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Rest and Be Thankful

Helen Macinnes




  Pray for a Brave Heart

  Above Suspicion

  Assignment in Brittany

  North From Rome

  Decision at Delphi

  The Venetian Affair

  The Salzburg Connection

  Message from Málaga

  While We Still Live

  The Double Image

  Neither Five Nor Three


  Snare of the Hunter

  Agent in Place

  Ride a Pale Horse

  Prelude to Terror

  The Hidden Target

  I and My True Love

  Cloak of Darkness

  Friends and Lovers (January 2014)

  Home is the Hunter (February 2014)





  Rest and be Thankful

  Print edition ISBN: 9781781161579

  E-book edition ISBN: 9781781161630

  Published by Titan Books

  A division of Titan Publishing Group Ltd

  144 Southwark Street, London SE1 0UP

  First edition: December 2013

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

  Copyright © 1949, 2013 by Helen MacInnes. All rights reserved.

  No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

  A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library.

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  Gilbert and Keith

  My favourite cowboys


  1. Road to Nowhere

  2. Flying Tail

  3. Rest and be Thankful

  4. Inspection

  5. Action...

  6. ...And Reactions

  7. One to Get Ready, Two to Get Steady...

  8. First Arrivals

  9. Sally

  10. East Meets West

  11. Peace, It’s Wonderful

  12. Problem and Paradox

  13. Snapshots

  14. Stoneyway Trail Cut-Off

  15. Cowpoke’s Corner

  16. Elopement

  17. The Storm

  18. Good News and Bad

  19. Harmony and Discord

  20. The Round-Up

  21. Mrs Peel Changes Her Mind

  22. Return from the Mountains

  23. The Bear and Mr Jerks Share an Evening

  24. Alarms and Excursions

  25. The Waiting Maiden

  26. Jim Brent Takes Charge

  27. Sweetwater Stampede

  28. Jim and Sally

  29. Memento from the West

  30. The Waiting House

  About the Author



  The road climbed westward, twisting through the green hills and high pastures. Ahead lay a towering wall of mountains buttressed by rock, covered by dark green fir-trees. The paler grass from the meadows stretched round the mountains’ base like a sea, forming inlets here and there, as the forest receded, or an isolated lake where the trees had marched down to encircle the invader.

  Then the road stopped climbing, as if it had decided it had wasted quite enough breath, and turned abruptly to run in crazy twists along the high valley which suddenly opened out under the shadow of the mountains.

  “How very unexpected!” Mrs. Margaret Peel murmured, and sat forward with interest, as if she were trying to catch a better glimpse of the stage in a crowded theatre. Sarah Bly, who shared the back seat of the touring car and all the bumps and jolts, held on to her hat with one hand and on to the map with the other, and wished Margaret were a little more conscience-stricken and less delightfully surprised. To run into an unexpected valley following an unexpected direction was slightly depressing at six o’clock in the evening. If this were Switzerland or the Austrian Tyrol you could depend on reaching a little village every hour on the hour, and it would only be a matter of deciding which one had the best inn for a well-cooked meal and a comfortable bed. But this was Wyoming. And here was Margaret, who once insisted on taking her doses of Nature by well-diluted teaspoonfuls, now drinking it in by the gallon and becoming so intoxicated that she had quite forgotten this road was all her fault. It was a short-cut, she had said, three hours ago.

  Sarah Bly said, “We are now fifty miles from nowhere, heading for Canada. We might as well admit we took the wrong road and tell Jackson to turn around and drive us back to the State Highway.” She glanced at the stolid neck of Jackson in front of her, and noted that he was still registering disapproval in his own persevering way. He hadn’t once admired the view, and he was no doubt wondering if they would ever reach San Francisco in time to let him have his two weeks at Atlantic City before the snows set in. Jackson’s idea of a journey across America was a smooth highway white-lined, and eighty miles an hour.

  “It is quite incredible!” Margaret Peel said, as if she hadn’t heard her friend’s suggestion. She was watching the golden peaks, the blue-shadowed canyons, the continuous rise and fall of pasture-land and forest. Then she added consolingly, “At least, we’ve left these miles of plains behind and all these herds of white-faced bulls. After a few days of that I’d thought I’d scream. Nothing but eyes and eyes, all watching me speculatively. Reminded me of a lecture I once gave, somehow.”

  “They were cows, darling. There just can’t be so many bulls in the whole of America.”

  “Well, they didn’t look like cows.” Her voice became less doubtful as she abandoned that problem for their more immediate one. “We must be fifty miles from somewhere, Sarah. And we haven’t reached Montana yet, far less Canada.”

  “I was only trying to drop the gentle hint that we may be lost. I just can’t find anything recognisable on this map.” Sarah Bly had all the assets of beauty—fair hair, fine skin, blue eyes, regular features—but she had chosen to ignore them; or, rather, control them. (“Pretty?” her friends would say, startled. “Why, I suppose so!”) Now, at this moment, the rebellion in her eyes and mouth, the tilt of her head with its neatly arranged hair, the heightening of colour on her cheeks, brought her face into life.

