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The Parting By The Waters








From: An Apache Princess

"Some day I may tell Miss Angela--but never you," had Mr. Blakely
said, before setting forth on his perilous essay to find Angela's
father, and with native tenacity Miss Wren the elder had remembered
the words and nourished her wrath. It was strange, indeed, that Plume,
an officer and a gentleman, should have bethought him of the "austere
vestal" as a companion witness to Blakely's supposed iniquity; but,
between these two natures,--one strong, one weak,--there had sprung up
the strange sympathy that is born of a common, deep-rooted, yet
ill-defined antipathy--one for which neither she nor he could yet give
good reason, and of which each was secretly ashamed. Each, for reasons
of her or his own, cordially disliked the Bugologist, and each could
not but welcome evidence to warrant such dislike. It is human nature.
Janet Wren had strong convictions that the man was immoral, if for no
other reason than that he obviously sought Angela and as obviously
avoided her. Janet had believed him capable of carrying on a liaison
with the dame who had jilted him, and had had to see that theory
crushed. Then she would have it that, if not the mistress, he dallied
with the maid, and when it began to transpire that virulent hatred was
the only passion felt for him by that baffling and detestable
daughter of Belial, there came actual joy to the soul of the
Scotchwoman that, after all, her intuition had not been at fault. He
was immoral as she would have him, even more so, for he had taken base
advantage of the young and presumably innocent. She craved some proof,
and Plume knew it, and, seeing her there alone in her dejection, had
bidden her come and look--with the result described.

His own feeling toward Blakely is difficult to explain. Kind friends
had told him at St. Louis how inseparable had been Clarice and this
very superior young officer. She had admitted to him the "flirtation,"
but denied all regard for Blakely, yet Plume speedily found her moody,
fitful, and unhappy, and made up his mind that Blakely was at the
bottom of it. Her desire to go to far-away Arizona could have no other
explanation. And though in no way whatever, by look, word, or deed,
had Blakely transgressed the strictest rule in his bearing toward the
major's wife, both major and wife became incensed at him,--Plume
because he believed the Bugologist still cherished a tender passion
for his wife--or she for him; Clarice, it must be owned, because she
knew well he did not. Plume sought to find a flaw in his subordinate's
moral armor to warrant the aversion that he felt, and was balked at
every turn. It was with joy almost fierce he discovered what he
thought to be proof that the subaltern was no saint, and, never
stopping to give his better nature time to rise and rebuke him, he had
summoned Janet. It was to sting Blakely, more than to punish the girl,
he had ordered Natzie to the guard-room. Then, as the hours wore on
and he realized how contemptible had been his conduct, the sense of
shame well-nigh crushed him, and though it galled him to think that
some of his own kind, probably, had connived at Natzie's escape, he
thanked God the girl was gone. And now having convinced herself that
here at last she had positive proof of Mr. Blakely's depravity, Aunt
Janet had not scrupled to bear it to Angela, with sharp and surprising
result. A good girl, a dutiful girl, was Angela, as we have seen, but
she, too, had her share of fighting Scotch blood and a bent for revolt
that needed only a reason. For days Aunt Janet had bidden her shun the
young man, first naming Mrs. Plume and then Elsie as the cause and
corespondent. One after another Graham had demolished these
possibilities, to the end that even Wren was ashamed of his unworthy
suspicions. Then it was Natzie who was the prey of Blakely's
immorality, and for that, Janet declared, quite as much as for
stabbing the soldier, the girl had been sent to the cells. It was late
in the day when she managed to find Angela away from her father, who,
realizing what Natzie had done and suffered to save his own ewe lamb,
was now in keen distress of mind because powerless to raise a hand to
aid her. He wondered that Angela seemed so unresponsive--that she did
not flare up in protest at such degrading punishment for the girl who
had saved her life. He little knew how his daughter's heart was
burning within her. He never dreamed that she, too, was
suffering--torn by conflicting emotions. It was a sore thing to find
that in her benefactress lived an unsuspected rival.

