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´╗┐Title: Carnac's Folly, Complete
Author: Parker, Gilbert, 1860-1932
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Carnac's Folly, Complete" ***

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CARNAC'S FOLLY

By Gilbert Parker



CONTENTS:

BOOK I
I.        IN THE DAYS OF CHILDHOOD
II.       ELEVEN YEARS PASS
III.      CARNAC'S RETURN
IV.       THE HOUSE ON THE HILL
V.        CARNAC AS MANAGER
VI.       LUKE TARBOE HAS AN OFFER
VII.      "AT OUR PRICE"
VIII.     JOHN GRIER MAKES ANOTHER OFFER
IX.       THE PUZZLE
X.        DENZIL TELLS HIS STORY
XI.       CARNAC'S TALK WITH HIS MOTHER
XII.      CARNAC SAYS GOOD-BYE

BOOK II
XIII.     CARNAC'S RETURN
XIV.      THE HOUSE OF THE THREE TREES
XV.       CARNAC AND JUNTA
XVI.      JOHN GRIER MAKES A JOURNEY
XVII.     THE READING OF THE WILL

BOOK III
XVIII.    A GREAT DECISION
XIX.      CARNAC BECOMES A CANDIDATE
XX.       JUNIA AND TARBOE HEAR THE NEWS
XXI.      THE SECRET MEETING
XXII.     POINT TO POINT
XXIII.    THE MAN WHO WOULD NOT
XXIV.     THE BLUE PAPER
XXV.      DENZIL TAKES A HAND IN THE GAME
XXVI.     THE CHALLENGE
XXVII.    EXIT
XXVIII.   A WOMAN WRITES A LETTER
XXIX.     CARNAC AND HIS MOTHER
XXX.      TARBOE HAS A DREAM
XXXI.     THIS WAY HOME
XXXII.    'HALVES, PARDNER, HALVES'



BOOK I



CHAPTER I

IN THE DAYS OF CHILDHOOD

"Carnac! Carnac! Come and catch me, Carnac!" It was a day of perfect
summer and hope and happiness in the sweet, wild world behind the near
woods and the far circle of sky and pine and hemlock. The voice that
called was young and vibrant, and had in it the simple, true soul of
things. It had the clearness of a bugle-call-ample and full of life and
all life's possibilities. It laughed; it challenged; it decoyed.

Carnac heard the summons and did his best to catch the girl in the wood
by the tumbling stream, where he had for many an hour emptied out his
wayward heart; where he had seen his father's logs and timbers caught in
jams, hunched up on rocky ledges, held by the prong of a rock, where
man's purpose could, apparently, avail so little. Then he had watched the
black-bearded river-drivers with their pike-poles and their levers loose
the key-logs of the bunch, and the tumbling citizens of the woods and
streams toss away down the current to the wider waters below. He was only
a lad of fourteen, and the girl was only eight, but she--Junia--was as
spry and graceful a being as ever woke the echoes of a forest.

He was only fourteen, but already he had visions and dreamed dreams. His
father--John Grier--was the great lumber-king of Canada, and Junia was
the child of a lawyer who had done little with his life, but had had
great joy of his two daughters, who were dear to him beyond telling.

Carnac was one of Nature's freaks or accidents. He was physically strong
and daring, but, as a boy, mentally he lacked concentration and decision,
though very clever. He was led from thing to thing like a ray of errant
light, and he did not put a hand on himself, as old Denzil, the partly
deformed servant of Junia's home, said of him on occasion; and Denzil was
a man of parts.

Denzil was not far from the two when Junia made her appeal and challenge.
He loved the girl exceedingly, and he loved Carnac little less, though in
a different way. Denzil was French of the French, with habit of mind and
character wholly his own.

Denzil's head was squat upon his shoulders, and his long, handsome body
was also squat, because his legs were as short, proportionately, as his
mind was long. His face was covered by a well-cared-for beard of dark
brown, streaked with grey; his features were rugged and fine; and his
eyes were like two coals burning under a gnarled headland; for his
forehead, ample and full, had lines which were not lines of age, but of
concentration. In his motions he was quiet and free, yet always there was
a kind of stealthiness in his movements, which made him seem less frank
than he really was.

For a time, with salient sympathy in his eyes, he watched the two
children playing. The whisking of their forms among the trees and over
the rocks was fine, gracious, and full of life-life without alarm. At
length he saw the girl falter slightly, then make a swift deceptive
movement to avoid the boy who pursued her. The movement did not delude
the boy. He had quickness of anticipation. An instant later the girl was
in his arms.

As Denzil gazed, it seemed she was in his arms too long, and a sudden
anxiety took hold of him. That anxiety was deepened when he saw the boy
kiss the girl on the cheek. This act seemed to discompose the girl, but
not enough to make drama out of an innocent, yet sensuous thing. The boy
had meant nothing more than he had shown, and Denzil traced the act to a
native sense of luxury in his nature. Knowing the boy's father and mother
as he did, it seemed strange that Carnac should have such demonstration
in his character. Of all the women he knew, Carnac's mother was the most
exact and careful, though now and again he thought of her as being
shrouded, or apart; while the boy's father, the great lumber-king,
cantankerous, passionate, perspicuous, seemed to have but one passion,
and that was his business.

It was strange to Denzil that the lumber-king, short, thin, careless in
his clothes but singularly clean in his person, should have a son so
little like himself, and also so little like his mother. He, Denzil, was
a Catholic, and he could not understand a man like John Grier who, being
a member of the Episcopal Church, so seldom went to service and so defied
rules of conduct suitable to his place in the world.

As for the girl, to him she was the seventh wonder of the earth. Wantonly
alive, dexterously alert to all that came her way, sportive, indifferent,
joyous, she had all the boy's sprightliness, but none of his weaknesses.
She was a born tease; she loved bright and beautiful things; she was a
keen judge of human nature, and she had buoyant spirits, which, however,
were counterbalanced by moments of extreme timidity, or, rather, reserve
and shyness. On a day like this, when everything in life was singing, she
must sing too. Not a mile away was a hut by the river where her father
had brought his family for the summer's fishing; not a half-mile away was
a tent which Carnac Grier's father had set up as he passed northward on
his tour of inspection. This particular river, and this particular part
of the river, were trying to the river-man and his clans. It needed a
dam, and the great lumber-king was planning to make one not three hundred
yards from where they were.

The boy and the girl resting idly upon a great warm rock had their own
business to consider. The boy kept looking at his boots with the
brass-tipped toes. He hated them. The girl was quick to understand. "Why
don't you like your boots?" she asked.

A whimsical, exasperated look came into his face. "I don't know why they
brass a boy's toes like that, but when I marry I won't wear them--that's
all," he replied.

"Why do you wear them now?" she asked, smiling.

"You don't know my father."

"He's got plenty of money, hasn't he?" she urged. "Plenty; and that's
what I can't understand about him! There's a lot of waste in
river-driving, timber-making, out in the shanties and on the river, but
he don't seem to mind that. He's got fads, though, about how we are to
live, and this is one of them." He looked at the brass-tipped boots
carefully. A sudden resolve came into his face. He turned to the girl and
flushed as he spoke. "Look here," he added, "this is the last day I'm
going to wear these boots. He's got to buy me a pair without any brass
clips on them, or I'll kick."

"No, it isn't the last day you're going to wear them, Carnac."

"It is. I wonder if all boys feel towards their father as I do to mine.
He don't treat me right. He--"

"Oh, look," interrupted Junia. "Look-Carnac!" She pointed in dismay.

Carnac saw a portion of the bank of the river disappear with Denzil. He
ran over to the bank and looked down. In another moment he had made his
way to a descending path which led him swiftly to the river's edge. The
girl remained at the top. The boy had said to her: "You stay there. I'll
tell you what to do."

"Is-is he killed?" she called with emotion.

"Killed! No. He's all right," he called back to her. "I can see him move.
Don't be frightened. He's not in the water. It was only about a
thirty-foot fall. You stay there, and I'll tell you what to do," he
added.

A few moments later, the boy called up: "He's all right, but his leg is
broken. You go to my father's camp--it's near. People are sure to be
there, and maybe father too. You bring them along."

In an instant the girl was gone. The boy, left behind, busied himself in
relieving the deformed broken-legged habitant. He brought some water in
his straw hat to refresh him. He removed the rocks and dirt, and dragged
the little man out.

"It was a close call--bien sur," said Denzil, breathing hard. "I always
said that place wasn't safe, but I went on it myself. That's the way in
life. We do what we forbid ourselves to do; we suffer the shames we damn
in others--but yes."

There was a pause, then he added: "That's what you'll do in your life,
M'sieu' Carnac. That's what you'll do."

"Always?"

"Well, you never can tell--but no."

"But you always can tell," remarked the boy. "The thing is, do what you
feel you've got to do, and never mind what happens."

"I wish I could walk," remarked the little man, "but this leg of mine is
broke--ah, bah, it is!"

"Yes, you mustn't try to walk. Be still," answered the boy. "They'll be
here soon." Slowly and carefully he took off the boot and sock from the
broken leg, and, with his penknife, opened the seam of the corduroy
trouser. "I believe I could set that leg myself," he added.

"I think you could--bagosh," answered Denzil heavily. "They'll bring a
rope to haul me up?"

"Junia has a lot of sense, she won't forget anything."

"And if your father's there, he'll not forget anything," remarked Denzil.

"He'll forget to make me wear these boots tomorrow," said the boy
stubbornly, his chin in his hands, his eyes fixed gloomily on the
brass-headed toes.

There was a long silence. At last from the stricken Denzil came the
words: "You'll have your own way about the boots."

Carnac murmured, and presently said:

"Lucky you fell where you did. Otherwise, you'd have been in the water,
and then I couldn't have been of any use."

"I hear them coming--holy, yes!"

Carnac strained his ears. "Yes, you're right. I hear them too."

A few moments later, Carnac's father came sliding down the bank, a rope
in his hands, some workmen remaining above.

"What's the matter here?" he asked. "A fall, eh! Dang little fool--now,
you are a dang little fool, and you know it, Denzil."

He nodded to his boy, then he raised the wounded man's head and
shoulders, and slipped the noose over until it caught under his arms.

The old lumber-king's movements were swift, sure and exact. A moment
later he lifted Denzil in his arms, and carried him over to the steep
path up which he was presently dragged.

At the top, Denzil turned to Carnac's father. "M'sieu', Carnac hates
wearing those brass-toed boots," he said boldly.

The lumber-king looked at his boy acutely. He blew his nose hard, with a
bandana handkerchief. Then he nodded towards the boy.

"He can suit himself about that," he said.

With accomplished deftness, with some sacking and two poles, a hasty but
comfortable ambulance was made under the skilful direction of the
river-master. He had the gift of outdoor life. He did not speak as he
worked, but kept humming to himself.

"That's all right," he said, as he saw Denzil on the stretcher. "We'll
get on home now."

"Home?" asked his son.

"Yes, Montreal--to-night," replied his father. "The leg has to be set."

"Why don't you set it?" asked the boy.

The river-master gazed at him attentively. "Well, I might, with your
help," he said. "Come along."



CHAPTER II

ELEVEN YEARS PASS

Eleven years had passed since Denzil's fall, and in that time much
history had been made. Carnac Grier, true to his nature, had travelled
from incident to incident, from capacity to capacity, apparently without
system, yet actually with the keenest desire to fulfil himself; with an
honesty as inveterate as his looks were good and his character filled
with dark recesses. In vain had his father endeavoured to induce him to
enter the lumber business; to him it seemed too conventional and fixed.

Yet, in his way, he knew the business well. By instinct, over the
twenty-five years of his life, he had observed and become familiar with
the main features of the work. He had once or twice even buried himself
in the shanties of the backwoods, there to inhale and repulse the fetid
air, to endure the untoward, half-savage life, the clean, strong food,
the bitter animosities and the savage friendships. It was a land where
sunshine travelled, and in the sun the bright, tuneful birds made lively
the responsive world. Sometimes an eagle swooped down the stream; again
and again, hawks, and flocks of pigeons which frequented the lonely
groves on the river-side, made vocal the world of air; flocks of wild
ducks, or geese, went whirring down the long spaces of water between the
trees on either bank; and some one with a fiddle or a concertina made
musical the evening, while the singing voices of rough habitants rang
through the air.

It was all spirited; it smelt good; it felt good; but it was not for
Carnac. When he had a revolt against anything in life, the grim storm
scenes of winter in the shanties under the trees and the snow-swept hills
came to his mind's eye. The summer life of the river, and what is called
"running the river," had for him great charms. The smell of hundreds of
thousands of logs in the river, the crushed bark, the slimy ooze were all
suggestive of life in the making. But the savage seclusion of the wild
life in winter repelled his senses. Besides, the lumber business meant
endless figures and measurements in stuffy offices and he retreated from
it all.

He had an artistic bent. From a small child he had had it, and it grew
with his years. He wanted to paint, and he painted; he wanted to sculp in
clay, and he sculped in clay; but all the time he was conscious it was
the things he had seen and the life he had lived which made his painting
and his sculpture worth while. It was absurd that a man of his great
outdoor capacity should be the slave of a temperamental quality, and yet
it was so. It was no good for his father to condemn, or his mother to
mourn, he went his own way.

He had seen much of Junia Shale in these years and had grown fond of her,
but she was away much with an aunt in the West, and she was sent to
boarding-school, and they saw each other only at intervals. She liked him
and showed it, but he was not ready to go farther. As yet his art was
everything to him, and he did not think of marriage. He was care-free. He
had a little money of his own, left by an uncle of his mother, and he had
also an allowance from his mother--none from his father--and he was
satisfied with life.

His brother, Fabian, being the elder, by five years, had gone into his
father's business as a partner, and had remained there. Fabian had at
last married an elder sister of Junia Shale and settled down in a house
on the hill, and the lumber-king, John Grier, went on building up his
splendid business.

At last, Carnac, feeling he was making small headway with his painting,
determined to go again to New York and Paris. He had already spent a year
in each place and it had benefited him greatly. So, with that sudden
decision which marked his life, he started for New York. It was
immediately after the New Year and the ground was covered with snow. He
looked out of the window of the train, and there was only the long line
of white country broken by the leafless trees and rail-fences and the
mansard-roofs and low cottages with their stoops, built up with earth to
keep them warm; and the sheds full of cattle; and here and there a
sawmill going hard, and factories pounding away and men in fur coats
driving the small Indian ponies; and the sharp calls of the men with the
sleigh bringing wood, or meat, or vegetables to market. He was by nature
a queer compound of Radical and Conservative, a victim of vision and
temperament. He was full of pride, yet fuller of humility of a real kind.
As he left Montreal he thought of Junia Shale, and he recalled the day
eleven years before when he had worn brass-toed boots, and he had caught
Junia in his arms and kissed her, and Denzil had had his accident. Denzil
had got unreasonably old since then; but Junia remained as she was the
joyous day when boyhood took on the first dreams of manhood.

Life was a queer thing, and he had not yet got his bearings in it. He had
a desire to reform the world and he wanted to be a great painter or
sculptor, or both; and he entered New York with a new sense developed. He
was keen to see, to do, and to feel. He wanted to make the world ring
with his name and fame, yet he wanted to do the world good also, if he
could. It was a curious state of mind for the English boy, who talked
French like a native and loved French literature and the French people,
and was angry with those English-Canadians who were so selfish they would
never learn French.

Arrived in New York he took lodgings near old Washington Square, where
there were a few studios near the Bohemian restaurants and a life as
nearly continental as was possible in a new country. He got in touch with
a few artists and began to paint, doing little scenes in the Bowery and
of the night-life of New York, and visiting the Hudson River and Long
Island for landscape and seascape sketches.

One day he was going down Broadway, and near Union Square he saved a girl
from being killed by a street-car. She had slipped and fallen on the
track and a car was coming. It was impossible for her to get away in
time, and Carnac had sprung to her and got her free. She staggered to her
feet, and he saw she was beautiful and foreign. He spoke to her in French
and her eyes lighted, for she was French. She told him at once that her
name was Luzanne Larue. He offered to get a cab and take her home, but
she said no, she was fit to walk, so he went with her slowly to her home
in one of the poor streets on the East side. They talked as they went,
and Carnac saw she was of the lower middle-class, with more refinement
than was common in that class, and more charm. She was a fascinating girl
with fine black eyes, black hair, a complexion of cream, and a gift of
the tongue. Carnac could not see that she was very subtle. She seemed a
marvel of guilelessness. She had a wonderful head and neck, and as he was
planning a picture of an early female martyr, he decided to ask her to
sit to him.

Arrived at her humble home, he was asked to enter, and there he met her
father, Isel Larue, a French monarchist who had been exiled from Paris
for plotting against the Government. He was handsome with snapping black
eyes, a cruel mouth and a droll and humorous tongue. He was grateful to
Carnac for saving his daughter's life. Coffee and cigarettes were
produced, and they chatted and smoked while Carnac took in the
surroundings. Everything was plain, but spotlessly clean, and he learned
that Larue made his living by doing odd jobs in an electric firm. He was
just home from his work. Luzanne was employed every afternoon in a
milliner's shop, but her evenings were free after the housework was done
at nine o'clock. Carnac in a burst of enthusiasm asked if she would sit
to him as a model in the mornings. Her father instantly said, of course
she would.

This she did for many days, and sat with her hair down and bared neck, as
handsome and modest as a female martyr should. Carnac painted her with
skill. Sometimes he would walk with her to lunch and make her eat
something sustaining, and they talked freely then, though little was said
while he was painting her. At last one day the painting was finished, and
she looked up at him wistfully when he told her he would not need another
sitting. Carnac, overcome by her sadness, put his arms round her and
kissed her mouth, her eyes, her neck ravenously. She made only a slight
show of resistance. When he stopped she said: "Is that the way you keep
your word to my father? I am here alone and you embrace me--is that
fair?"

"No, it isn't, and I promise I won't do it again, Luzanne. I am sorry. I
wanted our friendship to benefit us both, and now I've spoiled it all."

"No, you haven't spoiled it all," said Luzanne with a sigh, and she
buttoned up the neck of her blouse, flushing slightly as she did so. Her
breast heaved and suddenly she burst into tears. It was evident she
wanted Carnac to comfort her, perhaps to kiss her again, but he did not
do so. He only stood over her, murmuring penance and asking her to forget
it.

"I can't forget it--I can't. No man but my father has ever kissed me
before. It makes me, oh! so miserable!" but she smiled through her tears.
Suddenly she dried her eyes. "Once a man tried to kiss me--and something
more. He was rich and he'd put money into Madame Margot's millinery
business. He was brilliant, and married, but he had no rules for his
morals--all he wanted was money and pleasures which he bought. I was
attracted by him, but one day he tried to kiss me. I slapped his face,
and then I hated him. So, when you kissed me to-day, I thought of that,
and it made me unhappy--but yes."

"You did not slap my face, Luzanne?"

She blushed and hung her head. "No, I did not; you are not a bad man. He
would have spoiled my life. He made it clear I could have all the
luxuries money could buy--all except marriage!" She shrugged her
shoulders.

Carnac was of an impressionable nature, but brought to face the
possibility of marriage with Luzanne, he shrank. If ever he married it
would be a girl like Junia Shale, beautiful, modest, clever and well
educated. No, Luzanne could never be for him. So he forbore doing more
than ask her to forgive him, and he would take her to lunch-the last
lunch of the picture-if she would. With features in chagrin, she put on
her hat, yet when she turned to him, she was smiling.

He visited her home occasionally, and Luzanne's father had a friend,
Ingot by name, who was sometimes present. This man made himself almost
unbearable at first; but Luzanne pulled Ingot up acridly, and he
presently behaved well. Ingot disliked all men in better positions than
himself, and was a revolutionary of the worst sort--a revolutionary and
monarchist. He was only a monarchist because he loved conspiracy and
hated the Republican rulers who had imprisoned him--"those bombastics,"
he called them. It was a constitutional quarrel with the world. However,
he became tractable, and then he and Larue formed a plot to make Carnac
marry Luzanne. It was hatched by Ingot, approved by Larue, and at length
consented to by the girl, for so far as she could love anyone, she loved
Carnac; and she made up her mind that if he married her, no matter how,
she would make him so happy he would forgive all.

About four months after the incident in the studio, a picnic was arranged
for the Hudson River. Only the four went. Carnac had just sold a picture
at a good price--his Christian Martyr picture--and he was in high
spirits. They arrived at the spot arranged for the picnic in time for
lunch, and Luzanne prepared it. When the lunch was ready, they sat down.
There was much gay talk, compliments to Carnac came from both Larue and
Ingot, and Carnac was excited and buoyant. He drank much wine and beer,
and told amusing stories of the French-Canadians which delighted them
all. He had a gift of mimicry and he let himself go.

"You got a pretty fine tongue in your head--but of the best," said Ingot
with a burst of applause. "You'd make a good actor, a holy good actor.
You got a way with you. Coquelin, Salvini, Bernhardt! Voila, you're just
as good! Bagosh, I'd like to see you on the stage."

"So would I," said Larue. "I think you could play a house full in no time
and make much cash--I think you could. Don't you think so, Luzanne?"

Luzanne laughed. "He can act very first-class, I'm sure," she said, and
she turned and looked Carnac in the eyes. She was excited, she was
handsome, she was slim and graceful, and Carnac felt towards her as he
did the day at the studio, as though he'd like to kiss her. He knew it
was not real, but it was the man in him and the sex in her.

For an hour and a half the lunch went on, all growing gayer, and then at
last Ingot said: "Well, I'm going to have a play now here, and Carnac
Grier shall act, and we all shall act. We're going to have a wedding
ceremony between M'sieu' Grier and Luzanne--but, hush, why not!" he
added, when Luzanne shook her finger at him, and said she'd do nothing of
the kind, having, however, agreed to it beforehand. "Why not! There's
nothing in it. They'll both be married some day and it will be good
practice for them. They can learn now how to do it. It's got to be
done--but yes. I'll find a Judge in the village. Come now, hands up,
those that will do it."

With a loud laugh Larue held up his hand, Carnac, who was half-drunk, did
the same, and after a little hesitation Luzanne also.

"Good--a gay little comedy, that's what it is. I'm off for the Judge,"
and away went Ingot hard afoot, having already engaged a Judge, called
Grimshaw, in the village near to perform the ceremony. When he had gone,
Larue went off to smoke and Luzanne and Carnac cleared up the
lunch-things and put all away in the baskets. When it was finished,
Carnac and Luzanne sat down under a tree and talked cheerfully, and
Luzanne was never so effective as she was that day. They laughed over the
mock ceremony to be performed.

"I'm a Catholic, you know," said Luzanne, "and it isn't legal in my
church with no dispensation to be married to a Protestant like you. But
as it is, what does it matter!"

"Well, that's true," said Carnac. "I suppose I ought to be acting the
lover now; I ought to be kissing you, oughtn't I?"

"As an actor, yes, but as a man, better not unless others are present.
Wait till the others come. Wait for witnesses, so that it can look like
the real thing.

"See, there they come now." She pointed, and in the near distance Ingot
could be seen approaching with a short, clean-shaven, roly-poly sort of
man who did not look legal, but was a real magistrate. He came waddling
along in good spirits and rather pompously. At that moment Larue
appeared. Presently Ingot presented the Judge to the would--be bride and
bridegroom. "You wish to be married-you are Mr. Grier?" said Judge
Grimshaw.

"That's me and I'm ready," said Carnac. "Get on with the show. What's the
first thing?"

"Well, the regular thing is to sign some forms, stating age, residence,
etc., and here they are all ready. Brought 'em along with me. Most
unusual form of ceremony, but it'll do. It's all right. Here are the
papers to sign."

Carnac hastily scratched in the needed information, and Luzanne doing the
same, the magistrate pocketed the papers.

"Now we can perform the ceremony," said the Judge. "Mr. Larue, you go
down there with the young lady and bring her up in form, and Mr. Carnac
Grier waits here."

Larue went away with Luzanne, and presently turned, and she, with her arm
in his, came forward. Carnac stood waiting with a smile on his face, for
it seemed good acting. When Luzanne came, her father handed her over, and
the marriage ceremony proceeded. Presently it concluded, and Grimshaw,
who had had more drink than was good for him, wound up the ceremony with
the words: "And may the Lord have mercy on you!"

Every one laughed, Carnac kissed the bride, and the Judge handed her the
marriage certificate duly signed. It was now Carnac's duty to pay in the
usual way for the ceremony, and he handed the Judge ten dollars; and
Grimshaw rolled away towards the village, Ingot having also given him
ten.

"That's as good a piece of acting as I've ever seen," said Larue with a
grin. "It beats Coquelin and Henry Irving."

"I didn't think there was much in it," said Carnac, laughing, "though it
was real enough to cost me ten dollars. One has to pay for one's fun. But
I got a wife cheap at the price, and I didn't pay for the wedding ring."

"No, the ring was mine," said Larue. "I had it a long time. It was my
engagement ring, and I want it back now."

Luzanne took it off her finger--it was much too large--and gave it to
him. "It's easy enough to get another," she said in a queer voice.

"You did the thing in style, young man," said Ingot to Carnac with a nod.

"I'll do it better when it's the real thing," said Carnac. "I've had my
rehearsal now, and it seemed almost real."

"It was almost real," said Ingot, with his head turned away from Carnac,
but he winked at Larue and caught a furtive look from Luzanne's eye.

"I think we'd better have another hour hereabouts, then get back to New
York," said Larue. "There's a circus in the village--let us go to that."

At the village, they did the circus, called out praise to the clown, gave
the elephant some buns, and at five o'clock started back to New York.
Arrived at New York, they went to a hotel off Broadway for dinner, and
Carnac signed names in the hotel register as "Mr. and Mrs. Carnac Grier."
When he did it, he saw a furtive glance pass from Luzanne's eyes to her
father. It was disconcerting to him. Presently the two adjourned to the
sitting-room, and there he saw that the table was only laid for two. That
opened his eyes. The men had disappeared and he and Luzanne were alone.
She was sitting on a sofa near the table, showing to good advantage. She
was composed, while Carnac was embarrassed. Carnac began to take a grip
on himself.

The waiter entered. "When shall I serve dinner, sir?" he said.

Carnac realized that the dinner had been ordered by the two men, and he
said quietly: "Don't serve it for a half-hour yet--not till I ring,
please. Make it ready then. There's no hurry. It's early."

The waiter bowed and withdrew with a smile, and Carnac turned to Luzanne.
She smiled, got up, came over, laid a hand on his arm, and said: "It's
quiet and nice here, Carnac dear," and she looked up ravishingly in his
face.

"It's too quiet and it's not at all nice," he suddenly replied. "Your
father and Ingot have gone. They've left us alone on purpose. This is a
dirty game and I'm not going to play it any longer. I've had enough of
it. I've had my fill. I'm going now. Come, let's go together."

She looked a bit smashed and overdone. "The dinner!" she said in
confusion.

"I'll pay for that. We won't wait any longer. Come on at once, please."

She put on her things coolly, and he noticed a savage stealthiness as she
pushed the long pins through her hat and hair. He left the room. Outside
the hotel, Carnac held out his hand.

"Good night and good-bye, Luzanne," he said huskily. "You can get home
alone, can't you?"

She laughed a little, then she said: "I guess so. I've lived in New York
some years. But you and I are married, Carnac, and you ought to take me
to your home."

There was something devilish in her smile now. Then the whole truth burst
upon Carnac. "Married--married! When did I marry you? Good God!"

"You married me this afternoon after lunch at Shipton. I have the
certificate and I mean to hold you to it."

"You mean to hold me to it--a real marriage to-day at Shipton! You and
your father and Ingot tricked me into this."

"He was a real Judge, and it was a real marriage."

"It is a fraud, and I'll unmask it," Carnac declared in anger.

"It would be difficult to prove. You signed our names in the hotel
register as Mr. and Mrs. Carnac Grier. I mean to stick to that name--Mrs.
Carnac Grier. I'll make you a good wife, Carnac--do believe it.

"I'll believe nothing but the worst of you ever. I'll fight the thing
out, by God!"

She shook her head and smiled. "I meant you to marry me, when you saved
my life from the streetcar. I never saw but one man I wanted to marry,
and you are that man, Carnac. You wouldn't ask me, so I made you marry
me. You could go farther and fare worse. Come, take me home--take me
home, my love. I want you to love me."

"You little devil!" Carnac declared. "I'd rather cut my own throat. I'm
going to have a divorce. I'm going to teach you and the others a lesson
you won't forget."

"There isn't a jury in the United States you could convince after what
you've done. You've made it impossible. Go to Judge Grimshaw and see what
he will say. Go and ask the hotel people and see what they will say.
You're my husband, and I mean you shall live with me, and I'll love you
better than any woman on earth can love you. . . . Won't you?" She held
out her hand.

With an angry exclamation, Carnac refused it, and then she suddenly
turned on her heel, slipped round a corner and was gone.

Carnac was dumbfounded. He did not know what to do. He went dazedly home,
and slept little that night. The next day he went out to Shipton and saw
Judge Grimshaw and told him the whole tale. The Judge shook his head.

"It's too tall a story. Why, you went through the ceremony as if it was
the real thing, signed the papers, paid my fee, and kissed the bride. You
could not get a divorce on such evidence. I'm sorry for you, if you don't
want the girl. She's very nice, and 'd make a good wife. What does she
mean to do?"

"I don't know. She left me in the street and went back to her home. I
won't live with her."

"I can't help you anyhow. She has the certificate. You are validly
married. If I were you, I'd let the matter stand."

So they parted, and Carnac sullenly went back to his apartments. The next
day he went to see a lawyer, however. The lawyer opened his eyes at the
story. He had never heard anything like it.

"It doesn't sound as if you were sober when you did it. Were you, sir? It
was a mad prank, anyhow!"

"I had been drinking, but I wasn't drunk. I'd been telling them stories
and they used them as a means of tempting me to act in the absurd
marriage ceremony. Like a fool I consented. Like a fool--but I wasn't
drunk."

"No, but when you were in your right mind and sober you signed your names
as Mr. and Mrs. Carnac Grier in the register of a hotel. I will try to
win your case for you, but it won't be easy work. You see the Judge
himself told you the same thing. But it would be a triumph to expose a
thing of that kind, and I'd like to do it. It wouldn't be cheap, though.
You'd have to foot the bill. Are you rich?"

"No, but my people are," said Carnac. "I could manage the cash, but
suppose I lost!"

"Well, you'd have to support the woman. She could sue you for cruelty and
desertion, and the damages would be heavy."

Carnac shook his head, paid his fee and left the office.

He did not go near Luzanne. After a month he went to Paris for eight
months, and then back to Montreal.



CHAPTER III

CARNAC'S RETURN

Arrived in Montreal, there were attempts by Carnac to settle down to
ordinary life of quiet work at his art, but it was not effective, nor had
it been in Paris, though the excitement of working in the great centre
had stimulated him. He ever kept saying to himself, "Carnac, you are a
married man--a married man, by the tricks of rogues!" In Paris, he could
more easily obscure it, but in Montreal, a few hundred miles from the
place of his tragedy, pessimism seized him. He now repented he did not
fight it out at once. It would have been courageous and perhaps
successful. But whether successful or not, he would have put himself
right with his own conscience. That was the chief thing. He was
straightforward, and back again in Canada, Carnac flung reproaches at
himself.

He knew himself now to be in love with Junia Shale, and because he was
married he could not approach her. It galled him. He was not fond of
Fabian, for they had little in common, and he had no intimate friends.
Only his mother was always sympathetic to him, and he loved her. He saw
much of her, but little of anyone else. He belonged to no clubs, and
there were few artists in Montreal. So he lived his own life, and when he
met Junia he cavilled at himself for his madness with Luzanne. The
curious thing was he had not had a word from her since the day of the
mock marriage. Perhaps she had decided to abandon the thing! But that
could do no good, for there was the marriage recorded in the registers of
New York State.

Meanwhile, things were not going well with others. There befell a day
when matters came to a crisis in the Grier family. Since Fabian's
marriage with Junia Shale's sister, Sybil, he had become discontented
with his position in his father's firm. There was little love between him
and his father, and that was chiefly the father's fault. One day, the old
man stormed at Fabian because of a mistake in the management, and was
foolish enough to say that Fabian had lost his grip since his marriage.

Fabian, enraged, demanded freedom from the partnership, and offered to
sell his share. In a fit of anger, the old man offered him what was at
least ten per cent more than the value of Fabian's share. The sombre
Fabian had the offer transferred to paper at once, and it was signed by
his father--not without compunction, because difficult as Fabian was he
might go further and fare worse. As for Fabian's dark-haired,
brown-faced, brown-eyed wife, to John Grier's mind, it seemed a good
thing to be rid of her.

When Fabian left the father alone in his office, however, the stark
temper of the old man broke down. He had had enough. He muttered to
himself. Presently he was roused by a little knock at the door. It was
Junia, brilliant, buoyant, yellow haired, with bright brown eyes,
tingling cheeks, and white laughing teeth that showed against her red
lips. She held up a finger at him.

"I know what you've done, and it's no good at all. You can't live without
us, and you mustn't," she said. The old man glowered still, but a
reflective smile crawled to his lips. "No, it's finished," he replied.

"It had to come, and it's done. It can't be changed. Fabian wouldn't
alter it, and I shan't."

His face was stern and dour. He tangled his short fingers in the hair on
top of his head.

"I wouldn't say that, if I were you," she responded cheerily. "Fabian
showed me the sum you offered for his share. It's ridiculous. The
business isn't worth it."

"What do you know about the business?" remarked the other.

"Well, whatever it was worth an hour ago, it's worth less now," she
answered with suggestion. "It's worth much less now," she added.

"What do you mean by that?" he asked sharply, sitting upright, his hands
clasping his knees almost violently, his clean-shaven face showing lines
of trouble.

"I mean he's going to join the enemy," she answered quickly.

"Join the enemy!" broke from the old man's lips with a startled accent.

"Yes, the firm of Belloc."

The old man did not speak, but a curious whiteness stole over his face.
"What makes you say that!" he exclaimed, anger in his eyes.

"Well, Fabian has to put money into something," she answered, "and the
only business he knows is lumber business. Don't you think it's natural
he should go to Belloc?"

"Did he ever say so?" asked the old man with savage sullenness. "Tell me.
Did he ever say so?"

The girl shook back her brave head with a laugh. "Of course he never said
so, but I know the way he'll go."

The old man shook his head. "I don't believe it. He's got no love for
Belloc."

The girl felt like saying, "He's got no love for you," but she refrained.
She knew that Fabian had love for his father, but he had inherited a love
for business, and that would overwhelm all other feelings. She therefore
said: "Why don't you get Carnac to come in? He's got more sense than
Fabian--and he isn't married!"

She spoke boldly, for she knew the character of the man. She was only
nineteen. She had always come in and gone out of Grier's house and office
freely and much more since her sister had married Fabian.

A storm gathered between the old man's eyes; his brow knitted. "Carnac's
got brains enough, but he goes monkeying about with pictures and statues
till he's worth naught in the business of life."

"I don't think you understand him," the girl replied. "I've been trying
to understand him for twenty-five years," the other said malevolently.
"He might have been a big man. He might have bossed this business when
I'm gone. It's in him, but he's a fly-away--he's got no sense. The ideas
he's got make me sick. He talks like a damn fool sometimes."

"But if he's a 'damn fool'--is it strange?" She gaily tossed a kiss at
the king of the lumber world. "The difference between you and him is
this: he doesn't care about the things of this world, and you do; but
he's one of the ablest men in Canada. If Fabian won't come back, why not
Carnac?"

"We've never hit it off."

Suddenly he stood up, his face flushed, his hands outthrust themselves in
rage, his fingers opened and shut in abandonment of temper.

"Why have I two such sons!" he exclaimed. "I've not been bad. I've
squeezed a few; I've struck here and there; I've mauled my enemies, but
I've been good to my own. Why can't I run square with my own family?" He
was purple to the roots of his hair.

Savagery possessed him. Life was testing him to the nth degree. "I've
been a good father, and a good husband! Why am I treated like this?"

She watched him silently. Presently, however, the storm seemed to pass.
He appeared to gain control of himself.

"You want me to have in Carnac?" he asked, with a little fleck of foam at
the corners of his mouth.

"If you could have Fabian back," she remarked, "but you can't! It's been
coming for a long time. He's got your I.O.U. and he won't return; but
Carnac's got plenty of stuff in him. He never was afraid of anything or
anybody, and if he took a notion, he could do this business as well as
yourself by and by. It's all a chance, but if he comes in he'll put
everything else aside."

"Where is he?" the old man asked. "He's with his mother at your home."

The old man took his hat from the window-sill. At that moment a clerk
appeared with some papers. "What have you got there?" asked Grier
sharply. "The Belloc account for the trouble on the river," answered the
clerk.

"Give it me," Grier said, and he waved the clerk away. Then he glanced at
the account, and a grim smile passed over his face. "They can't have all
they want, and they won't get it. Are you coming with me?" he asked of
the girl, with a set look in his eyes. "No. I'm going back to my sister,"
she answered.

"If he leaves me--if he joins Belloc!" the old man muttered, and again
his face flushed.

A few moments afterwards the girl watched him till he disappeared up the
hill.

"I don't believe Carnac will do it," she said to herself. "He's got the
sense, the brains, and the energy; but he won't do it."

She heard a voice behind her, and turned. It was the deformed but potent
Denzil. He was greyer now. His head, a little to one side, seemed sunk in
his square shoulders, but his eyes were bright.

"It's all a bad scrape--that about Fabian Grier," he said. "You can't
ever tell about such things, how they'll go--but no, bagosh!"



CHAPTER IV

THE HOUSE ON THE HILL

John Grier's house had a porch with Corinthian pillars. Its elevation was
noble, but it was rather crudely built, and it needed its grove of maples
to make it pleasant to the eye. It was large but not too ample, and it
had certain rooms with distinct character.

Inside the house, John Grier paused a moment before the door of the
sitting-room where his wife usually sat. All was silent. He opened the
door. A woman rose to meet him. She was dressed in black. Her dark hair,
slightly streaked with grey, gave her distinction. Her eyes had soft
understanding; her lips had a reflective smile. There was, however,
uneasiness in her face; her fingers slightly trembled on the linen she
was holding.

"You're home early, John," she said in a gentle, reserved voice.

