Rutherford Answers Questions
Beulah Rutherford took back with her to Huerfano Park an almost intolerable resentment against the conditions of her life. She had the family capacity for sullen silence, and for weeks a kind of despairing rage simmered in her heart. She was essentially of a very direct, simple nature, clear as Big Creek where it tumbled down from the top of the world toward the foothills. An elemental honesty stirred in her. It was necessary to her happiness that she keep her own self-respect and be able to approve those she loved.
Just now she could do neither. The atmosphere of the ranch seemed to stifle her. When she rode out into a brave, clean world of sunshine, the girl carried her shame along. Ever since she could remember, outlaws and miscreants had slipped furtively about the suburbs of her life. The Rutherfords themselves were a hard and savage breed. To their door had come more than one night rider flying for his life, and Beulah had accepted the family tradition of hospitality to those at odds with society.
A fierce, untamed girl of primitive instincts, she was the heritor of the family temperament. But like threads of gold there ran through the warp of her being a fineness that was her salvation. She hated passionately cruelty and falsehood and deceit. All her life she had walked near pitch and had never been defiled.
Hal Rutherford was too close to her not to feel the estrangement of her spirit. He watched her anxiously, and at last one morning he spoke. She was standing on the porch waiting for Jeff to bring Blacky when Rutherford came out and put his arm around her shoulder.
“What is it, honey?” he asked timidly.
“It’s—everything,” she answered, her gaze still on the distant hills.
“You haven’t quarreled with Brad?”
“No—and I’m not likely to if he’ll let me alone.”
Her father did not press the point. If Brad and she had fallen out, the young man would have to make his own amende.
“None of the boys been deviling you?”
“Aren’t you going to tell dad about it, Boots?”
Presently her dark eyes swept round to his.
“Why did you say that you didn’t know anything about the Western Express robbery?”
He looked steadily at her. “I didn’t say that, Beulah. What I said was that I didn’t know where the stolen gold was hidden—and I didn’t.”
“That was just an evasion. You meant me to think that we had had nothing to do with the—the robbery.”
“That’s right. I did.”
“And all the time—” She broke off, a sob choking her throat.
“I knew who did it. That’s correct. But I wasn’t a party to the robbery. I knew nothing about it till afterward.”
“I’ve always believed everything you’ve told me, dad. And now—”