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Category: Kansas Reading Library
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When The Sun Went Down
 
 
 The mind hath a thousand eyes, And the heart but one. --BOURDILLON.
 
 
 Busy years, each one a dramatic era all its own, made up the annals of the Middle West as the nation began to feel the thrill for expansion in its pulse-beat. The territorial days of Kansas were big with the tragic events of border warfare, and her birth into statehood marked the commencement of the four years of civil strife whose record played a mighty part in shaping human destiny.
 
 Meanwhile the sunny Kansas prairies lay waiting for the hearthstone and the plow. And young men, trained in camp and battle-field, looked westward for adventure, fortune, future homes and fame. But the tribes, whose hunting-grounds had been the green and grassy plains, yielded slowly, foot by foot, their stubborn claim, marking in human blood the price of each acre of the prairie sod. The lonely homesteads were the prey of savage bands, and the old Santa Fé Trail, always a way of danger, became doubly perilous now to the men who drove the vans of commerce along its broad, defenseless miles. The frontier forts increased: Hays and Harker, Larned and Zarah, and Lyon and Dodge became outposts of power in the wilderness, whose half-forgotten sites to-day lie buried under broad pasture-lands and fields of waving grain.
 
 One June day, as the train rolled through the Missouri woodlands along rugged river bluffs, Beverly Clarenden and I looked eagerly out of the car window, watching for signs of home. It was two years after the close of the Civil War. We had just finished six years of Federal service and were coming back to Kansas City. We were young men still, with all the unsettled spirit that follows the laying aside of active military life for the wholesome but uneventful life of peace.
 
 The time of our arrival had been uncertain, and the Clarenden household had been taken by surprise at our coming.
 
 "I wonder how it will seem to settle down in a store, Bev, after toting shooting-irons for six years," I said to my cousin, as the train neared Kansas City.
 
 "I don't know," Beverly replied, with a yawn, "but I'm thinking that after we see all the folks, and play with Mat's little boys awhile, and eat Aunty Boone's good stuff till we begin to get flabby-cheeked and soft-muscled, and our jaws crack from smiling so much when we just naturally want to get out and cuss somebody--about that time I'll be ready to run away, if I have to turn Dog Indian to do it."
 
 "There's a new Clarenden store at a place called Burlingame out in Kansas now, somewhere on the old trail. Maybe it will be far enough away to let you get tamed gradually to civil life there, if Uncle Esmond thinks you are worth it," I suggested.
 
 "Rex Krane is to take charge of that as soon as we get home. Yonder are the spires and minarets and domes of Kansas City. Put on your company grin, Gail," Beverly replied, as we began to run by the huts and cabins forming the outworks of the little city at the Kaw's mouth.
 
 Six years had made many changes in the place, but the same old welcome awaited us, and we became happy-hearted boys again as we climbed the steep road up the bluff to the Clarenden house. On the wide veranda overlooking the river everybody except one--Bill Banney, sleeping under the wind-caressed sod beside the Cimarron spring--was waiting to greet us. There were Esmond Clarenden and Jondo, in the prime of middle life, the one a little bald, and more than a little stout; the other's heavy hair was streaked with gray, but the erect form and tremendous physical strength told how well the plains life had fortified the man of fifty for the years before him. The prairies had long since become his home; but whether in scout service for the Government, or as wagon-master for a Clarenden train on the trail, he was the same big, brave, loyal Jondo.
 
 And there was Rex Krane, tall, easy-going old Rex, with his wife beside him. Mat was a fair-faced young matron now, with something Madonna-like in her calm poise and kindly spirit. Two little boys, Esmond, and Rex, Junior, clinging to her gown, smiled a shy welcome at us.
 
 In the background loomed the shining face and huge form of Aunty Boone. She had never seemed bigger to me, even in my little-boy days, when I considered her a giant. Her eyes grew dull as she looked at us.
 
 "Clean faces and finger-nails now. Got to stain 'em up 'bout once more 'fore you are through. Hungry as ever, I'll bet. I'll get your supper right away. Whoo-ee!"
 
 As she turned away, Mat said:
 
 "There is somebody else here, boys, that you will be glad to meet. She has just come and doesn't even know that you are expected. It is 'Little Lees.'"
 
 A rustle of silken skirts, a faint odor of blossoms, a footfall, a presence, and Eloise St. Vrain stood before us. Eloise, with her golden hair, the girlish roundness of her fair face, her big dark eyes and their heavy lashes and clear-penciled brows, her dainty coloring, and beyond all these the beauty of womanly strength written in her countenance.
 
 Her dress was a sort of pale heliotrope, with trimmings of a deeper shade, and in her hands she carried a big bunch of June roses. She stopped short, and the pink cheeks grew pale, but in an instant the rich bloom came back to them again.
 
 "I tried to find you, Eloise. The boys have just come in almost unannounced," Mat said.
 
 "You didn't mean to hide from us, of course," Beverly broke in, as he took the girl's hand, his face beaming with genuine joy at meeting her again.
 
 Eloise met him with the same frank delight with which she always greeted him. Everything seemed so simple and easy for these two when they came together. Little Blue Flower was right about them. They seemed to fit each other.
 
 But when she turned to me her eyes were downcast, save for just one glance. I feel it yet, and the soft touch of her hand as it lay in mine a moment.
 
 I think we chatted all together for a while. I had a wound at Malvern Hill that used to make me dizzy. That, or an older wound, made my pulse frantic now. I know that it was a rare June day, and the breeze off the river came pouring caressingly over the bluff. I remember later that Uncle Esmond and Jondo and Rex Krane went to the Clarenden store, and that Mat was helping Aunty Boone inside, while Beverly let the two little Kranes take him down the slope to see some baby squirrels or something. And Eloise and I were left alone beneath the trees, where once we had sat together long ago in the "Moon of the Peach Blossom." For me, all the strength of the years wherein I had built a wall around my longing love, all my manly loyalty to my cousin's claims, were swept away, as I have seen the big Missouri floods, joined by the lesser Kaw, sweep out bridges, snapping like sticks before their power.
 
 "Eloise, it seems a hundred years since I saw you and Little Blue Flower ride away up the San Christobal River trail out of my sight," I said.
 
 "It has been a long time, but we are not yet old. You seem the same. And as for me, I feel as if the clock had stopped awhile and had suddenly started to ticking anew."
 
 It was wonderful to sit beside her and hear her voice again. I did not dare to ask about her mother, but I am sure she read my thoughts, for she went on:
 
 "My mother is gone now. She was as happy as a child and never had a sorrow on her mind after her dreadful fever, although the doctors say she might have been restored if I had only been with her then. But it is all ended now."
 
 Eloise paused with saddened face, and looked out toward the Missouri River, boiling with June rains and melted snows.
 
 "It is all right now," she went on, bravely. "Sister Gloria--you know who she was--stayed with me to the last. And I have a real mound of earth in the cemetery beside my father." The last two words were spoken softly. "Sister Gloria is in the convent now. Marcos is a common gambler. His father disappeared and left him penniless. Esmond Clarenden says that his father died out on the plains somewhere."
 
 "And Father Josef?" I inquired.
 
 "Is still the same strong friend to everybody. He spends much time among the Hopi people. I don't know why, for they are hopelessly heathen. Their own religion has so many beautiful things to offset our faith that they are hard to convert."
 
 "And Little Blue Flower--what became of her?" I asked. "Is she a squaw in some hogan or pueblo, after all that the Sisterhood of St. Ann's did for her?"
 
 A shadow fell on the bright face beside me.
 
 "Let's not talk of her to-day." There was a pleading note in Eloise's voice. "Life has its tragedies everywhere, but I sometimes think that none of them--American, English, Spanish, French, Mexican, nor any others of our pale-faced people, have quite such bitter acts as the Indian tragedy among a gentle race like the people of Hopi-land."
 
 "I hope you will stay with us now."
 
 I didn't know what I really did hope for. I was no longer a boy, but a young man in the very best of young manhood's years. I had seen this girl ride away from me without one good-by word or glance. I had heard her message to me through Little Blue Flower. I had suffered and outgrown all but the scar. And now one touch of her hand, one smile, one look from her beautiful eyes, and all the barrier of the years fell down. I wondered vaguely now about Beverly's wish to turn Dog Indian if things became too monotonous. I wondered about many things, but I could not think anything.
 
 "I have no present plans. Father Josef and Esmond Clarenden thought it would be well for me to come up to Kansas and look at green prairies instead of red mesas for a while; to rest my eyes, and get my strength again--which I have never lost," Eloise said, with a smile. "And Jondo says--"
 
 She did not tell me what Jondo had said, for Beverly and Mat and the two rollicking boys joined us just then and we talked of many things of the earlier years.
 
 I cannot tell how that June slipped by, nor how Eloise, in the full bloom of her young womanhood, with the burdens lifted from her heart and hands, was no more the clinging, crushed Eloise who had sat beside me in the church of San Miguel, but a self-reliant and deliciously companionable girl-woman. With Beverly she was always gay, matching him, mood for mood; and if sometimes I caught the fleeting edge of a shadow in her eyes, it was gone too soon to measure. I did not seek her company alone, because I knew that I could not trust myself. Over and over, Jondo's words, when he had told me the story of Mary Marchland, came back to me:
 
 "And although they loved each other always, they never saw each other again."
 
 Nobody, outside of those touched by it, knew Jondo's story, except myself. He was Theron St. Vrain's brother, yet Eloise never called him uncle, and, except for the one mention of her father's grave, she did not speak of him. He was not even a memory to her. And both men's names were forever stained with the black charge against them.
 
 One evening in late June, Uncle Esmond called me into council.
 
 "Gail, Rex leaves to-morrow for the new store at Burlingame, Kansas. It is two days out on the Santa Fé Trail. Bev will go with him and stay for a while. I want you to drive through with Mat and the children and Eloise a day or two later."
 
 "Eloise?" I looked up in surprise.
 
 "Yes; she will visit with Mat for a while. She has had some trying years that have taxed her heavily. The best medicine for such is the song of the prairie winds," Uncle Esmond replied.
 
 "And after that?" I insisted.
 
 "We will wait for 'after that' till it gets here," my uncle smiled as he spoke. "There are more serious things on hand than where out Little Lees will eat her meals. She seems able to take care of herself anywhere. Wonderfully beautiful and charming young woman she is, and her troubles have strengthened her character without robbing her of her youth and happy spirits."
 
 Esmond Clarenden spoke reminiscently, and I stared at him in surprise until suddenly I remembered that Jondo had said, "We were all in love with Mary Marchland." Eloise must seem to him and Jondo like the Mary Marchland they had known in their young manhood. But my uncle's mood passed quickly, and his face was very grave as he said:
 
 "The conditions out on the frontier are serious in every way right now. The Indians are on the war-path, leaving destruction wherever they set foot. Something must be done to protect the wagon-trains on the Santa Fé Trail. I have already lost part of two valuable loads this season, and Narveo has lost three. But the appalling loss of property is nothing compared to the terror and torture to human life. The settlers on the frontier claims are being massacred daily. The Governor of Kansas is doing all he can to get some action from the army leaders at Washington. But you haven't been in military service for six years without finding out that some army leaders are flesh and blood, and some are only wood--plain wooden wood. Meantime, the story of one butchery doesn't get to the Missouri River before the story of another catches up with it. It's bad enough when it's ruinous to just my own commercial business--but in cases like this, humanity is my business."
 
 What a man he was--that Esmond Clarenden! They still say of him in Kansas City that no sounder financier and no bigger-hearted humanitarian ever walked the streets of that "Gateway to the Southwest" than the brave little merchant-plainsman who builded for the generations that should follow him.
 
 "What will be the outcome, Uncle Esmond? Are we to lose all we have gained out here?" I asked.
 
 "Not if we are real Westerners. It's got to be stopped. The question is, how soon," my uncle replied.
 
 That night in a half-waking dream I remembered Aunty Boone's prophetic greeting a few days before, and how her eyes had narrowed and grown dull as she said, "One more stainin' of your hands 'fore you are through."
 
 I had given six good years to army service--the years which young men give to college and to establishing themselves in their life-work. But the vision of the three men whom I had seen under the elm-tree at Fort Leavenworth came back to me, and only one--the cavalry man--moved westward now. I knew that I was dreaming, but I did not want to waken till the vision of a fair face whose eyes looked into mine should come to make my dream sweet and restful.
 
 But in my waking hours, in spite of the gravity of conditions that troubled Esmond Clarenden, in spite of the terrible tidings of daily killings on the unprotected plains, I forgot everything except the girl beside me as I went with her and Mat and the children to the new home in the village of Burlingame beside the Santa Fé Trail.
 
