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Her Name Was Rosemary








From: The Flying U's Last Stand

Andy Green came in from a twenty-hour ride through the Wolf Butte
country and learned that another disaster had followed on the heels of
the first; that miss Allen had been missing for thirty-six hours. While
he bolted what food was handiest in the camp where old Patsy cooked for
the searchers, and the horse wrangler brought up the saddle-bunch just
as though it was a roundup that held here its headquarters, he heard all
that Slim and Cal Emmett could tell him about the disappearance of Miss
Allen.

One fact stood significantly in the foreground, and that was that Pink
and the Native Son had been the last to speak with her, so far as anyone
knew. That was it--so far as anyone knew. Andy's lips tightened. There
were many strangers riding through the country, and where there are many
strangers there is also a certain element of danger. That Miss Allen was
lost was not the greatest fear that drove Andy Green forth without sleep
and with food enough to last him a day or two.

First he meant to hunt up Pink and Miguel--which was easy enough, since
they rode into camp exhausted and disheartened while he was saddling
a fresh horse. From them he learned the direction which Miss Allen had
taken when she left them, and he rode that way and never stopped until
he had gone down off the benchland and had left the fringe of coulees
and canyons behind. Pink and the Native Son had just come from down in
here, and they had seen no sign of either her or the Kid. Andy intended
to begin where they had left off, and comb the breaks as carefully as
it is possible for one man to do. He was beginning to think that the
Badlands held the secret of the Kid disappearance, even though they had
seen nothing of him when they came out four days ago. Had he seen Chip
he would have urged him to send all the searchers--and there were two
or three hundred by now--into the Badlands and keep them there until the
Kid was found. But he did not see Chip and had no time to hunt him up.
And having managed to evade the supervision of any captain, and to keep
clear of all parties, he meant to go alone and see if he could find a
clue, at least.

It was down in the long canyon which Miss Allen had followed, that Andy
found hoof-prints which he recognized. The horse Miss Allen had ridden
whenever he saw her--one which she had bought somewhere north
of town--had one front foot which turned in toward the other.
"Pigeon-toed," he would have called it. The track it left in soft soil
was unmistakable. Andy's face brightened when he saw it and knew that he
was on her trail. The rest of the way down the canyon he rode alertly,
for though he knew she might be miles from there by now, to find the
route she had taken into the Badlands was something gained.

The flat, which Andy knew very well--having driven the bunch of cattle
whose footprints had so elated Miss Allen--he crossed uneasily. There
were so many outlets to this rich little valley. He tried several of
them, which took time; and always when he came to soft earth and saw no
track of the hoof that turned in toward the other, he would go back and
ride into another gulch. And when you are told that these were many, and
that much of the ground was rocky, and some was covered with a thick mat
of grass, you will not be surprised that when Andy finally took up her
trail in the canyon farthest to the right, it was well towards noon. He
followed her easily enough until he came to the next valley, which he
examined over and over before he found where she had left it to push
deeper into the Badlands. And it was the same experience repeated when
he came out of that gulch into another open space.

He came into a network of gorges that would puzzle almost anyone, and
stopped to water his horse and let him feed for an hour or so. A man's
horse meant a good deal to him, down here on such a mission, and even
his anxiety could not betray him into letting his mount become too
fagged.

After a while he mounted and rode on without having any clue to follow;
one must trust to chance, to a certain extent, in a place like this. He
had not seen any sign of the Kid, either, and the gorges were filling
with shadows that told How low the sun was sliding down the sky. At that
time he was not more than a mile or so from the canyon up which Miss
Allen was toiling afoot toward the sun; but Andy had no means of knowing
that. He went on with drooping head and eyes that stared achingly here
and there. That was the worst of his discomfort--his eyes. Lack of sleep
and the strain of looking, looking, against wind and sun, had made them
red-rimmed and bloodshot. Miss Allen's eyes were like that, and so were
the eyes of all the searchers.

