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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Eagle's Heart - Part 3 - Chapter 20. A Dark Day With A Glowing Sunset
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The Eagle's Heart - Part 3 - Chapter 20. A Dark Day With A Glowing Sunset Post by :Michael_LI Category :Long Stories Author :Hamlin Garland Date :May 2012 Read :1486

Click below to download : The Eagle's Heart - Part 3 - Chapter 20. A Dark Day With A Glowing Sunset (Format : PDF)

The Eagle's Heart - Part 3 - Chapter 20. A Dark Day With A Glowing Sunset

PART III CHAPTER XX. A DARK DAY WITH A GLOWING SUNSET

The clerk at the station window was not the kindly young man who had received Harold's ticket for safe keeping. He knew nothing of it and poked around for several minutes before finding it. After glancing keenly at its date he threw it down and brusquely said:

"Time's out on this, my friend."

Harold looked at him sharply. "Oh, no, that can't be; it's a thirty-day trip."

The agent grew irritable. "I know it is; it was good to the fifteenth; this is the seventeenth; the ticket is worthless."

Harold took up the slip of paper and stared at it in bewilderment. The agent was right; he had overstayed the limit and was without five dollars in his pocket. He turned weak with a sudden sense of his helplessness and the desolation of his surroundings. He was like a man whose horse fails him on a desert. Taking a seat on a bench in a dark corner of the waiting room he gave himself up to a study of the situation. To be alone in the Needle Range was nothing to worry about, but to be alone and without money in a city scared him.

For two hours he sat there, his thoughts milling like a herd of restless cattle, turning aimlessly around and around in their tracks. He had foolishly neglected his opportunity to escape, and the mountains became each moment more beautiful as they swiftly receded into unattainable distance. He had expected to be riding back into the safe and splendid plains country, back to friends and familiar things, and had trusted to the joy of his return to soften the despair of his second failure to take Mary back with him.

It was a sorrowful thing to see the young eagle in somber dream, the man of unhesitating action becoming introspective. Floods of intent business men, gay young girls, and grizzled old farmers in groups of twos and threes, streamed by, dimly shadowed in his reflective eyes. All these people had purpose and reward in their lives; he alone was a stray, a tramp, with no one but old Kintuck to draw him to any particular spot or keep him there.

"I am outside of everything," he bitterly thought. "There is nothing for me."

Yes, there was Cora and there was little Pink--and then he thought of Mrs. Raimon, whose wealth and serenity of temper had a greater appeal than ever before. He knew perfectly well that a single word from him would bring her and her money to his rescue at once. But something arose in him which made the utterance of such a word impossible. As for Cora and the little one, they brought up a different emotion, and the thought of them at last aroused him to action.

"I'll get something to do and earn money enough to go back on," he finally said to himself; "that's all I'm fit for, just to work by the day for some other man; that's my size. I've failed in everything else I've ever undertaken. I've no business to interfere with a girl like Mary. She's too high class for a hobo like me; even if I had a ranch it would be playing it low down on a singer like her to ask her to go out there. It's no use; I'm worse than a failure--I'm in a hole, and the first thing I've got to do is to earn money enough to get out of it."

He was ashamed to go back to the little hotel to which he had said good-by with so much relief. It was too expensive for him, anyhow, and so he set to work to find one near by which came within his changed condition. He secured lodging at last in an old wooden shack on a side street not far from the station, where rooms could be had for twenty cents a night--in advance. It was a wretched place, filled with cockroaches and other insects, but it was at least a hole in which he could den up for a few nights when sleep overcame him. Thus fortified, he wandered forth into the city, which was becoming each moment more remorseless and more menacing in his eyes.

Almost without knowing it, he found himself walking the broad pavement before the musical college wherein he found Mary. He had no definite hope of seeing her again, but that doorway was the one spot of light in all the weltering black chaos of the city, which now threatened him with hunger and cold. The awe and terror he felt were such as a city dweller would feel if left alone in a wild swamp filled with strange beasts and reptiles.

