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Title: Wolf Breed
Author: Gregory, Jackson, 1882-1943
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wolf Breed" ***

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Author of
The Short Cut, Etc.

With Frontispiece in Color by Frank Tenney Johnson


New York
Grosset & Dunlap
Copyright, 1916,
By Dodd, Mead & Company, Inc.





    XV THE TALE OF _le Beau Diable_




Mid June, and the eager spring had burst triumphant into the North
Woods.  The mountain tops, still white hostages of the retreating
winter, fettered in frozen manacles, were alone in their reminiscence
of the implacable season.  And even they made their joyous offerings to
the newborn springtime, pouring a thousand flashing cascades to leap
down the rocky sides and seek out the hidden nooks and valleys where
seeds were bursting and the thawed earth lay fruitful under warm, lush
grass.  The birds were back from their southern voyaging, once more the
squirrels chattered in the open, noisily forgetful of the rigours of
winter in the joy of green things growing, and in the clear blue arch
of the sky the sun wheeled gloriously through a long day.  The air,
always wine, was now a sparkling, bubbling, rare vintage champagne,
dancing in the blood, making laughter in the heart and sweet tumult in
the brain.  It was the season of long, golden days, of clear, silver
nights, of budding life everywhere.

Because of three unmistakable signs did even the most sceptical of the
handful of hardy spirits at MacLeod's Settlement know that in truth the
spring had come.  They read the welcome tidings in the slipping of the
snows from the flinty fronts of Ironhead and Indian Peak a thousand
feet above the greening valley; in the riotous din of squirrels and
birds interwoven with the booming of frogs from the still ponds; and
finally in the announcement tacked upon the post-office door.  The two
line scrawl in lead pencil did not state in so many words the same
tidings which the blue birds were proclaiming from the thicket on the
far bank of the Little MacLeod; it merely announced that to-night Père
Marquette and his beloved wife, Mère Jeanne, were keeping open house.
Every one in the Settlement knew what that meant, just as well as he
understood the significance of the noises of the ice splitting upon the

Once every year until now this was the fiftieth had such an
announcement appeared.  Not always upon the door of the post-office,
for when the announcements began there was no post-office in MacLeod's
Settlement.  But annually at the chosen time set apart by the season
and himself Père Marquette would appear upon the little narrow street,
earlier than the earliest, cock his bright eye up at old Ironhead
towering high above him, rub his chin complacently, turn his head
sidewise so that he might hearken to the thin voices of the wild
creatures, and then, his message tacked up, return to the private room
behind his store to kiss Mère Jeanne awake and inform her with grave
joy that their "_jour de l'an_" had come to them.  Then, and with much
frolicking and wine and music, would their new year begin.

"It is our anniversary, _m'sieu'_," he would say with an air of vast
confidence to the first man he met upon the street.  "To-night we keep
open house here."  He would wave his hand toward the long, low log
building, clay chinked.  "We will be proud of your presence and that of
your frien's."

It had been remarked that the anniversary had come one year upon the
twenty-sixth of May, another year as late as the last of June.  Père
Marquette had laughed softly and had shaken his head.  "What matter?"
he had demanded.  "I, I marry myself with my beloved Mam'selle Jeanne
the first fine day of spring.  _Voilà_."

The central door of the Marquette house, broadest and heaviest and most
conspicuous both from its position in the middle of its valiant line of
brothers, had been closed and barred since last night.  It gave
entrance to the store; here behind his long counter, peering over boxes
neatly piled or between great heaps of bacon and tobacco and men's
clothing, Père Marquette looked out upon the world some three hundred
and sixty-four days of the ordinary year.  But upon the first day of
spring it was closed and locked until noon.  If a man needed plug cut
for his pipe, why then let him borrow from his friend or steal from his
enemy; it was no concern of Père Marquette.  If a woman required flour
for her baking let her do without; it would serve her right for having
failed to remember the great day. . . .  Then at high noon, not
measured by any ticking clock in the Settlement, the matter being
decided by Père Marquette and the sun alone, the middle door was flung
open.  The old man, dressed in his best black suit, his newest skull
cap set like a crown upon his head, stood at one side of the entrance,
gravely courteous, his black eyes twinkling, twin withered roses in his
old cheeks.  Mère Jeanne, silver buckles on her shoes, her ample form
surrounded almost but not quite by a great white, stiff-starched apron,
a bouquet of flowers in one hand, took her place at the other side.
And then the guests began to arrive.

You could list the men, women, children and four footed live stock of
MacLeod's Settlement upon a printed page and still have room left for a
brief biography of each.  They all came, all dressed in their best
holiday raiment, all happy and eager for the celebration.  From far
down the Little MacLeod river men trod the slushy trails, rough fellows
for the most part and silent, but with a tongue in each head to propose
a toast to host and hostess.  From over the ridge, from French Valley,
from as far east as St. Croix and as far west as Dunvegan's Post, the
guests trooped in.  Miners, trappers, little stock men; scions of old
French families with grand names, descendants of younger English sons
with riotous blood, Americans who had crossed the border with much
haste and scant baggage; many men whom the world had outlawed and whom
the North Woods had accepted as empire builders; men of pure blood
knocking elbows with swarthy "breeds," oddly alike in the matters of
keenly alert eyes and magnificent bodies.

As they filed through the Frenchman's door they entered not the store
at all but what was Père Marquette's idea of a drawing room.  The long
counters and shelves were there, but the barrels of pickled meat, the
piles of soap and tinned meats, the bags of flour, the stacks of men's
clothing, all this had been whisked away and out of sight as though by
magic.  A strip of new red oilcloth upon one counter, a strip of blue
upon another, transformed both into auxiliary seats.  Benches, recently
brought in from the rear storeroom by Père Marquette's man, Jules, and
freshly dusted by him, lined the walls.  Even Mère Jeanne's bedroom had
been robbed of chairs; boxes dressed gaily in gingham or perchance even
flaunting remnants of chintz, were amply good enough for the boys and

"My frien', you do me the honour," said Père Marquette over and over as
some stranger upon whom his quick black eyes had never rested until now
accepted his hand and entered to be again welcomed by Mère Jeanne.
"You make mamma and me ver' happy."

Let the frontier push out as far and as fast as it pleases, the violin
always goes with it.  Men march the more intrepidly to the scraping of
the skilful bow.  There were two fiddles already going in the next
room; Père Marquette had seen to that.  And in the same room stood a
great, sturdy homemade table, crippled in one leg, yet standing
valiantly, like an old soldier home from the wars.  Mère Jeanne's own
plump hands had placed the best tablecloth upon it, and there, in its
nest of field flowers, was the great bowl which had been the most
serviceable of the handful of wedding gifts fifty years ago.  Since the
crisp sting had not yet gone out of the air the high red tide in the
bowl was steaming an invitation which was irresistible.

Long before one o'clock all of the Settlement had arrived, each one had
had his bit of the heady punch, small glasses for the women, great
pewter mugs many times refilled for the men.  The big bowl was
proverbially like the purse of Fortunatus in its scorn of emptiness.
Mère Jeanne ceremoniously replenished it time and again, carried
brimming cups to the fiddlers, and the merry music, having ceased just
long enough for the musicians to gulp down "Your health," went on more
inspiringly than before.  Heavy booted feet, moving rythmically, made
the dance a thing to hear as well as see, deep throated laughter boomed
out incessantly, the lighter, fewer voices of women weaving in and out
of the clamour.

All afternoon men came in, now and then a woman with them.  They drank
and ate, they smoked Père Marquette's tobacco from the jars set about
everywhere, they traded old news for new and new for old, they
speculated upon the coming thaws and trapping to be found down on the
Little MacLeod and up towards the Silver Lake country, they told of the
latest gold strike in the Black Bear hills and predicted fresh strikes
to be made before the thaw was ten days old.  Many types of men and
women, some no doubt good, some bad no doubt, all mingling freely.

At five o'clock Père Marquette cleared his voice, scrambled with rare
agility upon one of his own counters and made the expected announcement:

"Ah, my frien's, you make us ver' happy, me an' Mamma Jeanne.  We wish
our leetle house she was more big to-day, big like our heart, that she
can hold the whole worl'."  He hugged his thin old arms to his breast
and smiled upon them.  "Tonight, all night long, _mes amis_, you are
welcome.  The doors of Père Marquette have forgot how to close up
to-night!  But listen, one instant!  Jus' across the road my warehouse
she is open.  The violins have gone there.  There you may dance, dance
as Mam'selle Jeanne an' I dance it is fifty year to-night.  Dance all
night long.  And while the yo'ng folk whose hearts are in their heels
walse yonder, here we older ones . . .  Ah!" as sudden voices,
cheering, cut into his running words.  "You have not forgot, eh?"

It was the signal for division.  The few women who had children took
them home with them; the other women, young and old, following like a
holiday flotilla in the wake of Mère Jeanne, tacked through the muck of
the road to the warehouse; many of the younger and some few of the
older men followed them; and in the house of Père Marquette, in the
yellow light of a half dozen kerosene lamps and many tall candles, the
real affair of the evening began.

Great logs oozing molten pitch were burning noisily in the two rock
fireplaces, the red flames swept up into the blackened chimneys to
spread cheer within and to scatter sparks like little stars in the
clear night without, the punch bowl had at last been allowed to stand
empty not because men were through drinking but because stronger drink,
men's drink, had appeared in many bottles upon the shelves, a game of
poker was running in one corner of a room, a game of solo in another;
yonder, seen through an open door, six men were shaking dice and
wagering little and bigger sums recklessly; a little fellow with a
wooden leg and a terribly scarred face was drawing shrieking rag time
from an old and asthmatic accordion while four men, their big boots
clumping noisily upon the bare floor, danced like awkward trained bears
when the outer door, closed against the chill of the evening, was flung
open and a stranger to MacLeod's settlement stood a moment framed
against the outside night.  A score of eyes, going to him swiftly,
studied him with unhidden curiosity.



All sorts and conditions of men come to the North Woods; some because
they want to, some because they have to.  Some because they are drawn
by the fine lure of adventure and the urge of the restless spirit, some
because they are driven by that bloodhound which is the law.  All
types, all classes.  And yet now, standing jauntily upon Père
Marquette's threshold, was a type of which as yet the Settlement had
had no knowledge.

He was young and wore his black mustaches with all of the fierceness of
youth.  His boots were at once the finest and the smallest which
MacLeod's had ever seen upon a man's feet.  He wore gloves, and when in
due time the hands came out of the gloves, they were little like a
woman's and white and soft.  He was a handsome young devil-of-a-fellow
with all of the soft, graceful beauty of the far southland.  His mouth,
smiling now, was red lipped, his teeth a glistening white.  Eyes very
big, very black, very soft, very tender, smiling too.  From the crown
of his wide black hat to the tall heels of his dainty boots he was such
a dandy as demanded more than a casual glance.

"_Amigos_," he cried, the door closed now, his back to it, his wide hat
describing a slow, graceful arc as he raised it gallantly from his
black hair, "I have the thirst of a lost soul.  Who will drink with me?"

He whipped the glove from his right hand, caught his hat under his arm
and brought from his pocket a shining gold piece which he tossed to one
of Père Marquette's counters.  A few of the men laughed, seeing his
mistake, while others murmured, "Dago," a little disgustedly and
returned their attention to their drink, gaming or talk.  Père
Marquette came forward briskly.

"M'sieu," he said graciously, offering his hand, "your presence honours
Mamma Jeanne an' me.  We are to-night fifty year marry . . . you shall
put your money in your pocket, m'sieu.  One does not pay to drink at
the place of Père Marquette to-night."

The young fellow looked at him in surprise, then turned wondering eyes
about him, even peering through the open door into the further rooms as
though asking himself what manner of place was this where men drank and
did not pay.  Then he laughed softly.

"Your pardon, señor," he said politely, taking the old man's proffered
hand and bending over it gracefully.  "Outside I was athirst like a man
in hell . . ."

A queer change came over his smiling face as his eyes, journeying
beyond the thin, black coated figure of Père Marquette, rested upon a
secluded corner of the room where in the nook by the fireplace a quiet
game of cards was in progress.

"Señorita!  Señorita!" he cried softly, pushing by Père Marquette and
coming forward swiftly.  "_Dispensame_!  Forgive me, señorita!"

It was Ernestine, the one woman remaining in the room, Ernestine
Dumont, who had come from over the ridge with big Kootanie George, her
latest lover.  She was sitting close to Kootanie's side now, whispering
occasionally in his ear as a hand was dealt him, for the most part
contentedly sipping at her little glass of sweet wine as she sat back
and watched.  She, with the others, had turned toward the entrant, her
eyes remaining upon him until now.  She smiled, no doubt pleased at his
notice, while Kootanie George, wide-shouldered, mighty limbed, the
biggest man within a hundred miles of the Settlement, glared at him in
frowning wonder.

"Forgive you?" laughed Ernestine, after a quick glance at George upon
whose shoulder she laid her hand lightly.  "What for?"

"I did not know that a lady was here," explained the young fellow
eagerly.  He was almost standing over her, his eyes for her alone as he
turned up his mustaches more fiercely yet and his eyes grew the more
tender.  "I speak roughly and not guarding my tongue which should
suffer and not taste wine for a week, señorita.  I am ashamed."

Ernestine blushed; again several men had laughed.  He had said "hell"
and had apologised to her . . .

"We'll let it go this time," she laughed a trifle awkwardly.  "And as
for not drinking anything. . . .  Look out or you'll spill what Papa
Marquette is bringing you now."

"We are all frien's, m'sieu," said Papa Marquette courteously, offering
a brimming glass.  "You, too.  And it is wrong that one should thirst

The other took the glass with another of his graceful bows.

"May you have other fifty years of happiness with your señora," he said
warmly.  "Your health and her health, señor."  The glass, at his lips,
halted and came away for a moment while he thought to introduce
himself.  "I am Ramon Garcia."

He said it as one might have said, "I am the King of Spain." Simply
enough but with a proud simplicity.  Then he put back his head and

After that Ramon Garcia needed no coaxing to remain.  He fitted into
the throng as he seemed to do all things, gracefully.  Since he could
not spend his money to-night for wine and since spend it he must he
ventured it pleasantly at the table where the dice rolled.  Between
throws he made many slender cigarettes of fine tobacco and thin white
papers; winning, he forgot to note how much in turning his eyes with
tender admiration upon Ernestine Dumont, whose glance more than once
met his; losing, he hummed languid snatches of Mexican love songs in a
remarkably pure tenor voice.

Before he had been with them an hour it was evident to many, not last
of all to big Kootanie George, that the "Mex" was flirting openly with
the yellow haired Ernestine.  It was equally evident that his notice
did not embarrass her as his apology had done.  She curved her red lips
at him when George was not looking, she glanced down as demure as a
bashful school girl when her big lover was watching her.  George began
to lose at his cards and when he swore at his luck did not apologise.

At last Ramon Garcia wearied of the dice.  He pocketed his winnings and
pushed back his chair.  A guitar in its case in a corner of the room
had caught his roving eye.  Standing with his back to the wall, leaning
indolently, he sent his white fingers wandering across the strings and
his eyes drifting bade to find those of Ernestine Dumont.  Then through
the discordance of other voices, of clicking chips, rustling cards,
dice snapped down upon the hard table tops, chink of glass and bottle
neck, the voice of Ramon Garcia, liberated softly, filled the room with
its richness as a room is filled with the perfume of flowers.  Such
music as he made did not often come into the North Woods, and men . . .
and one woman . . . listened.

He sang it in the Spanish, a tongue which no other man here understood.
Yet they must all guess the meaning of the words.  They were love
words, tenderly lilted.  And they were being sung to Ernestine Dumont.
There was a little smile upon young Ramon's lips, a hint of gay
laughter in his voice and in his soft eyes a deal of love making.
Kootanie George scowled, Ernestine twirled her glass in her fingers,
one or two men laughed.

When he had done Ramon Garcia swept his fingers across the strings in a
sort of mournful regret.  Then, when there was a sudden clapping of
hands, he bowed, smiled and sang again, this time putting the words of
his little song, the same song, into English:

  "The perfume of roses, of little red roses;
    (Thou art a rose, oh, so sweet, _corazón_!)
  The laugh of the water who falls in the fountain;
    (Thou art the fountain of love, _corazón_!)
  The brightness of stars, of little stars golden;
    (_Estrella de mi vida_!  My little life star!)
  The shine of the moon through the magnolia tree;
    I am so sad till thou come, _mi amor_!
  _Dios_! It is sweet to be young and to love!
    More sweet than wine . . . to be young and to love!"

In the clapping of hands which broke out when he had done Ernestine's
was to be heard above Kootanie George's grunt of disgust.

"No man talk, that," he snorted, careless of who heard.  "Dam' slush."

"Your deal, Koot," laughed Blunt Rand, the American trapper from the
headwaters of the Little MacLeod.  "Don't let the Mexican gent spoil
your play that-away.  Deal 'em up, why don't you?"

Kootanie George glared at Rand and gathered in the cards.  He
understood as did Ernestine and the others at the table the gibe which
lay under Rand's words.  The American's fancies, too, had run toward
Ernestine Dumont not so long ago, and she had not deigned to take
notice of him after the coming of Kootanie.

"Mexican gent, huh?" said George slowly.  "If you mean Greaser why
don't you say Greaser?"

Ramon Garcia had again approached the table.  He stopped suddenly as
George's snarl came to him, and his white teeth showed for a quick
flash under his lifted lip.  Then, his eyes smiling darkly, he came on
again, bending intimately over Ernestine's chair.

"They are dancing over there," he said softly.  "Will you dance with
me, señorita?"

George merely looked at them sidewise.  Ernestine glanced up sharply
and for a moment indecision stood easily readable in her eyes.  Then
she shook her head.

"Not now," she said quietly.  "Maybe after a while.  I don't know.
Anyway not now."

"_Gracias_, señorita."  He thanked her quite as though she had taken
his proffered arm.  And turning away he went back to the game of dice
and his wine glass.  Kootanie laughed.

"Better look out for him, Koot," grinned Blunt Rand.  "Them kind carry
cold steel sharp on both edges.  They get it between your shoulder
blades and then twist it.  It's awful uncomfortable."

Rand had drunk his share of toasts to the eternal joy of the Marquettes
and the drinking had given to his tongue a wee bit of recklessness, to
his heart a little venom.  Out of a clear sky, his words falling
crisply through the little silence, he demanded of no one in particular
and in all seeming innocence:

"What's happened to No-luck Drennen?  I ain't seen him here of late."

Kootanie George turned his head slowly and stared at him.  Rand was
fingering his cards, his eyes hastily busied with their corners.
George turned from him to Ernestine.  She bit her lips and a spurt of
red leaped up into her cheeks.  Her eyes met his a moment, steely and
hard.  Then they went to Blunt Rand, as bright and hateful as twin

The man upon Rand's right started to laugh.  He altered his mind as
Kootanie George's eyes turned slowly upon him and changed the laugh to
a cough behind his hand.  Nobody offered to answer the question; it was
accepted as one of those utterances put into the form of an
interrogation merely for rhetorical reasons and requiring no reply.
For it was common talk through the camps that No-luck Drennen had done
the impossible and gotten blood from a turnip; in other words that he
had drawn love out of the heart of Ernestine Dumont.  And it was known
that the miracle had been a twin wonder in that Drennen had refused to
see and when he had at last seen had refused to accept.  Ernestine's
love had been like Ernestine herself, reckless.  And, yes, Drennen had
laughed at her.  He had told her brutally that he had no more use for a
woman in his life than he had for a cat.  Certainly not for a woman
like her.  His words had been given after Drennen's fashion; like a
slap in the face.  All this had been less than a year ago.

Elated at the success with which his words had met, Blunt Rand laughed.
Again Kootanie George looked at him steadily.

"What are you lookin' for Drennen for?" he asked quietly.

"Oh, nothin'," rejoined the other lightly.  "Only when I come through
Little Smoky the other day an ol' flame of his asked about him.  The
Fire Bird they call her.  Know her?"

Ernestine Dumont's face grew a shade redder in its mortification even
while she knew that the man was lying to tease her.  Then she sat back
with a little gasp and even slow moving Kootanie George turned quickly
as a heavy voice called from the door:

"You're a liar, Blunt Rand."

It was No-luck Drennen just come in and standing now, his hat far back
upon his head, his hands upon his hips, staring across the room at
Blunt Rand.



Dave Drennen was a big man, no man here so big save Kootanie George
alone, who was two inches the taller and fully thirty pounds the
heavier.  The Canadian stood four inches better than six feet in his
squat, low-heeled boots and must turn sideways to get his massive
shoulders through most doors hereabouts.  Unlike most very tall men
George carried himself straight, his enormous chest thrust forward.

Drennen was younger by half a dozen years, slenderer, of cleaner build.
Any man at Père Marquette's would have emptied his pockets that night
to witness a fight between the two.  Men as a rule liked Kootanie
George, slow moving, slow spoken, heavily good humoured.  And as an
even more unbroken rule they disliked Dave Drennen.  Throughout the far
places of the great northwest into which of recent years he had fitted
restlessly he was known as a man at once too silent and too
quarrelsome.  He trod his own trail alone.  Other men had "pardners";
Drennen was no man's friend.  He was hard and he was bitter.  Not yet
at the end of his first score and ten, his mouth had grown set in
stern, harsh lines, his heavy brows had acquired the habit of bunching
ominously over eyes in which was the glint of steel.  He was a man
whose smile was unpleasant, whose laugh could be as ugly as many a
man's curse.

It looked like a quarrel between No-luck Drennen and Blunt Rand.  And
yet the men who ceased their playing at the snap of his voice forgot
Rand and hungered for trouble between Drennen and Kootanie George.
Rand had been measured long ago and didn't count.  He blabbed big words
when he was drunk and whined when a man struck him.  He would swallow
his words now and swallow with them No-luck Drennen's vicious "You're a
liar, Blunt Rand."  Even if Drennen slapped his face he would merely
crawl away like a little bug, spitting venom.

Drennen was standing ten feet from him and made no move to draw closer.

"Did you hear me, Rand?" he demanded sharply.

"I heard you," grumbled the trapper.  "What's eatin' you, Dave, anyway?"

"Tell them you lied."

Rand flushed, and inspired by his liquor a sudden, unusual stubbornness
sprang up in his eyes.  He heard Ernestine laugh softly.

"You go to hell," he cried hotly.  "I got a right . . ."

"No man has a right to lie about me," announced Drennen crisply.  The
big hands at his sides had clenched swiftly with knotting muscles.  At
last he took a quick step forward, his quarrelsome mood riding him.
"If you don't want me to choke the tongue out of your head tell them
you lied."

"_Messieurs, messieurs_," cried poor old Marquette imploringly.  "For
the love of God!  Tonight all mus' be gay, all mus' be frien's.  It is
the night Mamma Jeanne an' me we are marry fifty year . . ."

Drennen snarled at him, shaking the thin old hand away angrily.  Rand
was upon his feet, some of the stubbornness already fled from his eyes,
the sound of Ernestine Dumont's taunting laugh lost to him in the harsh
voice of Drennen.

"I don't want no trouble to-night, Dave," he said swiftly.  "It's old
Papa Marquette's weddin' night.  I . . . I was jus' joshin', Dave."
And then as Ernestine laughed again, he spat out, "Jus' joshin' to
tease Ernestine here."

"_Sangre de dios_!" murmured Ramon Garcia gently, his black eyes liquid
fire.  "He is a little coward, that Rand."

Hardly more than a whisper and Garcia quite across the room from Rand.
And yet the stillness was so perfect that Rand heard and jerked his
head up, swinging toward the Mexican.

"You little Greaser!" he cried shrilly.  "You dirty breed, you!"  He
pushed through the crowd to Garcia's table.  "Coward, am I?  I'll show

Ramon Garcia's laughter greeting the hot words was a clear burst of
unaffected, boyish merriment.  He tilted his chair back against the
wall and turned a delighted face up to Rand's flushed one.

"Señor," he chided softly, shaking a slender white finger very close to
Rand's nose, "have you forgot it is the gala night of our good host,
the Papa Français?  That you don't care for trouble to-night?  _Mama
mia_!  You are a comic--no?"

Then bringing his hand away and hooking both thumbs impudently into the
armholes of his gay vest the Mexican smiled as he hummed softly,
glancing away briefly to where Ernestine Dumont was watching them:

  "The perfume of roses, of little red roses;
    (Thou art a rose, oh, so sweet, _corazón_!)"

With men laughing at him Blunt Rand struck.  The young Mexican was
still in his chair.  Like a cat he slipped from it now, avoiding the
heavy, swinging blow, moving to one side with swift gracefulness,
standing with the table between him and Rand.  As he moved his right
hand slid into his pocket.

"You dago!" Rand shouted at him, lunging forward while men scrambled
out of the way.  "Call me coward an' then go for your knife!  Fight
with your hands, damn you."

Again Garcia avoided him easily, calm and quick eyed, offering
pantherine swiftness against the blind fury of Rand.

"Si, señor," he answered lightly.  "With the hands.  But the hands I
mus' keep without dirt, señor!"

His hand came away from his pocket and he made a sudden gesture, still
laughing, toward Rand's face.  The trapper jerked back quickly.  Then a
great booming swell of laughter went up, even the slow rumble of
Kootanie George's voice and the tinkling tremulo of Ernestine Dumont's
joining it Ramon Garcia had brought out his gloves and had drawn them
on before Rand had understood.

In size and physique Rand was the average there.  The young Mexican was
the shortest, slightest man in the house.  But none knows better than
the dwellers in the North Woods that it is unwise to judge men by mere
size of body.  It is well to look to the eyes of one's antagonist.

Garcia sprang forward and slapped Rand's face so that the face burned
and the sound of the blow was like a pistol shot in the quiet room.
And as Rand's return threshing blow sought him he sprang away, laughing.

"For calling me Greaser," he cried lightly.  "When I have said out loud
that I am Ramon Garcia."

Bellowing curses Rand charged at him again.  Garcia avoided and seemed
to have no difficulty whatever in so doing.

"Will you open the door, señor?" he called to a man standing near the

"He wants to have an open trail to run," jeered Rand.  And again
striking heavily his blow found the empty air and a second resounding
slap reddened his other cheek.

"For calling me a breed," taunted Garcia, so that all might hear the
words with the slap of the open hand.  "Me who have the blood of kings,
blue like the skies."

The man standing at the door . . . it chanced to be young Frank
Marquette . . . obeyed Garcia's command silently and promptly.  Rand,
his rage flaring ever higher as men drawing chairs and tables out of
the way laughed at him and as the Mexican's sallies taunted him, hurled
himself forward purposing to get his enemy in a corner of the room.
But at the best the trapper was awkward and Ramon Garcia's little feet
in his little boots carried him much as the fabled winged sandals bore
the hero Perseus in his encounter with the dragon.  Not once had Rand
landed a square blow; not once had Garcia been where the big red fists
looked for him.  And while Rand breathed heavily, Ramon Garcia, whose
soul was as deeply steeped in the dramatic as Père Marquette's in
colour, sang maddening little snatches of love songs and stole swift
glances now and then at Ernestine Dumont.

From the beginning it was clear that Garcia was playing with the other.
But the end, coming swiftly, was not what men had looked for.  A great
gasp went up at it, followed by a shout of applause and a roar of
laughter.  Garcia had tantalised his antagonist, but beyond slapping
his face twice had not touched him.  He skipped about him like a French
dancing master and so allowed Rand to make a fool of himself for the
moment.  Presently, so had the Mexican engineered it, they were not
five steps from the open door and the way was clear.  One instant he
had seemed about to draw back again, to avoid Rand as he had avoided
him so many times.

"You little monkey-man!" Rand was shouting at him.  "Stand still
and . . ."

That was all that he said.  Garcia had leaped forward; his two gloved
hands had sped like lightning to Rand's wrists, he had seized the
bigger man and had pushed him backward, had suddenly whirled him about,
with a bunching of strength which men had not guessed was in him he had
thrown Rand out through the open door, and as the trapper plunged
forward into the muddy road the Mexican lifted his foot and kicked.

"For calling me dago!" smiled Garcia.  "Me, whose blood is of Castile."
He stripped off his gloves and tossed them into the road.  "They are
spoil!  Bah.  Pig!"

Rand was back at the threshold, his face blood red, his hands dripping
the mud from the slushy road.  But young Frank Marquette had stepped
out to meet him and had closed the door.

For a little all eyes in the room rested intent upon Ramon Garcia.  The
first estimate, founded upon dandified clothes and manner, had changed
swiftly.  He was a man even though he wore gloves and was overfond of
posing.  Even though everything he did was overdone, whether it be the
bowing over an old Frenchman's hand, the wide sweep of his hat in a
flourish of slow gracefulness, the tender love making to a woman for
whom he did not care the snap of his little white fingers, upon
occasion his soft eyes knew how to grow keen and hard and he carried
himself with the assurance of fearlessness.  It was as though he had
worn a lace cloak over a capable, muscled body; as though the cloak had
been blown aside by a sudden gust and men had seen the true man

In Kootanie George's eyes where there had come to be a widening of slow
astonishment during the brief struggle now was a dawning admiration.
He put out his great hand as he shambled forward.

"I called you Greaser, too," he said heavily.  "I take it back, Garcia.
You're a white man.  Shake."

Garcia took his hand readily, laughing.

"And you, señor, whom I thought a clown are a gentleman," he answered,
a trifle of impudence in the gaze which swept the big man from head to
heel.  Kootanie grinned a bit, passed over the innuendo in silence and
went back to his chair.  Garcia, giving an added twist of fierceness to
his mustaches, returned to his dice game.

For a little Dave Drennen had been forgotten.  Now he was remembered.
His appearance here to-night provoked interest for two reasons.  For
one thing he had packed off on a lonely prospecting trip two weeks
before, impatient at the delayed thaw, unwilling to wait until the
trails were open enough for a man to travel off the beaten route.  For
another thing one never sought Dave Drennen where other men drew
together as they had congregated now.  If under that hard exterior he
felt any of the emotions which other men feel, if he had his joys and
his griefs, he chose to experience them alone.  Consequently the mere
fact of his appearance here now brought a flicker of curious interest
with it.  Unless he had a quarrel with some man in the Frenchman's
house, what had brought him?

"M'sieu," Père Marquette was saying the worn phrase, "you do me an'
Mamma Jeanne the honour!  You are welcome, m'sieu!"

With the usual phrase came the customary offering.  Drennen caught the
glass from Marquette's hand and drank swiftly.  The glass he set on the
counter, putting down a coin with it.

"There's your money, old man," he said shortly.  "Give me my change."

"But, m'sieu," smiled Père Marquette, pushing the money back toward his
latest guest, "one does not pay to-night!  It is fifty year . . ."

"I pay my way wherever I go," cut in Drennen curtly.  "Will you give me
my change?"

Marquette lifted his two hands helplessly.  Never had a man paid for
drink upon such an occasion, and this was the fiftieth!  And yet never
before had Drennen come, and there must be no trouble to-night.  With a
little sigh the old man took up the money, fumbled in his pockets and
laid down the change.  Drennen took it up without a word and without
counting and strode through the room to the table where Ramon Garcia
sat, the one table where men were throwing dice.  He drew up a chair
and sat down, his hat brought forward over his eyes.

When the last man to throw had rattled and rolled the dice across the
table top the cup sat at Drennen's right hand.  He took it up, asking
no question, saw what the bet was which they were making, put his own
money in front of him and threw.  He was in the game.  And no man
living in MacLeod's Settlement had ever known Dave Drennen to sit into
any sort of game until now.

"_Tiens_!" whispered a dried up little fellow who had come down the
river from Moosejaw during the afternoon.  "There shall be fon, _mes
enfants_!  One day I see heem play _la roulette_ in the place of
Antoine Duart'.  There shall be fon, _mes enfants_!  _Sacré nom de
dieu_," and he rubbed his hands in the keenness of his anticipation,
"he play like me when I am yo'ng."



Drennen's entrance into the game, informal as it had been, elicited no
comment from the other players.  He had made his little stack of silver
in front of him, coins of the States.  There was other American money
staked, jingling fraternally against pieces struck in the Canadian
mint.  Even a few _pesos_ had found their way from Garcia's pockets and
were accepted without challenge.

For fifteen minutes the game was quiet and slow enough.  Then at a
smiling suggestion from the Mexican the original bet was doubled.  It
was poker dice now, having begun as razzle dazzle.  There were no
horses since horses delayed matters.  Beside Drennen and Garcia there
were five other men playing.  The Mexican when he suggested doubled
stakes was losing.  Then his fortunes began to mend.  The man across
the table from him, cleaned out of his few dollars, got up and went to
watch the game of solo.  Quite steadily for a little Garcia won.  He
sang his fragments of love songs and between throws made eyes at
Ernestine Dumont.  Drennen frowned at him, both for his singing and for
his love making.  Garcia continued to win and to sing.

Drennen lost as steadily as Garcia won.  "No-luck" his nickname
was--"No-luck" the goddess at his elbow to-night.  Without speaking,
when the dice cup came around to him, he doubled the already doubled
stakes.  One other man, shaking his head, silently drew out of the
game.  The others accepted the challenge as it had been given, in
silence.  Garcia, with every air of confidence, turned out the high
throw and fingered his winnings smilingly.  Drennen's hand sought his

"Double again?" he asked bluntly, his hard grey eyes upon the Mexican.

Ramon Garcia laughed.

"As you will, señor," he said lightly.  And under his breath,
musically, his eyes going to the nook by the fireplace, "_Dios_!  It is
sweet to be young and to love!"

Drennen's hand brought from his pocket a canvas bag heavy with gold.
There was a goodly pile of money in front of the Mexican.  The stakes
were doubling fast, the two evidently meant business, and when the dice
rolled again they were playing alone and a little knot of men was

"You shall see," chuckled the dried-up little man from Moosejaw.

Ernestine Dumont was whispering in Kootanie George's ear.  From the
mesh bag at her wrist she took something, offering it to him eagerly.
George stared at her and then shook his head.

"Keep it," he muttered.  "I don't need it."

He didn't look at the hand which was being dealt him but left his table
and went across the room to where Drennen and Ramon Garcia were
sitting, carrying with him the money he had had before him.  As he went
he thrust his big hand down into his pocket and as he slumped heavily
into a chair opposite Drennen he brought out another canvas bag.  It
too struck heavily against the table top.  Drennen did not look at him.
Garcia smiled and nodded brightly, and in turn, dropped to the table
his purse, heavy like the others and giving forth the musical metallic

"Ah!  But this is pretty!" murmured Père Marquette, glad at once to see
peace and a game which would interest his guests.  "Jules, bring more
wine, plenty.  Make the fires up, big."

"How big are you bettin' 'em?" Kootanie George demanded as he emptied
his canvas bag and piled several hundred dollars in neat yellow stacks.

Garcia lifted his shoulders, showed his fine white teeth pleasantly and
looked to Drennen.

"As big as you like," retorted Drennen crisply.  And then, lifting his
voice a little, "Marquette!"

"Oui, m'sieu."  Marquette came quickly to the table.

"I want some money . . . for this."

Then Drennen spilled the contents of his bag upon the table and for a
moment every man who saw sat or stood riveted to his place, absolutely
without motion.  Then a gasp went up, a gasp of wonder, while here and
there a quick spurt of blood in the face or a brilliant gleam of the
eye told of quickened heart beats and the grip of that excitement which
man never lived who could fight down altogether.  Drennen had turned
out upon the table top a veritable cascade of nuggets.


The word sped about the room, whispered, booming loudly, creating a
sudden tense eagerness.  Men shoved at one another, craning necks, to
peer at the thing which Drennen so coolly had disclosed.  Gold!
Nuggets that were, in the parlance of the camp, "rotten" with gold.
Drennen two weeks ago had left the Settlement with his last cent gone
in a meagre grub stake; now he was back and he had made a strike.  A
strike such as no man here had ever dropped his pick into in all of the
ragged years of adventuresome search; a strike which could not be a
week's walk from MacLeod's, a strike which might mean millions to the
first few who would stake out claims.

Père Marquette stared and muttered strange, awestruck French oaths and
made no move to unclasp his hands, lifted before him in an attitude
incongruously like that of prayer.  Kootanie George, whom men called
rich and who owned a claim for which two companies were contending,
stared and a little pallor crept into his cheeks.  Ramon Garcia broke
off in the midst of his little song softly whispering, "_Jesus Maria_."
No-luck Drennen had found gold!

"Well?" demanded Drennen savagely, swinging about upon Marquette, who
was bending tremulously over him.  "Didn't you hear me?"

"_Mais oui, m'sieu_," Marquette said hastily, his tongue running back
and forth between his lips.  "But, m'sieu, I have not so much money in
the house."

The men who had surged about the table dropped back silently and began
speaking in half whispers, each man after a moment seeking for his
"pardner."  One of them upon such a quest carried the word across the
street to the warehouse and the dance came to an end in noisy
confusion. . . .  To-night the Settlement was filled to overflowing;
to-morrow it would be deserted.

"Give me what you've got," Drennen commanded, his hand lying very still
by the heap of dull-gleaming rock.  "Bring the scales here."

The scales were brought, and after a mixture of guessing and weighing,
Drennen pushed two of the nuggets across the table to Marquette and
accepted minted gold amounting to six hundred dollars.

"The rest, m'sieu?" offered Marquette.  "Shall I put it in the safe for

"No, thanks," said Drennen drily, as he put the remainder into his
pocket.  "I prefer to bank for myself."  The brief words, the insult of
the glance which went with them, whipped a flush into the old man's
cheeks.  He offered no remark, however, and went back with his scales
to the counter where he was surrounded by men who wanted the "feel" of
the nuggets in their palms.