Just before sunset she had left him and gone to her room to change her
dress for the evening, and Janet's first swoop was upon her brother.
Once before during the exciting day she had had a moment to herself
and him. She had so constantly fanned the flame of his belief in
Blakely's gallantries as even to throttle the sense of gratitude he
felt, and, in spite of herself, that she felt for that officer's
daring and successful services during the campaign. She felt, and he
felt, that they must disapprove of Blakely--must stamp out any nascent
regard that Angela might cherish for him, and to this end would never
in her presence admit that he had been instrumental in the rescue of
his captain, much less his captain's daughter. Hurriedly Janet had
told him what she and Plume had seen, and left him to ponder over it.
Now she came to induce him to bid her tell it all to Angela. "Now
that, that other--affair--seems disproved," said she, "she'll be
thinking there's no reason why she shouldn't be thinking of him," and
dejectedly the Scotchman bade her do as seemed best. Women, he
reasoned, could better read each other's hearts.

And so Janet had gone and had thought to shock, and had most
impressively detailed what she had witnessed--I fear me Janet scrupled
not to embroider a bit, so much is permissible to the "unco guid" when
so very much is at stake. And Angela went on brushing out her
beautiful hair without a sign of emotion. To the scandal of Scotch
maidenhood she seemed unimpressed by the depravity of the pair. To the
surprise of Aunt Janet she heard her without interruption to the
uttermost word, and then--wished to know if Aunt Janet thought the
major would let her send Natzie something for supper.

Whatever the girl may have thought of this new and possible
complication, she determined that no soul should read that it cost her
a pang. She declined to discuss it. She did what she had not done
before that day--went forth in search of Kate Sanders. Aunt Janet was
astonished that her niece should wish to send food to that--that
trollop. What would she have thought could she have heard what passed
a few moments later? In the dusk and the gloaming Kate Sanders was in
conversation on the side veranda with a tall sergeant of her father's
troop. "Ask her?" Kate was saying. "Of course I'll ask her. Why, here
she comes now!" Will it be believed that Sergeant Shannon wished Miss
Angela's permission to "take Punch out for a little exercise," a thing
he had never ventured to ask before, and that Angela Wren eagerly
said, "Yes." Poor Shannon! He did not know that night how soon he
would be borrowing a horse on his own account, nor that two brave
girls would nearly cry their eyes out over it, when they were barely
on speaking terms.

Of him there came sad news but the day after his crack-brained,
Quixotic essay. Infatuated with Elise, and believing in her promise to
marry him, he had placed his savings in her hands, even as had Downs
and Carmody. He had heard the story of her visiting Blakely by night,
and scouted it. He heard, in a maze of astonishment, that she was
being sent to Prescott under guard for delivery to the civil
authorities, and taking the first horse he could lay hands on, he
galloped in chase. He had overtaken the ambulance on Cherry Creek, and
with moving tears she had besought him to save her. Faithful to their
trust, the guard had to interpose, but, late at night, they reached
Stemmer's ranch; were met there by a relief guard sent down by Captain
Stout; and the big sergeant who came in charge, with special
instructions from Stout's own lips, was a new king who knew not
Joseph, and who sternly bade Shannon keep his distance. Hot words
followed, for the trooper sergeant would stand no hectoring from an
equal in rank. Shannon's heart was already lost, and now he lost his
head. He struck a fellow-sergeant who stood charged with an important
duty, and even his own comrades could not interpose when the
infantrymen threw themselves upon the raging Irish soldier and
hammered him hard before they could subdue and bind him, but bind him
they did. Sadly the trooper guard went back to Sandy, bringing the
"borrowed" horse and the bad news that Shannon had been arrested for
assaulting Sergeant Bull, and all men knew that court-martial and
disgrace must follow. It was Shannon's last run on the road he knew so
well. Soldiers of rank came forward to plead for him and bear witness
to his worth and services, and the general commanding remitted most of
the sentence, restoring to him everything the court had decreed
forfeited except the chevrons. They had to go, yet could soon be
regained. But no man could restore to him the pride and self-respect
that went when he realized that he was only one of several plucked and
deluded victims of a female sharper. While the Frenchwoman ogled and
languished behind the bars, Shannon wandered out into the world again,
a deserter from the troop he was ashamed to face, an unfollowed,
unsought fugitive among the mining camps in the Sierras. "Three stout
soldiers stricken from the rolls--two of them gone to their last
account," mused poor Plume, as at last he led his unhappy wife away to
the sea, "and all the work of one woman!"