After an hour's aimless walking to and fro, he returned to his bed each night, still revolving every conceivable plan for earning money. His thought turned naturally to the handling of cattle at the stockyards, and one morning he set forth on his quest, only to meet with a great surprise. He found all the world changed to him when it became known that he was looking for a job. When he said to the office boys, "I want to see the man who has charge of hiring the hands," they told him to wait a while in a tone of voice which he had never before encountered. His blood flamed hot in an instant over their calm insolence. Eventually he found his way into a room where a surly fat man sat writing. He looked up over his shoulder and snarled out:

"Well, what is it? What do you want?"

Harold controlled himself and replied: "I want to get a job; I'm a cattleman from Colorado, and I'd like----"

"I don't care where you're from; we've got all the men we want. See Mr. White, don't come bothering me."

Harold put his hand on the man's shoulder with the gesture of an angry leopard, and a yellow glare filled his eyes, from which the brutal boss shrank as if from a flame.

With a powerful effort he pulled himself up short and said: "Treat the next cattleman that comes your way a little more decent or you'll get a part of your lung carried away. Good day."

He walked out with the old familiar numbness in his body and the red flashes wavering before his eyes. His brain was in tumult. The free man of the mountain had come in contact with "the tyrant of labor," and it was well for the big beast that Harold was for the moment without his gun.

Going back to his room he took out his revolver and loaded every chamber. In the set of his lips was menace to the next employer who dared to insult and degrade him.

In the days that followed he wandered over the city, with eyes that took note of every group of workmen. He could not bring himself to go back to the stockyards, there was danger of his becoming a murderer if he did; and as he approached the various bosses of the gangs of men in the street, he found himself again and again without the resolution to touch his hat and ask for a job. Once or twice he saw others quite as brutally rebuffed as he had been, and it was only by turning away that he kept himself from taking a hand in an encounter. Once or twice, when the overseer happened to be a decent and sociable fellow, Harold, edging near, caught his eye and was able to address him on terms of equality; but in each case the talk which followed brought out the fact that men were swarming for every place; indeed Harold could see this for himself. Ultimately he fell into the ranks of poor, shivering, hollow-cheeked fellows who stood around wistfully watching the excavation of cellars or hanging with pathetic intentness above the handling of great iron beams or pile drivers.

Work came to be a wonderful thing to possess. To put hand to a beam or a shovel seemed now a most desirable favor, for it meant not only warm food and security and shelter, but in his case it promised a return to the mountains which came each hour to seem the one desirable and splendid country in the world--so secure, so joyous, so shining, his heart ached with wistful love of it.

Each night he walked over to the Lake shore, past the college and up the viaduct, till he could look out over the mysterious, dim expanse of water. It reminded him of the plains, and helped him with its lonely sweep and its serene majesty of reflected stars. At night he dreamed of the cattle and of his old companions on the trail; once he was riding with Talfeather and his band in the West Elk Mountains; once he was riding up the looping, splendid incline of the Trout Lake Trail, seeing the clouds gather around old Lizard Head. At other times he was back at the Reynolds ranch taking supper while the cattle bawled, and through the open door the light of the setting sun fell.

He had written to Reynolds, asking him to buy his saddle and bridle (he couldn't bring himself to sell Kintuck) and each day he hoped for a reply. He had not stated his urgent need of money, but Reynolds would know. One by one every little trinket which he possessed went to pay his landlord for his room. He had a small nugget, which he had carried as a good-luck pocket-piece for many months; this he sold, and at last his revolvers went, and then he seemed helpless.

No word from Reynolds came, and the worst of it was, if the money did come it would not now be enough to carry him back. If he had been able to put it with the money from his nugget and revolvers it would at least have taken him to Denver. But now it was too late.

At last there came a day when he was at his last resource. He could find no work to do in the streets, and so, setting his teeth on his pride, he once more sought the stockyards and "Mr. White." It was a cold, rainy day, and he walked the entire distance. Weak as he was from insufficient food, bad air, and his depression, he could not afford to spend one cent for car fare.

