T HE rush of the day's work was nearly over in,tlie telephone office. Jeanette Whipple, trunk operator, facing the doc!;, saw that iu a little less than two hours her time would be up. She wondered if Richard were vraicliing the clock as impatiently as she. Such a long, long time to C o'clock ami the happy walk home. The chief operator (No.-23 officially) was working back of the board The monitor walked up and down, up and down, hack of the girls who hated her nearly as much as they did their chief. She had been 15 years in the business—and she showed it. She was reported to have a soft spot in her heart for the young, curly headed assistant chief operator at the desk. ; The messenger hoys called him the fellow with the "pretty blue hair." The girls called him "twelve-and-a half," being assistant to No. 25. Jeanette laughed to herself as she thought of it. Then she turned down a jack to see if No. ; . 270 were still talking to Ridgeton. Capt. Henry's big voice boomed in her ear. and she caught a sentence. "—tall and dark, about 30 vears old, been foreman of the electric company six years." Mechanically she turned up the jack. Then as she realized-what she had heard she listened again. Richard was foreman of the electric company. What could have happened. "O, Lathrop'll die. There is no chance. Don't (mow just how it happened yet, Nasli has always borne a good name, though there has been) bad blood between him and Lathrop a long time, I hear. Have your men watch sharp. If he did go on that 4 o'clock I'll head it off at Saturne.. It gets there about 4:30. If he got off at Ridgeton. which 1 doubt, he can't have gone far yet. I think he will keep on toward the west. Got it all? —5 feet. ] ], dark, smooth face, well built, brown suit, black derby—all right? Goodby." Then, slowly, her brain cleared. She had no trouble in realizing now what it all -meant. Richard Nash, her Richard Xash had killed Lathrop. Richard had escaped, and the police were trying to head him off by telephoning ahead to the stations at which the train stopped. His face came up before her, clear cut as a cameo, the wise, tender face, the frank, steady eyes. Why. everyone had hated Lathrop but Richard. He had only laughed at him. It could not be true. Someone was playing a joke on her. A drop fell. It was 270. She took it before the recording operator could reach it, and plugged in on the line. Her voice sounded strange to her as she spoke. "Toll Line." "Give me police station, Saturne, Capt-. Briggs to the telephone. And right away quick, too, central." She made out the ticket slowly. Her fingers were stiff and cold. She felt numbed all over except her brain. That seemed on fire. She looked down at the small diamond on her left hand. Whether it were true or not, he was Richard—yes—and she loved him. If Ridgeton had nor been able to get a man down to the train in time to search it, after getting Capt. Henry's message, there was a small chance for his escape. Could she keep 270 from getting Saturne before the train passed there, a whole half,hour yet? New York was probably his goal. If Bhe could keep the train from being searched before it reached New York, he might escape west, or across the water. 270 was calling again. "Can't you get Saturne, Central? What is the matter?" "Wire is busy. I will call you." she answered clearly. It was only 4:43 now. She cast a furtive look at the monitor, who was coming toward her. She answered two other calls and made quick connections. The moni- I tor glanced at her board, then walked slowly away again. Time seemed to stand still. 4:57—1:58— 270 called again. Capt. Henry's voice bodied trouble for somebody. "Why can't I have Saturne? I must have them before 4:50." Jeanette almost laughed. Her blood was up now. 270 must have—. Capt. Henry said so. 270 must, not,have— Jeanette Whipple said so. Which would win? Capt. Henry fumed. Jeanette listened in silence. Then he slnimned up his telephone. She watched the clock and waited. 4:5'"—she drew a long breath, and passed the call. In a few moments they were talking. Capt Henry gave the same details that he had given to Ridgeton, gave them like a flash. Then, having evi- I New York at the same time. Jeanette had nor thought he would passed voice was like a cannon roar with anger. Then she set her teeth, folded her arms, and waited. Oneo she made a feint of receiving reports on the calls'and after giving ihe bogus information courteously to CMIH. Henry recorded it on the back of the tickets.