« ПретходнаНастави »
The Romance of Silver Peak
By Henry W. Marian, Jr.
[|*j|0, No, Miss. I said I'm to shoot Iulii m a s'Sna^ when I get the
''names of the folks on this stage
if there's a certain party aboard."
The girl seemed more interested and excitement had caused her to make more room than she realized was really there. "Well, what, what — name did he think would be in here?" She hesitated. The question sounded strangely to her.
The old man looked about and tried to get a good look at her.
"Miss Gladys Wallace! He's been a telling me for some time — Five Blasts if she's aboard — Five Blasts, now Ames, don't forget. And I ain't forgotten neither."
The girl said nothing. She was quivering with joy but her nerves were restraining her speech.
The stage was nearing its destination now and the rain was ceasing slightly. "That's the Hotel up there," the driver remarked. "We'll make it in just a few minutes now." They skidded around curve after curve and down the trail that surrounds the steam cave baths and up through the mesquite-lined trail, until the music and laughter of the guests had floated down to them. No sooner had the passengers planned their arrival than the stage had swung up before the Hotel and into the garage. The driver sounded his klaxon three times.
"What's the idea?" queried the old man.
"I'm to give Mr. Gleason three blasts when we hit the hotel safely."
"I thought you said 'five blasts.'
That guy up there'll get his signals twisted if you ain't careful."
"No. It's five if Miss Gladys Wallace is aboard. Now then let's see." He had climbed from behind the wheel and unfastened the curtains and commenced to remove the luggage.
The girl had already alighted and assembled her equipment. "Well, Mister Driver!" He looked at her wonderingly. "I'm Miss Gladys Wallace," and she extended her hand. He grasped it more than heartily.
"Well, well. Mighty, mighty, glad to know you, Miss. He's been a looking for you. And now here goes."
He stepped over to the wheel and placing his gauntlet on the klaxon sounded off five sharp blasts.
He looked around and laughed a real mountaineer's laugh. She was stooping and gazing sharply up the mountain side toward the row of lights while he sounded the call.
"He's a shaking hands with himself all right, Miss." And Ames completed unloading the luggage. The girl, with a tear or two rolling down her cheek followed the page into the lobby of the hotel.
When Gladys Wallace had completed her toilette and prepared herself for her evening meal, she descended into the lobby of the hotel and found her way to the dining room. It was a huge affair, with massive pillars that lent a dignified scenic appearance. The guests were many in number and there were notables whom she had read of and seen upon the screen and stage in the city. Here and there a table with a well-known screen star, and occasionally a call for some person of note was sounded by a page.
She was engaged in contemplation over her journey. She had waited a long time for this very event to take place. Here she was now all ready for the conclusion of the story she had dreamed so about. She felt of her bosom. They were there all right, a package of his latest letters, and some of them postmarked with this very hotel. Her dreaming caused her to search about for the box—there it was right by the desk and he had mailed them there. She had been abroad for many months, had returned and now was ready to complete her dreams of the sweetest thing in life.
When she had finished her dinner she retired to the main lobby where there were folks engaged at bridge, writing letters, and enjoying billiards. There were conversations running from tennis to golf, and back to hunting, and the chase above the springs and the outdoors in general. And there was regret for the rainstorm mingled with that indescribable sensation that springs from an open fire in a mountain inn.
She had fallen to thinking. One more day and he would be there. An Episcopalian clergyman passed her chair and joined a group before the fireplace.
She followed him with her witching eyes. She concluded that this was the gentleman that Carter Gleason had told her of, and who would join them in marriage. She wanted to speak to him, but she enjoyed her visionary dreaming and was contended to sit and dream. She had retraced her steps to this wonderful hotel and figured over her enchanting future, when there suddenly seemed to have arisen a commotion near the front entrance that distracted her attention.
"It's Mister Glenn," she heard murmured about her. "Graham Glenn — he was found laying in the roadway above the hotel a mile or two, possibly fallen from his horse."