  “Sarah,” Mrs. Peel said affectionately but firmly, “the man in New York said everything was clearly marked on that map. Perhaps you aren’t looking in the right place. This is Wyoming, dear. Let me see.” She studied the map in between increasingly wild lurches of the car. “Why, here we are. Or almost.” She pointed to the town where they had slept last night. “The pass over the mountains lies just west of there.”

  “West by the State Highway,” Sarah Bly reminded her. Then she smiled in spite of herself at Margaret’s usually neat hat, now cocked drunkenly over one eye by that last jolt. But
Mrs. Peel was too busy frowning over the brown splotches and green patches on the map to notice. She was a handsome woman, considerably older than Sarah. The features in her face were delicately shaped, and the warmth of her quick smile matched the humour in her bright brown eyes. Their vitality offset her white hair and her pale skin.

  “I suppose we’ll have to stop the car,” she conceded suddenly. “Don’t worry, Sarah; even if this road isn’t marked on the map it still must lead some place. That’s the nice thing about a road. It’s all my fault, I know. I suppose I just got carried away by a view. Still, you must admit that this is one way of seeing something of the country.”

  Sarah Bly admitted it, and stopped thinking about the fate of the Donner party as the car halted. Jackson, somewhat melted by Mrs. Peel’s frank admission that she needed his help, began giving his laconic advice. Yes, Sarah Bly thought, as she straightened her own hat, that was indeed the purpose of this tour—to see something of America. And originally it had been her idea: it was she who had persuaded Margaret, last winter in New York, that it was about time they gave their own country a chance.

  For almost twenty years—and Margaret, in fact, could recall more than twenty—they had lived abroad. They had kept house in Paris, in Rapallo, in Dalmatia; they had collected people, paintings, and recipes; they had given amusement with their American money, and they had been amused, in turn, by the ideas and customs of foreign lands. It hadn’t been pointless: at least two of the penniless writers who had dined with them so constantly in their Paris flat had become almost famous; and the little press which Margaret had subsidised, had printed some essays and poems which were now collectors’ items. In Italy there always had been a group of writers and painters staying with them. And in the charmingly straying castle which they had rented in 1939 in Dalmatia their guests had over-flowed its ramparts right down into the outskirts of Ragusa. But all that was over: these days were gone now. And gone too were most of their friends.

  So many had been killed, Sarah Bly thought unhappily as she stared at the wall of mountains across the valley. Or they had disappeared, or they were shut away behind political boundaries. And those that were left? Post-War politics had embittered or twisted them... So we came home, back to a land we had neglected for twenty years, strangers in our own country except to the few people in New York who had known us abroad. And all that was left of those twenty years was Jackson; and this motor-car; and our zest for travel.

  She turned her eyes quickly away from the wall of mountains, back to the twisting, narrow road. At this moment she could wish that Margaret’s zest for travel had not become quite so uncontrolled. And the car too was as good as ever, even if it were of a 1933 vintage. But where was Jackson? While she had been daydreaming he had disappeared.

  “I’ve sent Jackson to spy out the land,” Mrs. Peel explained. She was walking round the car slowly, breathing the fresh cool air with maddeningly obvious enjoyment. “You really did get lost among those mountains, didn’t you? Now, do get out and stretch your legs, Sarah. You’ll feel much better.”

  But Sarah Bly kept her eyes on the road and waited for Jackson.

  “Yes, it was all my fault,” Mrs. Peel admitted. “Still, Jackson has quite forgiven me.” She looked reprovingly at Sarah. She held out two candy bars wrapped in metallic paper. “Look, he brought these along specially for us. What would we do without Jackson?”

  Sarah Bly took the candy and unwrapped it. “Oh, no!” she cried. She held up the boldly printed name on the silver paper. “Goodie Two Chews... Oh, Margaret!”

  Mrs. Peel studied the legend in silence. Then she unwrapped her portion and began to eat it. “I simply will not be depressed,” she said to the nearest mountain. “Look, what on earth are these brown things bouncing over that piece of hillside? Antelopes? There you are Sarah. We’ve got antelopes playing, skies that are not cloudy all day, and all we need is the seldom discouraging word.”

  Sarah Bly smiled in spite of herself. Besides, the candy was good. And Jackson would be back any moment, and the car would be turned round—for just at this point in the road it could be turned safely. Here grass edges had taken place of steep banks and sharp cliffs; the hillside to the right of them was joined to the road by a sloping stretch of ground, and to the left of them the green slope continued into a broad meadow. As if the road, at this point, did not separate hill from valley but formed a natural bridge. It was impossible to deny that this view, with its mountains and teeth of rock, bore a decided resemblance to the Dolomite country in the South Tyrol. Perhaps the Dolomites, with a strange touch—in these neat, pointed green hills and rich forests—of the Côte d’Or. And surely in these steeply sloping fields, folding into each other, dipping, rising, a decided reminder of Scotland: here there was sage instead of heather. And the boulder-studded grass had its thistles too. “And blue lupines, and wild roses, and what’s that flame-coloured flower?” she said aloud.