- 5.00 N. C. I no circuit I. n.l 0 By (busy). The light was on. 270 called every oilier breath. Jeanette tried to keep him good na- lured. If be should call No. 25 and complain, an investigation would '_ _. quickly .settle everything. She would l)c senl pway on the spot. Kvery minute's delay meant hope, perhaps life. The intense strain was telling on her. She tried to bold herself still and calm that she might think clearly. She began to realize the terrible tbing that, had happened. The agony of it sank in slowly. Perhaps she would wake up suddenly and find that she had been dreaming. The numbers tired eyes. Her danced- before her face was hot with 'TWAS CAPTAIX HENRY'S VOICE. do Hint. The train did not get into New York until nearly o'clock. Dared she delay that call so long a time? She took the calls slowly, making him repeat several limes, until his the excitement. But when 6 o'clock came she had just pur up the connection between 270 and New York. She had won. She had done all she could to save the man she loved.' She stumbled out of her chair. She was so rigid she could scarcely move. She put on her hat and cloak with stiff fingers. The girls seemed to shun her, or was it fancy? They must know it, roo. Everyone must know if. Why] the world was full of it. Richard was a murderer, Hying for his life, and yet. so strange and untrue it seemed that, even as she said ir, she waited at the street door a minute for his familiar figure. Then she started! But 270 was grim reality, calling again. home alone. "Richard!" She turned back to the door and tried to call his name, but it was only a gasp. Then he caught her. "Sweetheart, has some one been frightening you? Why, Jeanette— Why. Jeanette?" With a great effort she struggled out of the darkness thht threatened to engulf her. "The murder, Richard, you—" He lifted her up into his arms and, carrying her in, sar. down in the big, old-fashioned rocker with her. "There, there, child. It's all right, Jeanette. Nash Farnsworth shot, Lathrop. but. he is not going to die. though they thought he was at first. Did you get It wrong? It:was mixed ut first, in the excitement. .Did they i ,,.,,, i te " - vo » I' was Richard Nash who I had evidently been raining. The did it? His first name being mv last dark was coming early. The mist one. and description being rather to her skirts and dampened her I alil,-p Hiri mnL-o „ little , . . 'r S Th 1 1 - S ".r j' a «V 1)ene " Il6r Slike did Wake a " ttle bother " He m [; , nn l , T g n»cke«<l on got away, f guess. I imagine he got little pools of wind-swept water in that I o'clock train. Whv. little girl the road. He was Susan met her at Then for over an hour she stubbornly fought every inch of the way. Capt. Henry was a big man and a smart one, but he could not manage something he did not. understand. He had been obliged to wait for busy wires before this. It was nothing new nor surprising. He never even dreamed that this peculiar combination of busy wires, with other technical terms that sounded perfectly proper, even familiar, was due to a slip of a. girl, one-quarter his ape. in the central telephone office just four blocks up the street. you could not think it was I who shot the door, her i him. could vou?" kind, sisterly face placid and smiling. I A 'nd the "hush, while Susan got Then she started. - ...._. - *> "Why. Jeanette, dear, what, has happened?" But Jeanette could not speak. Something, was beating in her throat like a mad thing. She brushed past her and went in. Susan did not shut the door. Jeanette heard her say- Ing. "Have you two been quarrel- Who was Susan talking to? A man's voice answered. supper, and the light from the fire played on the walls, the rocking chair swayed gently with its burden, while she told him how she had played the part of fate to a man she never saw. After she was quite herself again he looked at her solemnly and shook his head. "It's just as the poets and philosophers always tell us," he said. "A big door hangs on little hinge. IL take a woman to fool a man, every "It does look like it." he said. "She time and to save one. too, God bless has been over a block ahead of me her. even if it did not hanpen to be all the way. going like a race horse." ' me." QUEEN OF THE HILLS B ENTON picked up the canvas and regarded it with amusement. He had been at work on it for several days now and yet scarcely more than the outlines showed on the brown surface though 'there was no lack of inspiration in the rugged hills that formed his subject. Benton loved nature, but he found a keener interest in the elfin little creature who daily came to watch him work and who sat at his .feet and chatted while he made desultory dabs at the canvas. As a prize winner at the Paris and London academies, Benton had been much of a social lion abroad before he decided to return to his own country, and other women had sought his society, while more than one had tried to win his heart. He had clung to his art and had passed unmoved through temptations only to lose his heart to a little wisp of a girl with uncouth speech but an almost etheral beauty. A season in New York, where he had been one of the lions, had tired him of society for a while, and he had turned to the mountains of his native state for relaxation. Here in the primitive simplicity of the Ten nessee wilderness he had found res and incentive to work until Barbar; had come. She had stolen behind him one