Aunt Jane's Nieces and Uncle John
Edith Van Dyne
I INTRODUCING "MUMBLES"
II UNCLE JOHN'S IDEA
III MYRTLE DEAN
IV AN INTERESTING PROTÉGÉ
V A WONDER ON WHEELS
VI WAMPUS SPEEDS
VII THE CHAUFFEUR IMPROVES
VIII AMONG THE INDIANS
IX NATURE'S MASTERPIECE
X A COYOTE SERENADE
XI A REAL ADVENTURE AT LAST
XIII THE FIDDLER
XIV THE ESCAPE
XV THE ROMANCE OF DAN'L
XVI THE LODGING AT SPOTVILLE
XVII YELLOW POPPIES
XVIII THE SILENT MAN
XIX "THREE TIMES"
XX ON POINT LOMA
XXI A TALE OF WOE
XXII THE CONFESSION
Major Gregory Doyle paced nervously up and down the floor of the cosy
"Something's surely happened to our Patsy!" he exclaimed.
A little man with a calm face and a bald head, who was seated near the
fire, continued to read his newspaper and paid no attention to the
"Something has happened to Patsy!" repeated the Major, "Patsy" meaning
his own and only daughter Patricia.
"Something is always happening to everyone," said the little man,
turning his paper indifferently. "Something is happening to me, for I
can't find the rest of this article. Something is happening to you,
for you're losing your temper."
"I'm not, sir! I deny it."
"As for Patsy," continued the other, "she is sixteen years old and
knows New York like a book. The girl is safe enough."
"Then where is she? Tell me that, sir. Here it is, seven o'clock, dark
as pitch and raining hard, and Patsy is never out after six. Can you,
John Merrick, sit there like a lump o' putty and do nothing, when your
niece and my own darlin' Patsy is lost--or strayed or stolen?"
"What would you propose doing?" asked Uncle John, looking up with a
"We ought to get out the police department. It's raining and cold,
"Then we ought to get out the fire department. Call Mary to put on
more coal and let's have it warm and cheerful when Patsy comes in."
"The trouble with you, Major, is that dinner is half an hour late. One
can imagine all sorts of horrible things on an empty stomach. Now,
He paused, for a pass-key rattled in the hall door and a moment later
Patsy Doyle, rosy and animated, fresh from the cold and wet outside,
smilingly greeted them.
She had an umbrella, but her cloak was dripping with moisture and in
its ample folds was something huddled and bundled up like a baby,
which she carefully protected.
"So, then," exclaimed the Major, coming forward for a kiss, "you're
back at last, safe and sound. Whatever kept ye out 'til this time o'
night, Patsy darlin'?" he added, letting the brogue creep into his
tone, as he did when stirred by any emotion.
Uncle John started to take off her wet cloak.
"Look out!" cried Patsy; "you'll disturb Mumbles."
The two men looked at her bundle curiously.
"Who's Mumbles?" asked one.
"What on earth is Mumbles?" inquired the other.
The bundle squirmed and wriggled. Patsy sat down on the floor and
carefully unwound the folds of the cloak. A tiny dog, black and
shaggy, put his head out, blinked sleepily at the lights, pulled his
fat, shapeless body away from the bandages and trotted solemnly over
to the fireplace. He didn't travel straight ahead, as dogs ought to
walk, but "cornerwise," as Patsy described it; and when he got to the
hearth he rolled himself into a ball, lay down and went to sleep.
During this performance a tense silence had pervaded the room. The
Major looked at the dog rather gloomily; Uncle John with critical eyes
that held a smile in them; Patsy with ecstatic delight.
"Isn't he a dear!" she exclaimed.
"It occurs to me," said the Major stiffly, "that this needs an
explanation. Do you mean to say, Patsy Doyle, that you've worried the
hearts out of us this past hour, and kept the dinner waiting, all
because of a scurvy bit of an animal?"
"Pshaw!" said Uncle John. "Speak for yourself, Major. I wasn't worried
"You see," explained Patsy, rising to take off her things and put them
away, "I was coming home early when I first met Mumbles. A little boy
had him, with a string tied around his neck, and when Mumbles tried
to run up to me the boy jerked him back cruelly--and afterward kicked
him. That made me mad."
"Of course," said Uncle John, nodding wisely.
"I cuffed the boy, and he said he'd take it out on Mumbles, as soon as
I'd gone away. I didn't like that. I offered to buy the dog, but the
boy didn't dare sell him. He said it belonged to his father, who'd
kill him and kick up a row besides if he didn't bring Mumbles home.
So I found out where they lived and as it wasn't far away I went home
"Crazy Patsy!" smiled Uncle John.
"And the dinner waiting!" groaned the Major, reproachfully.
"Well, I had a time, you can believe!" continued Patsy, with
animation. "The man was a big brute, and half drunk. He grabbed up the
little doggie and threw it into a box, and then told me to go home and
mind my business."
"Which of course you refused to do."
"Of course. I'd made up my mind to have that dog."
"Dogs," said the Major, "invariably are nuisances."
"Not invariably," declared Patsy. "Mumbles is different. Mumbles is a
good doggie, and wise and knowing, although he's only a baby dog yet.
And I just couldn't leave him to be cuffed and kicked and thrown
around by those brutes. When the man found I was determined to have
Mumbles he demanded twenty-five dollars."
"Twenty-five dollars!" It startled Uncle John.
"For that bit of rags and meat?" asked the Major, looking at the puppy
with disfavor. "Twenty-five cents would be exorbitant."
"The man misjudged me," observed Patsy, with a merry laugh that
matched her twinkling blue eyes. "In the end he got just two
dollars for Mumbles, and when I came away he bade me good-bye very
respectfully. The boy howled. He hasn't any dog to kick and is
broken-hearted. As for Mumbles, he's going to lead a respectable life
and be treated like a dog."
"Do you mean to keep him?" inquired the Major.
"Why not?" said Patsy. "Don't you like him, Daddy?"
Her father turned Mumbles over with his toe. The puppy lay upon its
back, lazily, with all four paws in the air, and cast a comical glance
from one beady bright eye at the man who had disturbed him.
The Major sighed.
"He can't hunt, Patsy; he's not even a mouser."
"We haven't a mouse in the house."
"He's neither useful nor ornamental. From the looks o' the beast he's
only good to sleep and eat."
"What's the odds?" laughed Patsy, coddling Mumbles up in her arms.
"We don't expect use or ornamentation from Mumbles. All we ask is his
Mary called them to dinner just then, and the girl hurried to her room
to make a hasty toilet while the men sat down at the table and eyed
their soup reflectively.
"This addition to the family," remarked Uncle John, "need not make
you at all unhappy, my dear Major. Don't get jealous of Mumbles, for
heaven's sake, for the little brute may add a bit to Patsy's bliss."
"It's the first time I've ever allowed a dog in the house."
"You are not running this present establishment. It belongs
exclusively to Patsy."
"I've always hated the sight of a woman coddling a dog," added the
"I know. I feel the same way myself. But it isn't the dog's fault.
It's the woman's. And Patsy won't make a fool of herself over that
frowsy puppy, I assure you. On the contrary, she's likely to get a lot
of joy out of her new plaything, and if you really want to make her
happy, Major, don't discourage this new whim, absurd as it seems. Let
Patsy alone. And let Mumbles alone."
The girl came in just then, bringing sunshine with her. Patsy Doyle
was not very big for her years, and some people unkindly described her
form as "chubby." She had glorious red hair--really-truly red--and her
blue eyes were the merriest, sweetest eyes any girl could possess. You
seldom noticed her freckles, her saucy chin or her turned-up nose; you
only saw the laughing eyes and crown of golden red, and seeing them
you liked Patsy Doyle at once and imagined she was very good to look
at, if not strictly beautiful. No one had friends more loyal,
and these two old men--the stately Major and round little Uncle
John--fairly worshiped Patsy.
No one might suspect, from the simple life of this household, which
occupied the second corner flat at 3708 Willing Square, that Miss
Doyle was an heiress. Not only that, but perhaps one of the very
richest girls in New York. And the reason is readily explained when
I state the fact that Patsy's Uncle John Merrick, the round little
bald-headed man who sat contentedly eating his soup, was a man of many
millions, and this girl his favorite niece. An old bachelor who had
acquired an immense fortune in the far Northwest, Mr. Merrick had
lately retired from active business and come East to seek any
relatives that might remain to him after forty years' absence. His
sister Jane had gathered around her three nieces--Louise Merrick,
Elizabeth De Graf and Patricia Doyle--and when Aunt Jane died Uncle
John adopted these three girls and made their happiness the one care
of his jolly, unselfish life. At that time Major Doyle, Patsy's only
surviving parent, was a poor bookkeeper; but Uncle John gave him
charge of his vast property interests, and loving Patsy almost as
devotedly as did her father, made his home with the Doyles and began
to enjoy himself for the first time in his life.
At the period when this story opens the eldest niece, Louise Merrick,
had just been married to Arthur Weldon, a prosperous young business
man, and the remaining two nieces, as well as Uncle John, were feeling
rather lonely and depressed. The bride had been gone on her honeymoon
three days, and during the last two days it had rained persistently;
so, until Patsy came home from a visit to Beth and brought the tiny
dog with her, the two old gentlemen had been feeling dreary enough.
Patsy always livened things up. Nothing could really depress this
spirited girl for long, and she was always doing some interesting
thing to create a little excitement.
"If she hadn't bought a twenty-five cent pup for two dollars,"
remarked the Major, "she might have brought home an orphan from the
gutters, or a litter of tomcats, or one of the goats that eat the
tin cans at Harlem. Perhaps, after all, we should be thankful it's
only--what's his name?"
"Mumbles," said Patsy, merrily. "The boy said they called him that
because he mumbled in his sleep. Listen!"
Indeed, the small waif by the fire was emitting a series of noises
that seemed a queer mixture of low growls and whines--evidence
unimpeachable that he had been correctly named.
At Patsy's shout of laughter, supplemented by Uncle John's chuckles
and a reproachful cough from the Major, Mumbles awakened and lifted
his head. It may be an eye discovered the dining-table in the next
room, or an intuitive sense of smell directed him, for presently the
small animal came trotting in--still traveling "cornerwise"--and sat
up on his hind legs just beside Patsy's chair.
"That settles it," said the Major, as his daughter began feeding the
dog. "Our happy home is broken up."
"Perhaps not," suggested Uncle John, reaching out to pat the soft head
of Mumbles. "It may be the little beggar will liven us all up a bit."
UNCLE JOHN'S IDEA
Two hours later Uncle John, who had been dozing in his big chair by
the fire while Patsy drummed on the piano, sat up abruptly and looked
around him with a suddenly acquired air of decision.
"I have an idea," he announced.
"Did you find it in your dreams, then?" asked the Major, sharply.
"Why, Daddy, how cross you are!" cried Patsy. "Can't Uncle John have
an idea if he wants to?"
"I'm afraid of his ideas," admitted the Major, suspiciously. "Every
time he goes to sleep and catches a thought, it means trouble."
Patsy laughed, looking at her uncle curiously, and the little man
smiled at her genially in return.
"It takes me a long time to figure a thing out," he said; "and when
I've a problem to solve a bit of a snooze helps wonderfully. Patsy,
dear, it occurs to me we're lonely."
"We surely are, Uncle!" she exclaimed.
"And in the dumps."
"Our spirits are at the bottom of the bottomless pit."
"So what we need is--a change."
"There it goes!" said the Major ruefully. "I knew very well any idea
of John Merrick's would cause us misery. But understand this, you
miserable home-wrecker, sir, my daughter Patsy steps not one foot out
of New York this winter."
"Why not?" mildly inquired Uncle John.
"Because you've spirited her away from me times enough, and deprived
her only parent of her society. First you gallivanted off to Europe,
and then to Millville, and next to Elmhurst; so now, egad, I'm going
to keep the girl with me if I have to throttle every idea in your
wicked old head!"
"But I'm planning to take you along, this time. Major," observed Uncle
"Oh. Hum! Well, I can't go. There's too much business to be attended
to--looking after your horrible money."
"Take a vacation. You know I don't care anything about the business.
It can't go very wrong, anyhow. What does it matter if my income isn't
invested properly, or the bond coupons cut when they're due? Drat the
"That's what I say," added Patsy eagerly. "Be a man, Major Doyle, and
put the business out of your mind. Let's go somewhere and have a good
romp. It will cheer us up."
The Major stared first at one and then at the other.
"What's the programme, John?" he asked stiffly.
"It's going to be a cold winter," remarked the little man, bobbing his
head up and down slowly.
"It is!" cried Patsy, clasping her hands fervently. "I can feel it in
"So we're going," said Uncle John, impressively, "to California--where
they grow sunshine and roses to offset our blizzards and icicles."
"Hurray!" shouted Patsy. "I've always wanted to go to California."
"California!" said the Major, amazed; "why, it's farther away than
Europe. It takes a month to get there."
"Nonsense." retorted Uncle John. "It's only four days from coast to
coast. I have a time-table, somewhere," and he began searching in his
There was a silence, oppressive on the Major's part, ecstatic as far
as Patsy was concerned. Uncle John found the railway folder, put on
his spectacles, and began to examine it.
"At my time of life," remarked Major Doyle, who was hale and hearty as
a boy, "such a trip is a great undertaking."
"Twenty-four hours to Chicago," muttered Uncle John; "and then three
days to Los Angeles or San Francisco. That's all there is to it."
"Four days and four nights of dreary riding. We'd be dead by that
time," prophesied the Major.
Uncle John looked thoughtful. Then he lay back in his chair and spread
his handkerchief over his face again.
"No, no!" cried the Major, in alarm. "For mercy's sake, John, don't
go to sleep and catch any more of those terrible ideas. No one knows
where the next one might carry us--to Timbuktu or Yucatan, probably.
Let's stick to California and settle the question before your hothouse
brain grows any more weeds."
"Yucatan," remarked Mr. Merrick, composedly, his voice muffled by the
handkerchief, "isn't a bad suggestion."
"I knew it!" wailed the Major. "How would Ethiopia or Hindustan strike
Patsy laughed at him. She knew something good was in store for her
and like all girls was enraptured at the thought of visiting new and
"Don't bother Uncle John, Daddy," she said. "You know very well he
will carry out any whim that seizes him; especially if you oppose the
plan, which you usually do."
"He's the most erratic and irresponsible man that ever lived,"
announced her father, staring moodily at the spread handkerchief which
covered Uncle John's cherub-like features. "New York is good enough
for anybody, even in winter; and now that you're in society, Patsy--"
"Oh, bother society! I hate it."
"True," he agreed; "it's a regular treadmill when it has enslaved one,
and keeps you going on and on without progressing a bit. The object of
society is to tire you out and keep you from indulging in any other
"You know nothing about it," observed Patsy, demurely, "and that is
why you love to rail at society. The things you know, Daddy dear, are
the things you never remark upon."
"Huh!" grunted the Major, and relapsed into silence.
Mumbles had finished his after-dinner nap and was now awakening to
activity. This dog's size, according to the Major, was "about 4x6; but
you can't tell which is the 4 and which the 6." He was distressingly
shaggy. Patsy could find the stump of his tail only by careful search.
Seldom were both eyes uncovered by hair at the same time. But, as his
new mistress had said, he was a wise little dog for one who had only
known the world for a few months, and his brain was exceedingly alert.
After yawning at the fire he rubbed his back against the Major's legs,
sat up beside Patsy and looked at her from one eye pleadingly. Next he
trotted over to Uncle John. The big white handkerchief attracted him
and one corner hung down from the edge of the reclining chair. Mumbles
sat up and reached for it, but could not quite get it in his teeth.
So he sat down and thought it over, and presently made a leap so
unexpectedly agile that Patsy roared with merriment and even the Major
grinned. Uncle John, aroused, sat up and found the puppy rolling on
the floor and fighting the handkerchief as if it had been some deadly
"Thank goodness," sighed the Major. "The little black rascal has
providently prevented you from evolving another idea."
"Not so," responded Mr. Merrick amiably. "I've thought the thing all
out, and completed our programme."
"Is it still to be California?" anxiously inquired Patsy.
"Of course. I can't give up the sunshine and roses, you know. But we
won't bore the Major by four solid days of railway travel. We'll break
the journey, and take two or three weeks to it--perhaps a month."
"Conquering Caesar! A month!" ejaculated the old soldier, a desperate
look on his face.
"Yes. Listen, both of you. We'll get to Chicago in a night and a day.
We will stop off there and visit the stockyards, and collect a few
squeals for souvenirs."
"No, we won't!" declared Patsy, positively.
"We might sell Mumbles to some Chicago sausage factory," remarked the
Major, "but not for two whole dollars. He wouldn't make more than half
a pound at twenty cents the pound."
"There are other sights to be seen in Chicago," continued Uncle John.
"Anyhow, we'll stop off long enough to get rested. Then on to Denver
and Pike's Peak."
"That sounds good," said Patsy.
"At Denver," said Uncle John, "we will take a touring car and cross
the mountains in it. There are good roads all the way from there to
"Who told you so?" demanded the Major.
"No one. It's a logical conclusion, for I've lived in the West and
know the prairie roads are smoother than boulevards. However, Haggerty
told me the other day that he has made the trip from Denver to Los
Angeles by automobile, and what others can do, we can do."
"It will be glorious!" prophesied Patsy, delightedly.
The Major looked grave, but could find no plausible objection to
offer. He really knew nothing about the West and had never had
occasion to consider such a proposition before.
"We'll talk to Haggerty," he said. "But you must remember he's a
desperate liar, John, and can't be trusted as a guidepost. When do you
intend to start?"
"Why not to-morrow?" asked Uncle John mildly.
Even Patsy demurred at this.
"Why, we've got to get ready, Uncle," she said. "And who's going? Just
"We will take Beth along, of course." Beth was Elizabeth De Graf,
another niece. "But Beth is fortunately the sort of girl who can pull
up stakes and move on at an hour's notice."
"Beth is always ready for anything," agreed Patsy. "But if we are
going to a warm climate we will need summer clothes."
"You can't lug many clothes in a motor car," observed the Major.
"No; but we can ship them on ahead."
"Haggerty says," remarked Uncle John, "that you won't need thin
clothes until you get out to California. In fact, the mountain trip is
rather cool. But it's perpetual sunshine, you know, even there, with
brisk, keen air; and the whole journey, Haggerty says, is one of
"Who is Haggerty?" asked Patsy.
"A liar," answered the Major, positively.
"He's a very good fellow whom we sometimes meet in the city," said
Uncle John. "Haggerty is on the Board, and director in a bank or two,
and quite respectable. But the Major--"
"The Major's going to California just to prove that Haggerty can't
speak the truth," observed that gentleman, tersely heading off any
threatened criticism. "I see there is no opposing your preposterous
scheme, John, so we will go with you and make the best of it. But I'm
sure it's all a sad mistake. What else did Haggerty tell you?"
"He says it's best to pick up a motor car and a chauffeur in Denver,
rather than ship them on from here. There are plenty of cars to be
had, and men who know every inch of the road."
"That seems sensible," declared Patsy, "and we won't lose time waiting
for our own car to follow by freight. I think, Uncle John, I can be
ready by next Tuesday."
"Why, to-morrow's Saturday!" gasped the Major. "The business--"
"Cut the business off short," suggested his brother-in-law. "You've to
cut it somewhere, you know, or you'll never get away; and, as it's my
business, I hereby authorize you to neglect it from this moment until
the day of our return. When we get back you can pick up the details
again and worry over it as much as you please."
"Will we ever get back?" asked the Major, doubtingly.
"If we don't, the business won't matter."
"That's the idea," cried Patsy, approvingly. "Daddy has worked hard
all summer, Uncle John, looking after that annoying money of yours,
and a vacation will do him oodles of good."
Major Doyle sighed.
"I misdoubt the wisdom of the trip," said he, "but I'll go, of course,
if you all insist. Over the Rocky Mountains and across the Great
American Desert in an automobile doesn't sound very enticing, but--"
"Never mind Haggerty. We'll find out for ourselves."
"And, after all," said Patsy, "there are the sunshine and roses at the
end of the journey, and they ought to make up for any amount of bother
in getting there."
"Girl, you're attempting to deceive me--to deceive your old Daddy,"
said the Major, shaking his head at her. "You wouldn't have any fun
riding to California in a palace car; even the sunshine and roses
couldn't excite you under such circumstances; but if there's a chance
for adventure--a chance to slide into trouble and make a mighty
struggle to get out again--both you and that wicked old uncle of yours
will jump at it. I know ye both. And that's the real reason we're
going to travel in an automobile instead of progressing comfortably as
all respectable people do."
"You're a humbug," retorted Mr. Merrick. "You wouldn't go by train if
I'd let you."
"No," admitted the Major; "I must be on hand to rescue you when you
and Patsy go fighting windmills."
"We were due in Denver three hours ago, and it's an hour's run or more
yet," remarked Beth De Graf, walking briskly up and down the platform
of a way station where the train had stopped for orders.
"And it's beginning to snow," observed Patricia Doyle, beside her.
"I'm afraid this weather isn't very propitious for an automobile
"Uncle John doesn't worry," said Beth. "He believes there is perpetual
sunshine west of Denver."
"Yes; a man named Haggerty told him. But you'll notice that Daddy
doesn't seem to believe the tale. Anyhow, we shall soon know the
truth, Beth, and the trip is somewhat on the order of a voyage of
discovery, which renders it fascinating to look forward to. There is
such fun in not knowing just what is going to happen next."
"When one travels with Uncle John," returned Beth, smiling, "she
knows exactly--nothing. That is why I am always eager to accept if he
invites me to go anywhere with him."
The passengers thronging the platform--"stretching their legs" after
the confinement of the tedious railway journey--eyed these two girls
admiringly. Beth was admitted a beauty, and one of the society
journals had lately announced that she had few peers in all the great
metropolis. Chestnut brown hair; dark, serious and steady eyes; an
exquisite complexion and rarely regular features all conspired to
render the young girl wonderfully attractive. Her stride was athletic,
free and graceful; her slender form well poised and dignified. Patsy,
the "plug-ugly," as she called herself, was so bright and animated and
her blue eyes sparkled so constantly with fun and good humor, that
she attracted fully as much attention as her more sedate and more
beautiful cousin, and wherever she went was sure to make a host of
"See!" she cried, clasping Beth's arm; "there is that lovely girl at
the window again. I've noticed her ever since the train left Chicago,
and she is always in the same seat in that tourist coach. I wonder why
she doesn't get out for a bit of fresh air now and then."
Beth looked up at the fair, girlish face that gazed wistfully from
the window. The unknown seemed very young--not more than fourteen or
fifteen years of age. She wore a blue serge suit of rather coarse
weave, but it was neat and becoming. Around the modest, sweet eyes
were deep circles, denoting physical suffering or prolonged worry; yet
the lips smiled, wanly but persistently. She had evidently noticed
Uncle John's two nieces, for her eyes followed them as they marched
up and down the platform and when Patsy looked up and nodded, a soft
flush suffused her features and she bowed her head in return.
At the cry of "all aboard!" a scramble was made for the coaches and
Beth and Patsy, re-entering their staterooms, found their Uncle and
the Major still intent upon their interminable game of cribbage.
"Let's go back and talk to the girl," suggested Patsy. "Somehow,
the poor thing seems lonely, and her smile was more pathetic than
So they made their way through the long train to the tourist coach,
and there found the girl they were seeking. The surrounding seats were
occupied by groups of passengers of rather coarse caliber, many being
foreign laborers accompanied by their wives and children. The air in
the car was close and "stuffy" and the passengers seemed none too neat
in their habits and appearance. So the solitary girl appeared like a
rose blooming in a barnyard and her two visitors were instantly sorry
for her. She sat in her corner, leaning wearily against the back of
the cane seat, with a blanket spread over her lap. Strangely
enough the consideration of her fellow passengers left the girl in
undisturbed possession of a double seat.
"Perhaps she is ill," thought Patsy, as she and Beth sat down opposite
and entered into conversation with the child. She was frankly
communicative and they soon learned that her name was Myrtle Dean, and
that she was an orphan. Although scarcely fifteen years of age she
had for more than two years gained a livelihood by working in a skirt
factory in Chicago, paying her board regularly to a cross old aunt who
was her only relative in the big city. Three months ago, however, she
had met with an accident, having been knocked down by an automobile
while going to her work and seriously injured.
"The doctors say," she confided to her new friends, "that I shall
always be lame, although not quite helpless. Indeed, I can creep
around a little now, when I am obliged to move, and I shall get better
every day. One of my hips was so badly injured that it will never be
quite right again, and my Aunt Martha was dreadfully worried for fear
I would become a tax upon her. I cannot blame her, for she has really
but little money to pay for her own support. So, when the man who ran
over me paid us a hundred dollars for damages--"
"Only a hundred dollars!" cried Beth, amazed.
"Wasn't that enough?" inquired Myrtle innocently.
"By no means," said Patsy, with prompt indignation. "He should have
given you five thousand, at least. Don't you realize, my dear, that
this accident has probably deprived you of the means of earning a
"I can still sew," returned the girl, courageously, "although of
course I cannot get about easily to search for employment."
"But why did you leave Chicago?" asked Beth.
"I was coming to that part of my story. When I got the hundred dollars
Aunt Martha decided I must use it to go to Leadville, to my Uncle
Anson, who is my mother's only brother. He is a miner out there, and
Aunt Martha says he is quite able to take care of me. So she bought my
ticket and put me on the train and I'm now on my way to Leadville to
find Uncle Anson."
"To find him!" exclaimed Patsy. "Don't you know his address?"
"No; we haven't had a letter from him for two years. But Aunt Martha
says he must be a prominent man, and everybody in Leadville will know
him, as it's a small place."
"Does he know you are coming?" asked Beth, thoughtfully.