The girl was startled. "Graham Glenn here?" She was somewhat dazed. She arose and hurried to the scene of the entrance. She looked through the crowd that had gathered where two men had placed the injured fellow upon an easy couch.
The Hot Springs Doctor had been summoned upon learning of the young man's injuries and was attending him.
"What is your name my lad?"
"Graham Glenn, Sir."
The girl could not mistake the voice. She looked again and could see him now. Sure enough it was Graham Glenn. The one fellow in the world whom she had devoted her time with before she had become engaged to Carter Gleason.
"Could it be possible that Graham Glenn was here also?" She shook herself. This was no time for questions. Graham Glenn lay there injured.
"It's all right, my lad," assured the Doctor. "No bones broken. But a bad shock. When were you going down again?"
"I had contemplated returning tomorrow, Doctor. I don't like to wait. Couldn't I make it tonight? I am needed back in the city right away."
"Well, you're not suffering much. It's more of a shock. You have your car here, have you not?"
"Yes, my Roamer Limousine, in the garage."
"Well, with a nurse you can do it. What train do you want to get?"
"I want to catch the 3:30 limited in the morning at San Bernardino. I think I'm all right, Doctor."
"There are no nurses here at present. Let me see" — and the Doctor was thinking.
The girl watched the two and listened to the conversation. She was likewise thinking. He had saved her brother's life at one time. He was in need of help—a nurse, any assistance, to catch the 3:30 train. She thought, and as she thought she stepped through the crowd of guests that had gathered and touched the Doctor on the shoulder.
He turned toward her. "Doctor, I know this young man. If you will let me, I should like to do him this service that he needs as nurse. I'm not a nurse but I can assist him to catch his train I'm sure."
The doctor looked at Glenn and as he did so Glenn caught sight of the girl. He was not as awkwardly surprised as he might have been she thought to herself, but of course he had been injured.
The two exchanged greetings, in a haze of excitement. The doctor assented. She had explained to Glenn that she was returning for the ceremony of which he had already heard the day following and he had volunteered to her his car for her return trip. With an expression of congratulation he took her hand.
"Thanks, Gladys. It's mighty good of you. You can make it in the Roamer if you're not afraid to try it"
She returned to her room and gathered such paraphernalia as she thought she would need. She surveyed the room to see that she had left nothing. Her wrist watch was laying on the dresser, and she returned to get it. She looked at it. "Just twelve o'clock," she mused.
"Rather late to be trying an adventure of this sort, but if it's got to be, it's got to, that's all." She assured herself. As she flashed the lights out in the room a streak of lightning hit overhead. She stepped to the window. The room was dark, and she watched the light over the country below. She followed it back up the mountain side.
"Too bad, too bad," she mused. "Must have hit something up there. The top of that mountain burns a flaring red."
When she had found her way back to the lobby and onto the side veranda Glenn was waiting in his car. She was assisted by a page who helped her to the seat beside the wheel.
"Here boy, give this note to this gentleman when he calls. His name is on the envelope," and he slipped the boy a quarter.
"Yes, sir, I—"
The boy did not finish the sentence, whatever he would have said. A tremendous crash sounded up the mountain side as though the whole had collapsed.
Glenn shuddered, seemed faint, and finally spoke. "I guess that fall is on my nerves, Gladys, that thunder sure seemed to frighten me a great deal."
"Was that thunder, Graham? It sounded different from thunder. I noticed a red flaring light on the mountain top. Maybe something caused a landslide."
"Maybe, so." Glenn was clearly not himself. They were started on the downward journey. He looked back and seemed to recoil as he put his attention again on the soaking roadbed. "Probably a fire there," and he motioned in the direction of the flaring light.
"What is that up there, Graham?" She seemed interested in the light as she asked the question. "That's Silver Peak." "Oh yes," and she fell to thinking. Her words were muffled.