Yes, Mrs. Plume was gone now for good and all, her devoted, yet
sore-hearted major with her, and Wren was sufficiently recovered to be
up and taking the air on his veranda, where Sanders sometimes stopped
to see him, and "pass the time of day," but cut his visits short and
spoke of everything but what was uppermost in his mind, because his
better half persuaded him that only ill would come from preaching.
Then, late one wonderful day, the interesting invalid, Mr. Neil
Blakely himself, was "paraded" upon the piazza in the Sanders's
special reclining-chair, and Kate and Mrs. Sanders beamed, while
nearly all society at the post came and purred and congratulated and
took sidelong glances up the row to where Angela but a while before
was reading to her grim old father, but where the father now read
alone, for Angela had gone, as was her custom at the hour, to her own
little room, and thither did Janet conceive it her duty to follow,
and there to investigate.

"It won't be long now before that young man will be hobbling around
the post, I suppose. How do you expect to avoid him?" said the elder
maiden, looking with uncompromising austerity at her niece. Angela as
before had just shaken loose her wealth of billowy tresses and was
carefully brushing them. She did not turn from the contemplation of
her double in the mirror before her; she did not hesitate in her
reply. It was brief, calm, and to the point.

"I shall not avoid him."

"Angela! And after all I--your father and I--have told you!" And Aunt
Janet began to bristle.

"Two-thirds of what you told me, Aunt Janet, proved to be without
foundation. Now I doubt--the rest of it." And Aunt Janet saw the big
eyes beginning to fill; saw the twitching at the corners of the soft,
sensitive lips; saw the trembling of the slender, white hand, and the
ominous tapping of the slender, shapely foot, but there wasn't a
symptom of fear or flinching. The blood of the Wrens was up for
battle. The child was a woman grown. The day of revolt had come at
last.

"Angela Wr-r-ren!" rolled Aunt Janet. "D'you mean you're going to
see him?--speak to him?"

"I'm going to see him and--thank him, Aunt Janet." And now the girl
had turned and faced the astounded woman at the door. "You may spare
yourself any words upon the subject."

The captain was seated in loneliness and mental perturbation just
where Angela had left him, but no longer pretending to read. His back
was toward the southern end of the row. He had not even seen the cause
of the impromptu reception at the Sanders's. He read what was taking
place when Angela began to lose her voice, to stumble over her words;
and, peering at her under his bushy eyebrows, he saw that the face he
loved was flushing, that her young bosom was swiftly rising and
falling, the beautiful brown eyes wandering from the page. Even before
the glad voices from below came ringing to his ears, he read in his
daughter's face the tumult in her guileless heart, and then she
suddenly caught herself and hurried back to the words that seemed
swimming in space before her. But the effort was vain. Rising quickly,
and with brave effort steadying her voice, she said, "I'll run and
dress now, father, dear," and was gone, leaving him to face the
problem thrust upon him. Had he known that Janet, too, had heard from
the covert of the screened and shaded window of the little parlor, and
then that she had followed, he would have shouted for his German
"striker" and sent a mandate to his sister that she could not fail to
understand. He did not know that she had been with Angela until he
heard her footstep and saw her face at the hall doorway. She had not
even to roll her r's before the story was told.

Two days now he had lived in much distress of mind. Before quitting
the post Major Plume had laboriously gone the rounds, saying good-by
to every officer and lady. Two officers he had asked to see
alone--the captain and first lieutenant of Troop "C." Janet knew of
this, and should have known it meant amende and reconciliation,
perhaps revelation, but because her brother saw fit to sit and ponder,
she saw fit to cling unflinchingly to her preconceived ideas and to
act according to them. With Graham she was exceeding wroth for daring
to defend such persons as Lieutenant Blakely and "that Indian squaw."
It was akin to opposing weak-minded theories to positive knowledge of
facts. She had seen with her own eyes the ignorant, but no less
abandoned, creature kneeling at Blakely's bedside, her black head
pillowed close to his breast. She had seen her spring up in fury at
being caught--what else could have so enraged her that she should seek
to knife the intruders? argued Janet. She believed, or professed to
believe, that but for the vigilance of poor Todd, now quite happy in
his convalescence, the young savage would have murdered both the major
and herself. She did not care what Dr. Graham said. She had seen, and
seeing, with Janet, was believing.

