The Enchanted Canyon
by Honore Willsie Morrow
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

"Some day," said Diana, "you ought to get up an outfit and go down the Colorado from the Green River to the Needles. That's a real adventure! Only a few men have done it since the Powell expeditions."

Enoch's eyes brightened. "I know! Some day, perhaps I shall, if Jonas will let me! How long do you suppose such a trip would take?"

Diana plunged into a description of a recent expedition down the canyons of the Colorado, and she managed to keep the remainder of the luncheon conversation on this topic. But as far as Enoch was concerned, Diana's effort was merely a conversational detour. The luncheon finished and the Gulf of California safely reached, he said as he handed Diana into the carriage:

"I've never had a friendship with a woman before," he said. "What do I do next?"

Diana sighed, while her lips curled at the corners. "Well, Mr. Secretary, I think the next move is to think the matter over for a few days, quietly and alone."

"Do you?" Enoch smiled enigmatically. "I don't know that it's safe for me to rely on your experience after all!" But he said no more.

Enoch spent the evening in his living-room with Senor Juan Cadiz and a small, lean, brown man in an ill-fitting black suit. The latter did not speak English, and Senor Cadiz acted as interpreter. The stranger was uneasy and suspicious, until the very last of the evening. Then, after a long half hour spent in silent scowling while he stared at Enoch and listened to the Secretary's replies to Cadiz's eager questions, he suddenly burst into a passionate torrent of Spanish. A look of great relief came to Cadiz's face, as he said to Enoch:

"Now he says he trusts you and will tell you the names of the Americans who are paying him."

Enoch began to jot down notes. When Cadiz's translation was finished Enoch said:

"This in brief, then, is the situation. A group of Americans own vast oil fields in Mexico. They have enormous difficulty policing and controlling the fields. The Mexican method of concession making is exceedingly expensive and uncertain. They wish the United States to take Mexico over, either through actual conquest or by mandate. They have hired a group of bandits to keep trouble brewing until the United States is forced by England, Germany, or France, to interfere. This group of men is partly German though all dwell in the United States. Your friend here, and several of his associates, if I personally swear to take care of them, will give me information under oath whenever I wish."

"Yes! Yes! Yes! That is the story!" cried Senor Cadiz. "Oh, Mr. Secretary, if you could only undo the harm that your cursed American method of making the public opinion has done, both here and in Mexico. Why should neighbors hate each other? Mr. Secretary, tell these Americans to get out of Mexico and stay out! We are foolish in many ways, but we want to learn to govern ourselves. There will be much trouble while we learn but for God's sake, Mr. Secretary, force American money to leave us alone while we struggle in our birth throes!"

Enoch stood up to his great height, tossing the heavy copper-colored hair off his forehead. He looked at the two Mexicans earnestly, then he said, holding out his hand, "Senor Cadiz, I'll help you to the best of my ability. I believe in you and in the ultimate ability of your country to govern itself. Now will you let me make an appointment for you with the Secretary of State? Properly, you know, you should have gone to him with this."

The Mexican shook his head. "No! No! Please, Mr. Secretary! We do not know him well. He has shown no willingness to understand us. You! you are the one we believe in! We have watched you for years. We know that you are honest and disinterested."

"But I shall have to give both the President and the Secretary of State this information," insisted Enoch.

"That is in your hands," said Senor Cadiz.

"Then," Enoch nodded as Jonas appeared with the inevitable tinkling glasses, "remain quietly in Washington until you hear from me again."

Jonas held the door open on the departing callers with disapproval in every line of his face.

"How come that colored trash to be setting in the parlors of the government, boss?" asked he.

"They are Mexicans, Jonas," replied Enoch.

"Just a new name for niggers, boss," snapped Jonas, following Enoch up the stairs. "Don't you trust any colored man that ain't willing to call hisself black."

Enoch laughed and settled himself to an entry in the journal.

"This was the happiest day of my life, Diana. We are going to be great friends, are we not! And the philosophers tell us that friendship is the most soul-satisfying of all human relationships. I have been very vacillating in my attitude to you, since you came to Washington. But I cannot lose the feeling that those wise, wistful eyes of yours have seen my trouble and understood. I wonder how soon I can see you again. I'm rather proud of my behavior to-day, Diana, dearest."



"I wonder if Christ ever cared for a woman. He may have, for God wished Him to know and suffer all that men know and suffer, and all love must have been noble in His eyes."—Enoch's Diary.

"Abbott," said Enoch the next day, "do you recall that I have commented to you several times on the fact that some of the southwestern states did not back the Geological Survey in its search for oil fields as we had expected they would?"

"Yes, Mr. Secretary," answered Charley, looking up from his notebook with keen interest in eye and voice. "I have wondered just why the matter bothered you so."

"It has bothered me for several different reasons. It has, to begin with, conflicted with my idea of the fundamental purpose of this office. What could be a stronger reason for being for the Geological Survey than to find and show the public the resources of the public lands? When the Bureau of Mines reports to me that certain oil fields are diminishing at an alarming rate, and when any fool knows that a vital part of our future history is to be written in terms of oil, it behooves the Secretary of the Interior to look for remedial steps. Certain sections of our Southwest are saturated with oil and yet, Abbott, the states resent our locating oil fields. As far as I know now, no open hostility has been shown, unless"—Enoch interrupted himself suddenly,—"do you recall last year that some Indians drove a Survey group out of Apache Canyon and that young Rice was killed and all his data lost?"

"Certainly, I recall it. I knew Rice."

Enoch nodded. "Do you recall that a number of newspapers took occasion then to sneer at government attempts to usurp State and commercial functions?"

"Now you speak of it, I do remember. The Brown papers were especially nasty."

"Yes," agreed Enoch. "Now listen closely, Abbott. When my suspicions had been sufficiently roused, I went to the Secretary of State, and he laughed at me. Then, the Mexico trouble began to come to a head and I told the President what I feared. This was after I'd had that letter from Juan Cadiz. Last night, as you know, I had a session with Cadiz and one of his bandit friends. Here is what I drew from them."

Enoch reviewed rapidly his conversation of the night before. Abbott listened with snapping eyes.

"It looks as if Secretary Fowler would have to stop laughing," he said, when Enoch had finished.

"Abbott," Enoch's voice was very low, "John Fowler, the Secretary of State, always will laugh at it."

"Why?" asked Charley.

"I don't know," replied Enoch.

The two men stared at each other for a long moment. Then Abbott said, "I've known for a long time that he was jealous of you, politically. Also he may own Mexican oil stock or he may merely wish to have the political backing of the Brown newspapers."

"Can you think of any method of persuading him that I am not a political rival, that I merely want to go to the Senate, when I have finished here?" asked Enoch earnestly.

Abbott shook his head, "He might be convinced that you want to be a Senator. But he's a clever man. And even a fool knows that you are America's man on horseback." Charley's voice rose a little. "Why, even in this rotten, cynical city of Washington, they believe in you, they feel that you are the man of destiny. Mr. Fowler is just clever enough to be jealous of you."

A look of sadness came into Enoch's keen gaze. "I wonder if the game is worth it, after all," murmured he. "Abbott, I'd swap it all for—" he stopped abruptly, looked broodingly out of the window, then said, "Charley, my boy, why are you going into political life?"

The younger man's eyes deepened and he cleared his throat. "A few years ago, if I'd answered that question truthfully, I'd have said for personal aggrandizement! But my intimate association with you, Mr. Huntingdon, has given me a different ideal. I'm going into politics to serve this country in the best way I can."

"Thanks, Abbott," said Enoch. "I've been wanting to say to you for some time that I thought you had served your apprenticeship as a secretary. How would you like an appointment as a special investigator?"

Charley shook his head. "As long as you are Secretary of the Interior, I prefer this job; not only because of my personal feeling for you but because I can learn more here about the way a clean political game can be played than I can anywhere else."

"All right, Abbott! I'm more than grateful and more than satisfied at having you with me. See if I can have a conference with first the Secretary of State and then the President. Now let me finish this report before the Attorney General arrives."

Enoch's conference with Secretary Fowler was inconclusive. The Secretary of State chose to take a humorous attitude toward what he termed the Secretary of the Interior's midnight conference with bandits. Enoch laughed with him and then departed for his audience with the chief executive.

The President listened soberly. When the report was finished, he scowled.

"What attitude does Mr. Fowler take in this?"

"He thinks I'm making mountains out of mole hills. It seems to me, Mr. President, that I must be extremely careful not to encroach on the domain of the Secretary of State. My idea is very deliberately to push the work of the Geological Survey and to follow very carefully any activities against its work."

"All very well, of course," agreed the President, "but what of the big game back of it all—what's the means of fighting that?"

"Publicity," replied Enoch briefly.

"Exactly!" exclaimed the President, "There are other newspapers. Brown does not own them all. As fast as evidence is produced, let the story be told. By Jove, if this war talk grows much more menacing, Huntingdon, I think I'll ask you to go across the country and make a few speeches,—on the Geological Survey!"