No longer was Ernestine the only woman in the rooms.  Flush-cheeked and
sparkling eyed, old women and young, alike impressed with the story
which in its many forms was already going its rounds, came trooping
back from the dance.  Many hands at once reached out for the two
nuggets, tongues clacked incessantly, while old prospectors and young
girls alike ventured their surmises concerning the location of the
strike.  It was to be noted that no one had asked the only man who knew.

No-luck Drennen's luck had come to him.  That was the word which again
ran through the babel of conjectures.  And when a man has had the luck
which had been Drennen's for the years which the North had known him,
and that luck changed, the change would be sweeping.  Men might follow
in his wake to a path of gold.

Meanwhile Dave Drennen played his game of dice in sombre silence.  Over
and over, losing almost steadily, he named a larger wager and Garcia
and Kootanie George met his offer.  He bet fifty dollars and lost, a
hundred and lost, two hundred on a single cast and lost.  In three
throws over half of his money was gone.  Three hundred and fifty
dollars; he had two hundred and fifty left to him.  Twice had the
Mexican won; once George, taking in the two-hundred dollar bet.
George's face was flushed; he had won four hundred dollars at one throw
since the Mexican's two hundred had come to him with Drennen's.  George
had never played dice like this and the madness of it got into his slow
blood and stood glaring out of his eyes.

"Two hundred fifty," offered Drennen briefly.  He shoved the last of
his pile out on the table.  George covered it quickly, his big, square
fingers shaking.

Garcia smiled at them both, then transferred his smile to his own
money.  In two throws he had won three hundred dollars, in one he had
lost two hundred.  He seemed to hesitate a moment; then he saw
Ernestine Dumont standing upon a deserted card table, her cheeks rosy
with excitement, and the sight of her decided him.  He sighed, raked
his money from the table to his pocket and got to his feet, moving
gracefully through the crowd with many, "_Dispensame, señor_," and went
to Ernestine's side.  Kootanie George did not mark his going.  For it
was Kootanie George's throw and two hundred and fifty dollars were to
be won . . . or lost.

George turned out the cubes and a ripping oath followed them.  He had
thrown a pair of deuces.  His big fist came down upon the table with a
crash.  Drennen stared at him a brief moment while the cup was raised
in his hand, contempt unveiled in his eyes.  Then he rolled out the
dice.  Something akin to a sob burst from Kootanie George's lips.
Drennen had turned out a "stiff," no pair at all.

"It's mine!" cried George, his great body half thrown across the table
as he tossed out both arms to sweep in his winnings.  "Mine, by God!"

Ernestine was clapping her hands, her eyes dancing with joy even while
they were shot through with malice.  Drennen's glance went to her, came
back to Kootanie George to rest upon him sneeringly.  Then he laughed,
that ugly laugh which few men had heard and those few had remembered.

"Gold!" jeered Drennen.  "It's a little pinch of gold, and you go crazy
over it!  You are a fool."

"It's mine!" cried George again.  He had won only a little over six
hundred dollars and he could have afforded to have lost as much.  But
he was in the grip of the passion of the game.

"You've got about a thousand dollars there," said Drennen eyeing the
jumble of coins in front of the big Canadian.  He jerked the old canvas
bag out of his pocket and let it fall heavily to the table.  "One throw
for the whole thing, mine against yours."

Kootanie George knew gold when he saw it and now he knew that there was
nearer two thousand than one in that bag.  He gripped the dice box,
glared at Drennen angrily, hesitated, then with a sudden gesture turned
out the dice.

He had cursed before when he had made his throw; now he just slumped
forward a little in his chair, his jaw dropping, the color dribbling
out of his cheeks, finding all words inadequate.  He had thrown two
deuces again.  Again Drennen looked at him contemptuously.  Again
George heard his ugly laugh.  Drennen threw his dice carelessly.  And
upon the table, between the canvas bag and the glitter of minted gold,
there stared up into George's face five fives.

"Damn you," cried the Canadian hoarsely, his fingers hooked and
standing apart like claws as he half rose from his chair.  "Damn you!"

His nerves were strung high and tense and the words came from him
involuntarily.  They were the clean words of rage at which no man in
the world could take offence unless he sought a quarrel.  And yet
Drennen, as he moved forward a little to draw his winnings toward him,
thrust his face close up to Kootanie George's and said crisply:

"Say that again and I'll slap your face!"

"Damn you!" shouted George.

And with the words came the blow, Drennen's open palm hard against
George's cheek.

"And now George will kill him!" cried Ernestine through her set teeth.



"Oh, mon Dieu!  Mon Dieu!" half sobbed old Marquette.  "They will kill
one the other!  Another time it matters not.  But to-night, here! . . .
Stop; I forbid it!"

One blow had been struck and already the compact circle about the two
men had squared as those who watched drew back along the walls leaving
the centre of the room clear.  They had jerked tables and chairs away
with them.  One table, the one at which Drennen and George had sat a
moment ago, with its load of virgin gold and minted coins, was now
against the further counter, young Frank Marquette guarding it, that
the gold upon it might go to Drennen when the fight was over. . . .

"If he is alive then," he muttered, his eyes narrowing as they took
note of the black rage distorting the big Canadian's face.  "If George
does not kill him it is a miracle of Satan."

"You are come to-night for trouble."  Slowly Kootanie George slipped
his heavy coat from his shoulders.  His deep, hairy chest, swelling to
the breath which fairly whistled through his distended nostrils, popped
a button back through a frayed button hole and stood out like an
inflated bellows.  "I just say, 'Damn you.'  That is nothin' for a man
to fight.  You look for trouble, an' by God, I am ready!"

He flung the coat from him and lifted his big hands.  Drennen was
standing waiting for him, his own hands at his sides, his steely eyes
filled with an evil light.  He made no answer beyond the silent one of
a slight lifting of his lip, like a soundless wolfish snarl.

"I forbid!" screamed Père Marquette again.  "Another time it is
nothing.  To-night it is to insult Mamma Jeanne.  Stop it, _chiens_!"

But Mamma Jeanne had her own word to say.  Her plump arms were about
her indignant spouse, dragging him back.

"Let them be," she commanded.  "Is not George a guest and has he not
the right to put his heel upon an evil serpent?  It is just," she
cried, her eyes all fire.  "It will be but a little minute and, _pouf_!
it is all over.  Let them be!"

She had great faith in the prowess of her man, had Mère Marquette.  Had
there been a thunder storm outside, had Père Marquette wished it to
stop while Mère Marquette wanted it to continue, she would have put her
arms about him and pleaded, "Let it be."

"There shall be fon, _mes enfants_," whispered the old prophet from

Slowly, but light footed enough, lifting his great hands still a little
higher, Kootanie George came forward.  Drennen waited, his lip raised
in the bitter snarl which seemed frozen upon his dark face, his grey
eyes malevolent.  He had fought with many men, he was not afraid to
fight; all men there knew that.  But they wondered, looking at him and
then at the other, if he understood the thing standing unhidden in
Kootanie George's eyes.

Yes, he understood.  For, just the wee fraction of a second before the
Canadian struck, Drennen jerked up his own hands, ready for him.  And
the two struck at the same instant.  There was to be no finesse of
boxing; these men had no knowledge of fistic trickery.  All that they
knew was to fight, to strike hard and straight from the shoulder,
opposing strength with strength, swiftness with swiftness, merciless
hatred with a hatred as merciless.  And so it happened that both blows
landed, two little coughing grunts following close upon the impact
telling how mightily, and both men reeled back.  There was blood upon
Drennen's lower lip.  The upper was still lifted snarlingly from the
red-stained teeth.

Ramon Garcia, watching with an interested smile, nodded his head as
though in approval and glanced at Ernestine Dumont upon the table above
him.  Much of the colour had gone out of her cheeks, leaving them drawn
and pallid.  Her parted lips too showed the whiteness of her hard set

"I," meditated Ramon Garcia as his eyes returned to the two men, "I
should be less frightened of George than of her.  Her eyes are like a

A bare fisted, relentless, give and take fight such as this promised to
be is common enough wherever hard men foregather, dirt-common in a
country where the fag end of a long winter of enforced idleness leaves
restless nerves raw.  The uncommon thing about the brief battle or in
any way connected with it lay in the attitude of the onlookers.  Rarely
is a crowd so unanimous both in expectation and desire.  George would
kill Drennen or would nearly kill him, and it would be a good thing.  A
man of no friends, Drennen had no sympathiser.  No man who watched with
narrowed eyes, no woman on table or chair or hiding her face in her
hands, but asked and looked for the same ending.

Though from the first it was apparent that George was the bigger man,
the heavier, the stronger, it was silently conceded that these
qualities though they mean much do not count for everything.  It became
clear almost as they met for the first blows that the slenderer was
quicker and that if Kootanie George was confident Drennen was no less
so.  And, when they both reeled backward, a many-voiced murmur of
surprise was like a reluctant admission: Drennen had done two things
which no other man had ever done before him; he had kept his feet
against the smashing drive of that big fist in his face and he had made
George stagger.  For the moment it looked as though the two would fall.

Once more George came forward slowly while Drennen waited for him,
again they met, Drennen leaping forward just as the Canadian's sledge
of a clenched hand was lifted.  Each man threw up a guarding left arm
only to have his brawny guard beaten through as again the two
resounding blows landed almost like one; this time there was a trickle
of red from the Canadian's mouth, a panting, wheezing cough from the
American as he received the other's blow full in the chest.  For a
dizzy moment they stood separated by the very fury of their onslaught,
each balancing.

"They are men!" murmured Garcia in delight.  And Ernestine, leaning far
out from her table, cried breathlessly:

"George!  If you love me . . ."

George glanced at her, a slow smile upon his battered lips.  He ran the
back of his hand across his mouth and again moved forward, slowly.  And
again Drennen snarling, awaited him.

This time George crouched a little as he made his attack, and as he
drew closer he moved more swiftly, bunching his big muscles, fairly
hurling his great body as he leaped and struck, reckless of what blows
might find him, determined by his superior weight alone to carry the
other back and down.  And as though Drennen had read the purpose in the
smouldering eyes he too leaped forward so that the two big bodies met
in mid air.  Like one blow came the sounds of the two blows given and
taken as the impact of the two bodies gave out its soft thud.  And as
one man the two went down together, fighting, beating brutally at each
other, all rules of the game forgotten save that one alone which says,
"He wins who wins!"

For a little they clenched and rolled upon the floor like two great,
grim cats.  Through the sound of scuffling came the noise of
short-armed jabs, the deep throated curses of Kootanie George and once
. . . his first vocal utterance . . . one of Dave Drennen's laughs.  It
was when he had again driven his fist against George's mouth, drawing
blood from both lips and hand cut by breaking teeth.

Kootanie George's left arm was flung about the neck of the man at whose
body his white knuckled fist was driving like a piston; the American
had craned his neck and in order to protect his face held it pressed
close to George's breast.  Drennen's right arm was about George's body,
caught against the floor as they fell, Drennen's left hand with thumb
sunken deep was already at the Canadian's throat.  The snarl upon
Drennen's face was the more marked now, more filled with menace and
hate as his body experienced the torture of the other's regular blows.

For a little they were strangely silent, Kootanie having given over his
ripping oaths, strangely quiet as they lay with no movement apparent
beyond the ceaseless rhythmic striking of George's arm.  Even those
blows ceased in a moment as George's hand went hurriedly to the wrist
at his breast.  The thumb at his throat had sunk until the place where
it crooked at the joint was lost; George's face from red had gone to
white, then to a hectic purple.  Now they strove for the mastery of the
hand at the throat, George dragging at it mightily, Drennen's fingers
crooked like talons with the tendons standing out so that they seemed
white cords in the lamplight.  George's breath came in short, shorter
gasps, he tugged with swelling muscles, his own hand a terrible
wrenching vice at Drennen's wrist.  And when the purple face grew more
hideously purple, when the short gasps were little dry sounds, speaking
piteously of agony and suffocation, when still the relentless grip at
his throat was unshaken, men began for the first time to guage the
strength which lay in the great, gaunt frame of Dave Drennen.

And George too had begun to understand.  Suddenly his hand came away
from the iron wrist and sought Drennen's throat for which his wide
bulging eyes quested frantically.  His hand found what it sought at
last, but Drennen had twisted his head still a little further to the
side, brought his face still lower and closer against the Canadian's
chest, and George could not get the grip where he wanted it, full upon
the front of the throat.  He tore at the rigid muscles below the jaw a
moment and the bloody, broken skin of Drennen's neck told with what
fury George had striven.

But George must hasten now and he knew it.  Again his right hand sought
Drennen's left, fought at the deadly grip at his own throat.  In his
reach a quick cunning came to him and his groping fingers passed along
Drennen's wrist and did not tarry there.  Up and up they went, the
great questing fingers of the Canadian, until at last they found the
fingers of the other man.  Here they settled.  And then those who
watched saw the middle finger of Drennen's hand drawn back from the
flesh of George's neck, saw it bent back and back, still further back
until it was a pure wonder that Drennen held on, back and back. . . .
And then there was a little snap of a bone broken and Drennen's hand
fell away and Kootanie George, drawing a long, sobbing breath, rolled
clear of him and slowly rose to his feet.

Drennen too rose but not so slowly.  His left hand was at his side, the
one broken finger standing oddly apart from its fellows, as he ran the
three steps to meet Kootanie George.  George threw up his arm, but the
savagery of the blow beating upon him struck the guard aside and
Kootanie George, caught fairly upon the chin flung out his arms and
went down.  He brushed against the wall behind him in falling and so
came only to his knees on the floor, his hands out before him.  Drennen
stood over him, breathing deeply, gathering his strength for a last
effort.  George staggered perceptibly as he got to his feet, a queer
look in his eyes.  Drennen struck swiftly, his fist grinding into the
pit of Kootanie's stomach and, as the big man crumpled, finding his
chin again.  And as George staggered a second time Drennen was upon
him, Drennen's laugh like the snarl of a wolf, Drennen's hand, the
right this time, at George's throat. . . .

A thin scream from Ernestine Dumont quivering with a strange blend of
emotions, a spit of flame, a puff of smoke hanging idly in the still
air of the room, the sharp bark of a small calibre revolver, and
Drennen's hand dropped from Kootanie's throat.  He swayed unsteadily a
moment, stepped toward her, his eyes flecked with red and brimming with
rage, his hand going to the wound in his side.

"Cat," said Drennen deliberately.

As he fell back, a sudden weakness upon him, settling unsteadily into a
chair, Ramon Garcia struck up the barrel of the smoking gun in
Ernestine's hand and the second bullet ripped into the papered ceiling.
Then Kootanie George turned slowly, his eyes full upon Ernestine's, and
said as Drennen had said it,


"You are one big brute!" cried Mère Jeanne angrily.  "You, to call her
that when she shoot because she love you!  I should do like that for
Marquette here."

"She has put me to shame, made me a man for men to laugh at," said
George heavily.  "What, am I no man but a little baby that a woman must
fight my fight?  I am done with her."

Drennen's face had gone white; the fingers gripping his torn side were
sticky and wet and red.  He rose half way from his chair only to drop
back, the rigid muscles along his jaw showing how the teeth were hard
set.  He had seemed to forget Ernestine, George, all of them, his gaze
seeking and finding the table where his gold lay, then lifting to Frank
Marquette's face suspiciously.  Then it was that he noted and that
others marked for the first time how again the outer door had opened
that night to admit tardy guests.  A little flicker of surprise came
into his eyes, and small wonder.

Three persons had entered before Ernestine had cried out and fired the
first shot, two men and a girl.  The men would come in for their share
of attention later; the girl demanded hers now, like a right and a
tribute.  She stood a little in front of her companions.  Her eyes
widened, growing a little hard as they watched the end of the fight,
passed from Drennen and Kootanie George to Ernestine Dumont, came
slowly back to George, rested finally upon Drennen as though their
chief interest lay with him.  She did not show fear as a woman of her
appearance might be looked upon to show it; there were interest and
curiosity in her look and, finally, when after a long time she looked
again from Drennen to Ernestine, a high contempt.

In spite of the heavy white sweater whose collar was drawn high about
her throat, in spite of the white hood concealing all but one stray
wisp of brown hair, her loveliness was unhidden, looking out in all of
the splendid glory of youthful health and vigour.  Her eyes were as
grey as Drennen's own, but with little golden flecks seeming to float
upon sea-grey, unsounded depths.  She might have been seventeen, she
could not have been more than twenty, and yet her air was one of
confidence and in it was an indefinable something which was neither
arrogance nor yet hauteur, and which in its subtle way hinted that the
blood pulsing through her perfect body was the blood of those who had
known how to command since babyhood and who had never learned to obey.
When later men learned that that blood was drawn in riotous, converging
currents from unconquerable fighting Scotch highlanders and from a long
line of French nobility there came no surprise in the discovery.  Men
and women together, Kootanie George and Ernestine, Garcia and Drennen,
Père Marquette and Mère Marquette, felt the difference between her and

"We seem to interrupt," she said coolly, her voice deeply musical, as
she turned to Père Marquette.  He, looking a little dazed and stupid
from all that had taken place, but never forgetful of his duties as
host, had come toward her hesitantly, his lips seeking to form a new
phrase of greeting.  "We are tired and need food.  Everything seemed
closed but your place.  So we came in."

"You are welcome, mam'selle," he said hurriedly.  "Mos' welcome.  It is
unfortunate . . ."

"Captain Sefton," went on the girl quite calmly, "will you see what you
can do for that man?  He is losing a great deal of blood."

Captain Sefton, a thin, hawk-eyed man with a coppery Vandyke beard,
shrugged his shoulders distastefully but passed her, drawing near Dave
Drennen.  The girl turned toward the second of her companions, a
younger man by half a dozen years, who brought the stamp of the cities
in his fashionable clothes, the relentless marks of a city's
dissipation about his small mouth and light eyes and, in air and
features, a suggestion of the French.

"Marc," she said, drawing at her gauntlets, her back upon Sefton and
Drennen, "if you can arrange for a room for me I shall go to it

Marc obeyed her as Captain Sefton had done, turning to Marquette with
an inquiry.  Drennen's eyes were only for a fleeting moment upon Sefton
whose quick fingers were busy at the wound.  Then they returned to the
table at which he had diced.  Frank Marquette, seeing the look, poured
the gold all into the canvas bag and brought it to him.

The eyes of one man alone did not waver once while the girl was in the
room, black eyes as tender as a woman's, eloquent now with admiration,
their glance like a caress.  Ramon Garcia spoke softly, under his
breath.  Ernestine Dumont looked down at him curiously.  She had nor
understood the words for they were Spanish.  They had meant,

"Now am I resigned to my exile!"



For a week Dave Drennen lay upon the bunk in the one room dugout which
had been home for him during the winter.  Stubborn and sullen and
silent at first, snarling his anger as sufficient strength came back
into him, he refused the aid which the Settlement, now keenly
solicitous, offered.  He knew why the men who had not spoken to him two
weeks ago sought to befriend him now.  He knew that the swift change of
attitude was due to nothing in the world but to a fear that he might
die without disclosing his golden secret.

"And I am of half a mind to die," he told the last man to trouble him;
"just to shame Kootanie George, to hang Ernestine Dumont and to drive a
hundred gold seekers mad."

During the week a boy from Joe's Lunch Counter brought him his meals
and gave him the scant attention he demanded.  The boy went away with
money in his pockets and with tales to tell of a man like a wounded
bull moose.  Always there were eager hands to detain him, eager tongues
to ask if Drennen had let anything drop.  Always the same answer, a
shake of the head; he had learned nothing.

The day after the affair at Père Marquette's had seen MacLeod's
Settlement empty of men.  Each one following his own hope and fancy
they had gone into the mountains, heading toward the north as Drennen
had headed two weeks before, some following the main trail for a matter
of many miles, others breaking off to right or to left at tempting
cross-trails, hastening feverishly, dreaming dreams and finding rude
awakenings.  The snows were melting everywhere upon the slopes, the
dirty waters running down the trails making an ooze at midday which
sucked up and destroyed the tracks of the men who travelled over it in
the crisp early mornings.

There was no sign to tell whether Drennen had gone straight on during
the seven days he might have been pushing away from the camp and had
made his strike at the end of them, or whether he had turned off
somewhere hardly out of sight of the handful of shacks marking
MacLeod's Settlement.  No sign to tell that the golden vein or pocket
lay within shouting distance from the Settlement or fifty, seventy-five
miles removed.  And Drennen, lying on his back upon his hard bunk,
stared up at the blackened beams across his ceiling and smiled his
hard, bitter smile as he pictured the frantic, fruitless quest.

Sefton, the man with the coppery Vandyke beard, thin-jawed and with
restless eyes, had given him certain rude help at Marquette's and had
been among the first the following day to offer aid.  Drennen dismissed
him briefly, offering to pay for what he had already done but saying he
had no further need of clumsy fingers fooling with his hurt.  Sefton
favoured him with a keen scrutiny from the door, hesitated, shrugged
his thin shoulders and went away.  Drennen wondered if the girl, who
seemed in the habit of ordering people around, had sent him.

At the end of the week Drennen was about again.  He had kept his wound
clean with the antiseptic solutions to be obtained from the store and
under its bandages it was healing.  He found that he was weaker than he
had supposed but with a grunt drove his lax muscles to stiffen and obey
his will.  From the door he came back, found a broken bit of mirror and
looked curiously at the face reflected in it.  No beautiful sight, he
told himself grimly.  It was haggard, drawn and wan.  A beard three
weeks old, the black of it shot through here and there with white
hairs, made the stern face uncouth.

"I look a savage," he told himself disgustedly, tossing the glass to
the cluttered table.  Then, with a grim tightening of the lips, "And
why not?"

He made his way slowly, his side paining him no little, to Joe's Lunch
Counter.  It was late afternoon and the street was deserted.  A gleam
of satisfaction showed fleetingly in his eyes; he knew why the street
was deserted and the knowledge pleased him.

None of the Settlement was in Joe's restaurant, but the presence of the
two strangers who had come with the girl saved it from utter desertion.
They were finishing a light meal as Drennen entered and looked up at
him curiously.  Drennen saw a quick glance interchanged.  He knew the
meaning of this, too, knew that the story of his strike had gone its
way to them, that because of those nuggets which even now weighted his
pocket he was a marked man, a man to be reckoned with, to be watched,
to be followed, to be fawned upon if possible.  He frowned at Sefton's
nod and took his place at the lunch counter.

Presently the younger of the two, Captain Sefton's companion, got up
and came to Drennen's side, offering his hand.

"I am glad to see you around again," he said, pleasantly.

Drennen did not look toward him.

"Some more coffee, Joe," he said shortly.

The young fellow stared at him a moment, a quick retort upon his lips.
It was checked however by Sefton saying quickly:

"Come on, Lemarc.  It's none of your funeral if a man wants to be left
alone.  Let's go find Ygerne."

Ygerne.  So that was her name, Drennen thought as he stirred two
heaping spoons of sugar into his coffee and out of the corner of his
eye watched the two men go out.  Well, what was the difference?  One
name would do as well as another and she was an adventuress like the
rest of them in this land of hard trails.  Else why should she be here
at all, and with men like Lemarc and Sefton?  Had he not distrusted all
men by sweeping rule these two at least he would have distrusted for
the craft in their eyes.

He drank his second cup of coffee, stuffed his old pipe full of coarse
tobacco and went outside.  Sefton and Lemarc had passed out of sight.
Drennen hesitated just a second, pausing at the door.  He was pitifully
weak.  He supposed that the thing for him to do was to crawl back to
his bunk for the remainder of the day and the long night to follow.  He
clamped his pipe stem hard between his teeth.  He'd do nothing of the
kind.  Did strength, any more than anything else in the world, come to
a man who lay on his back and waited for it?  He needed exercise.

So he strolled down through the quiet Settlement, turned into the trail
which leads upward along old Ironhead's flank, driving his body
mercilessly to the labour of the climb.  There was a spot he knew where
he could sit and look down across the valley and from which far out
somewhere to north or south he might see fools seeking for the gold he
had found.  It was a little cup set in the side of the mountain, a tiny
valley at once beautiful and aloof, and he had not been here since last
fall.  In it he could rest unmolested, unwatched.

During the day there had been showers; now the sun was out warmly while
here and there the sky was hidden by clouds and in places he could see
the little mists shaken downward through the bright air.  Warm rains
would mean a quickened thaw, open trails and swifter travel.  In a way
a propitious season was making it up to him for the time he was losing
in idleness with a hole in his side.

An odd incident occurred that afternoon.  Drennen, hard man as he was,
Inured to the heavy shocks of a life full of them, felt this little
thing strangely.  He was resting, sitting upon a great boulder under a
pine tree.  The cup-like valley, or depressed plateau, lay at his left,
himself upon an extreme rim of it.  As he brooded he noted idly how the
sunshine was busied with the vapour filled air, building of it a
triumphant arch, gloriously coloured.  His mood was not for brightness
and yet, albeit with but half consciousness, he watched.  Did a man who
has followed the beck of hope of gold ever see a rainbow without
wondering what treasure lay at the far end of the radiant promise?  So,
idly, Dave Drennen now.

At first just broken bits of colour.  Then slowly the bits merged into
one and the arc completed, the far end seeming to rest upon the further
rim of the level open space.  It seemed a tangible thing, not a
visioned nothing born of nothingness and to perish utterly in a

"A promise that is a lie," he said to himself bitterly.  "Like the
promises of men."

And then . . . to his startled fancies she had come into being like the
rainbow, from nothingness . . .  where the foot of the arch had
appeared to rest stood the girl, Ygerne.  A quarter of a mile between
Drennen sitting here and her standing there, a stretch of boulder
strewn mountain side separating them, God's covenant joining them.
Drennen stiffened, started to his feet as though he had looked upon
magic.  At the foot of the rainbow not just gold . . . gold he had in
plenty now . . . but a woman . . .

He laughed his old ugly laugh and settled back upon his rock, his eyes
jerked away from her, sent back down the slope of the mountain to the
green fringe of the Little MacLeod.  He knew that his senses had
tricked him as one's senses are so prone to do; that she had merely
stepped into sight from behind a shoulder of blackened cliff; that the
most brilliantly coloured rainbow is just so much sunlight and water.
And he knew, too, that she would have to pass close to him on her way
back to the Settlement unless she went to considerable effort to avoid

He saw her shadow upon a patch of snow in the trail where the rock
protected it.  He did not turn his head.  He heard her step, knew when
it had stopped and her shadow had grown motionless.  She was not ten
paces from him.

Stubbornly he ignored the silent challenge of her pausing.  With slope
shoulders he sat motionless upon his rock, his face turned toward the
Little MacLeod, his freshly relighted pipe going calmly.  Yet he was
aware, both from the faint sound of her tread upon the soft ground and
from her shadow, cast athwart the path, that she had come on another
couple of steps, that she had stopped again, that her gaze was now no
doubt concerned with his profile.  He did not seek to make it the less
harsh, to soften the expression of bitterness and uncouth hardness
which his bit of a mirror had shown him in the dugout.  He found that
without turning to see he could remember just what her eyes looked
like.  And he had seen them only once and that when his chief concern
was a bullet hole in his side.

While Drennen drew five or six slow puffs at his pipe neither he nor
the girl moved.  Then again she drew a pace nearer, again stopped.  He
sent his eyes stubbornly up and down the willow fringed banks of the
Little MacLeod.  His thought, used to obeying that thing apart, his
will, concerned itself with the question of just where the gold seekers
were driving their fools' search for his gold.

Stubbornness in the man had met a stubbornness no less in the girl.
Though his attitude might not be misread she refused to heed it.  He
had half expected her to go on, and was idly looking for a shrug of the
shadow's shoulders and then a straightening of them as she went past;
he half expected her to address him with some commonplace remark.  He
had not thought to have her stand there and laugh at him.



But laugh she did, softly, unaffectedly and with plainly unsimulated
amusement.  She laughed as she might have done had he been a little
child indulging in a fit of pouting, she the child's mother.  Her
laughter irritated him but did not affect a muscle of his rigid
aloofness.  Then she moved again, drawing no nearer but making a little
half circle so that she stood just in front of him breaking his view of
the river.  The hard grey of his eyes met the soft greyness of hers.

"Why are the interesting men always rude?" she asked him out of a short

He stared at her coolly a moment, of half a mind to reply to the
foolishness of her question with the answer which it deserved, mere

"I don't know," he retorted bluntly.

"Yes, they are," she told him with deep gravity of tone, just as though
he had done the logical thing, been communicative and said, "Are they?"
The gravity in her voice, however, was notably in contrast with the
crinkling merriment about the corners of her eyes.  "Perhaps," she went
on, "that is one of the very reasons why they _are_ interesting."

He made no answer.  His regard, sweeping her critically, went its way
back down the mountain side.  Not, however, until the glorious lines of
her young figure had registered themselves in his mind.

"Perhaps," she ran on, her head a little to one side as she studied him
frankly, "you didn't realise just how interesting a type you are?  In
feminine eyes, of course."

"I know about things feminine just as much as I care to know," he said
with all of the rudeness with which she had credited him.  "Namely,
nothing whatever."

Without looking to see how she had taken his words he felt that he
knew.  She was still laughing at him, silently now, but none the less

"You are not afraid of me, are you?" she queried quite innocently.

"I think not," he told her shortly.  "Since your sex does not come into
the sphere of my existence, Miss Ygerne, there is no reason why I
should be afraid of it."

"Oh!" was her rejoinder.  "So you know my name, Mr. Drennen?"

"I learned it quite accidentally, young lady.  Please don't think that
the knowledge came from a premeditated prying into your affairs."

She ignored the sneer as utterly negligible and said,

"And you used to be a gentleman, once upon a time, like the prince in
the fairy tale before the witches got him.  _Cherchez la femme_.  Was
it a woman who literally drove you wild, Mr. Drennen?"

"No," he told her in his harshly emphatic way.

"You are very sure?"

He didn't answer.

"You are thinking that I am rather forward than maidenly?"

"I am thinking that a good warm rain will help to clear the trails."

"You wish that I would go away?"

"Since you ask it . . . yes."

"That is one reason why I am staying here," she laughed at him.  "By
the way, Mr. Newly-made Croesus, does this mountain belong to you, too?
Together with the rest of the universe?"

He knocked out the ashes of his pipe, refilled the bowl, stuffing the
black Settlement tobacco down with a calloused, soil-grimed forefinger.
And that was her answer.  She saw a little glint of anger in his eyes
even while she could not fully understand its cause.  A maid of moods,
her mood to-day had been merely to pique him, to tease a little and the
hint of anger told her that she had succeeded.  But she was not
entirely satisfied.  With truly feminine wisdom she guessed that
something of which she was not aware lay under the emotion which had
for a second lifted its head to the surface.  She could not know that
she awoke memories of another world which he had turned his back upon
and did not care to be reminded of; she did not know that the very way
she had caught her hair up, the way her clothes fitted her, brought
back like an unpleasant fragrance in his nostrils memories of that
other world when he had been a "gentleman."

"Your wound is healing nicely?" she offered.  And, knowing
instinctively that again his answer would be silence, she went on, "It
was very picturesque, your little fight the other night.  The woman who
did the shooting, I wondered whether she really loved Kootanie George
most . . . or you?"

"Look here, Miss Ygerne . . ."

"Ygerne Bellaire," she said with an affected demureness which dimpled
at him.  "So you may say: 'Miss Bellaire.'"

"I say what I damned please!" he snapped hotly, and through the crisp
words she heard the click of his teeth against his pipe stem.  "If the
flattery is not too much for a modest maiden to stand you may let me
assure you that the one thing about you which I like is your name,
Ygerne.  Speaking of fairy tales, it sounds like the name of the
Princess before the witches changed her into an adventuress, and sent
her to pack with wolves.  When it becomes necessary for me to call you
anything whatever I'll call you Ygerne."

It was enough to drive her in head-erect, defiant, orderly retreat down
the mountainside.  But she seemed not to have heard anything after the
first curt sentence.

"So you do 'what you damned please'?  That sounds interesting.  But is
it the truth?"

Her perseverance began, in spite of him, to puzzle him.  What in all
the world of worlds did she want of him?  Also, and again in spite of
him, he began to wonder what sort of female being this was.

"And so my name is really the only thing commendable about me?" she
went on.  "My nose isn't really pug, Mr. Drennen."

She crinkled it up for his inspection, turning sideways so that he
might study her profile, then challenging his eyes gaily with her own.

"It is said to be my worst feature," she continued gravely.  "And after
all, don't you think one's nose is like one's gown in that it's true
effect lies in the way one wears it?"

"How old are you?" he said curiously, the ice of him giving the first
evidence of thaw.

"Less than three score and ten in actual years," she told him.  "Vastly
more than that in wisdom.  Who's getting impertinent now?"

He hadn't said half a dozen sentences to a woman in half a dozen years.
But then he hadn't seen a woman of her class and type in nearly twice
that length of time.  Besides, a week of enforced idleness in his
dugout, of blank inactivity, had brought a new sort of loneliness.  A
bit surprised at what he was doing, a bit amused, not without a feeling
of contempt for himself, he let the bars down.  He leaned back a little
upon his rock, caught up a knee in his clasped hands, thus easing the
ache in his side, and set his eyes to meet hers searchingly.

"This is an odd place for a girl like you, Ygerne," he said

"Is it?  And why?"

"Because," he answered slowly, "so far as I know, only two kinds of
people ever come this way.  Some are human hogs come to get their feet
into a trough of gold; some are here because there is such a thing as
the law outside and it has driven them here."

"But surely some come just through a sense of curiosity?"

"Curiosity is too colourless a motive to beckon or drive folks out

"Why are you asking me a question like this?  You have succeeded in
making it rather plain that you feel no interest whatever in me."

"I am allowing myself, for the novelty of the thing, to talk nonsense,"
he told her drily.  "You seemed insistent upon it."

"So that's it?  Well, I at least can answer a question.  Two motives
are to thank or to blame for my being here.  One," she said coolly, her
eyes steady upon his, "has beckoned, as you put it; the other has
driven.  One is the desire to get my feet into the golden trough, the
other to get my body out of the way of the law.  Your hypothesis seems,
in my case as in the others, to be correct, Mr. Drennen."

In spite of him he stared at her a little wonderingly.  For himself he
gauged her years at nineteen.  He was rather inclined to the suspicion
that she was lying to him in both particulars.  But something of the
coolness of her regard, its vague insolence, something in the way she
carried her head and shoulders, her whole sureness of poise, the
intangible thing called personality in her tempered like fine steel,
made his suspicion waver.  She was young and good to look upon; there
was the gloriously fresh bloom of youth upon her; and yet, were it not
for the mere matter of sex, he might have looked upon her as a gay and
utterly unscrupulous young adventurer of the old type, the kind to bow
gallantly to a lady while wiping the stain of wet blood from a knife

"You are after gold . . . and the law wants you back there in the
States?" he demanded with quiet curiosity.

"I am after gold and the law has sought me back there in the States,"
she repeated after him coolly.

"The law has long arms, Ygerne."

"It has no arms at all, Mr. Drennen.  It has a long tail with a
poisonous sting in it."

"What does it want you for?"  He was making light of her now, his
question accompanied by a hard, cynical look which told her that she
could say as much or as little as she chose and he'd suit himself in
the extent of his credulity.  "Were you the lovely cashier in an ice
cream store?  And did you abscond with a dollar and ninety cents?"

"Don't you know of Paul Bellaire?" she flung at him angrily.

"I have never met the gentleman," he laughed at her, pleased with the
flush which was in her cheeks.

"He died long before you were born," she said sharply.  "If you talked
with men you would know.  He was my grandfather.  We of the blood of
Paul Bellaire are not shop girls, Mr. Drennen."

"Oho," sneered Drennen.   "We are in the presence of gentry, then?"

"You are in the presence of your superior by birth if not in all other
matters," she told him hotly.

"We, out here, don't believe much in the efficacy of blue blood," he
said contemptuously.

"The toad has little conception of wings!" she gave him back, in the
coin of his own contempt.  "Queer, isn't it?"

He laughed at her, more amused than he had been heretofore and more

"You haven't told me definitely about your terrible crime."

"You have been equally noncommittal."

Drennen shrugged.  "I am not greatly given to overtalkativeness," he
said shortly.  "I have no desire to usurp woman's prerogative."

"But are quite willing to let me babble on?"

"I'm going to put in time for a couple of hours.  You are less
maddening than the walls of my dugout."

She looked at him keenly, silent and thoughtful for a little.  Then she
said abruptly:

"Have you told any one yet of your discovery?"

So that was it.  His eyes grew hard again with the sneer in them.

"No," he informed her with a bluntness full of finality.

"You spoke of the hogs with their feet in the trough.  You are going to
let no one in with you?"

"I am not in the habit of giving away what I want for myself."

"But you can't keep it secret always.  You'll have to file your claim,
and you can't file on all of Canada. . . .  I want to ask you something
about it."

"No doubt," with his old bitter smile.  "For a fortune you'd repay me
with a smile, would you?  You'd find easier game in the gilded youth on

Her lips grew a little cruel as she answered him.

"You may tell me as much or as little as you like.  You may lie to me
and tell me that your gold is twenty miles westward of here while it
may be twice or half that distance eastward.  Or you may leave that
part out altogether.  But it would be another matter to answer the one
question I will ask."  Her eyes were upon him, very alert, watchful for
a sign as she asked her question: "Were the nuggets free and piled up
somewhere where some man before you had placed them?"

If she sought to read his mind against his will she had come to the
wrong man.  It was as though Drennen had not heard her.

"Are you married to either of the hang dogs with whom you are
travelling?" he asked.

"No," she answered indifferently.

"They're both in love with you, no doubt?"