He twisted a shoulder. "Yes, I'm home early," he snapped. "Your boy
Fabian has left the business, and I've bought his share." He named the
sum. "Ghastly, ain't it? But he's gone, and there's no more about it.
It's a bad thing to marry a woman that can't play fair."

He noted the excessive paleness of his wife's face; the bright eyes
stared and stared, and the lips trembled. "Fabian--Fabian gone!" she said
brokenly.

"Yes, and he ain't coming back."

"What's he going to do?" she asked in a bitter voice.

"Join Belloc--fight his own father--try to do me in the race," growled
the old man.

"Who told you that?"

"Junia, she told me."

"What does she know about it? Who told her that?" asked the woman with
faded lips.

"She always had sense, that child. I wish she was a man."

He suddenly ground his heel, and there was distemper in face and voice;
his shoulders hunched; his hands were thrust down in his pockets. He
wheeled on her. "Where's your other boy? Where's Carnac?"

The woman pointed to the lawn. "He's catching a bit of the city from the
hill just beyond the pear-tree."

"Painting, eh? I heard he was here. I want to talk to him."

"I don't think it will do any good," was the sad reply. "He doesn't think
as you do."

"You believe he's a genius," snarled the other.

"You know he is."

"I'll go and find him."

She nodded. "I wish you luck," she said, but there was no conviction in
her tone. Truth was, she did not wish him luck in this. She watched him
leave by the French window and stride across the lawn. A strange,
troubled expression was in her face.

"They can't pull it off together," she said to herself, and Carnac is too
full of independence. He wants nothing from anybody. He needs no one; he
follows no one--except me. Yes, he follows--he loves me.

She watched her husband till he almost viciously thrust aside the bushes
staying his progress, and broke into the space by the pear-tree where
Carnac sat with palette and brush, gazing at the distant roofs on which
the sun was leaving its last kiss.

Carnac got to his feet with a smile, and with a courage in his eye equal
to that which had ever been in his father's face--in the face of John
Grier. It was strange that the other's presence troubled him, that even
as a small child, to be in the same room for any length of time vexed
him. Much of that had passed away. The independence of the life he lived,
the freedom from resting upon the financial will of the lumber king had
given him light, air and confidence. He loved his mother. What he felt
for John Grier was respect and admiration. He knew he was not spoken to
now with any indolent purpose.

They had seen little of each other of late years. His mother had given
him the money to go to New York and Paris, which helped out his own
limited income. He wondered what should bring his father to him now.
There was interested reflection in his eye. With his habit of
visualization, he saw behind John Grier, as he came on now, the long
procession of logs and timbers which had made his fortune, stretch back
on the broad St. Lawrence, from the Mattawan to the Madawaska, from the
Richelieu to the Marmora. Yet, what was it John Grier had done? In a
narrow field he had organized his life perfectly, had developed his
opportunities, had safeguarded his every move. The smiling inquiry in his
face was answered by the old man saying abruptly:

"Fabian's gone. He's deserted the ship."

The young man had the wish to say in reply, "At last, eh!" but he avoided
it.

"Where has he gone?"

"I bought him out to-day, and I hear he's going to join Belloc."

"Belloc! Belloc! Who told you that?" asked the young man.

"Junia Shale--she told me."

Carnac laughed. "She knows a lot, but how did she know that?"

"Sheer instinct, and I believe she's right."

"Right--right--to fight you, his own father!" was the inflammable reply.

"Why, that would be a lowdown business!"

"Would it be lower down than your not helping your father, when you can?"

Somehow he yearned over his wayward, fantastic son. The wilful, splendid
character of the youth overcame the insistence in the other's nature.

"You seem to be getting on all right," remarked Carnac with the faint
brown moustache, the fine, showy teeth, the clean-shaven cheeks, and
auburn hair hanging loosely down.

"You're wrong. Things aren't doing as well with me as they might. Belloc
and the others make difficult going. I've got too much to do myself. I
want help."

"You had it in Fabian," remarked Carnac dryly. "Well, I've lost it, and
it never was enough. He hadn't vision, sense and decision."

"And so you come to me, eh? I always thought you despised me," said
Carnac.

A half-tender, half-repellent expression came into the old man's face. He
spoke bluntly. "I always thought you had three times the brains of your
brother. You're not like me, and you're not like your mother; there's
something in you that means vision, and seeing things, and doing them. If
fifteen thousand dollars a year and a share in the business is any good
to you--"

For an instant there had been pleasure and wonder in the young man's
eyes, but at the sound of the money and the share in the business he
shrank back.

"I don't think so, father. I'm happy enough. I've got all I want."

"What the devil are you talking about!" the other burst out. "You've got
all you want! You've no home; you've no wife; you've no children; you've
no place. You paint, and you sculp, and what's the good of it all? Have
you ever thought of that? What's there in it for you or anyone else? Have
you no blood and bones, no sting of life in you? Look what I've done. I
started with little, and I've built up a business that, if it goes all
right, will be worth millions. I say, if it goes all right, because I've
got to carry more than I ought."

Carnac shook his head. "I couldn't be any help to you. I'm not a man of
action. I think, I devise, but I don't act. I'd be no good in your
business no, honestly, I'd be no good. I don't think money is the end of
life. I don't think success is compensation for all you've done and still
must do. I want to stand out of it. You've had your life; you've lived it
where you wanted to live it. I haven't, and I'm trying to find out where
my duty and my labour lies. It is Art; no doubt. I don't know for sure."

"Good God!" broke in the old man. "You don't know for sure--you're
twenty-five years old, and you don't know where you're going!"

"Yes, I know where I'm going--to Heaven by and by!" This was his
satirical reply.

"Oh, fasten down; get hold of something that matters. Now, listen to me.
I want you to do one thing--the thing I ought to do and can't. I must
stay here now that Fabian's gone. I want you to go to the Madawaska
River."

"No, I won't go to the Madawaska," replied Carnac after a long pause,
"but"--with sudden resolution--"if it's any good to you, I'll stay here
in the business, and you can go to the Madawaska. Show me what to do
here; tell me how to do it, and I'll try to help you out for a while--if
it can be done," he added hastily. "You go, but I'll stay. Let's talk it
over at supper."

He sighed, and turned and gazed warmly at the sunset on the roofs of the
city; then turned to his father's face, but it was not the same look in
his eyes.



CHAPTER V

CARNAC AS MANAGER

Carnac was installed in the office, and John Grier went to the Madawaska.
Before he left, however, he was with Carnac for near a week, showing the
procedure and the main questions that might arise to be solved.

"It's like this," said Grier in their last talk, "you've got to keep a
stiff hand over the foremen and overseers, and have strict watch of
Belloc & Co. Perhaps there will be trouble when I've gone, but, if it
does, keep a stiff upper lip, and don't let the gang do you. You've got a
quick mind and you know how to act sudden. Act at once, and damn the
consequences! Remember, John Grier's firm has a reputation, and deal
justly, but firmly, with opposition. The way it's organized, the business
almost runs itself. But that's only when the man at the head keeps his
finger on the piston-rod. You savvy, don't you?"

"I savvy all right. If the Belloc firm cuts up rusty, I'll think of what
you'd do and try to do it in the same way."

The old man smiled. He liked the spirit in Carnac. It was the right kind
for his business. "I predict this: if you have one fight with the Belloc
lot, you'll hate them too. Keep the flag flying. Don't get rattled. It's
a big job, and it's worth doing in a big way.

"Yes, it's a big job," said Carnac. "I hope I'll pull it off."

"You'll pull it off, if you bend your mind to it. But there won't be any
time for your little pictures and statues. You'll have to deal with the
real men, and they'll lose their glamour. That's the thing about
business--it's death to sentimentality."

Carnac flushed with indignation. "So you think Titian and Velasquez and
Goyot and El Greco and Watteau and Van Dyck and Rembrandt and all the
rest were sentimentalists, do you? The biggest men in the world worship
them. You aren't just to the greatest intellects. I suppose Shakespeare
was a sentimentalist!"

The old man laughed and tapped his son on the shoulder.

"Don't get excited, Carnac. I'd rather you ran my business well, than be
Titian or Rembrandt, whoever they were. If you do this job well, I'll
think there's a good chance of our working together."

Carnac nodded, but the thought that he could not paint or sculp when he
was on this work vexed him, and he only set his teeth to see it through.
"All right, we'll see," he said, and his father went away.

Then Carnac's time of work and trial began. He was familiar with the
routine of the business, he had adaptability, he was a quick worker, and
for a fortnight things went swimmingly. There was elation in doing work
not his regular job, and he knew the eyes of the commercial and river
world were on him. He did his best and it was an effective best. Junia
had been in the City of Quebec, but she came back at the end of a
fortnight, and went to his office to get a subscription for a local
charity. She had a gift in this kind of work.

It was a sunny day in the month of June, and as she entered the office a
new spirit seemed to enter with her.

The place became distinguished. She stood in the doorway for a moment,
radiant, smiling, half embarrassed, then she said: "Please may I for a
moment, Carnac?"

Carnac was delighted. "For many moments, Junia."

"I'm not as busy as usual. I'm glad as glad to see you."

She said with restraint: "Not for many moments. I'm here on business.
It's important. I wanted to get a subscription from John Grier for the
Sailors' Hospital which is in a bad way. Will you give something for
him?"

Carnac looked at the subscription list. "I see you've been to Belloc
first and they've given a hundred dollars. Was that wise-going to them
first? You know how my father feels about Belloc. And we're the older
firm."

The girl laughed. "Oh, that's silly! Belloc's money is as good as John
Grier's, and it only happened he was asked first because Fabian was
present when I took the list, and it's Fabian's writing on the paper
there."

Carnac nodded. "That's all right with me, for I'm no foe to Belloc, but
my father wouldn't have liked it. He wouldn't have given anything in the
circumstances."

"Oh, yes, he would! He's got sense with all his prejudices. I'll tell you
what he'd have done: he'd have given a bigger subscription than Belloc."

Carnac laughed. "Well, perhaps you're right; it was clever planning it
so."

"I didn't plan it. It was accident, but I had to consider everything and
I saw how to turn it to account. So, if you are going to give a
subscription for John Grier you must do as he would do."

Carnac smiled, put the paper on his desk, and took the pen.

"Make it measure the hate John Grier has to the Belloc firm," she said
ironically.

Carnac chuckled and wrote. "Will that do?" He handed her the paper.

"One hundred and fifty dollars--oh, quite, quite good!" she said. "But
it's only a half hatred after all. I'd have made it a whole one."

"You'd have expected John Grier to give two hundred, eh? But that would
have been too plain. It looks all right now, and it must go at that."

She smiled. "Well, it'll go at that. You're a good business man. I see
you've given up your painting and sculping to do this! It will please
your father, but are you satisfied?"

"Satisfied--of course, I'm not; and you know it. I'm not a money-grabber.
I'm an artist if I'm anything, and I'm not doing this permanently. I'm
only helping my father while he's in a hole."

The girl suddenly grew serious. "You mean you're not going to stick to
the business, and take Fabian's place in it? He's been for a week with
Belloc and he's never coming back here. You have the brains for it; and
you could make your father happy and inherit his fortune--all of it."

Carnac flushed indignantly. "I suppose I could, but it isn't big enough
for me. I'd rather do one picture that the Luxembourg or the London
National Gallery would buy than own this whole business. That's the turn
of my mind."

"Yes, but if you didn't sell a picture to the Luxembourg or the National
Gallery. What then?"

"I'd have a good try for it, that's all. Do you want me to give up Art
and take to commerce? Is that your view?"

"I suggested to John Grier the day that Fabian sold his share that you
might take his place; and I still think it a good thing, though, of
course, I like your painting. But I felt sorry for your father with none
of his own family to help him; and I thought you might stay with him for
your family's sake."

"You thought I'd be a martyr for love of John Grier--and cold cash, did
you? That isn't the way the blood runs in my veins. I think John Grier
might get out of the business now, if he's tired, and sell it and let
some one else run it. John Grier is not in want. If he were, I'd give up
everything to help him, and I'd not think I was a martyr. But I've a
right to make my own career. It's making the career one likes which gets
one in the marrow. I'd take my chances of success as he did. He has
enough to live on, he's had success; let him get down and out, if he's
tired."

The girl held herself firmly. "Remember John Grier has made a great name
for himself--as great in his way as Andrew Carnegie or Pierpont
Morgan--and he's got pride in his name. He wants his son to carry it on,
and in a way he's right."

"That's good argument," said Carnac, "but if his name isn't strong enough
to carry itself, his son can't carry it for him. That's the way of life.
How many sons have ever added to their father's fame? The instances are
very few. In the modern world, I can only think of the Pitts in England.
There's no one else."

The girl now smiled again. The best part in her was stirred. She saw. Her
mind changed. After a moment she said: "I think you're altogether right
about it. Carnac, you have your own career to make, so make it as it best
suits yourself. I'm sorry I spoke to your father as I did. I pitied him,
and I thought you'd find scope for your talents in the business. It's a
big game, but I see now it isn't yours, Carnac."

He nodded, smiling. "That's it; that's it, I hate the whole thing."

She shook hands. As his hand enclosed her long slim fingers, he felt he
wished never to let them go, they were so thrilling; but he did, for the
thought of Luzanne came to his mind.

"Good-bye, Junia, and don't forget that John Grier's firm is the foe of
the Belloc business," he said satirically.

She laughed, and went down the hill quickly, and as she went Carnac
thought he had never seen so graceful a figure.

"What an evil Fate sent Luzanne my way!" he said.

Two days later there came an ugly incident on the river. There was a
collision between a gang of John Grier's and Belloc's men and one of
Grier's men was killed. At the inquest, it was found that the man met his
death by his own fault, having first attacked a Belloc man and injured
him. The Belloc man showed the injury to the jury, and he was acquitted.
Carnac watched the case closely, and instructed his lawyer to contend
that the general attack was first made by Belloc's men, which was true;
but the jury decided that this did not affect the individual case, and
that the John Grier man met his death by his own fault.

"A shocking verdict!" he said aloud in the Court when it was given.

"Sir," said the Coroner, "it is the verdict of men who use their judgment
after hearing the evidence, and your remark is offensive and criminal."

"If it is criminal, I apologize," said Carnac.

"You must apologize for its offensiveness, or you will be arrested, sir."

This nettled Carnac. "I will not apologize for its offensiveness," he
said firmly.

"Constable, arrest this man," said the Coroner, and the constable did so.

"May I be released on bail?" asked Carnac with a smile.

"I am a magistrate. Yes, you may be released on bail," said the Coroner.

Carnac bowed, and at once a neighbour became security for three thousand
dollars. Then Carnac bowed again and left the Court with--it was
plain--the goodwill of most people present.

Carnac returned to his office with angry feelings at his heart. The
Belloc man ought to have been arrested for manslaughter, he thought. In
any case, he had upheld the honour of John Grier's firm by his protest,
and the newspapers spoke not unfavourably of him in their reports. They
said he was a man of courage to say what he did, though it was improper,
from a legal standpoint. But human nature was human nature!

The trial took place in five days, and Carnac was fined twenty-five
cents, which was in effect a verdict of not guilty; and so the newspapers
said. It was decided that the offence was only legally improper, and it
was natural that Carnac expressed himself strongly.

Junia was present at the trial. After it was over, she saw Carnac for a
moment. "I think your firm can just pay the price and exist!" she said.
"It's a terrible sum, and it shows how great a criminal you are!"

"Not a 'thirty-cent' criminal, anyhow," said Carnac. "It is a moral
victory, and tell Fabian so. He's a bit huffy because I got into the
trouble, I suppose."

"No, he loathed it all. He's sorry it occurred."

There was no further talk between them, for a subordinate of Carnac's
came hurriedly to him and said something which Junia did not hear. Carnac
raised his hat to her, and hurried away.

"Well, it's not so easy as painting pictures," she said. "He gets fussed
over these things."

It was later announced by the manager of the main mill that there was to
be a meeting of workers to agitate for a strike for higher pay. A
French-Canadian who had worked in the mills of Maine and who was a
red-hot socialist was the cause of it. He had only been in the mills for
about three months and had spent his spare time inciting well-satisfied
workmen to strike. His name was Luc Baste--a shock-haired criminal with a
huge chest and a big voice, and a born filibuster. The meeting was held
and a deputation was appointed to wait on Carnac at his office. Word was
sent to Carnac, and he said he would see them after the work was done for
the day. So in the evening about seven o'clock the deputation of six men
came, headed by Luc Baste.

"Well, what is it?" Carnac asked calmly.

Luc Baste began, not a statement of facts, but an oration on the rights
of workers, their downtrodden condition and their beggarly wages. He said
they had not enough to keep body and soul together, and that right well
did their employers know it. He said there should be an increase of a
half-dollar a day, or there would be a strike.

Carnac dealt with the matter quickly and quietly. He said Luc Baste had
not been among them a long time and evidently did not know what was the
cost of living in Montreal. He said the men got good wages, and in any
case it was not for him to settle a thing of such importance. This was
for the head of the firm, John Grier, when he returned. The wages had
been raised two years before, and he doubted that John Grier would
consent to a further rise. All other men on the river seemed satisfied
and he doubted these ought to have a cent more a day. They were getting
the full value of the work. He begged all present to think twice before
they brought about catastrophe. It would be a catastrophe if John Grier's
mills should stop working and Belloc's mills should go on as before. It
was not like Grier's men to do this sort of thing.

The men seemed impressed, and, presently, after one of them thanking him,
the deputation withdrew, Luc Baste talking excitedly as they went. The
manager of the main mill, with grave face, said:

"No, Mr. Grier, I don't think they'll be satisfied. You said all that
could be said, but I think they'll strike after all."

"Well, I hope it won't occur before John Grier gets back," said Carnac.

That night a strike was declared.

Fortunately, only about two-thirds of the men came out, and it could not
be called a complete success. The Belloc people were delighted, but they
lived in daily fear of a strike in their own yards, for agitators were
busy amongst their workmen. But the workers waited to see what would
happen to Grier's men.

Carnac declined to reconsider. The wages were sufficient and the strike
unwarranted! He kept cool, even good-natured, and with only one-third of
his men at work, he kept things going, and the business went on with
regularity, if with smaller output. The Press unanimously supported him,
for it was felt the strike had its origin in foreign influence, and as
French Canada had no love for the United States there was journalistic
opposition to the strike. Carnac had telegraphed to his father when the
strike started, but did not urge him to come back. He knew that Grier
could do nothing more than he himself was doing, and he dreaded new
influence over the strikers. Grier happened to be in the backwoods and
did not get word for nearly a week; then he wired asking Carnac what the
present situation was. Carnac replied he was standing firm, that he would
not yield a cent increase in wages, and that, so far, all was quiet.

It happened, however, that on the day he wired, the strikers tried to
prevent the non-strikers from going to work and there was a collision.
The police and a local company of volunteers intervened and then the
Press condemned unsparingly the whole affair. This outbreak did good, and
Luc Baste was arrested for provoking disorder. No one else was arrested,
and this was a good thing, for, on the whole, even the men that followed
Luc did not trust him. His arrest cleared the air and the strike broke.
The next day, all the strikers returned, but Carnac refused their wages
for the time they were on strike, and he had triumphed.

On that very day John Grier started back to Montreal. He arrived in about
four days, and when he came, found everything in order. He went straight
from his home to the mill and there found Carnac in control.

"Had trouble, eh, Carnac?" he asked with a grin, after a moment of
greeting. Carnac shrugged his shoulders, but said nothing.

"It's the first strike I ever had in my mills, and I hope it will be the
last. I don't believe in knuckling down to labour tyranny, and I'm glad
you kept your hand steady. There'll be no more strikes in my mills--I'll
see to that!"

"They've only just begun, and they'll go on, father. It's the influence
of Canucs who have gone to the factories of Maine. They get bitten there
with the socialistic craze, and they come back and make trouble. This
strike was started by Luc Baste, a French-Canadian, who had been in
Maine. You can't stop these things by saying so. There was no strike
among Belloc's men!"

"No, but did you have no trouble with Belloc's men?"

Carnac told him of the death of the Grier man after the collision, of his
own arrest and fine of twenty-five cents and of the attitude of the
public and the Press. The old man was jubilant. "Say, you did the thing
in style. It was the only way to do it. You landed 'em with the protest
fair and easy. You're going to be a success in the business, I can see
that."

Carnac for a moment looked at his father meditatively. Then, seeing the
surprise in John Grier's face, he said: "No, I'm not going to be a
success in it, for I'm not going on with it. I've had enough. I'm
through."

"You've had enough--you're through--just when you've proved you can do
things as well as I can do them! You ain't going on! Great Jehoshaphat!"

"I mean it; I'm not going on. I'm going to quit in another month. I can't
stick it. It galls me. It ain't my job. I do it, but it's artificial, it
ain't the real thing. My heart isn't in it as yours is, and I'd go mad if
I had to do this all my life. It's full of excitement at times, it's hard
work, it's stimulating when you're fighting, but other times it's deadly
dull and bores me stiff. I feel as though I were pulling a train of
cars."

Slowly the old man's face reddened with anger. "It bores you stiff, eh?
It's deadly dull at times! There's only interest in it when there's a
fight on, eh? You're right; you're not fit for the job, never was and
never will be while your mind is what it is. Don't take a month to go,
don't take a week, or a day, go this morning after I've got your report
on what's been done. It ain't the real thing, eh? No, it ain't. It's no
place for you. Tell me all there is to tell, and get out; I've had enough
too, I've had my fill. 'It bores me stiff'!"

John Grier was in a rage, and he would listen to no explanation. "Come
now, out with your report."

Carnac was not upset. He kept cool. "No need to be so crusty," he said.



CHAPTER VI

LUKE TARBOE HAS AN OFFER

Many a man behind his horses' tails on the countryside has watched the
wild reckless life of the water with wonder and admiration. He sees a
cluster of logs gather and climb, and still gather and climb, and between
him and that cluster is a rolling waste of timber, round and square.

Suddenly, a being with a red shirt, with loose prairie kind of hat,
knee-boots, having metal clamps, strikes out from the shore, running on
the tops of the moving logs till he reaches the jam. Then the pike-pole,
or the lever, reaches the heart of the difficulty, and presently the jam
breaks, and the logs go tumbling into the main, while the vicious-looking
berserker of the water runs back to the shore over the logs, safe and
sound. It is a marvel to the spectator, that men should manipulate the
river so. To him it is a life apart; not belonging to the life he lives-a
passing show.

It was a stark surprise of the river which makes this story possible.
There was a strike at Bunder's Boom--as it was called--between Bunder and
Grier's men. Some foreman of Grier's gang had been needlessly offensive.
Bunder had been stupidly resentful. When Grier's men had tried to force
his hand also, he had resisted. It chanced that, when an impasse seemed
possible to be broken only by force, a telegram came to John Grier at
Montreal telling him of the difficulty. He lost no time in making his way
northwards.

But some one else had come upon the scene. It was Luke Tarboe. He had
arrived at a moment when the Belloc river crowd had almost wrecked
Bunder's Boom, and when a collision between the two gangs seemed
inevitable. What he did remained a river legend. By good temper and
adroitness, he reconciled the leaders of the two gangs; he bought the
freedom of the river by a present to Bunder's daughter; he won Bunder by
four bottles of "Three Star" brandy. When the police from a town a
hundred miles away arrived at the same time as John Grier, it was to find
the Grier and Belloc gangs peacefully prodding side by side.

When the police had gone, John Grier looked Tarboe up and down. The brown
face, the clear, strong brown eyes and the brown hatless head rose up
eighteen inches above his own, making a gallant summit to a robust stalk.

"Well, you've done easier things than that in your time, eh?" John Grier
asked.

Tarboe nodded. "It was touch and go. I guess it was the hardest thing I
ever tried since I've been working for you, but it's come off all right,
hasn't it?" He waved a hand to the workmen on the river, to the tumbling
rushes of logs and timber. Then he looked far up the stream, with hand
shading his brown eyes to where a crib-or raft-was following the eager
stream of logs. "It's easy going now," he added, and his face had a look
of pleasure.

"What's your position, and what's your name?" asked John Grier.

"I'm head-foreman of the Skunk Nest's gang--that's this lot, and I got
here--just in time! I don't believe you could have done it, Mr. Grier. No
master is popular in the real sense with his men. I think they'd have
turned you down. So it was lucky I came."

A faint smile hovered at his lips, and his eyes brooded upon the busy
gangs of men. "Yes, I've had a lot of luck this time. There's nothing
like keeping your head cool and your belly free from drink." Now he
laughed broadly. "By gosh, it's all good! Do you know, Mr. Grier, I came
out here a wreck eight years ago. I left Montreal then with a spot in my
lungs, that would kill me, they said. I've never seen Montreal since, but
I've had a good time out in the woods, in the shanties in the winters; on
the rivers in the summer. I've only been as far East as this in eight
years."

"What do you do in the winter, then?"

"Shanties-shanties all the time. In the summer this; in the Fall taking
the men back to the shanties. Bossing the lot; doing it from love of the
life that's been given back to me. Yes, this is the life that makes you
take things easy. You don't get fussed out here. The job I had took a bit
of doing, but it was done, and I'm lucky to have my boss see the end of
it."

He smiled benignly upon John Grier. He knew he was valuable to the Grier
organization; he knew that Grier had heard of him under another name. Now
Grier had seen him, and he felt he would like to tell John Grier some
things about the river he ought to know. He waved a hand declining the
cigar offered him by his great chief.

"Thanks, I don't smoke, and I don't drink, and I don't chew; but I
eat--by gosh, I eat! Nothing's so good as good food, except good
reading."

"Good reading!" exclaimed John Grier. "Good reading--on the river!"

"Well, it's worked all right, and I read a lot. I get books from
Montreal, from the old library at the University."

"At what University?" struck in the lumber-king. "Oh, Laval! I wouldn't
go to McGill. I wanted to know French, so I went to Laval. There I came
to know Father Labasse. He was a great man, Father Labasse. He helped me.
I was there three years, and then was told I was going to die. It was
Labasse who gave me this tip. He said, 'Go into the woods; put your teeth
into the trees; eat the wild herbs, and don't come back till you feel
well.' Well, I haven't gone back, and I'm not going back."

"What do you do with your wages?" asked the lumber-king.

"I bought land. I've got a farm of four hundred acres twenty miles from
here. I've got a man on it working it."

"Does it pay?"

"Of course. Do you suppose I'd keep a farm that didn't pay?"

"Who runs it?"

"A man that broke his leg on the river. One of Belloc's men. He knows all
about farming. He brought his wife and three children up, and there he
is--making money, and making the land good. I've made him a partner at
last. When it's good enough by and by, I'll probably go and live there
myself. Anybody ought to make farming a success, if there's water and
proper wood and such things," he added.

There was silence for a few moments. Then John Grier looked Tarboe up and
down sharply again, noting the splendid physique, the quizzical,
mirth-provoking eye, and said: "I can give you a better job if you'll
come to Montreal."

Tarboe shook his head. "Haven't had a sick day for eight years; I'm as
hard as nails; I'm as strong as steel. I love this wild world of the
woods and fields and--"

"And the shebangs and grog-shops and the dirty, drunken villages?"
interrupted the old man.

"No, they don't count. I take them in, but they don't count."

"Didn't you have hard times when you first came?" asked John Grier. "Did
you get right with the men from the start?"

"A little bit of care is a good thing in any life. I told them good
stories, and they liked that. I used to make the stories up, and they
liked that also. When I added some swear words they liked them all the
better. I learned how to do it."

"Yes, I've heard of you, but not as Tarboe."

"You heard of me as Renton, eh?"

"Yes, as Renton. I wonder I never came across you till to-day."

"I kept out of your way; that was the reason. When you came north, I got
farther into the backwoods."

"Are you absolutely straight, Tarboe?" asked John Grier eagerly. "Do you
do these things in the Garden of Eden way, or can you run a bit crooked
when it's worth while?"

"If I'd ever seen it worth while, I'd say so. I could run a bit crooked
if I was fighting among the big ones, or if we were at war with--Belloc,
eh!" A cloud came into the eyes of Tarboe. "If I was fighting Belloc, and
he used a weapon to flay me from behind, I'd never turn my back on him!"

A grim smile came into Tarboe's face. His jaw set almost viciously, his
eyes hardened. "You people don't play your game very well, Mr. Grier.
I've seen a lot that wants changing."

"Why don't you change it, then?"

Tarboe laughed. "If I was boss like you, I'd change it, but I'm not, and
I stick to my own job."

The old man came close to him, and steadily explored his face and eyes.
"I've never met anybody like you before. You're the man can do things and
won't do them."

"I didn't say that. I said what I meant--that good health is better than
everything else in the world, and when you've got it, you should keep it,
if you can. I'm going to keep mine."

"Well, keep it in Montreal," said John Grier. "There's a lot doing there
worth while. Is fighting worth anything to one that's got aught in him?
There's war for the big things. I believe in war." He waved a hand.
"What's the difference between the kind of thing you've done to-day, and
doing it with the Belloc gang--with the Folson gang--with the Longville
gang--and all the rest? It's the same thing. I was like you when I was
young. I could do things you've done to-day while I laid the base of what
I've got. How old are you?"

"I'm thirty--almost thirty-one."

"You'll be just as well in Montreal to-morrow as you are here to-day, and
you'd be twice as clever," said John Grier. His eyes seemed to pierce
those of the younger man. "I like you," he continued, suddenly catching
Tarboe's arm. "You're all right, and you wouldn't run straight simply
because it was the straight thing to do."

Tarboe threw back his head and laughed and nodded. The old man's eyes
twinkled. "By gracious, we're well met! I never was in a bigger hole in
my life. One of my sons has left me. I bought him out, and he's joined my
enemy Belloc."

"Yes, I know," remarked Tarboe.

"My other son, he's no good. He's as strong as a horse--but he's no good.
He paints, he sculps. He doesn't care whether I give him money or not. He
earns his living as he wants to earn it. When Fabian left me, I tried
Carnac. I offered to take him in permanently. He tried it, but he
wouldn't go on. He got out. He's twenty-six. The papers are beginning to
talk about him. He doesn't care for that, except that it brings in cash
for his statues and pictures. What's the good of painting and statuary,
if you can't do the big things?"

"So you think the things you do are as big as the things that
Shakespeare, or Tennyson, or Titian, or Van Dyck, or Watt, or Rodin
do--or did?"

"Bigger-much bigger," was the reply.

The younger man smiled. "Well, that's the way to look at it, I suppose.
Think the thing you do is better than what anybody else does, and you're
well started."

"Come and do it too. You're the only man I've cottoned to in years. Come
with me, and I'll give you twelve thousand dollars a year; and I'll take
you into my business.--I'll give you the best chance you ever had. You've
found your health; come back and keep it. Don't you long for the fight,
for your finger at somebody's neck? That's what I felt when I was your
age, and I did it, and I'm doing it, but I can't do it as I used to. My
veins are leaking somewhere." A strange, sad, faded look came into his
eyes. "I don't want my business to be broken by Belloc," he added. "Come
and help me save it."

"By gosh, I will!" said the young man after a moment, with a sudden
thirst in his throat and bite to his teeth. "By gum, yes, I'll go with
you."



CHAPTER VII

"AT OUR PRICE?"

West of the city of Montreal were the works and the offices of John
Grier. Here it was that a thing was done without which there might have
been no real story to tell. It was a night which marked the close of the
financial year of the firm.

Upon John Grier had come Carnac. He had brought with him a small statue
of a riverman with flannel shirt, scarf about the waist, thick defiant
trousers and well-weaponed boots. It was a real figure of the river,
buoyant, daring, almost vicious. The head was bare; there were plain gold
rings in the ears; and the stark, half-malevolent eyes looked out, as
though searching for a jam of logs or some peril of the river. In the
horny right hand was a defiant pike-pole, its handle thrust forward, its
steel spike stabbing the ground.

At first glance, Carnac saw that John Grier was getting worn and old. The
eyes were not so flashing as they once were; the lips were curled in a
half-cynical mood. The old look of activity was fading; something vital
had struck soul and body. He had had a great year. He had fought Belloc
and his son Fabian successfully; he had laid new plans and strengthened
his position.

Tarboe coming into the business had made all the difference to him.
Tarboe had imagination, skill and decision, he seldom lost his temper; he
kept a strong hand upon himself. His control of men was marvellous; his
knowledge of finance was instinctive; his capacity for organization was
rare, and he had health unbounded and serene. It was hard to tell what
were the principles controlling Tarboe--there was always an element of
suspicion in his brown and brilliant eyes. Yet he loved work. The wind of
energy seemed to blow through his careless hair. His hands were like iron
and steel; his lips were quick and friendly, or ruthless, as seemed
needed. To John Grier's eyes he was the epitome of civilization--the
warrior without a soul.

When Carnac came in now with the statue tucked under his arm, smiling and
self-contained, it seemed as though something had been done by Fate to
flaunt John Grier.

With a nod, Carnac put the statue on the table in front of the old man,
and said: "It's all right, isn't it? I've lifted that out of the
river-life. That's one of the best men you ever had, and he's only one of
a thousand. He doesn't belong anywhere. He's a rover, an adventurer, a
wanton of the waters. Look at him. He's all right, isn't he?" He asked
this again.

The timber-man waved the statue aside, and looked at the youth with
critical eyes. "I've just been making up the accounts for the year," he
said. "It's been the best year I've had in seven. I've taken the starch
out of Belloc and Fabian. I've broken the back of their opposition--I've
got it like a twig in iron teeth."

"Yes, Tarboe's been some use, hasn't he?" was the suggestive response.

John Grier's eyes hardened. "You might have done it. You had it in you.
The staff of life--courage and daring--were yours, and you wouldn't take
it on. What's the result? I've got a man who's worth two of Fabian and
Belloc. And you"--he held up a piece of paper--"see that," he broke off.
"See that. It's my record. That's what I'm worth. That's what you might
have handled!" He took a cigar from his pocket, cut off the blunt end,
and continued: "You threw your chance aside." He tapped the paper with
the point of the cigar. "That's what Tarboe has helped do. What have you
got to show?" He pointed to the statue. "I won't say it ain't good. It's
a live man from the river. But what do I want with that, when I can have
the original man himself! My boy, the great game of life is to fight
hard, and never to give in. If you keep your eyes open, things'll happen
that'll bring what you want."

He stood up, striking a match to light his cigar. It was dusk, and the
light of the match gave a curious, fantastic glimmer to his powerful,
weird, haggard face. He was like some remnant of a great life, loose in a
careless world.

"I tell you," he said, the smoke leaking from his mouth like a drift of
snow, "the only thing worth doing is making the things that matter in the
commerce and politics of the world."

"I didn't know you were a politician," said Carnac. "Of course I'm a
politician," was the inflammable reply. "What's commerce without
politics? It's politics that makes the commerce possible. There's that
fellow Barouche--Barode Barouche--he's got no money, but he's a Minister,
and he can make you rich or poor by planning legislation at Ottawa
that'll benefit or hamper you. That's the kind of business that's worth
doing--seeing into the future, fashioning laws that make good men happy
and bad men afraid. Don't I know! I'm a master-man in my business;
nothing defeats me. To me, a forest of wild wood is the future palace of
a Prime Minister. A great river is a pathway to the palace, and all the
thousands of men that work the river are the adventurers that bring the
booty home--"

"That bring 'the palace to Paris,' eh!" interrupted Carnac, laughing.

"Paris be damned--that bring the forest to Quebec. How long did it take
you to make that?" he added with a nod towards the statue.

"Oh, I did it in a day--six hours, I think; and he stood like that for
three hours out of the six. He was great, but he'd no more sense of
civilization than I have of Heaven."

"You don't need to have a sense of Heaven, you need to have a sense of
Hell. That prevents you from spoiling your own show. You're playing with
life's vital things."

"I wonder how much you've got out of it all, father," Carnac remarked
with a smile. He lit a cigarette. "You do your job in style. It's been a
great career, yours. You've made your big business out of nothing."

"I had something to start with. Your grandfather had a business worth not
much, but it was a business, and the fundamental thing is to have
machinery to work with when you start life. I had that. My father was
narrow, contracted and a blunderer, but he made good in a small way."

"And you in a big way," said Carnac, with admiration and criticism in his
eyes.

He realized that John Grier had summed him up fairly when he said he was
playing with life's vital things. Somehow, he saw the other had a grip
upon essentials lacking in himself; he had his tooth in the orange, as it
were, and was sucking the juice of good profit from his labours. Yet he
knew how much trickery and vital evasion and harsh aggression there were
in his father's business life.

As yet he had never seen Tarboe--he had been away in the country the
whole year nearly--but he imagined a man of strength, abilities,
penetration and deep power. He knew that only a man with savage instincts
could work successfully with John Grier; he knew that Grier was without
mercy in his business, and that his best year's work had been marked by a
mandatory power which only a malevolent policy could produce. Yet,
somehow, he had a feeling that Tarboe had a steadying influence on John
Grier. The old man was not so uncontrolled as in bygone days.

"I'd like to see Tarboe," Carnac said suddenly. "He ain't the same as
you," snapped John Grier. "He's bigger, broader, and buskier." A
malicious smile crossed over his face. "He's a bandit--that's what he is.
He's got a chest like a horse and lungs like the ocean. When he's got a
thing, he's got it like a nail in a branch of young elm. He's a dandy,
that fellow." Suddenly passion came to his eyes. "You might have done it,
you've got the brains, and the sense, but you ain't got the ambition. You
keep feeling for a thousand things instead of keeping your grip on one.
The man that succeeds fastens hard on what he wants to do--the one big
thing, and he does it, thinking of naught else."

"Well, that's good preaching," remarked Carnac coolly. "But it doesn't
mean that a man should stick to one thing, if he finds out he's been
wrong about it? We all make mistakes. Perhaps some day I'll wish I'd gone
with you."

Grimness came into the old man's face. Something came into his eyes that
was strange and revealing.

"Well, I hope you will. But you had your chance with me, and you threw it
down like a piece of rotten leather."

"I don't cost you anything," returned Carnac. "I've paid my own way a
long time--with mother's help."