"I'm willing!" replied Enoch, with a little sigh.

The President looked at him keenly. "Huntingdon, we're working you too hard! You look tired. I try not to overload you, but—"

"But you are so overloaded yourself that you have to shift some of the load," said Enoch, with a smile. "I'm not seriously tired, Mr. President."

"I hope not, old man. By the way, what did you think of Miss Allen yesterday?"

"I thought her a very interesting young woman," replied Enoch.

"My heavens, man!" exclaimed the chief executive. "What do you want! Why, Diana Allen is as rare as—as a great poem. Look here, Huntingdon, you make a mistake to cut all women out of your life. It's not normal."

"Perhaps not," agreed Enoch briefly. "I would be very glad," he added, as if fearing that he had been too abrupt, "I would be very glad to see more of Miss Allen."

"You ought to make a great effort to do," said the President. "Keep me informed on this Mexican matter, please, and take care of yourself, my boy. Good-by, Mr. Secretary. Think seriously of a speaking tour, won't you?"

"I will," replied Enoch obediently, as he left the room.

The remainder of the day was crowded to the utmost. It was not until midnight that Enoch achieved a free moment. This was when in the privacy of his own room Jonas had bidden him a final good night. Enoch did not open his journal. Instead he scrawled a letter.

"Dear Miss Allen: After deliberating on the matter a somewhat shorter time, I'll admit, than you suggested, but still having deliberated on it, I have decided that friendship is an art that needs attention and study. Will you not dine with me to-morrow, or rather, this evening, at the Ashton, at eight o'clock? Jonas, who will bring you this, can bring your answer. Sincerely yours, Enoch Huntingdon."

He gave the note to Jonas the next morning. Jonas' black eyes, when he saw the superscription, nearly started from their sockets: for during all the years of his service with Enoch, he never had carried a note to a woman. It was mid-morning when he tip-toed to the Secretary's desk and laid a letter on it. Enoch was in conference at the time with Bill Timmins, perhaps the foremost newspaper correspondent in America. He excused himself for a moment and opened the envelope.

"Dear Mr. Secretary: Thank you, yes. Sincerely, Diana Allen."

He slipped the letter into his breast pocket and went on with the interview, his face as somber as ever. But all that day it seemed to the watchful Jonas that the Secretary seemed less tired than he had been for weeks.

There was a little balcony at the Ashton, just big enough for a table for two, and shielded from the view of the main dining-room by palms. It was set well out from the second floor, overlooking a quiet park. Enoch was in the habit of dining here with various men with whom he wished semi-privacy yet whom he did not care to entertain at his own home.

Diana was more than charmed by the arrangement. The corners of her mouth deepened as if she were also amused, but Enoch, engrossed in seating her where the light exactly suited him, did not note the curving lips. He did not know much about women's dress, but he liked Diana's soft white gown, and the curious turquoise necklace she wore interested him. He asked her about it.

"Na-che gave it to me," she said. "It was her mother's. It has no special significance beyond the fact that the workmanship is very fine and that the tracery on the silver means joy."

"Joy? What sort of joy?" asked Enoch.

"Is there more than one sort?" countered Diana, in the bantering voice that Enoch always fancied was half tender.

"Oh, yes!" replied the Secretary. "There's joy in work, play, friends. There are as many kinds of joy as there are kinds of sorrow. Only sorrow is so much more persistent than joy! A sorrow can stay by one forever. But joys pass. They are always short lived."

"Joy in work does not pass, Mr. Secretary," said Diana.

Enoch laid down his spoon. "Please, Miss Allen, don't Mr. Secretary me any more."

Diana merely smiled. "Granted that one has a real friend, I believe joy in friendship is permanent," she went on.

"I hope you're right," said Enoch quietly. "We'll see, you and I."

Diana did not reply. She was, perhaps, a little troubled by Enoch's calm and persistent declaration of principles. It is not easy for a woman even of Diana's poise and simple sincerity to keep in order a gentleman as distinguished and as courteous and as obviously in earnest as Enoch.

Finally, "Do you mind talking your own shop, Mr. Huntingdon?" she asked.

"Not at all," replied Enoch eagerly. "Is there some aspect of my work that interests you?"

"I imagine that all of it would," said Diana. "But I was not thinking of your work as a Cabinet Official. I was thinking of you as Police Commissioner of New York."

Enoch looked surprised.

"Father wrote to me the other day," Diana went on, "and asked me to send him the collection of your speeches. I bought it at Brentano's and I don't mind telling you that it pinched the Johnstown lunches a good bit to do so, but it was worth it, for I read the book before mailing it."

"You're not hinting that I ought to reimburse you, are you?" demanded Enoch, with a delighted chuckle.

"Well, no—we'll consider that the luncheon and this dinner square the Johnstown pinching, perhaps a trifle more. What I wanted to say was that it struck me as worth comment that after you ceased being Police Commissioner, you never again talked of the impoverished boyhood of America. And yet you were a very successful Commissioner, were you not?"

Enoch looked from Diana out over the balcony rail to the fountain that twinkled in the little park.

"One of the most difficult things in public life," he said slowly, "is to hew straight to the line one laid out at the beginning."

"I should think," Diana suggested, "that the difficulty would depend on what the line was. A man who goes into politics to make himself rich, for example, might easily stick to his original purpose."

"Exactly! But money of itself never interested me!" Here Enoch stopped with a quick breath. There flashed across his inward vision the picture of a boy in Luigi's second story, throwing dice with passionate intensity. Enoch took a long sip of water, then went on. "I wanted to be Police Commissioner of New York because I wanted to make it impossible for other boys to have a boyhood like mine. I don't mean that, quite literally, I thought one man or one generation could accomplish the feat. But I did truly think I could make a beginning. Miss Allen, in spite of the beautiful fights I had, in spite of the spectacular clean-ups we made, I did nothing for the boys that my successor did not wipe out with a single stroke of his pen, his first week in office."

Diana drew a long breath. "I wonder why," she said.

"I think that lack of imagination, poor memory, personal selfishness, is the answer. There is nothing people forget quite so quickly as the griefs of their own childhood. There is nothing more difficult for people to imagine than how things affect a child's mind. And yet, nothing is so important in America to-day as the right kind of education for boys. It has not been found as yet."

"Have you a theory about it?" asked Diana.

"Yes, I have. Have you?"

Diana nodded. "I don't think boys and girls should be educated from the same angle."

"No? Why not?" Enoch's blue eyes were eager.

"Wandering about the desert among the Indians, one has leisure to think and to observe the workings of life under frank and simple conditions. It has seemed to me that the boy approaches life from an entirely different direction from a girl and that our system of education should recognize that. Both are primarily guided by sex, their femaleness or their maleness is always their impelling force. I'm talking now on the matter of the spiritual and moral training, not book education."

"Why not include the mental training? I think you'd be quite right in doing so."

"Perhaps so," replied Diana.

They were silent for a moment, then Enoch said, with a quiet vehemence, "Some day they'll dare to defy the creeds and put God into the public schools. I don't know about girls, but, Miss Allen, the growing boys need Him, more than they need a father. Something to cling to, something high and noble and permanent while sex with all its thousand varied impulses flagellates them! Something to go to with those exquisite, generous fancies that even the worst boy has and that even the best boy will not share even with the best mother. The homes today don't have God in them. The churches with their hide-bound creeds frighten away most men. Think, Miss Allen, think of the travesty of our great educational system which ignores the two great facts of the universe, God and sex."

"You've never put any of this into your public utterances."

"No," replied Enoch, "I've been saving it for you," and he looked at her with a quiet smile.

Diana could but smile in return.

"And so," said Enoch, "returning to the answer to your original question, I have found it hard to keep to any sort of fine idealism, partly because of my own inward struggles and partly because politics is a vile game anyhow."

"We Americans," Diana lifted her chin and looked into Enoch's eyes very directly, "feel that at least one politician has played a clean game. It is a very great privilege for me to know you, Mr. Huntingdon."

"Miss Allen," half whispered Enoch, "if you really knew me, with all my inward devils and my half-achieved dreams, you would realize that it's no privilege at all. Nevertheless, I wish that you did know all about me. It would make me feel that the friendship which we are forming could stand even 'the wreckful siege of battering days'!"

"There was a man who understood friendships!" said Diana quickly. "He said in his sonnets all that could be said about it."

"Now don't disappoint me by agreeing with the idiots who try to prove that Shakespeare wrote the sonnets to a man!" cried Enoch. "Only a woman could have brought forth that beauty of song."

Diana rose nobly to do battle. "What nonsense, Mr. Huntingdon! As if a man like Shakespeare—" She paused as if struck by a sudden thought. "That's a curious attitude for a notorious woman hater to take, Mr. Secretary."