daj •when he sat painting on a ledge o rock far up the side of the mountain and he had not known that she was there until he felt the curious sense of someone watching him and hac and with a cry he sprang toward her She eluded his outstreached arms am sank into her usual place beside his chair. "I couldn't come yesterday," she said plaintively; "I wasn't feeling right smart." "You should tell me who you are,' he said crossly, "then I should not have to worry about ydu when you do not come. Then I could come to you and see you." "Do you care if I don't come?" she asked in surprise. Beuton bit his lip. "I was afraid that you might have hurt yourself," he said. "There was no way of finding out." Her hand stole into his. "I'm sorry I put you out," she whispered "I won't again." "You see," he lauehed awkwardly, 'you seem almost like a part, of my outfit, like the paints or the easel." "Then you ought to lock me up in :hat little black case," she laughed, 'so you could carry me around." "Better take care." he warned smilingly, "or I might try." "I guess you'd have trouble getting turned to look into the most glorious eyes he had ever seen. She had fled like a frightened child when she saw that she was found out but the next day she had come again and he had succeeded in getting her • to talk. Since then they had talked more than he had painted, for as soon as she came he stopped work and made only a pretence of painting, while she hung upon his tales of the world beyond in wrapt silence. There had come a day, when she "did not appear, and he had fretted over the matter until with an exclamation he had sprung up from his chair and packed up his paints He could not paint without her any more than he could give the time to his art when she was there. He was at his place the next day j when she crept out of the thicket. tubes. "I fancy I'm safe." "I might have a larger on* made,' he suggested. "If I find that you ar*> becomng essential I may have to do that." "When I see the big box coming I'll run," she declared. "I'm no afraid of you, anyway." With a laugh he turned to his work and for a few minutes paintec with desperate energy. Then a little The morning found him still lorn by conflicting impulses, but of this much he was certain; no matter what the solution of the problem might be, it was this girl whom he should love so long as he lived. He had told himself that he would not paint that afternoon, but irresistibly he found his steps drawn in the direction of their meeting place, and with whom he stopped could Identify her even with the aid of a sketch. and it was with a peculiar souse of impotence that, he parted from her when the lengthening shadows warned her that she must be going. . He had turned away 'to pack the easel when she came back to him. He glanced up quickly. "I had almost forgotten," she whis-« tttpm. Be careful what you do." "I think it would be rather good fun," he laughed. "It would be a splendid story to tell over the dinner table when I got back to civilization." "They might put you in a box instead of your taking me in a box," she said, with a pitiful little attempt, at a joking allusion to the talk of hand stole up to his arm and the rest of the afternoon was taken up with chatting. That night Benton sat and smoked until long after the moon had passed over the hills. He knew now that he was in love. He had withstood the attractions of some of the handsomest and cleverest women in Europe only to fall a victim to the love god here in the Tennessee mountains, and with a girl who in spite of an absence of most of the marked idioms of the country was scarcely to be expected to display culture. Another thing Bothered him. The firl's face seemed familiar. Reason old him he had never seen her be- 'ore. but where had he seen her •ounterpart. Try as he might he "ould not recall where he had seen a similar beautiful face. ' woodland near the house to smoke and think. At last, the fight was ended and he rose and knocked the ashes out of his pipe as he prepared to return to the house. As he came toward the hut he caught a glimpse of a figure flitting toward the house, and mindful of Barbara's warning he concealed himself in the shadow. At last the figure stole out into the open and he sprung toward it. With a little gasping cry it sank to the^ground. and with an exclamation of surprise he saw It was Barbara. "But I want you to come with me." he pleaded. I want you to marry me." "There is no danger of discovery if you will let me go now," she said. He moved toward her. but she dropped the torch in the little spring that bubbled up at the far end of the cave, and before he could strike a light she was gone. • * * He sprang to his feet. Barbara stood before him, a basket on her arm and another torch was burning '« e shall need two horses." he said quietly. "For unless you come, too, I shall not go." "You must," she insisted. "If you stay here your life will not be worth a penny." "And life will not be worth living unless you are with me," he said. "Will you come?" "You are marrying me through gratitude." she protested. "I want to marry you because [ love you," he insisted. "I shall not "Is it you?" she whispered as she rose to her feet. "I thought that they had reached here first." "They?" he ashed, puzzled. "The moonshiners." she explained: "they are after you. I heard the plot and slipped out to see If I could get to you and warn you. It was no use to argue. I have told them over and over again that you arc an artist and nor a revenue, but they will not believe me. and they are coming to take you out and kill you." "What can we do?" he demanded. ' go from here without, you." 