In spite of himself Andy's eyes closed now. He had not slept for two
nights, and he had been riding all that time. Before he realized it he
was asleep in the saddle, and his horse was carrying him into a gulch
that had no outlet--there were so many such!--but came up against a hill
and stopped there. The shadows deepened, and the sky above was red and
gold.

Andy woke with a jerk, his horse having stopped because he could go no
farther. But it was not that which woke him. He listened. He would have
sworn that he had heard the shrill, anxious whinney of a horse not far
away. He turned and examined the gulch, but it was narrow and grassy and
had no possible place of concealment, and save himself and his own horse
it was empty. And it was not his own horse that whinnied--he was sure of
that. Also, he was sure that he had-not dreamed it. A horse had called
insistently. Andy knew horses too well not to know that there was
anxiety and rebellion in that call.

He waited a minute, his heart beating heavily. He turned and
started back down the gulch, and then stopped suddenly. He heard it
again--shrill, prolonged, a call from somewhere; where, he could not
determine because of the piled masses of earth and rock that flung the
sound riotously here and there and confused him as to direction.

Then his own horse turned his head and looked toward the left, and
answered the call. From far off the strange horse made shrill reply.
Andy got down and began climbing the left-hand ridge on the run, tired
as he was. Not many horses ranged down in here--and he did not believe,
anyway, that this was any range horse. It did not sound like Silver,
but it might be the pigeon-toed horse of Miss Allen. And if it was, then
Miss Allen would be there. He took a deep breath and went up the last
steep pitch in a spurt of speed that surprised himself.

At the top he stood panting and searched the canyon below him. Just
across the canyon was the high peak which Miss Allen had climbed afoot.
But down below him he saw her horse circling about in a trampled place
under a young cottonwood.

You would never accuse Andy Green of being weak, or of having unsteady
nerves, I hope.

But it is the truth that he felt his knees give way while he looked;
and it was a minute or two before he had any voice with which to call to
her. Then he shouted, and the great hill opposite flung back the echoes
maddeningly.

He started running down the ridge, and brought up in the canyon's bottom
near the horse. It was growing shadowy now to the top of the lower
ridges, although the sun shone faintly on the crest of the peak. The
horse whinnied and circled restively when Andy came near. Andy needed no
more than a glance to tell him that the horse had stood tied there for
twenty-four hours, at the very least. That meant....

Andy turned pale. He shouted, and the canyon mocked him with echoes. He
looked for her tracks. At the base of the peak he saw the print of her
riding boots; farther along, up the slope he saw the track again. Miss
Allen, then, must have climbed the peak, and he knew why she had done
so. But why had she not come down again?

There was only one way to find out, and he took the method in the
face of his weariness. He climbed the peak also, with now and then a
footprint to guide him. He was not one of these geniuses at trailing who
could tell, by a mere footprint, what had been in Miss Allen's mind when
she had passed that way; but for all that it seemed logical that she had
gone up there to see if she could not glimpse the kid--or possibly the
way home.

At the top he did not loiter. He saw, before he reached the height,
where Miss Allen had come down again--and he saw where she had, to avoid
a clump of boulders and a broken ledge, gone too far to one side. He
followed that way. She had descended at an angle, after that, which took
her away from the canyon.

In Montana there is more of daylight after the sun has gone than there
is in some other places. Andy, by hurrying, managed to trail Miss Allen
to the bottom of the peak before it grew really dusky. He knew that she
had been completely lost when she reached the bottom, and had probably
wandered about at random since then. At any rate, there were no tracks
anywhere save her own, so that he felt less anxiety over her safety
than, when he had started out looking for her.

Andy knew these breaks pretty well. He went over a rocky ridge, which
Miss Allen had not tried to cross because to her it seemed exactly in
the opposite direction from where she had started, and so he came to her
horse again. He untied the poor beast and searched for a possible trail
over the ridge to where his own horse waited; and by the time he had
found one and had forced the horse to climb to the top and then descend
into the gulch, the darkness lay heavy upon the hills.