"My aunt wrote him a letter two days before I started, so he ought
to receive it two days before I get there," replied Myrtle, a little
uneasily. "Of course I can't help worrying some, because if I failed
to find Uncle Anson I don't know what might happen to me."
"Have you money?" asked Beth.
"A little. About three dollars. Aunt gave me a basket of food to last
until I get to Leadville, and after paying for my ticket and taking
what I owed her for board there wasn't much left from the hundred
"What a cruel old woman!" cried Patsy, wrathfully. "She ought to be
"I am sure it was wrong for her to cast you off in this heartless
way," added Beth, more conservatively.
"She is not really bad," returned Myrtle, the tears starting to her
eyes. "But Aunt Martha has grown selfish, and does not care for me
very much. I hope Uncle Anson will be different. He is my mother's
brother, you know, while Aunt Martha is only my father's sister, and
an old maid who has had rather a hard life. Perhaps," she added,
wistfully, "Uncle Anson will love me--although I'm not strong or
Both Patsy and Beth felt desperately sorry for the girl.
"What is Uncle Anson's other name?" asked the latter, for Beth was
the more practical of Uncle John's nieces and noted for her clear
"Jones. Mr. Anson Jones."
"Rather a common name, if you have to hunt for him," observed the
questioner, musingly. "Has he been in Leadville long?"
"I do not know," replied Myrtle. "His last letter proved that he was
in Leadville two years ago, and he said he had been very successful
and made money; but he has been in other mining camps, I know, and has
wandered for years all over the West."
"Suppose he should be wandering now?" suggested Patsy; but at the look
of alarm on Myrtle's face she quickly changed the subject, saying:
"You must come in to dinner with us, my dear, for you have had nothing
but cold truck to eat since you left Chicago. They say we shall be in
Denver in another hour, but I'm afraid to believe it. Anyhow, there is
plenty of time for dinner."
"Oh, I can't go, really!" cried the girl. "It's--it's so hard for me
to walk when the train is moving; and--and--I wouldn't feel happy in
that gay, luxurious dining car."
"Well, we must go, anyway, or the Major will be very disagreeable,"
said Patsy. "Good-bye, Myrtle; we shall see you again before we leave
As the two girls went forward to their coach Beth said to Patsy:
"I'm afraid that poor thing will be greatly disappointed when she gets
to Leadville. Imagine anyone sending a child on such a wild goose
chase--and an injured and almost helpless child, at that!"
"I shudder to think what would become of her, with no uncle to care
for her and only three dollars to her name," added Patsy. "I have
never heard of such an inhuman creature as that Aunt Martha, Beth. I
hope there are not many like her in the world."
At dinner they arranged with the head waiter of the dining car to send
in a substantial meal, smoking hot, to Myrtle Dean, and Patsy herself
inspected the tray before it went to make sure everything was there
that was ordered. They had to satisfy Uncle John's curiosity at this
proceeding by relating to him Myrtle Dean's story, and the kindly
little man became very thoughtful and agreed with them that it was a
cruel act to send the poor girl into a strange country in search of an
uncle who had not been heard of in two years.
When the train pulled into the station at Denver the first care of
John Merrick's party was to look after the welfare of the lame girl.
They got a porter to assist her into the depot waiting room and then
Uncle John inquired about the next train for Leadville, and found it
would not start until the following morning, the late overland train
having missed that day's connections. This was a serious discovery for
poor Myrtle, but she smiled bravely and said:
"I can pass the night in this seat very comfortably, so please don't
worry about me. It is warm here, you know, and I won't mind a bit the
sitting up. Thank you all very much for your kindness, and good-bye.
I'll be all right, never fear."
Uncle John stood looking down at her thoughtfully.
"Did you engage a carriage, Major?" he asked.
"Yes; there's one now waiting," was the reply.
"All right. Now, then, my dear, let's wrap this blanket around you
tight and snug."
"What are you going to do?" asked Myrtle with a startled look.
"Carry you outside. It's pretty cold and snowy, so we must wrap you up.
Now, Major, take hold on the other side. Here we go!"
Patsy smiled--rather pitifully--at the expression of bewilderment on
Myrtle's face. Uncle John and the Major carried her tenderly to a
carriage and put her in the back seat. Patsy sprang in next, with
Mumbles clasped tightly in her arms, the small dog having been forced
to make the journey thus far in the baggage car. Beth and the Major
entered the carriage next, while Uncle John mounted beside the driver
and directed him to the Crown Palace Hotel.
It was growing dark when they reached the dingy hostelry, which might
have been palatial when it was named but was now sadly faded and
tawdry. It proved to be fairly comfortable, however, and the first
care of the party was to see Myrtle Dean safely established in a cosy
room, with a grate fire to cheer her. Patsy and Beth had adjoining
rooms and kept running in for a word with their protégé, who was
so astonished and confused by her sudden good fortune that she was
incapable of speech and more inclined to cry than to laugh.
During the evening Uncle John was busy at the telegraph booth. He sent
several messages to Leadville, to Anson Jones, to the Chief of Police
and to the various hotels; but long before midnight, when the last
replies were received, he knew that Anson Jones had left Leadville
five months ago, and his present whereabouts were unknown. Having
learned these facts the little man went to bed and slept peacefully
Myrtle had begged them to see that she was called at five o'clock,
that she might have ample time to get to the depot for her train, but
no one called her and the poor child was so weary and worn with her
trip that the soft bed enthralled her for many hours after daybreak.
Patsy finally aroused her, opening the blinds to let in the sunshine
and then sitting beside Myrtle's bed to stroke her fair hair and tell
her it was nearly noon.
"But my train!" wailed the girl, greatly distressed.
"Oh, the train has gone hours ago. But never mind that, dear. Uncle
John has telegraphed to Leadville and found that Anson Jones is
not there. He left months ago, and is now wandering; in fields and
Myrtle sat up in bed and glared at Patsy wild-eyed.
"Gone!" she said. "Gone! Then what am I to do?"
"I can't imagine, dear," said Patsy, soothingly. "What do you think
you will do?"
The girl seemed dazed and for a time could not reply.
"You must have thought of this thing," suggested her new friend, "for
it was quite possible Anson Jones would not be in Leadville when you
"I did not dare think of it," returned Myrtle in a low, frightened
tone. "I once asked Aunt Martha what I could do in case Uncle Anson
wasn't to be found, and she said he must be found, for otherwise I
would be obliged to earn my own living."
"And she knew you to be so helpless!"
"She knows I can sew, if only I can get work to do," said the girl,
simply. "I'm not really a cripple, and I'm getting better of my hurt
every day. Aunt Martha said I would be just as well off in Denver or
Leadville as in Chicago, and made me promise, if the worst came, not
to let any charitable organization send me back to her."
"In other words," exclaimed Patsy, indignantly, "she wanted to get rid
of you, and did not care what became of you."
"She was afraid I would cost her money," admitted the poor child, with
shamed, downcast eyes.
Patsy went to the window and stood looking out for a time. Myrtle
began to dress herself. As she said, she was not utterly helpless,
moving the upper part of her body freely and being able to walk slowly
about a room by holding on to chairs or other furniture.
"I'm afraid I'm causing you a lot of worry over me," said she, smiling
sadly as Patsy turned toward her; "and that is ungrateful when I
remember how kind you have all been. Why, these hours since I met you
have seemed like fairyland. I shall treasure them as long as I live.
There must be another train to Leadville soon, and I'll take that. As
soon as I am ready I will go to the depot and wait there."
Patsy looked at her reflectively. The poor child was called upon to
solve a queer problem--one which might well have bewildered the brain
of a more experienced person.
"Tell me," she said; "why should you go to Leadville at all, now that
you have no friend or relative there to care for you?"
"My ticket is to Leadville, you know," replied Myrtle. "If I did not
go I would waste the money it cost."
Patsy laughed at this.
"You're a wonderfully impractical child," she said, deftly assisting
Myrtle to finish dressing. "What you really need is some one to order
you around and tell you what to do. So you must stop thinking about
yourself, for a time, and let us do the thinking. Here--sit in this
chair by the window. Do you want Mumbles in your lap? All right. Now
gaze upon the scenery until I come back. There's a man washing windows
across the street; watch and see if he does his work properly."
Then she went away to join a conference in Uncle John's sitting room.
Major Doyle was speaking when she entered and his voice was coldly
"The temperature outside is six degrees above freezing," he observed.
"The clerk downstairs says the snow is nine feet deep over the
mountain trails and the wind would cut an iron beam in two. If you
take an automobile to California, John, you must put it on snowshoes
and connect it with a steam heating-plant."
Uncle John, his hands thrust deep in his pockets, paced thoughtfully
up and down the room.
"Didn't I give you Haggerty's record, then?" asked the Major. "If
you want the exact truth it's safe to go directly opposite to what
"He's a very decent fellow," protested Mr. Merrick, "and is considered
in the city to be strictly honest."
"But after this?"
"You can't blame him for the weather conditions here. I've been
talking with Denver people myself, this morning, and they all say
it's unusual to have such cold weather at this time of year. The
thermometer hasn't been so low in the past twenty-six years, the
"Are they all named Haggerty?" asked the Major, scornfully.
"If you will kindly allow me to speak, and tell you what Haggerty
said," remarked Uncle John tersely, "I shall be able to add to your
"Go ahead, then."
"Haggerty said that in case we ran into cold weather in Denver, which
"Then we had best go south to Santa Fe and take the route of the old
Santa Fe Trail as far as Albuquerque, or even to El Paso. Either way
we will be sure to find fine weather, and good roads into California."
"So Haggerty says."
"It stands to reason," continued Mr. Merrick, "that on the Southern
route we will escape the severe weather. So I have decided to adopt
"I think you are quite wise in that," broke in Patsy, before her
father could object.
"All those queer Spanish names sound interesting," said Beth. "When do
we start, Uncle?"
"In a day or two. I have some things here to attend to that may delay
us that long. But when once we are started southward we shall bowl
along right merrily."
"Unless we run into more snowstorms." Of course it was the Major who
said that, and pointedly ignoring the remark Uncle John turned to
Patsy and said:
"How did you find Myrtle Dean this morning?"
"She is rested, and seems very bright and cheerful, Uncle; but of
course she is much distressed by the news that her Uncle Anson has
vanished from Leadville. Yet she thinks she will continue her journey
by the next train, as she has paid for her ticket and can't afford to
waste the money."
"It would be absurd for the child to go to Leadville on that account.
A mining camp is no place for such a frail thing," returned Mr.
Merrick. "What would you suggest, Patsy?"
"Really, Uncle John, I don't know what to suggest."
"She can never earn her living by sewing," declared Beth. "What she
ought to have is a trained nurse and careful attention."
"I'll have a doctor up to look her over," said Uncle John, in his
decisive way. He was a mild little man generally, but when he made up
his mind to do a thing it was useless to argue with him. Even Major
Doyle knew that; but the old soldier was so fond of arguing for
the sake of argument, and so accustomed to oppose his wealthy
brother-in-law--whom he loved dearly just the same--that he was
willing to accept defeat rather than permit Mr. Merrick to act without
AN INTERESTING PROTÉGÉ
A young physician was appointed by the management to attend any guest
who might require his services, and Uncle John had a talk with him and
sent him to Myrtle's room to give her a thorough examination. This he
did, and reported that the girl's present condition was due largely to
mismanagement of her case at the time she was injured. With care she
would get better and stronger rapidly, but the hip joint was out of
its socket and only a skillful operation would serve to permanently
relieve her of lameness.
"What she needs just now," continued the doctor, "is a pair of
crutches, so she can get around better and be in the fresh air and
sunshine as much as possible. She is a very frail little woman at
present and must build up her health and strength before submitting
to the operation I have mentioned. Then, if it is properly done, she
ought to recover completely and be as good as new."
"I must inform you," said Uncle John, "that Myrtle Dean is just a
little waif whom my nieces picked up on the train. I believe she is
without friends or money. Such being the circumstances, what would you
The doctor shook his head gravely.
"Poor thing!" he said. "She ought to be rich, at this juncture,
instead of poor, for the conditions facing her are serious. The
operation I speak of is always an expensive one, and meantime the
child must go to some charitable institution or wear out her feeble
strength in trying to earn enough to keep the soul in her body. She
seems to have a brave and beautiful nature, sir, and were she educated
and cared for would some day make a splendid woman. But the world is
full of these sad cases. I'm poor myself, Mr. Merrick, but this child
interests me, and after you have gone I shall do all in my power to
"Thank you," said Uncle John, thoughtfully nodding his bald head.
"I'll think it over and see you again, doctor, before I leave."
An hour later Myrtle was fitted with crutches of the best sort
obtainable, and was overjoyed to find how greatly they assisted her.
The Major, a kindly man, decided to take Myrtle out for a drive, and
while they were gone Uncle John had a long conversation with Beth and
"Here is a case," said he, "where my dreadful money can do some good.
I am anxious to help Myrtle Dean, for I believe she is deserving of
my best offices. But I don't exactly know what to do. She is really
your protégé, my dears, and I am going to put the affair in your
hands for settlement. Just tell me what to do, and I'll do it. Spend
my money as freely upon Myrtle as you please."
The girls faced the problem with enthusiasm.
"She's a dear little thing," remarked Patsy, "and seems very grateful
for the least kindness shown her. I am sure she has never been treated
very nicely by that stony-hearted old aunt of hers."
"In all my experience," said Beth, speaking as if her years were
doubled, "I have never known anyone so utterly helpless. She is very
young and inexperienced, with no friends, no money, and scarcely
recovered from an accident. It is clearly our duty to do something for
Myrtle, and aside from the humane obligation I feel that already I
love the child, having known her only a day."
"Admitting all this, Beth," returned her uncle, "you are not answering
my question. What shall we do for Myrtle? How can we best assist her?"
"Why not take her to California with us?" inquired Patsy, with sudden
inspiration. "The sunshine and roses would make a new girl of her in a
"Could she ride so far in an automobile?" asked Beth, doubtfully.
"Why not? The fresh air would be just the thing for her. You'll get a
big touring car, won't you, Uncle John?"
"I've bought one already--a seven-seated 'Autocrat'--and there will be
plenty of room in it for Myrtle," he said.
"Good gracious! Where did you find the thing so suddenly?" cried
"I made the purchase this morning, bright and early, before you were
up," replied Mr. Merrick, smilingly. "It is a fine new car, and as
soon as I saw it I knew it was what I wanted. It is now being fitted
up for our use."
"Yes. I've an idea in my head to make it a movable hotel. If we're
going to cross the plains and the mountains and the deserts, and all
that sort of thing, we must be prepared for any emergencies. I've also
sent for a chauffeur who is highly recommended. He knows the route
we're going to take; can make all repairs necessary in case of
accident, and is an experienced driver. I expect him here any minute.
His name is Wampus."
"But about Myrtle,"' said Beth. "Can we make her comfortable on a long
"Certainly," asserted Uncle John. "We are not going to travel day and
night, my dear, for as soon as we get away from this frozen country we
can take our time and journey by short stages. My notion is that we
will have more fun on the way than we will in California."
"Myrtle hasn't any proper clothes," observed Patsy, reflectively.
"We'll have to shop for her, Beth, while Uncle is getting the car
"Are you sure to leave to-morrow, Uncle John?" inquired Beth.
"To-morrow or the next day. There's no use leaving before the
'Autocrat' is ready to ship."
"Oh; we're not going to ride in it, then?"
"Not just yet. We shall take the train south to Santa Fe, and perhaps
to Albuquerque. I'll talk to Wampus about that. When we reach a good
climate we'll begin the journey overland--and not before."
"Then," said Patsy, "I'm sure we shall have time to fit out Myrtle
Mr. Wampus was announced just then, and while Uncle John conferred
with the chauffeur his two nieces went to their room to talk over
Myrtle Dean's outfit and await the return of the girl from her ride.
"They tell me," said Mr. Merrick, "that you are an experienced
"I am celebrate," replied Wampus. "Not as chauffeur, but as expert
He was a little man and quite thin. His legs were short and his arms
long. He had expressionless light gray eyes and sandy hair cropped
close to his scalp. His mouth was wide and good-humored, his chin long
and broad, his ears enormous in size and set at right angles with
his head. His cheek bones were as high and prominent as those of an
Indian, and after a critical examination of the man Uncle John was
impelled to ask his nationality.
"I am born in Canada, at Quebec Province," he answered. "My father
he trapper; my mother squaw. For me, I American, sir, and my name
celebrate over all the world for knowing automobile like father knows
his son." He paused, and added impressively: "I am Wampus!"
"Have you ever driven an 'Autocrat' car?" asked Mr. Merrick.
"'Autocrat?' I can take him apart blindfold, an' put him together
"Have you ever been overland to California?"
"Then you know the country?"
"In the dark. I am Wampus."
"Very good, Wampus. You seem to be the man I want, for I am going
to California in an 'Autocrat' car, by way of the Santa Fe Trail
"No matter. We find way. I am--"
"I know. Now tell me, Wampus: if I employ you will you be faithful and
careful? I have two girls in my party--three girls, in fact--and from
the moment you enter my service I shall expect you to watch over our
welfare and guide us with skill and intelligence. Will you do this?"
The man seemed somewhat offended by the question.
"When you have Wampus, what more you want?" he inquired. "Maybe you
not know Wampus. You come from far East. All right. You go out and ask
automobile man about Wampus. Ask ever'body. When you have inquire you
feel more happy. I come again."
He started to go, but Mr. Merrick restrained him.
"You have been highly recommended already," said he. "But you cannot
expect me to have as high an opinion of you as you have of yourself;
at least, until I know you better. Would you like to undertake this
"Yes. Just now I free. My business is expert automobilist. I am
Wampus. But perhaps you want cheap man. My price high."
"What is your price?"
"Fifty dollar week. You eat me an' sleep me."
"I do not object to your price. Come out with me to the garage and I
will show you my car and explain what is being done to it."
Although all the automobile men seemed to defer most respectfully to
Wampus, Mr. Merrick did not neglect to make proper inquiries in regard
to the man. Locally he really was "celebrate" and Uncle John was
assured on all sides that he was fortunate to get so intelligent and
experienced a chauffeur as this same Wampus.
"He seems to have instinctive knowledge of all machinery," said one
informant, "and can handle perfectly any car that is made. The only
trouble with the fellow is that he is conceited."
"I've noticed that," returned Mr. Merrick.
"Another thing," said the gentleman; "don't believe implicitly all
that Wampus tells you. He has a habit of imagining things. But he is a
faithful, honest fellow, for all that, and will handle your car better
than any other man you could get in Denver--or anywhere in the West, I
So Wampus was engaged, and putting the man's references and
indorsements all together Mr. Merrick felt that he had gained a prize.
When the big Major, returning from his drive, escorted Myrtle Dean to
the elevator, the girl was joyously using her new crutches. Patsy and
Beth met her and said they had important news to communicate. Not
until she was in her own room, seated in a comfortable chair and
gazing at them anxiously, did they tell the poor waif of the good
fortune in store for her.
"Uncle John," announced Patsy, "has invited you to join our party and
go to California with us."
Myrtle stared a moment, as if trying to realize what that meant. The
tiny Mumbles, sitting beside the chair with his head cocked to one
side, suddenly made a prodigious leap and landed in Myrtle's lap,
where he began licking her chin and wagging his stumpy tail as if
seconding the invitation. As the girl stroked his soft hair her eyes
filled with tears.
"Oh, you are all so kind to me!" she sobbed, losing her composure.
"But I can't go! Of course I can't go."
"Why not?" asked Beth, smiling.
"It would be an--impersition!" Poor Myrtle sometimes stumbled over big
words. "I know that. I can't let you burden your happy party with a
poor cripple, just because your hearts are kind and you pity me!"
"Nonsense!" said Beth. "You're not a cripple, dear; you're just an
invalid, and will soon be as strong as any of us. We have invited you,
Myrtle, because we all like you, and shall soon learn to love you. We
are selfish enough to want your companionship. It isn't pity, at all,
"I'm mighty glad," added Patsy, "your Uncle Anson ran away from
Leadville. If he hadn't done that we should have had to give you
up; but now we may keep you as long as we wish, for you haven't any
particular engagement to interfere with our plans."
All this was said so frankly and unaffectedly that little Myrtle was
led to abandon her suspicion and grew radiant with delight. Indeed,
she hugged and squeezed the squirming Mumbles until he resented such
strenuous fondling and escaped to Patsy's more moderate embraces.
Myrtle had never yet ridden in an automobile, and the prospect of
a long journey across the country in a big touring car, with
California's roses and sunshine at the end of it, was certainly
alluring enough to intoxicate one far more accustomed to pleasure than
this friendless, impoverished girl.
After the cousins had explained all their plans to Myrtle and assured
her she was to be their cherished guest for a long time--until she was
well and strong again, at the least--they broached the subject of
her outfit. The poor child flushed painfully while admitting the
meagerness of her wardrobe. All her possessions were contained in one
small canvas "hold-all," and she lacked many necessities which her
callous aunt had suggested that Uncle Anson might be induced to buy
for her once she had joined him in Leadville. Uncle John's nieces grew
more and more indignant as they discovered the details of this selfish
woman's crime--for Patsy declared it was nothing less than a crime to
send a helpless child far into the West to search for an unknown uncle
whose whereabouts were only conjectural.
That very afternoon Beth and Patsy began shopping for Myrtle, and
presently all sorts of parcels, big and little, began to arrive for
their new protégé. Myrtle was amazed and awed by the splendor of her
new apparel, and could scarcely believe her good fortune. It seemed
like a fairy tale to her, and she imagined herself a Cinderella with
two fairy godmothers who were young and pretty girls possessing the
purse of Fortunatus and the generosity of Glinda the Good. At night,
when she was supposed to be asleep, Myrtle crept from her bed, turned
on the electric light and gloated over her treasures, which she had
almost feared might vanish into thin air and leave her as desolate as
Next morning, as soon as breakfast was over, the girls took Myrtle out
with them to some of the shops, fitting her to shoes and gloves and
having her try on some ready-made gowns so that they might be quickly
altered for her use. Patsy also bought her a set of soft and pretty
furs, thinking she might need them on the journey if the weather
continued cool, and this seemed to cap the climax of Myrtle's
"What 'stonishes me most," gasped the child, trying to get her breath
between the surprises she experienced, "is how you can think of so
many things to do for me. Of course I know you are rich; but I've
never before heard of rich people being so very generous to poor
"Once," said Beth, gravely, "we were poor ourselves, Patsy and I, and
had to work hard for our living. That was before our Uncle John came
and gave us a share of his money, together with his love and sympathy.
Isn't it natural, my dear, that we should now be eager to share our
good fortune with you, since we have more money than we can use
otherwise, and you are to be our little friend and companion?"
"Perhaps so," replied Myrtle, smiling gaily and much comforted by the
explanation. "But, oh dear! I'm so glad you found me!"
"We are glad, too," said Patsy. "But here it is, time for luncheon,
and we've wasted the whole morning in shopping. I'm sure the Major
will be cross if we do not hurry back to the hotel."
A WONDER ON WHEELS
But the Major was not cross when they met him in Uncle John's sitting
room. He beamed upon the three girls most genially, for he liked
Myrtle and fully approved all that was being done for her.
"Of course it's like Patsy," he had said to Mr. Merrick that morning.
"She couldn't help being a sweet ministering angel if she tried; and
Beth is growing more and more like her. It will do those girls good,
John, to have some human being to coddle and care for. If Patsy could
have a fault, it would be wasting so much affection on that bunch o'
rags Mumbles, who audaciously chewed up one of my pet slippers while I
was at dinner last evening. No dog is a fit thing to occupy a girl's
time, and this imp o' mischief Mumbles must take a back seat from now
Uncle John laughed, for he knew his brother-in-law had never conquered
his antipathy for poor Mumbles, and realized why.
"Take care that you do not get jealous of Myrtle," he replied.
"You're a selfish old beast, and don't wish Patsy to love anyone but
"And why should she?" was the inquiry. "Any dutiful daughter ought to
be satisfied with loving such a father as I am."
"And in that," remarked Uncle John, whimsically, "you remind me of
Wampus. You should strut around and say: 'Behold me! I am Patsy's
The Major was full of news at luncheon time.
"What do you think, my dears?" he said, addressing the girls. "Your
crazy uncle must have had another snooze, unbeknown to us, for he's
got the wildest idea into his head that human brains--or lack of
"You are not very respectful, sir," retorted Mr. Merrick stiffly,
as he ate his salad. "But we must not expect too much of a disabled
soldier--and an Irishman to boot--who has not been accustomed to good
Major Doyle looked at his brother-in-law with an approving smile.
"Very well put, John," he said. "You're improving in repartee.
Presently you'll add that I'm unlettered and uncivilized, and no fit
associate for a person who has made an egregious fortune out of tin
cans in the wilds of Oregon."
"But what's the news?" asked Patsy impatiently. "What new idea has
Uncle John conceived?"
"First," replied the Major, "he has bought an automobile as big as a
baggage car. Next he has engaged a chauffeur who is a wild Canadian
Indian with a trace of erratic French blood in his veins--a
combination liable to result in anything. Mr. Wampus, the half-breed
calls himself, and from the looks of him he's murdered many a one in
"Show me an automobile driver that hasn't. Myrtle knows. It's no trick
to knock over a peaceful pedestrian or so, to say nothing of chickens,
cats and dogs mangled by the roadside. I confidently expect he'll make
a pancake of dear little Mumbles before he's five miles on the road.
"Be sensible, Daddy."
"It's my strong point. If I'm any judge of character this Wampus is a
"He is recommended as a very careful driver," said Mr. Merrick; "and
moreover he has signed a contract to obey my orders."