Enoch laid down his fork. "Do you think I'm a woman hater, Miss Allen?" looking steadily into Diana's eyes.

"I didn't mean to be so personal. Just like a woman!" sighed Diana.

"But do you think I'm a woman hater?" insisted Enoch.

Diana looked up earnestly. "Please, Mr. Huntingdon, if our friendship is to ripen, you must not force it."

Enoch's face grew suddenly white. There swept over him with bitter realism a conception of the falseness of the position into which he was permitting himself to drift. He answered his own question with an attempted lightness of tone.

"I can never marry, but I don't hate women."

Diana's chin lifted and Enoch leaned forward quickly. All the aplomb won through years of suffering and experience deserted him. For the moment he was again the boy in the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

"Oh, I am stupid, but let me explain. I want you to—"

"Please don't!" said Diana coldly. "I need no warning, Mr. Huntingdon."

"Oh, my dear Miss Allen, you must not be offended! What can I say?"

"You might ask me if it's not time to go home," suggested Diana, coolly. "You mustn't forget that I'm a wage earner."

Enoch bit his lip and turned to sign the check. Then he followed Diana to the door. Here they came upon the Indian Commissioner and his wife, and all opportunity for explanations was gone for the two invited themselves to walk along to Diana's rooming place. Enoch went up the steps with Diana, however, and asked her tensely:

"Will you lunch with me to-morrow, Miss Allen, that I may explain myself?"

"Thank you, no. I shall be very busy to-morrow, Mr. Huntingdon."

"Let me call here in the evening, then."

"I'd rather you wouldn't," answered the girl, coldly. "Good night, Mr. Secretary," and she was gone.

Enoch stood as if struck dumb, then he made an excuse to Mr. and Mrs. Watkins, and started homeward. The night was stifling. When Jonas let him into the house, his collar was limp and his hair lay wet on his forehead.

"I'm going to New York to-night, Jonas," he said huskily.

"What's happened, boss?" asked Jonas breathlessly, as he followed Enoch up the stairs.

"Nothing! I'm going to give myself a day's rest. Give me something to travel in," pulling off his coat.

"I'm going with you, boss," not stirring, his black eyes rolling.

"No, I'm going alone, Jonas. Here, I'll pack my own grip. You go on out." This in a voice that sent Jonas, however reluctantly, into the hall, where he walked aimlessly up and down, wringing his hands.

"He ain't been as bad as this in years," he muttered. "I wonder what she did to him!"

Enoch came out of his room shortly. "Tell every one I'm in New York, Jonas," he said, and was gone.

But Enoch did not go to New York. There was, he found on reaching the station, no train for an hour. He checked his suitcase, and the watching Jonas followed him out into the dark streets. He knew exactly whither the boss was heading, and when Enoch had been admitted into a brick house on a quiet street not a stone's throw from the station, Jonas entered nimbly through the basement.

He had a short conference with a colored man in the kitchen, then he went up to the second floor and sat down in a dark corner of the hall where he could keep an eye on all who entered the rear room. Well dressed men came and went from the room all night. It was nearing six o'clock in the morning when Jonas stopped a waiter who was carrying in a tray of coffee.

"How many's there now?" he demanded.

"Only four," replied the waiter. "That red-headed guy's winning the shirts off their backs. I've seen this kind of a game before. It's good for another day."

"Are any of 'em drinking?" asked Jonas.

"Nothing but coffee. Lord, I'm near dead!"

"Let me take that tray in for you. I want to get word to my boss."

The waiter nodded and, sinking into Jonas' chair, closed his eyes.

Jonas carried the tray into a handsome, smoke filled room, where four men with intent faces were gathered around a card table. Enoch, in his shirt sleeves, was dealing as Jonas set a steaming cup at his elbow. Perhaps the intensity of the colored man's gaze distracted Enoch's attention for a moment from the cards. He looked up and when he met Jonas' eyes he deliberately laid down the deck, rose, took Jonas by the arm and led him to the door.

"Don't try this again, Jonas," he said, and he closed the door after his steward.

Once more Jonas took up his vigil. He left his chair at nine o'clock to telephone Charley Abbott that the Secretary had gone to New York, then he returned to his place. Noon came, afternoon waned. As dusk drew on again, Jonas went once more to the telephone.

"That you, Miss Allen? . . . This is Jonas. . . . Yes, ma'am, I'm well, but the boss is in a dangerous condition. . . . Yes, ma'am, I thought you'd feel bad because you see, it's your fault. . . . No, ma'am, I can't explain over the telephone, but if you'll come to the station and meet me at the news-stand on the corner, I'll tell you. . . . Miss Allen, for God's sake, just trust me and come along. Come now, in a cab, and I'll pay for it. . . . Thank you! Thank you, ma'am! Thank you!"

He banged up the receiver and flew out the basement door. When he reached the news-stand, he stood with his hands twitching, talking to himself for a half hour before Diana appeared. She walked up to him as directly as a man would have done.

"What's happened, Jonas?"

"You and the boss must have quarreled last night. When anything strikes the boss deep, he wants to gamble. Of late years he's mostly fought it off, but once in a while it gets him. He's been at it since last night over yonder, and for the first time in years I can't do anything with him. And if it gets out, you know, Miss Allen, he's ruined. I don't dast to leave him long, that's why I got you to come here."

Diana's chin lifted. "Do you mean to tell me that a man of Mr. Huntingdon's reputation and ability, still stoops to that sort of thing?"

"Stoop! What do you mean, stoop? O Lord, I thought, seeing he sets the world by you, that you was different from the run of women and would understand." Jonas twisted his brown hands together.

"Understand what?" asked Diana, her great eyes fastened on Jonas with pity and scorn struggling in them.

"Understand what it means to him. How it's like a conjur that Luigi wished on him when he was a little boy. How he's pulled himself away from it and he didn't have anybody on earth to help him till I come along. What do you women folks know about how a strong man like him fights Satan? I've seen him walk the floor all night and win, and I've seen him after he's given in, suffer sorrow and hate of himself like a man the Almighty's forgot. That's why he's so good, because he sins and then suffers for it."

As Jonas' husky voice subsided, a sudden gleam of tears shone in Diana's eyes.

"I'll send him a note, Jonas, and wait here for the answer. If that doesn't bring him, I'll go after him myself."

"The note'll bring him," said Jonas, "and he'll give me thunder for telling."

"Let me have a pencil and get me some paper from the news-stand." She wrote rapidly.

"Dear Mr. Huntingdon:

"I must see you at once on urgent business. I am in the railway station. Could you come to me here?


Jonas all but snatched the note and dashed away. Enoch was scowling at the cards before him when Jonas thrust the note into his hand. Enoch stared at the address, laid the cards down slowly, and read the note.

"All right, gentlemen," he said quietly. "I've had my fun! Good night!" He took his hat from Jonas and strode out of the room. He did not speak as the two walked rapidly to the station. Diana was standing by a cab near the main entrance.

"This is good of you, Mr. Huntingdon," she said gravely, shaking hands. "Thank you, Jonas!" She entered the cab and Enoch followed her.

"Let me have your suitcase check, boss." Jonas held out a black hand that still shook a little.

"I'll get Miss Allen to drop me at the house, Jonas," said Enoch.

Jonas nodded and heaved a great sigh as the cab started off.

"How did you come to do it?" asked Enoch, looking strangely at Diana.

"I heard you were in New York, Mr. Secretary. Jonas called me up!"

"Jonas had no business to do so. I am humiliated beyond words!"

Enoch spoke with a dreary sort of hopelessness.

"I thought we were friends," said Diana calmly. "It isn't as if we hadn't known each other and all about each other since childhood. You must not say a word against Jonas."

"How could I? He is my guardian angel," said Enoch.

Diana went on still in the commonplace tone of the tea table. "I want to apologize for my fit of temper, Mr. Secretary. I was very stupid and I'm thoroughly ashamed of myself. You may tell me anything you please!"

"I don't deserve it!" Enoch spoke abruptly.

Diana's voice suddenly deepened and softened. "Ah, but you do deserve it, dear Mr. Secretary. You deserve all that grateful citizens can do for you, and even then we cannot expect to discharge our full debt to you. Here's my house. Perhaps when you're not too busy, you'll ask me to dine again with you."

Enoch did not reply. He stood with bared head while she ran up the steps. Then he reentered the cab and was driven home. But it was not till two weeks later that Enoch sent a note to Diana, asking her to take dinner with him. Even his diary during that period showed no record of his inward flagellations. He did not receive an answer until late in the afternoon.

It had been an exceptionally hectic day. Enoch had been summoned before the Senate Committee on appropriations, and with the director of the Reclamation Service had endured a grilling that had had some aspects of the third degree.

After some two hours of it the Director had lost his temper.

"Gentlemen!" he had cried, "treat me as if I were a common thief, attempting to loot the public funds, if you find satisfaction in it, but at least do not humiliate the Secretary of the Interior in the same manner!"

