By and by she had her kodak in working order again, and took two or three pictures of the divide. Edith is very pretty, I believe, and looks her best in short walking-costume. I wondered why she had not ridden out to the butte; Beryl had, the time I met her there, I remembered. She had a deep-chested blue roan that looked as if he could run, and I had noticed that she wore the divided skirt, which is so popular among women who ride. I don’t, as a rule, notice much what women have on—but Beryl King’s feet are altogether too small for the least observant man to pass over. Edith’s feet were well shod, but commonplace.
“I wish you’d let me have one of those pictures when they’re done,” I told her, as amiably as I could.
She pushed back a lock of hair. “I’ll send you one, if you like, when I get home. What address do you claim, in this wilderness?”
I wrote it down for her and went my way, feeling a badly used young man, with a strong inclination to quarrel with fate. Edith had managed, during her well-meant efforts at entertaining me, to couple Mr. Weaver’s name all too frequently with that of her cousin. I found it very depressing—a good many things, in fact, were depressing that day.
I went back to camp and stuck to work for the rest of that week—until some of the boys told me that they had seen the Kings’ guests scooting across the prairie in the big touring-car of Weaver’s, evidently headed for Helena.
After that I got restless again, and every mile the round-up moved south I took as a special grievance; it put that much greater distance between me and King’s Highway—and I had got to that unhealthy stage where every mile wore on my nerves, and all I wanted was to moon around that little butte. I believe I should even have taken a morbid pleasure in watching the light in her window o’ nights, if it had been at all practicable.
A Fight and a Race for Life.
It was between the spring round-up and the fall, while the boys were employed in desultory fashion at the home ranch, breaking in new horses and the like, and while I was indefatigably wearing a trail straight across country to that little butte—and getting mighty little out of it save the exercise and much heart-burnings—that the message came.
A man rode up to the corrals on a lather-gray horse, coming from Kenmore, where was a telephone-station connected from Osage. I read the message incredulously. Dad sick unto death? Such a thing had never happened—couldn’t happen, it seemed to me. It was unbelievable; not to be thought of or tolerated. But all the while I was planning and scheming to shave off every superfluous minute, and get to where he was.
I held out the paper to Perry Potter, “Have some one saddle up Shylock,” I ordered, quite as if he had been Rankin. “And Frosty will have to go with me as far as Osage. We can make it by to-morrow noon—through King’s Highway. I mean to get that early afternoon train.”