudhole I was
unfortunate enough to stumble. A horse with a particle of
affection for a woman who had ridden it and cared for it for
several days would have paused.
Not so my animal. With a heartlessness at which I still shudder
the creature used me as a bridge, aril stepped across, dryfoot,
on my back. Owing to his padded feet and to the depth of the mud-
- some eight feet, I believe--I was uninjured. But it required
ten minutes of hard labor on the part of both Tish and Aggie to
release me from the mud, from which I was finally raised with a
low, hissing sound.
"Park!" said Aggie as she scraped my obliterated features with a
small branch. "Park, indeed! It's a howling wilderness. I'm fond
of my native land," she went on, digging out my nostrils, so I
could breathe, "but I don't calculate to eat it. As for that
unfeeling beast of yours, Lizzie, I've never known a horse to
show such selfishness. Never."
Well, we went on at last, but I was not so enthusiastic about
teaching people lessons as I had been. It seemed to me that we
might have kept on along the trail and had a mighty good time,
getting more and more nimble and stopping now and then to bake a
pie and have a decent meal, and putting up our hair in crimps at
night, without worrying about other folks' affairs.
Late in the afternoon of that day, when so far as I could see
Tish was lost, and not even her gathering a bunch of wild
flowers while the horses rested could fool me, I voiced my
"Let me look at the map, Tish," I suggested. "I'm pretty good at
maps. You know how I am at charades and acrostics. At the church
"Nonsense, Lizzie," she returned. "You couldn't make head or
tail of this map. It's my belief that the man who made it had
never been here. Either that or there has been an earthquake
since. But," she went on, more cheerfully, "if we are lost, so
are the others."
"If we even had Bill along!"
"Bill!" Tish said scornfully. "It's my belief Bill is in the
whole business, and that if we hadn't got rid of him we'd have
been the next advertising dodge. As far as that goes," she said
thoughtfully, "it wouldn't surprise me a particle to find that
we've been taken, without our knowing it, most any time. Your
horse just now, walking across that bridge of size, for one
Tish seldom makes a pun, which she herself has said is the
lowest form of humor. The dig at my figure was unkind, also, and
unworthy of her. I turned and left her.
At last, well on in the evening, I saw Tish draw up her horse
and point ahead.
"The miscreants!" she said.
True enough, up a narrow side canon we could see a camp-fire. It
was a small one, and only noticeable from one point. But Tish's
keen eye had seen it. She sat on her horse and gazed toward it.
"What a shameful thing it is," she said, "to prostitute the
beauties of this magnificent region to such a purpose. To make
of these beetling crags a joke! To invade these vast gorges with
the spirit of commercialism and to bring a pack of movie actors
to desecrate the virgin silence with ribald jests and laughter!
Lizzie, I wish you wouldn't wheeze!"
"You would wheeze, too, Tish Carberry," I retorted, justly
indignant, "if a horse had just pressed your spinal column into
your breast bone. Goodness knows," I said, "where my lungs are.
I've missed them ever since my fall."
However, she was engrossed with larger matters, and ignored my
petulance. She is a large-natured woman and above pettiness.
We made our way slowly up the canon. The movie outfit was
securely camped under an overhanging rock, as we could now see.
At one point their position commanded the trail, which was
hardly more than a track through the wilderness, and before we
reached this point we dismounted and Tish surveyed the camp
through her glasses.
"We'd better wait until dark," Tish said. "Owing to the padding
they have not heard us, but it looks to me as if one of them is
on a rock, watching."
It seemed rather strange to me that they were keeping a lookout,
but Tish only shrugged her shoulders.
"If I know anything of that red-headed Oliver man," she said,
"he hates to let a camera rest. Like as not he's got it set up
among the trees somewhere, taking flashlights of wild animals.
It's rather a pity," she said, turning and surveying Aggie and
myself, "that he cannot get you two. If you happen to see
anything edible lying on the ground, you'd better not pick it
up. It's probably attached to the string that sets off the
We led our horses into the woods, which were very thick at that
point, and tied them. My beast, however, lay down and rolled,
saddle and all, thus breaking my mirror--a most unlucky omen--
and the bottle of olive oil which we had brought along for
mayonnaise dressing. Tish is fond of mayonnaise, and, besides,
considers olive oil most strengthening. However, it was gone,
and although Aggie comforted me by suggesting that her boiled
salad dressing is quite tasty, I was disconsolate.
It was by that time seven o'clock and almost dark. We held a
conference. Tish was of the opinion that we should first lead
off their horses, if possible.
"I intend," she said severely, "to make escape impossible. If
they fire, when taken by surprise. remember that they have only
blank cartridges. I must say," she added with a confession of
unusual weakness, "that I am glad the Indians escaped the other
way. I would hardly know what to do with Indians, even quite
tame ones. While I know a few letters of the deaf-and-dumb
language, which I believe all tribes use in common, I fear that
in a moment of excitement I would forget what I know."
The next step, she asserted, was to secure their weapons.
"After all," she said, "the darkness is in our favor. I intend
to fire once, to show them that we are armed and dangerous. And
if you two will point the guns Bill made, they cannot possibly
tell that they are not real."
"But we will know it," Aggie quavered. Now that the quarry was
in sight she was more and more nervous, sneezing at short
intervals in spite of her menthol inhaler. "I am sorry, Tish,
but I cannot feel the same about that wooden revolver as I would
about a real one. And even when I try to forget that it is only
wood the carving reminds me."