"And you're twenty-six years old, and what have you got? Enough to give
you bread from day to day-no more. I was worth seventy thousand dollars
when I was your age. I'm worth enough to make a prince rich, and if I'd
been treated right by those I brought into the world I'd be worth twice
as much. Fabian was good as far as he went, but he was a coward. You"--a
look of fury entered the dark eyes--"you were no coward, but you didn't
care a damn. You wanted to paddle about with muck of imagination--" he
pointed to the statue on the table.

"Why, your business has been great because of your imagination," was the
retort. "You saw things ahead with the artist's eye. You planned with the
artist's mind; and brought forth what's to your honour and credit--and
the piling up of your bank balance. The only thing that could have
induced me to work in your business is the looking ahead and planning,
seeing the one thing to be played off against the other, the fighting of
strong men, the politics, all the forces which go to make or break your
business. Well, I didn't do it, and I'm not sorry. I have a gift which,
by training and development, will give me a place among the men who do
things, if I have good luck--good luck!"

He dwelt upon these last words with an intensity which dreaded something.
There was retrospection in his eyes. A cloud seemed to cross his face.

A strong step crunching the path stopped the conversation, and presently
there appeared the figure of Tarboe. Certainly the new life had not
changed Tarboe, had not altered his sturdy, strenuous nature. His brown
eyes under the rough thatch of his eyebrow took in the room with
lightning glance, and he nodded respectfully, yet with great
friendliness, at John Grier. He seemed to have news, and he glanced with
doubt at Carnac.

John Grier understood. "Go ahead. What's happened?"

"Nothing that can't wait till I'm introduced to your son," rejoined
Tarboe.

With a friendly look, free from all furtiveness, Carnac reached out a
hand, small, graceful, firm. As Tarboe grasped it in his own big paw, he
was conscious of a strength in the grip which told him that the physical
capacity of the "painter-fellow," as he afterwards called Carnac, had
points worthy of respect. On the instant, there was admiration on the
part of each--admiration and dislike. Carnac liked the new-comer for his
healthy bearing, for the iron hardness of his head, and for the
intelligence of his dark eyes. He disliked him, however, for something
that made him critical of his father, something covert and devilishly
alert. Both John Grier and Tarboe were like two old backwoodsmen, eager
to reach their goal, and somewhat indifferent to the paths by which they
travelled to it.

Tarboe, on the other hand, admired the frank, pleasant face of the young
man, which carried still the irresponsibility of youth, but which
conveyed to the watchful eye a brave independence, a fervid, and perhaps
futile, challenge to all the world. Tarboe understood that this young man
had a frankness dangerous to the business of life, yet which, properly
applied, might bring great results. He disliked Carnac for his
uncalculating candour; but he realized that, behind all, was something
disturbing to his life.

"It's a woman," Tarboe said to himself, "it's a woman. He's made a fool
of himself."

Tarboe was right. He had done what no one else had done--he had pierced
the cloud surrounding Carnac: it was a woman.

"I hear you're pulling things off here," remarked Carnac civilly. "He
says"--pointing to John Grier--"that you're making the enemy squirm."

Tarboe nodded, and a half-stealthy smile crept across his face. "I don't
think we've lost anything coming our way," he replied. "We've had good
luck--"

"And our eyes were open," intervened John Grier. "You push the brush and
use the chisel, don't you?" asked Tarboe in spite of himself with slight
scorn in his tone.

"I push the chisel and use the brush," answered Carnac, smilingly
correcting him.

"That's a good thing. Is it yours?" asked Tarboe, nodding and pointing to
the statue of the riverman. Carnac nodded. "Yes, I did that one day. I'd
like to do you, if you'd let me."

The young giant waved a brawny hand and laughed. He looked down at his
knee-boots, with their muddied soles, and then at the statue again on the
table. "I don't mind you're doing me. Turn about is fair play.

"I've done you out of your job." Then he added to the old man: "It's good
news I've got. I've made the contract with the French firm at our price."

"At our price!" remarked the other with a grim smile. "For the lot?"

"Yes, for the lot, and I've made the contracts with the ships to carry
it."

"At our price?" again asked the old man. Tarboe nodded. "Just a little
better."

"I wouldn't have believed those two things could have been done in the
time." Grier rubbed his hands cheerfully. "That's a good day's work. It's
the best you've done since you've come."

Carnac watched the scene with interest. No envy moved him, his soul was
free from malice. Evidently Tarboe was a man of power. Ruthless he might
be, ruthless and unsparing, but a man of power.

At that instant a clerk entered with a letter in his hand. "Mrs. Grier
said to give you this," he remarked to Carnac, handing it to him.

Carnac took it and the clerk departed. The letter had an American
postmark, and the handwriting on the letter brought trouble to his eyes.
He composed himself, however, and tore off the end of the envelope,
taking out the letter.

It was brief. It contained only a few lines, but as Carnac read them the
colour left his face. "Good God!" he said to himself. Then he put the
paper in his pocket, and, with a forced smile and nod to his father and
Tarboe, left the office.

"That's queer. The letter seemed to get him in the vitals," said John
Grier with surprise.

Tarboe nodded, and said to himself: "It's a woman all right." He smiled
to himself also. He had wondered why Carnac and Junia Shale had not come
to an understanding. The letter which had turned Carnac pale was the
interpretation.

"Say, sit down, Tarboe," said John Grier. "I want to talk with you."



CHAPTER VIII

JOHN GRIER MAKES ANOTHER OFFER

"I've been keeping my eye on you, Tarboe," John Grier said presently, his
right hand clutching unconsciously the statue which his boy had left with
him.

"I didn't suppose you'd forget me when I was making or breaking you."

"You're a winner, Tarboe. You've got sense and judgment, and you ain't
afraid to get your own way by any route."

He paused, and gripped the statue closely in his hands.

Tarboe nodded. In the backwoods he had been without ambition save to be
master of what he was doing and of the men who were part of his world of
responsibility. Then John Grier had pulled him back into industry and he
had since desired to ascend, to "make good." Also, he had seen Junia
often, and for her an aspiration had sprung up in him like a fire in a
wild place.

When he first saw her, she was standing in the doorway through which
Carnac had just passed. The brightness of her face, the wonder of her
eyes, the glow of her cheek, had made his pulses throb as they had never
throbbed before. He had put the thought of her away from him, but it had
come back constantly until he had found himself looking for her in the
street, and on the hill that led to John Grier's house.

Tarboe realized that the girl was drawn towards Carnac, and that Carnac
was drawn towards the girl, but that some dark depths lay between. The
letter Carnac had just received seemed to him the plumbline of that
abyss. Carnac and the girl were suited to each other--that was clear; and
the girl was enticing, provoking and bewildering--that was the modelling
fact. He had satisfaction that he had displaced Carnac in this great
business, and there was growing in him a desire to take away the chances
of the girl from Carnac also. With his nature it was inevitable. Life to
him was now a puzzle towards the solution of which he moved with
conquering conviction.

From John Grier's face now, he realized that something was to be said
affecting his whole career. It would, he was sure, alter his foot-steps
in the future. He had a profound respect for the little wiry man, with
the firm body and shrivelled face.

Tarboe watched the revealing expression of the old man's face and the
motions of his body. He noticed that the tight grip of the hand on the
little statue of the riverman had made the fingers pale. He realized how
absorbed was the lumber-king, who had given him more confidence than he
had given to anyone else in the world. As near as he could come to
anyone, he had come to John Grier. There had been differences between
them, but he, Tarboe, fought for his own idea, and, in nine cases out of
ten, had conquered. John Grier had even treated Tarboe's solutions as
though they were his own. He had a weird faith in the young giant. He saw
now Tarboe's eyes fixed on his fingers, and he released his grip.

"That's the thing between him and me, Tarboe," he said, nodding towards
the virile bronze. "Think of my son doing that when he could do all
this!" He swept his arm in a great circle which included the horizon
beyond the doors and the windows. "It beats me, and because it beats me,
and because he defies me, I've made up my mind what to do."

"Don't do anything you'd be sorry for, boss. He ain't a fool because he's
not what you are." He nodded towards the statue. "You think that's
pottering. I think it's good stuff. It will last, perhaps, when what you
and I do is forgotten."

There was something big and moving in Tarboe. He was a contradiction. A
lover of life, he was also reckless in how he got what he wanted. If it
could not be got by the straight means, then it must be by the crooked,
and that was where he and Grier lay down together, as it were. Yet he had
some knowledge that was denied to John Grier. The soul of the greater
things was in him.

"Give the boy a chance to work out his life in his own way," he said
manfully. "You gave him a chance to do it in your way, and you were
turned down. Have faith in him. He'll probably come out all right in the
end.

"You mean he'll come my way?" asked the old man almost rabidly. "You mean
he'll do the things I want him to do here, as you've done?"

"I guess so," answered Tarboe, but without conviction in his tone. "I'm
not sure whether it will be like that or not, but I know you've got a son
as honest as the stars, and the honest man gets his own in the end."

There was silence for some time, then the old man began walking up and
down the room, softly, noiselessly.

"You talk sense," he said. "I care for that boy, but I care for my life's
work more. Day in, day out, night in, night out, I've slaved for it,
prayed for it, believed in it, and tried to make my wife and my boys feel
as I do about it, and none of them cares as I care. Look at Fabian--over
with the enemy, fighting his own father; look at Carnac, out in the open,
taking his own way." He paused.

"And your wife?" asked Tarboe almost furtively, because it seemed to him
that the old man was most unhappy in that particular field.

"She's been a good wife, but she don't care as I do for success and
money."

"Perhaps you never taught her," remarked Tarboe with silky irony.

"Taught her! What was there to teach? She saw me working; she knew the
life I had to live; she was lifted up with me. I was giving her
everything in me to give."

"You mean money and a big house and servants and comfort," said Tarboe
sardonically.

"Well, ain't that right?" snapped the other.

"Yes, it's all right, but it don't always bring you what you want. It's
right, but it's wrong too. Women want more than that, boss. Women want to
be loved--sky high."

All at once Grier felt himself as far removed from Tarboe as he had ever
been from Carnac, or his wife. Why was it? Suddenly Tarboe understood
that between him and John Grier there must always be a flood. He realized
that there was in Grier some touch of the insane thing; something apart,
remote and terrible. He was convinced of it, when he saw Grier suddenly
spring up, and pace the room again like a tortured animal.

"You've got great influence with me," he said. "I was just going to tell
you something that'd give you pleasure, but what you've said about my boy
coming back has made me change what I was going to do. I don't need to
say I like you. We were born in the same nest almost. We've got the same
ideas."

"Almost," intervened Tarboe. "Not quite, but almost."

"Well, this is what I've got to say. You've got youth, courage, and good
sense, and business ability, and what more does a man want in life, I ask
you that?" Tarboe nodded, but made no reply.

"Well, I don't feel as strong as I used to do. I've been breaking up this
last year, just when we've been knitting the cracks in the building. What
was in my mind is this--to leave you when I die the whole of my business
to keep it a success, and get in the way of Belloc, and pay my wife so
much a year to live on."

"That wouldn't be fair to your wife or your sons."

"As for Carnac, if I left him the business it'd be dead in two years.
Nothing could save it. He'd spoil it, because he don't care for it. I
bought Fabian out. As for my wife, she couldn't run it, and--"

"You could sell it," interrupted Tarboe.

"Sell it! Sell it!" said Grier wildly. "Sell it to whom?"

"To Belloc," was the malicious reply. The demon of anger seized the old
man.

"You say that to me--you--that I should sell to Belloc! By hell, I'd
rather burn every stick and board and tree I've got--sweep it out of
existence, and die a beggar than sell it to Belloc!" Froth gathered at
the corners of his mouth, there was tumult in his eyes. "Belloc! Knuckle
down to him! Sell out to him!"

"Well, if you got a profit of twenty per cent. above what it's worth it
might be well. That'd be a triumph, not a defeat."

"I see what you mean," said John Grier, the passion slowly going from his
eyes. "I see what you mean, but that ain't my way. I want this business
to live. I want Grier's business to live long after John Grier has gone.
That's why I was going to say to you that in my will I'm going to leave
you this business, you to pay my wife every year twenty thousand
dollars."

"And your son, Carnac?"

"Not a sou-not a sou--not a sou--nothing--that's what I meant at first.
But I've changed my mind now. I'm going to leave you the business, if
you'll make a bargain with me. I want you to run it for three years, and
take for yourself all the profits over the twenty thousand dollars a year
that goes to my wife. There's a lot of money in it, the way you'd work
it."

"I don't understand about the three years," said Tarboe, with rising
colour.

"No, because I haven't told you, but you'll take it in now. I'm going to
leave you the business as though you were going to have it for ever, but
I'll make another will dated a week later, in which I leave it to Carnac.
Something you said makes me think he might come right, and it will be
playing fair to him to let him run himself alone, maybe with help from
his mother, for three years. That's long enough, and perhaps the thought
of what he might have had will work its way with him. If it don't--well,
it won't; that's all; but I want you to have the business long enough to
baulk Belloc and Fabian the deserter. I want you for three years to fight
this fight after I'm gone. In that second secret will, I'll leave you two
hundred thousand dollars. Are you game for it? Is it worthwhile?"

The old man paused, his head bent forward, his eyes alert and searching,
both hands gripping the table. There was a long silence, in which the
ticking of the clock upon the wall seemed unduly loud and in which the
buzz of cross-cut saws came sounding through the evening air. Yet Tarboe
did not reply.

"Have you nothing to say?" asked Grier at last. "Won't you do it--eh?"

"I'm studying the thing out," answered Tarboe quietly. "I don't quite see
about these two wills. Why shouldn't the second will be found first?"

"Because you and I will be the only ones that'll know of it. That shows
how much I trust you, Tarboe. I'll put it away where nobody can get it
except you or me."

"But if anything should happen to me?"

"Well, I'd leave a letter with my bank, not to be opened for three years,
or unless you died, and it would say that the will existed, where it was,
and what its terms were."

"That sounds all right," but there was a cloud on Tarboe's face.

"It's a great business," said Grier, seeing Tarboe's doubt. "It's the
biggest thing a man can do--and I'm breaking up."

The old man had said the right thing--"It's a great business!" It was the
greatness of the thing that had absorbed Tarboe. It was the bigness made
him feel life could be worth living, if the huge machinery were always in
his fingers. Yet he had never expected it, and life was a problem. Who
could tell? Perhaps--perhaps, the business would always be his in spite
of the second will! Perhaps, he would have his chance to make good. He
got to his feet; he held out his hand.

"I'll do it."

"Ain't it worth any thanks?"

"Not between us," declared Tarboe.

"When are you going to do it?"

"To-night--now." He drew out some paper and sat down with a pen in his
hand.

"Now," John Grier repeated.



CHAPTER IX

THE PUZZLE

On his way home, with Luzanne's disturbing letter in his pocket, Carnac
met Junia. She was supremely Anglo-Saxon; fresh, fervid and buoyant with
an actual buoyancy of the early spring. She had tact and ability,
otherwise she could never have preserved peace between the contending
factions, Belloc and Fabian, old John Grier, the mother and Carnac. She
was as though she sought for nothing, wished nothing but the life in
which she lived. Yet her wonderful pliability, her joyful boyishness, had
behind all a delicate anxiety which only showed in flashes now and then,
fully understood by no one except Carnac's mother and old Denzil. These
two having suffered strangely in life had realized that the girl was
always waiting for a curtain to rise which did not rise, for a voice to
speak which gave no sound.

Yet since Carnac's coming back there had appeared a slight change in her,
a bountiful, eager alertness, a sense of wonder and experiment, adding
new interest to her personality. Carnac was conscious of this increased
vitality, was impressed and even provoked by it. Somehow he felt--for he
had the telepathic mind--that the girl admired and liked Tarboe. He did
not stop to question how or why she should like two people so different
as Tarboe and himself.

The faint colour of the crimsoning maples was now in her cheek; the light
of the autumn evening was in her eyes; the soft vitality of September was
in her motions. She was attractively alive. Her hair waved back from her
forehead with natural grace; her small feet, with perfect ankles, made
her foothold secure and sedately joyous. Her brown hand--yet not so brown
after all--held her hat lightly, and was, somehow, like a signal out of a
world in which his hopes were lost for the present.

She was dearer to him than all the rest of the world; and he had in his
hand what kept them apart--a sentence of death, unless he escaped from
the wanton calling him to fulfil duties into which he had been tricked.
Luzanne Larue had a terrible hold over him. He gripped the letter in his
pocket as a Hopi Indian does the body of a poisonous snake. The rosy
sunset gave the girl's face a reflected spiritual glamour; it made her,
suddenly, a bewildering figure. Somehow, she seemed a great distance from
him--as one detached and unfamiliar.

He suddenly felt she knew more than it was possible she should know. As
she flashed an inquiry into his eyes, it was as though she said: "Why
don't you tell me everything, and I will help you?" Or, was it: "Why
don't you tell me everything and end it all?" He longed to press her to
his breast, as he had once done in the woods when Denzil had been
injured, but that was not possible. The thought of that far-off day made
him say to her, rather futilely:

"How is Denzil? How is Denzil?"

There was swift surprise in her face. She seemed dumbfounded, and then
she said:

"Denzil! He's all right, but he does not like your Mr. Tarboe."

"My Mr. Tarboe! Where do I come in?"

"Well, he's got what you ought to have had," was the reply. "What you
would have had, weren't you a foolish fellow."

"I still don't understand how he is my Mr. Tarboe."

"Well, he wouldn't have been in your father's life if it weren't for you;
if you had done what your father wished you to do, had--"

"Had sold myself for gold--my freedom, my health, everything to help my
father's business! I don't see why he should expect that what he's doing
some one else should do--"

"That Belloc would do, that Belloc and Fabian would do," said the girl.

"Yes, that's it--what they two would do. There's no genius in it, though
my father comes as near being a genius as any man alive. But there's a
screw loose somewhere. . . . It wasn't good enough for me. It didn't give
me a chance--in things that are of the mind, the spirit--my particular
gifts, whatever they are. They would have chafed against that life."

"In other words, you're a genius, which your father isn't," the girl said
almost sarcastically.

A disturbed look came into Carnac's eyes. "I'd have liked my father to be
a genius. Then we'd have hit it off together. I don't ever feel the
things he does are the things I want to do; or the things he says are
those I'd like to say. He's a strange man. He lives alone. He never was
really near Fabian or me. We were his sons, but though Fabian is a little
bit like him in appearance, I'm not, and never was. I always feel that--"
He paused, and she took up the tale:

"That he wasn't the father you'd have made for yourself, eh!"

"I suppose that's it. Conceit, ain't it? Perhaps the facts are, I'm one
of the most useless people that ever wore a coat. Perhaps the things I do
aren't going to live beyond me."

"It seems as though your father's business is going to live after him,
doesn't it?" the girl asked mockingly. "Where are you going now?" she
added.

"Well, I'm going to take you home," he said, as he turned and walked by
her side down the hill.

"Denzil will be glad to see you. He almost thinks I'm a curse."

Carnac smiled. "All genius is at once a blessing or a curse. And what
does Denzil think of me?"

"Oh--a blessing and a curse!" she said whimsically.

"I don't honestly think I'm a blessing to anybody in this world. There's
no one belonging to me who believes in me."

"There's Denzil," she said. "He believes in you."

"He doesn't belong to me; he isn't my family."

"Who are your family? Is it only those who are bone of your bone and
flesh of your flesh? Your family is much wider, because you're a genius.
It's worldwide--of all kinds. Denzil belongs to you, because you helped
to save him years ago; the Catholic Archbishop belongs to you, because
he's got brains and a love of literature and art; Barode Barouche belongs
to you, because he's almost a genius too."

"Barouche is a politician," said Carnac with slight derision.

"That's no reason why he shouldn't be a genius."

"He's a Frenchman."

"Haven't Frenchmen genius?" asked the girl.

Carnac laughed. "Why, of course. Barode Barouche--yes, he's a great one:
he can think, he can write, and he can talk; and the talking's the best
that he does--though I've not heard him speak, but I've read his
speeches."

"Doesn't he make good laws at Ottawa?"

"He makes laws at Ottawa--whether they're good or not is another
question. I shouldn't be a follower of his, if I had my chance though."

"That's because you're not French."

"Oh yes, I'm as French as can be! I felt at home with the French when I
was in France. I was all Gallic. When I'm here I'm more Gallic than
Saxon.

"I don't understand it. Here am I, with all my blood for generations
Saxon, and yet I feel French. If I'd been born in the old country, it
would have been in Limerick or Tralee. I'd have been Celtic there."

"Yet Barode Barouche is a great man. He gets drunk sometimes, but he's
great. He gets hold of men like Denzil."

"Denzil has queer tastes."

"Yes--he worships you."

"That's not queer, it's abnormal," said Carnac with gusto.

"Then I'm abnormal," she said with a mocking laugh, and swung her hat on
her fingers like a wheel. Something stormy and strange swam in Carnac's
eyes. All his trouble rushed back on him; the hand in his pocket crushed
the venomous letter he had received, but he said:

"No, you don't worship me!"

"Who was it said all true intelligence is the slave of genius?" she
questioned, a little paler than usual, her eye on the last gleam of the
sun.

"I don't know who said it, but if that's why you worship me, I know how
hollow it all is," he declared sullenly, for she was pouring carbolic
acid into a sore.

He wanted to drag the letter from his pocket and hand it her to read; to
tell her the whole distressful story: but he dared not. He longed for
her, and yet he dared not tell her so. He half drew the letter from his
pocket, but thrust it back again. Tell this innocent girl the whole ugly
story? It could not be done. There was but one thing to do--to go away,
to put this world of French Canada behind him, and leave her free to
follow her fancy, or some one else's fancy.

Or some one else's fancy? There was Tarboe. Tarboe had taken from him the
place in the business which should be his; he had displaced him in his
father's affections . . . and now Junia!

He held out a hand to the girl. "I must go and see my mother."

His eyes abashed her. She realized there was trouble in the face of the
man who all her life had been strangely near and dear to her. With
impulsiveness, she said "You're in trouble, Carnac. Let me help you."

For one swift instant he almost yielded. Then he gripped her hand and
said: "No-no-no. It can't be done--not yet."

"Then let Denzil help you. Here he is," she remarked, and she glanced
affectionately at the greyish, tousled head of the habitant who was
working in the garden of her father's house.

Carnac was master of himself again. "Not a bad idea," he said. "Denzil!
Denzil!" he called.

The little man looked up. An instant later the figure of the girl
fluttered through the doorway of her home, and Carnac stopped beside
Denzil in the garden.



CHAPTER X

DENZIL TELLS HIS STORY

"You keep going, Denzil," remarked Carnac as he lighted his pipe and came
close to the old servant.

The face of the toiler lighted, the eyes gazed kindly, at Carnac. "What
else is there to do? We must go on. There's no standing still in the
world. We must go on--surelee."

"Even when it's hard going, eh?" asked Carnac, not to get an answer so
much as to express his own feelings. "Yes, that's right, m'sieu'; that's
how it is. We can't stand still even when it's hard going--but, no,
bagosh!"

He realized that around Carnac there was a shadow which took its toll of
light and life. He had the sound instinct of primitive man. Strangely
enough in his own eyes was the look in those of Carnac, a past, hovering
on the brink of revelation. His appearance was that of one who had
suffered; his knotted hands, dark with warm blood, had in them a story of
life's sorrows; his broad shoulders were stooped with the inertia of long
regret; his feet clung to the ground as though there was a great weight
above them. But a smile shimmered at his mouth, giving to his careworn
face something almost beautiful, lifting the darkness from his powerful,
shaggy forehead. Many men knew Denzil by sight, few knew him in actual
being. There was a legend that once he was about to be married, but the
girl had suddenly gone mad and drowned herself in the river. No one
thought it strange that a month later the eldest son of the Tarboe family
had been found dead in the woods with a gun in his hand and a bullet
through his heart. No one had ever linked the death of Denzil's loved one
with that of Almeric Tarboe.

It was unusual for a Frenchman to give up his life to an English family,
but that is what he had done, and of late he had watched Junia with new
eager solicitude. The day she first saw Tarboe had marked an exciting
phase in her life.

Denzil had studied her, and he knew vaguely that a fresh interest,
disturbing, electrifying, had entered into her. Because it was Tarboe,
the fifteen years younger brother of that Almeric Tarboe who had died a
month after his own girl had left this world, his soul was
fighting--fighting.

As the smoke of Carnac's pipe came curling into the air, Denzil put on
his coat, and laid the hoe and rake on his shoulder.

"Yes, even when it's hard going we still have to march on--name of God,
yes!" he repeated, and he looked at Carnac quizzically.

"Where are you going? Don't you want to talk to me?"

"I'm going home, m'sieu'. If you'll come with me I'll give you a drink of
hard cider, the best was ever made."

"I'll come. Denzil, I've never been in your little house. That's strange,
when I've known you so many years."

"It's not too late to mend, m'sieu'. There ain't much in it, but it's all
I need."

Carnac stepped with Denzil towards the little house, just in front of
three pine-trees on the hill, and behind Junia's home.

"I always lock my door--always," said Denzil as he turned a key and
opened the door.

They entered into the cool shade of a living-room. There was little
furniture, yet against the wall was a kind of bunk, comfortable and
roomy, on which was stretched the skin of a brown bear. On the wall above
it was a crucifix, and on the opposite wall was the photograph of a girl,
good-looking, refined, with large, imaginative eyes, and a face that
might have been a fortune.

Carnac gazed at it for a moment, absorbed. "That was your girl, Denzil,
wasn't it?" he asked.

Denzil nodded. "The best the world ever had, m'sieu'," he replied, "the
very best, but she went queer and drowned herself--ah, but yes!"

"She just went queer, eh!" Carnac said, looking Denzil straight in the
eyes. "Was there insane blood in her family?"

"She wasn't insane," answered Denzil firmly. "She'd been bad
used--terrible."

"That didn't come out at the inquest, did it?"

"Not likely. She wrote it me. I'm telling you what I've never told
anyone." He shut the door, as though to make a confessional. "She wrote
it me, and I wasn't telling anyone-but no. She'd been away down at Quebec
City, and there a man got hold of her. Almeric Tarboe it was--the older
brother of Luke Tarboe at John Grier's." Suddenly the face of the little
man went mad with emotion. "I--I--" he paused.

Carnac held up his hand. "No-no-no, don't tell me. Tarboe--I understand,
the Unwritten Law. You haven't told me, but I understand. I remember: he
was found in the woods with his gun in his hand-dead. I read it all by
accident long ago; and that was the story, eh!"

"Yes. She was young, full of imagination. She loved me, but he was
clever, and he was high up, and she was low down. He talked her blind,
and then in the woods it was, in the woods where he died, that he--"

Suddenly the little man wrung his fingers like one robbed of reason. "He
was a strongman," he went on, "and she was a girl, weak, but not wanton
. . . and so she died, telling me, loving me--so she died, and so he died,
too, in the woods with his gun in his hand. Yes, 'twas done with his own
gun--by accident--by accident! He stumbled, and the gun went off. That
was the story at the inquest. No one knew I was there. I was never seen
with him and I've never been sorry. He got what he deserved--sacre, yes!"

There was something overwhelming in the face of the little resolute,
powerful man. His eyes were aflame. He was telling for the first time the
story of his lifelong agony and shame.

"It had to be done. She was young, so sweet, so good, aye, she was
good-in her soul she was good, ah, surelee. That's why she died in the
pond. No one knew. The inquest did not bring out anything, but that's why
he died; and ever since I've been mourning; life has no rest for me. I'm
not sorry for what I did. I've told it you because you saved me years ago
when I fell down the bank. You were only fourteen then, but I've never
forgotten. And she, that sweet young lady, she--she was there too; and
now when I look at this Tarboe, the brother of that man, and see her and
know what I know--sacre!" He waved a hand. "No-no-no, don't think there's
anything except what's in the soul. That man has touched ma'm'selle--I
don't know why, but he has touched her heart. Perhaps by his great bulk,
his cleverness, his brains, his way of doing things. In one sense she's
his slave, because she doesn't want to think of him, and she does. She
wants to think of you--and she does--ah, bagosh, yes!"

"Yes, I understand," remarked Carnac morosely. "I understand."

"Then why do you let her be under Tarboe's influence? Why don't--"

Carnac thrust out a hand that said silence. "Denzil, I'll never forget
what you've told me about yourself. Some day you'll have to tell it to
the priest, and then--"

"I'll never tell it till I'm on my death-bed. Then I'll tell it, sacre
bapteme, yes!"

"You're a bad Catholic, Denzil," remarked Carnae with emotion, but a
smile upon his face.

"I may be a bad Catholic, but the man deserved to die, and he died.
What's the difference, so far's the world's concerned, whether he died by
accident, or died--as he died. It's me that feels the fury of the damned,
and want my girl back every hour: and she can't come. But some day I'll
go to M'sieu' Luke Tarboe, and tell him the truth, as I've told it
you--bagosh, yes!"

"I think he'd try and kill you, if you did. That's the kind of man he
is."

"You think if he knew the truth he'd try and kill me--he!"

Carnac paused. He did not like to say everything in his mind. "Do you
think he'd say much and do little?"

"I dunno, I dunno, but I'll tell him the truth and take my chance."
Suddenly he swung round and stretched out appealing hands. "Haven't you
got any sense, m'sieu'? Don't you see what you should do? Ma'm'selle
Junia cares for you. I know it--I've seen it in her eyes often--often."

With sudden vehemence Carnac caught the wrists of the other. "It can't
be, Denzil. I can't tell you why yet. I'm going away. If Tarboe wants
her--good--good; I must give her a chance."

Denzil shrank. "There's something wrong, m'sieu'," he said. Then his eyes
fastened on Carnac's. Suddenly, with a strange, shining light in them, he
added "It will all come right for you and her. I'll live for that. If you
go away, I'll take good care of her."

"Even if--" Carnac paused.

"Yes, even if he makes love to her. He'll want to marry her, surelee."

"Well, that's not strange," remarked Carnac.



CHAPTER XI

CARNAC'S TALK WITH HIS MOTHER

Carnac went slowly towards his father's house on the hill. Fixed, as his
mind was, upon all that had just happened, his eye took fondly from the
gathering dusk pictures which the artist's mind cherishes--the long
roadway, with the maples and pines, the stump fences; behind which lay
the garnered fields, where the plough had made ready the way for the Fall
wheat; the robins twittering in the scattered trees; the cooing of the
wood-pigeon; over all, the sky in its perfect purpling blue, and far down
the horizon the evening-star slowly climbing. He noted the lizards
slipping through the stones; he saw where the wheel of a wagon had
crushed some wild flower-growth; he heard the far call of a milkmaid to
the cattle; he caught the sweet breath of decaying verdure, and through
all, the fresh, biting air of the new-land autumn, pleasantly stinging
his face.

Something kept saying to his mind: "It's all good. It's life and light,
and all good." But his nerves were being tried; his whole nature was
stirred.

He took the letter from his pocket again, and read it in the fading
light. It was native, naive, brutal, and unconsciously clever--and the
girl who had written it was beautiful. It had only a few lines. It asked
him why he had deserted her, his wife. It said that he would find
American law protected the deluded stranger. It asked if he had so soon
forgotten the kisses he had given her, and did he not realize they were
married? He felt that, with her, beneath all, there was more than malice;
there was a passion which would run risks to secure its end.

A few moments later he was in the room where his mother, with her strong,
fine, lonely face, sat sewing by the window. The door opened squarely on
her, and he saw how refined and sad, yet self-contained, was the woman
who had given him birth. The look in her eyes warmly welcomed him. Her
own sorrows made her sensitive to those of others, and as Carnac entered
she saw something was vexing him.

"Dear lad!" she said.

He was beside her now, and he kissed her cheek. "Best of all the world,"
he said; and he did not see that she shrank a little.

"Are you in trouble?" she asked, and her hand touched his shoulder.

The wrong she had done him long ago vexed her. It was not possible this
boy could fit in with a life where, in one sense, he did not belong. It
was not part of her sorrow that he had given himself to painting and
sculpture. In her soul she believed this might be best for him in the
end. She had a surreptitious, an almost anguished, joy in the thought
that he and John Grier could not hit it off. It seemed natural that both
men, ignorant of their own tragedy, believing themselves to be father and
son, should feel for each other the torture of distance, a
misunderstanding, which only she and one other human being understood.

John Grier was not the boy's father. Carnac was the son of Barode
Barouche.

After a moment he said: "Mother, I know why I've come to you. It's
because I feel when I'm in trouble, I get helped by being with you."

"How do I help, my boy?" she asked with a sad smile, for he had said the
thing dearest to her heart.

"When I'm with you, I seem to get a hold on myself. I've always had a
strange feeling about you. I felt when I was a child that you're two
people; one that lives on some distant, lonely prairie, silent, shadowy
and terribly loving; and the other, a vocal person, affectionate, alert,
good and generous."

He paused, but she only shook her head. After a moment he continued: "I
know you aren't happy, mother, but maybe you once were--at the start."

She got to her feet, and drew herself up.

"I'm happy in your love, but all the rest--is all the rest. It isn't your
father's fault wholly. He was busy; he forgot me. Dear, dear boy, never
give up your soul to things only, keep it for people."

She was naturally straight and composed; yet as she stood there, she had
a certain lonely splendour like some soft metal burning. Among her
fellow-citizens she had place and position, but she took no lead; she was
always an isolated attachment of local enterprises. It was in her own
house where her skill and adaptability had success. She had brought into
her soul misery and martyrdom, and all martyrs are lonely and apart.

Sharp visions of what she was really flashed through Carnac's mind, and
he said:

"Mother, there must be something wrong with you and me. You were
naturally a great woman, and sometimes I have a feeling I might be a
great man, but I don't get started for it. I suppose, you once had an
idea you'd play a big part in the world?"

"Girls have dreams," she answered with moist eyes, "and at times I
thought great things might come to me; but I married and got lost."

"You got lost?" asked Carnac anxiously, for there was a curious note in
her voice.

She tried to change the effect of her words.

"Yes, I lost myself in somebody else's ambitions I lost myself in the
storm."

Carnac laughed. "Father was always a blizzard, wasn't he? Now here, now
there, he rushed about making money, humping up his business, and yet why
shouldn't you have ranged beside him. I don't understand."

"No, that's the bane of life," she replied. "We don't understand each
other. I can't understand why you don't marry Junia. You love her. You
don't understand why I couldn't play as big a part as your father--I
couldn't. He was always odd--masterful and odd, and I never could do just
as he liked."

There was yearning sadness in her eyes. "Dear Carnac, John Grier is a
whirlwind, but he's also a still pool in which currents are secretly
twisting, turning. His imagination, his power is enormous; but he's
Oriental, a barbarian."

"You mean he might have had twenty wives?"

"He might have had twenty, and he'd have been the same to all of them,
because they play no part, except to make his home a place where his body
can live. That's the kind of thing, when a wife finds it out, that either
kills her slowly, or drives her mad."

"It didn't kill you, mother," remarked Carnac with a little laugh.

"No, it didn't kill me."

"And it didn't drive you mad," he continued.

She looked at him with burning intensity. "Oh, yes, it did--but I became
sane again." She gazed out of the window, down the hillside. "Your father
will soon be home. Is there anything you want to say before that?"

Carnac wanted to tell his tragic story, but it was difficult. He caught
his mother's hand.

"What's the matter, Carnac? You are in trouble. I can see it in your
eyes--I feel it. Is it money?" she asked. She knew it was not, yet she
could not help but ask. He shook his head in negation.

"Is it business?"

She knew his answer, yet she must make these steps before she said to
him: "Is it a woman?"

He nodded now. She caught his eyes and held them with her own. All the
silence and sorrow, all the remorse and regret of the past twenty-six
years gathered in her face.

"Yes and no," he answered with emotion. "You've quarrelled with Junia?"

"No," he replied.

"Why don't you marry her?" she urged. "We all would like it, even your
father."

"I can't."

"Why?" She leant forward with a slight burning of the cheek. "Why,
Carnac?"

He had determined to keep his own secret, to hide the thing which had
vexed his life, but a sudden feeling overcame his purpose. With impulse
he drew out the letter he had received in John Grier's office and handed
it to her.

"Read that, and then I'll tell you all about it--all I can."

With whitening face, she took the letter and read its few lines. It was
written in French, with savage little flourishes and twists, and the name
signed at the end was "Luzanne." At last she handed it back, her fingers
trembling.

"Who is Luzanne, and what does it mean?" What she had read was startling.

He slowly seated himself beside her. "I will tell you."

When Carnac had ended his painful story, she said to him: "It's
terrible--oh, terrible. But there was divorce."

"Yes, but they told me I couldn't get a divorce. Yet I wish now I'd tried
for it. I've never heard a word from the girl till I got that letter. It
isn't strange she hasn't moved in the thing till now. It was I that
should have acted; and she knew that. She means business, that's clear,
and it'll be hard to prove I didn't marry her with eyes wide open. It
gets between me and my work and my plans for the future; between--"

"Between you and Junia," she said mournfully. "Don't you think you ought
to get a divorce for Junia's sake, if nothing else?"

"Yes, of course. But I'm not sure I could get a divorce--evidence is so
strong against me, and it was a year ago! If I can see Luzanne again
perhaps I can get her to tear up the marriage-lines--that's what I want.
She isn't all bad. I must go again to New York; and Junia can wait. I'm
not much, I know--not worth waiting for, maybe, but I'm in earnest where
Junia's concerned. I could make a little home for her at once, and a
better one as time went on, if she would marry me."

After a moment of silence, Carnac added: "I'm going to New York. Don't
you think I ought to go?"

The gaunt, handsome face of the woman darkened, and then she answered:
"Yes."

There was silence again for a moment, deep and painful, and then Carnac
spoke.

"Mother, I don't think father is well. I see a great change in him. He
hasn't long to travel, and some day you'll have everything. He might make
you run the business, with Tarboe as manager."

She shuddered slightly. "With Tarboe--I never thought of that--with
Tarboe! . . . Are you going to wait for--your father? He'll be here
presently."

"No, I'm off. I'll go down the garden, through the bushes," he said....
"Mother, I've got nearer you to-night than in all the rest of my life."

She kissed him fondly. "You're going away, but I hope you'll come back in
time."

He knew she meant Junia.

"Yes, I hope I'll come back in time."

A moment later he was gone, out of the sidedoor, through the bushes, and
down the hill, running like a boy. He had for the first time talked to
his mother about the life of their home; the facts she told him stripped
away the curtain that hid the secret things of life from his eyes.