"These people can't humiliate me, Whipple." Enoch had spoken quietly.

The blow had struck home and the Senator who was acting as chairman had apologized.

Enoch had nodded. "I know! You are in the position of having to appropriate funds for the carrying on of a highly specialized business about which you are utterly ignorant. You are uneasy and you mistake impertinent questioning for keen investigation."

"I move we adjourn until to-morrow," a member had said hastily. The motion had carried and Enoch, as though it was already past six o'clock, had started for his office, Whipple accompanying him.

"After all this howl over the proposed Paloma Dam," said Whipple, "we may not be able to build it. There's a bunch of Mexicans both this and the other side of the border that have made serious trouble with the preliminary survey, and I have the feeling that there is some power behind that wants to start something."

"Is that so?" asked Enoch with interest. "Come in and talk to me a few moments about it."

Whipple followed to the Secretary's office. A sealed letter was lying on the desk. Enoch opened it, and read it without ceremony.

"Dear Mr. Huntingdon: I find that some old friends are starting for the Grand Canyon this afternoon and they have given me an opportunity to make one of their party. I have been able to arrange my work to Mr. Watkins' satisfaction and so, I'm off. I want to thank you very deeply for the wonderful openings you have made for me and for the very great personal kindness you have shown me. When I return in the winter, I hope I may see you again.

"Very sincerely yours,


Enoch folded the note and slipped it into his pocket, then he looked at the waiting Director. "I hope you'll excuse me, Whipple, but this is something to which I must give my personal attention," and without a word further, he put on his hat and walked out of the office. He did not go to his waiting carriage but, leaving the building by another door, he walked quickly to the drug store on the corner and, entering a telephone booth, called the railroad station. The train connecting for the Southwest had left an hour before. Enoch hung up the receiver and walked out to the curb, scowling and striking his walking stick against his trouser leg. Finally he got aboard a trolley.

It was a little after three o'clock in the morning when Jonas located him. Enoch was leaning against the wall watching the roulette table.

"Good evening, boss," said Jonas.

Enoch looked round at him. "That you, Jonas? I haven't touched a card or a dollar this evening, Jonas."

Jonas, who had already ascertained this from the owner of the gambling house, nodded.

"Have you had your supper yet, boss?"

Enoch hesitated, thinking heavily. "Why, no, Jonas, I guess not." Then he added irritably, "A man must rest, Jonas. I can't slave all the time."

"Sure!" returned the colored man, holding his trembling hands behind him. "But how come you to think this was rest, boss? You better come back now and let me fix you a bite to eat."

"Jonas, what's the use? Who on earth but you cares what I do? What's the use?"

"Miss Diana Allen," said Jonas softly, "she told Mr. Abbott this noon, at lunch, that you was one of the great men of this country and that he was a lucky dog to spend all his time with you."

Enoch stood, his arms folded on his chest, his massive head bowed. Finally he said, "All right, old man, I'll try again. But I'm lonely, Jonas, lonely beyond words, and all the greatness in the world, Jonas, can't fill an empty heart."

"I know it, boss! I know it!" said Jonas huskily, as he led the way to the street. There, Enoch insisted on walking the three or four miles home.

"All right," agreed Jonas, cheerfully. "I guess ghosteses don't mind travel, and that's all I am, just a ghost."

Enoch stopped abruptly, put a hand on Jonas' shoulder and hailed a passing night prowler. Once in the cab, Jonas said:

"The White House done called you twice to-night. Mr. Secretary. I told 'em you'd call first thing in the morning."

"Thanks!" replied Enoch briefly.

The house was silent when they reached it. Jonas never employed servants who could not sleep in their own homes. By the time the Secretary was ready for bed, Jonas appeared with a tray, Enoch silently and obediently ate and then turned in.

The White House called before the Secretary had finished breakfast.

"You saw last night's papers?" asked the President.

"No! I'm sorry. I—I took a rest last evening."

"I'm glad you did. Well, I think you'd better plan—come up here, will you, at once? I won't try to talk to you over the telephone."

Enoch, in the carriage, glanced over the paper. The Brown paper of the evening before contained a nasty little story of innuendo about the work of the Survey near Paloma. The morning paper declared in glaring headlines that the President by his pacifist policy toward Mexico was tainting the nation's honor and that it would shortly bring England, France and Germany about our ears.

The President was still at breakfast when Enoch was shown in to him. The chief executive insisted that Enoch have a cup of coffee.

"You don't look to me, my boy, like a man who had enjoyed his rest. And I'm going to ask you to add to your burdens. Could you leave next week for a speaking trip?"

The tired lines around Enoch's mouth deepened. "Yes, Mr. President. Have you a general route planned?"

"Yes, New York, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and in between as can be arranged. Take two months to it."

"I shall be glad to be free of office routine for a while," said Enoch. He sipped his coffee slowly, then rose as he added:

"I shall stick strictly to the work of my department, Mr. President, in the speech making."

"Oh! Absolutely! And let me be of any help to you I may."

"Thank you," Enoch smiled a little grimly. "You might come along and supply records for the phonograph."

"By Jove, I would if it were necessary!" said the President.

Jonas and Abbott each was perfect in his own line. In five days' time Enoch was aboard the private car, with such paraphernalia as was needed for carrying on office work en route. The itinerary had been arranged to the last detail. A few carefully chosen newspaper correspondents were aboard and one hot September evening, a train with the Secretary's car hitched to it, pulled out of Washington.

Of Enoch's speeches on that trip little need be said here. Never before had he spoken with such fire and with such simple eloquence. The group of speeches he made are familiar now to every schoolboy. One cannot read them to-day without realizing that the Secretary was trying as never before to interpret for the public his own ideals of service to the common need. He seemed to Abbott and to the newspaper men who for six weeks were so intimately associated with him to draw inspiration and information from the free air. And there was to all of his speeches an almost wistful persuasiveness, as if, Abbott said, he picked one listener in each audience, each night, and sought anew to make him feel the insidious peril to the nation's soul that lay in personal complacency and indifference to the nation's spiritual welfare. Only Jonas, struggling to induce the Secretary to take a decent amount of sleep, nodded wisely to himself. He knew that Enoch made each speech to a lovely, tender face, that no man who saw ever forgot.

Little by little, the newspapers of the country began to take Enoch's point of view. They not only gave his speeches in full, but they commented on them editorially, at great length, and with the exception of the Brown papers, favorably. By the time Enoch was on his way home, with but two weeks more of speech making before him, it looked as though the thought of war with Mexico had been definitely quashed. And Enoch was tired to the very marrow of his bones.

But the Brown papers were not finished. One evening, in Arizona, shortly after the train had pulled out of a station, Enoch asked for the newspapers that had been brought aboard from the desert city. Charley Abbott, who had been with the newspaper men on the observation platform for an hour or so, answered the Secretary's request with a curiously distraught manner.

"I—that is—Mr. Huntingdon, Jonas says you slept worse than ever last night. Why not save the papers till morning and try to sleep now?"

Enoch looked at his secretary keenly. "Picked up some Brown papers here, eh! Nothing that bunch can say can hurt me, old man."

"Don't you ever think it!" exclaimed Charley vehemently. "You might as well say you were immune to rattler bites, Mr. Huntingdon—" here his voice broke.

"Look here, Abbott," said Enoch, "if it's bad, I've got to fight it, haven't I?"

"But this sort of thing, a man—" Charley suddenly steadied himself. "Mr. Secretary, they've put some nasty personal lies about you in the paper. The country at large and all of us who know you, scorn the lies as much as they do Brown. In a day or so, it we ignore them, the stuff will have been forgotten. I beg of you, don't read any newspapers until I tell you all's clear."

Enoch smiled. "Why, my dear old chap, I've weathered all sorts of mud slinging!"

"But never this particular brand," insisted Charley.

"Let's have the papers, Abbott. I'm not afraid of anything Brown can say."

Charley grimly handed the papers to the Secretary and returned to the observation platform.

A reporter had seen Enoch in the gambling house on the evening of Diana's departure for the Canyon. He had learned something from the gambling house keeper of the Secretary's several trips there. The reporter had then, with devilish ingenuity, followed Enoch back to Minetta Lane, where he had found Luigi. Then followed eight or ten paragraphs in Luigi's own words, giving an account of Enoch and Enoch's mother. The whole story was given with a deadly simplicity, that it seemed to the Secretary must carry conviction with it.

As Enoch had told Abbott, he had weathered much political mud slinging, but even his worst political enemies had spared him this. His adherents had made much of the fact that Enoch was slum bred and self made. That was the sort of story which the inherent democracy of America loved. But the Brown account made of Enoch a creature of the underworld, who still loved his early haunts and returned to them in all their vileness. And in all the years of his political life, no newspaper but this had ever mentioned Enoch's mother. The tale closed with a comment on the fact that Enoch, who shunned all women, had been seen several times in Washington giving marked attention to Miss Diana Allen. Diana and her work were fully identified.