  “Thank you, Sarah,” Mrs. Peel said. “That’s much better. But what has happened to Jackson? I suppose it is all the fault of these turns in the road. They keep enticing you on.”

  “If he gets lost—” Sarah began, in alarm.

  “We’d have to camp out here until he gets unlost. It has been done before, you know. I expect this country at one time was dotted over with covered wagons waiting for scouts to turn up again. Cheer up, Sarah! The Indian wars are over, and the bears all spend the summer nowadays in Yellowstone to get their photographs taken. We’ve little to worry about. Imagine if we were sitting in a covered wagon sixty years ago, and a band of Sioux were watching us from the top of that ridge over there! It must have been quite unpleasant to comb your hair out each night before you went to bed. So reminding. I think I’d have travelled with a shaven head, just to annoy them.” Mrs. Peel’s eyes suddenly narrowed, and her voice sharpened. “Now, how did that get there?” She pointed to the ridge where she had placed her scalping-party, and stared angrily at the grey mist which was creeping over it, swirling lower, thickening, even as she watched. “Was that distant thunder?” she asked. She looked anxiously at the rest of the sky, still blue and brightly smiling.

  “It’s quite near,” Sarah said. “And not thunder. Hoofs, I think.”

  “Oh, dear! More bulls,” Mrs. Peel said, abandoning her pioneer-woman attitude and climbing back hastily into the car.

  “Coming this way,” Sarah Bly informed her with some satisfaction. Of course, they would only be cows, but still she removed the red chiffon scarf which she wore tucked into the neckline of her grey flannel suit. “Poor Jackson. Do you think dodging a stampede is one of his secret accomplishments?”

  “They aren’t bulls; they’re wild horses!” Mrs. Peel called loudly above the mounting uproar, as a mass of flying manes and tails and pounding hoofs suddenly swept over a hillside and poured down towards the car. Half-circling them, urging them on, were five men on horseback.

  “And this,” Sarah said quickly, remembering the grass bridge at the edge of the road which made such a convenient turning-place for the car, “this is where they will cross!”

  Mrs. Peel looked at her with horror.

  “Cliffs, precipices, canyons!” Sarah shouted in explanation, and waved her arms to the front and back of the car.

  One of the riders raced towards them, while the others altered their half-circle to a flanking manoeuvre to turn the horses and slacken their speed.

  “Get that car out of the way!” shouted the rider. Sarah Bly, ignoring her tight skirt, climbed desperately over into the front seat. She was rarely allowed to drive—Jackson had a well-developed sense of possession—but she knew roughly what to do. She did it, conscious of the man’s furious look, of the angry voice, of his impatient horse, of the loud shouts and terrified neighs which were now alarmingly close.

  That’s it!” the man directed. “Now turn the car across the road! Just there! There!”

  Mrs. Peel wondered what Jackson would say if he heard the gears being stripped like tha
t. But Sarah had managed it, bringing the car to rest before it fell over the bank on the left of the road. “But why?” Mrs. Peel said. “For heaven’s sake, why?”

  “To form a road block,” Sarah answered. “And stay in the car, Margaret!” She felt ridiculously pleased with herself, and with her guess, as the man now rode his horse over to the other side of the broad natural gateway and took his position there. In one hand he held a ready loop; in the other the rest of the long rope was neatly coiled. He had quite forgotten them, Sarah thought, as she watched his concentration. Then his eyes lifted towards the milling herd of horses, as its leaders were once more directed towards the road. The surging wave hesitated, gathered force, rushed suddenly with renewed speed, shook the car as it poured over the road and thundered past to cover everything and everyone in a cloud of dust.

  “My dear!” Mrs. Peel’s voice rose chokingly, as a horseman appeared suddenly at the edge of the cloud on the high bank above them and, without altering speed, rode down its steep slope, swerved to avoid the car, and then disappeared down a steeper slope at a gallop to turn a couple of straying horses back into the mainstream.

  It was over as quickly as it had begun. They were left staring after the moving mass of horses, listening to the fading calls of the circling riders.

  “So that’s a cowboy,” Mrs. Peel said faintly, and sat down on the nice quiet safe seat of the car. “We really do choose our moments... Imagine arriving in the middle of a rodeo!”

  “A day’s work for them, which we nearly ruined.”

  “They very nearly ruined me,” Mrs. Peel said.

  Sarah didn’t reply; she was watching the man who had guarded the road now riding slowly towards them. He seemed to be paying more attention to re-coiling the rope and fixing it on to his saddle than he was to the two strangers. He was a tall man, thin, muscular. His face, set in strong lines, was impassive. He reached the car and halted his horse. He touched the battered felt hat, wide and curved in the brim, which he wore pulled well down over his forehead. He sat easily on his horse, his body now relaxed, his right hand resting on his hip, his left arm leaning on the saddle-horn. He said nothing. He sat there and he looked at them.