Storm-bound





Wayland was awakened by the mellow voice of his chief calling: "All out!

All out! Daylight down the creek!" Breathing a prayer of thankfulness,

the boy sat up and looked about him. "The long night is over at last, and

I am alive!" he said, and congratulated himself.



He drew on his shoes and, stiff and shivering, stood about in helpless

misery, while McFarlane kicked the scattered, charred logs together, and

fanned the embers into a blaze with his hat. It was heartening to see the

flames leap up, flinging wide their gorgeous banners of heat and light,

and in their glow the tenderfoot ranger rapidly recovered his courage,

though his teeth still chattered and the forest was dark.



"How did you sleep?" asked the Supervisor.



"First rate--at least during the latter part of the night," Wayland

briskly lied.



"That's good. I was afraid that Adirondack bed of yours might let the

white wolf in."



"My blankets did seem a trifle thin," confessed Norcross.



"It don't pay to sleep cold," the Supervisor went on. "A man wants to

wake up refreshed, not tired out with fighting the night wind and frost.

I always carry a good bed."



It was instructive to see how quietly and methodically the old

mountaineer went about his task of getting the breakfast. First he cut

and laid a couple of eight-inch logs on either side of the fire, so that

the wind drew through them properly, then placing his dutch-oven cover on

the fire, he laid the bottom part where the flames touched it. Next he

filled his coffee-pot with water, and set it on the coals. From his

pannier he took his dishes and the flour and salt and pepper, arranging

them all within reach, and at last laid some slices of bacon in the

skillet.



At this stage of the work a smothered cry, half yawn, half complaint,

came from the tent. "Oh, hum! Is it morning?" inquired Berrie.



"Morning!" replied her father. "It's going toward noon. You get up or

you'll have no breakfast."



Thereupon Wayland called: "Can I get you anything, Miss Berrie? Would you

like some warm water?"



"What for?" interposed McFarlane, before the girl could reply.



"To bathe in," replied the youth.



"To bathe in! If a daughter of mine should ask for warm water to wash

with I'd throw her in the creek."



Berrie chuckled. "Sometimes I think daddy has no feeling for me. I reckon

he thinks I'm a boy."



"Hot water is debilitating, and very bad for the complexion," retorted

her father. "Ice-cold water is what you need. And if you don't get out o'

there in five minutes I'll dowse you with a dipperful."



This reminded Wayland that he had not yet made his own toilet, and,

seizing soap, towel, and brushes, he hurried away down to the beach where

he came face to face with the dawn. The splendor of it smote him full in

the eyes. From the waveless surface of the water a spectral mist was

rising, a light veil, through which the stupendous cliffs loomed three

thousand feet in height, darkly shadowed, dim and far. The willows along

the western marge burned as if dipped in liquid gold, and on the lofty

crags the sun's coming created keen-edged shadows, violet as ink. Truly

this forestry business was not so bad after all. It had its

compensations.



Back at the camp-fire he found Berrie at work, glowing, vigorous,

laughing. Her comradeship with her father was very charming, and at the

moment she was rallying him on his method of bread-mixing. "You should

rub the lard into the flour," she said. "Don't be afraid to get your

hands into it--after they are clean. You can't mix bread with a spoon."



"Sis, I made camp bread for twenty years afore you were born."



"It's a wonder you lived to tell of it," she retorted, and took the pan

away from him. "That's another thing you must learn," she said to

Wayland. "You must know how to make bread. You can't expect to find

bake-shops or ranchers along the way."



In the heat of the fire, in the charm of the girl's presence, the young

man forgot the discomforts of the night, and as they sat at breakfast,

and the sun rising over the high summits flooded them with warmth and

good cheer, and the frost melted like magic from the tent, the experience

had all the satisfying elements of a picnic. It seemed that nothing

remained to do; but McFarlane said: "Well, now, you youngsters wash up

and pack whilst I reconnoiter the stock." And with his saddle and bridle

on his shoulder he went away down the trail.



Under Berrie's direction Wayland worked busily putting the camp equipment

in proper parcels, taking no special thought of time till the tent was

down and folded, the panniers filled and closed, and the fire carefully

covered. Then the girl said: "I hope the horses haven't been stampeded.

There are bears in this valley, and horses are afraid of bears. Father

ought to have been back before this. I hope they haven't quit us."



"Shall I go and see?"



"No, he'll bring 'em--if they're in the land of the living. He picketed

his saddle-horse, so he's not afoot. Nobody can teach him anything about

trailing horses, and, besides, you might get lost. You'd better keep

close to camp."



Thereupon Wayland put aside all responsibility. "Let's see if we can

catch some more fish," he urged.