Graham Glenn and his girl assistant were hitting the road for the three-thirty west bound Santa Fe Limited.
When Carter Gleason had planted his red torch on the crest of Silver Peak he unbuttoned his heavy coat and stood before the light the brilliant torch afforded. It was burning a steady red, and over it he rubbed his chilled hands for it offered some warmth. He felt that he had accomplished a worthy errand—he reflected, as he stood gazing down below into the maze of sleet and fog. The valley was dim with its diamond like radiance now, and the chasm below him was as quiet as a graveyard in the early morn. It was dark as pitch save for the torch.
"They'll be getting the signal now," he ventured to himself. "And they'll all be glad the road is going through I guess. Ned's probably got the boys there now for the big blast. Great fellow, Ned—he'd help his enemy before himself."
Gleason still pondered as he watched the maze below him. He was clearly in a confused state of mind. Way up here in the end of nowhere almost, giving a signal to help his fellow ranchers, and preparing the way for his search that would follow him down there.
"They must be having a iime 'o get the fuse laid right," he thought out loud. He went back to where he had hitched his horse. His knapsack was fastened to his saddle, and from it he took the flask of whiskey, and a generous gulp, for the night was testing his physique. He braced up and then reached for his revolver. Theie was no telling what he might meet before a blaze like this. He couldn't meet a prowler single handed, and his Colts Automatic was a steady friend. He raised it skyward to test it out, then pulled the trigger. A mightier sound than he had expected reached his ears from below the hazy mist.
"They're going through," he fairly shouted. Then turned and put his hand upon his horse's head. They've cut her through Pal. Didn't you hear it? We'll be passing that cut tomorrow, for the garden of my—"
Gleason was mumbling in contemplation. He strode forward before the torch. The fog had gradually lifted. Fumes of powder had reached his nostrils. He pierced the panorama with his vision, and it fell far below. He could imagine many things.
"Must have scared them out down there," he thought. "Maybe the 'Mark Twain' on a midnight run for supplies. Never knew her to hit the lower road this time of night before.' He was tracing a dim ray of light on the auto road below that was close by the hotel. It flickered from his vision. He looked about to see that he had left nothing, fixed the torch more firmly in the tree stump he had chosen, then remounted his horse, and set forward to retrace his steps to Silver Peak Ranch. His br.rse was weurv trom
the steady climb, but faithful unto death. Now up, now down, curve after curve, and switchback, through mud and snow with an occasional branch hitting either of them, but the sure footsteps of the horse always gaining headway. Gleason was more lighthearted but at once uneasy in his return to the ranch. He argued with himself.
"That can't be! If they've got it through, why should I waste time over night here?" He seemed to be in a puzzled state of mind. The horse, with its burden, seemed to realize a journey of achievement. Its step would have signified an answer to his questions.
"Do you think you can do it, Pal? Do you want to push onto Ned's cabin tonight?" The horse was closer to the ranch house now. She seemed to know the path without any effort, and was jogging more easily. As she swung around a final turn they came upon the south gate, and she galloped like a happy boy onto the path that landed them presently at the fronc door. Gleason sat in his saddle for a moment. He was thinking. He reassured himself.
"I'll do it." He looked at his watch. "Just two-fifteen A. M.," he said. As he queried a figure approached him from the veranda. He reached for his Colts.
"Halt!" he shouted hoarsely, for the air had clouded his voice. "Who's there?"
"Pablo, Senor," and the answer was somewhat terrified.
"Pablo? Well, what are you doing up this time of night?"
"I fix Senor's stuff in package. I watch light from Silver Peak and hear the noise and think Senor go right on.
"What do you mean, Pablo? You think I'm going right on? Why?"
"Well, Manuel come here again tonight with message. I have 'em here, Senor," and he brought forth another scrap of paper which he tendered to Gleason. He read it.
"Tell Mr. Gleason he had better