John Grier almost burst upon his wife. He opened and shut the door
noisily; he stamped into the dusky room.

"Isn't it time for a light?" he said with a quizzical nod towards her.

The short visit of Carnac had straightened her back. "I like the
twilight. I don't light up until it's dark, but if you wish--"

"You like the twilight; you don't light up until it's dark, but if I
wish--ah, that's it! Have your own way.... I'm the breadwinner; I'm the
breadwinner; I'm the fighter; I'm the man that makes the machine go; but
I don't like the twilight, and I don't like to wait until it's dark
before I light up. So there it is!"

She said nothing at once, but struck a match, and lit the gas.

"It's easy to give you what you want," she answered after a little. "I'm
used to it now."

There was something animal-like in the thrust forward of his neck, in the
anger that mounted to his eyes. When she had drawn down the blinds, he
said to her: "Who's been here?"

For an instant she hesitated. Then she said: "Carnac's been here, but
that has naught to do with what I said. I've lived with you for over
thirty years, and I haven't spoken my mind often, but I'm speaking it
now."

"Never too late to mend, eh!" he gruffly interposed. "So Carnac's been
here! Putting up his independent clack, eh? He leaves his old father to
struggle as best he may, and doesn't care a damn. That's your son
Carnac."

How she longed to say to him, "That's not your son Carnac!" but she could
not. A greyness crossed over her face.

"Is Carnac staying here?"

She shook her head in negation.

"Well, now I'll tell you about Carnac," he said viciously. "I'm shutting
him out of the business of my life. You understand?"

"You mean--" She paused.

"He's taken his course, let him stick to it. I'm taking my course, and
I'll stick to it."

She came close and reached out a faltering hand. "John, don't do what
you'll be sorry for."

"I never have."

"When Fabian was born, you remember what you said? You said: 'Life's
worth living now.'"

"Yes, but what did I say when Carnac was born?"

"I didn't hear, John," she answered, her face turning white.

"Well, I said naught."



CHAPTER XII

CARNAC SAYS GOOD-BYE

Fabian Grier's house was in a fashionable quarter of a fashionable
street, the smallest of all built there; but it was happily placed,
rather apart from others, at the very end of the distinguished promenade.
Behind it, a little way up the hill, was a Roman Catholic chapel.

The surroundings of the house were rural for a city habitation. Behind it
were commendable trees, from one of which a swing was hung. In a corner,
which seemed to catch the sun, was a bird-cage on a pole, sought by
pigeons and doves. In another corner was a target for the bow and
arrow-evidence of the vigorous life of the owners of the house.

On the morning after Carnac told his mother he was going away, the doors
of the house were all open. Midway between breakfast and lunch, the
voices of children sang through the dining-room bright with the morning
sun. The children were going to the top of the mountain-the two
youngsters who made the life of Fabian and his wife so busy. Fabian was a
man of little speech. He was slim and dark and quiet, with a black
moustache and smoothly brushed hair, with a body lithe and composed, yet
with hands broad, strong, stubborn.

As Junia stood by the dining-room table and looked at the alert,
expectant children, she wished she also was going now to the
mountain-top. But that could not be--not yet. Carnac had sent a note
saying he wished to see her, and she had replied through Denzil that her
morning would be spent with her sister. "What is it?" she remarked to
herself. "What is it? There's nothing wrong. Yet I feel everything upside
down."

Her face turned slowly towards the wide mountain; it caught the light
upon the steeple of the Catholic chapel. She shuddered slightly, and an
expression came into her shadowed eyes not belonging to her personality,
which was always buoyant.

As she stood absorbed, her mind in a maze of perplexity, a sigh broke
from her lips. She suddenly had a conviction about Carnac; she felt his
coming might bring a crisis; that what he might say must influence her
whole life. Carnac--she threw back her head. Suddenly a sweet, appealing,
intoxicating look crossed her face. Carnac! Yes, there was a man, a man
of men.

Tarboe got his effects by the impetuous rush of a personality; Carnac by
something that haunted, that made him more popular absent than present.
Carnac compelled thought. When he was away she wanted him; when he was
near she liked to quarrel with him. When they were together, one moment
she wanted to take his hands in her hands, and in the next she wanted to
push him over some great cliff--he was so maddening. He provoked the
devil in her; yet he made her sing the song of Eden. What was it?

As she asked the question she heard a firm step on the path. It was
Carnac. She turned and stood waiting, leaning against the table, watching
the door through which he presently came. He was dressed in grey. His
coat was buttoned. He carried a soft grey hat, and somehow his face gave
her a feeling that he had come to say good-bye. It startled her; and yet,
though she was tempted to grip her breast, she did not. Presently she
spoke.

"I think you're a very idle man. Why aren't you at work?"

"I am at work," Carnac said cheerfully.

"Work is not all paint and canvas of course. There has to be the thinking
beforehand. Well, of what are you thinking now?"

"Of the evening train to New York."

His face was turned away from her at the instant, because he did not wish
to see the effect of his words. He would have seen that apprehension came
to her eyes. Her mouth opened in quick amazement. It was all too
startling. He was going--for how long?

"Why are you going?" she asked, when she had recovered her poise.

"Well, you see I haven't quite learned my painting yet, and I must study
in great Art centres where one isn't turned down by one's own judgment."

"Ananias!" she said at last. "Ananias!"

"Why do you say I'm a liar?" he asked, flushing a little, though there
was intense inquiry in his eyes. "Because I think it. It isn't your work
only that's taking you away." Suddenly she laughed. "What a fool you are,
Carnac! You're not a good actor. You're not going away for work's sake
only."

"Not for work's sake only--that's true."

"Then why do you go?"

"I'm in a mess, Junia. I've made some mistakes in my life, and I'm going
to try and put one of them right."

"Is anybody trying to do you harm?" she asked gently.

"Yes, somebody's trying to hurt me."

"Hurt him," she rejoined sharply, and her eyes fastened his.

He was about to say there was no him in the matter, but reason steadied
him, and he said:

"I'll do my best, Junia. I wish I could tell you, but I can't. What's to
be done must be done by myself alone."

"Then it ought to be done well."

With an instant's impulse he moved towards her. She went to the window,
however, and she said: "Here's Fabian. You'll be glad of that. You'll
want to say good-bye to him and Sibyl." She ran from him to the front
door. "Fabian--Fabian, here's a bad boy who wants to tell you things he
won't tell me." With these words she went into the garden.

"I don't think he'll tell me," came Fabian's voice. "Why should he?"

A moment afterwards the two men met.

"Well, what's the trouble, Carnac?" asked Fabian in a somewhat
challenging voice.

"I'm going away."

"Oh--for how long?" Fabian asked quizzically. "I don't know--a year,
perhaps. I want to make myself a better artist, and also free myself."

Now his eyes were on Junia in her summer-time recreation, and her voice,
humming a light-opera air, was floating to him through the autumn
morning.

"Has something got you in its grip, then?"

"I'm the victim of a reckless past, like you." Something provocative was
in his voice and in his words.

"Was my past reckless?" asked Fabian with sullen eyes.

"Never so reckless as mine. You fought, quarrelled, hit, sold and bought
again, and now you're out against your father, fighting him."

"I had to come out or be crushed."

"I'm not so sure you won't be crushed now you're out. He plays boldly,
and he knows his game. One or the other of you must prevail, and I think
it won't be you, Fabian. John Grier does as much thinking in an hour as
most of us do in a month, and with Tarboe he'll beat you dead. Tarboe is
young; he's got the vitality of a rhinoceros. He knows the business from
the bark on the tree. He's a flyer, is Tarboe, and you might have been in
Tarboe's place and succeeded to the business."

Fabian threw out his arms. "But no! Father might live another ten
years--though I don't think so--and I couldn't have stood it. He was
lapping me in the mud."

"He doesn't lap Tarboe in the mud."

"No, and he wouldn't have lapped you in the mud, because you've got
imagination, and you think wide and long when you want to. But I'm
middle-class in business. I've got no genius for the game. He didn't see
my steady qualities were what was needed. He wanted me to be like
himself, an eagle, and I was only a robin red-breast."

Suddenly his eyes flashed and his teeth set. "You couldn't stand him,
wouldn't put up with his tyranny. You wanted to live your own life, and
you're doing it. When he bought me out, what was there for me to do but
go into the only business I knew, with the only big man in the business,
besides John Grier. I've as good blood as he's got in his veins. I do
business straight.

"He didn't want me to do it straight. That's one of the reasons we fell
out. John Grier's a big, ruthless trickster. I wasn't. I was for playing
the straight game, and I played it."

"Well, he's got his own way now. He's got a man who wouldn't blink at
throttling his own brother, if it'd do him any good. Tarboe is iron and
steel; he's the kind that succeeds. He likes to rule, and he's going to
get what he wants mostly."

"Is that why you're going away?" asked Fabian. "Don't you think it'll be
just as well not to go, if Tarboe is going to get all he wants?"

"Does Tarboe come here?"

"He's been here twice."

"Visiting?"

"No. He came on urgent business. There was trouble between our two
river-driving camps. He wanted my help to straighten things out, and he
got it. He's pretty quick on the move."

"He wanted you to let him settle it?"

"He settled it, and I agreed. He knows how to handle men; I'll say that
for him. He can run reckless on the logs like a river-driver; he can
break a jam like an expert. He's not afraid of man, or log, or devil.
That's his training. He got that training from John Grier's firm under
another name. I used to know him by reputation long before he took my
place in the business--my place and yours. You got loose from the
business only to get tied up in knots of your own tying," he added. "What
it is I don't know, but you say you're in trouble and I believe you."
Suddenly a sharp look came to his face. "Is it a woman?"

"It's not a man."

"Well, you ought to know how to handle a woman. You're popular with
women. My wife'll never hear a word against you. I don't know how you do
it. We're so little alike, it makes me feel sometimes we're not brothers.
I don't know where you get your temperament from."

"It doesn't matter where I got it, it's mine. I want to earn my own
living, and I'm doing it." Admiration came into Fabian's face. "Yes," he
said, "and you don't borrow--"

"And don't beg or steal. Mother has given me money, and I'm spending my
own little legacy, all but five thousand dollars of it."

Fabian came up to his brother slowly. "If you know what's good for you,
you'll stay where you are. You're not the only man that ought to be
married. Tarboe's a strong man, and he'll be father's partner. He's
handsome in his rough way too, is Tarboe. He knows what he wants, and
means to have it, and this is a free country. Our girls, they have their
own way. Why don't you settle it now? Why don't you marry Junia, and take
her away with you--if she'll have you?"

"I can't--even if she'll have me."

"Why can't you?"

"I'm afraid of the law."

An uneasy smile hung at Carnac's lips. He suddenly caught Fabian's
shoulder in a strong grip. "We've never been close friends, Fabian. We've
always been at sixes and sevens, and yet I feel you'd rather do me a good
turn than a bad one. Let me ask you this--that you'll not believe
anything bad of me till you've heard what I've got to say. Will you do
that?"

Fabian nodded. "Of course. But if I were you, I wouldn't bet on myself,
Carnac. Junia's worth running risks for. She's got more brains than my
wife and me together, and she bosses us; but with you, it's different. I
think you'd boss her. You're unexpected; you're daring; and you're
reckless."

"Yes, I certainly am reckless."

"Then why aren't you reckless now? You're going away. Why, you haven't
even told her you love her. The other man--is here, and--I've seen him
look at her? I know by the way she speaks of him how she feels.
Besides, he's a great masterful creature. Don't be a fool! Have a try
 . . . Junia--Junia," he called.

The figure in the garden with the flowers turned. There was a flicker of
understanding in the rare eyes. The girl held up a bunch of flowers high
like a torch.

"I'm coming, my children," she called, and, with a laugh, she ran forward
through the doorway.

"What is it you want, Fabian?" she asked, conscious that in Carnac's face
was consternation. "What can I do for you?" she added, with a slight
flush.

"Nothing for me, but for Carnac--" Fabian stretched out a hand.

She laughed brusquely. "Oh, Carnac! Carnac! Well, I've been making him
this bouquet." She held it out towards him. "It's a farewell bouquet for
his little journey in the world. Take it, Carnac, with everybody's
love--with Fabian's love, with Sibyl's love, with my love. Take it, and
good-bye."

With a laugh she caught up her hat from the table, and a moment later she
was in the street making for the mountain-side up which the children had
gone.

Carnac placed the bouquet upon the table. Then he turned to his brother.

"What a damn mess you make of things, Fabian!"

     ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

     All genius is at once a blessing or a curse
     Do what you feel you've got to do, and never mind what happens
     Had got unreasonably old
     How many sons have ever added to their father's fame?
     Never give up your soul to things only, keep it for people
     We do what we forbid ourselves to do
     We suffer the shames we damn in others



CARNAC'S FOLLY

By Gilbert Parker
BOOK II

     XIII.   CARNAC'S RETURN
     XIV.    THE HOUSE OF THE THREE TREES
     XV.     CARNAC AND JUNTA
     XVI.    JOHN GRIER MAKES A JOURNEY
     XVII.   THE READING OF THE WILL



CHAPTER XIII

CARNAC'S RETURN

"Well, what's happened since I've been gone, mother?" asked Carnac. "Is
nobody we're interested in married, or going to be married?"

It was spring-time eight months after Carnac had vanished from Montreal,
and the sun of late April was melting the snow upon the hills, bringing
out the smell of the sprouting verdure and the exultant song of the
birds.

His mother replied sorrowfully: "Junia's been away since last fall. Her
aunt in the West was taken ill, and she's been with her ever since. Tell
me, dearest, is everything all right now? Are you free to do what you
want?"

He shook his head morosely. "No, everything's all wrong. I blundered, and
I'm paying the price."

"You didn't find Luzanne Larue?"

"Yes, I found her, but it was no good. I said there was divorce, and she
replied I'd done it with my eyes open, and had signed our names in the
book of the hotel as Mr. and Mrs. Carnac Grier and divorce would not be
possible. Also, I'd let things go for a year, and what jury would give me
relief! I consulted a lawyer. He said she had the game in her hands, and
that a case could be put up that would discredit me with jury or judge,
so there it is. . . . Well, bad as she is, she's fond of me in her way. I
don't think she's ever gone loose with any man; this is only a craze, I'm
sure. She wanted me, and she meant to have me."

His mother protested: "No pure, straight, honest girl would--"

Carnac laughed bitterly, and interrupted. "Don't talk that way, mother.
The girl was brought up among exiles and political criminals in the
purlieu of Montmartre. What's possible in one place is impossible in
another. Devil as she is, I want to do her justice."

"Did she wear a wedding-ring?"

"No, but she used my name as her own: I saw it on the paper door-plate.
She said she would wait awhile longer, but if at the end of six months I
didn't do my duty, she'd see the thing through here among my own people."

"Six months--it's overdue now!" She said in agitation.

He nodded helplessly. "I'm in hell as things are. There's only this to be
said: She's done naught yet, and she mayn't do aught!"

They were roused by the click of the gate. "That's your father--that's
John Grier," she said.

They heard the front door open and shut, a footstep in the hall, then the
door opened and John Grier came into the room.

Preoccupation, abstraction, filled his face, as he came forward. It was
as though he was looking at something distant that both troubled and
pleased him. When he saw Carnac he stopped, his face flushed. For an
instant he stood unmoving, and then he held out his hand.

"So you've come back, Carnac. When did you get here?"

As Carnac released his hand from John Grier's cold clasp, he said: "A
couple of hours ago."

The old man scrutinized him sharply, carefully. "Getting on--making
money?" he asked. "Got your hand in the pocket of the world?"

Carnac shook his head. "I don't care much about the pocket of the world,
but they like my work in London and New York. I don't get Royal Academy
prices, but I do pretty well."

"Got some pride, eh?"

"I'm always proud when anybody outside Montreal mentions your name! It
makes me feel I have a place in the world."

"Guess you've made your own place," said the other, pleasure coming to
his cheek. "You've got your own shovel and pick to make wealth."

"I care little about wealth. All I want is enough to clothe and feed me,
and give me a little home."

"A little home! Yes, it's time," remarked the other, as he seated himself
in his big chair by the table. "Why don't you marry?"

The old man's eyes narrowed until there could only be seen a slit of fire
between the lids, and a bitter smile came to his lips. He had told his
wife a year ago that he had cut Carnac out of all business consideration.
So now, he added:

"Tarboe's taken your place in the business, Carnac. Look out he doesn't
take your little home too."

"He's had near a year, and he hasn't done it yet."

"Is that through any virtue of yours?"

"Probably not," answered Carnac ironically. "But I've been away; he's
been here. He's had everything with him. Why hasn't he pulled it off
then?"

"He pulls off everything he plans. He's never fallen over his own feet
since he's been with me, and, if I can help it, he won't have a fall when
I'm gone."

Suddenly he got to his feet; a fit of passion seized him. "What's Junia
to me--nothing! I've every reason to dislike her, but she comes and goes
as if the place belonged to her. She comes to my office; she comes to
this house; she visits Fabian; she tries to boss everybody. Why don't you
regularize it? Why don't you marry her, and then we'll know where we are?
She's got more brains than anybody else in our circle. She's got tact and
humour. Her sister's a fool; she's done harm. Junia's got sense. What are
you waiting for? I wouldn't leave her for Tarboe! Look here, Carnac, I
wanted you to do what Tarboe's doing, and you wouldn't. You cheeked
me--so I took him in. He's made good every foot of the way. He's a
wonder. I'm a millionaire. I'm two times a millionaire, and I got the
money honestly. I gave one-third of it to Fabian, and he left us. I paid
him in cash, and now he's fighting me."

Carnac bristled up: "What else could he do? He might have lived on the
interest of the money, and done nothing. You trained him for business,
and he's gone on with the business you trained him for. There are other
lumber firms. Why don't you quarrel with them? Why do you drop on Fabian
as if he was dirt?"

"Belloc's a rogue and a liar."

"What difference does that make? Isn't it a fair fight? Don't you want
anybody to sit down or stand up till you tell them to? Is it your view
you shall tyrannize, browbeat, batter, and then that everybody you love,
or pretend to love, shall bow down before you as though you were eternal
law? I'm glad I didn't. I'm making my own life. You gave me a chance in
your business, and I tried it, and declined it. You gave it to some one
else, and I approved of it. What more do you want?"

Suddenly a new spirit of defiance awoke in him. "What I owe you I don't
know, but if you'll make out what you think is due, for what you've done
for me in the way of food and clothes and education, I'll see you get it
all. Meanwhile, I want to be free to move and do as I will."

John Grier sat down in his chair again, cold, merciless, with a scornful
smile.

"Yes, yes," he said slowly, "you'd have made a great business man if
you'd come with me. You refused. I don't understand you--I never did.
There's only one thing that's alike in us, and that's a devilish
self-respect, self-assertion, self-dependence. There's nothing more to be
said between us--nothing that counts. Don't get into a passion, Carnac.
It don't become you. Good-night--good-night."

Suddenly his mother's face produced a great change in Carnac. Horror,
sorrow, remorse, were all there. He looked at John Grier; then at his
mother. The spirit of the bigger thing crept into his heart. He put his
arm around his mother and kissed her.

"Good-night, mother," he said. Then he went to his father and held out a
hand. "You don't mind my speaking what I think?" he continued, with a
smile. "I've had a lot to try me. Shake hands with me, father. We haven't
found the way to walk together yet. Perhaps it will come; I hope so."

Again a flash of passion seized John Grier. He got to his feet. "I'll not
shake hands with you, not to night. You can't put the knife in and turn
it round, and then draw it out and put salve on the wound and say
everything's all right. Everything's all wrong. My family's been my
curse. First one, then another, and then all against me,--my whole family
against me!"

He dropped back in his chair sunk in gloomy reflection.

"Well, good-night," said Carnac. "It will all come right some day."

A moment afterwards he was gone. His mother sat down in her seat by the
window; his father sat brooding by the table.

Carnac stole down the hillside, his heart burning in him. It had not been
a successful day.



CHAPTER XIV

THE HOUSE OF THE THREE TREES

During Carnac's absence, Denzil had lain like an animal, watching, as it
were, the doorway out of which Tarboe came and went. His gloom at last
became fanaticism. During all the eight months of Carnac's absence he
prowled in the precincts of memory.

While Junia was at home he had been watchfully determined to save her
from Tarboe, if possible. He had an obsession of wrong-mindedness which
is always attached to crime. Though Luke Tarboe had done him no wrong,
and was entitled, if he could, to win Junia for himself, to the mind of
Denzil the stain of his brother's past was on Tarboe's life. He saw
Tarboe and Junia meet; he knew Tarboe put himself in her way, and he was
right in thinking that the girl, with a mind for comedy and coquetry, was
drawn instinctively to danger.

Undoubtedly the massive presence of Tarboe, his animal-like, bull-headed
persistency, the fun at his big mouth and the light in his bold eye had a
kind of charm for her. It was as though she placed herself within the
danger zone to try her strength, her will; and she had done it without
real loss. More than once, as she waited in the office for old John Grier
to come, she had a strange, intuitive feeling that Tarboe might suddenly
grip her in his arms.

She flushed at the thought of it; it seemed so absurd. Yet that very
thought had passed through the mind of the man. He was by nature a
hunter; he was self-willed and reckless. No woman had ever moved him in
his life until this girl crossed his path, and he reached out towards her
with the same will to control that he had used in the business of life.
Yet, while this brute force suggested physical control of the girl, it
had its immediate reaction. She was so fine, so delicate, and yet so full
of summer and the free unfettered life of the New World, so unimpassioned
physically, yet so passionate in mind and temperament, that he felt he
must atone for the wild moment's passion--the passion of possession,
which had made him long to crush her to his breast. There was nothing
physically repulsive in it; it was the wild, strong life of conquering
man, of which he had due share. For, as he looked at her sitting in his
office, her perfect health, her slim boyishness, her exquisite lines and
graceful turn of hand, arm and body, or the flower-like turn of the neck,
were the very harmony and poetry of life. But she was terribly provoking
too; and he realized that she was an unconscious coquette, that her
spirit loved mastery as his did.

Denzil could not know this, however. It was impossible for him to analyse
the natures of these two people. He had instinct, but not enough to judge
the whole situation, and so for two months after Carnac disappeared he
had lived a life of torture. Again and again he had determined to tell
Junia the story of Tarboe's brother, but instinctive delicacy stopped
him. He could not tell her the terrible story which had robbed him of all
he loved and had made him the avenger of the dead. A half-dozen times
after she came back from John Grier's office, with slightly heightening
colour, and the bright interest in her eyes, and had gone about the
garden fondling the flowers, he had started towards her; but had stopped
short before her natural modesty. Besides, why should he tell her? She
had her own life to make, her own row to hoe. Yet, as the weeks passed,
it seemed he must break upon this dangerous romance; and then suddenly
she went to visit her sick aunt in the Far West. Denzil did not know,
however, that, in John Grier's office as she had gone over figures of a
society in which she was interested, the big hand of Tarboe had suddenly
closed upon her fingers, and that his head bent down beside hers for one
swift instant, as though he would whisper to her. Then she quickly
detached herself, yet smiled at him, as she said reprovingly:

"You oughtn't to do that. You'll spoil our friendship."

She did not wait longer. As he stretched out his hands to her, his face
had gone pale: she vanished through the doorway, and in forty-eight hours
was gone to her sick aunt. The autumn had come and the winter and the
spring, and the spring was almost gone when she returned; and, with her
return, Catastrophe lifted its head in the person of Denzil.

Perhaps it was imperative instinct that brought Junia back in an hour
coincident with Carnac's return--perhaps. In any case, there it was. They
had both returned, as it were, in the self-same hour, each having endured
a phase of emotion not easy to put on paper.

Denzil told her of Carnac's return, and she went to the house where
Carnac's mother lived, and was depressed at what she saw and felt. Mrs.
Grier's face was not that of one who had good news. The long arms almost
hurt when they embraced her. Yet Carnac was a subject of talk between
them--open, clear eyed talk. The woman did not know what to say, except
to praise her boy, and the girl asked questions cheerfully, unimportantly
as to sound, but with every nerve tingling. There was, however, so much
of the comedienne in her, so much coquetry, that only one who knew her
well could have seen the things that troubled her behind all. As though
to punish herself, she began to speak of Tarboe, and Mrs. Grier's face
clouded; she spoke more of Tarboe, and the gloom deepened. Then, with the
mask of coquetry still upon her she left Carnac's mother abashed,
sorrowful and alone.

Tarboe had called in her absence. Entering the garden, he saw Denzil at
work. At the click of the gate Denzil turned, and came forward.

"She ain't home," he said bluntly. "She's out. She ain't here. She's up
at Mr. Grier's house, bien sur."

To Tarboe Denzil's words were offensive. It was none of Denzil's business
whether he came or went in this house, or what his relations with Junia
were. Democrat though he was, he did not let democracy transgress his
personal associations. He knew that the Frenchman was less likely to say
and do the crude thing than the Britisher.

Tarboe knew of the position held by Denzil in the Shale household; and
that long years of service had given him authority. All this, however,
could not atone for the insolence of Denzil's words, but he had
controlled men too long to act rashly.

"When will Mademoiselle be back?" he asked, putting a hand on himself.

"To-night," answered Denzil, with an antipathetic eye.

"Don't be a damn fool. Tell me the hour when you think she will be at
home. Before dinner--within the next sixty minutes?"

"Ma'm'selle is under no orders. She didn't say when she would be
back--but no!"

"Do you think she'll be back for dinner?" asked Tarboe, smothering his
anger, but get to get his own way.

"I think she'll be back for dinner!" and he drove the spade into the
ground.

"Then I'll sit down and wait." Tarboe made for the verandah.

Denzil presently trotted after and said: "I'd like a word with you."

Tarboe turned round. "Well, what have you got to say?"

"Better be said in my house, not here," replied Denzil. His face was
pale, but there was fire in his eyes. There was no danger of violence,
and, if there were, Tarboe could deal with it. Why should there be
violence? Why should that semi-insanity in Denzil's eyes disturb him? The
one thing to do was to forge ahead. He nodded.

"Where are you taking me?" he asked presently, as they passed through the
gate.

"To my little house by the Three Trees. I've got things I'd like to show
you, and there's some things I'd like to say. You are a big hulk of a
man, and I'm nobody, but yet I've been close to you and yours in my
time--that's so, for sure."

"You've been close to me and mine in your time, eh? I didn't know that."

"No, you didn't know it. Nobody knew it--I've kept it to myself. Your
family wasn't all first-class--but no."

They soon reached the plain board-house, with the well-laid foundation of
stone, by the big Three Trees. Inside the little spare, undecorated room,
Tarboe looked round. It was all quiet and still enough. It was like a
lodge in the wilderness. Somehow, the atmosphere of it made him feel
apart and lonely. Perhaps that was a little due to the timbered ceiling,
to the walls with cedar scantlings showing, to the crude look of
everything-the head of a moose, the skins hanging down the sides of the
walls, the smell of the cedar, and the swift movement of a tame red
squirrel, which ran up the walls and over the floor and along the
chimney-piece, for Denzil avoided the iron stove so common in these new
cold lands, and remained faithful to a huge old-fashioned mantel.

Presently Denzil faced him, having closed the door. "I said I'd been near
to your family and you didn't believe me. Sit down, please to, and I'll
tell you my story."

Seating himself with a little curt laugh, Tarboe waved a hand as though
to say: "Go ahead. I'm ready."

It was difficult for Denzil to begin. He walked up and down the room,
muttering and shaking his head. Presently, however, he made the Sign of
the Cross upon himself, and, leaning against the wall, and opposite to
Tarboe, he began the story he had told Carnac.

His description of his dead fiancee had flashes of poetry and
excruciating touches of life:

"She had no mother, and there was lots of things she didn't know because
of that--ah, plenty! She had to learn, and she brought on her own tragedy
by not knowing that men, even when good to look at, can't be trusted;
that every place, even in the woods and the fields where every one seems
safe to us outdoor people, ain't safe--but no. So she trusted, and then
one day--"

For the next five minutes the words poured from him in moroseness. He
drew a picture of the lonely wood, of the believing credulous girl and
the masterful, intellectual, skilful man. In the midst of it Tarboe
started. The description of the place and of the man was familiar. He had
a vision of a fair young girl encompassed by clanger; he saw her in the
man's arms; the man's lips to hers, and--

"Good God--good God!" he said twice, for a glimmer of the truth struck
him. He knew what his brother had done. He could conceive the revenge to
his brother's amorous hand. He listened till the whole tale was told;
till the death of the girl in the pond at home--back in her own little
home. Then the rest of the story shook him.

"The verdict of the coroner's court was that he was shot by his own
hand--by accident," said Denzil. "That was the coroner's verdict, but
yes! Well, he was shot by his own gun, but not by his own hand. There was
some one who loved the girl, took toll. The world did not know, and does
not know, but you know--you--you, the brother of him that spoiled a
woman's life! Do you think such a man should live? She was the sweetest
girl that ever lived, and she loved me! She told me the truth--and he
died by his own gun--in the woods; but it wasn't accident--it wasn't
accident--but no! The girl had gone, but behind her was some one that
loved her, and he settled it once for all."

As he had told the story, Denzil's body seemed to contract; his face took
on an insane expression. It was ghastly pale, but his eyes ware aflame.
His arms stretched out with grim realism as he told of the death of
Almeric Tarboe.

"You've got the whole truth, m'sieu'. I've told it you at last. I've
never been sorry for killing him--never--never--never. Now, what are you
going to do about it--you--his brother--you that come here making love
too?"

As the truth dawned upon Tarboe, his great figure stretched itself. A
black spirit possessed him.

When Denzil had finished, Tarboe stood up. There was dementia, cruelty,
stark purpose in his eyes, in every movement.

"What am I going to do? You killed my brother! Well, I'm going to kill
you. God blast your soul--I'm going to kill you!"

He suddenly swooped upon Denzil, his fingers clenched about the thick
throat, insane rage was on him.

At that moment there was a knock at the door, it opened, and Carnac
stepped inside. He realized the situation and rushed forward. There was
no time to struggle.

"Let him go," he cried. "You devil--let him go." Then with all his might,
he struck Tarboe in the face. The blow brought understanding back to
Tarboe. His fingers loosed from the Frenchman's throat, and Carnac caught
Denzil as he fell backwards.

"Good God!" said Carnac. "Good God, Tarboe! Wasn't it enough for your
brother to take this man's love without your trying to take his life?"

Carnac's blow brought conviction to Tarboe, whose terrible rage passed
away. He wiped the blood from his face.

"Is the little devil all right?" he whispered.

Denzil spoke: "Yes. This is the second time M'sieu' Carnac has saved my
life."

Carnac intervened. "Tell me, Tarboe, what shall you do, now you know the
truth?"

At last Tarboe thrust out a hand. "I don't know the truth," he said.

By this Carnac knew that Denzil was safe from the law.



CHAPTER XV

CARNAC AND JUNIA

Tarboe did not see Junia that evening nor for many evenings, but Carnac
and Junia met the next day in her own house. He came on her as she was
arranging the table for midday dinner. She had taken up again the threads
of housekeeping, cheering her father, helping the old French-woman
cook--a huge creature who moved like a small mountain, and was a tyrant
in her way to the old cheerful avocat, whose life had been a struggle for
existence, yet whose one daughter had married a rich lumberman, and whose
other daughter could marry wealth, handsomeness and youth, if she chose.

When Carnac saw Junia she was entering the dining-room with flowers and
fruit, and he recalled the last time they met, when she had thrust the
farewell bouquet of flowers into his hand. That was in the early autumn,
and this was in late spring, and the light in her face was as glowing as
then. A remembrance of the scene came to the minds of both, and the girl
gave a little laugh.

"Well, well, Carnac," she said gaily, her cheek flushing, her eyes warm
with colour: "well, I sent you away with flowers. Did they bring you
luck?" She looked him steadily in the eyes.

"Yes, they brought me a perfect remembrance--of one who has always been
to me like the balm of Gilead."

"Soothing and stimulating, eh?" she asked, as she put the flowers on the
table and gave him her hand--no, she suddenly gave him both hands with a
rush of old-time friendship, which robbed it of all personal emotion.

For a moment he held her hands. He felt them tremble in his warm clasp,
the delicate, shivering pulsation of youth, the womanly feeling. It was
for an instant only, because she withdrew her fingers. Then she caught up
an apple from the dish she had brought in, and tossed it to him.

"For a good boy," she said. "You have been a good boy, haven't you?"

"I think so, chiefly by remembering a good girl."

"That's a pretty compliment--meant for me?"

"Yes, meant for you. I think you understand me better than anyone else."

He noticed her forehead wrinkle slightly, and a faint, incredulous smile
come to her lips.

"I shouldn't think I understand you, Carnac," she said, over her
shoulder, as she arranged dishes on the sideboard. "I shouldn't think I
know you well. There's no Book of Revelations of your life except in your
face."

She suddenly turned full on him, and held his eyes. "Carnac, I think your
face looks honest. I've always thought so, and yet I think you're
something of a scamp, a rogue and a thief."

There was determination at her lips, through which, though only slightly
apart, her beautiful teeth, so straight, so regular, showed. "You don't
play fair. What's the good of having a friend if you don't tell your
friend your troubles? And you've been in trouble, Carnac, and you're
fighting it through alone. Is that wise? You ought to tell some bad man,
or some good woman--if they're both clever--what's vexing you.

"You see the bad clever man would probably think out something that would
have the same effect as the good clever woman. They never would think out
the same thing, but each 'd think out what would help you."

"But you've just said I'm a bad clever man. Why shouldn't I work out my
own trouble?"

"Oh, you're bad enough," she answered, "but you're not clever enough."

He smiled grimly. "I'm not sure though about the woman. Perhaps I'll tell
the good clever woman some day and let her help me, if she can. But I'd
warn her it won't be easy."

"Then there's another woman in it!"

He did not answer. He could not let her know the truth, yet he was sure
she would come to know it one way or another.

At that moment she leaned over the table and stretched a hand to arrange
something. The perfection of her poise, the beauty of her lines, the
charm of her face seized Carnac, and, with an impulse, he ran his arm
around her waist.

"Junia--Junia!" he said in a voice of rash, warm feeling.

She was like a wild bird caught in its flight. A sudden stillness held
her, and then she turned her head towards him, subdued inquiry in her
eyes. For a moment only she looked--and then she said:

"Take your arm away, please."

The conviction that he ought not to make any sign of love to her broke
his sudden passion. He drew back ashamed, yet defiant, rebuked, yet
rebellious. It was like a challenge to her. A sarcastic smile crossed her
lips.

"What a creature of impulses you are, Carnac! When we were children the
day you saved Denzil years ago you flung your arms around me and kissed
me. I didn't understand anything then, and what's more I don't think you
did. You were a wilful, hazardous boy, and went your way taking the
flowers in the garden that didn't belong to you. Yet after all these
years, with an impulse behind which there is nothing--nothing at all, you
repeat that incident."

Suddenly passion seemed to possess her. "How dare you trifle with things
that mean so much! Have you learned nothing since I saw you last? Can
nothing teach you, Carnac? Can you not learn how to play the big part? If
you weren't grown up, do you know what I would do? I would slap the face
of an insolent, thoughtless, hopeless boy." Then her temper seemed to
pass. She caught up an apple again and thrust it into his hand. "Go and
eat that, Adam. Perhaps it'll make you wise like the old Adam. He put his
faults upon a woman."

"So do I," said Carnac. "So do I."

"That's what you would do, but you mustn't play that sort of game with a
good woman." She burst out laughing. "For a man you're a precious fool! I
don't think I want to see you again. You don't improve. You're full of
horrid impulses." Her indignation came back. "How dare you put your arm
around me!"

"It was the impulse of my heart. I can say no more; if I could I would.
There's something I should like to tell you, but I mustn't." He put the
apple down.

"About the other woman, I suppose," she said coldly, the hot indignation
gone from her lips.

He looked her steadfastly in the eyes. "If you won't trust me--if you
won't trust me--"

"I've always trusted you," she replied, "but I don't trust you now. Don't
you understand that a good girl hates conduct like yours?"

Suddenly with anger he turned upon her. "Yes, I understand everything,
but you don't understand. Why won't you believe that the reason I won't
tell you my trouble is that it's best you shouldn't know? You're a young
girl; you don't know life; you haven't seen it as I've seen it--in the
sewage, in the ditch, on the road, on the mountain and in the bog. I want
you to keep faith with your old friend who doesn't care what the rest of
the world thinks, but who wants your confidence. Trust me--don't condemn
me. Believe me, I haven't been wanton. Won't you trust me?"

The spirit of egotism was alive in her. She knew how much she had denied
herself in the past months. She did not know whether she loved him, but
injured pride tortured her. Except in a dance and in sports at a picnic
or recreation-ground no man had ever put his arms around her. No man
except Carnac, and that he had done it was like a lash upon the raw
skinless flesh. If she had been asked by the Almighty whether she loved
Carnac, she would have said she did not know. This was not a matter of
love; but of womanhood, of self-respect, of the pride of one who cannot
ask for herself what she wants in the field of love, who must wait to be
wooed and won.

"You don't think I'm straight," he said in protest. "You think I'm no
good, that I'm a fraud. You're wrong. Believe me, that is the truth." He
came closer up to her. "Junia, if you'll stand by me, I'm sure I'll come
out right. I've been caught in a mesh I can't untangle yet, but it can be
untangled, and when it is, you shall know everything, because then you'll
understand. I can free myself from the tangle, but it could never be
explained--not so the world would believe. I haven't trifled with you. I
would believe in you even if I saw, or thought I saw, the signs of wrong
in you. I would know that at heart you were good. I put my faith in you
long ago--last year I staked all on your friendship, and I haven't been
deceived."

He smiled at her, his soul in his eyes. There was truth in his smile, and
she realized it.

After a moment, she put out a hand and pushed him gently from her. "Go
away, Carnac, please--now," she said softly.

A moment afterwards he was gone.



CHAPTER XVI

JOHN GRIER MAKES A JOURNEY

John Grier's business had beaten all past records. Tarboe was everywhere:
on the river, in the saw-mills, in the lumber-yards, in the office.
Health and strength and goodwill were with him, and he had the confidence
of all men in the lumber-world. It was rumoured that he was a partner of
John Grier, and it was a good thing for him as well as for the business.
He was no partner, however; he was on a salary with a bonus percentage of
the profits; but that increased his vigour.

