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For the first week or two, Guy Cameron’s recovery was slow, but at the expiration of that time his vigorous constitution reasserted itself, and he gained rapidly.
Meanwhile, at Silver City, affairs were progressing under the efficient management of Mr. Whitney, the clear-headed attorney from New York.
When orders for arrest were first issued, it was soon discovered that the office of the North Western Mining, Land & Investment Company was practically deserted. None of their books or papers were to be found, their clerks had been dismissed, and no trace existed of the officers of the company. No information regarding their whereabouts could be obtained from any of the officers of the several high-titled companies occupying the same room, as they were supremely and serenely unconscious that anything out of the usual order had occurred, and full of regrets that they were unable to furnish the desired information.
Blaisdell was discovered the following day, in company with his eldest son, in an old abandoned mine about two miles from town, which he claimed they were working, his limited means not allowing him to wander far from the scene of his crimes. He was brought back to town and held pending the discovery of Wilson and Rivers, for whom detectives were searching in every direction. The former was never found, but at the end of about two weeks, the latter was run to earth in an eastern city, where he was masquerading in snow-white wig and beard and colored eye-glasses, as a retired and invalid clergyman, living in great seclusion.
Blaisdell and Rivers were tried on the charge of murder, the most important witnesses for the prosecution being Everard Houston and Morton Rutherford; the latter testifying as to the nature of the final and fatal dispatch sent on that eventful day, in which he was corroborated by the telegraph operator of the Silver City office, who had been found and secured as a witness, and who verified Rutherford’s statements regarding the message, but at the same time cleared Mr. Blaisdell from all connection therewith; the message having been sent by Rivers in Blaisdell’s absence, whether with his knowledge and consent, they were unable to ascertain. The charge against Blaisdell was therefore dismissed through lack of evidence, while in Rivers’ case, a verdict was returned for manslaughter, and he was given the extreme limit of the law, imprisonment for ten years.
Blaisdell was then speedily arraigned for a new trial on the charge of embezzlement, the date on which his case was set for hearing being the same as that upon which his partner in crime was to be transferred to the state penitentiary.
On that morning, however, the guard on going to the cell occupied by Rivers, found him just expiring, having succeeded in smuggling into his cell a quantity of morphine, how or when, no one could ascertain. He left a letter in which he stated that no state penitentiary had ever held him, or ever would, but that “as the game was up” he would give them a few particulars regarding his past life. He gave his true name, the name of a man who, twenty-five years before, had been wanted in the state of New York for a heavy bank robbery and murder. For years, under an alias, he had belonged to a gang of counterfeiters in Missouri, but upon the discovery and arrest of the leaders of the band, he had assumed his present alias and had come west.
As Blaisdell took his place that morning in the prisoner’s box, he was a pitiable object. Haunted almost to madness by the awful fate of his associate, confronted by an overwhelming array of evidence, furnished by Houston, Van Dorn and Lindlay, including also a deposition of Guy Cameron’s, taken in his sick-room, his own abject and hopeless appearance bore the most damaging testimony against him. His case was quickly decided, his sentence being for seven years.
After the trial, Morton Rutherford and Van Dorn returned at once to the camp, and a day or two later, when business affairs had at last been satisfactorily adjusted, Mr. Cameron and Houston returned, bringing with them Mr. Whitney and Lindlay, for a visit of a week among the mountains, before the entire party should return east.
It was now early in the fall. Already the nights were frosty, but the days were royal as only early autumnal days among the mountains can be. Every breath was exhilarating, each inhalation seeming laden with some subtle elixir of life.
Guy Cameron was now convalescent, able to sit with his friends in the low, rustic porch, or even to join them in short strolls among the rocks by the lake.
One afternoon they all sat in and about the porch, in the soft, hazy sunlight, the vines and shrubbery about them brilliant in their autumnal tints of crimson and orange and gold. The group was complete, with the exception of Mr. Cameron and Mr. Whitney, who still lingered within doors, engaged in drawing up some papers of which no one seemed to understand the import, excepting Houston, who had just left the gentlemen to join the group outside.
