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Patty Draws A Map








From: The Gold Girl

That evening after supper, Patty sat upon her doorstep and watched the
slowly fading opalescent glow in which the daylight surrendered to
encroaching darkness. "How wonderful it all is, and how beautiful!"
she breathed. "The indomitable ruggedness of the hills--rough and
forbidding, but never ugly. Always beckoning, always challenging, yet
always repulsing. Guarding their secrets well. Their rock walls and
mighty precipices frowning displeasure at the presumptuous meddling of
the intruder, and their valleys gaping in sardonic grins at the puny
attempts to wrest their secret from them. Always, the mountains mock,
even as they stimulate to greater effort with their wonderful air, and
soothe bitter disappointment with the soft caress of twilight's
after-glow. I love it--and yet, how I hate it all! I can't hold out
much longer. I'm like a general who has to withdraw his forces, not
because he is beaten, but because he has run short of ammunition. It
is August, and by the end of September I'll be done." She clenched her
fists until the nails dug into her palms. "But I'll come back," she
cried, defiantly. "I'll work--I'll find some way to earn some money,
and I'll come back year after year, if I have to, until I have
explored every single one of these mountains from the littlest
foothill to the top of the highest peak. And someday, I'll win!"

"Mr. Bethune is rich." She started. The thought flashed upon her
brain, vivid as whispered words. Involuntarily, she shuddered at the
memory of his burning eyes, the hot touch of his lips upon her
hand--her arm. She remembered the short, curt answers of the hard-eyed
Pierce. And the thinly veiled distrust of Bethune, voiced by Vil
Holland, Thompson, and the preacher whom he had affectionately
referred to as "The Bishop of All Outdoors." Could it be possible--was
it reasonable, that these were all so mean and contemptible of soul
that their words were actuated by jealousy of Bethune's success? Patty
thought not. Somehow, the characters did not fit the role. "If he'd
have explained their dislike upon the grounds of his Indian blood, it
might have carried the ring of truth--at least, it would have been
reasonable. But, jealousy--as Mr. Vil Holland would say, 'I don't grab
it.'"

She recalled the wolfish gleam that flashed into Bethune's eyes, and
the malicious hatred expressed in his insinuations and accusations
against these men. Could it be possible that her distrust of Vil
Holland was unfounded? But no, there was the repeated searching of her
cabin--and had not Lord Clendenning caught him in the act? There was
the trampled grass of the notch in the hills from which he was
accustomed to spy upon her. And the cut pack sack--somehow, she was
not so sure about that cut pack sack. But, anyway--there is the jug!
"I don't trust him!" she exclaimed, "and I don't trust Monk Bethune,
now. I'm glad I found him out before it was--too late. He's bad--I
could see the evil glitter in his eyes. And, how do I know that he
told the truth about Lord Clendenning and Vil Holland?" Darkness
settled upon the valley and Patty sought her bunk where, for a
restless hour, she tossed about thinking.

The following morning the girl paused, coffee pot in hand, in the act
of preparing breakfast, and listened. Distinct and clear above the
sound of sizzling bacon, floated the words of an old ballad:

Oh, ye'll tak' the high road, and I'll tak' the low road,
An' I'll be in Sco'lan' afore ye;

But, oh, my true love I'll never meet again,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomon'.

Hastening to the open door she peered down the valley. The song
ceased, and presently from the cottonwood thicket emerged a horse and
rider. The rider wore a roll-brimmed hat and brilliant yellow chaps,
and he was mounted upon a fantastically spotted pinto. "It's--'The
Bishop of All Outdoors'," she smiled, as she returned to the stove.
"He certainly has a voice. I don't blame Mr. Thompson for being crazy
about him. Anybody that can sing like that! And he loves it, too."

A hearty "Good morning" brought her once more to the door.

"Just in time for breakfast," she smiled up into the eyes of the man
on the pinto.

"Breakfast! Bless you, I didn't stop for breakfast. I figured on
breakfasting with my friend, The Villain, over across the ridge."

"The Villain?"

"Vil Holland," laughed the man. "His name, I believe is, Villiers. I
shortened it to Villain, and the natives hereabouts have bobbed it
down to Vil. But he'll have to breakfast alone this morning, as
usual. I've changed my mind. You see, I share the proverbial weakness
of the clergy for a good meal. And against so charming a hostess, old
Vil hasn't a chance in the world." Dismounting, the Reverend Len
Christie removed his saddle and bridle and, with a resounding slap on
the flank turned the pinto loose. "Get along, old Paint, and lay in
some of this good grass!" he laughed as the pinto, cavorting like a
colt, galloped across the creek to join Patty's hobbled cayuse.