 Eloise St. Vrain had come up to Kansas to let the green prairies shut out the memory of tall red mesas. About the little town of Burlingame the prairies were waiting for her eyes to see. It nestled beside a deep creek under the shelter of forest trees, with the green prairie lapping up to its edges on every side. The trail wound round the shoulder of a low hill, and, crossing the stream, it made the main street of the town, then wandered on westward to where a rim of ground shut the view of its way from the settlement under the trees by the creek. A stanch little settlement it was, and, like many Kansas towns of the '60's, with big, but never-to-be realized, ambition to become a city. Into its life and up-building Rex Krane was to throw his good-natured Yankee shrewdness, and Mat her calm, generous spirit; vanguards they were, among the home-makers of a great State.
 
 My stay in the place was brief, and I saw little of Eloise until the evening before I was to return to Kansas City. I had meant to go away, as she had left me in the San Christobal Valley, without one backward look, but I couldn't do it; and at the close of my last day I went to the Krane home, where I found her alone. It was the long after-sunset hour, with the refreshing evening breezes pouring in from all the green levels about us.
 
 "Rex is at the store, and the others are all gone fishing," Eloise said, in answer to my inquiry for the family.
 
 "Mat and Bev always did go fishing on every occasion that I can remember, and they will make fishermen of little Esmond and Rex now. Would you like to go up to the west side of town and look into New Mexico?" I asked, wondering why Beverly should go fishing with Mat when Eloise was waiting for his smile.
 
 But I was desperately lonely to-night, and I might not see Eloise again until after she and Beverly--I could not go farther. She smiled and said, lightly:
 
 "I'm just honin' for a walk, as Aunty Boone would say, but I'm not quite ready to see New Mexico yet."
 
 "Oh, it's only a thing made of evening mists rising from the meadows, and bits of sunset lights left over when the day was finished," I assured her.
 
 So we left the shadow of the tall elms and strolled up the main street toward the west.
 
 Where the one cross-street cut the trail in the center of the village there was a public well. The ground around it was trampled into mud by many hoofs. A Mexican train had just come in and was grouped about this well, drinking eagerly.
 
 "What news of the plains?" I asked their leader as we passed.
 
 "I cannot tell you with the lady here," he replied, bowing courteously. "It is too awful. A spear hung with a scalp of pretty baby hair like hers. I see it yet. The plains are all _alive--alive_ with hostile red men; and the worst one of all--he that had the golden scalp--is but a half-breed Cheyenne Dog. Never the Apaches were so bad as he."
 
 The cattle horned about the well, with their drivers shouting and struggling to direct them, as we went wide to avoid the mud, then passed up to the rise beyond which lay the old trail's westward route.
 
 The mists were rising from the lowlands; along the creek the sunset sky was all a flaming glory, under whose deep splendor the June prairies lay tenderly green and still; down in the village the sounds of the Mexicans settling into camp; the shouting of children, romping late; and out across the levels, the mooing call of milking-time from some far-away settler's barn-yard; a robin singing a twilight song in the elms; crickets chirping in the long grass; and the gentle evening breeze sweet and cool out of the west--such was the setting for us two. We paused on the crest of the ridge and sat down to watch the afterglow of a prairie twilight. We did not speak for a long time, but when our eyes met I knew the hour had been made for me. In such an hour we had sat beside the glistening Flat Rock down in the Neosho Valley. I was a whole-hearted boy when I went down there, full of eagerness for the life of adventure on the trail, and she a girl just leaving boarding-school. And now--life sweetens so with years.
 
 "I think I can understand why your uncle thought it would be well for me to come to Kansas," Eloise said at last. "There is an inspiration and soothing restfulness in a thing like this. Our mountains are so huge and tragical; and even their silences are not always gentle. And our plains are dry and gray. And yet I love the valley of the Santa Fé, and the old Ortiz and Sandia peaks, and the red sunset's stain on the Sangre-de-Christo. Many a time I have lifted up my eyes to them for help, as the shepherd did to his Judean hills when he sang his psalms of hope and victory."
 
 "Yes, Nature is kind to us if we will let her be. Jondo told me that long ago, and I've proved it since. But I have always loved the prairies. And this ridge here belongs to me," I replied.
 
 Eloise looked up inquiringly.
 
 "I'll tell you why. When I was a little boy, years ago, a day-dreaming, eager-hearted little boy, we camped here one night. That was my first trip over the trail to Santa Fé. You haven't forgotten it and what a big brown bob-cat I looked like when I got there. I grew like weeds in a Kansas corn-field on that trip."
 
 "Oh, I remember you. Go on," Eloise said, laughingly.
 
 "That night after supper, everybody had left camp--Mat and Bev were fishing--and I was alone and lonely, so I came up here to find what I could see of the next day's trail. It was such an hour as this. And as I watched the twilight color deepen, my own horizon widened, and I think the soul of a man began, in that hour, to look out through the little boy's eyes; and a new mile-stone was set here to make a landmark in my life-trail. The boy who went back slowly to the camp that night was not the same little boy that had run up here to spy out the way of the next day's journey."
 
 The afterglow was deepening to purple; the pink cloud-flecks were turning gray in the east, and a kaleidoscope of softest rose and tender green and misty lavender filled the lengthening shadows of the twilight prairie.
 
 "Eloise, I had a longing that night, still unfulfilled. I wish I dared to tell you what it was."
 
 I turned to look at the fair girl-woman beside me. In the twilight her eyes were always like stars; and the golden hair and the pink bloom of her cheeks seemed richer in their shadowy setting. To-night her gown was white--like the Greek dress she had worn at Mat's wedding, on the night when she met Beverly in the little side porch at midnight. Why did I recall that here?
 
 "What was your wish, Gail?" The voice was low and sweet.
 
 I took her hand in mine and she did not draw away from me.
 
 "That I might some day have a real home all my own down there among the trees. I was a little homesick boy that night, and I came up here to watch the sunset and see the open level lands that I have always loved. Eloise, Jondo told me once of three young college men who loved your beautiful mother, and because of that love they never married anybody, but they lived useful, happy lives. I can understand now why they should love her, and why, because they could not have her love, they would not marry anybody else. One was my uncle Esmond, and one was Father Josef."
 
 "And the third?" The voice was very low and a tremor shook the hand I held.
 
 "He did not tell me. And I speak of it now only to show you that in what I want to say I am not altogether selfish and unkind. I love you, Eloise. I have loved you since the day, long ago, when your face came before me on the parade-ground at Fort Leavenworth. I told you of that once down on the bluff by the Clarenden home at Kansas City. I shall love you, as the Bedouin melody runs,
 
 Til the sun grows cold, And the stars are old, And the leaves of the judgment Book unfold!
 
 "But I know that it will end as Uncle Esmond's and Father Josef's loving did, in my living my life alone."
 
 Eloise quickly withdrew her hand, and the pain in her white face haunts me still.
 
 "I do not want to hurt you, oh, Eloise. I know I do wrong to speak, but to-night will be the last time. I thought that night in the church at San Miguel, and that next day when we rode for our lives together, that you cared for me who would have walked through fire for you. But in that hour in the little chapel a barrier came between us. You rode away without one word or glance. And I turned back feeling that my soul was falling into ruins like that half-ruined little pile of stone that some holy padre had built his heart into years and years ago. Then Little Blue Flower brought your message to me and I knew as I sat beside Fort Marcy's wall that night, and saw the sun go down, that the light of my life was going out with it."
 
 "But, Gail," Eloise exclaimed, "I said I could not send you any word, but you would understand. I--I couldn't say any more than that." Her voice was full of tears and she turned away from me and looked at the last radiant tints edging the little cloud-flecks above the horizon.
 
 "Of course I understand you, Eloise, and I do not blame you. I never could blame you for anything." I sprang to my feet. "You'll hate me if I say another word," I said, savagely.
 
 She rose up, too, and put her hand on my arm. Oh, she was beautiful as she stood beside me. So many times I have pictured her face, I will not try to picture it as it looked now in this sweet, sacred moment of our lives.
 
 "Gail, I could never hate you. You do not understand me. I cannot help what is past now. I hoped you might forget. And yet--" She paused.
 
 All men are humanly alike. In spite of my strong love for Beverly and my sense of right, the presence of the woman whose image for so many years had been in the sacredest shrine of my heart, Eloise, in all her beauty and her womanly strength and purity, standing beside me, her hand still on my arm--all overpowered me.
 
 I put my arms about her and held her close to me, kissing her forehead, her cheek, her lips. The world for one long moment was rose-hued like the sunset's afterglow; and sky and prairie, lowlands along the winding creek, and tall elm-trees above the deepening shadows, were all engulfed in a mist of golden glory, shot through with amethyst and sapphire, the dainty coraline pink of summer dawns, and the iridescent shimmer of mother-of-pearl.
 
 Heaven opens to us here and there such moments on the way of life. And the memory of them lingers like perfume through all the days that follow.
 
 We turned our faces toward the darkening village street and the tall elms above the gathering shadows, and neither spoke a word until we reached the door where I must say good night.
 
 "I cannot ask you to forgive me, Little Lees, because you let me have a bit of heaven up there. I shall go away a better man. And, remember, that no blessing in your life can be greater than I would wish for you to have."
 
 The brave white face was before my eyes and the low voice was in my ears long after I had left her door.
 
 "Gail, I cannot help what has been, but I do not blame you. I should almost wish myself shut in again by the tall red mesas; but maybe, after all, the prairies are best for me. I am glad I have known you. Good night."
 
 "Goodnight," I said, and turned away.
 
 And that was all. The last light of day had gone from the sky, and the stars overhead were hidden by the thick leafage of the Burlingame elms. 


 

Don't you guess that the things we're seeing now will haunt us through the years; Heaven and hell rolled into one, glory and blood and tears; Life's pattern picked with a scarlet thread, where once we wove with a gray, To remind us all how we played our part in the shock of an epic day?
 
 --ROBERT W. SERVICE.
 
 
 However darkly the sun may go down on hope and love, the real sun shines on, day after day, with its inexorable call to duty. In less than a week after I had left Eloise and the vague hope of a home of my own under the big elm-trees of Burlingame, Governor Crawford of Kansas sent forth a call for a battalion of four companies of soldiers, and I heard the call and answered it.
 
 It was to be known as the Eighteenth Kansas Cavalry, with Col. Horace L. Moore, a veteran soldier of tried mettle, at the head. We were to go at once to Fort Harker, in the valley of the Smoky Hill River, to begin a campaign against the Indians, who were laying waste the frontier settlements and attacking wagon-trains on the Sante Fé Trail.
 
 On the evening before I left home I sat on the veranda of the Clarenden house, waiting for Uncle Esmond to join me, when suddenly Beverly Clarenden strode over the edge of the hill. The sunny smile and the merry twinkle of his eye were Bev's own, and there wasn't a line on his face to show whether it belonged to the happy lover or the rejected suitor. I thought I could always read his moods when he had any. He had none to-night.
 
 "I just got in from Burlingame. At what hour do you leave to-morrow? I'm going along to chaperon you, as usual," he declared.
 
 "Why, Beverly Clarenden, I thought you were fixed at Burlingame, selling molasses and calico by the gallon," I exclaimed, but my real thought was not given to words.
 
 "And let the Cheyennes, and Kiowas, and Arapahoes, and other desperadoes of the plains gnaw clear into the heart of us? Not your uncle Esmond Clarenden's nephew. And, Gail, this won't be anything like we have had since those six Kiowas staked you out on Pawnee Rock once. The thoroughbred Indians are bad enough, but there is a half-breed leader of a band of Dog Indians that's worst of all. He's of the yellow kind, with wolf's fangs. A Mexican on the trail told me that this half-breed ties up with the worst of every tribe from the Coast Range mountains to Tecumseh, Kansas," Beverly declared.
 
 "I remember that Mexican. I saw him at the well in Burlingame," I replied, turning to look at the Kaw winding far away, for the memory of everything in Burlingame was painful to me.
 
 Aunty Boone's huge form appearing around the corner of the house shut off my view of the river just then. Her face was glistening, but her eyes were dull as she looked us over.
 
 "You stainin' your hands again," she purred. "Yes, Aunty. We are going to lick the redskins into ribbons," Beverly replied.
 
 "You never get that done. Lickin' never settles nobody. You just hold 'em down till they strong enough to boost you off their heads again, and up they come. Whoo-ee!"
 
 The black woman gave a chuckle.
 
 "Well, I'd rather sit on their heads than have them sitting on mine, or yours, Aunty Boone," Beverly returned, laughingly.
 
 Aunty Boone's eyes narrowed and there was a strange light in them as she looked at us, saying:
 
 "You get into trouble, Mr. Bev, you see me comin', hot streaks, to help you out. Whoo-ee!"
 
 She breathed her weird, African whoop and turned away.
 
 "I'll depend on you." Beverly's face was bright, and there was no shadow in his eyes, as he called after her retreating form.
 
 We chatted long together, and I hoped--and feared--to have him tell me the story of his suit with Eloise, and why in such a day, of all the days of his life, he should choose to run away to the warfare of the frontier. He could not have failed, I thought. Never a disappointed lover wore a smile like this. But Beverly had no story to tell me that night.
 
