"How happy I'd be with either, Were t'other dear charmer away."
THIS is a story of divided affections, which threatened at one time to end in
the divided lives of two young people. Youth has its romances, and so had the youth,
I was going down the canyon by the way of the mule tramway. It was built along the canyon side, a little higher than the street. I used to look out for rattlers, as it was a favorite place for the snakes. They would crawl out in the sun and lie along the track. The mules used to be affronted at them and the drivers used to crack their whips and sometimes their guns at these reptiles.
The tarantula spider often occupied the track. I met one the day of which I am now speaking. He was on a tie, and up on his long, high, hairy legs. His wicked eyes were on me when I first caught sight of his pose. I knew that he was ready to jump, for this spider is as aggressive as he is big. He did spring; but so did I, and he passed me on the inside track, and struck the rocks, up which he jumped out of sight. I later saw one like him. He was in a big bottle and safe in alcohol to preserve him on his journey east. His eyes and hairy limbs were suggestive of the temper of this fighting spider.
Mrs. Eells, who was with me, said, "How horrid! Take it away." This expressed everybody's feelings.
It was just after this little episode in camp life that I saw Clarence Waterman pass down the street astride his broncho, garbed in full regimentals as a broncho buster. I shouted aloud to him, "Where are you bound for aboard that cayuse?"
"I'm due at the canyon-mouth to race Miss Gladys Glynn's white pony. The wager is a new saddle. Come on!"
He rode off. I followed along the track more leisurely, until I neared the depot.
A good sized crowd was gathered there, for just beyond this terminus of the carline the canyon opened out into a big bay of land encircled with the lower foothills. In this space was the cattlemen's corral, the slaughter yards for the camp and, around the outer limits, was a roadway in imitation of a racing oval. This was the horse-racing circle, minus restraining fence and bleacher seats and grandstand. There was a rough sort of stand for privileged spectators, and I saw the elite of the camp beginning to occupy these seats.
A young woman sat on a white horse. The animal was small, but neat of limb and a pet by the way its rider was caressing the arching neck and silver mane. This was Miss Gladys Glynn, the open-air belle of the region and the pride and admiration of the cowboys. She was a rustic beauty of the brunette type, and as her women friends said of her, "as smart as a whip." Her eyes were full of fire and fun. Her tongue was quick in repartee and her mind active, intelligent and charming. A good many of the men were charmed with her, and very violently so was Clarence Waterman. He had gone riding with this young horsewoman several times and the present race, just coming off, was the result of a bet as to the speed of the white pony and the brown broncho.
A tall, dark-bearded man, in black coat and top boots, was slapping a whip on his open palm and talking to the girl rider. This I knew was Dr. Howard Glynn, her father, and the owner of the big cattle range and ranch just below us in the valley. It was his sheep and cattle that ranged the hills and who employed the bunch of cowboys standing by. It was his sage-brush fed mutton that the camp ate, and so disliked. But as the other fresh meat was not handy, we became very familiar with Doc Glynn's sage-brush beef and mutton; especially the mutton, as it retained the sage taste with more pronounced effect, after cooking, than did the beef.
He was a veterinary surgeon, retired from that trying occupation, as he said, and fast getting rich off a free range and sage-fed live-stock. The canyon and camp was his bonanza, and he was working it for all it was worth, in the way of a close and ready market for meat.
Gladdie Glynn was therefore well known, and the center of beaux of all sorts and ages. It was said that a very prominent Mormon apostle wanted her for one of his wives, but if anybody dared to repeat this rumor he was very likely to get into a fight with the men of the camp.
"Come on, Prof," called Tom Robbins, as I reached the depot, "you are just in time for this Rodeo. Let's see Waterman licked to a frazzle by Gladdie and her pony."
Waterman had told me some things about his home life, and once or twice of an engagement to a sweet looking girl, whose photograph stood on his bureau. I thought at first he was just boasting, but I found that it was a fact when a letter came reporting her illness.
He kept the telegraph operator busy for some days, until the young lady was reported out of danger. It looked at one time as though he would throw up his job and hurry East. Hence I knew that he was serious and that he was an engaged man.
I did not quite like his flirting with Miss Gladdie Glynn, who showed more partiality for him than she did for any other of her many admirers. I suppose it was this evident choice of the girl and the propinquity due to their horse interests that made them a little more than friends or chums and threatened a romantic end to their acquaintance.