"Very good," said Beth. "I'm not afraid of Mr. Wampus. What next,
"Next," continued Patsy's father, with a solemn wink at the row of
curious faces, "your inventive relative has ordered the automobile
rebuilt, thinking he's wiser than the makers. He's having a furnace
put in it, for one thing--it's a limousine, you know, and all enclosed
in glass. Also it's as big as a barn, as I said."
"You said a freight car," observed Patsy.
"True. A small barn or a big freight car. The seats are to be made
convertible into sleeping berths, so if we get caught out overnight we
have all the comforts of a hotel except the bell boys."
"I'll be the bell boy," promised Patsy.
"Also we're to take a portable kitchen along, like they use in the
army, with a gasoline stove all complete. The thing fits under the
back seat, I believe."
"All this," said Beth, "strikes me as being very sensible and a credit
to Uncle John's genius. I'm a good cook, as you know, and the kitchen
outfit appeals to me. But how about provisions?"
"Provisions are being provided," replied her uncle, genially
smiling at her praise. However scornfully the Major might view his
preparations he was himself mightily proud of them.
"Tinned stuff, I presume," remarked his brother-in-law. "John Merrick
has a weakness for tin cans, having got his money out of them."
"You're wrong," protested Uncle John. "I merely made my money from the
tin the cans were made of. But we won't get money out of these cans
when they're opened; it will be something better, such as sardines and
hominy, preserved cream and caviar, beans and boned chicken."
"Sounds fine!" cried Patsy with enthusiasm. "But how can you arrange
to carry so much, Uncle?"
"The limousine body is pretty big, as the Major says, and high enough
to allow me to put in a false bottom. In the space beneath it I shall
stow all the bedding, the eatables and kitchen utensils, and a small
tent. Then we shall be prepared for whatever happens."
"I doubt it," objected the Major. "There's gasoline to be reckoned
with. It's well enough to feed ourselves, but what if we ran short of
the precious feed for the engines?"
"The two tanks will hold sixty gallons. That ought to carry us any
reasonable distance," replied Mr. Merrick.
"You see, Daddy, our Uncle John is an experienced traveler, while you
are not," declared Patsy. "In all our journeys together I've found him
full of resources and very farsighted. This trip doesn't worry me at
"Nor me," added Beth. "We are sure to have a delightful time under
"Wampus," said Uncle John, "is so pleased with my preparations that he
wants us to start in the car from here."
"Can you put it on runners, like a sledge?" asked the Major. "That's
the only way it could travel through this snow. Or perhaps you'll hire
a snowplow to go ahead of it."
"No; I told Wampus it was impracticable," was the reply. "We shall
load our machine on a flat car and ship it to Albuquerque, which is in
New Mexico and almost directly south of Denver. We shall then be over
the worst grades of the Rocky Mountains."
"And which way do we go then?" inquired Beth.
"I have not yet decided. We can go still farther south, into Texas,
or make our way down into Phoenix and across the prairies to Imperial
Valley, or follow the Santa Fe route by way of the Grand Canyon."
"Oh, let's go that way!" exclaimed Patsy.
"And freeze to death?" asked the Major. "It's the northernmost route."
"When we get to Albuquerque we will be below the line of frosts and
snow," explained Mr. Merrick. "The climate is genial all through that
section during winter. Haggerty says--"
"I guessed it!" groaned the Major. "If Haggerty recommends this trip
we'll surely be in trouble."
"Aside from Haggerty, Wampus knows that country thoroughly," said
Uncle John stoutly.
"Tell me: did Haggerty recommend Wampus?"
"Then there's hopes of the fellow. As you say, John, there is no need
to decide until we get to Albuquerque. When do we make the start?"
"Day after to-morrow. The car will be shipped to-morrow night, but our
party will follow by daylight, so as to see Colorado Springs, Pike's
Peak and Pueblo as we pass by them."
"So this is Albuquerque," observed Patsy Doyle, as they alighted from
the train. "Is it a big town playing peek-a-boo among those hills,
Uncle John, or is this really all there is to the place?"
"It's a pretty big town, my dear. Most of the houses are back on the
prairie, but fortunately our hold is just here at the depot."
It was a quaint, attractive building, made of adobe cement, in the
ancient mission style; but it proved roomy and extremely comfortable.
"Seems to me," whispered Myrtle to Beth, "we're high up on the
mountains, even yet."
"So we are," was the reply. "We're just between Glorietta Pass and the
Great Continental Divide. But the steepest of the Rockies are behind
us, and now the slopes are more gradual all the way to California. How
do you like it, dear?"
"Oh, the mountains are grand!" exclaimed Myrtle. "I had never imagined
anything so big and stately and beautiful." The other girls had seen
mountains before, but this was their friend's first experience, and
they took much pleasure in Myrtle's enthusiastic delight over all she
Adjoining the hotel was a bazaar, in front of which sat squatted upon
the ground two rows of Mojave Indians, mostly squaws, with their
curious wares spread out for sale upon blankets. There must have
been a score of them, and they exhibited odd pottery ornaments of
indistinguishable shapes, strings of glass beads and beadwork bags,
and a few really fine jardinieres and baskets. After the girls had
been to their rooms and established themselves in the hotel they
hurried out to interview the Indians, Myrtle Dean supporting herself
by her crutches while Patsy and Beth walked beside her. The lame girl
seemed to attract the squaws at once, and one gave her a bead necklace
while another pressed upon her a small brown earthenware fowl with
white spots all over it. This latter might have been meant to
represent a goose, an ostrich or a guinea hen; but Myrtle was
delighted with it and thanked the generous squaw, who responded merely
with a grunt, not understanding English. A man in a wide sombrero who
stood lazily by observed the incident and said:
"Don't thank the hag. She's selfish. The Mojaven think it brings luck
to have a gift accepted by a cripple."
Myrtle flushed painfully.
"I suppose my crutches make me look more helpless than I really am,"
she whispered to her friends as they moved away. "But they're such a
help in getting around that I'm very grateful to have them, and as I
get stronger I can lay them aside and not be taken for a cripple any
The air was delightfully invigorating here in the mountains, yet it
was not at all cold. The snow, as Uncle John had predicted, had all
been left behind them. After dinner they took a walk through the
pretty town and were caught in the dark before they could get back.
The twilights are very brief in Albuquerque.
"This is a very old town," remarked Uncle John. "It was founded by a
Spanish adventurer named Cabrillo in the seventeenth century, long
before the United States came into existence. But of course it never
amounted to anything until the railroad was built."
Next day they were sitting in a group before the hotel when a man was
seen approaching them with shuffling steps. Uncle John looked at him
closely and Mumbles leaped from Patsy's lap and rushed at the stranger
with excited barks.
"Why, it's Wampus," said Mr. Merrick. "The car must have arrived."
Wampus caught up the baby dog and held it under his arm while he took
his cap off and bowed respectfully to his employer.
"He an' me, we here," he announced.
"Who is 'he,' Wampus?"
"When did you arrive?"
"Half hour ago. He on side track."
"Very good. You have made capital time, for a freight train. Let us go
at once and get the car unloaded."
Wampus hesitated, looking sheepish.
"I been arrest," he said.
"Arrested! For what?"
"I make speed. They not like it. They arrest me--Me--Wampus!" He
straightened his slim little form with an assumption of dignity.
"I knew it," sighed the Major. "I decided he was a speed fiend the
first time I saw him."
"But--dear me!" said Uncle John; "how could you be arrested for
speeding when the automobile was on a fiat car?"
Wampus glanced over his shoulder. Two railroad men had followed him
and were now lounging against the porch railing. One had his right eye
bandaged while the other carried one arm in a sling. Both scowled as
they eyed the Canadian fixedly.
"Freight train make pretty slow time," began the chauffeur. "I know
you in hurry, so freight train he make me nervous. I say polite to
conductor I like to go faster. He laugh. I say polite to brakeman we
must go faster. He make abusing speech. I climb into engine an' say
polite to engineer to turn on steam. He insult me. So I put my foot
on him an' run engine myself. I am Wampus. I understan' engine--all
kinds. Brakeman he swear; he swear so bad I put him off train.
Conductor must have lump of coal in eye to keep quiet. Fireman he jus'
smile an' whistle soft an' say nothing; so we friends. When I say
'shovel in coal,' he shovel. When we pass stations quick like, he
whistle with engine loud. So now we here an' I been arrest."
Patsy tittered and stuffed her handkerchief into her mouth. Uncle John
first chuckled and then looked grave. The Major advanced to Wampus and
soberly shook his hand.
"You're a brave man, sir, for a chauffeur," he said. "I congratulate
Wampus still looked uneasy.
"I been arrest," he repeated.
Uncle John beckoned the railroad men to come forward.
"Is this story true?" he asked.
"Most of it, sir," answered the conductor. "It's only by the mercy of
Providence we're here alive. This scoundrel held up the whole crew
and ran away with the engine. We might have had a dozen collisions or
smash-ups, for he went around curves at sixty miles an hour. We'd cut
our train in two, so as to pull half of it at a time up the grade at
Lamy, and so there were only six cars on this end of it. The other
half is seventy miles back, and part of what we have here ought to
have been left at the way stations. I can't make out, sir, whether
it's burglary, or highway robbery or arson an' murder he's guilty of,
or all of 'em; but I've telegraphed for instructions and I'll hold him
a prisoner until the superintendent tells me what to do with him."
Mr. Merrick was very sober now.
"The matter is serious," he said. "This man is in my employ, but I did
not hire him to steal a railway train or fight its crew. Not badly
hurt, I hope, sir?"
"My eye's pretty bad," growled the conductor. "Tom, here, thought his
arm was broken, at first; but I guess it's only sprained."
"How about the brakeman he threw off the train?"
"Why, we were not going fast, just then, and it didn't hurt him. We
saw him get up and shake his fist at the robber. If he ever meets Mr.
Wampus again he'll murder him."
"Come with me to the telegraph office and I'll see what I can do to
straighten this out," said Mr. Merrick briskly. On the way he remarked
to the conductor: "I'm sorry I let Wampus travel alone. He's just
a little bit affected in his mind, you know, and at times isn't
responsible for what he does."
The conductor scratched his head doubtfully.
"I suspected he was crazy," he replied, "and that's why I didn't hurt
him. But if he's crazy he's the most deliberate loonatic I ever run
The superintendent had just wired instructions to put the outlaw in
jail when Mr. Merrick reached the telegraph office, but after an hour
spent in sending messages back and forth a compromise was affected and
the little millionaire had agreed to pay a goodly sum to the company
by way of damages and to satisfy the crew of the freight train--which
he succeeded in doing by a further outlay of money.
"You're not worth all this bother," said Mr. Merrick to the humbled
Wampus, when the final settlement had been made, "but chauffeurs are
scarce in Albuquerque and I can't be delayed. Never, sir, while you
are in my employ, must you allow yourself to be guilty of such an act
"Never," he promised, "will I ride by freight train again. Send car by
express. I am Wampus. Freight train he make me nervous."
The automobile was quickly unloaded and at once Wampus set to work to
get it in running order. He drove it to the hotel at about sundown
and Mr. Merrick told the girls to be ready to start after an early
breakfast the next morning.
"Which way do we go?" asked the Major.
"We'll have a talk with Wampus this evening and decide," said Uncle
"Don't leave out the Grand Canyon!" begged Patsy.
"Nor the Petrified Forests." added Beth. "And couldn't we visit the
Moki Indian reservation?"
"Those things may be well enough in their way," observed the Major,
"but is their way our way? That's the question. The one thing we must
take into consideration is the matter of roads. We must discover which
road is the best and then take it. We're not out of the mountains yet,
and we shall have left the railroad, the last vestige of civilization,
But the conference evolved the fact, according to Wampus, that the
best and safest roads were for a time along the line of the Santa Fe,
directly west; and this would enable them to visit most of the scenes
the girls were eager to see.
"No boulevard in mountain anywhere," remarked Wampus; "but road he
good enough to ride on. Go slow an' go safe. I drive 'Autocrat' from
here to Los Angeles blindfold."
With this assurance they were obliged to be content, and an eager
and joyful party assembled next morning to begin the journey so long
looked forward to. The landlord of the hotel, a man with a careworn
face, shook his head dismally and predicted their return to
Albuquerque within twenty-four hours.
"Of course people do make the trip from here to the coast," he said;
"but it's mighty seldom, and they all swear they'll never do it again.
It's uncomfortable, and it's dangerous."
"Why?" asked Uncle John.
"You're headed through a wild country, settled only by Mexicans,
Indians, and gangs of cowboys still worse. The roads are something
awful. That man Wampus is an optimist, and will tackle anything and
then be sorry for it afterward. The towns are scattered from here on,
and you won't strike a decent meal except at the railway stations.
Taking all these things into consideration, I advise you to make your
headquarters here for the winter."
"Thank you," returned Mr. Merrick pleasantly. "It's too late for us to
back out now, even if we felt nervous and afraid, which I assure you
we do not."
"We are not looking for excessive comfort on this journey, you know,"
remarked Patsy. "But thank you for your warning, sir. It has given us
great pleasure; for if there were no chance of adventure before us we
should all be greatly disappointed."
Again the landlord shook his head.
"Right?" asked Wampus, at the wheel.
"Go ahead," said Mr. Merrick, and slowly the big car started upon its
journey into the Golden West.
The air was keen and bracing, but not chilly. The sunshine flooded the
landscape on every side. All the windows of the limousine had been
Myrtle Dean had been established in one corner of the broad back seat,
where she nestled comfortably among the cushions. Uncle John sat
beside her, with Beth and the Major on the seat on front. There were
two folding chairs that could be used on occasion, and the back seat
easily accommodated three, the "Autocrat" being a seven passenger car;
but Patsy was perched in front beside Wampus, which was really the
choicest seat of all, so there was ample room inside to "swing a cat,"
as the Major stated--if anyone had cared to attempt such a feat. Of
course the wee Mumbles was in Patsy's lap, and he seemed to have
overcome his first aversion of Wampus and accepted the little
chauffeur into the circle of his favored acquaintances. Indeed, they
soon became fast friends.
On leaving the town Wampus turned into a smooth, hard wagon road that
ran in zigzag fashion near the railroad grade. The car bowled along
right merrily for some twenty miles, when the driver turned to the
right and skimmed along a high plateau. It was green and seemed
fertile, but scarcely a farmhouse could they see, although the clear
air permitted a broad view.
"He up hill now all way to Continental Divide," said Wampus to Patsy;
"then he go down hill long time."
"It doesn't seem to be much uphill," returned the girl, "and the road
is very good."
"We make time here," observed the driver. "By'm-by we find rock an'
bad road. Then we go slow."
The Major was watching the new chauffeur carefully, and despite his
dismal forebodings the man seemed not at all reckless but handled his
car with rare skill. So the critic turned to his brother-in-law and
"Is it fully decided which way we shall go?"
"I've left it to Wampus and the girls," was the reply. "On account
of our little invalid here we shall take the most direct route to
California. It isn't a short route, at that. On Beth's account we
shall visit the Moki and Navajo reservations, and on Patsy's account
we're going by way of the Grand Canyon of Arizona. Wampus says he
knows every inch of the road, so for my part I'm content to be just a
"Which remark," said the Major, "indicates that I'm to be just a
passenger also. Very well, John; I'm willing. There may be trouble
ahead of us, but to-day is so magnificent that it's wise to forget
everything but the present."
THE CHAUFFEUR IMPROVES
They all enjoyed that first day's ride. Wampus did not drive fast,
for there were places where he couldn't; yet by one o'clock they had
reached Laguna, sixty miles from their starting point. There was an
excellent railway hotel here, so they decided to spend the rest of the
day and the night at Laguna and proceed early the next morning.
The big car was an object of much curiosity to the natives, and during
the afternoon Wampus was the center of attraction. Myrtle had stood
the ride remarkably well, and Uncle John noticed that her eyes were
brighter and a shade of color had already crept into her pale cheeks.
Having risen early all three of the girls took a nap during the
afternoon, as did Mr. Merrick. The Major gossiped with the station
agent, the most important individual in town, and gleaned sundry
information that made him look rather glum.
"I don't say the road's exactly dangerous, mind you," added the man,
"but these greasers and Injuns get mischievous, at times, harmless
as they look. All I'm advisin' is that you keep a sharp eye on 'em."
Finding Wampus cleaning his car, while a circle of silent, attentive
inhabitants looked on, the Major said to him in a low voice: "Have you
Wampus shook his head.
"Never carry him," he replied. "All gun he make trouble. Sometime he
shoot wrong man. Don't like gun. Why should I? I am Wampus!"
The Major entered the hotel frowning.
"That fellow," he muttered, "is a natural-born coward, and we needn't
expect help from him if trouble comes."
No trouble came that night, however, and in the early morning, while
the sky was still reddened by the rising sun, they were off again,
following more closely now the railroad, as rocky defiles began to
loom up before them.
By the zigzag course they were obliged to take it was ninety miles to
Gallup, and this they easily made, despite the growing steepness of
the mountain road. Here was the famous Continental Divide, and the
State of Arizona lay just beyond. The Continental Divide is the ridge
that separates the streams tributary to the Atlantic ocean from those
tributary to the Pacific, so that after crossing it one might well
feel that at last the East was left behind and the great West with its
romance now faced him.
They came to the little town in time to see the gorgeous sunset from
this, the highest point of the Rockies, and especially to Myrtle, who
had traveled so little, was the sight impressive and awe inspiring.
There was a small but fairly good hotel in the place, and after supper
Patsy and Beth went out for a stroll, being much interested in the
dark-skinned Mexicans and still darker Indians who constituted far
the larger part of the population. The party had everywhere met with
respect from these people, who, although curious, were silent and
well-behaved; so Uncle John and the Major, deep in a political
argument on the hotel porch, had no thought of danger when they saw
the two girls start away arm in arm.
The sky was still aglow, although the sun had set, and in the subdued
light the coarse adobe huts and rickety frame dwellings were endowed
with a picturesque appearance they did not really possess. Beth and
Patsy came to the end of the main street rather suddenly, and stood a
moment looking at the shadows cast by the rocky cliffs near by. Some
of the peaks had snow upon them, and there was a chill in the air, now
that the sun had withdrawn its warmth. The girls turned presently and
took another route that might bring them quicker to the hotel, but had
only proceeded a short way when in passing a rather solitary adobe
structure a man stepped from the shadow of the wall and confronted
them. He wore a red flannel shirt and a broad sombrero, the latter
scarcely covering his dark, evil features.
The cousins stopped short. Then Beth whispered: "Let's go the other
way." But as they were about to turn the Mexican drew a revolver and
said in harsh, uneven English: "You halt. Keep a-still, or I shoot."
"What do you want?" asked Beth, quietly.
"Money. All you got. Jew'lry--all you got. Give 'm quick, or I shoot!"
As they stood hesitating a sound of footsteps was heard and someone
approached quickly from behind them. Patsy looked hurriedly around
and saw Wampus. He was walking with his thin little form bent and his
hands deep in his trousers pockets. Incidentally Wampus was smoking
the stub of a cigar, as was his custom when off duty.
The Mexican saw him, but marking his small size and mild manner did
not flinch from his position. With one revolver still leveled at the
girls he drew another from a hip pocket and turned it upon Wampus.
"You stop--halt!" he exclaimed fiercely.
Wampus did not halt. His eyes fixed upon the bandit's ugly features,
still puffing his cigar and with hands in his pockets he walked
deliberately past Patsy and Beth and straight up to the muzzles of the
"Stop!" cried the Mexican; and again: "Stop!"
Wampus stopped when one revolver nearly touched his nose and another
covered his body. Slowly he drew one hand from his pocket and grasped
the barrel of the nearest weapon.
"Let him go," he said, not raising his voice. The man stared into the
little chauffeur's eyes and released his hold of the revolver. Wampus
looked at it, grunted, and put it in his pocket.
"Now the other gun," he said.
The fellow drew back and half turned, as if to escape.
"No, no!" said Wampus, as if annoyed. "You give me gun. See--I am
Sheepishly enough the Mexican surrendered the other weapon.
"Now turn aroun' an' go to hotel," commanded the chauffeur.
The man obeyed. Wampus turned to the girls, who were now not only
relieved but on the verge of laughter and said deprecatingly:
"Do not be scare, for poor man he make no harm. He jus' try a
goozle--no dare shoot here in town. Then come; I go back with you."
Silently they accompanied him along the lane, the Mexican keeping in
front and looking around from time to time to see if they followed.
A short distance from the hotel Wampus gave a queer whistle which
brought the bandit cringing to his side. Without ado he handed the
fellow his two revolvers and said calmly: "Go 'long."
The Mexican "went along" briskly and the dusk soon swallowed him up.
"Thank you, Wampus," said Patsy, gratefully; "you've saved us from a
"Oh, that!" snapping his fingers scornfully. "He not a good bad-man,
for he too much afraid. I have no gun, for I do not like gun. Still,
if I not come, he make you give him money an' trinkets."
"You were very kind," replied Beth, "and I thank you as much as Patsy
does. If you had not arrived just when you did I might have killed the
"You?" inquired Wampus, doubtingly.
"Yes." She showed him a small pearl-handled revolver which she carried
in the pocket of her jacket. "I can shoot, Wampus."
The little chauffeur grinned; then looked grave and shook his head.
"It make funny world, these day," said he. "One time girl from city
would scream to see a gun; now she carry him in pocket an' can shoot!
Ver' fine; ver' fine. But I like me old style girl who make scream.
Then a man not feel foolish when he try protect her."
Patsy laughed merrily; but Beth saw he was offended and hastened to
"I am very grateful to you, Wampus, and I know you are a brave and
true man. I shall expect you to protect me at all times, for I really
don't wish to shoot anyone, although I think it best to carry a
revolver. Always after this, before I am tempted to fire, I shall look
to see if you are not near me."
"All right," he said more cheerfully. "I am Wampus. I will be there,
AMONG THE INDIANS
Little Myrtle grew brighter day by day. She even grew merry and
developed a fine sense of humor, showing new traits in her hitherto
undeveloped character. The girl never mentioned her injury nor
admitted that she suffered any pain, even when directly questioned.
Indeed she was not uncomfortable during that splendid automobile ride
over mountain and plain into the paradise of the glowing West. Never
before in her life had Myrtle enjoyed an outing, except for an hour or
two in a city park; never before had she known a friend to care for
her and sympathize honestly with her griefs. Therefore this experience
was so exquisitely delightful that her responsive heart nearly burst
with gratitude. Pretty thoughts came to her that she had never had
before; her luxurious surroundings led her to acquire dainty ways and
a composed and self-poised demeanor.
"Our rosebud is unfolding, petal by petal, and beginning to bloom
gloriously," said Patsy to sympathetic Uncle John. "Could anyone be
more sweet or lovely?"
Perhaps almost any girl, situated as Myrtle Dean was, would have
blossomed under similar influences. Certain it was that Uncle John
came to have a tender affection for the poor child, while the Major's
big heart had warmed from the first toward the injured girl. Beth and
Patsy were devoted to their new friend and even Mumbles was never so
happy as when Myrtle would hold and caress him. Naturally the former
waif responded freely to all this wealth of affection and strove to be
companionable and cheery, that they might forget as much as possible
her physical helplessness.
Mumbles was not the least important member of the party, but proved
a constant source of amusement to all. In the novel domains they now
traversed the small dog's excitable nature led him to investigate
everything that seemed suspicious, but he was so cowardly, in spite of
this, that once when Patsy let him down to chase a gopher or prairie
dog--they were not sure which--the animal turned at bay and sent
Mumbles retreating with his stubby tail between his legs. His
comradeship for Wampus surprised them all. The Canadian would talk
seriously to the dog and tell it long stories as if the creature could
understand every word--which perhaps he did. Mumbles would sit up
between the driver and Patsy and listen attentively, which encouraged
Wampus to talk until Patsy in self-defense turned and tossed the fuzzy
animal in to Myrtle, who was always glad to receive him.
But Patsy did not always sit on the front seat. That honor was divided
among them all, by turns, except the Major, who did not care for the
place. Yet I think Patsy rode there oftener than anyone else, and it
came to be considered her special privilege because she had first
The Major, after the incident at Gallup, did not scorn Wampus so
openly as before; but he still reserved a suspicion that the fellow
was at heart a coward and a blusterer. The chauffeur's sole demerit in
the eyes of the others was his tremendous egotism. The proud remark:
"I am Wampus!" was constantly on his lips and he had wonderful tales
to tell to all who would listen of his past experiences, in every one
of which he unblushingly figured as the hero. But he really handled
the big touring car in an admirable manner, and when one afternoon
a tire was punctured by a cactus spine by the roadside--their first
accident--they could not fail to admire the dexterous manner in which
he changed the tube for a new one.
From Gallup they took a wagon road to Fort Defiance, in the Navajo
Indian reservation; but the Navajos proved uninteresting people, not
even occupying themselves in weaving the famous Navajo blankets, which
are now mostly made in Philadelphia. Even Patsy, who had longed to
"see the Indians in their native haunts," was disgusted by their filth
and laziness, and the party expected no better results when they came
to the adjoining Moki reservation. Here, however, they were happily
disappointed, for they arrived at the pueblo of Oraibi, one of
the prettiest villages on the mesa, on the eve of one of their
characteristic snake dances, and decided to remain over night and
see the performance. Now I am not sure but the "Snake Dance" was so
opportune because Uncle John had a private interview with the native
chieftain, at which the head Snake Priest and the head Antelope Priest
of the tribe were present. These Indians spoke excellent English and
the chief loved the white man's money, so a ceremony that has been
held during the month of August for many centuries--long before the
Spanish conquistadors found this interesting tribe--was found to be on
tap for that very evening. The girls were tremendously excited at the
prospect and Wampus was ordered to prepare camp for the night--the
first they had spent in their automobile and away from a hotel. Not
only was the interior of the roomy limousine converted into sleeping
quarters for the three girls, but a tent was spread, one side fastened
to the car while the other was staked to the ground. Three wire
folding cots came from some hidden place beneath the false bottom of
the car, with bedding enough to supply them, and these were for the
use of the men in the tent. The two "bedrooms" having been thus
prepared, Wampus lighted the tiny gasoline stove, over which Patsy and
Beth enthusiastically cooked the supper. Beth wanted to "Newburg" the
tinned lobster, and succeeded in creaming it very nicely. They had
potato chips, coffee and toasted Holland rusks, as well, and all
thoroughly enjoyed the improvised meal.