But Tish silenced her with a glance. She had strangely altered
in the last few minutes. All traces of fatigue had gone, and
when she struck a match and consulted her watch I saw in her
face that high resolve, that stern and matchless courage, which
I so often have tried to emulate and failed.
"Seven o'clock," she announced. "We will dine first. There is
nothing like food to restore failing spirits."
But we had nothing except our sandwiches, and Tish suggested
snaring some of the stupid squirrels with which the region
"Aggie needs broth," she said decidedly. "We have sandwiches,
but Aggie is frail and must be looked to."
Aggie was pathetically grateful, although sorry for the
squirrels, which were pretty and quite tame. But Tish was firm
in her kindly intent, and proceeded at once to set a rabbit
snare, a trick she had learned in the Maine woods. Having done
this, and built a small fire, well hidden, we sat down to wait.
In a short time we heard terrible human cries proceeding from
the snare, and, hurrying thither, found in it a young mountain
lion. It looked dangerous, and was biting in every direction. I
admit that I was prepared to leave in haste, but not so Tish.
She fetched her umbrella, without which she never travels, and
while the animal set its jaws in it--a painful necessity, as it
was her best umbrella--Tish hit it on the head--not the
umbrella, but the lion--with a large stone.
Tish's satisfaction was unbounded. She stated that the flesh of
the mountain lion was much like veal, and so indeed it proved.
We made a nourishing soup of it, with potatoes and a can of
macedoine vegetables, and within an hour and a half we had dined
luxuriously, adding to our repast what remained of the
sandwiches, and a tinned plum pudding of English make, very
nutritious and delicious.
For twenty minutes after the meal we all stood. Tish insists on
this, as aiding digestion. Then we prepared for the night's
I believe that our conduct requires no defense. But it may be
well again to explain our position. These people, whose camp-
fire glowed so brazenly against the opposite cliff, had for
purely mercenary motives committed a cruel hoax. They had posed
as bandits, and as bandits they deserved to be treated. They had
held up our own clergyman, of a nervous temperament, on a
mountain pass, and had taken from him a part of his stipend. It
was heartless. It was barbarous. It was cruel.
My own courage came back with the hot food, which I followed by
a charcoal tablet. And the difference in Aggie was marked.
Possibly some of the courage of the mountain lion, that bravest
of wild creatures, had communicated itself to her through the
homely medicine of digestion.
"I can hardly wait to get after them," she said.
However, it was still too early for them to have settled for the
night. We sat down, having extinguished our fire, and I was just
dozing off when Tish remembered the young man who was to have
listened for the police whistle.
"I absolutely forgot him," she said regretfully. "I suppose he
is hanging round the foot of Piegan's Pass yet. I'm sorry to
have him miss this. I shall tell him, when I see him, that no
girl worth having would be sitting over there at supper with
four moving-picture actors without a chaperon. The whole
proceeding is scandalous. I have noticed," she added, "that it
is the girls from quiet suburban towns who are really most prone
to defy the conventions when the chance comes."
We dozed for a short time.
Then Tish sat up suddenly. "What's that?" she said.
We listened and distinctly heard the tramp of horses' feet. We
started up, but Tish was quite calm.
"They've turned their horses out," she said. "Fortune is with
us. They are coming this way."
But at first it did not seem so fortunate, for we heard one of
the men following them, stumbling along, and, I regret to say,
using profane language They came directly toward us, and Aggie
beside me trembled. But Tish was equal to the emergency.
She drew us behind a large rock, where, spreading out a raincoat
to protect us from the dampness, we sat down and waited.
When one of the animals loomed up close to the rock Aggie gave a
low cry, but Tish covered her mouth fiercely with an ungentle
"Be still!" she hissed.
It was now perfectly dark, and the man with the horses was not
far off. We could not see him, but at last he came near enough
so that we could see the flare of a match when he lighted a
cigarette. I put my hand on Aggie, and she was shaking with
"I am sure I am going to sneeze, Lizzie," she gasped.
And sneeze she did. She muffled it considerably, however, and we
were not discovered. But, Tish, I knew, was silently raging.
The horses came nearer.
One of them, indeed, came quite close, and took a nip at the toe
of my riding-boot. I kicked at it sharply, however, and it moved
The man had gone on. We watched the light of his cigarette, and
thus, as he now and then turned his head, knew where he was. It
was now that I felt, rather than heard, that Tish was crawling
out from the shelter of the rock. At the same time we heard, by
the crunching of branches, that the man had sat down near at
Tish's progress was slow but sure. For a half-hour we sat there.
Then she returned, still crawling, and on putting out my hand I
discovered that she had secured the lasso from her saddle and
had brought it back. How true had been her instinct when she
practiced its use! How my own words, that it was all
foolishness, came back and whispered lessons of humility in my
At this moment a deep, resonant sound came from the tree where
the movie actor sat. At the same moment a small creature dropped
into my lap from somewhere above, and ran up my sleeve. I made
frantic although necessarily silent efforts to dislodge it, and
it bit me severely.
The necessity for silence taxed all my strength, but managing
finally to secure it by the tail, I forcibly withdrew it and
flung it away. Unluckily it struck Aggie in the left eye and
inflicted a painful bruise.
Tish had risen to her feet and was standing, a silent and
menacing figure, while this event transpired. The movements of
the horses as they grazed, the soft breeze blowing through the
pines, were the only sounds. Now she took a step forward.
"He's asleep!" she whispered. "Aggie, sit still and watch the
horses. Lizzie, come with me."
As I advanced to her she thrust her revolver into my hand.