'If they are after me they will catch I "Do you really mean that?" me long before I can get away. 11 asked anxiously." have a revolver and Crawford must, she HE REMEMBERED HAVING SEEN HER DRIVING THROUGH THE PARK. though he was ahead of time he chafed at her delay. She name all unconscious of the tumult: Klin had created, and for the •est of the afternoon they talked of hemselves instead of the towns he i«d seen. But no matter how sklllful- y he might seek to lead the conversion, he could glean from her no nformation as to her parentage. >ong ago he had found It impossible o describe her so that, the people pered. "You must be careful. I hear that some of the boys think yon arc a revenue." "I guess they won't bother me." he laughed. "I've been painting in this one spot so long that they must Imagine that I am a very bad painter. "That is the trouble." she explained. "You see you command the entrance to a cave, and they think the day before. Benton took her head between his hands. "Would you care?" he asked earnestly. With a little cry she slipped froni his grasp and went running down the mountain side. Slowly Benton packed up and went toward the place where he was stopping. I The excitement, left him nervous and unsettled, and after the evening —„...„ ..„„.„..„,.....,. ., u..^., meal he went out. into a patch of have a gun. We can muss them up some before-they can get me." "There is no use making a sacrifice." she cried. "I can save you: that was why I came. Give me your hand and walk as softly as you can." She slipped her hand into his and as rapidly as possible made off toward the mountain. For half an hour they tolled up the ascent through a dense undergrowth sometimes so thick that they had to make a detour. At last they came to the mouth of a small cave and here she paused. "You will have to crawl in there," she said. "It Is a place they used be' fore they found the larger cave. They will never think of locking for you here. "You will have to stay here until tomorrow night," she said, as she cast her eyes over the cheerless surroundings. "I can bring you some food In the morning and tomorrow night: I will bring a horse to the road and come and guide you down." "I think." he said slowly, "you ought to come with me." "Run away with you?" she asked. "That wouldn't do." "My mind is made up," he declared. "I love you, dear. At one time I thought that perhaps you would not be happy In the city, but if you are not we shall come back here and live, for wherever you are there most I be." "I like New York better," she whispered."What do you know about New- York?" he laughed. "I live there," she said, quietly. "I am here for my health." "Your health?" he gasped. "You are a New York woman?" "And an amateur Actress," she added. "You took me for a girl of the country, and it has been such fun to fool you. Afterward I was sorry, but it is all right now." Then in an instant a great light broke upon him. He had seen the the face before. This was Barbara Manning, rich, a young society leader and prominent In the best amateur theatrical circles. He remembered that he had twice seen her driving through the park while out sketching, but he had never even suspected his queen of the hills of being other than what she preteded to be. A LUCKV FALL T HE bay mare was frisky that morning. She danced, she bounded sidewise, and when Covington jumped into the saddle she lu! fly her heels and all but hit the solemn-faced groom. The groom retired hastily behind a post, from which point of vantage he ventured a few words of -warning. "Look .out for 'er, Mr. Covington. She's wicious this morning, she his, sir. Hi see hit in 'er heye, sir." "She's all right, Simpson," laughed the man in the saddle, "just a little playful, that's all. A little run will calm her nerves. Steady, old girl! Steady, there!" For the mare side-stepped and again let fly her heels, which struck the post with an ominous thud. The irroom retreated to a boxstall. CovingUm toifched her lightly with the crop, and they went thundering out of the stable and up the street, the mare galloping madly, and Simpson in the stable door shaking his head. Covington swung her tip the street through an entrance into the park, :md they went galloping up the; bridle-path at a