There were times when he longed for the backwoods life; when the smell of
the pines and the firs and the juniper got into his nostrils; when he
heard, in imagination, the shouts of the river-men as they chopped down
the trees, sawed the boles into standard lengths, and plunged the big
timbers into the stream, or round the fire at night made call upon the
spirit of recreation. In imagination, he felt the timbers creaking and
straining under his feet; he smelt the rich soup from the cook's caboose;
he drank basins of tea from well-polished metal; he saw the ugly rows in
the taverns, where men let loose from river duty tried to regain civilian
life by means of liquor and cards; he heard the stern thud of a hard fist
against a piece of wood; he saw twenty men spring upon another twenty
with rage in their faces; he saw hundreds of men arrived in civilization
once again striking for their homes and loved ones, storming with life.
He saw the door flung open, and the knee-booted, corduroyed river-man,
with red sash around his waist and gold rings in his ears, seize the
woman he called wife and swing her to him with a hungry joy; he saw the
children pushed gently here, or roughly, but playfully, tossed in the air
and caught again; but he also saw the rough spirits of the river march
into their homes like tyrants returned, as it were, cursing and banging
their way back to their rightful nests.

Occasionally he would wish to be in it all again, out in the wild woods
and on the river and in the shanty, free and strong and friendly and a
bit ferocious. All he had known of the backwoods life filled his veins,
tortured him at times.

From the day that both wills were made and signed, no word had been
spoken concerning them between him and John Grier. He admired certain
characteristics of John Grier; some secret charities, some impulsive
generosity, some signs of public spirit. The old man was fond of animals,
and had given water-troughs to the town; and his own horses and the
horses he used in the woods were always well fed. Also, in all his
arrangements for the woods, he was generous. He believed in feeding his
men well. It was rough food--beans, potatoes, peas, lentils, pork in
barrels-salted pork; but there was bread of the best, rich soup, pork
well boiled and fried, with good tea, freshly made. This was the regular
fare, and men throve on it.

One day, however, shortly after Carnac's return home, there came a change
in the scene. Things had been going badly for a couple of days and the
old man had been seriously overworked. He had not listened to the
warnings of Tarboe, or to the hints thrown out by his own punished
physique. He was not a man to take hints. Everything that vexed his life
roused opposition. This Tarboe knew, but he also knew that the business
must suffer, if the old man suffered.

When John Grier left the office it was with head bowed and mind
depressed. Nothing had happened to cause him grave anxiety, yet he had
been below par for several hours. Why was he working so hard? Why was
life to him such a concentration? Why did he seek for more money and to
get more power? To whom could it go? Not to Fabian; not to his wife. To
Tarboe--well, there was not enough in that! This man had only lately come
into his life, and was only near to him in a business sense. Carnac was
near in every sense that really mattered, and Carnac was out of it all.

He was not loved, and in his heart of hearts he knew it, but he had had
his own way, and he loved himself. No one seemed to care for him, not
even his wife. How many years was it since they had roomed together? Yet
as he went towards his own home now, he recalled the day they were
married, and for the first time had drawn as near to each other as life
could draw. He had thought her wonderful then, refined, and oh! so rich
in life's gifts. His love had almost throttled her. She was warm and
bountiful and full of temperament. So it went for three years, and then
slowly he drew away from her until at last, returning from the backwoods,
he had gone to another room, and there had stayed. Very occasionally he
had smothered her with affection, but that had passed, until now,
middle-aged, she seemed to be not a room away from him, but a thousand
rooms away. He saw it with no reproach to himself. He forgot it was he
who had left her room, and had set up his own tabernacle, because his
hours differed from hers, and because she tossed in her bed at nights,
and that made him restless too.

Yet, if his love had been the real thing, he would have stayed, because
their lives were so similar, and the rules of domestic life in French
Canada were so fixed. He had spoiled his own household, destroyed his own
peace, forsaken his own nest, outlived his hope and the possibility of
further hope, except more business success, more to leave behind him.

That was the stern truth. Had he been a different man the devotion his
wife had shown would have drawn him back to her; had she been a different
woman, unvexed by a horrible remembrance, she would have made his soul
her own and her soul his own once again. She had not dared to tell him
the truth; afraid more for her boy's sake than for her own. She had been
glad that Tarboe had helped to replace the broken link with Fabian, that
he had taken the place which Carnac, had he been John Grier's son, ought
to have taken. She could not blame Carnac, and she could not blame her
husband, but the thing ate into her heart.

John Grier found her sitting by her table in the great living-room,
patient and grave, and yet she smiled at him, and rose as he came into
the room. His troubled face brought her forward quickly. She stretched
out a hand appealingly to him.

"What's the matter, John? Has anything upset you?"

"I'm not upset."

"Yes you are," she urged, "but, yes, you are! Something has gone wrong."

"Nothing's gone wrong that hasn't been wrong for many a year," he said.

"What's been wrong for many a year?"

"The boys you brought into this world--your sons!" he burst out. "Why
isn't Carnac working with me? There must have been something damned bad
in the bringing up of those boys. I've not, got the love of any of you,
and I know it. Why should I be thrown over by every one?"

"Every one hasn't thrown you over. Mr. Tarboe hasn't. You've been in
great spirits about him. What's the matter?"

He waved a hand savagely at her, with an almost insane look in his eyes.

"What's he to me! He's a man of business. In a business way I like him,
but I want my own flesh and blood by me in my business. I wanted Carnac,
and he wouldn't come--a few weeks only he came. I had Fabian, and he
wouldn't stay. If I'd had a real chance--"

He broke off, with an outward savage protest of his hands, his voice
falling.

"If you'd had your chance, you'd have made your own home happy," she said
sadly. "That was your first duty, not your business--your home--your
home! You didn't care about it. There were times when for months you
forgot me; and then--then--"

Suddenly a dreadful suspicion seized his brain. His head bent forward,
his shoulders thrust out, he stumbled towards her.

"Then--well, what then!" he gasped. "Then--you--forgot--"

She realized she had gone too far, saw the storm in his mind.

"No--no--no, I didn't forget you, John. Never--but--"

She got no farther. Suddenly his hands stretched out as if to seize her
shoulders, his face became tortured--he swayed. She caught him. She
lowered him to the floor, and put a hassock under his head. Then she rang
the bell--rang it--and rang again.

When help came, all was too late. John Grier had gone for ever.



CHAPTER XVII

THE READING OF THE WILL

As Tarboe stood in the church alone at the funeral, in a pew behind John
Grier's family, sadness held him. He had known, as no one else knew, that
the business would pass into his own hands. He suddenly felt his task too
big for him, and he looked at Carnac now with sympathy. Carnac had
brains, capacity, could almost take his father's place; he was tactful,
intuitive, alert. Yet Carnac, at present, was out of the question. He
knew the stress of spirit which had turned Carnac from the opportunity
lying at his feet.

In spite of himself there ran through his mind another thought. Near by,
at the left, dressed in mourning also, was Junia. He had made up his mind
that Junia should be his, and suddenly the usefulness of the business
about to fall into his hands became a weapon in the field of Love. He was
physically a finer man than Carnac; he had capacity; he had personality;
and he would have money and position--for a time at least. In that time,
why should he not win this girl with the wonderful eyes and hair, with
the frankness and candour of unspoiled girlhood in her face? Presently he
would be in the blare of sensation, in the height of as dramatic an
episode as comes to the lives of men; and in the episode he saw
advantages which should weigh with any girl.

Then had come the reading of the will after the funeral rites were over,
and he, with the family, were gathered in the dining-room of the House on
the Hill.

He was scarcely ready, however, for the prodigious silence following the
announcement read by the lawyer. He felt as though life was suspended for
many minutes, when it was proclaimed that he, Luke Tarboe, would inherit
the property. Although he knew of the contents of the will his heart was
thumping like a sledge-hammer.

He looked round the room slowly. The only embarrassment to be seen was on
the faces of Fabian and his wife. Mrs. Grier and Carnac showed nothing.
Carnac did not even move; by neither gesture nor motion of body did he
show aught. At the close of it all, he came to Tarboe and held out a
hand.

"Good luck to you, Tarboe!" he said. "You'll make a success, and that's
what he wanted more than anything else. Good luck to you!" he said again
and turned away. . . .

When John Grier's will was published in the Press consternation filled
the minds of all. Tarboe had been in the business for under two years,
yet here he was left all the property with uncontracted power. Mrs. John
Grier was to be paid during her life a yearly stipend of twenty thousand
dollars from the business; she also received a grant of seventy thousand
dollars. Beyond that, there were a few gifts to hospitals and for the
protection of horses, while to the clergyman of the parish went one
thousand dollars. It certainly could not be called a popular will, and,
complimentary as the newspapers were to the energy and success of John
Grier, few of them called him public-spirited, or a generous-hearted
citizen. In his death he paid the price of his egotism.

The most surprised person, however, was Junia Shale.

To her it was shameful that Carnac should be eliminated from all share in
the abundant fortune John Grier had built up. It seemed fantastic that
the fortune and the business--and the business was the fortune--should be
left to Tarboe. Had she known the contents of the will before John Grier
was buried, she would not have gone to the funeral. Egotistic she had
known Grier to be, and she imagined the will to be a sudden result of
anger. He was dead and buried. The places that knew him knew him no more.
All in an hour, as it were, the man Tarboe--that dominant, resourceful
figure--had come into wealth and power.

After Junia read the substance of the will, she went springing up the
mountain-side, as it were to work off her excitement by fatigue. At the
mountain-top she gazed over the River St. Lawrence with an eye blind to
all except this terrible distortion of life. Yet through her obfuscation,
there ran admiration for Tarboe. What a man he was! He had captured John
Grier as quickly and as securely as a night fisherman spears a sturgeon
in the flare at the bow of the boat. Tarboe's ability was as marked as
John Grier's mad policy. It was strange that Tarboe should have
bewildered and bamboozled--if that word could be used--the old millowner.
It was as curious and thrilling as John Grier's fanaticism.

Already the pinch of corruption had nipped his flesh; he was useless,
motionless in his narrow house, and yet, unseen but powerful, his
influence went on. It shamed a wife and son; it blackened the doors of a
home; it penalized a family.

Indeed he had been a bad man, and yet she could not reconcile it all with
a wonderful something in him, a boldness, a sense of humour, an
everlasting energy, an electric power. She had never seen anyone vitalize
everything round him as John Grier had done. He threw things from him
like an exasperated giant; he drew things to him like an Angel of the
Covenant. To him life was less a problem than an experiment, and this
last act, this nameless repudiation of the laws of family life, was like
the sign of a chemist's activity. As she stood on the mountain-top her
breath suddenly came fast, and she caught her bosom with angry hands.

"Carnac--poor Carnac!" she exclaimed.

What would the world say? There were those, perhaps, who thought Carnac
almost a ne'er-do-well, but they were of the commercial world where John
Grier had been supreme.

At the same moment, Carnac in the garden of his old home beheld the river
too and the great expanse of country, saw the grey light of evening on
the distant hills, and listened to Fabian who condoled with him. When
Fabian had gone, Carnac sat down on a bench and thought over the whole
thing. Carnac had no quarrel with his fate. When in the old home on the
hill he had heard the will, it had surprised him, but it had not shocked
him. He had looked to be the discarded heir, and he knew it now without
rebellion. He had never tried to smooth the path to that financial
security which his father could give. Yet now that disaster had come,
there was a glimmer of remorse, of revolt, because there was some one
besides himself who might think he had thrown away his chances. He did
not know that over on the mountain-side, vituperating the memory of the
dead man, Junia was angry only for Carnac's sake.

With the black storm of sudden death roaring in his ears, he had a sense
of freedom, almost of licence. Nothing that had been his father's was now
his own, or his mother's, except the land and house on which they were.
All the great business John Grier had built up was gone into the hands of
the usurper, a young, bold, pestilent, powerful, vigorous man. It seemed
suddenly horrible that the timber-yards and the woods and the offices,
and the buildings of John Grier's commercial business were not under his
own direction, or that of his mother, or brother. They had ceased to be
factors in the equation; they were 'non est' in the postmortem history of
John Grier. How immense a nerve the old man had to make such a will,
which outraged every convention of social and family life; which was, in
effect, a proclamation that his son Carnac had no place in John Grier's
scheme of things, while John Grier's wife was rewarded like some faithful
old servant. Yet some newspapers had said he was a man of goodwill, and
had appreciation of talent, adding, however, the doubtful suggestion that
the appreciation stopped short of the prowess of his son Carnac in the
field of Art. It was evident John Grier's act was thought by the
conventionalist to be a wicked blunder.

As Carnac saw the world where there was not a single material thing that
belonged to him, he had a sudden conviction that his life would run in
other lines than those within which it had been drawn to the present
time. Looking over this wonderful prospect of the St. Lawrence, he had an
insistent feeling that he ought to remain in the land where he was born,
and give of whatever he was capable to its life. It was all a strenuous
problem. For Carnac there was, duly or unduly, fairly or unfairly, a fate
better than that of John Grier. If he died suddenly, as his father had
died, a handful of people would sorrow with excess of feeling, and the
growing world of his patrons would lament his loss. No one really grieved
for John Grier's departure, except--strange to say--Tarboe.



CARNAC'S FOLLY

By Gilbert Parker
BOOK III

     XVIII.  A GREAT DECISION
     XIX.    CARNAC BECOMES A CANDIDATE
     XX.     JUNIA AND TARBOE HEAR THE NEWS
     XXI.    THE SECRET MEETING
     XXII.   POINT TO POINT
     XXIII.  THE MAN WHO WOULD NOT
     XXIV.   THE BLUE PAPER
     XXV.    DENZIL TAKES A HAND IN THE GAME
     XXVI.   THE CHALLENGE
     XXVII.  EXIT
     XXVIII. A WOMAN WRITES A LETTER
     XXIX.   CARNAC AND HIS MOTHER
     XXX.    TARBOE HAS A DREAM
     XXXI.   THIS WAY HOME
     XXXII.  'HALVES, PARDNER, HALVES'



CHAPTER XVIII

A GREAT DECISION

Months went by. In them Destiny made new drawings. With his mother,
Carnac went to paint at a place called Charlemont. Tarboe pursued his
work at the mills successfully; Junia saw nothing of Carnac, but she had
a letter from him, and it might have been written by a man to his friend,
yet with an undercurrent of sadness that troubled her.

She might, perhaps, have yielded to the attentions of Tarboe, had not an
appealing message come from her aunt, and at an hour's notice went West
again on her mission of sick-service.

Politically the Province of Quebec was in turmoil. The time was drawing
near when the Dominion Government must go to the polls, and in the most
secluded cottage on the St. Lawrence, the virtues and defects of the
administration were vital questions. Voters knew as much of technical
law-making as the average voter everywhere, but no more, and sometimes
less. Yet there was in the mind of the French-Canadian an intuition,
which was as valuable as the deeper knowledge of a trained politician.
The two great parties in the Province were led by Frenchmen. The English
people, however, were chiefly identified with the party opposed to Barode
Barouche, the Secretary of State.

As the agitation began in the late spring, Carnac became suddenly
interested in everything political.

He realized what John Grier had said concerning politics--that, given
other characteristics, the making of laws meant success or failure for
every profession or trade, for every interest in the country. He had
known a few politicians; though he had never yet met the most dominant
figure in the Province--Barode Barouche, who had a singular fascination
for him. He seemed a man dominant and plausible, with a right-minded
impulsiveness. Things John Grier had said about Barouche rang in his
ears.

As the autumn drew near excitement increased. Political meetings were
being held everywhere. There was one feature more common in Canada than
in any other country; opposing candidates met on the same platform and
fought their fight out in the hearing of those whom they were wooing. One
day Carnac read in a newspaper that Barode Barouche was to speak at St.
Annabel. As that was not far from Charlemont he determined to hear
Barouche for the first time. He had for him a sympathy which, to himself,
seemed a matter of temperament.

"Mother," he said, "wouldn't you like to go and hear Barode Barouche at
St. Annabel? You know him--I mean personally?"

"Yes, I knew him long ago," was the scarcely vocal reply.

"He's a great, fine man, isn't he? Wrong-headed, wrong-purposed, but a
big fine fellow."

"If a man is wrong-headed and wrong-purposed, it isn't easy for him to be
fine, is it?"

"That depends. A man might want to save his country by making some good
law, and be mistaken both as to the result of that law and the right
methods in making it. I'd like you to be with me when I hear him for the
first time. I've got a feeling he's one of the biggest men of our day. Of
course he isn't perfect. A man might want to save another's life, but he
might choose the wrong way to do it, and that's wrongheaded; and perhaps
he oughtn't to save the man's life, and that's wrong-purposed. There's no
crime in either. Let's go and hear Monsieur Barouche."

He did not see the flush which suddenly filled her face; and, if he had,
he would not have understood. For her a long twenty-seven years rolled
back to the day when she was a young neglected wife, full of life's
vitalities, out on a junction of the river and the wild woods, with
Barode Barouche's fishing-camp near by. She shivered now as she thought
of it. It was all so strange, and heart-breaking. For long years she had
paid the price of her mistake. She knew how eloquent Barode Barouche
could be; she knew how his voice had all the ravishment of silver bells
to the unsuspecting. How well she knew him; how deeply she realized the
darkness of his nature! Once she had said to him:

"Sometimes I think that for duty's sake you would cling like a leech."

It was true. For thirty long years he had been in one sense homeless, his
wife having lost her reason three years after they were married. In that
time he had faithfully visited the place of her confinement every month
of his life, sobered, chastened, at first hopeful, defiant. At the bottom
of his heart Barode Barouche did not want marital freedom. He had loved
the mad woman. He remembered her in the glory of her youth, in the
splendour of her beauty. The insane asylum did not destroy his memory.

Mrs. Grier remembered too, but in a different way. Her relations with him
had been one swift, absorbing fever--a mad dream, a moment of rash
impulse, a yielding to the natural feeling which her own husband had
aroused: the husband who now neglected her while Barode Barouche treated
her so well, until a day when under his beguilement a stormy impulse
gave--Carnac. Then the end came, instant and final; she bolted, barred
and locked the door against Barode and he had made little effort to open
it. So they had parted, and had never clasped hands or kissed again. To
him she was a sin of which he never repented. He had watched the growth
and development of Carnac with a sharp sympathy. He was not a good man;
but in him were seeds of goodness. To her he was the lash searing her
flesh, day in day out, year in year out, which kept her sacred to her
home. For her children's sake she did not tell her husband, and she had
emptied out her heart over Carnac with overwhelming fondness.

"Yes, I'll go, Carnac," she said at last, for it seemed the easier way.
"I haven't been to a political meeting for many years."

"That's right. I like your being with me."

The meeting was held in what had been a skating-rink and drill-hall. On
the platform in the centre was the chairman, with Barode Barouche on his
right. There was some preliminary speech-making from the chairman. A
resolution was moved supporting Barouche, his party and policy, and there
were little explosions of merriment at strokes of unconscious humour made
by the speakers; and especially by one old farmer who made his jokes on
the spot, and who now tried to embalm Barouche with praise. He drew
attention to Barouche's leonine head and beard, to his alert eyes and
quizzical face, and said he was as strong in the field of legislation as
he was in body and mind. Carnac noticed that Barouche listened
good-naturedly, and now and then cocked his head and looked up at the
ceiling as though to find something there.

There was a curious familiarity in the action of the head which struck
Carnac. He and his mother were seated about five rows back from the front
row on the edge of the aisle. As the meeting progressed, Barouche's eyes
wandered slowly over the faces of his audience. Presently he saw Carnac
and his mother. Mrs. Grier was conscious of a shock upon the mind of
Barouche. She saw his eyes go misty with feeling. For him the world was
suddenly shut out, and he only saw the woods of a late summer's
afternoon, a lonely tent--and a woman. A flush crept up his face. Then he
made a spasmodic gesture of the hand, outward, which again Carnac
recognized as familiar. It was the kind of thing he did himself.

So absorbed was Barode Barouche that he only mechanically heard the
chairman announce himself, but when he got to his feet his full senses
came back. The sight of the woman to whom he had been so much, and who
had been so much to him for one short month, magnetized him; the face of
the boy, so like his own as he remembered it thirty years ago, stirred
his veins. There before him was his own one unacknowledged child--the
only child ever born to him. His heart throbbed. Then he began to speak.
Never in all his life had he spoken as he did this day. It was only a
rural audience; there was not much intelligence in it; but it had a
character all its own. It was alive to its own interests, chiefly of
agriculture and the river. It was composed of both parties, and he could
stimulate his own side, and, perhaps, win the other.

Thus it was that, with the blood pounding through his veins, the inspired
sensualist began his speech. It was his duty to map out a policy for the
future; to give the people an idea of what his party meant to do; to
guide, to inspire, to inflame.

As Carnac listened he kept framing the words not yet issued, but which
did issue from Barouche's mouth; his quick intelligence correctly
imagined the line Barouche would take; again and again Barouche made a
gesture, or tossed his head, or swung upon his feet to right and left in
harmony with Carnac's own mind. Carnac would say to himself: "Why, that's
what I'd have done--that's what I'd have said, if I had his policy." More
than once, in some inspired moment of the speech, he caught his mother's
hand, and he did not notice that her hand trembled.

But as for one of Barouche's chapter of policy Carnac almost sprang to
his feet in protest when Barouche declared it. To Carnac it seemed fatal
to French Canada, though it was expounded with a taking air; yet as he
himself had said it was "wrong-headed and wrong-purposed."

When the speech had finished to great cheering, Carnac suddenly turned to
his mother:

"He's on the wrong track. I know the policy to down his. He's got no
opponent. I'm going to stand against him at the polls."

She clutched his arm. "Carnac--Carnac! You don't know what you're doing."

"Well, I will pretty quick," he replied stoutly. "I'm out after him, if
they'll have me."



CHAPTER XIX

CARNAC BECOMES A CANDIDATE

That night Carnac mapped out his course, carefully framed the policy to
offset that of Barode Barouche, and wrote a letter to the Chairman of the
Opposition at Montreal offering to stand, and putting forward an
ingenious policy. He asked also for an interview; and the interview was
granted by telegram--almost to his surprise. He was aware, however, of
the discontent among the English members of the Opposition, and of the
wish of the French members to find a good compromise.

He had a hope that his singular position--the notoriety which his
father's death and his own financial disfranchisement had caused--would
be a fine card in his favour. He was not mistaken. His letter arrived at
Headquarters when there were difficulties concerning three candidates who
were pressing their claims. Carnac Grier, the disinherited son of the
great lumber-king, who had fame as an artist, spoke French as though it
were his native tongue, was an element of sensation which, if adroitly
used, could be of great service. It might even defeat Barode Barouche. In
the first place, Carnac was young, good-looking, personable, and taking
in his manner. Barouche was old, experienced, with hosts of enemies and
many friends, but with injurious egotism. An interview was, therefore,
arranged at Headquarters.

On the morning of the day it took place, Carnac's anguished mother went
with him to the little railway station of Charlemont. She had slept
little the night before; her mind was in an eddy of emotions. It seemed
dreadful that Carnac should fight his own father, repeating what Fabian
had done in another way. Yet at the bottom of her heart there was a
secret joy. Some native revolt in her had joy in the thought that the son
might extort a price for her long sorrow and his unknown disgrace.

As she had listened to Barouche at the meeting, she realized how sincere
yet insincere he was; how gifted and yet how ungracious was his mind. Her
youth was over; long pain and regret had chastened her. She was as lonely
a creature as ever the world knew; violence was no part of her equipment;
and yet terrible memories made her assent to this new phase of Carnac's
life. She wondered what Barouche would think. There was some ancient
touch of war in her which made her rejoice that after long years the
hammer should strike.

Somehow the thing's tremendous possibilities thrilled her. Carnac had
always been a politician--always. She remembered how, when he was a boy,
he had argued with John Grier on national matters, laid down the law with
the assurance of an undergraduate, and invented theories impossible of
public acceptance. Yet in every stand he had taken, there had been
thought, logic and reasoning, wrongly premised, but always based on
principles. On paper he was generally right; in practice, generally
wrong. His buoyant devotion to an idea was an inspiration and a tonic.
The curious thing was that, while still this political matter was hanging
fire, he painted with elation.

His mother knew he did not see the thousand little things which made
public life so wearying; that he only realized the big elements of
national policy. She understood how those big things would inspire the
artist in him. For, after all, there was the spirit of Art in framing a
great policy which would benefit millions in the present and countless
millions in the future. So, at the railway station, as they waited for
the train, with an agitation outwardly controlled, she said:

"The men who have fought before, will want to stand, so don't be
surprised if--"

"If they reject me, mother?" interrupted Carnac. "No, I shan't be
surprised, but I feel in my bones that I'm going to fight Barode Barouche
into the last corner of the corral."

"Don't be too sure of that, my son. Won't the thing that prevents your
marrying Junia be a danger in this, if you go on?"

Sullen tragedy came into his face, his lips set. The sudden paleness of
his cheek, however, was lost in a smile.

"Yes, I've thought of that; but if it has to come, better it should come
now than later. If the truth must be told, I'll tell it--yes, I'll tell
it!"

"Be bold, but not reckless, Carnac," his mother urged.

Just then the whistling train approached. She longed to put a hand out
and hold him back, and yet she ached to let him go. Yet as Carnac mounted
the steps of the car, a cry went out from her heart: "My son, stay with
me here--don't go." That was only in her heart, however; with her lips
she said: "Good luck! God bless you, Carnac!" and then the train rolled
away, leaving her alone in the bright, bountiful morning.

Before the day was done, Headquarters had accepted Carnac, in part, as
the solution of their own difficult problem. The three applicants for the
post each hated the other; but all, before the day was over, agreed to
Carnac as an effective opponent of Barouche.

One thing seemed clear--Carnac's policy had elements of seduction
appealing to the selfishness of all sections, and he had an eloquence
which would make Barouche uneasy. That eloquence was shown in a speech
Carnac made in the late evening to the assembled executive. He spoke for
only a quarter of an hour, but it was long enough to leave upon all who
heard him an impression of power, pertinacity, picturesqueness and
appeal. He might make mistakes, but he had qualities which would ride
over errors with success.

"I'm not French," he said at last in his speech, "but I used to think and
write in French as though I'd been born in Normandy. I'm English by birth
and breeding, but I've always gone to French schools and to a French
University, and I know what New France means. I stand to my English
origin, but I want to see the French develop here as they've developed in
France, alive to all new ideas, dreaming good dreams. I believe that
Frenchmen in Canada can, and should, be an inspiration to the whole
population. Their great qualities should be the fibre in the body of
public opinion. I will not pander to the French; I will not be the slave
of the English; I will be free, and I hope I shall be successful at the
polls."

This was a small part of the speech which caused much enthusiasm, and was
the beginning of a movement, powerful, and as time went on, impetuous.

He went to bed with the blood of battle throbbing in his veins. In the
morning he had a reasonable joy in seeing the headlines of his
candidature in the papers.

At first he was almost appalled, for never since life began had his
personality been so displayed. It seemed absurd that before he had struck
a blow he should be advertised like a general in the field. Yet common
sense told him that in standing against Barouche, he became important in
the eyes of those affected by Barouche's policy. He had had luck, and it
was for him to justify that luck. Could he do it? His first thought,
however, as his eyes fell on the headlines--he flushed with elation so
that he scarcely saw--was for the thing itself. Before him there flashed
a face, however, which at once sobered his exaltation. It was the face of
Junia.

"I wonder what she will think," he said to himself, with a little
perplexity.

He knew in his heart of hearts she would not think it incongruous that
he, an artist, should become a politician. Good laws served to make life
beautiful, good pictures ministered to beauty; good laws helped to tell
the story of human development; good sculpture strengthened the soul;
good laws made life's conveniences greater, enlarged activity, lessened
the friction of things not yet adjusted; good laws taught their framers
how to balance things, how to make new principles apply without
disturbing old rights; good pictures increased the well-balanced harmony
of the mind of the people. Junia would understand these things. As he sat
at his breakfast, with the newspaper spread against the teapot and the
milk-pitcher, he felt satisfied he had done the bold and right, if
incomprehensible, thing.

But in another hotel, at another breakfast, another man read of Carnac's
candidature with sickening surprise. It was Barode Barouche.

So, after twenty-seven long years, this was to be the issue! His own son,
whom he had never known, was to fight him at the polls! Somehow, the day
when he had seen Carnac and his mother at the political meeting had given
him new emotions. His wife, to whom he had been so faithful in one sense
since she had passed into the asylum, had died, and with her going, a new
field of life seemed to open up to him. She had died almost on the same
day as John Grier. She had been buried secludedly, piteously, and he had
gone back to his office with the thought that life had become a
preposterous freedom.

So it was that, on the day when he spoke at the political meeting, his
life's tragedy became a hammer beating every nerve into emotion. He was
like one shipwrecked who strikes out with a swimmer's will to reach his
goal. All at once, on the platform, as he spoke, when his eyes saw the
faces of Carnac and his mother the catastrophe stunned him like a huge
engine of war. There had come to him at last a sense of duty where Alma
Grier was concerned. She was nearly fifty years of age, and he was
fifty-nine; she was a widow with this world's goods; she had been to him
how near and dear! for a brief hour, and then--no more. He knew the boy
was his son, because he saw his own face, as it had been in his youth,
though his mother's look was also there-transforming, illumining.

He had a pang as he saw the two at the close of his meeting filtering out
into the great retort of the world. Then it was that he had the impulse
to go to the woman's home, express his sorrow, and in some small sense
wipe out his wrong by offering her marriage. He had not gone.

He knew of Carnac's success in the world of Art; and how he had alienated
his reputed father by an independence revolting to a slave of convention.
He had even bought, not from Carnac, but from a dealer, two of Carnac's
pictures and a statue of a riverman. Somehow the years had had their way
with him. He had at long last realized that material things were not the
great things of life, and that imagination, however productive, should be
guided by uprightness of soul.

One thing was sure, the boy had never been told who his father was. That
Barouche knew. He had the useful gift of reading the minds of people in
their faces. From Carnac's face, from Carnac's mother's face, had come to
him the real story. He knew that Alma Grier had sinned only once and with
him. In the first days after that ill-starred month, he had gone to her,
only to be repelled as a woman can repel whose soul has been shocked,
whose self-respect has been shamed.

It had been as though she thrust out arms of infinite length to push him
away, such had been the storm of her remorse, such the revulsion against
herself and him. So they had fallen apart, and he had seen his boy grow
up independent, original, wilful, capable--a genius. He read the
newspaper reports of what had happened the day before with senses greatly
alive.

After all, politics was unlike everything else. It was a profession
recruited from all others. The making of laws was done by all kinds of
men. One of the wisest advisers in river-law he had ever known was a
priest; one of the best friends of the legislation of the medical
profession was a woman; one of the bravest Ministers who had ever
quarrelled with and conquered his colleagues had been an insurance agent;
one of the sanest authorities on maritime law had been a man with a
greater pride in his verses than in his practical capacity; and here was
Carnac, who had painted pictures and made statues, plunging into politics
with a policy as ingenious as his own, and as capable of logical
presentation. This boy, who was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh,
meant to fight him. He threw back his head and laughed. His boy, his son,
meant to fight him, did he? Well, so be it! He got to his feet, and
walked up and down the room.

"God, what an issue this!" he said. "It would be terrific, if he won. To
wipe me out of the life where I have flourished--what a triumph for him!
And he would not know how great the triumph would be. She has not told
him. Yet she will urge him on. Suppose it was she put the idea into his
head!"

Then he threw back his head, shaking the long brown hair, browner than
Carnac's, from his forehead. "Suppose she did this thing--she who was all
mine for one brief moment! Suppose she--"

Every nerve tingled; every drop of blood beat hard against his walls of
flesh; his every vicious element sprang into life.

"But no--but no, she would not do it. She would not teach her son to
destroy his own father. But something must have told him to come and
listen to me, to challenge me in his own mind, and then--then this
thing!"

He stared at the paper, leaning over the table, as though it were a
document of terror.

"I must go on: I must uphold the policy for which I've got the assent of
the Government." Suddenly his hands clenched. "I will beat him. He shall
not bring me to the dust. I gave him life, and he shall not take my life
from me. He's at the beginning; I'm going towards the end. I wronged his
mother--yes, I wronged him too! I wronged them both, but he does not know
he's wronged. He'll live his own life; he has lived it--"

There came a tap at the door. Presently it opened and a servant came in.
He had in his hand a half-dozen telegrams.

"All about the man that's going to fight you, I expect, m'sieu'," said
the servant as he handed the telegrams.

Barode Barouche did not reply, but nodded a little scornfully.

"A woman has called," continued the servant. "She wants to see you,
m'sieu'. It's very important, she says."

Barouche shook his head in negation. "No, Gaspard."

"It ain't one of the usual kind, I think, m'sieu'," protested Gaspard.
"It's about the election. It's got something to do with that--" he
pointed to the newspaper propped against the teapot.

"It's about that, is it? Well, what about that?" He eyed the servant as
though to see whether the woman had given any information.

"I don't know. She didn't tell me. She's got a mind of her own. She's
even handsome, and she's well-dressed. All she said was: 'Tell m'sieu' I
want to see him. It's about the election-about Mr. Grier.'"

Barode Barouche's heart stopped. Something about Carnac Grier--something
about the election--and a woman! He kept a hand on himself. It must not
be seen that he was in any way moved.

"Is she English?"

"She's French, m'sieu'."

"You think I ought to see her, Gaspard?" said Barouche.

"Sure," was the confident reply. "I guess she's out against whoever's
against you."

"You never saw her before."

"Not to my sense."

"But I haven't finished my breakfast."

"Well, if it's anything important that'll help you, m'sieu'. It's like
whittling. If you can do things with your hands while you're talking and
thinking, it's a great help. You go on eating. I'll show her up!"

Barouche smiled maliciously. "Well, show her up, Gaspard."

The servant laughed. "Perhaps she'll show herself up after I show her
in," he said, and he went out hastily.

Presently the door opened again, and Gaspard stepped inside.

"A lady to see you, m'sieu'," he said.

Barouche rose from the table, but he did not hold out his hand. The woman
was young, good looking, she seemed intelligent. There was also a latent
cruelty in her face which only a student of human nature could have seen
quickly. She was a woman with a grievance--that was sure. He knew the
passionate excitement, fairly well controlled; he saw her bitterness at a
glance. He motioned her to a chair.

"It's an early call," he said with a smile. Smiling was one of his
serviceable assets; it was said no man could so palaver the public with
his cheerful goodnature.

"Yes, it's an early call," she replied, "but I wish not to wait till you
go to your office. I wanted you to know something. It has to do with Mr.
Carnac Grier."

"Oh, that--eh!"

"It's something you've got to know. If I give you the sure means to win
your election, it would be worth while--eh?"

The beating of Barouche's heart was hard, but nothing showed in his face.
There he had control.

"I like people who know their own minds," he said, "but I don't believe
anything till I study what I hear. Is it something to injure Mr. Grier?"

"If a married man went about as a single man and stood up for Parliament
against you, don't you think you could spoil him?"

For a moment Barouche was silent. Here was an impeachment of his own son,
but this son was out to bring his own father to the ground. There were
two ways to look at it. There was the son's point of view, and there was
his own. If he loved his son he ought to know the thing that threatened
him; if he hated his son he ought to know. So, after a moment's study of
the face with the fiery eyes and a complexion like roses touched with
frost, he said slowly:

"Well, have I the honour of addressing Carnac Grier's wife?"

Barouche had had many rewards in his life, but the sweetest reward of all
was now his own. As events proved, he had taken a course which, if he
cared for his son, was for that son's well-being, and if he cared for
himself most, was essential to his own well-being.

Relief crossed the woman's face. "I'll tell you everything," she said.

Then Luzanne told her story, avoiding the fact that Carnac had been
tricked into the marriage. At last she said: "Now I've come here to make
him acknowledge me. He's ruined my life, broken my hopes, and--"

"Broken your hopes!" interrupted Barode Barouche. "How is that?"

"I might have married some one else. I could have married some one else."

"Well, why don't you? There's the Divorce Court. What's to prevent it?"

"You ask me that--you a Frenchman and a Roman Catholic! I'm French. I was
born in Paris."

"When will you let me see your papers?"

"When do you want to see them?"

"To-day-if possible to-day," he answered. Then he held her eyes. "To whom
else here have you told this story?"

"No one--no one. I only came last night, and when I took up the paper
this morning, I saw. Then I found out where you lived, and here I am,
bien sur. I'm here under my maiden name, Ma'm'selle Luzanne Larue."

"That's right. That's right. Now, until we meet again, don't speak of
this to anyone. Will you give me your word?"

"Absolutely," she said, and there was revenge and passion in her eyes.
Suddenly a strange expression crept over her face. She was puzzled.

"There's something of him about you," she said, and her forehead
gathered. "There's some look! Well, there it is, but it's something--I
don't know what."

A moment later she was gone. As the door closed, he stretched his hands
above his head.

"Nom de Dieu, what a situation!" he remarked.



CHAPTER XX

JUNIA AND TARBOE HEAR THE NEWS

To most people Carnac's candidature was a surprise; to some it was a
bewilderment, and to one or two it was a shock. To the second class
belonged Fabian Grier and his wife; to the third class belonged Luke
Tarboe. Only one person seemed to understand it--by intuition: Junia.

Somehow, nothing Carnac did changed Junia's views of him, or surprised
her, though he made her indignant often enough. To her mind, however, in
the big things, his actions always had reasonableness. She had never felt
his artist-life was to be the only note of his career. When, therefore,
in the West she read a telegram in a newspaper announcing his
candidature, she guessed the suddenness of his decision. When she read
it, she spread the paper on the table, smoothed it as though it were a
beautiful piece of linen, then she stretched out her hands in happy
benediction. Like most of her sex, she loved the thrill of warfare. There
flashed the feeling, however, that it would be finer sport if Carnac and
Tarboe were to be at war, instead of Carnac and Barouche. It was curious
she never thought of Carnac but the other man came throbbing into
sight--the millionaire, for he was that now.

In one way, this last move of Carnac's had the elements of a
master-stroke. She knew how strange it would seem to the rest of the
world, yet it did not seem strange to her. No man she had ever seen had
been so at home in the world of men, and also at home in the secluded
field of the chisel and the brush as Carnac.