"When I give the word," she said in a whisper, "hold it against
his neck. But keep your finger off the trigger. It's loaded."
We advanced slowly, halting now and then to listen. Although
brush crackled under our feet, the grazing horses were making a
similar disturbance, and the man slept on. Soon we could see him
clearly, sitting back against a tree, his head dropped forward
on his breast. Tish surveyed the scene with her keen and
appraising eye, and raised the lasso.
The first result was not good. The loaded end struck a branch,
and, being deflected, the thing wrapped itself perhaps a dozen
times round my neck. Tish, being unconscious of what had
happened, drew it up with a jerk, and I stood helpless and
slowly strangling. At last, however, she realized the difficulty
and released me. I was unable to breathe comfortably for some
time, and my tongue felt swollen for several hours.
Through all of this the movie actor had slept soundly. At the
second effort Tish succeeded in lassoing him without difficulty.
We had feared a loud outcry before we could get to him, but
owing to Tish's swiftness in tightening the rope he was able to
make, at first, only a low, gurgling sound. I had advanced to
him, and was under the impression that I was holding the
revolver to his neck. On discovering, however, that I was
pressing it to the trunk of the tree, to which he was now
secured by the lariat, I corrected the error and held it against
He was now wide awake and struggling violently. Then, I regret
to say, he broke out into such language as I have never heard
before. At Tish's request I suppress his oaths, and substitute
for them harmless expressions in common use.
"Good gracious!" he said. "What in the world are you doing
anyhow? Jimminy crickets, take that thing away from my neck!
Great Scott and land alive, I haven't done anything! My word,
that gun will go off if you aren't careful!"
I am aware that much of the strength of what he said is lost in
this free translation. But it is impossible to repeat his real
"Don't move," Tish said, "and don't call out. A sound, and a
bullet goes crashing through your brain."
"A woman!" he said in most unflattering amazement. "Great
Jehoshaphat, a woman!"
This again is only a translation of what he said.
"Exactly," Tish observed calmly. She had cut the end off the
lasso with her scissors, and was now tying his feet together
with it. "My friend, we know the whole story, and I am ashamed,
ashamed," she said oratorically, "of your sex! To frighten a
harmless and well-meaning preacher and his wife for the purpose
of publicity is not a joke. Such hoaxes are criminal. If you
must have publicity, why not seek it in some other way?"
"Crazy!" he groaned to himself. "In the hands of lunatics! Oh,
my goodness!" Again these were not exactly his words.
Having bound him tightly, hand and foot, and taken a revolver
from his pocket, Tish straightened herself.
"Now we'll gag him, Lizzie," she said. "We have other things to
do to-night than to stand here and converse." Then she turned to
the man and told him a deliberate lie. I am sorry to record
this. But a tendency to avoid the straight and narrow issues of
truth when facing a crisis is one of Tish's weaknesses, the only
flaw in an otherwise strong and perfect character.
"We are going to leave you here," she said. "But one of our
number, fully armed, will be near by. A sound from you, or any
endeavor to call for succor, will end sadly for you. A word to
the wise. Now, Lizzie, take that bandanna off his neck and tie
it over his mouth."
Tish stood, looking down at him, and her very silhouette was
"Think, my friend," she said, "of the ignominy of your position!
Is any moving picture worth it? Is the pleasure of seeing
yourself on the screen any reward for such a shameful position
as yours now is? No. A thousand times no."
He made a choking sound in his throat and writhed helplessly.
And so we left him, a hopeless and miserable figure, to ponder
on his sins.
"That's one," said Tish briskly. "There are only three left.
Come, Aggie," she said cheerfully--"to work! We have made a good
It is with modesty that I approach that night's events,
remembering always that Tish's was the brain which conceived and
carried out the affair. We were but her loyal and eager
assistants. It is for this reason that I thought, and still
think, that the money should have been divided so as to give
Tish the lion's share. But she, dear, magnanimous soul, refused
even to hear of such a course, and insisted that we share it
Of that, however, more anon.
We next proceeded to capture their horses and to tie them up. We
regretted the necessity for this, since the unfortunate animals
had traveled far and were doubtless hungry. It went to my heart
to drag them from their fragrant pasture and to tie them to
trees. But, as Tish said, "Necessity knows no law," not even
kindness. So we tied them up. Not, however, until we had moved
them far from the trail.
Tish stopped then, and stared across the canon to the enemy's
"No quarter, remember," she said. "And bring your weapons."
We grasped our wooden revolvers and, with Tish leading, started
for the camp. Unluckily there was a stream between us, and it
was necessary to ford it. It shows Tish's true generalship that,
instead of removing her shoes and stockings, as Aggie and I were
about to do, she suggested getting our horses and riding across.
This we did, and alighted on the other side dryshod.
It was, on consulting my watch, nine o'clock and very dark. A
few drops of rain began to fall also, and the distant camp-fire
was burning low. Tish gave us each a little blackberry cordial,
for fear of dampness, and took some herself. The mild glow which
followed was very comforting.
It was Tish, naturally, who went forward to reconnoiter. She
returned in an hour, to report that the three men were lying
round the fire, two asleep and one leaning on his elbow with a
revolver handy. She did not see Mr. Oliver, and it was possible
that it was he we had tied to the tree. The girl, she said, was
sitting on a log, with her chin propped in her hands.
"She looked rather low-spirited," Tish said. "I expect she liked
the first young man better than she thought she did. I intend to
give her a piece of my mind as soon as I get a chance. This
playing hot and cold isn't maidenly, to say the least."