I could not see how Waterman could be carried away thus, if he really loved the girl in the East who wore his ring, but man, especially the younger man, is a fickle force, as much so as fortune is a fickle jade. So I watched these two as they met and noted the interested glances of both and the more-than-warm handclasp.
It was a friendly affair, this race. The usual fussy preliminaries by the self-appointed arrangers followed the meeting of the principals. Until I saw the crowd I was not fully aware of the interest of the occasion, nor of the popularity of the contestants. Four officious cowboys, with an air of proprietorship, attended to Miss Gladdie's saddle, bridle and bit. Another set of boys did the same for Waterman's broncho, and the way in which the creature switched its bottle-brush tail was a strong proof that the animal's evil disposition was fully awake.
Soon all was ready. It was to be four times around the circle, which meant just two miles. Doc Glynn fired his gun, and they were off, neck and neck. Miss Gladdie had the pole by courtesy and cowboy wit. Now Waterman's little beast was a runner, when mad, and he was mad on this occasion. I could see that the girl was the best rider. She was born to the saddle, for her father had been a cattle-man since her childhood. She was raised to ride a horse.
Once round the circle they passed us in a cloud of dust, still nearly abreast, the broncho having the greater strength, but being handicapped by being on the outer circle. Yells, cheers, and hat wavings saluted them. Soon we saw the dust rising on the homestretch, and then something happened. Waterman put too much spur into his encouragement at this point and his broncho showed his breed by a vicious buck almost unseating the rider.
It needed but this little show-off to put the pale pony in the lead by several lengths, and Miss Gladdie passed the tape, giving the dust of her passage to Waterman's cavorting steed, which came in more like a crab than a horse, a loser by seven lengths. The outcome was very popular, of course, and Clarence was in for a new saddle and bridle for the fair winner.
"I knew that useless mustang of yours would play hob," said James Shuthler; "don't see where you can like the beast. I'd shoot him for just that sort of trick."
"Why did you use so much spur?" I asked the loser.
"Well, it's easy for you to talk, but I thought that just that much of a prick would do the business. I was gaining fast at the time."
"You don't mean to say that you were so un-gallant in intention as to mean to win?" I said.
"Surely I meant to win; why not? It was a race, and gallantry was considered ruled out of the contest by the lady's own wish."
A merry crowd it was after the race. Several cowboys showed off their tricks, but by degrees the crowd thinned out and left the horsemen to themselves.
This event brought the two young people closer together and was the means of starting this romance. A good many knew nothing of Waterman's eastern sweetheart, and supposed that he
was the favored one. In fair play they "kept off the grass," as they called it. Several days later Clarence Waterman came to me.
"Can you get away to join a riding party to Provo in the next valley? We are going to start to-morrow at five in the morning and make the fifty miles by sundown. The next day we ride on to the end of the railroad, fifty miles further. Doc Glynn has a lot of cattle coming up from Nephi and Miss Gladdie and I are going with the boys and her father. Would like you to come."
"Cannot do it just now. I have to go over to Alta City to-morrow, and it is a three-day trip before I get back."
So the Romance began. Just how far these two understood one another I do not know to this day. As far as looks go, they were mutually attracted, and I think that the girl was really in love at last. She had passed through much flirtation, of course, and had received proposals by the dozen from susceptible young men, cowboys, miners and men of means. It was evident she was not so heart-free as formerly, for Waterman's good looks and good breeding had made an impression.
They started on the trip and had a merry time of it the first day. A ride of fifty miles was a common thing for such people and such ponies. Their stock of horseflesh was tough of breed and could wear out more mettled and expensive stock, unused to these hills and valleys. By the afternoon of the second day they met the herd of cattle, and the Doctor and his cowboys took charge of the return drive. His daughter and Waterman were to return by train from the railroad terminus, their horses being used by the cowboys.
Right then it happened. An unexpected delay of a day in the transfer of the cattle by the former owner, a Mormon rancher, gave the young couple an idea. It was to ride over to Nephi, eighteen miles south, and return on that surplus day. They wanted to be alone. I am certain Clarence was fast forgetting his Ida Gertrude in the East, whose portrait stood on his dressing table in Bingham. The bright eyes and charm of Gladdie Glynn were doing the work of forgetfulness. Such is propinquity, the motive power of many a marriage which afterward- is regretted. Doctor Glynn seemed to favor the desires of the two young people, and said:
"Be back in time to give the ponies a good rest before our start to-morrow. They don't ride back on the cars like you two lucky ones."