 * * * * *
 
 The mid-July sun was shining down on a treeless landscape, across which the yellow, foam-flecked Smoky Hill River wound its sinuous way. Beside this stream was old Fort Harker, a low quadrangle of quarters, for military man and beast, grouped about a parade-ground for companionship rather than for protection. The frontier fort had little need for defensive strength. About its walls the Indian crawled submissively, fearful of munitions and authority. It was not here, but out on lonely trails, in sudden ambush, or in overwhelming numbers, or where long miles, cut off from water, or exhausting distance banished safe retreat, that the savage struck in all his fury.
 
 Eastward from Harker the scattered frontier homesteads crouched, defenseless, in the river valleys. Far to the northwest spread the desolate lengths of a silent land where the white man's foot had hardly yet been set. Miles away to the southwest the Santa Fé Trail wound among the Arkansas sand-hills, never, in all its history, less safe for freighters than in that summer of 1867.
 
 In this vast demesne the raiding Cheyenne, the cruel Kiowa, the blood-thirsty Arapahoe, with bands of Dog Indians and outlaws from every tribe, contested, foot by foot, for supremacy against the out-reaching civilization of the dominant Anglo-American. The lonely trails were measured off by white men's graves. The vagrant winds that bear the odor of alfalfa, and of orchard bloom to-day, were laden often with the smoke of burning homes, and often, too, they bore that sickening smell of human flesh, once caught, never to be forgotten. The story of that struggle for supremacy is a tragic drama of heroism and endurance. In it the Eighteenth Kansas Cavalry played a stirring part.
 
 It seems but yesterday to me now, that July day so many years ago, when our four companies, numbering fewer than four hundred men, detrained from the Union Pacific train at Fort Harker on the Smoky Hill. And the faces of the men who were to lead us are clear in memory. Our commander, Colonel Moore, always brave and able; and our captains, Henry Lindsay, and Edgar Barker, and George Jenness, and David Payne, with the shrewd, courageous scout, Allison Pliley, and the undaunted, clear-thinking, young lieutenant, Frank Stahl. Ours was not to be a record of unfading glory, as national military annals show, yet it may count mightily when the Great Records are opened for final estimates. Those men who marched two thousand miles, back and forth, upon the trackless plains in that four months' campaign, have been forgotten in the debris of uneventful years. Our long-faded trails lie buried under wide alfalfa-fields and the paved streets of western Kansas towns. From the far springs that quenched our burning thirst comes water, trickling through a nickel faucet into a marble basin, now. Where the fierce sun seared our eyeballs, in a treeless, barren waste, green groves, atune with song-birds, cast long swaths of shade on verdant sod. The perils and the hardships of the Eighteenth Kansas Cavalry are now but as a tale that is told.
 
 And yet of all the heroes whose life-trails cut my own, I account among the greatest those men under whose command, and with whose comradeship, I went out to serve the needs of my generation among the vanguards of the plains. And if in a sunset hour on the west ridge beyond the little town of Burlingame I had left a hopeless love behind me, I put a man's best energy into the thing before me.
 
 The battle-field alone is not the soldier's greatest test. I had kept step with men who charge an enemy on an open plain or storm a high defense in the face of sure defeat. I had been ordered with my company to take redoubts against the flaming throats of bellowing cannon in the life-and-death grip before Richmond. I had felt the awful thrill of carnage as my division surged back and forth across the blood-soaked lengths of Gettysburg, and I never once fell behind my comrades. The battle-field breeds courage, and self-forgetfulness, and exaltation, from the sense of duty squarely met.
 
 There were no battle-fields in 1867, where Greek met Greek in splendid gallantry, out on the Kansas plains. Over Fort Harker hung the pall of death, and in the July heat the great black plague of Asiatic cholera stalked abroad and scourged the land. Men were dying like rats, lacking everything that helps to drive death back. The volunteer who had offered himself to save the settlers from the scalping-knife had come here only to look into an open grave, and then, in agony, to drop into it. Such things test soldiers more than battle-fields. And our men turned back in fear, preferring the deserter's shame to quick, inglorious martyrdom by Asiatic cholera. I had a battle of my own the first night at Fort Harker. There was a growing moon and the night breeze was cool after the heat of the day. Beverly Clarenden and I went down to the river, whose tawny waters hardly hid the tawny sands beneath them. The plains were silent, but from all the hospital tents about the fort came the sharp, agonized cries of pain that forerun the last collapse of the plague-stricken sufferers. To get away from the sound of it all we wandered down the stream to where the banks of soft, caving earth on the farther side were higher than a man's head, and their shadow hid the current. We sat down and stared silently at the waters, scarcely whispering as they rolled along, and at the still shade of the farther bank upon them. The shadows thickened and moved a little, then grew still. We also grew still. Then they moved again just opposite us, and fell into three parts, as three men glided silently along under the bank's protecting gloom. We waited until they had reached the edge of the moonlight, and saw three soldiers pass swiftly out across the unprotected sands to other shadowy places further on.
 
 "Deserters!" Beverly said, half aloud. "You can stay here if you want to, Gail. I'd rather go up and listen to those poor wretches groan than stick down here and listen to the fiend inside of me to-night."
 
 He rose and stalked away, and I sat listening to myself. I could join those three men easily enough. The world is wide. I had no bond to hold me to one single place in it. I was young and strong, and life is sweet. Why let the black plague snuff me out of it? I had come here to serve the State. I should not serve it in a plague-marked grave. I rose to follow down the stream, to go to where the Smoky Hill joins the big Republican to make the Kaw, and on to where the Kaw reaches to the Missouri. But I would not stop there. I'd go until I reached the ocean somewhere.
 
 Would I?
 
 The memory of Jondo's eyes when they looked into mine on Pawnee Rock came unbidden across my mind. Jondo had lived a nameless man. How strong and helpful all his years had been! How starved had been my life without his love! I would be another Jondo, somewhere on earth.
 
 I stared after three faintly moving shadows down the stream. 'Twas well I waited, for Esmond Clarenden came to me now, clean-cut, honest, everybody's friend. How firm his life had been; and he had built into me a hatred of deceit and lies. And Jondo was another Uncle Esmond. In spite of the black shadow on his name, he walked the prairies like a prince always. I could not be like him if I were a deserter. Up-stream death was waiting for me; down-stream, disgrace. I turned and followed up the river's course, but the strength that forced me to it was greater than that which made me brave on battle-fields. And ever since that night beside the Smoky Hill I have felt gentler toward the man who falls.
 
 We were not idle long for Fort Harker had just been informed of an assault on a wagon-train on the Santa Fé Trail and our cavalry squadron hurried away at once to overtake and punish the assailants.
 
 We came into camp on the bank of Walnut Creek, at the close of a long summer day of blazing light and heat over the barren trails where there was no water; a day of long hours in the saddle; a day of nerve-wearing watchfulness. But we believed that we had left the plague-cursed region behind us, so we were light-hearted and good-natured; and we ate, and drank, and took our lot cheerfully.
 
 Among the men at mess that night I saw a new face which was nothing remarkable, except that something in it told me that I had already seen that face somewhere, some time. It is my gift never to forget a face, once seen, no matter how many years may pass before I see it twice. This soldier was a pleasant fellow, too, and, in a story he was telling, clever at imitating others.
 
 "Who is that man, Bev? The third one over there?" I asked my cousin.
 
 "Stranger to me. I don't believe I ever saw him before. Who is the fellow with the smile, Captain?" Beverly asked the officer beside him.
 
 "I don't know. He's not in my company. I'm finding new faces every day," the captain replied.
 
 As twilight fell I saw the man again at the edge of the camp. He smiled pleasantly as he passed me, turning to look at Beverly, who did not see him, and in a minute he was cantering down to the creek beside our camp. I saw him cross it and ride quickly out of sight. But that smile brought to the face the thing that had escaped me.
 
 "I know that fellow now," I said to Beverly and the officer who came up just then. "He's Charlie Bent, the son of Colonel Bent. Don't you remember the little sinner at old Fort Bent, Bev?"
 
 "I do, and what a vicious little reptile he was," Beverly replied. "But Uncle Esmond told me that his father took him away early and had him schooled like a gentleman in the best Saint Louis had to give. I wonder whose company he is in."
 
 The officer stared at us.
 
 "You mean to say you know that cavalryman to be Charlie Bent?" he fairly gasped.
 
 "Of course it's Charlie. I never missed a face in all my life. That's his own," I replied.
 
 "The worst Indian on the plains!" the captain declared. "He stirs up more fiendishness than a whole regiment of thoroughbred Cheyennes could ever think of. He's led in every killing here since March."
 
 "Not Colonel Bent's son!" I exclaimed.
 
 "Yes, he's the half-breed devil that we'll have to fight, and here he comes and eats with us and rides away."
 
 "He must be the fellow that the Mexican told us about back at Burlingame, Gail. I remember now he did say the brute's name was Bent, but I didn't rope him up with our Fort Bent chum. Gail would have run him down in half a minute if he had heard the name. I never could remember anything," Beverly said, in disgust. But the smile was peeping back of his frown, and he forgot the boy he was soon to have cause enough to remember.
 
 "We must run that rascal down to-night," the Captain declared, as he hurried away to consult with the other officers.
 
 But Charlie Bent was not run down that night. Before we had time to get over our surprise a scream of pain rang through the camp. Another followed, and another, and when an hour had passed a third of our forces was writhing in the clutches of the cholera.
 
 I shall never forget the long hours of that night beside the Walnut, nor Beverly Clarenden's face as he bent over the suffering men. For all of us who were well worked mightily to save our plague-stricken comrades, whose couches were of prairie grass and whose hospital roof was the starlit sky. However forgetful Beverly might be of names and faces, his strong hand had that soothing firmness that eased the agony of cramping limbs. Dear Bev! He comforted the sick, and caught the dying words, and straightened the relaxed bodies of the dead, and smiled next day, and forgot that he had done it.
 
 At last the night of horror passed, and day came, wan and hot and weary out of the east. But five of our comrades would see no earthly day again; and three dozen strong men of the day before lay stretched upon the ground, pulseless and shrunken and purple, with wrinkled skin and wide, unseeing eyes.
 
 Before the sun had risen our dead, coffined only by their army blankets, lay in unmarked graves. Our helpless living were placed in commissary wagons, and we took the trail slowly and painfully toward the Arkansas River.
 
 If Charley Bent had gathered up his band to strike that night there would have been a different chapter in the annals of the plains.
 
 I cannot follow with my pen the long marches of that campaign, and there was no honorable nor glorious warfare in it. It is a story of skirmishes, not of battles; of attack and repulse; of ambush and pursuit and retreat. It is a story of long days under burning skies, by whose fierce glare our brains seemed shriveling up and the world went black before our heat-bleared eyes. A story of hard night-rides, when weary bodies fought with watchful minds the grim struggle that drowsiness can wage, though sleep, we knew, meant death. It is a story of fevered limbs and bursting pulse in hospitals whose walls were prairie distances. A story of hunger, and exhausted rations; of choking thirst, with only alkali water mocking at us. And never could the story all be told. There is no rest for cavalrymen in the field. We did not suffer heavy loss, but here and there our comrades fell, by ones, and twos, at duty's post; and where they fell they lie, in wayside graves, waiting for glorious mention until the last reveille shall sound above the battlements of heaven.
 
 And I was one among these vanguards of the plains, making the old Santa Fé Trail safe for the feet of trade; and the wide Kansas prairies safe for homes, and happiness, and hope, and power. I lived the life, and toughened in its grind. But in my dreams sometimes my other life returned to me, and a sweet face, with a cloud of golden hair, and dark eyes looking into mine, came like a benediction to me. Another face came sometimes now--black, big, and glistening, with eyes of strange, far vision looking at me, and I heard, over and over, the words of Esmond Clarenden's cook:
 
 "If you get into trouble, Mr. Bev, I'll come, hot streaks, to help you."
 
 But trouble never stuck to "Mr. Bev," because he failed to know it when it came.
 
 Mid-August found us at Fort Hays on the Smoky Hill, beyond whose protecting guns the wilderness ruled. A wilderness checkered by faint trails of lawless feet, a wilderness set with bloody claws and poison stings and cruel fangs, and slow, agonizing death. And with all a wilderness of weird, fascinating distances and danger, charm and beauty. The thrill of the explorer of new lands possessed us as we looked far into the heart of it. Here in these August days the Cheyenne and Arapahoe and Kiowa bands were riding trails blood-stained by victims dragged from lonely homesteads, and butchered, here and there, to make an Indian holiday. The scenes along the valleys of the Sappa and the Beaver and the Prairie Dog creeks were far too brutal and revolting to belong to modern life. Against these our Eighteenth Kansas, with a small body of United States cavalry, struck northward from Fort Hays. We rested through the long, hot days and marched by night. The moon was growing toward the full, and in its clear, white splendor the prairies lay revealed for miles about us. Our command was small and meagerly equipped, and we were moving on to meet a foe of overwhelming numbers. Men took strange odds with Fate upon the plains.
 