We now moved slowly forward, after tying our horses. Toward the
last, following Tish's example, we went on our hands and knees,
and I was thankful then for no skirts. It is wonderful the
freedom a man has. I was never one to approve of Doctor Mary
Walker, but I'm not so sure she isn't a wise woman and the rest
of us fools. I haven't put on a skirt braid since that time
without begrudging it.
Well, as I have stated, we advanced, and at last we were in full
sight of the camp. I must say I'd have thought they'd have a
tent. We expected something better, I suppose, because of the
articles in the papers about movie people having their own
limousines, and all that. But there they were, open to the wrath
of the heavens, and deserving it, if I do say so.
The girl was still sitting, as Tish had described her. Only now
she was crying. My heart was downright sore for her. It is no
comfort, having made a wrong choice, to know that it is one's
Having now reached the zone of firelight Tish gave the signal,
and we rose and pointed our revolvers at them. Then Tish stepped
forward and said:--
I shall never forget the expression on the man's face.
He shouted something, but he threw up his hands also, with his
eyes popping out of his head. The others scrambled to their
feet, but he warned them.
"Careful, boys!" he yelled. "They're got the drop on us."
Just then his eyes fell on Aggie, and he screeched:--
"Two women and a Turk, by ___." The blank is mine.
"Lizzie," said Tish sternly, as all of them, including the girl,
held their hands up, "just give me your weapon and go over
"Go over them?" I said, not understanding.
"Search them," said Tish. "Take everything out of their pockets.
And don't move," she ordered them sternly. "One motion, and I
fire. Go on, Lizzie."
Now I have never searched a man's pockets, and the idea was
repugnant to me. I am a woman of delicate instincts. But Tish's
face was stern. I did as commanded, therefore, the total result
Two large knives.
One small knife.
One bunch of keys.
One plug of chewing-tobacco.
Four cartridge belts.
Two old pipes.
Mr. Ostermaier's cigar-case, which I recognized at once, being
the one we had presented to him.
Mrs. Ostermaier's wedding-ring and gold bracelet, which her
sister gave her on her last birthday.
A diamond solitaire, unknown, as Mrs. Ostermaier never owned
one, preferring instead earrings as more showy.
And a considerable sum of money, which I kept but did not count.
There were other small articles, of no value.
"Is that all the loot you secured during the infamous scene on
Piegan Pass?" Tish demanded, "You need not hide anything from
us. We know the facts, and the whole story will soon be public."
"That's all, lady," whined one of the men. "Except a few boxes
of lunch, and that's gone. Lady, lemme take my hands down. I've
got a stiff shoulder, and I--"
"Keep them up," Tish snapped. "Aggie, see that they keep them
Until that time we had been too occupied to observe the girl,
who merely stood and watched in a disdainful sort of way. But
now Tish turned and eyed her sternly.
"Search her, Lizzie," she commanded.
"Search me!" the girl exclaimed indignantly. "certainly not!"
"Lizzie," said Tish in her sternest manner, "go over that girl.
Look in her riding-boots. I haven't come across Mrs.
Ostermaier's earrings yet."
At that the girl changed color and backed off.
"It's an outrage," she said. "Surely I have suffered enough."
"Not as much," Tish observed, "as you are going to suffer. Go
over her, Lizzie."
While I searched her, Tish was lecturing her.
"You come from a good home, I understand," she said, "and you
ought to know better. Not content with breaking an honest heart,
you join a moving- picture outfit and frighten a prominent
divine- - for Mr. Ostermaier is well known--into what may be an
illness. You cannot deny," she accused her, "that it was you who
coaxed them to the pass. At least you needn't. We heard you."
"How was I to know--"the girl began sullenly.
But at that moment I found Mrs. Ostermaier' chamois bag thrust
into her riding-boot, and she suddenly went pale.
Tish held it up before her accusingly. "I dare say you will not
deny this," she exclaimed, and took Mrs. Ostermaier's earrings
out of it.
The men muttered, but Aggie was equal to the occasion.
"Silence!" she said, and pointed the revolver at each in turn.
The girl started to speak. Then she shrugged her shoulders. "I
could explain," she said, "but I won't. If you think I stole
those hideous earrings you're welcome to."
"Of course not," said Tish sarcastically. "No doubt she gave
them to you--although I never knew her to give anything away
The girl stood still, thinking. Suddenly she said "There's
another one, you know. Another man."
"We have him. He will give no further trouble," Tish observed
grimly. "I think we have you all, except your Mr. Oliver."
"He is not my Mr. Oliver," said the girl. "I never want to see
him again. I--I hate him."
"You haven't got much mind or you couldn't change it so
She looked sulky again, and said she'd thank us for the ring,
which was hers and she could prove it.
But Tish sternly refused. "It's my private opinion," she
observed, " that it is Mrs. Ostermaier's, and she has not worn
it openly because of the congregation talking quite considerably
about her earrings, and not caring for jewelry on the minister's
wife. That's what I think."
Shortly after that we heard a horse loping along the road. It
came nearer, and then left the trail and came toward the fire.
Tish picked up one of the extra revolvers and pointed it. It was
"Throw up your hands!" Tish called. And he did it. He turned a
sort of blue color, too, when he saw us, and all the men with
their hands up. But he looked relieved when he saw the girl.
"Thank Heaven!" he said. "The way I've been riding this country--
"You rode hard enough away from the pass," she replied coldly.
We took a revolver away from him and lined him up with the
others. All the time he was paying little attention to us and
none at all to the other men. But he was pleading with the girl.