"I fancy that neither is," she retorted equably.  "Both want to marry
me, that's all."

Drennen gazed thoughtfully down into the valley, pursing his lips about
his pipe stem.

"I'll make a bargain with you," he said finally from the silence in
which the girl had stood watching him.  "You have dinner with me; we'll
have the best the Settlement knows how to serve us, and I'll let you
try to pump me."

She looked at him curiously.

"You have the name of a trouble seeker, Mr. Drennen.  Do you fancy that
you can anger Marc and Captain Sefton this way?"

"That, too, we can talk about at dinner, if you like."

For a moment she looked at him, gravely thoughtful, her brows puckered
into a thoughtful frown.  Then she put back her head with a gesture
indefinably suggestive of recklessness, and laughed as she had laughed
when she had first come upon him.

"The novel invitation is accepted," she said lightly.  "I must hurry
down to dress for the grand occasion, Mr. Drennen."

Before she could flash about and turn from him David Drennen did a
thing he had done for no woman in many years.  He rose to his feet,
making her a sweeping bow as he lifted his hat with the old grace which
the years had not taken from him.  And as she went down the mountain
side he dropped back to his rock, his teeth again hard, clamped upon
his pipe stem, his eyes steely and bitter and filled with cynical irony.



David Drennen's statement concerning the two powerful motives
responsible for the presence in the North Woods of the greater portion
of her hardy denizens had been essentially truthful.  The shadow of
prison bars or perhaps the gaunt silhouette of the gallows, vivid in an
overstimulated fancy, has sent many a man roving; the whisper down the
world of yellow gold to be taken from the earth, transforming the
blackened claw gripping it into the potent fingers of a money king, has
entered the ear of many a wanderer and drawn him to such a land as
this.  An evil nature, a flare of temper, a wrong done and redressed in
hot wrath and red blood, a mistake or a weakness or a wild spirit born
a hundred years too late, any of these things might send a man into the
North Woods.  But Drennen, who made the statement to Ygerne Bellaire,
was in himself an exception to it.

For half a score of years this land of hard trails, this far out place
where man met man without veneer, where nature's breasts lay stripped
of covering and naked, where life was the old life of things elemental,
where primal laws were good laws, where there was room enough for the
strong and scant room for the weak, David Drennen had found a spacious
walled home.  Half of the year his house had the lofty, snow-capped
mountains for its only walls, the sweeping blue arch for its roof, sun,
moon and stars for its lamps.  There were months when he knew of no
other footfall than his own throughout the vastness of his house.
There had been times when, seeing the thin wisp of smoke against the
dawn telling of a camp fire five miles away, he had grumbled and
trampled out his own embers and moved on, seeking solitude.

He had brought into the mountains a heart at once sore and bitter.  The
soreness had been drawn out of it in time; the bitterness had but grown
the more intense.  Hard, mordacious, no man's friend . . . that was the
David Drennen who at Père Marquette's fête sought any quarrel to which
he might lay his hands.  The world had battled and buffeted him; it had
showered blows and been chary of caresses; he had struck back,
hard-fisted, hard-hearted, a man whom a brutal life had made brutal in
its own image.

There had been a scar made in his world of men and women to mark his
leaving it, such a scar as a thorn leaves in the flesh when rudely
drawn out.  A tiny cicatrix soon almost entirely lost as the niche
which had been his was filled and the healing over was perfected.  It
doesn't take long for the grass to grow over the graves of the dead;
the dew forming upon the mounded turf is less like tears than like
glistening jewels to deck the earth in the joyous time of her bridehood
in the spring; the flight of birds over it and their little bursts of
melody are eloquent of an ecstasy which does not remember.  How little
time then must pass to wipe out the memory of the passing of a David
Drennen from the busy thoroughfares into the secluded trails?

He had been a young man, the lightest hearted of his care-free set,
when the crash came.  The chief component characteristics of the young
David Drennen of twenty were, perhaps, a careless generosity, a natural
spontaneous gaiety which accepted each day as it came, a strong though
unanalysed faith in his fellow being.  Life made music in tuneful
chords upon the strings of his heart.  The twin wells of love and faith
were always brimming for his friends; overflowing for the one man whose
act was to turn their waters brackish and bitter.  That man was his
father, John Harper Drennen, a man prominent enough in the financial
world to make much copy for the newspapers up and down the country and
to occupy no little place in transoceanic cable messages when the story

A boy must have his hero worship.  Rarely enough does he find his
Alexander the Great, his Washington or his Daniel Boone, his Spartacus
or his Horatius in his own household.  But the motherless David had
proved the exception and had long ago begun to shape his own life in
the picture of his father's, investing him with attributes essentially
divine.  John Harper Drennen was a great man; the boy made of him an
infallible hero who should have been a demigod in face of the crisis.
And when that crisis came his demigod fled before it, routed by the
vengeance seeking him.

Young Drennen had struck a man in the face for breaking the news to him
and had felt a virtuous glow as he called the man "Liar!"  He
experienced a double joy upon him, the lesser one of his militant
manhood, the greater of realising that it had been granted him, even in
a small way, to fight a bit of his father's battle.  He had gone out
upon the street and a newsboy's paper, thrust to him, offered him the
glaring lie in great black letters for a penny.  He had torn the thing
across, flinging it away angrily.  There would be a libel suit
to-morrow and such an apology as this editorial cur had never dreamed
he had it in him to write.  He heard men talk of it in the subway and
laugh, and saw them turn wondering eyes to meet his glare.  He made
short his trip home, anxious to enlist under his father's standard,
thrilled with the thought of gripping his father's hand.

When he found that his father, who should have returned two days ago
from a trip to Chicago had not come back, he despatched a telegram to
the lake city.  The telegram was returned to him in due course of time;
his father was not in Chicago and had not been there recently.  He
wired Boston, Washington, Philadelphia.  His father was at none of his
hotels in any of these cities.  The boy prepared himself in calm, cold
anger to wait for his father's return.  But John Harper Drennen had
never returned.

During the week which dragged horribly, he refused to read the papers.
They were filled with such lies as he had no stomach for.  Only the
knowledge that the older Drennen was eminently capable to cope with his
own destiny and must have his own private reasons for allowing this
hideous scandal to continue unrefuted, held him back from bursting into
more than one editorial room to wreak physical, violent vengeance
there.  His respect for his father was so little short of reverent awe,
that he could take no step yet without John Harper's command.  Quizzed
by the police, questioned by the Chief, knowing himself dogged wherever
he went, feeling certain that even his mail was no longer safe from
prying eyes, he said always the same thing:

"Some of you are fools, some liars!  When Dad comes back . . ."

He had choked up under the keen eyes of the Chief.  And what angered
him most was the look in the Chief's eyes.  It was not incredulity; it
was merely pity.

At first the papers had it that John Harper Drennen had absconded with
fifty thousand dollars of the Eastern Mines Company's money.  With
rapid investigation came ready amplification of the first meagre
details.  Drennen's affairs were looked into and it was found that
through unwise speculations the man had been skirting on thin ice the
pool of financial ruin for a year.  The deficit of fifty thousand grew
under the microscope of investigation to sixty thousand, eventually to
seventy-five thousand.

When at last David Drennen got the back numbers of the papers and
locked himself up in his father's library to work his way laboriously
through the columns of fact and surmise he was not the same David
Drennen who had struck a man in the face for suggesting to him that his
father was a thief.  Here was the first sign of a weakening of faith;
here the first fear which strove wildly to prove itself a shadow.  But
from shadow emerged certainty.  He looked his spectre in the face and
it did not dissolve into thin air.  When he had done he put his face
upon his arms and sobbed.  The tardy but crushing sense of his hero's
guilt had stricken him; the thought that his father had in no way
confided in him, had left him without a word, perhaps without a
thought, broke his heart.  He was never to be quite the same David
Drennen again.

He remained at his father's home through the weary months during which
the miserably sordid horror dragged on.  One morning he packed into a
suitcase the few little articles which he felt were his own.  He went
out of the house before the others came in; he had no desire to see the
home go, as everything else had gone, to pour its handful of golden
sand into the great hole which John Harper's ruin had left behind him.
It had been almost a year since the first news; and upon the day on
which David Drennen set his back to all he knew and his face toward
what might come to him, a paper brought the last word.  He read it
calmly upon the train, wondering at himself that there was such a thing
as calm left to him.  A man, looking over his shoulder, commented on
the news lightly.  Drennen didn't answer.  He was visualising the final
episode dully; the great, masterful body of his own father in the Paris
morgue, the ignominious grave, even the cowardly death, self-dealt.

"And he never wrote me," he muttered to himself.

There he was wrong, though he could not know it until months later when
the brief letter, forwarded to him by the Chief, reached him.  His face
had been hard, because his heart was hard, when he read the note which
at last John Harper Drennen had written and which, sodden and blurred,
was found upon the dead body drawn from the Seine.

"Dear Davy," it had said.  "Some day maybe you'll come to forgive me.
God dealt me a hard hand to play, boy.  Be a man, Davy; for your
mother's sake if not for your dad's."

Drennen a year ago would have dropped his face into his hands and would
have wept over this letter; now he laughed at it.  And the laugh, this
first one, was the laugh men came to know as Dave Drennen's laugh.  It
was like a sneer and a curse and a slap in the face.

The hardest blow the fates could deal him had been delivered
mercilessly.  But other relentless blows were to come after, and under
their implacable, relentless smiting the soul of the man was hardened
and altered and made over as is the bit of iron under the blacksmith's
hammer.  Those characteristics which had been the essentials of the
spiritual man of last year were worked over; the fine steel springs of
buoyancy were beaten into thin knives of malignancy.  That the work
might be done thoroughly there was left in him one spark which glowed
later on and grew into friendship for a man whom he met far in the
north where the Yukon country called to such men as Drennen.  The
friendship fanned into life a lingering spark of the old generous
spirit.  Drennen, gambling his life lightly, had won as careless
gamblers are prone to do.  He made a strike; he trusted his new friend;
and his friend tricked, betrayed and robbed him.  This blow and others
came with the gaunt years.  At the end of them David Drennen was the
man who sought to quarrel with Kootanie George; he was a man like a
lone wolf, hunting alone, eating alone, making his lair alone, his
heart filled with hatred and bitterness and distrust.  He came to
expect the savagery of the world which smote and smote and smote again
at him, and he struck back and snarled back, each day finding him a
bitterer man than the preceding day had left him.  Long before he had
turned back from the Yukon to the North Woods, empty handed, empty
hearted, men had come to call him "No-luck" Drennen.  And as though his
ill fortune were some ugly, contagious disease, they shunned him even
as invariably as he avoided them.

Men knew him in Wild Cat, two weeks hard going over an invisible trail
from MacLeod's; they knew him at Moosejaw, two hundred and fifty miles
westward of the Settlement; wherever there was news of gold found he
was known, generally coming silently with the first handful of
venturesome, restive spirits.  But while his coming and his going were
marked and while eyes followed him interestedly men had given over
offering their hands in companionship.  Now and then he moved among
them as a man must, but always was he aloof, standing stubbornly apart,
offering no man his aid in time of difficulty, flaring into blazing
wrath the few times on record when men showed sympathy and desire to
befriend him.

Superstition, abashed-eyed step daughter in the house of civilisation,
lifts her head defiantly in the wilderness.  She is born of the
solitudes, a true daughter of the silent places.  Here, where men were
few and scattered broadcast by the great hand of adventure across the
broken miles of all but impassable mountains, superstition is no longer
merely an incident but an essential factor in human life and destiny.
And here men long ago had come to frown when their questing eyes found
the great, gaunt form of David Drennen in the van of some mad rush to
new fields: He was unlucky; men who rubbed shoulders with him were
foredoomed to share his misfortune; the gold, glittering into their
eyes from a gash in the earth, would vanish when his shadow fell across

In many things he had grown to be more like a wild beast than a man.
He had hunted with the human pack and he had found selfishness and
jealousy and treachery on every hand.  He came to look upon these as
the essential characteristics of the human race.  Even now that he was
wounded he saw but one sordid motive of greed under the hesitant offers
of help; even now he had been less like a wounded man than a stricken
wolf.  The wolf would have withdrawn to his hidden lair; he would have
contented himself with scant food; he would have licked his wound clean
and have waited for it to heal; he would have snapped and snarled at
any intrusion, knowing the way of his fellows when they fall upon a
wounded brother.  So Drennen.



An odd mood was upon him this afternoon.  Perhaps since moods are
contagious, his was caught from the girl, Ygerne.  With a sort of
jeering laughter in his heart he surrendered to his inclination.  The
world had gone stale in his mouth; a black depression beat at him with
its stiffling [Transcriber's note: stifling?] wings; an hour with the
girl might offer other amusement than the mere angering of Lemarc and
Sefton.  He wanted only one thing in the world; to be whole of body so
that he might fare out on the trail again, a fresh trail now that gold
lay at the end of it.  But since he might not have the greater wish he
contented himself with the lesser.

He shaved himself, grimly conscious of the contempt looking out at him
from the haggard eyes in the mirror.  Those eyes mocked him like
another man's.  Then he went to Père Marquette's store, paying scant
attention to the three or four men he found there.  He made known his
wants and tossed his gold pieces to the counter, taking no stock of
curious gazes.  He saw that Kootanie George was there and that
Kootanie's big boots were gummed with the red mud of the upper trail.
He took no trouble to hide his sneer; Kootanie George, too, had been
out in search of his gold and had returned empty handed.

To each question of Père Marquette his answer was the same:

"The best you've got; damn the price."

Marquette had but the one white silk shirt in the house and Drennen
took it, paying the ten dollars without a word.  There were many pairs
of boots to fit him; one pair alone took his fancy, though he knew the
rich black leather and the shapely high heels would cause him to hurl
them away to-morrow as things unfit for the foot of man.  He selected
corduroy breeches and a soft black hat and returned to his dugout,
leaving fifty dollars upon the counter.  And when he had dressed and
had laughed at himself he went back up the muddy road for Ygerne.  But
first he stopped at Joe's.

"I want the private room," he said, and Joe nodded eagerly as he saw
Drennen's hand emerge from his pocket.  "And I want the best dinner for
two you can put on.  Trimmings and all."

Joe, slipping the first of Drennen's money into his pocket and
cherishing high hopes of more, set himself and his boy to work, seeing
his way of arriving at the second gold piece with no great loss of time.

The long northern twilight was an hour old when Drennen called for
Ygerne.  She came out of her room at Marquette's ready for him.  She
had told him she must "dress" for the occasion.  He had thought her
joking.  In spite of him he stared at her wonderingly a moment.  And,
despite her own gathering of will, a flush crept into her cheeks under
his look while her own eyes widened to the alterations a little effort
had made in the man.  And the thing each noted swiftly of the other was
scarcely less swiftly noted by all men and women in the Settlement
before they had gone down to Joe's: he had suddenly become as handsome
as a devil from hell; she as radiant as an angel.

"Are we just going to step into a ballroom for the masquerade?" she
half whispered with a queer little intake of breath as she found his
arm with a white gloved hand.  "And is all this," waving at the
Settlement itself, the river snaking its way through the narrow valley,
the frowning fronts of Ironhead and Indian Peak against the saffron
sky, "just so much painted canvas for the proper background?"

He laughed and brought his eyes away from the white throat and
shoulders, letting them sweep upward to the mystery of her eyes, the
dusky hair half seen, half guessed under the sheen of her scarf,
wondering the while at the strange femininity of her in bringing such
dainty articles of dress to such a land.  Then, his eyes finding the
prettily slippered and stockinged feet, he moved with her to the side
of the road where the ground was harder.

Joe had seen with amazing rapidity that the "trimmings" were not
wanting.  With old knowledge born of many years of restaurant work, he
knew that any day some prospector might find that which all prospectors
endlessly sought and that then he would grind his bare grubstake
contemptuously under his heel and demand to eat.  Upon such occasions
there would be no questions asked as to price if Joe but tickled the
tingling palate.  Joe had unlocked the padlock of the cellar trapdoor;
he had gone down and had unlocked another padlock upon a great box.
And all that which he had brought out, beginning with a white
tablecloth and ending with nuts and raisins, had been a revelation to
his boy assistant.  There was potted chicken, there were tinned
tomatoes and peaches, there were many things which David Drennen had
not looked upon for the matter of years.

The "private room" into which Joe, even his apron changed for the
occasion, showed them was simply the far end of the long lunch room,
half shut off from the rest of the house by a flimsy partition having
no door, but a wide, high arch let into it through which a man at the
lunch counter might see the little table and both of the diners.

Drennen, stepping in front of Joe, took Ygerne's scarf, drew out her
chair for her, and having seen her seated, took his own place with the
table between them.  He nodded approvingly as he noted that Joe had not
been without taste; for the restaurant keeper had even thought of
flowers and the best that the Settlement could provide, a flaming red
snowplant, stood in the centre of the table in a glass bowl of clean
white snow.

Joe brought the wine, a bucket at which the boy had scrubbed for ten
minutes, holding the bottle as the glass bowl held the snow-plant, in a
bed of snow.  When he offered it a trifle uncertainly to Drennen's gaze
and Drennen looked at it and away, nodding carelessly, Joe allowed
himself to smile contentedly.  Champagne here was like so much molten
gold; it was assured that Drennen was "going the limit."

Drennen lifted his glass.  His glance, busied a moment reminiscently
with the bubbling amber fluid, travelled across the table.  Ygerne
Bellaire had raised her glass with him.  Her eyes were sparkling, a
little eager, a little excited, perhaps a little triumphant.

"Isn't it fun?" she said gaily.

He looked back gravely into her laughing eyes.

"May I drink your health?" he demanded.  "And success to whatever
venture has brought you so far from the beaten trail."

She set down her glass, making a little moue of pretended
disappointment at him with her red mouth.

"And I was thinking that I was to have the honour of drawing something
gallant, at least flattering, something befitting the occasion, from
you!" she said.  "Why don't you say, 'Here's lookin' at you,' and be
done with it?"

He laughed.

"Then I'll say what I was thinking.  May I drink this to the one woman
I have ever seen whom I'd fall in love with . . . if I were a fool like
other men?"

He drank his wine slowly, draining the glass, his eyes full upon hers.
She laughed and when he had done said lightly,

"At least that's better."  She sipped her own wine and set it aside
again.  "Why didn't you say that in the first place?  Why must you
think one thing and say another?"

"That way lies wisdom," he told her coolly.

"Or stupidity, which?" she retorted.

"Shall a man say all of the foolish things which flash into his brain?"

"Why not?"  She shrugged, twisting her glass in slow fingers.  "If all
of the nonsense were taken out of life what would be left, I wonder?"

"I have the honour to entertain the high-born Lady Ygerne Bellaire at
dinner," he said in mock deference.  "Her request is my command.  Shall
I voice my second idiotic thought?"

She nodded, making her mouth smile at him while her eyes were gravely

"Then," and his bow was in accord with the mockery of his tone, "I was
thinking that for the reason best known to the King of Fools I'd like
to kiss that red mouth of yours, Ygerne!"

"You'd be the first man who had ever done so," she told him steadily.

"Quite sure of that?" he sneered.


"Tempting me further?" he laughed at her.

"I don't think you'd dare, with all of your presumption, Mr. Drennen."

"Because there are a couple of men out there to see, I suppose?"

"No.  I don't think that that would stop you.  Because of this."

A hand, dropped to her lap, came up to the level of the table top and
in its palm he saw the shining barrel of a small automatic pistol.
Again he laughed at her.

"It seems the latest fad for women to carry such playthings," he
ridiculed her.  "I wonder how frightened you'd have to be before you
could pull the trigger?"

"Just merely angered," she smiled back at him, as the weapon went back
into her lap, and out of sight.

"It's just a trifling episode, this shooting a man," he suggested.  "I
suppose you've done that sort of thing before?"

"If I hadn't perhaps I shouldn't be here now," she informed him as
quietly as he had spoken.

It flashed upon Drennen, looking straight into her unfaltering eyes,
that the girl was telling him the truth.  Well, why not?  There was
Southern blood in her; her name suggested it and her appearance
proclaimed it.  And Southern blood is hot blood.  His instinct was
telling him that she was some new type of adventuress; her words seemed
to assure him of the fact.

"Since I cannot be about my business these days," he said slowly, "I am
fortunate in finding so entertaining a lady to share my idleness."

"And I in finding so gallant a host," she smiled back at him.

Joe served the first of his lighter courses and withdrew.  As time
passed a few men came into the lunch room, their eyes finding the two
figures in the private room.  Drennen observed them casually.  He saw
Marc Lemarc and Captain Sefton.  The old hard smile clung for a moment
to his lips as he marked the angry stare which the man with the coppery
Vandyck beard bestowed upon him.  He saw Kootanie George enter alone;
he saw, a little later, Ernestine Dumont flirting with Ramon Garcia,
ignoring the big Canadian.  Garcia stepped to Joe's side to arrange for
the use of the room in which Drennen and Ygerne were; Ernestine,
thinking the room empty as it usually was, came on to the arch of the
door before she saw its occupants.  As her eyes swept quickly from
Ygerne to Drennen a hot flush ran up into the woman's cheeks.  Then,
with a little, hard laugh, she turned back to find a seat with Garcia
at one of the oilcloth covered tables.  Garcia, for the first time
seeing Ygerne, bowed sweepingly, his eyes frankly admiring her, before
he sat down with Ernestine.

"Ygerne!" said Drennen out of a desultory conversation in which an idle
question put and unanswered was promptly forgotten.

"Well?" she asked quietly.

"I am going to tell you something.  You will note that I have had but
the one glass of wine; I have drunk only one toast.  Therefore we may
admit that I am sober and know what I am about.  We are going to talk
of the thing I have found somewhere in the mountains.  That is why we
are met to-night . . . so that you may have your opportunity to try to
learn what I alone know, what you and so many others want to know.
When we have finished our little banquet you, being a free agent, are
at liberty to call upon one of your friends there or even upon Joe, to
see you to your room.  Or you can accept my escort."

While she watched him, her elbows on the table, her chin upon her
clasped hands, he poured himself a second glass.  She saw the light in
his eyes change subtly as he continued:

"A second toast, my Princess Ygerne!  To the girl I am going to kiss
to-night on our way between Joe's and Marquette's!"  He held his glass
up and laughed at her across the top of it.  "To the girl I'd love now
were I a fool; the girl I wouldn't know to-morrow if I saw her!  The
girl who pits the beauty of her body against the calm of a man's brain.
The girl whose eyes are as beautiful as shining stars.  The girl whose
eyes are filled with the madness of the lust of gold!  To a
sweet-faced, cool-hearted little adventuress . . .  My Lady Ygerne!  Am
I insulting?  You knew that before you did me the honour to dine with
me.  Shall I drink the toast, Ygerne?"

She sat regarding him gravely, the dimples of a moment ago merely sweet
memories, her eyes stars no longer but deep twin pools, mystery-filled.

"Was there a time when you were a gentleman, Mr. Drennen?" she asked

"Was there a time when you were as innocent as you look, Ygerne?" he
answered coolly.

He saw the anger leap up in her eyes, he noted a sudden hard, tense
curving of her lips.  Then, lifting her white shoulders, she laughed
softly as she leaned back in her chair, relaxing.

"Drink," she said lightly.  "As you say, we shall talk of your new
strike.  As you say, that is why I am here with you.  And then . . ."

He had tossed off his wine and now said sharply:

"Then you will allow me the pleasure of escorting you to the door of
Père Marquette's . . . or you will get one of your hangdogs or Joe here
to see you home.  Which?"

"Do you think I am a coward?" she said quickly.

"All women are, I think," was his blunt answer.

"Then try to kiss me when you please!  Since I am your guest to-night I
shall expect you to see me to my room."

"I have told you what will happen."

She smiled at him.  He saw the fleeting dimples at the corners of the
red lipped mouth.  And he saw too, in her eyes, the glint as of steel.

"Speaking of your discovery, Mr. Drennen. . ."

He laughed.



There had been only three loitering men and one woman enjoying Joe's
hospitality as they went out.  The men were Lemarc, Sefton and Ramon
Garcia, the woman Ernestine Dumont.  Drennen saw that Ygerne made cool
pretence of seeing none of them; Lemarc and Sefton had no doubt
lingered to watch her leave and she did not take kindly to such
espionage.  She was busy with the careful buttoning of a glove, the
left glove.  The right hand she left bare.

Not fifty steps from Marquette's Drennen laid his hand upon her arm.

"Kiss me, Ygerne," he commanded quietly.

There was little light, but he saw the glint of it upon the pistol in
her hand.

"You know what you would have to pay," she said coolly.  "Is it worth

For answer he threw out his arms to draw her lithe body close up to
his.  But as her gloved hand struck him across the face she had sprung
back, twisting a little, avoiding him, putting a quick two yards
between them.  He felt, rather than saw, that her pistol, levelled
across the short space separating them, bore full upon his chest.

"Wait!  Listen to me.  You must listen."

She was no longer calm.  He could hear her panting, whether from the
exertion of snatching herself away from him or from the tense grip of
whatever emotion was playing upon her nerves he could not tell.

"Don't you know that I mean what I say?  That I can kill you, that I
will kill you if you dare insult me further?"

"I know only one thing," he told her, his voice sterner than she had
heard it before.  "The King of Fools has put a mad desire into my
brain.  And you have helped him.  I am always ready to pay for whatever
I get and I am not used to haggling over the price."

"I have told you that I would kill you if you dared!" she flashed the
words at him.

"And I," he retorted coolly, "told you that I'd kiss you if you dared
come with me.  Were we both bluffing?  Or neither, Ygerne?"

"Coward!" she panted, and he knew how the red lips curled to the words.
Even that picture but made madder the mad longing upon him.  With his
ugly laugh at the odd twist of feminine logic which had applied such an
epithet at such a time, he came swiftly toward her.

As he came on Ygerne fired.  The darkness was thick, but it seemed to
her frowning eyes that he had foreseen the shot at the second before it
was fired and had swung his shoulders to the side so that it cut by him
without touching him.  Again she fired; but now he was upon her and his
hand had struck the pistol aside so that the questing bullet sped
skywards.  His arms were about her, drawing her tighter until they hurt
her; she heard his breathing as his lips sought hers.  Her right arm
was held down at her side but her left hand struck at his face, tore at
him, thrust him each possible quarter of an inch away, shielded her
face.  Again and again she struck, an unthinkable strength in her tense

The door at Marquette's was thrown open and half a dozen men rushed out
into the road.  The girl felt Drennen's arm relax, the right arm about
her shoulders.  With a quick movement she slipped free of it.

"Who shot?" called one of the men.  "What's wrong?"

Ygerne, two paces from Drennen's side, answered very quietly, her
coolness amazing him.

"I fired.  It was a wager with Mr. Drennen.  I shot at a wolf.  I think
I missed.  Didn't I, Mr. Drennen?"

Drennen did not answer.  The men in the road muttered among themselves,
guessed something of the truth, laughed and went back into the house.
Drennen walked with Ygerne to her own door.  As he lifted his hat she
threw open the door and the light streamed across his face.  She saw
that it was white and that his lips were set tight.  Her eyes went
quickly to the white silk shirt he had that day bought of Marquette.
There was a widening splotch of red at the side, below the shoulder.

"Are you badly hurt?" she asked coolly.

"I don't know.  I guess not.  Good night, Ygerne."

"I thought that somewhere in you there was the soul of a gentleman,"
she said, her voice rising in clear scorn.  "You are nothing but brute!"

"Nothing but brute," he repeated after her harshly.  "You are quite

She looked at him fixedly a moment.  Meeting her eyes he saw a swift
change come.  She was smiling at him now quite as though nothing
unpleasant had arisen during a commonplace evening; she even put out
her hand, the ungloved one which had shot him two minutes ago, and said

"I haven't thanked you for a very pleasant evening, Mr. Drennen.  It is
one I shall not forget soon.  Good night."

For a moment he made no answer.  Instead he stood looking steadily,
curiously at her.  Then suddenly he stooped a little, caught up her
hand and brushed it lightly with his lips; the right, ungloved hand.
Then he turned away.

She saw that he steadied himself by the fence about Marquette's yard
and now was moving slowly toward his dugout.  He had forgotten to put
on his hat and still held it crumpled in his hand.  She stood for a
little while staring after him.  Then she went into the house, closing
the door softly.

Drennen, making his slow way homeward, met the men Lemarc and Sefton in
a place where the light from an open door streamed across the road.
Before Lemarc cried out Drennen had seen the working muscles of his
face; the man was in the grip of a terrible rage.

"Damn you," cried Lemarc wildly.  "What have you done?  That was
Ygerne's gun; I know it.  If you have laid a hand on her . . ."

"Stand aside, you fool," snapped Drennen, less angry at Lemarc than at
himself for his own physical weakness.

"I tell you," shouted Lemarc, his hand whipping out from under his coat
and upward, the lamp rays from the house running down the keen
two-edged steel, "if you . . ."

"Shut up, Marc."  It was Captain Sefton's voice, sharp and threatening
and steady with its cold anger.  Drennen, looking to him, saw in his
face a fury no less than Lemarc's but held under control.  "Things are
bad enough as they are."

"What do I care?" snarled Lemarc, wrenching at the hand Sefton had shot
out to his arm.  "If you think I'll stand for everything . . ."

"You'll stand for anything I say stand for," Sefton said coolly.
"Remember that, Lemarc.  Besides, Ygerne's all right.  She can take
care of herself, my boy.  Come on."

Grumbling, Lemarc allowed himself to be led away.  Drennen passed on
and to his dugout.  He found his bunk in the darkness and sat down upon
the edge of it, resting, breathing heavily, his weakness grown already
into giddy nausea.  Finally, feeling the blood hot against his flesh
and knowing that he must get it stopped, he struck a match and lighted
a candle.  With fingers shaking a little he tore his shirt away at the
side and found the hurt.  A little, contemptuous grunt escaped him as
he made out just how bad it was.  The bullet had merely ripped along
his side, inflicting a shallow surface wound, coming the nearest thing
in the world to missing him altogether.  Had he not been pitifully
nerveless from another wound not ten days old and his strength
exhausted from his first active day since it had been given to him, he
could have laughed at this and at the girl who had fired it.  He
stopped the bleeding as best he might, drew a rude bandage about his
body, and sank back on his bunk dizzy and sick.

"And now," he muttered disgustedly, "because I have been a damned fool
over a pretty cat with a red mouth and poisonous claws I've got another
week of hell before I can go out on the trail again."

The knowledge that he was a fool was no new knowledge to Drennen.  He
sneered at himself for staking his life against a chance woman's lips,
and, snarling, put out his candle.  He drew the tumbled covers of his
bed about him, of neither strength nor will to undress or to go and
close the door he had left open.  He wanted to sleep; to wipe out the
memory of this day's folly as he sought to lose the memory of all other
days.  He wanted his strength back because of the mere animal instinct
of life, not because life was a pretty thing.

But he did not sleep.  His was that state of weakness and exhaustion of
a battered body which fends off immediate, utter restfulness.  He had
shut the gates of his mind to the girl, Ygerne.  But it was as though
his hands, holding the gates shut, were powerless, and her hands,
dragging at them that she might enter, were strong.  With weariness and
faintness came a light fever.

Through his fever the girl passed and repassed all night.  He saw her
as she had stood yonder on the mountain side, at the foot of the
rainbow.  He saw her as she had stepped out to meet him when he had
gone to Marquette's for her, as she had sat across the table from him.
Her white arms flashed at him, her white throat and bare shoulders
shone through a blur of wandering fancies.  Her red mouth was before
him through the long hours, luring him now, the lips blossoming into a
kiss; mocking him now; laughing with him, her cheeks dimpling as she
laughed; laughing at him, hard as carved coral.  All night the grey
mystery of her eyes was upon him, their expression ever shifting, now
filled with promise like dawn skies, now vague with threats like grey
depths of ocean over hidden rocks.

When his will broke down in his utter weakness and he gave over trying
to sleep, he drew himself up against the wall which was head-board for
his bunk, lighted his candle and filled his pipe.  Smoking slowly, the
candle light in his eyes, the objects of his dugout brought into sudden
harsh reality, he drove his mind away from the girl and sent it to the
gold which he had discovered in its hidden place in the mountains.  Now
he could tell himself calmly that a few days of inactivity didn't
matter.  A few more days and he would be himself again; and then he
might follow what path of life he chose, because he would be a rich
man.  And then he grew drowsy and dozed, only to have Ygerne Bellaire
slip back into his befogged imaginings with her white shoulders, her
grey eyes and her red mouth.

When in the faint light before the dawn the sick yellow flame of the
second candle was dying out Drennen was making his way to Joe's.  He
drank his coffee and then drove himself to eat two bowls of mush.  His
face was so bloodless and drawn that Joe stared at him as at a ghost.
Each time that Drennen moved he felt a burning pain in his side as
though the wound were tearing open afresh.

The forenoon he spent in his dugout, dozing a little, but for the most
part staring moodily out of his open door at the muddy waters of the
Little MacLeod.  He was aware, toward noon, of an unusual bustle and
stir in the Settlement.  Men were arriving, almost in a steady stream,
a few on horseback, the major part on foot.  There floated out to him
loud voices from Père Marquette's store; they were drinking there.  He
wondered idly what lay back of this human influx.  He was too sick to
care greatly.

He had left word with Joe to send the boy with lunch at noon.  The boy
came in shortly after one o'clock, explaining that there had been such
a rush at the counter that Joe couldn't let him go sooner.  Drennen
cursed him and drove him out, asking no questions.

The human tide sweeping into the Settlement rose steadily during the
afternoon.  A street which had been deserted twenty-four hours ago was
now jammed from side to side.  Drennen came to understand dully as the
day wore on that there could be but one explanation; a rush like this
meant that some fool had dropped his pick into a vein of gold and word
of it had flashed across the mountains.  Even then, his pain and
exhaustion and giddy sickness were such that he did not realise that he
himself was to thank for the pouring of hundreds of men into MacLeod's.

When at last the true explanation did dawn upon him he reached out for
his pipe, stuffed the bowl full of his tobacco and leaned back upon his
bunk, his eyes frowning, his lips hard about his pipe stem.  So, silent
and brooding, he waited, knowing that it was to expect too much of
human endurance to think that they would let him alone much longer.

The first man to visit him thrust through the doorway unceremoniously
and coming straight to Drennen's side said bluntly, "I am Madden,
Charles Madden of the Canadian Mining Company.  Maybe you've heard of

Drennen eyed him insolently, taking stock of the fresh cheeks, the keen
blue eyes, the square, massive, masterly jaw, the assertive air, the
clothing which was civilisation's conventional garb and which in the
matter alone of heavy laced boots made concession to the mountains.
The man was young, perhaps had not yet gotten into his thirties, and
none the less had already that dominance of personality belonging to a
seasoned captain of industry.  Drennen, drawing at his pipe, maintained
his silence.

"Well?" demanded Charlie Madden.

He whipped at one gloved hand with the gauntlet he held in the other
and stared at Drennen impatiently.  He had just arrived and had made no
delay in coming to the dugout; Drennen noted the dust of his ride upon
his face, the spurs still upon his boots.  The atmosphere he bore with
him was one of business urgency.

"Damn it, man," snapped Madden, "I've got something else to do besides
smother in your hovel.  I'm here to talk business."

He flung himself into the solitary chair in the one-room place, jerked
his head about, saw that the door was open, got up and closed it, and
came back to his chair.  Drennen, eyeing him with steady hostility, did
not open his lips.

"Now," and Madden had tossed gauntlets and hat to the floor beside him,
"I'm anxious to get this thing over with.  You've struck gold, they
tell me?  Let's see the colour of it."

"What's your proposition?" Drennen asked carelessly.

Madden laughed his stock-in-trade laugh; it was intended to make the
other man feel vaguely that he was talking nonsense to a seer.

"Do you think I run around with a proposition to make every prospector
who thinks he's found a bonanza?  Before I know where the claim is or
see the dirt out of it?"

Drennen lay back a little, his hands clasped behind his head.

"I know something of your company and your methods," he said coolly.
"You're a pack of damned thieves.  And, since you ask it, I do think
that you run around all loaded with your proposition.  Your game is to
pay a man enough to get him drunk and keep him drunk for a spell;
that's his cash bonus; he gets the rest in stocks.  Then you break him
with assessments and kick him out.  I'm not talking business to-day,
thank you," he ended drily.

Madden looked at him keenly, making a swift appraisal which had in it
something of the nature of a readjustment.  Then he laughed again.

"Look here, Mr. Drennen," he said confidentially, leaning close to the
man on the bunk, "my company has a bigger financial backing than any
other in the country.  We are willing to take what we can get as cheap
as we can get it, of course I'll admit that.  At the same time if
you've got a gold mine we're ready and we're able to pay all it's
worth.  You've got the brains to know that the day has passed for a man
to work his own claim if there's anything in it.  You've got to sell
out to somebody.  Why not to the Canadian?"

Now, Madden, having heard the tale of Drennen's dice game with a canvas
bag of virgin gold backing his play and of a fight in which Drennen had
gone down from a bullet fired by Ernestine Dumont, had made up his mind
that in the dugout he would come upon a certain type of man which he
knew well.  He expected to find Drennen half sodden with liquor,
garrulous, boastful and withal easy to handle.  His estimate changed
swiftly, but he altered merely in slight detail his plan of attack.
After a keen glance about the dugout his words came smoothly.  Drennen
was no illiterate miner but he was sorely ridden by poverty, just the

"Give me your word that you've really found the real stuff," Madden
said, "and we'll talk business.  Oh, that isn't the ordinary course, to
be sure, but I'm willing to make an exception after seeing you; you are
not the ordinary man.  Come out with me to Lebarge; we'll pick up a
lawyer and sign some papers.  For your protection and mine, understand.
Then we'll have a look at your claim.  Incidentally," his hand coming
suddenly from his pocket with a roll of bills in it, "you can put in
your own expense account, and," with a wink, "you can go as far as you
like.  I'm a generous cuss with the company's money when they give me
full swing."