But she knew her brother well, and knew that since Graham's impetuous
outbreak he had been wavering sadly, and since Plume's parting visit
had been plunged in a mental slough of doubt and distress. Once before
his stubborn Scotch nature had had to strike its colors and surrender
to his own subaltern, and now the same struggle was on again, for what
Plume said, and said in presence of grim old Graham, fairly startled
him:

"You are not the only one to whom I owe amende and apology, Captain
Wren. I wronged you, when you were shielding--my wife--at no little
cost to yourself. I wronged Blakely in several ways, and I have had to
go and tell him so and beg his pardon. The meanest thing I ever did
was bringing Miss Wren in there to spy on him, unless it was in
sending that girl to the guard-house. I'd beg her pardon, too, if she
could be found. Yes, I see you look glum, Wren, but we've all been
wrong, I reckon. There's no mystery about it now."

And then Plume told his tale and Wren meekly listened. It might well
be, said he, that Natzie loved Blakely. All her people did. She had
been watching him from the willows as he slept that day at the pool.
He had forbidden her following him, forbidden her coming to the post,
and she feared to wake him, yet when she saw the two prospectors, that
had been at Hart's, ride over toward the sleeping officer she was
startled. She saw them watching, whispering together. Then they rode
down and tied their horses among the trees a hundred yards below, and
came crouching along the bank. She was up in an instant and over the
stream at the shallows, and that scared them off long enough to let
her reach him. Even then she dare not wake him for fear of his anger
at her disobedience, but his coat was open, his watch and wallet easy
to take. She quickly seized them--the little picture-case being within
the wallet at the moment--and sped back to her covert. Then Angela had
come cantering down the sandy road; had gone on down stream, passing
even the prowling prospectors, and after a few minutes had returned
and dismounted among the willows above where Blakely lay--Angela whom
poor Natzie believed to be Blakely's sister. Natzie supposed her
looking for her brother, and wondered why she waited. Natzie finally
signaled and pointed when she saw that Angela was going in
disappointment at not finding him. Natzie witnessed Angela's theft of
the net and her laughing ride away. By this time the prospectors had
given up and gone about their business, and then, while she was
wondering how best to restore the property, Lola and Alchisay had come
with the annoying news that the agent was angered and had sent
trailers after her. They were even then only a little way up stream.
The three then made a run for the rocks to the east, and there
remained in hiding. That night Natzie had done her best to find her
way to Blakely with the property, and the rest they knew. The watch
was dropped in the struggle on the mesa when Mullins was stabbed,
the picture-case that morning at the major's quarters.

"Was it Blakely told you all this, sir?" Wren had asked, still
wrong-headed and suspicious.

"No, Wren. It was I told Blakely. All this was given me by Lola's
father, the interpreter, back from Chevlon's Fork only yesterday. I
sent him to try to persuade Natzie and her kinsfolk to return. I have
promised them immunity."

Then Plume and Graham had gone, leaving Wren to brood and ponder, and
this had he been doing two mortal days and nights without definite
result, and now came Janet to bring things to a head. In grim and
ominous silence he listened to her recital, saying never a word until
her final appeal:

"R-r-robert, is our girlie going daft, do you think? She solemnly said
to me--to me--but a minute ago, 'I mean to go to him myself--and thank
him!'"

And solemnly the soldier looked up from his reclining-chair and
studied his sister's amazed and anxious face. Then he took her thin,
white hand between his own thin, brown paws and patted it gently. She
recoiled slowly as she saw contrition, not condemnation, in his
blinking eyes.

"God forgive us all, Janet! It's what I ought to have done days ago."