Their camp had been pitched just at the outskirts of the Indian
village, but the snake dance was to take place in a rocky glen some
distance away from the pueblo and so Uncle John instructed Wampus to
remain and guard their outfit, as the Moki are notorious thieves. They
left the lean little chauffeur perched upon the driver's seat, smoking
one of his "stogie" cigars and with Mumbles sitting gravely beside
Myrtle hobbled on her crutches between Beth and Patsy, who carried
little tin lanterns made with lamp chimneys that had candles inside
them. They first visited the chief, who announced that the ceremonies
were about to begin. At a word from this imposing leader a big Indian
caught up Myrtle and easily carried her on his shoulder, as if she
were light as a feather, leading the way to the rocky amphitheatre.
Here were assembled all the inhabitants of the village, forming a wide
circle around the performers. The snakes were in a pit dug in the
center of the space, over which a few branches had been placed. This
is called the "kisi."
These unique and horrifying snake dances of the Moki have been
described so often that I need not speak of this performance in
detail. Before it was half over the girls wished they were back in
their automobile; but the Major whispered that for them to leave would
cause great offense to the Indians and might result in trouble. The
dance is supposedly a religious one, in honor of the Rain God, and at
first the snakes were not used, but as the dancers became wrought up
and excited by their antics one by one they reached within the kisi
and drew out a snake, allowing the reptiles to coil around their
almost naked bodies and handling them with seeming impunity. A few
were harmless species, as bull snakes and arrow snakes; but mostly the
Moki used rattlesnakes, which are native to the mesa and its rocky
cliffs. Some travelers have claimed that the fangs of the rattlers are
secretly withdrawn before the creatures are handled, but this has been
proved to be untrue. The most accepted theory is that the snakes are
never permitted to coil, and cannot strike unless coiled, while the
weird chanting and graceful undulating motions of the dancers in some
manner "charms" or intoxicates the serpents, which are not aroused to
antagonism. Occasionally, however, one of the Moki priests is bitten,
in which case nothing is done to aid him and he is permitted to die,
it being considered a judgment of the Rain God for some sin he has
The barbaric rites seemed more picturesque, as well as more revolting,
in that they took place by the flickering light of torches and
bonfires in a rock strewn plain usually claimed by nature. When the
dancers were more frenzied they held the squirming serpents in their
mouths by the middle and allowed them to coil around their necks,
dancing wildly the while. The whole affair was so nauseating and
offensive that as soon as it was possible the visitors withdrew and
retired to their "camp." It was now almost midnight, but the path was
lighted by the little lanterns they carried.
As they approached the automobile Uncle John was disturbed not to see
Wampus at his post. A light showed from the front of the car, but the
chauffeur seemed to be missing. Coming nearer, however, they soon
were greeted by a joyous barking from Mumbles and discovered Wampus
squatting upon the ground, puffing at the small end of the cigar and
seeming quite composed and tranquil.
"What are you doing there?" demanded the Major, raising his lantern
the better to light the scene.
"I play jailer," grunted Wampus, without moving. "Him want to steal;
Mumble he make bark noise; for me, I steal too--I steal Injun."
A dusky form, prone upon the ground, began to squirm under Wampus, who
was then discovered to be sitting upon a big Indian and holding him
prisoner. The chauffeur, partly an Indian himself, knew well how to
manage his captive and quieted the fellow by squeezing his throat with
his broad stubby fingers.
"How long have you had him there?" inquired Uncle John, looking at the
discomfited "brave" curiously.
"About an hour," was the reply.
"Let him go, then. We have no prison handy, and the man has perhaps
been punished enough."
"I have wait to ask permission to kill him," said Wampus solemnly. "He
know English talk, an' I have told him he is to die. I have describe,
sir, several torture we make on Injun who steal, which make him think
he die several time. So he is now prepare for the worst."
The Indiam squirmed again, and with a sigh Wampus arose and set him
"See," he said; "you are save only by mercy of Great White Chief. You
ver' lucky Injun. But Great White Chief will leave only one eye here
when he go away. If you try to steal again the eye will see, an' then
the torture I have describe will be yours. I am Wampus. I have spoke."
The Indian listened intently and then slunk away into the darkness
without reply. The night had no further event and in spite of their
unusual experiences all slept excellently and awoke in the morning
refreshed and ready for new adventures.
From the reservation to the Grand Canyon of the Colorado was not far,
but there was no "crosscut" and so they were obliged to make a wide
detour nearly to Williams before striking the road that wound upward
to the world's greatest wonder.
Slowly and tediously the big car climbed the miserable trail to the
rim of the Grand Canyon. It was night when they arrived, for they had
timed it that way, having been told of the marvelous beauty of the
canyon by moonlight. But unfortunately the sky filled with clouds
toward evening, and they came to Bright Angel, their destination, in a
drizzling rain and total darkness. The Major was fearful Wampus might
run them into the canyon, but the machine's powerful searchlights
showed the way clearly and by sticking to the road they finally drew
up before an imposing hotel such as you might wonder to find in so
remote a spot.
Eagerly enough they escaped from the automobile where they had been
shut in and entered the spacious lobby of the hotel, where a merry
throng of tourists had gathered.
"Dinner and bed," said Patsy, decidedly. "I'm all tired out, and poor
Myrtle is worn to a frazzle. There's no chance of seeing the canyon
to-night, and as for the dancing, card playing and promiscuous gaiety,
it doesn't appeal much to a weary traveler."
The girls were shown to a big room at the front of the hotel, having
two beds in it. A smaller connecting-room was given to Myrtle, while
Patsy and Beth shared the larger apartment. It seems the hotel, big
as it was, was fairly filled with guests, the railway running three
trains a day to the wonderful canyon; but Uncle John's nieces did
not mind occupying the same room, which was comfortably and even
A noise of footsteps along the corridor disturbed Patsy at an early
hour. She opened her eyes to find the room dimly lighted, as by the
first streaks of dawn, and sleepily arose to raise the window shade
and see if day was breaking. Her hand still upraised to guide the
shade the girl stood as motionless as if turned to stone. With a long
drawn, gasping breath she cried: "Oh, Beth!" and then stood staring at
what is undoubtedly the most entrancing, the most awe inspiring and at
the same time the most magnificent spectacle that mortal eye has ever
beheld--sunrise above the Grand Canyon of Arizona.
The master painters of the world have gathered in this spot in a vain
attempt to transfer the wondrous coloring of the canyon to canvas.
Authors famed for their eloquent command of language have striven as
vainly to tell to others what their own eyes have seen; how their
senses have been thrilled and their souls uplifted by the marvel that
God's hand has wrought. It can never be pictured. It can never be
described. Only those who have stood as Patricia Doyle stood that
morning and viewed the sublime masterpiece of Nature can realize what
those homely words, "The Grand Canyon" mean. Grand? It is well named.
Since no other adjective can better describe it, that much abused one
may well be accepted to incompletely serve its purpose.
Beth joined her cousin at the window and was instantly as awed
and absorbed as Patsy. Neither remembered Myrtle just then, but
fortunately their friend had left the connecting door of their
rooms ajar and hearing them stirring came in to see if anything had
happened. She found the two cousins staring intently from the window
and went to the second window herself, thus witnessing the spectacle
in all its glory.
Even after the magnificent coloring of sunrise had faded the sight was
one to rivet the attention. The hotel seemed built at the very edge of
the canyon, and at their feet the ground appeared to fall away and a
great gulf yawned that was tinted on all its diverse sides with hues
that rivaled those of the rainbow. Across the chasm they could clearly
see the trees and hills; yet these were fully thirteen miles distant,
for here is one of the widest portions of the great abyss.
"I'm going to dress," said Beth, breaking the silence at last. "It
seems a sin to stay cooped up in here when such a glorious panorama is
at one's feet."
The others did not reply in words, but they all began to dress
together with nervous haste, and then made their way down to the
canyon's brink. Others were before them, standing upon the ample
porches in interested groups; but such idleness would not content our
girls, who trooped away for a more intimate acquaintance with the
"Oh, how small--how terribly small--I am!" cried Patsy, lost in
the immensity of the canyon's extent; but this is a common cry of
travelers visiting Bright Angel. You might place a baker's dozen of
the huge Falls of Niagara in the Grand Canyon and scarcely notice they
were there. All the vast cathedrals of Europe set upon its plateau
would seem like pebbles when viewed from the brink. The thing is
simply incomprehensible to those who have not seen it.
Presently Uncle John and the Major came out to join them and they all
wandered along the edge until they came to a huge rock that jutted
out far over the monster gulf. On the furthermost point of this rock,
standing with his feet at the very brink, was a tall, thin man, his
back toward them. It seemed a fearful thing to do--to stand where the
slightest slip would send him reeling into the abyss.
"It's like tempting fate," whispered Patsy, a safe distance away. "I
wish he would step back a little."
As if he had overheard her the man half turned and calmly examined the
group. His eyes were an almost colorless blue, his features destitute
of any expression. By his dress he seemed well-to-do, if not
prosperous, yet there was a hint of melancholy in his poise and about
him a definite atmosphere of loneliness.
After that one deliberate look he turned again and faced the canyon,
paying no attention to the interested little party that hovered far
enough from the edge to avoid any possible danger.
"Oh, dear!" whispered Myrtle, clinging to Beth's arm with trembling
fingers, "I'm afraid he's going to--to commit suicide!"
"Nonsense!" answered Beth, turning pale nevertheless.
The figure was motionless as before. Uncle John and the Major started
along the path but as Beth attempted to follow them Myrtle broke away
from her and hobbled eagerly on her crutches toward the stranger. She
did not go quite to the end of the jutting rock, but stopped some feet
away and called in a low, intense voice:
The man turned again, with no more expression in his eyes or face than
before. He looked at Myrtle steadily a moment, then turned and slowly
left the edge, walking to firm ground and back toward the hotel
without another glance at the girl.
"I'm so ashamed," said Myrtle, tears of vexation in her eyes as she
rejoined her friends. "But somehow I felt I must warn him--it was an
impulse I just couldn't resist."
"Why, no harm resulted, in any event, my dear," returned Beth. "I
wouldn't think of it again."
They took so long a walk that all were nearly famished when they
returned to the hotel for breakfast.
Of course Patsy and Beth wanted to go down Bright Angel Trail into the
depths of the canyon, for that is the thing all adventurous spirits
love to do.
"I'm too fat for such foolishness," said Uncle John, "so I'll stay up
here and amuse Myrtle."
The Major decided to go, to "look after our Patsy;" so the three
joined the long line of daring tourists and being mounted on docile,
sure-footed burros, followed the guide down the trail.
Myrtle and Uncle John spent the morning on the porch of the hotel. At
breakfast the girl had noticed the tall man they had encountered at
the canyon's edge quietly engaged in eating at a small table in a far
corner of the great dining room. During the forenoon he came from the
hotel to the porch and for a time stood looking far away over the
Aroused to sympathy by the loneliness of this silent person, Uncle
John left his chair and stood beside him at the railing.
"It's a wonderful sight, sir," he remarked in his brisk, sociable way;
For a moment there was no reply.
"It seems to call one," said the man at length, as if to himself. "It
"It's a wonder to me it doesn't call more people to see it," observed
Mr. Merrick, cheerfully. "Think of this magnificent thing--greater and
grander than anything the Old World can show, being here right in the
heart of America, almost--and so few rush to see it! Why, in time to
come, sir," he added enthusiastically, "not to have seen the Grand
Canyon of Arizona will be an admission of inferiority. It's--it's the
biggest thing in all the world!"
The stranger made no reply. He had not even glanced at Uncle John. Now
he slowly turned and stared fixedly at Myrtle for a moment, till she
cast down her eyes, blushing. Then he re-entered the hotel; nor was he
again seen by them.
The little man was indignant at the snub. Rejoining Myrtle he said to
"That fellow wasn't worth saving--if you really saved him, my dear. He
says the canyon calls one, and for all I care he may go to the bottom
by any route he pleases."
Which speech showed that gentle, kindly Mr. Merrick was really
annoyed. But a moment later he was all smiles again and Myrtle found
him a delightful companion because he knew so well how to read
people's thoughts, and if they were sad had a tactful way of cheering
The girls and the Major returned from their trip to the plateau full
of rapture at their unique experiences.
"I wouldn't have missed it for a million dollars!" cried the Major;
but he added: "and you couldn't hire me to go again for two million!"
"It was great," said Patsy; "but I'm tuckered out."
"I had nineteen narrow escapes from sudden death," began Beth, but her
cousin interrupted her by saying: "So had everyone in the party;
and if the canyon had caved in we'd all be dead long ago. Stop your
chattering now and get ready for dinner. I'm nearly starved."
Next morning they took a farewell view of the beautiful scene and then
climbed into their automobile to continue their journey. Many of the
tourists had wondered at their temerity in making such a long trip
through a poorly settled country in a motor car and had plied them
with questions and warnings. But they were thoroughly enjoying this
outing and nothing very disagreeable had happened to them so far. I am
sure that on this bright, glorious morning you could not have hired
any one of the party to abandon the automobile and finish the trip by
A COYOTE SERENADE
The roads were bad enough. They were especially bad west of Williams.
Just now an association of automobile tourists has been formed to
create a boulevard route through from the Atlantic to the Pacific
coast, but at the time of this story no attention had been given the
roads of the far West and only the paths of the rancheros from town to
town served as guides. On leaving Williams they turned south so as to
avoid the more severe mountain roads, and a fine run through a rather
uninteresting country brought them to Prescott on the eve of the
second day after leaving the Canyon. Here they decided to take a day's
rest, as it was Sunday and the hotel was comfortable; but Monday
morning they renewed their journey and headed southwesterly across the
alkali plains--called "mesa"--for Parker, on the boundary line between
Arizona and California.
Towns of any sort were very scarce in this section and the country was
wild and often barren of vegetation for long stretches. There were
some extensive ranches, however, as this is the section favored for
settlement by a class of Englishmen called "remittance men." These are
mostly the "black sheep" or outcasts of titled families, who having
got into trouble of some sort at home, are sent to America to isolate
themselves on western ranches, where they receive monthly or quarterly
remittances of money to support them. The remittance men are poor
farmers, as a rule. They are idle and lazy except when it comes to
riding, hunting and similar sports. Their greatest industry is cattle
raising, yet these foreign born "cowboys" constitute an entirely
different class from those of American extraction, found in Texas and
on the plains of the Central West. They are educated and to an extent
cultured, being "gentlemen born" but sad backsliders in the practise
of the profession. Because other ranchers hesitate to associate with
them they congregate in settlements of their own, and here in Arizona,
on the banks of the Bill Williams Branch of the Colorado River, they
form almost the total population.
Our friends had hoped to make the little town of Gerton for the night,
but the road was so bad that Wampus was obliged to drive slowly and
carefully, and so could not make very good time. Accidents began
to happen, too, doubtless clue to the hard usage the machine had
received. First a spring broke, and Wampus was obliged to halt long
enough to clamp it together with stout steel braces. An hour later the
front tire was punctured by cactus spines, which were thick upon the
road. Such delays seriously interfered with their day's mileage.
Toward sunset Uncle John figured, from the information he had received
at Prescott, that they were yet thirty miles from Gerton, and so he
decided to halt and make camp while there was yet sufficient daylight
remaining to do so conveniently.
"We might hunt for a ranch house and beg for shelter," said he, "but
from the stories I've heard of the remittance men I am sure we will
enjoy ourselves better if we rely entirely upon our own resources."
The girls were, of course, delighted at the prospect of such an
experience, for the silent, solitary mesa made them feel they were
indeed "in the wilds of the Great American Desert." The afternoon had
been hot and the ride dusty, but there was now a cooler feeling in the
air since the sun had fallen low in the horizon.
They carried their own drinking water, kept ice-cold in thermos
bottles, and Uncle John also had a thermos tub filled with small
squares of ice. This luxury, in connection with their ample supply
of provisions, enabled the young women to prepare a supper not to be
surpassed in any modern hotel. The soup came from one can, the curried
chicken from another, while artichokes, peas, asparagus and plum
pudding shed their tin coverings to complete the meal. Fruits, cheese
and biscuits they had in abundance, so there was no hardship in
camping out on a deserted Arizona table-land, as far as food was
concerned. The Interior of the limousine, when made into berths for
the three girls, was as safe and cosy as a Pullman sleeping coach.
Only the men's quarters, the "lean-to" tent, was in any way open to
After the meal was ended and the things washed and put away they all
sat on folding camp chairs outside the little tent and enjoyed the
intense silence surrounding them. The twilight gradually deepened into
darkness. Wampus kept one of the searchlights lit to add an element of
cheerfulness to the scene, and Myrtle was prevailed upon to sing one
or two of her simple songs. She had a clear, sweet voice, although not
a strong one, and they all--especially Uncle John--loved to hear her
Afterward they talked over their trip and the anticipated change from
this arid region to the verdure of California, until suddenly a long,
bloodcurdling howl broke the stillness and caused them one and all
to start from their seats. That is, all but Wampus. The chauffeur,
sitting apart with his black cigar in his mouth, merely nodded and
The Major coughed and resumed his seat. Uncle John stood looking into
the darkness as if trying to discern the creature.
"Are coyotes considered dangerous?" he asked the Canadian.
"Not to us," replied Wampus. "Sometime, if one man be out on mesa
alone, an' plenty coyote come, he have hard fight for life. Coyote is
wild dog. He is big coward unless pretty hungry. If I leave light burn
he never come near us."
"Then let it burn--all night," said Mr. Merrick. "There he goes
again--and another with him! What a horrible wail it is."
"I rather like it," said Patsy, with her accustomed calmness. "It is
certainly an added experience to be surrounded by coyotes. Probably
our trip wouldn't have been complete without it."
"A little of that serenade will suffice me," admitted Beth, as the
howls grew nearer and redoubled in volume.
Myrtle's eyes were big and earnest. She was not afraid, but there was
something uncanny in being surrounded by such savage creatures.
Nearer and nearer sounded the howls, until it was easy to see a dozen
fierce eyes gleaming in the darkness, not a stone's throw away from
"I guess you girls had better go to bed," remarked Uncle John, a bit
nervously. "There's no danger, you know--none at all. Let the brutes
howl, if they want to--especially as we can't stop them. But you are
tired, my dears, and I'd like to see you settled for the night."
Somewhat reluctantly they entered the limousine, drew the curtains and
prepared for bed. Certainly they were having a novel experience, and
if Uncle John would feel easier to have them listen to the howling
coyotes from inside the limousine instead of outside, they could not
well object to his request.
Presently Wampus asked the Major for his revolver, and on obtaining
the weapon he walked a few paces toward the coyotes and fired a shot
into their group. They instantly scattered and made off, only to
return in a few moments to their former position.
"Will they continue this Grand Opera chorus all night?" asked Uncle
"Perhap," said Wampus. "They hungry, an' smell food. Coyote can no
reason. If he could, he know ver' well we never feed him."
"The next time we come this way let us fetch along a ton or so of
coyote feed," suggested the Major. "I wonder what the poor brutes
would think if they were stuffed full for once in their lives?"
"It have never happen, sir," observed Wampus, shaking his head
gravely. "Coyote all born hungry; he live hungry; he die hungry. If
ever coyote was not hungry he would not be coyote."
"In that case, Major," said Uncle John, "let us go to bed and try to
sleep. Perhaps in slumber we may forget these howling fiends."
"Very well," agreed Major Doyle, rising to enter the little tent.
Wampus unexpectedly interposed. "Wait," called the little chauffeur.
"Jus' a minute, if you please."
While the Major and Mr. Merrick stood wondering at the request, the
Canadian, who was still holding the revolver in one hand, picked a
steel rod from the rumble of the automobile and pushing aside the flap
of the little tent entered. The tail-lamp of the car burned inside,
dimly lighting the place.
The Major was about to follow Wampus when a revolver shot arrested
him. This sound was followed by a quick thumping against the ground of
the steel bar, and then Wampus emerged from the tent holding a dark,
squirming object on the end of the rod extended before him.
"What is it?" asked Mr. Merrick, somewhat startled.
"Rattlesnake," said Wampus, tossing the thing into the sagebrush. "I
see him crawl in tent while you eat supper."
"Why did you not tell us?" cried the Major excitedly.
"I thought him perhaps crawl out again. Him sometime do that. But no.
Mister snake he go sleep in tent which is reserve for his superior. I
say nothing, for I do not wish to alarm the young ladies. That is why
I hold the dog Mumble so tight, for he small eye see snake too, an'
fool dog wish to go fight him. Rattlesnake soon eat Mumble up--eh? But
never mind; there is no worry. I am Wampus, an' I am here. You go to
bed now, an' sleep an' be safe."
He said this rather ostentatiously, and for that reason neither of the
others praised his watchful care or his really brave act. That Wampus
was proving himself a capable and faithful servant even the Major was
forced to admit, yet the man's bombast and self-praise robbed him of
any word of commendation he justly earned.
"I think," said Uncle John, "I'll bunk on the front seat to-night. I'm
short, you see, and will just about curl up in the space. I believe
snakes do not climb up wheels. Make my bed on the front seat, Wampus."
The man grinned but readily obeyed. The Major watched him
"For my part," he said, "I'll have a bed made on top the roof."
"Pshaw!" said Uncle John; "you'll scratch the paint."
"That is a matter of indifference to me," returned the Major.
"You'll roll off, in your sleep, and hurt yourself."
"I'll risk that, sir."
"Are you afraid, Major?"
"Afraid! Me? Not when I'm awake, John. But what's to prevent more of
those vermin from crawling into the tent during the night?"
"Such thing very unusual." remarked Wampus, placing the last blanket
on Mr. Merrick's improvised bed. "Perhaps you sleep in tent a week an'
never see another rattler."
"Just the same," concluded the Major, "I'll have my bed on top the
He did, Wampus placing blankets and a pillow for him without a word of
protest. The Major climbed over Uncle John and mounted to the roof of
the car, which sloped to either side but was broad and long enough
to accommodate more than one sleeper. Being an old campaigner and a
shrewd tactician, Major Doyle made two blankets into rolls, which he
placed on either side of him, to "anchor" his body in position. Then
he settled himself to rest beneath the brilliant stars while the
coyotes maintained their dismal howling. But a tired man soon becomes
insensible to even such annoyances.
The girls, having entered the limousine from the door opposite the
tent, were all unaware of the rattlesnake episode and supposed the
shot had been directed against the coyotes. They heard the Major
climbing upon the roof, but did not demand any explanation, being deep
in those bedtime confidences so dear to all girls. Even they came
to disregard the persistent howls of the coyotes, and in time fell
Wampus did not seem afraid of snakes. The little chauffeur went to bed
in the tent and slept soundly upon his cot until daybreak, when the
coyotes withdrew and the Canadian got up to make the coffee.
The Major peered over the edge of the roof to watch him. He had a
sleepy look about his eyes, as if he had not rested well. Uncle John
was snoring with gentle regularity and the girls were still asleep.
"Wampus," said the Major, "do you know the proper definition of a
Wampus reflected, stirring the coffee carefully.
"I am not--what you call him?--a dictionairre; no. But I am Wampus. I
have live much in very few year. I would say a fool is man who think
he is wise. For what is wise? Nothing!"
The Major felt comforted.
"It occurred to me," he said, beginning to climb down from the roof,
"that a fool was a man who left a good home for this uncomfortable
life on a barren desert. This country wasn't made for humans; it
belongs to the coyotes and the rattlesnakes. What right have we to
intrude upon them, then?"
Wampus did not reply. It was not his business to criticise his
A REAL ADVENTURE AT LAST
Uncle John woke up when the Major inadvertently placed a heel upon his
round stomach on the way to the ground. The chubby little millionaire
had slept excellently and was in a genial humor this morning. He
helped Wampus fry the bacon and scramble the eggs, while the Major
called the girls.
It proved a glorious sunrise and the air was full of pure ozone. They
had suffered little from cold during the trip, although it was in
the dead of winter and the altitude considerable. Just now they were
getting closer to California every hour, and when they descended from
the mesa it would gradually grow warmer.
They were all becoming expert at "breaking camp," and preparing for
the road. Beth and Patsy put away the bedding and "made up" the
interior of the limousine for traveling. The Major and Uncle John
folded the tent and packed it away, while Wampus attended to the
dishes and tinware and then looked over his car. In a surprisingly
short time they were all aboard and the big machine was gliding over
the faint trail.
The mesa was not a flat or level country, for they were still near to
the mountain ranges. The way was up hill and down, in gentle slopes,
and soon after starting they breasted the brow of a hill and were
confronted by half a dozen mounted men, who seemed as much astonished
at the encounter as they were.
It being an event to meet anyone in this desolate place Wampus
involuntarily brought the car to a halt, while the riders lined up
beside it and stared rather rudely at the party. They were dressed as
cowboys usually are, with flannel shirts, chapelets and sombrero hats;
but their faces were not rugged nor healthy, as is the case with most
Western cowboys, but bore marks of dissipation and hard living.
"Remittance men," whispered Wampus.
Uncle John nodded. He had heard of this curious class. Especially were
the men staring at the three pretty, feminine faces that peered from
the interior of the limousine. They had remained silent thus far, but
now one of them, a fellow with dark eyes and a sallow complexion,
reined his horse nearer the car and removed his hat with a sweeping
gesture that was not ungraceful.