Enoch read the account to the last word, a flush of agonizing humiliation deepening on his face as he did so. When he had finished, he doubled the paper carefully, and laid it on the chair next to his. Then he lighted a cigarette and sat with folded arms, unseeing eyes on the newspaper. When Jonas came in an hour later, the cigarette, unsmoked, was cold between the Secretary's lips. With trembling hands, the colored man picked up the paper and with unbelievable venom gleaming in his black eyes, he carried it to the rear door, spat upon it and flung it out into the desert night. Then he returned to Enoch.

"Mr. Secretary," he said huskily, "let me take your keys."

Mechanically Enoch obeyed. Jonas selected a small key from the bunch and, opening a large leather portfolio, he took out the black diary. This he placed carefully on the folding table which stood at Enoch's elbow. Then he started toward the door.

The Secretary did not look up. Nor did he heed the colloquy which took place at the door between Jonas and Abbott.

"How is he, Jonas?"

"I ain't asked him. He's a sick man."

"God! Let me come in, Jonas."

"No, sir, you ain't! How come you think you kin talk to him when even I don't dast to?"

"But he mustn't be alone, Jonas."

"He ain't alone. I left him with his Bible. Ain't nobody going to trouble him this night."

"I didn't know he read the Bible that way." Abbott's voice was doubtful.

"I don't mean the regular Lord's Bible. It's a book he's been writing for years and he always turns to it when he's in trouble. I don't know nothing about it. What he don't want me to know, I don't know," and Jonas slammed the door behind him.

It was late when Enoch suddenly straightened himself up and, with an air of resolution, opened the black book. He uncapped his fountain pen and wrote:

"Diana, how could I know, how could I dream that such a thing could happen to you, through me! You must never come back to Washington. Perhaps they will forget. As for myself, I can't seem to think clearly just what I must do. I am so very tired. One thing is certain, you never must see me again. For one wild moment the desire to return to the Canyon, now I am in its neighborhood overwhelmed me. I decided to go up there and see if I could find the peace that I found in my boyhood. Then I realized that you were at home, that all the world would see me go down Bright Angel, and I gave up the idea. But somehow, I must find rest, before I return to Washington. Oh, Diana, Diana!"

It was midnight when Enoch finally lay down in his berth. To Jonas' delight, he fell asleep almost immediately, and the faithful steward, after reporting to the anxious group on the platform, was soon asleep himself.

But it was not one o'clock when the Secretary awoke. The train was rumbling slowly, and he looked from the window. Only the moonlit flats of the desert were to be seen. Enoch rose with sudden energy and dressed himself. He chucked his toilet case, with his diary and a change of underwear, into a satchel, and scrawled a note to Abbott:

"Dear Charley: I'm slipping off into the desert for a little rest. You'll hear from me when I feel better. Give out that I'm sick—I am—and cancel the few speaking engagements left. Tell Jonas he is not to worry. Yours, E. H."

He sealed this note, then he pulled on a soft hat and, as the train stopped at a water tank, he slipped off the platform and stood in the shadow of an old shed. It seemed to him a long time before the engine, with violent puffing and jolting, started the long train on again. But finally the tail lights disappeared in the distance and Enoch was alone in the desert. For a few moments he stood beside the track, drawing in deep breaths of the warm night air. Then he started slowly westward along the railway tracks. He had noted a cluster of adobe houses a mile or so back, and toward these he was headed. In spite of the agony of the blow he had sustained Enoch, gazing from the silver flood of the desert, to the silver arch of the heavens, was conscious of a thrill of excitement and not unpleasant anticipation. Somewhere, somehow, in the desert, he would find peace and sufficient spiritual strength to sustain him when once more he faced Washington and the world.





"If I had a son, I would teach him obedience as heaven's first law, for so only can a man be trained to obey his own better self."—Enoch's Diary.

The Secretary had no intention of waking the strange little village at night. He thought that, once he had relocated it, he would wait until dawn before rousing any one. But he had not counted on the village dogs. These set up such an outcry that, while Enoch leaned quietly against a rude corral fence waiting for the hullaballoo to cease, the door of the house nearest opened, and a man came out. He stood for a moment very deliberately staring at the Secretary, whose polite "Good morning" could not be heard above the dogs' uproar.

Enoch, with a half grin, dropped his satchel and held up both hands. The man, half smiling in response, kicked and cursed the dogs into silence. Then he approached Enoch. He was a small, swarthy chap, clad in overalls and an undershirt.

"You're a Pueblo Indian?" asked the Secretary.

The Indian nodded. "What you want?"

"I want to buy a horse."

"Where you come from?"

"Off that train that went through a while ago."

"This not Ash Fork," said the Indian. "You make mistake. Ash Fork that way," jerking his thumb westward. "You pass through Ash Fork."

Enoch nodded. "You sell me a horse?"

"I rent you horse. You leave him at Hillers' in Ash Fork. I get him."

"No, I want to buy a horse. Now I'm in the desert I guess I'll see a little of it. Maybe I'll ride up that way," waving a careless arm toward the north. "Maybe you'll sell me some camping things, blankets and a coffee pot."

"All right," said the Indian. "When you want 'em?"

"Now, if I can get them."

"All right! I fix 'em."

He spoke to one of the other Indians who were sticking curious heads out of black doorways. In an incredibly short time Enoch was the possessor of a thin, muscular pony, well saddled, two blankets, one an Army, the other a Navajo, a frying pan, a coffee pot, a canteen and enough flour, bacon and coffee to see him through the day. He also achieved possession of a blue flannel shirt and a pair of overalls. He paid without question the price asked by the Indians. Dawn was just breaking when he mounted his horse.

"Where does that trail lead?" he asked, pointing to one that started north from the corral.

"To Eagle Springs, five miles," answered the Indian.

"And after that?"

"East to Allman's ranch, north to Navajo camp."

"Thanks," said Enoch. "Good-by!" and he turned his pony to the trail.

The country became rough and broken almost at once. The trail led up and down through draws and arroyos. There was little verdure save cactus and, when the sun was fully up, Enoch began to realize that a strenuous day was before him. The spring boasted a pepper tree, a lovely thing of delicate foliage, gazing at itself in the mirrored blue of the spring. Enoch allowed the horse to drink its fill, then he unrolled the blankets and clothing and dropped them into the water below the little falls that gushed over the rocks, anchoring them with stones. After this, awkwardly, but recalling more and more clearly his camping lore, he prepared a crude breakfast.

He sat long at this meal. His head felt a little light from the lack of sleep and he was physically weary. But he could not rest. For days a jingling couplet had been running through his mind:

"Rest is not quitting this busy career. Rest is the fitting of self to one's sphere."

Enoch muttered this aloud, then smiled grimly to himself.

"That's the idea!" he added. "There's a bad spot somewhere in my philosophy that'll break me yet. Well, we'll see if I can locate it."

The sun was climbing high and the shade of the pepper tree was grateful. The spring murmured for a few feet beyond the last quivering shadow of the feathery leaves, then was swallowed abruptly by the burning sand. Enoch lifted his tired eyes. Far on every side lay the uneven, rock strewn desert floor, dotted with cactus and greasewood. To the east, vivid against the blue sky, rose a solitary mountain peak, a true purple in color, capped with snow. To the north, a green black shadow was etched against the horizon. Except for the slight rustle of the pepper tree, the vague murmur of the water, the silence was complete.

"It's not a calming atmosphere," thought Enoch, "as I remember the Canyon to have been. It's feverish and restless. But I'll give it a try. For to-day, I'll not think. I'll concern myself entirely with getting to this Navajo camp. First of all, I'll dry the blankets and clothing."

He had pulled off his tweed coat some time before. Now he hung his vest on the pepper tree and went about his laundry work. He draped blankets and garments over the greasewood, then moved by a sudden impulse, undressed himself and lay down under the tiny falls. The water, warmed by its languid trip through the pool above, was refreshing only in its cleansing quality. But Enoch, lying at length in the sand, the water trickling ceaselessly over him, felt his taut muscles relax and a great desire to sleep came upon him. But he was still too close to the railroad and possible discovery to allow himself this luxury. By the time he had finished his bath the overalls were dry and the blue flannel shirt enough so for him to risk donning it. He rolled up his tweed suit and tied it to the saddle, fastened the blankets on in an awkward bunch, the cooking utensils dangling anywhere, the canteen suspended from the pommel. Then he smiled at his reflection in the morning pool.

The overalls, a faded brown, were patched and, of course, wrinkled and drawn. The blue shirt was too small across the chest and Enoch found it impossible to button the collar. The soft hat was in keeping with costume, but the Oxford ties caused him to shake his head.

"A dead give-away! I'll have to negotiate for something else when I find the Navajos. All right, Pablo," to the horse, "we're off," and the pony started northward at a gentle canter.