 Beyond the open, level lands lay a rugged region hemming in the valley of the Prairie Dog Creek. Here picturesque cliffs and deep, earth-walled cañons split the hills, affording easy ambush for a regiment of red men. And here, in a triangle of a few miles area, a new Thermopylae, with no Leonidas but Kansas plainsmen, was staged through two long August days and nights. One hundred and fifty of us against fifteen hundred fighting braves.
 
 In the early morning of a long, hot August day, we came to an open plain beyond the Prairie Dog Creek. Our supply-wagons and pack-mules were separated from us somewhere among the bluffs. We had had no food since the night before, and our canteens were empty--all on account of the blundering mismanagement of the United States officer who cammanded us. I was only a private, and a private's business is not to question, but to obey. And that major over us, cashiered for cowardice later, was not a Kansas man. Thank heaven for that!
 
 A score of us, including my cousin and myself, under a sergeant, and with good Scout Pliley, were suddenly ordered back among the hills.
 
 "Where do we go, and why?" Beverly asked me as we rode along.
 
 "I don't know," I replied. "But Captain Jenness and a file of men were lost out here somewhere last night. And Indian tracks step over one another all around here. I guess we are out to find what's lost, maybe. It isn't a twenty minutes' job, I know that."
 
 "And all our canteens empty, too! Why cut off all visible means of support in a time like this? Look at these bluffs and hiding-places, will you! A handful of Indians could scoop our whole body up and pitch us into the Prairie Dog Creek, and not be missed from a set in a war-dance," Beverly insisted. "Keep it strictly in the Clarenden family, Gail, but our honorable commander is a fool and a coward, if he is a United States major."
 
 "You speak as one expecting a promotion, Bev," I suggested.
 
 "I'd know how to use it if I got it," he smiled brightly at me as we quickened our pace not to fall behind.
 
 Every day of that campaign Beverly grew dearer to me. I am glad our lives ran on together for so many years.
 
 The cañons deepened and the whole region was bewildering, but still we struggled on, lost men searching for lost men. The sun blazed hotly, and the soft yellow bluffs of bone-dry earth reached down to the dry beds of one-time streams.
 
 High noon, and still no food, no water, and no lost men discovered. We had pushed out to a little opening, ridged in on either side by high, brown bluffs, when a whoop came from the head of the line.
 
 "Yonder they are! Yonder they are!"
 
 Half a dozen men, led by Captain Jenness, were riding swiftly to join us and we shouted in our joy. For some among us that was the last joyous shout. At that moment a yell from savage throats filled the air, and the thunder of hoofs shook the ground. Over the west ridge, half a mile away, five hundred Indians came swooping like a hurricane down upon us. And we numbered, altogether, twenty-nine. I can see that charge to-day: the blinding, yellow sky, the ridge melting into a cloud of tawny dust, the surge of ponies with their riders bending low above them; fronting them, our little group of cavalrymen formed into a hollow square, on foot, about our mounts; the Indians riding, in a wide circle around us, with blankets flapping, and streamer-decked lances waving high. And as I see, I hear again that wild, unearthly shriek and taunting yell and fiendish laughter. From every point the riflle-balls poured in upon us, while out of buffalo wallow and from behind each prairie-dog hillock a surge of arrows from unmounted Indians swept up against us. I had been on battle-fields before, but this was a circle out of hell set 'round us there. And every man of of knew, as we sent back ball for ball, what capture here would mean for us before the merciful hand of death would seal our eyes.
 
 Suddenly, as we moved forward, the frantic circle halted and a hundred braves came dashing in a fierce charge upon us. Their leader, mounted on a great, white horse, rode daringly ahead, calling his men to follow him, and taunting us with cowardice. He spoke good English, and his voice rang clear and strong above the din of that strange struggle. Straight on he came, without once looking back, a revolver in each hand, firing as he rode. A volley from our carbines made his fellows stagger, then waver, break, and run. Not so the rider of the splendid white horse, who dared us to strike him down as he dashed full at us.
 
 "Come on, you coward Clarenden boys, and I'll fight you both. I've waited all these years to do it. I dare you. Oh, I dare you!"
 
 It was Charlie Bent.
 
 Nine balls from Clarenden carbines flew at him. Beverly and I were listed among the cleverest shots in Kansas, but not one ball brought harm to the daring outlaw. A score of bullets sung about his insolent face, but his seemed a charmed life. Right on he forged, over our men, and through the square to the Indian's circle on the other side, his mocking laughter ringing as he rode. A bloody scalp hung from his spear, and, turning 'round just out of range of our fire, shaking his trophy high, he shouted back:
 
 "We got all of the balance of your men. We'll get you yet."
 
 The sun glared fiercely on the bare, brown earth. A burning thirst began to parch our lips. We had had no food nor drink for more than twenty hours. Our horses, wounded with many arrows, were harder to care for than our brave, stricken men.
 
 Night came upon the cañons of the Prairie Dog, and with the darkness the firing ceased. Somewhere, not far away, there might be a wagon-train with food for us. And somewhere near there might be a hundred men or more of our command trying to reach us. But, whether the force and supplies were safe or the wagons were captured and all our comrades killed, as Charlie Bent had said, we could not know. We only knew that we had no food; that one man, and all but four of our cavalry horses lay dead out in the valley; that two men in our midst were slowly dying, and a dozen others suffering from wounds of battle, among these our captain and Scout Pliley; that we were in a wild, strange land, with Indians perching, vulture-like, on every hill-top, waiting for dawn to come to seize their starving prey.
 
 We heard an owl hoot here and there, and farther off an answering hoot; a coyote's bark, a late bird's note, another coyote, and a fainter hoot, all as night settled. And we knew that owl and coyote and twilight song-bird were only imitations--sentinel signals from point to point, where Indian videttes guarded every height, watching the trail with shadow-piercing eyes.
 
 The glossy cottonwood leaves, in the faint night breeze, rippled like pattering rain-drops on dry roofs in summertime, and the thin, willow boughs swayed gently over us. The full moon swept grandly up the heavens, pouring a flood of softened light over the valley of the Prairie Dog, whose steep bluffs were guarded by a host of blood-lusting savages, and whose cañons locked in a handful of intrepid men.
 
 If we could only slip out, undiscovered, in the dark we might find our command somewhere along the creek. It was a perilous thing to undertake, but to stay there was more perilous.
 
 "Say, Gail," Beverly whispered, when we were in motion, "somebody said once, 'There have been no great nations without processions,' but this is the darndest procession I ever saw to help to make a nation great. Hold on, comrade. There! Rest on my arm a bit. It makes it softer."
 
 The last words to a wounded soldier for whom Bev's grip eased the ride.
 
 It was a strange procession, and in that tragic gloom the boy's light-hearted words were balm to me.
 
 Silently and slowly we moved forward. The underbrush was thick on either side of the narrow, stony way that wound between sheer cliffs. We had torn up our blankets and shirts to muffle the horses' feet, that no sound of hoofs, striking upon the rocky path, might reach the ears of the Cheyenne and his allies crouching watchfully above us. At the head marched Captain Jenness and Scout Pliley, each with his carbine for a crutch and leaning on each other for support. Followed five soldiers as front guard through the defile. And then four horses, led by careful hands, bearing nine suffering, silent men upon their backs. Two of the horses carried three, and one bore two, and the last horse, one--a dying boy, whispering into my ear a message for his mother, as I held his hand. Behind us came the sergeants with the remainder, for rear-guard. And so we passed, mile after mile, winding in and out, to find some sheltering spot where, sinking in exhaustion, we might sleep.
 
 The midnight winds grew chill, and the tense strain of that slow march was maddening, but not a groan came from the wounded men. The vanguards of the plains knew how to take perilous trails and hold their peace.
 
 When the sun rose on the second day the hills about us swarmed with savages, whose demoniac yells rent the air. Leonidas had his back against a rock at old Thermopylae, but our Kansas plainsmen fought in a ring of fire.
 
 At day-dawn, our brave scout, Pliley, slipped away, and, after long hours among the barren hills, he found the main command.
 
 Men never gave up hope in the plains warfare, but each of us had saved one bullet for himself, if we must lose this game. The time for that last bullet had almost come when the sight of cavalrymen on a distant ridge told us that our scout was on its way to us again. It took a hero's heart to thread unseen the dangerous trails and find our comrades with the cavalry major and bring back aid, but Pliley did it for us--a man's part. May the sod rest lightly where he sleeps to-day.
 
 Meantime, on the day before, the main force of our cavalry, who had given us up for lost, had had their own long, fearful struggle. In the early morning, Lieutenant Stahl, scouting forward in an open plain, rushed back to give warning of Indians everywhere. And they were everywhere--a thousand strong against a feeble hundred caught in their midst. They rode like centaurs, and their aim was deadly true as they poured down, a murderous avalanche, from every hillslope. Their ponies' tails, sweeping the ground, lengthened by long horse-hair braids, with sticks thrust through at intervals by way of ornament; their waving blankets, and streamered lances held aloft; the savage roar from ten hundred throats; the mad impetus of their furious charge through clouds of dust and rifle smoke--all made the valley of the Prairie Dog seem but a seething hell bursting with fiendins shouts, shot through with quivering arrows, shattered by bullets, rocked with the thunderous beat of horses' hoofs, trampling it into one great maelstrom of blood and dirt.
 
 All day, with neither food nor water, amid bewildering bluffs and gorges, alive with savage warriors, the cavalrymen had striven desperately. Night fell, and in the clear moonlight they forced their way across the Prairie Dog, and neither man nor horse dared to stop to drink because an instant's pause meant death.
 
 And the evening and the morning were the first day. And the second was like unto it, albeit we were no longer a triangle, made up of wagon-train here and main command there, and our twenty-nine--less two lost ones--under Captain Jenness, at a third point. Before noon, our force was all united and we joined hands for the finish.
 
 Beverly and I rode side by side all day. Everywhere around us the half-breed, Charlie Bent, dashed boldly on his big, white horse calling us cowardly dogs and taunting us with lack of marksmanship.
 
 "I'm getting tired of that fellow, Gail. I'll pick his horse out from under him pretty soon, see if I don't." My cousin called to me as Bent's insolent cry burst forth:
 
 "Come out, and let me show you how to shoot."
 
 Beverly leaped out toward the Indian horde surrounding Bent. He raised his carbine, and with steady aim, fired far across the field of battle, the cleanest shot I ever saw. Years ago my cousin had urged Uncle Esmond to let him practise shooting on horseback. He was a master of the art now. Charlie Bent's splendid white steed fell headlong, hurling its rider to the ground and dragging him, face downward, in the dirt.
 
 I cannot paint that day's deeds with my pen, nor ever artist lived whose brush could reproduce it. If we should lose here, it meant the turning of the clock from morning back to midnight on the Kansas plains.
 
 Between this and the safety of the prairies stood fewer than a hundred and fifty men, against a thousand warriors, led by cunning half-breeds skilled in the white man's language and the red man's fiendishness.
 
 If we should lose--We did not go out there to lose. When each man does a man's part there is no failure possible at last.
 
 As the sun sank toward late afternoon, the savage force massed for its great, crushing blow that should annihilate us. The strong center, made up of the flower of every tribe engaged, was on the crest of a long, westward-reaching slope, a splendid company of barbaric warriors--strong, eager, vengeful, doggedly determined to finish now the struggle with the power they hated.
 
 The air was very clear, and in its crystal distances we could see every movement and hear each command.
 
 The valley rang with the taunts and jeers and threats and mocking laughter of our foes, daring us to come out and meet them face to face, like men. And we went out and met them face to face, like men.
 
 A little force of soldiery fighting, not for ourselves, but for the hearthstones of a nobler people, our cavalry swung up that long, western slope in the face of a murderous fire, into the very heart of Cheyenne strength, enforced by all the iron of the allied tribes. I marvel at it now, when, in solid phalanx, our foes might easily have mowed us down like a thin line of standing grain; for their numbers seemed unending, while flight on flight of arrows and fierce sheets of rifle-fire swept our ranks as we rode on to death or victory. But each man's face among us there was bright with courage, and with our steady force unchecked we swept right on to the very crest of the high slope, scattering the enemy, at last, like wind-blown autumn leaves, until upon our guidons victory rested and the long day was won. 


 

I wander alone at dead of night, But ever before me I see a light, In darkest hours more clear, more bright; And the hope that I bear fails never.

FREDRICH RÃœCKERT.


The waters of the Smoky Hill flowed yellow, flecked with foam, beside our camp, where, in a little grove of cottonwood trees, we rested from a long day's march. The heat of a late Kansas summer day was fanned away at twilight by the cool prairie breeze. There was an appealing something in the air that evening hour that made me homesick. So I went down beside the river to fight out my daily battle and let the wide spaces of the landscape soothe me, and all the opal tints of sunset skies and the soft radiance of a prairie twilight bring me their inspiration.

Each day my heart-longing for the girl I must not love grew stronger. I wondered, as I sat here to-night, what trail would open for me when Beverly and Eloise should meet again, as lovers must meet some time. We had not once spoken her name between us, Bev and I, in all the days and nights since we had been in service on the plains.