She took the newspaper over to her aunt, holding it up. The big headlines
showed like semaphores on the page. As the graceful figure of Junia drew
to her aunt--her slim feet, in the brown, well-polished boots, the long,
full neck, and then the chin, Grecian, shapely and firm, the straight,
sensitive nose, the wonderful eyes under the well-cut, broad forehead,
with the brown hair, covering it like a canopy--the old lady reached out
and wound her arms round the lissome figure. Situated so, she read the
telegram, and then the old arms gripped her tighter.

Presently, the whistle of a train sounded. The aunt stretched out an
approving finger to the sound. She realized that the figure round which
her arms hung trembled, for it was the "through" daily train for
Montreal.

"I'm going back at once, aunty," Junia said.

          ..........................

"Well, I'm jiggered!"

These were Tarboe's words when Carnac's candidature came first to him in
the press.

"He's 'broke' out in a new place," he added.

Tarboe loved the spectacular, and this was indeed spectacular. Yet he had
not the mental vision of Junia who saw how close, in one intimate sense,
was the relation between the artist life and the political life. To him
it was a gigantic break from a green pasture into a red field of war. To
her, it was a resolution which, in anyone else's life, would have seemed
abnormal; in Carnac's life it had naturalness.

Tarboe had been for a few months only the reputed owner of the great
business, and he had paid a big price for his headship in the weighty
responsibility, the strain of control; but it had got into his blood, and
he felt life would not be easy without it now.

Besides, there was Junia. To him she was the one being in the world worth
struggling for; the bird to be caught on the wing, or coaxed into the
nest, or snared into the net; and two of the three things he had tried
without avail. The third--the snaring? He would not stop at that, if it
would bring him what he wanted. How to snare her! He surveyed himself in
the mirror.

"A great hulking figure like that!" he said in disapproval. "All bone and
muscle and flesh and physical show! It wouldn't weigh with her. She's too
fine. It isn't the animal in a man she likes. It's what he can do, and
what he is, and where he's going."

Then he thought of Carnac's new outburst, and his veins ran cold. "She'll
like that--but yes, she'll like that: and if he succeeds she'll think
he's great. Well, she'd be right. He'll beat Barouche. He's young and
brave, careless and daring. Now where am I in this fight? I belong to
Barouche's party and my vote ought to go for him."

For some minutes he sat in profound thought. What part should he play? He
liked Carnac, he owed him a debt which he could never repay. Carnac had
saved him from killing Denzil. If that had happened, he himself might
have gone to the gallows.

He decided. Sitting down, he wrote Carnac the following letter:

   DEAR CARNAC GRIER,

   I see you're beginning a new work. You now belong to a party that I
   am opposed to, but that doesn't stop me offering you support. It's
   not your general policy, but it is you, the son of your father, that
   I mean to work for. If you want financial help for your campaign--
   or after it is over--come and get it here--ten thousand or more if
   you wish. Your father, if he knew--and perhaps he does know--would
   be pleased that you, who could not be a man of business in his
   world, are become a man of business in the bigger world of law-
   making. You may be right or wrong in that policy, but that don't
   weigh with me. You've taken on as big a job as ever your father
   did. What's the use of working if you don't try to do the big thing
   that means a lot to people outside yourself! If you make new good
   laws, if you do something for the world that's wonderful, it's as
   much as your father did, or, if he was alive, could do now.
   Whatever there is here is yours to use. When you come back here to
   play your part, you'll make it a success--the whole blessed thing.
   I don't wish you were here now, except that it's yours--all of it--
   but I wish you to beat Barode Barouche.

                  Yours to the knife,

                         LUKE TARBOE.

He read the letter through, and coming to the words, "When you come back
here to play your part, you'll make it a success--the whole blessed
thing," he paused, reflecting . . . He wondered what Carnac would think
the words meant, and he felt it was bold, and, maybe, dangerous play; but
it was not more dangerous than facts he had dealt with often in the last
two years. He would let it stand, that phrase of the hidden meaning. He
did not post the letter yet.

Four days later he put on his wide-brimmed panama hat and went out into
the street leading to the centre of the city. There was trouble in the
river reaches between his men and those of Belloc-Grier, and he was
keeping an appointment with Belloc at Fabian Grier's office, where
several such meetings had taken place.

He had not gone far, however, when he saw a sprightly figure in
light-brown linen cutting into his street from a cross-road. He had not
seen that figure for months-scarcely since John Grier's death, and his
heart thumped in his breast. It was Junia. How would she greet him?

A moment later he met her. Raising his hat, he said: "Back to the
firing-line, Miss Shale! It'll make a big difference to every one
concerned."

"Are you then concerned?" she asked, with a faint smile.

"One of the most concerned," he answered with a smile not so composed as
her own. "It's the honour of the name that's at stake."

"You want to ruin Mr. Grier's chances in the fight?"

"I didn't say that. I said, 'the honour of the name,' and the name of my
firm is 'Grier's Company of Lumbermen.' So I'm in it with all my might,
and here's a letter--I haven't posted it yet--saying to Carnac Grier
where I stand. Will you read it? There's no reason why you shouldn't." He
tore open the envelope and took the letter out.

Junia took it, after hesitation, and read it till she came to the
sentence about Carnac returning to the business. She looked up, startled.

"What does that mean?" she asked, pointing to the elusive sentence.

"He might want to come into the business some day, and I'll give him his
chance. Nothing more than that."

"Nothing more than that!" she said cynically. "It's bravely said, but how
can he be a partner if he can't buy the shares?"

"That's a matter to be thought out," he answered with a queer twist to
his mouth.

"I see you've offered to help him with cash for the election," she said,
handing back the letter.

"I felt it had to be done. Politics are expensive they sap the purse.
That's why."

"You never thought of giving him an income which would compensate a
little for what his father failed to do for him?"

There was asperity in her tone.

"He wouldn't take from me what his father didn't give him." Suddenly an
idea seized him. "Look here," he said, "you're a friend of the Griers,
why don't you help keep things straight between the two concerns? You
could do it. You have the art of getting your own way. I've noticed
that."

"So you'd like me to persuade Fabian Grier to influence Belloc, because
I'd make things easy for you!" she said briskly. "Do you forget I've
known Fabian since I was a baby, that my sister is his wife, and that his
interests are near to me?"

He did not knuckle down. "I think it would be helping Fabian's interests.
Belloc and Fabian Grier are generally in the wrong, and to keep them
right would be good business-policy. When I've trouble with Belloc's firm
it's because they act like dogs in the manger. They seem to hate me to
live."

She laughed--a buoyant, scornful laugh. "So all the fault is in Belloc
and Fabian, is it?" She was impressed enormously by his sangfroid and
will to rule the roost. "I think you're clever, and that you've got
plenty of horse-sense, as they say in the West, but you'll be beaten in
the end. How does it feel"--she asked it with provoking candour--"to be
the boss of big things?"

"I know I'm always settling troubles my business foes make for me. I have
to settle one of them now, and I'm glad I've met you, for you can help
me. I want some new river-rules made. If Belloc and Grier'll agree to
them, we'll do away with this constant trouble between our gangs."

"And you'd like me to help you?"

He smiled a big riverman's smile down at her, full of good-humour and
audacity.

"If you could make it clear to Fabian that all I'm after is peace on the
river, it'd do a lot of good."

"Well, do you know," she said demurely, "I don't think I'll take a hand
in this game, chiefly because--" she paused.

"Yes: chiefly because--"

"Because you'll get your own way without help. You get everything you
want," she added with a little savage comment.

A flood of feeling came into his eyes, his head jerked like that of a
bull-moose. "No, I don't get everything I want. The thing I want most in
the world doesn't come to me." His voice grew emotional. She knew what he
was trying to say, and as the idea was not new she kept composure. "I'm
not as lucky as you think me," he added.

"You're pretty lucky. You've done it all as easy as clasping your
fingers. If I had your luck--!" she paused.

"I don't know about that, but if I could reach out and touch you at any
time, as it were, I think it'd bring me permanent good luck. You'll find
out one day that my luck is only a bubble the prick of a pin'll destroy.
I don't misunderstand it. I've been left John Grier's business by Grier
himself, and he's got a son that ought to have it, and maybe will have
it, when the time is ripe."

Suddenly an angry hand flashed out towards him. "When the time is ripe!
Does that mean, when you've made all you want, you'll give up to Carnac
what isn't yours but his? Why don't you do it now?"

"Well, because, in the first place, I like my job and he doesn't want it;
in the second place, I promised his father I'd run the business as he
wished it run; and in the third place, Carnac wouldn't know how to use
the income the business brings."

She laughed in a mocking, challenging way. "Was there ever a man didn't
know how to use an income no matter how big it was! You're talking
enigmas, and I think we'd better say good-bye. Your way to the Belloc
offices is down that street." She pointed.

"And you won't help me? You won't say a word to Fabian?"

She shrugged a shoulder. "If I were a man like you, who's so big, so
lucky, and so dominant, I wouldn't ask a woman to help me. I'd do the job
myself. I'd keep faith with my reputation. But there's one nice thing
about you: you're going to help Carnac to beat Barode Barouche. You've
made a gallant offer. If you'd gone against him, if you'd played
Barouche's game, I--"

The indignation which came to her face suddenly fled, and she said:
"Honestly, I'd never speak to you again, and I always keep my word.
Carnac'll see it through. He's a man of mark, Mr. Tarboe, and he'll be
Prime Minister of the whole country one day. I don't think you'll like
it."

"You hit hard, but if I hadn't taken the business, Carnac Grier wouldn't
have got it. If it hadn't been me, it would have been some one else."

"Well, why don't you live like a rich man and not like a foreman?"

"I've been too busy to change my mode of living. I only want enough to
eat and drink and wear, and that's not costly." Suddenly an idea came to
him. "Now, if that business had been left to you, you'd be building a
stone house somewhere; and you'd have horses and carriages, and lots of
servants, and you'd swing along like a pretty coloured bird in the
springtime, wouldn't you?"

"If I had wealth, I'd make it my servant. I'd give it its chance; but as
I haven't got it, I live as I do--poor and unknown."

"Not unknown. See, you could control what belonged to John Grier, if you
would. I need some one to show me how to spend the money coming from the
business. What is wealth unless you buy things that give pleasure to
life? Do you know--"

He got no further. "I don't know anything you're trying to tell me, and
anyhow this is not the place--" With that she hastened from him up the
street. Tarboe had a pang, and yet her very last words gave him hope. "I
may be a bit sharp in business," he said to himself, "but I certainly am
a fool in matters of the heart. Yet what she said at last had something
in it for me. Every woman has an idea where a man ought to make love to
her, and this open road certainly ain't the place. If Carnac wins this
game with Barouche I don't know where I'll be with her-maybe I'm a fool
to help him." He turned the letter over and over in his hand. "No, I'm
not. I ought to do it, and I will."

Then he fell to brooding. He remembered about the second hidden will.
There came upon him a wild wish to destroy it. He loved controlling John
Grier's business. Never had anything absorbed him so. Life seemed a new
thing. The idea of disappearing from the place where, with a stroke of
his fingers, he moved five thousand men, or swept a forest into the great
river, or touched a bell which set going a saw-mill with its many
cross-cut saws, or filled a ship to take the pine, cedar, maple, ash or
elm boards to Europe, or to the United States, was terrible to him. He
loved the smell of the fresh-cut wood. The odour of the sawdust as he
passed through a mill was sweeter than a million bunches of violets. Many
a time he had caught up a handful of the damp dust and smelt it, as an
expert gardener would crumble the fallen flowers of a fruittree and sniff
the sweet perfume. To be master of one of the greatest enterprises of the
New World for three years, and then to disappear! He felt he could not do
it.

His feelings shook his big frame. The love of a woman troubled his
spirit. Suppose the will were declared and the girl was still free, what
would she do?

As he set foot in the office of the firm of Belloc, however, he steeled
himself to composure.

His task well accomplished, he went back to his own office, and spent the
day like a racehorse under the lash, restive, defiant, and reckless. When
night and the shadows came, he sat alone in his office with drawn blinds,
brooding, wondering.



CHAPTER XXI

THE SECRET MEETING

As election affairs progressed, Mrs. Grier kept withdrawn from public
ways. She did not seek supporters for her son. As the weeks went on, the
strain became intense. Her eyes were aflame with excitement, but she grew
thinner, until at last she was like a ghost haunting familiar scenes.
Once, and once only, did she have touch with Barode Barouche since the
agitation began. This was how it happened:

Carnac was at Ottawa, and she was alone, in the late evening. As she sat
sewing, she heard a knock at the front door. Her heart stood still. It
was a knock she had not heard for over a quarter of a century, but it had
an unforgettable touch. She waited a moment, her face pale, her eyes
shining with tortured memory. She waited for the servant to answer the
knock, but presently she realized that the servant probably had not
heard. Laying down her work, she passed into the front hall. There for an
instant she paused, then opened the door.

It was Barode Barouche. Then the memory of a summer like a terrible dream
shook her. She trembled. Some old quiver of the dead days swept through
her. How distant and how--bad it all was! For one instant the old thrill
repeated itself and then was gone--for ever.

"What is it you wish here?" she asked.

"Will you not shut the door?" he responded, for her fingers were on the
handle. "I cannot speak with the night looking in. Won't you ask me to
your sitting-room? I'm not a robber or a rogue."

Slowly she closed the door. Then she turned, and, in the dim light, she
said:

"But you are both a robber and a rogue."

He did not answer until they had entered the sittin-groom.

"I gave you that which is out against me now. Is he not brilliant,
capable and courageous?"

There was in her face a stern duty.

"It was Fate, monsieur. When he and I went to your political meeting at
Charlemont it had no purpose. No blush came to his cheek, because he did
not know who his father is. No one in the world knows--no one except
myself, that must suffer to the end. Your speech roused in him the native
public sense, the ancient fire of the people from whom he did not know he
came. His origin has been his bane from the start. He did not know why
the man he thought his father seemed almost a stranger to him. He did not
understand, and so they fell apart. Yet John Grier would have given more
than he had to win the boy to himself. Do you ever think what the boy
must have suffered? He does not know. Only you and I know!" She paused.

He thrust out a hand as though to stay her speech, but she went on again

"Go away from me. You have spoiled my life; you have spoiled my boy's
life, and now he fights you. I give him no help save in one direction. I
give to him something his reputed father withheld from him. Don't you
think it a strange thing"--her voice was thick with feeling--"that he
never could bear to take money from John Grier, and that, even as a
child, gifts seemed to trouble him. I think he wanted to give back again
all that John Grier had ever paid out to him or for him; and now, at
last, he fights the man who gave him birth! I wanted to tell John Grier
all, but I did not because I knew it would spoil his life and my boy's
life. It was nothing to me whether I lived or died. But I could not bear
Carnac should know. He was too noble to have his life spoiled."

Barode Barouche drew himself together. Here was a deep, significant
problem, a situation that needed more expert handling than he had ever
shown. As he stood by the table, the dim light throwing haggard
reflections on her face, he had a feeling that she was more than normal.
He saw her greater than he had ever imagined her. Something in him
revolted at a war between his own son and himself. Also, he wanted to
tell her of the danger in which Carnac was--how Luzanne had come, and was
hidden away in the outskirts of the city, waiting for the moment when the
man who rejected her should be sacrificed.

Now that Barouche was face to face with Alma Grier, however, he felt the
appalling nature of his task. In all the years he had taken no chance to
pay tribute to the woman who, in a real sense, had been his mistress of
body and mind for one short term of life, and who once, and once only,
had yielded to him. They were both advanced in years, and Life and Time
had taken toll. She was haggard, yet beautiful in a wan way. He did not
believe the vanished years had placed between them an impassable barrier.

He put his chances to the test at last.

"Yes, I know--I understand. You remained silent because your nature was
too generous to injure anyone. Down at the bottom of his heart,
cantankerous, tyrannical as he was, John Grier loved you, and I loved you
also."

She made a protest of her hand. "Oh, no! You never knew what love
was--never! You had passion, you had hunger of the body, but of love you
did not know. I know you, Barode Barouche. You have no heart, you have
only sentiment and imagination. No--no, you could not be true. You could
never know how."

Suddenly a tempest of fire seemed to burn in his eyes, in his whole
being. His face flushed: his eyes gleamed; his hands were thrust out with
passion.

"Will you not understand that were I as foul as hell, a woman like you
would make me clean again? The wild sin of our youth has eaten into the
soul of my life. You think I have been indifferent to you and to our boy.
No, never-never! That I left you both to yourselves was the best proof I
was not neglectful. I was sorry, with all my soul, that you should have
suffered through me. In the first reaction, I felt that nothing could put
me right with you or with eternal justice. So I shrank away from you. You
thought it was lust satisfied. I tell you it was honour shamed. Good God!
You thought me just the brazen roue, who seized what came his way, who
ate the fruit within his grasp, who lived to deceive for his own selfish
joy.

"Did you think that? Then, if you did, I do not wonder you should be glad
to see my son fighting me. It would seem the horrible revenge Destiny
should take." He took a step nearer to her. His face flamed, his arms
stretched out. "I have held you in these arms. I come with repentance in
my heart, with--"

Her face now was flushed. She interrupted him.

"I don't believe in you, Barode Barouche. At least my husband did not go
from his hearthstone looking for what belonged to others. No--No--no;
however much I suffered, I understood that what he did not feel for me at
least he felt for no one else. To him, life was his business, and to the
long end business mastered his emotions. I have no faith in you! In the
depth of my soul something cries out: 'He is not true. His life is
false.' To leave me that was right, but, monsieur, not as you left me.
You pick the fruit and eat it and spit upon the ground the fibre and the
skin. I am no longer the slave of your false eloquence. It has nothing in
it for me now, nothing at all--nothing."

"Yet your son--has he naught of me? If your son has genius, I have the
right to say a part of it came from me. Why should you say that all
that's good in the boy is yours--that the boy, in all he does and says,
is yours! No--no. Your long years of suffering have hardened into
injustice and wrong."

Suddenly he touched her arm. "There are women as young as you were when I
wronged you, who would be my wife now--young, beautiful, buoyant; but I
come to you because I feel we might still have some years of happiness.
Together, where our boy's fate mattered, we two could help him on his
way. That is what I feel, my dear."

When he touched her arm she did not move, yet there was in his fingers
something which stirred ulcers long since healed and scarred. She stepped
back from him.

"Do not touch me. The past is buried for ever. There can be no
resurrection. I know what I should do, and I will do it. For the rest of
my life, I shall live for my son. I hope he will defeat you. I don't lift
a hand to help him except to give him money, not John Grier's money but
my own, always that. You are fighting what is stronger than yourself. One
thing is sure, he is nearer to the spirit of your race than you. He will
win--but yes, he will win!"

Her face suffused with warmth, became alive with a wonderful fire, her
whole being had a simple tragedy. Once again, and perhaps for the last
time, she had renewed the splendour of her young womanhood. The vital
warmth of a great idea had given an expression to her face which had long
been absent from it.

He fell back from her. Then suddenly passion seized him. The gaunt beauty
of her roused a spirit of contest in him. The evil thing in him, which
her love for her son had almost conquered, came back upon him. He
remembered Luzanne, and now with a spirit alive with anger he said to
her:

"No--no--no, he cannot win." He stretched out a hand. "I have that which
will keep for me the place in Parliament that has been mine; which will
send him back to the isolation whence he came. Do you think I don't know
how to win an election? Why from east to west, from north to south in
this Province of Quebec my name, my fame, have been all-conquering.
Suppose he did defeat me, do you think that would end my political life?
It would end nothing. I should still go on."

A scornful smile came to her lips. "So you think your party would find a
seat for you who had been defeated by a young man who never knew what
political life meant till he came to this campaign? You think they would
find you a seat? I know you are coming to the end of your game, and when
he defeats you, it will finish everything for you. You will disappear
from public life, and your day will be done. Men will point at you as you
pass along the street, and say: 'There goes Barode Barouche. He was a
great man in his day. He was defeated by a boy with a painter's brush in
his hand.' He will take from you your livelihood. You will go, and he
will stay; he will conquer and grow strong. Go from me, Barode Barouche,"
she cried, thrusting out her hands against him, "go from me. I love my
son with all my soul. His father has no place in my heart."

There had been upon him the wild passion of revenge. It had mastered him
before she spoke, and while she spoke, but, as she finished, the
understanding spirit of him conquered. Instead of telling her of Luzanne
Larue, and of what he would do if he found things going against him,
instead of that he resolved to say naught. He saw he could not conquer
her. For a minute after she had ceased speaking, he watched her in
silence, and in his eyes was a remorse which would never leave them. She
was master.

Slowly, and with a sense of defeat, he said to her: "Well, we shall never
meet again like this. The fight goes on. I will defeat Carnac. No, do not
shake your head. He shall not put me from my place. For you and me there
is no future--none; yet I want to say to you before we part for ever now,
that you have been deeper in my life than any other woman since I was
born."

He said no more. Catching up his hat from the chair, and taking his
stick, he left the room. He opened the front door, stepped out, shut it
behind him and, in a moment, was lost in the night.



CHAPTER XXII

POINT TO POINT

While these things were happening, Carnac was spending all his time in
the constituency. Every day was busy to the last minute, every hole in
the belt of his equipment was buckled tight. In spite of his enthusiasm
he was, however, troubled by the fact that Luzanne might appear. Yet as
time went on he gained confidence. There were days, however, when he
appeared, mentally, to be watching the street corners.

One day at a public meeting he thought the sensation had come. He had
just finished his speech in reply to Barode Barouche--eloquent, eager,
masterful. Youth's aspirations, with a curious sympathy with the French
Canadian people, had idealized his utterances. When he finished there had
been cheering, but in the quiet instant that followed the cheering, a
habitant got up--a weird, wilful fellow who had a reputation for brag,
yet who would not have hurt an enemy save in wild passion.

"M'sieu' Carnac Grier," he said, "I'd like to put a question to you.
You've been asking for our votes. We're a family people, we Canucs, and
we like to know where we're going. Tell me, m'sieu', where's your woman?"

Having asked the question, he remained standing. "Where's your woman?"
the habitant had asked. Carnac's breath came quick and sharp. There were
many hundreds present, and a good number of them were foes. Barode
Barouche was on the same platform.

Not only Carnac was stirred by the question, for Barouche, who had
listened to his foe's speech with admiring anxiety, was startled.

"Where's your woman?" was not a phrase to be asked anyhow, or anywhere.
Barouche was glad of the incident. Ready as he was to meet challenge, he
presently realized that his son had a readiness equally potent. He was
even pleased to see the glint of a smile at the lips of the slim young
politician, in whom there was more than his own commingling of
temperament, wisdom, wantonness and raillery.

After a moment, Carnac said: "Isn't that a leading question to an
unmarried man?"

Barouche laughed inwardly. Surely it was the reply he himself would have
made. Carnac had showed himself a born politician. The audience cheered,
but the questioner remained standing. He meant to ask another question.

"Sit down--sit down, jackass!" shouted some of the more raucous of the
crowd, but the man was stubborn. He stretched out an arm towards Carnac.

"Bien, look here, my son, you take my advice. Pursue the primrose path
into the meadows of matrimony."

Again Carnac shrank, but his mind rallied courageously, and he said:
"There are other people who want to ask questions, perhaps." He turned to
Barode Barouche. "I don't suggest my opponent has planned this heckling,
but he can see it does no good. I'm not to be floored by catch-penny
tricks. I'm going to win. I run straight. I haven't been long enough in
politics to learn how to deceive. Let the accomplished professionals do
that. They know how."

He waved a hand disdainfully at Barouche. "Let them put forth all that's
in them, I will remain; let them exert the last ounce of energy, I will
prevail; let them use the thousand devices of elections, I will use no
device, but rely upon my policy. I want nothing except my chance in
Parliament. My highest ambition is to make good laws. I am for the man
who was the first settler on the St. Lawrence and this section of the
continent--his history, his tradition, his honour and fame are in the
history books of the world. If I should live a hundred years, I should
wish nothing better than the honour of having served the men whose
forefathers served Frontenac, Cartier, La Salle and Maisonneuve, and all
the splendid heroes of that ancient age. What they have done is for all
men to do. They have kept the faith. I am for the habitant, for the land
of his faith and love, first and last and all the time."

He sat down in a tumult of cheering. Many present remarked that no two
men they had ever heard spoke so much alike, and kept their attacks so
free from personal things.

There had been at this public meeting two intense supporters of Carnac,
who waited for him at the exit from the main doorway. They were Fabian's
wife and Junia.

Barode Barouche came out of the hall before Carnac. His quick eye saw the
two ladies, and he raised his broad-brimmed hat like a Stuart cavalier,
and smiled.

"Waiting for your champion, eh?" he asked with cynical friendliness.
"Well, work hard, because that will soften his fall." He leaned over, as
it were confidentially, to them, while his friends craned their necks to
hear what he said: "If I were you I'd prepare him. He's beaten as sure as
the sun shines."

Junia was tempted to say what was in her mind, but her sister Sibyl, who
resented Barouche's patronage, said:

"There's an old adage about the slip 'twixt the cup and the lip, Monsieur
Barouche. He's young, and he's got a better policy than yours."

"And he's unmarried, eh!" Barouche remarked. "He's unmarried, and I
suppose that matters!" There was an undercurrent of meaning in his voice
which did not escape Junia.

"And Monsieur Barouche is also unmarried," she remarked. "So you're even
there."

"Not quite even. I'm a widower. The women don't work for me as they work
for him."

"I don't understand," remarked Junia. "The women can't all marry him."

"There are a lot of things that can't be understood by just blinking the
eyes, but there's romance in the fight of an unmarried man, and women
like romance even if it's some one else's. There's sensation in it."

Barouche looked to where Carnac was slowly coming down the centre of the
hall. Women were waving handkerchiefs and throwing kisses towards him.
One little girl was pushed in front of him, and she reached out a hand in
which was a wild rose.

"That's for luck, m'sieu'," she said.

Carnac took the rose, and placed it in his buttonhole; then, stooping
down, he kissed the child's cheek. Outside the hall, Barode Barouche
winked an eye knowingly. "He's got it all down to a science. Look at
him--kissing the young chick. Nevertheless, he's walking into an abyss."

Carnac was near enough now for the confidence in his face to be seen.
Barouche's eyes suddenly grew resentful. Sometimes he had a feeling of
deep affection for his young challenger; sometimes there was a storm of
anger in his bosom, a hatred which can be felt only for a member of one's
own family. Resentment showed in his face now. This boy was winning
friends on every side.

Something in the two men, some vibration of temperament, struck the same
chord in Junia's life and being. She had noticed similar gestures,
similar intonations of voice, and, above all else, a little toss of the
head backwards. She knew they were not related, and so she put the whole
thing down to Carnac's impressionable nature which led its owner into
singular imitations. It had done so in the field of Art. He was young
enough to be the imitator without loss to himself.

"I'm doing my best to defeat you," she said to Barouche, reaching out a
hand for good-bye, "and I shall work harder now than ever. You're so sure
you're going to win that I'd disappoint you, monsieur--only to do you
good."

"Ah, I'm sorry you haven't any real interest in Carnac Grier, if it's
only to do me good! Well, goodbye--good-bye," he added, raising his hat,
and presently was gone.

As Carnac drew near, Fabian's wife stepped forward. "Carnac," she said,
"I hope you'll come with us on the river in Fabian's steam-launch.
There's work to do there. It's pay-day in the lumber-yards on the Island,
so please come. Will you?"

Carnac laughed. "Yes, there's no engagement to prevent it." He thanked
Junia and Sibyl for all they had done for him, and added: "I'd like a
couple of hours among the rivermen. Where's the boat?" Fabian's wife told
him, and added: "I've got the roan team here, and you can drive us down,
if you will."

A few moments afterwards, with the cheers of the crowd behind them, they
were being driven by Carnac to the wharf where lay the "Fleur-de-lis." On
board was Fabian.

"Had a good meeting, Carnac?" Fabian asked.

"I should call it first-class. It was like a storm, at sea-wind from one
direction, then from another, but I think on the whole we had the best of
it. Don't you think so?" he added to Fabian's wife.

"Oh, much the best," she answered. "That's so, Junia, isn't it?"

"I wouldn't say so positively," answered Junia. "I don't understand
Monsieur Barouche. He talked as if he had something up his sleeve." Her
face became clouded. "Have you any idea what it is, Carnac?"

Carnac laughingly shook his head. "That's his way. He's always bluffing.
He does it to make believe the game's his, and to destroy my confidence.
He's a man of mark, but he's having the biggest fight he ever had--of
that I'm sure. . . . Do you think I'll win?" he asked Junia presently
with a laugh, as they made their way down the river. "Have I conquest in
my eye?"

How seldom did Junia have Carnac to herself in these days! How kind of
Fabian to lend his yacht for the purpose of canvassing! But Sibyl had in
her mind a deeper thing--she had become a match-maker. She and Fabian,
when the boat left the shore, went to one corner of the stern, leaving
Carnac and Junia in the bow.

Three miles below the city was the Island on which many voters were
working in a saw-mill and lumberyard. It had supporters of Barouche
chiefly in the yards and mills. Carnac had never visited it, and it was
Junia's view that he should ingratiate himself with the workers, a
rough-and-ready lot. They were ready to "burst a meeting" or bludgeon a
candidate on occasion.

When Carnac asked his question Junia smiled up at him. "Yes, I think
you'll win, Carnac. You have the tide with you." Presently she added:
"I'm not sure that you've got all the cards, though--I don't know why,
but I have that fear."

"You think that--"

She nodded. "I think Monsieur Barouche has some cards he hasn't played
yet. What they are I don't know, but he's confident. Tell me, Carnac, is
there any card that would defeat you? Have you committed any crime
against the law--no, I'm sure you haven't, but I want to hear you say
so." She smiled cheerfully at him.

"He has no card of any crime of mine, and he can't hit me in a mortal
place."

"You have the right policy for this province. But tell me, is there
anyone who could hurt you, who could spring up in the fight--man or
woman?"

She looked him straight in the eye, and his own did not waver.

"There's no one has a knock-out blow for me--that's sure. I can weather
any storm."

He paused, however, disconcerted, for the memory of Luzanne came to him,
and his spirit became clouded. "Except one--except one," he added.

"And you won't tell me who it is?"



CHAPTER XXIII

THE MAN WHO WOULD NOT

"No, I can't tell you--yet," answered Carnac. "You ought to know; though
you can't put things right."

"Don't forget you are a public man, and what might happen if things went
wrong. There are those who would gladly roast you on a gridiron for what
you are in politics."

"I never forget it. I've no crime to repent of, and I'm afraid of nothing
in the last resort. Look, we're nearing the Island."

"It's your worst place in the constituency, and I'm not sure of your
reception. Oh, but yes, I am," she added hastily. "You always win good
feeling. No one really hates you. You're on the way to big success."

"I've had some unexpected luck. I've got Tarboe on my side. He's a member
of Barouche's party, but he's coming with me."

"Did he tell you so?" she asked with apparent interest.

"I've had a letter from him, and in it he says he is with me 'to the
knife!' That's good. Tarboe has a big hold on rivermen, and he may carry
with him some of the opposition. It was a good letter--if puzzling."

"How, puzzling?"

"He said in one part of it: 'When you come back here to play your part
you'll make it a success, the whole blessed thing.' I've no idea what he
meant by that. I don't think he wants me as a partner, and I'll give him
no chance of it. I don't want now what I could have had when Fabian left.
That's all over, Junia."

"He meant something by it; he's a very able man," she replied gravely.
"He's a huge success."

"And women love success more than all else," he remarked a little
cynically.

"You're unjust, Carnac. Of course, women love success; but they'd not
sell their souls for it--not the real women--and you ought to know it."

"I ought to know it, I suppose," he answered, and he held her eyes
meaningly. He was about to say something vital, but Fabian and his wife
came.

Fabian said to him: "Don't be surprised if you get a bad reception here,
Carnac. It's the worst place on the river, and I've no influence over the
men--I don't believe Tarboe could have. They're a difficult lot. There's
Eugene Grandois, he's as bad as they make 'em. He's got a grudge against
us because of some act of father, and he may break out any time. He's a
labour leader too, and we must be vigilant."

Carnac nodded. He made no reply in words. They were nearing the little
dock, and men were coming to the point where the launch would stop.

"There's Grandois now!" said Fabian with a wry smile, for he had a real
fear of results. He had, however, no idea how skilfully Carnac would
handle the situation--yet he had heard much of his brother's
adaptability. He had no psychological sense, and Carnac had big endowment
of it. Yet Carnac was not demonstrative. It was his quiet way that played
his game for him. He never spoke, if being could do what he wanted. He
had the sense of physical speech with out words. He was a bold
adventurer, but his methods were those of the subtlest. If a motion of
the hand was sufficient, then let it go at that.

"You people after our votes never come any other time," sneeringly said
Eugene Grandois, as Carnac and Fabian landed. "It's only when you want to
use us."

"Would you rather I didn't come at all?" asked Carnac with a friendly
smile. "You can't have it both ways. If I came here any other time you'd
want to know why I didn't stay away, and I come now because it's good you
should know if I'm fit to represent you in Parliament."

"There's sense, my bonny boy," said an English-Canadian labourer standing
near. "What you got to say to that, little skeezicks?" he added teasingly
to Eugene Grandois.

"He ain't got more gifts than his father had, and we all know what he
was--that's so, bagosh!" remarked Grandois viciously.

"Well, what sort of a man was he?" asked Carnac cooly, with a warning
glance at Fabian, who was resentful. Indeed, Fabian would have struck the
man if his brother had not been present, and then been torn to pieces
himself.

"What sort--don't you know the kind of things he done? If you don't, I
do, and there's lots of others know, and don't you forget it, mon vieux."

"That's no answer, Monsieur Grandois--none at all. It tells nothing,"
remarked Carnac cheerily.

"You got left out of his will, m'sieu', you talk as if he was all
right--that's blither."

"My father had a conscience. He gave me chance to become a partner in the
business, and I wouldn't, and he threw me over--what else was there to
do? I could have owned the business to-day, if I'd played the game as he
thought it ought to be played. I didn't, and he left me out--that's all."

"Makin' your own way, ain't you?" said the English labourer. "That's hit
you where you're tender, Grandois. What you got to say to that?"

The intense black eyes of the habitant sparkled wickedly, his jaws set
with passion, and his sturdy frame seemed to fasten to the ground. His
gnarled hands now shot out fiercely.

"What I got to say! Only this: John Grier played the devil's part. He
turned me and my family out into the streets in winter-time, and the law
upheld him, old beast that he was--sacre diable!"

"Beast-devil! Grandois, those are hard words about a man in his son's
presence, and they're not true. You think you can say such things because
I'm standing for Parliament. Beast, devil, eh? You've got a free tongue,
Grandois; you forgot to say that my father paid the doctor's bill for
your whole family when they were taken down with smallpox; and he kept
them for weeks afterwards. You forgot to recall that when he turned you
out for being six months behind with your rent and making no effort to
pay up! Who was the devil and beast then, Grandois? Who spat upon his own
wife and children then? You haven't a good memory. . . . Come, I think
your account with my father is squared; and I want you to vote to put my
father's son in Parliament, and to put out Barode Barouche, who's been
there too long. Come, come, Grandois, isn't it a bargain? Your tongue's
sharp, but your heart's in the right place--is it a bargain?"

He held out his hand with applause from the crowd, but Grandois was not
to be softened. His anger, however, had behind it some sense of caution,
and what Carnac said about the smallpox incident struck him hard. It was
the first time he had ever been hit between the eyes where John Grier was
concerned. His prestige with the men was now under a shadow, yet he dared
not deny the truth of the statement. It could be proved. His braggart
hatred of John Grier had come home to roost. Carnac saw that, and he was
glad he had challenged the man. He believed that in politics, as in all
other departments of life, candour and bold play were best in the long
run. Yet he would like to see the man in a different humour, and with joy
he heard Junia say to Grandois.

"How is the baby boy, and how is madame, Monsieur Grandois?"

It came at the right moment, for only two days before had Madame Grandois
given her husband the boy for which he had longed. Junia had come to know
of it through a neighbour and had sent jellies to the sick woman. As she
came forward now, Grandois, taken aback, said:

"Alors, they're all right, ma'm'selle, thank you. It was you sent the
jellies, eh?"

She nodded with a smile. "Yes, I sent them, Grandois. May I come and see
madame and the boy to-morrow?"

The incident had taken a favourable turn.

"It's about even-things between us, Grandois?" asked Carnac, and held out
his hand. "My father hit you, but you hit him harder by forgetting about
the smallpox and the rent, and also by drinking up the cash that ought to
have paid the rent. It doesn't matter now that the rent was never paid,
but it does that you recall the smallpox debt. Can't you say a word for
me, Grandois? You're a big man here among all the workers. I'm a better
Frenchman than the man I'm trying to turn out. Just a word for a good
cause.

"They're waiting for you, and your hand on it! Here's a place for you on
the roost. Come up."

The "roost" was an upturned tub lying face down on the ground, and in the
passion of the moment, the little man gripped Carnac's hand and stood on
the tub to great cheering; for if there was one thing the
French-Canadians love, it is sensation, and they were having it. They
were mostly Barouche's men, but they were emotional, and melodrama had
stirred their feelings.

Besides, like the Irish, they had a love of feminine nature, and in all
the river-coves Junia was known by sight at least, and was admired. She
had the freshness of face and mind which is the heart of success with the
habitants. With Eugene Grandois on his feet, she heard a speech which had
in it the best spirit of Gallic eloquence, though it was crude. But it
was forcible and adroit.

"Friends and comrades," said Eugene Grandois, with his hands playing
loosely, "there's been misunderstandings between me and the Grier family,
and I was out against it, but I see things different since M'sieu' Carnac
has spoke--and I'm changing my mind--certainlee. That throwing out of my
house hit me and my woman and little ones hard, and I've been resentin'
it all these years till now; but I'm weighin' one thing agin another, and
I'm willing to forget my wrongs for this young man's sake. He's for us
French. Alors, some of you was out to hurt our friend M'sieu' Carnac
here, and I didn't say no to it; but you'd better keep your weapons for
election day and use them agin Barode Barouche.