"A merry morning to you, fair ladies--or angels--I much misdoubt which
we have chanced upon. Anyhow, welcome to Hades!"
Uncle John frowned. He did not like the bantering, impudent tone. Beth
flushed and turned aside her head; Myrtle shrank back in her corner
out of sight; but Patsy glared fixedly at the speaker with an
expression that was far from gracious. The remittance man did not seem
daunted by this decided aversion. A sneering laugh broke from his
companions, and one of them cried:
"Back up, Algy, and give your betters a chance. You're out of it, old
"I have no betters," he retorted. Then, turning to the girls again and
ignoring the presence of the men accompanying them, he continued:
"Beauteous visions, since you have wilfully invaded the territory of
Hades Ranch, of which diabolical domain I, Algernon Tobey, am by grace
of his Satanic majesty the master, I invite you to become my guests
and participate in a grand ball which I shall give this evening in
His comrades laughed again, and one of them shouted:
"Good for you, Algy. A dance--that's the thing!"
"Why, we haven't had the chance of a dance for ages," said another
"Because we have had no ladies to dance with," explained Algy. "But
here are three come to our rescue--perhaps more, if I could see inside
that barricade--and they cannot refuse us the pleasure of their
"Sir," said Major Doyle, stiffly, "you are pleased to be impertinent.
Ride on, you rascals, and spare us further sight of you."
The man turned upon him a scowling face.
"Don't interfere," he said warningly. "This isn't your party, you old
"Drive ahead, Wampus," commanded Uncle John.
Wampus had to get out and crank the engines, which he calmly proceeded
to do. The man who had called himself Algernon Tobey perceived his
intention and urged his pony to the front of the car.
"Let that thing alone. Keep your hands off!" he said.
Wampus paid no attention. The fellow brought his riding whip down
sharply on the chauffeur's shoulders, inflicting a stinging blow.
Instantly little Wampus straightened up, grasped Tobey by the leg
and with a swift, skillful motion jerked him from his horse. The man
started to draw his revolver, but in an instant he and Wampus were
rolling together upon the ground and the Canadian presently came
uppermost and held his antagonist firmly between his knees. Then
with deliberation he raised his clinched fist and thrust it forcibly
against Mr. Tobey's eye, repeating the impact upon his nose, his chin
and his cheek in a succession of jarring thumps that were delivered
with scientific precision. Algy fairly howled, kicking and struggling
to be free. None of his comrades offered to interfere and it seemed
they were grimly enjoying the punishment that was being; inflicted
upon their leader.
When Wampus had quite finished his work he arose, adjusted his
disarranged collar and tie and proceeded to crank the engines. Then he
climbed into his seat and started the car with a sudden bound. As he
did so a revolver shot rang out and one of the front tires, pierced by
the bullet, ripped itself nearly in two as it crumpled up. A shout of
derisive laughter came from the cowboys. Algy was astride his pony
again, and as Wampus brought the damaged car to a stop the remittance
men dashed by and along the path, taking the same direction Uncle
John's party was following". Tobey held back a little, calling out:
"Au revoir! I shall expect you all at my party. I'm going now to get
He rejoined his comrades then, and they all clattered away until a
roll of the mesa hid them from sight.
Uncle John got down from his seat to assist his chauffeur.
"Thank you, Wampus," he said. "Perhaps you should have killed him
while you had the opportunity; but you did very well."
Wampus was wrestling with the tire.
"I have never start a private graveyard," he replied, "for reason I
am afraid to hurt anyone. But I am Wampus. If Mister Algy he dance
to-night, somebody mus' lead him, for he will be blind."
"I never met such a lawless brood in my life," prowled the Major,
indignantly. "If they were in New York they'd be put behind the bars
in two minutes."
"But they are in Arizona--in the wilderness," said Uncle John gravely.
"If there are laws here such people do not respect them."
It took a long time to set the new tire and inflate it, for the outer
tube was torn so badly that an extra one had to be substituted. But
finally the task was accomplished and once more they renewed their
Now that they were alone with their friends the girls were excitedly
gossiping over the encounter.
"Do you really suppose we are on that man's ground--his ranch, as he
calls it?" asked Myrtle, half fearfully.
"Why, I suppose someone owns all this ground, barren as it is,"
replied Patsy. "But we are following a regular road--not a very good
one, nor much traveled; but a road, nevertheless--and any road is
public property and open for the use of travelers."
"Perhaps we shall pass by their ranch house," suggested Beth.
"If we do," Uncle John answered, "I'll have Wampus put on full speed.
Even their wild ponies can't follow us then, and if they try shooting
up the tires again they are quite likely to miss as we spin by."
"Isn't there any other road?" the Major asked.
Wampus shook his head.
"I have never come jus' this same route before," he admitted; "but I
make good friend in Prescott, who know all Arizona blindfold. Him say
this is nice, easy road and we cannot get lost for a good reason--the
reason there is no other road at all--only this one."
"Did your friend say anything about Hades Ranch?" continued the
"He say remittance man make much mischief if he can; but he one
foreign coward, drunk most time an' when sober weak like my aunt's
tea. He say don't let remittance man make bluff. No matter how many
come, if you hit one they all run."
"H-m," murmured Uncle John, "I'm not so sure of that, Wampus. There
seems to be a good many of those insolent rascals, and I hope we shall
not meet them again. They may give us trouble yet."
"Never be afraid," advised the chauffeur. "I am Wampus, an' I am
Admitting that evident truth, our tourists were not greatly reassured.
Wampus could not tell where the road might lead them, for he did not
know, save that it led by devious winds to Parker, on the border
between Arizona and California; but what lay between them and that
destination was a sealed book to them all.
The car was heavy and the road soft; so in spite of their powerful
engines the car was not making more than fifteen miles an hour. A
short ride brought them to a ridge, from the top of which they saw a
huddle of buildings not far distant, with a near-by paddock containing
a number of ponies and cattle. The buildings were not palatial, being
composed mostly of adobe and slab wood; but the central one, probably
the dwelling or ranch house, was a low, rambling pile covering
The road led directly toward this group of buildings, which our
travelers at once guessed to be "Hades Ranch." Wampus slowed down and
cast a sharp glance around, but the land on either side of the trail
was thick with cactus and sagebrush and to leave the beaten path meant
a puncture almost instantly. There was but one thing to be done.
"Pretty good road here," said Wampus. "Hold tight an' don't get scare.
We make a race of it."
"Go ahead," returned Uncle John, grimly. "If any of those scoundrels
get in your way, run them down."
"I never like to hurt peoples; but if that is your command, sir, I
will obey," said Wampus, setting his jaws tightly together.
The car gathered speed and shot over the road at the rate of twenty
miles an hour; then twenty-five--then thirty--and finally forty. The
girls sat straight and looked eagerly ahead. Forms were darting here
and there among the buildings of the ranch, quickly congregating in
groups on either side of the roadway. A red flag fluttered in the
center of the road, some four feet from the ground.
"Look out!" shouted Uncle John. "Stop, Wampus; stop her, I say!"
Wampus saw why, and applied his brakes. The big car trembled, slowed
down, and came to a stop less than a foot away from three ugly bars of
barbed wire which had been placed across the road. They were now just
beside the buildings, and a triumphant shout greeted them from their
captors, the remittance men.
"Welcome to Hades!" cried a stout little man in a red blouse, sticking
his leering countenance through the door of the limousine.
"Shut up, Stubby," commanded a hoarse voice from the group. "Haven't
you any manners? You haven't been introduced yet."
"I've engaged the dark eyed one for the first dance," persisted
Stubby, as a dozen hands dragged him away from the door.
The Major sprang out and confronted the band.
"What are we to understand by this outrage?" he demanded fiercely.
"It means you are all invited to a party, and we won't accept any
regrets," replied a laughing voice.
Patsy put her head out of the window and looked at the speaker. It was
Mr. Algernon Tobey. He had two strips of sticking plaster over his
nose. One of his eyes was swollen shut and the other was almost
closed. Yet he spoke in a voice more cheerful than it was when they
first met him.
"Don't be afraid," he added. "No one has the slightest intention of
injuring any of you in any way, I assure you."
"We have not the same intention in regard to you, sir," replied Major
Doyle, fuming with rage, for his "Irish was up," as he afterward
admitted. "Unless you at once remove that barricade and allow us to
proceed we will not be responsible for what happens. You are warned,
Uncle John, by this time standing beside the Major upon the ground,
had been quietly "sizing up the situation," as he would have expressed
it. He found they had been captured by a party of fourteen men, most
of whom were young, although three or four, including Tobey, were
of middle age. The atmosphere of the place, with its disorderly
surroundings and ill kept buildings, indicated that Hades Ranch was
bachelor quarters exclusively. Half a dozen Mexicans and one or two
Chinamen were in the background, curious onlookers.
Mr. Merrick noted the fact that the remittance men were an unkempt,
dissipated looking crew, but that their faces betokened reckless good
humor rather than desperate evil. There was no doubt but most of
them were considering this episode in the light of a joke, and were
determined to enjoy the experience at the expense of their enforced
Uncle John had lived many years in the West and knew something of
these peculiar English exiles. Therefore he was neither frightened
nor unduly angry, but rather annoyed by the provoking audacity of the
fellows. He had three young girls to protect and knew these men could
not be fit acquaintances for them. But he adopted a tone different
from the Major's and addressed himself to Tobey as the apparent leader
of the band.
"Sir," he said calmly but with pointed emphasis, "I believe you were
born a gentleman, as were your comrades here."
"You are right," answered Tobey. "And each and every one you see
before you has fallen from his former high estate--through no fault
of his own." This may have been a sarcasm, for the others laughed in
boisterous approval. "In some respects we are still gentlemen," Tobey
went on, "but in others we are not to be trusted. Be reasonable,
sir--I haven't the faintest idea who you are or what your name is--and
consider calmly our proposition. Here we are, a number of young
fellows who have seen better and happier days, living alone in the
midst of an alkali desert. Most of us haven't seen a female for
months, nor a lady for years. Why, last fall Stubby there rode eighty
miles to Buxton, just to stand on a corner and see a lot of greasy
Mexican women go by. We tire of exclusive male society, you see. We
get to bore one another terribly. So here, like a visitation from
heaven, three attractive young ladies descend upon us, traveling
through our domain, and having discovered their presence we instantly
decided to take advantage of the opportunity and invite them to an
impromptu ball. There's no use refusing us, for we insist on carrying
out our plan. If you men, perhaps the fathers of the young ladies,
behave reasonably, we will entertain you royally and send you on your
way rejoicing. Won't we, boys?"
They shouted approval.
"But if you oppose us and act ugly about this fête, gentlemen, we
shall be obliged to put a few bullets into you, and decide afterward
what disposition to make of the girls. About the best stunt we do is
shooting. We can't work; we're too poor to gamble much; but we hunt
a good bit and we can shoot straight. I assure you we wouldn't mind
losing and taking a few lives if a scrimmage is necessary. Eh, boys?"
"That's right, Algy," said one, answering for the others; "we'll have
that dance if we die for it--ev'ry man Jack of us."
Myrtle was trembling in her corner of the limousine. Beth sat still
with a curl on her lips. But Patsy was much interested in the
proceedings and had listened attentively to the above conversation.
Now the girl suddenly swung open the door and sprang out beside her
father, facing the group of cowboys.
"I am Patricia Doyle," she said in a clear voice, "and these
gentlemen," indicating the Major and Mr. Merrick, "are my father and
my uncle. You understand perfectly why they object to the arrangement
you suggest, as any one of you would object, had you a daughter in
a like position. But you are arbitrary and not inclined to respect
womanhood. Therefore but one course is open to us--to submit under
protest to the unwelcome attentions you desire to thrust upon us."
They listened silently to this frank speech, and some of their faces
wore crestfallen expressions by the time she had finished. Indeed,
one of the older men turned on his heel and walked away, disappearing
among the buildings. After a brief hesitation a delicate young
fellow--almost a boy--followed this man, his face flaming red with
shame. But the others stood their ground.
"Very good, Miss Doyle," remarked Tobey, with forced cheerfulness.
"You are quite sensible to submit to the inevitable. Bring out your
friends and introduce them, and then we'll all go in to luncheon and
prepare for the dance."
"I won't submit to this!" cried the Major, stamping his foot angrily.
"Yes, you will," said Uncle John, with a motion preventing his irate
brother-in-law from drawing a revolver, "Patsy is quite right, and we
will submit with as much dignity as we can muster, being overpowered
He beckoned to Beth, who stepped out of the car and assisted Myrtle
to follow her. A little cheer of bravado had arisen from the group,
inspired by their apparent victory; but when Myrtle's crutches
appeared and they saw the fair, innocent face of the young girl who
rested upon them, the shout died away in a hush of surprise.
"This is my cousin, Elizabeth De Graf," announced Patsy, with cold
deliberation, determined that the proprieties should be observed in
all intercourse with these people. "And I present our friend, Myrtle
Dean. Under ordinary circumstances I believe Myrtle would be excused
from dancing, but I suppose no brute in the form of a man would have
consideration for her infirmity."
This time even Tobey flushed.
"You've a sharp tongue, Miss Doyle, and it's liable to lead you into
trouble," he retorted, losing for the moment his suave demeanor. "We
may be brutes--and I imagine we are--but we're not dangerous unless
It was savagely said, and Uncle John took warning and motioned Patsy
to be silent.
"Lead the way, sir," he said. "Our chauffeur will of course remain
with the car."
Wampus had kept his seat, motionless and silent. He only nodded in
answer to Mr. Merrick's instructions and was entirely disregarded by
the remittance men.
The man called "Stubby," who had a round, good-humored face, stepped
eagerly to Myrtle's side and exclaimed: "Let me assist you, please."
"No," she said, shaking her head with a wan smile; "I am quite able to
He followed her, though, full of interest and with an air of deep
respect that belied his former actions. Tobey, content with his
present success, walked beside Mr. Merrick and led the procession
toward the ranch house. The Major followed, his tall form upright, his
manner bellicose and resentful, with Beth and Patsy on either side of
him. The remittance men followed in a straggling crowd, laughing and
boisterously talking among themselves. Just as they reached the house
a horseman came clattering down the road and all paused involuntarily
to mark the new arrival. The rider was a handsome, slim young fellow,
dressed as were the other cowboys present, and he came on at a
breakneck speed that seemed only warranted by an errand of life and
In front of him, tied to the saddle, appeared a huge bundle, and as
the horse dashed up to the group standing by the ranch house the rider
gracefully threw himself off and removed his hat with a sweeping
gesture as he observed the young ladies.
"I've got him, Algy!" he cried merrily.
"Dan'l?" asked Tobey.
"Dan'l himself." He pointed to the bundle, which heaved and wriggled
to show it was alive. "He refused to come willingly, of course; so
I brought him anyhow. Never yet was there a fiddler willing to be
"Good for you, Tim!" shouted a dozen voices. And Stubby added in his
earnest way; "Dan'l was never more needed in his life."
Tobey was busy unwinding a long lariat that bent the captive nearly
double and secured him firmly to the panting horse. When the bonds
were removed Dan'l would have tumbled prone to the ground had not
willing hands caught him and supported him upon his feet. Our friends
then observed that he was an aged man with a face thickly furrowed
with wrinkles. He had but one eye, small and gray and very shrewd in
expression, which he turned contemptuously upon the crowd surrounding
him. Numb and trembling from his cramped position upon the horse and
the terrible jouncing he had endured, the fiddler could scarcely stand
at first and shook as with a palsy; but he made a brave effort to
control his weakness and turned smilingly at the murmur of pity and
indignation that came from the lips of the girls.
"Where's the fiddle?" demanded Tobey, and Tim unhooked a calico bag
from the saddlebow and held it out. A laugh greeted the gesture.
"Dan'l said he be hanged if he'd come," announced Tim, with a grim
appreciation of the humorous side of the situation; "so I hung him and
brought him along--and his fiddle to boot. But don't boot it until
after the dance."
"What do you mean, sir, by this rebellious attitude?" questioned
Tobey, sticking his damaged face close to that of the fiddler.
Dan'l blinked with his one eye but refused to answer.
"I've a good mind to skin you alive," continued the leader, in a
savage tone. "You'll either obey my orders or I'll throw you into the
"Let him alone, Algy," said Tim, carelessly. "The old scoundrel has
been tortured enough already. But I see we have partners for the
dance," looking critically at the girls, "and I claim first choice
because I've brought the fiddler."
At this a roar of protest arose and Tobey turned and said sullenly:
"Come in, all of you. We'll settle the order of dancing later on."
The interior of the ranch house was certainly picturesque. A great
living room ran all across the front, with an immense fireplace
built of irregular adobe bricks. The floor was strewn with skins of
animals--mostly coyotes, a few deer and one or two mountain lions--and
the walls were thickly hung with weapons and trophies of the chase.
A big table in one corner was loaded with bottles and glasses,
indicating the intemperate habits of the inmates, while on the chimney
shelf were rows of pipes and jars of tobacco. An odor similar to that
of a barroom hung over the place which the air from the open windows
seemed unable to dissipate.
There were plenty of benches and chairs, with a long mess table
occupying the center of the room. In a corner was an old square piano,
which a Mexican was trying to dust as the party entered.
"Welcome to Hades!" exclaimed Tobey, with an absurd gesture. "Be good
enough to make yourselves at home and I'll see if those devils of
Chinamen are getting luncheon ready."
Silently the prisoners sat down. The crowd poured in after them and
disposed themselves in various attitudes about the big room, all
staring with more or less boldness at the three girls. Dan'l the
fiddler was pushed in with the others and given a seat, while two or
three of the imitation cowboys kept guard over him to prevent any
possible escape. So far the old man had not addressed a word to
With the absence of the leader the feeling of restraint seemed to
relax. The cowboys began whispering among themselves and chuckling
with glee, as if they were enjoying some huge joke. Stubby had placed
himself near the three young ladies, whom he eyed with adoring
glances, and somehow none of the prisoners regarded this childish
young fellow in exactly the same light as they did his comrades. Tim,
his attitude full of grace as he lounged against a settle, was also
near the group. He seemed a bit thoughtful since his dramatic arrival
and had little to say to anyone.
Mr. Merrick engaged Stubby in conversation.
"Does Mr. Tobey own this place?" he asked.
"By proxy, yes," was the reply. "It isn't in his name, you know,
although that doesn't matter, for he couldn't sell his desert ranch if
he had a title to it. I suppose that is what his folks were afraid
of. Algy is the fourth son of old Lord Featherbone, and got into a
disgraceful mess in London some years ago. So Featherbone shipped
him over here, in charge of a family solicitor who hunted out this
sequestered spot, bought a couple of thousand acres and built this
hut. Then he went home and left Algy here to keep up the place on a
paltry ten pounds--fifty dollars--a month."
"Can he manage to do that?" asked Uncle John.
"Why, he has to, you see. He's got together a few cattle, mostly
stolen I imagine; but he doesn't try to work the land. Moreover he's
established this community, composed of his suffering fellow exiles,
the secret of which lies in the fact that we work the cooperative
plan, and all chip in our remittances to boil the common pot. We can
keep more servants and buy more food and drink, that way, than if each
one of us lived separately."
"Up in Oregon," said Mr. Merrick, "I've known of some very successful
and prosperous ranchmen among the remittance men."
"Oh, we're all kinds, I suppose, good and bad," admitted Stubby. "This
crew's mostly bad, and they're moderately proud of it. It's a devil
of a life, sir, and Hades Ranch is well named. I've only been here a
month. Had a little property up North; but the sheriff took it for
debt, and that forced me to Algy, whom I detest. I think I'll move on,
before long. But you see I'm limited. Can't leave Arizona or I'll get
my remittance cut off."
"Why were you sent here into exile?" asked Myrtle artlessly.
He turned red and refused to meet her eyes.
"Went wrong, Miss," he said, "and my folks wouldn't stand for
it. We're all in the same boat," sweeping his arm around, "doing
punishment for our misdeeds."
"Do none of you ever reform?" inquired Patsy.
"What's the use? We're so far away from home no one there would ever
believe in our reformation. Once we become outcasts, that's the end
of our careers. We're buried in these Western wilds and allowed just
enough to keep alive."
"I would think," said Uncle John musingly, "that the manly way would
be to cut yourself off entirely from your people at home and go to
some city in the United States where honesty and industry would win a
new name for you. Then you could be respected and happy and become of
use to the world."
"That has been tried," he replied; "but few ever made a success of it.
We're generally the kind that prefers idleness to work. My family is
wealthy, and I don't mind taking from them what little they give me
willingly and all that I can screw out of them besides. I'm in for
life, as the saying is, and I've no especial ambition except to drink
myself to death as soon as possible."
Patsy shuddered. It seemed a horrible thing to be so utterly hopeless.
Could this young fellow have really merited his fate?
Tim had listened carelessly to the conversation until now, when he
"Don't think us all criminals, for we're not. In my own case I did
nothing to deserve exile except that I annoyed my elder brother by
becoming more popular with our social set than he was. He had all the
property and I was penniless, so he got rid of me by threatening to
cut off my allowance unless I went to America and stayed there."
"And you accepted such a condition?" cried Patsy, scornfully. "Why
were you not independent enough to earn your own living?"
He shrugged his shoulders, yet seemed amused.
"I simply couldn't," said he. "I was not educated to work, you know,
and to do so at home would be to disgrace my noble family. I've too
much respect for my lineage to labor with my hands or head."
"But here in America no one would know you," suggested Beth.
"I would only humiliate myself by undertaking such a task. And why
should I do so? While I am in America my affectionate brother, the
head of the family, supports me, as is his duty. Your philosophy is
pretty enough, but it is not practical. The whole fault lies in our
old-fashioned system of inheritance, the elder male of a family
getting all the estate and the younger ones nothing at all. Here, in
this crude and plebeian country, I believe it is the custom to provide
for all one's children, and a father is at liberty to do so because
his estate is not entailed."
"And he earns it himself and can do what he likes with it," added
Uncle John, impatiently. "Your system of inheritance and entail may
be somewhat to blame, but your worst fault is in rearing a class of
mollycoddles and social drones who are never of benefit to themselves
or the world at large. You, sir, I consider something less than a
"I agree with you," replied Tim, readily. "I'm only good to cumber the
earth, and if I get little pleasure out of life I must admit that it's
all I'm entitled to."
"And you can't break your bonds and escape?" asked Patsy.
"I don't care to. People who are ambitious to do things merely bore
me. I don't admire them or care to imitate them."
From that moment they took no further interest in the handsome
outcast. His world was not their world.
And now Tobey came in, driving before him a lot of Mexicans bearing
trays of food. The long table was laid in a moment, for everything
was dumped upon it without any attempt at order. Each of the cowboys
seized a plate from a pile at one end and helped himself to whatever
Two or three of the men, however, were courteous enough to attend to
their unwilling guests and see they were served as well as conditions
would permit The food was plentiful and of good quality, but although
none of Uncle John's party was squeamish or a stickler for form, all
more or less revolted from the utter disregard of all the proprieties.
"I'm sorry we have no wine; but there's plenty of whiskey, if you like
it," remarked Tobey.
The girls were silent and ate little, although they could not help
being interested in observing the bohemianism of these gently reared
but decadent sons of respectable English families. As soon as they
could they left the table, and Tobey, observing their uneasiness in
spite of his damaged and nearly useless optics, decided to send them
to another room where they could pass the afternoon without further
annoyance. Stubby escorted the party and ushered them into a good
sized room which he said was "Algy's study," although no one ever
"Algy's afraid you'll balk at the dance; so he wants to please you
however he can," remarked the round faced youth. "You won't mind being
left alone, will you?"
"We prefer it, sir," answered the Major, stiffly.
"You see, we're going to have a rare lark this afternoon," continued
Stubby, confidentially. "Usually it's pretty dull here, and all we
can do is ride and hunt--play cards and quarrel. But your coming has
created no end of excitement and this dance will be our red-letter day
for a long time to come. The deuce of if is, however, that there are
only two girls to dance with thirteen men. We limit our community to
fifteen, you know; but little Ford and old Rutledge have backed down
and won't have anything to do with this enterprise. I don't know why,"
he continued, thoughtfully.
"Perhaps they still have some gentlemanly instincts," suggested Patsy.
"That must be it," he replied in a relieved tone. "Well, anyhow,
to avoid quarrels and bloodshed we've agreed to throw dice for the
dances. Every one is to have an equal chance, you see, and when you
young ladies open the dance the entire programme will be arranged for
"Are we to have no choice in the matter of partners?" inquired Beth
"None whatever. There would surely be a row, in that case, and we
intend to have everything; pass off pleasantly if we have to kill a
few to keep the peace."
With this Stubby bowed low and retreated toward the door, which
suddenly opened to admit old Dan'l the fiddler, who was thrust in
so violently that his body collided with that of Stubby and nearly
knocked him over.
"That's all right," laughed the remittance man, recovering from the
shock. "You mustn't escape, you know, Dan'l, for we depend on you for
He closed the door as he went out and they all heard a bolt shoot into
place. Yet the broad window, scarcely six feet from the ground, stood
wide open to admit the air.
Dan'l stood in the middle of the room, motionless for a moment. Then
he raised his wrinkled face and clinched his fists, shaking them in
the direction of the living-room.
"Me!" he muttered; "me play for dese monkeys to dance--me! a
maestro--a composer--a artiste! No; I vill nod! I vill die before I
condescention to such badness, such mockery!"
They were the first words he had spoken since his arrival, and they
seemed to hold all his pentup indignation. The girls pitied the old
man and, recognizing in him a fellow prisoner, sought to comfort him.
"If the dance depends upon us, there will be no dance," said Patsy,
"I thought you advised submitting to the whim of these ruffians," said
Uncle John in surprise.
"Only to gain time, Uncle. And the scheme has succeeded. Now is our
time to plot and plan how to outwit our enemies."