As I sat lonely, musing vaguely of a score of things that all ran back to one fair face, Beverly dropped down beside me. His face was grave and his eyes had a gentle, pleading look, something strange and different from the man whose moods I knew.

"I'm homesick, Gail." He smiled as he spoke, and all the boy of all the years was in that smile.

"So am I, Bev. It must be in the water here," I replied, lightly.

But neither one misunderstood the other.

"I'd like to see Little Lees to-night. Wouldn't you?" he asked, suddenly.

The question startled me. Maybe my cousin wanted to confide in me here. I would not be selfish with him.

"Yes, I always like to see her. Why to-night, though?" I asked, encouragingly.

Beverly looked steadily into my face.

"I want to tell you something, Gail. I haven't dared to speak before, but something tells me I should speak to-night," he said slowly.

I looked away along the winding valley of the Smoky Hill. I must hear it some time. Why be a coward now?

"Say on, I'm always ready to hear anything from you, Beverly."

I tried to speak firmly, and I hoped my voice did not seem faltering to him. He sat silent a long while. Then he rose and straightened to his full height--a splendid form of strength and wholesomeness and grace.

"I'll tell you some time soon, but not to-night. Honor is something with me yet."

And so he left me.

I dreamed of him that night with Eloise. And all of us were glad. I wakened suddenly. Beverly was standing near me. He turned and walked away, his upright form and gait, even in the faint light, individually Bev's own. I saw him lie down and draw his blanket about him, then sit up a moment, then nestle down again. Something went wrong with sleep and me for a long time, and once I called out, softly:

"Bev, can't you sleep?"

"Oh, shut up! Not if you fidget about me," he replied, with the old happy-go-lucky toss of the head and careless tone.

It was dim dawn when I wakened. My cousin was sleeping calmly just a few feet away. An irresistible longing to speak to him overcame me and I slipped across and gently kicked the slumbering form. Two cavalry blankets rolled apart. A note pinned to the edge of one caught my eye. I stooped to read:

DEAR GAIL, Don't hate me. I'm sick of army life. They will call me a coward and if they get me they will shoot me for a deserter. I have disgraced the Clarenden name. You'll never see me again. Good-bye, old boy.

BEV.

Deserter!

The yells of all the tribes in the battle on the Prairie Dog Creek shrieked not so fiercely in my ears as that word rang now. And all the valley of the Smoky Hill echoed and re-echoed it.

Deserter!

My Beverly--who never told a lie, nor feared a danger, nor ever, except in self-defense, hurt a creature God had made. I could bury Bev, or stand beside him on his wedding-day. But Beverly disgraced! O, God of mercy toward all cowards, pity him!

I sat down beside the blankets I had kicked apart and looked back over my cousin's life. It offered me no help. I thought of Eloise--and his longing to see her on the night before; of his struggle to tell me something. I knew now what that something was. Poor boy!

He was not a boy, he was a man--strong, fearless, happy-hearted. How could the plains make cowards out of such as he? They had made a man of Jondo, who had all excuse to play the coward. The mystery of the human mind is a riddle past my reading--and I had always thought of Beverly's as an open book. The only one to whom I could turn now was not Eloise, nor my uncle, nor Mat nor Rex, but Jondo, John Doe, the nameless man, with whom Esmond Clarenden had walked all these years and for whose sake he had rescued Eloise St. Vrain. They had "toted together," as Aunty Boone had said. Oh, Aunty Boone with dull eyes of prophecy! I could hear her soft voice saying:

"If you get into trouble, Mr. Bev, I come, hot streaks, to help you."

She could not come "hot streaks" now, for Beverly had deserted. But there was Jondo.

I wrote at once to him, inclosing the crumpled note, and then, as one who walks with neither sight nor feeling any more, I rode the plains and did a man's part in that Eighteenth Cavalry campaign of '67. The days went slowly by, bringing the long, bright autumn beauty to the plains and turning all the elms to gold along the creek at Burlingame. Time took away the sharp edge from our grief and shame, and left the dull pain that wears deeper and deeper, unnoticed by us; and all of us who had loved Beverly lived on and were cheerful for one another's sake.

When Jondo--as only Jondo could--bore the news of my letter to Esmond Clarenden, he made no reply, but sat like an image of stone. Rex Krane broke down and sobbed as if his heart would break. But Mat, calm, poised, and always merciful, merely said:

"We must wait awhile."

It was many days before she broke the news to Eloise St. Vrain, who only smiled and said:

"Gail is mistaken. Beverly couldn't desert."

It was when the word came to Aunty Boone that the storm broke. They told me afterward that her face was terrible to see, and that her eyes grew dull and narrow. She went out to the bluff's edge and sat staring up the valley of the Kaw as if to see into the hidden record of the coming years.

One October day, when the Kranes and Eloise sat with my uncle and Jondo in the soft afternoon air, looking out at the beauty of the Missouri bluffs, Aunty Boone loomed up before them suddenly.

"I got somebody's fortune, just come clear before me," she declared, in her soft voice. "Lemme see you' hand, Little Lees!"

Eloise put her shapely white hand upon the big, black paw.

Aunty Boone patted it gently, the first and last caress she ever gave to any of us.

"You' goin' to get a letter from a dark man. You' goin' to take a long journey. And somebody goin' with you. An' the one tellin' this is goin' away, jus' one more voyage to desset sands again, and see Africy and her own kingdom. Whoo-ee!"

Never before, in all the years that we had known her, had she expressed a wish for her early home across he seas. Her voice trailed off weirdly, and she gazed at the Kaw Valley for a long moment. Then she said, in a low tone that thrilled her listeners with its vibrant power:

"Bev ain't no deserter. He's gone out! Jus' gone out. Whoo-ee!"

She disappeared around the corner of the house and stood long in the little side porch where Beverly had kissed Little Blue Flower one night in the "Moon of the Peach-Blossom," and Eloise had found them there, and I had unwittingly heard what was said.

"Is there no variation in palmistry?" Rex Krane asked. "I never knew a gypsy in all my life who read a different set of prophecies. It's always the dark man--I'm light (darn the luck)--and a journey and a letter. But I thought maybe an African seer, a sort of Voodo, hoodoo, bugaboo, would have it a light man and a legacy and company coming, instead of you taking a journey, Eloise."

Eloise smiled.

"You musn't envy me my good fortune, Rex," she declared. "Aunty Boone says she is going back to Africa, too. You'll need a new cook, Uncle Esmond. Let me apply for the place right now."

My uncle smiled affectionately on her.

"I could give you a trial, as I gave her. I remember I told her if she could cook good meals I'd keep her; if not, she'd leave. Do you want to take the risk?"

"That's where you'll get your journey of the prophecy, Eloise," Jondo suggested.

"Well, you leave out the best part of it all," Mat broke in. "She added that Beverly isn't a deserter, he's just 'gone out.' Why don't you believe it all, serious or frivolous?"

A shadow lifted from the faces there as a glimpse of hope came slowly in.

"And as to letters, Eloise," Uncle Esmond said, "I must beg your pardon. I have one here for you that I had forgotten. It came this morning."

"See if it isn't from a dark man, inviting you to take a journey," Rex suggested.

"It must be, it's from Santa Fé," Eloise said, opening the letter eagerly.

Aunty Boone had come back again and was standing by the corner of the veranda, half hidden by vines, watching Eloise with steady eyes. The girl's face grew pale, then deadly white, and her big, dark eyes were opened wide as she dropped the letter and looked at the faces about her.

"It is from Father Josef," she gasped. "He writes of Little Blue Flower somewhere in Hopi-land. He asks me to go to Santa Fé at once for her sake. And it says, too--" The voice faltered and Eloise turned to Esmond Clarenden. "It says that Beverly is there somewhere and he wants you. Read it, Uncle Esmond."

As Eloise rose and laid the letter in my uncle's hand, Aunty Boone, hidden by the vines, muttered in her soft, strange tone:

"He's jus' gone out. Thank Jupiter! He's jus' gone out. I'm goin', hot streaks, to help him, too. Then I go to my own desset where I'm honin' o to be, an' stay there till the judgment Day. Whoo-ee!"

In the early morning of a rare October day upon the plains I sat on my cavalry horse beside Fort Hays, waiting for one last word from my superior officer, Colonel Moore. He was my uncle's friend, and he had been kind to the Clarenden boys, as military kindness runs.

"You are honorably discharged," he said. "Take these letters to Fort Dodge. You will meet your friends there, and have some safeguard from there on, by order of General Sheridan. God bless you, Gail. You have ridden well. I wish you a safe journey, and I hope you'll find your cousin soon. He was a splendid boy until this happened. He may be cleared some day."

"He is splendid still to me in spite of everything," I replied.

"Yes, yes," my colonel responded. "Never a Clarenden disgraced the name before. That is why General Sheridan is granting you a squad to help you. It is a great thing to have a good name. Good-by."

"Good-by. I thank you a thousand times," I said, saluting him.

"And I thank you. A chain, you know, is as strong as its weakest link. A cavalry troop is as able as its soldiers make it."

He turned his horse about, and I rode off alone across the lonely plains a hundred miles away toward old Fort Dodge, beside the Arkansas River. Jondo and Rex were to meet me there for one more trip on the long Santa Fé Trail.


Late September rains had blessed the valley of the Arkansas. The level land about Fort Dodge showed vividly green against the yellow sand-hills across the river, and the brown, barren bluffs westward, where a little city would one day rise in pretty picturesqueness. The scene was like the Garden of Eden to my eyes when I broke through the rough ridges to the north on the last lap of my long ride thither and hurried down to the fort. I grant I did not appear like one who had a right to enter Eden, for I was as brown as a Malayan. Nearly four months of hard riding, sleeping on the ground, with a sky-cover, eating buffalo meat, and drinking the dregs of slow-drying pools, had made a plainsman of me, of the breed that long since disappeared. Golf-sticks and automobile steering-wheels are held by hands to-day no less courageous than those that swung the carbine into place, and flung aside the cavalry bridle-rein in a wild onslaught in our epic day. Each age grows men, flanked by the coward and the reckless daredevil.

Rex Krane was first to recognize me when I reached the fort.

"Oh, we are all here but Mat: Clarenden, Jondo, Aunty Boone, and Little Lees; and a squad of half a dozen cavalry men are ready to go with us." Rex drawled in his old Yankee fashion, hiding an aching heart underneath his jovial greeting.

"All of us!" I exclaimed.

"Yes. Here they all come!" Rex retorted.

They all came, but I saw only one, veiling the joy in my eyes as best I could. For with the face of Eloise before me, I knew the hardest battle of my life was calling me to colors. I had forgotten how womanly she was, or else her summer by the blessed prairies that lap up to the edge of the quiet town of Burlingame had brought her peace and helped her to put away sad memories of her mother.

Behind her--a black background for her fair, golden head--was Aunty Boone.

"Our girl was called to Santa Fé, and Daniel here goes with her. I couldn't stay behind, of course," my uncle said. "The Comanches are making trouble all along the Cimarron, and we will go up the Arkansas by the old trail route. It is farther, but the soldiers say much safer right now, and maybe just as quick for us. There is no load of freight to hinder us--two wagons and our mounts. Besides, the cavalrymen have some matters to look after near the mountains, or we might not have had their protection granted us."

The beauty of that early autumn on the plains and mountains lingers in my memory still, though half a century has passed since that journey on the old, long trail to Santa Fé.

At the closing of an Indian summer day we pitched our camp outside the broken walls of old Fort Bent. Every day found me near Eloise, although the same barrier was between us that had risen up the day she left me in the ruined chapel by the San Christobal River. Every day I longed to tell her what Beverly had said to me the night he--went out. It was due her that she should know how tenderly he had thought of her.

The night was irresistible, soft and balmy for the time of year, as that night had been long ago when we children were marooned inside this stronghold. A thin, growing moon hung in the crystal heavens and all the shadowy places were softened with gray tones. Jondo and Uncle Esmond and Rex Krane were talking together. Aunty Boone was clearing up after the evening meal. The soldiers were about their tasks or pastimes. Only Eloise and I were left beside the camp-fire.

"Let's go and find the place where we spent our last evening here, Little Lees," I said, determined to-night to tell her of Beverly.

"And just as many other places as we can remember," Eloise replied.

We clambered over heaps of fallen stone in the wide doorway, and stood inside the half-roofless ruin that had been a stronghold at the wilderness crossroads.

The outer walls were broken here and there. The wearing elements were slowly separating the inner walls and sagging roofs. Heaps of debris lay scattered about. Over the caving well the well-sweep stuck awry, marking a place of danger. Everywhere was desolation and slow destruction.

We sat down on some fallen timbers in the old court and looked about us.

"It was a pity that Colonel Bent should have blown up this splendid fortress, and all because the Government wouldn't pay him his price for it," I declared.

"Destroyed what he had built so carefully, and what was so useful," Eloise commented. "Sometimes we wreck our lives in the same way."

I have said the twilight seemed to fit her best, although at all times she was fair. But to-night she was a picture in her traveling dress of golden brown, with soft, white folds about her throat. I wondered if she thought of Beverly as she spoke. It hurt me so to be harsh with his memory.