To this she agreed, and together they went again to the outlet of the

lake--where the trout could be seen darting to and fro on the clear, dark

flood--and there cast their flies till they had secured ten good-sized

fish.



"We'll stop now," declared the girl. "I don't believe in being

wasteful."



Once more at the camp they prepared the fish for the pan. The sun

suddenly burned hot and the lake was still as brass, but great, splendid,

leisurely, gleaming clouds were sailing in from the west, all centering

about Chief Audobon, and the experienced girl looked often at the sky. "I

don't like the feel of the air. See that gray cloud spreading out over

the summits of the range, that means something more than a shower. I do

hope daddy will overtake the horses before they cross the divide. It's

going to pour up there."



"What can I do?"



"Nothing. We'll stay right here and get dinner for him. He'll be hungry

when he gets back."



As they were unpacking the panniers and getting out the dishes, thunder

broke from the high crags above the lake, and the girl called out:



"Quick! It's going to rain! We must reset the tent and get things under

cover."



Once more he was put to shame by the decision, the skill, and the

strength with which she went about re-establishing the camp. She led, he

followed in every action. In ten minutes the canvas was up, the beds

rolled, the panniers protected, the food stored safely; but they were

none too soon, for the thick gray veil of rain, which had clothed the

loftiest crags for half an hour, swung out over the water--leaden-gray

under its folds--and with a roar which began in the tall pines--a roar

which deepened, hushed only when the thunder crashed resoundingly from

crag to crest--the tempest fell upon the camp and the world of sun and

odorous pine vanished almost instantly, and a dark, threatening, and

forbidding world took its place.



But the young people--huddled close together beneath the tent--would have

enjoyed the change had it not been for the thought of the Supervisor. "I

hope he took his slicker," the girl said, between the tearing, ripping

flashes of the lightning. "It's raining hard up there."





"How quickly it came. Who would have thought it could rain like this

after so beautiful a morning?"



"It storms when it storms--in the mountains," she responded, with the

sententious air of her father. "You never can tell what the sky is going

to do up here. It is probably snowing on the high divide. Looks now as

though those cayuses pulled out sometime in the night and have hit the

trail for home. That's the trouble with stall-fed stock. They'll quit you

any time they feel cold and hungry. Here comes the hail!" she shouted, as

a sharper, more spiteful roar sounded far away and approaching. "Now keep

from under!"



"What will your father do?" he called.



"Don't worry about him. He's at home any place there's a tree. He's

probably under a balsam somewhere, waiting for this ice to spill out. The

only point is, they may get over the divide, and if they do it will be

slippery coming back."



For the first time the thought that the Supervisor might not be able to

return entered Wayland's mind; but he said nothing of his fear.



The hail soon changed to snow, great, clinging, drowsy, soft, slow-moving

flakes, and with their coming the roar died away and the forest became as

silent as a grave of bronze. Nothing moved, save the thick-falling,

feathery, frozen vapor, and the world was again very beautiful and very

mysterious.



"We must keep the fire going," warned the girl. "It will be hard to start

after this soaking."



He threw upon the fire all of the wood which lay near, and Berrie, taking

the ax, went to the big fir and began to chop off the dry branches which

hung beneath, working almost as effectively as a man. Wayland insisted on

taking a turn with the tool; but his efforts were so awkward that she

laughed and took it away again. "You'll have to take lessons in swinging

an ax," she said. "That's part of the job."



Gradually the storm lightened, the snow changed back into rain, and

finally to mist; but up on the heights the clouds still rolled wildly,

and through their openings the white drifts bleakly shone.



"It's all in the trip," said Berrie. "You have to take the weather as it

comes on the trail." As the storm lessened she resumed the business of

cooking the midday meal, and at two o'clock they were able to eat in

comparative comfort, though the unmelted snow still covered the trees,

and water dripped from the branches.



"Isn't it beautiful!" exclaimed Wayland, with glowing boyish face. "The

landscape is like a Christmas card. In its way it's quite as beautiful as

that golden forest we rode through."



"It wouldn't be so beautiful if you had to wallow through ten miles of

it," she sagely responded. "Daddy will be wet to the skin, for I found he

didn't take his slicker. However, the sun may be out before night. That's

the way the thing goes in the hills."



To the youth, though the peaks were storm-hid, the afternoon was joyous.

Berrie was a sweet companion. Under her supervision he practised at

chopping wood and took a hand at cooking. At her suggestion he stripped

the tarpaulin from her father's bed and stretched it over a rope before

the tent, thus providing a commodious kitchen and dining-room. Under this

roof they sat and talked of everything except what they should do if the

father did not return, and as they talked they grew to even closer

understanding.