White turned out to be a very decent fellow, who knew nothing whatever of Harold's encounter with the other man. He had no work for him, however. He seemed genuinely regretful, and said:

"As a matter of fact, I'm laying off men just now; you see the rush is pretty well over with."

Harold went over to the Great Western Hotel and hung about the barroom, hoping to meet some one he knew, even though there was a certain risk of being recognized as Black Mose. Swarms of cattlemen filled the hotel, but they were mainly from Texas and Oklahoma, and no familiar face met his searching eyes. He was now so desperately homesick that he meditated striking one of these prosperous-looking fellows for a pass back to the cattle country. But each time his pride stood in the way. It would be necessary to tell his story and yet conceal his name--which was a very difficult thing to do even if he had had nothing to cover up.

Late in the evening, faint with hunger, he started for his wretched bunk as a starving wolf returns, after an unsuccessful hunt, to his cold and cheerless den. His money was again reduced to a few coppers, and for a week he had allowed himself only a small roll three times a day. "My God! if I was only among the In-jins," he said savagely; "_they wouldn't see a man starve, not while they had a sliver of meat to share with him; but these Easterners don't care; I'm no more to them than a snake or a horned toad."

The knowledge that Mary's heart would bleed with sorrow if she knew of his condition nerved him to make another desperate trial. "I'll try again to-morrow," he said through his set teeth.

On the way home his curious fatalism took a sudden turn, and a feeling that Reynolds' letter surely awaited him made his heart glow. It was impossible that he should actually be without a cent of money, and the thought filled his brain with an irrational exaltation which made him forget the slime in which his feet slipped. He planned to start on the limited train. "I'll go as far from this cursed hole of a city as I can," he said; "I'll get out where men don't eat each other to keep alive. He'll certainly send me twenty dollars. The silver on the bridle is worth that alone. Mebbe he'll understand I'm broke, and send me fifty."

He became so sure of this at last that he stepped into a saloon and bought a big glass of brandy to ward off a chill which he felt coming upon him, and helped himself to a lunch at the counter. When he arose his limbs felt weak and a singular numbness had spread over his whole body. He had never been drunk in his life--but he knew the brandy had produced this effect.

"I shouldn't have taken it on an empty stomach," he muttered to himself as he dragged his heavy limbs out of the door.

When he came fairly to his senses again he was lying in his little room and the slatternly chambermaid was looking in at him.

"You aind seek alretty?" she asked.

"Go away," he said with a scowl; "you've bothered me too much."

"You peen trinken--aind it. Chim help you up de stairs last nide."

"What time is it?" he asked, with an effort to recall where he had been.

"Tweluf o'clock," she replied, still looking at him keenly, genuinely concerned about him.

"Go away. I must get up." As she went toward the door he sat up for a moment, but a terrible throbbing pain just back of his eyes threw him back upon his pillow as if he had met the blow of a fist. "Oh, I'm used up--I can't do it," he groaned, pressing his palms to his temples. "I'm burning up with fever."

The girl came back. "Dat's vat I tought. You dond look ride. Your mudder vouldn't known you since you gome here. Pedder you send for your folks alretty."

"Oh, go out--let me alone. Yes, I'll do it. I'll get up soon."

When the girl returned with the proprietor of the hotel Harold was far past rational speech. He was pounding furiously on the door, shouting, "Let me out!" When they tried to open the door they found it locked. The proprietor, a burly German, set his weight against it and tore the lock off.

Harold was dangerously quiet as he said: "You'd better let me out o' here. Them greasers are stampeding the cattle. It's a little trick of theirs."

"Dot's all right; you go back to bed; I'll look out for dot greaser pisness," said the landlord, who thought him drunk.

"You let me out or I'll break you in two," the determined man replied, and a tremendous struggle took place.

Ultimately Harold was vanquished, and Schmidt, piling his huge bulk on the worn-out body of the young man, held him until his notion changed.

"Did you ever have a tree burn up in your head?" he asked.

"Pring a policeman," whispered Schmidt to the girl, "and a doctor. De man is grazy mit fevers; he aindt trunk."