"Honestly," he said, "I thought I could do better for everybody
by doing what I did. How did I know," he pleaded, "that you were
going to do such a crazy thing as this?"
But she only stared at him as if she hated the very ground he
"It's a pity," Tish observed, "that you haven't got your camera
along. This would make a very nice picture. But I dare say you
could hardly turn the crank with your hands in the air."
We searched him carefully, but he had only a gold watch and some
money. On the chance, however, that the watch was Mr.
Ostermaier's, although unlikely, we took it.
I must say he was very disagreeable, referring to us as
highwaymen and using uncomplimentary language. But, as Tish
observed, we might as well be thorough while we were about it.
For the nonce we had forgotten the other man. But now I noticed
that the pseudo-bandits wore a watchful and not unhopeful air.
And suddenly one of them whistled--a thin, shrill note that had,
as Tish later remarked, great penetrative power without being
"That's enough of that," she said. "Aggie, take another of these
guns and point them both at these gentlemen. If they whistle
again, shoot. As to the other man, he will not reply, nor will
he come to your assistance. He is gagged and tied, and into the
bargain may become at any time the victim of wild beasts."
The moment she had said it, Tish realized that it was but too
true, and she grew thoughtful. Aggie, too, was far from
comfortable. She said later that she was uncertain what to do.
Tish had said to fire if they whistled again. The question in
her mind was, had it been said purely for effect or did Tish
mean it? After all, the men were not real bandits, she
reflected, although guilty of theft, even if only for
advertising purposes. She was greatly disturbed, and as
agitation always causes a return of her hay fever, she began to
Until then the men had been quiet, if furious. But now they fell
into abject terror, imploring Tish, whom they easily recognized
as the leader, to take the revolvers from her.
But Tish only said: "No fatalities, Aggie, please. Point at an
arm or a leg until the spasm subsides."
Her tone was quite gentle.
Heretofore this has been a plain narrative, dull, I fear, in
many places. But I come now to a not unexciting incident--which
for a time placed Tish and myself in an unpleasant position.
I refer to the escape of the man we had tied.
We held a brief discussion as to what to do with our prisoners
until morning, a discussion which Tish solved with her usual
celerity by cutting from the saddles which lay round the fire a
number of those leather thongs with which such saddles are
adorned and which are used in case of necessity to strap various
articles to the aforesaid saddles.
With these thongs we tied them, not uncomfortably, but firmly,
their hands behind them and their feet fastened together. Then,
as the night grew cold, Tish suggested that we shove them near
the fire, which we did.
The young lady, however, offered a more difficult problem. We
compromised by giving her her freedom, but arranging for one of
our number to keep her covered with a revolver.
"You needn't be so thoughtful," she said angrily, and with a
total lack of appreciation of Tish's considerate attitude. "I'd
rather be tied, especially if the Moslem with the hay fever is
going to hold the gun."
It was at that moment that we heard a whistle from across the
stream, and each of the prostrate men raised his head eagerly.
Before Tish could interfere one of them had whistled three times
sharply, probably a danger signal.
Without a word Tish turned and ran toward the stream, calling to
me to follow her.
"Tish!" I heard Aggie's agonized tone. "Lizzie! Come back. Don't
leave me here alone. I--"
Here she evidently clutched the revolver involuntarily, for
there was a sharp report, and a bullet struck a tree near us.
Tish paused and turned. "Point that thing up into the air,
Aggie," she called back. "And stay there. I hold you
I heard Aggie give a low moan, but she said nothing, and we kept
The moon had now come up, flooding the valley with silver
radiance. We found our horses at once, and Tish leaped into the
saddle. Being heavier and also out of breath from having
stumbled over a log, I was somewhat slower.
Tish was therefore in advance of me when we started, and it was
she who caught sight of him first.
"He's got a horse, Lizzie," she called back to me. "We can get
him, I think. Remember, he is unarmed."
Fortunately he had made for the trail, which was here wider than
ordinary and gleamed white in the moonlight. We had, however,
lost some time in fording the stream, and we had but the one
glimpse of him as the trail curved.
Tish lashed her horse to a lope, and mine followed without
urging. I had, unfortunately, lost a stirrup early in the chase,
and was compelled, being unable to recover it, to drop the lines
and clutch the saddle.
Twice Tish fired into the air. She explained afterward that she
did this for the moral effect on the fugitive, but as each time
it caused my horse to jump and almost unseat me, at last I
begged her to desist.
We struck at last into a straight piece of trail, ending in a
wall of granite, and up this the trail climbed in a switchback.
Tish turned to me.
"We have him now," she said. "When he starts up there he is as
much gone as a fly on the wall. As a matter of fact," she said
as calmly as though we had been taking an afternoon stroll, "his
taking this trail shows that he is a novice and no real
highwayman. Otherwise he would have turned off into the woods."
At that moment the fugitive's horse emerged into the moonlight
and Tish smiled grimly.
"I see why now," she exclaimed. "The idiot has happened on Mona
Lisa, who must have returned and followed us. And no pack-horse
can be made to leave the trail unless by means of a hornet.
Look, he's trying to pull her off and she won't go."
It was true, as we now perceived. He saw his danger, but too
late. Mona Lisa, probably still disagreeable after her
experience with the hornets, held straight for the cliff.
The moon shone full on it, and when he was only thirty feet up
its face Tish fired again, and the fugitive stopped.
"Come down," said Tish quietly.