* * * * *

Another cloudless afternoon had come, and, under the willows at the
edge of the pool, a young girl sat daydreaming, though the day was
nearly done. All in the valley was wrapped in shadow, though the
cliffs and turrets across the stream were resplendent in a radiance of
slanting sunshine. Not a whisper of breeze stirred the drooping
foliage along the sandy shores, or ruffled the liquid mirror surface.
Not a sound, save drowsy hum of beetle or soft murmur of rippling
waters among the pebbly shadows below, broke the vast silence of the
scene. Just where Angela was seated that October day on which our
story opened, she was seated now, with the greyhounds stretched
sprawling in the warm sands at her feet, with Punch blinking lazily
and switching his long tail in the thick of the willows.

And somebody else was there, close at hand. The shadows of the
westward heights had gradually risen to the crest of the rocky cliffs
across the stream. A soft, prolonged call of distant trumpet summoned
homeward for the coming night the scattered herds and herd guards of
the post, and, rising suddenly, her hand upon a swift-throbbing heart,
her red lips parted in eagerness or excitement uncontrollable, Angela
stood intently listening. Over among the thickets across the pool the
voice of an Indian girl was uplifted in some weird, uncanny song. The
voice was shrill, yet not unmusical. The song was savage, yet not
lacking some crude harmony. She could not see the singer, but she
knew. Natzie's people had returned to the agency, accepting the olive
branch that Plume had tendered them--Natzie herself was here.

At the first sound of the uplifted voice an Apache boy, crouching in
the shrubbery at the edge of the pool, rose quickly to his feet, and,
swift and noiseless, stole away into the thicket. If he thought to
conceal himself or his purpose his caution was needless. Angela
neither saw nor heard him. Neither was it the song nor the singer that
now arrested her attention. So still was the air, so deep was the
silence of nature, that even on such sandy roads and bridlepaths as
traversed the winding valley, the faintest hoof-beat was carried far.
Another horse, another rider, was quickly coming. Tonto, the big hound
nearest her, lifted his shapely head and listened a moment, then went
bounding away through the willows, followed swiftly by his mate. They
knew the hoof-beats, and joyously ran to meet and welcome the rider.
Angela knew them quite as well, but could neither run to meet, nor
could she fly.

Only twice, as yet, had she opportunity to see or to thank Neil
Blakely, and a week had passed since her straightforward challenge to
Aunt Janet. As soon as he could walk unaided, save by his stick, Wren
had gone stumping down the line to Sanders's quarters and asked for
Mr. Blakely, with whom he had an uninterrupted talk of half an hour.
Within two days thereafter Mr. Blakely in person returned the call,
being received with awful state and solemnity by Miss Wren herself.
Angela, summoned by her father's voice, came flitting down a moment
later, and there in the little army parlor, where first she had sought
to "entertain" him until the captain should appear, our Angela was
once again brought face to face with him who had meanwhile risked his
life in the effort to rescue her father, and again in the effort to
find and rescue her. A fine blush mantled her winsome face as she
entered, and, without a glance at Janet, went straightway to their
visitor, with extended hand.

"I am so glad to see you again, Mr. Blakely," she bravely began. "I
have--so much--to thank you--" but her brown eyes fell before the fire
in the blue and her whole being thrilled at the fervor of his
handclasp. She drew her hand away, the color mounting higher, then
snuggled to her father's side with intent to take his arm; but,
realizing suddenly how her own was trembling, grasped instead the back
of a chair. Blakely was saying something, she knew not what, nor could
she ever recall much that anyone said during the brief ten minutes of
his stay, for there sat Aunt Janet, bolt upright, after the fashion of
fifty years gone by, a formidable picture indeed, and Angela wondered
that anyone could say anything at all.

Next time they met she was riding home and he sat on the south veranda
with Mrs. Sanders and Kate. She would have ridden by with just a nod
and smile; but, at sight of her, he "hobbled" down the steps and came
hurriedly out to speak, whereupon Mrs. Sanders, who knew much better,
followed to "help him," as she said. "Help, indeed!" quoth angry Kate,
usually most dutiful of daughters. "You'd only hinder!" But even that
presence had not stopped his saying: "The doctor promises I may ride
Hart's single-footer in a day or two, Miss Angela, and then--"

And now it was a "single-footer" coming, the only one at Sandy. Of
course it might be Hart, not Blakely, and yet Blakely had seen her as
she rode away. It was Blakely's voice--how seldom she had heard, yet
how well she knew it! answering the joyous welcome of the hounds. It
was Blakely who came riding straight in among the willows, a radiance
in his thin and lately pallid face--Blakely who quickly, yet
awkwardly, dismounted, for it still caused him pain, and then,
forgetful of his horse, came instantly to her as she stood there,
smiling, yet tremulous. The hand that sought hers fairly shook, but
that, said Angela, though she well knew better, might have been from
weakness or from riding. For a moment he did not speak. It was she who
began. She thought he should know at once.