"Goot!" cried Dan'l approvingly. "I help you. Dey are vermin--pah! I
vould kill dem all mitout mercifulness, unt be glad!"
"It won't be necessary to kill them, I hope," said Beth, smiling. "All
we wish is to secure our escape."
"Vot a time dey make me!" said Dan'l, more calmly. "You see, I am
living peacefulness in mine bungalow by der river--ten mile away. Dot
brute Tim, he come unt ask me to fiddle for a dance. I--fiddle! Ven I
refuse me to do it, he tie me up unt by forcibleness elope mit me. Iss
id nod a crime--a vickedness--eh?"
"It certainly is, sir," said Uncle John. "But do not worry. These
girls have some plan in their heads, I'm sure, and if we manage to
escape we will carry you home in safety. Now, my dears, what is it?"
"Oh, we've only begun to think yet," said Patsy, and walked to the
window. All but Myrtle and Dan'l followed her.
Below the window was a jungle of cactus, with hundreds of spines as
slender and sharp as stilettos sticking in every direction.
"H-m; this room is burglar proof," muttered Uncle John, with marked
"It also makes an excellent prison," added Patsy. "But I suspected
something of this sort when I saw they had left the window open. We
can't figure on getting out that way, you see."
"Id vould be suiciding," Dan'l said, mournfully shaking his head. "If
dese fiends were as goot as dey are clefer, dey vould be angels."
"No argument seems to prevail with them," remarked Beth. "They are
lawless and merciless, and in this far-away country believe they may
do as they please."
"They're as bad as the bandits of Taormina," observed Patsy, smiling
at the recollection of an adventure they had abroad; "but we must find
some way to evade them."
Dan'l had gone over to Myrtle's corner and stood staring at her with
his one shrewd eye. Uncle John looked thoughtfully out of the window
and saw Wampus busy in the road before the house. He had his coat off
and was cutting the bars of barbed wire and rolling them out of the
way, while Mumbles, who had been left with him, ran here and there at
his heels as if desiring to assist him.
From the big hall, or living room, at the right came a dull roar of
voices, subdued shouts and laughter, mingled with the clinking of
glasses. All the remittance men were gathered there deep in the game
of dice which was to determine the order in which they were to dance
with Beth and Patsy. The servants were out of sight. Wampus had the
field to himself.
"Come here," said Uncle John to the girls, and when they stood beside
him pointed to the car. "Wampus is making ready for the escape," he
continued. "He has cleared the road and the way is now open if we can
manage to get to the machine. Has your plan matured yet?"
Patsy shook her head.
"Not yet, Uncle," she replied.
"Couldn't Wampus throw us a rope?" inquired the Major.
"He could," said Uncle John; "but we would be unable to use it. Those
terrible cactus spines are near enough to spear anyone who dared try
to slide down a rope. Think of something else."
They all tried to do that, but no practical idea seemed forthcoming.
"Oh, no," Dan'l was saying to Myrtle; "dey are nod afraid to shoot;
bud dey vill nod shoot ladies, belief me. Always dey carry refolfers
in deir belts--or deir holsterses. Dey eat mit refolfers; dey schleep
mit refolfers; dey hunt, dey quarrel, unt sometimes dey shoot each
odder--de best enactionment vot dey do. Bud dey do nod shoot at
"Will they wear their revolvers at the dance?" asked Beth, overhearing
"I belief id," said Dan'l, wagging his ancient head. "Dey like to be
ready to draw quick like, if anybody shteps on anybody's toes. Yes; of
"What a horrible idea!" exclaimed Patsy.
"They're quite liable to dance and murder in the same breath," the
Major observed, gloomily.
"I don't like it," said Beth. "It's something awful just to think of.
Haven't they any gallantry?"
"No," answered Patsy. "But I wouldn't dance with a lot of half drunken
men wearing revolvers, if they burned me at the stake for refusing."
"Ah! shtick to dat fine expressionment," cried Dan'l, eagerly. "Shtick
to id! Say you won't dance if dey wear de refolfers--unt den we win de
Patsy looked at him critically, in the instant catching a part of his
"What do you mean?" she asked.
Dan'l explained, while they all listened carefully, absorbed in
following in thought his unique suggestions.
"Let's do it!" exclaimed Beth. "I'm sure the plan will succeed."
"It's leaving a good deal to chance," objected Uncle John, with a
touch of nervousness.
"There is an element of chance in everything," declared Patsy. "But
I'm sure we shall escape, Uncle. Why it's a regular coup!"
"We take them by surprise, you know," explained the Major, who
heartily favored the idea.
They talked it over for a time, perfecting the details, and then
became as calm and composed as a group of prisoners might. Uncle John
waved his handkerchief to attract the attention of Wampus, who stole
softly around the corner of the house and approached the window,
taking care to keep at a respectful distance from the dangerous
"Is everything ready?" inquired Uncle John in a subdued voice.
"To be sure all is ready. Why not? I am Wampus!" was the reply, in
"Go back to the machine and guard it carefully, Wampus," commanded Mr.
Merrick. "We expect to escape soon after dark, so have the headlights
going, for we shall make a rush for it and there mustn't be a moment's
"All right," said the chauffeur. "You may depend on me. I am Wampus,
an' not 'fraid of a hundred coward like these. Is not Mister Algy his
eye mos' beautiful blacked?"
"It is," agreed Uncle John. "Go back to the car now, and wait for us.
Don't get impatient. We don't know just when we will join you, but it
will be as soon as we can manage it. What is Mumbles doing?"
"Mumble he learn to be good automobilist. Jus' now he sit on seat an'
watch wheel to see nobody touch. If anybody touch, Mumble he eat him
They all laughed at this whimsical notion and it served to relieve the
strain of waiting. Wampus, grinning at the success of his joke, went
back to the limousine to inspect it carefully and adjust it in every
part until it was in perfect order.
Now that a definite plan of action had been decided upon their spirits
rose considerably, and they passed the afternoon in eager anticipation
of the crisis.
Rather earlier than expected Stubby and Tim came to say "they had been
appointed a committee to escort their guests to the banquet hall,
where dinner would at once be served."
"We shall have to clear away for the dance," added Stubby, "so we want
to get the feast over with as quickly as possible. I hope you are all
hungry, for Algy has spread himself on this dinner and we are to
have every delicacy the ranch affords, regardless of expense. We can
economize afterward to make up for it."
Elaborate preparations were not greatly in evidence, however. The
Mexican servants had washed themselves and the floor of the big room
had been swept and cleared of some of its rubbish; but that was all.
The remittance men were in their usual rough costumes and the air was
redolent with the fumes of liquor.
As the prisoners quietly took their places at the table Tobey, who
had been drinking hard, decided to make a speech. His face was badly
swollen and he could only see through a slit in one eye, so severe had
been the beating administered by Wampus earlier in the day; but the
fellow had grit, in spite of his other unmanly qualities, and his
imperturbable good humor had scarcely been disturbed by the punishment
the Canadian had inflicted upon him.
"Ladies," said he, "and gentlemen--which of course includes our
respected male guests--I am happy to inform you that the programme for
the First Annual Hades Ranch Ball has finally been arranged, and the
dances apportioned in a fair and impartial manner. The Grand March
will take place promptly at seven o'clock, led by Miss Doyle and
Knuckles, who has won the privilege by throwing four sixes. I am to
follow with Miss De Graf, and the rest will troop on behind with the
privilege of looking at the ladies. If anyone dares to create disorder
his dances with the young ladies will be forfeited. Dan'l will play
the latest dance music on his fiddle, and if it isn't spirited
and up-to-date we'll shoot his toes off. We insist upon plenty of
two-steps and waltzes and will wind up with a monney-musk in the
gray light of dawn. This being fully understood, I beg you, my good
friends, to fall to and eat and be merry; but don't linger unduly over
the dainties, for we are all anxious, like good soldiers, to get into
The remittance men applauded this oratory, and incidentally attacked
the eatables with evident determination to obey their leader's
"We can eat any time," remarked Stubby, with his mouth full; "but
his Satanic majesty only knows when Hades Ranch will see another
dance--with real ladies for partners."
The Chinese cooks and the Mexican servants had a lively time during
this meal, for the demands made upon them were incessant. Uncle John,
whose even disposition was seldom ruffled, ate with a good appetite,
while even the Major, glum and scowling, did not disdain the numerous
well-prepared dishes. As for Dan'l, he took full advantage of the
occasion and was the last one to leave the table. Our girls, however,
were too excited to eat much and little Myrtle, especially, was pallid
and uneasy and had a startled look in her eyes whenever anyone made a
As soon as the repast was concluded the servants cleared the long
table in a twinkling and pushed it back against the wall at one end of
the long room. A chair was placed for Dan'l on top of this expansive
board, which thus became a stage from whence he could overlook the
room and the dancers, and then two of the remittance men tossed the
old fiddler to his elevated place and commanded him to make ready.
Dan'l said nothing and offered no resistance. He sat plaintively
sawing upon his ancient but rich-toned violin while the floor was
brushed, the chairs and benches pushed against the wall and the room
prepared for action. Behind the violinist was a low, broad window
facing a grass plot that was free from the terrifying cactus, and the
old man noted with satisfaction that it stood wide open.
Uncle John's party had pressed close to the table and stood watching
"Ready now!" called Tobey; "the Grand March is about to begin. Take
your partners, boys. Look sharp, there, Dan'l, and give us a martial
tune that will lift our feet."
Dan'l meekly set the violin underneath his chin and raised the bow as
if in readiness. "Knuckles," a brawny fellow with a florid face and a
peculiar squint, approached Patsy and bowed.
"You're to lead with me, Miss," he said. "Are you ready?"
"Not quite," she returned with dignified composure; "for I perceive
you are not quite ready yourself."
"Eh? Why not?" he inquired, surprised.
"You are still wearing your firearms," she replied. "I cannot and will
not dance with a man who carries a revolver."
"That's nothing," he retorted. "We always do."
"Of course. And if I shed my gun what's to prevent some one else
getting the drop on me?"
"That's it," said Patsy, firmly. "The weapons must all be surrendered
before we begin. We positively refuse to dance if rioting and shooting
are likely to occur."
A murmur of protest arose at this speech, for all the remittance men
had gathered around to listen to the argument.
"That's all tommy-rot," observed Handsome Tim, in a sulky tone. "We're
not spoiling for a row; it's the dance we're after."
"Then give up the revolvers," said Beth, coming to her cousin's
assistance. "If this is to be a peaceful entertainment you will not
need to be armed, and it is absurd to suppose a lady will dance with a
gentleman who is a walking arsenal."
They looked into one another's faces uncertainly. Dan'l sat softly
tuning his violin, as if uninterested in the controversy. Uncle John
and the Major looked on with seeming indifference.
"You must decide which you prefer--the revolvers or the dance,"
remarked Patsy, staring coolly into the ring of faces.
"Would your English ladies at home consent to dance with armed men?"
"They're quite right, boys," said Stubby, nodding his bullethead.
"Let's agree to deposit all the shooting irons 'til the dance is
"I won't!" cried Knuckles, his scowl deepening.
"By Jove, you will!" shouted Tobey, with unexpected vehemence. "You're
delaying the programme, old man, and it's a nuisance to dance in this
armor, anyway. Here--pile all your guns in this corner; every one of
you, mind. Then we shall all stand on an equal footing."
"Put them on the table there, by the old fiddler," said Patsy; "then
we will know we are perfectly safe."
Rather unwillingly they complied, each man walking up to the table and
placing his revolver at Dan'l's feet. The girls watched them intently.
"That man over there is still armed," called Beth, pointing to a
swarthy Mexican who squatted near the door.
"That's all right," said Tobey, easily. "He's our guard, Pedro. I've
stationed him there so you won't attempt to escape till we get ready
to let you go."
"There's little danger of that," she said.
"All ready, now!" exclaimed Knuckles, impatiently. "We're all as
harmless as doves. Let 'er go, Dan'l!"
The old man was just then assisting Uncle John to lift Myrtle to the
top of the table, where the Major had placed a chair for her. Knuckles
growled, but waited until the girl was seated near the window. Then
Dan'l drew his bow and struck up a spirited march. Patsy took the arm
of Knuckles and paraded down the long room. Beth followed with Tobey,
and behind them tramped the remittance men in files of two. At the far
end were grouped the servants, looking curiously upon the scene, which
was lighted by lamps swung from the ceiling and a row of candles upon
the edge of the mantelshelf.
To carry out the idea of a grand march Patsy drew her escort here and
there by sharp turns and half circles, the others trailing behind like
a huge snake until she had passed down the length of the room and
started to return up the other side to the starting point. So
engrossed had been the cowboys that they did not observe the Major and
Uncle John clamber upon the table and stand beside Myrtle.
The procession was half way up the hall on its return when Patsy said
abruptly: "Now, Beth!" and darted away from her partner's side and
toward the table. Beth followed like a streak, being an excellent
runner, and for a moment Knuckles and Tobey, thus deserted by their
partners, stopped to watch them in amazement. Then their comrades
bumped into them and recalled them to their senses.
By that time the two girls had reached the table and leaped upon it.
Uncle John was waving his handkerchief from the window as a signal
to Wampus; Dan'l had laid aside his fiddle and seized a revolver in
either hand, and the Major had caught up two more of the discarded
As Beth and Patsy turned, panting, and from their elevation looked up
the room, the cowboys gave a bellow of rage and rushed forward.
"Keep back!" shouted the Major, in stentorian tones, "I'll shoot the
first man that interferes."
Noting the grim determination in the old soldier's eye, they hesitated
and came to a halt.
"What do you mean by this infernal nonsense?" cried Tobey, in disgust.
"Why, it's just checkmate, and the game is up," replied Uncle John
amiably. "We've decided not to hold the proposed dance, but to take
our departure at once."
He turned and passed Myrtle out of the window where Wampus took her
in his arms, crutches and all, and carried her to the automobile. The
remittance men, unarmed and confronted by their own revolvers, stood
gaping open-mouthed and seemingly dazed.
"Let's rush 'em, boys!" shouted Handsome Tim, defiantly.
"Rush 'em alone, if you like," growled Knuckles. "I'm not ready for
the graveyard yet."
"You are vot iss called cowardices," said Dan'l, flourishing the
revolvers he held. "Come on mit der courage, somebotty, so I can shoot
holes in you."
"You're building your own coffin just now, Dan'l," retorted Tobey,
in baffled rage. "We know where to get you, old boy, and we'll have
revenge for this night's work."
"I vill take some popguns home mit me," was the composed reply. "Den,
ven you come, I vill make a receptioning for you. Eh?"
Uncle John, Patsy and Beth had followed Myrtle through the window and
"Now, sir," said the Major to the old fiddler, "make your escape while
I hold them at bay."
"Nod yet," replied Dan'l. "Ve must gif ourselves de most
protectionment ve can."
With this he gathered up the firearms, one by one, and tossed them
through the window. Then he straightened up and a shot flashed down
the hall and tumbled the big Mexican guard to the floor just as he was
about to glide through the doorway.
"Dit ve say shtand still, or dit ve nod say shtand still?" asked
Dan'l, sternly. "If somebody gets hurt, it iss because he don'd obey
"Go, sir!" commanded the Major.
"I vill; bud I go last," declared the old man. "I follow you--see? Bud
you take my violin, please--unt be very tender of id, like id vas your
The Major took the violin and climbed through the window, proceeding
to join the others, who were by now seated in the car. When he had
gone Dan'l prepared to follow, first backing toward the window and
then turning to make an agile leap to the ground below. And now with a
shout the cowboys made their rush, only to halt as Dan'l reappeared at
the window, covering them again with his revolvers.
"So, you defils--make a listen to me," he called. "I am experiencing
a goot-bye to you, who are jackals unt imitation men unt haf no goot
right to be alive. Also if I see any of you de next time, I vill shoot
first unt apologise at der funeral. I haf no more monkey business mit
you voteffer; so keep vere you are until I am gone, unt you vill be
He slowly backed away from the window, and so thoroughly cowed was the
group of ruffians that the old fiddler had been lifted hastily into
the automobile before the cowboys mustered courage to leap through
the window and search in the darkness for their revolvers, which lay
scattered widely upon the ground.
Wampus, chuckling gleefully, jerked the hoods off his glaring
searchlights, sprang to his seat and started the machine down the road
before the crack of a single revolver was heard in protest. The shots
came thicker after that, but now the automobile was bowling merrily
along the road and soon was out of range.
"De road iss exceptionalment goot," remarked Dan'l. "Dere iss no
dangerousness from here to der rifer."
"Danger?" said the chauffeur, scornfully. "Who cares for danger? I am
Wampus, an' I am here!"
"We are all here," said Patsy, contentedly nestling against the
cushions; "and I'm free to confess that I'm mighty glad of it!"
THE ROMANCE OF DAN'L
It did not take them very long to reach the river, a muddy little
stream set below high banks. By Dan'l's direction they turned to
the left and followed the wind of the river for a mile or so until
suddenly out of the darkness loomed a quaint little bungalow which the
old German claimed to be his home.
"I haf architectured it mineself, unt make it built as I like it. You
vill come in unt shtop der night mit me," he said, as Wampus halted
the machine before the door.
There was a little murmur of protest at this, for the house appeared
to be scarcely bigger than the automobile. But Uncle John pointed out,
sensibly enough, that they ought not to undertake an unknown road at
nighttime, and that Spotville, the town for which they were
headed, was still a long way off. The Major, moreover, had a vivid
recollection of his last night's bed upon the roof of the limousine,
where he had crept to escape rattlesnakes, and was in no mood to again
camp out in the open while they traveled in Arizona. So he advocated
accepting Dan'l's invitation. The girls, curious to know how so many
could be accommodated in the bungalow, withdrew all further objections
and stood upon the low, pergola-roofed porch while their host went
inside to light the lamps.
They were really surprised at the cosy aspect of the place. Half the
one-story dwelling was devoted to a living room, furnished simply but
with modest taste. A big square table was littered with music, much
being in manuscript--thus proving Dan'l's assertion that he was
a composer. Benches were as numerous as chairs, and all were
well-cushioned with tanned skins as coverings. A few good prints were
on the walls and the aspect of the place was entirely agreeable to the
old man's guests.
As the room was somewhat chilly he made a fire in the ample fireplace
and then with an air of pride exhibited to his visitors his tiny
kitchen, his own bedroom and a storeroom, which occupied the remainder
of the space in the bungalow. He told them he would prepare beds in
the living room for the girls, give his own room to Mr. Merrick and
Major Doyle, while he and Wampus would bunk in the storeroom.
"I haf much blankets," he said; "dere vill be no troubles to keep
Afterward they sat before the fire and by the dim lights of the
kerosene lamps chatted together of the day's adventures.
Uncle John asked Dan'l what had brought him to this deserted,
out-of-the-way spot, and the old man told his story in a manner that
amused them all greatly.
"I haf been," said he, "much famous in my time, unt had a
individualness pointed out whereeffer I went. I vas orchestra leader
at the Theater Royal in Stuttgart, unt our king haf complimented me
many times. But I vas foolish. I vas foolish enough to think that ven
a man iss great he can stay great. I married me to a clefer prima
donna, unt composed a great opera, which vas finer as anything
Herr Wagner has efer done. Eh? But dere vas jealousness at work to
opposition me. Von day ven my fine opera vas all complete I vent
to the theater to lead mine orchestra. To my surprisement der Herr
Director tells me I can retire on a pension; I am too old unt he has
hired a younger man, who iss Herr Gabert. I go home bewildered unt
mishappy, to find that Herr Gabert has stole the score of mine opera
unt run avay mit mine vife. Vot I can do? Nothing. Herr Gabert he lead
my orchestra tint all der people applauds him. I am forgot. One day I
see our king compliment Herr Gabert. He produces my opera unt say he
compositioned it. Eferybody iss crazy aboud id, unt crown Herr Gabert
mit flowers. My vife sings in der opera. The people cheer her unt she
rides avay mit Herr Gabert in his carriage to a grand supper mit der
nobility unt der Herr Director.
"I go home unt say: 'Who am I?' I answer: 'Nobody!' Am I now great?
No; I am a speck. Vot can I do? Veil, I go avay. I haf some money--a
leedle. I come to America. I do not like crowds any more. I like to be
alone mit my violin. I find dis place; I build dis house; I lif here
unt make happiness. My only neighbors are de remittance men, who iss
more mischiefing as wicked. Dey vill nod bother me much. So after a
time I die here. Vy nod? I am forgot in Stuttgart."
There was pathos in the tale and his way of telling it. The old man
spoke cheerfully, but they could see before them the tragedy depicted
by his simple words. His hearers were all silent when he had
concluded, feeling they could say nothing to console him or lighten
his burden. Only Wampus, sitting in the background, looked scornfully
upon the man who had once been the idol of his townspeople.
Dan'l took a violin from a shelf and began to play, softly but with
masterly execution. He caught their mood instantly. The harmony was
restful and contented. Patsy turned down the lamps, to let the flicker
of the firelight dominate the room, and Dan'l understood and blended
the flickering light into his melody.
For a long time he continued to improvise, in a way that fairly
captivated his hearers, despite their varied temperaments, and made
them wonder at his skill. Then without warning he changed to a
stirring, martial air that filled the room with its rich, resonant
tones. There was a fugue, a wonderful finale, and while the concluding
notes rang in their ears the old man laid his violin in his lap,
leaned back against his cushions and heaved a deep sigh.
They forebore disturbing him for a while. How strange it seemed that
this really talented musician should be banished to a wilderness while
still possessing power to stir the souls of men with his marvelous
execution. Truly he was a "maestro," as he had said; a genius whose
star had risen, flashed across the sky and suddenly faded, leaving his
future a blank.
Wampus moved uneasily in his chair.
"I like to know something," he remarked.
Dan'l roused himself and turned to look at the speaker.
"You have one bad eye," continued Wampus, reflectively. "What make him
so? You stick violin bow in eye some day?"
"No," grunted Dan'l.
"Bad eye he no make himself," persisted the little chauffeur. "What
make him, then?"
For a moment there was an awkward silence. The girls considered this
personal inquiry offensive and regretted admitting Wampus to the room.
But after a time the old German answered the question, quietly and in
a half amused tone.
"Can you nod guess?" he said. "Herr Gabert hurt mine eye."
"Oh!" exclaimed Wampus, nodding approvingly "You fight duel with him?
Of course. It mus' be."
"I haf one goot eye left, howefer," continued Dan'l. "It vill do me
fery well. Dere iss nod much to see out here."
"I know," said Wampus. "But Herr Gabert. What happen to him?"
Again there was a pause. Then the German said slowly:
"I am nod rich; but efery year I send a leetle money to Stuttgart to
put some flowers on Herr Gabert's grave."
The chauffeur's face brightened. He got up from his chair and solemnly
shook Dan'l's hand.
"You are great musician," he announced. "You can believe it, for it is
true. An' you have shake the hand of great chauffeur. I am Wampus."
Dan'l did not answer. He had covered his good eye with his hand.
THE LODGING AT SPOTVILLE
"Wake up, Patsy: I smell coffee!" called Beth, and soon the two girls
were dressed and assisting Myrtle to complete her toilet. Through the
open windows came the cool, fragrant breath of morning; the sky was
beginning to blush at the coming of the sun.
"To think of our getting up at such unearthly hours!" cried Patsy
cheerfully. "But I don't mind it in the least, Beth; do you?"
"I love the daybreak," returned Beth, softly. "We've wasted the best
hours of morning abed, Patsy, these many years."
"But there's a difference," said Myrtle, earnestly. "I know the
daybreak in the city very well, for nearly all my life I have had to
rise in the dark in order to get my breakfast and be at work on time.
It is different from this, I assure you; especially in winter, when
the chill strikes through to your bones. Even in summer time the air
of the city is overheated and close, and the early mornings cheerless
and uncomfortable. Then I think it is best to stay in bed as long as
you can--if you have nothing else to do. But here, out in the open, it
seems a shame not to be up with the birds to breathe the scent of the
fields and watch the sun send his heralds ahead of him to proclaim his
coming and then climb from the bottomless pit into the sky and take
possession of it."
"Why, Myrtle!" exclaimed Patsy, wonderingly; "what a poetic notion.
How did it get into your head, little one?"
Myrtle's sweet face rivaled the sunrise for a moment. She made no
reply but only smiled pathetically.
Uncle John's knock upon the door found them ready for breakfast, which
old Dan'l had skilfully prepared in the tiny kitchen and now placed
upon a round table set out upon the porch. By the time they had
finished the simple meal Wampus had had his coffee and prepared the
automobile for the day's journey. A few minutes later they said
good-bye to the aged musician and took the trail that led through
The day's trip was without event. They encountered one or two Indians
on the way, jogging slowly along on their shaggy ponies; but the
creatures were mild and inoffensive. The road was fairly good and
they made excellent time, so that long before twilight Spotville
was reached and the party had taken possession of the one small and
primitive "hotel" the place afforded. It was a two-story, clapboarded
building, the lower floor being devoted to the bar and dining room,
while the second story was divided into box-like bedrooms none too
clean and very cheaply furnished.
"I imagine we shall find this place 'the limit'," remarked Uncle John
ruefully. "But surely we shall be able to stand it for one night," he
added, with a philosophic sigh.
"Want meat fer supper?" asked the landlord, a tall, gaunt man who
considered himself dressed when he was in his shirt sleeves.
"What kind of meat?" inquired Uncle John, cautiously.
"Kin give yeh fried pork er jerked beef. Ham 'a all out an' the
chickens is beginnin' to lay."
"Of course, stranger. Thet's the on'y thing Spotville chickens lay,
nowadays. I s'pose whar yeh come from they lay biscuits 'n' pork
"No. Door knobs, sometimes," said Mr. Merrick, "but seldom pork chops.
Let's have eggs, and perhaps a little fried pork to go with them. Any
"Canned er fresh?"