Drennen put out his hand; Madden urbanely stripped off one of the bills
and handed it to him.  It was for fifty dollars.  Drennen struck a
match, set fire to a corner of the bill and used the lighter to get his
pipe going.  Madden, upon his feet in pink-faced wrath, was silenced by
Drennen's voice booming out angrily:

"So you think you can bait me into your lawyer trap with jingling
pennies in a tin cup!  Look at that, man; look at that!"

With a sudden gesture he had caught out his canvas bag and had poured
the heavy contents upon the bunk beside him.  Madden bent forward
quickly, and a little gasp came into his throat, a new, more vivid tide
of pink into his cheeks as he saw.  Drennen shoved fifty dollars in
minted gold to one side.

"There's your change," he said crisply.  And when Madden's fingers had
reluctantly dropped the nuggets back to the quilt, "And as for
propositions, I'm the man who's making them.  I'm to be left alone to
file on my claims and protect myself first.  Then, if you're on hand,
you can look my property over.  I'm going to sell; if you're the first
company to take up my offer it might be that I'd sell to you."

"And your proposition?" demanded Madden sharply.

"An assurance that the mine will be worked; ten per cent of the total
number of shares in my name; a further assurance of exemption from
assessment for ten years; and a little bonus."

Madden used his stock-in-trade laugh again.  It was well that he made
use of it when he did; else he would not have been able to summon it up
from his paralysed throat.  For he put a question and got a brief,
direct answer, and the answer affected him much as a fist in the pit of
the stomach might have done.

"What sort of cash bonus?" was the question.

"One hundred thousand dollars!" was the cool rejoinder.



Charlie Madden of the Canadian Mining Company wasn't the man to
squander time which might be valuable in idle surmises.  Ten minutes
after leaving Drennen he had sent a man on horseback scurrying down the
hundred miles of trail to Lebarge.  The man carried a letter to the
General Manager.  The letter ran in part:

". . . I don't know whether the man is crazy or not.  Having seen his
specimens I'm rather inclined to think he's not.  But he's fool enough
to have shown the stuff before filing on his claim.  Send me Luke and
Berry and Jernigan on the run.  Drennen is laid up with a couple of
bullet holes in him.  I'll keep him from filing as long as I can; the
rest is up to the men you send me."

Then, his eyes filled with the glint of his purpose, his jaw seeming to
grow lean with the determination upon him, Madden made himself as
comfortable as conditions permitted in MacLeod's Settlement and settled
down to a period of unsleeping watchfulness.  He took a room at Père

Before the crowd in the camp had thronged Joe's Lunch Counter toward
evening the fever of excitement had grown into a delirium.  Madden
hadn't talked; Drennen hadn't talked.  And yet the word flew about
mysteriously that Drennen had asked ten per cent of the stock of his
mine and a hundred thousand dollars cash!  "God!  He had driven his
pick into the mother lode of the world!"  That was the thing which many
men said in many ways, over and over and over again.  The Canadian
Mining Company was trying to frame a deal with him; Madden had rushed a
man to Lebarge with some sort of message; two other big mining concerns
had their representatives in town.  And Drennen hadn't filed on his
claim; the gold lay somewhere in the mountains offering itself to
whatever man might find it.  A man who could not buy his own grubstake
to-day might "own the earth" to-morrow.

Before darkness came MacLeod's Settlement, seething with restless
humanity for a few hours, was again pouring itself out into the
wilderness in many erratic streams.  And no man left who had not first
gone by Père Marquette's and seen the nuggets which the old man had put
into his one glass-topped show case, and no man but carried the picture
of them dancing before his eyes as he went.  Kootanie George, who had
had no word for Ernestine Dumont since she had shamed him, went with
them.  Ramon Garcia, having kissed Ernestine Dumont's hand, went with
them.  And, oddly enough, Kootanie George and Ramon Garcia went
together as trail pardners.

The one man who evinced no concern at what was going on was David
Drennen.  His calm was like that of a chip caught and held motionless
for a little in the centre of a whirlpool while scores of other chips
gyrated madly about him; himself the pivot about which all rotated
while he seemed unmoved.  There were hundreds of sharp-eyed old
prospectors looking for the thing he had found; if they in turn found
it it would become theirs and be lost to him.

The Settlement saw more strangers in a week than it had ever seen in
the days of its existence before.  The rare opportunity was given to
take stock first hand of men of whom it had talked many times, men
whose names meant something.  Such a man was Charlie Madden with the
fresh cheeks and the way of an old captain of industry.  Such was the
man who came in behalf of the northwestern company.  A man between
fifty and sixty, big bodied, stalwart, stern faced, silent tongued.  An
old prospector from the outside put an end to much speculation by
informing a knot of men that this was old Marshall Sothern; the name
carried weight and brought fresh interest.  Such a man was Ben
Hasbrook, little and dried up and nervous mannered, a power in the
network of ramifications of a big corporation having its head in
Quebec, its tail in Vancouver, its claws everywhere throughout Canada.
These men spelled big interests; these were the lions come to wrest
away the prey which the pack of wolves was ravening for.

Ben Hasbrook trod almost in Charlie Madden's footsteps going to
Drennen; he came away almost immediately, tugging at his beard,
hot-eyed and wrathful.  Marshall Sothern, having had a word with Père
Marquette, a word with Lunch Counter Joe, having seen Hasbrook's
retreat, frowned thoughtfully and postponed any interview he may have
desired with No-luck Drennen.  He paid for a room at Joe's for a week
in advance, went into solitary session, smoking his blackened pipe
thoughtfully, his powerful fingers beating a long tattoo upon the sill
of the window through which his eyes could find Drennen's dugout.  With
full square beard, iron grey hair, massive countenance, there was
something leonine about Marshall Sothern.  It appeared reasonable that
if he were going into the battle against Madden and Hasbrook, then
Madden and Hasbrook would need their wits about them.  He seemed at
once gifted with infinite patience and unalterable will.  He did not
move from his window until he had seen David Drennen come out of his
dugout, making his slow way to supper at Joe's.  Sothern's eyes, as
keen as knife blades, studied the dark face, probing deep for a
knowledge of the man himself.  It was as though he were making his
first move in the game from ambush, as though he felt that the most
important thing in the world just now were a thorough understanding of
the man with whom he must deal.  He had had Marquette's estimate and
Joe's . . . now he sought to form his own. . . .

There was a hard smile upon Sothern's face as Drennen passed on, a
smile not without a strange sort of satisfaction, flashing a quick
light into the eyes.

"By God, I like him!" he burst out softly.  "So you're David Drennen,
are you?  Well, my boy, the hounds of hell are after you . . . that's
in your face.  But it's in your face, too, that you can stand on your
own feet.  Hm.  In this game I'm going to keep an eye on Madden and
Hasbrook, and both eyes on you."

But, despite the dynamic possibilities of action and strife and history
making, the days went by without event.  Drennen came his three times
daily to Joe's for his meals, spent the major part of his time in his
dugout or taking short, lonely walks up and down the river, coaxing
back his strength.  He saw much of Lemarc and Sefton upon the street,
noting that they, like himself, had stayed behind, letting the other
fools go on their fools' errands, sensing that their craft bade them
linger to watch him.  He saw Ygerne several rimes, always from a
distance, and made no attempt to speak with her.  He saw Madden, Ben
Hasbrook and Marshall Sothern, grew accustomed to the knowledge that
they were playing their waiting game, not unlike Sefton and Marc
Lemarc, and gave them little attention.  They didn't interest him; when
he was ready he would deal with them and until that time came need not
waste his thoughts upon them.

But all of the stubborn will of a David Drennen could not keep his mind
away from Ygerne Bellaire though he held his feet back from taking him
to her, though he drove his eyes away from her.  He had let down the
bars once for her to come into his life as he had let them down for no
man or other woman in years.  He had yielded to a mood, thinking that
it was only a mood and that so far as he was concerned she would cease
to exist when he willed it.  He found himself, however, seeking to
explain her presence here, companioned by such men as Marc Lemarc and
Captain Sefton; he sought to construct the story of her life before she
had come into this land where women from her obvious station in life
did not come; he wrestled with the enigma of her character,
unconsciously striving to find extenuation for the evil he deemed was
in her.

"We are a bad lot here," he muttered once after long puzzling.  "A bad
lot.  Some of us are bad because we are weak and the world has tempted.
Some of us are bad because we are strong and the world has driven.
Some of us are cruel, like steel; some of us are treacherous, like
poison.  Where do you fit in, Ygerne Bellaire?"

Once only had he met her face to face on the street, many men marking
their meeting.  Coming unexpectedly upon her he had been tugged two
ways by his emotions, a division and sign of weakness which was no
usual thing in him.  But he had caught a quick expression upon her face
in time, and had seen that she was going to pass him with no sign of
recognition.  He had deliberately turned his back upon her.  He had
heard a man laugh, and a little spurt of venomous pleasure leaped up in
his heart as he knew that she too had heard and as he pictured the
blood whipped into her face.

And now again he came upon her all unexpectedly; this time she was
alone and there were no men near to see.  He stopped, staring down at
her insolently.  She was sitting upon a fallen log, a mile from the
Settlement down the Little MacLeod, her eyes fixed upon the racing
water with that expression which tells that they see nothing of what is
before them.  She had not heard him until he came quite close to her.
She started as she looked up, ready upon the instant to leap to her
feet.  Then she settled back quite calmly, an insolence in her eyes not
unlike his.  She waited for him to speak, and presently, again
conscious of the tugging two ways, he did so.

"There's a man in camp named Charlie Madden," he said with a
viciousness which evidently puzzled her until he had gone on.  "You've
met him, I dare say?"

"Yes," she answered coolly.  "He asked me to have dinner with him last

Drennen's laugh jeered at her.

"You don't burn daylight, do you?" he sneered.  "The man has money; he
is young; he looks quite the pink-cheeked, impressionable pup, as good
as a gilded youth on Broadway.  How did he accept the wonder tale of
the virgin purity of your red lips, Ygerne?"

"I didn't accept his invitation," she retorted as coolly as before.

"Why not?" he said sharply, a little hotly.  "Couldn't you tell that
the fool has money?"

"I didn't like him," she said.

"Ho, you didn't like him!"  His tone drove a little higher colour into
her face, but she kept the serene indifference in her half-smile.  "But
you did dine with me . . . because you liked me, no doubt!"

"Let us say," she replied a trifle wearily, her eyes going back to the
river, "that I was lonely; and that I was prepared to like you, Mr.

He found himself in a sudden flaring anger.  The anger was
unreasonable, but it but burned the hotter for all that.  He had sought
to take a joy out of being brutal to the girl, just why he was very far
from understanding.  Now the joy did not come as he had expected it.
In his anger there was a sense of insane resentment against her that
she was just a girl, not a man as he would have her now so that he
might give her the lie and make her suffer physically by beating at her
with his hard fists.  In the blind rage upon him he blamed her for
having come into his life at all even though she were merely a passing
figure through a little corner of it.  The years, while they had
brought no happiness to him, had at least given him a calm indifference
to all things; now for many days and nights she had broken that calm.
In his heart he cursed her, his emotion rising toward a fierce,
passionate hatred.

"In hell's name," he cried abruptly, his voice ringing with a new
menace in it, "what are you doing here?  Why don't you go on?  What are
you staying here for?  Is the world so damned small that you've got to
come and preen yourself under my eyes?"

For a moment she did not answer.  The expression in the eyes turned
upon him changed swiftly.  There was a quick fear, gone in a flash in
pure wonder.  All this he saw clearly as too he saw a flicker of
amusement.  And back of the amusement which maddened him were other
things, emotions hinted darkly, baffling him.

"The other day," she said steadily in the face of his rage, "you
contented yourself by commanding me to take myself off of the mountain
back there.  Now you request me to get out of Canada?  Or out of
America?  Or the western hemisphere, which is it?  And, kind sir, _why_
is it?"

Looking up at him, to show him how little he moved her, to make him
doubt if he had read aright when he had thought it was fear in her
eyes, she laughed.  The laughter, welling up softly, musically, from
deep in the round white throat, the defiant posture, head thrown back,
something of the vague, sweet intimacy in it, affected him strangely.
His face reddened.  His hands shut spasmodically, clenching hard,
lifting a little from his sides.  Instinctively she drew back, her own
hand slipping into her bosom, a quick flutter of fear in her heart that
he was actually going to strike her.

"Why?"  His lips were drawn back from his teeth; his face was more evil
in the grip of the passion upon him than she had ever seen it before;
his voice harsh and ugly.  "Because you come when you do now, a
thousand years too soon or a dozen years too late!  Because I hate you
as I have never learned how to hate a man no matter what thing he had
done!  I don't know what there is in me that is stronger than I am and
that makes me keep my hands off your throat.  Do you know what you have
done, Ygerne, with the infernal witchery of you?  You have made me love
you, me, David Drennen, who knows there is no such thing as love in a
rotten world!  I want you in my arms; I want to kiss that red mouth of
yours; I want to kill any man who so much as looks at you!  My life was
as I would have it; in a few days I would be a rich man with all of the
power of a rich man; . . . and then you came.  Why do I hate you, your
eyes, your mouth, your body and your brain?  Why?"  He broke off in a
laugh which showed what his wounds, his sickness, his passion had done
for him, and she drew still further back from him, shuddering.  "I hate
you. . . .  By God! because you've made of me a fool like the others!
because you have made me love you!"

A frenzy of delirium was upon him.  She did not know whether the man
were sane or not; he did not care.  But he knew that he spoke the
truth.  Twice had he yielded to her, and he was not the man to yield
easily.  Once, and he had thought it a passing light mood, when he had
let down the bars for her to come in.  Now that recklessly he flung
open the flood gates which had dammed his own emotions, allowing the
headlong torrent to sweep away everything with it.  It was madness; it
was folly; it was insanity for a man like David Drennen to let his
heart be snared out of him by the girl upon whom he had looked so few
times.  And yet, be it what else it might be, it was the simple truth.

"Laugh at me, why don't you?" snarled the man, little beads of
perspiration gathered on his forehead.  "Or blush and stammer any of
the idiotic things which a woman says to the man at the moment of his
supreme idiocy.  Or flatter yourself with the vanity of it.  Are you a
good woman or a bad?  I don't know.  Are you generous or mean?  I don't
know.  Are you loyal and stanch and true--or treacherous and
contemptible?  I don't know.  I don't know a thing about you, and yet I
let you slip into my life one day and the next rile up all of the mud
which was settling to the bottom.  Go and brag of it to your two
hangdogs.  But, by heaven," and his fist smashed down into an open
palm, "you and your dogs keep out of my way.  If the three of you are
here another twenty-four hours I'll drive them out and with them any
other man you so much as look at!"

He stared at her for a moment, grown suddenly silent and white faced.
He lifted his arms as though he would sweep her up into them.  Then he
dropped them so that they fell to his side like dead weights and swung
about, turning his back upon her, going swiftly upstream toward the

Across the river came the call of a robin.  A splash of blue fire in
the willows was a blue bird's wing.  A solitary butterfly made a half
circle about him, passing close to him as though to beat him back with
its delicate, diaphanous wings.  The pale yellowish buds everywhere
were changing to a lusty verdant.  Air and grass were filled with
questing insect life thrilling upward with little voices.  The snows
were slipping, slipping from the mountainsides, the waters rising in
river and lake.  The sap was astir in shrub and tree, bursting upward
joyously.  Nature had breathed her soft command to all of the North
Woods; every creature and thing of life in the North Woods had heard
the call.



Ygerne, sitting very still, watched Drennen until he had passed around
a bend in the river and was lost to her sight behind a clump of
willows.  His impassioned outburst had been too frenzied not to have
moved her powerfully.  But the expression in the eyes which followed
him was too complex to give any key to the one emotion standing above
the others in her breast.  When she could see him no longer she rose
and followed slowly.

Because the course of the Little MacLeod is full of twists and kinks,
spine of ridge and depression of ravine thrusting the stream aside or
welcoming it closer, she had no further view of him until they were
both near the Settlement, Drennen himself already abreast of the first
building at this end of the camp, his own dugout.  She thought that he
was going to stop at his cabin; then she saw that he had passed on.
She had suspected that the man was delirious with the fever upon him;
that his brain had reeled from the impact of the blows showered upon it
and had staggered from its throne.  Now the suspicion came to her that
Drennen had come to her in his cups; that the thing which had loosened
his tongue and distorted his vision was nothing more nor less than

He was lurching as he walked, but bearing on swiftly.  She had not been
mistaken when she had thought that he had turned in toward his cabin.
But in this his action had been involuntary.  He had reeled, had paused
as he caught and steadied himself, had gone on drunkenly.

There were a score of men up and down the short street.  Already some
of them had marked his coming.  Ygerne turned hurriedly to the left,
put the line of houses between her and the street, passing back doors
quickly on her way to Père Marquette's.

Only once did Drennen stop.  He ran his hand across his eyes as though
to brush away some filmy fogginess of vision.  There was impatience in
the gesture.  With a little grunt of satisfaction he went on.  He had
seen both Lemarc and Sefton talking with other men half way up the

As he passed Joe's he was lurching more and more, his walk grown
markedly unsteady.  His eyes were flaming and growing red; his face was
splotched with colour, hot, angry colour; he was muttering to himself,
little broken, feverish, illogical outpourings of the seething passion
within him.  He passed three men who were lounging and smoking.  He did
not turn his eyes toward them.  They were the three big mining men,
Madden and Hasbrook and Sothern.  They saw him, their eyes following
him quickly, each man with his own personal interest.

"Drunk, eh?" laughed Charlie Madden.  "Suppose we draw straws to see
who takes him in tow!"

Hasbrook's sharp featured face grew shrewd in speculation, his tongue
clicking nervously.  Marshall Sothern's shaggy brows lowered a bit;
Madden and Hasbrook had looked from Drennen to each other and to him;
he alone kept his eyes hard upon the man making his way with unsteady
stubbornness up the street.

When a man stood in his way Drennen thrust out his arm, pushing him
aside.  His eyes grew ever the more terrible with the madness of the
rage upon him, bloodshot and menacing.  They lost Lemarc and Sefton,
wandered uncertainly across the blurr of faces, glowered triumphantly
as again they found the men he sought.

He drew up with a little jerk, not ten steps from the two men who as
usual were standing close together.  Such had been the strange
impressiveness of his approach that now he was greeted by a deep
silence.  The only sound was his own hard breathing, then his words
when he burst out violently.

As though his tongue were a poisoned whip he lashed them with it.
Burning denunciation exploding within his heated brain was flung off in
words to bite like spraying vitriol.  His voice rose higher, shriller,
grown more and more discordant.  He cursed them until the blood ran
into Lemarc's cheeks and seeped out of Sefton's.  And when at last
words failed and he choked a moment he flung himself upon them,
bellowing inarticulate, half-smothered wrath.

Men drew back from before him.  It was not their fight and they knew
how and when to shrug their shoulders and watch.  Lemarc, running his
hand under his coat for his knife, was struck down before the hand
could come in sight again.  Drennen's searching fist had found the
man's forehead and the sound of the blow was like a hammer beating
against rock.  Either Sefton had no arms upon him or had not the time
to draw.  He could only oppose his physical strength against the
physical strength of a man who was an Antaeus from the madness and
blood lust upon him.  Sefton's white face went whiter, chalky and sick
as Drennen's long arms encircled his body.  Lemarc was rising slowly,
his knife at last in his hand when Sefton's body, hurled far out,
struck the ground.

Drennen was not fighting as a man fights.  Rather were his actions
those of some enraged, cautionless beast.  Rushing at Lemarc he beat
fiercely at a man who chanced to stand in his way, and the man went
down.  Lemarc was on his feet now, his knife lifted.  And yet Drennen,
bare handed, was rushing on at him.  Sefton was up too, and there was a
revolver in his hand.  But Drennen, snarling, his fury blind and raging
higher, took no heed of the weapon's menace.  The thing in Lemarc's
eyes, in Sefton's, was the thing a man must know when he sees it; and
yet Drennen came on.

But another man saw and understood before it was too late.  Marshall
Sothern who had followed Drennen with long strides, was now close to
his side.  The old man's stalwart form moved swiftly, coming between
Drennen and Sefton.  With a quickness which men did not look for in a
man of his age, with a strength which drove up from those who saw a
little grunt of wonder, he put out his great arms so that they were
about Drennen's body, below his shoulders, catching his arms and
holding them tight against his ribs.

"Stop!" burst out Sothern's deep-lunged roar.  "Can't you see the man
is sick?  By God, I'll kill any man who lays a hand on him!"

Speaking he hurled his greater weight against Drennen, driving him
back.  Perhaps just then the strength began to run out of the younger
man's body; or perhaps some kindred frenzy was upon Marshall Sothern.
Drennen, struggling and cursing, gave back; back another step; and
then, wilting like a cut flower, went down, the old man falling with
and upon him.  As they fell Drennen lay still, his eyes roving
wonderingly from face to face of the men crowding over him.  Then his
gaze came curiously to the face so near his own, the stern, powerful
face of Sothern.  An odd smile touched Drennen's lips fleetingly; he
put out a freed arm so that it fell about Sothern's shoulders, his eyes
closed and consciousness went out of him with a sigh.

"Bring him over to Marquette's."

It was Charlie Madden's voice.  Madden and Hasbrook were crowding their
way close to the two men in the centre of the group, but little behind
Sothern in keeping their eyes upon the man because of whom they were
here, for whom they were prepared to fight jealously.

"Stand back!"

Sothern's answer.  He had risen, stooped a little, gathered Drennen up
in his arms.  After the way of men at such a time there was no giving
back, rather a growing denseness of the packed throng.

"Don't you hear me?" boomed Sothern angrily.  "I say stand back!"

Those directly in front of him, under his eyes, drew hesitantly aside,
stepping obediently to right or left.  Carrying his burden with a
strength equal to that of a young Kootanie George, Marshall Sothern
made his way through the narrow lane they made for him.  But he did not
turn toward Père Marquette's.

"Where are you taking him?" demanded Madden suspiciously, again forcing
his way to Sothern's elbow.  "That's not the way . . ."

"I'm taking him to his own home," said Sothern calmly.  "The only home
he's got, his dugout."

"Oho," cried Madden, suspicion giving place to certainty and open
accusation, while Hasbrook, combing at his beard, was muttering in a
like tone.  "You'll take him off to yourself, will you?  Where you can
do as you damned please with him?  Not much."

Marshall Sothern merely shook his head and moved on, thrusting Madden
to one side with his heavy shoulder.  He was carrying Drennen as one
might carry a baby, an arm about the shoulders, an arm under the knees.
Men offered to help him but he paid no heed to them.  Leonine the man
always looked; to-day he looked the lion bearing off a wounded whelp to
its den.

Expostulating, Madden dogged his heels, the rest following.  Lemarc and
Sefton, speaking together, had dropped far behind; Hasbrook was close
to Madden's elbow.  So they passed down the street.  Ygerne Bellaire,
standing now in front of Marquette's, watched them wonderingly.

Sothern came first to the dugout.  The door being open, he passed in
without stopping.  He laid the inert form down gently and came back to
the door.

"Well?" he demanded, his steady eyes going to Madden.

Madden laughed sneeringly.

"If you think I'm going to stand for a high-handed play like this," he
jeered, "you're damned well mistaken.  You're not the only man who's
got an interest in him.  He doesn't belong to you, old man."

"They'd have killed him if it hadn't been for me," returned Sothern
imperturbably.  "Until he's on his feet and in his mind again he does
belong to me.  We haven't the pleasure of knowing each other very well,
Charlie.  But I can give you my word that when I say a thing I mean it.
If you don't believe it . . . start something."

He stepped outside, closing the door after him softly.  He brought out
his pipe, knocked the dead tobacco from it and filled it afresh,
lighting it before Madden and Hasbrook, consulting together in an
undertone, had found anything to say.  His eyes were calm and steady;
there was even a hint of a smile in them as they rested upon Madden's
eager, angry face.  There had been no threat in his last words.  But he
had meant them.

There was but one door to the dugout; it was closed, and more than
that, Marshall Sothern stood calmly in front of it.  Drennen was inside
and he was going to stay there.  Madden muttered something; Sothern
lifted his brows enquiringly and Madden did not repeat.  The situation
being neither without interest or humour, some of the men laughed.
Madden considered swiftly: Drennen was unconscious; Sothern could do
nothing with him immediately.  He drew Hasbrook aside and the two went
slowly up the street.

Sothern beckoned a man he knew in the crowd, a little fellow named
Jimmie Andrews.

"Get a horse," he said quietly.  "I want you to carry a couple of
letters to Lebarge for me.  If you can't get a horse any other way buy
one.  Come back as soon as you're ready to start.  I'll have the
letters ready."

He turned back into the dugout, closed the door and dropped the wooden
bar into place.  Jimmie Andrews went hastily after a horse and twenty
minutes later rode out of MacLeod's Settlement, headed for the
railroad.  He carried a letter to the Superintendent of the
Northwestern.  The second letter was addressed to Dr. Thos. Levitt.

During the two days which followed the Settlement went tip-toe.  No man
of them saw David Drennen except now and then through the door when
Marshall Sothern had opened it for the warm midday air.  There were men
in the street who offered wagers that he was going to die and, what was
more to the point, that he would die without telling where he had found
gold.  Sothern ministered to him day and night, letting no one in,
having his own meals sent here, sitting by the bunk or at the doorstep,
smoking.  When a passer-by asked, "How's he gettin' along?" Sothern's
answer was always the same: "Slowly."

Drennen had been through much privation and hardship before his
discovery, severe bodily punishment and fatigue thereafter.  On top of
physical suffering had been imposed the mental stress, the veritable
mad agony and strife of the dual emotions which Ygerne had inspired in
him.  It was in the cards that he should come near death; but that he
should not die.  A man's destiny is characterised at times by an
instinct of savagery; it tortures him until his sense of pain is dulled
and lost in unconsciousness; then it lets him grow strong again for
fresh tortures.

After the forty-eight hours had passed Jimmie Andrews had returned
bringing the physician with him.  Dr. Levitt had stayed twenty-four
hours and had gone again, saying that there was nothing for him to do
that Sothern could not do as well.  He rather thought that Drennen's
beautiful physique would pull him through.  But it would take time,
careful attention, rest and properly administered nourishment.

"Can't you get a woman to help?" he asked as he was going.  "I don't
give a damn what kind she is.  One fool of a woman is worth a dozen men
at times like this."  He pocketed his fee, bestowed upon Sothern a
gratuitous wink with the words, "I guess it's a good investment for
you, eh?  Madden and Hasbrook look as sore as saddle boils."

Drennen slept much but restlessly.  When he was awake he stared with
clouded, troubled eyes at the smoke-blackened ceiling or out of the
door at the willows or into Sothern's rugged face.  His fever raged
high, his body burning with it, his brain a turbulent melting pot
wherein strange fancies passed through odd, vaporous forms.  He
confused events of a far-off childhood with occurrences of yesterday.
He was a little boy, gone black-berrying, and Ygerne Bellaire went with
him.  His dugout was a cabin in the Yukon where he had lived a year, or
it was a speeding train carrying him away from an old home and into the
wilderness.  There were times when Marshall Sothern, bending over him,
was an enemy, torturing him.  Times when the old man was his own father
and Drennen put out his hands to him, his face alight.  Times when the
sick man cursed and reviled him.  Times when he broke into shouting
song or laughter or raved of his gold.  But most often did he speak the
name Ygerne; now tenderly, now sneeringly, now with a love that
yearned, now a hatred which shook him terribly and left him exhausted.

The doctor had gotten back to Lebarge before Marshall Sothern sent for
Ygerne.  She came without delay.

"This man is very sick," he told her, bending a searching look at her
from under brows shaggy in thought.  "He talks of you very much.  Does
he love you or does he hate you?"

She looked at him coolly, her gaze defying him to pry into matters
which did not concern him.  He understood the look and said calmly:

"I want him to get well.  There are reasons why he has got to get well."

"I know," she laughed at him.  "Good, golden reasons!"

"If he loves you, as I have a mind he does," Sothern went on quietly,
"I think that you could do more to help him than any one else.  If he
hates you you might do more harm than good.  That is why I asked."

"He is delirious?"

"A great deal of the time; not always."

Her brows puckered thoughtfully.

"I think," she said at last, "that he loves me and hates me . . . both!
But I'll come in and see if I can be of any help.  I, too, have good
reasons for wanting him to live."

So the door to Drennen's dugout was opened to Ygerne Bellaire.  But to
no one else in the Settlement; Marshall Sothern saw to that.  Madden
came, Hasbrook came; but they did not get their feet across the rude
threshold.  They grumbled, Madden in particular.  They accused Sothern
of taking an unfair advantage; of keeping the delirious man under his
own eye and ear that he might seek to steal his secret from him; of
plotting with Ygerne to aid in the same end.  But, say what they might
outside, they did not come in.

"We'll see which is the greater, his love for me or his hate," the girl
had said.  She sat down by the bed, laying her hand softly upon the
bared arm which Drennen had flung out.  He turned, looking at her with
frowning eyes.  In silence she waited.  Sothern, standing by the door,
his eyes watchful as they passed back and forth from her face to
Drennen's, was silent.  For a score of seconds Drennen's gaze was
unfaltering.  Then, with a little sigh, he drew her hand close to him,
rested his cheek against it and went to sleep.  Sothern, looking now at
the girl's face, saw it flush as though with pleasure.

Now she was at the dugout almost as much as Marshall Sothern.  The long
hours of the day she spent at the bedside, going to her own room only
when it grew dark.  And even in the night, once Sothern sent for her.
Drennen had called for her; had grown violent when she was denied to
him and would not be quieted when Sothern sought to reason with him.
So Ygerne, dressing hurriedly, her sweater about her, came.

"Why do you come to me that way?"

Drennen had lifted himself upon his elbow, calling out angrily.

"What do you mean?" she asked wondering.

"In that miserable sweater!" he cried.  "That's good enough for other
women, not for you."

And he made her go back and put on the dress she had worn that night
when she had dined with him.  She argued with him but he insisted.  He
would have none of her in her sweater.

"Oh, well," she said, and went out.  Sothern thought that she had gone
for good.  His eyes narrowed and stared speculatively when in a little
she came in again.  Drennen smiled, openly approved of the Ygerne whom
he had sought to kiss, took her hands, kissed them and holding them
grew quiet.

He grew stronger almost steadily after that.  He had much fever and
delirium, but his wounds healed and he ceased to lose ground as he had
been doing.  In his ravings he made much passionate love to Ygerne, his
tones running from the gentleness of supplication to the flame of hot
avowal.  In lucid moments of sanity he accepted her presence as a quite
natural condition, too utterly exhausted by the periods of delirium
through which he had passed to ask questions.  A few times, indeed, he
railed at her as he had done when he had come upon her on the river
bank.  But for the most part his attitude answered over and over the
question Ygerne had implied when first she had come to his side; his
love was greater than his hate.

Then there came a day when David Drennen was the old David Drennen once
more.  He awoke with clear eyes and clear brain.  He saw both Marshall
Sothern and Ygerne Bellaire.  He closed his eyes swiftly.  He must
think.  As he thought, remembering a little, guessing more, a hard
smile, the old bitter smile came to his lips.  He opened his eyes again
and lifted himself upon his elbow.  The eyes which met Sothern's were
as hard as steel; they ignored the girl entirely.

"I've been sick?" he said coolly.  "Well, I'm not sick any longer.  In
a day or so I'll be around again.  Then I'll pay you for your trouble."

And seeing from the look in Sothern's eyes that the rude insult had
registered he laughed and turned his face away from them.  Sothern and
the girl stepped outside together, without a word.

"He is just plain brute!" the girl cried with passionate contempt.

The old man shook his head gravely.  He laid his hand very gently upon
her shoulder, his unexpected familiarity drawing a quick questioning
look from her.

"Little girl," he said thoughtfully, "he's just plain man, that's all;
man hammered and beaten awry by the vicious little gods of mischance.
If there's anything good left in him it's his love for you.  There is a
time coming when I am going to wield the destinies of one of the
greatest corporations in the West.  My responsibility then, compared to
yours now, will be as a grain of sand to Old Ironhead up yonder."



  "The perfume of roses, of little red roses;
    (Thou art a rose, oh, so sweet, _corazón_!)
  The laugh of the water who falls in the fountain;
    (Thou art the fountain of love, _corazón_!)
  The brightness of stars, of little stars golden;
    (_Estrella de mi vida_!  My little life star!)
  The shine of the moon through the magnolia tree;
    I am so sad till thou come, _mi amor_!
  _Dios_!  It is sweet to be young and to love!
    More sweet than wine . . . to be young and to love!"

There was tenderness in the voice.  Each note was like the pure sound
of a little gold bell struck softly with a tiny golden hammer.

There had been determination in David Drennen's eye, in his carriage,
in his stride which swiftly bore him onward through the early night
from his own dugout toward the old Frenchman's store.  Not fifty steps
from Marquette's he stopped abruptly, listening to the soft singing.
It was not so dark that he could not make out the slender, exquisite
form of the young Mexican.  Ramon Garcia, wrapped about in his long
coat like a cavalier in a graceful cloak, his face lifted a little, his
head bared, was close to a certain window of Père Marquette's.  Drennen
knew whose window.

With no conscious desire to eavesdrop, merely stopped by an unforeseen
contingency, Drennen stood still.  Garcia, his eyes upon a line of
light under the window shade, did not see him.  It was hardly more than
an instant that Drennen stood there, watching; but the little drama was
enacted before he moved on.

Slowly, while the last notes were fainting away plaintively, the window
was raised.  Drennen saw Ygerne Bellaire, half in light, half in
shadow.  She leaned out.  She was laughing softly.  Garcia, his bow
carrying to the ground his hat which in the dim light appeared to
Drennen's fancy to wear the black plume which would not have been
misplaced there, came closer to the window.  Upon the girl's face was a
gaiety Drennen had not seen there until now; her lips curved to it, her
eyes danced with it.  She had a little meadow flower in her hand;
Drennen wondered if she had been eagerly selecting it from a cluster of
its fellows while Garcia sang.

"You are not real, señor," she said lightly.  "I wonder if you know

"It is you . . ." he began, his voice charged with the music about
which the man's soul was builded.

"No, no," she laughed.  "You are not real.  You have just wandered out
of an old romance like a ghost; when the sun comes up you'll have to
creep back between dusty covers of a book a hundred years old."

He put out a hand towards hers on the window sill.

"Give me the little flower," he pleaded, southern lover-wise.  "I shall
never let it go away from its place on my heart, though I fear," and
his hand crept a little closer, "that my heart will burst with the joy
of it!"

The little meadow flower went from her fingers to his.

"A flower for your song, señor.  A poor little flower which should have
golden petals."

"Living," he murmured, no heights or depths of sentiment seeming beyond
him, "it shall always be with me, a joy so sweet that it almost kills.
Dead, I shall be happy just to wear it."

She laughed as he caught her hand and kissed it.  The window closed
softly, the shade was drawn down, and Ramon Garcia, hat still in one
hand, the flower in the other, passed down the street, still singing in
a gentle undertone.  Drennen turned abruptly at right angles to the way
he had come and passed out of the Settlement into the darkness under
the trees.

Swiftness and determination had gone out of his stride.  Unconsciously
he allowed his feet to carry him along a well known trail which led
along the flank of the wooded slope.  Once or twice he stopped.  Then
again he moved on, always further, from the Settlement.

He was well again and strong.  Rest and nature had done all they could
for him in a handful of long, quiet days.  He was still twenty pounds
lighter than he should be normally, but he had both feet firmly set in
a smooth highway of convalescence.  The mental and spiritual roadways
were not so smooth or straight.

He had seen much of Ygerne of late.  He had come to know that, wise man
or fool, he loved her.  They had met frequently, at Joe's, upon the
short street, in their walks up and down the river.  They had not
spoken of all that had gone before and there had been as much silence
as talk between them.  He continued to tell himself coolly that he knew
nothing of her, that she might be good or bad, loyal or treacherous.
But he knew that he did not hate her and that he did love her.  He knew
that he was not angry because she had come into his life but that he
was glad.

He knew to-night that his whole spiritual being was made simply of two
elements: of love, which is a white flame in a man like Drennen; of
jealousy, which is a black shadow.  He had been on his way to her, his
mind made up that he would not sleep without telling her of his love.
The sight of Garcia had halted him.  Garcia's singing to her had
awakened a fierce anger within him; his flesh had twitched and
something had seemed to sear hot through it as Garcia's lips touched
her hand.

Now he tried to look at these matters calmly.  He knew that in the fury
which had sent him at Lemarc and Sefton before Marshall Sothern had
gathered up his limp body the driving force had been jealousy.  He knew
that even then, in his delirium, he wanted her all to himself.

Less than a month had passed since first he had seen her and he did not
now know what manner of woman she was.  But he did know that that does
not matter.  His fate had driven him into the North Woods ten years ago
that he might be here when she came; her destiny had brought her to
MacLeod's Settlement from New Orleans to him.  Because the greatest of
all laws lies hidden under a clutter of little things that law is none
the less great or real.  He had grown to see as a miraculous
manifestation of this law even the fact that he and Ygerne Bellaire had
been born in the same generation. . . .  Stern-minded men of science,
whose creed is to doubt all things until they are proven in such wise
as an objective brain can accept them as incontrovertible, see no
miracle in the fact that a certain female moth, left alone upon a
mountain top, will draw to herself a male mate from mountainous miles
away.  Even in the insect world there is a silent call which is a voice
of destiny.  Omnipotence is not above concerning itself with the
embrace of two tiny, fragile-winged creatures in the darkness of the
solitudes.  Surely there is an urge and yearning of human souls which
knows not distance and obstacles, which brings together man and his

These were strange, new thoughts to David Drennen and yet they came
naturally as an old knowledge set aside, half forgotten, ultimately
vividly recalled.  He loved Ygerne; she must love him.  Therein alone
could lie the explanation of his presence here and of hers.  When he
had quitted his dugout this evening there had been more than
determination in his heart; there had been confidence.