"Did you--hear her singing--too?" she hazarded.

"Hear?--Who?" he replied, grudgingly letting go the hand because it
pulled with such determination.

"Why--Natzie, I suppose. At least--I haven't seen her," she stammered,
her cheeks all crimson now.

"Natzie, indeed!" he answered, in surprise, turning slowly and
studying the opposite willows. "It is only a day or two since they
came in. I thought she'd soon be down." Obviously her coming caused
him neither embarrassment nor concern. "She still has a notecase of
mine. I suppose you heard?" And his clear blue eyes were fastened on
her lovely, downcast face.

"Something. Not much," she answered, drawing back a little, for he
stood so close to her she could have heard the beating of his
heart--but for her own. All was silence over there in the opposite
willows, but so it was the day Natzie had so suddenly appeared from
nowhere, and he saw the hurried glance she sent across the pool.

"Has she worried you?" he began, "has she been--" spying, he was going
to say, and she knew it, and grew redder still with vexation. Natzie
could claim at least that she was not without a shining example had
she come there to spy, but Blakely had that to say to her that
deserved undivided attention, and there is a time when even one's
preserver and greatest benefactor may be de trop.

"Will you wait--one moment?" he suddenly asked. "I'll go to the rocks
yonder and call her," and then, almost as suddenly, the voice was
again uplifted in the same weird, barbaric song, and the singer had
gone from the depths of the opposite thicket and was somewhere farther
up stream, still hidden from their gaze--still, possibly, ignorant of
Angela's presence. The brown eyes were at the moment following the
tall, white form, moving slowly through the winding, faintly-worn
pathway toward the upper shallows where, like stepping stones, the big
rocks stretched from shore to shore, and she was startled to note that
the moment the song began he stopped short a second or two, listened
intently, then almost sprang forward in his haste to reach the
crossing. Another minute and he was out of sight among the shrubbery.
Another, and she heard the single shot of a revolver, and there he
stood at the rocky point, a smoking pistol in his hand. Instantly the
song ceased, and then his voice was uplifted, calling, "Natzie!
Natzie!" With breathless interest Angela gazed and, presently, parting
the shrubbery with her little brown hands, the Indian girl stepped
forth into the light and stood in silence, her great black eyes fixed
mournfully upon him. Could this be their mountain princess--the
daring, the resolute, the commanding? Could this be the fierce,
lissome, panther-like creature before whose blow two of their stoutest
men had fallen? There was dejection inexpressible in her very
attitude. There was no longer bravery or adornment in her dress. There
was no more of queen--of chieftain's daughter--in this downcast child
of the desert.

He called again, "Natzie," and held forth his hand. Her head had
drooped upon her breast, but, once again, she looked upon him, and
then, with one slow, hesitant, backward glance about her, stepped
forward, her little, moccasined feet flitting from rock to rock across
the murmuring shallows until she stood before him. Then he spoke, but
she only shook her head and let it droop again, her hands passively
clasping. He knew too little of her tongue to plead with her. He knew,
perhaps, too little of womankind to appreciate what he was doing.
Finding words useless, he gently took her hand and drew her with him,
and passively she obeyed, and for a moment they disappeared from
Angela's view. Then presently the tall, white form came again in
sight, slowly leading the unresisting child, until, in another moment,
they stepped within the little open space among the willows. At the
same instant Angela arose, and the daughter of the soldier and the
daughter of the savage, the one with timid yet hopeful welcome and
greeting in her lovely face, the other with sudden amaze, scorn,
passion, and jealous fury in her burning eyes, stood a breathless
moment confronted. Then, all in a second, with one half-stifled,
inarticulate cry, Natzie wrenched her hand from that of Blakely, and,
with the spring of a tigress, bounded away. Just at the edge of the
pool she halted, whirled about, tore from her bosom a flat, oblong
packet and hurled it at his feet; then, with the dart of a
frightened deer, drove through the northward willows. Angela saw her
run blindly up the bank, leaping thence to the rocks below, bounding
from one to another with the wild grace of the antelope. Another
instant and she had reached the opposite shore, and there, tossing her
arms wildly above her head, her black tresses streaming behind her,
with a cry that was almost a scream, she plunged into the heart of the
thicket; the stubborn branches closed behind her, and our Apache queen
was gone. As they met, so had they parted, by the waters of the pool.