pace that set the) pedestrians :nul loafers craning their necks after the flying mare. Two miles of this reckless gait and the marc settled down to an easy canter; then she dropped into a sedate walk. Covingtcn patted her sleek neck and laughed. "Got enough of it, old lady, eh?" he. said. "Now he nice for a bit, just for a change." He dropped the reins across her neck, and drawing, a cigarette from his case, held a match to it. But the bay mare was by no means as tractable as he supposed. When she felt the reins hanging loose on her neck her head was lifted, she bounded sidewise. then, putting her head down, she shook her heels gleefully in the air. Covington landed in the soft loam of the bridle path, and the bay mare, riderless, went flying around the bend. He picked himself .up, lighted another cigarette and brushed the dirt from his clothes. The spill had not affected his good hunior in the least. "Foxy .little beast," he chuckled, as he strode up the path afoot. As he rounded the second bend he saw a girl In riding habit mounted on a big black horse, and the girl was holding the bay mare by the bridle. "Well, this is luck!" cried Covington, lifting his hat as he hastened up. "I couldn't really-believe she did it." laughed the girl, "but I see she did." She ran her smiling eyes over, Covington, to whom some of the dirt. of the bridle path still clung. "Well, she did," said he, "and she did it. very thoroughly. Aren't you ashamed of yourself, Kitten?" he said sternly, addressing the mare. "O, don't scold her," said the girl quickly. "Isn't she a beauty?" she asked as she stroked the bay marc's silky nose. "In everything but temper," laughed Covington. "I don't believe her temper is really bad," she said. "It couldn't be with such eyes as she has. Won't you let me try her?" "Really, Miss Lawton," he demurred, "she's not to be trusted." "0, do let me try her," she begged. "I know she'll behave with me. Won't you, Kitten?" The mare put out her nose caressingly and Covington laughed. "Some subtle understanding of the sex, I suppose," he said lightily. "I believe she will behave with you." He lifted the girl from her mount, and in a moment he had the side saddle on Kitten. His own saddle he transferred to the big black. "Now, old lady," said he, shaking a finger at the mare. "I want, you to do your prettiest. None of that funny business with your heels — understand?" He lifted the girl into the side; saddle and then mounted the black I bridle path, Kitten apparently the tered easily, or at a word from the girl she dropped into a walk. And when they stopped for a moment by THE MARE GALLOPED MADLY ON. owned her—because—I wish you owned us both." The girl flushed scarlet. She turned the Inke the bay mare stood quite ,iie mare about and started down the still instead ot stepping about un- bri dle path. Covington touched the easily as was her want. , 1)lack an , wag oon gal ] op j ns a , ong Tdla1.fa,.fopetaolnctaoisnhrdlupt«oin! beside her "She's a dear." said the girl en-i .. , , ... . thusiastleallv. . I [s the P" ee to ° mucll? b « asked .. I eagerly. The girl looked thoughtfully at "She's quite outdoing herself, Covington commented. "I never saw her so well behaved. Evidently all she needs is the proper rider." "I wish F owned her." said Miss awton. leaning forward the soft ears. the brown loam beneath them. He saw her lips curve in a quiet smile. "She's—she's such a dear," she to touch said softly, her eyes on the bay mare. "I think perhaps she's worth it." . "I wish you did," said Covington | When Covington reached the siable the bay mare was her impish self fervently. "Don't you like her?" she asked quickly. "I prize her above'all my possessions," said he. She looked at him searchingly. again. She let fly her heels at the groom as he came forward to take her and snapped at him viciously while he loosened the girths. There were still patches of dirt on «-» * . « —*.».« vt. u»i i \flL "Then why do you want to part Covington's riding clothes, and the fh hpr^" shp fnmifror] ! o-rnnm nmail t-tinm "I don't." said he. The girl's brows puckered I 1 in a frown. They were pretty brows, and the frown was in nowise unbecoming to them. "I'm afraid your paradoxes are beyond me." she said, caressing the mare's glossy neck. "It's a paradox very easily explained." said he. "I don't want to "Did she spill you, sir?" he asked solicitously. * Covington blew a white cloud from his cigarette and smiled, Inscrutably -. "Spilled me info lots, of fgbod ngs, didn't you, old -Kk*~ things, said, patting the bay mate affection- n t e*l v % ately. When the heart is lifted up. the horse. They galloped down the'soul of demure propriety. She can- part with her and yet I wish you head is often bowed down. !
What members have found on this page
Get access to Newspapers.com
- The largest online newspaper archive
- 11,200+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
- Millions of additional pages added every month