The landlord looked at him steadily.
"Yeh've come a long-way, stranger," he said, "an' yeh must 'a' spent a
lot of money, here 'n' there. Air yeh prepared to pay fer thet order
in solid cash?"
Uncle John seemed startled, and looked at the Major, who smiled
"Are such things expensive, sir?" the latter asked the landlord.
"Why, we don't eat 'em ourselves, 'n' thet's a cold fact. Eggs is
eggs, an' brings forty cents a dozen to ship. There's seven cows
in town, 'n' forty-one babies, so yeh kin figger what fresh milk's
"Perhaps," said Uncle John mildly, "we can stand the expense--if we
won't rob the babies."
"Don't worry 'bout thet. The last autymobble folks as come this way
got hot because I charged 'em market prices fer the truck they et. So
I'm jest inquirin' beforehand, to save hard feelin's. I've found out
one thing 'bout autymobble folks sense I've ben runnin' this hoe-tel,
an' thet is thet a good many is ownin' machines thet oughter be payin'
their bills instid o' buyin' gasoline."
The Major took him aside. He did not tell the cautious landlord that
Mr. Merrick was one of the wealthiest men in America, but he exhibited
a roll of bills that satisfied the man his demands would be paid in
The touring; party feasted upon eggs and fresh milk, both very
delicious but accompanied by odds and ends of food not so palatable.
The landlord's two daughters, sallow, sunken cheeked girls, waited on
the guests and the landlord's wife did the cooking.
Beth, Patsy and Myrtle retired early, as did Uncle John. The Major,
smoking his "bedtime cigar," as he called it, strolled out into the
yard and saw Wampus seated in the automobile, also smoking.
"We get an early start to-morrow, Wampus," said the Major. "Better get
"Here is my bed," returned the chauffeur, quietly.
"But there's a room reserved for you in the hotel."
"I know. Don't want him. I sleep me here."
The Major looked at him reflectively.
"Ever been in this town before, Wampus?" he asked.
"No, sir. But I been in other towns like him, an' know this kind of
hotel. Then why do I sleep in front seat of motor car?"
"Because you are foolish, I suppose, being born that way and unable
to escape your heritage. For my part, I shall sleep in a bed; like a
Christian," said the Major rather testily.
"Even Christian cannot sleep sometime," returned Wampus, leaning back
in his seat and puffing a cloud of smoke into the clear night air.
"For me, I am good Christian; but I am not martyr."
"What do you mean by that?" demanded the Major.
"Do you sometime gamble?" inquired Wampus softly.
"Not often, sir."
"But sometime? Ah! Then I make you a bet. I bet you ten dollar to one
cent you not sleep in your bed to-night."
The Major coughed. Then he frowned.
"Is it so bad as that?" he asked.
"I think he is."
"I'll not believe it!" exclaimed Major Doyle. "This hotel isn't what
you might call first-class, and can't rank with the Waldorf-Astoria;
but I imagine the beds will be very comfortable."
"Once," said Wampus, "I have imagination, too. Now I have experience;
so I sleep in automobile."
The Major walked away with an exclamation of impatience. He had never
possessed much confidence in the Canadian's judgment and on this
occasion he considered the fellow little wiser than a fool.
Wampus rolled himself in a rug and was about to stretch his moderate
length upon the broad double seat when a pattering of footsteps was
heard and Beth came up to the car. She was wrapped in a dark cloak
and carried a bundle of clothing under one arm and her satchel in the
unoccupied hand. There was a new moon which dimly lighted the scene,
but as all the townspeople were now in bed and the hotel yard deserted
there was no one to remark upon the girl's appearance.
"Wampus," she said, "let me into the limousine, please. The night is
so perfect I've decided to sleep here in the car."
The chauffeur jumped down and opened the door.
"One moment an' I make up the beds for all," he said.
"Never mind that," Beth answered. "The others are all asleep, I'm
Wampus shook his head.
"They all be here pretty soon," he predicted, and proceeded to deftly
prepare the interior of the limousine for the expected party. When
Beth had entered the car Wampus pitched the lean-to tent and arranged
the cots as he was accustomed to do when they "camped out."
Scarcely had he completed this task when Patsy and Myrtle appeared.
They began to explain their presence, but Wampus interrupted them,
"All right, Miss Patsy an' Miss Myrtle. Your beds he made up an' Miss
'Lizbeth already asleep in him."
So they crept inside with sighs of relief, and Wampus had just mounted
to the front seat again and disposed himself to rest when Uncle John
trotted up, clad in his trousers and shirt, with the balance of his
apparel clasped in his arms. He looked at the tent with pleased
"Good boy, Wampus!" he exclaimed. "That room they gave me is an
inferno. I'm afraid our young ladies won't sleep a wink."
"Oh, yes," returned Wampus with a nod; "all three now inside car, safe
"I'm glad of it. How was your own room, Wampus?"
"I have not seen him, sir. But I have suspect him; so I sleep here."
"You are a wise chauffeur--a rare genus, in other words. Good night,
Wampus. Where's the Major?"
"In hotel. Sir, do the Major swear sometime?"
Uncle John crept under the tent.
"If he does," he responded, "he's swearing this blessed minute.
Anyhow, I'll guarantee he's not asleep."
Wampus again mounted to his perch.
"No use my try to sleep 'til Major he come," he muttered, and settled
himself to wait.
It was not long.
Presently some one approached on a run, and a broad grin overspread
the chauffeur's features. The Major had not delayed his escape long
enough to don his trousers even; he had grabbed his belongings in both
arms and fled in his blue and white striped undergarments.
Wampus leaped down and lifted the flap of the tent. The Major paused
long enough in the moonlight to stare at the chauffeur and say
"If you utter one syllable, you rascal, I'll punch your head!"
Wampus was discreet. He said not a word.
"So this is California!" exclaimed Patsy gleefully, as the automobile
left Parker and crossed the Arizona line.
"But it doesn't look any different," said Myrtle, peering out of the
"Of course not," observed Uncle John. "A State boundary is a man-made
thing, and doesn't affect the country a bit. We've just climbed a
miniature mountain back in Arizona, and now we must climb a mate to
it in California. But the fact is, we've entered at last the Land of
Enchantment, and every mile now will bring us nearer and nearer to the
roses and sunshine."
"There's sunshine here now," declared the Major. "We've had it right
along. But I haven't seen the roses yet, and a pair of ear muffs
wouldn't be uncomfortable in this cutting breeze."
"The air is rather crisp," admitted Uncle John. "But we're still in
the mountainous district, and Haggerty says--"
The Major coughed derisively and Mumbles barked and looked at Uncle
"Is that a rabbit or a squirrel? Something has caught the eye of our
Mumbles," interrupted the Major, pointing vaguely across the mesa.
"I wonder if Mumbles could catch 'em," remarked the Major, with
"He says that every mile we travel brings us nearer the scent of the
orange blossoms and the glare of the yellow poppies," persisted Uncle
John. "You see, we've taken the Southern route, after all, for soon we
shall be on the Imperial road, which leads to San Diego--in the heart
of the gorgeous Southland."
"What is the Imperial road?" inquired Beth.
"The turnpike through Imperial Valley, said to be the richest bit of
land in all the world, not excepting the famous Nile banks of Egypt.
There is no railway there yet, but the Valley is settling very fast,
and Haggerty says--"
"How remarkable!" exclaimed the Major, gazing straight ahead. And
again Mumbles, curled in Patsy's lap, lifted his shaggy head and gave
a wailing bark.
Uncle John frowned, but was loyal to Haggerty.
"He says that if America was now unknown to all the countries of the
world, Imperial would soon make it famous. They grow wonderful crops
there--strawberries and melons the year around, as well as all the
tropical and semi-tropical fruits and grains, flowers and vines known
to any country yet discovered."
"Do we go to Imperial?" asked Myrtle, eagerly.
"I think not, my dear; we just skirt the edge of the Valley. It's
rather wild and primitive there yet; for although many settlers are
flocking to that favored district Imperial is large enough to be an
empire by itself. However, we shall find an ideal climate at Coronado,
by the edge of the blue Pacific, and there and at Los Angeles we shall
rest from our journey and get acquainted with the wonders of the
Golden State. Has the trip tired you, girls?"
"Not me," answered Beth, promptly. "I've enjoyed every mile of the
"And so have I," added Patsy; "except perhaps the adventure with the
remittance men. But I wouldn't care to have missed even that, for it
led to our acquaintance with old Dan'l."
"For my part," said Myrtle softly, "I've been in a real fairyland. It
has seemed like a dream to me, all this glorious journey, and I shall
hate to wake up, as I must in time."
"Don't worry just yet about the awakening, dear," returned Patsy,
leaning over to kiss her little friend. "Just enjoy it while you can.
If fairylands exist, they were made for just such as you, Myrtle."
"One of the greatest marvels of our trip," said the Major, with a
smile, "is the improvement in our dear little invalid. It isn't the
same Myrtle who started out with us, believe me. Can't you all see the
"I can feel it," returned Myrtle, happily. "And don't you notice how
well I walk, and how little use I have now for the crutches?"
"And can you feel the rosy cheeks and bright eyes, too?" asked Uncle
John, regarding her with much satisfaction.
"The trip was just the thing for Myrtle," added Patsy. "She has grown
stronger every day; but she is not quite well yet, you know, and I
depend a good deal upon the genial climate of California to insure her
Uncle John did not reply. He remembered the doctor's assertion that a
painful operation would be necessary to finally restore Myrtle to a
normal condition, and his kindly heart disliked to reflect upon the
ordeal before the poor girl.
Haggerty proved a prophet, after all. Each mile they covered opened
new vistas of delight to the eager travelers. The air grew more balmy
as they left the high altitudes and came upon the level country to
the north, of the San Bernardino range of mountains, nor was it
long before they sighted Imperial and sped through miles of country
carpeted with the splendid yellow poppies which the State has adopted
as the emblems of California. And behind this golden robe loomed the
cotton fields of Imperial, one of the most fascinating sights the
traveler may encounter. They made a curve to the right here, and
headed northerly until they came to Salton. Skirting the edge of the
curious Salton Sea they now headed directly west toward Escondido,
finding the roads remarkably good and for long stretches as smooth and
hard as an asphalt boulevard. The three days it took them to cross the
State were days of wonder and delight.
It was not long before they encountered the roses and carnations
growing on every side, which the Major had persistently declared to be
"It seems all wrong," asserted Patsy's father, moodily, "for such
delicate flowers to be growing out of doors in midwinter. And look at
the grass! Why, the seasons are changed about. It's Springtime just
now in California."
"The man at the last stop we made told me his roses bloomed the year
round," said Patsy, "And just smell the orange blossoms, will you!
Aren't they sweet, and don't they remind you of brides?"
From Escondido it was a short run to the sea and their first glimpse
of the majestic Pacific was from a high bluff overhanging the water.
From this point the road ran south to San Diego, skirting the coast
along a mountain trail that is admitted to be one of the most
picturesque rides in America.
Descending the hills as they neared San Diego they passed through
fields of splendid wild flowers so extensive and beautiful that
our girls fairly gasped in wonder. The yellow and orange poppies
predominated, but there were acres of wild mustard throwing countless
numbers of gorgeous saffron spikes skyward, and vistas of blue
carconnes, white daisies and blood-red delandres. The yucca was in
bloom, too, and added its mammoth flower to the display.
They did not halt at San Diego, the southernmost city of California,
from whence the Mexican line is in plain sight, but drove to the bay,
where Wampus guided the limousine on to the big ferryboat bound for
Coronado. They all left the car during the brief voyage and watched
the porpoises sporting in the clear water of the bay and gazed
abstractedly at the waving palms on the opposite shore, where lies
nestled "the Crown of the Pacific"--Coronado.
THE SILENT MAN
Even the Major smiled benignantly when he reached his appointed room
in the magnificent Hotel del Coronado, which is famed throughout the
"This," said he, "reminds me of New York; and it's the first thing
that has, since I left home."
"Why, Daddy, it isn't like New York at all," protested Patsy, standing
beside him at the broad window overlooking the ocean. "Did you ever
see a palm tree waving in New York; or daisy bushes as tall as a man;
or such masses of roses and flowering vines? And then just notice the
mountains over there--they're in Mexico, I'm told--and this great
headland in the other direction; it's called Point Loma. Oh, I never
imagined any place could be so beautiful!"
The others were equally excited, and Uncle John said, smiling broadly:
"Well, we're here at last, my dears, and I'm sure we are already well
paid for our trip across the continent. What pleasant rooms these are.
If the hotel table is at all to be compared with the house itself we
shall have a happy time here, which means we will stay as long as
But the table was another surprise, for the meals were equal to any
served in the great Eastern metropolis. Uncle John complimented the
landlord, a cheery faced, fat little man who had at one time managed
a famous New York hotel and had brought his talents and experience to
"I'm sorry," said this gentle boniface, "that I could not reserve
better rooms for you--for there are some choice views from some
locations. I had a corner suite saved for your party, a suite I
consider the most desirable in the hotel; but an eccentric individual
arrived yesterday who demanded the entire suite, and I had to let him
have it. He will not stay long, and as soon as he goes you shall have
"Who is he?" asked Uncle John.
"A rich miner; a most melancholy and peculiar person, by the way,"
replied landlord Ross. "I believe his name is Jones."
Mr. Merrick started.
"Jones, and a miner?" he said. "What's his other name--Anson?"
"We'll look and see," replied Mr. Ross, turning to the hotel register.
"No; not Anson. He is registered as C.B. Jones, of Boston."
"Oh; that's not the Jones at all," said Uncle John, disappointed.
"It's the Jones who is our guest," replied the landlord, smiling.
Meantime the three girls had gone for a walk along the coast. The
beach is beautiful at Coronado. There is a high sea wall of rock, and
the path runs along its edge almost the length of the promontory. The
rocks are sloping, however, and it is not very difficult to climb down
them to where the waves break against the wall.
Near the hotel they met straggling groups, strolling in either
direction, but half a mile away the promenade was practically
deserted. It was beginning to grow dark, and Beth said, regretfully:
"We must get back, girls, and dress for dinner--an unusual luxury,
isn't it? Our trunks arrived at the hotel two weeks ago, and are now
in our rooms, doubtless, awaiting us to unpack them."
"Don't let's return just yet," begged Myrtle. "I want to see the sun
"It will be gorgeous," said Patsy, glancing at the sky; "but we can
see it from our windows, and as we're a long way from the hotel now I
believe Beth's suggestion is wise."
So they began to retrace their steps. Myrtle still walked with some
difficulty, and they had not proceeded far when Beth exclaimed:
"Look at that man down there!"
Her companions followed her direction and saw standing upon a huge
pile of rocks at the water's edge a slight, solitary figure. Something
in the poise, as he leaned forward staring at the darkened waves--for
the sun was low and cast shadows aslant the water--struck Myrtle as
"Oh, girls!" she exclaimed; "it's the Grand Canyon man."
"Why, I believe it is," agreed Patsy. "What is he doing?"
"Nothing," said Beth, briefly. "But he is going to do something, I
While they stared at him from their elevation the man straightened an
instant and cast a hasty glance to either side. The place seemed to
him deserted, for he failed to observe the group of three intently
watching his motions from the high bank overhead. Next moment he
turned back to the water and leaned over the edge of rock again.
"Don't!" cried Myrtle, her clear voice ringing over the lap of the
waves; "please don't!"
He swung around and turned his gaunt features upward to where the
young girl leaned upon her crutches, with clasped hands and a look of
distress upon her sweet face.
"Don't!" she repeated, pleadingly.
He passed his hand over his eyes with a very weary gesture and looked
at Myrtle again--this time quite steadily. She was trembling in every
limb and her cheeks were white with fear.
Slowly--very slowly--the man turned and began to climb the rocks; not
directly upward to where the girls stood, but diagonally, so as to
reach the walk some distance ahead of them. They did not move until he
had gained the path and turned toward the hotel. Then they followed
and kept him in sight until he reached the entrance to the court and
"I wonder," said Patsy, as they made their way to their rooms,
"whether he really was thinking of plunging into the ocean; or whether
that time at the Grand Canyon he had a notion of jumping into the
"If so," added Beth, "Myrtle has saved his life twice. But she can't
be always near to watch the man, and if he has suicidal intentions,
he'll make an end of himself, sooner or later, without a doubt."
"Perhaps," said Myrtle, hesitatingly, "I am quite wrong, and the
strange man had no intention of doing himself an injury. But each time
I obeyed an impulse that compelled me to cry out; and afterward I have
been much ashamed of my forwardness."
They did not see the melancholy man at dinner; but afterward, in the
spacious lobby, they discovered him sitting in a far corner reading a
magazine. He seemed intent on this occupation and paid no attention to
the life around him. The girls called Uncle John's attention to him,
and Mr. Merrick at once recognized him as the same individual they had
met at the Grand Canyon.
"But I am not especially pleased to encounter him again," he said with
a slight frown; "for, if I remember aright, he acted very rudely to
Myrtle and proved unsociable when I made overtures and spoke to him."
"I wonder who he is?" mused Patsy, watching the weary, haggard
features as his eyes slowly followed the lines of his magazine.
"I'll inquire and find out," replied her uncle.
The cherubic landlord was just then pacing up and down the lobby,
pausing here and there to interchange a word with his guests. Uncle
John approached him and said:
"Can you tell me, Mr. Ross, who the gentleman is in the corner?"
The landlord looked around at the corner and smiled.
"That," said he, "is the gentleman we spoke of this afternoon--Mr.
C.B. Jones--the man who usurped the rooms intended for you."
"Rooms?" repeated Uncle John. "Has he a large party, then?"
"He is alone; that is the queer part of it," returned the landlord.
"Nor has he much baggage. But he liked the suite--a parlor with five
rooms opening out of it--and insisted upon having them all, despite
the fact that it is one of the most expensive suites in the hotel. I
said he was eccentric, did I not?"
"You were justified," said Mr. Merrick, thought fully. "Thank you,
sir, for the information."
Even as he rejoined the girls, who were seated together upon a broad
divan, the man arose, laid down his magazine and came slowly down
the room, evidently headed for the elevator. But with a start he
recognized the girl who had accosted him on the beach, and the others
with her, and for an instant came to a full stop before the group, his
sad eyes fixed intently upon Myrtle's face.
The situation was a bit awkward, and to relieve it Uncle John remarked
in his cheery voice:
"Well, Mr. Jones, we meet again, you see."
The man turned slowly and faced him; then bowed in a mechanical way
and proceeded to the elevator, into which he disappeared.
Naturally Uncle John was indignant.
"Confound the fellow!" he exclaimed. "He's worse than a boor. But
perhaps his early education was neglected."
"Did you call him Mr. Jones, sir?" asked Myrtle in a voice that
trembled with excitement.
"Yes, my dear; but it is not your Uncle Anson. I've inquired about
him. The Joneses are pretty thick, wherever you go; but I hope not
many are like this fellow."
"Something's wrong with him," declared Patsy. "He's had some sad
bereavement--a great blow of some sort--and it has made him somber and
melancholy. He doesn't seem to know he acts rudely. You can tell by
the man's eyes that he is unhappy."
"His eyes have neither color nor expression," remarked Beth. "At his
best, this Mr. Jones must have been an undesirable acquaintance."
"You can't be sure of that," returned Patsy; "and I'm positive my
theory is correct. More and more am I inclined to agree with Myrtle
that he is disgusted with life, and longs to end it."
"Let him, then," retorted Uncle John. "I'm sure such a person is of no
use to the world, and if he doesn't like himself he's better out of
That kindly Mr. Merrick should give vent to such a heartless speech
proved how much annoyed he had been by Mr. Jones' discourtesy.
"He might be reclaimed, and--and comforted," said Myrtle, softly.
"When I think of the happiness you have brought into my life, sir, I
long to express my gratitude by making some one else happy."
"You're doing it, little one," he answered, pinching her cheek. "If
we've brought a bit of sunshine into your life we've reaped an ample
reward in your companionship. But if you can find a way to comfort
that man Jones, and fetch him out of his dumps, you are certainly a
more wonderful fairy than I've given you credit for."
Myrtle did not reply to this, although it pleased her. She presently
pleaded weariness and asked permission to return to her room. Beth
and Patsy wanted to go into the great domed ballroom and watch the
dancing; so Myrtle bade them good night and ascended by the elevator
to her floor.
Softly stepping over the thick carpets, which deadened the sound of
the crutches--now becoming scarcely necessary to her--the young girl
passed along the corridor, passing angles and turns innumerable on her
way to her room. Some erratic architect certainly concocted the
plan of the Hotel del Coronado. It is a very labyrinth of passages
connecting; its nine hundred rooms, and one has to have a good bump of
location to avoid getting lost in its mazes.
Near one of the abrupt turns a door stood ajar, and in passing Myrtle
glanced in, and then paused involuntarily. It was a small parlor,
prettily furnished, and in a big chair reclined a man whose hands were
both pressed tight against his face, thus covering it completely. But
Myrtle knew him. The thin frame, as well as the despairing attitude,
marked him as the man who had come so strangely into her life and
whose personality affected her so strangely. She now stood in the
dimly lighted corridor looking in upon him with infinite pity, and as
she looked her glance fell upon the table beside him, where something
bright glittered beneath the electric lamps.
Her heart gave a sudden thump of mingled fear and dismay. She knew
intuitively what that "something" was. "Let him," Uncle John had said;
but Myrtle instantly determined not to let him.
She hesitated a moment; but seeing that the man remained motionless,
his eyes still covered, as if lost to all his surroundings, she softly
crept forward and entered the room. She held the crutches under her
arms, but dared not use them for fear of making a noise. Step by step
she stole forward until the table was within reach. Then she stretched
out her hand, seized the revolver, and hid it in the folds of her
Turning for a final glance at the man she was startled to find he had
removed his hands and was steadfastly regarding her.
Myrtle leaned heavily on her crutches. She felt faint and miserable,
like a criminal caught in the act. As her eyes fell before the intent
gaze her face turned scarlet with humiliation and chagrin. Still, she
did not attempt to escape, the idea not occurring to her; so for a
time the tableau was picturesque--the lame girl standing motionless
with downcast eyes and the man fixedly staring at her.
"Three times!" he slowly said, in a voice finally stirred by a trace
of emotion. "Three times. My child, why are you so persistent?"
Myrtle tried to be brave and meet his gaze. It was not quite so
difficult now the silent man had spoken.
"Why do you force me to be persistent?" she asked, a tremor in her
voice. "Why are you determined to--to--"
Words failed her, but he nodded to show he understood.
"Because," said he, "I am tired; very tired, my child. It's a big
world; too big, in fact; but there's nothing in it for me any more."
There was expression enough in his voice now; expression of utter
"Why?" asked Myrtle, somewhat frightened to find herself so bold.
He did not answer for a long time, but sat reading her mobile face
until a gentler look came into his hard blue eyes.
"It is a story too sad for young ears," he finally replied. "Perhaps,
too, you would not understand it, not knowing or understanding me. I'm
an odd sort of man, well along in years, and I've lived an odd sort
of life. But my story, such as it is, has ended, and I'm too weary to
begin another volume."
"Oh, no!" exclaimed Myrtle, earnestly. "Surely this cannot be the
fulfillment and end of your life. If it were, why should I come into
your life just now?"
He stared at her with a surprised--an even startled--look.
"Have you come into my life?" he inquired, in a low, curious tone.
"Haven't I?" she returned. "At the Grand Canyon--"
"I know," he interrupted hastily. "That was your mistake; and mine.
You should not have interfered. I should not have let you interfere."
"But I did," said Myrtle.
"Yes. Somehow your voice sounded like a command, and I obeyed it;
perhaps because no living person has a right to command me. You--you
took me by surprise."
He passed his hand over his eyes with that weary gesture peculiar to
him, and then fell silent.
Myrtle had remained standing. She did not know what to do in this
emergency, or what more to say. The conversation could not be ended in
this summary fashion. The hopeless man needed her in some way; how,
she did not know. Feeling weak and very incompetent to meet the
important crisis properly, the girl crept to a chair opposite the man
and sank into it. Then she leaned her chin upon her hand and looked
pleadingly at her strange acquaintance. He met her eyes frankly.
The hard look in his own seemed to have disappeared, dispelled by a
sympathy that was new to him.
And so they sat, regarding one another silently yet musingly, for a
"I wish," said Myrtle once, in her softest, sweetest tones, "I could
help you. Some one helped me when I was in great trouble, so I want to
He did not reply, and another period of silence ensued. But his next
speech showed he had been considering her words.
"Because you have suffered," he said, "you have compassion for others
who suffer. But your trouble is over now?"
"Almost," she said, smiling brightly.
He sighed, but questioned her no farther.
"A while ago," she volunteered, "I had neither friends nor relatives."
He gave her a queer look, then. "I had no money. I had been hurt in an
accident and was almost helpless. But I did not despair, sir--and I am
only an inexperienced girl.
"In my darkest hour I found friends--kind, loving friends--who showed
me a new world that I had not suspected was in existence. I think
the world is like a great mirror," she continued, meditatively, "and
reflects our lives just as we ourselves look upon it. Those who turn
sad faces toward the world find only sadness reflected. But a smile is
reflected in the same way, and cheers and brightens our hearts. You
think there is no pleasure to be had in life. That is because you are
heartsick and--and tired, as you say. With one sad story ended you are
afraid to begin another--a sequel--feeling it would be equally sad.
But why should it be? Isn't the joy or sorrow equally divided in
"No," he replied.
"A few days ago," she continued earnestly, "we were crossing the
Arizona deserts. It was not pleasant, but we did not despair, for
we knew the world is not all desert and that the land of roses and
sunshine lay just beyond. Now that we're in California we've forgotten
the dreary desert. But you--Why, sir, you've just crossed your desert,
and you believe all the world is bitter and cruel and holds no joy for
you! Why don't you step out bravely into the roses and sunshine of
life, and find the joy that has been denied you?"