He picketed Miss Allen's horse with his rope', and fashioned a hobble
for his own mount. Then he ate a little of the food he carried and sat
down to rest and smoke and consider how best he could find Miss Allen
or the Kid--or both. He believed Miss Allen to be somewhere not far
away--since she was afoot, and had left her lunch tied to the saddle.
She could not travel far without food.

After a little he climbed back up the ridge to where he had noticed a
patch of brush, and there he started a fire. Not a very large one, but
large enough to be seen for a long distance where the vision was not
blocked by intervening hills. Then he sat down beside it and waited
and listened and tended the fire. It was all that he could do for
the present, and it seemed pitifully little. If she saw the fire, he
believed that she would come; if she did not see it, there was no hope
of his finding her in the dark. Had there been fuel on the high peak,
he might have gone up there to start his fire; but that was out of the
question, since the peak was barren.

Heavy-eyed, tired in every fibre of his being, Andy dragged up a dead
buck-bush and laid the butt of it across his blaze. Then he lay down
near it--and went to sleep as quickly as if he had been chloroformed.

It may have been an hour after that--it may have been more. He sat up
suddenly and listened. Through the stupor of his sleep he had heard Miss
Allen call. At least, he believed he had heard her call, though he knew
he might easily have dreamed it. He knew he had been asleep, because the
fire had eaten part of the way to the branches of the bush and had died
down to smoking embers. He kicked the branch upon the coals and a blaze
shot up into the night. He stood up and walked a little distance away
from the fire so that he could see better, and stood staring down into
the canyon.

From below he heard a faint call--he was sure of it. The wonder to him
was that he had heard it at all in his sleep. His anxiety must have been
strong enough even then to send the signal to his brain and rouse him.

He shouted, and again he heard a faint call. It seemed to be far down
the canyon. He started running that way.

The next time he shouted, she answered him more clearly. And farther
along he distinctly heard and recognized her voice. You may be sure he
ran, after that!

After all, it was not so very far, to a man who is running recklessly
down hill. Before he realized how close he was he saw her standing
before him in the starlight. Andy did not stop. He kept right on running
until he could catch her in his arms; and when he had her there he held
her close and then he kissed her. That was not proper, of course--but a
man does sometimes do terribly improper things under the stress of big
emotions; Andy had been haunted by the fear that she was dead.

Well, Miss Allen was just as improper as he was, for that matter. She
did say "Oh!" in a breathless kind of way, and then she must have known
who he was. There surely could be no other excuse for the way she clung
to him and without the faintest resistance let him kiss her.

"Oh, I've found him!" she whispered after the first terribly
unconventional greetings were over. "I've found him, Mr. Green. I
couldn't come up to the fire, because he's asleep and I couldn't carry
him, and I wouldn't wake him unless I had to. He's just down here--I was
afraid to go very far, for fear of losing him again. Oh, Mr. Green! I--"

"My name is Andy," he told her. "What's your name?"

"Mine? It's--well, it's Rosemary. Never mind now. I should think you'd
be just wild to see that poor little fellow--he's a brick, though."

"I've been wild," said Andy, "over a good many things--you, for one.
Where's the Kid?"

They went together, hand in hand--terribly silly, wasn't it?--to where
the Kid lay wrapped in the gray blanket in the shelter of a bank. Andy
struck a match and held it so that he could see the Kid face--and Miss
Allen, looking at the man whose wooing had been so abrupt, saw his mouth
tremble and his lashes glisten as he stared down while the match-blaze
lasted.

"Poor little tad--he's sure a great Kid," he said huskily when the match
went out. He stood up and put his arm around Miss Allen just as though
that was his habit. "And it was you that found him!" he murmured with
his face against hers. "And I've found you both, thank God."





Next: The Rell Ole Cowpuncher Goes Home

Previous: The Long Way Round



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