"My, that bacon smells good," he said, a moment later, as he stood in
the doorway and watched the girl turn the thin strips in the pan. "Do
let me furnish part of the breakfast," he cried, eagerly and began
swiftly to loosen from behind the cantle of his saddle a slender case,
from which he produced and fitted together a two-ounce rod. "I'll take
it right from your own dooryard in just about two jiffies." He affixed
a reel, threaded a cobweb line, and selected a fly. "Just save that
bacon fry for a few minutes and we'll have some speckled beauties in
the pan before you know it."

Pushing the frying pan to the back of the stove, Patty accompanied him
to the bank of the stream where she watched enthusiastically as, one
after another, he pulled four glistening trout from the water.

"That's enough," he said, as the fourth fish lay squirming upon the
grass. And in what seemed to the girl an incredibly short time, he had
them cleaned, washed, and ready for the pan. While she fried them he
busied himself with his outfit, wiping his rod and carefully returning
it to its case, and spreading his line to dry. And a few moments later
the two sat down to a breakfast of hot biscuits, coffee, bacon, and
trout, crisp and brown, smoking from the pan.

"You must have ridden nearly all night to have reached here so early,"
ventured the girl as she poured a cup of steaming coffee.

"No," laughed Christie, "I spent the night at the Wattses'. I had some
drawing paper and pencils for David Golieth. Do you know, I've a
notion to send that kid to school some place. He's wild about drawing.
Takes me all over the hills for a mile or two around the ranch and
shows me pictures he has drawn with charcoal wherever there is a piece
of flat rock. He's as shy and sensitive as a girl, until he begins to
talk about his drawing, then his big eyes fairly glow with enthusiasm
as he points out the good points of some of his creations, and the
defects of others. All of them, of course, are crude as the pictorial
efforts of the Indians, but it seems to me that here and there I can
see a flash of real genius."

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if he should become a famous artist!"
exclaimed the girl. "And wouldn't you feel proud of having discovered
him? And I guess lots of them do come from just as unpromising
parentage."

"It wouldn't be so remarkable," smiled the man. "Watts, himself is a
genius--for inventing excuses to rest."

"How is the sick man?" asked Patty. "The one you went to see, over on
Big Porcupine, wasn't it?"

"Yes, old man Samuelson. Fine old fellow--Samuelson. I sure hope he'll
pull through. Doc Mallory came while I was there, and he told me he's
got a good fighting chance. And a fighting chance is all that old
fellow asks--even against pneumonia. He's a man!"

"I wonder if there is anything I could do?" asked the girl.

Christie's face brightened. "Why, yes, if you would. It's a long ride
from here--thirty miles or so. There's nothing you could take them,
they're very well fixed--capital Chinese cook and all that. But I've
an idea that just the fact that you called would cheer them immensely.
They lost a daughter years ago who would be about your age, I think.
They've got a son, but he's up in Alaska, or some place where they
can't reach him. Decidedly I think it would do those old people a
world of good. You'll find Mrs. Samuelson different from----"


"Ma Watts?" interrupted Patty.

The man laughed, "Yes, from Ma Watts. Although she's a well meaning
soul. She's going over and 'stay a spell' with the Samuelsons, just as
soon as she can 'fix to go.' Mrs. Samuelson is a really superior old
lady, refined and lovable in every way. You'll like her immensely. I'm
sure. And I know she will enjoy you."

"Thank you," Patty bowed elaborately. "Poor thing, she must be
frightfully lonely."

"Yes. Of course, the neighbors do all they can. But neighbors are few
and far between. Vil Holland has been over a couple of times, and Jack
Pierce stopped work right in the middle of his upland haying to go to
town for some medicine. I tell you, Miss Sinclair, a person soon
learns who's who in the mountains."

Christie pushed back his chair. "I must be going. I hate to hurry off,
but I want to see Vil and caution him to have an eye on the old man's
stock--you see, there are some shady characters in the hills, and old
man Samuelson runs horses as well as cattle. It is very possible they
may decide to get busy while he is laid up.

"By the way, Miss Sinclair, may I ask if you are making satisfactory
headway in your own enterprise?"

Patty shook her head. "No. I'm afraid I'm making no headway at all.
Sometimes, I think--I'm afraid--" she stumbled for words.