And now?  He wandered aimlessly.  Determination and confidence had both
left him.  Garcia had sung to her and the singing had pleased.  Garcia
had made love to her in his song and she had thrown open her window.
Garcia had kissed her hand and she had given him a flower.

Deep in his troubled thoughts Drennen had stopped a third time.  He was
in thick shadow and saw two figures that had followed him.  He made out
that here were Lemarc and Sefton as they came on, cautiously and
silently.  This thing was to be expected; these men were plucking with
greedy fingers as fortune's robe and for such as they he was one to be
watched.  He saw them pass on along the trail; his still form in the
shadows was blotted out from them by the tall boles of the trees.  His
eyes followed them a moment, then lost them.  Already he had forgotten
them.  His thoughts went back to Ygerne Bellaire, to the scene at the

The moon pushed a great golden disc up over the ridge.  It was at the
full and made glorious patterns of light through the forest.  Little
voices of the night which he had not heard until now began to thrill
and quiver under the soft light.  It was as though the North Woods were
filled with a secret, pigmy people who were moon worshippers; as though
now they greeted their goddess with an elfin chant of praise.

A strange sadness fastened itself upon the man.  The beauty of the
night touched him deeply.  It brought with its stillness an
unaccustomed emotion of melancholy.  He was suddenly lonely.  The night
was rarely perfect and yet it wanted something.  It was complete yet it
was empty.  The moonrise, the golden glory of stars set against the
soft bosom of the sky, brought a sense of lack of something.  It
touched the soul and yet did not satisfy.  It awoke a sort of soul
thirst and hunger in him.  Upon him was the old yearning, the yearning
of the man for his mate, that longing experienced never so poignantly
as in a spot like this where a man is alone with the woodland.

Dimly conscious of many emotions mingled and confused, David Drennen
was keenly awake to the sweeping alteration which a few days had
effected in him.  Not that he fully understood that which he
recognised.  He was inclined to look upon himself as a different man;
like many a man before him whom love or hate, a great joy or a great
disaster, had appeared to make over, he was but experiencing the
sensation resultant from the emancipation of a certain portion of his
being which had existed always until now in a state of bondage, silent
and hidden.

He stood a long time, very still.  So motionless that when the moon had
driven the shadows back and found him out he looked a brother to the
inanimate objects about him.  But when at last he moved, while slowly,
it was without hesitation.  He was going to Ygerne.

Marquette's store was closed, the doors locked.  There was a light from
Ygerne's window, another light from a second window, Madden's room.
Drennen passed about the house and came to the door of the living room.
There was no light shining under the door, but he knocked.  In a little
Mère Jeanne, a wrap thrown about her, came in answer.

"May I see Miss Bellaire?" he said simply.  "Will you tell her that it
is important?"

Mère Jeanne looked at him shrewdly, with little hesitation made up her
mind that he came as a lover, left him at the door and went to the
girl.  A moment later Ygerne entered the little living room.  Drennen
stepped across the threshold.

"I wanted to talk with you," he said gravely.

The girl shot a quick, curious look at him and went to a chair.

"Will you come outside with me?" he asked quietly.  "It is quite a
private matter.  We can walk up and down in the moonlight, just

A moment she seemed to hesitate.  Then she shook her head.

"We are alone here," she replied.  "What is it?"

"It is many things, Ygerne."  He closed the outside door and stood with
his back to it, his eyes very steady upon hers.  A sudden pulsing of
blood coursed through him but he held himself steady, forcing his voice
to remain grave and quiet.  "To begin with I want to apologise to you
for having been a brute to you since I first saw you.  If you can't
find it in your heart to make any excuses for me at least you can know
that I am both sorry and ashamed of myself."

Again she shot that quick, questioning glance at him.  She felt as he
had felt: "This is some new David Drennen."

"You know me pretty well," he went on.  "Better than I know you, I
think.  I am a man whose name has been dragged through a lot of muck
and mire.  I am the son of a thief.  My father was without honour.  God
knows how good or how bad I am.  My life for ten years has been an ugly
thing, a good deal more evil than good.  If you are the sort of woman I
like to think you are, then I suppose that my presence here is little
less than an insult to you, though God knows I don't mean it to be."

He paused.  She watched him as before, save that now a quick light of
understanding had come into her eyes, a faint flush to her cheeks.
Like Mère Jeanne, she had glimpsed the lover in the man--he couldn't
know that already he had told her all that he had come to say; but she

"I told you the truth the other day, Ygerne.  That day when I went mad.
I love you.  I'd like to be another sort of man, a better sort, coming
to tell you this.  But if I were a better man I couldn't love you any

Despite the surety that the words were coming they must have brought a
little shock to her.  She rose swiftly, her hands coming up from her
sides until they clasped each other in front of her.

"I didn't believe in love until you came, Ygerne.  I have never seen
such a thing in the life I have lived.  You see, to begin with, I
thought my father loved me and that I loved him.  I was mistaken.  I
thought I had a friend once and again I was mistaken.  But now I know
there is such a thing.  I want you and you are all that I want in the
world.  I want you, Ygerne, in a way I did not know a man could want
anything.  Through you I have come to look at all creation in a new
way; it seems to me that there is a God.  Am I talking like a madman
again?  Or just like a fool? . . .  I feel sometimes that I love you
because I was created for the sole purpose of loving you; that you must
love me for the same reason.  There are other times when that doesn't
seem possible, when I can't conceive of your coming to me as I come to
you.  But in the end I had to know, Ygerne.  Am I a fool?  Or do you
love me?"

He had made no movement toward her.  He stood very still at the door.
He had striven with his emotion so that outwardly he mastered it.  His
voice had remained calm and very steady.

"You said a moment ago," Ygerne answered him, and her voice too was
cool almost to the point of indifference, "that you had been a brute to
me.  Knowing you as I do, is it likely that I should have come to love

"No," he said.

"Then why do you come to me this way, now?"

"Because I had to come.  Because it is not always the likely thing
which happens.  Because I have thought that we were made for each
other, you and I.  Because I must know."

He waited for her answer, an answer which he feared she had already
given him.  He hungered for her so that he could only wonder how he
could hold himself back from taking her up into his arms.  But he
mastered himself so that the girl could not guess how hard he strove
for the mastery.

"Is love a little thing or a big thing?" she said suddenly.

"A big thing.  I think it is the biggest thing in the world."

"And still, believing that, you think that I am a girl to let you treat
me as you have treated me since we first saw each other, and then to
come to you when you decide to crook your finger to me, giving you my
love?  Is that it?  Is that why you are here to-night?"

"Is that my answer, Ygerne?" he said, his tone more stern than it had
yet been.

"That is no answer at all, Mr. Drennen.  It is a question."

His face grew a little white as he stared at her.

"I think, Ygerne, that I shall tell you good night now.  And in the
morning, before you are up, I'll be gone.  All my life I hope I shall
never see you again.  And you can know that every day of it I'll be mad
to see you."

He bent his head to her, turning away, a dull agony in his heart.  His
hand was upon the knob of the door.  Then she came toward him swiftly.
Half way across the room she stopped.  Suddenly her face was scarlet,
her eyes were shining at him like stars.  Her beauty was a new beauty,
infinitely desirable.

"Were I the man," she said with a voice which shook with the passion in
it, "I'd not want my woman to come to me!  I'd want to go to her, to
take her with my own strength, to hold her with it, to know that she
was too proud to yield even when she was burning to be taken!"

"Ygerne!" he said sharply.

There was a sort of defiance in the sudden, tensity of her erect body,
an imperiousness in the carriage of her head.  Her eyes met his with
something of the same defiance in them.  But in them, too, was a great

Drennen came to her swiftly.  His arms tightened about her, drawing her
so close that each heart felt the other striking against it.  She let
him hold her so, but even yielding she seemed to resist.  His lips,
seeking her red mouth, found it this time.  She gave back the passion
of his kiss passionately.  He felt a thrill through him like an
electric current.

"By God, Ygerne," he cried joyously, "we'll make life over now!"

Suddenly she had wrenched herself free of him.

"I didn't love you yesterday," she said pantingly, holding him back at
arm's length, her wide, half-frightened eyes upon his.  "Will I love
you to-morrow? . . .  You must go now; go!"

He put out his arms for her but she had run back to the door through
which she had come to him.  He heard the door close, then another.  She
had gone to her own room.

Caught up between heaven and hell he made his way homeward.  Passing
her window he saw that it was dark.  He hesitated, then moved on.
Suddenly he stopped.  He had heard her singing, her voice lilting
gaily, quite as though no strong emotion had come into her life
to-night.  A swift anger vaguely tinged with dread leaped into
Drennen's heart.  She was humming a line of Garcia's little song:

  "_Dios!  It is sweet to be young and to love!_"



For David Drennen, in whose mouth the husks of life were dry and harsh
and bitter, a miracle had happened.  Nor was that miracle any the less
a golden wonder because to other men in other times it had been the
same.  Marshall Sothern had been right; the time had come when a
woman's responsibilities were to be greater than those of the head of a
monster corporation.  Banked and covered as it was in the ashes of the
after years, there was the old living spark of humanity in David
Drennen.  Ygerne Bellaire came in time to fan it into a warming glow.
The fire which should come from it should be her affair.  It would
cheer with its warmth; or it should devastate with its flames.  The
spark, fanned into love's fire, had in an instant sent its flickering
light throughout the darker places of a man's being.

A woman, accomplishing that which Ygerne Bellaire had done, is
sometimes not unlike a child scattering coals in a dry forestland.  The
forest, the child itself, may be consumed.

Men who had not called him Drennen the Unlucky had named him Headlong
Drennen.  His is that type which, in another environment and taking the
gamble of life from another angle, is termed a plunger.  There was no
room for half-heartedness in so positive a nature.  Where he loved he
worshipped.  He had had an idol once before, his father.  Now, after
half a score of years, he made himself another idol.  And it, in turn,
made of him another man.

Worship must be unquestioning.  It is builded upon utter faith.  So
Drennen, his slow words spoken to Ygerne, his love for her freed, as it
were, from any restraint he had hitherto tried to put upon it, his
whole being given over to it, came without question to believe in her.
She was the woman meant to be his mate and he had called to her and she
had come to him.  His moment of doubt had fled with his declaration.
Otherwise he would have been the paler personality which it was not in
him to be, half-hearted.  Of her passion and pride he made character.
From the look which he had seen in her eyes he made tenderness and
truth.  Every attribute of that ideal which is somewhere in the heart
of every man, until at last the one woman comes to occupy its place
more sweetly and warmly and intimately, he brought forth from its dark
recess to bestow upon Ygerne.

All night he did not sleep.  The sun, rising, found him quite another
man than that upon which it had set last night.  In men like Drennen a
few hours and a strong emotion can accomplish results which in other
men would require the passing of years.  And the same rising sun showed
a new world to the eyes opened eagerly to see it, displayed a fresh
universe to a heart starved for it.  He had sought to see only the
shadows yesterday; now he looked for the light and it was everywhere.
It lay quivering upon the mountain tops, it flooded the valleys, it
brightened his own heart, it touched the bosoms of other men, it shone
in their eyes.

He had shaved and dressed himself neatly.  On his way to his early
breakfast he met Marshall Sothern on the street.  Drennen came to him
swiftly, putting out his hand.

"I have been rather a brute and an unqualified boor," he said quietly.
"I owe you a very great deal, Mr. Sothern, my life I suppose.  I'd like
to shake hands."

Sothern looked at him strangely, both sensing and seeing the change in
the man.  He put out his hand and it settled hard about Drennen's.

"My boy," he said simply, "you have my word for it that you owe me not
so much as a word of thanks.  You are getting along all right?"

"Yes.  So well that I'm off to-day for Lebarge to file on my claims.
I'll not waste any time in getting back.  If then you care to look over
the property . . ."

The buoyancy within him had been speaking through the vibrant tones of
his voice.  Suddenly he broke off, his eyes widening to a look of
groping wonderment.  His jaw had dropped a little, he stood as if
frozen in his place, even the hand which Sothern had just released held
motionless half way on its brief return journey to his side.  In an
incredibly short instant he had grown pale; his voice, when he spoke
the two words, was harsh and unsteady:

"My God!"

Sothern threw up his hand as though to beat back physically a flow of

"Not now!" he commanded sharply.  "Wait.  Later. . . ."

He had turned abruptly and moved away in a haste which carried him with
long strides down the street.  Drennen, the rigidity of his body giving
way to a little shiver which ran up and down him from shoulders to
calves, stared speechlessly after Sothern.  His mouth, closed slowly,
now opened suddenly as though he were going to call, but no words came.
He took one swift step after Sothern, then stopped in an uneasy

Far down the open roadway he could see Marc Lemarc with Captain Sefton
coming into the Settlement from the direction of the dugout.  In front
of Marquette's, as he glanced swiftly the other way, he could see
Charlie Madden at the doorstep.  Joe was at his own door.  It seemed to
Drennen that they were all looking at him.  He turned then, his back
toward Sothern, and went to the lunch counter.

Joe asked twice what he would eat before Drennen heard and gave his
order.  Madden came in while he was stirring the coffee which was
growing cold under his vacant eyes, and took a stool near him, studying
him none the less keenly because the look was so swift.

"Well, Drennen," he said lightly, "you'll be ready to talk business
pretty soon now."

Drennen started.

"Why, good morning, Madden.  Yes; yes, I'll be ready to talk business
pretty soon."

"You're not still holding out for that ridiculous proposition you made
me the other day, are you?"

"Yes.  And it isn't ridiculous, Madden.  It's worth it."

Madden smiled.

"Look here, Drennen," he said easily, "you can bluff all you like now,
but you can't go on bluffing much longer.  You'll have to get down to
business.  Whatever your mine is worth is just what you can ask for it.
Hasbrook and Sothern are both on the job, and they're both good enough
old ducks.  But they haven't got the companies behind them I've got
behind me.  They can't get their fingers on the money as I can.  And,"
shrugging his shoulders, "they're old guys and too damned cautious to
live.  I'll take a gamble.  Damn it, I'm always ready for a gamble."

He nipped a check book from his pocket and unscrewed the cap of a pen.

"I'll take a chance," he said sharply.  "Right now I'll write you a
check for a thousand dollars.  That's just for a ninety days' option.
We'll clean out of this, go down to Lebarge and file your title.  Then
we'll see what you've got.  Are you on?"

The temptation of the pen against the blue slip of paper was lost to
Drennen.  While Madden was talking there had again crept into his eyes
that look which tells that a man's mind is wandering to other thoughts.
Again, with a start, he brought his gaze back to Madden.

"A thousand dollars?  An option?"  He shook his head.  "No."

"Why, man, are you crazy?"  Madden's look hinted that Madden half
believed he was.  "I'm just chucking a thousand dollars at you,
throwing it away for the fun of it . . ."

"I don't want it.  And I don't want to be tied up ninety days or nine."

"Have you made a dicker with any one?" queried Madden suspiciously.
"Old Sothern has had you all to himself. . . .  Did you tie up with


"Then, can't you see, I'm the man you want to deal with?"

"I don't think so," Drennen replied thoughtfully.

"Why not?"  Madden's check book was snapping against the counter as
though its voice cried out with his.

"Because I think I'm going to sell to the Northwestern!"

"But," cried Madden angrily, "you just told me that Sothern
hadn't . . ."

"He hasn't!" Drennen grinned.  "He doesn't know it yet!"

And that was all that Charlie Madden, though he pleaded and waxed
wroth, could get out of him.

Drennen, passing out, nodded pleasantly to Marc Lemarc, coming in.
Lemarc stared after him wonderingly.  Drennen looked up and down the
street as though searching for some one.  His eyes moved restlessly;
his agitation was so obvious that any man, seeing him, might see it,

It was far too early to hope to see Ygerne.  After a brief hesitation
Drennen returned thoughtfully to his dugout.  His door open, his pipe
lighted only to die and grow cold, forgotten, he waited.  Now and then
when a man passed as infrequently happened, Drennen looked up quickly.
He frowned each time as the man went on.

A little after nine o'clock a man did stop at his door, carrying a note
in his hand.  Drennen's thoughts went swiftly to Ygerne, and a
quickened beating of his heart sent the blood throbbing through him.
But the note was from Sothern and said briefly:

"I have gone on to Lebarge.  You were not mistaken.  But it is nobody's
business but yours and mine.  I shall expect you to come on as soon as
you are able to make the trip."

The man who had brought the message had gone on up the street.  Drennen
sat and stared out through his door, across the river, his face set and
inscrutable.  The eager light in his eyes was not without its anguish.
Suddenly he stood up, his gaunt form straight and rigid, his shoulders
squared, his jaw thrust out, his fist clenched.

"By Heaven!" he cried aloud, as though he were going to voice the
purpose gripping him.  Then he broke off, an odd smile upon his lips.
And the smile told nothing.



His meeting with Ygerne two hours before noon cast out from his mind
all thoughts which did not have to do with her.  There was a new glory
about her this morning, crowning her like an aureole.  Partly was this
due to a greater care in her dress and the arranging of her
copper-brown hair; partly to the emotions which at sight of him charged
through her.  She was going down to her breakfast at Joe's when he saw
her.  He crossed the street to her, his face brightening like a boy's.
As he moved along at her side, having had only a fleeting, tantalising
glimpse of the grey of her eyes from under the wide brim of her hat, he

"Do you love me, Ygerne?"

There were men on the street who, though they might not hear the words,
could not misread the look.  She flushed a little, sent another
flashing sidelong glance at him, making him no other answer than that.
He asked none other.  He accompanied her to Joe's and where they had
dined the other evening in the privacy of the half shut-off room, they
breakfasted now.  Drennen ordered another cup of coffee for himself and
forgot to drink it as he had forgotten the first.

Ygerne, on the other hand, ate her meal with composure.  When he sought
in a lover's undertone to refer to last night she remarked evasively
upon the weather.  When he said, over and over, "And you do love me,
Ygerne?" she turned her eyes anywhere but upon his and refused to hear.
And he laughed a new laugh, so different from that of yesterday, and
worshipped man fashion and man fashion yearned to have her in his arms.
When at last she had paid her own score, so insistent upon it that
Drennen gave over amusedly, they went out together.

"We're going down the river," he told her quite positively.  "I want
you to sit upon a certain old log I know while I talk to you."

For a little he thought that she would refuse.  Then, a hotter flush in
her cheeks, she turned with him, passing down the river bank.  They
drew abreast of his dugout, Ygerne glancing swiftly in at the open
door.  They had grown silent, even Drennen finding little to say as
they moved on.  But at length they came to the log, having passed
around many green willowed kinks in the Little MacLeod.  The girl,
sitting, either consciously or through chance, took the attitude in
which Drennen had come upon her with the dual fever in his blood.

Thus Drennen's idyl began.  Ygerne, staring straight out before her
with wide, unseeing eyes, spoke swiftly, her voice a low monotone that
fitted in well with the musing eyes.  She loved him; she told him so in
a strangely quiet tone and Drennen, wishing to believe, believed and
thrilled under her words like the strings of an instrument under a
sweeping hand.  She told him that while he had been unsleeping last
night neither had she slept.

"I didn't know that love came this way," she said.  "It was easy to
find interest in you; you were wrapped in it like a cloak.  Then I
think I came to hate you, just as you said that you hated me . . ."

"I was mad, Ygerne!" he broke in contritely.

"Or are we mad now?" she laughed, a vague hint of trouble on her lips.
"You say we don't know much of each other.  It is worse than just that.
What little I know of you is not pretty knowledge.  What little I have
told you of myself, what you have seen of my companions here, what you
have guessed, is hardly the sort of thing to make you choose me, is it?
You called me adventuress more than once.  Are you sure now that I am
not what you named me?"

"I am sure," he answered steadily, his faith in his idol strong upon
him.  "You are a sweet woman and a true, Ygerne.  And if you
weren't . . . why, just so you loved me I should not care!"

So they passed from matters vital to mere lovers' talk that was none
the less vital to them.  Drennen, having long lived a starving
existence, his soul pent up within his own self, opened his heart to
her and poured out the thoughts which not even to himself had he
hitherto acknowledged.  He told of his old life in the cities; of the
shame and disgrace that had driven him an alien into a sterner land
where the names of men meant less than the might and cunning of their
right hands; of his restless life leading him up and down upon a trail
of flint; of disappointment and disillusion encountered on every hand
until all of the old hopes and kindly thoughts were stripped from him;
of the evil days which had turned sour within him the milk of human

Two things alone he would not talk of.  He laughed at her, a ringing,
boyish laugh when she mentioned them, one after the other.  The first
was what lay back in her own life, the thing which had driven her here.

"Don't you want me to tell you of that?" she had asked, looking at him

"No," he had answered.  "Not now.  When we are married, Ygerne, then if
you want to tell me I want to hear."

His faith in her was perfect, that was all.  He wanted her to know that
it was and took this method of telling her.

The other matter was his gold.

"You haven't told me of your discovery," she reminded him, again after
a brief, keen scrutiny.  "Aren't you going to tell me . . . David?"

It was the first time she had called him David, and the foolish joy at
the little incident drove him to take her again to his arms.  But with
a steady purpose he refused to tell her.  He had his reason and to give
the reason would thwart his purpose.  He meant to go to Lebarge and
attend to the routine work there in connection with a new claim.  That
matter settled, and another, he would return swiftly to MacLeod's
Settlement.  He would seek Ygerne and they two would slip away
together.  He would take her with him so that her eyes might be the
first to see with him the golden gash in the breast of earth.  He would
tell her: "It is yours, Ygerne."

So he just said lightly:

"Wait a little, Ygerne.  Wait until I come back from Lebarge.  I'll be
gone a week at most.  And then . . . and then, Ygerne . . ."

He had been holding her a little away from him so that he could look
into her eyes, his soul drinking deep of the wine of them.  Now he
broke off sharply, a swift frown driving for the instant the radiance
of his joy from his face.  He had forgotten that he and Ygerne Bellaire
were not in truth the only two created beings upon the bosom of earth.
And now, from around a bend in the river came a low voice singing,
Garcia coming into view, Garcia's eternal song upon his lips:

  "The perfume of roses, of little red roses;
    (Thou art a rose, oh, so sweet, _corazón_!)"

Garcia's eyes, a little glint of slumbrous fire in their midnight
depths, were upon the man and the girl.  He paused a moment, stared,
bowed deeply with the old dramatic sweep of his hat.  A hot spurt of
rage flared across Drennen's brain; this was no accidental meeting.
Garcia had seen them leave the Settlement and had followed.  Then the
burning wrath changed quickly to hard, cold, watchful anger.  Through a
mere whim of the little gods of chance he had seen another face in the
thicket or young elms not twenty paces from Ygerne's log, a face with
hard, malevolent eyes, peaked at the bottom with a coppery Vandyck
beard.  If Ramon Garcia had seen, certainly Sefton had both seen and

When Drennen's long strides had carried him to the thicket there was
only the down trodden grass to show him where Sefton had stood for
perhaps ten minutes.  When he had come back to Ygerne Ramon Garcia had
ended his stare, had turned with his shoulders lifting, and twirling
his mustaches had gone back toward the Settlement.

"Ygerne," cried Drennen harshly, "why do you travel with men like that
Sefton and Lemarc?"

Her voice was cool, her eyes were cool, as she answered him.

"Marc Lemarc is my cousin.  Captain Sefton is his friend.  Is that
reason enough?"

"No.  What have the three of you in common?"

She caught up one knee between her clasped hands, once more seated, and
looked up at him curiously.  For a moment she seemed to hesitate; then
she spoke quietly, her eyes always intent upon his.

"So, if you don't want to know what drove me from New Orleans you do
want to know what brought me here?  I think that perhaps you could
guess if you had heard as much as other men know about my grandfather,
Bellaire _le Beau Diable_, as men called him.  It is the quest of gold,
his gold, which has brought me, and with me Marc and Captain Sefton."

Drennen frowned, shaking his head slowly.

"You won't need to seek such things now, Ygerne," he said with quiet
conviction in his tone.  "Surely you know the type of men these two
are?  Will you cut loose from them, dear?"

The fine lines of her dark eyebrows curved questioningly.

"Because you have found gold, much gold," she returned, "must I come to
you penniless, like a beggar?"

Before he could answer she spoke again, flushed with that quick temper
which was a part of her.

"They would be glad enough, both of them, if I drew out now!  But I
won't do it!  It is mine, all mine, and I am going to find it!  They
shall have their shares, as I promised them: ten per cent each.  And I,
Sir Midas, will not be suspected then of falling in love with you as I
am doing because you are rich and I have nothing!"

"Then," said Drennen, "if you are not to be turned aside can I help?
Will you tell me about it, Ygerne?"

"Yes and yes," she answered eagerly.  "I'll tell you and you can help.
Here is the story: When Napoleon was overthrown my grandfather, Paul
Bellaire, was a boy of eighteen.  But already Napoleon's eye had found
him and he was Captain Bellaire.  That title suited him better than his
inherited one of Count.  Already men called him _le Beau Diable_.  Then
Napoleon went down before Wellington and Paul Bellaire had to shift for
himself under difficult circumstances.  But he didn't flee from France
as did so many.  He twirled his young mustaches and went to Paris.

"Louis, _le Desiré_, had at length got his desire and was King Louis
XVIII.  Now that the lion was in his cage Louis roared.  The young
Captain Bellaire, going everywhere that entertaining society was to be
found, managed to keep out of Louis's hands.  One night, while he was
being sought in one end of the kingdom, he danced _en masque_ in the
palace of the king.  The most celebrated beauty of the court was the
Lady Louise de Neville.  Perhaps a little because she was the beauty
she was, perhaps more because she was the king's ward, Paul Bellaire
paid her his court.

"The king had a husband for her but the Lady Louise had found one more
to her liking.  Knowing what royal displeasure might mean, and being,
despite her hot heart, a cool-headed sort of person, she took
precautions to put all of her estates into gold and jewels which one
could carry readily in case of flight.  Then she slipped away from the
court and rode with her lover to the south.

"That was in the year 1820.  Bellaire, though penniless after the
disaster of 1815, had managed in the five years to have accumulated
much.  He was a born gambler and the fates turned the dice for him so
that men said that he was in truth the Devil and the son of the Devil.
Like the Lady Louise he had his property converted into such form that
a man might carry it in his hands.  It became known publicly after the
flight that the Nemours diamonds and the pearls of the old prince de
Chartres had found their way into Bellaire's hands across a table with
a green top.

"When the honeymoon was six hours old the wrath of the testy king found
them.  Paul Bellaire put the Lady Louise out of a side door and upon
her horse; then he unlocked the front door and bowed to his callers.
They were five men and those of them whom he did not merely cripple he
killed.  All of France rang with it."

The girl was breathing deeply as though agitated by her own tale, her
eyes having the look of one who stares at ghost figures through the dim
years.  In her voice there was the ringing note of pride, pride of
blood, of consanguinity with such a man as her fancy pictured Paul
Bellaire to have been.

"He was hurt, badly hurt," she went on.  "But he found another horse
and left the village, following the Lady Louise to the coast and
carrying with him both her moneys and his.  A ship brought them to
America and they made a home in New Orleans.  There they sought and
found exiles of their own station, making about them a circle as
brilliant as Louis's court.  And here Bellaire prospered until after my
father was born.  Then there came other trouble, a game in Paul
Bellaire's own home over which there were hot dispute and pistol shots.
And once more, because he had killed a man who was not without fame,
wealth and a wide reaching influence, Paul Bellaire became an exile.

"After that night the Countess Louise saw my grandfather only four
times.  An exile from two countries, two prices upon his head, he
played daily with death.  Driven from France he had come to America;
now driven from America he went back to France.  Louis was dead; a new
government held sway; and yet he was not forgotten there.  Once, even
the authorities got their hands upon him.  But again he slipped away,
and again he came to New Orleans.  He spent one night in his own home
with the Countess Louise and their little son; then word of his return
leaked out and once more he was a fugitive.

"In spite of all this he lived to be a man of seventy.  In 1850, drawn
with the tide of adventurers surging to California, he took ship to
Panama, crossed the isthmus, and at last came to the Golden Gate.  He
lived in California for seven years, added to his wealth, and went back
for the second time to New Orleans.  Again he made the long trip to the
West, but this time he fared further and came on into the Dominion of
Canada.  He was wealthy, more wealthy than most men suspected then.  He
brought servants with him and plunging into the wilds devoted his time
to the lure of exploration and the sport of hunting big game.  A third
trip to New Orleans and he confided in his countess that he had found a
home for both of them and their son in their old age; he would make of
himself a power in a new world; his son should some day be a man for
the world to reckon with.

"Coming back to Canada he brought with him the bulk of his own and the
Countess Louise's wealth, converting landed property into coined gold
and jewels.  In 1868 he came back to New Orleans, a hale, stalwart old
man, who thought to have a score of years still before him.  But the
law had never forgotten him and this time found him.  In his own home,
fighting as the young Captain Bellaire in Napoleon's cavalry had
fought, he went down to an assassin's bullet."

There were tears in her eyes, tears of anger as she thought of the old
man dying with his wife weeping over him and his son going sick at the
sight of the spurting blood.  Drennen, watching her, marvelled at the
girl.  He remembered her words of the other day: "We of the blood of
Paul Bellaire are not shop girls!"

In a moment she went on swiftly, the eyes turned upon Drennen very
bright, a flush of excitement in her cheeks.

"My grandmother died soon after Paul Bellaire.  They had just the one
child, my father.  He was no coward; no man ever dared say that of him;
but he seemed to have none of the adventuresome blood of his parents.
And yet that blood has come down to me!  My father inherited the New
Orleans home and a position of influence.  He became a merchant and
prospered.  When he married my mother he was a man of considerable
property.  It was only when both my father and mother were dead that I
came to know the story which I have told you.  In one breath I learned
this and that during the last years of his life my father's means had
been dissipated through expensive, even luxurious, living, and a series
of unwise speculations.  But one heritage did come down to me . . . the
memorandum book of my grandfather, Paul Bellaire!  And it is because of
that that I am here!"

"Lemarc and Sefton?" prompted Drennen.

"Marc learned the story with me.  We looked over the papers together.
There was a rude cryptic sort of map; I have it.  It meant nothing
without a key.  We searched everywhere for that key.  Marc pretending
to aid me, had it all of the time in his hand.  When he had had time to
carry it away and place it where I could not find it he came back and
told me that he had it.  Without it the map is useless.  So I
compromised with Marc, since there was no other way, and he came with
me.  And Captain Sefton?"  She frowned and her voice was hard as she
concluded: "Marc has, I think, all of the vices of our blood without
its virtues.  Through gambling debts and other obligations he was in a
bad way.  Captain Sexton has him pretty well at his mercy.  So, just as
I let Marc in, Marc was forced to allow Sefton to become the third
member of our party."

A wild enough tale, certainly, and yet Drennen doubted no word of it.
Wilder things have been true.  And, perhaps, no words issuing from that
red mouth of Ygerne's would have failed to ring true in her lover's

"You said that I could help?"

"Yes."  Again there was that glint of eagerness in her eyes; no doubt
the old Bellaire fortune of minted gold and jewels in their rich
settings shone in dazzling fashion before her stimulated fancy.  "We
have found the spot; it is in a cañon not twenty miles from here.  But,
at some time during the last ten winters, there have been heavy
landslides.  The whole side of a mountain has slipped down, covering
the place where, on the map, there is the little cross which spells
treasure.  It will take money, much money, for the excavation.  And
Marc and Captain Sefton and I have no money.  We may dig for months,
but at last . . ."

"I'll finance it," said Drennen steadily.  "If you will allow me,
Ygerne?  I'd do so much more than just that for you!  I am afraid it
will have to wait until I can have sold my claim.  Then you can have
what you want, five thousand, ten thousand . . ."

She had sprung to her feet, her arms flung out about his neck.

"I believe you do love me, David," she said triumphantly.

Before Drennen left her it was arranged that Lemarc was to come with
him to Lebarge, that Drennen was to raise the money as soon as he
could, that it was to be placed in Lemarc's hands so that the work
could begin.  And the next morning David Drennen, bearing a heart which
sang in his bosom, left the Settlement for Lebarge.

"In a week at most I'll be back, Ygerne," he had whispered to her.  "On
the seventh day, in the morning early, will you meet me here, Ygerne?"

And Ygerne promised.



Drennen, presenting himself early upon the second morning in the
offices of the Northwestern Mining Company, found that he was expected.
A clerk, arranging papers of the day's work upon his desk, came forward
quickly, a look of interest in his eyes.

"Mr. Drennen?" he asked.


"This way, sir.  You come early but they are looking for you."

Drennen followed him through a second office, unoccupied, and to a
glazed door upon which was the inscription, "Local Manager."  The sound
of voices coming through the door fell off abruptly at the clerk's
discreet knock.

Drennen entered and the clerk, closing the door, went back to his own
office.  Fronting Drennen, at his flat-topped desk, sat old Marshall
Sothern, the muscles of his face tense, his eyes grim with the purpose
in them.  A second man, small, square, strong-faced, a little
reckless-eyed, sat close to Sothern.  The third man of the group,
standing fronting the two, was a young looking fellow, tall and with
the carriage of a soldier, wearing the uniform of an officer of the
mounted police.

Sothern rose, putting out his hand across the table.

"Good morning, Mr. Drennen," he said evenly.  "I am glad that you have
come so soon.  This is Mr. McCall," nodding toward the strong-faced,
middle-aged man with the young eyes.  "You've heard of him, no doubt?
Our chief over the Western Division.  And this is Lieutenant Max of the
Northwest Mounted, one of 'my boys.'  Be seated, Mr. Drennen.  And if
you will pardon us a second?"

He turned toward Lieutenant Max.  Drennen, having gripped Sothern's
hand, having bestowed upon him a sharp look which seemed to seek to
pierce through the hard shell which is the outer man and into the soul
of him where the real self is hidden, acknowledged the two
introductions and sat down.

"I think that that is all, isn't it, Lieutenant?" Sothern was saying as
he picked up the thread of conversation which Drennen's entrance had
snapped.  "Those are the people you want?"

"Yes."  Max's words, though very quiet and low toned, had in them
something of the precision and finality of pistol shots.  "They'll not
get away this time, Mr. Sothern."

"_He_ mustn't get away.  But remember, Lieutenant, that the time is not
ripe yet.  I positively can do nothing to help your case until . . .
until I am ready!"

"I'll wait."

Max lifted his hand in a sort of salute, turned and went out.  Drennen,
bringing his eyes back from the departing figure, found that both
Marshall Sothern and McCall were studying him intently.

"Mr. Drennen," said Sothern, "I presume you are here to talk business.
You have a mine you want us to look at?"

"I am here for two purposes," answered Drennen steadily, his eyes hard
upon the older man's.  "That is one of them."

"The other can wait.  Mr. McCall and myself are at your disposal.  From
the specimens I have seen I am inclined to think that you have not
discovered a new mine at all, but have stumbled on to the old Lost
Golden Girl.  If so, you are to be congratulated . . . and so are we."

Drennen nodded, waiting for Sothern to go on.

"You made a certain offer to Charlie Madden," continued Sothern.  "Was
that your bona fide proposition, Mr. Drennen?  Or were you merely
sparring for time and putting out a bluff?"

"I meant business," returned Drennen.  "I know that the property is
worth considerably more than I am asking.  But I have a use for just
that sum."

"A hundred thousand dollars, cash, I believe?  And a ten per cent
royalty?" put in McCall quietly.

"Exactly."  Again Drennen nodded.

"You want me to look it over with you, Sothern?" demanded McCall.  "It
isn't necessary, you know.  Not now."

"I want you to do me the favour, McCall," answered Sothern.  "Mr.
Drennen, yesterday the only man in the West empowered to do business
for the Northwestern upon such a scale as this was Mr. McCall.  But
things have happened in the East.  Our chief, Bruce Elwood, is dead.
Mr. McCall goes to-morrow to Montreal, stepping into Mr. Elwood's
place.  I move on and up into Mr. McCall's."

He paused, his face inscrutable under its dark frown.  Suddenly he
swung about upon McCall.

"Andy," he said sharply, "you're going to do more than just look at Mr.
Drennen's find with us.  You're going to act upon his offer as you see
fit.  As a favour to me, Andy."

Both Drennen and McCall looked at him curiously.  Sothern's stern face
told nothing.

"As a favour to me, Andy," he repeated.  "You bring me word of my
promotion.  Pigeonhole it until after this deal is made or rejected."

McCall, his hesitation brief, swung about upon Drennen.

"Where is this mine of yours?" he demanded curtly.  "How long will it
take us to get to it?"

"It's less than forty miles from Lebarge," returned Drennen.  "And we
can get there in five hours, if we keep on moving."

"You have filed your title, of course?"


"Come ahead then."  McCall was upon his feet, his hat on his head and
his cigar lighted all in little more than an instant.

In ten minutes the party was formed and had clattered out of Lebarge,
back along the MacLeod trail.  There were five men in the little group,
Drennen, Sothern, McCall and two mining experts in the pay of the
Northwestern.  As they swept out of Lebarge, rounding into the cañon
where the trail twisted ahead of them, Drennen saw two men looking
after them.  One was Marc Lemarc who had accompanied him to Lebarge;
the other Lieutenant Max.