The desert was new to Enoch. Neither his Grand Canyon experience nor his hunting trips in Canada and Maine had prepared him for the hardships and privations of desert travel. Sitting at ease on the Indian pony, his hat well over his eyes, his pots and pans clanging gently behind him, he was entirely oblivious to the menace that lay behind the intriguing beauty of the burning horizon. He was giving small heed, too, to the details of the landscape about him. He was conscious of the heat and of color, color that glowed and quivered and was ever changing, and he told himself that when he was rested he would find the beauty in the desert that Diana's pictures had said was there. But for now, he was conscious only of pain and shame, the old, old shame that the Canyon had tried to teach him to forget. He was determined that he would stay in the desert until this shame was gone forever.

It was a fall and not a summer sun, so the pony was able to keep a steady pace until noon. Gradually the blur of green that Enoch had observed to the north had outlined itself more and more vividly, and at noon he rode into the shade of a little grove of stunted pinon and juniper. He could find no water but there was a coarse dried grass growing among the trees that the horse cropped eagerly. Enoch removed the saddle and pack from Pablo, and spread his half dried blankets on the ground. Then he threw himself down to rest before preparing his midday meal. In a moment slumber overwhelmed him.

He was wakened at dusk by the soft nuzzling of the pony against his shoulder.

"By Jove!" he exclaimed softly. "What a sleep!" He jumped to his feet and began to gather wood for his fire. He was stiff and his unaccustomed fingers made awkward work of cooking, but he managed, after an hour's endeavor, to produce an unsavory meal, which he devoured hungrily. He wiped out the frying pan with dried grass, repacked his outfit, and hung it on the horse.

"It's up to you, Pablo, old boy, to get us to water, if you want any to-night," he said, as he mounted, and headed Pablo north on the trail.

The pony was quite of Enoch's opinion, and he started forward at an eager trot. The trail was discernible enough in the starlight, but Enoch made no attempt to guide Pablo, who obviously knew the country better than his new owner.

Enoch had dreamed of Diana, and now, the reins drooping limply from his hands, he gave his mind over to thought of her. There was no one on earth whom he desired to see so much or so little as Diana! No one else to whom in his trouble his whole heart and mind turned with such unutterable longing or such iron determination never to see again. He had no intention of searching for her in the desert. He knew that her work would keep her in the Grand Canyon country. He knew that it would be easy to avoid her. And, in spite of the fact that every fiber of his being yearned for her, he had not the slightest desire to see her! She would, he knew, see the Brown story. No matter what her father may have told her, the newspaper story, with its vile innuendoes concerning his adult life, must sicken her. There was one peak of shame which Enoch refused to achieve. He would not submit himself either to Diana's pity or to her scorn. But there was, he was finding, a peculiar solace in merely traveling in Diana's desert. He had complete faith that here he would find something of the sweet philosophy that had written itself in Diana's face.

For Enoch had not come to middle life without learning that on a man's philosophy rests his ultimate chance for happiness, or if not for happiness, content. He knew that until he had sorted and separated from each other the things that mattered and the things that did not matter, he must be the restless plaything of circumstance. In his younger days he had been able to persuade himself that if his point of view on his life work were right and sane, nothing else could hurt him too much. But now, easing himself to the pony's gentle trot and staring into the exquisite blue silence of the desert night, he told himself that he had been a coward, and that his cowardice had made him shun the only real experience of life.

Public service? Yes, it had been right for him to make that his life work. And such service from such men as himself he knew to be the only vital necessity in a nation's life. But the one vital necessity in a man's spiritual life he had missed. If he had had this, he told himself, life's bludgeons, however searching, however devastating, he could have laughed at. A man must have the thought of some good woman's love to sustain him. But for Enoch, the thought of any woman's love, Luigi had tainted at its source. He had neither mother nor mate, and until he had evolved some philosophy which would reconcile him to doing without both, his days must be feverish and at the mercy of the mob.

Pablo broke into a canter and Enoch roused himself to observe a glow of fire far ahead on the trail. His first impulse was to pull the horse in. He did not want either to be identified or to mingle with human beings. Then he smiled ruefully as he recalled the poverty of his outfit and he gave Pablo his way again. In a short time Pablo had reached a spring at a little distance from the fire. As the horse buried his nose in the water, a man came up. Enoch judged by the long hair that he was an Indian.

"Good evening," said Enoch. "Can you tell me where I can buy some food?"

"What kind of grub?" asked the Indian.

"Anything I can cook and eat," replied Enoch, dismounting stiffly. "What kind of camp is this?"

"Navajo. What your name?"

"Smith. What's yours?"

"John Red Sun. How much you pay for grub?"

"Depends on what kind and how much. Which way are you folks going?"

"We take horses to the railroad," replied John Red Sun. "Me and my brother, that's all, so we haven't got much grub. You come over by the fire." Enoch dropped the reins over Pablo's head and followed to the fire. An Indian, who was boiling coffee at the little blaze, looked up with interest in his black eyes.

"Good evening," said Enoch. "My name is Smith."

The Indian nodded. "You like a cup of coffee? Just done."

"Thanks, yes." Enoch sat down gratefully by the fire. The desert night was sharp.

"Where you going, Mr. Smith?" asked John Red Sun.

"I'm an Easterner, a tenderfoot," replied Enoch. "I am very tired and I thought I'd like to rest in the desert. I was on the train when the idea struck me, and I got off just as I was. I bought the horse and these clothes from an Indian."

"Where you going?" repeated John's brother. "To see Injun villages?"

"No, I don't think so. I just want to be by myself."

"It's foolish for tenderfoot to go alone in desert," said John. "You don't know where to get water, get grub."

"Oh, I'll pick it up as I go."

The Indians stared at Enoch in the firelight. His ruddy hair was tumbled by the night wind. His face was deep lined with fatigue that was mental as well as physical.

"You mustn't go alone in desert." John Red Sun's voice was earnest. "You sleep here to-night. We'll talk it over."

"You're very kind," said Enoch. "I'll unsaddle my pony. Ought I to hobble him or stake him out?"

"I fix 'im. You drink your coffee." The brother handed Enoch a tin cup as he spoke. "Then you go to sleep. You mucho tired."

Their hospitality touched Enoch. "You're very kind," he repeated gratefully, and he drank the vile coffee without blinking. Then, conscious that he was trembling with weariness, he rolled himself in his blankets. But he slept only fitfully. The sand was hard, and his long afternoon's nap had taken the edge from his appetite for sleep. He spent much of the night wondering what Washington, what the President was saying about him. And his sunburned face was new dyed with his burning sense of shame.

At the first peep of dawn, John Red Sun rose from the other side of the fire, raked the ashes and started a blaze going. Enoch discovered that the camp lay at the foot of a mesa, close in whose shadow a small herd of scraggly, unkempt ponies was staked. The two Indians moved about deftly. They watered the horses, made coffee and cakes and fried bacon. By the time Enoch had shaved, a pie tin was waiting for him in the ashes.

"We sell you two days' grub," said John. "One day north on this trail go two men up to the Canyon, to placer mine. They're good men. I know 'em many years. They got good outfit, but burros go slow, so you can easy overtake 'em to-day. You tell 'im you want a job. Tell 'im John Red Sun send you. Then you get rested in the desert. Not good for any white man to go alone and do nothing in the desert. He'll go loco. See?"

Enoch suddenly smiled. "I do see, yes. And I must say you're mighty kind and sensible. I'll do as you suggest. By the way, will you sell me those boots of yours? I'll swap you mine and anything you say, beside. I believe our feet are the same size."

Red Sun's brother was wearing Navajo moccasins reaching to the knee, but Red Sun was resplendent in a pair of high laced boots, into which were tucked his corduroy pants. The Indians both looked at Enoch's smart Oxford ties with eagerness. Then without a word, Red Sun began rapidly to unlace his boots. It would be difficult to say which made the exchange with the greater satisfaction, Enoch or the Indian. When it was done Enoch, as far as his costume was concerned, might have been a desert miner indeed, looking for a job.

The sun was not over an hour high when Pablo and Enoch started north once more, the little horse loaded with supplies and Enoch loaded with such trail lore as the two Indians could impress upon him in the short time at their command. Enoch was not deeply impressed by their advice except as to one point, which they repeated so often that it really penetrated his distraught and weary mind. He was to keep to the trail. No matter what or whom he thought he saw in the distance, he was to keep to the trail. If a sand storm struck him, he was to camp immediately and on the trail. If he needed water, he was to keep to the trail in order to find it. At night, he must camp on the trail. The trail! It was, they made him understand, a tenderfoot's only chance of life in this section. And, thus equipped, Enoch rode away into the lonely, shimmering, intriguing morning light of the desert.

He rode all the morning without dismounting. The trail was very crooked. It seemed to him at such moments as he took note of this fact, he would save much time by riding due north, but he could not forget the Indian brothers' reiterated warnings. And, although he could not throw off a sense of being driven, the desire to arrive somewhere quickly, still he was strangely content to let Pablo set the pace.