He said a great many things which, like his earlier language, I
do not care to repeat. But after a second shot he began to
Tish, however, approached him warily, having given her revolver
"He might try to get it from me, Lizzie," she observed. "Keep it
pointed in our direction, but not at us. I'm going to tie him
This she proceeded to do, tying his hands behind him and
fastening his belt also to the horn of the saddle, but leaving
his feet free. All this was done to the accompaniment of bitter
vituperation. She pretended to ignore this, but it made an
impression evidently, for at last she replied.
"You have no one to blame but yourself," she said. "You deserve
your present humiliating position, and you know it. I've made up
my mind to take you all in and expose your cruel scheme, and I
intend to do it. I'm nothing if I am not thorough," she
He made no reply to this, and, in fact, he made only one speech
on the way back, and that, I am happy to say, was without
"It isn't being taken in that I mind so much," he said
pathetically. "It's all in the game, and I can stand up as well
under trouble as any one. It's being led in by a crowd of women
that makes it painful."
I have neglected to say that Tish was leading Mona Lisa, while I
followed with the revolver.
It was not far from dawn when we reached the camp again. Aggie
was as we had left her, but in the light of the dying fire she
looked older and much worn. As a matter of fact, it was some
weeks before she looked like her old self.
The girl was sitting where we had left her, and sulkier than
ever. She had turned her back to Mr. Oliver, and Aggie said
afterward that the way they had quarreled had been something
Aggie said she had tried to make conversation with the girl, and
had, indeed, told her of Mr. Wiggins and her own blasted life.
But she had remained singularly unresponsive.
The return of our new prisoner was greeted by the other men with
brutal rage, except Mr. Oliver, who merely glanced at him and
then went back to his staring at the fire. It appeared that they
had been counting on him to get assistance, and his capture
destroyed their last hope. Indeed, their language grew so
unpleasant that at last Tish hammered sharply on a rock with the
handle of her revolver.
"Please remember," she said, "that you are in the presence of
They jeered at her, but she handled the situation with her usual
"Lizzie," she said calmly, "get the tin basin that is hanging to
my saddle, and fill it with the water from that snowbank. On the
occasion of any more unseemly language, pour it over the
offender without mercy."
It became necessary to do it, I regret to state. They had not
yet learned that Tish always carries out her threats. It was the
one who we felt was the leader who offended, and I did as I had
been requested to. But Aggie, ever tender-hearted, feared that
it would give the man a severe cold, and got Tish's permission
to pour a little blackberry cordial down his throat.
Far from this kindness having a salubrious effect, it had the
contrary. They all fell to bad language again, and, realizing
that they wished the cordial, and our supply being limited, we
were compelled to abandon the treatment.
It had been an uncomfortable night, and I confess to a feeling
of relief when "the rift of dawn" broke the early skies.
We were, Tish calculated, some forty miles from breakfast, and
Aggie's diet for some days had been light at the best, even the
mountain-lion broth having been more stimulating than staying.
We therefore investigated the camp, and found behind a large
stone some flour, baking-powder, and bacon. With this equipment
and a frying-pan or two we were able to make some very fair
pancakes-- or flapjacks, as they are called in the West.
Tish civilly invited the girl to eat with us, but she refused
curtly, although, on turning once, I saw her eyeing us with
famished eyes. I think, however, that on seeing us going about
the homely task of getting breakfast, she realized that we were
not the desperate creatures she had fancied during the night,
but three gentlewomen on a holiday--simple tourists, indeed.
"I wish," she said at last almost wistfully--"I wish that I
could understand it all. I seem to be all mixed up. You don't
suppose I want to be here, do you?"
But Tish was not in a mood to make concessions. "As for what you
want," she said, "how are we to know that? You are here, aren't
you? --here as a result of your own cold-heartedness. Had you
remained true to the very estimable young man you jilted you
would not now be in this position."
"Of course he would talk about it!" said the girl darkly.
"I am convinced," Tish went on, dexterously turning a pancake by
a swift movement of the pan, "that sensational movies are
responsible for much that is wrong with the country to-day. They
set false standards. Perfectly pure-minded people see them and
are filled with thoughts of crime."
Although she had ignored him steadily, the girl turned now to
"They don't believe anything I tell them. Why don't you
explain?" she demanded.
"Explain!" he said in a furious voice. "Explain to three
lunatics? What's the use?"
"You got me into this, you know."
"I did! I like that! What in the name of Heaven induced you to
ride off the way you did?"
Tish paused, with the frying-pan in the air. "Silence!" she
commanded. "You are both only reaping what you have sowed. As
far as quarreling goes, you can keep that until you are married,
if you intend to be. I don't know but I'd advise it. It's a pity
to spoil two houses."
But the girl said that she wouldn't marry him if he was the last
man on earth, and he fell back to sulking again.
As Aggie observed later, he acted as if he had never cared for
her, while Mr. Bell, on the contrary, could not help his face
changing when he so much as mentioned her name.
We made some tea and ate a hearty breakfast, while the men
watched us. And as we ate, Tish held the moving-picture business
up to contumely and scorn.
"Lady," said one of the prostrate men, "aren't you going to give
us anything to eat?"
"People," Tish said, ignoring him, "who would ordinarily cringe
at the sight of a wounded beetle sit through bloody murders and
go home with the obsession of crime."
"I hope you won't take it amiss," said the man again, "if I say
that, seeing it's our flour and bacon, you either ought to feed
us or take it away and eat it where we can't see you."
"I take it," said Tish to the girl, pouring in more batter,
"that you yourself would never have thought of highway robbery
had you not been led to it by an overstimulated imagination."
"I wish," said the girl rudely, "that you wouldn't talk so much.