"Yes, Charlie Bent blew up all that the Colonel built into him, of education and the ways of cultured folks--a leader of a Dog Indian band, he is a piece of manhood wrecked. And by the way," I went on, "Beverly shot his beautiful white horse on the Prairie Dog Creek. You should have seen that shot. It was the cleanest piece of long-range marksmanship I ever saw. He hated Bev for that."

"Maybe he gloats over our lost Beverly to-day. He is only 'gone out' to me," Eloise said softly.

"Let me tell you something, Little Lees. Beverly and I never spoke of you--you can guess why--until that last night beside the Smoky Hill. He wanted to tell me something that night."

"And did he?" Eloise asked, eagerly.

"No. He said honor was something with him still. I thought he meant to tell me of himself and you. Forgive me. I do not want any confidences not freely given. But now I know it was the struggle in which he went down that night that he wanted to tell me about. He said first, 'I'm homesick. I'd like to see Little Lees.' And his eyes were full of sympathy as he looked at me."

"Did he say anything more?" Eloise's voice was almost a whisper.

"That was all. I thought that night I should hunt a lonely trail--when he went home to claim--happiness. But now I feel that I could live beside him always--to have him safe with us again."

As I turned to look at Eloise something was in her big, dark eyes--something that disappeared at once. I caught only a fleeting glimpse of it, and I could not understand why a thrill of something near to happiness should sweep through me. It was but the shadow of what might have been for me and was not.

"Do you recall our prophecies here that night when we were children?" Eloise asked.

"Yes, every one. Mat wanted a home, Bev to fight the Indians, and you wanted me to keep Marcos Ramero in his place. I tried to do it," I replied.

And both of us recalled, but did not speak of, the warm, childish kiss of Little Lees upon my lips, and how we gripped hands in the shadows when the moon went cold and grey. Life was so simple then.

"It may be, if our problems and our tragedies crowd into our younger years, they clear the way for all the bright, unclouded years to follow," Eloise said, as we rose to go back to the camp-fire.

"I hope they will leave us strong to meet the bright, unclouded years," I answered her.

On the next day the cavalrymen left us for a time, and we went on alone southward toward our journey's end.

Autumn on the mountain slopes, and in the mesa-girdled valleys of New Mexico hung rainbow-tinted lights by day, with star-beam pointed paths trailing across the blue night-sky. And all the rugged beauty of a picturesque land, basking in lazy warmth, out-breathing sweet, pure air, made the old trail to Santa Fé an enchanting highway to me, despite the burden of a grief that weighed me down. For I could not shut from my mind the pitiful call of Little Blue Flower that had come to Eloise, nor all the uncertainty surrounding my cousin somewhere in the Southwest wanting us.

The little city of adobe walls seemed not to have changed a hair's turn in the six years since I had seen it last. Out beyond the sandy arroyo again Father Josef waited for us. The same strong face and dark eyes, full of fire, the same erect form and manly bearing were his. Except for a few streaks of gray in his close-cropped hair the years had wrought no change in him, save that his countenance betokened the greater benediction of a godly life upon it. As we rode slowly to the door of San Miguel I fell behind. The years since that day when the saucy little girl had called me a big, brown, bob-cat here came back upon my mind, and, though my hope had vanished, still I loved the old church.

Before we had passed the doorway Eloise left her wagon and stood beside my horse.

"Gail, let us stop here with Father Josef while the others go down to Felix Narveo's. It always seems so peaceful here."

"You are always welcome here, my children," Father Josef said, graciously, as I leaped from my horse and stuck its lariat pin down beside the doorway.

Inside there were the same soft lights from the high windows, the same rare old paintings about the altar, the same seat beside the door.

The priest spoke to us in low tones befitting sanctuary stillness. "You have come on a long journey, but it is one of mercy. I only pray you do not come too late," he said.

"Tell us about it, Father," Eloise urged. "The men will get the story from Felix Narveo, but Gail and I seem to belong up here." She smiled up at me with the words.

I could have almost hoped anew just then, but for the thought of Beverly.

"Let us pray first," the holy man replied.

Beverly and I had been confirmed in the Episcopalian faith once long ago, but the plains were hard on the religion of a high-church man. And yet, all sacred forms are beautiful to me, and I always knew what reverence means.

"You may not know," Father Josef said, "that I have Indian blood in my veins--a Hopi strain from some French ancestors. Po-a-be, our Little Blue Flower, is my heathen cousin, descended from the same chief's daughter. The Hopi's faith is a part of him, like his hand or eye, and I have never gained much with the tribe save through blood-ties. But because of that I have their confidence."

"You have all men's confidence, Father Josef," I said, warmly.

"Thank you, my son," the priest replied. "When Santan, the Apache, came back from a long raid eastward, he told Little Blue Flower that Beverly had spared his life beside a poisoned spring in the Cimarron valley, urging him to go back and marry her; life had other interests now to white men who must forget all about Indian girls, he declared, and with Apache adroitness he pressed his claims upon her. But Santan had slain Sister Anita beside the San Christobal Arroyo. A murderer is abhorrent to a Hopi, who never takes life, save in self-defense or in legitimate warfare--if warfare ever is legitimate," he added, gravely.

"My little cousin was heart-broken, for all the years since her rescue at Pawnee Rock she had cherished one face in memory; and maybe Beverly in his happy, careless way had given her cause to do so."

"We understand, I think," Eloise said, turning inquiringly to me.

I nodded, and Father Josef went on. "She knew her love was foolish, but few of us are always wise in love. So Santan's suit seemed promising for a time. But the Hopi type ran true in her, and she put off the Apache year after year. It is a strange case in Indian romance, but romance everywhere is strange enough. The Apache type also ran true to dogged purpose. Besides being an Apache, Santan has some Ramero blood in his veins, to be accounted for in the persistence of an evil will. He was as determined to win Po-a-be as she that he should fail. And he was cunning in his schemes."

Father Josef paused and looked at Eloise.

"To make the story short," he began again, "Santan could not make the Hopi woman hate Beverly, although she knew that her love was hopeless, as it should be. Pardon me, daughter," Father Josef said, gently. "She heard you two talking in a little porch one night at the Clarenden home, and she has believed ever since that you are lovers. That is why she sent for you to come to help her now."

"I saw Beverly give Little Blue Flower a brotherly kiss that night, and I told him, frankly, how it grieved me, because I had known at St. Ann's about her love for him. I had urged her to go with me to the Clarendens', hoping that when she saw Beverly again she would quit dreaming of him."

I looked away, at the paintings and the crucifix above the altar, and the long shafts of light on gray adobe walls, wondering, vaguely, what the next act of this drama might reveal.

"Beverly was always lovable," Father Josef said. "But now the message comes that he is out in the heart of Hopi-land, and because Little Blue Flower is protecting him her people may turn against her. For Beverly's sake, and for her sake, too, my daughter, we must start at once to find her and maybe save his life. She wants you. It is the call of sisterhood. Sister Gloria and I will go with you. I have much influence with my Hopi people."

"Will they put Beverly to death?" I asked.

"I cannot tell, but--see how long the arm of hate can be, my son--Santan, the Apache, has been informed of Beverly's coming by Marcos Ramero, gambler and debauchee. And Marcos got it in some way from Charlie Bent, a Cheyenne half-breed, son of old Colonel Bent, a fine old gentleman. Maybe you knew young Bent?"

"Yes, he holds a grudge against the Clarenden name because we made him play square with us at the old fort when we were children," I told the priest. "He yelled defiance at us in the battle on the Prairie Dog Creek last August. Bev shot his horse from under him just to humble the insolent dog! Beverly never was a coward," I insisted, all my affection for my cousin overwhelming me.

"This makes it clearer," Father Josef said. "Through Bent to Ramero and Ramero to Santan, the word went, somehow. The Apache has gathered up a band of the worst of his breed and they are moving against the Hopis to get Beverly. You and Jondo and Clarenden and Krane will join the little squad of cavalry you left up in the mountains, and turn the Apache back, and all of us must start at once, or we may be too late. May heaven bless our hands and make them strong."

We bowed in reverence for a moment. When we hurried from the dim church into the warm October sunlight, Aunty Boone sat on the door-step beside my horse.

"'He's jus' gone out,' I told 'em so, back there on the Missouri River. He's gone out an' I'm goin', hot streaks, to find him, Little Lees. Whoo-ee!" 


 

And though there's never a grave to tell, Nor a cross to mark his fall, Thank God! we know that he "batted well" In the last great Game of all.
 
 --SERVICE.
 
 
 We left Santa Fé within an hour, and struck out toward the unknown land where Beverly Clarenden, in the midst of uncertain friends, was being hunted down by an Apache band. As our little company passed out on the trail toward Agua Fria, I recalled the day when we had gone with Rex Krane to this little village beside the Santa Fé River. Eloise and Father Josef and Santan and Little Blue Flower were all there that day; and Jondo, although we did not know it then. Rex Krane had told Beverly, going out, that an Indian never forgets. In all the years Santan had not forgotten.
 
 To-day we covered the miles rapidly. Jondo and Father Josef rode ahead, with Esmond Clarenden and Felix Narveo following them; then came Eloise St. Vrain with Sister Gloria; behind them, Aunty Boone, with Rex and myself bringing up the rear. Three pack-mules bearing our equipment went tramping after us with bobbing ears and sturdy gait.
 
 I looked down the line of our little company ahead. The four men in the lead were college chums once, and all of them had loved the mother of the girl behind them. I have said the girl looked best by twilight. I had not seen her in a coarse-gray riding-dress when I said that. I had seen her when she needed protection from her enemies. I had not seen her until to-day, going out to meet hardship fearlessly, for the sake of one who wanted her--only an Indian maiden, but a faithful friend. In the plainest face self-forgetfulness puts a beauty all its own. That beauty shone resplendent now in the beautiful face of Mary Marchland's daughter.
 
 The world can change wonderfully in sixty minutes. As we rode out toward the Rio Grande, the yellow sands, the gray gramma grass, the purple sage, the tall green cliffs, and, high above, the gleaming snow-crowned peaks, took on a beauty never worn for me before. Why should a hope spring up within me that would die as other hopes had died? But back of all my thought was the longing to help Beverly, and a faith in Aunty Boone's weird, prophetic grip on things unseen. He had just "gone out" to her--why not to all of us? I could not understand Little Blue Flower's part in this tragedy, so I let it alone.
 
 A day out from Santa Fé we were joined by the little squad of cavalrymen with whom we had parted company back at the Fort Bent camping-place. With these we had little cause to dread personal danger. The Apache band was a small, vicious gang that could do much harm to the Hopis, but it seemed nothing for us to fear.
 
 Our care was to reach Beverly before the Hopis should rise up against Little Blue Flower, or the band led by Santan should fall upon them. Father Josef had sent a runner on to tell them of our coming and to warn them of the Apache raid. But runners sometimes come to grief.
 
 It is easy enough now to sleep most of the hours away across the and lands that lie between the Rockies and the Coast Range mountains, where the great "through limiteds," swinging down their long trail of steel, sweep farther in one day than we crept in two long, weary weeks in that October fifty years ago. Only Father Josef's unerring Indian accuracy brought us through.
 
 We crawled up rugged mountain trails and skirted the rims of dizzy chasms; we wound through cañons, with only narrow streams for paths, between sheer walls of rock; we pitched our camp at the bases of great, red sand stone mesas, barren of life; we followed long, yellow ways over stretches of unending plain; we wandered in the painted-desert lands, where all the colors God has made bewilder with their beauty, in the barest, dreariest, most unlovely bit of unfinished world that our great continent holds; the lands forgotten, maybe, when, in Creation's busy week, the evening and the morning were the sixth day, and the Great Builder looked on His work and called it good.
 
 We found the Hopi trails, but not the Hopi clan that we were seeking. We found Apache trails behind them, but only dimly marked, as if they blew one moccasin track full of sand before they made another.
 
 The October days were dreams of loveliness, and dawn and sunset on the desert were indescribably beautiful. But the nights were bitterly cold. Eloise and Sister Gloria were native to the Southwest and they knew how to dress warmly for it. Aunty Boone had never felt such chilling night breezes, but not one word of complaint came from her lips in all that journey.
 
 One night we gathered into camp beneath the shelter of a little butte. We had overtaken Father Josef's Indian runner an hour before. He had not found the Hopis yet, and so we held a council.
 
 "The Hopi is ahead of us northwest," the Indian declared.
 
 "Is the Apache following?" Jondo asked.
 
 The runner nodded. "They have been pursued, but they have slipped away; the Apache goes north, they turn north-west. They take the dry lands and the pine forests beyond; their last chance. If they hold out till the Apache leaves, they will return safely. You follow them, wait for them, or go back without them. It is your choice."
 
 We turned toward the three women, one in the bloom of her young womanhood, one with the patient endurance of the nun, one black and strong and always unafraid.
 
 "I do not want to leave Little Blue Flower in her hour of peril," Eloise said.
 
