Larry of Lonesome Lake - Harold Bindloss - ebook

Larry of Lonesome Lake ebook

Harold Bindloss

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In summer, the Pacific Canadian slope is beautiful, and the time was on Sunday afternoon. The aim of Lawrence Bethune was the amount he wanted to withdraw from a bank in Vancouver. In Canada, he had to work hard. After all, the weak do not survive there. Therefore, he moved to the Pacific slope, where he could show his force and stand out there. But by what qualities? Rudeness and violence? Did he rely on it?

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Contents

I. Sleeping Beauty

II. The Tide Turns

III. Ruby Goes Overboard

IV. Summer Afternoon

V. Qualichan Sound

VI. Bourlon Ranch

VII. The Convalescent

VIII. Mrs. Loudon Advises

IX. Evening Calm

X. The Haymakers

XI. Isabel Arrives

XII. Lawrence's Choice

XIII. Lawrence Gets a Knock

XIV. The Portage

XV. Sentry Peak

XVI. The Northwest Passage

XVII. The Stone Shoot

XVIII. The New Leader

XIX. Daybreak

XX. A Fighting Chance

XXI. The Dark Hour

XXII. Alice's Return

XXIII. A Conference By the Fire

XXIV. The Wrecked Canoe

XXV. Upriver

XXVI. The Ravine

XXVII. Isabel Turns Back

XXVIII. The Last Portage

XXIX. Lawrence Takes a Rest

XXX. Isabel Goes on Her Way

CHAPTER I

SLEEPING BEAUTY

A warm wind from the Pacific touched the pines and the noise in their high tops was like the murmur of the sea. Branches swung and yellow light and trembling shadow splashed the big straight trunks. Then for a minute or two all was quiet, and Bethune heard a woodpecker tap on rotten bark. A stick cracked under his horse’s feet, red and green feathers gleamed, and the bird was gone, but in the background a blue grouse began to drum.

In summer the Canadian Pacific slope is beautiful, and the time was Sunday afternoon, but Lawrence Bethune, steering his horse down the mountain trail, tried to calculate the sum he could prudently draw from the bank at Vancouver and the quantity of hay he ought to put up. The young steers he had examined at the ranch where he had stopped for the night were useful animals, and while summer lasted would find their food in the woods. In four or five days he could drive them across the pass to his ranch by Lonesome Lake; but he must not be rash, and the oats on the ground he had recently cleared were not growing strong. In British Columbia, there was thetrouble: when one had chopped and burned the great pines, the crop for the first two or three years was thin. He ought perhaps to have sown more timothy and orchard grass.

Shining water crossed the trail, and when his horse’s feet splashed in the creek he let go the bridle and allowed the animal to drink while he rolled a cigarette. At Bourlon ranch one used economy, and American cigarettes carried a duty stamp. In England Lawrence had not bothered about things like that; but when all one had was invested in virgin forest from which one hoped to chop a ranch, one mustn’t be extravagant. Well, in four years he had cleared some ground, and before he was forced to let his hired men go they had ditched the swampy belt and the soil was drying out. To cut the trench through the hemlock roots was something of a job, but Lawrence knew himself a harder and stronger man than the young fellow who had shivered, and sometimes sweated, in the mud in France.

In Canada one must get hard, for the soft and slack went broke. All the same, the Pacific slope was a good country, and he looked about. Where the branches were thin, he saw the Cascade Range’s snow cut the serene sky; on the other side, behind the woods, the sea sparkled like a looking-glass. The trees hid the ugly settlement by the inlet under the hill.

The creek, splashing musically, splashed across smooth, quartz-veined stones. Lawrence’s glancefollowed the gliding water, and stopped. On the stony soil, the brushwood was thin, and little red wineberries shone among the glossy leaves. At the bottom of a big cedar, cradled by the spreading roots, a girl was asleep.

Lawrence put up his tobacco pouch. To study her was something of an impertinence, but at Qualichan white women were not numerous, and her type was not the mountain type. Anyhow, she certainly was asleep, and he thought fatigue had something to do with it.

Her body was thin and her face rather pinched, but, in her quiet sleep, attractive. She obviously used powder, and Lawrence doubted if the touch of strong color in her cheek were altogether natural. Her clothes, so far as he could judge, were cheaply fashionable; in fact, he imagined only her thin city shoes were good. In London or Paris she would not have excited his curiosity; under the Canadian pines, she was frankly puzzling. On the whole, she moved him to vague compassion, but he ought not to stop, and he touched his horse.

The horse splashed rather noisily through the creek, and the girl looked up. She saw a brown-skinned man on a cayuse horse. His clothes were yellow overalls, his long boots were shabby, and his large felt hat had some time since lost its shape in the rain. Yet when he met her swift glance his was rather apologetic than embarrassed. He was not remarkably young–thirty perhaps–and for all hisshabby clothes, she thought she knew his type.

“If I disturbed you, I am sorry,” he said, and lifted his hand to his hat.

She signed him to stop. Lawrence noted that she got up gracefully.

“I am rather glad you did disturb me. Do you know what time it is?”

“Half-past four,” said Lawrence, looking at the sun.

“Thank you,” said the girl with a sort of resigned shrug. “On Sundays supper is at six, and the settlement is two miles off.”

“About two miles. The trail is downhill, and you have an hour and a half–”

“The trouble is, I must help cook supper at the Tecumseh House. I am the head, and only, waitress.”

Lawrence was surprised. He had not thought her the sort of waitress Mrs. Monroe of the Tecumseh would engage. It had nothing to do with him, but now she was on her feet he thought her tired and slack. In fact, he wondered whether she was not ill.

“If you can ride, you might take my horse.”

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