Once in the trail the five men strung out in a line, Drennen in the
lead.  It was easy to see his impatience in the hot pace he set for
them, and they thought that it was no less easy to understand it.  But
for once they followed a man who thought less of his gold mine than of
a girl.

Drennen's gold mine itself plays no part in this story.  He was never
to see it again after this day, although it was to pour many thousands
of dollars into his pockets from a distance.  In the _West Canadian
Mining and Milling News_, date of _August 9, 1912_, appears a
column-and-a-half article upon the subject, readily accessible to any
who are not already familiar with the matter which excited so wide an
Interest at the time and for many months afterwards.  The article is
authoritative to the last detail.  It explains how the Golden Girl
became a lost mine in 1799, and how it happened that while David
Drennen had discovered it in 1912 it had been hidden to other eyes than
his.  A series of earthquakes of which we have record, occurring at the
beginning of the nineteenth century, bringing about heavy snowslides
and landslides, had thrown the course of one of the tributaries of the
Little MacLeod from its bed into a new channel where a sudden
depression had sunk the golden vein of the lost mine.

Here, just before the winter of 1911-12 shut down, David Drennen had
found a nugget which he had concealed, saying nothing about it.  The
snows came and he went back to MacLeod's Settlement to wait for the
coming of springtime and passable trails.  The first man to pack out of
the Settlement prospecting, he had come to the spot which last year he
had marked under the cliffs known locally as Hell's Lace.  The trail
had been rotten underfoot and he had slipped and fallen into one of the
black pools.  Clambering out he had found the thing he sought; where
the trail had broken away was gold, much gold.  In the bed of the
stream itself, nicely hidden for a hundred years by the cold, black
water, swept into deep pools, jammed into sunken crevices, was the old
lost gold of the Golden Girl.

The _West Canadian Mining and Milling News_ of the same date goes on to
mention that the last official act of Mr. Andrew McCall as Local Agent
for the Northwestern, had been the purchasing of his claim from David
Drennen at the latter's figure, namely one hundred thousand dollars in
cash, and an agreement of a royalty upon the mine's output.

Despite Drennen's impatience to be riding trail again it was a week
before the deal was consummated.  Half a mile above his claim it was
possible for the engineers to throw the stream again into its old bed,
a score of men and three days' work accomplishing the conditions which
had obtained before the period of seismic disturbance.  Then followed
days of keen expert investigation.  Even when they were sure these men
who know as most men do not the value of caution when they are allowed
to take time for caution, postponed their final verdict.  But at last
the thing was done and McCall, taking his train for the East, left
Lebarge with a conscious glow of satisfaction over the last work done
as superintendent of the Western Division.

Marshall Sothern, returning from the railroad station, found Drennen
waiting for him in his private office.

"Well, Mr. Drennen," he said quietly, going about the table and to his
chair, "how does it feel to be worth a cool hundred thousand?"

"It feels," cried the younger man sharply, his voice ringing with a
hint of excitement which had been oddly lacking in him throughout the
whole transaction, "like power!  Like a power I've been hungering for
for ten years!  May I have your stenographer for a few moments, sir?"

Sothern touched the buzzer and the clerk came in from the outer office.

"Take Mr. Drennen's dictation," said Sothern.  "I'll go into the other
room. . . ."

Drennen lifted his hand.

"It's nothing private, sir," he said.  "I'd rather you stayed.  I'd
like a word with you afterwards."

The clerk took pencil and notebook.  And Drennen, his eyes never
leaving Sothern's face, dictated:

"Harley W. Judson, Esq., President Eastern Mines, Inc., New York.

DEAR SIR:--In compliance with the last request of my father, John
Harper Drennen, before his departure for Europe in 1901, I am
forwarding draft on the Merchants' & Citizens' National Bank of New
York for $40,000.  John Harper Drennen's original indebtedness to your
company was, you will remember, $75,000.  Of this amount some $50,000
was paid from the sales of such properties belonging to him at that
time.  The remaining $25,000 at an interest of 6% for the ten years
during which the obligation has continued, amounts to the $40,000 which
I enclose.


"That is all, Mr. Drennen?" asked the clerk.

"That is all," answered Drennen.  The clerk went out.  Drennen turned
toward the man at the desk whose stern set face had gone strangely

"The absconding John Harper Drennen made such a request of you?"
Marshall Sothern said calmly, though the effort for control was evident.

"No.  It's just a little lie told for my father . . . the only thing I
have ever done for him!"

Drennen came suddenly about the table, both of his strong hands out.

"When a man is very young he judges sweepingly, he condemns bitterly.
Now . . . why, now I don't give a damn what you've done or why!"  His
voice went hoarse, his hands shook and into the hard eyes of David
Drennen, eyes grown unbelievably soft now, the tears stood.  "If only
you hadn't shut me out that way . . . God!  I've missed you, Dad!"

The old man made no answer as his hand grew like rock about his son's.
A smile ineffably sweet touched his lips and shone in his eyes.  The
years had been hard, merciless years to him as they had been to David
Drennen.  But for a moment the past was forgotten, this brief fragment
of time standing supreme in the two lives.  At last, in the silence,
there fell upon them that little awkwardness which comes to such men
when for a second they have let their souls stand naked in their eyes.
Almost at the same instant each man sought his pipe, filling it with
restless fingers.

"My boy," said the man whose name had been Marshall Sothern through so
many weary years that it was now more his name than any other, "there
is the tale to tell . . . sometime.  I can't do it now.  One of these
days . . . this has been the only dream I've dreamed since I saw you
last, in Manhattan, David . . . you and I are going to pack off into
the mountains.  We're going alone, David, and we're going far; so far
that the smoke of our little camp fire will be for our eyes and
nostrils alone.  Then I can tell you my story.  And . . . David . . ."

"Yes, Dad?"

"That forty thousand . . . You are a gentleman, David!  That was like
you.  I . . . I thank you, my boy!"

Drennen's face, through a rush of emotions, reddened.  Reddened for an
unreasoning, inexplicable shame no less than for a proud sort of joy
that at last he had been able to do some small thing for John Harper
Drennen, his old hero.

Again there fell a silence, a little awkward.  The two men, with so
much to say to each other, found a thousand thoughts stopping the rush
of words to be spoken.  Drennen realised what his father had had in
mind, or rather in that keenly sensitive, intuitive thing which is not
mind but soul, when he had spoken of the two of them taking together a
trail which must lead them for many days into the solitudes before they
could talk to each other of the matters which counted.  Something not
quite shyness but akin to it was upon them both; it was a relief when
the telephone of Sothern's desk rang.

It was Marc Lemarc asking for Drennen.  He had hired men, bought tools
and dynamite, ordered machinery from the nearest city where machinery
was to be had, had spoken to a competent engineer about taking charge
of the work to be done.  He was quite ready to return to MacLeod's

"It's all right, Lemarc," answered Drennen.  "I have deposited the
money in your name in the Lebarge Bank.  You can draw out whatever you
please and when you please.  No, you needn't wait for me; I'll overtake
you, I have no doubt.  Oh, that's all right!"

Before Drennen had finished there came the second interruption.  The
clerk came to announce the arrival of Israel Weyeth, who, upon
Sothern's promotion, was to fill the vacant position of Local Manager.

"Mr. Sothern," said Drennen while the clerk was still in the room, "I
shall remember your promise of a hunting trip with me.  I am going up
to MacLeod's Settlement immediately.  I trust to see you again very

"Mr. Drennen," answered the old man quietly, "I am honoured in your
friendship.  You have done me a kindness beyond measure but not beyond
my appreciation."

They shook hands gravely, their eyes seeking to disguise the yearning
which stood in each soul.  Then Drennen went out.

"There, sir," cried Sothern, and the clerk marvelled at the note in his
voice which sounded so like pride of ownership, "there goes a man from
whom the world shall hear one of these days.  His feet are at last in
the right path."

The clerk, going to usher in Israel Weyeth, did not hear the last low

"For which, thank God . . . and Ygerne Bellaire!"



A man's life may pass for him like a slow winding stream through open
meadows in gentle valley lands, its waters clear and untroubled by
rapids, falls and eddies.  Even a man with such a life has his vital
story.  But it is pastoral, idyllic, like a quiet painting done in a
soft monochrome.  Or a man's life may shake him with a series of shocks
which, to the soul, are cataclysmic.  And then the man, be his strength
what it may, since he is human and it is not infinite, is caught like a
dry leaf in the maelstrom of life about him and within him, and is
sucked down into depths where the light does not penetrate or is flung
from the mad current into a quiet cove where he may rest with the din
of the angry waters in his ears.

Drennen had been over the falls; he now rested in such a cove.  He had
battled furiously with fury itself; now he was soothingly touched by
the tide of gentler emotions.  He did not think; rather he dreamed.  He
had looked for the light the other day and had found it everywhere.
Now, most of all did it seem to be within himself.  We see the outside
world as we carry it within us; the eyes, rather mirrors than
telescopes, reflect what is intimate rather than that which lies beyond.

To-day, riding back along the trail, Drennen saw how golden were the
fresh tips of the firs; how each young tree was crowned with a star;
how each budding pine lifted skyward what resembled a little cluster of
wax candles.  Stars and candles, celestial light and light man-kindled,
glory of God and glory of man.

With a rebound, it seemed, the young soul of the David Drennen of
twenty had again entered his breast.  There had been a time when he had
loved life, the world, the men about him; when he had looked pleasantly
into the faces of friends and strangers; when he had been ready to form
a new tie of comradeship and had no thought of hatred; when he had
credited other men with kindly feelings and honest hearts.  That time
had come again.

Somewhere ahead of him Marc Lemarc was riding.  Drennen did not think
unkindly of him.  He realised that the hatred he had felt a few days
ago had been born of delirium and madness and jealousy.  Ygerne sought
to retrieve the long lost Bellaire fortune; Lemarc's interests jumped
with hers in the matter.  One had the map, the other the key; they must
work together.  Lemarc was riding with the jingle of Drennen's money in
his pocket and Drennen was glad to think of it.  He was helping Ygerne,
he was not sorry to help Lemarc at the same time.  This morning he had
had one hundred thousand dollars!  He smiled, then laughed aloud.  One
hundred thousand dollars!  Now he had fifty thousand; already he had
opened his hand and poured out fifty thousand dollars!  That was the
old Drennen, the headlong, generous Drennen, the Drennen who took more
delight in giving than in spending, and no delight in selfishness.  He
had done all that he could do to help wipe the stain from his father's
name; he had lifted a burden from his father's shoulders.  While he
could not understand everything he knew that.  And he had staked Lemarc.

Another man would have called for Lemarc's bills, have gone over them,
have moved slowly and with caution.  That would not have been Drennen.
He gave forty thousand for his father's name; he placed ten thousand
where Ygerne could use it through Lemarc.  He had fifty thousand left
and he felt that he had not done enough, that he had kept back too
much.  True, the thought had flickered through his brain: "And suppose
that Lemarc should take the cash and let the credit go?  Suppose that
he should be contented with the ten thousand dollar bird in his hand
and never mind the hypothetical Bellaire treasure bird in the bush?"
Well, then, it would be worth it to Ygerne; just for her to know what
sort Lemarc was.  Drennen had more money than he needed; he had an
assured income from the newly rediscovered Golden Girl; there were
still other mines in the world for the man who could find them; and he
had merely done for Ygerne Bellaire the first thing she had asked of
him.  In Drennen's eyes, in this intoxicated mood, it seemed a very
little thing.

He had bought a horse in Lebarge, the finest animal to be had in the
week's search.  He had supplied himself with new clothes, feeling in
himself, reborn, the desire for the old garb of a gentleman.  He had
telegraphed two hundred miles for a great box of chocolates for Ygerne;
he had sent a message twice that distance for his first bejewelled
present for her.  Nothing in Lebarge was to be considered; the golden
bauble which came in answer to his message, a delicate necklace pendant
glorious with pearls, cost him three hundred dollars and contented him.

He was happy.  He opened his mind to the joy of life calling to him; he
closed his thoughts to all that was not bright.  Ygerne was waiting for
him; John Harper Drennen was not dead, but alive and near at hand.  The
man who had judged hard and bitterly before, now suspended judgment.
It was not his place to condemn his fellow man; certainly he was not to
sit in trial on his own father and the woman who would one day be his
wife!  The lone wolf had come back to the pack.  He wanted
companionship, friendship, love.

It had been close to eleven o'clock when he rode out of Lebarge.  He
counted upon his horse's strength and a moonlit night to bring him back
to the Settlement in time for a dawn tryst down the river at a certain
fallen log.  He pushed on steadily until four o'clock in the afternoon;
then he stopped, resting his horse and himself, tarrying for a little
food and tobacco.  At five o'clock he again swung into the saddle and
pushed on.

He knew that Lemarc was ahead of him.  Here, where tracks were few,
were those of Lemarc's horse.  Drennen had not loitered and he knew
that Lemarc was riding hard.  Well, Lemarc, too, rode with gold in his
pockets and in his heart further hope of gold.  If he were running way
with the money Drennen had advanced he was running the wrong way.
Drennen did not break off in the little song upon his lips at the
thought. . . .  More than once that day he found himself humming
snatches of Ramon Garcia's refrain.

  "_Dios_! It is sweet to be young and to love!"

Fragrant dusk crept down about him, warm, sweet-scented night floated
out from the dusk, a few stars shone, the moon passed up above the
ridge at his right and made of the Little MacLeod's racing water
alternate lustrous ebony and glistening silver, a liquid mosaic.
Drennen fell silent, a deep content upon him.

Scarcely two miles from MacLeod's Settlement, and an episode offered
itself which in the end seemed to have no deeper purpose than to show
to the man himself how wonderful was the change wrought within him.  He
had crested a gentle rise, had had for a moment the glint of a light in
his eyes and had wondered at it idly, knowing that not yet could he see
the Settlement and that this was no hour, long after midnight, for
folks to be abroad there.  Then, dropping down into the copse which
made black the hollow, he remembered the old, ruined cabin which had
stood here so long tenantless and rotting, realising that the light he
had seen came from it.  Lemarc?  That was his first thought as again he
caught the uncertain flicker through the low branches.  The man might
have been thrown in the darkness, his horse could easily have caught a
sprain from the uneven trail, slippery and treacherous.

"Poor devil," reflected Drennen.  "To get laid up this near the end of
his ride."

His trail led close to the tumbled down cabin.  Once in the little
clearing he made out quickly that a fire was burning fitfully upon the
old rock hearth.  He could see its flames and smoke clearly through the
wall itself which was no longer a wall but the debris of rotted logs
with here and there a timber still sound and hanging insecurely.  He
saw no one.  Coming closer, still making out no human form in the
circle of light or in the gloom about it, he heard a low moaning, as
fitful as the uncertain firelight.  And then, as he drew his horse to a
standstill, he made out upon the floor near the fire and in the shadow
of one of the hanging timbers, an indistinct form.  For an instant the
low moaning was quieted; then again it came to his ears, seeming to
speak of suffering unutterable.

Dismounted, Drennen came swiftly through the yawning door to stand at
the side of the prone figure.  A great, unreasonable and still a
natural fear sprang up in his heart; he went down upon his knees with a
half sob gripping at his throat.  It was a woman, her body twisting
before him, and he was afraid that it was Ygerne and that she was
dying.  Her face was hidden, an arm was flung up, her loosened hair
fell wildly about her temples and cheeks.  Again the moaning ceased;
the woman turned so that her cheek lay upon the loose dirt of the
broken floor, her eyes wide upon him.  A sigh inflated his chest and
fell away like a whisper of thanks.  The woman was not Ygerne, thank

"Go away!"  She panted the words at him, venom in her glance.  Then
abruptly she turned her face from him.

A swift revulsion of feeling swept through him.  Just now he had
thanked God that this was not Ygerne; just now he had been so glad in
his relief that there was no room for pity in his gladness.  Now, as
involuntarily his old joy surged back upon him, he felt a quick sting
of shame.  He had no right to be so utterly happy when there was
suffering and sorrow such as this.  As he had not yet fully understood,
now did he grasp in a second that change which had come about within
himself.  There was tenderness in his eyes, there were pity and
sympathy as he stooped still lower.

"Ernestine," he said softly.  "What is it, Ernestine?  I want to help
you if I can.  What is the matter, Ernestine?"

Her body, stilled while he spoke, writhed again passionately.

"Go away!" she panted out at him as she had done before, save that now
she did not turn her face to look at him.  "Of all men, Dave Drennen, I
hate you most.  Good God, how I hate you!  Go away!"

There came a sob into her voice, a shudder shaking the prone body.
Drennen, knowing little of the ways of women, wanting only to help her,
uncertain and hesitant, knelt motionless, staring at her with troubled
eyes.  Over and over the questions pricked his brain: "What was she
doing out here alone at this time of night?  What had happened to her?"

He thought for a moment of springing to his feet, of hastening down the
two miles of trail to the Settlement, of rushing aid to the stricken
woman.  Then another thought: "She may die while I am gone!  It will
take an hour to get help to her."

"Ernestine," he said again, gently, laying his hand upon her shaking
shoulder.  "I know you don't like me.  But at times like this that
doesn't matter.  Tell me what has happened . . . let me help you.  I
want to help you if I can, Ernestine."

He was sincere in that; he wanted to help her.  It didn't matter who it
was suffering; he wanted to see no more suffering in his world.  He
wanted every one to be as happy as he was going to be.  There was a new
yearning upon him, that yearning which is the true first born of a
man's love, a yearning to do some little good in the world that he may
have this to think upon and not just the bad which he has done.

She lay very still, making him no answer.  He could not guess if she
were suffering from physical injury or from the other hurt which is
harder to bear.  He could not guess if she were growing calm or if she
were losing consciousness.  He could only plead with her, his voice
softer than Ernestine Dumont had ever heard the voice of David Drennen,
begging her to let him do something for her.

With a sudden, swift movement, she turned about, sitting up, her arms
about her knees, her head with its loosened hair thrown back.  For the
first time he saw her face clearly.  There was dirt upon it as though
she had fallen upon the trail, face down.  There was a smear of blood
across her mouth.  There was a scratch upon her forehead, and a trickle
of blood had run down across her soiled brow.  He saw that, while she
had sobbed, no tears had come to make their glistening furrows through
the dust upon her cheeks.  He thought that in his time he, too, had
known such tearless agony.

"Your help!"  She flung the words at him passionately.  "I'd die before
I'd take your help, Dave Drennen.  What do you care for me?"

"I'm sorry for you, Ernestine," he said gently.

She laughed at him bitterly, her body rocking back and forth.

"Why don't you go?" she cried hotly.  "Go on to MacLeod's.  Your little
fool is waiting for you, I suppose," she sneered at him.

Dropping her head to her upgathered knees, her body rocking stormily,
moaning a little, she broke off.  Drennen rose to his feet.

"I'll go," he said.  "Shall I send some one to you?"

When she didn't answer he turned away from her.  He had done all that
he could do.  And, besides, he thought that the woman's physical
injuries were superficial and that her distress was doubtless that of
mere violent hysteria.

"Come back!" she called sharply.

He turned and again came to her side, standing over her, his hat in his
hand, his face showing only the old pity for her.  Once more she had
flung up her head.  In the eyes staring up at him was a hunger which
even David Drennen could not misread.

"Tell me," she said after a little, her voice more quiet than it had
been.  "Do you love Ygerne Bellaire, Dave?"

"Yes," he answered quietly.

"You fool!" she cried at him.  "Why is a man always blind to what
another woman can see so plainly?  Don't you know what she is?"

"Let's not talk of her, Ernestine," he said a little sharply.

"She's too holy for a woman like me to talk about, is she?  She's a
little cat, Dave Drennen!  Can't you see that?  Don't you know what she
is after . . ."

"Ernestine!" he commanded harshly.  "If I can help you, let me do it.
If I can't, I'll go.  In either case we'll not talk of Miss Bellaire."

She looked at him curiously, studying him, seeming for an instant to
have grown quiet in mind as in body.

"She doesn't love you," she said calmly.  "Not as I love you, Dave.  If
she did . . . nothing would matter.  She's got baby eyes and a baby
face . . . and she runs with men like Sefton and Lemarc!"

"I tell you," he cried sternly, "I'll not listen to you talk of her.
If I can't help you . . ."

Her eyes shone hard upon his.  Then her head dropped again and once
more she was moaning as when he had first heard her, moaning and
weeping, her body twisting.  Again the man was all uncertainty.

"You would do anything for her!" she cried brokenly.  "You would do
nothing for me."

"I would do anything for you that you would let me and that I could do,
Ernestine," he said gently.

"And," she went on, unheeding, "it is because of you that I am like
this to-night!"

"Because of me?" wonderingly.

"Yes," with a fierce sob.  "Because he knew I loved you. . . .  I would
not have shot you that night at Père Marquette's if I hadn't loved you!
. . .  Do you think a woman is made like a man?  . . .  George has done
this!  If he laid hands upon her, upon your holy lady I'm not to talk
about . . ."

"Tell me about it," he commanded.  "Has Kootanie George done this to

"Dave!"  Suddenly she had flung up her arms, staring at him strangely.
"Do you think I am dying?  He hurt me here . . . and here . . . and
here."  Her hands fluttered about her body, touching her throat, her
breast, her side.  The hands, lowered a moment were again lifted,
stretched upward toward him, her eyes pleading with him.  Slowly she
was sinking back; he thought that in truth the woman was dying or at
the least losing consciousness.

"Can't you help me?" she moaned.  "Won't you hold me . . .  I am
falling. . . ."

Upon his knees he slipped his arms about her.  He felt a hard
stiffening of the muscles of her body, then a slow relaxing.  He was
laying her back gently, when she shook her head.

"Hold me up," she whispered, the words faint though her lips were close
to his ear.  "I'd smother if I lay down. . . ."

So he held her for a long time, fearing for her, at loss for a thing to
do.  The flickering firelight showed his face troubled and solicitous,
hers half smiling now as though she were content to suffer so long as
he held her.  Presently she put her head back a little further, her
eyes meeting his.

"You are good, Dave," she whispered.  "Good to me.  I have not been
good to you, have I?  Would you be a little sorry for me if I died?"

"Don't talk that way, Ernestine," he besought her.  "You are not going
to die."

She put up one hand and pushed the hair back from his brow.  He
flinched a little at the intimacy of the touch but she did not seem to
notice.  She was smiling at him now, all hint of pain gone from her
eyes for the moment.

"If you had loved me," she said gently, "we both would have been happy.
Now I'll never be happy, Dave, and you'll never be happy.  She won't
make you happy.  She'll make a fool of you and then . . ."

Again she grew silent, her lids lowered.  Drennen thought that she was
sinking into a quiet sleep.  He did not stir as the moments slipped by.
A stick on the old hearth snapping and falling drew to it Ernestine's
eyes.  Then they came again to Drennen.  While she looked at him she
seemed not to be seeing him or thinking of him.  She seemed, rather, to
be listening for some sound she expected to hear.  Again she was very
still, the firelight finding an odd smile upon her face.  She had wiped
much of the dust away and her pretty face, a little hard at most time,
was softened by the half light.  After a little she sighed.  Then,
swiftly, she slipped from Drennen's arms.

"I suppose you think I am a fool," she laughed strangely.  "Well, I
know that you are, Dave Drennen!  Now, go away, will you?  Or do I have
to crawl away from here to get away from you?  My God!" a sudden
passion again breaking through the ice of her tone, "I wish I had
killed you the other night.  Before . . . _she_ came!"

No other word did Drennen draw from her.  She sat as she had sat a
little while ago, her arms flung about her knees, her face hidden in
her arms.  And so, at last, he left her.



Drennan slept two hours that night.  He awoke rested, refreshed, eager.
He did not need sleep.  He was Youth's own, tireless, stimulated with
the golden elixir.

Ygerne must not be before him at the trysting place; she must not wait
for him a short instant.  It was his place to be there to welcome her.
She would come with the early dawn; he must come earlier than the dawn

When he came to the old fallen log the smile upon his lips, in his
eyes, bespoke a deep, sweet tenderness.  He had brought with him the
two gifts for her.  He put the box of candy in the grass, covering it,
planning to have her search for it.  He felt like a boy; she must join
with him in a childplay.  The pendant necklace, its pearls as pure and
soft as tears, he placed upon the log itself, in a little hollow,
covering it with a piece of bark.  Then he found her note.

It was very short; he read it at a sweeping glance.  His brain caught
the words; his mind refused to grasp their meaning.  And yet Ygerne had
written clearly:

"_Dear Mr. Drennen_: The greetings of Ygerne, Countess of Bellaire, to
the Son of a Thief!  Thank you for a new kind of summer flirtation.
May your next one be as pleasant.  A man of such wonderful generosity
deserves great happiness.  Good-bye.  YGERNE."

Simple enough.  And yet the words meant nothing to him.  By his foot
was a square box of chocolates peeping out at him.  He had telegraphed
. . . where was it? . . . to Edmontville for them.  They were for
Ygerne.  There on the log, right where she had sat, under the little
chip of bark, was her necklace of pearls.  She was coming for it in a
moment, coming like Aurora's own sweet self through the dawn.  He had
telegraphed for that, too.  It was his first present for her.

The Son of a Thief!  The Countess of Bellaire!  That meant David
Drennen, son of John Harper Drennen; it meant Ygerne, the girl-woman
who had come into David Drennen's life before it was too late, who had
made of him another man.

He sat down on the log and filled his pipe.  The note he let lie, half
folded, upon his knee.  His eyes went thoughtfully across the thin mist
hanging like gauze above the river; then turned expectantly toward the
Settlement.  She would come in a moment.  And the glory of her!  The
eternal quivering, throbbing glory of the woman a man loves!  She would
come and he would gather her into his arms. . . .  For that the world
had been made, for that he had lived until now. . . .

He had lighted his pipe and was puffing at it slowly, each little cloud
of smoke coming at the regular interval from its brethren.  And he did
not know that he was smoking.  He was not thinking.  For the moment he
was scarcely experiencing an emotion.  He knew that Marshall Sothern
was John Harper Drennen; he knew that the Golden Girl had been sold; he
knew that a box of candy and a pearl necklace were waiting for Ygerne;
he knew that there was a note upon his knee which purported to be from
her.  Each of these things was quite clear and separate in his mind;
the strange thing about them was that they had in some way lost
significance to him.

Presently, with a start, he took his pipe from his lips and ran a hand
across his forehead.  What was he sitting here like a fool for?  Either
Ygerne had written that note or she had not.  If she had written it she
had done so either in jest or seriously.  He turned back toward the
Settlement.  He did not think of the jewelled thing hidden under a bit
of bark or the cardboard box in its nest in the grass.

He went swiftly.  The town was sleeping, would not awake for another
hour.  His eyes were upon Marquette's house as soon as the rambling
building came into view.  There were no fires; window shades were
drawn, doors closed.

He came to Ygerne's window.  It, too, was closed.  Here, also, the
shade was down.  He tapped softly.  When there was no answer he tapped
again.  Then he went to Marquette's door and knocked sharply.

"_Nom de nom_."  It was Père Marquette's voice, sleepy and irritable.
The old man was fumbling with the bar or the lock or whatever it was
that fastened his door.  He seemed an eternity in getting the thing
done.  Then his towsled head and blinking eyes appeared abruptly.

"Where is Miss Bellaire?" said Drennen quietly.  "I want a word with

"Mees Bellaire?  _Hein_?"

"Yes," answered Drennen a trifle impatiently, though he was holding
himself well in hand.  "Miss Bellaire.  I know it is early, but . . ."

Père Marquette blinked at him curiously with brightening, birdlike
eyes.  He didn't like Drennen; God knows he had little enough reason to
see any good in this gaunt, wolf-like man.  There was a dry cackle in
the old man's voice as he spoke again, the door closing slowly so that
only half of his face with one bright eye looked out.

"Early?  _Mais, non, m'sieu_!  It is late!  M'am'selle, she is gone _il
y a quelques heures_, already!  Pouf!  Like that, in a hurry."

"Gone?" demanded Drennen.  "Where?  When?"

"Where?  Who knows?  When?"  He shrugged.  "Two, t'ree, four hours,
_peutêtre_ six."

"Who was with her?"

"Ho," cackled the old man so that Drennen's hands itched to be at the
withered throat, "where she go, there are men to follow!  Me, when I am
yo'ng, before Mamma Jeanne make me happy, I . . ."

"Damn you and your Mamma Jeanne!" cried Drennen.  "Tell me about this
girl.  Who went with her?"

"Not so many," muttered Marquette, "because she go quiet, in the dark.
In the day the whole Settlement would follow, _non_?  But Marc Lemarc,
he go; an' M'sieu Sefton, he go; an' M'sieu Ramon, he go. . . ."

"I'll give you a hundred dollars if you can tell me which way they
went!" broke in Drennen crisply.  "I'll give you five hundred if you
can tell me why?"

"_Qui sait_?" grumbled Marquette.  "They go, they go In the dark, they
go with horses runnin' like hell.  M'am'selle sleep; then come Lemarc,
fas', to knock on her window.  I hear.  She dress damn fas', too, or
she don't dress at all; in one minute she's outside with Lemarc.  I
hear Sefton; I hear Ramon Garcia, a little song in his throat.  I hear
horses.  I hear M'am'selle Ygerne laugh like it's fon!  Then she wake
me an' she pay me; I see Lemarc give her money, gol' money, to pay.
Me, I go back to bed an' Mamma Jeanne suspec' it might be I flirt with
the M'am'selle by dark!"

He chuckled again and closed the door as Drennen turned abruptly and
went back down the street towards his dugout.

Marc Lemarc had robbed him of the ten thousand dollars.  He began
there, strangely cool-thoughted.  That didn't matter.  He had half
expected it all along.  He knew now, clearly, that, more than that, he
had half hoped for it.  The money meant less than nothing to him; the
theft of it, he had thought, would show Ygerne just what sort of man
Lemarc was, would separate her from her companions, would draw her even
closer to him.  But Ygerne, too, had gone with the money and with
Lemarc.  Marquette had seen him hand her the gold that she might pay
her reckoning.  Here was a contingency upon which he had not counted.

As soon as Lemarc had returned she had gone.  Sefton had gone with
them.  Ramon Garcia, too.  Why Garcia?

A scene he had not forgotten, which now he could never forget, occupied
his mind so vividly that he did not see the material things among which
he was walking:  Ramon Garcia at Ygerne's window, the gift of a few
field flowers, the kissing of a white hand.

Men who had known Drennen for years and who would have been surprised
at what was in the man's face yesterday, saw nothing new to note in him
to-day.  He went his own way, he was silent, his face was hard and not
to be read.  All day he was about the Settlement, in his own dugout a
large part of the time, going to his meals regularly at Joe's.  It was
rumoured that he had sold his claim; men began to doubt it.  He wasn't
scattering money as men had always done when they had made a fortune at
a turn of the wheel; he wasn't getting drunk which was the customary
thing; he wasn't even looking for a game of cards or dice.  There was
no sign of any new purpose in the man.

And yet the purpose was there, taken swiftly, to be acted upon with a
cold leisure.  Drennen was not hurrying now.  There was no other horse
like Major, his recently purchased four-year-old, and Drennen knew it.
He had ridden Major hard yesterday; to-day the brute must rest and be
ready for more hard riding.

One thing only did Drennen do which excited mild interest, though the
reason for the act was naturally misunderstood.  He went to Joe and
bought from him two heavy revolvers.  Drennen had never been a gun man,
had ever relied upon his own hands in time of trouble.  But now, Joe
figured the matter out, he had money and he meant to guard against a

Entire lack of haste was the only thing remarkable about David Drennen
to-day and through the days which followed.  There was no hesitation,
no doubt, no being torn two ways.  He had made up his mind what he was
going to do.  It was settled and not to be reconsidered.  But he would
not hurry.  The very coolness with which his purpose was taken steadied
him to a strange deliberateness.  He knew that it was folly to expect
to come up with Ygerne and the men with her immediately.  It would take
time; they had fled hastily and they were in a country where pursuit
was necessarily slow.  Was that not the reason why such people came
here?  And he told himself grimly that it was an equal folly to desire
to come upon them too soon.  The punishment he would mete out would be
the harder if their flight had seemed crowned with security.

Upon the second day he rode in widening circles about MacLeod's
Settlement.  He hardly hoped to pick up a trail here where questing
hundreds in search of his gold had cut the soft spring ground into a
jumble of indecipherable tracks.  But, beginning his own quest with a
painstaking thoroughness which omitted no chance however remote, he
spent the day in seeking.

At night he came again into camp.  He saw to the Major's wants before
his own.  He ate his meal at Joe's and having passed no word with any
man came back to his dugout.

The supreme blow which his destiny could give him had been smitten
relentlessly.  He had received it like the slave who has been beaten so
many times that he no longer cries out or strikes back prematurely.
Like the tortured bond-man who makes no useless protest but hides in
his bosom the knife which one day he will plunge into his master's
throat, Drennen merely bided his time.

He saw no good in a world which had had no good to offer him.  He no
longer looked for the light.  New shoots of faith, bursting upward
under Ygerne's influence from the dry roots of the old, were in an
instant shrivelled and killed.  He came to see that in an old world
there was no basic law but that law which had held from the first day
in the new world.  There was no good; bad was only a term coined for
fools by other fools.  Each man had his life given to him, and he could
do with it as he saw fit.  Each wild thing in the depths of the North
Woods had its life given to it to do with as it saw fit.  Each created
being, were it not maudlin, strove for itself alone.  It took its own
food where it could get it, rending it with bared teeth and bloody jaws
from the weaker creature that had preyed upon a still weaker.  It made
its lair where it chose, crushing under its careless body those other
still lesser things which had not sense enough or the opportunity to
slip out from under it.  Love, as man looked upon it or pretended to
look upon it, was no real emotion but a poetical illusion.  Nor was it
so much as truly poetical, since poetry is truth and this thing was a
lie.  There was no love but the old, primal love of life, a blind,
unreasoning instinct.  He did not love Ygerne; he had never loved
Ygerne because, in the nature of nature, there could be no such thing
as such a love.

But hatred was another matter.  That was nature.  A man, with all of
his bluster, cannot get away from nature.  Don't the winters freeze and
kill him?  Doesn't water drown him, fire burn him?  Love had no place
in nature; hatred was a part of the one law, the primal law.  The wolf
kills the rabbit in hot rage; the black ant tears down the soft-bodied
caterpillar not so much in hunger as in wrath.

The lower order of created beings seemed to Drennen to be the truly
higher order.  For they did not philosophise; they killed their prey.
They did not reason and thus follow a blind goddess; they moved as
their swift instincts dictated and made no mistake.  Now he did not
need to bolster up his purpose with seeking to wander through the
thousand lanes of reason's labyrinth; he did not need to seek the
fallacies of logic to tell him why he hated Ygerne Bellaire and Marc
Lemarc and Sefton and the Mexican.  He hated them.  There the fact
began and ended.  One by one he would kill them until he came to
Ygerne.  And if in her eyes he saw that the terror of death was greater
than the terror of the suffering he could inflict upon her living, then
he would kill her.

At first he thought only of these four.  But after a while in his
thoughts there was room for another. . . .  John Harper Drennen,
masquerading as Marshall Sothern.  Drennen sneered at his old hero.
The old man was a fool like so many other fools.  He had committed what
the world calls a crime and the weight of it had shown upon him.
Drennen's sneer was not for the wrong done but for the weakness of
allowing suffering to come afterward.  The old man had seemed glad,
touched almost to tears, when his son had paid off the old score. . . .
And now Drennen's sneer was for himself.  Why had he not kept that
forty thousand dollars?  Money meant power and power was all that he
wanted.  Power to crush men who would have crushed him had they been
able; power to seek his prey where he would and to pull it down.

Ygerne's note he never read the second time.  He had had no need to.
He burned the paper and washed his hands free of the ashes which he had
crumpled in his palm.

The third day he rose early, saddled Major and left the Settlement,
riding slowly toward Lebarge.  He had an idea that they might have gone
there to take the train.  When half way to the railroad he met a man
who was pushing on strongly toward the north.  The man stopped and
accosted him.  It was the mounted police officer, Lieutenant Max.

"Mr. Drennen," said the lieutenant bruskly coming straight to the
business in hand after his way; "you come from MacLeod's?"


"You know two men named Sefton and Lemarc?  And a girl named Bellaire?"


"Were they in MacLeod's when you left?"

"Why do you ask?" countered Drennen sharply.

"The law wants them," replied the lieutenant.

Drennen laughed.

"So do I!" he cried as he spurred his horse out of the trail, turning
eastward now, heading at random for Fanning instead of Lebarge.

As he forded the Little MacLeod he was cursing Max.

"Damn him," he muttered.  "Are there not enough cheap law breakers?
Why must he seek to do my work for me?"

So began Drennen's quest for three men and one girl with grey eyes and
a sweet body that was like a song, a girl who had awakened the old,
dormant good in him and then had driven him so deep into the black
chasm that no light entered where he was.



Each day that passed set its seal deeper into the heart and soul of
David Drennen.  His eyes grew harder, his mouth sterner.  There came
into his face the lines of his relentless hatred.  Sinister and morose
and implacable, biding his time and nursing his purpose, he grew to be
more than ever before the lone wolf.  His lips which had long ago
forgotten how to smile were constantly set in an ugly snarl.  His
purpose possessed him so completely that it had grown into an
obsession.  It became little less than maniacal.