 "I can go where I am needed," Sister Gloria declared.
 
 "This is my land, I never know Africa was right out here. I thought they was oceans on both sides of it. I go where Bev's gone out an then I come here and stay. Whoo-ee!"
 
 We smiled at her mistaken dream of her far African home, and, cheering one another on, when morning came we moved northwest.
 
 Jondo rode beside me all that day, and we talked of many things.
 
 "Gail," he said, "Aunty Boone is right. This is her Africa. I don't believe she will ever leave it."
 
 "She can't stay here, Jondo," I replied.
 
 "She will, though. You will see. Did she ever fail to have her way?"
 
 "No. She is a type of her own, never to be reproduced, but like a great dog in her faithful loyalty," I declared.
 
 "And shrewder than most men," Jondo went on. "She supplied the lost link with Santan for me last night. Years ago, when Little Blue Flower brought me a message from Father Josef on the morning that we took Eloise from Santa Fé, I caught a glimpse of the Apache across the plaza and read the message--_'trust the bearer anywhere'_--to mean that boy. Aunty Boone had just peered out and scared the little girl away. She told me all about it last night, when she was bewailing Beverly's hard fate. How small a thing can open the road to a big tragedy. I trusted that whelp till that day at San Christobal."
 
 "I hope we will finish this soon," I said. "I don't understand Beverly at all and I marvel at Little Blue Flower's love for him. Don't you?"
 
 Jondo looked up with a pathos in his dark-blue eyes.
 
 "Don't hurry, Gail. The trails all end somewhere soon. Life is a stranger thing from day to day, but the one thing that no man will ever fully understand is a woman's love for man. There is only one thing higher, and that is mother-love."
 
 "The kind that you and Uncle Esmond have," I said.
 
 "Oh, I am only a man, but Clarenden has a woman's heart, as you and Beverly and my sister's child all know."
 
 "Your sister's child?" I gasped.
 
 "Yes. When her parents went with yellow fever, too, I could not adopt Mat--you know why. Clarenden did it for me. She has always known that I am her uncle, but Mat was always a self-contained child."
 
 I loved Mat more than ever from that hour.
 
 The next day our trail ran into pine forests, where tall, shapely trees point skyward. Not a dense woodland, but a seemingly endless one. Snows lay in the darker places, and here and there streams trickled out into the sunlight, whose only sources were these melting snows. It was a land of silence and loneliness--a land forgotten or unknown to record. The Hopi trail was stronger here and we followed it eagerly, but night overtook us early in the forest.
 
 That evening we gathered about a huge fire of pine boughs beneath a low stone ridge covered with evergreen trees that sheltered us warmly from the sharp west winds. We heard the cries of night-roving beasts, and in the darkness, now and then, a pair of gleaming eyes, seen for an instant, and then the rush of feet, told us that some wild creature had looked for the first time on fire.
 
 "To-morrow night will see our journey's end," Jondo declared. "The Hopi can't be far away, and I'm sure they are safe yet, and we shall reach them before the Apache does."
 
 The Indian runner's face did not change its blankness, but I felt that he doubted Jondo's judgment. That night he slipped away and we never saw him again.
 
 We were all hopeful that night, and hopeful the next morning when we broke camp early. A trail we had not seen the night before ran up the low ridge to the west of us. Eloise and I followed it up a little way, riding abreast. The ridge really was a narrow, rocky tableland, and beyond it was another higher slope, up which the same trail ran. The trees were growing smaller and the sky flowed broad and blue above their tops. The ground was only rock, with a thin veneer of soil here and there. Gnarled, stunted cedars and gray, twisted cypress clung for a roothold to these barren ledges. The morning breeze swept, sharp and invigorating, out of a broad open space beyond the edge of this rocky woodland height. Eloise and I pushed on a little farther, leaving the others still on the narrow shelf above our camping-place.
 
 Suddenly, as we rode out of the closer timber to where the scattered growths were hardly higher than our heads, the first heaven and the first earth seemed to pass away--not in irreverence I write it--and we stood face to face with a new heaven and a new earth--where, in the Grand Cañon of the Colorado River, the sublimity of the Almighty Builder's beauty and omnipotence was voiced in one stupendous Word, wrought in enduring color in everlasting stone. Cleaving its way westward to some far-off sea, a wide abyss, a dozen miles across from lip to lip, yawned down to the very vitals of the earth. We stood upon the rim of it--a sheer cliff that dropped a thousand feet of solid limestone, in one plummet line, to other cliffs below, that dropped again through furlongs of black gneiss, red sandstone, and gray granite.
 
 Beyond this mighty chasm great forest trees were, to our eyes, only as weeds along its rim. Between that rim and ours we could look down upon high mountain buttes and sloping red tablelands, and dizzy gorges with pinnacled walls and towers and domes--vast forms no pen will ever picture--not hurled in wild confusion by titan fury, but symmetrical and purposeful and calm.
 
 Through slowly crawling millions of patiently wearing years, while stars grew old and perished from the firmament, with cloud, and frost, and wind, and water, and sharp cutting sands, these strata of the old earth's crust were chiseled into gigantic outlines, and all the worn-down, crumbled atoms of debris were swept through long, tortuous leagues of distance toward the sea by a mad river swirling through the lowest depths. A mile straight down, as the crow never flies here, it rushes, but to us the river was a mere creek, seen only where the lower gorges open to the channel.
 
 In the early light of that October morning the weird, vast shapes that filled, the abyss were bathed in a bewildering opulence of color. Pale gold along the farther rim, with pink and amber, blue and gray, and heliotrope and rose--all blending softly, tone on tone. Deeper, the heart of every rift and chasm that flows into the one stupendous mother-rift was full of purple shadows. Not the thin lavender of the upper world where we must live, but tensely, richly regal, beyond words to paint; with silvery mists above, soft, filmy veils that draped the jutting rocks and rounded each harsh edge, melting pink to rose and gray to violet. Eternal silence brooded over all this symbol, wrought in visible form, of His Almightiness, to whom a thousand years are as a day, and in the hollow of whose hand He holds the universe. Measureless, motionless, voiceless, it seemed as if all the cañons of all the mountains of our great contienent might have given to it here their awful depth and height and rugged strength; their picturesqueness, color, graceful outlines, dizzy steeps and awe-inspiring lengths and breadths. And fusing all these into itself, height on height, and breadth on breadth, entrancing charm on charm, with all the hues that the Great Alchemist can throw from His vast prism, it seemed to say:
 
 "'Twas only in a vision that St. John saw the four-square city whose twelve gates are each a single pearl! whose walls are builded on foundation stones of jasper, sapphire, and chalcedony, emerald and topaz, chrysolite and amethyst; whose streets are of pure gold, like unto clear glass; whose light is ever like unto a stone most precious.
 
 "To you who may not dream the vision beautiful, the Mighty Maker of all things sublime has given me a token here in finite stone and earthly coloring of that undreamed sublimity of all things omnipotent."
 
 My companion and I sat on our horses speechless, gazing down at this overwhelming marvel below us. We forgot ourselves, each other, our companions of the journey, its purpose, Beverly, and his enemy Santan, the desert, the brown plains, green prairies, rivers, mountains, the earth itself, as we stood there in the shadow of the Infinite.
 
 At last we turned and looked into each other's eyes for one long moment. In its space we read the old, old story through, and a great, up-leaping joy illumined our faces. God, who had let us know each other, had let us stand by _this_ to feel the barrier of misunderstanding fall away.
 
 * * * * *
 
 A sound of horses' hoofs on the rocky slope below us, a weird Indian call, and a great shout from our calverymen drew us to earth again. The Hopis were coming. Father Josef knew the signal. Our Indian runner had found them in the night and sent them toward us. We dashed into the forest, keeping close together; and here, a mile away, under green pines, surrounded by a little group of a desert Hopi clan, was Beverly Clarenden--big, strong, unhurt and joyful. And Little Blue Flower.
 
 The years since that far night when I had seen two maidens in Grecian robes beside the Flat Rock in the "Moon of the Peach Blossom," had left no trace on Eloise St. Vrain, save to imprint the graces of womanliness on her girlish face. But the picturesque Indian maiden of that night looked aged and sorrowful in the pine forest of her native land, bent, as she was, with the dull existence of her own people; she, who had known and loved a different form of life. Only the big, luminous eyes held their old charm.
 
 We came together in a little open space with pine-trees all about us. The minutes went swiftly then--and I must hurry to what came hurrying on, for much of it is lost in mist and wonder.
 
 In the moment of glad reunion Aunty Boone suddenly gave a whoop the like of which I had never heard before, and, dashing wildly toward Eloise and Sister Gloria, she drove them in a fierce charge straight back into the shelter of the pine-trees.
 
 At the same time a sudden rain of bullets, like a swift hail-storm, and a yell--the Apache cry of vengeance--filled the air. Long afterward we learned that our Indian runner had met this band and tried to turn it back--and failed. He would have saved us if he could.
 
 It was over soon--that encounter in the forest where each tree was a shield. The cavalrymen and maybe, too, we who had been plainsmen, knew how to drive back a villianous handful of Apaches. In any other moment since we had ridden out of Sante Fé we would have laughed at such a struggle. They took us in the most unguarded instant of that fortnight's journey.
 
 The Hopis fled wildly out of sight. Here and there, from the defeated, scattered band, an Apache warrior sprang back and lost himself quickly in the shadows. But Santan, plunging into our very midst, seized Little Blue Flower in his iron grip, and the bullet from a cavalry carbine, meant for him, struck her.
 
 He laughed and threw her back and, whirling, dashed--into the arms of Aunty Boone--and stopped.
 
 We carried our wounded tenderly up the steep wooded slope and out into the sweet sunlight of its crest, where we laid them down beside that wondrous rift with its shimmering mist and velvet shadows, and colorings of splendor, folded all in the magnificence of its immensity and its eternal silence.
 
 We knew that Jondo's wound was mortal, and Father Josef and Eloise and Rex Krane sat beside him, as the brave eyes looked out across the sublimity of earthly beauty toward the far land no eye hath seen, facing, unafraid, the outward-leading trail.
 
 But Beverly was in the prime of young manhood, and we felt sure of him, as Esmond Clarenden and Sister Gloria; and I ministered to his wants.
 
 "It's no use, Gail." My cousin lifted a pleading face to mine a moment, as on that day, years ago on the parade-ground at Fort Leavenworth. Then the bright smile came back to stay.
 
 "Why, Bev, you have a life before you, and you aren't the only Eighteenth Kansas man who deserted. We can pull you through somehow--and people will forget. Even General Sheridan was willing to send a squad with us, on the possibility of a mistake somewhere."
 
 "Deserted!" Beverly's voice was too strong for a dying man's. "Uncle Esmond, Jondo, Eloise--all of you--Gail calls me a deserter. Me! Knock him over that precipice, won't some of you?"
 
 We listened eagerly as he went on:
 
 "Why, don't you know that Charlie Bent and his renegade dogs crawled into camp like snakes and carried me out by force. They had a time of it, too, but never mind. Bent told me he left a note for you. I supposed he would say I was dead. And when Gail stirred, half awake, he went pacing around the camp, looking so near like me I thought it was myself and I was Charlie Bent. I was roped and gagged then, but I could see. Deserter! I'm glad I got that white horse of his on the Prairie Dog Creek, anyhow."
 
 Beverly's face paled suddenly and he lay still a little while.
 
 "I'd better hurry." The smile was winsome. "They didn't give me a ghost of a chance to escape, but they didn't harm a hair. They kept me for a meaner purpose, and, well, I was landed, finally, at Santan's door-step in the Apache-land. Santan offered to let me go free if I'd persuade Little Blue Flower--dead down there--to marry him. He had her come to me on pretense of my sending for her. She hated the brute, and she was a woman, if she was an Indian. I told him I'd see him in hell first, and I told her never to give in. Poor girl! It was a cruel test, but Santan knew how to be cruel. He said he'd fix me, and I guess he has done it."
 
 "Oh no, Bev. You are good for a century," I declared, affectionately, holding his head on my knee.
 
 "Little Blue Flower managed, somehow, to fool the Apache dog, and we escaped and got away to her people," Beverly continued, speaking more slowly, "then she sent word to Father Josef. But the Hopi folks were scared about the Apaches coming against them on account of harboring me, like a Jonah, among 'em; and they were going to make it hard for Little Blue Flower. I don't know heathen ethics in such things, but a handful of us had to cut for it. I'm no deserter, though. Don't forget that. As soon as I could be sure the little Indian woman's life was safe I was going to get away and come home. I could not leave her to be sacrificed after she had saved me from Santan's scalping-knife."
 
 Beverly paused and looked at us. His voice seemed weaker when he spoke again:
 
 "I thought, sometimes, that even if I wasn't to blame for it, I ought to take Little Blue Flower with me when I got away. Dear little girl! she gave me one smile and whispered _'Lolomi'_ before she went just now. I told her long ago I was just everybody's friend. I never meant to spoil anybody's life, and I can meet her down at the end of the trail and never fear."
 