They rode off. They had an ideal lover's ride down to Nephi. Here they were to dine, rest and return in the afternoon. Both horses had cast a shoe. The blacksmith was absent, gone "to see a man," and two hours passed before he returned. It took another hour before the horses were ready for the road, and by that time it was almost dark. Meanwhile one of those fierce wind-storms arose. Locally it is known as a Mormon storm, because it is all wind, dust and no rain. It is the dread of the rider, especially if the rider be a woman. Now, the two young people were not clad for a storm, for they had left their heavy dustcoats with the outfit at the station that morning. They had thought to ride light and return in the warm afternoon.
Then another thing happened. Was it fate? A deluge of rain followed the blow, a thing seldom occurring in this locality, and for hours the storm raged.
"What shall we do? We can't go on till this is over," said Gladdie Glynn.
"We are fixed to stay here until to-morrow; I'm almost afraid to say it," answered Clarence Waterman.
"Oh! What will father think? He knows I'm to be back with him this evening. He'll think we've started out before the storm."
"But we can't start now, in such a storm as this; can we ?" objected Clarence. "We'll have to put up at this one-horse hotel and start to-morrow at sun-rise."
"What will people think of us?" said Gladdie Glynn. She looked hard at her companion.
"It's none of their affair. We are straight livers. I'm not afraid, if you are not, to face silly talk!"
"Well! If you think so, I'm game to stay on here. I'm no more afraid of talk than you. But I fear father will scold sharply for this delay. You know by this time he has a fiery temper at times; and this will be one of those temper-times."
"Oh! When he knows the reason of our delay I'm sure he would rather you stayed snug under cover here than ride in the rain and darkness tonight!"
They made known their needs to the hotel-keeper. Now, he was a Mormon and saw a chance to play a trick on these two young gentiles. Some time afterwards I myself put up at this hotel and met this very man. I did not like his eye. The eye is the gateway of the mind, and I saw a malice in his eye which explained some things concerning this romance of the stormbound couple.
"I can accommodate you, young people. Are you married or are you intending to git married?" he said to them.
This was not a proper question, and yet it seemed warranted by the circumstances.
"No indeed," said Gladdie Glynn, "and it's none of your business."
"I only asked, young people," answered the landlord, "as there is only one spare room for travellers, but I can fix it so as you needn't know there's any one but yourself. I have a nice cot-bed in the alcove, which can be curtained off. The young man can use the lounge by the window. I've done this way for lots of travellers, and no harm came of it."
Clarence and Gladdie looked at each other for a long moment; their eyes saw, mutually, respect and confidence in the glance.
"I can stand it all right if you can," said Clarence; "it's for you to say. I can go out and sit in a chair in the office if necessary."
"If it won't hurt you it won't hurt me," said Gladdie. "I don't wish you to sit up all night."
"Well, then, landlord," said Clarence, "fix it up as you say."
Storm-bound, and mutually confident of one another, and also brave to face the tattle of the gos-siper, they did this thing and occupied the one room in the inn. The girl slept out her tiredness behind the curtains and Clarence snored to his heart's content on the lounge by the window and behind a blanket thrown over two chairs.
They were innocent of harm, but would the world believe it?
It was a fair morning, and as early as they could get off they left Nephi. They made the railway depot in four hours for breakfast with Dr. Glynn. He had been in a terrible temper over their absence, and when he learned of the facts of their hotel experience he looked darkly at Waterman.
"You young fool! Can't you see what a cloud this is on Gladdie? You've got to marry her now whether you mean it or not," said the enraged father.
Now, if Clarence had not been engaged, as he was to Ida Gertrude, he could have answered this demand with zest.
But here was the rub. It had come over him on the ride that morning that he was in a fix. He felt sure, from Gladdie's looks, she was ready to say "yes" to a vital question, but he found he was not ready to put it.
He suddenly realized that he was a fool to play with fire in engaging a girl's affections, so that she had consented to a compromising situation, that would reflect upon her honor in the eyes of a cynical world.
"Why have I to do that? I haven't asked Glad-die to marry me, and I don't know if-she would," he answered.
Dr. Glynn roared with rage.
"Well, put the question, and be quick about it! She's got to say yes!"
