“If you could locate Mr. Kieser, he probably could tell you some things,” slowly added Mr. Allen. “Well, there is one thing sure: ’Murder will out,’ and with the suspicion I now have, I’ll keep quiet, keep my eyes open, and see what I can learn. That Cheyenne claim must be worth holding, or he wouldn’t send men away up there to do that work. That costs money!”
“Don’t worry about it, anyway, boy. I wouldn’t be building any air castles concerning that gold mine. It was, no doubt, just like thousands of others here in these mountains—”
“I know that, but I want to see the mine that my father dug. Do you suppose I ever will?”
“Who can tell but that you have already seen it on this trip? I don’t know, but let’s go to bed. To-morrow we must find that cabin site, or go home empty-handed. I think we’ll get over into these little canyons on the north and work over to the railroad. If we don’t find a place there, somewhere, then I’m afraid there is none. Most all of this land is Forest Reserve, and we’ll have to get a ninety-nine years’ lease if we locate on Government land; but you know, I’ve been thinking we could build a dandy cabin of these large quaking-aspens, if we could find a place in a good grove. Build a frame, then fit them in, standing them on end, and line with building paper, and perhaps boards. These aspens cut very easily in the winter when they are cold. What would you think of that idea?”
Willis was already nodding by the fire, and did not answer.
“Good-night,” said Mr. Allen, as he pulled his blanket up about him. “Sleep tight, and no dreams, mind you.”
A Glimpse of Buffalo Roost
The little party gathered about the fire the next morning, cooking the last breakfast of the trip. To-morrow they would be home again. Would they take back a glowing description of a cabin site, situated in some cool forest nook, in the shadow of some mighty crag, or would they be forced to disappoint the anxious crowd of fellows who would be waiting for their return?
By seven o’clock they were jogging down the railroad at a lively gait, keeping their eyes open for a canyon that would lead in back of Cookstove Mountain. They had come down the track at least two miles without finding any encouraging signs when they came upon a trail that seemed to lead from the railroad into an unknown canyon. Perhaps it was one of the many trails from the railroad back to the remains of some of the old construction camps. Perhaps it was a cowpath that led into a fertile meadow where cattle loved to rest by cool springs. Might it not have been the connecting link between some old prospector’s diggings and his point of supplies? Possibly it had been worn by the ever-watchful forest ranger as he rode over the reserve, watching for the fires of careless campers, the trespass of cattle, or, perhaps, to make a timber sale to some mountain