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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Eagle's Heart - Part 3 - Chapter 21. Conclusion
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The Eagle's Heart - Part 3 - Chapter 21. Conclusion Post by :Michael_LI Category :Long Stories Author :Hamlin Garland Date :May 2012 Read :757

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The Eagle's Heart - Part 3 - Chapter 21. Conclusion


As he crawled slowly back to life and clear thinking, Harold's wild heart was filled with a peace and serenity of emotion such as it had not known since childhood. He was like a boy in a careless dream, forecasting nothing, remembering nothing, content to see Mary come and go about the room, glad of the sound of her skirts, thrilling under the gentle pressure of her hand.

She, on her part, could not realize any part of his dark fame as she smiled down into his big yellow-brown eyes which were as pathetic and wistful as those of a gentle animal.

Mrs. Raimon spoke of this. "I saw 'Black Mose' as he stood in the streets of Wagon Wheel, the most famous dead-shot in the State. I can't realize that this is the same man. He's gentle as a babe now; he was as terrible and as beautiful as a tiger then."

Reynolds sent fifty dollars with an apology for the delay and Mr. Excell offered his slender purse, but Mrs. Raimon said: "I'll attend to this matter of expense. Let me do that little for him--please!" And he gave way, knowing her great wealth.

But all these things began at last to trouble the proud heart of the sick man, and as he grew stronger his hours of quiet joy began to be broken by disquieting calculations of his indebtedness to Mrs. Raimon as well as to Mary and Jack. He wished to be free of all obligations, even gratitude. He insisted on his father's return to his pastorate--which he did at the end of the week.

Meanwhile Mary and Jack conspired for the Eagle's good. Together they planned to remove him to some fairer quarter of the city. Together they read and discussed the letters which poured in upon them from theatrical managers, Wild West shows, music halls, and other similar enterprises, and from romantic girls and shrewd photographers, and every other conceivable kind of crank. The offers of the music halls Jack was inclined to consider worth while. "He'd be a great success there, or as a dead-shot in a Wild West show. They pay pretty well, too."

"I don't believe he'd care to do anything like that," Mary quietly replied.

They both found that he cared to do nothing which involved his remaining in the East. As his eyes grew brighter, his longing for the West came back. He lifted his arms above his quilts with the action of the eaglet who meditates leaping from the home ledge. It was a sorrowful thing to see this powerful young animal made thin and white and weak by fever, but his spirit was indomitable.

"He must be moved to the West before he will fully recover," said the doctor, and to this Mrs. Raimon replied:

"Very well, doctor. You name the day when it is safe and we'll go. I'll have a special car, if necessary, but first of all he must go to a good hotel. Can't he be moved now?"

Outwardly Mary acknowledged all the kindness of this rich and powerful woman, but inwardly she resented her intimacy. Drawing all her little store of ready money she quietly began paying off the bills. When all was settled she took a seat beside Harold one day when they were alone and laying one strong, warm hand on his thin, white arm, she said:

"Harold, the doctor says you can be moved from here, and so--you must give me the right to take you home with me."

There was a piercing pathos in his wan smile as he replied, "All right, you're the boss. It's a pretty hard come down, though. I thought once I'd come back after you in a private car. If you stand by me I may be a cattle king yet. There's a whole lot of fight in me still--you watch me and see."

The next day he was moved to a private hotel on the north side, and Mary breathed a sigh of deep relief as she saw him sink back into his soft bed in a clean and sunny room. He, with a touch of his old fire, said: "This sure beats a holler log, but all the same I'll be glad to see the time when I can camp on my saddle again."

Mary only smiled and patted him like a mother caressing a babe. "I'll hate to have you go and leave me--now."

"No danger of that, Mary. We camp down on the same blanket from this on."

Mr. Excell came on to marry them, but Jack sent his best wishes by mail; he could not quite bring himself to see Mary give herself away--even to his hero.

Mrs. Raimon took her defeat with most touching grace. "You're right," she said. "He's yours--I know that perfectly well, but you must let me help him to make a start. It won't hurt him, and it'll please me. I have a ranch, I have mines, I could give him something to do till he got on his feet again, if you'd let me, and I hope you won't deny me a pleasure that will carry no obligation with it."

She was powerfully moved as she went in to say good-by to him. He was sitting in a chair, but looked very pale and weak. She said: "Mose, you're in luck; you've got a woman who'll do you good. She's loyal and she's strong, and there's nothing further for me to do--unless you let me help you. See here, why not let me help you get a start; what do you say?"

Harold felt the deep sincerity of the woman's regard and he said simply:

"All right; let me know what you find, and I'll talk it over with Mary."

She seized his thin hand in both hers and pressed it hard, the tears creeping down her cheeks. "You're a good boy, Mose; you're the kind that are good to women in ways they don't like, sometimes. I hope you'll forget the worst of me and remember only the best. I don't think she knows anything about me; if she hears anything, tell her the truth, but say I was better than women think."

One day about ten days later a bulky letter came, addressed to "Mose Excell." It was from Mrs. Raimon, but contained a letter from Reynolds, who wrote:

"Yesterday a young Cheyenne came ridin' in here inquirin' for you. I told him you was in Chicago, sick. He brought a message from old Talfeather who is gettin' scared about the cattlemen. He says they're crowdin' onto his reservation, and he wants you to come and help him. He wants you to talk with them and to go to Washington and see the Great Father. He sent this medicine and said it was to draw you to him. He said he was blind and his heart was heavy because he feared trouble. I went up to Wagon Wheel and saw the princess, who has a big pull. She said she'd write you. Kintuck is well but getting lazy."

Mrs. Raimon wrote excitedly:

"DEAR FRIEND: Here is work for you to do. The agent at Sand Lake has asked to be relieved and I have written Senator Miller to have you appointed. He thought the idea excellent. We both believe your presence will quiet the cattlemen as well as Talfeather and his band. Will you accept?"

As Harold read, his body uplifted and his eyes grew stern. "See here, Mary, what do you think of this?" and he read the letter and explained the situation. She, too, became tense with interest, but, being a woman who thought before she spoke, she remained silent.

Harold, after a moment, arose from his chair, gaunt and unsteady as he was. "That's what I'm fitted for, Mary. That solves my problem. I know these cattlemen, they know me. I am the white chief of Talfeather's people. If you can stand it to live there with me, Mary, I will go. We can do good; the women need some one like you to teach 'em to do things."

Mary's altruistic nature began to glow. "Do you think so, Harold? Could I be of use?"

"Of use? Why, Mary, those poor squaws and their children need you worse than they need a God. I know, for I've lived among 'em."

"Then I will go," she said, and out of the gray cloud the sun broke and shone from the west across the great lonely plains.

Again "Black Mose" rode up the almost invisible ascent toward the Rocky Mountains. Again he saw the mighty snow peaks loom over the faintly green swells of the plain, but this time he left nothing behind. The aching hunger was gone out of his heart for beside him Mary sat, eager as he to see the wondrous mountain land whose trails to her were script of epic tales, and whose peaks were monuments to great dead beasts and mysterious peoples long since swept away by the ruthless march of the white men.

If she had doubts or hesitations she concealed them, for hers was a nature fitted for such sacrifice as this--and besides, each day increased her love for the singular and daring soul of Harold Excell.

Hamlin Garland's Novel: Eagle's Heart

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