He looked into her eyes almost fearfully, but it seemed to her that
his own held a first glimmer of hope.
"Do you believe there can be joy for me anywhere in the world?" he
"Of course. I tell you there's just as much sweet as there is bitter
in life. Don't I know it? Haven't I proved it? But happiness doesn't
chase people who try to hide from it. It will meet you halfway, but
you've got to do your share to deserve it. I'm not preaching; I've
lived this all out, in my own experience, and know what I'm talking
about. Now as for you, sir, I can see very plainly you haven't been
doing your duty. You've met sorrow and let it conquer you. You've
taken melancholy by the hand and won't let go of it. You haven't tried
to fight for your rights--the rights God gave to every man and expects
him to hold fast to and take advantage of. No, indeed!"
"But what is the use?" he asked, timidly, yet with an eager look in
his face. "You are young, my child; I am nearly old enough to have
been your father. There are things you have not yet learned; things I
hope you will never learn. An oak may stand alone in a field, and be
lonely because it cannot touch boughs with another. A flower may bloom
alone in a garden, and wither and die for want of companionship. God's
wisdom grouped every living thing. He gave Adam a comrade. He created
no solitary thing. But see, my child: although this world contains
countless thousands, there is not one among them I may call my
"Oh, yes; just one!" said Myrtle quickly. "I am your friend. Not
because you want me, but because you need me. And that's a beginning,
isn't it? I can find other friends for you, among my friends, and
you will be sure to like them because I like them."
This naive suggestion did not affect him as much as the fact that this
fair young girl had confessed herself his friend. He did not look at
Myrtle now; he stared straight ahead, at the wall paper, and his brow
was furrowed as if he was thinking deeply.
Perhaps any other man would have thanked the girl for her sympathy and
her proffered friendship, or at the least have acknowledged it. But
not so this queer Mr. Jones; eccentric, indeed, as the shrewd landlord
had described him. Nor did Myrtle seem to expect an acknowledgment.
It was enough for her that her speech had set him thinking along new
He sat musing for so long that she finally remembered it was growing
late, and began to fear Patsy and Beth would seek their rooms, which
connected with her own, and find her absent. That would worry them. So
at last she rose softly, took her crutches and turned to go.
"Good night, my--friend," she said.
"Good night, my child," he answered in a mechanical tone, without
rousing from his abstraction.
Myrtle went to her room and found it was not so late as she had
feared. She opened a drawer and placed the revolver in it, not without
a little shudder.
"At any rate," she murmured, with satisfaction, "he will not use this
ON POINT LOMA
Next morning a beautiful bunch of roses was brought to Myrtle's
room--roses so magnificent that it seemed impossible they could be
grown out of doors. But there are few hothouses in California, and the
boy who brought the flowers confided to her the information that they
were selected from more than five hundred blooms. She ran to show them
to Patsy and Beth, who were amazed not only by the roses but by the
fact that the queer Mr. Jones had sent them to Myrtle. There was no
card or note accompanying the gift, but after the younger girl had
related her conversation with Mr. Jones the previous evening, they
could not doubt but he had sent the flowers.
"Perhaps," reflected Patsy, "we've been misjudging him. I never beheld
such a stolid, unimpressive countenance in my life; but the man must
have a soul of some sort, or he would not think of sending flowers to
his new friend."
"It's a pretty idea," said Beth. "He wanted to assure Myrtle that he
appreciated her kindness."
"I'm sure he likes me," declared Myrtle, simply. "He wasn't a bit
cross when I ran in and took away his pistol, or when I preached to
him. I really gave him a good talking to, and he didn't object a bit."
"What he needs," commented Beth, "is to get away from himself, and
mingle with people more. I wonder if we could coax him to join us in
our ride to Point Loma."
"Would we care to ask him?" said Patsy. "He's as sour and crabbed in
looks as he is in disposition, and has treated Uncle John's advances
shamefully. I'd like to help Myrtle bring the old fellow back to life;
but perhaps we can find an easier way than to shut him up with us in
"He wouldn't go, I'm sure," declared Myrtle. "He has mellowed a
little--a very little--as these roses prove. But he treated me last
night just as he does Mr. Merrick, even after our conversation. When
I said 'Good night' I had to wait a long time for his answer. But I'd
like you to meet him and help cheer him up; so please let me introduce
him, if there's a chance, and do be nice to him."
"I declare," cried Patsy, laughing, "Myrtle has assumed an air of
proprietorship over the Sad One already."
"She has a right to, for she saved his life," said Beth.
"Three times," Myrtle added proudly. "He told me so himself."
Uncle John heard the story of Myrtle's adventure with considerable
surprise, and he too expressed a wish to aid her in winning Mr. Jones
from his melancholy mood.
"Every man is queer in one way or another," said he, "and I'd say the
women were, too, if you females were not listening. I also imagine a
very rich man has the right to be eccentric, if it pleases him."
"Is Mr. Jones rich, then?" inquired Beth.
"According to the landlord he's rich as Croesus. Made his money in
mining--manipulating stocks, I suppose. But evidently his wealth
hasn't been a comfort to him, or he wouldn't want to shuffle off his
mortal coil and leave it behind"
They did not see the object of this conversation before leaving for
the trip to Point Loma--a promontory that juts out far into the
Pacific. It is reached by a superb macadamized boulevard, which passes
down the north edge of the promontory, rounds the corner where stands
the lighthouse, and comes back along the southern edge, all the time a
hundred feet or more in elevation above the ocean.
The view from the Point is unsurpassed. Wampus stopped his car beside
a handsomely appointed automobile that was just then deserted.
"Some one is here before us," remarked Patsy. "But that is not
strange. The wonder is that crowds are not here perpetually."
"It is said," related the Major, who had really begun to enjoy
California, "that the view from this Point includes more varied
scenery than any other that is known in the world. Here we see the
grand San Bernardino range of mountains; the Spanish Bight on the
Mexican shore; the pretty city of San Diego climbing its hills, with
the placid bay in front, where float the warships of the Pacific
Squadron; the broad stretch of orange and lemon groves, hedged with
towering palm trees; Santa Catalina and the Coronado Islands; the blue
Pacific rolling in front and rugged Loma with its rocky cliffs behind.
What more could we ask to see from any one viewpoint?"
"Don't forget the monster hotel, with its hundred towers and gables,
dominating the strip of land between the bay and the ocean," added
Beth. "How near it seems, and yet it is many miles away."
Some one had told them that moonstones were to be found on the beach
at the base of the cliff; so they all climbed down the steep path,
followed by Mumbles, who had not perceptibly grown in size during the
trip but had acquired an adventurous disposition which, coupled with
his native inquisitiveness, frequently led him into trouble.
Now, when they had reached the narrow beach, Mumbles ran ahead, passed
around the corner of a cliff that almost touched the water, and was
presently heard barking furiously.
"Sounds as if he scented game," said Patsy.
"A turtle, perhaps, or a big fish washed ashore," suggested the Major.
But now the small dog's voice changed suddenly and became a succession
of yelps expressing mingled pain and terror.
"Oh, he's hurt!" cried Myrtle; and they all hurried forward, Uncle
John leading them on a run, and passed around the big rock to rescue
Some one was before them, however. The foolish dog had found a huge
crab in the sand and, barking loudly, had pushed his muzzle against
the creature, with the result that the crab seized his black nose in
a gripping claw and pinched as hard as it was able. Mumbles tried to
back away, madly howling the while; but the crab, although the smaller
antagonist, gripped a rock with its other claw and held on, anchoring
the terrified dog to the spot.
But help was at hand. A tall, thin man hurried to the rescue, and just
as Uncle John came in sight, leading his procession, a knife severed
the crab's claw and Mumbles was free. Seeing his mistress, the puppy,
still whining with pain, hurried to her for comfort, while Uncle John
turned to the man and said:
"Thank you, Mr. Jones, for assisting our poor beast. Mumbles is an
Eastern dog, you know, and inexperienced in dealing with crabs."
Mr. Jones was examining the claw, the despoiled owner of which had
quickly slid into the water.
"It is a species of crawfish," he observed, meditatively. Then, seeing
the girls approach, he straightened up and rather awkwardly lifted his
The gesture surprised them all. Heretofore, when they had met, the man
had merely stared and turned away, now his attempt at courtesy was
startling because unexpected.
Myrtle came close to his side.
"How nice to find you here, Mr. Jones," she said brightly. "And oh, I
must thank you for my lovely roses."
He watched her face with evident interest and it seemed that his own
countenance had become less haggard and sad than formerly.
"Let me introduce my friends," said the girl, with sudden recollection
of her duty. "This is Mr. Merrick, my good friend and benefactor; and
this is Major Doyle and his daughter Miss Patricia Doyle, both of whom
have the kindest hearts in the world; Miss Beth De Graf, Mr. Merrick's
niece, has watched over and cared for me like a sister, and--oh, I
forgot; Miss Patsy is Mr. Merrick's niece, too. So now you know them
The man nodded briefly his acknowledgment.
"You--you are Mr. Jones, I believe, of--of Boston?"
"Once of Boston," he repeated mechanically. Then he looked at her and
added: "Go on."
"Why--what--I don't understand," she faltered. "Have I overlooked
"Only yourself," he said.
"Oh; but I--I met you last night."
"You did not tell me your name," he reminded her.
"I'm Myrtle," she replied, smiling in her relief. "Myrtle Dean."
"Myrtle Dean!" His voice was harsh; almost a shout.
"Myrtle Dean. And I--I'm from Chicago; but I don't live there any
He stood motionless, looking at the girl with a fixed expression that
embarrassed her and caused her to glance appealingly at Patsy. Her
friend understood and came to her rescue with some inconsequent remark
about poor Mumbles, who was still moaning and rubbing; his pinched
nose against Patsy's chin to ease the pain.
Mr. Jones paid little heed to Miss Doyle's observation, but as Myrtle
tried to hide behind Beth Mr. Merrick took the situation in hand by
drawing the man's attention to the scenery, and afterward inquiring if
he was searching for moonstones.
The conversation now became general, except that Mr. Jones remained
practically silent He seemed to try to interest himself in the chatter
around him, but always his eyes would stray to Myrtle's face and hold
her until she found an opportunity to turn away.
"We've luncheon in the car," announced Uncle John, after a time.
"Won't you join us, Mr. Jones?"
"Yes," was the unconventional reply. The man was undoubtedly
abstracted and did not know he was rude. He quietly followed them up
the rocks and when they reached the automobile remained by Myrtle's
side while Wampus brought out the lunch basket and Beth and Patsy
spread the cloth upon the grass and unpacked the hamper.
Mr. Jones ate merely a mouthful, but he evidently endeavored to follow
the conversation and take an interest in what was said. He finally
became conscious that his continuous gaze distressed Myrtle, and
thereafter strove to keep his eyes from her face. They would creep
back to it, from time to time; but Beth, who was watching him
curiously, concluded he was making a serious effort to deport himself
agreeably and credited him with a decided improvement in manners as
their acquaintance with him progressed.
After luncheon, when their return by way of Old Town and the Spanish
Mission was proposed, Mr. Jones said, pointing to the car that stood
beside their own:
"This is my automobile. I drive it myself. I would like Myrtle Dean to
ride back with me."
The girl hesitated, but quickly deciding she must not retreat, now she
had practically begun the misanthrope's reformation, she replied:
"I will be very glad to. But won't you take one of my friends, also?
That will divide the party more evenly."
He looked down at his feet, thoughtfully considering the proposition.
"I'll go with you," said Beth, promptly. "Get into the front seat with
Mr. Jones, Myrtle, and I'll ride behind."
The man made no protest. He merely lifted Myrtle in his arms and
gently placed her in the front seat. Beth, much amused, took the seat
behind, unassisted save that the Major opened the door for her. Mr.
Jones evidently understood his car. Starting the engines without
effort he took his place at the wheel and with a nod to Mr. Merrick
"Lead on, sir; I will follow."
Wampus started away. He was displeased with the other car. It did
not suit him at all. And aside from the fact that the sour-faced
individual who owned it had taken away two of Wampus' own passengers,
the small shaggy Mumbles, who had been the established companion of
Uncle John's chauffeur throughout all the long journey, suddenly
deserted him. He whined to go with the other car, and when Patsy
lifted him aboard he curled down beside the stranger as if thoroughly
satisfied. Patsy knew why, and was amused that Mumbles showed his
gratitude to Mr. Jones for rescuing him from the crab; but Wampus
scowled and was distinctly unhappy all the way to Old Town.
"Him mebbe fine gentleman," muttered the Canadian to the Major; "but
if so he make a disguise of it. Once I knew a dog thief who resemble
him; but perhaps Mumble he safe as long as Miss Myrtle an' Miss Beth
they with him."
"Don't worry," said the Major, consolingly. "I'll keep my eye on the
rascal. But he's a fine driver, isn't he?"
"Oh, that!" retorted Wampus, scornfully. "Such little cheap car like
that he drive himself."
At Old Town Mr. Jones left them, saying he had been to the Mission and
did not care for it. But as he drove his car away there was a gentler
and more kindly expression upon his features than any of them had ever
seen there before, and Myrtle suspected her charm was working and the
regeneration really begun.
A TALE OF WOE
That evening after dinner, as Mr. Merrick sat alone in the hotel
lobby, the girls having gone to watch the Major bowl tenpins, Mr.
Jones approached and sat down in the chair beside him.
Uncle John greeted the man with an attempt at cordiality. He could not
yet bring himself to like his personality, but on Myrtle's account and
because he was himself generous enough to wish to be of service to
anyone so forlorn and unhappy, he treated Mr. Jones with more respect
than he really thought he deserved.
"Tell me, Mr. Merrick," was the abrupt request, "where you found
Uncle John told him willingly. There was no doubt but Myrtle had
interested the man.
"My girls found her on the train between Chicago and Denver," he
began. "She was on her way to join her uncle in Leadville."
"What is her uncle's name?"
"Anson Jones. But the child was almost helpless, ill and without
friends or money. She was not at all sure her uncle was still in
Leadville, in which case she would be at the mercy of a cold world. So
I telegraphed and found that Anson Jones had been gone from the mining
camp for several months. Do you know, sir, I at first suspected you
might be the missing uncle? For I heard you were a miner and found
that your name is Jones. But I soon discovered you are not Anson
Jones, but C.B. Jones--which alters the case considerably."
Mr. Jones nodded absently.
"Tell me the rest," he said.
Uncle John complied. He related the manner in which Beth and Patsy
had adopted Myrtle, the physician's examination and report upon her
condition, and then told the main points of their long but delightful
journey from Albuquerque to San Diego in the limousine.
"It was one of the most fortunate experiments we have ever tried," he
concluded; "for the child has been the sweetest and most agreeable
companion imaginable, and her affection and gratitude have amply
repaid us for anything we have done for her. I am determined she shall
not leave us, sir. When we return to New York I shall consult the best
specialist to be had, and I am confident she can be fully cured and
made as good as new."
The other man had listened intently, and when the story was finished
he sat silent for a time, as if considering and pondering over what he
had heard. Then, without warning, he announced quietly:
"I am Anson Jones."
Uncle John fairly gasped for breath.
"You Anson Jones!" he exclaimed. Then, with plausible suspicion he
added: "I myself saw that you are registered as C.B. Jones."
"It is the same thing," was the reply. "My name is Collanson--but my
family always called me 'Anson', when I had a family--and by that name
I was best known in the mining camps. That is what deceived you."
"But--dear me!--I don't believe Myrtle knows her uncle's name is
"Probably not. Her mother, sir, my sister, was my only remaining
relative, the only person on earth who cared for me--although I
foolishly believed another did. I worked for success as much on
Kitty's account--Kitty was Myrtle's mother--as for my own sake. I
intended some day to make her comfortable and happy, for I knew her
husband's death had left her poor and friendless. I did not see her
for years, nor write to her often; it was not my way. But Kitty always
knew I loved her."
He paused and sat silent a moment. Then he resumed, in his quiet, even
"There is another part of my story that you must know to understand
me fully; to know why I am now a hopeless, desperate man; or was
until--until last night, perhaps. Some years ago, when in Boston, I
fell in love with a beautiful girl. I am nearly fifty, and she was not
quite thirty, but it never occurred to me that I was too old to win
her love, and she frankly confessed she cared for me. But she said she
could not marry a poor man and would therefore wait for me to make a
fortune. Then I might be sure she would marry me. I believed her. I do
not know why men believe women. It is an absurd thing to do. I did it;
but other men have been guilty of a like folly. Ah, how I worked and
planned! One cannot always make a fortune in a short time. It took me
years, and all the time she renewed her promises and kept my hopes and
my ambitions alive.
"At last I won the game, as I knew I should do in time. It was a big
strike. I discovered the 'Blue Bonnet' mine, and sold a half interest
in it for a million. Then I hurried to Boston to claim my bride....
She had been married just three months, after waiting, or pretending
to wait, for me for nearly ten years! She married a poor lawyer, too,
after persistently refusing me because I was poor. She laughed at
my despair and coldly advised me to find some one else to share my
He paused again and wearily passed his hand over his eyes--a familiar
gesture, as Myrtle knew. His voice had grown more and more dismal as
he proceeded, and just now he seemed as desolate and unhappy as when
first they saw him at the Grand Canyon.
"I lived through it somehow," he continued; "but the blow stunned me.
It stuns me yet. Like a wounded beast I slunk away to find my sister,
knowing she would try to comfort me. She was dead. Her daughter
Myrtle, whom I had never seen, had been killed in an automobile
accident. That is what her aunt, a terrible woman named Martha Dean,
told me, although now I know it was a lie, told to cover her own
baseness in sending an unprotected child to the far West to seek an
unknown uncle. I paid Martha Dean back the money she claimed she had
spent for Myrtle's funeral; that was mere robbery, I suppose, but not
to be compared with the crime of her false report. I found myself
bereft of sweetheart, sister--even an unknown niece. Despair claimed
me. I took the first train for the West, dazed and utterly despondent.
Some impulse led me to stop off at the Grand Canyon, and there I saw
the means of ending all my misery. But Myrtle interfered."
Uncle John, now thoroughly interested and sympathetic, leaned over and
"The hand of God was in that!"
Mr. Jones nodded.
"I am beginning to believe it," he replied. "The girl's face won me
even in that despairing mood. She has Kitty's eyes."
"They are beautiful eyes," said Uncle John, earnestly. "Sir, you have
found in your niece one of the sweetest and most lovely girls that
ever lived. I congratulate you!"
Mr. Jones nodded again. His mood had changed again since they began
to speak of Myrtle. His eyes now glowed with pleasure and pride. He
clasped Mr. Merrick's hand in his own as he said with feeling:
"She has saved me, sir. Even before I knew she was my niece I began to
wonder if it would not pay me to live for her sake. And now--"
"And now you are sure of it," cried Uncle John, emphatically. "But who
is to break the news to Myrtle?"
"No one, just yet," was the reply. "Allow me, sir, if you please, to
keep her in ignorance of the truth a little longer. I only made the
discovery myself today, you see, and I need time to think it all out
and determine how best to take advantage of my good fortune."
"I shall respect your wish, sir," said Mr. Merrick.
The girls came trooping back then, and instead of running away Anson
Jones remained to talk with them.
Beth and Patsy were really surprised to find the "Sad One" chatting
pleasantly with Uncle John. The Major looked at the man curiously, not
understanding the change in him. But Myrtle was quite proud of the
progress he was making and his improved spirits rendered the girl very
happy indeed. Why she should take such an interest in this man she
could not have explained, except that he had been discouraged and
hopeless and she had succeeded in preventing him from destroying his
life and given him courage to face the world anew. But surely that was
enough, quite sufficient to give her a feeling of "proprietorship," as
Patsy had expressed it, in this queer personage. Aside from all this,
she was growing to like the man who owed so much to her. Neither Patsy
nor Beth could yet see much to interest them or to admire in his
gloomy character; but Myrtle's intuition led her to see beneath the
surface, and she knew there were lovable traits in Mr. Jones' nature
if he could only be induced to display them.
After that evening the man attached himself to the party on every
possible occasion. Sometimes in their trips around Coronado he rode
in their automobile, at other times he took Myrtle, and perhaps one
other, in his own car. Every day he seemed brighter and more cheerful,
until even Major Doyle admitted he was not a bad companion.
Three weeks later they moved up to Los Angeles, taking two days for
the trip and stopping at Riverside and Redlands on the way. They
established their headquarters at one of the handsome Los Angeles
hotels and from there made little journeys through the surrounding
country, the garden spot of Southern California. One day they went to
Pasadena, which boasts more splendid residences than any city of its
size in the world; at another time they visited Hollywood, famed as
"the Paradise of Flowers." Both mountains and sea were within easy
reach, and there was so much to do that the time passed all too
It was on their return from such a day's outing that Myrtle met with
her life's greatest surprise. Indeed, the surprise was shared by all
but Uncle John, who had religiously kept the secret of Mr. Jones'
As they reached the hotel this eventful evening Mr. Merrick said to
"After you have dressed for dinner meet us on the parlor floor. We
dine privately to-night."
They were mildly astonished at the request, but as Uncle John was
always doing some unusual thing they gave the matter little thought.
However, on reaching the parlor floor an hour later they found Mr.
Merrick, the Major and Mr. Jones in a group awaiting them, and
all were garbed in their dress suits, with rare flowers in their
"What is it, then?" asked Patsy. "A treat?"
"I think so," said Uncle John, smiling. "Your arm, please, Miss
The Major escorted Beth and Mr. Jones walked solemnly beside Myrtle,
who still used crutches, but more as a matter of convenience than
because they were necessary. At the end of a corridor a waiter threw
open the door of a small but beautiful banquet room, where a round
table, glistening with cut glass and silver, was set for six. In the
center of the table was a handsome centerpiece decorated with vines
of myrtle, while the entire room was filled with sprays of the dainty
vines, alive with their pretty blue flowers.
"Goodness me!" exclaimed Patsy, laughing gleefully. "This seems to be
our little Myrtle's especial spread. Who is the host, Uncle John?"
"Mr. Jones, of course," announced Beth, promptly.
Myrtle blushed and glanced shyly at Mr. Jones. His face was fairly
illumined with pleasure. He placed her in the seat of honor and said
"This is indeed Myrtle's entertainment, for she has found something.
It is also partly my own thanksgiving banquet, my friends; for I, too,
have found something."
His tone was so serious that all remained silent as they took their
seats, and during the many courses served the conversation was less
lively than on former occasions when there had been no ceremony.
Myrtle tried hard to eat, but there was a question in her eyes--a
question that occupied her all through the meal. When, finally, the
dessert was served and the servants had withdrawn and left them to
themselves, the girl could restrain her curiosity no longer.
"Tell me, Mr. Jones," she said, turning to him as he sat beside her;
"what have you found?"
He was deliberate as ever in answering.
"You must not call me 'Mr. Jones,' hereafter," said he.
"Why not? Then, what shall I call you?" she returned, greatly
"I think it would be more appropriate for you to call me 'Uncle
"Uncle Anson! Why, Uncle Anson is--is--"
She paused, utterly bewildered, but with a sudden suspicion that made
her head whirl.
"It strikes me, Myrtle," said Uncle John, cheerfully, "that you have
never been properly introduced to Mr. Jones. If I remember aright you
scraped acquaintance with him and had no regular introduction. So I
will now perform that agreeable office. Miss Myrtle Dean, allow me to
present your uncle, Mr. Collanson B. Jones."
"Collanson!" repeated all the girls, in an astonished chorus.
"That is my name," said Mr. Jones, the first smile they had seen
radiating his grim countenance. "All the folks at home, among them my
sister Kitty--your mother, my dear--called me 'Anson'; and that is
why, I suppose, old Martha Dean knew me only as your 'Uncle Anson.'
Had she told you my name was Collanson you might have suspected
earlier that 'C.B. Jones' was your lost uncle. Lost only because he
was unable to find you, Myrtle. While you were journeying West in
search of him he was journeying East. But I'm glad, for many reasons,
that you did not know me. It gave me an opportunity to learn the
sweetness of your character. Now I sincerely thank God that He led you
to me, to reclaim me and give me something to live for. If you will
permit me, my dear niece, I will hereafter devote my whole life to
you, and earnestly try to promote your happiness."
During this long speech Myrtle had sat wide eyed and white, watching
his face and marveling at the strangeness of her fate. But she was
very, very glad, and young enough to quickly recover from the shock.
There was a round of applause from Patsy, Beth, the Major and
Uncle John, which served admirably to cover their little friend's
embarrassment and give her time to partially collect herself. Then she
turned to Mr. Jones and with eyes swimming with tears tenderly kissed
his furrowed cheek.
"Oh, Uncle Anson; I'm so happy!" she said.
Of course Myrtle's story is told, now. But it may be well to add that
Uncle Anson did for her all that Uncle John had intended doing, and
even more. The consultation with a famous New York specialist, on
their return a month later, assured the girl that no painful operation
was necessary. The splendid outing she had enjoyed, with the fine air
of the far West, had built up her health to such an extent that nature
remedied the ill she had suffered. Myrtle took no crutches back to New
York--a city now visited for the first time in her life--nor did she
ever need them again. The slight limp she now has will disappear
in time, the doctors say, and the child is so radiantly happy that
neither she nor her friends notice the limp at all.
Patsy Doyle, as owner of the pretty flat building on Willing Square,
has rented to Uncle Anson the apartment just opposite that of the
Doyles, and Mr. Jones has furnished it cosily to make a home for his
niece, to whom he is so devoted that Patsy declares her own doting and
adoring father is fairly outclassed.
The Major asserts this is absurd; but he has acquired a genuine
friendship for Anson Jones, who is no longer sad but has grown lovable
under Myrtle's beneficent influence.