He seemed a man whose emotions were gone, swallowed up in a cool
determination.  There came no flush to his face, no quickened beating
of his heart when the trail seemed hot before him, no evidence of
disappointment when again and again he learned that he had followed a
false scent and that he was no nearer his prey than he had been at the
beginning.  He was still unhurrying as when he had ridden out of
MacLeod's Settlement.  He would find what he sought to-day or ten years
from to-day.  His vengeance would lose nothing through delay.  On the
other hand, it would fall the heavier.  Of late he had become endowed
with an infinite patience.

The last thought in his brain at night was the first thought when he
woke.  It was unchanging day after day, week after week, month after
month.  If he must wait even longer it would remain unaltered year
after year.

His eyes had grown to be keener than knives, restless, watchful, bright
with suspicion.  Nowhere throughout the breadth of the land did he have
a friend.  What he felt for others was paid back to him in his own
currency: distrust, dislike, silence.

But, through whatever far distances he went, he was generally known by
repute and inspired interest.  Men stood aloof but they watched him and
spoke of him among themselves.  No longer did they call him No-luck
Drennen.  He came to be known as Lucky Drennen.  Word had gone about
that it was indeed true that he had rediscovered the old, lost Golden
Girl and that he had made a fortune from its sale to the Northwestern
people.  The mine was operating already; experts said that it was
greater than the Duchess which electrified the mining world in 1897
when Copworth and Kennely brought it into prominence; and the Golden
Girl was paying a royalty to David Drennen.  Drennen himself did not
know how his account at the Lebarge bank took upon itself new
importance every third month when Marshall Sothern deposited the tenth
share of the net receipts.

Seeking Ygerne Bellaire and those with her, Drennen had gone from
Fanning into Whirlwind Valley, across the Pass and into the forests
beyond Neuve Patrie.  He had followed rumours of three men and a woman
and after six or seven weeks came upon them, trappers and the wife of
one of them.  He showed nothing of his emotions as he stared at them
with cold, hard eyes.  He went back to Fanning, crossed the MacLeod to
Brunswick Towers and to the new village of Qu' Appelle.  Spring had
passed into summer and he had had no clue which was not a lie like the
first.  In all seeming the earth had opened to receive those whom he

Since he so seldom spoke, since when he did it was to ask concerning
three men and a woman, those who knew anything of him at all knew that
he was seeking Sefton, Lemarc, Garcia and a girl whom those who had
heard of her from the men of MacLeod's Settlement, called "the
Princess."  A figure of interest already, Drennen gained double
interest now.

"He'll find them one day, _mes chers_," grunted the big blacksmith at
St. Anne's.  "He'll do anything, that man.  _Le bon Diable_ is his
papa.  _Hein_?  _Voyez, mon petit stupide_!  Last week, because he
needs no more and because the devil likes him, he finds gold again in
the Nez Cassé!  _Nom d'un gros porc_!  But who has dreamed to find gold
in the Nez Cassé?  Oho!  Some day he comes up with three man and _la
princesse_.  And then . . ."

He broke off, plunging his hot iron into his tub of water, so that the
hissing of the heated metal and the angry puff of steam might conclude
in fitting eloquence the thing he had in mind.

Once, just after Drennen had for the second time in six months found
gold, he heard the new epithet which had been given him: Lucky Drennen.
He turned and stared at the man who had spoken the name so that the
fellow fell back, flushing and paling under the terrible eyes.  Then,
with his snarling laugh, Drennen passed on.

Until the winter came to lock the gateways into the mountains he was
everywhere the adventurous were pushing in the land of the North Woods.
He was the last man to take the trail from Gabrielle to the open.

But though winter lifted a frozen hand to drive him back he did not for
a single day give over his search.  He went then down to the railroads.
Banff knew him and came to know just as much of his story as it could
guess from the eternal question in his heart and now and then on his
lips, and from the fact that he had money.  Vancouver knew him, coming
and going where a man might search such quarry as his, in gambling
halls, high and low, in cafes, at hotels.  For he had had a hint that
perhaps Ygerne and the men with her had gone on to Vancouver.

In January he drew heavily against his account in the bank of Lebarge.
The money, or at least a great part of it, went to a detective agency
in Vancouver, another in Victoria, another even as far east as Quebec.
Money went also to New Orleans and brought him no little information of
the earlier lives of Ygerne Bellaire and Marc Lemarc, together with the
assurance that neither of them had returned to the South.

Thus he learned the story which he had refused to hear from her own
lips, the reason of her flight from New Orleans.  Having no parents
living, she had lived in the household of her guardian, a merchant
named Jules Bondaine.  She had had trouble with Bondaine, the cause of
the affair not being clearly understood except by Bondaine himself, the
girl and, perhaps, Marc Lemarc, her cousin.  The confidential agency in
the southern city to which Drennen had turned apprised him of these
facts and let him draw his own deductions: It was known that Lemarc was
a suitor for the girl's hand; that Bondaine had seemed very strongly to
favour Lemarc; that Bondaine was high-handed, Ygerne Bellaire
high-tempered; that, at a time when Mme. Bondaine and her two daughters
were away from home over night, Bondaine and the girl had a hot
dispute; that that night, while in the library, Ygerne Bellaire shot
her guardian; that he would in all probability have died had it not
been for the opportune presence of Marc Lemarc, even the household
servants being out; that that night Ygerne Bellaire left New Orleans
and had not been heard of since by Bondaine or the authorities.

"Appearances would indicate," ran a little initialled note at the end
of the report, "that Bondaine and Lemarc had been in some way trying to
coerce Miss Bellaire and that she had shot her way out of the
discussion.  It is to be inferred, however, that she made up with her
cousin, as he disappeared the same night and (merely rumoured) was seen
with her upon the night train out of Baton Rouge."

Throughout the winter Drennen pressed the search as his instinct or
some chance hint directed.  No small part of his plan was to keep in
touch with the movements of Lieutenant Max of the Northwest Mounted.
He knew that the young officer was almost as single purposed and
determined as himself; he learned that as the winter went by Max had
met with no success.  From Max himself, encountered in February in
Revelstoke, he learned why the law wanted Sefton and Lemarc.  There
were in all five complaints lodged against them, four of them being the
same thing, namely, the obtaining of large sums of money under false
pretences.  The fourth of these complaints had been lodged by no less a
person than big Kootanie George.

"They came to George with a cock and bull story about buried treasure,"
grunted Max.  "A gag as old as the moon and as easy to see on a clear
night!  It's rather strange," and he set his keen eyes searchingly upon
Drennen's impassive face, "that they didn't take a chance on you."

"I'm called Lucky Drennen nowadays," answered Drennen coolly.  "Maybe
my luck was just beginning then."

The fifth charge lay against Sefton.  He had brought an unsavory
reputation with him from the States, and there would be other charges
against him from that quarter.  He had mixed with a bad crowd in
Vancouver, had gotten into a gambling concern, "on the right side of
the table," and had "slit his own pardner's throat, both figuratively
and literally, making away with the boodle."

"Ten years ago they might have got away with this sort of thing," said
Max.  "It's too late now.  The law's come and come to stay.  I'm going
to get them, and I'm going to do it before snow flies again."

Drennen shrugged.  Max wouldn't get them at all; he, David Drennen, was
going to see to that.  This was just a part of Max's duty; it was the
supreme desire of Drennen's life.

Although, during the cold, white months, Drennen was much back and
forth along the railroad, he avoided Fort Wayland which was now the
headquarters of the western division of the Northwestern Mining
Company.  Since the late spring day when he had left Lebarge to return
to MacLeod's Settlement, he had not seen Marshall Sothern.  Once, in
the late autumn, he had found a letter from Sothern waiting for him at
the bank In Lebarge.  He left a brief answer to be forwarded, saying

"I want to see you, but not now.  After I have finished the work which
I have to do, perhaps when next spring comes, we can take our hunting

When the spring came it brought Drennen with it into the North Woods.
He knew that the three whom he sought, the four counting Garcia whom he
had not forgotten, might have slipped down across the border and into
the States.  But he did not believe that they had done so.  The law was
looking for them there, too, and they would stay here until the law had
had time to forget them a little.

Again came long, monotonous months of seeking which were to end as they
had begun.  He pushed further north than he had been before, taking
long trails stubbornly, his muscles grown like iron as he drove them to
new tasks.  He skirted the Bad Water country, made his way through Ste.
Marie, St. Stephen, Bois du Lac, Haut Verre, Louise la Reine, and
dipped into the unknown region of Sasnokee-keewan.  He caught a false
rumour and turned back, threading the Forest d'Enfer, coming again
through Bois du Lac and into Sasnokee-keewan late in August.
Disappointment again, and again he turned toward the Nine Lakes.  At
Belle Fortune, the first stop, the last village he would see for many
days, he met Marshall Sothern.

Sothern was standing in front of the village inn, his hand upon the
lead-rope of a sturdy pack mule.  The two men looked at each other
intently, Drennen showing no surprise, Sothern experiencing none.  It
was the older man who first put out his hand.

"I've been looking for you, Dave," he said quietly.  "I'm taking my
vacation, the first in seven years.  I've followed you from the
railroad.  We're going to take our trip together now."

Drennen nodded.

"I'm glad to see you, sir," he answered quietly.

"Which way are you headed now?" asked Sothern.

"It doesn't matter.  I am in no hurry.  I was going toward the Nine
Lakes, but . . ."

"You think that they have gone that way?"

Again Drennen nodded; again he failed to manifest any surprise.

"I am not sure," he said.  "But the only way to be sure is to go and
find out."

So together father and son packed out of Belle Fortune, headed toward
the Nine Lakes in the heart of the unknown land of Sasnokee-keewan.
Unknown because it is a land of short summers and long, hard winters;
because no man had ever found the precious metals here; because there
is little game such as trappers venture into the far out places to get;
because it is broken, rough, inhospitable.  But, for a thousandth time,
a vague rumour had come to Drennen that those whom he sought had pushed
on here ahead of him and methodically he was running down each rumour.

Perhaps not a hundred men in a hundred years had come here before them.
The forests, tall and black and filled with gloom, were about them
everywhere.  Their trail they made, and there were days when from
sunrise to sunset they did not progress five miles.  Their two pack
animals found insecure footing; death awaited them hourly upon many a
day at the bottom of some sheer walled cliff.  They climbed with the
sharp slopes on the mountains, they dropped down into the narrow,
flinty cañons, they heard only the swish of tree tops and the
quarrelling of streams lost to their eyes in the depths below them.
And they came in two weeks to Blue Lake having seen no other man or
other trail than their own.

They were silent days.  Neither man asked a question of the other and
neither referred to what lay deepest in his own breast.  There was
sympathy between them, and it grew stronger day by day, but it was a
sympathy akin to that of the solitudes, none the less eloquent because
it was wordless.  Sothern informed Drennen once, out of the customary
silence about the evening camp fire, that he was taking an indefinite
vacation; that there was a man in his place with the Northwestern who
was amply qualified to remain there permanently if Sothern did not come
back at all.

They sought to water at Blue Lake, so little known then and now already
one of the curiosities of the North and found its waters both luke warm
and salty.  Although the lake is less than a quarter of a mile long
they were two hours in reaching the head.  The mountains come down
steeply on all sides, the timber stands thick, boulders are scattered
everywhere, and it was already dark.

This is the first of the Nine Lakes when one approaches from the south.
Less than a hundred yards further north, its surface a third of that
distance above the level of Blue Lake, is Lake Wachong.  It has no
visible connection with Blue Lake except when, with the heavy spring
thaw, there is a thin trickle of water down the boulders.  Here they
camped for the night.

"We would have seen a trail if they had gone ahead of us this year,
Dave," Sothern remarked, referring for the first time in many days to
the matter which was always in Drennen's mind.

"There's another way in," Drennen told him.  "They'd have gone that
way.  It's north of here and easier.  But we save forty or fifty miles
this way."

There had been a recent discovery of gold at a little place called
Ruminoff Shanty, newly named Gold River.  This, lying still eighty
miles to the north, was Drennen's objective point.  The old rumour had
come to him a shade more definite this time.  In the crowd pushing
northward had been three men and a woman, one of the men looked like a
Mexican and the woman was young and of rare beauty.  But that had not
been all.  A man named Kootanie George with another man wearing the
uniform of the Royal Northwest Mounted had followed them.  These had
all gone by the beaten trail; Drennen saw that if he came before
Kootanie George and Max to the four he sought he must take his chances
with the short cut.

The next night they camped at the upper end of the fourth of the string
of little lakes.  And that evening they saw, far off to the westward,
the faint hint of smoke against the early stars, the up-flying sparks,
which spoke of another campfire upon the crest of the ridge.

The old man bent his penetrating gaze upon his son.  Drennen's face, as
usual, was impassive.

"My boy," said Sothern very gently, "you are sure that you have made no
mistake?  The girl is no better than her companions?"

"They merely kill a man for his gold," returned Drennen steadily.  "She
plays with a man's soul and kills it when she has done."

There were deep lines of sadness about Sothern's mouth; the eyes which
forsook Drennen's face and turned to the glitter of the stars were
unutterably sad.

"The sins of the father . . ." he muttered.  Then suddenly, an electric
change in the man, he flung himself to his feet, his hands thrown out
toward his son.

"By God!  Dave," he cried harshly; "they're not worth it!  Let them go!
We can turn off here where the world is good because men haven't come
into it.  The mountains can draw the poison out of a man's heart, Dave.
There is room for the two of us, boy, for you and me on a trail of our
own.  Leave them for Max and Kootanie George. . . .  Come with me.  Do
you hear me, Dave, boy?  We don't need the world now we've . . . we've
got each other!"

Drennen shook his head.

"I've got my work to do," he said quietly.  "I think it'll be done soon
now.  And then . . . then we'll go away together, Dad.  Just the two of



The camp fire which the two men had seen had not been that of Ygerne
and her companions.  Upon the afternoon of the second day Drennen and
Sothern, still working northward along the chain of lakes, came to
unmistakable signs of a fresh trail, made by two men, turning in from
the westward.  In the wet sand of a rivulet were the tracks.  One was
of an unusually large boot, the other of a smaller boot with a higher
heel that had sunk deep.

"Kootanie George and Lieutenant Max, I think," announced Drennen.
"It's a fair bet, since they're both somewhere in the neighbourhood and
may well enough be travelling together.  They've gone on ahead. . . ."

They travelled late that afternoon, Drennen setting a hard pace,
seemingly forgetful of the man who followed.  Drennen's eyes had grown
bright as with fever; for the first time he showed a hint of excitement
through the stern mask of his face.  He felt strangely assured that he
had come close to the end of a long trail.  But that was not the
thought which caused his excitement.  It was the fear that perhaps
Kootanie George and Max might first come up with the quarry.

Signs of fatigue showed upon Marshall Sothern an hour before they made
camp.  Drennen sought and failed to hide the restlessness upon him.
The next morning, a full hour before the customary time for making the
start for the day, Drennen had thrown the half diamond hitch which
bespoke readiness.  They reached Lake Nopong before noon and all day
fought their way northward along its shore.  Before night came they had
heard a rifle shot perhaps a mile further on.  A rifle shot might mean
anything.  No doubt it merely told of a shot at a chance deer.  But
Drennen's anxiety, already marked, grew greater.

Drennen left their camp fire when they had made their evening meal and
climbed the little cliffs standing at the skirt of the strip of valley
land east of Lake Nopong.  Half an hour later he came back.  Sothern,
removing his pipe from his mouth, looked up expectantly.

"I think I can make out their camp fire," Drennen said, speaking
slowly.  "I imagine an hour would bring us up with them."

Sothern knocked out his pipe and got to his feet.  Tightening the pack
upon his mule's back he removed the rifle which had always ridden there
and carried it in his hand.  Drennen's own rifle remained on his pack;
he did not seem to have noticed Sothern's act.

Two hours later, sending before them an announcement of their approach
in a rattle of loose stones down a steep trail, they came up with the
two men whom they had followed these last few days.  They were
Lieutenant Max and the big Canadian and the two were not alone.
Drennen, walking a little ahead of his father, came to a dead halt, his
body grown suddenly rigid.  He had seen that there was a second camp
fire, a tiny blaze of dry fagots not twenty steps from the first but
partially screened by the undergrowth among the trees, and that the
slender form of a woman bent over it.  His pause was only momentary;
when he came on his face gave no sign of the emotion that had been
riding him nor of the old disappointment again as he saw that the woman
was not Ygerne but Ernestine Dumont.

Lieutenant Max, a rifle across the hollow of his arm, stepped out to
meet them.  Not knowing who his guests were he moved so that the
firelight was no longer just behind him, so that he was in the shadows.
Kootanie George, upon his knees, holding a bit of fresh meat out over
the fire upon a green, sharpened stick, turned his head but did not
move his great body.

"Who is it?" demanded Max sharply.  And then, before an answer had
come, he saw who they were and cried out: "Why, it's David Drennen!
And Mr. Sothern!  Gad, I never thought to see you two here!"

He came forward and shook hands warmly, showing an especial pleasure in
meeting Marshall Sothern again.  The eyes of both men kindled as they
gripped hands, in Sothern's a look of affection, in Max's an expression
compounded of liking and respect.

Max had finished his meal; George, his appetite in keeping with his
size, was doing his last bit of cooking; Ernestine, bending over her
own lonely blaze, was seeking to warm a body which the fresh evening
had chilled, a body which looked thinner and withal more girlish than
it had looked for many a day.  The face which she turned toward the new
arrivals with faint curiosity, was paler than it had been of yore; her
eyes seemed larger; there were traces of suffering which she had not
sought to hide.

Lieutenant Max was unmistakably glad to welcome Drennen and Sothern to
camp.  The atmosphere hovering about the trio upon whom father and son
had come was not to be mistaken even in the half gloom.  There was
nothing in common between the officer and the big Canadian beyond their
present community of interest in coming up with the fugitives whom the
law sought through Max and revenge quested through Kootanie.  And
Ernestine, though with them, was distinctly not of them.  She was
pitifully aloof, the broad expanse of George's back turned toward her
fire speaking eloquently.

"You are on a hunting trip, I take it?" offered Max as they sat down,
each man having brought out and lighted his pipe.  "Just pleasure of
course?  There's no gold in here, you know," he ended with a laugh.

Sothern turned his eyes toward Drennen and brought them back to the
fire without answering.  Max's eyes upon him Drennen spoke simply.

"A hunting trip, yes.  Hunting the same game you are after."

Ernestine looked up quickly, her hands clenching spasmodically.  George
turned his meat, spat into the coals, and sought for salt.

"Mr. Drennen," said the lieutenant coldly, "it's just as well to
understand each other right now.  I represent the law here; the law at
so early a stage as this considers no personal equation.  A private
quarrel must stand aside.  I know what you mean; you know what I mean."

"Lieutenant," answered Drennen gravely, "the law is not yet full grown
in the North Woods.  Here a man steps aside for nothing.  Yes, as you
say, I think we understand each other."

"By God!" cried Max angrily, "I know what is in your heart, yours and
George's here!  It's murder; that's the name for it!  And I tell you
that you are going to keep your hands off!  When we find these people
they are my prisoners, it's my sworn duty to lead them back to a place
where they can stand trial, and I am going to take them.  Remember

Drennen, having spoken all that he could have said if he talked all
night long, made no answer.  Ernestine, her two hands at her breast,
crouched rocking back and forth, in a sort of silent agony.  George,
eating swiftly and noisily, did not look up.

In an instant the old atmosphere which had hovered over the camp came
back, electrically charged with distrust, constraint, aloofness.
Sothern's heavy brows were drawn low, the firelight showing deep, black
shadows in the furrows of his forehead.  In a moment he got to his feet
and went to where Ernestine sat, his hat in his hand, kind words of
greeting upon his lips for a lonely woman.  She grew suddenly sullen;
in a moment the sullen mood melted in a burst of tears, and she was
talking with him incoherently.

George and Drennen had not met to speak since that night, long ago,
when they had diced and fought at Père Marquette's.  Now neither gave
the least sign that he had seen the other.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

When one, life ended, goes down into the grave that grass may grow
above him and men walk over his quiet body, are the doors of his hell
swinging open that he may enter, or are they softly closing behind him?
Are the fires of hell venomous tongues that bite deep to punish with
their torture when it is too late? or are they flames which cleanse and
chasten while there is yet time?  Ernestine Dumont, like many another,
had lighted the fires with her own hands, seeing and understanding what
it was that she did.  For close to two years she had walked through the
flames of her own kindling.  And now, not waiting for the tardy
retribution which comes all too late, she was already passing through
the burning fires; she was closer than she knew to having the iron
portals clang behind her, gently and forever.  After labour comes rest;
after suffering, peace.

Drennen had said, "There is no law here in the North Woods that a man
may not push aside."  He was thinking of such law as Lieutenant Max
represented.  Had he looked into his own heart; could he have looked
into the hearts of Marshall Sothern, Ernestine Dumont, Kootanie George,
even into the heart of Lieutenant Max, he would have known that his
seeming truth was an obvious lie.  There is another law which reaches
even into the lawless North Woods and which says, "Transgress against
me and not another but yourself shall shape your punishment."  Had he
looked into the hearts of Ygerne Bellaire, of Sefton and Lemarc and
Garcia, he would have beheld the same truth.  He might have looked into
the hearts of good men and bad and have found the same truth.  For soon
or late each man, be he walking as straight in the light as he knows
how, be he crouching as low in the shadows as he may, ignites the
sulphur and tinder of his own hell.  The hell may be little or it may
be a conflagration; it may flicker and die out or it may burn through
life and lick luridly at the skies; but a man must light it and walk
through it, since he is but man, and that he may be a man.

If Ernestine Dumont's body had appeared to grow wan and slender, her
soul, long stifled, had found nourishment and had expanded.  Under a
sympathy emanating gently from Sothern she grew calm and spoke with him
as she had not known she could speak.  She was not the woman she had
been two years ago, and yet no miracle had been wrought.  She had
sinned but she had suffered.  The suffering had chastened her.  A
rebellious spirit always, she had become softened with a meekness which
was not weakness but the dawning of understanding.  She had struggled,
she had known fatigue after violence and the God who had made the Law
had ordained that after fatigue should come rest.

There was much she did not say which Sothern, having trod his own
burning path, could divine.

She had offered to David Drennen a fierce passion which he neither
could nor would accept.  The hot breath of it had shaken her being,
seared through her breast, blinded her eyes.  She had flung herself
upon Kootanie George, still seeing only Drennen through the blur of her
passion; she had awakened love in Kootanie George, the strong love of a
strong man, and she had not so much as seen it.

She had humiliated the Canadian before men.  Had she fired the shot
because she loved him he would have been proud instead of ashamed.  But
he had known that she had fired only because she wanted to hate David

Seeing dimly what she had lost only when it was gone from her she had
sought to bring it back by throwing herself at another man.  Garcia had
made light love to her beautifully after the exquisite manner of his
kind, and had gone away when Ygerne had gone, with laughter in his gay
heart and his song upon his lips for the woman who had taken Drennen's
love.  George had seen, had understood and his heart had grown still

But now, at last, Ernestine knew to the full what she had been offered
and had thrust aside.  She had come to see in Kootanie George the
qualities of which a woman like her could be proud.  She had come to
feel a strange sort of awe that George, who was no woman's man but
always a man's man, had loved her.  And it had been given to her at
last to know that her passion for David Drennen had been as the passion
of the moth for the candle.  A new love came into her heart, rising to
her throat, choking her; a love that was meek and devoted, that was now
as much a part of her as were her hands and feet; an emotion that was
the most unselfish, the most worthy and womanly she had ever felt.  She
had followed Kootanie George; she had at last come up with him; and
now, George's back to her, she sat at her own little fire.

"Life is hard for us, Miss Dumont."  Sothern laid his hand very gently
upon her shoulder and smiled into her face.  "But, I think . . . at the
end . . . life is good."

"I have done everything wrong," she said slowly.  "I have never had
anything in life worth while . . . but George's love.  And I threw that

"When a man has loved once he loves always," Sothern told her quietly.
"And a thing like that you can't throw away."

Presently, from deep thoughtfulness, she said hesitantly:

"I want to talk to Mr. Drennen.  There is something I must say to him."

"Let it wait a day or so," Sothern answered.  "He is not himself right
now.  And George might misunderstand."



Before sunrise the five beings whose lives were so intimately
intertwined and yet who were held by constraint one from the other,
took up the trail.  There was but one way to go and this fact alone
held them together; they must keep close to the lake shore for upon the
right the mountains swept upward in a series of cliffs and into a
frowning barrier.  Marshall Sothern and Ernestine, walking together in
the rear, spoke little as the day wore on.  Max, Drennen and Kootanie
George, ahead, spoke not at all.  In silence, never the elbow of one
touching the coat of another, the three men felt and manifested the
jealous rivalry which all day fought to place each one ahead of the
others.  George, fleeced as Drennen had been and at a time when the
Canadian's soul had listened avidly to the voice of his wrath,
embittered as Drennen was by the act of a woman, was scarcely less
eager to be first than Drennen himself.  And Max, reading the signs,
grew watchful as his own eagerness mounted.

Before night they found the trail which Drennen knew that, soon or
late, he would come upon.  Here, perhaps a week ago, certainly not more
than ten days ago, two or three men and one woman had passed.  They had
had with them two or three pack animals and the trail, coming in
abruptly from a cañon at the westward, was plain.

At nightfall they were at the foot of the sixth of the nine lakes, the
broad trail running on straight along its marge.  The fathomless,
bluish water, looking in the dusk a mere rudely circular mirror which
was in truth a liquid cone whose tip was hidden deep in the bowels of
earth, lay in still serenity before them.  On all sides the cliffs,
sheer falls half a thousand, sometimes quite a thousand feet high,
seemed actually to stoop their august, beetling brows forward that they
might frown down upon their own unbroken reflections.  There would be a
pass through the mountains at the northern end of the lake, a deeply
cleft gorge, maybe, but from here, with the first dimness of the new
night upon everything, there seemed no way through.

Each man, the silent meal done, threw his bed where he saw fit, apart
from the others.  Sothern, having aided Ernestine, telling her good
night and receiving a wan smile of gratitude, went back to the fire
where Max was brooding.  The lieutenant looked up, glad of the
companionship.  The two men from silence grew to talk in low voices.
Max had something he wanted to say and the opportunity for saying it
seemed to have come.  He looked about him, saw Drennen's form and
George's through the trees, saw where Ernestine was stamping out the
glowing embers of her fire, and began to speak.  Something else he saw
and forgot, its being of no importance to his brain.  It was merely the
pipe which Drennen had laid upon a stone near the camp fire and had
left there when he had gone away.

But Drennen, being in no mood for sleep, missed his pipe.  Coming back
toward the fire a little later it happened that he approached behind
the two men's backs and in the thick shadows.  It happened, too, that
they were very deep in their own thoughts and conversation and that
they did not hear him until he had caught a part of their talk.  After
that Drennen, grown as still as the rocks about him, listened and made
no sound.  He had caught the words from Max:

". . . a man named Drennen; an embezzler.  Not a common name, is it?
I've a notion that this David Drennen is the son of that John Harper

Drennen, listening, got nothing from this, but stood still, frowning
and wondering.  His eyes, upon Max's face outlined by the fire, took no
note of Sothern's.

"We've got the report," went on Max thoughtfully, "that the other
Drennen, John Harper Drennen, is somewhere in this country.  Lord," and
he laughed softly, "it would be some white feather in my cap if I could
bring the old fox in, wouldn't it, Mr. Sothern?  He's given the police
the slip for a dozen years."

Now, Drennen, with a quick start of full understanding, looked
anxiously at the old man.  Sothern's face stood in clear relief against
the fire.  There came no change into it; he looked gravely at Max, drew
a moment contemplatively at his pipe, and then in a voice grave and
steady answered:

"John Harper Drennen. . . .  I remember the name.  The papers were full
of it.  But wasn't he reported to have died a long time ago?"

"A dodge as old as the hills," grunted Max.  "And God knows it works
often enough, at that.  No, he isn't dead and he is somewhere in this
corner of the Dominion.  By Heaven!" his young voice rising with the
ambition in it, "if it's in my run of luck to bring him in I'll go up
for promotion in two days!  And I'm going to get him!"

Sothern's smile, a little tense, seemed only the smile of age upon the
vaunting ambition of youth.

"I am not the man to doubt your ability to do pretty nearly anything
you set your mind and hand to, Max," he said after a little.  And then,
"Isn't it a little strange that after all these years interest in John
Harper Drennen should awake?"

"Not so strange," replied Max.  "The odd thing, perhaps, is that David
Drennen, the son, and the sort of man he seems to be, should have paid
off his father's obligation of forty thousand dollars just as soon as
he sold the Golden Girl to you people."

Sothern, offering no remark, looked merely casually interested.  Max
went on.

"That's the first thing which began to stimulate dormant interest," he
said.  "Queer, isn't it, that the most honest and unselfish and
altogether praiseworthy thing he has ever been known to do should
succeed chiefly in drawing attention to his father, so long thought
dead?  We've had our eyes on him for pretty close to a year now.  I'm
up a tree to know whether he knows his father is living, even."

"That's not all of the evidence you've got that John Harper Drennen is
alive, is it?" Sothern's voice asked quietly.

"Lord, no.  That's not evidence at all.  In fact, there isn't any
evidence; there's just a tip.  There came a letter to the Chief in
Montreal.  I got a copy of it.  It said merely: 'John Harper Drennen,
wanted for embezzlement in New York, is in hiding in the North Woods
country.  He is the father of David Drennen of MacLeod's Settlement.
Watch young Drennen and you'll find the thief.'"

When Max paused, leaning toward the fire for a burning splinter of wood
for his pipe, Sothern passed his hand swiftly across his eyes.  As Max
straightened up the old man said:

"The letter might have said more.  It doesn't give you a great deal to
work upon."

Max laughed.

"But it does.  The letter wasn't signed, even, and was typewritten, so
you'd say it wasn't worth reading twice.  And yet I know right now who
wrote it."


"Yes."  There was triumph unhidden in Max's voice, in his eyes turned
full upon Sothern's.  "For I've been after that man for more than
seventeen months, the man who has cause to hate John Harper Drennen
like poison, the man who'd like to entangle both the father and son in
the mesh of the law.  It's the man I'm going to get at the end of this
trail, a man calling himself Sefton.  And when I get him he's going to
talk, he's going to identify John Harper Drennen, and I'm going to put
the two of them where they'll see the sun through the bars for more
years than is pleasant to look upon!"

Again there was silence and the calm smoking of pipes.

"Why do you tell me this, Max?" asked Sothern after a little.

Suddenly Max's hand shot out, resting upon Sothern's shoulder.  Drennen
started, his hands shutting tight, as he waited breathlessly for the
words: "John Harper Drennen, you are my prisoner!"  He fancied that he
saw Sothern's body shaken with a little tremor.  The words which he
heard at last in Max's quiet voice were these:

"I tell you, Mr. Sothern, because I come pretty near the telling of
everything to you.  Because for six years you have been more a father
to me than my own father ever was.  Because everything that I am I owe
to you.  You set my feet in the right path, and now that I am
succeeding, for by God, success is coming to me, I want you to know it!
I have never talked to you of the things which I have felt most. . . ."
For a moment he broke off; Drennen fancied his eyes glistened and that
he had choked on the simple words.  "You know what I mean . . . you
don't think I'm a sentimental fool, do you?"

Sothern, his face white but his expression showing nothing, his voice
grave and calm, dropped his own hand gently upon the lieutenant's

"Max, my boy," he said simply, "I know you'll succeed.  I've always
known that.  But, old fellow, I think you've got the hardest work of
your life ahead of you.  No, I don't think you are a sentimental fool.
We are just in the forests together, and the solitude and the starlight
up yonder and the bigness of the open night are working their wills
upon us.  Just remember one thing, Max," and his voice grew a shade
sterner, "when the hard time comes don't let your heart-strings get
mixed up with your sworn duty.  If you did I'd be ashamed of you, not
proud, my boy."

Drennen slipped away through the dark.  He came to his bed under the
trees and went on, walking swiftly.  For the first time in many long
months a new emotion was upon him, riding him hard.  He forgot Ygerne
for the moment; forgot his own wrong and his own vengeance.  He looked
at the stars and they seemed far away and dim; the shadows about him
were like blackness intensified into tangible things.

When at last he came back to his bed the fires were out; all the others
had gone to their rest.  He fancied, however, that none of them slept.
He pictured each one, his own father, Kootanie George, Ernestine,
Lieutenant Max, lying wide awake, staring up into the stars, each one
busy with his own destiny.  What pitiful pictures are projected into
the calm of the star-set skies from the wretched turmoil of fevered

"I must come to Sefton first!"

It was Drennen's last thought that night.  His first thought in the dim
dawn was:

"I must come to Sefton first!"



In the thick darkness half way between midnight and the first glimmer
of the new day Drennen awoke.  That he must silence Sefton before Max
came up with him was the thought awaking with him.  He was fully
conscious of his purpose before he knew what it was that had awakened

Quite close to him was the noise of breaking brush and snapping twigs.
Evidently one of the pack animals had broken its tie-rope.  He lifted
himself upon his elbow, frowning into the darkness.  The horse was not
ten feet from him and yet it was hard to distinguish that darker blot
in the darkness which bespoke the brute's body.

"What is it?"

It was the voice of Kootanie George from the big Canadian's bed some
fifty feet away.  It was the first time George had spoken to Drennen.
Drennen answered quietly:

"One of the horses has broken his rope."

Knowing that the animal might wander back along the trail and cause no
little delay in the morning, Drennen slipped on his boots and went to
tie him.  The horse, seeing where the man could not, drew back toward
the cliffs.  Drennen, led by the noise of breaking underbrush, at last
was enabled to make out distinctly the looming form in a little
clearing.  Stooping swiftly, through a random clutch at the ground, he
was lucky enough to seize the end of the broken rope.

"It's Black Ben," he thought.  "Max's horse."

A sudden temptation came to him.  Puzzling it over he led the horse
slowly toward the grassy flat under the cliffs where the others were
tethered.  Suppose that he turned Max's horse loose?  And Kootanie's?
And that he should head them back along the trail?  Not a pretty trick
to play, but was now the time for nicety?  It would mean delay, not for
Drennen, but for Kootanie and Max . . . it might mean the opportunity
he wanted, to come up with Sefton before the others.

He passed close to where George lay.  The Canadian had again drawn up
his blanket and was going back to sleep.  The others were sleeping.  It
was too dark for them to see what he was doing.  Too dark for him to
more than make out the forms of the other horses when he came to the
flat under the cliffs.  And by that time he had made up his mind; he
would take advantage of whatever came to his hand and ask no questions;
he would find George's pack animal in a moment and would then lead the
two of them around the camp and turn them loose.

Had he come to George's horse first he would have done so.  But it
chanced that the first horse across whose tether he tripped was a big
black animal with the white strip from below the ears to the nostrils
showing in the gloom to which Drennen's eyes were accustomed now.  This
was Lieutenant Max's horse, Black Ben!  Then the horse he was
leading . . .

He swung about swiftly, gathering up the slackened rope, coming close
to the horse what had awakened him.  It was like Black Ben, easily to
be mistaken even in a better light than this . . . but it was not
George's horse nor yet Max's. . . .

"A strange horse, here!" was his swift thought.  "Whose?"

He ran his hands along the big brute's back.  There was no saddle.
About the neck only a knotted rope.  His hands ran on to the dragging
end of the rope.  The strands were rough there, unequal, bespeaking a
tether snapped.  He noted now, too, that the rope was damp and a little

"He's come down the trail from the north.  We are close to Sefton's

From the north because there was no place which Drennen remembered
having passed during the end of the day where a horse could muddy a
dragging rope.  The lake shore was sand and gravel.  And, before he had
gone to bed that night, he had seen a straggling stream which a little
further on ran across the morrow's trail, making shallow ponds in the
grass, the banks oozy mud.

Tying the strange horse swiftly, Drennen went back to his bed.  He
found his rifle and cartridge belt, filled his pockets hit or miss from
his food pack, and, making no noise, returned to the flat.  Again
leading the strange horse he pushed on, up trail, toward the muddy

Too dark to see more than the lowering mass of trees, the blackness of
the ground looking a bottomless pit under foot, the wall of cliffs
standing up against the stars.  But slowly he could find his way to the
creek, across, and along the lake shore.

Again and again he stumbled against a boulder or tree trunk or clump of
bushes.  He cursed his eyes for fools, drew back and around the
obstacle and pushed on.  He would make little speed this way, but there
might arise the situation in which every moment would be golden.

After a little an inspiration came to him and he acted upon it swiftly.
He let the rope out through his fingers and holding it at the broken
end drove the horse on ahead of him, calculating upon the fact that it
could see even if he could not, and having been over the trail once
would travel it again in the darkness.

So Drennen made his way northward.  Now he was making better time,
perhaps a couple of miles an hour.  By dawn he would be several miles
ahead of the others, and then he could travel more rapidly.

But, before the dawn came, he must stop.  He had come under the cliffs
which stood tall and bleakly forbidding at the upper end of the lake.
The horse came to a dead standstill.  If there were a way up here, a
trail through the cliffs, the animal seemed to have no knowledge of it
and Drennen's blind groping could not discover it.

It was only through the mastery of a strong will, long seasoned and
drilled, that Drennen could force himself at last to sit down and wait
the coming of the light.  His soul was in turmoil.  His mind was filled
with broken fancies, tortured visions.  In him the simplicity of a
normal existence had been phantastically twisted into complication.
Before him were Sefton and Lemarc and Garcia . . . and Ygerne Bellaire.
Behind him were George and Ernestine with their warped lives, Sothern
and Max with their souls upon the verge of convulsion.  Max, young and
straightforward, his sky clear to the star of his duty, was sleeping in
ignorance, while if he but knew he would be torn a thousand ways.  And
it seemed to Drennen that the restless thing in each of these lives,
behind him and in front of him, raised its hissing head to dart venom
into his own breast, to make for unrest and doubt there.