It was a strikingly beautiful picture; Mrs. Cameron seated in the center, with her sweet face and snow-white hair, and on either side a lovely daughter. Near Lyle were seated Guy Cameron and Morton Rutherford,––between whom there already existed a deep affinity,––-with their faces of remarkable strength and beauty. On the grass, just outside the porch, in various easy attitudes, were Ned Rutherford, Van Dorn and Lindlay, and it was noticeable that under the influence of late events, even Ned’s boyish face was gradually assuming a far more mature and thoughtful expression.
As Houston seated himself beside Leslie, both she and Lyle observed that his face was lighted with a smile of deep satisfaction, but he remained silent, and the conversation continued as before, the members of the little group engaged in anticipations of their return to their respective homes, and in comments upon this particular portion of the west with which they had become familiar.
“Which will you love best, Jack, my dear,” Lyle asked of Guy in low tones, using the old form of address still very dear to her, “the eastern home, or the mountains?”
“My old home was never so dear to me as now,” he replied, “but I am deeply attached to the mountains; for years they were my only friends, and I shall wish to look upon them occasionally in the future.”
“Well,” Ned Rutherford was saying, “I wouldn’t have thought it, but I’ve got so attached to this place out here, I’d like an excuse of some sort,––some kind of business, you know,––that would bring me here part of the time; what do you think, Mort?”
“I think our associations here have had a great deal to do with the attractions of the place, but as a quiet retreat in which to spend a few weeks of each summer, I can not imagine a more delightful place.”
“Everard, of what are you thinking so deeply?” demanded Lyle, watching his thoughtful face, “you have not spoken a word since you came out.”
“I am thinking of the evening when first we had Mr. Lindlay and Mr. Van Dorn as guests in this house; thinking of the contrast between then and now; that was ushering in the close of the old regime, and this is the eve of the new.”
“When will the mines be reopened?” inquired Van Dorn.
“Just as soon as possible after the rebuilding of the plant, next spring.”
“All these mines will be owned and controlled by the New York company, will they not?”
“Yes, and they will probably purchase other good properties.”
“’Pon my soul, but that will make a fine plant, out ’ere!” exclaimed Lindlay.
“I should say so,” responded Van Dorn.
Just at that instant, Mr. Cameron and Mr. Whitney appeared, the latter carrying a large roll of legal cap, covered with his well-known hieroglyphics.
“My dear,” said Mr. Cameron, seating himself beside his wife and a little in the rear of the remainder of the group, “Mr. Whitney and myself have been engaged in drawing up the articles of incorporation of the new mining company to be organized out here very shortly, and I thought perhaps you and the young people would be interested in them. I want to say that they are drawn up subject to the approval of all parties interested, and after you have heard them read, we want you to express your opinions, jointly and severally. Mr. Whitney, as I believe you are the only one who would be able to read those cabalistic signs, we will now listen to you.”
Amid a general laugh at Mr. Whitney’s expense, he began the reading of the articles of incorporation. The first article, setting forth the object of the corporation, was read, and by the time Mr. Whitney had reached the second, the members of the party were all attention.
“Article II. This corporation shall be known as The Rocky Mountain Mining Company.”
A murmur of approval ran through the little group, and the sonorous tones continued:
“Article III. The officers of the company hereby incorporated shall be as follows: Walter E. Cameron, president; Walter E. Houston, vice-president; Guy M. Cameron, treasurer and general manager; Edward B. Rutherford, Jr., secretary.”
Mr. Cameron, from his post of observation, watching to see the effect produced by the reading of this document, did not have to wait long. The faces of the ladies expressed their delight, while Ned Rutherford was speechless with astonishment; but it was the figure half reclining in the invalid chair that he watched most closely; it was his son’s approval that he most desired.