When the officer came in Harold looked at him with sternly steady eyes. "See here, cap, don't you try any funny business with me. I won't stand it; I'll shoot with you for dollars or doughnuts."

"What's the matter--jim-jams?" asked the officer indifferently.

"No," replied Schmidt, "I tondt pelief it--he's got some fever onto him."

The policeman felt his pulse. "He's certainly hot enough. Who is he?"

"Hank Jones."

"That's a lie--I'm 'Black Mose,'" said Harold.

The policeman smiled. "'Black Mose' was killed in San Juan last summer."

Harold received this news gravely. "Sorry for him, but I'm the man. You'll find my name on my revolver, the big one--not the little one. I'm all the 'Black Mose' there is. If you'll give me a chance I'll rope a steer with you for blood or whisky; I'm thirsty."

"Well now," said the policeman, "you be quiet till the doctor comes, and I'll go through your valise." After a hasty examination he said: "Damned little here, and no revolvers of any kind. Does he eat here?"

"No, he only hires this room."

"Mebbe he don't eat anywhere; he looks to me like a hungry man."

"Dot's what I think," said the maid. "I'll go pring him some soup."

The prisoner calmly said: "Too late now; my stomach is all dried up."

"Haven't you any folks?" the policeman asked.

Harold seemed to pause for thought. "I believe I have, but I can't think. Mary could tell you."

"Who's Mary?"

"What's that to you. Bring me some water--I'm burning dry."

"Now keep quiet," said the policeman; "you're sick as a horse."

When the doctor came the policeman turned Harold over to him. "This is a case for St. Luke's Hospital, I guess," he said as he went out.

The doctor briskly administered a narcotic as being the easiest and simplest way to handle a patient who seemed friendless and penniless. "The man is simply delirious with fever. He looks like a man emaciated from lack of food. What do you know about him?"

The landlord confessed he knew but little.

The doctor resumed: "Of course you can't attend to him here. I'll inform the hospital authorities at once. Meanwhile, communicate with his friends if you can. He'll be all right for the present."

This valuable man was hardly gone before a lively young fellow with a smoothly shaven, smiling face slipped in. He went through every pocket of Harold's clothing, and found a torn envelope with the name "Excell" written on it, and a small photo of a little girl with the words, "To Mose from Cora." The young man's smile became a chuckle as he saw these things, and he said to himself: "Nothing here to identify him, eh?" Then to the landlord he said; "I'm from The Star office. If anything new turns up I wish you'd call up Harriman, that's me, and let me in on it."

The hospital authorities were not informed, or paid no attention to the summons, and Harold was left to the care of the chambermaid, who did her poor best to serve him.

The Star next morning contained two columns of closely printed matter under the caption, "Black Mose, the Famous Dead Shot, Dying in a West Side Hotel. After Years of Adventure on the Trail, the Famous Desperado Succumbs to Old John Barley Corn." The article recounted all the deeds which had been ascribed to Harold and added a few entirely new ones. His marvelous skill with the revolver was referred to, and his defense of the red men and others in distress was touched upon so eloquently that the dying man was lifted to a romantic height of hardihood and gallantry. A fancy picture of him took nearly a quarter of a page and was surrounded by a corona of revolvers each spouting flame.

Mrs. Raimon seated at breakfast in the lofty dining room of her hotel, languidly unfolded The Star, gave one glance, and opened the paper so quickly and nervously her cup and saucer fell to the floor.

"My God! Can that be true? I must see him." As she read the article she carried on a rapid thinking. "How can I find him? I must see that reporter; he will know." She was a woman of decision. She arose quickly and returned to her room. "Call a carriage for me, quick!" she said to the bell boy who answered to her call. "No name is given to the hotel, but The Star will know. Good Heavens! if he should die!" Her florid face was set and white as she took her seat in the cab. "To The Star office--quick!" she said to the driver, and there was command in the slam of the door.

To the city editor she abruptly said: "I want to find the man who wrote this article on 'Black Mose.' I want to find the hotel where he is."

