Слике страница
PDF

there, Ned?" It was Gleason that spoke. He had been following the Limited from the time it left the down grade and rolled on down into the valley.

"She must have hit something. Probably a ranch wagon. Those old boys fall asleep and breathe their last on that crossing many a night." The propeller of the plane was grinding incessantly and their voices were muffled. "One time an auto was making that grade crossing at about forty an hour, a fellow and a girl were in it. It turned out later that he was trying to steal her from her parents. She had presence of mind enough to flash his lights out before they hit the tracks. She jumped, but it was goodnight to him."

"I see the train has stopped. We can cut down our speed now—coast a while." Gleason kept his eyes upon the crossing. The moon had swung from behind a cloud, and the rainy valley was partially lighted up.

"Let's circle around a bit, Ned. We can wait till they pick up—it's a short run now." Ned wheeled on his control and accepted the suggestion. They spun above the scene.

The girl looked up, from where she had regained consciousness. Three people were by her side and she was watching the machine overhead.

"That's it all right—sure enough— the airplane," she was mumbling to herself, quite forgetting the crash that lay behind her.

"Why doesn't he come down?" She queried with herself. She wondered.

The train regained its steam. "All aboard!" Another blast of the whistle, three more to recall the flagman, and the Limited pounded off down the tracks for the village.

"Throw on your gas, Ned. We'll make our landing before she pulls in." And they threw it on, and they shot straightway above the rolling engine of the track below, ahead of it, and down across the village.

"The yard's clear. We can flop down there all right." Ned cut off the power, and set his mechanism for the

drop. They volplaned gracefully and rolled forth on a wave of atmosphere that planted them presently before the platform of the depot.

The old brick depot was dark, except for the vigilance of the night telegraph clerk who was preparing his orders for the incoming flyer, and from the window there was a constant clicking of the key and a green light shown onto the wet brick walk. The green light of the semaphore dropped an arm, and the whistle of the Limited sounded as the headlight flashed around the curve.

"There she comes, Ned. Full power ahead for the village too. She's cutting off her steam now, for the platform, she's slowing up." When Gleason had finished speaking, the train had come to a standstill beside the walk. Ned and Sheriff Bell followed him to the only car that opened its vestibule. The Pullman conductor alighted and started for the telegraph office.

"Hey there!" The conductor wheeled about. "Got a couple of reservations aboard here for me?"

"What's the name?"

"Glenn—Graham Glenn."

A stranger had appeared in the vestibule door. He was in clergyman's attire. The conductor turned to him. "Give the operator in the office this paper, will you. It's got the names and data on the collision." The clergyman scrambled off.

"Your in car three, sir!" Gleason hesitated. "Collision?" He was puzzling to himself. "Where was Glenn? Sure enough he had reservations for the Limited. Where was he? Where was the car?" A cold shiver ran down his back. He stood stock still, Ned and the sheriff were likewise quietly pondering. The 'grade-crossing' scene flashed again through his mind. "No—that can't be!" Gleason had muffled a smothered shout of fright.

"Yes, sir; car three!" repeated the conductor. Gleason turned. He had quite forgotten the situation. The clergyman was returning on the run from the telegraph office.

"Board-d-d! All aboard!" The conductor's voice was shrill.

"Hold it!" It was the clergyman. "Hold it!" The conductor paused. Gleason turned to Ned. He was shiveringly silent. The big ranger was quietly breathless and Sheriff Bell was hesitantly aside. The two supported Gleason as they headed for the telegraph office.

The clergyman was speaking again. "Hold it!" "They're making the time all right. He phoned the operator from Highlands — they're due here now." Gleason wheeled about. Subconsciously the words meant something to him. As he stood with bated breath a klaxon sounded from around the corner of the Station. Gleason was alert. He listened. The conductor twirled his lantern twice to signal a cut-off for the engineer — they would wait. The clergyman bent his attention in the direction of the klaxon.

It was he who spoke. "Sure thing! It's Mr. Glenn's car all right!"

Sheriff Bell's hand snapped to his revolver. The big ranger was aside Gleason. They held their ground. Gleason reassured himself. "Was it true?" A scream from the car. It was a girl's scream. Gleason was on his toes—he sprang forward. In an instant he was grappling before the car. His prey was in his muscular arms—it was easy work for a powerful mountaineer.

"There he is Sheriff! Take him away.*' Gleason had stepped to the other side of the car and she was there. She was coming out of a

faint—it seemed visionary.

"Gladys!" and he threw his arms about her and helped her from the car.

"Carter!" she whispered drowsily —"you did come down, didn't you?"

Sheriff Bell held his prisoner resolutely. With him the clergyman was talking—an explanation ensued. "We didn't make the time," Glenn was speaking in jerks — the blow had stunned him. "She thought the train had hit us, when your engine caught that wagon." The clergyman seemed to comprehend. Gleason was engaged, when the former tapped him on the shoulder.