At noon he dismounted, fed Pablo half the small bag of oats John had given him, and ate the cold bacon and biscuits John's brother had urged on him. There was no water for the horse, but Enoch drank deeply from the canteen and allowed Pablo an hour's rest. Then he mounted and pushed on, mindful of the necessity of overtaking the miners.

His mind was less calm than it had been the day before, and his thinking less orderly. He had begun to be nagged by recollections of office details that he should have settled, of important questions that awaited his decision. And something deep within him began to tell him that he was not playing a full man's part in running away. But to this he replied grimly that he was only seeking for strength to go back. And finally he muttered that give him two weeks' respite and he would go back, strength or no strength. And over and about all his broken thinking played an unceasing sense of loss. The public had invaded his last privacy. The stronghold wherein a man fights his secret weakness should be sacred. Not even a clergyman nor a wife should invade its precincts uninvited. Enoch's inner sanctuary had been laid open to the idle view of all the world. The newspaper reporter had pried where no real man would pry. The Brown papers had published that from which a decent editor would turn away for very compassion. Only a very dirty man will with no excuse whatever wantonly and deliberately break another man.

When toward sundown Enoch saw a thread of smoke rising far ahead of him, again his first thought was to stop and make camp. He wished that it were possible for him to spend the next few weeks without seeing a white man. But he did not yield to the impulse and Pablo pushed on steadily.

The camp was set in the shelter of a huge rock pile, purple, black, yellow and crimson in color, with a single giant ocotilla growing from the top. A man in overalls was bending over the fire, while another was bringing a dripping coffee pot from a little spring that bubbled from under the rocks. A number of burros were grazing among the cactus roots.

Enoch rode up slowly and dismounted stiffly. "Good evening," he said.

The two men stared at him frankly. "Good evening, stranger!"

"John Red Sun told me to ask you people for work in return for permission to trail with your outfit."

"Oh, he did, did he!" grunted the older man, eying Enoch intently. "My name is Mackay, and my pardner's is Field."

"Mine is Smith," said Enoch.

"Just Smith?" grinned the man Field.

"Just Smith," repeated Enoch firmly.

"Well, Mr. Just Smith," Mackay nodded affably, as though pleased by his appraisal of the newcomer, "wipe your feet on the door mat and come in and have supper with us. We'll talk while we eat."

"You're very kind," murmured Enoch. "I—er—I'm a tenderfoot, so perhaps you'd tell me, shall I hobble this horse or—"

"I'll take care of him for you," said Field. "You look dead tuckered. Sit down till supper's ready."

Enoch sat down on a rock and eyed his prospective bosses. Mackay was a tall, thin man of perhaps fifty. He was smooth shaven except for an iron gray mustache. His face was thin, tanned and heavily lined, and his keen gray eyes were deep set under huge, shaggy eyebrows. He wore a gray flannel shirt and a pair of well worn brown corduroys, tucked into the tops of a pair of ordinary shoes. Field was younger, probably about Enoch's own age. He was as tall as Mackey but much heavier. He was smooth shaven and ruddy of skin, with a heavy thatch of curly black hair and fine brown eyes. His clothing was a replica of his partner's.

Mackay gave his whole attention to the preparation of the supper, while Field unpacked Pablo and hobbled him.

"You're just in time for a darn good meal, Mr. Smith," said Field. "Mack is a great cook. If he was as good a miner as he is cook—"

"Dry up, Curly, and get Mr. Smith's cup and plate for him. We're shy on china. Grub's ready, folks. Draw up."

They ate sitting in the sand, with their backs against the rocks, their feet toward the fire, for the evening was cold. Curly had not exaggerated Mack's ability. The hot biscuits, baked in a dutch oven, the fried potatoes, stewed tomatoes, the bacon, the coffee were each deliciously prepared. Enoch ate as though half starved, then helped to wash the dishes. After this was finished, the three established themselves with their pipes before the fire.

"Now," said Mack, "we're in a condition to consider your proposition, Mr. Smith. Just where was you aiming for?"

"I have a two or three weeks' vacation on my hands," replied Enoch, "and I'm pretty well knocked up with office work. I wanted to rest in the desert. I thought I could manage it alone, but it looks as if I were too green. I don't know why John Red Sun thought I could intrude on you folks, unless—" he hesitated.

"John an old friend of yours?" asked Curly.

"No, I met him on the trail. He was exceedingly kind and hospitable."

Curly whistled softly. "You must have been in bad shape. John's not noted for kindness, or hospitality either."

"I wasn't in bad shape at all!" protested Enoch. The two men, eying Enoch steadily, each suppressed a smile.

"Field and I are on a kind of vacation too," said Mack. "I'm a superintendent of a zinc mine, and he's running the mill for me. We had to shut down for three months—bottom's dropped clean out of the price of zinc. We've been talking about prospecting for placer gold up on the Colorado, for ten years. Now we're giving her a try."

He paused, and both men looked at Enoch expectantly. "In other words," said Enoch, refilling his pipe, "you two fellows are off for the kind of a trip you don't want an utter stranger in on. Well, I don't blame you."

"Depends altogether on what kind of a chap the stranger is," suggested Curly.

"I have no letters of recommendation." Enoch's smile was grim. "I'd do my share of the work, and pay for my board. I might not be the best of company, for I'm tired. Very tired."

His massive head drooped as he spoke and his thin fine lips betrayed a pain and weariness that even the fitful light of the fire could not conceal. There was a silence for a moment, then a burro screamed, and Mackay got to his feet.

"There's Mamie burro making trouble again. Come and help me catch her, Curly."

Enoch sat quietly waiting while a low voiced colloquy that did not seem related to the obstreperous Mamie went on in the shadow beyond the rocks. Then the two men came back.

"All right, Smith," said Mack. "We're willing to give it a try. A camping trip's like marriage, you know, terrible trying on the nerves. So if we don't get on together, it's understood you'll turn back, eh?"

"Yes," Enoch nodded.

"All right! We'll charge you a dollar and a half a day for yourself and your horse. We're to share and share alike in the work."

"I'm exceedingly grateful!" exclaimed Enoch.

"All right! We hope you'll get rested," said Curly. "And I advise you to begin now. Have you been sleeping well? How long have you been out?"

"Three nights. I've slept rottenly."

"I thought so. Let me show you how to scoop out sand so's to make a hollow for your hips and your shoulders, and I'll bet you'll sleep."

And Enoch did sleep that night better than for several weeks. He was stiff and muscle sore when he awoke at dawn, but he felt clearer headed and less mentally feverish than he had the previous day. Curly and Mack were still asleep when he stole over to the spring to wash and shave. It was biting cold, but he felt like a new man when he had finished his toilet and stood drawing deep breaths while he watched the dawn approach through the magnificent desert distances. He gathered some greasewood and came back to build the fire, but his camp mates had forestalled him. While he was at the spring the men had both wakened and the fire was blazing merrily.

Breakfast was quickly prepared and eaten. Enoch established himself as the camp dish washer, much to the pleasure of Curly, who hitherto had borne this burden. After he had cleaned and packed the dishes, Enoch went out for Pablo, who had strayed a quarter of a mile in his search for pasturage. After a half hour of futile endeavor Mack came to his rescue, and in a short time the cavalcade was ready to start.

They were not an unimposing outfit. Mack led. The half dozen burros, with their packs followed, next came Curly, and Enoch brought up the rear. There was little talking on the trail. The single file, the heavy dust, and the heat made conversation too great an effort. And Enoch was grateful that this was so.

To-day he made a tremendous endeavor to keep his mind off Luigi and the Brown papers. He found he could do this by thinking of Diana. And so he spent the day with her, and resolved that if opportunity arose that night, to write to her, in the black diary.

The trail, which gradually ascended as they drew north, grew rougher and rougher. During the latter part of the day sand gave way to rock, and the desert appeared full of pot holes which Mack claimed led to subterranean rivers.

They left these behind near sunset, and came upon a huge, rude, cave-like opening in a mesa side. A tiny pool at the back and the evidence of many camp fires in the front announced that this was one of the trail's established oases. There was no possible grazing for the animals, so they were watered, staked, and fed oats from the packs.

"Well, Mr. Just Smith," said Curly, after the supper had been dispatched and cleared up and the trio were established around the fire, pipes glowing, "well, Mr. Just Smith, are you getting rested?" He grinned as he spoke, but Mack watched their guest soberly. Enoch's great head seemed to fascinate him.

"I'm feeling better, thanks. And I'm trying hard to behave."

"You're doing very well," returned Curly. "I can't recommend you yet as a horse wrangler, but if I permit you to bring Mamie in every morning, perhaps you'll sabez better."

"This is sure one devil of a country," said Mack. "The Spanish called it the death trail. Wow! What it must have been before they opened up these springs! Even the Indians couldn't live here."