Though quite unlearned of books, she had something which was much more

piquant than anything which theaters and novels could give--she possessed

a marvelous understanding of the natural world in which she lived. As the

companion of her father on many of his trips, she had absorbed from him,

as well as from the forest, a thousand observations of plant and animal

life. Seemingly she had nothing of the woman's fear of the wilderness,

she scarcely acknowledged any awe of it. Of the bears, and other

predatory beasts, she spoke carelessly.



"Bears are harmless if you let 'em alone," she said, "and the

mountain-lion is a great big bluff. He won't fight, you can't make him

fight; but the mother lion will. She's dangerous when she has cubs--most

animals are. I was out hunting grouse one day with a little twenty-two

rifle, when all at once, as I looked up along a rocky point I was

crossing, I saw a mountain-lion looking at me. First I thought I'd let

drive at him; but the chances were against my getting him from there, so

I climbed up above him--or where I thought he was--and while I was

looking for him I happened to glance to my right, and there he was about

fifty feet away looking at me pleasant as you please. Didn't seem to be

mad at all--'peared like he was just wondering what I'd do next. I jerked

my gun into place, but he faded away. I crawled around to get behind him,

and just when I reached the ledge on which he had been standing a few

minutes before, I saw him just where I'd been. He had traded places with

me. I began to have that creepy feeling. He was so silent and so kind of

pleasant-looking I got leery of him. It just seemed like as though I'd

dreamed him. He didn't seem real."



Wayland shuddered. "You foolish girl! Why didn't you run?"



"I did. I began to figure then that this was a mother lion, and that her

cubs were close by, and that she could just as well sneak up and drop on

me from above as not. So I got down and left her alone. It was her

popping up now here and now there like a ghost that locoed me. I was sure

scared."



Wayland did not enjoy this tale. "I never heard of such folly. Did your

father learn of that adventure?"



"Yes, I told him."



"Didn't he forbid your hunting any more?"



"No, indeed! Why should he? He just said it probably was a lioness, and

that it was just as well to let her alone. He knows I'm no chicken."



"How about your mother--does she approve of such expeditions?"



"No, mother worries more or less when I'm away; but then she knows it

don't do any good. I'm taking all kinds of chances every day, anyhow."



He had to admit that she was better able to care for herself in the

wilderness than most men--even Western men--and though he had not yet

witnessed a display of her skill with a rifle, he was ready to believe

that she could shoot as well as her sire. Nevertheless, he liked her

better when engaged in purely feminine duties, and he led the talk back

to subjects concerning which her speech was less blunt and manlike.



He liked her when she was joking, for delicious little curves of laughter

played about her lips. She became very amusing, as she told of her

"visits East," and of her embarrassments in the homes of city friends. "I

just have to own up that about all the schooling I've got is from the

magazines. Sometimes I wish I had pulled out for town when I was about

fourteen; but, you see, I didn't feel like leaving mother, and she didn't

feel like letting me go--and so I just got what I could at Bear Tooth."

She sprang up. "There's a patch of blue sky. Let's go see if we can't get

a grouse."



The snow had nearly all sunk into the ground on their level; but it still

lay deep on the heights above, and the torn masses of vapor still clouded

the range. "Father has surely had to go over the divide," she said, as

they walked down the path along the lake shore. "He'll be late getting

back, and a plate of hot chicken will seem good to him."



Together they strolled along the edge of the willows. "The grouse come

down to feed about this time," she said. "We'll put up a covey soon."



It seemed to him as though he were re-living the experiences of his

ancestors--the pioneers of Michigan--as he walked this wilderness with

this intrepid huntress whose alert eyes took note of every moving thing.

She was delightfully unconscious of self, of sex, of any doubt or fear. A

lovely Diana--strong and true and sweet.



Within a quarter of a mile they found their birds, and she killed four

with five shots. "This is all we need," she said, "and I don't believe in

killing for the sake of killing. Rangers should set good examples in way

of game preservation. They are deputy game-wardens in most states, and

good ones, too."



They stopped for a time on a high bank above the lake, while the sunset

turned the storm-clouds into mountains of brass and iron, with sulphurous

caves and molten glowing ledges. This grandiose picture lasted but a few

minutes, and then the Western gates closed and all was again gray and

forbidding. "Open and shut is a sign of wet," quoted Berrie, cheerily.



The night rose formidably from the valley while they ate their supper;

but Berrie remained tranquil. "Those horses probably went clean back to

the ranch. If they did, daddy can't possibly get back before eight

o'clock, and he may not get back till to-morrow."





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