Gleason turned. The clergyman had a prayer-book in his hand. He nodded.

"All Aboard! Aboard-d-d!" Gleason lifted her from the Roamer, shouted a word of departure to his partners of the range, and with the clergyman hurried to the puffing train. They boarded.

When the West-bound Limited got up steam to leave the San Bernardino station the moon broke over the mountain top and down upon the platform. The biplane, Roamer, and the three men were beside the station telegraph office.

On the platform the clergyman stood with his back to the rising moon. He was reading. She had quite recovered her real self. Carter Gleason braced himself against the railing — it had been a fight worth while.

"Carter. What's that red light on the mountain top?"

"That's Silver Peak, my dear!"

[merged small][graphic]

Spell of the Rainbow Scarf

By Donna Keith Scott

0S quieti, staid Mrs. Stanton tied her horse to the shed, she sighed with relief as she looked at the vast sweet space around her, at the big old-fashioned farm house and at the great pepper trees flopping in the cold mountain wind.

She had just come from Cedar Grove, four miles away, where all the country-side had assembled at the village school picnic. She came alone; her fihree children had coaxed to remain and come home with the Browns. As the unusually cool June afternoon waned, though she was energetically full of life, just on the brink of middle age, she left all the merriment with nothing more thrilling in her mind than to go home and get her elderly husband's supper and spend the evening with him.

Hurrying inside, through a labyrintih of petunias, hydrangeas and roses, she flung off her coat from about her rounded, slender form. While loosening the tie under the collar of her black silk dress, preparatory to removing it, she hesitated, glanced at the clock, retied it, and went into the kitchen.

The kitchen was large and highceilinged, with windows and doors ajar, through which flowed the cool breeze. As she put a handful of twigs in the range, she gazed out of a large window at the rolling fields of grain, flooded with the tender amber light of sunset, and the mountains shimmering blue-gray in the distance. Way over a low hill she discerned a reaper with a man on the seat. Satisfied she withdrew her eyes from the landscape, then entered the dining room. This room was cooler than the

kitchen. She shivered slightly as she went about setting the table.

The day previously her fifteen-yearold daughter had been graduated from school. Her presents were scattered around on chairs and on the window seat. One of them was a large, knitted silk shoulder throw in beautiful rainbow tints. Mrs. Stanton took this up and put it on. As she did so she hastily and half unconsciously viewed herself in the side-board mirror. Suddenly she stood tense and looked long and close, examining herself as if she were an astonishing stranger.

She found that her eyes and hair were of a soft night-like blackness and that from the beating wind and the pleasurable excitement of meeting her neighbors her cheeks had turned a warm deep cerise.

Although but thirty-seven, she had worn black or dull shades of blue or gray for years. Now the broad line of brilliant color cutting the duskiness of hair, eyes, and gown in twain had transformed her exquisitely from an ordinary-robed, commonplace woman to a beauty of Oriental fascination.

The vibrations of light and color from the rainbow scarf were reflected into her soul. Tumultous feelings of regret, for what, she did not know, swept her being. A throng of sensations surged through her, unrest, longing for gayety, distaste for her quiet home environment, an onrush of life such as she had not known in the eighteen years since her marriage.

She started from her reverie when the puff of an automobile and "Halloa" sounded outside on the driveway. Before answering the summons, which came from the front of the house, where the wind was sharpest, audibly swaying the vines and trees, she glanced once more in the mirror and arranged the scarf more gracefully across her bosom.

"Halloa," she heard again, and dreamily moved through the living room to the front door.

The door opened under the pergola, which was roofed and wreathed with a luxuriant vine ponderous with crimson blossoms. Mauve shadowed hills and hazy blue mountains were to the left of her; and to the right vineyards, orchards and grain fields slanted away toward the glittering village.

Before her, in his machine, under a great tossing pepper tree sat Mr. Troy a new neighbor, wealthy and a bachelor. He was a large, worldly appearing man, of the genial red-haired type, near her age, clad in an expensive suit of gray.

He had met her twice before, but had not noticed her particularly. Now he surveyed her with an appraising eye. She had suddenly become different, fascinating.

She smiled a trifle embarrassed, sensible of his admiration and waited for him to speak.

"Is Mr. Stanton around?" he called over the wind.

"He is reaping in one of the lower fields," she answered.

He leaned from the machine, shaded his eyes with his hand, and gazed far beyond in several directions. "I don't see him."

She came to the edge of the step, near to him. "Take the road," she explained, pointing, "winding back of the barn, then the road between the apple trees and—" She paused and laughed a little, showing a row of well kept teeth. "There's so many hills. I know each one. But I can't point out just where he is. He'll be up to supper soon."