"I got a change of heart. I've laid my plate on the table with a prayer
that I get it filled with good political doctrine, and I've promise that
the food I'm to get is what's best for all of us. M'sieu' Carnac Grier's
got the right stuff in him, and I'm for him both hands up--both hands way
up high, nom de pipe!"

At that he raised both hands above his head with a loud cheer, and later
Carnac Grier was carried to the launch in the arms of Eugene Grandois'
friends.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE BLUE PAPER

"Who are you, ma'm'selle?"

It was in the house of Eugene Grandois that this question was asked of
Junia. She had followed the experience on the Island by a visit to
Grandois' house, carrying delicacies for the sick wife. Denzil had come
with her, and was waiting in the street.

She had almost ended her visit when the outer door opened and Luzanne
Larue entered carrying a dish she placed on the table, eyeing Junia
closely. First they bowed to each other, and Junia gave a pleasant smile,
but instantly she felt here was a factor in her own life--how, she could
not tell.

To Luzanne, the face of Junia had no familiar feature, and yet she felt
here was one whose life's lines crossed her own. So it was she presently
said, "Who are you, ma'm'selle?" in a sharp voice. As Junia did not reply
at once, she put the question in another form: "What is your name,
ma'm'selle?"

"It is Junia Shale," said the other calmly, yet with heart beating hard.
Somehow the question foreshadowed painful things, associated with Carnac.
Her first glance at Luzanne showed the girl was well dressed, that she
had a face of some beauty, that her eyes were full of glamour--black and
bold, and, in a challenging way, beautiful. It was a face and figure full
of daring. She was not French-Canadian; yet she was French; that was
clear from her accent. Yet the voice had an accent of crudity, and the
plump whiteness of the skin and waving fulness of the hair gave the girl
a look of an adventuress. She was dressed in black with a white collar
which, by contrast, seemed to heighten her unusual nature.

At first Junia shuddered, for Luzanne's presence made her uneasy; yet the
girl must have good qualities, for she had brought comforts to the sick
woman, and indeed, within, madame had spoken of the "dear beautiful
stranger." That could be no other than this girl. She became composed.
Yet she had a feeling that between them was a situation needing all her
resources. About what? She would soon know, and she gave her name at last
slowly, keeping her eyes on those of Luzanne.

At mention of the name, Luzanne's eyes took on prejudice and moroseness.
The pupils enlarged, the lids half closed, the face grew sour.

"Junia Shale--you are Junia Shale?" The voice was bitter and resentful.

Junia nodded, and in her smile was understanding and conflict, for she
felt this girl to be her foe.

"We must have a talk--that's sure," Luzanne said with decision.

"Who are you?" asked Junia calmly. "I am Luzanne Larue."

"That makes me no wiser."

"Hasn't Carnac Grier spoken of me?"

Junia shook her head, and turned her face towards the door of Madame
Grandois' room. "Had we not better go somewhere else to talk, after
you've seen Madame Grandois and the baby?" she asked with a smile, yet
she felt she was about to face an alarming event. "Madame Grandois has
spoken pleasantly of you to me," Junia added, for tact was her prompt
faculty. "If you'd come where we could talk undisturbed--do you see?"

Luzanne made no reply in words, but taking up the dish she went into the
sick-room, and Junia heard her in short friendly speech with Madame
Grandois. Luzanne appeared again soon and spoke: "Now we can go where I'm
boarding. It's only three doors away, and we can be safe there. You'd
like to talk with me--ah, yes, surelee!"

Her eyes were combative and repellent, but Junia was not dismayed, and
she said: "What shall we talk about?"

"There's only one thing and one person to talk about, ma'm'selle."

"I still don't know what you mean."

"Aren't you engaged to Carnac Grier? Don't you think you're going to
marry him? . . . Don't you like to tell the truth, then?" she added.

Junia raised her eyebrows. "I'm not engaged to Carnac Grier, and he has
never asked me to marry him--but what business is it of yours,
ma'm'selle?"

"Come and I'll tell you." Luzanne moved towards the door. They were
speechless till they reached Luzanne's lodgings.

"This is the house of Monsieur Marmette, an agent of Monsieur Barouche,"
said Junia. "I know it."

"You'll know it better soon. The agent of M'sieu' Barouche is a man of
mark about here, and he'll be more marked soon--but yes!"

"You think Monsieur Barouche will be elected, do you?" asked Junia, as
they closed the door.

"I know he will."

"I've been working for Monsieur Grier, and that isn't my opinion."

"I'm working for Barode Barouche, and I know the result."

They were now in Luzanne's small room, and Junia noted that it had all
the characteristics of a habitant dwelling--even to the crucifix at the
head of the bed, and the picture of the French-Canadian Premier of the
Dominion on the wall. She also saw a rosary on a little hook beside the
bed.

"How do you know?"

"Because I am the wife of Carnac Grier, and I know what will happen to
him. . . . You turn pale, ma'm'selle, but your colour isn't going to
alter the truth. I'm Carnac Grier's wife by the laws of New York State."

"Does Monsieur Grier admit he is your husband?"

"He must respect the law by which he married me."

"I don't believe he was ever honestly married to you," declared Junia.
"Has he ever lived with you--for a single day?"

"What difference would that make? I have the marriage certificate here."
She touched her bosom.

"I'd have thought you were Barode Barouche's wife by the way you act.
Isn't it a wife's duty to help her husband--Shouldn't you be fighting
against Barode Barouche?"

"I mean to be recognized as Carnac Grier's wife--that's why I'm here."

"Have you seen him since you've been here? Have you told him how you're
working against him? Have you got the certificate with you?"

"Of course. I've got my head on like a piece of flesh and blood that
belongs to me--bien sur."

She suddenly drew from her breast a folded piece of blue paper. "There it
is, signed by Judge Grimshaw that married us, and there's the seal; and
the whole thing can't be set aside. Look at it, if you like, petite."

She held it not far from Junia's face, and Junia could see that it was
registration of a marriage of New York State. She could have snatched the
paper away, but she meant to conquer Luzanne's savage spirit. "Well, how
do you intend to defeat your husband?"

"I mean to have the people asked from a platform if they've seen the wife
of the candidate, and then a copy of the certificate will be read to all.
What do you think will happen after that?"

"It will have to be done to-night or to-morrow night," remarked Junia.

"Because the election comes the day after to-morrow,--eh

"Because of that. And who will read the document?"

"Who but the man he's trying to defeat?--tell me that."

"You mean Barode Barouche?"

"Who else?"

"Has he agreed to do it?"

Luzanne nodded. "On the day--Carnac became a candidate."

"And if Carnac Grier denies it?"

"He won't deny it. He never has. He says he was drunk when the thing was
done--mais, oui."

"Is that all he says?"

"No. He says he didn't know it was a real marriage, and--" Luzanne then
related Carnac's defence, and added: "Do you think anyone would believe
him with the facts as they are? Remember I'm French and he's English, and
that marriage to a French girl is life and death; and this is a French
province!"

"And yet you are a Catholic and French, and were married by a Protestant
judge."

"That is my own affair, ma'm'selle."

"It is not the thing to say to French-Canadians here. What do you get out
of it all? If he is your husband, wouldn't it be better to have him
successful than your defeated victim. What will be yours if you defeat--"

"Revenge--my rights--the law!" was the sharp rejoinder.

Junia smiled. "What is there in it all for you? If the man I married did
not love me, I'd use the law to be free. What's the good of trying to
destroy a husband who doesn't love you, who never loved you--never."

"You don't know that," retorted Luzanne sharply.

"Yes, I do. He never loved you. He never lived with you for a single day.
That's in the power of a doctor to prove. If you are virtuous, then he
has taken nothing; if you have given your all, and not to Carnac Grier,
what will his mind be about you? Is it money? He has no money except what
he earns. His father left him nothing--not a dollar. Why do you hate him
so? I've known him all my life, and I've never known him hurt man or
animal. When did he ever misuse you, or hurt you? Did he ever treat you
badly? How did you come to know him? Answer that."

She paused and Luzanne flushed. The first meeting! Why, that was the day
Carnac had saved her life, had taken her home safe from danger, and had
begun a friendship with behind it only a desire to help her. And how had
she repaid the saviour of her life? By tricking him into a marriage, and
then by threatening him if he did not take her to his home. Truth is,
down beneath her misconduct was a passion for the man which, not
satisfied, became a passion to destroy him and his career. It was a
characteristic of her blood and breed. It was a relic of ancient
dishonour, inherited and searching; it was atavism and the incorrigible
thing. Beneath everything was her desire for the man, and the mood in
which she had fought for him was the twist of a tortured spirit. She was
not so deliberate as her actions had indicated. She had been under the
malicious influence of her father and her father's friend. She was like
one possessed of a spirit that would not be deterred from its purpose.
Junia saw the impression she had made, and set it down to her last words.

"Where did you first meet him? What was the way of it?" she added.

Suddenly Junia came forward and put her hands on Luzanne's shoulders. "I
think you loved Carnac once, and perhaps you love him now, and are only
trying to hurt him out of anger. If you destroy him, you will repent of
it--so soon! I don't know what is behind these things you are doing, but
you'll be sorry for it when it is too late. Yes, I know you have loved
Carnac, for I see all the signs--"

"Do you love him then, ma'm'selle?" asked Luzanne exasperated. "Do you
love him?"

"He has never asked me, and I have never told him that; and I don't know,
but, if I did, I would move heaven and earth to help him, and if he
didn't love me I'd help him just the same. And so, I think, should you.
If you ever loved him, then you ought to save him from evil. Tell me, did
Carnac ever do you a kind act, one that is worth while in your life?"

For a moment Luzanne stood dismayed, then a new expression drove the dark
light from her eyes. It was as though she had found a new sense.

"He saved my life the day we first met," she said at last under Junia's
hypnotic influence.

"And now you would strike him when he is trying to do the big thing. You
threaten to declare his marriage, in the face of those who can elect him
to play a great part for his country."

Junia saw the girl was in emotional turmoil, was obsessed by one idea,
and she felt her task had vast difficulty. That Carnac should have
married the girl was incredible, that he had played an unworthy part
seemed sure; yet it was in keeping with his past temperament. The girl
was the extreme contrast of himself, with dark--almost piercing-eyes, and
a paleness which was physically constitutional--the joy of the artistic
spirit. It was the head of a tragedienne or a martyr, and the lean,
rather beautiful body was eloquent of life.

Presently Junia said: "To try to spoil him would be a crime against his
country, and I shall tell him you are here."

"He'll do nothing at all." The French girl's words were suddenly biting,
malicious and defiant. The moment's softness she had felt was gone, and
hardness returned. "If he hasn't moved against me since he married me, he
wouldn't dare do so now."

"Why hasn't he moved? Because you're a woman, and also he'd believe you'd
repent of your conduct. But I believe he will act sternly against you at
once. There is much at stake."

"You want it for your own sake," said Luzanne sharply. "You think he'd
marry you if I gave him up."

"Perhaps he'd ask me to marry him, if you weren't in the way, but I'd
have my own mind about that, and knowing what you've told me--truth or
lie--I'd weigh it all carefully. Besides, he's not the only man. Doesn't
that ever strike you? Why try to hold him by a spurious bond when there
are other men as good-looking, as clever? Is your world so bare of
men--no, I'm sure it isn't," she added, for she saw anger rising in the
impulsive girl. "There are many who'd want to marry you, and it's better
to marry some one who loves you than to hold to one who doesn't love you
at all. Is it hate? He saved your life--and that's how you came to know
him first, and now you would destroy him! He's a great man. He would not
bend to his father's will, and so he was left without a sou of his
father's money. All because he has a conscience, and an independence
worthy of the best that ever lived. . . . That's the soul of the man you
are trying to hurt. If you had a real soul, there wouldn't be even the
thought of this crime. Do you think he wouldn't loathe you, if you do
this ghastly thing? Would any real man endure it for an hour? What do you
expect to get but ugly revenge on a man who never gave anything except
friendship?"

"Friendship--friendship-yes, he gave that, but emotion too."

"You think that real men marry women for whom they only have emotion. You
think that he--Carnac Grier--would marry any woman on that basis? Come,
ma'm'selle, the truth! He didn't know he was being married, and when you
told him it was a real marriage he left you at once. You and yours
tricked him--the man you'd never have known if he hadn't saved your life.
You thought that with your beauty--yes, you are beautiful--you'd conquer
him, and that he'd give in, and become a real husband in a real home.
Come now, isn't that it?"

The other did not reply. Her face was alive with memories. The lower
things were flying from it, a spirit of womanhood was living in
her--feebly, but truly, living. She was now conscious of the insanity of
her pursuit of Carnac. For a few moments she stood silent, and then she
said with agitation:

"If I give this up"--she took from her breast the blue document--"he'd be
safe in his election, and he'd marry you: is it not so, ma'm'selle?"

"He'd be safe for his election, but he has never asked me to marry him,
and there are others besides him."--She was thinking of Tarboe. "Tell me,"
she added suddenly, "to whom have you told this thing in Montreal? Did
you mean to challenge him yourself?"

"I told it only to M'sieu' Barouche, and he said he would use it at the
right moment--and the right moment has come," she added. "He asked me for
a copy of it last night, and I said I'd give it to him to-day. It's
because of him I've been here quiet all these weeks as Ma'm'selle Larue."

"He is worse than you, mademoiselle, for he has known Carnac's family,
and he has no excuse. If a man can't win his fight fairly, he oughtn't to
be in public life."

After a few dark moments, with a sudden burst of feeling, Luzanne said:
"Well, Carnac won't be out of public life through me!"

She took the blue certificate from her breast and was about to tear it
up, when Junia stopped her.

"Don't do that," Junia said, "don't tear it up yet, give it to me. I'll
tear it up at the right moment. Give it to me, my dear."

She held out her hand, and the blue certificate was presently in her
fingers. She felt a sudden weakness in her knees, for it seemed she held
the career of Carnac Grier, and it moved her as she had never been moved.

With the yielding of the certificate, Luzanne seemed suddenly to lose
self-control. She sank on the bed beside the wall with a cry of distress.

"Mon Dieu--oh, Mon Dieu!" Then she sprang to her feet. "Give it back,
give it back tome," she cried, with frantic pain. "It's all I have of
him--it's all I have."

"I won't give it back," declared Junia quietly. "It's a man's career, and
you must let it go. It's the right thing to do. Let it stand,
mademoiselle."

She fully realized the half-insane mind and purpose of the girl, and she
wrapped her arms around the stricken figure.

"See, my dear," she said, "it's no use. You can't have it back. Your soul
is too big for that now. You can be happy in the memory that you gave
Carnac back his freedom."

"But the record stands," said the girl helplessly. "Tell the truth and
have it removed. You owe that to the man who saved your life. Have it
done at once at Shipton."

"What will you do with the certificate?" She glanced at Junia's bosom
where the paper was hidden. "I will give it to Carnac, and he can do what
he likes with it."

By now the tears were streaming down the face of Luzanne Larue, and hard
as it was for Junia, she tried to comfort her, for the girl should be got
away at once, and only friendliness could achieve that. She would see
Denzil--he was near by, waiting.

There would be a train in two hours for New York and the girl must take
it-she must.



CHAPTER XXV

DENZIL TAKES A HAND IN THE GAME

Barode Baruche was excited. He had sure hope of defeating Carnac with the
help of Luzanne Larue. The woman had remained hidden since her coming,
and the game was now in his hands. On the night before the poll he could
declare the thing, not easy to be forgiven by the French-Canadian public,
which has a strong sense of domestic duty. Carnac Grier was a Protestant,
and that was bad, and if there was added an offence against domestic
morality, he would be beaten at the polls as sure as the river ran. He
had seen Luzanne several times, and though he did not believe in her, he
knew the marriage certificate was real. He had no credence in Carnac's
lack of honour, yet it was strange he had not fought his wife, if his
case was a good one.

Day by day he had felt Carnac's power growing, and he feared his triumph
unless some sensation stopped it. Well, he had at hand the sufficient
sensation. He would produce both the certificate of marriage and the
French girl who was the legal wife of Carnac Grier. That Luzanne was
French helped greatly, for it would be used by Carnac's foes as an insult
to French Canada, and his pulses throbbed as he thought of the possible
turmoil in the constituency.

Fortunately the girl was handsome, had ability, and spoke English with a
French accent, and she was powerful for his purposes. He was out to
prevent his own son from driving himself into private life, and he would
lose no trick in the game, if he could help it.

Sentimental feeling--yes, he had it, but it did not prevent him from
saving his own skin. Carnac had come out against him, and he must hit as
hard as he could. It was not as though Carnac had been guilty of a real
crime and was within the peril of the law. His offence was a personal
one, but it would need impossible defence at the moment of election. In
any case, if Carnac was legally married, he should assume the
responsibilities of married life; and if he had honest reason for not
recognizing the marriage, he should stop the woman from pursuing him. If
the case kept Carnac out of public life and himself in, then justice
would be done; for it was monstrous that a veteran should be driven into
obscurity by a boy. In making his announcement he would be fighting his
son as though he was a stranger and not of his own blood and bones. He
had no personal connection with Carnac in the people's minds.

On the afternoon of the day that Junia had had her hour with Luzanne, he
started for the house where Luzanne was lodging. He could not travel the
streets without being recognized, but it did not matter, for the house
where the girl lodged was that of his sub agent, and he was safe in going
to it. He did not know, however, that Denzil had been told by Junia to
watch the place and learn what he meant to do.

Denzil had a popular respect of Barode Barouche as a Minister of the
Crown; but he had a far greater love of Carnac. He remained vigilant
until after Junia and Luzanne had started in a cab for the
railway-station. They left near three-quarters of an hour before the
train was to start for New York; and for the first quarter of an hour
after they left, Denzil was in apprehension.

Then he saw Barouche enter the street and go to the house of his
sub-agent. The house stood by itself, with windows open, and Denzil did
not scruple to walk near it, and, if possible, listen. Marmette, the
subagent, would know of the incident between Junia and Luzanne; and he
feared. Barouche might start for the station, overtake Luzanne and
prevent her leaving. He drew close and kept his ears open.

He was fortunate, he heard voices; Marmette was explaining to Barouche
that Junia and Luzanne had gone to the station, as "Ma'm'selle" was bound
for New York. Marmette had sent word to M. Barouche by messenger, but the
messenger had missed him. Then he heard Barouche in anger say:

"You fool--why did you let her leave! It's my bread and butter--and yours
too--that's at stake. I wanted to use her against Grier. She was my final
weapon of attack. How long ago did she leave?" Marmette told him.

Denzil saw Barode Barouche leave the house with grim concern and talking
hard to Paul Marmette. He knew the way they would go, so he fell behind a
tree, and saw them start for the place where they could order a cab. Then
he followed them. Looking at his watch he saw that, if they got a cab,
they would get to the station before the train started, and he wondered
how he could retard Barouche. A delay of three minutes would be enough,
for it was a long way, and the distance could only be covered with good
luck in the time. Yet Denzil had hope, for his faith in Junia was great,
and he felt sure she would do what she planned. He had to trot along
fast, because Barouche and Marmette were going hard, and he could not see
his way to be of use yet. He would give his right hand to help Carnac win
against the danger Junia had suggested. It could not be aught to Carnac's
discredit, or Junia would not have tried to get the danger out of
Montreal; he had seen Luzanne, and she might be deadly, if she had a good
weapon!

Presently, he saw Barouche and his agent stop at the door of a
livery-stable, and were told that no cabs were available. There were none
in the street, and time was pressing. Not far away, however, was a street
with a tram-line, and this tram would take Barouche near the station from
which Luzanne would start. So Barouche made hard for this street and had
reached it when a phaeton came along, and in it was one whom Barouche
knew. Barouche spoke to the occupant, and presently both men were
admitted to the phaeton just as a tram-car came near.

As the phaeton would make the distance to the station in less time than
the car, this seemed the sensible thing to do, and Denzil's spirits fell.
There remained enough time for Barouche to reach the station before the
New York train started! He got aboard the tram himself, and watched the
phaeton moving quickly on ahead. He saw the driver of the phaeton strike
his horse with a whip, and the horse, suddenly breaking into a gallop,
slipped and fell to the ground on the tramtrack. A moment later the tram
came to a stop behind the fallen horse, and Denzil saw the disturbed face
of Barode Barouche looking for another trap--in any case, it would take
three or four minutes to get the horse up and clear the track for the
tram. There was no carriage in sight--only a loaded butcher's cart, a
road-cleaner, and a heavily loaded van. These could be of no use to
Barouche.

In his corner, Denzil saw the play with anxious eyes.

It was presently found that the horse had injured a leg in falling and
could not be got to its feet, but had presently to be dragged from the
tram-lines. It had all taken near five minutes of the time before the
train went, and, with despair, Barouche mounted the steps of the tram. He
saw Denzil, and shrewdly suspected he was working in the interests of
Carnac. He came forward to Denzil.

"You're a long way from home, little man," he said in a voice with an
acid note.

"About the same as you from home, m'sieu'," said Denzil.

"I've got business everywhere in this town," remarked Barouche with
sarcasm--"and you haven't, have you? You're travelling privately, eh?"

"I travel as m'sieu' travels, and on the same business," answered Denzil
with a challenging smile.

The look Barouche gave him then Denzil never forgot. "I didn't know you
were in politics, mon vieux! What are you standing for? When are you
going to the polls--who are you fighting, eh?"

"I'm fighting you, m'sieu', though I ain't in politics, and I'm going to
the polls now," Denzil answered. Denzil had gained in confidence as he
saw the arrogance of Barode Barouche. He spoke with more vigour than
usual, and he felt his gorge rising, for here was a man trying to injure
his political foe through a woman; and Denzil resented it. He did not
know the secret of Luzanne Larue, but he did realize there was conflict
between Junia Shale and Barouche, and between Barouche and Carnac Grier,
and that enlisted his cooperation. By nature he was respectful; but the
politician now was playing a dirty game, and he himself might fight
without gloves, if needed. That was why his eyes showed defiance at
Barouche now. He had said the thing which roused sharp anger in Barouche.
It told Barouche that Denzil knew where he was going and why. Anger shook
him as he saw Denzil take out his watch.

"The poll closes in three minutes, m'sieu'," Denzil added with a dry
smile, for it was clear Barouche could not reach the station in time, if
the train left promptly. The swiftest horses could not get him there, and
these were not the days of motor-cars. Yet it was plain Barouche meant to
stick to it, and he promptly said:

"You haven't the right time, beetle. The poll closes only when the train
leaves, and your watch doesn't show that, so don't put on airs yet."

"I'll put on airs if I've won, m'sieu'," Denzil answered quietly, for he
saw people in the tram were trying to hear.

Barouche had been recognized, and a murmur of cheering began, followed by
a hum of disapproval, for Barouche had lost many friends since Carnac had
come into the fray. A few folk tried to engage Barouche in talk, but he
responded casually; yet he smiled the smile which had done so much for
him in public life, and the distance lessened to the station. The tram
did not go quite to the station, and as it stopped, the two men hurried
to the doors. As they did so, an engine gave a scream, and presently, as
they reached the inside of the station, they saw passing out at the far
end, the New York train.

"She started five minutes late, but she did start," said Denzil, and
there was malice in his smile.

As he looked at his watch, he saw Junia passing out of a door into the
street, but Barode Barouche did not see her--his eyes were fixed on the
departing train.

For a moment Barouche stood indecisive as to whether he should hire a
locomotive and send some one after the train, and so get in touch with
Luzanne in that way, or send her a telegram to the first station where
the train would stop in its schedule; but presently he gave up both
ideas. As he turned towards the exit of the station, he saw Denzil, and
he came forward.

"I think you've won, mon petit chien," he said with vindictiveness, "but
my poll comes to-morrow night, and I shall win."

"No game is won till it's all played, m'sieu', and this innings is mine!"

"I am fighting a bigger man than you, wasp," snarled Barouche.

"As big as yourself and bigger, m'sieu'," said Denzil with a smile.

There was that in his tone which made Barouche regard him closely. He saw
there was no real knowledge of the relationship of Carnac and himself in
Denzil's eyes; but he held out his hand with imitation courtesy, as
though to say good-bye.

"Give me a love-clasp, spider," he said with a kind of sneer. "I'd like
your love as I travel to triumph." A light of hatred came into Denzil's
eyes. "Beetledog--wasp--spider" he had been called by this big man--well,
he should see that the wasp could give as good as it got. His big gnarled
hand enclosed the hand of Barode Barouche, then he suddenly closed on it
tight. He closed on it till he felt it crunching in his own and saw that
the face of Barode Barouche was like that of one in a chair of torture.
He squeezed, till from Barouche's lips came a gasp of agony, and then he
let go.

"You've had my love-clasp, m'sieu'," Denzil said with meaning, "and when
you want it again let me know. It's what M'sieu' Carnac will do with you
to-morrow night. Only he'll not let go, as I did, before the blood comes.
Don't be hard on those under you, m'sieu'. Remember wasps and spiders can
sting in their own way, and that dogs can bite."

"Little black beast," was the short reply, "I'll strip your hide for
Hell's gridiron in good time."

"Bien, m'sieu', but you'll be in hell waiting, for I'm going to bury you
here where you call better men than yourself dogs and wasps and spiders
and beetles. And I'll not strip your 'hide,' either. That's for lower men
than me."

A moment later they parted, Denzil to find Junia, and Barouche to prepare
his speech for the evening. Barouche pondered. What should he do--should
he challenge Carnac with his marriage with Luzanne Larue? His heart was
beating hard.



CHAPTER XXVI

THE CHALLENGE

The day of the election came. Never had feeling run higher, never had
racial lines been so cut across. Barode Barouche fought with vigour, but
from the going of Luzanne Larue, there passed from him the confidence he
had felt since the first day of Carnac's candidature. He had had
temptation to announce to those who heard him the night before the poll
what Luzanne had told; but better wisdom guided him, to his subsequent
content. He had not played a scurvy trick on his son for his own personal
advantage. Indeed, when his meetings were all over, he was thankful for
the disappearance of Luzanne. At heart he was not all bad. A madness had
been on him. He, therefore, slept heavily from midnight till morning on
the eve of the election, and began the day with the smile of one who
abides the result with courage.

Several times he came upon Carnac in the streets, and they saluted
courteously; yet he saw the confidence of Carnac in his bearing. Twice
also he came upon Junia and he was startled by the look she gave him. It
was part of his punishment that Junia was the source of his undoing where
Luzanne was concerned. Junia knew about Luzanne; but if she condemned him
now, what would she think if she knew that Carnac was his own son!

"A devilish clever girl that," he said to himself. "If he wins, it'll be
due to her, and if he wins--no, he can't marry her, for he's already
married; but he'll owe it all to her. If he wins! . . . No, he shall not
win; I've been in the game too long; I've served too many interests; I've
played too big a part."

It was then he met his agent, who said: "They're making strong play
against us--the strongest since you began politics."

"Strong enough to put us in danger?" inquired Barouche. "You've been at
the game here for thirty years, and I'd like to know what you
think--quite honestly."

His agent was disturbed. "I think you're in danger; he has all your
gifts, and he's as clever as Old Nick besides. He's a man that'll make
things hum, if he gets in."

"If he gets in--you think . . . ?"

"He has as good a chance as you, m'sieu'. Here's a list of doubtful ones,
and you'll see they're of consequence."

"They are indeed," said Barouche, scanning the list. "I'd no idea these
would be doubtful."

"Luke Tarboe's working like the devil for Carnac. People believe in him.
Half the men on that list were affected by Tarboe's turning over. Tarboe
is a master-man; he has fought like hell."

"Nevertheless, I've been too long at it to miss it now," said the rueful
member with a forced smile. "I must win now, or my game is up."

The agent nodded, but there was no certainty in his eye. Feeling ran
higher and higher, but there was no indication that Barouche's hopes were
sure of fulfilment. His face became paler as the day wore on, and his
hands freer with those of his late constituents. Yet he noticed that
Carnac was still glib with his tongue and freer with his hands. Carnac
seemed everywhere, on every corner, in every street, at every polling
booth; he laid his trowel against every brick in the wall. Carnac was not
as confident as he seemed, but he was nearing the end of the trail; and
his feet were free and his head clear. One good thing had happened. The
girl who could do him great harm was not in evidence, and it was too late
to spoil his chances now, even if she came. What gave him greatest hope
was the look on Junia's face as he passed her. It was the sign of the
conqueror--something he could not under stand. It was knowledge and
victory.

Also, he had a new feeling towards Tarboe, who had given him such
powerful support. There was, then, in the man the bigger thing, the light
of fairness and reason! He had had no talk with Tarboe, and he desired
none, but he had seen him at three of his meetings, and he had evidence
of arduous effort on his behalf. Tarboe had influenced many people in his
favour, men of standing and repute, and the workmen of the Grier firm had
come, or were coming, his way. He had always been popular with them, in
spite of the strike he had fought, but they voted independently of their
employers; and he was glad to know that most of them were with him in the
fight.

His triumph over Eugene Grandois at the Island had been a good influence,
and he had hopes of capturing the majority of the river people. Yet,
strange to say, the Church had somewhat reversed its position, and at the
last had swung round to Barouche, quietly, though not from the pulpit,
supporting him. The old prejudice in favour of a Catholic and a Frenchman
was alive again.

Carnac was keyed to anxiety, but outwardly seemed moving with brilliant
certainty. He walked on air, and he spoke and acted like one who had the
key of the situation in his fingers, and the button of decision at his
will. It was folly electioneering on the day of the poll, and yet he saw
a few labour leaders and moved them to greater work for him. One of these
told him that at the Grier big-mill was one man working to defeat him by
personal attacks. It had something to do with a so-called secret
marriage, and it would be good to get hold of the man, Roudin, as soon as
possible.

A secret marriage! So the thing had, after all, been bruited and
used-what was the source of the information? Who was responsible? He must
go to the mill at once, and he started for it. On the way he met Luke
Tarboe.

"There's trouble down at the mill," Tarboe said. "A fellow called Roudin
has been spreading a story that you're married and repudiate your wife.
It'd be good to fight it now before it gets going. There's no truth in
it, of course," he added with an opposite look in his eye, for he
remembered the letter Carnac received one day in the office and his own
conclusion then.

"It's a lie, and I'll go and see Roudin at once. . . . You've been a good
friend to me in the fight, Tarboe, and I'd like a talk when it's all
over."

"That'll be easy enough, Grier. Don't make any mistake-this is a big
thing you're doing; and if a Protestant Britisher can beat a Catholic
Frenchman in his own habitant seat, it's the clinching of Confederation.
We'll talk it over when you've won."

"You think I'm going to win?" asked Carnac with thumping heart, for the
stark uncertainty seemed to overpower him, though he smiled.

"If the lie doesn't get going too hard, I'm sure you'll pull it off.
There's my hand on it. I'd go down with you to the mill, but you should
go alone. You've got your own medicine to give. Go it alone, Grier. It's
best--and good luck to you!"

A few moments later Carnac was in the yard of the mill, and in one corner
he saw the man he took to be Roudin talking to a group of workmen. He
hurried over, and heard Roudin declaring that he, Carnac, was secretly
married to a woman whom he repudiated, and was that the kind of man to
have as member of Parliament? Presently Roudin was interrupted by cheers
from supporters of Carnac, and he saw it was due to Carnac's arrival.
Roudin had courage. He would not say behind a man's back what he would
not say to his face.

"I was just telling my friends here, m'sieu', that you was married, and
you didn't acknowledge your wife. Is that so?"

Carnac's first impulse was to say No, but he gained time by challenging.

"Why do you say such things to injure me? Is that what Monsieur Barouche
tells you to say?"

Roudin shook his head protestingly.

"If Monsieur Barouche does that he oughtn't to hold the seat, he ought to
be sent back to his law offices."

"No, I didn't hear it from M'sieu' Barouche. I get it from better hands
than his," answered Roudin.

"Better hands than his, eh? From the lady herself, perhaps?"

"Yes, from the lady herself, m'sieu'."

"Then bring the lady here and let us have it out, monsieur. It's a lie.
Bring the lady here, if you know her."

Roudin shrugged a shoulder. "I know what I know, and I don't have to do
what you say--no--no!"

"Then you're not honest. You do me harm by a story like that. I challenge
you, and you don't respond. You say you know the woman, then produce
her--there's no time to be lost. The poll closes in four hours. If you
make such statements, prove them. It isn't playing the game--do you think
so, messieurs?" he added to the crowd which had grown in numbers. At that
moment a man came running from the en trance towards Carnac. It was
Denzil.

"A letter for you, an important letter," he kept crying as he came
nearer. He got the letter into Carnac's hands.

"Read it at once, m'sieu'," Denzil said urgently. Carnac saw the
handwriting was Junia's, and he tore open the letter, which held the blue
certificate of the marriage with Luzanne. He conquered the sudden dimness
of his eyes, and read the letter. It said:

   DEAR CARNAC,

   I hear from Mr. Tarboe of the lies being told against you. Here is
   the proof. She has gone. She told it to Barode Barouche, and he
   was to have announced it last night, but I saw her first. You can
   now deny the story. The game is yours. Tell the man Roudin to
   produce the woman--she is now in New York, if the train was not
   lost. I will tell you all when you are M.P.
                            JUNIA.

With a smile, Carnac placed the certificate in his pocket. How lucky it
was he had denied the marriage and demanded that Roudin produce the
woman! He was safe now, safe and free. It was no good any woman declaring
she was married to him if she could not produce the proof--and the proof
was in his pocket and the woman was in New York.

"Come, Monsieur Roudin, tell us about the woman, and bring her to the
polls. There is yet time, if you're telling the truth. Who is she? Where
does she live? What's her name?"

"Mrs. Carnac Grier--that's her name," responded Roudin with a snarl, and
the crowd laughed, for Carnac's boldness gave them a sense of security.

"What was her maiden name?"

"Larue," answered the other sharply.

"What was her Christian name, since you know so much, monsieur?"

He had no fear now, and his question was audacity, but he knew the game
was with him, and he took the risks. His courage had reward, for Roudin
made no reply. Carnac turned to the crowd.

"Here's a man tried to ruin my character by telling a story about a woman
whose name he doesn't know. Is that playing the game after the rules--I
ask you?"

There were cries from the crowd supporting him, and he grew bolder. "Let
the man tell his story and I'll meet it here face to face. I fear
nothing. Out with your story, monsieur. Tell us why you haven't brought
her into the daylight, why she isn't claiming her husband at the polls.
What's the story? Let's have it now."

The truth was, Roudin dared not tell what he knew. It was based wholly on
a talk he had partly overheard between Barode Barouche and Luzanne in the
house where she stayed and where he, Roudin, lodged. It had not been
definite, and he had no proofs. He was a sensationalist, and he had had
his hour and could say no more, because of Barode Barouche. He could not
tell the story of his overhearing, for why had not Barouche told the
tale? With an oath he turned away and disappeared. As he went he could
hear his friends cheering Carnac.

"Carnac Grier lies, but he wins the game," he said.



CHAPTER XXVII

EXIT

"Grier's in--Carnac's in--Carnac's got the seat!" This was the cry heard
in the streets at ten-thirty at night when Carnac was found elected by a
majority of one hundred and ten.

Carnac had not been present at the counting of the votes until the last
quarter-hour, and then he was told by his friends of the fluctuations of
the counting--how at one time his defeat seemed assured, since Barode
Barouche was six hundred ahead, and his own friends had almost given up
hope. One of his foes, however, had no assurance of Carnac's defeat. He
was too old an agent to believe in returns till all were in, and he knew
of the two incidents by which Carnac had got advantage--at the Island
over Eugene Grandois, and at the Mill over Roudin the very day of
polling; and it was at these points he had hoped to score for Barouche a
majority. He watched Barouche, and he deplored the triumph in his eye,
for there was no surety of winning; his own was the scientific mind
without emotions or passions. He did not "enthuse," and he did not
despair; he kept his head.

Presently there were fluctuations in favour of Carnac, and the six
hundred by which Barouche led were steadily swallowed up; he saw that
among the places which gave Carnac a majority were the Island and the
Mill. He was also nonplussed by Carnac's coolness. For a man with an
artist's temperament, he was well controlled. When he came into the room,
he went straight to Barouche and shook hands with him, saying they'd soon
offer congratulations to the winner. As the meeting took place the agent
did not fail to note how alike in build and manner were the two men, how
similar were their gestures.

When at last the Returning Officer announced the result, the agent dared
not glance at his defeated chief. Yet he saw him go to Carnac and offer a
hand.

"We've had a straight fight, Grier, and I hope you'll have luck in
Parliament. This is no place for me. It's your game, and I'll eat my sour
bread alone."

He motioned to the window with a balcony, beyond which were the shouting
thousands. Then he smiled at Carnac, and in his heart he was glad he had
not used the facts about Luzanne before the public. The boy's face was so
glowing that his own youth came back, and a better spirit took residence
in him. He gave thanks to the Returning Officer, and then, with his
agent, left the building by the back door. He did not wait for the
announcement of Carnac's triumph, and he knew his work was done for ever
in public life.

Soon he had said his say at the club where his supporters, discomfited,
awaited him. To demands for a speech, he said he owed to his workers what
he could never repay, and that the long years they had kept him in
Parliament would be the happiest memory of his life.

"We'll soon have you back," shouted a voice from the crowd.

"It's been a good fight," said Barode Barouche. Somehow the fact he had
not beaten his son by the story of his secret marriage was the sole
comfort he had. He advised his followers to "play the game" and let the
new member have his triumph without belittlement.

"It's the best fight I've had in thirty years," he said at last, "and
I've been beaten fairly."

In another hour he was driving into the country on his way to visit an
old ex-Cabinet Minister, who had been his friend through all the years of
his Parliamentary life. It did not matter that the hour was late. He knew
the veteran would be waiting for him, and unprepared for the bad news he
brought. The night was spent in pain of mind, and the comfort the
ex-Minister gave him, that a seat would be found for him by the
Government, gave him no thrill. He knew he had enemies in the Government,
that the Prime Minister was the friend of the successful only, and that
there were others, glad of his defeat, who would be looking for his
place. Also he was sure he had injured the chances of the Government by
the defeat of his policy.