"Is there anything in the world I can do to help you?" asked the man,
eagerly. "If there is, just mention it. I knew your father, and
admired him very much. I'm satisfied he made a strike, and I do hope
you can locate it."

The girl shook her head. "No, nothing, thank you," she answered and
then suddenly looked up, "That is--wait, maybe there is something----"

"Name it." Christie waited eagerly for her to speak.

"It just occurred to me--maybe you could help me--find a school."

"A school!"

"Yes, a school to teach. You see, I have used nearly all my money. By
the end of next month it will be gone, and I must get a job." The man
noticed that the girl was doing her best to meet the situation
bravely.

"Indeed I will help you!" he exclaimed. "In fact, I think I can right
now promise that whenever you get ready to accept it, there will be a
position waiting."

"Even if it is only a country school--just so I can make enough money
this winter to come back next summer."

"I couldn't think of letting a country school get you. We need you
right in town. You see, I happen to be president of the school board,
and if I were to let a perfectly good teacher get away, I'd deserve to
lose my job." Stepping to the door, he whistled shrilly, and a moment
later the piebald cayuse trotted to his side. When the horse stood
saddled and bridled, the man turned to Patty: "Oh, about the
Samuelsons--do you know how to get to Big Porcupine?"

Patty shook her head. "No, but I guess I can find it."

"Give me a pencil and a piece of paper, and I'll show you in a
minute." Leaning over the table, the man sketched rapidly upon the
paper. "We'll say this is the Watts ranch, and mark it R. That's our
starting point. Then you follow down the creek to the ford--here, at
F. Then, instead of following the trail, you turn due east, and follow
up a little creek about ten miles. This arrow pointing upward means up
the creek. When you come to a sharp pinnacle that divides your
valley--we'll mark that [^] so--you take the right hand branch, and
follow it to the divide. That leads, let's see, southeast--we'll mark
it S. E. 3 to D; it runs about three miles to the divide which you
cross. Then you follow down another creek four or five miles until it
empties into Big Porcupine, 4 E. to P., and from there it's easy. Just
turn up Porcupine, pass Jack Pierce's ranch, and about five miles
farther on you come to Samuelson's. Do you get it?"

Patty watched every move of the pencil, as she listened to the explanation.
And when, a few moments later, the big "Bishop of All Outdoors" crossed the
ford and rode out of sight up the coulee that led to the trampled notch in
the hills, she threw herself down at the table and with eyes big with
excitement, drew her father's map from its silk envelope and spread it out
beside Christie's roughly sketched one. "What a fool I am not to have
guessed that those letters must stand for the points of the compass!" she
cried. "It ought to be plain as day, now." Carefully, she read the
cabalistic line at the bottom of the map. "SC 1 S 1 1/2 E 1 S [up arrow] to
[union symbol] 2 W to a. to b. Stake L. C. [zigzag symbol] center." Her
brow drew into a puzzled frown "SC," she repeated. "S stands for south, but
what does SC mean? SW or SE would be southwest, or southeast, but SC--?"
She glanced at the other map. "Let's see, Mr. Christie's first letter is
R--that stands for Watts' Ranch. SC must represent daddy's starting point,
of course! But, SC? Let's see, South Corner--south corner of what? I wish
he'd put his letters right on the map like this one, instead of all in a
row at the bottom, then I might figure out what he was driving at. SC, SC,
SC, SC," she repeated over and over again, until the letters became a mere
jumble of meaningless sounds. "S must stand for South," she insisted, "and
C could stand for creek, or cave, only there are no caves around here that
I've seen, or camp--South Camp--that don't do me any good, I don't know
where any of his camps were. And he'd hardly say Creek, that would be too
indefinite. Let's see, C--cottonwood--south cottonwood--short cottonwood,
scarred cottonwood, well if I have to hunt these hills over for a short
cottonwood or a scarred cottonwood, when there are millions of both, I
might better keep on hunting for the crack in the rock wall."

For a long time she sat staring at the paper. "If I could only get the
starting point figured out, the rest would be easy. It says one mile
south, one and one half miles east, one mile south, then the arrowhead
pointing up, must mean up a creek or a mountain to something that
looks like an inverted horseshoe, then, two miles west to a. to b.
whatever a. and b. are. There are no letters on the map, then it says
to stake L. C.--L. C., is lode claim, at least, I know that much, and
it can be 1500 feet long along the vein, and 300 feet each way from
the center. But what does he mean by the wiggly looking mark before
the word center? I guess it isn't going to be quite as easy as it
looks," she concluded, "even when I know that the letters stand for
the points of the compass. If I could only figure out where to start
from I could find my way at least to the a. b. part--and that would be
something.