I've got a headache."
When we had finished Tish indicated the frying-pan and the
batter. "Perhaps," she said, "you would like to bake some cakes
for these friends of yours. We have a long trip ahead of us."
But the girl replied heartlessly that she hoped they would
starve to death, ignoring their pitiful glances. In the end it
was our own tender-hearted Aggie who baked pancakes for them
and, loosening their hands while I stood guard, saw that they
had not only food but the gentle refreshment of fresh tea. Tish
it was, however, who, not to be outdone in magnanimity,
permitted them to go, one by one, to the stream to wash. Escape,
without horses or weapons, was impossible, and they realized it.
By nine o'clock we were ready to return. And here a difficulty
presented itself. There were six prisoners and only three of us.
The men, fed now, were looking less subdued, although they
pretended to obey Tish's commands with alacrity.
Aggie overheard a scrap of conversation, too, which seemed to
indicate that they had not given up hope. Had Tish not set her
heart on leading them into the great hotel at Many Glaciers, and
there exposing them to the taunts of angry tourists, it would
have been simpler for one of us to ride for assistance, leaving
the others there.
In this emergency Tish, putting her hand into her pocket for her
scissors to trim a hangnail, happened to come across the
"My gracious!" she said. "I forgot my promise to that young
She immediately put it to her lips and blew three shrill blasts.
To our surprise they were answered by a halloo, and a moment
later the young gentleman himself appeared on the trail. He was
no longer afoot, but was mounted on a pinto pony, which we knew
at once for Bill's.
He sat on his horse, staring as if he could not believe his
eyes. Then he made his way across the stream toward us.
"Good Heavens!" he said. "What in the name of--" Here his eyes
fell on the girl, and he stiffened.
"Jim!" cried the girl, and looked at him with what Aggie
afterward characterized as a most touching expression.
But he ignored her. "Looks as though you folks have been pretty
busy," he observed, glancing at our scowling captives. "I'm a
trifle surprised. You don't mind my being rather breathless, do
"My only regret," Tish said loftily, "is that we have not
secured the Indians. They too should be taught a lesson. I am
sure that the red man is noble until led away by civilized
people who might know better."
It was at this point that Mr. Bell's eyes fell on Mr. Oliver,
who with his hands tied behind him was crouching over the fire.
"Well!" he said. "So you're here too! But of course you would
be." This he said bitterly.
"For the love of Heaven, Bell," Mr. Oliver said, "tell those mad
women that I'm not a bandit."
"We know that already," Tish observed.
"And untie my hands. My shoulders are about broken."
But Mr. Bell only looked at him coldly. "I can't interfere with
these ladies," he said. "They're friends of mine. If they think
you are better tied, it's their business. They did it."
"At least," Mr. Oliver said savagely, "you can tell them who I
am, can't you?"
"As to that," Mr. Bell returned, "I can only tell them what you
say you are. You must remember that I know nothing about you.
Helen knows much more than I do."
"Jim," cried the girl, "surely you are going to tell these women
that we are not highway robbers. Tell them the truth. Tell them
I am not a highway robber. Tell them that these men are not my
accomplices, that I never saw them before."
"You must remember," he replied in an icy tone, "that I no
longer know your friends. It is some days since you and I parted
company. And you must admit that one of them is a friend of
yours- -as well as I can judge, a very close friend."
She was almost in tears, but she persisted. "At least," she
said, "you can tell them that I did not rob that woman on the
pass. They are going to lead us in to Many Glaciers, and--Jim,
you won't let them, will you? I'll die of shame."
But he was totally unmoved. As Aggie said afterward, no one
would have thought that, but a day or two before, he had been
heartbroken because she was in love with someone else.
"As to that," he said, "it is questionable, according to Mrs.
Ostermaier, that nothing was taken from you, and that as soon as
the attack was over you basely deserted her and followed the
bandits. A full description of you, which I was able to correct
in one or two trifling details, is now in the hands of the park
She stared at him with fury in her eyes. "I hope you will never
speak to me again," she cried.
"You said that the last time I saw you, Helen. If you will
think, you will remember that you addressed me first just now."
She stamped her foot.
"Of course," he said politely, "you can see my position. You
maintain and possibly believe that these--er--acquaintances of
yours"--he indicated the men--"are not members of the moving-
picture outfit. Also that your being with them is of an
accidental nature. But, on the other hand--"
She put her fingers in her ears and turned her back on him.
"On the other hand," he went on calmly, "I have the word of
these three respectable ladies that they are the outfit, or part
of it, that they have just concluded a cruel hoax on
unsuspecting tourists, and that they justly deserve to be led in
as captives and exposed to the full ignominy of their position."
Here she faced him again, and this time she was quite pale. "Ask
those--those women where they found my engagement ring," she
said. "One of those wretches took it from me. That ought to be
proof enough that they are not from the moving-picture outfit."
Tish at once produced the ring and held it out to him. But he
merely glanced at it and shook his head.
"All engagement rings look alike," he observed. "I cannot
possibly say, Helen, but I think it is unlikely that it is the
one I gave you, as you told me, you may recall, that you had
thrown it into a crack in a glacier. It may, of course, be one
you have recently acquired."
He glanced at Mr. Oliver, but the latter only shrugged his
Well, she shed a few tears, but he was adamant, and helped us
saddle the horses, ignoring her utterly. It was our opinion that
he no longer cared for her, and that, having lost him, she now
regretted it. I know that she watched him steadily when he was
not looking her way. But he went round quite happily, whistling
a bit of tune, and not at all like the surly individual we had
at first thought him.