The editor was enormously interested at once. "Harriman is on the night force and at home how, but I'll see what I can do." By punching various bells and speaking into mysteriously ramifying tubes he was finally able to say: "The man is at a little hotel just across the river. I think it is called the St. Nicholas. It isn't a nice place; you'd better take some one with you. Mind you, I don't vouch for the truth of that article; the boy may be mistaken about it."

Mrs. Raimon turned on her heel and vanished. She had her information and acted upon it. She was never finer than when she knelt at Harold's bedside and laid her hand gently on his forehead. She could not speak for a moment, and when her eyes cleared of their tears and she felt the wide, dry eyes of the man searching her, a spasm of pain contracted her heart.

"He don't know me!" she cried to the slatternly maid, who stood watching the scene with deep sympathy.

Harold spoke petulantly: "Go away and tell Mary I want her. It costs too much for her to sing, or else she'd come. These people won't let me get up, but Reynolds will be here soon and then something will rip wide open. They took my guns and my saddle. If I had old Kintuck here I could ride to Mary. She said she'd sing for me every Sunday. Look here, I want ice on my head. This pillow has been heated. I don't want a hot pillow--and I don't want my arms covered. Say, I wish you'd send word to old Jack. I don't know where he is, but he'd come--so will Reynolds. These policemen will have a hot time keeping me here after they come. It's too low here, I must take Mary away--it's healthier in the mountains. It ain't so hot----"

Out of this stream of loosely uttered words the princess caught and held little more than the names "Jack" and "Mary."

"Who is Jack?" she softly asked.

Harold laughed. "Don't you know old freckle-faced Jack? Why, I'd know Jack in the dark of a cave. He's my friend--my old chum. He didn't forget me when they sent me to jail. Neither did Mary. She sung for me."

"Can't you tell me Mary's name?"

"Why, it's just Mary, Mary Yardwell."

"Where does she live?"

"Oh, don't bother me," he replied irritably. "What do you want to know for?"

The princess softly persisted, and he said: "She lives in the East. In Chicago. It's too far off to find her. It takes five days to get down there on a cattle train, and then you have to look her up in a directory, and then trail her down. I couldn't find her."

The princess took down Mary's name and sent a messenger to try to find the address of this woman who was more to the delirious man than all the rest of the world.

As he tossed and muttered she took possession of the house. "Is this the worst room you have? Get the best bed in the house ready. I want this man to have the cleanest room you have. Hurry! Telephone to the Western Palace and ask Doctor Sanborn to come at once--tell him Mrs. Raimon wants him."

Under her vigorous action one of the larger rooms was cleared out and made ready, and when the doctor came Harold was moved, under his personal supervision. "I shall stay here till he is out of danger," she said to the doctor as he was leaving, "and please ask my maid to go out and get some clean bed linen and bring it down here at once--and tell her to send Mr. Doris here, won't you?"

The doctor promised to attend to these matters at once.

She sat by the bedside of the sufferer bathing his hands and face as if he were a child, talking to him gently with a mother's grave cadences. He was now too weak to resist any command, and took his medicine at a gulp like a young robin.

* * * * *

Late in the afternoon as Mrs. Raimon returned from an errand to the street she was amazed to find a tall and handsome girl sitting beside the sick man's bed holding his two cold white hands in both of hers. There was a singular and thrilling serenity in the stranger's face--a composure that was exaltation, while Harold, with half-closed eyelids, lay as if in awe, gazing up into the woman's face.

Mrs. Raimon waited until Harold's eyes closed like a sleepy child's and the watcher arose--then she drew near and timidly asked:

"Are you Mary?"

"Yes," was the simple reply.

The elder woman's voice trembled. "I am glad you've come. He has called for you incessantly. You must let me help you--I am Mrs. Raimon, of Wagon Wheel--I knew him there."

Mary understood the woman's humble attitude, but she did not encourage a caress. She coldly replied: "I shall be very grateful. He is very ill, and I shall not leave him till his friends come."