"Anyway, I know how to make a map, now, and that is just exactly what
I needed to know in order to set my trap for the prowler who is
continually searching this cabin. It's all ready but the map, and I
may as well finish up the job to-day as any time." From the pocket of
her shirt she drew a photograph and examined it critically. "It looks
a good deal like the close-up of one of daddy's," she said
approvingly, "and it certainly looks as if it might have been carried
for a year." Returning the picture to her pocket, she folded the
preacher's map with her father's and replaced them in the envelope,
then making her way to the coulee, extracted from the tin can two or
three of her father's ore samples. These, together with a light
miner's pick, she placed in an empty flour sack which she secured to
her saddle and struck out northwestward into the hills.

At the top of the first divide she stopped, carefully studied the back
trail, and producing paper and pencil made a rough sketch which she
marked 1 NW. She rode on, mapping her trail and adding letters and
figures to denote distance and direction.

Her continued scrutiny of the back trail satisfied her that she was
not followed. Two hours brought her to her journey's end, a rock wall
some seven miles from her cabin. Producing the photograph, she
verified the exact location, and with her pick, proceeded to stir up
the ground and loose rocks at the base of the ledge. For an hour she
worked steadily, then carefully replaced the dirt and small fragments,
taking care to leave the samples from her sack where they would appear
to have been tossed with the other fragments. Indicating the spot by a
dot on the photograph she rode back to her cabin and spent the entire
afternoon covering sheets of paper with trail maps, and letters, and
figures, in an endeavor to produce a sketch that would pass as a
prospector's hastily prepared field map. At last she produced several
that compared favorably with her father's and taking a blank leaf from
an old notebook she found in the pack sack, drew a very creditable
rough sketch.

"Now, for putting in the letters and figures," she said, as she held
the paper up for inspection. "Let's see, where would daddy have
started from? Watts's ranch, maybe, or he could have started from
here. This cabin was here then, and that would make it seem all the
more reasonable that I should have chosen this for my home. C stands
for cabin, or, let's see, what did they call this place. The sheep
camp, here goes SC--Why! SC--SC! That's the starting point on daddy's
map! And here I sat right in this chair and nearly went crazy trying
to figure out what SC meant! And, if it weren't so late, I'd start
right out now to find my mine! If it weren't for that a. b. part I
could ride right to it, and snap my fingers at the prowler. But, it
may take me a long time to blunder onto the meaning of these letters,
and anyway, I want to know 'who's who,' as Mr. Christie says." She
continued her work, and a half-hour later examined the result
critically. "SC 1 NW 1 N [up arrow] to [union symbol] 2 E to a. Stake L. C.
center at dot," she read, "and just to make it easier for him, I put
the a. down on the map." With a sigh of satisfaction the girl
carefully placed the new map and photograph in the silk envelope, and
placing the others in the pocket of her shirt, fastened it with a pin.
Whereupon, she gathered up all the practice sketches and burned them.

Glancing out of the window, she saw Microby Dandeline approaching the
cabin, her dejected old Indian pony, ears a-flop, placing one foot
before the other with the extreme deliberation that characterized his
every movement. Patty smiled as her eyes took in the details of the
grotesque figure; the old harness bridle with patched reins and one
blinder dangling, the faded gingham sunbonnet hanging at the back of
the girl's neck, held in place by the strings knotted tightly beneath
her chin, the misshapen calico dress caught over the saddle-horn in a
manner that exposed the girl's bare legs to the knees, and the thick
bare feet pressed uncomfortably into the chafing rope stirrups--truly,
a grotesque, and yet, Patty frowned--a pitiable figure, too. The pony
halted before the door, and Patty greeted the girl who scrambled
clumsily to the ground.

"Well, well, if it isn't Microby Dandeline! You haven't been to see me
lately. The last time you were here I was not at home."

"Hit wasn't me."

"What!" exclaimed Patty, remembering the barefoot track at the spring.

"I wasn't yere las' time."

Patty curbed a desire to laugh. The girl was deliberately lying--but
why? Was it because she feared displeasure at the invasion of the
cabin. Patty thought not, for such was the established custom of the
country. The girl did not look at her, but stood boring into the dirt
with her bare toe.

