On the radio, I heard that the two missing backpackers from Northwest had been found alive, in good shape. They were picked up by forest ranger as they came down a logging road near Upper Teardrop Lake. The boy and girl hadn’t known they were lost and were surprised that anyone was worried or looking for them. They’d had such a good time camping they’d decided to skip classes and stay on a few extra days.

Three nights ago, they’d gotten engaged on the shore of Rodney Lake and the hike had turned into a honeymoon.

A few bear-hating customers in the Stockmen’s Café and some callers to the “Kootenay Cavalcade” radio show would be disappointed a grizzly hadn’t got the engaged couple and a special hunt for the man-killer could begin. The high-country drama had a happy ending and made a bright balance to the Stivers-Cheryl Reed shooting in Idaho that everyone had been talking about.

After Tug and I just missed Stivers’ speeding get-away car we’d passed the ambulance at the drive-in, where the Reed girl had been badly wounded in the back and her new teen-aged boyfriend was instantly killed. That was just before we stopped at the country store and I met the boy with the Sleeping Child.

I hadn’t been in the Elgin in daytime during the week and, with the radio off, I heard the life and sounds of the workday building. In a thin, high-pitched hum like a saw from the mill, the credit dentist’s drill whined on and on, as if he worked forever on the same sedated patient.

When I went down the hall to use the bathroom, I could hear the beauty college students murmur and see their shadows move like graceful ghosts through the frosted glass and I remembered that Mrs. Blackdeer had said the ancestors lived under the green lake where the Sleeping Child cried and dreamed and couldn’t wake up.

Sometimes I hoped Joyce would knock at the door, but she never did. Now and then a tool rang distantly against cement, maybe the sound traveling upward through the radiator pipes, and I knew that my neighbors, Birdie and Ralph, were at work on the theater seats. They were excited their science-fiction movie was coming this weekend and that they got to see it for free, something about a marooned space man on Earth who becomes a famous sheriff in Nevada. I thought it might have been my story, except for the part about being famous and a cop.

Thursday night, I stopped by Custer’s and saw Wes Blackdeer drinking a beer in a booth, talking to the blond girl we’d seen my first afternoon after work at the mill. She was married and he’d gone with her a few times the year before, when her husband hunted elk.

The early deer season would start Saturday morning and other lucky hunters, besides the cowboys from Adkins’ class, had won the raffle — maybe Ray or some of the boisterous men standing at Custer’s polished bar.

Some “sportsman” who had hit the lottery would lose to Wes and never know that Wes had hunted too, begun his own season on lonely wives as the woods filled with their husbands’ eager rifles.

Maybe Joyce would be alone this weekend; I decided it was lucky I had to go to the Lakeview Inn.

Once I’d asked Wes if he ever fished at Sleeping Child Lake and he’d grunted, mumbling that he didn’t want anything to do with those waters.

“Sometimes people go there and don’t come back.”

I hadn’t known what he meant. Now as he sat talking with the married woman, I had an odd feeling I wouldn’t see him again and, for a minute, I was afraid, but I wasn’t sure whom I was worried about.