At the mention of his name, Guy Cameron had given a slight start, but he now lay with closed eyes, the only sign of emotion visible being that his pale face had grown still paler. Only the preceding day, Guy and his parents had held their first and only conversation together regarding the time so long past, Mr. and Mrs. Cameron intending it to be the first and last allusion which should be made to that sad time. Guy well knew that all was forgiven; he knew that the unhappy secret had been guarded with such loving care that his reputation was untarnished, there was nothing to be recalled against him on his return; yet he would consent only to a brief visit to the old home; he would not yet return permanently.
“Let me first go into business somewhere, and retrieve myself in my own eyes at least,” he had said, “not be taken back as a prodigal.”
Mr. Cameron had conferred with Houston, and both hoped that a responsible position in the newly organized company, amid the old familiar scenes and work, and associated with those to whom he had become personally attached, would more than meet his wishes. Mr. Cameron had wished to make him general manager on account of his familiarity with the business, while Houston wished him to hold the office of treasurer, as token of their perfect trust; hence the two were combined.
After all the articles of incorporation had been read in full, the little group broke up, and crowded around the newly-chosen young officers with many congratulations.
“Great Scott!” ejaculated Ned, “I never was so thunder struck in my life! Accept it? well, I should say so, Mr. Cameron, and with many thanks; you couldn’t have picked out anything that would suit me better. I guess,” he added in a confidential aside to Houston, “I guess that will fix the old fellow down there in Boston all right.”
Guy grasped his father’s hand and Houston’s in a manner that removed every anxiety from their minds.
“It is more than satisfactory,” he said, “more than I could wish.”
The following day, Mr. Whitney, Lindlay and Van Dorn returned east, leaving the “family party” as they laughingly styled themselves, to follow later.
Among the pleasant surprises of those last few days of their stay, it was discovered that Leslie Gladden, whom Mrs. Cameron and Lyle had urged to make her home with them upon their return, was the owner of a palatial residence not many blocks from their own city home, besides having a snug little fortune in bonds and stocks.
Houston’s surprise was unbounded, but remembering how he had won Leslie’s love, there was little he could say.
“I thought you once said you never had a home of your own,” he remarked in considerable perplexity.
“Well,” she replied archly, “a residence is not necessarily a home; it has never been a home to me since my earliest recollection, but it will be one soon, in the truest sense of the word.”
One morning a few days later, they awoke to find the mountains about them white with snow, and a light snowfall in the canyon; and though the latter vanished presently under the balmy breath of a “chinook,” it had given them warning that the winter king was approaching, and would soon seize the scepter from autumn’s hand, to begin his long reign among the mountains.
That day, the old house which had witnessed such varied scenes within the past few months, was closed, and a very joyous party started for Silver City, the initial point of the long eastward journey, their hearts throbbing with delight that they were homeward bound.
In the first carriage rode Mr. and Mrs. Cameron and their newly-found son and daughter, while following so closely that their merry jokes and song and laughter were intermingled, were Everard Houston, Leslie Gladden and the two brothers; and as they passed down the winding canyon road, casting loving, farewell glances at the friendly peaks, clad that day in dazzling brightness, and recalled their first coming to the heart of the Rockies, they were, one and all, agreed that the end was better than the beginning.
According to Houston’s prediction, the mines were reopened the following year, and operated on a far more extensive scale. On the site of the old mills, an immense building was erected, thoroughly equipped with the latest improvements in mining machinery and electrical and mechanical appliances. The old mines were repaired and extended and new properties were purchased, giving employment to hundreds of men. Early in the second year, a railroad was constructed by the company, extending up the canyon from the Y, to the camp, for the transportation of ore, mining supplies, freight and passengers.
As the mines were enlarged and new properties developed, quite a community sprang up in that vicinity, which, after the construction of the railroad, speedily developed into a typical mining town; and now, after a lapse of three years, few would recognize the old camp.