The ride back was without much incident. Our prisoners rode with
their hands tied behind them, except the young lady.
"We might as well leave her unfastened," the young man said
casually. "While I dare say she would make her escape if
possible, and particularly if there was any chance of getting
filmed while doing it, I will make myself personally
As a matter of fact she was exceedingly rude to all of us, and
during our stop for luncheon, which was again bacon and
pancakes, she made a dash for her horse. The young man saw her,
however, in time, and brought her back. From that time on she
was more civil, but I saw her looking at him now and then, and
her eyes were positively terrified.
It was Aggie, at last, who put in a plea for her with him,
drawing him aside to do so. "I am sure," she said, "that she is
really a nice girl, and has merely been led astray by the search
for adventure. Naturally my friends, especially Miss Tish, have
small sympathy with such a state of mind. But you are younger--
and remember, you loved her once."
"Loved her once!" he replied. "Dear lady, I'm so crazy about her
at this minute that I can hardly hold myself in."
"You are not acting much like it."
"The fact is," he replied, "I'm afraid to let myself go. And if
she's learned a lesson, I have too. I've been her doormat long
enough. I tried it and it didn't work. She's caring more for me
now, at this minute, than she has in eleven months. She needs a
strong hand, and, by George! I've got it--two of them, in fact."
We reached Many Glaciers late that afternoon, and Tish rode
right up to the hotel. Our arrival created the most intense
excitement, and Tish, although pleased, was rather surprised. It
was not, however, until a large man elbowed his way through the
crowd and took possession of the prisoners that we understood.
"I'll take them now," he said. "Well, George, how are you?"
This was to the leader, who merely muttered in reply.
"I'd like to leave them here for a short time," Tish stated.
"They should be taught a severe lesson and nothing stings like
ridicule. After that you can turn them free, but I think they
ought to be discharged."
"Turn them free!" he said in a tone of amazement. "Discharged!
My dear madam, they will get fifteen years' hard labor, I hope.
And that's too good for them."
Then suddenly the crowd began to cheer. It was some time before
Tish realized that they were cheering us. And even then, I shall
have to confess, we did not understand until the young man
explained to ms.
"You see," he said, "I didn't like to say anything sooner, for
fear of making you nervous. You'd done it all so well that I
wanted you to finish it. You're been in the right church all
along, but the wrong pew. Those fellows aren't movie actors,
except Oliver, who will be freed now, and come after me with a
gun, as like as not! They're real dyed-in- the-wool desperadoes
and there's a reward of five thousand dollars for capturing
Tish went rather white, but said nothing. Aggie, however, went
into a paroxysm of sneezing, and did not revive until given
aromatic ammonia to inhale.
"I was fooled at first too," the young man said. "We'd been
expecting a holdup and when it came we thought it was the faked
one. But the person" --he paused and looked round--"the person
who had the real jolt was Helen. She followed them, since they
didn't take her for ransom, as had been agreed in the plot.
"Then, when she found her mistake, they took her along, for fear
she'd ride off and raise the alarm. All in all," he said
reflectively, "it has been worth about a million dollars to me."
We went into the hotel, with the crowd following us, and the
first thing we saw was Mrs. Ostermaier, sitting dejectedly by
the fire. When she saw us, she sprang to her feet and came to
"Oh, Miss Tish, Miss Tish!" she said. "What I have been through!
Attacked on a lonely mountain-top and robbed of everything. My
reason is almost gone. And my earrings, my beautiful earrings!"
Tish said nothing, but, reaching into her reticule, which she
had taken from the horn of her saddle, she drew out a number of
"Here," she said. "Are your earrings. Here also is Mr.
Ostermaier's cigar-case, but empty. Here is some money too. I'll
keep that, however, until I know how much you lost."
"Tish!" screeched Mrs. Ostermaier. "You found them!"
"Yes," Tish said somewhat wearily, "we found them. We found a
number of things, Mrs. Ostermaier,--four bandits, and two
lovers, or rather three, but so no longer, and your things, and
a reward of five thousand dollars, and an engagement ring. I
think," she said, "that I'd like a hot bath and something to
Mrs. Ostermaier was gloating over her earrings, but she looked
up at Tish's tired and grimy face, at the mud encrusted on me
from my accident the day before, at Aggie in her turban.
"Go and wash, all of you," she said kindly, "and I'll order some
But Tish shook her head. "Tea nothing!" she said firmly. "I want
a broiled sirloin steak and potatoes. And"-- she looked Mrs.
Ostermaier full in the eye--"I am going to have a cocktail. I
Late that evening Aggie came to Tish's room, where I was sitting
with her. Tish was feeling entirely well, and more talkative
than I can remember her in years. But the cocktail, which she
felt, she said, in no other way, had gone to her legs.
"It is not," she observed, "that I cannot walk. I can, perfectly
well. But I am obliged to keep my eyes on my feet, and it might
"I just came in," Aggie said, "to say that Helen and her lover
have made it up. They are down by the lake now, and if you will
look out you can see them."
I gave Tish an arm to the window, and the three of us stood and
looked out. The moon was rising over the snow-capped peaks
across the lake, and against its silver pathway the young people
stood outlined. As we looked he stooped and kissed her. But it
was a brief caress, as if he had just remembered the strong hand
and being a doormat long enough.
Tish drew a long breath.
"What," she said, "is more beautiful than young love? It will be
a comfort to remember that we brought them together. Let go of me now,
Lizzie. If I keep my eye on the bedpost I think I can get back."
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