WITH THE SPRING OF A TIGRESS BOUNDED AWAY"]

When Blakely turned again to Angela she, too, was gone. He found her a
little later, her arms twined about her pony's neck, her face buried
in his mane, and sobbing as though her heart would break.

On a soft, starlit evening within the week, no longer weeping, but
leaning on Blakely's arm, Angela stood at the edge of the bluff,
looking far out over the Red Rock country to the northeast. The sentry
had reported a distant signal fire, and several of the younger people
had strolled out to see. Whatever it was that had caused the report
had vanished by the time they reached the post, so, presently, Kate
Sanders started the homeward move, and now even the sentry had
disappeared in the darkness. When Angela, too, would have returned,
his arm restrained. She knew it would. She knew he had not spoken that
evening at the willows because of her tears. She knew he had been
patient, forbearing, gentle, yet well she knew he meant now to speak
and wait no longer.

"Do you remember," he began, "when I said that some day I should tell
you--but never your aunt--who it was that came to my quarters that
night--and why she came?" and though she sought to remove her hand
from his arm he would not let it go.

"You did tell me," she answered, her eyelids drooping.

"I did!--when?"

Though the face was downcast, the sensitive lips began to quiver with
merriment and mischief.

"The same day you took me for--your mother--and asked me to sing for
you."

"Angela!" he cried, in amaze, and turning quickly toward her, "What
can you mean?"

"Just what I say. You began as though I were your sister, then your
mother. I think, perhaps, if we'd had another hour together it would
have been grandmother." She was shaking with suppressed laughter now,
or was it violent trembling, for his heart, like hers, was bounding.

"I must indeed have been delirious," he answered now, not laughing,
not even smiling. He had possessed himself of that other hand, despite
its fluttering effort. His voice was deep and grave and tremulous. "I
called you anything but what I most longed to call you--what I pray
God I may call you, Angela--my wife!"




L'ENVOI


There was a wedding at Sandy that winter when Pat Mullins took his
discharge, and his land warrant, and a claim up the Beaver, and Norah
Shaughnessy to wife. There was another, many a mile from Sandy, when
the May blossoms were showering in the orchard of a fair old homestead
in the distant East, and then Neil Blakely took his bride to see "the
land of the leal" after the little peep at the lands that now she
shared with him. There is one room in the beautiful old Colonial
mansion that they soon learned to call "father's," in anticipation of
the time when he should retire and come to hang the old saber on the
older mantel and spend his declining years with them. There is
another, sacred to Aunt Janet, where she was often welcomed, a woman
long since reconciled to Angela's once "obnoxious," but ever devoted
admirer. There were some points in which Aunt Janet suffered sore. She
had views of her own upon the rearing and management of children, and
these views she did at first oppose to those of Angela, but not for
long. In this, as in her choice of a husband, Angela had to read her
declaration of independence to the elder woman.

There is another room filled with relics of their frontier
days,--Indian weapons, blankets, beadwork,--and among these, in a
sort of shrine of its own, there hangs a portrait made by a famous
artist from a little tintype, taken by some wandering photographer
about the old Apache reservation. Wren wrote them, ere the regiment
left Arizona, that she who had been their rescuer, and then so long
disappeared, finally wedded a young brave of the Chiricahua band and
went with him to Mexico. That portrait is the only relic they have of
a never forgotten benefactress--Natzie, their Apache Princess.





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