Half way up the steep grade from the Y, is the smelting plant of the company, while at the terminus of the road, are the long, stone storehouses, at one end of which is the general office and a pleasant reception room. Next comes the great milling and reduction plant, while just beyond are the offices of the company, a fine, three-story brick building. From this building can be seen, in one direction the extensive mining works, with their labyrinth of shafts and tunnels, diggings and dumps; while in another direction are stretched the homes of the miners, the boarding houses, and, at a little distance, the post-office, hotel, stores and shops of the little town, as well as a tasteful church and school house. As one gazes upon the peaceful picture of the mountain town, there is nothing to recall the frightful scene of destruction and ruin of only three years past.
There is little to remind one of former times, until, having followed the broad, winding road for some distance, one suddenly comes upon a familiar sight. Nestling at the foot of the pine-covered mountain, on the site of the old boarding house, is a beautiful, wide-spreading stone cottage, so built that its numerous bow-windows take in a view of the azure lake and shining cascades, as well as of the surrounding peaks and the sunset sky; and on the broad, vine-covered veranda, is a well-known group, who come from their distant, city homes, to spend a few weeks of each summer amid the grandeur and beauty of the mountains, to listen to the whispering of the pines and the music of the cascades.
Morton Rutherford and his bride are here; Lyle, physically and mentally developed into royal, radiant womanhood, more beautiful than ever, but to whom there comes occasionally an irresistible longing to revisit her old mountain home, for the years of happiness and love have obliterated all bitter memories of the loveless, joyless childhood, and only the remembrance of its beauty remains.
By her side, is Guy Cameron, his proud, erect bearing showing the change which these few years have wrought in his life; lonely and solitary no longer, for near him is a queenly woman, who, knowing the sad secret of his past, will share and brighten his future.
Everard Houston and his lovely wife need no introduction, but, beside them is a little stranger, possessing Leslie’s wondrous dark eyes, but Houston’s features,––another little Marjorie,––while beside the wee maiden is a small chevalier, only two months her senior, rejoicing in the name of Morton Rutherford. In the dignified, business-like face of the proud father, it is difficult to recognize the former Ned Rutherford, but while possessing still the same light-hearted nature, yet the responsibilities intrusted to him, and the years of constant association with a man like Everard Houston, have developed a business ability surprising even to himself. As secretary of the Rocky Mountain Mining Company, he has proved to be the right man in the right place, thereby reflecting much credit upon Houston’s insight and good judgment in selecting him for the position. By his side is a fair woman, the “Grace” of whom he used to dream when first he visited the mountains.
Strolling up and down the graveled walks, in consultation regarding the mines, are two figures, one of whom is easily recognized as Arthur Van Dorn, mining expert for the company, and superintendent of the milling and reduction plant. The energetic, business man by his side is M. T. Donovan, superintendent of the entire mining plant, but a second glance is necessary to recognize in him, Mike, the old-time miner, and the faithful friend of Guy Cameron in his years of loneliness. Donovan and Van Dorn present a striking contrast, but they are good friends, and the latter’s personation of the former, on a certain occasion, is a standing joke between them.
There is one more familiar figure, not to be omitted, and that is Rex, stretched on the soft grass in an attitude of perfect content, his nose resting on his paws, his eyes fixed on his master’s face with the old-time devotion.
Beautiful as this picture may be, it is not quite complete without a glimpse of a far-away, eastern home, where, in the gloaming, beside an open grate, sit a couple with peaceful faces, crowned with snow-white hair. They have passed the grand summit of middle age, with its broad horizons, where hope and ambition are at their zenith, and together are journeying down the long, gentle declivity; but the clouds of loss and bereavement and pain that gathered about their path in the years gone by, have passed, and the valley before them is flooded with golden light. Their home circle, once broken, is now nearly complete; the once vacant places by the fireside are again filled, and the old home, silent for so many years, again resounds with song and laughter, and echoes once more to the music of childish voices and the patter of little feet.
For hours, they sit talking together of the joys which the late years have brought them; until the moonlight steals in through the open windows, reverently touching their heads with a silvery radiance, at the same time looking down in silent, shining benediction upon the peaceful scene in the heart of the Rockies.
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