 Just then a half-wailing, half-purring cry came from Aunty Boone, who was standing beside a gnarled cypress-tree.
 
 "I knowed the morning we picked up Little Blue Flower, back at Pawnee Rock, we was pickin' up trouble for the rest of the trail. I see it then. You can trust a nigger 'cause they never no 'count, but you don't know what you gettin' when you trust an Indian. But, Cla'nden, that Apache Indian, Santan, ain't goin' to trouble you no more. When the world ain't no fit place for folks they needs helpin' out of it, and I sees to it they gets it, too. Whoo-ee!" She paused and leaned against the crooked cypress. Half turning her face toward us, she continued in a clear, soft voice:
 
 "That man they call Ramero down in Santy Fee--I knowed him when he was just Fred Ramer back in the rice-fields country. His father, old man Ramer, tried to kill me once, 'cause he said I knowed too much. I helped him into kingdom come right then and saved a lot of misery. They blamed some other folks, I guess, but they never hunted me up at all. Good-by, Clan'den, and you, too, Felix, and Dick Verra. I've knowed you all these years, but nobody takes no 'count of niggers' knowin's. Good-by, Little Lees, and all you boys. I'll see you again pretty soon, I'm goin' back to my desset now. It's over yonder just a little way. Jondo--but you won't be John Doe then. Whoo-ee!"
 
 Aunty Boone slowly settled down beside the cypress, with her face toward her beloved "desset," and when we went to her a little later, her eyes, still looking eastward, saw nothing earthly any more forever.
 
 Jondo's face seemed glorified as he caught Aunty Boone's last words, and his voice was sweet and clear as he looked up at Eloise bending over him.
 
 "Thank God! It is all made right at last. Eloise, the charge of murder against your father's name would have broken the heart of the woman that I always loved--your mother. One of us had to bear the shame. I took the guilt on myself for her sake--and for yours. I have walked the trails of my life a nameless man, but I have kept my soul clean in God's sight, and I know His name will soon be written on my forehead over there."
 
 He gazed out toward the glorious beauty of the view beyond him, then closed his eyes, and, bravely as he had lived, so bravely he went forth on the Long Trail, leaving a name sweet with the perfume of self-sacrifice and love.
 
 We did not speak of him to Beverly, for our boy had suddenly grown restless, and his blood was threshing furiously in his veins, and he was in pain, but only briefly.
 
 Presently he said, "Let us be alone a little." The others drew away.
 
 "Lean down, Gail. I want to tell you something." He smiled sweetly upon me as I bent over him.
 
 "I tried to tell you back on the Smoky Hill, but I'd promised not to. And honor was something to me still. But I'm going pretty soon. So listen! I loved Eloise always--always. But she never cared for me. She was only my good chum. I've been too happy-hearted all my days, though, Gail, to make a cross of anything that would break me down. Men differ so, you know, and I never was a dreamer like you. Turn me a little, won't you, so that I can see that awful beauty down there."
 
 I lifted his shoulders gently and placed him where his eyes could rest on the majestic scene spread out before him.
 
 "Eloise loves you, but she thinks you would not marry her because they say her father was a murderer. I don't believe that, Gail. I told her that you didn't, either, not one little minute. You care for her, I know, and losing her will break your heart. I tried to tell you long ago, but Little Lees made me promise not to say a word that night at Burlingame when you had gone away and I thought maybe I had a half-chance with her. Tell me you'll make her happy, Gail."
 
 "Oh, Beverly, I'll do my best," I murmured, softly.
 
 "Come closer, Gail. Look at those colors there. Is it so far across, or only seeming so? And see the soft white clouds drop purple shadows down. Is that the way the trail runs? How beautiful it must be farther on. Good-by, old boy of my heart's heart, and don't forget, however long the years, and wide away your feet may go, to keep the old trail law. 'Hold fast.'"
 
 We laid them away in the deep pine forest--Aunty Boone, of strange, prophetic vision; Santan, the cruel Indian; the loyal Hopi maiden; Jondo and Beverly. God made them all and in His heaven they will be rightly placed.
 
 Beside the cañon's rim, in the soft twilight hour of that October day, Eloise St. Vrain and I plighted our troth, till death us do part--for just a little while. Plighted it not in happy, selfish affection, such as youth and maiden give, sometimes, each to each; but in the deep, marvelous love of man and woman pledged where, in sacred moments on that day, we had seen the mortal put on immortality. To us there could be no grander, richer, lovelier setting for life's best and holiest hour than here, where, upon things finite, there rests the beneficent uplifting beauty that shadows forth the Infinite. 


 

Editors note: This is the original Part IV: Remembering The Trail of the book


The heart that's never old! Oh the heart that's never old!--'Tis a vision of the lavender, the crimson and the gold Of an airy, fairy morning, when the sky is all ablaze With an ever-changing splendor, driving back the gloom and haze!

 
 'Tis the vision of an orchard in the balmy month of May, Where the birds are ever singing, and the leaves are ever gay; Where the sun is ever shining with a glory never told, And the trees are ever blooming--for the heart that's never old!
 
 --JAMES E. HILKEY.
 
 
 The summers and winters of fifty golden years have brought to the plains their balmy breezes and blazing heat, their soft, life-giving showers, and their fierce, blizzard anger. And down through these fifty years Eloise St. Vrain and I have walked the love trails of the plains together.
 
 In the early spring of this, our "golden-wedding" year, we sat on the veranda of our suburban home in Kansas City, above the picturesque Cliff Drive, rippling with automobiles. The same drive winds in its course somewhere near the old, rough road that once led from the Clarenden home, above the valley of the Kaw, down to the little city of great promise--now fulfilled.
 
 "Eloise, youth may have a charm that is all its own," I said to my wife, "but I wonder if it really matches the enduring charm of age when one looks back on busy years of service."
 
 Eloise smiled up at me--the same gracious smile that has lighted all my days with her.
 
 "You are a dreamer still, Gail. But dreams do so sweeten life and keep the fires of romance forever burning."
 
 "When did romance begin with you, Little Lees?" I asked.
 
 "I think it was on that day when I came bounding up to the door of the old San Miguel church," Eloise replied, "and saw you looking like a big, brown bob-cat, or something else, that might have slept in the Hondo 'Royo all your life. But withal a boy so loyal to the helpless that you were willing to fight for me against an assailant bigger than yourself. You became my prince in that hour, and all my dreams since then have been of you. When did romance begin with you, or have you forgotten in the busy years of a life swallowed up in mercantile pursuits?"
 
 "My life may have been, as you say, swallowed up in building trade that builds empire, but I have never forgotten the things that make it fine to me," I answered her. "Romance for me began one day, long ago, out on the parade-ground at Fort Leavenworth. I've been a Vanguard of the Plains since then, bull-whacker for the ox-teams that hauled the commerce of the West; cavalryman in hard-wearing Indian campaigns that defended the frontier; and merchant, giving measure for measure always, like that grand man who taught me the worth of business--Esmond Clarenden."
 
 "On the parade-ground? How there?" Eloise asked.
 
 "It came the day that I first knew we were to go with Uncle Esmond to Santa Fé--for you. We didn't know that it was for you then. I think I was born again that day into a daring plainsman, who had been a sort of baby-boy before. I sat with Mat and Beverly on the edge of the parade-ground, when I looked up to see, with a boy's day-dreaming eyes, somewhere this side of misty mountain peaks, a vision of a cloud of golden hair about a sweet child face, with dark eyes looking into mine. That vision stayed with me until, one morning, fifty years ago, on the rim of the Grand Cañon--you looked into my eyes again and I knew my life dream had come true."
 
 I rose and, bending over my wife's cloud of beautiful silvery hair, I kissed her gently on each fair cheek.
 
 "Gail, why not take the old trail for our golden-wedding anniversary--a long journey, clear to the mountains?" Eloise suggested.
 
 "There is no trail now; only its ghost haunting the way," I replied, "but, Little Lees, I don't believe that we who look back on so many happy years, after the stormy ones of early life, could find any other path half so dear to us as that long path we knew in childhood and early youth, and the one we followed together in our first years of mature womanhood and manhood."
 
 And so we did not celebrate one October day with all of our children and grandchildren and friends coming to offer us gold coins, gold-headed canes--which I do not use--and gold-rimmed glasses for eyes that see farther and clearer than my spectacled grandsons at the university can see to-day. We made a golden summer of the thing and followed where, like a will-o'-the-wisp of memory, the Santa Fé Trail of threescore years ago reached from the raw frontier at Independence on to the Missouri bluffs, clear to the sunny valley of the Holy Faith.
 
 Only a headstone at long intervals shows the way now--a stone that well might read:
 
 Here ran the old Santa Fé Trail. This stone, set here, is sacred to the memory of the Vanguards of the Plains who followed it.
 
 They stand, these "markers" now, on hilltops and in deep valleys; by country crossroads and where main streets cut each other in the towns and villages. They ornament the city parks, they show where splendid concrete bridges, re-enforced with structural steel, span streams that once the ox-teams doubled and trebled strength to ford. They gleam where corn grows tall and black on fertile prairies; where seas of wheat have flooded barren, burning plains, and perfumey alfalfa sweetens the air above what was once grassless desolation. They whisper of a day gone by among the silent mountains, where tunnels let the iron trail run easily under the old trail's dizzy path. They nestle in the shadows of gray-green cliffs and by red mesa heights; until the last monument, sacred to the memory of a day forgotten, speaks at the corner of the old Plaza in the heart of Santa Fé.
 
 That was a journey long to be remembered--the long, golden-wedding journey of Gail Clarenden with his wife, Eloise St. Vrain, and all of it was sweet with memories of other days. Not in peril and privation and uncertainty did we follow the trail now. The Pullman has replaced the Conestoga wagon, dainty viands the coarse food smoke-blackened over camp-fires, and never fear of Kiowa nor Comanche broke our slumber. The long shriek that cuts the air of dawn was not from wild marauders on a daybreak raid down lonely cañons, but from the throats of splendid, steel-wrought engines swinging forth upon their solid, certain course.
 
 The prairies still lap up to the edges of the little town of Burlingame, whose main street is still the old trail's path. The well has long since disappeared from the center of the place. Where once the thirsty gathered here to drink, there stands a monument sacred to the memory of the old trail days. And sacred, too, to the memory of the one far-visioned woman, Fannie Geiger Thompson, who first conceived the thought of marking for the coming generations the course of commerce that built up the West in years gone by.
 
 We never lived in Burlingame, where once--a heart-hungry little boy--I longed to have a home. But the Krane children and their children's children still make it an abiding-place for us.
 
 To Council Grove, and old Pawnee Rock, the Cimarron Crossing of the Arkansas River, the open plain about the site of old Fort Bent--where only ghosts of walls and the court remain, and on to Santa Fé, dreamy and picturesque--hoary with age, and sweet with sacred memories, we wandered on our golden-wedding trail.
 
 The name of Narveo in New Mexico still stands for gentleman. The old church of San Miguel still shelters troubled hearts, and in the San Christobal valley the Pictured Rocks still build up a rude stair for feet that still may need the sanctuary rim of safety set about them. Along the length of the old trail a marvelous fifty years have enriched a history whose epic days record the deeds of vanguards, who foreran and builded for the softer days of golden-wedding years.
 
 The last lap of all that wondrous journey bore us in ease and comfort beyond the desert--the Africa, of Aunty Boone's weird fancy--to the Grand Cañon of the Colorado. Here, as of old, the riven crust, in its eternal silence, and sublimity, and beauty indescribable, calmly, year by year, reveals its mighty purpose:
 
 To quarry the heart of earth, Till, in the rock's red rise, Its age and birth, through an awful girth Of strata, should show the wonder-worth Of patience to all eyes.
 
 Amid luxurious surroundings we lived the October days upon the cañon's rim, where, half a century ago, we had gone in hardship and looked on tragedy. We crept down all the dizzy lengths to the very heart of it, and ate and slept in easy comfort, and gazed upward at the sky-cleaving edges thousands of feet above us; we stood beside the raging Colorado River, which no man had explored when we first looked upon it here. In the serene hours of our sunset years we went back in memory over the long way our feet had come. Life is easy for us now, made so by all the splendid, simple forces of those who, in justice, honesty, and broad human sympathy build enduring empire. Not empire gained by bomb and liquid fire, defended by sharp entanglement and cross-trenched to shut out enemies; but empire builded on the commerce of the land, value for value; empire of bridged rivers, quick transportation on steel-marked trails that girdle harvest fields and fruitful pastures; empire of homes and schools and sacred shrines.
 
 Our fifty golden years have seen such empire rise and grow before our eyes, made great by thrift and business sense, swayed by the Golden Rule. An empire rich in love and sweet romance and thrilling deeds of courage and self-sacrifice. Glad am I to have been a vanguard of its trails upon the Kansas prairies and the far Western plains, sure now, as always down the years, that its old law is still a righteous one: To that which is good--
 
 "HOLD FAST."
 
 
 THE END

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