At last the objects about him were slowly restored to their own
individual forms from the void of the night.  The trees separated, the
expanse of the lake grew grey and liquid, the cliffs showed their
ancient battle scars.  And the trodden earth held fresh and plain the
trail he sought.

Leading the horse again, he climbed up from the level of the lake
toward the cliff tops.  The trail, hazardous enough at all times,
looking now and then impossible, wound and twisted among the boulders,
snaked its way into a narrow gorge, mounted along a bit of bench land
clinging like a shelf to the mountain side, and in an hour's time
brought him to the top.

Now the day was full upon him.  Behind and below lay the lake he had
just quitted.  He could make out a plume of smoke where the impatience
of Max and George would be bestirring Itself.  Ahead and below lay Red
Deer Lake, a thousand dizzy feet down, seeming impossible of
achievement from where Drennen stood.  He pushed a stone over the rocks
with his boot.  He saw it leap outward and drop, plummet wise, saw the
white spray of the lake leap upward as the stone plunged into the water.

Drennen had turned the horse loose.  From the hog's-back upon which he
stood he could look down into a little valley lying to the eastward and
could make out in it two more pack animals, tethered.  He headed this
one down the trail and then turned his eyes back toward Red Deer Lake
and, across it, to the cliffs beyond.  For there he had seen a second
plume of smoke.

It seemed to him then that a man must have wings to reach that other
line of cliffs, on the far side of the lake, from which the smoke was
climbing upward.  Everywhere the sheer precipices marched up to the rim
of the blue laughter of the water below him, so that one might believe
that neither man nor four-footed denizen of the forestland could come
here to drink; that only the birds, dropping with folded wings, could
visit its shore.  But others had been here before him; and surely it
was their smoke which curled upward from the far cliffs.  If they had
found a way to go on on foot, leaving their horses here, then he could
find it.  And he must find it quickly . . . before Max and George.

First he noted the location of the smoke toward which he sought to go,
so that he would not miss it.  Nature aided him, making the spot
distinctive.  Everywhere the cliffs were barren, just rock and more
rock, a jumble of great boulders strewn along sheer precipices,
everywhere save alone in this one spot.  But there was a scant table
land, and from it a small grove of pines rose high in the blue of the
brightening sky, their gnarled limbs still and sturdy.  It was above
this single noteworthy clump of ancient boled trees to be seen upon
these inhospitable heights that the thin bluish smoke arose.

To Drennen, frowning across the gulf separating him and his quarry,
there seemed but one conceivable reason why a human being should have
sought to win a way to that rocky aerie.  From its nature it was all
but unscalable; from its position it commanded in limitless, sweeping
view all possible paths of approach.  Did Sefton's party seek a hiding
place where defence even against great numbers would be a simple
matter, this nest upon the cliff tops was the ideal spot.

Thus Drennen answered the riddle.  But there were other riddles which
he could not answer and which he gave over.  Why had the horses been
left where they would be found so readily?  Why that careless beacon
smoke where no man could fail to see it?

Max would see it and he would be hurrying, swifter than Drennen had
come because now it was daylight.  With the need of haste crying in his
ears Drennen experienced the slipping by of slow hours with nothing
accomplished.  Back and forth along the edge of the cliffs he searched
eagerly, like some great, gaunt questing hound, baffled by a cold
track.  Sefton and those with him had come here, had found the way
down, had gained the far side two miles away across the lake.  They had
gone before, so he knew that he could come after.  But he grew feverish
over the delay, thinking as much of Max behind as of Sefton in front.

Again and again he thought that he had found the way down only to be
driven back and up when he had made a few perilous feet downward along
the beetling fall of rock.  He sought tracks and found nothing; there
was nothing but hard rock here which kept no impress less than that of
the tread of the passing centuries.  He even went down into the little
valley where the horses were, hoping that through some deep cleft chasm
the trail led circuitously to the lake shore.  But he came back, again
baffled, again hurrying with the certainty upon him that Max, too, was

The sun was three hours high when Drennen found what he sought.  With
the keen joy at the discovery there came deep wonder.  It was the
approach to the lake; but the wonder arose from the unexpected nature
of the path itself.  He had passed further and further north along the
cliffs until a couple of miles lay between him and the spot where this
latest quest had begun.  And he came now to a cleft in the rocks.  On
each hand the cliffs fell apart so that at the top the chasm measured
perhaps ten or twelve feet.  The chasm narrowed fifty feet below until
it formed a great V.  Below that Drennen could not see until he had
made his precarious way down into the cut.  And when he had come to
what had appeared from above to be the closed angle of the V he found
the rest of the way open to him.  And the wonder arose from the obvious
fact that there were many rude steps not nature-made but man-made.
There were hand-holds scooped out here and there in the rock;
foot-holds chiselled rudely; and all bore the mark of no little age.
Grass grew scantily in the cracks; a young cedar, hardy, with crooked
roots like the claws of a monster, stood in one of the deeper scooped
hollows; the debris fallen into the man-made steps had accumulated
through the generations.  In one of these places, when he had gone
downward a hundred feet, he came to a little space of soft soil which
held the trampled impress of boots.

Now, his rifle slung to his back, his fingers gripping at cracks and
seams and little knobs of stone, he made what speed he could.  The way
he followed led along a long, horizontal fissure for a space, then
dipped dangerously near the perpendicular, then slanted off so that the
danger was less, greater speed possible.  He did not look down to the
lake, fearing the dizziness which might lay hold of him and whip him
from the face of the cliffs like a fly caught in a rush of wind.

The thought entered his mind, "Ygerne Bellaire had gone on here before
him!"  He pictured her confident bearing as she climbed down, her
capable hands clinging to the rocks, her fearless eyes as she looked
down at the blue glint of the lake a thousand feet below, the red curve
of her lips as she smiled her contempt of the danger.  Be she what she
might, Ygerne Bellaire was not the coward he had once thought all women.

He grew angry with himself for harbouring a thought into which a tinge
of admiration for her entered.  He was coming up with her soon; he
sneered at himself and at her and crept on downward.

Again and again the way looked impossible; again and again he found the
scooped-out handhold which carried him on.  And yet it was another two
hours before he had dropped the last ten feet to the narrow, pebbly
shore of Red Deer Lake.

Now there would be no more lost time, no hesitation in finding the path
he must follow.  For here, at the marge, were the tracks of those who
had gone before.  And there was but one way these could lead.  For upon
the left hand the cliffs came down to the water and there was no path;
upon the right there was a six-foot strip of uneven beach.

The sudden sound of a voice shouting dropped down to him.  Jerking his
head up he made out the form of Lieutenant Max at the top of this
devil's stairway down which he had just come.  Drennen laughed shortly
and turned northward along the lake shore.  He had lost time but he
would lose no more.  He still had two hours the best of it; it would
take Max fully that long to make the descent.

"When he comes up with me," was Drennen's quick thought, "my work will
have been done!"



Now Drennen, having passed around the shore of Red Deer Lake, having
often dipped his body into the icy water where there was little room to
pass between the lake and the cliffs, having fought his way upward
again much as he had travelled downward but by an easier path, came at
last, in the late afternoon, to the grove of giant trees upon the crest
of the great ridge.  And, as he paused a moment, a new wonder was upon

He had expected to find here merely a rude camp; he found himself
staring at a house under the trees!  Such a house as he had never seen
in all of his life, but a house none the less.  It was screened from
him by the tree trunks until he stood within fifty yards of it; it was
disguised now in the very manner of its construction.

The corners were great stacks of high piled flat stones; across the
rude columns lay tree trunks roughly squared with axes; the roof was a
sloping shed-roof, steep pitched, made of saplings, covered a foot deep
with loose soil.  In this soil grew the hardy mountain grasses; even
two or three young trees were seeking life here where the cones had
fallen from the lofty branches of the mother trees.  Over the great,
square door was a long slab of wood, carefully cut into a thick board,
the marks of the axe blades still showing.  And inscribed deep into
this board, the letters having been burned there with a red hot iron,
were the words:


Drennen's pause was brief.  From the low, awkward building there were
voices floating out to him.  He had come to the end of the long trail.
One voice, low toned and clear, drove the blood racing through his
body.  His hand shook upon his rifle stock.  In spite of him a strange
shiver ran through him.  He knew now how only a woman, one woman, can
bring to a man his heaven of joy, his hell of sorrows.  And that woman,
the one woman, was at last only fifty yards away!  After all of these
bitter empty months she was at last only fifty yards away!

He came on slowly, making no sound.  He drew near the corner of the
building.  The voices came more distinctly, each word clear.  The other
voice was the musical utterance of Ramon Garcia.  Again Drennen stopped
for a brief instant.  Were Sefton and Lemarc in there, too?

Ygerne's laughter drove a frown into his eyes.  His hand was steady now
upon his rifle.  Her laughter was like a child's, and a child's is like
the music of God's own heaven.  Drennen came on.

In another moment he stood at the wide door, looking in.  There was a
hunger in his eyes which he could not guess would ever come into them.
He did not see Garcia just then, though the little Mexican stood out in
full view, making the girl a sweeping, exaggerated bow after his
manner.  He did not notice the long bare floor nor yet the rough beams
across the ceiling; he registered no mental picture of the deep
throated, rock chimney, the rude, worm eaten table and benches, the few
homemade objects scattered about the long room.  He saw only Ygerne
Bellaire, and the picture which she made would never grow dim in the
man's mind though he lived a hundred years.

She stood upon a monster bear skin.  Upon the rug, strewn about her
carelessly, their bright discs adance with reflected light, a thousand
minted gold pieces caught the glint of the low sun.  Her head was
thrown back, her arms lifted.  Her eyes were filled with light, her red
mouth curved to the gaity of her laughter.  About her white throat was
the dazzle of diamonds; upon her bared white arms was the splendour of

"My Countess!" murmured the Mexican, his eyes soft with the unhidden
worship in them.  "You are like a Lady who is born out from the dream
of a poet!  See!"  He dropped suddenly to his knees, caught up the hem
of her short skirt and pressed it to his lips.  "You are the Queen of
the Worl'!"

"At last," she cried, her voice ringing triumphantly, "I have come into
my own!  For it is mine, mine, I tell you!  You shall have your share,
and Sefton and Marc!  But it is mine, the heritage of Paul Bellaire!"

As Garcia had stooped something had fallen from his breast.  Rising
swiftly he caught it up.  It was a little faded bunch of field flowers.

"My share, señorita?"  He laughed softly.  "I am not come here for
gol'.  Me, I have this."  He lifted the flowers, his eyes tender upon
them.  "With this I am more rich than the King of Spain!"

Drennen's dry laugh, the old, bitter snarl, cut through the room like a
curse.  They had not seen him; they had been too busy with their own
thoughts.  Now, as they whirled toward the door which framed him,
Garcia's hand went swiftly to his pocket, Ygerne's face grew as white
as death.

"So," said the Mexican softly.  "You are come, señor!"

The muzzle of Drennen's rifle moved in a quick arc.  It came to rest
bearing upon Garcia's breast.

"Turn your back!" commanded Drennen sharply.  He came well into the
room, setting his own back to the wall so that, should Sefton and
Lemarc come, he should be ready for them.  "Do you hear me?" for Garcia
had not stirred.  "By God, I'll kill you . . ."

Garcia shrugged, and shrugging obeyed the command which he was in no
position to disobey.  And, as again Drennen's curt words came crisply
to him, he obeyed, tossing his revolver aside so that it fell close to
the wall.  Then, with Ygerne's wide eyes upon them both, Garcia backed
up to Drennen and Drennen searched him swiftly, removing a cruel-bladed

"Your little flowers," sneered Drennen, "you can keep."

He caught a murderous gleam from Garcia's eyes.

"The man who would touch them, señor," the Mexican said softly, "would
die if I have but my hands to kill!"

"And now, my fine Countess Ygerne," mocked Drennen, coming a step
toward her.  "Have you still your nice little habit . . ."

As though in answer her hand had sped toward her bosom.  But Drennen
was too close to her, too quick and too strong.  His grip set heavy,
like steel, upon her wrist, he whipped out her weapon and tossed it to
lie beside Garcia's.

"You brute," she said coolly.

He regarded her in silence, insolently.  His eyes were bright and
inexorable with their cold triumph.

"So," he said in a little, having passed over her remark just as he had
ignored Garcia's, "in all of your lying to me there was some grain of
truth!  There was a Bellaire treasure and you have found it."

"Yes," she cried passionately, her hands clenched and grown bloodlessly
white.  "And I'll spend every cent of it to make you suffer for the
things . . ."

"Not so fast," he taunted her.  "Do you guess what I am going to do?
Do you know that I am the one who is going to deal out the suffering?
There is nothing in God's world you love . . . except it be
yourself . . . as you love gold!  To find is one thing; to keep is

"You mean," she cried angrily, "that you will try to rob me?"

"I mean," he retorted grimly, "that in a little while you and I are
going out there to the edge of the cliffs.  You shall watch me; you
shall see your diamonds circle in the sun before they go down into the
lake!  And then the gold is going where they go!"

It seemed to him that now, at last, was he Lucky Drennen indeed.  Never
had he known how to make this woman suffer; now he believed that the
way was made plain before him.

"David Drennen," she said, the beauty of her face swept across with a
fiery anger, "one of these days I am going to kill you!"

He laughed.  He had waited long to stand there before her as he now
stood, laughing at her.  He had dreamed dreams of a time like this but
always his dreamings had fallen short of the reality.  He would hurt
her and then, staring into her eyes, he would laugh at her.  He saw the
rush of blood flaming up redly in her face, saw it draw out, leaving
her cheeks white, and the evil in him raised its head and hissed
through his laughter.

"_Sangre de Dios_!" muttered the Mexican, twisting his head as he stood
facing the wall.  "He has gone mad!"

Suddenly Ygerne had whipped off necklace and bracelet and had thrust
deep into her bosom the old famous French jewels which the gay Count of
Bellaire had won across the green topped tables.  It was Drennen's time
to shrug.

"Put them where you please," he told her with his old lip-lifted sneer.
"I'll get them.  Put them between your white breasts that are as cold
and bloodless as the stones themselves.  I'll get them."

"You . . . you unspeakable cur!" she panted, in a flash scarlet-faced.

Garcia was edging slowly, noiselessly along the wall toward the two
revolvers, his and Ygerne's.  Drennen whipped about upon him with a
snapping curse.

"Stand where you are, do you hear?  You go free of this when I am
through . . . if you are not a fool!  It is this girl I want.  Her and
Sefton!  Where is Sefton?"

Ygerne, biting her lips into silence, her eyes flashing at him, her
insulted breasts rising and falling passionately, answered him with her
mute contempt.  Garcia lifted his shoulders.

"With el señor Marco he is away for the horses. . . ."

"Liar!" said Drennen sternly.  "What horses can climb these cliffs?"

"Don't answer his questions!" commanded Ygerne.

"Silence is as good as the lies I'd get," retorted Drennen.

He closed the heavy panelled door behind turn, dropping into place an
iron bolt which fastened staple and hasp.  There was one other door at
the far end of the long room; he moved toward it, at all times watching
Garcia and Ygerne.  Here was a smaller room, perhaps a third the size
of the first, without doors, its windows boarded up with thick ax-hewn
slabs.  The floor of this room had been wrenched loose and torn away;
there were big chests still sunken in the soil beneath, the boxes
crumbling and evidently broken in their hasty rifling.

He came back into the larger room.  Sefton and Lemarc, when they came,
must enter through the door at the front.  And he could do nothing but
wait, his heart burning with the feverish hope that they would come
before Max and the others.  He drew a bench close to the door and sat
down, his face turned so that he could at once watch Ygerne and Garcia
and not lose sight of the door.  He rose again, almost immediately,
picked up the two revolvers and the knife, dropped them to the floor
under his bench and sat down again.

Ygerne in a little, her eyes never leaving his face, sat where she had
been standing, upon the rug amidst the scattered gold.  Now and then
her fingers stole from her lap to the old coins about her; once or
twice her fingers travelled slowly to her breast where the diamonds lay

Garcia did not move.  As commanded he faced the wall.  Once or twice
only he turned his head a little, his eyes paying no heed to Drennen
but seeking Ygerne.  And his eyes were not gay now, but restless and

In a deep silence through which the faint murmur of the branches above
the Château Bellaire spoke like a quiet sigh, they waited.  To each,
with his own bitter thoughts, the time writhed slowly like a wounded

Upon a little thing did many human destinies depend that summer
afternoon.  Though a man's destiny be always suspended by a mere silken
thread, not always is it given to him to see the thread itself and know
how fragile it is.  Had Lieutenant Max been five minutes later in
picking up Drennen's trail . . . had Sefton and Lemarc returned to the
"château" five minutes earlier, God knows where the story would have

As it was it was Max's tread which Drennen's eager ears first heard
drawing near swiftly.  And a moment later Max himself, with big
Kootanie George at his heels and both Marshall Sothern and Ernestine
hurrying after them, came running toward the strange building.  Drennen
at the door, his rifle laid across his arm, met them.

"Well?" snapped the officer.  "What in hell's name have you done?"

Ygerne had leaped to her feet, a little glad cry upon her lips.  No
doubt she had thought that this was Sefton returning, Lemarc with him.
She stood still, staring incredulously, as she saw who these others
were.  A strange man, with an air of command about him . . . Kootanie
George, his face convulsed with rage as his eyes met her own . . .
Marshall Sothern . . . Ernestine!

"I came to find Captain Sefton," was Drennen's slow answer to the
lieutenant's challenge.  "He is not here.  I am waiting for him."

"You have killed him!" shouted Max, pushing through the doorway.

"I have not," said Drennen quietly.  "But I shall."

"The Mexican, Garcia!"  snapped Max irritably.  "And the girl.  I have
no warrant for them.  Hell's bells!  Where are the others?"

To answer his own question he strode toward the rear door.  Half way
down the long room he stopped with a muttered exclamation of surprise.
He had seen the gold upon the old bear skin.

"Have they robbed the Bank of England?" he gasped.

From without came the sharp rattle of shod hoofs against the rocky

"It is Sefton and Marco who return," murmured Garcia, his hand at his
mustache, a look of great thoughtfulness in his eyes.  "Now there will
be another kind of talk!"

And he looked regretfully toward the revolver lying under Drennen's



Max had heard, whirled and came running back to the door.

"Stand aside!" he called to Drennen.  "Those men are my prisoners."

Drennen made no answer.  Mindful of the weapons on the floor he caught
them up and threw them far out into the underbrush.  His rifle ready in
both hands, his purpose standing naked in his eyes, he stepped out
after Max.

"Curse you!" shouted Max over his shoulder.  "If you interfere now I'll
shoot you like a dog!"

Sefton and Lemarc, riding and leading two other horses, came into view
through the trees.  Evidently Garcia had not lied, evidently there was
some roundabout trail from the far side of the lake, evidently, the
treasure found, these men wished to lose no time in carrying it away
with them.

They had not heard until they had seen; by that time they were not
fifty yards away and Max's rifle bore unwaveringly upon Sefton's chest.

"Up with your hands, Sefton and Lemarc!" he called loudly.  "In the
name of the Law!"

"Fight it out, Sefton, if you are a man!" shouted Drennen, his own
rifle at his shoulder.  "I am going to kill you any way!"

Ernestine was crying out inarticulately; no one listened to the thing
she was trying to say.  She had waited too long.  Marshall Sothern, a
queer smile upon his lips which Drennen was never to forget, strode to
his son's side.

"Dave," he said gently.  "If you are doing this for me . . . let be!  I
have told Max."

"What do you mean?" muttered Drennen dully.  "Told him what?"

"Who I am."

He laid his hand on the barrel of Drennen's rifle, forcing it downward.
His son stared at him with wondering eyes.

"I don't understand. . . ."

Both Sefton and Lemarc, with one accord had jerked in their horses,
their hands dropping the ropes of the animals they led and going the
swift, certain way to the gun in the coat pocket.

"It's a hold-up, Marc!" cried Sefton, driving his heels into his
horse's sides and coming on in defiance of the rifle still trained upon


Garcia shrugged his shoulders and watched, having nothing else to do.

"Wait!" screamed Marc after Sefton.  "Can't you see the uniform?  He's
one of the Mounted."

Sefton saw.  He saw too that at the door was David Drennen; that at his
side was Marshall Sothern; that big Kootanie George stood out, a little
in front.  His face went white; he jerked his horse back upon its
haunches; his teeth cut, gnawing, at his lip.  He saw and he
understood.  He knew that for him the play was over; he knew that
within the old house was a fortune for many men and that he had had his
hands on it and that it was not to be for him.  His white face went
whiter with the rage and despair upon him.

"It's you that did for me!" he yelled.  "You, John Harper Drennen!
You!  Damn you . . . take that!"

In the first grip of the fury upon him he fired.  Fired so that the
short barrel of his revolver, spitting out the leaden pellets, grew
hot.  He was too close to miss.  Marshall Sothern clutched at Drennen's
arm and went down, sinking slowly, not so much as a groan bursting from
his lips.  And as he dropped Kootanie George fell with him, the big
Canadian's broad chest taking the first of the flying bullets.

Drennen and Max fired almost at the same instant, the rifles snapping
together.  Too close to miss a target like that, and Sefton, clutching
at his horse's mane, slipped from the saddle and to the ground.

"Lemarc," shouted Max sternly, "come on!  Your hands up or you get the
same thing."

He had not seen old Marshall Sothern fall.  Drennen was on his knees
now, his father's head caught up in his lap, his face horrible with the
grief upon it as he bent forward.  The old man was badly hurt but
conscious.  His eyes went to David's, his hand sought to close about
his son's.  And Drennen, leaning lower as he saw the lips framing
words, thought that he had not heard aright.

"Thank God!" was what Marshall Sothern was saying.

There had been the one sharp fusillade and the fight was over.  Three
men lay upon the ground, two of them having caught their death wounds.
Sefton sprawled where he had fallen, alone.  He would lie there until
the life rattled out of his body.  Ernestine, sobbing a moment, then
very still, was over Kootanie George's body, her poor frail hands
already red with his blood as she sought to lift him a little.  George
was looking up at her wonderingly.  He did not understand; he could not
understand yet.  If she didn't love him, then why did she look at him
like that?

Lemarc, his dark face a study in anger and despair, lifted his two
arms.  Max, his eyes hard upon his prisoner, strode forward to disarm
him and take him into closer custody.  So, even yet, since neither
Marshall Sothern nor Kootanie had uttered a loud outcry, the lieutenant
was unconscious of all that had happened so few steps behind him.

The sun was entangled in the tree tops far to the westward, the red
sunset already tingeing the sky.  In a little the cool sting of the
dusk would be in the air.

Drennen, stooping still further, slipped his arms about Marshall
Sothern's body.  As his father had carried him to his own dugout, so
now did he bear his father into the house.  He wanted no help; he was
jealous of this duty.  And, looking down into the white face at his
shoulder, it seemed to him that the pain had gone out of it; that there
was a deep joy for this wounded man to be gripped thus in the arms of
his son.

Garcia, obeying two curt commands from Drennen, cleared the bearskin of
its golden freight and builded a fire in the rock chimney.  Very
tenderly Drennen lay the old man down, seeking to give him what comfort
there was to give.

Ygerne, trembling visibly now, her face white and sick, watched Drennen
wordlessly.  She had seen everything; she had marked how Sefton lay
where Max's and Drennen's bullets had found him; she had seen Kootanie
George drop; she had seen Ernestine crouching over him; she had seen
and had read the writing in the old man's face.  Now her eyes were upon
Drennen.  And he did not see her.

"Dad," he said, a queer catch in his voice.  "Dad. . . ."

The old man's stern eyes softened; a smile fought hard for its place
upon his lips and in the end drove away for a little the pain there.
There was just a flutter of his fingers as they sought to tighten about
his son's.

"Davie," he whispered faintly.

Then he lay still, an iron will holding what little strength lay in
him.  David sought the wound and found . . . three.  A harsh sob broke
from him when he read the meaning that the three bleeding wounds
spelled.  He had seen men with their mortal wounds before.  He knew
that he might stop the outward flow of blood a little; that perhaps his
father might live to see the sun come up.  But he knew, and his father
knew, that at last John Harper Drennen, good man or bad, was at last
going to his reckoning.

Ygerne Bellaire, while she and Marshall Sothern had nursed David
Drennen, had seen hourly all of the courtly, knightly gentleness and
tenderness which was one side of the old man.  Now she came swiftly to
the edge of the bearskin.  She, too, went down upon her knees at
Sothern's side, just opposite Drennen.  Her hands did not tremble as
they grew red with the spurting blood.  She said nothing, but she
helped Drennen, who, having looked at her once with terrible eyes, made
no protest.  Together they made bandages and sought to do what they
could, Ygerne fastening the knots while Drennen lifted the prone body.
When they had done the old man thanked them both silently, equally,
with his eyes.

So Lieutenant Max found them when, driving Lemarc before him, he came
into the room.  The officer's face, as hard as rock, softened
wonderfully as he cried out and came quickly to Marshall Sothern's side.

"Mr. Sothern!" he said harshly.  "He got you . . . my God!"

"It saves you a nasty job, my boy," Sothern said gently.  "And me much
unhappiness.  I'm old, Max, and I'm tired and my work's done.  I'm
glad, glad to go. . . ."

For a little he was silent, exhausted, his eyes closed.  Then, the
smile seeming to come more easily to the white lips, his eyes still
shut, he murmured so that they leaned closer not to miss the words:

"God is good to me in the end.  I have always been lonely . . . without
your mamma, Davie.  And now I am going to her . . . with all I love in
life telling me . . . good-bye.  You, Max, my boy . . . you, Davie, my
son . . . you, Ygerne, my daughter. . . ."

Ygerne, a sob shaking at her breast, rose swiftly and went out.  But in
a moment she was back, bringing with her a little flask of brandy.  The
eyes of Ramon Garcia, the only eyes in the room to follow her, grew
unutterly sad.

A little of the brandy added fuel to the flickering fire of life in
Marshall Sothern.  At his command they propped him up, the rug under
him, his shoulders against the wall at the side of the fireplace.
Drennen's face again had grown impassive.  Max had not opened his lips
after his first outburst but in his eyes tears gathered, slowly
spilling over upon his brown cheeks.  Ygerne, as before, stood a little

"Davie," the old man said slowly, painfully, yet the words distinct
through the mastery of his will; "I wanted to tell you the story while
we were on the trail together . . . alone, out in the woods.  But it is
just as well now.  Max, my boy, you will forgive me?  I want just Davie
here . . . and Ygerne."

Max turned swiftly, nodding, a new look in his eyes.  He had said
truly; this old man had been more than father to him.  Like all men of
strong passions Max knew jealousy; and now he sought to hide the hurt
that he should be sent away even though it be to make place for the son.

Max and Garcia and Lemarc went out, the door closing after them.
Coming to where Kootanie George lay they saw that Ernestine's face was
against his breast, that George's great arms were at last flung about
her shoulders.

Meantime John Harper Drennen told his story.  Knowing that his time was
short, his strength waning, he gave only the essential facts without
comment, making no defence for himself which did not lie upon the
surface of these facts themselves.

John Harper Drennen had been the second vice-president of the Eastern
Mines, Inc., New York.  He had made his reputation as a man of clean
probity, of unimpeachable honour.  His influence became very great
because his honesty was great.  The first vice-president of the company
was a man named Frayne.  Just now Frayne lay dead outside with Max's
and Drennen's bullets through his body.

Frayne . . . or Sefton . . . while nominally first vice-president was
in actuality the manager of Eastern Mines.  He had always been a man
without principle but John Harper Drennen had believed in him.  There
came a time when the Eastern Mines threw a new scheme upon the market.
Frayne had engineered the plan and had made John Harper Drennen believe
in it.  John Harper Drennen, using his influence, had caused his
friends to buy a total of one hundred thousand dollars of worthless

Before the exposure came John Harper Drennen had had his eyes opened.
He went to Frayne and Frayne laughed at him.  He went higher up and
found that the nominal president was under Frayne's thumb.

Drennen sought the way to make restitution to the friends who had been
fleeced through his advice.  He, himself, had not more than twenty-five
thousand dollars available.  Being in a position of trust in the
company, he took from their vaults the remaining seventy-five thousand
dollars.  He gave the money, the whole hundred thousand, to a broker,
instructing him to buy the worthless shares.  He went to his friends,
instructing them to unload.  He saw that he had made restitution.
Then, knowing that Frayne had cloaked his whole crooked deal in
protective technicalities of the law, knowing that his act could be
punished, he left New York.

He had sought to see his son, but David Drennen was out of town and
there was no time.  He went to Paris.  At last, a body in the Seine
gave him the opportunity to play at being dead.  He wrote the note
which later came to David.  Then he came to New York to find his son.
But David had left.

Through the after years the old man had sought always to do two things:
to return to the Eastern Mines the money which he had taken from the
company; to find his son.

That was his story.

He lifted his eyes when it was done, studying anxiously his son's face.

"I have sinned against the laws of man," he said simply.  "I have
tried, Davie, not to sin against the laws of God."

Therein lay his only defence.

"Dad," whispered the son, his voice breaking now, the tears standing at
last in his eyes as they had stood in Max's; "it is I who have sinned,
being a man of little faith!  Do you know how I worshipped you when I
was a boy?  Do you know how I love you now?"

He bent forward swiftly and . . . he was the impulsive, warm-hearted
boy again . . . kissed his father.  And a tear, falling, ran in the
same course with a tear from the old man's eye.  One a tear of
heartbreaking sadness; one a tear of heartbreaking gladness.

"You will tell Max?" asked Marshall Sothern.  "Poor old Max.  And
now . . . let them come in.  I have lived so much alone . . . I want to
die among my friends."

They stood, heads bared, faces drawn, about the figure which had again
slipped down upon the bear skin.  Max knelt and took the lax hand and
kissed it.

"You are the greatest man in the world," he said incoherently.  "Do you
think I am ungrateful?  Do you think I'd remember a thing like my sworn
duty and forget all you've done for me, all . . ."

"A man is no man unless he does what he thinks is his duty, Max.  I
have tried to do mine.  You would have done yours."

Ramon Garcia, standing a little apart, came softly forward.

"You die, señor?" he asked very gently.

The old man nodded while David Drennen looked up angrily at the

"You love your son?" Garcia asked, still very gently.  "This Drennen is
your son and you love him much?"


"Then I, Ramon Garcia, who have never done a good thing in my life, I
do a good thing now!  I give you something filled with sweetness to
carry in your heart?  For why?"  He shrugged gracefully.  "It is so
short to tell, and maybe the telling make others happy, too.  See.  It
is like this: Your son love the señorita de Bellaire.  She love him.
_Bueno_.  I, too, love her.  I cannot make her happy and love me; so I
will make her happy anyway.  And you happy while you die, señor.  And
your son happy always."

They all looked at him wonderingly.  He paused a moment, gathered what
he had to say into as few words as might be and went on calmly.

"Señor David promise Miss Ygerne he stake Lemarc.  He give Lemarc ten
thousand dollars.  Lemarc come back and say to the lady: 'He lie.  He
give me nothing.  He say he give the money and more to the lady when
she give herself to him . . . for a little while.'  But the lady who
had believe many lies will not believe this one.  What then, _amigos_?
Then Ramon Garcia, loving the lady for his own, tell Sefton and Lemarc
what they shall do.  He say Ernestine Dumont shall play sick; she shall
say she die and that George hit her; she shall make Señor David take
her in his arms, maybe.  And we take the Señorita de Bellaire to see!"

A gasp broke from Ygerne; a look that no man might read sweeping into
her eyes.  Drennen knelt still, looking stunned.  A look of great
happiness came into the old man's face.

"Garcia," he said, "you are a gentleman!  It is the truth . . . this is
what Ernestine has wanted to tell David . . ."

Now, coming swiftly, came the time for a man to die.  He died like a
man, fearlessly.  He had made his hell knowing the thing he did; a hell
not of filth and darkness but of fierce white flames that purified.  He
had walked through it, upright.  He had lived without fear; he had done
wrong but had done so that another, greater wrong might not be done; he
had trodden his way manfully.  He had suffered and had caused
suffering.  But he had not regretted.  He had committed his one
sin . . . if sin it were.  After that his life had been clean.  Not so
much as a lie had come after, even a lie to save his own life.  And in
the end, the end coming swiftly now, it was well.

With David Drennen and Ygerne and Max close about him, his last
sensation the touch of their hands, his last sight the sight of their
tear-wet faces, knowing that when he was gone there would be one to
comfort his son, he died.

It was dawn.  David Drennen and Ygerne Bellaire standing silent, head
bowed over the still form upon the bear skin, knew in their hearts that
there had been no tragedy wrought here.  The lips turned up to them
were smiling.  The man had died full of years, honoured in their
hearts, loved deeply.  He had grown weary at the end of a long trail
and his rest had come to him as he wanted it.

They did not see Ramon Garcia who came softly to the door.  For a
moment he stood looking in, seeing only the girl; slowly there welled
up into his soft eyes great tears.  From his breast he took a little
faded bunch of field flowers.  He raised them to his lips; for a
second, holding them there, he knelt, his eyes still alone for Ygerne.
Then he rose and crossed himself and went away.

They had not seen.  But in a little they heard his voice as he rode
down into the cañon.  It was the old song, lilted tenderly, the voice
seeming young and gay and untroubled:

  "_Dios_.  It is sweet to be young . . . and to love."



At last they passed out of the thick shadows which lay in the forest
lands and into the soft dawn light of the valley, Ygerne and David,
riding side by side.  Behind them lay the hard trails which separately
each had travelled; before them now had the two trails merged, running
pleasantly into one; behind them, far back in the lonely solitudes of
the mountains, was the old Chateau Bellaire wrapped about in its own
history as in a cloak of sable; in front of them, dozing upon the river
banks, was MacLeod's Settlement.

They were thoughtful-eyed, thoughtful-souled, their lips silent, their
hearts eloquent, as they rode through the quiet street, passing Père
Marquette's, Joe's, finally coming abreast of Drennen's old dugout.
Drennen drew rein as Ygerne stopped her horse.  Her eyes went to the
rude cabin, its door open now as it used to be so often even when
Drennen had lived there.  Then she turned back from the house to the
man and he saw that tears had gathered in the sweet grey depths and
were spilling over.

It was the time of rich, deep midsummer in the North Woods which had
brought them back to the Settlement on their way to Lebarge.  It was
the season of joy come again, the warm, tender joy of infinite love.

A certain thought, being framed upon Drennen's lips, was left unspoken
because to the girl the same thought had come and she had spoken
swiftly after her own impulsive way:

"You asked me to meet you once . . . at dawn," she said softly.  "Do
you remember?  And, instead of coming, I left you a note which I could
not have written . . . if I had not been mad . . ."

"That is gone by now, Ygerne," he answered gently.

"But," she whispered, "the dawn has come!"

So at last they came to the old log where Drennen had come upon her
that day he had hurled his love at her like a curse.

The flash of blue across the Little MacLeod might have been the wing of
the same blue bird that had called to them here so long ago.  A winter
had come, had wrought its changes upon the earth and had gone; now it
was a deeper summertime; but, for all that, to-day might have been the
day set apart for this belated lovers' meeting.

Out of the thick darkness at last into the rosy dawn.  Sorrow and
tragedy behind, covered deep in those shadows; love in front of them
and all that it promises to the man and the woman.

Ygerne slipped from her horse and went straight to the log, perching
upon it as she had sat that other day.  Drennen, in a moment, followed

"Ygerne," he whispered.

Everything forgotten but the Now, a thrill ran through the girl.  She
lifted her eyes to his and smiled at him, holding out her arms.  But,
in spite of her, her heart was beating wildly, the blood was running
into her face until her cheeks were stained, red and hot with it.

"Do you hate me . . . because I made you love me?" she asked, laughing
a little, holding him back from her for the last deliciously shy second.

"Do you hate me, Ygerne, because always I was brute to you?"

Then she no longer made play at pressing him back from her.

"We must begin all over," she said at last.  "Love is not love which
does not trust to the uttermost.  We both have lacked faith, David,
dear.  No matter what we see with our own eyes, hear with our own ears,
we must never doubt again.  You will always believe in me . . .
now . . . won't you, David?"

They were silent a little, busied with the same thoughts; they lived
over the few meetings here; they remembered the rainbow upon the
mountain flank, the dinner at Joe's Lunch Counter; they were saying
good-bye to MacLeod's and were looking forward to Lebarge, the railroad
and what lay for them beyond. . . .

Suddenly Drennen cried out strangely, and Ygerne, startled, looked at
him wonderingly.

"What is it?" she asked quickly.

He pointed to something lying in the grass at the side of the log; just
a few bits of weather spoiled cardboard which once upon a time had been
a big box filled with candy for her.  He told her what it was.  Her
hand shut down tight upon his arm; he could feel a little tremor shake
her; then, deeply touched by this little thing, the girl was crying
softly.  A tear splashed upon his hand, a tear like a pearl.

"And there was something else, Ygerne," he said gently.  "Look.  The
winter has left it and no man has come here to find it."

It was peeping out at him from the little hollow upon the log's uneven
surface where he had dropped it, a glint of gold from under the piece
of bark which he had put over it and which had not been thrust aside by
the winter winds.

"I got it for you at the same time, Ygerne," he told her.  "It was to
be my first little present to you. . . ."

Winter snow and spring thaw had done no harm to the gold which could
not rust nor to the pearls which could not tarnish. . . .  Silently she
bared her throat that he might fasten the pendant necklace for her.
His hands trembled and a strange awkwardness came upon him.  But in the
end it was done.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wolf Breed" ***

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