As though Creation was in league against him, a heavy storm broke about
two o'clock, and he went to bed cursed by torturing thoughts. "Chickens
come home to roost--" Why did that ancient phrase keep ringing in his
ears when he tried to sleep? Beaten by his illegitimate son at the polls,
the victim of his own wrong-doing--the sacrifice of penalty! He knew that
his son, inheriting his own political gifts, had done what could have
been done by no one else. All the years passed since Carnac was begotten
laid their deathly hands upon him, and he knew he could never recover
from this defeat. How much better it would have been if he had been
struck twenty-seven years ago!

Youth, ambition and resolve would have saved him from the worst then. Age
has its powers, but it has its defects, and he had no hope that his own
defects would be wiped out by luck at the polls. Spirit was gone out of
him, longing for the future had no place in his mind; in the world of
public work he was dead and buried. How little he had got from all his
life! How few friends he had, and how few he was entitled to have! This
is one of the punishments that selfishness and wrong-doing brings; it
gives no insurance for the hours of defeat and loss. Well, wealth and
power, the friends so needed in dark days, had not been made, and Barode
Barouche realized he had naught left. He had been too successful from the
start; he had had all his own way; and he had taken no pains to make or
keep friends. He well knew there was no man in the Cabinet or among his
colleagues that would stir to help him--he had stirred to help no man in
all the years he had served the public. It was no good only to serve the
public, for democracy is a weak stick on which to lean. One must stand by
individuals or there is no defence against the malicious foes that follow
the path of defeat, that ambush the way. It is the personal friends made
in one's own good days that watch the path and clear away the ambushers.
It is not big influential friends that are so important--the little
unknown man may be as useful as the big boss in the mill of life; and if
one stops to measure one's friends by their position, the end is no more
sure than if one makes no friends at all.

"There's nothing left for me in life--nothing at all," he said as he
tossed in bed while the thunder roared and the storm beat down the
shrubs. "How futile life is--'Youth's a dream, middle age a delusion, old
age a mistake!'" he kept repeating to himself in quotation. "What does
one get out of it? Nothing--nothing--nothing! It's all a poor show at the
best, and yet--is it? Is it all so bad? Is it all so poor and gaunt and
hopeless? Isn't there anything in it for the man who gives and does his
best?"

Suddenly there came upon him the conviction that life is only futile to
the futile, that it is only a failure to those who prove themselves
incompetent, selfish and sordid; but to those who live life as it ought
to be lived, there is no such thing as failure, or defeat, or penalty, or
remorse or punishment. Because the straight man has only good ends to
serve, he has no failures; though he may have disappointments, he has no
defeats; for the true secret of life is to be content with what is
decreed, to earn bread and make store only as conscience directs, and not
to set one's heart on material things.

He got out of bed soon after daylight, dressed, and went to the stable
and hitched his horse to the buggy. The world was washed clean, that was
sure. It was muddy under foot, but it was a country where the roads soon
dried, and he would suffer little inconvenience from the storm. He bade
his host good-bye and drove away intent to reach the city in time for
breakfast. He found the roads heavy, and the injury of the storm was
everywhere to be seen. Yet it all did not distract him, for he was
thinking hard of the things that lay ahead of him to do--the
heart-breaking things that his defeat meant to him.

At last he approached a bridge across a stream which had been badly swept
by the storm. It was one of the covered bridges not uncommon in Canada.
It was not long, as the river was narrow, and he did not see that the
middle pier of the bridge had been badly injured. Yet as he entered the
bridge, his horse still trotting, he was conscious of a hollow,
semi-thunderous noise which seemed not to belong to the horse's hoofs and
the iron wheels of the carriage. He raised his eyes to see that the other
end of the bridge was clear, and at that moment he was conscious of an
unsteady motion of the bridge, of a wavering of the roof, and then,
before he had time to do aught, he saw the roof and the sides and the
floor of the bridge collapse and sink slowly down.

With a cry, he sprang from the carriage to retrace his way; but he only
climbed up a ladder that grew every instant steeper; and all at once he
was plunged downwards after his horse and carriage into the stream. He
could swim, and as he swept down this thought came to him--that he might
be able to get the shore, as he heard the cries of people on the bank. It
was a hope that died at the moment of its birth, however, for he was
struck by a falling timber on the head.

When, an hour later, he was found in an eddy of the river by the shore,
he was dead, and his finders could only compose his limbs decently. But
in the afternoon, the papers of Montreal had the following head-lines;
DEFEAT AND DEATH OF BARODE BAROUCHE THE END OF A LONG AND GREAT CAREER

As soon as Carnac Grier heard the news, he sent a note to his mother
telling her all he knew. When she read the letter, she sank to the floor,
overcome. Her son had triumphed indeed.



CHAPTER XXVIII

A WOMAN WRITES A LETTER

The whole country rang with the defeat and death of Barode Barouche, and
the triumph of the disinherited son of John Grier. Newspapers drew
differing lessons from the event, but all admitted that Carnac, as a
great fighter, was entitled to success. The Press were friendly to the
memory of Barode Barouche, and some unduly praised his work, and only a
few disparaged his career.

When news of the tragedy came to Mrs. Grier, she was reading in the
papers of Carnac's victory, and in her mind was an agonizing triumph,
pride in a stern blow struck for punishment. The event was like none she
could have imagined.

It was at this moment the note came from Carnac telling of Barouche's
death, and it dropped from her hand to the floor. The horror of it smote
her being, and, like one struck by lightning, she sank to the floor
unconscious. The thing had hit her where soul and body were closely knit;
and she had realized for the first time how we all must pay to the last
penny for every offence we commit against the laws of life and nature.
Barode Barouche had paid and she must pay--she also who had sinned with
him must pay. But had she not paid?

For long she lay unconscious, but at last the servant, unknowing why she
was not called to remove the breakfast things, found her huddled on the
floor, her face like that of death. The servant felt her heart, saw she
was alive, and worked with her till consciousness came back.

"That's right, ma'am, keep up heart. I'll send for M'sieu' Carnac at
once, and we'll have you all right pretty quick."

But Mrs. Grier forbade Carnac to be sent for, and presently in her bed,
declined to have the doctor brought. "It's no use," she said. "A doctor
can do no good. I need rest, that's all."

Then she asked for notepaper and pen and ink, and so she was left alone.
She must tell her beloved son why it was there never had been, and never
could be, understanding between John Grier and himself. She had arrived
at that point where naught was to be gained by further concealment. So
through long hours she struggled with her problem, and she was glad
Carnac did not come during the vexing day. He had said when he sent her
word of his victory, that he feared he would not be able to see her the
next day at all, as he had so much to do. She even declined to see Junia
when she came, sending word that she was in bed, indisposed.

The letter she wrote ran thus:

   MY BELOVED CARNAC,

   Your news of the death of Barode Barouche has shocked me. You will
   understand when I tell you I have lived a life of agony ever since
   you became a candidate. This is why: you were fighting the man who
   gave you to the world.

   Let me tell you how. I loved John Grier when I married him, and
   longed to make my life fit in with his. But that could not easily
   be, for his life was wedded to his business, and he did not believe
   in women. To him they were incapable of the real business of life,
   and were only meant to be housekeepers to men who make the world go
   round. So, unintentionally, he neglected me, and I was young and
   comely then, so the world said, and I was unwise and thoughtless.

   Else, I should not have listened to Barode Barouche, who, one summer
   in camp on the St. Lawrence River near our camp, opened up for me
   new ways of thought, and springs of feeling. He had the gifts that
   have made you what you are, a figure that all turn twice to see. He
   had eloquence, he was thoughtful in all the little things which John
   Grier despised. In the solitude of the camp he wound himself about
   my life, and roused an emotion for him false to duty. And so one
   day--one single day, for never but the once was I weak, yet that was
   enough, God knows. . . . He went away because I would not see
   him again; because I would not repeat the offence which gave me
   years of sorrow and remorse.

   After you became a candidate, he came and offered to marry me, tried
   to reopen the old emotion; but I would have none of it. He was
   convinced he would defeat you, and he wanted to avoid fighting you.
   But when I said, 'Give up the seat to him,' he froze. Of course,
   his seat belonged to his party and not alone to himself; but that
   was the test I put him to, and the answer he gave was, 'You want me
   to destroy my career in politics! That is your proposal, is it?'
   He was not honest either in life or conduct. I don't think he ever
   was sorry for me or for you, until perhaps these last few weeks; but
   I have sorrowed ever since the day you came to me very day, every
   hour, every minute; and the more because I could not tell John Grier
   the truth.

   Perhaps I ought to have told the truth long ago, and faced the
   consequences. It might seem now that I would have ruined my home
   life, and yours, and Barode Barouche's, and John Grier's life if I
   had told the truth; but who knows! There are many outcomes to
   life's tragedies, and none might have been what I fancied. It is
   little comfort that Barode Barouche has now given all for payment of
   his debt. It gives no peace of mind. And it may be you will think
   I ought not to tell you the truth. I don't know, but I feel you
   will not misunderstand. I tell you my story, so that you may again
   consider if it is not better to face the world with the truth about
   Luzanne. We can live but once, and it is to our good if we refuse
   the secret way. It is right you should know the truth about your
   birth, but it is not right you should declare it to all the world
   now. That was my duty long ago, and I did not do it. It is not
   your duty, and you must not do it. Barode Barouche is gone; John
   Grier has gone; and it would only hurt Fabian and his wife and you
   to tell it now. You inherit Barode Barouche's gifts, and you have
   his seat, you represent his people--and they are your people too.
   You have French blood in your veins, and you have a chance to carry
   on with honour what he did with skill. Forgive me, if you can.

               Your loving

                       MOTHER.

   P.S. Do nothing till you see me.



CHAPTER XXIX

CARNAL AND HIS MOTHER

Returning from Barode Barouche's home to his mother's House on the Hill,
Carnac was in a cheerless mood. With Barouche's death to Carnac it was as
though he himself had put aside for ever the armour of war, for Barouche
was the only man in the world who had ever tempted him to fight, or whom
he had fought.

There was one thing he must do: he must go to Junia, tell her he loved
her, and ask her to be his wife. She had given him the fatal blue
certificate of his marriage and the marriage could now be ended with
Luzanne's consent, for she would not fight the divorce he must win soon.
He could now tell the truth, if need be, to his constituents, for there
would be time enough to recover his position, if it were endangered,
before the next election came, and Junia would be by his side to help
him! Junia--would she, after all, marry him now? He would soon know.
To-night he must spend with his mother, but to-morrow he would see Junia
and learn his fate, and know about Luzanne. Luzanne had been in Montreal,
had been ready to destroy his chance at the polls, and Junia had stopped
it. How? Well, he should soon know. But now, at first, for his mother.

When he entered the House on the Hill, he had a sudden shiver. Somehow,
the room where his mother had sat for so many years, and where he had
last seen his father, John Grier, had a coldness of the tomb. There was a
letter on the centre table standing against the lamp. He saw it was in
his mother's handwriting, and addressed to himself.

He tore it open, and began to read. Presently his cheeks turned pale.
More than once he put it down, for it seemed impossible to go on, but
with courage he took it up again and read on to the end.

"God--God in Heaven!" he broke out when he had finished it. For a long
time he walked the floor, trembling in body and shaking in spirit. "Now I
understand everything," he said at last aloud in a husky tone. "Now I see
what I could not see--ah yes, I see at last!"

For another time of silence and turmoil he paced the floor, then he
stopped short. "I'm glad they both are dead," he said wearily. Thinking
of Barode Barouche, he had a great bitterness. "To treat any woman
so--how glad I am I fought him! He learned that such vile acts come home
at last."

Then he thought of John Grier. "I loathed him and loved him always," he
said with terrible remorse in his tone. "He used my mother badly, and yet
he was himself; he was the soul that he was born, a genius in his own
way, a neglecter of all that makes life beautiful--and yet himself,
always himself. He never pottered. He was real--a pirate, a plunderer,
but he was real. And he cared for me, and would have had me in the
business if he could. Perhaps John Grier knows the truth now! . . . I
hope he does. For, if he does, he'll see that I was not to blame for what
I did, that it was Fate behind me. He was a big man, and if I'd worked
with him, we'd have done big things, bigger than he did, and that was big
enough."

"Do nothing till you see me," his mother had written in a postscript to
her letter, and, with a moroseness at his heart and scorn of Barouche at
his lips, he went slowly up to his mother's room. At her door he paused.
But the woman was his mother, and it must be faced. After all, she had
kept faith ever since he was born. He believed that. She had been an
honest wife ever since that fatal summer twenty-seven years before.

"She has suffered," he said, and knocked at her door. An instant later he
was inside the room. There was only a dim light, but his mother was
sitting up in her bed, a gaunt and yet beautiful, sad-eyed figure of a
woman. For a moment Carnac paused. As he stood motionless, the face of
the woman became more drawn and haggard, the eyes more deeply mournful.
Her lips opened as though she would speak, but no sound came, and Carnac
could hardly bear to look at her. Yet he did look, and all at once there
rushed into his heart the love he had ever felt for her. After all, he
was her son, and she had not wronged him since his birth. And he who had
wronged her and himself was dead, his pathway closed for ever to the
deeds of life and time. As he looked, his eyes filled with tears and his
lips compressed. At last he came to the bed. Her letter was in his hand.

"I have read it, mother."

She made no reply, but his face was good for her eyes to see. It had no
hatred or repulsion.

"I know everything now," he added. "I see it all, and I understand all
you have suffered these many years."

"Oh, my son, you forgive your mother?" She was trembling with emotion.

He leaned over and caught her wonderful head to his shoulder. "I love
you, mother," he said gently. "I need you--need you more than I ever
did."

"I have no heart any more, and I fear for you--"

"Why should you fear for me? You wanted me to beat him, didn't you?" His
face grew hard, his lips became scornful. "Wasn't it the only way to make
him settle his account?"

"Yes, the only way. It was not that I fear for you in politics. I was
sure you would win the election. It was not that, it was the girl."

"That's all finished. I am free at last," he said. He held the blue
certificate before her eyes.

Her face was deadly pale, her eyes expanded, her breath came sharp and
quick. "How was it don how was it done? Was she here in Montreal?"

"I don't know how it was done, but she was here, and Junia got this from
her. I shan't know how till I've seen Junia."

"Junia is the best friend," said the stricken woman gently, "in all the
world; she's--"

"She's so good a friend she must be told the truth," he said firmly.

"Oh, not while I live! I could not bear that--"

"How could I ask Junia to marry me and not tell her all the
truth--mother, can't you see?"

The woman's face flushed scarlet. "Ah, yes, I see, my boy--I see."

"Haven't we had enough of secrecy--in your letter you lamented it! If it
was right for you to be secret all these years, is it not a hundred times
right now for me to tell you the truth. . . . I have no name--no name,"
he added, tragedy in his tone.

"You have my name. You may say I have no right to it, but it is the only
name I can carry; they both are dead, and I must keep it. It wrongs no
one living but you, and you have no hatred of me: you think I do not
wrong you--isn't that so?"

His cheek was hot with feeling. "Yes, that's true," he said. "You must
still keep your married name." Then a great melancholy took hold of him,
and he could hardly hide it from her. She saw how he was moved, and she
tried to comfort him.

"You think Junia will resent it all? . . . But that isn't what a girl
does when she loves. You have done no wrong; your hands are clean."

"But I must tell her all. Tarboe is richer, he has an honest birth, he is
a big man and will be bigger still. She likes him, she--"

"She will go to you without a penny, my son."

"It will be almost without a penny, if you don't live," he said with a
faint smile. "I can't paint--for a time anyhow. I can't earn money for a
time. I've only my salary as a Member of Parliament and the little that's
left of my legacy; therefore, I must draw on you. And I don't seem to
mind drawing upon you; I never did."

She smiled with an effort. "If I can help you, I shall justify living
on."



CHAPTER XXX

TARBOE HAS A DREAM

The day Carnac was elected it was clear to Tarboe that he must win Junia
at once, if he was ever to do so, for Carnac's new honours would play a
great part in influencing her. In his mind, it was now or never for
himself; he must bring affairs to a crisis.

Junia's father was poor, but the girl had given their home an air of
comfort and an art belonging to larger spheres. The walls were covered
with brown paper, and on it were a few of her own water-colour drawings,
and a few old engravings of merit. Chintz was the cover on windows and
easy chairs, and in a corner of the parlour was a chintz-covered lounge
where she read of an evening. So it was that, with Carnac elected and
Barode Barouche buried, she sat with one of Disraeli's novels in her hand
busy with the future. She saw for Carnac a safe career, for his two chief
foes were gone--Luzanne Larue and Barode Barouche. Now she understood why
Carnac had never asked her to be his wife. She had had no word with
Carnac since his election--only a letter to thank her for the marriage
certificate and to say that after M. Barouche was buried he would come to
her, if he might. He did say, however, in the letter that he owed her his
election.

"You've done a great, big thing for me, dearest friend, and I am your
ever grateful Carnac"--that was the way he had put it. Twice she had gone
to visit his mother, and had been told that Mrs. Grier was too ill to see
her--overstrain, the servant had said. She could not understand being
denied admittance; but it did not matter, for one day Mrs. Grier should
know how she--Junia-had saved her son's career.

So she thought, as she gazed before her into space from the
chintz-covered lounge on the night of the day Barode Barouche was buried.
There was a smell of roses in the room. She had gathered many of them
that afternoon. She caught a bud from a bunch on a table, and fastened it
in the bosom of her dress. Somehow, as she did it, she had a feeling she
would like to clasp a man's head to her breast where the rose was--one of
those wild thoughts that come to the sanest woman at times. She was
captured by the excitement in which she had moved during the past
month--far more now than she had been in all the fight itself.

There came a knock at the outer door, and before that of her own room
opened, she recognized the step of the visitor. So it was Tarboe had
come. He remembered that day in the street when he met Junia, and was
shown there were times when a woman could not be approached with emotion.
He had waited till the day he knew she was alone, for he had made a
friend of her servant by judicious gifts of money.

"I hope you're glad to see me," he said with an uncertain smile, as he
saw her surprise.

"I hope I am," she replied, and motioned him to a seat. He chose a
high-backed chair with a wide seat near the lounge. He made a motion of
humorous dissent to her remark, and sat down.

"Well, we pulled it off somehow, didn't we?" she said. "Carnac Grier is
M.P."

"And his foe is in his grave," remarked Tarboe dryly. "Providence pays
debts that ought to be paid. This election has settled a lot of things,"
she returned with a smile.

"I suppose it has, and I've come here to try and find one of the
settlements."

"Well, find them," she retorted.

"I said one of the settlements only. I have to be accurate in my life."

"I'm glad to hear of it. You helped Mr. Grier win his election. It was
splendid of you. Think of it, Mr. Tarboe, Carnac Grier is beginning to
get even with his foes."

"I'm not a foe--if that's what you mean. I've proved it."

She smiled provokingly. "You've proved only you're not an absolute devil,
that's all. You've not proved yourself a real man--not yet. Do you think
it paid your debt to Carnac Grier that you helped get him into
Parliament?"

His face became a little heated. "I'll prove to you and to the world that
I'm not an absolute devil in the Grier interests. I didn't steal the
property. I tried to induce John Grier to leave it to Carnac or his
mother, for if he'd left it to Mrs. Grier it would have come to Carnac.
He did not do it that way, though. He left it to me. Was I to blame for
that?"

"Perhaps not, but you could have taken Carnac in, or given up the
property to him--the rightful owner. You could have done that. But you
were thinking of yourself altogether."

"Not altogether. In the first place, I am bound to keep my word to John
Grier. Besides, if Carnac had inherited, the property would have got into
difficulties--there were things only John Grier and I understood, and
Carnac would have been floored."

"Wouldn't you still have been there?"

"Who knows! Who can tell! Maybe not!"

"Carnac Grier is a very able man."

"But of the ablest. He'll be a success in Parliament. He'll play a big
part; he won't puddle about. I meant there was a risk in letting Carnac
run the business at the moment, and--"

"And there never was with you!"

"None. My mind had grasped all John Grier intended, and I have the
business at my fingers' ends. There was no risk with me. I've proved it.
I've added five per cent to the value of the business since John Grier
died. I can double the value of it in twenty years--and easy at that."

"If you make up your mind to do it, you will," she said with admiration,
for the man was persuasive, and he was playing a game in which he was a
master.

Her remarks were alive with banter, for Tarboe's humour was a happiness
to her.

"How did I buy your approval?" he questioned alertly.

"By ability to put a bad case in a good light. You had your case, and you
have made a real success. If you keep on you may become a Member of
Parliament some day!"

He laughed. "Your gifts have their own way of stinging. I don't believe I
could be elected to Parliament. I haven't the trick of popularity of that
kind."

Many thoughts flashed through Tarboe's mind. If he married her now, and
the truth was told about the wills and the law gave Carnac his rights,
she might hate him for not having told her when he proposed. So it was
that in his desire for her life as his own, he now determined there
should be no second will. In any case, Carnac had enough to live on
through his mother. Also, he had capacity to support himself. There was a
touch of ruthlessness in Tarboe. No one would ever guess what the second
will contained--no one. The bank would have a letter saying where the
will was to be found, but if it was not there!

He would ask Junia to be his wife now, while she was so friendly. Her
eyes were shining, her face was alive with feeling, and he was aware that
the best chances of his life had come to win her. If she was not now in
the hands of Carnac, his chances were good. Yet there was the tale of the
secret marriage--the letter he saw Carnac receive in John Grier's office!
The words of the ancient Greek came to him as he looked at her: "He who
will not strike when the hour comes shall wither like a flower, and his
end be that of the chaff of the field."

His face flushed with feeling, his eyes grew bright with longing, his
tongue was loosed to the enterprise. "Do you dream, and remember your
dreams?" he asked with a thrill in his voice. "Do you?"

"I don't dream often, but I sometimes remember my dreams."

"I dream much, and one dream I have constantly."

"What is it?" she asked with anticipation.

"It is the capture of a wild bird in a garden--in a cultivated garden
where there are no nests, no coverts for the secret invaders. I dream
that I pursue the bird from flower-bed to flower-bed, from bush to bush,
along paths and the green-covered walls; and I am not alone in my chase,
for there are others pursuing. It is a bitter struggle to win the wild
thing. And why? Because there is pursuing one of the pursuers another
bird of red plumage. Do you understand?"

He paused, and saw her face was full of colour and her eyes had a glow.
Every nerve in her was pulsing hard.

"Tell me," she said presently, "whom do you mean by the bird of red
plumage? Is it a mere figure of speech? Or has it a real meaning?"

"It has a real meaning."

He rose to his feet, bent over her and spoke hotly. "Junia, the end of my
waiting has come. I want you as I never wanted anything in my life. I
must know the truth. I love you, Junia. I have loved you from the first
moment I saw you, and nothing is worth while with you not in it. Let us
work together. It is a big, big game I'm playing."

"Yes, it's a big game you're playing," she said with emotion. "It is a
big, big game, and, all things considered, you should win it, but I doubt
you will. I feel there are matters bigger than the game, or than you, or
me, or anyone else. And I do not believe in your bird of red plumage; I
don't believe it exists. It may have done so, but it doesn't now."

She also got to her feet, and Tarboe was so near her she could feel his
hot breath on her cheek.

"No, it doesn't exist now," she repeated, "and the pursuer is not
pursued. You have more imagination than belongs to a mere man of
business--you're an inexperienced poet."

He caught her hand and drew it to his breast. "The only poetry I know is
the sound of your voice in the wind, the laughter of your lips in the
sun, the delight of your body in the heavenly flowers. Yes, I've drunk
you in the wild woods; I've trailed you on the river; I've heard you in
the grinding storm--always the same, the soul of all beautiful things.
Junia, you shall not put me away from you. You shall be mine, and you and
I together shall win our way to great ends. We will have opportunity,
health, wealth and prosperity. Isn't it worth while?"

"Yes," she answered after a moment, "but it cannot be with you, my
friend."

She withdrew her fingers and stepped back; she made a gesture of friendly
repulsion. "You have said all that can be said, you have gifts greater
than you yourself believe; and I have been tempted; but it is no use,
there are deeper things than luxuries and the magazines of
merchandise--much deeper. No, no, I cannot marry you; if you were as rich
as Midas, as powerful as Caesar, I would not marry you--never, never,
never."

"You love another," he said boldly. "You love Carnac Grier."

"I do not love you--isn't that enough?"

"Almost--almost enough," he said, embarrassed.



CHAPTER XXXI

THIS WAY HOME

All Junia had ever felt of the soul of things was upon her as she
arranged flowers and listened to the church bells ringing.

"They seem to be always ringing," she said to herself, as she lightly
touched the roses. "It must be a Saint's Day--where's Denzil? Ah, there
he is in the garden! I'll ask him."

Truth is, she was deceiving herself. She wanted to talk with Denzil about
all that had happened of late, and he seemed, somehow, to avoid her.
Perhaps he feared she had given her promise to Tarboe who had, as Denzil
knew, spent an hour with her the night before. As this came to Denzil's
brain, he felt a shiver go through him. Just then he heard Junia's
footsteps, and saw her coming towards him.

"Why are the bells ringing so much, Denzil? Is it a Saint's Day?" she
asked.

He took off his hat. "Yes, ma'm'selle, it is a Saint's Day," and he named
it. "There were lots of neighbours at early Mass, and some have gone to
the Church of St. Anne de Beaupre at Beaupre, them that's got sickness."

"Yes, Beaupre is as good as Lourdes, I'm sure. Why didn't you go,
Denzil?"

"Why should I go, ma'm'selle--I ain't sick--ah, bah!"

"I thought you were. You've been in low spirits ever since our election,
Denzil."

"Nothing strange in that, ma'm'selle. I've been thinking of him that's
gone."

"You mean Monsieur Barouche, eh?"

"Not of M'sieu' Barouche, but of the father to the man that beat M'sieu'
Barouche."

"Why should you be thinking so much of John Grier these days?"

"Isn't it the right time? His son that he threw off without a penny has
proved himself as big a man as his father--ah, surelee! M'sieu' left
behind him a will that gave all he had to a stranger. His own son was
left without a sou. There he is now," he added, nodding towards the
street.

Junia saw Carnac making his way towards her house. "Well, I'll talk with
him," she said, and her face flushed. She knew she must give account of
her doings with Luzanne Larue.

A few moments later in the house, her hand lay in that of Carnac, and his
eyes met hers.

"It's all come our way, Junia," he remarked gaily, though there was
sadness in his tone.

"It's as you wanted it. You won."

"Thanks to you, Junia," and he took from his pocket the blue certificate.

"That--oh, that was not easy to get," she said with agitation. "She had a
bad purpose, that girl."

"She meant to announce it?"

"Yes, through Barode Barouche. He agreed to that."

Carnac flushed. "He agreed to that--you know it?"

"Yes. The day you were made candidate she arrived here; and the next
morning she went to Barode Barouche and told her story. He bade her
remain secret till the time was ripe, and he was to be the judge of that.
He was waiting for the night before the election. Then he was going to
strike you and win!"

"She told you that--Luzanne told you that?"

"And much else. Besides, she told me you had saved her life from the
street-cars; that you had played fair at the start."

"First and last I played fair," he said indignantly.

Her eyes were shining. "Not from first to last, Carnac. You ought not to
have painted her, or made much of her and then thrown her over. She
knew--of course she knew, after a time, that you did not mean to propose
to her, and all the evil in her came out. Then she willed to have you in
spite of yourself, believing, if you were married, her affection would
win you in the end. There it was--and you were to blame."

"But why should you defend her, Junia?"

Her tongue became bitter now. "Just as you would, if it was some one else
and not yourself."

His head was sunk on his breast, his eyes were burning. "It was a
horrible thing for Barouche to plan."

"Why so horrible? If you were hiding a marriage for whatever reason, it
should be known to all whose votes you wanted."

"Barouche was the last man on earth to challenge me, for he had a most
terrible secret."

"What was it?" Her voice had alarm, for she had never seen Carnac so
disturbed.

"He was fighting his own son--and he knew it!" The words came in broken
accents.

"He was fighting his own son, and he knew it! You mean to say that!"
Horror was in her voice.

"I mean that the summer before I was born--"

He told her the story as his mother had told it to him. Then at last he
said:

"And now you know Barode Barouche got what he deserved. He ruined my
mother's life; he died the easiest death such a man could die. He has
also spoiled my life."

"Nothing can spoil your life except yourself," she declared firmly, and
she laid a hand upon his arm. "Who told you all this--and when?"

"My mother in a letter last night. I had a talk with her afterwards."

"Who else knows?"

"Only you."

"And why did you tell me?"

"Because I want you to know why our ways must for ever lie apart."

"I don't grasp what you mean," she declared in a low voice.

"You don't grasp why, loving you, I didn't ask you to marry me long ago;
but you found out for yourself from the one who was responsible, and
freed me and saved me; and now you know I am an illegitimate son."

"And you want to cut me out of your life for a bad man's crime, not your
own. . . . Listen, Carnac. Last night I told Mr. Tarboe I could not marry
him. He is rich, he has control of a great business, he is a man of mark.
Why do you suppose I did it, and for over two years have done the
same?--for he has wanted me all that time. Does not a girl know when a
real man wants her? And Luke Tarboe is a real man. He knows what he
wants, and he goes for it, and little could stop him as he travels. Why
do you suppose I did it?" Her face flushed, anger lit her eyes. "Because
there was another man; but I've only just discovered he's a sham, with no
real love for me. It makes me sorry I ever knew him."

"Me--no real love for you! That's not the truth: it's because I have no
real name to give you--that's why I've spoken as I have. Never have I
cared for anyone except you, Junia, and I could have killed anyone that
wronged you--"

"Kill yourself then," she flashed.

"Have I wronged you, Junia?"

"If you kept me waiting and prevented me from marrying a man I could have
loved, if I hated you--if you did that, and then at last told me to go my
ways, don't you think it wronging me! Don't be a fool, Carnac. You're not
the only man on earth a good girl could love. I tell you, again and again
I have been moved towards Luke Tarboe, and if he had had understanding of
women, I should now be his wife."

"You tell me what I have always known," he interposed. "I knew Tarboe had
a hold on your heart. I'm not so vain as to think I've always been the
one man for you. I lived long in anxious fear, and--"

"And now you shut the door in my face! Looked at from any standpoint,
it's ugly."

"I want you to have your due," he answered with face paler. "You're a
great woman--the very greatest, and should have a husband born in honest
wedlock."

"I'm the best judge of what I want," she declared almost sharply, yet
there was a smile at her lips. "Why, I suppose if John Grier had left you
his fortune, you'd give it up; you'd say, 'I have no right to it,' and
would give it to my brother-in-law, Fabian."

"I should."

"Yet Fabian had all he deserved from his father. He has all he should
have, and he tried to beat his father in business. Carnac, don't be a
bigger fool than there's any need to be. What is better than that John
Grier's business should be in Tarboe's hands--or in yours? Remember, John
Grier might have left it all to your mother, and, if he had, you'd have
taken it, if she had left it to you. You'd have taken it even if you
meant to give it away afterwards. There are hospitals to build. There are
good and costly things to do for the State."

Suddenly she saw in his eyes a curious soft understanding, and she put
her hand on his shoulder. "Carnac," she said gently, "great, great
Carnac, won't you love me?"

For an instant he felt he must still put her from him, then he clasped
her to his breast.

"But I really had to throw myself into your arms!" she said later.



CHAPTER XXXII

"HALVES, PARDNER, HALVES"

It was Thanksgiving Day, and all the people of the Province were en fete.
The day was clear, and the air was thrilling with the spirits of the
north country; the vibrant sting of oxygen, the blessed resilience of the
river and the hills.

It was a great day on the St. Lawrence, for men were preparing to go to
the backwoods, to the "shanties," and hosts were busy with the crops,
storing them; while all in trade and industry were cheerful. There was a
real benedicite in the air. In every church. Catholic and Protestant,
hands of devoted workers had made beautiful altar and communion table,
and lectern and pulpit, and in the Methodist chapel and the Presbyterian
kirk, women had made the bare interiors ornate. The bells of all the
churches were ringing, French and English; and each priest, clergyman and
minister was moving his people in his own way and by his own ritual to
bless God and live.

In the city itself, the Mayor had arranged a festival in the evening, and
there were gathered many people to give thanks. But those most
conspicuous were the poor, unsophisticated habitants, who were on good
terms with the refreshment provided. Their enthusiasm was partly due to
the presence of Carnac Grier. In his speech to the great crowd, among
other things the Mayor said: "It is our happiness that we have here one
whose name is familiar to all in French-Canada--that of the new Member of
Parliament, Monsieur Carnac Grier. In Monsieur Grier we have a man who
knows his own mind, and it is filled with the interests of the French as
well as the English. He is young, he has power, and he will use his youth
and power to advance the good of the whole country. May he live long!"

Carnac never spoke better in his life than in his brief reply. When he
had finished, some one touched his arm. It was Luke Tarboe.

"A good speech, Grier. Can you give me a few moments?"

"Here?" asked Carnac, smiling.

"Not here, but in the building. There is a room where we can be alone,
and I have to tell you something of great importance."

"Of great importance? Well, so have I to tell you, Tarboe."

A few minutes later they were in the Mayor's private parlour, hung with
the portraits of past Governors and Mayors, and carrying over the door
the coat-of-arms of the Province.

Presently Carnac said: "Let me give you my news first, Tarboe: I am to
marry Junia Shale--and soon."

Tarboe nodded. "I expected that. She is worth the best the world can
offer." There was a ring of honesty in his tone. "All the more reason why
I should tell you what my news is, Carnac. I'm going to tell you what
oughtn't yet to be told for another two years, but I feel it due you, for
you were badly used, and so I break my word to your father."

Carnac's hand shot out in protest, but Tarboe took no notice. "I mean to
tell you now in the hour of your political triumph that--"

"That I can draw on you for ten thousand dollars, perhaps?" shot out
Carnac.

"Not for ten thousand, but in two years' time--or to-morrow--for a
hundred and fifty times that if you want it."

Carnac shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know what you're driving at,
Tarboe. Two years from now--or to-morrow--I can draw on you for a hundred
and fifty times ten thousand dollars! What does that mean? Is it you're
tired of the fortune left you by the biggest man industrially
French-Canada has ever known?"

"I'll tell you the truth--I never had a permanent fortune, and I was
never meant to have the permanent fortune, though I inherited by will.
That was a matter between John Grier and myself. There was another will
made later, which left the business to some one else."

"I don't see."

"Of course you don't see, and yet you must." Tarboe then told the story
of the making of the two wills, doing justice to John Grier.

"He never did things like anyone else, and he didn't in dying. He loved
you, Carnac. In spite of all he said and did he believed in you. He knew
you had the real thing in you, if you cared to use it."

"Good God! Good God!" was all Carnac could at first say. "And you agreed
to that?"

"What rights had I? None at all. I'll come out of it with over a
half-million dollars--isn't that enough for a backwoodsman? I get the
profits of the working for three years, and two hundred thousand dollars
besides. I ought to be satisfied with that."

"Who knows of the will besides yourself?" asked Carnac sharply.

"No one. There is a letter to the bank simply saying that another will
exists and where it is, but that's all.

"And you could have destroyed that will in my favour?"

"That's so." The voice of Tarboe was rough with feeling, his face grew
dark. "More than once I willed to destroy it. It seemed at first I could
make better use of the property than you. The temptation was big, but I
held my own, and now I've no fear of meeting anyone in Heaven or Hell.
I've told you all. . . .

"Not quite all. There's one thing more. The thought of Junia Shale made
me want to burn the second will, and I almost did it; but I'm glad I
didn't."

"If you had, and had married her, you wouldn't have been happy. You can't
be fooling a wife and be safe."

"I guess I know that--just in time. . . . I have a bad heart, Carnac.
Your property came to me against my will through your father, but I
wanted the girl you're going to marry, and against my will you won her. I
fought for her. I thought there was a chance for me, because of the
rumour you were secretly married--"

"I'll tell you about it, Tarboe, now. It was an ugly business." And he
told in a dozen sentences the story of Luzanne and the false marriage.

When he had finished, Tarboe held out his hand. "It was a close shave,
Carnac."

After a few further remarks, Tarboe said: "I thought there was a chance
for me with Junia Shale, but there never was a real one, for she was
yours from a child. You won her fairly, Carnac. If you'll come to the
office to-morrow morning, I'll show you the will."

"You'll show me the will?" asked Carnac with an edge to his tone.

"What do you mean?" Tarboe did not like the look in the other's eyes.

"I mean, what you have you shall keep, and what John Grier leaves me by
that will, I will not keep."

"You will inherit, and you shall keep."

"And turn you out!" remarked Carnac ironically. "I needn't be turned out.
I hoped you'd keep me as manager. Few could do it as well, and, as Member
of Parliament, you haven't time yourself. I'll stay as manager at twenty
thousand dollars a year, if you like."

Carnac could not tell him the real reason for declining to inherit, but
that did not matter. Yet there flashed into his heart a love, which he
had never felt so far in his life, for John Grier. The old man had
believed he would come out right in the end, and so had left him the
fortune in so odd a way. How Carnac longed to tell Tarboe the whole truth
about Barode Barouche, and yet dare not! After a short time of hesitation
and doubt, Carnac said firmly:

"I'll stand by the will, if you'll be my partner and manager, Tarboe. If
you'll take half the business and manage the whole of it, I'll sell the
half for a dollar to you, and we can run together to the end."

Tarboe's face lighted; there was triumph in his eyes. It was all better
than he had dared to hope, for he liked the business, and he loathed the
way the world had looked at John Grier's will.

"Halves, pardner, halves!" he said, assenting gladly, and held out his
hand.

They clasped hands warmly.

The door opened and Junia appeared. She studied their faces anxiously.
When she saw the smiling light in them:

"Oh, you two good men!" she said joyously, and held out a hand to each.



     ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

     Don't be a bigger fool than there's any need to be
     Life is only futile to the futile
     Youth's a dream, middle age a delusion, old age a mistake



     ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS FOR THE ENTIRE "CARNAC'S FOLLY":

     All genius is at once a blessing or a curse
     Do what you feel you've got to do, and never mind what happens
     Don't be a bigger fool than there's any need to be
     Had got unreasonably old
     How many sons have ever added to their father's fame?
     Life is only futile to the futile
     Never give up your soul to things only, keep it for people
     We suffer the shames we damn in others
     We do what we forbid ourselves to do
     Youth's a dream, middle age a delusion, old age a mistake





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