"I only want to speak to him a minute about the pasture." He added after a moment's thoughtful silence, "Why not get in the machine and run

down and find him."

She climbed in, the wind blowing strands of her hair about) unheeded. She directed the way as they twisted over the rough road. When at the top of an incline, his gray eyes on her face, he took a long breath. "This mountain air is great, healthful and a wonderful beautifier. People are good-looking here in these hills."

She knew it was a veiled compliment, and that she was worthy of it. She stirred uneasily, turned her head and kept silent.

They rode down a hardly distinguishable road, grown over with grass and pulled up near the reaping machine. Gray haired Mr. Stanton, tall, nearing sixty, but well preserved, saw them, got down stiffly from his seat and came toward them with tired steps.

"How are you, Troy?" he said. Then he scanned his wife, his eyes on the rainbow scarf, its fringed ends fluttering at her back. "I thought it was Dottle," he declared.

A shade of resentment came into her eyes, her lips parted to speak.

Mr. Troy glanced significantly, with a slight amusement, from husband to wife and spoke before she could. "Got any pasture to spare, Mr. Stanton?"

"Yes. Yours giving out?"

"It's about gone. I'd like to rent pasture for two of my horses for the rest of the season."

"Turn 'em in. There's plenty."

"All right," Mr. Troy replied. "That's what I wanted to see you about. Thanks."

He backed the machine and turned around.

The old man called after his wife, "I'm coming up directly."

"Yes," she answered absently. She had forgotten to tell him supper was ready.

Curving under the orchard branches Mr. Troy bent toward her. "Are you going to the dance at the grove tonight?"

"I was to the picnic this afternoon."

"I was there," he asserted surprised, "I didn't see you."

"Nevertheless I was there," she smiled.

"But there was no dancing this afternoon."

"I never—" she began.

The breeze wafted the scarf against her face. It was delicately perfumed. She caught and held it down, twisting the fringe around her fingers. "I haven't been to a dance in years. In fact, scarcely anywhere in the evening."

"Well, that's too bad," he murmured sympathetically. "Your husband, of course, doesn't dance any more."

She shook her head and for the first time felt ashamed of her elderly husband.

"Everyone for miles around will be there," he added.

"Mr. Stanton never did care for dancing," she admitted slowly, turning her head away. "And he's always tired in the evening.

"I presume so," he said pleasantly affable. "Let him go to bed." His accent changed to one of cordial sympathy. "I am going to take my mother and two young lady nieces, who are visiting us, down shortly. If you care to go, I'll pick you up as I come by."

"Oh no," she began politely but broke off abruptly. A shadow of a big walnut tree wavered back of the wind shield making it like a mirror. Her striking appearance rushed over her anew.

"Oh, come for a short while."

To her surprise, she found herself saying, "It would be rather delightful to dance again. And I could come home with the children," she concluded.

"I'll be along in an hour or so." He stopped, let her down under the crimsoned pergola, waved his hand genially and was gone.

A curious vexation with her easy going husband fretted her when he came in to supper. She hadn't noticed before how lined and sunburned was his face or how slow and old he had

grown or how hastily and noisily he ate. Until now she had not thought of him as old. The years she had lived with him had flowed by in connected contentment. Now she was discontented and restless.

"George can't you eat more quietvly," she exclaimed with annoyance, standing beside him pouring his tea.

He looked up from his plate and chuckled, "I don't make half as much noise as that drapery you've got on."

She walked into her room, her eyes flashing in contempt at what she considered a very poor joke. She put her daughter's tight-fitting patent leather pumps on her feet, combed and rippled her hair and put a red rosebud in it. And then she pinned the scarf on to her left shoulder with a full blown rose and a horseshoe pin of garnets.

The evening glow was gray and the wind had diminished to a whisper when Mr. Troy's automobile swung into the yard. Mr. Stanton went out. His wife came from her room and fluttered close beside him. She wore no hat but was drawing on a pair of gloves.

While the machine was still a short distance away, coming slowly, the husband gazed mystified at her unwonted toilet.

In a very low voice, without looking at him, she explained, "I'm going to the dance at the grove awhile."

"Dance?" he questioned amazed, his wholesome round face losing a trifle of its ruddiness. "Dance, did you say Minnie?"

"Yes, I said dance!"

Now the machine stopped. Mr. Troy cried gayly, lifting his hat, "I'm going to carry your wife away."

"I see," the husband returned, pleasantly impassive, leaning against the veranda post. "I see," he repeated, lighting his pipe.

"He's a very bad boy," Mrs. Troy scolded adoringly. Then she introduced the two fair-haired, giggling girls beside her as, "Alice and May, my granddaughters."

« ПретходнаНастави »