"Well, you're here now, anyway," smiled Patty. "Come on in and help me
get supper, and then we'll eat. You get the water, while I build the
fire."

When the girl returned from the spring, Patty tried again: "While I
was in town somebody came here and cooked a meal, and when they got
through they washed all the dishes and put them away so nicely I
thought sure it was you, and I was glad, because I like to have you
come and see me."

"Hit wasn't me," repeated the girl, stubbornly.

"I wonder who it could have been?"

"Mebbe hit was Mr. Christie. He was to our house las' night. He brung
Davy some pencils an' a lot o' papers fer to draw pitchers. Pa 'lowed
how Davy'd git to foolin' away his time on 'em, an' Mr. Christie says
how ef he learnt to drawer good, folks buys 'em, an' then Davy'll git
rich. Pa says, whut's folks gonna pay money fer pitchers they kin git
'em fer nothin'? But ef folks gits pitchers they does git rich, don't
they?"

"Why, yes----"

"You got pitchers, an' yo' rich."

Patty laughed. "I'm afraid I'm not very rich," she said.

"Will yo' give me a pitcher?"

"Why, yes." She glanced at the few prints that adorned the log wall,
trying to make up her mind which she would part with, and deciding
upon a mysterious moonlight-on-the-waves effect, lifted it from the
wall and placed it in the girl's hands.

Microby Dandeline stared at it without enthusiasm: "I want a took
one," she said, at length.

"A what?"

"A one tooken with that," she pointed at the camera that adorned the
top of the little cupboard.

"Oh," smiled Patty, "you want me to take your picture! All right, I'd
love to take your picture. You can get on Gee Dot, and I'll take you
both. But we'll have to wait till there is more light. The sun has
gone down and it's too dark this evening."

The girl shook her head, "Naw, I don't want none like that. That
hain't no good. I want one like yo' pa tookened of his mine. Then I'll
git rich too."

"So that's it," thought Patty, busying herself with the biscuit dough.
And instantly there flashed into her mind the words of Ma Watts, "Mr.
Bethune tellin' her how she'd git rich ef she could fin' a gol' mine,
an' how she could buy her fine clos' like yourn an' go to the city an'
live." And she remembered that the woman had said that all the time
she and Lord Clendenning had been wrangling over the eggs, Bethune and
Microby had "talked an' laughed, friendly as yo' please."

"How do you know my father took any pictures of his mine?" asked
Patty, cautiously.

"'Cause he did."

"What would you do with the picture if I gave it to you?"

"I'd git rich."

"How?"

"'Cause I would."

Patty whirled suddenly upon the girl and grasping her shoulder with a
doughy hand shook her smartly: "Who told you that? What do you mean?
Who are you trying to get that picture for? Come! Out with it!"

"Le' me go," whimpered the girl, frightened by the unexpected attack.

"Not 'til you tell me who told you about that picture. Come
on--speak!" The shaking continued.

"Hit--wu-wu-wus--V-V-Vil Hol-Holland!" she sniffled readily--all too
readily to be convincing, thought Patty, as she released her grip on
the girl's shoulder.

"Oh, it was Vil Holland, was it? And what does he want with it?"

"He--he--s-says h-how h-him an' m-me'd g-git r-r-rich!"

"Who told you to say it was Vil Holland?"

"Hit wus Vil Holland--an' that's whut I gotta say," she repeated,
between sobs. "An' now yo' mad--an'--an' Mr. Bethune he'll--he'll kill
me."

"Mr. Bethune? What has Mr. Bethune got to do with it?"

The girl leaped to her feet and faced Patty in a rage: "An' he'll kill
yo', too--an' I'll be glad! An' he says he's gonna By God git that
pitcher ef he's gotta kill yo', an' Vil Holland, an' everyone in these
damn hills--an' I'm glad of hit! I don't like yo' no more--an' pitcher
shows hain't as good as circusts--an' I don't like towns--an' I
hain't a-gonna wear no shoes an' stockin's--an' I'm a-gonna tell ma
yo' shuck me--an' she'll larrup yo' good--an' pa'll make yo' git out
o' ar sheep camp--an' I'm glad of hit!" She rushed from the cabin, and
mounting her pony, headed him down the creek, turning in the saddle
every few steps to make hateful mouths at the girl who stood watching
from the doorway.





Next: The Samuelsons

Previous: Bethune Tries Again



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