Clarence went to Gladdie, but like a woman, she refused to see him. His evident unreadiness and lack of ardor in his suit at this crisis mortified her mind and wounded her feelings.
Her father went to see her and she said to him: "I won't be forced to accept any man in this way! Let the nasty people talk if they must. My mind is clean of any fault."
Now, this daughter was his pet and pride and he could not be cross long with her, and soon gave way to her wishes. The young woman was wounded at Waterman's indecision. It came out, as they returned by train that afternoon, that he confessed his engagement to Ida Gertrude in the East. She was angry, as they say, "up to the hilt."
"How dare you play with me in this way? I hate you now; don't speak to me again," said the girl.
In this frame of mind they rode into Salt Lake City both as miserable as disenchanted mortals can be. Clarence was on the fence and could not come down on either side. He could not break with his sweetheart, and he could not propose to Gladdie when it came to the pinch. She saw, with a woman's quick intuition, the situation of this last admirer. He had almost won her love, and she resented his lack of courage to offer himself with the ardor of a lover.
When it was all known publicly, through the lightning speed of gossip which carries tattle faster than the wind, many threats against Waterman were heard.
I expected some one of the cowboys would shoot him, but Dr. Glynn put a stop to all that by grimly saying:
"If any shooting comes off I'll do it. Don't let me hear of any of you fellows interfering, unless you want me to take a shot at you; keep off!"
Finally Clarence could stand it no longer. He wrote to Ida Gertrude and told her the whole story and asked to be released. Quickly came back by an early mail his ring with no word in the letter. He then went to Gladys Glynn and said that he was free to ask her to marry him. This he did before her father.
"I answer you no!" she said with snapping eyes. "I want no belated lover, such as you have proved to be."
"Cannot you forgive me and let me keep the talk from injuring your reputation?" he said.
"I can forgive you, but my reputation is not in need of your help. If any one slanders me I, too, can shoot, and will do so."
When the camp knew that Clarence had the mitten from Miss Gladys there was a great laugh, much joy among the jealous and good deal of chaff for the troubled Waterman. He that had two strings to his bow a little while before now was without any strings, and his life -, as without music. Thus strangely does life alter *our outlook in a few eventful days.
I was very sorry for him and said, "Let me write Ida Gertrude and tell her just the facts. If you two are really lovers this trouble ought to be mended in some way."
"Well, do so as my friend; only be sure to put it just as it is," replied Clarence.
I did write as an advocate of my friend and showed the innocence of both parties. That it was simply a case of youthful imprudence. That Clarence was very sorry that he had been carried away by a charming girl and that his inability to love her, as she expected, was a sign that his love still burned true for Ida Gertrude. Could not she forgive him? If she was as much in love with him as he was with her, she should not let a just anger and some pride wreck the happiness of both.
I think that I put it with a wisdom almost like Solomon's and it worked out happily.
Miss Ida wrote me that she supposed the West was a loose living place and that Clarence needed the East to keep him true. She said she forgave him, and if he chose to write her she was willing to hear what he had to say.
I told Clarence this and he brightened up at once. I think that his Remington typewriter did some good won*, about that time. I know letters came and went.
Not long afterwards he sold his broncho. Next I knew he had resigned his office and was no longer a tenderfoot superintendent.
"Dear friend," he said to me, "you did me a good turn. Ida and I are once more as we were at first, and she wears my ring. I expect to put another ring on that dear finger soon, as I have been offered a good position in New York City. I'm going East next week."
I was glad to hear of this end of the matter, but was sorry to see him go. I saw him off at Salt Lake City. Although I heard of his marriage, a year later, and received a letter or two from him, I never met him afterwards.
I knew that he was happily wedded and that he was in good shape to become a successful business man in New York City.
The other party to this story continued her outdoor life, admired as usual, yet strangely cool to all lovers. A few years later her father sold out his interests and went to California, where his daughter entered a woman's college in Oakland. I heard of her graduation. She was a bright girl, and is now the charming wife-companion of a well known university professor in Berkeley.
It may seem strange that this open air girt should become the inmate of a studious home, but life runs by contrasts. The professor, who is her adoring husband, found in her active personality just the foil to his scholastic gifts, while she saw opening to her a world of letters, as new and as interesting as the world outdoors, which she had in her youth so gracefully championed amid camp and cowboy life.
Next: Chapter XIX: Mind as the Master Worker