She thought immediately of Jack, and sent a telegram saying: "Harold is here ill--come at once." She did not know where to reach Mr. Excell, so could only wait to consult Jack.

Mrs. Raimon remained with her and was so unobtrusively ready to do good that Mary's heart softened toward her--though she did not like her florid beauty and her display of jewels.

A telegram from Jack came during the evening: "Do all you can for Harold. Will reach him to-night."

He came in at eleven o'clock, his face knotted into anxious lines. They smoothed out as his eyes fell upon Mary, who met him in the hall.

"Oh, I'm glad to see you here," he said brokenly. "How is he--is there any hope?"

In his presence Mary's composure gave way. "O Jack! If he should die now----" She laid her head against his sturdy shoulder and for a moment shook with nervous weakness. Almost before he could speak she recovered herself. "He only knew me for a few moments. He's delirious again. The doctor is with him--oh, I can't bear to hear him rave! It is awful! He calls for me, and yet does not know me. O Jack, it makes my heart ache so, he is so weak! He came to see me--and then went away--I didn't know where he had gone. And all the time he was starving here. O God! It would be too dreadful--if he should die!"

"We won't let him die!" he stoutly replied. "I'm going in to see him."

Together they went in. The doctor, intently studying his patient, sat motionless and silent. He was a young man with a serious face, but his movements were quick, silent, and full of decision. He looked up and made a motion, stopping them where they were.

Out of a low mutter at last Harold's words grew distinct: "I don't care--but the water is cold as ice--I wouldn't put a cayuse into it--let alone Kintuck. Should be a bridge here somewhere."

"Oh, he's on the trail again!" said Mary. "Harold, don't you know me?" She bent over to him again and put forth the utmost intensity of her will to recall him. "I am here, Harold, don't you see me?"

His head ceased to roll and he looked at her with eyes that made her heart grow sick--then a slow, faint smile came to his lips. "Yes--I know you, Mary--but the river is between us, and it's swift and cold, and Kintuck is thin and hungry--I can't cross now!"

"Doctor," said Jack, as the physician was leaving, "what are the chances?"

The doctor's voice carried conviction: "Oh, he'll pull through--he has one of the finest bodies I ever saw." He smiled. "He'll cross the river all right--and land on our side."

Two days later Mr. Excell, big and brown, his brow also knotted with anxiety, entered the room, and fell on his knees and threw his long arm over the helpless figure beneath the coverlet. "Harry! My boy, do you know me?"

Harold looked up at him with big staring eyes and slowly put out his hand. "Sure thing! And I'm not dead yet, father. I'll soon be all right. I've got Mary with me. She can cure me--if the doctor can't."

He spoke slowly, but there was will behind the voice. His wasted face had a gentleness that was most moving to the father. He could not look at the pitiful wreck of his once proud and fearless boy without weeping, and being mindful of Harold's prejudice against sentiment, he left the room to regain his composure. To Mary Mr. Excell said: "I don't know you--but you are a noble woman. I give you a father's gratitude. Won't you tell me who you are?"

"I am Mary Yardwell," she replied in her peculiarly succinct speech. "My home was in Marmion, but I attended school in your village. I sang in your church for a little while."

His face lighted up. "I remember you--a pale, serious little girl. Did you know my son there?"

She looked away for a moment. "I sang for him--when he was in jail," she replied. "I belonged to the Rescue Band."

A shadow fell again upon the father's face.

"I did not know it," he said, feeling something mysterious here--something which lay outside his grasp. "Have you seen him meanwhile? I suppose you must have done so."

"Once, in Marmion, some four years ago."

"Ah! Now I understand his visit to Marmion," said Mr. Excell, with a sudden smile. "I thought he came to see Jack and me. He really came to see you. Am I right?"

"Yes," she replied. "He wanted me to go back with him, but I--I--couldn't do so."

"I know--I know," he replied hastily. "He had no right to ask it of you--poor boy."

"It seems now as though I had no right to refuse. I might have helped him. If he should die now there would be an incurable ache here"--she lifted her hand to her throat; "so long as I lived I should not forgive myself."

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