"I'd like to show it to old Parsons," said Curly. "He claims there ain't a spot in Arizona that couldn't grow crops if you could get water to it. He's a fine old liar! Why, this country don't even grow cactus! I'd like to hobble him out here for a week."

"Those Survey fellows were up here a few years back trying to fix it to get water out of those pot holes," said Mack.

"Nuts! Sounds like a government bunch!" grunted Curly.

"What came of it?" asked Enoch.

"It ended in a funny kind of a row," replied Mack. "Some folks think there's oil up here, and there was a bunch here drilling for wells, when the government men came along. They got interested in the oil idea, and they began to study the country and drill for oil too. And that made these other chaps mad. This was government land, of course, but they didn't want the government to get interested in developing oil wells. Government oil would be too cheap. So they got some Mexicans to start a fight with these Survey lads. But the Survey boys turned out to be well armed and good fighters and, by Jove, they drove the whole bunch of oil prospectors out of here. Everybody got excited, and then it turned out there was no oil here anyhow. That was Fowler's bunch, by the way, that got run out. Nobody ever thought he'd be Secretary of State!"

"But Fowler is not an Arizona man!" exclaimed Enoch.

"No," said Curly, "but he came out here for his health for a few years when he was just out of college. He and my oldest brother were law pardners in Phoenix. I always thought he was crooked. All lawyers are."

Enoch smiled to himself.

"Fowler sent his prospectors into Mexico after that," Mack went on reminiscently. "Curly and I were in charge of the silver mine near Rio Chacita where they struck some gushers. They were one tough crowd. We all slept in tents those days, and I remember none of us dared to light a lamp or candle because if one of those fellows saw it, they'd take a pot shot at it. One of my foremen dug a six-foot pit and set his tent over it. Then he let 'em shoot at will. Those were the days!"

"Government ought to keep out of business," said Curly. "Let the States manage their own affairs."

"What's Field sore about?" asked Enoch of Mack.

"He's just ignorant," answered Mack calmly. "Hand me some tobacco, Curly, and quit your beefing. When you make your fortune washing gold up in the Colorado, you can get yourself elected to Congress and do Fowler up. In the meantime—"

"Aw, shut up, Mack," drawled Curly good-naturedly. "What are you trying to do, ruin my reputation with Just Smith here? By the way, Just, you haven't told us what your work is."

"I'm a lawyer," said Enoch solemnly.

The three men stared at each other in the fire glow. Suddenly Enoch burst into a hearty laugh, in which the others joined.

"What was the queerest thing you've ever seen in the desert, Mack?" asked Enoch, when they had sobered down.

Mack sat in silence for a time. "That's hard to judge," he said finally. "Once, in the Death Valley country, I saw a blind priest riding a burro fifty miles from anywhere. He had no pack, just a canteen. He said he was doing a penance and if I tried to help him, he'd curse me. So I went off and left him. And once I saw a fat woman in a kimono and white satin high heeled slippers chasing her horse over the trackless desert. Lord!"

"Was that any queerer sight than Just Smith chasing Pablo this morning?" demanded Curly.

"Or than Field tying a stone to Mamie's tail to keep her from braying to-night?" asked Enoch.

"You're improving!" exclaimed Curly, "Dignity's an awful thing to take into the desert for a vacation."

"Let's go to bed," suggested Mack, and in the fewest possible minutes the camp was at rest.

The trail for the next two days grew rougher and rougher, while the brilliancy of color in rock and sand increased in the same ratio as the aridity. Enoch, pounding along at the rear of the parade, hour after hour, was still in too anguished and abstracted a frame of mind to heed details. He knew only that the vast loveliness and the naked austerity of the desert were fit backgrounds, the first for this thought of Diana, the second for his bitter retrospects.

Mid-morning on the third day, after several hours of silent trekking, Curly turned in his saddle:

"Just, have you noticed the mirage?" pointing to the right.

Far to the east where the desert was most nearly level appeared the sea, waters of brilliant cobalt blue lapping shores clad in richest verdure, waves that broke in foam and ran softly up on quiet shores. Upon the sea, silhouetted against the turquoise sky were ships with sails of white, of crimson, of gold. Then, as the men stared with parted lips, the picture dimmed and the pitiless, burning desert shimmered through.

The unexpected vision lifted Enoch out of himself for a little while and he listened, interested and amused, while Curly, half turned in his saddle, discanted on mirages and their interpretations. Nor did Enoch for several hours after meditate on his troubles. Not an hour after the mirage had disappeared the sky darkened almost to black, then turned a sullen red. Lightning forked across the zenith and the thunder reverberated among the thousand mesas, the entangled gorges, until it seemed almost impossible to endure the uproar. Rain did not begin to fall until noon. There was not a place in sight that would provide shelter, so the men wrapped their Navajos about them and forced the reluctant animals to continue the journey. The storm held with fury until late in the afternoon. The wind, the lightning and the rain vied with one another in punishing the travelers. Again and again, the burros broke from trail.

"Get busy, Just!" Curly would roar. "Come out of your trance!" and Enoch would ride Pablo after the impish Mamie with a skill that developed remarkably as the afternoon wore on. Enoch could not recall ever having been so wretchedly uncomfortable in his life. He was sodden to the skin, aching with weariness, shivering with cold. But he made no murmur of protest. It was Curly who, about five o'clock, called:

"Hey, Mack! I've gone my limit!"

Mack pulled up and seemed to hesitate. As he did so, the storm, with a suddenness that was unbelievable, stopped. A last flare of lightning seemed to blast the clouds from the sky. The rain ceased and the sun enveloped mesas, gorges, trail in a hundred rainbows.

"How about a fire?" asked Mack, grinning, with chattering teeth.

"It must be done somehow," replied Curly. "Come on, Just, shake it up!"

"Look here, Curly," exclaimed Mack, pausing in the act of throwing his leg over the saddle, "I think you ought to treat Mr. Smith with more respect. He ain't your hired help."

"The dickens he isn't!" grinned Curly.

"It's all right, Mack! I enjoy it," said Enoch, dismounting stiffly.

"If you do," Mack gave him a keen look, "you aren't enjoying it the way Curly thinks you do."

Enoch returned Mack's gaze, smiled, but said nothing further. Mack, however, continued to grumble.

"I'm as good as the next fellow, but I don't believe in giving everybody a slap on the back or a kick in the pants to prove it. You may be a lawyer, all right, Mr. Smith, but I'll bet you're on the bench. You've got that way with you. Not that it's any of my business!"

He was leading the way, as he spoke, toward the face of a mesa that abutted almost on the trail. Curly apparently had not paid the slightest attention to the reproof. He was already hobbling his horse.

They made no attempt to look for a spring. The hollows of the rocks were filled with rain water. But the search for wood was long and arduous. In fact, it was nearly dusk before they had gathered enough to last out the evening. But here and there a tiny cedar or mesquite yielded itself up and at last a good blaze flared up before the mesa. The men shifted to dry underwear, wrung out their outer clothing and put it on again, and drank copiously of the hot coffee. In spite of damp clothing and blankets Enoch slept deeply and dreamlessly, and rose the next day none the worse for the wetting. Even in this short time his physical tone was improving and he felt sure that his mind must follow.



"We had a particularly vile place to raid to-day, and as I listened with sick heart to the report of it, suddenly I saw the Canyon and F.'s broad back on his mule and the glorious line of the rim lifting from opalescent mists."—Enoch's Diary.

They had been a week on the trail when they made camp one night at a spring surrounded by dwarf junipers. Mack, who had taken the trip before, greeted the spring with a shout of satisfaction.

"Ten miles from the river, boys! To-morrow afternoon should see us panning gold."

And to-morrow did, indeed, bring the river. There was a wide view of the Colorado as they approached it. The level which had gradually lifted during the entire week, making each day cooler, rarer, as it came, now sloped downward, while mesa and headland grew higher, the way underfoot more broken, the trail fainter and fainter, and the thermometer rose steadily.

By now deep fissures appeared in the desert floor, and to the north lifted great mountains that were banded in multi-colored strata, across which drifted veils of mist, lavender, blue and gauzy white. Enoch's heart began to beat heavily. It was the Canyon country, indeed! The country of enchantment to which his spirit had returned for so many years.

They ate lunch in a little canyon opening north and south.

"At the north end of this," said Mack, "we make our first sharp drop a thousand feet straight down. She's a devil of a trail, made by Indians nobody knows when. Then we cross a plateau, about a mile wide, as I remember, then it's an easy grade to the river. We've got to go over the girths careful. If anything slips now it's farewell!"

The trail was a nasty one, zig-zagging down the over-hanging face of the wall. Enoch, to his deep-seated satisfaction, felt no sense of panic, although in common with Mack and Curly, he was apprehensive and at times a little giddy. It required an hour to compass the drop. At the bottom was a tiny spring where men and beasts drank deeply, then started on.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse