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´╗┐Title: The Money Master, 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 "The Money Master, Complete" ***

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THE MONEY MASTER, Complete

By Gilbert Parker



CONTENTS

EPOCH THE FIRST
I.        THE GRAND TOUR OF JEAN JACQUES BARBILLE
II.       THE REST OF THE STORY "TO-MORROW"
III.      "TO-MORROW"

EPOCH THE SECOND
IV.       THIRTEEN YEARS AFTER AND THE CLERK OF THE COURT TELLS A STORY
V.        THE CLERK OF THE COURT ENDS HIS STORY
VI.       JEAN JACQUES HAD HAD A GREAT DAY
VII.      JEAN JACQUES AWAKES FROM SLEEP
VIII.     THE GATE IN THE WALL
IX.       "MOI-JE SUIS PHILOSOPHE"
X.        "QUIEN SABE"--WHO KNOWS!
XI.       THE CLERK OF THE COURT KEEPS A PROMISE
XII.      THE MASTER-CARPENTER HAS A PROBLEM

EPOCH THE THIRD
XIII.     THE MAN FROM OUTSIDE
XIV.      "I DO NOT WANT TO GO"
XV.       BON MARCHE

EPOCH THE FOURTH
XVI.      MISFORTUNES COME NOT SINGLY
XVII.     HIS GREATEST ASSET
XVIII.    JEAN JACQUES HAS AN OFFER
XIX.      SEBASTIAN DOLORES DOES NOT SLEEP
XX.       "AU 'VOIR, M'SIEU' JEAN JACQUES"
XXI.      IF SHE HAD KNOWN IN TIME

EPOCH THE FIFTH
XXII.     BELLS OF MEMORY
XXIII.    JEAN JACQUES HAS WORK TO DO
XXIV.     JEAN JACQUES ENCAMPED.
XXV.      WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE
EPILOGUE



INTRODUCTION

This book is in a place by itself among the novels I have written. Many
critics said that it was a welcome return to Canada, where I had made my
first success in the field of fiction. This statement was only meagrely
accurate, because since 'The Right of Way' was published in 1901 I had
written, and given to the public, 'Northern Lights', a book of short
stories, 'You Never Know Your Luck', a short novel, and 'The World for
Sale', though all of these dealt with life in Western Canada, and not
with the life of the French Canadians, in which field I had made my first
firm impression upon the public. In any case, The Money Master was
favourably received by the press and public both in England and America,
and my friends were justified in thinking, and in saying, that I was at
home in French Canada and gave the impression of mastery of my material.
If mastery of material means a knowledge of the life, and a sympathy with
it, then my friends are justified; for I have always had an intense
sympathy with, and admiration for, French Canadian life. I think the
French Canadian one of the most individual, original, and distinctive
beings of the modern world. He has kept his place, with his own customs,
his own Gallic views of life, and his religious habits, with an assiduity
and firmness none too common. He is essentially a man of the home, of the
soil, and of the stream; he has by nature instinctive philosophy and
temperamental logic. As a lover of the soil of Canada he is not surpassed
by any of the other citizens of the country, English or otherwise.

It would almost seem as though the pageantry of past French Canadian
history, and the beauty and vigour of the topographical surroundings of
French Canadian life, had produced an hereditary pride and
exaltation--perhaps an excessive pride and a strenuous exaltation, but,
in any case, there it was, and is. The French Canadian lives a more
secluded life on the whole than any other citizen of Canada, though the
native, adventurous spirit has sent him to the Eastern States of the
American Union for work in the mills and factories, or up to the farthest
reaches of the St. Lawrence, Ottawa, and their tributaries in the wood
and timber trade.

Domestically he is perhaps the most productive son of the North American
continent. Families of twenty, or even twenty-five, are not unknown, and,
when a man has had more than one wife, it has even exceeded that. Life
itself is full of camaraderie and good spirit, marked by religious traits
and sacerdotal influence.

The French Canadian is on the whole sober and industrious; but when he
breaks away from sobriety and industry he becomes a vicious element in
the general organism. Yet his vices are of the surface, and do not
destroy the foundations of his social and domestic scheme. A French
Canadian pony used to be considered the most virile and lasting stock on
the continent, and it is fair to say that the French Canadians themselves
are genuinely hardy, long-lived, virile, and enduring.

It was among such people that the hero of The Money Master, Jean Jacques
Barbille, lived. He was the symbol or pattern of their virtues and of
their weaknesses. By nature a poet, a philosopher, a farmer and an
adventurer, his life was a sacrifice to prepossession and race instinct;
to temperament more powerful than logic or common sense, though he was
almost professionally the exponent of both.

There is no man so simply sincere, or so extraordinarily prejudiced as
the French Canadian. He is at once modest and vain; he is even lyrical in
his enthusiasms; he is a child in the intrigues and inventions of life;
but he has imagination, he has a heart, he has a love of tradition, and
is the slave of legend. To him domestic life is the summum bonum of
being. His four walls are the best thing which the world has to offer,
except the cheerful and sacred communion of the Mass, and his dismissal
from life itself under the blessing of his priest and with the promise of
a good immortality.

Jean Jacques Barbille had the French Canadian life of pageant, pomp, and
place extraordinarily developed. His love of history and tradition was
abnormal. A genius, he was, within an inch, a tragedy to the last button.
Probably the adventurous spirit of his forefathers played a greater part
in his development and in the story of his days than anything else. He
was wide-eyed, and he had a big soul. He trained himself to believe in
himself and to follow his own judgment; therefore, he invited loss upon
loss, he made mistake upon mistake, he heaped financial adventure upon
financial adventure, he ran great risks; and it is possible that his vast
belief in himself kept him going when other men would have dropped by the
wayside. He loved his wife and daughter, and he lost them both. He loved
his farms, his mills and his manor, and they disappeared from his
control.

It must be remembered that the story of The Money Master really runs for
a generation, and it says something for Jean Jacques Barbille that he
could travel through scenes, many of them depressing, for long years,
and still, in the end, provoke no disparagement, by marrying the
woman who had once out of the goodness of her heart offered him
everything--herself, her home, her honour; and it was to Jean Jacques's
credit that he took neither until the death of his wife made him free;
but the tremendous gift offered him produced a powerful impression upon
his mind and heart.

One of the most distinguished men of the world to-day wrote me in praise
and protest concerning The Money Master. He declared that the first half
of the book was as good as anything that had been done by anybody, and
then he bemoaned the fact, which he believed, that the author had
sacrificed his two heroines without real cause and because he was tired
of them. There he was wrong. In the author's mind the story was planned
exactly as it worked out. He was never tired; he was resolute. He was
intent to produce, if possible, a figure which would breed and develop
its own disasters, which would suffer profoundly for its own mistakes;
but which, in the end, would triumph over the disasters of life and time.
It was all deliberate in the main intention and plan. Any failures that
exist in the book are due to the faults of the author, and to nothing
else.

Some critics have been good enough to call 'The Money Master' a beautiful
book, and there are many who said that it was real, true, and faithful.
Personally I think it is real and true, and as time goes on, and we get
older, that is what seems to matter to those who love life and wish to
see it well harvested.

I do not know what the future of the book may be; what the future of any
work of mine will be; but I can say this, that no one has had the
pleasure in reading my books which I have had in making them. They have
been ground out of the raw material of the soul. I have a hope that they
will outlast my brief day, but, in any case, it will not matter. They
have given me a chance of showing to the world life as I have seen it,
and indirectly, and perhaps indistinctly, my own ideas of that life. 'The
Money Master' is a vivid and somewhat emotional part of it.



EPOCH THE FIRST



CHAPTER I

THE GRAND TOUR OF JEAN JACQUES BARBILLE

"Peace and plenty, peace and plenty"--that was the phrase M. Jean Jacques
Barbille, miller and moneymaster, applied to his home-scene, when he was
at the height of his career. Both winter and summer the place had a look
of content and comfort, even a kind of opulence. There is nothing like a
grove of pines to give a sense of warmth in winter and an air of coolness
in summer, so does the slightest breeze make the pine-needles swish like
the freshening sea. But to this scene, where pines made a friendly
background, there were added oak, ash, and hickory trees, though in less
quantity on the side of the river where were Jean Jacques Barbille's
house and mills. They flourished chiefly on the opposite side of the Beau
Cheval, whose waters flowed so waywardly--now with a rush, now silently
away through long reaches of country. Here the land was rugged and bold,
while farther on it became gentle and spacious, and was flecked or
striped with farms on which low, white houses with dormer-windows and big
stoops flashed to the passer-by the message of the pioneer, "It is mine.
I triumph."

At the Manor Cartier, not far from the town of Vilray, where Jean Jacques
was master, and above it and below it, there had been battles and the
ravages of war. At the time of the Conquest the stubborn habitants,
refusing to accept the yielding of Quebec as the end of French power in
their proud province, had remained in arms and active, and had only
yielded when the musket and the torch had done their work, and smoking
ruins marked the places where homes had been. They took their fortune
with something of the heroic calm of men to whom an idea was
more than aught else. Jean Jacques' father, grandfather, and
great-great-grandfather had lived here, no one of them rising far, but
none worthless or unnoticeable. They all had had "a way of their own," as
their neighbours said, and had been provident on the whole. Thus it was
that when Jean Jacques' father died, and he came into his own, he found
himself at thirty a man of substance, unmarried, who "could have had the
pick of the province." This was what the Old Cure said in despair, when
Jean Jacques did the incomprehensible thing, and married l'Espagnole, or
"the Spanische," as the lady was always called in the English of the
habitant.

When she came it was spring-time, and all the world was budding, exuding
joy and hope, with the sun dancing over all. It was the time between the
sowing and the hay-time, and there was a feeling of alertness in
everything that had life, while even the rocks and solid earth seemed to
stir. The air was filled with the long happy drone of the mill-stones as
they ground the grain; and from farther away came the soft, stinging cry
of a saw-mill. Its keen buzzing complaint was harmonious with the grumble
of the mill-stones, as though a supreme maker of music had tuned it. So
said a master-musician and his friend, a philosopher from Nantes, who
came to St. Saviour's in the summer just before the marriage, and lodged
with Jean Jacques. Jean Jacques, having spent a year at Laval University
at Quebec, had almost a gift of thought, or thinking; and he never ceased
to ply the visiting philosopher and musician with questions which he
proceeded to answer himself before they could do so; his quaint,
sentimental, meretricious observations on life saddening while they
amused his guests. They saddened the musician more than the other because
he knew life, while the philosopher only thought it and saw it.

But even the musician would probably have smiled in hope that day when
the young "Spanische" came driving up the river-road from the
steamboat-landing miles away. She arrived just when the clock struck noon
in the big living-room of the Manor. As she reached the open doorway and
the wide windows of the house which gaped with shady coolness, she heard
the bell summoning the workers in the mills and on the farm--yes, M.
Barbille was a farmer, too--for the welcome home to "M'sieu' Jean
Jacques," as he was called by everyone.

That the wedding had taken place far down in Gaspe and not in St.
Saviour's was a reproach and almost a scandal; and certainly it was
unpatriotic. It was bad enough to marry the Spanische, but to marry
outside one's own parish, and so deprive that parish and its young people
of the week's gaiety, which a wedding and the consequent procession and
tour through the parish brings, was little less than treason. But there
it was; and Jean Jacques was a man who had power to hurt, to hinder, or
to help; for the miller and the baker are nearer to the hearthstone of
every man than any other, and credit is a good thing when the oven is
empty and hard times are abroad. The wedding in Gaspe had not been
attended by the usual functions, for it had all been hurriedly arranged,
as the romantic circumstances of the wooing required. Romance indeed it
was; so remarkable that the master-musician might easily have found a
theme for a comedy--or tragedy--and the philosopher would have shaken his
head at the defiance it offered to the logic of things.

Now this is the true narrative, though in the parish of St. Saviour's it
is more highly decorated and has many legends hanging to it like tassels
to a curtain. Even the Cure of to-day, who ought to know all the truth,
finds it hard to present it in its bare elements; for the history of Jean
Jacques Barbille affected the history of many a man in St. Saviour's; and
all that befel him, whether of good or evil, ran through the parish in a
thousand invisible threads.

          .......................

What had happened was this. After the visit of the musician and the
philosopher, Jean Jacques, to sustain his reputation and to increase it,
had decided to visit that Normandy from which his people had come at the
time of Frontenac. He set forth with much 'eclat' and a little innocent
posturing and ritual, in which a cornet and a violin figured, together
with a farewell oration by the Cure.

In Paris Jean Jacques had found himself bewildered and engulfed. He had
no idea that life could be so overbearing, and he was inclined to resent
his own insignificance. However, in Normandy, when he read the names on
the tombstones and saw the records in the baptismal register of other
Jean Jacques Barbilles, who had come and gone generations before, his
self-respect was somewhat restored. This pleasure was dashed, however, by
the quizzical attitude of the natives of his ancestral parish, who walked
round about inspecting him as though he were a zoological specimen, and
who criticized his accent--he who had been at Laval for one whole term;
who had had special instruction before that time from the Old Cure and a
Jesuit brother; and who had been the friend of musicians and
philosophers!

His cheerful, kindly self-assurance stood the test with difficulty, but
it became a kind of ceremonial with him, whenever he was discomfited, to
read some pages of a little dun-coloured book of philosophy, picked up on
the quay at Quebec just before he sailed, and called, "Meditations in
Philosophy." He had been warned by the bookseller that the Church had no
love for philosophy; but while at Laval he had met the independent minds
that, at eighteen to twenty-two, frequent academic groves; and he was not
to be put off by the pious bookseller--had he not also had a philosopher
in his house the year before, and was he not going to Nantes to see this
same savant before returning to his beloved St. Saviour's parish.

But Paris and Nantes and Rouen and Havre abashed and discomfited him,
played havoc with his self-esteem, confused his brain, and vexed him by
formality, and, more than all, by their indifference to himself. He
admired, yet he wished to be admired; he was humble, but he wished all
people and things to be humble with him. When he halted he wanted the
world to halt; when he entered a cathedral--Notre Dame or any other; or a
great building--the Law Courts at Rouen or any other; he simply wanted
people to say, wanted the cathedral, or at least the cloister, to whisper
to itself, "Here comes Jean Jacques Barbille."

That was all he wanted, and that would have sufficed. He would not have
had them whisper about his philosophy and his intellect, or the mills and
the ash-factory which he meant to build, the lime-kilns he had started
even before he left, and the general store he intended to open when he
returned to St. Saviour's. Not even his modesty was recognized; and, in
his grand tour, no one was impressed by all that he was, except once. An
ancestor, a grandmother of his, had come from the Basque country; and so
down to St. Jean Pied de Port he went; for he came of a race who set
great store by mothers and grandmothers. At St. Jean Pied de Port he was
more at home. He was, in a sense, a foreigner among foreigners there, and
the people were not quizzical, since he was an outsider in any case and
not a native returned, as he had been in Normandy. He learned to play
pelota, the Basque game taken from the Spaniards, and he even allowed
himself a little of that oratory which, as they say, has its habitat
chiefly in Gascony. And because he had found an audience at last, he
became a liberal host, and spent freely of his dollars, as he had never
done either in Normandy, Paris, or elsewhere. So freely did he spend,
that when he again embarked at Bordeaux for Quebec, he had only enough
cash left to see him through the remainder of his journey in the great
world. Yet he left France with his self-respect restored, and he even
waved her a fond adieu, as the creaking Antoine broke heavily into the
waters of the Bay of Biscay, while he cried:

             "My little ship,
             It bears me far
             From lights of home
             To alien star.
             O vierge Marie,
             Pour moi priez Dieu!
             Adieu, dear land,
             Provence, adieu."

Then a further wave of sentiment swept over him, and he was vaguely
conscious of a desire to share the pains of parting which he saw in
labour around him--children from parents, lovers from loved. He could not
imagine the parting from a parent, for both of his were in the bosom of
heaven, having followed his five brothers, all of whom had died in
infancy, to his good fortune, for otherwise his estate would now be only
one-sixth of what it was. But he could imagine a parting with some sweet
daughter of France, and he added another verse to the thrilling of the
heart of Casimir Delavigne:

             "Beloved Isaure,
             Her hand makes sign--
             No more, no more,
             To rest in mine.
             O vierge Marie,
             Pour moi priez Dieu!
             Adieu, dear land,
             Isaure, adieu!"

As he murmured with limpid eye the last words, he saw in the forecastle
not far from him a girl looking at him. There was unmistakable sadness in
her glance of interest. In truth she was thinking of just such a man as
Jean Jacques, whom she could never see any more, for he had paid with his
life the penalty of the conspiracy in which her father, standing now
behind her on the leaky Antoine, had been a tool, and an evil tool. Here
in Jean Jacques was the same ruddy brown face, black restless eye, and
young, silken, brown beard. Also there was an air of certainty and
universal comprehension, and though assertion and vanity were apparent,
there was no self-consciousness. The girl's dead and gone conspirator had
not the same honesty of face, the same curve of the ideal in the broad
forehead, the same poetry of rich wavy brown hair, the same goodness of
mind and body so characteristic of Jean Jacques--he was but Jean Jacques
gone wrong at the start; but the girl was of a nature that could see
little difference between things which were alike superficially, and in
the young provincial she only saw one who looked like the man she had
loved. True, his moustaches did not curl upwards at the ends as did those
of Carvillho Gonzales, and he did not look out of the corner of his eyes
and smoke black cigarettes; but there he was, her Carvillho with a
difference--only such a difference that made him to her Carvillho II.,
and not the ghost of Carvillho I.

She was a maiden who might have been as good as need be for all life, so
far as appearances went. She had a wonderful skin, a smooth, velvety
cheek, where faint red roses came and went, as it might seem at will;
with a deep brown eye; and eh, but she was grandly tall--so Jean Jacques
thought, while he drew himself up to his full five feet, six and a half
with a determined air. Even at his best, however, Jean Jacques could not
reach within three inches of her height.

Yet he did not regard her as at all overdone because of that. He thought
her hair very fine, as it waved away from her low forehead in a grace
which reminded him of the pictures of the Empress Eugenie, and of the
sister of that monsieur le duc who had come fishing to St. Saviour's a
few years before. He thought that if her hair was let down it would
probably reach to her waist, and maybe to her ankles. She had none of the
plump, mellow softness of the beauties he had seen in the Basque country.
She was a slim and long limbed Diana, with fine lines and a bosom of
extreme youth, though she must have been twenty-one her last birthday.
The gown she wore was a dark green well-worn velvet, which seemed of too
good a make and quality for her class; and there was no decoration about
her anywhere, save at the ears, where two drops of gold hung on little
links an inch and a half long.

Jean Jacques Barbille's eyes took it all in with that observation of
which he was so proud and confident, and rested finally on the drops of
gold at her ears. Instinctively he fingered the heavy gold watch-chain he
had bought in Paris to replace the silver chain with a little crucifix
dangling, which his father and even his great-grandfather had worn before
him. He had kept the watch, however--the great fat-bellied thing which
had never run down in a hundred years. It was his mascot. To lose that
watch would be like losing his share in the promises of the Church. So
his fingers ran along the new gold-fourteen-carat-chain, to the watch at
the end of it; and he took it out a little ostentatiously, since he saw
that the eyes of the girl were on him. Involuntarily he wished to impress
her.

He might have saved himself the trouble. She was impressed. It was quite
another matter however, whether he would have been pleased to know that
the impression was due to his resemblance to a Spanish conspirator, whose
object was to destroy the Monarchy and the Church, as had been the object
of the middle-aged conspirator--the girl's father--who had the good
fortune to escape from justice. It is probable that if Jean Jacques had
known these facts, his story would never have been written, and he would
have died in course of time with twenty children and a seat in the
legislature; for, in spite of his ardent devotion to philosophy and its
accompanying rationalism, he was a devout monarchist and a child of the
Church.

Sad enough it was that, as he shifted his glance from the watch, which
ticked loud enough to wake a farmhand in the middle of the day, he found
those Spanish eyes which had been so lost in studying him. In the glow
and glisten of the evening sun setting on the shores of Bordeaux, and
flashing reflected golden light to the girl's face, he saw that they were
shining with tears, and though looking at him, appeared not to see him.
In that moment the scrutiny of the little man's mind was volatilized, and
the Spanische, as she was ultimately called, began her career in the life
of the money-master of St. Saviour's.

It began by his immediately resenting the fact that she should be
travelling in the forecastle. His mind imagined misfortune and a lost
home through political troubles, for he quickly came to know that the
girl and her father were Spanish; and to him, Spain was a place of
martyrs and criminals. Criminals these could not be--one had but to look
at the girl's face; while the face of her worthless father might have
been that of a friend of Philip IV. in the Escorial, so quiet and
oppressed it seemed. Nobility was written on the placid, apathetic
countenance, except when it was not under observation, and then the look
of Cain took its place. Jean Jacques, however, was not likely to see that
look; since Sebastian Dolores--that was his name--had observed from the
first how the master-miller was impressed by his daughter, and he was set
to turn it to account.

Not that the father entered into an understanding with the girl. He knew
her too well for that. He had a wholesome respect, not to say fear, of
her; for when all else had failed, it was she who had arranged his escape
from Spain, and who almost saved Carvillho Gonzales from being shot. She
could have saved Gonzales, might have saved him, would have saved him,
had she not been obliged to save her father. In the circumstances she
could not save both.

Before the week was out Jean Jacques was possessed of as fine a tale of
political persecution as mind could conceive, and, told as it was by
Sebastian Dolores, his daughter did not seek to alter it, for she had her
own purposes, and they were mixed. These refugees needed a friend, for
they would land in Canada with only a few dollars, and Carmen Dolores
loved her father well enough not to wish to see him again in such
distress as he had endured in Cadiz. Also, Jean Jacques, the young,
verdant, impressionable French Catholic, was like her Carvillho Gonzales,
and she had loved her Carvillho in her own way very passionately,
and--this much to her credit--quite chastely. So that she had no
compunction in drawing the young money-master to her side, and keeping
him there by such arts as such a woman possesses. These are remarkable
after their kind. They are combined of a frankness as to the emotions,
and such outer concessions to physical sensations, as make a painful
combination against a mere man's caution; even when that caution has a
Norman origin.

More than once Jean Jacques was moved to tears, as the Ananias of Cadiz
told his stories of persecution.

So that one day, in sudden generosity, he paid the captain the necessary
sum to transfer the refugees from the forecastle to his own select
portion of the steamer, where he was so conspicuous a figure among a
handful of lower-level merchant folk and others of little mark who were
going to Quebec. To these latter Jean Jacques was a gift of heaven, for
he knew so much, and seemed to know so much more, and could give them the
information they desired. His importance lured him to pose as a seigneur,
though he had no claim to the title. He did not call himself Seigneur in
so many words, but when others referred to him as the Seigneur, and it
came to his ears, he did not correct it; and when he was addressed as
such he did not reprove.

Thus, when he brought the two refugees from the forecastle and assured
his fellow-passengers that they were Spanish folk of good family exiled
by persecution, his generosity was acclaimed, even while all saw he was
enamoured of Carmen. Once among the first-class passengers, father and
daughter maintained reserve, and though there were a few who saw that
they were not very far removed above peasants, still the dress of the
girl, which was good--she had been a maid in a great nobleman's
family--was evidence in favour of the father's story. Sebastian Dolores
explained his own workman's dress as having been necessary for his
escape.

Only one person gave Jean Jacques any warning. This was the captain of
the Antoine. He was a Basque, he knew the Spanish people well--the types,
the character, the idiosyncrasies; and he was sure that Sebastian Dolores
and his daughter belonged to the lower clerical or higher working class,
and he greatly inclined towards the former. In that he was right, because
Dolores, and his father before him, had been employed in the office of a
great commercial firm in Cadiz, and had repaid much consideration by
stirring up strife and disloyalty in the establishment. But before the
anarchist subtracted himself from his occupation, he had appropriated
certain sums of money, and these had helped to carry him on, when he
attached himself to the revolutionaries. It was on his daughter's savings
that he was now travelling, with the only thing he had saved from the
downfall, which was his head. It was of sufficient personal value to make
him quite cheerful as the Antoine plunged and shivered on her way to the
country where he could have no steady work as a revolutionist.

With reserve and caution the Basque captain felt it his duty to tell Jean
Jacques of his suspicions, warning him that the Spaniards were the
choicest liars in the world, and were not ashamed of it; but had the same
pride in it as had their greatest rivals, the Arabs and the Egyptians.

His discreet confidences, however, were of no avail; he was not discreet
enough. If he had challenged the bona fides of Sebastian Dolores only, he
might have been convincing, but he used the word "they" constantly, and
that roused the chivalry of Jean Jacques. That the comely, careful Carmen
should be party to an imposture was intolerable. Everything about her
gave it the lie. Her body was so perfect and complete, so finely
contrived and balanced, so cunningly curved with every line filled in;
her eye was so full of lustre and half-melancholy too; her voice had such
a melodious monotone; her mouth was so ripe and yet so distant in its
luxury, that imposture was out of the question.

Ah, but Jean Jacques was a champion worth while! He did nothing by
halves. He was of the breed of men who grow more intense, more convinced,
more thorough, as they talk. One adjective begets another, one warm
allusion gives birth to a warmer, one flashing impulse evokes a brighter
confidence, till the atmosphere is flaming with conviction. If Jean
Jacques started with faint doubt regarding anything, and allowed himself
betimes the flush of a declaration of belief, there could be but one end.
He gathered fire as he moved, impulse expanded into momentum, and
momentum became an Ariel fleeing before the dark. He would start by
offering a finger to be pricked, and would end by presenting his own head
on a charger. He was of those who hypnotize themselves, who glow with
self-creation, who flower and bloom without pollen.

His rejection of the captain's confidence even had a dignity. He took out
his watch which represented so many laborious hours of other Barbilles,
and with a decision in which the strong pulse of chivalry was beating
hard, he said:

"I can never speak well till I have ate. That is my hobby. Well, so it
is. And I like good company. So that is why I sit beside Senor and
Senorita Dolores at table--the one on the right, the other on the left,
myself between, like this, like that. It is dinner-time now here, and my
friends--my dear friends of Cadiz--they wait me. Have you heard the
Senorita sing the song of Spain, m'sieu'? What it must be with the
guitar, I know not; but with voice alone it is ravishing. I have learned
it also. The Senorita has taught me. It is a song of Aragon. It is sung
in high places. It belongs to the nobility. Ah, then, you have not heard
it--but it is not too late! The Senorita, the unhappy ma'm'selle, driven
from her ancestral home by persecution, she will sing it to you as she
has sung it to me. It is your due. You are the master of the ship. But,
yes, she shall of her kindness and of her grace sing it to you. You do
not know how it runs? Well, it is like this--listen and tell me if it
does not speak of things that belong to the old regime, the ancient
noblesse--listen, m'sieu' le captaanne, how it runs:

       "Have you not heard of mad Murcie?
        Granada gay and And'lousie?
        There's where you'll see the joyous rout,
        When patios pour their beauties out;
        Come, children, come, the night gains fast,
        And Time's a jade too fair to last.
        My flower of Spain, my Juanetta,
        Away, away to gay Jota!
        Come forth, my sweet, away, my queen,
        Though daybreak scorns, the night's between.
        The Fete's afoot--ah! ah! ah! ah!
        De la Jota Ar'gonesa.
        Ah!  ah! ah! ah! ah! ah! ah! ah!
        De la Jota Ar'gonesa."

Before he had finished, the captain was more than ready to go, for he had
no patience with such credulity, simplicity and sentimentalism. He was
Basque, and to be Basque is to lack sentiment and feel none, to play ever
for the safe thing, to get without giving, and to mind your own business.
It had only been an excessive sense of duty which had made the captain
move in this, for he liked Jean Jacques as everyone aboard his Antoine
did; and he was convinced that the Spaniards would play the "Seigneur" to
the brink of disaster at least, though it would have been hard to detect
any element of intrigue or coquetry in Carmen Dolores.

That was due partly to the fact that she was still in grief for her
Gonzales, whose heart had been perforated by almost as many bullets as
the arrows of Cupid had perforated it in his short, gay life of adventure
and anarchy; also partly because there was no coquetry needed to interest
Jean Jacques. If he was interested it was not necessary to interest
anyone else, nor was it expedient to do so, for the biggest fish in the
net on the Antoine was the money-master of St. Saviour's.

Carmen had made up her mind from the first to marry Jean Jacques, and she
deported herself accordingly--with modesty, circumspection and skill. It
would be the easiest way out of all their difficulties. Since her heart,
such as it was, fluttered, a mournful ghost, over the Place d'Armes,
where her Gonzales was shot, it might better go to Jean Jacques than
anyone else; for he was a man of parts, of money, and of looks, and she
loved these all; and to her credit she loved his looks better than all
the rest. She had no real cupidity, and she was not greatly enamoured of
brains. She had some real philosophy of life learned in a hard school;
and it was infinitely better founded than the smattering of conventional
philosophy got by Jean Jacques from his compendium picked up on the quay
at Quebec.

Yet Jean Jacques' cruiser of life was not wholly unarmed. From his Norman
forebears he had, beneath all, a shrewdness and an elementary alertness
not submerged by his vain, kind nature. He was quite a good business man,
and had proved himself so before his father died--very quick to see a
chance, and even quicker to see where the distant, sharp corners in the
road were; though not so quick to see the pitfalls, for his head was ever
in the air. And here on the Antoine, there crossed his mind often the
vision of Carmen Dolores and himself in the parish of St. Saviour's, with
the daily life of the Beau Cheval revolving about him. Flashes of danger
warned him now and then, just at the beginning of the journey, as it
were; just before he had found it necessary to become her champion
against the captain and his calumnies; but they were of the instant only.
But champion as he became, and worshipping as his manner seemed, it all
might easily have been put down to a warm, chivalrous, and spontaneous
nature, which had not been bitted or bridled, and he might have landed at
Quebec without committing himself, were it not for the fact that he was
not to land at Quebec.

That was the fact which controlled his destiny. He had spent many, many
hours with the Dona Dolores, talking, talking, as he loved to talk, and
only saving himself from the betise of boring her by the fact that his
enthusiasm had in it so fresh a quality, and because he was so like her
Gonzales that she could always endure him. Besides, quick of intelligence
as she was, she was by nature more material than she looked, and there
was certainly something physically attractive in him--some curious
magnetism. She had a well of sensuousness which might one day become
sensuality; she had a richness of feeling and a contour in harmony with
it, which might expand into voluptuousness, if given too much sun, or if
untamed by the normal restraints of a happy married life. There was an
earthquake zone in her being which might shake down the whole structure
of her existence. She was unsafe, not because she was deceiving Jean
Jacques now as to her origin and as to her feelings for him; she was
unsafe because of the natural strain of the light of love in her, joined
to a passion for comfort and warmth and to a natural self-indulgence. She
was determined to make Jean Jacques offer himself before they landed at
Quebec.

But they did not land at Quebec.



CHAPTER II

"THE REST OF THE STORY TO-MORROW"

The journey wore on to the coast of Canada. Gaspe was not far off when,
still held back by the constitutional tendency of the Norman not to close
a bargain till compelled to do so, Jean Jacques sat with Carmen far
forward on the deck, where the groaning Antoine broke the waters into
sullen foam. There they silently watched the sunset, golden, purple and
splendid--and ominous, as the captain knew.

"Look, the end of life--like that!" said Jean Jacques oratorically with a
wave of the hand towards the prismatic radiance.

"All the way round, the whole circle--no, it would be too much," Carmen
replied sadly. "Better to go at noon--or soon after. Then the only memory
of life would be of the gallop. No crawling into the night for me, if I
can help it. Mother of Heaven, no! Let me go at the top of the flight."

"It is all the same to me," responded Jean Jacques, "I want to know it
all--to gallop, to trot, to walk, to crawl. Me, I'm a philosopher. I
wait."

"But I thought you were a Catholic," she replied, with a kindly, lurking
smile, which might easily have hardened into scoffing.

"First and last," he answered firmly.

"A Catholic and a philosopher--together in one?" She shrugged a shoulder
to incite him to argument, for he was interesting when excited; when
spurting out little geysers of other people's cheap wisdom and
philosophy, poured through the kind distortion of his own intelligence.

He gave a toss of his head. "Ah, that is my hobby--I reconcile, I unite,
I adapt! It is all the nature of the mind, the far-look, the all-round
sight of the man. I have it all. I see."

He gazed eloquently into the sunset, he swept the horizon with his hand.
"I have the all-round look. I say the Man of Calvary, He is before all,
the sun; but I say Socrates, Plato, Jean Jacques--that is my name, and it
is not for nothing, that--Jean Jacques Rousseau, Descartes, Locke, they
are stars that go round the sun. It is the same light, but not the same
sound. I reconcile. In me all comes together like the spokes to the hub
of a wheel. Me--I am a Christian, I am philosophe, also. In St.
Saviour's, my home in Quebec, if the crops are good, what do men say?
'C'est le bon Dieu--it is the good God,' that is what they say. If the
crops are bad, what do they say? 'It is the good God'--that is what they
say. It is the good God that makes crops good or bad, and it is the good
God that makes men say, 'C'est le bon Dieu.' The good God makes the
philosophy. It is all one."

She appeared to grow agitated, and her voice shook as she spoke. "Tsh, it
is only a fool that says the good God does it, when the thing that is
done breaks you or that which you love all to pieces. No, no, no, it is
not religion, it is not philosophy that makes one raise the head when the
heart is bowed down, when everything is snatched away that was all in
all. That the good God does it is a lie. Santa Maria, what a lie!"

"Why 'Santa Maria,' then, if it is a lie?" he asked triumphantly. He did
not observe how her breast was heaving, how her hands were clenched; for
she was really busy with thoughts of her dead Carvillho Gonzales; but for
the moment he could only see the point of an argument.

She made a gesture of despair. "So--that's it. Habit in us is so strong.
It comes through the veins of our mothers to us. We say that God is a lie
one minute, and then the next minute we say, 'God guard you!'
Always--always calling to something, for something outside ourselves.
That is why I said Santa Maria, why I ask her to pray for the soul of my
friend, to pray to the God that breaks me and mine, and sends us over the
seas, beggars without a home."

Now she had him back out of the vanities of his philosophy. He was up,
inflamed, looking at her with an excitement on which she depended for her
future. She knew the caution of his nature, she realized how he would
take one step forward and another step back, and maybe get nowhere in the
end, and she wanted him--for a home, for her father's sake, for what he
could do for them both. She had no compunctions. She thought herself too
good for him, in a way, for in her day men of place and mark had taken
notice of her; and if it had not been for her Gonzales she would no doubt
have listened to one of them sometime or another. She knew she had
ability, even though she was indolent, and she thought she could do as
much for him as any other girl. If she gave him a handsome wife and
handsome children, and made men envious of him, and filled him with good
things, for she could cook more than tortillas-she felt he would have no
right to complain. She meant him to marry her--and Quebec was very near!

"A beggar in a strange land, without a home, without a friend--oh, my
broken life!" she whispered wistfully to the sunset.

It was not all acting, for the past reached out and swept over her,
throwing waves of its troubles upon the future. She was that saddest of
human beings, a victim of dual forces which so fought for mastery with
each other that, while the struggle went on, the soul had no firm
foothold anywhere. That, indeed, was why her Carvillho Gonzales, who also
had been dual in nature, said to himself so often, "I am a devil," and
nearly as often, "I have the heart of an angel."

"Tell me all about your life, my friend," Jean Jacques said eagerly. Now
his eyes no longer hurried here and there, but fastened on hers and
stayed thereabouts--ah, her face surely was like pictures he had seen in
the Louvre that day when he had ambled through the aisles of great men's
glories with the feeling that he could not see too much for nothing in an
hour.

"My life? Ah, m'sieu', has not my father told you of it?" she asked.

He waved a hand in explanation, he cocked his head quizzically.
"Scraps--like the buttons on a coat here and there--that's all," he
answered. "Born in Andalusia, lived in Cadiz, plenty of money, a
beautiful home,"--Carmen's eyes drooped, and her face flushed
slightly--"no brothers or sisters--visits to Madrid on political
business--you at school--then the going of your mother, and you at home
at the head of the house. So much on the young shoulders, the kitchen,
the parlour, the market, the shop, society--and so on. That is the way it
was, so he said, except in the last sad times, when your father, for the
sake of Don Carlos and his rights, near lost his life--ah, I can
understand that: to stand by the thing you have sworn to! France is a
republic, but I would give my life to put a Napoleon or a Bourbon on the
throne. It is my hobby to stand by the old ship, not sign on to a new
captain every port."

She raised her head and looked at him calmly now. The flush had gone from
her face, and a light of determination was in her eyes. To that was added
suddenly a certain tinge of recklessness and abandon in carriage and
manner, as one flings the body loose from the restraints of clothes, and
it expands in a free, careless, defiant joy.

Jean Jacques' recital of her father's tale had confused her for a moment,
it was so true yet so untrue, so full of lies and yet so solid in fact.
"The head of the house--visits to Madrid on political business--the
parlour, the market, society--all that!" It suggested the picture of the
life of a child of a great house; it made her a lady, and not a superior
servant as she had been; it adorned her with a credit which was not hers;
and for a moment she was ashamed. Yet from the first she had lent herself
to the general imposture that they had fled from Spain for political
reasons, having lost all and suffered greatly; and it was true while yet
it was a lie. She had suffered, both her father and herself had suffered;
she had been in danger, in agony, in sorrow, in despair--it was only
untrue that they were of good birth and blood, and had had position and
comfort and much money. Well, what harm did that do anybody? What harm
did it do this little brown seigneur from Quebec? Perhaps he too had made
himself out to be more than he was. Perhaps he was no seigneur at all,
she thought. When one is in distant seas and in danger of his life, one
will hoist any flag, sail to any port, pay homage to any king. So would
she. Anyhow, she was as good as this provincial, with his ancient silver
watch, his plump little hands, and his book of philosophy.

What did it matter, so all came right in the end! She would justify
herself, if she had the chance. She was sick of conspiracy, and danger,
and chicanery--and blood. She wanted her chance. She had been badly
shaken in the last days in Spain, and she shrank from more worry and
misery. She wanted to have a home and not to wander. And here was a
chance--how good a chance she was not sure; but it was a chance. She
would not hesitate to make it hers. After all, self-preservation was the
thing which mattered. She wanted a bright fire, a good table, a horse, a
cow, and all such simple things. She wanted a roof over her and a warm
bed at night. She wanted a warm bed at night--but a warm bed at night
alone. It was the price she would have to pay for her imposture, that if
she had all these things, she could not be alone in the sleep-time. She
had not thought of this in the days when she looked forward to a home
with her Gonzales. To be near him was everything; but that was all dead
and done for; and now--it was at this point that, shrinking, she suddenly
threw off all restraining thoughts. With abandon of the mind came a
recklessness of body, which gave her, all at once, a voluptuousness more
in keeping with the typical maid of Andalusia. It got into the eyes and
senses of Jean Jacques, in a way which had nothing to do with the
philosophy of Descartes, or Kant, or Aristotle, or Hegel.

"It was beautiful in much--my childhood," she said in a low voice,
dropping her eyes before his ardent gaze, "as my father said. My mother
was lovely to see, but not bigger than I was at twelve--so petite, and
yet so perfect in form--like a lark or a canary. Yes, and she could
sing--anything. Not like me with a voice which has the note of a drum or
an organ--"

"Of a flute, bright Senorita," interposed Jean Jacques.

"But high, and with the trills in the skies, and all like a laugh with a
tear in it. When she went to the river to wash--"

She was going to say "wash the clothes," but she stopped in time and said
instead, "wash her spaniel and her pony"--her face was flushed again with
shame, for to lie about one's mother is a sickening thing, and her mother
never had a spaniel or a pony--"the women on the shore wringing their
clothes, used to beg her to sing. To the hum of the river she would make
the music which they loved--"

"La Manola and such?" interjected Jean Jacques eagerly. "That's a fine
song as you sing it."

"Not La Manola, but others of a different sort--The Love of Isabella, The
Flight of Bobadil, Saragosse, My Little Banderillero, and so on, and all
so sweet that the women used to cry. Always, always she was singing till
the time when my father became a rebel. Then she used to cry too; and she
would sing no more; and when my father was put against a wall to be shot,
and fell in the dust when the rifles rang out, she came at the moment,
and seeing him lying there, she threw up her hands, and fell down beside
him dead--"

"The poor little senora, dead too--"

"Not dead too--that was the pity of it. You see my father was not dead.
The officer"--she did not say sergeant--"who commanded the firing squad,
he was what is called a compadre of my father--"

"Yes, I understand--a made-brother, sealed with an oath, which binds
closer than a blood-brother. It is that, is it not?"

"So--like that. Well, the compadre had put blank cartridges in their
rifles, and my father pretended to fall dead; and the soldiers were
marched away; and my father, with my mother, was carried to his home,
still pretending to be dead. It had been all arranged except the awful
thing, my mother's death. Who could foresee that? She ought to have been
told; but who could guess that she would hear of it all, and come at the
moment like that? So, that was the way she went, and I was left alone
with my father." She had told the truth in all, except in conveying that
her mother was not of the lower orders, and that she went to the river to
wash her spaniel and her pony instead of her clothes.

"Your father--did they not arrest him again? Did they not know?"

She shrugged her shoulders. "That is not the way in Spain. He was shot,
as the orders were, with his back to the wall by a squad of soldiers
with regulation bullets. If he chose to come to life again, that was his
own affair. The Government would take no notice of him after he was
dead. He could bury himself, or he could come alive--it was all the same
to them. So he came alive again."

"That is a story which would make a man's name if he wrote it down," said
Jean Jacques eloquently. "And the poor little senora, but my heart bleeds
for her! To go like that in such pain, and not to know--If she had been
my wife I think I would have gone after her to tell her it was all right,
and to be with her--"

He paused confused, for that seemed like a reflection on her father's
chivalry, and for a man who had risked his life for his banished
king--what would he have thought if he had been told that Sebastian
Dolores was an anarchist who loathed kings!--it was an insult to suggest
that he did not know the right thing to do, or, knowing, had not done it.

She saw the weakness of his case at once. "There was his duty to the
living," she said indignantly.

"Ah, forgive me--what a fool I am!" Jean Jacques said repentantly at
once. "There was his little girl, his beloved child, his Carmen Dolores,
so beautiful, with the voice like a flute, and--"

He drew nearer to her, his hand was outstretched to take hers; his eyes
were full of the passion of the moment; pity was drowning all caution,
all the Norman shrewdness in him, when the Antoine suddenly stopped
almost dead with a sudden jolt and shock, then plunged sideways, jerked,
and trembled.

"We've struck a sunk iceberg--the rest of the story to-morrow, Senorita,"
he cried, as they both sprang to their feet.

"The rest of the story to-morrow," she repeated, angry at the stroke of
fate which had so interrupted the course of her fortune. She said it with
a voice also charged with fear; for she was by nature a landfarer, not a
sea-farer, though on the rivers of Spain she had lived almost as much as
on land, and she was a good swimmer.

"The rest to-morrow," she repeated, controlling herself.



CHAPTER III

"TO-MORROW"

The rest came to-morrow. When the Antoine struck the sunken iceberg she
was not more than one hundred and twenty miles from the coast of Gaspe.
She had not struck it full on, or she would have crumpled up, but had
struck and glanced, mounting the berg, and sliding away with a small
gaping wound in her side, broken internally where she had been weakest.
Her condition was one of extreme danger, and the captain was by no means
sure that he could make the land. If a storm or a heavy sea came on, they
were doomed.

As it was, with all hands at the pumps the water gained on her, and she
moaned and creaked and ached her way into the night with no surety that
she would show a funnel to the light of another day. Passengers and crew
alike worked, and the few boats were got ready to lower away when the
worst should come to the worst. Below, with the crew, the little
moneymaster of St. Saviour's worked with an energy which had behind it
some generations of hardy qualities; and all the time he refused to be
downcast. There was something in his nature or in his philosophy after
all. He had not much of a voice, but it was lusty and full of good
feeling; and when cursing began, when a sailor even dared to curse his
baptism--the crime of crimes to a Catholic mind--Jean Jacques began to
sing a cheery song with which the habitants make vocal their labours or
their playtimes:

          "A Saint-Malo, beau port de mer,
          Trois gros navir's sont arrives,
          Trois gros navir's sont arrives
          Charges d'avoin', charges de ble.
          Charges d'avoin', charges de ble:
          Trois dam's s'en vont les marchander."

And so on through many verses, with a heartiness that was a good antidote
to melancholy, even though it was no specific for a shipwreck. It played
its part, however; and when Jean Jacques finished it, he plunged into
that other outburst of the habitant's gay spirits, 'Bal chez Boule':

       "Bal chez Boule, bal chez Boule,
        The vespers o'er, we'll away to that;
        With our hearts so light, and our feet so gay,
        We'll dance to the tune of 'The Cardinal's Hat'
        The better the deed, the better the day
        Bal chez Boule, bal chez Boule!"

And while Jean Jacques worked "like a little French pony," as they say in
Canada of every man with the courage to do hard things in him, he did not
stop to think that the scanty life-belts had all been taken, and that he
was a very poor swimmer indeed: for, as a child, he had been subject to
cramp, and so had made the Beau Cheval River less his friend than would
have been useful now.

He realized it, however, soon after daybreak, when, within a few hundred
yards of the shores of Gaspe, to which the good Basque captain had been
slowly driving the Antoine all night, there came the cry, "All hands on
deck!" and "Lower the boats!" for the Antoine's time had come, and within
a hand-reach of shore almost she found the end of her rickety life. Not
more than three-fourths of the passengers and crew were got into the
boats. Jean Jacques was not one of these; but he saw Carmen Dolores and
her father safely bestowed, though in different boats. To the girl's
appeal to him to come he gave a nod of assent, and said he would get in
at the last moment; but this he did not do, pushing into the boat instead
a crying lad of fifteen, who said he was afraid to die.

So it was that Jean Jacques took to the water side by side with the
Basque captain, when the Antoine groaned and shook, and then grew still,
and presently, with some dignity, dipped her nose into the shallow sea
and went down.

"The rest of the story to-morrow," Jean Jacques had said when the vessel
struck the iceberg the night before; and so it was.

The boat in which Carmen had been placed was swamped not far from shore,
but she managed to lay hold of a piece of drifting wreckage, and began to
fight steadily and easily landward. Presently she was aware, however, of
a man struggling hard some little distance away to the left of her, and
from the tousled hair shaking in the water she was sure that it was Jean
Jacques.

So it proved to be; and thus it was that, at his last gasp almost, when
he felt he could keep up no longer, the wooden seat to which Carmen clung
came to his hand, and a word of cheer from her drew his head up with what
was almost a laugh.

"To think of this!" he said presently when he was safe, with her swimming
beside him without support, for the wooden seat would not sustain the
weight of two. "To think that it is you who saves me!" he again declared
eloquently, as they made the shore in comparative ease, for she was a
fine swimmer.

"It is the rest of the story," he said with great cheerfulness and aplomb
as they stood on the shore in the morning sun, shoeless, coatless, but
safe: and she understood.

There was nothing else for him to do. The usual process of romance had
been reversed. He had not saved her life, she had saved his. The least
that he could do was to give her shelter at the Manor Cartier yonder at
St. Saviour's, her and, if need be, her father. Human gratitude must have
play. It was so strong in this case that it alone could have overcome the
Norman caution of Jean Jacques, and all his worldly wisdom (so much in
his own eyes). Added thereto was the thing which had been greatly stirred
in him at the instant the Antoine struck; and now he kept picturing
Carmen in the big living-room and the big bedroom of the house by the
mill, where was the comfortable four-poster which had come from the
mansion of the last Baron of Beaugard down by St. Laurent.

Three days after the shipwreck of the Antoine, and as soon as sufficient
finery could be got in Quebec, it was accomplished, the fate of Jean
Jacques. How proud he was to open his cheque-book before the young
Spanish maid, and write in cramped, characteristic hand a cheque for a
hundred dollars or so at a time! A moiety of this money was given to
Sebastian Dolores, who could scarcely believe his good fortune. A
situation was got for him by the help of a good abbe at Quebec, who was
touched by the tale of the wreck of the Antoine, and by the no less
wonderful tale of the refugees of Spain, who naturally belonged to the
true faith which "feared God and honoured the King." Sebastian Dolores
was grateful for the post offered him, though he would rather have gone
to St. Saviour's with his daughter, for he had lost the gift of work, and
he desired peace after war. In other words, he had that fatal trait of
those who strive to make the world better by talk and violence, the vice
of indolence.

But when Jean Jacques and his handsome bride started for St. Saviour's,
the new father-in-law did not despair of following soon. He would greatly
have enjoyed the festivities which, after all, did follow the home-coming
of Jean Jacques Barbille and his Spanische; for while they lacked
enthusiasm because Carmen was a foreigner, the romance of the story gave
the whole proceedings a spirit and interest which spread into adjoining
parishes: so that people came to mass from forty miles away to see the
pair who had been saved from the sea.

And when the Quebec newspapers found their way into the parish, with a
thrilling account of the last hours of the Antoine; and of Jean Jacques'
chivalrous act in refusing to enter a boat to save himself, though he was
such a bad swimmer and was in danger of cramp; and how he sang Bal chez
Boule while the men worked at the pumps; they permitted the apres noces
of M'sieu' and Madame Jean Jacques Barbille to be as brilliant as could
be, with the help of lively improvisation. Even speech-making occurred
again in an address of welcome some days later. This was followed by a
feast of Spanish cakes and meats made by the hands of Carmen Dolores,
"the lady saved from the sea"--as they called her; not knowing that she
had saved herself, and saved Jean Jacques as well. It was not quite to
Jean Jacques' credit that he did not set this error right, and tell the
world the whole exact truth.

     ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

     Air of certainty and universal comprehension
     Always calling to something, for something outside ourselves
     Came of a race who set great store by mothers and grandmothers
     Grove of pines to give a sense of warmth in winter
     Grow more intense, more convinced, more thorough, as they talk
     He admired, yet he wished to be admired
     Inclined to resent his own insignificance
     Lyrical in his enthusiasms
     No man so simply sincere, or so extraordinarily prejudiced
     Of those who hypnotize themselves, who glow with self-creation
     Spurting out little geysers of other people's cheap wisdom
     Untamed by the normal restraints of a happy married life



THE MONEY MASTER

By Gilbert Parker
EPOCH THE SECOND

     IV.    THIRTEEN YEARS AFTER AND THE CLERK OF THE COURT TELLS A STORY
     V.     THE CLERK OF THE COURT ENDS HIS STORY
     VI.    JEAN JACQUES HAD HAD A GREAT DAY
     VII.   JEAN JACQUES AWAKES FROM SLEEP
     VIII.  THE GATE IN THE WALL
     IX.    "MOI-JE SUIS PHILOSOPHE"
     X.    "QUIEN SABE"--WHO KNOWS!
     XI.    THE CLERK OF THE COURT KEEPS A PROMISE
     XII.   THE MASTER-CARPENTER HAS A PROBLEM



CHAPTER IV

THIRTEEN YEARS AFTER AND THE CLERK OF THE COURT TELLS A STORY

It was hard to say which was the more important person in the parish, the
New Cure or M'sieu' Jean Jacques Barbille. When the Old Cure was alive
Jean Jacques was a lesser light, and he accepted his degree of
illumination with content. But when Pere Langon was gathered to his
fathers, and thousands had turned away from the graveyard, where he who
had baptised them, confirmed them, blessed them, comforted them, and
firmly led them was laid to rest, they did not turn at once to his
successor with confidence and affection. The new cure, M. Savry, was
young; the Old Cure had lived to be eighty-five, bearing wherever he went
a lamp of wisdom at which the people lighted their small souls. The New
Cure could command their obedience, but he could not command their love
and confidence until he had earned them.

So it was that, for a time, Jean Jacques took the place of the Old Cure
in the human side of the life of the district, though in a vastly lesser
degree. Up to the death of M. Langon, Jean Jacques had done very well in
life, as things go in out-of-the-way places of the world. His mill, which
ground good flour, brought him increasing pence; his saw-mill more than
paid its way; his farms made a small profit, in spite of a cousin who
worked one on halves, but who had a spendthrift wife; the ash-factory
which his own initiative had started made no money, but the loss was only
small; and he had even made profit out of his lime-kilns, although
Sebastian Dolores, Carmen's father, had at one time mismanaged them--but
of that anon. Jean Jacques himself managed the business of money-lending
and horse-dealing; and he also was agent for fire insurance and a dealer
in lightning rods.

In the thirteen years since he married he had been able to keep a good
many irons in the fire, and also keep them more or less hot. Many people
in his and neighbouring parishes were indebted to him, and it was worth
their while to stand well with him. If he insisted on debts being paid,
he was never exacting or cruel. If he lent money, he never demanded more
than eight per cent.; and he never pressed his debtors unduly. His
cheerfulness seldom deserted him, and he was notably kind to the poor.
Not seldom in the winter time a poor man, here and there in the parish,
would find dumped down outside his door in the early morning a half-cord
of wood or a bag of flour.

It could not be said that Jean Jacques did not enjoy his own generosity.
His vanity, however, did not come from an increasing admiration of his
own personal appearance, a weakness which often belongs to middle age;
but from the study of his so-called philosophy, which in time became an
obsession with him. In vain the occasional college professors, who spent
summer months at St. Saviour's, sought to interest him in science and
history, for his philosophy had large areas of boredom; but science
marched over too jagged a road for his tender intellectual feet; the wild
places where it led dismayed him. History also meant numberless dates and
facts. Perhaps he could have managed the dates, for he was quick at
figures, but the facts were like bees in their hive,--he could scarcely
tell one from another by looking at them.

So it was that Jean Jacques kept turning his eyes, as he thought, to the
everlasting meaning of things, to "the laws of Life and the decrees of
Destiny." He was one of those who had found, as he thought, what he could
do, and was sensible enough to do it. Let the poor fellows, who gave
themselves to science, trouble their twisted minds with trigonometry and
the formula of some grotesque chemical combination; let the dull people
rub their noses in the ink of Greek and Latin, which was no use for
everyday consumption; let the heads of historians ache with the warring
facts of the lives of nations; it all made for sleep. But philosophy--ah,
there was a field where a man could always use knowledge got from books
or sorted out of his own experiences!

It happened, therefore, that Jean Jacques, who not too vaguely realized
that there was reputation to be got from being thought a philosopher,
always carried about with him his little compendium from the quay at
Quebec, which he had brought ashore inside his redflannel shirt, with the
antique silver watch, when the Antoine went down.

Thus also it was that when a lawyer in court at Vilray, four miles from
St. Saviour's, asked him one day, when he stepped into the witness-box,
what he was, meaning what was his occupation, his reply was, "Moi-je suis
M'sieu' Jean Jacques, philosophe--(Me--I am M'sieu' Jean Jacques,
philosopher)."

A little later outside the court-house, the Judge who had tried the
case--M. Carcasson--said to the Clerk of the Court:

"A curious, interesting little man, that Monsieur Jean Jacques. What's
his history?"

"A character, a character, monsieur le juge," was the reply of M. Amand
Fille. "His family has been here since Frontenac's time. He is a figure
in the district, with a hand in everything. He does enough foolish things
to ruin any man, yet swims along--swims along. He has many kinds of
business--mills, stores, farms, lime-kilns, and all that, and keeps them
all going; and as if he hadn't enough to do, and wasn't risking enough,
he's now organizing a cheese-factory on the co-operative principle, as in
Upper Canada among the English."

"He has a touch of originality, that's sure," was the reply of the Judge.

The Clerk of the Court nodded and sighed. "Monseigneur Giron of Laval,
the greatest scholar in Quebec, he said to me once that M'sieu' Jean
Jacques missed being a genius by an inch. But, monsieur le juge, not to
have that inch is worse than to be an ignoramus."

Judge Carcasson nodded. "Ah, surely! Your Jean Jacques lacks a
balance-wheel. He has brains, but not enough. He has vision, but it is
not steady; he has argument, but it breaks down just where it should be
most cohesive. He interested me. I took note of every turn of his mind as
he gave evidence. He will go on for a time, pulling his strings, doing
this and doing that, and then, all at once, when he has got a train of
complications, his brain will not be big enough to see the way out. Tell
me, has he a balance-wheel in his home--a sensible wife, perhaps?"

The Clerk of the Court shook his head mournfully and seemed to hesitate.
Then he said, "Comme ci, comme ca--but no, I will speak the truth about
it. She is a Spaniard--the Spanische she is called by the neighbours. I
will tell you all about that, and you will wonder that he has carried on
as well as he has, with his vanity and his philosophy."

"He'll have need of his philosophy before he's done, or I don't know
human nature; he'll get a bad fall one of these days," responded the
Judge. "'Moi-je suis M'sieu' Jean Jacques, philosophe'--that is what he
said. Bumptious little man, and yet--and yet there's something in him.
There's a sense of things which everyone doesn't have--a glimmer of life
beyond his own orbit, a catching at the biggest elements of being, a
hovering on the confines of deep understanding, as it were. Somehow I
feel almost sorry for him, though he annoyed me while he was in the
witness-box, in spite of myself. He was as the English say, so 'damn
sure.'"

"So damn sure always," agreed the Clerk of the Court, with a sense of
pleasure that his great man, this wonderful aged little judge, should
have shown himself so human as to use such a phrase.

"But, no doubt, the sureness has been a good servant in his business,"
returned the Judge. "Confidence in a weak world gets unearned profit
often. But tell me about his wife--the Spanische. Tell me the how and
why, and everything. I'd like to trace our little money-man wise to his
source."

Again M. Fille was sensibly agitated. "She is handsome, and she has
great, good gifts when she likes to use them," he answered. "She can do
as much in an hour as most women can do in two; but then she will not
keep at it. Her life is but fits and starts. Yet she has a good head for
business, yes, very good. She can see through things. Still, there it
is--she will not hold fast from day to day."

"Yes, yes, but where did she come from? What was the field where she
grew?"

"To be sure, monsieur. It was like this," responded the other.

Thereupon M. Fille proceeded to tell the history, musical with legend, of
Jean Jacques' Grand Tour, of the wreck of the Antoine, of the marriage of
the "seigneur," the home-coming, and the life that followed, so far as
rumour, observation, and a mind with a gift for narrative, which was not
to be incomplete for lack of imagination, could make it. It was only when
he offered his own reflections on Carmen Dolores, now Carmen Barbille,
and on women generally, that Judge Carcasson pulled him up.

"So, so, I see. She has temperament and so on, but she's unsteady, and
regarded by her neighbours not quite as one that belongs. Bah, the
conceit of every race! They are all the same. The English are the
worst--as though the good God was English. But the child--so beautiful,
you say, and yet more like the father than the mother. He is not
handsome, that Jean Jacques, but I can understand that the little one
should be like him and yet beautiful too. I should like to see the
child."

Suddenly the Clerk of the Court stopped and touched the arm of his
distinguished friend and patron. "That is very easy, monsieur," he said
eagerly, "for there she is in the red wagon yonder, waiting for her
father. She adores him, and that makes trouble sometimes. Then the mother
gets fits, and makes things hard at the Manor Cartier. It is not all a
bed of roses for our Jean Jacques. But there it is. He is very busy all
the time. Something doing always, never still, except when you will find
him by the road-side, or in a tavern with all the people round him,
talking, jesting, and he himself going into a trance with his book of
philosophy. It is very strange that everlasting going, going, going, and
yet that love of his book. I sometimes think it is all pretence, and that
he is all vanity--or almost so. Heaven forgive me for my want of
charity!"

The little round judge cocked his head astutely. "But you say he is kind
to the poor, that he does not treat men hardly who are in debt to him,
and that he will take his coat off his back to give to a tramp--is it
so?"

"As so, as so, monsieur."

"Then he is not all vanity, and because of that he will feel the blow
when it comes--alas, so much he will feel it!"

"What blow, monsieur le juge?--but ah, look, monsieur!" He pointed
eagerly. "There she is, going to the red wagon--Madame Jean Jacques. Is
she not a figure of a woman? See the walk of her--is it not
distinguished? She is half a hand-breadth taller than Jean Jacques. And
her face, most sure it is a face to see. If Jean Jacques was not so busy
with his farms and his mills and his kilns and his usury, he would see
what a woman he has got. It is his good fortune that she has such sense
in business. When Jean Jacques listens to her, he goes right. She herself
did not want her father to manage the lime-kilns--the old Sebastian
Dolores. She was for him staying at Mirimachi, where he kept the books of
the lumber firm. But no, Jean Jacques said that he could make her happy
by having her father near her, and he would not believe she meant what
she said. He does not understand her; that is the trouble. He knows as
much of women or men as I know of--"

"Of the law--hein?" laughed the great man.

"Monsieur--ah, that is your little joke! I laugh, yes, but I laugh,"
responded the Clerk of the Court a little uncertainly. "Now once when she
told him that the lime-kilns--"

The Judge, who had retraced his steps down the street of the town--it was
little more than a large village, but because it had a court-house and a
marketplace it was called a town--that he might have a good look at
Madame Jean Jacques and her child before he passed them, suddenly said:

"How is it you know so much about it all, Maitre Fille--as to what she
says and of the inner secrets of the household? Ah, ha, my little
Lothario, I have caught you--a bachelor too, with time on his hands, and
the right side of seventy as well! The evidence you have given of a close
knowledge of the household of our Jean Jacques does not have its basis in
hearsay, but in acute personal observation. Tut-tut! Fie-fie! my little
gay Clerk of the Court. Fie! Fie!"

M. Fille was greatly disconcerted. He had never been a Lothario. In forty
years he had never had an episode with one of "the other sex," but it was
not because he was impervious to the softer emotions. An intolerable
shyness had ever possessed him when in the presence of women, and even
small girl children had frightened him, till he had made friends with
little Zoe Barbille, the daughter of Jean Jacques. Yet even with Zoe, who
was so simple and companionable and the very soul of childish confidence,
he used to blush and falter till she made him talk. Then he became
composed, and his tongue was like a running stream, and on that stream
any craft could sail. On it he became at ease with madame the Spanische,
and he even went so far as to look her full in the eyes on more than one
occasion.

"Answer me--ah, you cannot answer!" teasingly added the Judge, who loved
his Clerk of the Court, and had great amusement out of his discomfiture.
"You are convicted. At an age when a man should be settling down, you are
gallivanting with the wife of a philosopher."

"Monsieur--monsieur le juge!" protested M. Fille with slowly heightening
colour. "I am innocent, yes, altogether. There is nothing, believe me. It
is the child, the little Zoe--but a maid of charm and kindness. She
brings me cakes and the toffy made by her own hands; and if I go to the
Manor Cartier, as I often do, it is to be polite and neighbourly. If
Madame says things to me, and if I see what I see, and hear what I hear,
it is no crime; it is no misdemeanour; it is within the law--the perfect
law."

Suddenly the Judge linked his arm within that of the other, for he also
was little, and he was fat and round and ruddy, and even smaller than M.
Fille, who was thin, angular and pale.

"Ah, my little Confucius," he said gently, "have you seen and heard me so
seldom that you do not know me yet, or what I really think? Of course it
is within the law--the perfect law--to visit at m'sieu' the philosopher's
house and talk at length also to m'sieu' the philosopher's wife; while to
make the position regular by friendship with the philosopher's child is a
wisdom which I can only ascribe to"--his voice was charged with humour
and malicious badinage "to an extended acquaintance with the devices of
human nature, as seen in those episodes of the courts with which you have
been long familiar."

"Oh, monsieur, dear monsieur!" protested the Clerk of the Court, "you
always make me your butt."

"My friend," said the Judge, squeezing his arm, "if I could have you no
other way, I would make you my butler!"

Then they both laughed at the inexpensive joke, and the Clerk of the
Court was in high spirits, for on either side of the street were people
with whom he lived every day, and they could see the doyen of the Bench,
the great Judge Carcasson, who had refused to be knighted, arm in arm
with him. Aye, and better than all, and more than all, here was Zoe
Barbille drawing her mother's attention to him almost in the embrace of
the magnificent jurist.

The Judge, with his small, round, quizzical eyes which missed nothing,
saw too; and his attention was strangely arrested by the faces of both
the mother and the child. His first glance at the woman's face made him
flash an inward light on the memory of Jean Jacques' face in the
witness-box, and a look of reflective irony came into his own. The face
of Carmen Dolores, wife of the philosophic miller and money-master, did
not belong to the world where she was placed--not because she was so
unlike the habitant women, or even the wives of the big farmers, or the
sister of the Cure, or the ladies of the military and commercial exiles
who lived in that portion of the province; but because of an alien
something in her look--a lonely, distant sense of isolation, a something
which might hide a companionship and sympathy of a rare kind, or might be
but the mask of a furtive, soulless nature. In the child's face was
nothing of this. It was open as the day, bright with the cheerfulness of
her father's countenance, alive with a humour which that countenance did
not possess. The contour was like that of Jean Jacques, but with a
fineness and delicacy to its fulness absent from his own; and her eyes
were a deep and lustrous brown, under a forehead which had a boldness of
gentle dignity possessed by neither father nor mother. Her hair was
thick, brown and very full, like that of her father, and in all respects,
save one, she had an advantage over both her parents. Her mouth had a
sweetness which might not unfairly be called weakness, though that was
balanced by a chin of commendable strength.

But the Judge's eyes found at once this vulnerable point in her character
as he had found that of her mother. Delightful the child was, and alert
and companionable, with no remarkable gifts, but with a rare charm and
sympathy. Her face was the mirror of her mind, and it had no ulterior
thought. Her mother's face, the Judge had noted, was the foreground of a
landscape which had lonely shadows. It was a face of some distinction and
suited to surroundings more notable, though the rural life Carmen had led
since the Antoine went down and her fortunes came up, had coarsened her
beauty a very little.

"There's something stirring in the coverts," said the Judge to himself as
he was introduced to the mother and child. By a hasty gesture Zoe gave a
command to M. Fille to help her down. With a hand on his shoulder she
dropped to the ground. Her object was at once apparent. She made a pretty
old-fashioned curtsey to the Judge, then held out her hand, as though to
reassert her democratic equality.

As the Judge looked at Madame Barbille, he was involuntarily, but none
the less industriously, noting her characteristics; and the sum of his
reflections, after a few moments' talk, was that dangers he had seen
ahead of Jean Jacques, would not be averted by his wife, indeed might
easily have their origin in her.

"I wonder it has gone on as long as it has," he said to himself; though
it seemed unreasonable that his few moments with her, and the story told
him by the Clerk of the Court, should enable him to come to any definite
conclusion. But at eighty-odd Judge Carcasson was a Solon and a Solomon
in one. He had seen life from all angles, and he was not prepared to give
any virtue or the possession of any virtue too much rope; while nothing
in life surprised him.

"How would you like to be a judge?" he asked of Zoe, suddenly taking her
hand in his. A kinship had been at once established between them, so
little has age, position, and intellect to do with the natural
gravitations of human nature.

She did not answer direct, and that pleased him. "If I were a judge I
should have no jails," she said. "What would you do with the bad people?"
he asked.

"I would put them alone on a desert island, or out at sea in a little
boat, or out on the prairies without a horse, so that they'd have to work
for their lives."

"Oh, I see! If M. Fille here set fire to a house, you would drop him on
the prairie far away from everything and everybody and let him 'root hog
or die'?"

"Don't you think it would kill him or cure him?" she asked whimsically.

The Judge laughed, his eyes twinkling. "That's what they did when the
world was young, dear ma'm'selle. There was no time to build jails. Alone
on the prairie--a separate prairie for every criminal--that would take a
lot of space; but the idea is all right. It mightn't provide the proper
degree of punishment, however. But that is being too particular. Alone on
the prairie for punishment--well, I should like to see it tried."

He remembered that saying of his long after, while yet he was alive, and
a tale came to him from the prairies which made his eyes turn more
intently towards a land that is far off, where the miserable
miscalculations and mistakes of this world are readjusted. Now he was
only conscious of a primitive imagination looking out of a young girl's
face, and making a bridge between her understanding and his own.

"What else would you do if you were a judge?" he asked presently.

"I would make my father be a miller," she replied. "But he is a miller, I
hear."

"But he is so many other things--so many. If he was only a miller we
should have more of him. He is at home only a little. If I get up early
enough in the morning, or if I am let stay up at night late enough, I see
him; but that is not enough--is it, mother?" she added with a sudden
sense that she had gone too far, that she ought not to say this perhaps.

The woman's face had darkened for an instant, and irritation showed in
her eyes, but by an effort of the will she controlled herself.

"Your father knows best what he can do and can't do," she said evenly.

"But you would not let a man judge for himself, would you, ma'm'selle?"
asked the old inquisitor. "You would judge for the man what was best for
him to do?"

"I would judge for my father," she replied. "He is too good a man to
judge for himself."

"Well, there's a lot of sense in that, ma'm'selle philosophe," answered
Judge Carcasson. "You would make the good idle, and make the bad work.
The good you would put in a mill to watch the stones grind, and the bad
you would put on a prairie alone to make the grist for the grinding.
Ma'm'selle, we must be friends--is it not so?"

"Haven't we always been friends?" the young girl asked with the look of a
visionary suddenly springing up in her eyes.

Here was temperament indeed. She pleased Judge Carcasson greatly. "But
yes, always, and always, and always," he replied. Inwardly he said to
himself, "I did not see that at first. It is her father in her.

"Zoe!" said her mother reprovingly.



CHAPTER V

THE CLERK OF THE COURT ENDS HIS STORY

A moment afterwards the Judge, as he walked down the street still arm in
arm with the Clerk of the Court, said: "That child must have good luck,
or she will not have her share of happiness. She has depths that are not
deep enough." Presently he added, "Tell me, my Clerk, the man--Jean
Jacques--he is so much away--has there never been any talk about--about."

"About--monsieur le juge?" asked M. Fille rather stiffly. "For
instance--about what?"

"For instance, about a man--not Jean Jacques."

The lips of the Clerk of the Court tightened. "Never at any time--till
now, monsieur le juge."

"Ah--till now!"

The Clerk of the Court blushed. What he was about to say was difficult,
but he alone of all the world guessed at the tragedy which was hovering
over Jean Jacques' home. By chance he had seen something on an afternoon
of three days before, and he had fled from it as a child would fly from a
demon. He was a purist at law, but he was a purist in life also, and not
because the flush of youth had gone and his feet were on the path which
leads into the autumn of a man's days. The thing he had seen had been
terribly on his mind, and he had felt that his own judgment was not
sufficient for the situation, that he ought to tell someone.

The Cure was the only person who had come to his mind when he became
troubled to the point of actual mental agony. But the new curb, M. Savry,
was not like the Old Cure, and, besides, was it not stepping between the
woman and her confessional? Yet he felt that something ought to be done.
It never occurred to him to speak to Jean Jacques. That would have seemed
so brutal to the woman. It came to him to speak to Carmen, but he knew
that he dared not do so. He could not say to a woman that which must
shame her before him, she who had kept her head so arrogantly high--not
so much to him, however, as to the rest of the world. He had not the
courage; and yet he had fear lest some awful thing would at any moment
now befall the Manor Cartier. If it did, he would feel himself to blame
had he done nothing to stay the peril. So far he was the only person who
could do so, for he was the only person who knew!

The Judge could feel his friend's arm tremble with emotion, and he said:
"Come, now, my Plato, what is it? A man has come to disturb the peace of
Jean Jacques, our philosophe, eh?"

"That is it, monsieur--a man of a kind."

"Oh, of course, my bambino, of course, a man 'of a kind,' or there would
be no peace disturbed. You want to tell me, I see. Proceed then; there is
no reason why you should not. I am secret. I have seen much. I have no
prejudices. As you will, however; but I can see it would relieve your
mind to tell me. In truth I felt there was something when I saw you look
at her first, when you spoke to her, when she talked with me. She is a
fine figure of a woman, and Jean Jacques, as you say, is much away from
home. In fact he neglects her--is it not so?"

"He means it not, but it is so. His life is full of--"

"Yes, yes, of stores and ash-factories and debtors and lightning-rods and
lime-kilns, and mortgaged farms, and the price of wheat--but certainly, I
understand it all, my Fille. She is too much alone, and if she has
travelled by the compass all these thirteen years without losing the
track, it is something to the credit of human nature."

"Ah, monsieur, a vow before the good God--!" The Judge interrupted
sharply. "Tut, tut--these vows! Do you not know that a vow may be a thing
that ruins past redemption? A vow is sacred. Well, a poor mortal in one
moment of weakness breaks it. Then there is a sense of awful shame of
being lost, of never being able to put right the breaking of the vow,
though the rest can be put right by sorrow and repentance! I would have
no vows. They haunt like ghosts when they are broken, they torture like
fire then. Don't talk to me of vows. It is not vows that keep the world
right, but the prayer of a man's soul from day to day."

The Judge's words sounded almost blasphemous to M. Fille. A vow not keep
the world right! Then why the vows of the Church at baptism, at
confirmation, at marriage? Why the vows of the priests, of the nuns, of
those who had given themselves to eternal service? Monsieur had spoken
terrible things. And yet he had said at the last: "It is not vows that
keep the world right, but the prayer of a man's soul from day to day."
That was not heretical, or atheistic, or blasphemous. It sounded logical
and true and good.

He was about to say that, to some people, vows were the only way of
keeping them to their duty--and especially women--but the Judge added
gently: "I would not for the world hurt your sensibilities, my little
Clerk, and we are not nearly so far apart as you think at the minute.
Thank God, I keep the faith that is behind all faith--the speech of a
man's soul with God. . . . But there, if you can, let us hear what man it
is who disturbs the home of the philosopher. It is not my Fille, that's
sure."

He could not resist teasing, this judge who had a mind of the most rare
uprightness; and he was not always sorry when his teasing hurt; for, to
his mind, men should be lashed into strength, when they drooped over the
tasks of life; and what so sharp a lash as ridicule or satire!

"Proceed, my friend," he urged brusquely, not waiting for the gasp of
pained surprise of the little Clerk to end. He was glad to see the figure
beside him presently straighten itself, as though to be braced for a task
of difficulty. Indignation and resentment were good things to stiffen a
man's back.

"It was three days ago," said M. Fille. "I saw it with my own eyes. I had
come to the Manor Cartier by the road, down the hill--Mont Violet--behind
the house. I could see into the windows of the house. There was no reason
why I should not see--there never has been a reason," he added, as though
to justify himself.

"Of course, of course, my friend. One's eyes are open, and one sees what
one sees, without looking for it. Proceed."

"As I looked down I saw Madame with a man's arms round her, and his lips
to hers. It was not Jean Jacques."

"Of course, of course. Proceed. What did you do?"

"I stopped. I fell back--"

"Of course. Behind a tree?"

"Behind some elderberry bushes."

"Of course. Elderberry bushes--that's better than a tree. I am very fond
of elderberry wine when it is new. Proceed."

The Clerk of the Court shrank. What did it matter whether or no the Judge
liked elderberry wine, when the world was falling down for Jean Jacques
and his Zoe--and his wife. But with a sigh he continued: "There is
nothing more. I stayed there for awhile, and then crept up the hill
again, and came back to my home and locked myself in."

"What had you done that you should lock yourself in?"

"Ah, monsieur, how can I explain such things? Perhaps I was ashamed that
I had seen things I should not have seen. I do not blush that I wept for
the child, who is--but you saw her, monsieur le juge."

"Yes, yes, the little Zoe, and the little philosopher. Proceed."

"What more is there to tell!"

"A trifle perhaps, as you will think," remarked the Judge ironically, but
as one who, finding a crime, must needs find the criminal too. "I must
ask you to inform the Court who was the too polite friend of Madame."

"Monsieur, pardon me. I forgot. It is essential, of course. You must know
that there is a flume, a great wooden channel--"

"Yes, yes. I comprehend. Once I had a case of a flume. It was fifteen
feet deep and it let in the water of the river to the mill-wheels. A
flume regulates, concentrates, and controls the water power. I comprehend
perfectly. Well?"

"So. This flume for Jean Jacques' mill was also fifteen feet deep or
more. It was out of repair, and Jean Jacques called in a master-carpenter
from Laplatte, Masson by name--George Masson--to put the flume right."

"How long ago was that?"

"A month ago. But Masson was not here all the time. It was his workmen
who did the repairs, but he came over to see--to superintend. At first he
came twice in the week. Then he came every day."

"Ah, then he came every day! How do you know that?"

"It was my custom to walk to the mill every day--to watch the work on the
flume. It was only four miles away across the fields and through the
woods, making a walk of much charm--especially in the autumn, when the
colours of the foliage are so fine, and the air has a touch of
pensiveness, so that one is induced to reflection."

There was the slightest tinge of impatience in the Judge's response.
"Yes, yes, I understand. You walked to study life and to reflect and to
enjoy your intimacy with nature, but also to see our friend Zoe and her
home. And I do not wonder. She has a charm which makes me sad--for her."

"So I have felt, so I have felt for her, monsieur. When she is gayest,
and when, as it might seem, I am quite happy, talking to her, or
picnicking, or idling on the river, or helping her with her lessons, I
have sadness, I know not why."

The Judge pressed his friend's arm firmly. His voice grew more insistent.
"Now, Maitre Fille, I think I understand the story, but there are lacunee
which you must fill. You say the thing happened three days ago--now, when
will the work be finished?"

"The work will be finished to-morrow, monsieur. Only one workman is left,
and he will be quit of his task to-night."

"So the thing--the comedy or tragedy will come to an end to-morrow?"
remarked the Judge seriously. "How did you find out that the workmen go
tomorrow, maitre?"

"Jean Jacques--he told me yesterday."

"Then it all ends to-morrow," responded the Judge.

The puzzled subordinate stood almost still, and looked at the Judge in
wonder. Why should it all end to-morrow simply because the work was
finished at the flume? At last he spoke.

"It is only twelve miles to Laplatte where George Masson lives, and he
has, besides, another contract near here, but three miles from the Manor
Cartier. Also besides, how can we know what she will do--Jean Jacques'
wife. How can we tell but that she will perhaps go and leave the beloved
Zoe alone!"

"And leave our little philosopher--miller also alone?" remarked the Judge
quizzically, yet with solemnity. M. Fille was agitated; he made a
protesting gesture. "Jean Jacques can find comfort, but the child--ah,
no, it is too terrible! Someone should speak. I tried to do it--to Madame
Carmen, to Jean Jacques; but it was no use. How could I betray her to
him, how could I tell her that I knew her shame!"

The Judge turned brusquely and caught his friend by the shoulders,
fastening him with the eyes which had made many a witness forget to lie.

"If you were an avocat in practice I would ruin your reputation, Fille,"
he said. "A fool would tell Jean Jacques, or speak to the woman, and
spoil all; for women go mad when they are in danger, and they do the
impossible things. But did it not occur to you that the one person to
have in a quiet room with the doors shut, with the light of the sun in
his face, with the book of the law open on your desk and the damages to
be got by an injured husband, in a Catholic province with a Catholic
Judge, written down on a piece of paper, to hand over at the right
moment--did it not strike you that that person was your George Masson?"

M. Fille's head dropped before the disdainful eyes of M. Carcasson. He
who prided himself in keeping the court right on points of procedure, who
was looked upon almost with the respect given the position of the Judge
himself, that he should fail in thinking of the obvious thing was
humiliating, and alas! so disconcerting.

"I am a fool, an imbecile," he responded, in great dejection.

"This much must be said, my imbecile, that every man some time or other
makes just such a fool of his intelligence," was the soft reply.

A thin hand made a gesture of dissent. "Not you, monsieur. Never!"

"If it is any comfort to you, know then, my Solon, that I have done so
publicly in my time, while you have only done it privately. But let us
see. That Masson must be struck of a heap. What sort of a man is he to
look at? Apart from his morals, what class of creature is he?"

"He is a man of strength, of force in his way, monsieur. He made himself
from an apprentice without a cent, and he has now thirty men at work."

"Then he does not drink or gamble?"

"Neither, monsieur."

"Has he a family?"

"No, monsieur."

"How old is he?"

"Forty or thereabouts, monsieur."

The Judge cogitated for a moment, then said: "Ah, that's bad--unmarried
and forty, and no vices except this. It gives him few escape-valves. Is
he good-looking? What is his appearance?"

"Nor short, nor tall, and square shoulders. His face like the yellow
brown of a peach, hair that curls close to his head, blue eyes that see
everything, and a big hand that knows what it is doing."

The Judge nodded. "Ah, you have watched him, maitre. . . . When? Since
then?"

"No, no, monsieur, not since. If I had watched him since, I should
perhaps have thought of the right thing to do. But I did not. I used to
study him while the work was going on, when he first came, but I have
known him some time from a distance. If a man makes himself what he is,
you look at him, of course."

"Truly. His temper--his disposition, what is it?" M. Fille was very much
alive now. He replied briskly. "Like the snap of a whip. He flies into
anger and flies out. He has a laugh that makes men say, 'How he enjoys
himself!' and his mind is very quick and sure."

The Judge nodded with satisfaction. "Well done! Well done! I have got him
in my eye. He will not be so easy to handle; but, if he has brains, he
will see that you have the right end of the stick; and he will kiss and
ride away. It will not be easy, but the game is in your hands, my Fille.
In a quiet room, with the book of the law open, and figures of damages
given by a Catholic court and Judge--I think that will do it; and then
the course of true philosophy will not long be interrupted in the house
of Jean Jacques Barbille."

"Monsieur--monsieur le juge, you mean that I shall do this, shall see
George Masson and warn him--me?"

"Who else? You are a friend of the family. You are a public officer, to
whom the good name of your parish is dear. As all are aware, no doubt,
you are the trusted ancient comrade of the daughter of the woman--I speak
legally--Carmen Barbille nee Dolores, a name of charm to the ear. Who but
you then to do it?"

"There is yourself, monsieur."

"Dismiss me from your mind. I go to Quebec to-night, as you know, and
there is not time; but even if there were, I should not be the best
person to do this. I am known to few; you are known to all. I have no
locus standi. You have. No, no, it would not be for me."

Suddenly, in his desperation, the Clerk of the Court sought release for
himself from this solemn and frightening duty.

"Monsieur," he said eagerly, "there is another. I had forgotten. It is
Madame Carmen's father, Sebastian Dolores."

"Ah, a father! Yes, I had forgotten to ask about him; so we are one in
our imbecility, my little Aristotle. This Sebastian Dolores, where is
he?"

"In the next parish, Beauharnais, keeping books for a lumber-firm. Ah,
monsieur, that is the way to deal with the matter--through Sebastian
Dolores, her father!"

"What sort is he?"

The other shook his head and did not answer. "Ah, not of the best?
Drinks?"

M. Fille nodded.

"Has a weak character?"

Again M. Fille nodded.

"Has no good reputation hereabouts?"

The nod was repeated. "He has never been steady He goes here and there,
but always he comes back to get Jean Jacques' help. He and his daughter
are not close friends, and yet he likes to be near her. She can endure
him at least. He can command her interest. He is a stranger in a strange
land, and he drifts back to where she is always. But that is all."

"Then he is out of the question, and he would be always out of the
question except as a last resort; for sooner or later he would tell his
daughter, and challenge our George Masson too; and that is what you do
not wish, eh?"

"Precisely so," remarked M. Fille, dropping back again into gloom. "To be
quite honest, monsieur, even though it gives me a task which I abhor, I
do not think that M. Dolores could do what is needed without mistakes
which could not be mended. At least I can--" He stopped.

The Judge interposed at once, well pleased with the way things were going
for this "case." "Assuredly. You can as can no other, my Solon. The
secret of success in such things is a good heart, a right mind, a clear
intelligence and some astuteness, and you have it all. It is your task
and yours only."

The little man's self-respect seemed restored. He preened himself
somewhat and bowed to the Judge. "I take your commands, monsieur, to obey
them as heaven gives me power so to do. Shall it be tomorrow?"

The Judge reflected a moment, then said: "Tonight would be better, but--"

"I can do it better to-morrow morning," interposed M. Fille, "for George
Masson has a meeting here at Vilray with the avocat Prideaux at ten
o'clock to sign a contract, and I can ask him to step into my office on a
little affair of business. He will not guess, and I shall be armed"--the
Judge frowned--"with the book of the law on such misdemeanours, and the
figures of the damages,"--the Judge smiled--"and I think perhaps I can
frighten him as he has never been frightened before."

A courage and confidence had now taken possession of the Clerk in strange
contrast to his timidity and childlike manner of a few minutes before. He
was now as he appeared in court, clothed with an austere authority which
gave him a vicarious strength and dignity. The Judge had done his work
well, and he was of those folk in the world who are not content to do
even the smallest thing ill.

Arm in arm they passed into the garden which fronted the vine-covered
house, where Maitre Fille lived alone with his sister, a tiny edition of
himself, who whispered and smiled her way through life.

She smiled and whispered now in welcome to the Judge; and as she did so,
the three saw Jean Jacques, laughing, and cracking his whip, drive past
with his daughter beside him, chirruping to the horses; while, moody and
abstracted, his wife sat silent on the backseat of the red wagon.



CHAPTER VI

JEAN JACQUES HAD HAD A GREAT DAY

Jean Jacques was in great good humour as he drove away to the Manor
Cartier. The day, which was not yet aged, had been satisfactory from
every point of view. He had impressed the Court, he had got a chance to
pose in the witness-box; he had been able to repeat in evidence the
numerous businesses in which he was engaged; had referred to his
acquaintance with the Lieutenant-Governor and a Cardinal; to his Grand
Tour (this had been hard to do in the cross-examination to which he was
subjected, but he had done it); and had been able to say at the very
start in reply as to what was his occupation--"Moi je suis M'sieu' Jean
Jacques, philosophe."

Also he had, during the day, collected a debt long since wiped off his
books; he had traded a poor horse for a good cow; he had bought all the
wheat of a Vilray farmer below market-price, because the poor fellow
needed ready money; he had issued an insurance policy; his wife and
daughter had conversed in the public streets with the great judge who was
the doyen of the provincial Bench; and his daughter had been kissed by
the same judge in the presence of at least a dozen people. He was, in
fact, very proud of his Carmen and his Carmencita, as he called the two
who sat in the red wagon sharing his glory--so proud that he did not
extol them to others; and he was quite sure they were both very proud of
him. The world saw what his prizes of life were, and there was no need to
praise or brag. Dignity and pride were both sustained by silence and a
wave of the hand, which in fact said to the world, "Look you, my masters,
they belong to Jean Jacques. Take heed."

There his domestic scheme practically ended. He was so busy that he took
his joys by snatches, in moments of suspension of actual life, as it
were. His real life was in the eddy of his many interests, in the field
of his superficial culture, in the eyes of the world. The worst of him
was on the surface. He showed what other men hid, that was all. Their
vanity was concealed, he wore it in his cap. They put on a manner as they
put on their clothes, and wore it out in the world, or took it off in
their own homes-behind the door of life; but he was the same vain, frank,
cocksure fellow in his home as in the street. There was no difference at
all. He was vain, but he had no conceit; and therefore he did not
deceive, and was not tyrannous or dictatorial; in truth, if you but
estimated him at his own value, he was the least insistent man alive.
Many a debtor knew this; and, by asking Jean Jacques' advice, making an
appeal to his logic, as it were--and it was always worth listening to,
even when wrong or sadly obvious, because of the glow with which he
declared things this or that--found his situation immediately eased. Many
a hard-up countryman, casting about for a five-dollar bill, could get it
of Jean Jacques by telling him what agreeable thing some important person
had said about him; or by writing to a great newspaper in Montreal a
letter, saying that the next candidate for the provincial legislature
should be M. Jean Jacques Barbille, of St. Saviour's. This never failed
to draw a substantial "bill" from the wad which Jean Jacques always
carried in his pocket-loose, not tied up in a leather roll, as so many
lesser men freighted the burdens of their wealth.

He had changed since the day he left Bordeaux on the Antoine; since he
had first caught the flash of interest in Carmen Dolores' eyes--an
interest roused from his likeness to a conspirator who had been shot for
his country's good. He was no stouter in body, for he was of the kind
that wear away the flesh by much doing and thinking; but there were
occasional streaks of grey in his bushy hair, and his eye roamed less
than it did once. In the days when he first brought Carmen home, his eye
was like a bead of brown light on a swivel. It flickered and flamed; it
saw here, saw there; it twinkled, and it pierced into life's mysteries;
and all the while it was a good eye. Its whites never showed, as it were.
As an animal, his eye showed a nature free from vice. In some respects he
was easy to live with, for he never found fault with what was given him
to eat, or the way the house was managed; and he never interfered with
the "kitchen people," or refused a dollar or ten dollars to Carmen for
finery. In fact, he was in a sense too lavish, for he used at one time to
bring her home presents of silks and clothes and toilet things and
stockings and hats, which were not in accord with her taste, and only
vexed her. Indeed, she resented wearing them, and could hardly bring
herself to thank him for them. At last, however, she induced him to let
her buy what she wanted with the presents of money which he might give
her.

On the whole Carmen fared pretty well, for he would sometimes give her a
handful of bills from his pocket, bidding her take ten dollars, and she
would coolly take twenty, while he shrugged his shoulders and declared
she would be his ruin. He had never repented of marrying her, in spite of
the fact that she did not always keep house as his mother and grandmother
had kept it; that she was gravely remiss in going to mass; and that she
quarrelled with more than one of her neighbours, who had an idea that
Spain was an inferior country because it was south of France, just as the
habitants regarded the United States as a low and inferior country
because it was south of Quebec. You went north towards heaven and south
towards hell, in their view; but when they went so far as to patronize or
slander Carmen, she drove her verbal stilettos home without a button; so
that on one occasion there would have been a law-suit for libel if the
Old Cure had not intervened. To Jean Jacques' credit, be it said, he took
his wife's part on this occasion, though in his heart he knew that she
was in the wrong.

He certainly was not always in the right himself. If he had been told
that he neglected his wife he would have been justly indignant. Also, it
never occurred to him that a woman did not always want to talk philosophy
or discuss the price of wheat or the cost of flour-barrels; and that for
a man to be stupidly and foolishly fond was dearer to a woman than
anything else. How should he know--yet he ought to have done so, if he
really was a philosopher--that a woman would want the cleverest man in
the world to be a boy and play the fool sometimes; that she would rather,
if she was a healthy woman, go to a circus than to a revelation of the
mysteries of the mind from an altar of culture, if her own beloved man
was with her.

Carmen had been left too much alone, as M. Fille had said to Judge
Carcasson. Her spirits had moments of great dullness, when she was ready
to fling herself into the river--or the arms of the schoolmaster or the
farrier. When she first came to St. Saviour's, the necessity of adapting
herself to the new conditions, of keeping faith with herself, which she
had planned on the Antoine, and making a good wife to the man who was to
solve all her problems for her, prevailed. She did not at first miss so
much the life of excitement, of danger, of intrigue, of romance, of
colour and variety, which she had left behind in Spain. When her child
was born, she became passionately fond of it; her maternal spirit
smothered it. It gave the needed excitement in the routine of life at St.
Saviour's.

Yet the interest was not permanent. There came a time when she resented
the fact that Jean Jacques made more of the child than he did of herself.
That was a bad day for all concerned, for dissimulation presently became
necessary, and the home of Jean Jacques was a home of mystery which no
philosophy could interpret. There had never been but the one child. She
was not less handsome than when Jean Jacques married her and brought her
home, though the bloom of maiden youthfulness was no longer there; and
she certainly was a cut far above the habitant women or even the others
of a higher social class, in a circle which had an area equal to a
principality in Europe.

The old cure, M. Langon, had had much influence over her, for few could
resist the amazing personal influence which his rare pure soul secured
over the worst. It was a sad day to her when he went to his long home;
and inwardly she felt a greater loss than she had ever felt, save that
once when her Carvillho Gonzales went the way of the traitor. Memories of
her past life far behind in Madrid did not grow fainter; indeed, they
grew more distinct as the years went on. They seemed to vivify, as her
discontent and restlessness grew.

Once, when there had come to St. Saviour's a middle-aged baron from Paris
who had heard the fishing was good at St. Saviour's, and talked to her of
Madrid and Barcelona, of Cordova and Toledo, as one who had seen and
known and (he declared) loved them; who painted for her in splashing
impressionist pictures the life that still eddied in the plazas and
dreamed in the patios, she had been almost carried off her feet with
longing; and she nearly gave that longing an expression which would have
brought a tragedy, while still her Zoe was only eight years old. But M.
Langon, the wise priest whose eyes saw and whose heart understood, had
intervened in time; and she never knew that the sudden disappearance of
the Baron, who still owed fifty dollars to Jean Jacques, was due to the
practical wisdom of a great soul which had worked out its own destiny in
a little back garden of the world.

When this good priest was alive she felt she had a friend who was as
large of heart as he was just, and who would not scorn the fool according
to his folly, or chastise the erring after his deserts. In his greatness
of soul Pere Langon had shut his eyes to things that pained him more than
they shocked him, for he had seen life in its most various and
demoralized forms, and indeed had had his own temptations when he lived
in Belgium and France, before he had finally decided to become a priest.
He had protected Carmen with a quiet persistency since her first day in
the parish, and had had a saving influence over her. Pere Langon reproved
those who criticized her and even slandered her, for it was evident to
all that she would rather have men talk to her than women; and any summer
visitor who came to fish, gave her an attention never given even to the
youngest and brightest in the district; and the eyes of the habitant lass
can be very bright at twenty. Yet whatever Carmen's coquetry and her
sport with fire had been, her own emotions had never been really involved
till now.

The new cure, M. Savry, would have said they were involved now because
she never came to confession, and indeed, since the Old Cure died, she
had seldom gone to mass. Yet when, with accumulated reproof on his
tongue, M. Savry did come to the Manor Cartier, he felt the inherent
supremacy of beauty, not the less commanding because it had not the
refinement of the duchess or the margravine.

Once M. Savry ventured to do what the Old Cure would never have done--he
spoke to Jean Jacques concerning Carmen's neglect of mass and confession,
and he received a rebuff which was almost au seigneur; for in Jean
Jacques' eyes he was now the figure in St. Saviour's; and this was an
occasion when he could assert his position as premier of the secular
world outside the walls of the parish church. He did it in good style for
a man who had had no particular training in the social arts.

This is how he did it and what he said:

"There have been times when I myself have thought it would be a good
thing to have a rest from the duties of a Catholic, m'sieu' le cure," he
remarked to M. Savry, when the latter had ended his criticism. He said it
with an air of conflict, and with full intent to make his supremacy
complete.

"No Catholic should speak like that," returned the shocked priest.

"No priest should speak to me as you have done," rejoined Jean Jacques.
"What do you know of the reasons for the abstention of madame? The soul
must enjoy rest as well as the body, and madame has a--mind which can
judge for itself. I have a body that is always going, and it gets too
little rest, and that keeps my soul in a flutter too. It must be getting
to mass and getting to confession, and saying aves and doing penance, it
is such a busy little soul of mine; but we are not all alike, and
madame's body goes in a more stately way. I am like a comet, she is like
the sun steady, steady, round and round, with plenty of sleep and the
comfortable darkness. Sometimes madame goes hard; so does the sun in
summer-shines, shines, shines like a furnace. Madame's body goes like
that--at the dairy, in the garden, with the loom, among the fowls,
growing her strawberries, keeping the women at the beating of the flax;
and then again it is all still and idle like the sun on a cloudy day; and
it rests. So it is with the human soul--I am a philosopher--I think the
soul goes hard the same as the body, churning, churning away in the heat
of the sun; and then it gets quiet and goes to sleep in the cloudy day,
when the body is sick of its bouncing, and it has a rest--the soul has a
rest, which is good for it, m'sieu'. I have worked it all out so.
Besides, the soul of madame is her own. I have not made any claim upon
it, and I will not expect you to do more, m'sieu' le cure."

"It is my duty to speak," protested the good priest. "Her soul is God's,
and I am God's vicar--"

Jean Jacques waved a hand. "T'sh, you are not the Pope. You are not even
an abbe. You were only a deacon a few years ago. You did not know how to
hold a baby for the christening when you came to St. Saviour's first. For
the mass, you have some right to speak; it is your duty perhaps; but the
confession, that is another thing; that is the will of every soul to do
or not to do. What do you know of a woman's soul-well, perhaps, you know
what they have told you; but madame's soul--"

"Madame has never been to confession to me," interjected M. Savry
indignantly. Jean Jacques chuckled. He had his New Cure now for sure.

"Confession is for those who have sinned. Is it that you say one must go
to confession, and in order to go to confession it is needful to sin?"

M. Savry shivered with pious indignation. He had a sudden desire to rend
this philosophic Catholic--to put him under the thumb-screw for the glory
of the Lord, and to justify the Church; but the little Catholic
miller-magnate gave freely to St. Saviour's; he was popular; he had a
position; he was good to the poor; and every Christmas-time he sent a
half-dozen bags of flour to the presbytery!

All Pere Savry ventured to say in reply was: "Upon your head be it, M.
Jean Jacques. I have done my duty. I shall hope to see madame at mass
next Sunday."

Jean Jacques had chuckled over that episode, for he had conquered; he had
shown M. Savry that he was master in his own household and outside it.
That much his philosophy had done for him. No other man in the parish
would have dared to speak to the Cure like that. He had never scolded
Carmen when she had not gone to church. Besides, there was Carmen's
little daughter always at his side at mass; and Carmen always insisted on
Zoe going with him, and even seemed anxious for them to be off at the
first sound of the bells of St. Saviour's. Their souls were busy, hers
wanted rest; that was clear. He was glad he had worked it out so cleverly
to the Cure--and to his own mind. His philosophy surely had vindicated
itself.

But Jean Jacques was far from thinking of these things as he drove back
from Vilray and from his episode in Court to the Manor Cartier. He was
indeed just praising himself, his wife, his child, and everything that
belonged to him. He was planning, planning, as he talked, the new things
to do--the cheese-factory, the purchase of a steam-plough and a
steam-thresher which he could hire out to his neighbours. Only once
during the drive did he turn round to Carmen, and then it was to ask her
if she had seen her father of late.

"Not for ten months," was her reply. "Why do you ask?"

"Wouldn't he like to be nearer you and Zoe? It's twelve miles to
Beauharnais," he replied.

"Are you thinking of offering him another place at the Manor?" she asked
sharply.

"Well, there is the new cheese-factory--not to manage, but to keep the
books! He's doing them all right for the lumber-firm. I hear that he--"

"I don't want it. No good comes from relatives working together. Look at
the Latouche farm where your cousin makes his mess. My father is well
enough where he is."

"But you'd like to see him oftener--I was only thinking of that," said
Jean Jacques in a mollifying voice. It was the kind of thing in which he
showed at once the weakness and the kindness of his nature. He was in
fact not a philosopher, but a sentimentalist.

"If mother doesn't think it's sensible, why do it, father?" asked Zoe
anxiously, looking up into her father's face.

She had seen the look in her mother's eyes, and also she had no love for
her grandfather. Her instinct had at one time wavered regarding him; but
she had seen an incident with a vanished female cook, and though she had
not understood, a prejudice had been created in her mind. She was always
contrasting him with M. Fille, who, to her mind, was what a grandfather
ought to be.

"I won't have him beholden to you," said Carmen, almost passionately.

"He is of my family," said Jean Jacques firmly and chivalrously. "There
is no question of being beholden."

"Let well enough alone," was the gloomy reply. With a sigh, Jean Jacques
turned back to the study of the road before him, to gossip with Zoe, and
to keep on planning subconsciously the new things he must do.

Carmen sighed too, or rather she gave a gasp of agitation and annoyance.
Her father? She had lost whatever illusion once existed regarding him.
For years he had clung to her--to her pocket. He was given to drinking in
past years, and he still had his sprees. Like the rest of the world, she
had not in earlier years seen the furtiveness in his handsome face; but
at last, as his natural viciousness became stereotyped, and bad habits
matured and emphasized, she saw beneath his mask of low-class comeliness.
When at last she had found it necessary to dismiss the best cook she ever
had, because of him, they saw little of each other. This was coincident
with his failure at the ash-factory, where he mismanaged and even robbed
Jean Jacques right and left; and she had firmly insisted on Jean Jacques
evicting him, on the ground that it was not Sebastian Dolores' bent to
manage a business.

This little episode, as they drove home from Vilray, had an unreasonable
effect upon her.

It was like the touch of a finger which launches a boat balancing in the
ways onto the deep. It tossed her on a sea of agitation. She was swept
away on a flood of morbid reflection.

Her husband and her daughter, laughing and talking in the front seat of
the red wagon, seemed quite oblivious of her, and if ever there was a
time when their influence was needed it was now. George Masson was coming
over late this afternoon to inspect the work he had been doing; and she
was trembling with an agitation which, however, did not show upon the
surface. She had not seen him for two days--since the day after the Clerk
of the Court had discovered her in the arms of a man who was not her
husband; but he was coming this evening, and he was coming to-morrow for
the last time; for the repair work on the flume of the dam would all be
finished then.

But would the work he had been doing all be finished then? As she thought
of that incident of three days ago and of its repetition on the following
day, she remembered what he had said to her as she snatched herself
almost violently from his arms, in a sudden access of remorse. He had
said that it had to be, that there was no escape now; and at his words
she had felt every pulse in her body throbbing, every vein expanding with
a hot life which thrilled and tortured her. Life had been so meagre and
so dull, and the man who had worshipped her on the Antoine now worshipped
himself only, and also Zoe, the child, maybe; or so she thought; while
the man who had once possessed her whole mind and whole heart, and never
her body, back there in Spain, he, Carvillho Gonzales, would have loved
her to the end, in scenes where life had colour and passion and danger
and delightful movement.

She was one of those happy mortals who believe that the dead and gone
lover was perfect, and that in losing him she was losing all that life
had in store; but the bare, hard truth was that her Gonzales could have
been true neither to her nor to any woman in the world for longer than
one lingering year, perhaps one lunar month. It did not console her--she
did not think of it-that the little man on the seat of the red wagon,
chirruping with their daughter, had been, would always be, true to her.
Of what good was fidelity if he that was faithful desired no longer as he
once did?

A keen observer would have seen in the glowing, unrestful look, in the
hot cheek, in the interlacing fingers, that a contest was going on in the
woman's soul, as she drove homeward with all that was her own in the
world. The laughter of her husband and child grated painfully on her
ears. Why should they be mirthful while her life was being swept by a
storm of doubt, temptation, and dark passion? Why was it?

Yet she smiled at Jean Jacques when he lifted her down from the red wagon
at the door of the Manor Cartier, even though he lifted his daughter down
first.

Did she smile at Jean Jacques because, as they came toward the Manor, she
saw George Masson in the distance by the flume, and in that moment
decided to keep her promise and meet him at a secluded point on the
river-bank at sunset after supper?



CHAPTER VII

JEAN JACQUES AWAKES FROM SLEEP

The pensiveness of a summer evening on the Beau Cheval was like a veil
hung over all the world. While yet the sun was shining, there was the
tremor of life in the sadness; but when the last glint of amethyst and
gold died away behind Mont Violet, and the melancholy swish of the river
against the osiered banks rose out of the windless dusk, all the region
around Manor Cartier, with its cypresses, its firs, its beeches, and its
elms, became gently triste. Even the weather-vane on the Manor--the gold
Cock of Beaugard, as it was called--did not move; and the stamping of a
horse in the stable was like the thunderous knock of a traveller from
Beyond. The white mill and the grey manor stood out with ghostly
vividness in the light of the rising moon. Yet there were times
innumerable when they looked like cool retreats for those who wanted
rest; when, in the summer solstice, they offered the pleasant peace of
the happy fireside. How often had Jean Jacques stood off from it all of a
summer night and said to himself: "Look at that, my Jean Jacques. It is
all yours, Manor and mills and farms and factory--all."

"Growing, growing, fattening, while I drone in my feather bed," he had as
often said, with the delighted observation of the philosopher. "And me
but a young man yet--but a mere boy," he would add. "I have piled it
up--I have piled it up, and it keeps on growing, first one thing and then
another."

Could such a man be unhappy? Finding within himself his satisfaction, his
fountain of appeasement, why should not his days be days of pleasantness
and peace? So it appeared to him during that summer, just passed, when he
had surveyed the World and his world within the World, and it seemed to
his innocent mind that he himself had made it all. There he was, not far
beyond forty, and eligible to become a member of Parliament, or even a
count of the Holy Roman Empire! He had thought of both these honours, but
there was so much to occupy him--he never had a moment to himself, except
at night; and then there was planning and accounting to do, his foremen
to see, or some knotty thing to disentangle. But when the big clock in
the Manor struck ten, and he took out his great antique silver watch, to
see if the two marched to the second, he would go to the door, look out
into the night, say, "All's well, thank the good God," and would go to
bed, very often forgetting to kiss Carmen, and even forgetting his
darling little Zoe.

After all, a mind has to be very big and to have very many tentacles to
hold so many things all at once, and also to remember to do the right
thing at the right moment every time. He would even forget to ask Carmen
to play on the guitar, which in the first days of their married life was
the recreation of every evening. Seldom with the later years had he asked
her to sing, because he was so busy; and somehow his ear had not that
keenness of sound once belonging to it. There was a time when he himself
was wont to sing, when he taught his little Zoe the tunes of the Chansons
Canadiennes; but even that had dropped away, except at rare intervals,
when he would sing Le Petit Roger Bontemps, with Petite Fleur de Bois,
and a dozen others; but most he would sing--indeed there was never a
sing-song in the Manor Cartier but he would burst forth with A la Claire
Fontaine and its haunting refrain:

          "Il y a longtemps que je t'aime,
          Jamais je ne t'oublierai."

But this very summer, when he had sung it on the birthday of the little
Zoe, his voice had seemed out of tune. At first he had thought that
Carmen was playing his accompaniment badly on the guitar, but she had
sharply protested against that, and had appealed to M. Fille, who was
present at the pretty festivity. He had told the truth, as a Clerk of the
Court should. He said that Jean Jacques' voice was not as he had so often
heard it; but he would also frankly admit that he did not think madame
played the song as he had heard her play it aforetime, and that covered
indeed twelve years or more--in fact, since the birth of the renowned
Zoe.

M. Fille had wondered much that night of June at the listless manner and
listless playing of Carmen Barbille. For a woman of such spirit and fire
it would seem as though she must be in ill-health to play like that. Yet
when he looked at her he saw only the comeliness of a woman whom the life
of the haut habitant had not destroyed or, indeed, dimmed. Her skin was
smooth, she had no wrinkles, and her neck was a pillar of softly moulded
white flesh, around which a man might well string unset jewels, if he had
them; for the tint and purity of her skin would be a better setting than
platinum or fine gold. But the Clerk of the Court was really
unsophisticated, or he would have seen that Carmen played the guitar
badly because she was not interested in Jean Jacques' singing. He would
have known that she had come to that stage in her married life when the
tenure is pitifully insecure. He would have seen that the crisis was
near. If he had had any real observation he would have noticed that
Carmen's eyes at once kindled, and that the guitar became a different
thing, when M. Colombin, the young schoolmaster, one of the guests,
caught up the refrain of A la Claire Fontaine, and in a soft tenor voice
sang it with Jean Jacques to the end, and then sang it again with Zoe.
Then Carmen's dark eyes deepened with the gathering light in them, her
body seemed to vibrate and thrill with emotion; and when M. Colombin and
Zoe ceased, with her eyes fixed on the distance, and as though
unconscious of them all, she began to sing a song of Cadiz which she had
not sung since boarding the Antoine at Bordeaux. Her mind had, suddenly
flown back out of her dark discontent to the days when all life was
before her, and, with her Gonzales, she had moved in an atmosphere of
romance, adventure and passion.

In a second she was transformed from the wife of the brown money-master
to the girl she was when she came to St. Saviour's from the plaza, where
her Carvillho Gonzales was shot, with love behind her and memory blazoned
in the red of martyrdom. She sang now as she had not sung for some years.
Her guitar seemed to leap into life, her face shone with the hot passion
of memory, her voice rang with the pain of a disappointed life:

       "Granada, Granada, thy gardens are gay,
        And bright are thy stars, the high stars above;
        But as flowers that fade and are gray,
        But as dusk at the end of the day,
        Are ye to the light in the eyes of my love
        In the eyes, in the soul, of my love.

       "Granada, Granada, oh, when shall I see
        My love in thy gardens, there waiting for me?

       "Beloved, beloved, have pity, and make
        Not the sun shut its eyes, its hot, envious eyes,
        And the world in the darkness of night
        Be debtor to thee for its light.
        Turn thy face, turn thy face from the skies
        To the love, to the pain in my eyes.

       "Granada, Granada, oh, when shall I see
        My love in thy gardens, there waiting for me!"

From that night forward she had been restless and petulant and like one
watching and waiting. It seemed to her that she must fly from the life
which was choking her. It was all so petty and so small. People went
about sneaking into other people's homes like detectives; they turned
yellow and grew scrofulous from too much salt pork, green tea, native
tobacco, and the heat of feather beds. The making of a rag carpet was an
event, the birth of a baby every year till the woman was forty-five was a
commonplace; but the exit of a youth to a seminary to become a priest, or
the entrance to the novitiate of a young girl, were matters as important
as a battle to Napoleon the Great.

How had she gone through it all so long, she asked herself? The presence
of Jean Jacques had become almost unbearable when, the day done, he
retired to the feather bed which she loathed, though he would have looked
upon discarding it like the abdication of his social position. A feather
bed was a sign of social position; it was as much the dais to his honour
as is the woolsack to the Lord Chancellor in the House of Lords.

She was waiting for something. There was a restless, vagrant spirit alive
in her now. She had been so long inactive, tied by the leg, with wings
clipped; now her mind roamed into pleasant places of the imagination
where life had freedom, where she could renew the impulses of youth. A
true philosopher-a man of the world-would have known for what she was
waiting with that vague, disordered expectancy and yearning; but there
was no man of the world to watch and guide her this fateful summer, when
things began to go irretrievably wrong.

Then George Masson came. He was a man of the world in his way; he saw and
knew better than the philosopher of the Manor Cartier. He grasped the
situation with the mind of an artist in his own sphere, and with the
knowledge got by experience. Thus there had been the thing which the
Clerk of the Court saw from Mont Violet behind the Manor; and so it was
that as Jean Jacques helped Carmen down from the red wagon on their
return from Vilray, she gave him a smile which was meant to deceive; for
though given to him it was really given to another man in her mind's eye.
At sunset she gave it again to George Masson on the river-bank, only
warmer and brighter still, with eyes that were burning, with hands that
trembled, and with an agitated bosom more delicately ample than it was on
the day the Antoine was wrecked.

Neither of these two adventurers into a wild world of feeling noticed
that a man was sitting on a little knoll under a tree, not far away from
their meeting-place, busy with pencil and paper.

It was Jean Jacques, who had also come to the river-bank to work out a
business problem which must be settled on the morrow. He had stolen out
immediately after supper from neighbours who wished to see him, and had
come here by a roundabout way, because he wished to be alone.

George Masson and Carmen were together for a few moments only, but Jean
Jacques heard his wife say, "Yes, to-morrow--for sure," and then he saw
her kiss the master-carpenter--kiss him twice, thrice. After which they
vanished, she in one direction, and the invader and marauder in another.

If either of these two had seen the face of the man with a pencil and
paper under the spreading beechtree, they would not have been so
impatient for tomorrow, and Carmen would not have said "for sure."

Jean Jacques was awake at last, man as well as philosopher.



CHAPTER VIII

THE GATE IN THE WALL

Jean Jacques was not without originality of a kind, and not without
initiative; but there were also the elements of the very old Adam in him,
and the strain of the obvious. If he had been a real genius, rather than
a mere lively variation of the commonplace--a chicken that could never
burst its shell, a bird which could not quite break into song--he might
have made his biographer guess hard and futilely, as to what he would do
after having seen his wife's arms around the neck of another man than
himself--a man little more than a manual labourer, while he, Jean Jacques
Barbille, had come of the people of the Old Regime. As it was, this
magnate of St. Saviour's, who yesterday posed so sympathetically and
effectively in the Court at Vilray as a figure of note, did the quite
obvious thing: he determined to kill the master-carpenter from Laplatte.

There was no genius in that. When, from under the spreading beech-tree,
Jean Jacques saw his wife footing it back to her house with a light,
wayward step; when he watched the master-carpenter vault over a stone
fence five feet high with a smile of triumph mingled with doubt on his
face, he was too stunned at first to move or speak. If a sledge-hammer
strikes you on the skull, though your skull is of such a hardness that it
does not break, still the shock numbs activity for awhile, at any rate.
The sledge-hammer had descended on Jean Jacques' head, and also had
struck him between the eyes; and it is in the credit balance of his
ledger of life, that he refrained from useless outcry at the moment. Such
a stroke kills some men, either at once, or by lengthened torture; others
it sends mad, so that they make a clamour which draws the attention of
the astonished and not sympathetic world; but it only paralysed Jean
Jacques. For a time he sat fascinated by the ferocity of the event, his
eyes following the hurrying wife and the jaunty, swaggering
master-carpenter with a strange, animal-like dismay and apprehension.
They remained fixed with a kind of blank horror and distraction on the
landscape for some time after both had disappeared.

At last, however, he seemed to recover his senses, and to come back from
the place where he had been struck by the hammer of treachery. He seemed
to realize again that he was still a part of the common world, not a
human being swung through the universe on his heart-strings by a Gorgon.

The paper and pencil in his hand brought him back from the far Gehenna
where he had been, to the world again--how stony and stormy a world it
was, with the air gone as heavy as lead, with his feet so loaded down
with chains that he could not stir! He had had great joy of this his
world; he had found it a place where every day were problems to be solved
by an astute mind, problems which gave way before the master-thinker.
There was of course unhappiness in his world. There was death, there was
accident occasionally--had his own people not gone down under the scythe
of time? But in going they had left behind in real estate and other
things good compensation for their loss. There was occasional suffering
and poverty and trouble in his little kingdom; but a cord of wood here, a
barrel of flour there, a side of beef elsewhere, a little debt remitted,
a bag of dried apples, or an Indian blanket--these he gave, and had great
pleasure in giving; and so the world was not a place where men should
hang their heads, but a place where the busy man got more than the worth
of his money.

It had never occurred to him that he was ever translating the world into
terms of himself, that he went on his way saying in effect, "I am coming.
I am Jean Jacques Barbille. You have heard of me. You know me. Wave a
hand to me, duck your head to me, crack the whip or nod when I pass. I am
M'sieu' Jean Jacques, philosopher."

And all the while he had only been vaguely, not really, conscious of his
wife and child. He did not know that he had only made of his wife an
incident in his life, in spite of the fact that he thought he loved her;
that he had been proud of her splendid personality; and that, with
passionate chivalry, he had resented any criticism of her.

He thought still, as he did on the Antoine, that Carmen's figure had the
lines of the Venus of Milo, that her head would have been a model either
for a Madonna, or for Joan of Arc, or the famous Isabella of Aragon.
Having visited the Louvre and the Luxembourg all in one day, he felt he
was entitled to make such comparisons, and that in making them he was on
sure ground. He had loved to kiss Carmen in the neck, it was so full and
soft and round; and when she went about the garden with her dress
shortened, and he saw her ankles, even after he had been married thirteen
years, and she was thirty-four, he still admired, he still thought that
the world was a good place when it produced such a woman. And even when
she had lashed him with her tongue, as she did sometimes, he still
laughed--after the smart was over--because he liked spirit. He would
never have a horse that had not some blood, and he had never driven a
sluggard in his life more than once. But wife and child and world, and
all that therein was, existed largely because they were necessary to Jean
Jacques.

That is the way it had been; and it was as though the firmament had been
rolled up before his eyes, exposing the everlasting mysteries, when he
saw his wife in the arms of the master-carpenter. It was like some
frightening dream.

The paper and pencil waked him to reality. He looked towards his house,
he looked the way George Masson had gone, and he knew that what he had
seen was real life and not a dream. The paper fell from his hand. He did
not pick it up. Its fall represented the tumbling walls of life, was the
earthquake which shook his world into chaos. He ground the sheet into the
gravel with his heel. There would be no cheese-factory built at St.
Saviour's for many a year to come. The man of initiative, the man of the
hundred irons would not have the hundred and one, or keep the hundred hot
any more; because he would be so busy with the iron which had entered
into his soul.

When the paper had been made one with the earth, a problem buried for
ever, Jean Jacques pulled himself up to his full height, as though facing
a great thing which he must do.

"Well, of course!" he said firmly.

That was what his honour, Judge Carcasson, had said a few hours before,
when the little Clerk of the Court had remarked an obvious thing about
the case of Jean Jacques.

And Jean Jacques said only the obvious thing when he made up his mind to
do the obvious thing--to kill George Masson, the master-carpenter.

This was evidence that he was no genius. Anybody could think of killing a
man who had injured him, as the master-carpenter had done Jean Jacques.
It is the solution of the problem of the Patagonian. It is old as
Rameses.

Yet in his own way Jean Jacques did what he felt he had to do. The thing
he was going to do was hopelessly obvious, but the doing of it was Jean
Jacques' own; and it was not obvious; and that perhaps was genius after
all. There are certain inevitable things to do, and for all men to do;
and they have been doing them from the beginning of time; but the way it
is done--is not that genius? There is no new story in the world; all the
things that happen have happened for untold centuries; but the man who
tells the story in a new way, that is genius, so the great men say. If,
then, Jean Jacques did the thing he had to do with a turn of his own, he
would justify to some degree the opinion he had formed of himself.

As he walked back to his desecrated home he set himself to think. How
should it be done? There was the rifle with which he had killed deer in
the woods beyond the Saguenay and bear beyond the Chicoutimi. That was
simple--and it was obvious; and it could be done at once. He could soon
overtake the man who had spoiled the world for him.

Yet he was a Norman, and the Norman thinks before he acts. He is the soul
of caution; he wants to get the best he can out of his bargain. He will
throw nothing away that is to his advantage. There should be other ways
than the gun with which to take a man's life--ways which might give a
Norman a chance to sacrifice only one life; to secure punishment where it
was due, but also escape from punishment for doing the obvious thing.

Poison? That was too stupid even to think of once. A pitch-fork and a
dung-heap? That had its merits; but again there was the risk of more than
one life.

All the way to his house, Jean Jacques, with something of the rage of
passion and the glaze of horror gone from his eyes, and his face not now
so ghastly, still brooded over how, after he had had his say, he was to
put George Masson out of the world. But it did not come at once. All
makers of life-stories find their difficulty at times. Tirelessly they
grope along a wall, day in, day out, and then suddenly a great gate
swings open, as though to the touch of a spring, and the whole way is
clear to the goal.

Jean Jacques went on thinking in a strange, new, intense abstraction. His
restless eyes were steadier than they had ever been; his wife noticed
that as he entered the house after the Revelation. She noticed also his
paleness and his abstraction. For an instant she was frightened; but no,
Jean Jacques could not know anything. Yet--yet he had come from the
direction of the river!

"What is it, Jean Jacques?" she asked. "Aren't you well?"

He put his hand to his head, but did not look her in the eyes. His
gesture helped him to avoid that. "I have a head--la, such a head! I have
been thinking, thinking-it is my hobby. I have been planning the
cheese-factory, and all at once it comes on-the ache in my head. I will
go to bed. Yes, I will go at once." Suddenly he turned at the door
leading to the bedroom. "The little Zoe--is she well?"

"Of course. Why should she not be well? She has gone to the top of the
hill. Of course, she's well, Jean Jacques."

"Good-good!" he remarked. Somehow it seemed strange to him that Zoe
should be well. Was there not a terrible sickness in his house, and had
not that woman, his wife, her mother, brought the infection? Was he
himself not stricken by it?

Carmen was calm enough again. "Go to bed, Jean Jacques," she said, "and
I'll bring you a sleeping posset. I know those headaches. You had one
when the ash-factory was burned."

He nodded without looking at her, and closed the door behind him.

When she came to the bedroom a half-hour later, his face was turned to
the wall. She spoke, but he did not answer. She thought he was asleep. He
was not asleep. He was only thinking how to do the thing which was not
obvious, which was also safe for himself. That should be his triumph, if
he could but achieve it.

When she came to bed he did not stir, and he did not answer her when she
spoke.

"The poor Jean Jacques!" he heard her say, and if there had not been on
him the same courage that possessed him the night when the Antoine was
wrecked, he would have sobbed.

He did not stir. He kept thinking; and all the time her words, "The poor
Jean Jacques!" kept weaving themselves through his vague designs. Why had
she said that--she who had deceived, betrayed him? Had he then seen what
he had seen?

She did not sleep for a long time, and when she did it was uneasily. But
the bed was an immense one, and she was not near him. There was no sleep
for him--not even for an hour. Once, in exhaustion, he almost rolled over
into the poppies of unconsciousness; but he came back with a start and a
groan to sentient life again, and kept feeling, feeling along the wall of
purpose for a masterly way to kill.

At dawn it came, suddenly spreading out before him like a picture. He saw
himself standing at the head of the flume out there by the Mill Cartier
with his hand on the lever. Below him in the empty flume was the
master-carpenter giving a last inspection to the repairs. Beyond the
master-carpenter--far beyond--was the great mill-wheel! Behind himself,
Jean Jacques, was the river held back by the dam; and if the lever was
opened,--the river would sweep through the raised gates down the flume to
the millwheel--with the man. And then the wheel would turn and turn, and
the man would be in the wheel.

It was not obvious; it was original; and it looked safe for Jean Jacques.
How easily could such an "accident" occur!



CHAPTER IX

"MOI-JE SUIS PHILOSOPHE"

The air was like a mellow wine, and the light on the landscape was full
of wistfulness. It was a thing so exquisite that a man of sentiment like
Jean Jacques in his younger days would have wept to see. And the feeling
was as palpable as the seeing; as in the early spring the new life which
is being born in the year, produces a febrile kind of sorrow in the mind.
But the glow of Indian summer, that compromise, that after-thought of
real summer, which brings her back for another good-bye ere she vanishes
for ever--its sadness is of a different kind. Its longing has a sharper
edge; there stir in it the pangs of discontent; and the mind and body
yearn for solace. It is a dangerous time, even more dangerous than spring
for those who have passed the days of youth.

It had proved dangerous to Carmen Barbille. The melancholy of the
gorgeously tinted trees, the flights of the birds to the south, the smell
of the fallow field, the wind with the touch of the coming rains--these
had given to a growing discontent with her monotonous life the desire
born of self-pity. In spite of all she could do she was turning to the
life she had left behind in Cadiz long ago.

It seemed to her that Jean Jacques had ceased to care for the charms
which once he had so proudly proclaimed. There was in her the strain of
the religion of Epicurus. She desired always that her visible corporeal
self should be admired and desired, that men should say, "What a splendid
creature!" It was in her veins, an undefined philosophy of life; and she
had ever measured the love of Jean Jacques by his caresses. She had no
other vital standard. This she could measure, she could grasp it and say,
"Here I have a hold; it is so much harvested." But if some one had
written her a poem a thousand verses long, she would have said, "Yes, all
very fine, but let me see what it means; let me feel that it is so."

She had an inherent love of luxury and pleasure, which was far more
active in her now than when she married Jean Jacques. For a Spanish woman
she had matured late; and that was because, in her youth, she had been
active and athletic, unlike most Spanish girls; and the microbes of a
sensuous life, or what might have become a sensual life, had not good
chance to breed.

It all came, however, in the dullness of the winter days and nights, in
the time of deep snows, when they could go abroad but very little. Then
her body and her mind seemed to long for the indolent sun-spaces of
Spain. The artificial heat of the big stoves in the rooms with the low
ceilings only irritated her, and she felt herself growing more ample from
lassitude of the flesh. This particular autumn it seemed to her that she
could not get through another winter without something going wrong,
without a crisis of some sort. She felt the need of excitement, of
change. She had the desire for pleasures undefined.

Then George Masson came, and the undefined took form almost at once. It
was no case of the hunter pursuing his prey with all the craft and
subtlety of his trade. She had answered his look with spontaneity, due to
the fact that she had been surprised into the candour of her feelings by
the appearance of one who had the boldness of a brigand, the health of a
Hercules, and the intelligence of a primitive Jesuit. He had not
hesitated; he had yielded himself to the sumptuous attraction, and the
fire in his eyes was only the window of the furnace within him. He had
gone headlong to the conquest, and by sheer force of temperament and
weight of passion he had swept her off her feet.

He had now come to the last day of his duty at the Mill Cartier, when all
he had to do was to inspect the work done, give assurance and guarantee
that it was all right, and receive his cheque from Jean Jacques. He had
come early, because he had been unable to sleep well, and also he had
much to do before keeping his tryst with Carmen Barbille in the
afternoon.

As he passed the Manor Cartier this fateful morning, he saw her at the
window, and he waved his hat at her with a cheery salutation which she
did not hear. He knew that she did not hear or see. "My beauty!" he said
aloud. "My splendid girl, my charmer of Cadiz! My wonder of the Alhambra,
my Moorish maid! My bird of freedom--hand of Charlemagne, your lips are
sweet, yes, sweet as one-and-twenty!"

His lips grew redder at the thought of the kisses he had taken, his cheek
flushed with the thought of those he meant to take; and he laughed
greedily as he lowered himself into the flume by a ladder, just under the
lever that opened the gates, to begin his inspection.

It was not a perfunctory inspection, for he was a good craftsman, and he
had pride in what his workmen did.

"Ah!"

It was a sound of dumbfounded amazement, a hoarse cry of horror which was
not in tune with the beauty of the morning.

"Ah!"

It came from his throat like the groan of a trapped and wounded lion.
George Masson had almost finished his inspection, when he heard a noise
behind him. He turned and looked back. There stood Jean Jacques with his
hand on the lever. The noise he had heard was the fourteen-foot ladder
being dropped, after Jean Jacques had drawn it up softly out of the
flume.

"Ah! Nom de Dieu!" George Masson exclaimed again in helpless fury and
with horror in his eyes.

By instinct he understood that Carmen's husband knew all. He realized
what Jean Jacques meant to do. He knew that the lever locking the
mill-wheel had been opened, and that Jean Jacques had his hand on the
lever which raised the gate of the flume.

By instinct--for there was no time for thought--he did the only thing
which could help him, he made a swift gesture to Jean Jacques, a gesture
that bade him wait. Time was his only friend in this--one minute, two
minutes, three minutes, anything. For if the gates were opened, he would
be swept into the millwheel, and there would be the end--the everlasting
end.

"Wait!" he called out after his gesture. "One second!"

He ran forward till he was about thirty feet from Jean Jacques standing
there above him, with the set face and the dark malicious, half-insane
eyes. Even in his fear and ghastly anxiety, the subconscious mind of
George Masson was saying, "He looks like the Baron of Beaugard--like the
Baron of Beaugard that killed the man who abused his wife."

It was so. Great-great-grand-nephew of the Baron of Beaugard as he was,
Jean Jacques looked like the portrait of him which hung in the Manor
Cartier. "Wait--but wait one minute!" exclaimed George Masson; and now,
all at once, he had grown cool and determined, and his brain was at work
again with an activity and a clearness it had never known. He had gained
one minute of time, he might be able to gain more. In any case, no one
could save him except himself. There was Jean Jacques with his hand on
the lever--one turn and the thing was done for ever. If a rescuer was
even within one foot of Jean Jacques, the deed could still be done. It
was so much easier opening than shutting the gates of the flume!

"Why should I wait, devil and rogue?" The words came from Jean Jacques'
lips with a snarl. "I am going to kill you. It will do you no good to
whine--cochon!"

To call a man a pig is the worst insult which could be offered by one man
to another in the parish of St. Saviour's. To be called a pig as you are
going to die, is an offensive business indeed.

"I know you are going to kill me--that you can kill me, and I can do
nothing," was the master-carpenter's reply. "There it is--a turn of the
lever, and I am done. Bien sur, I know how easy! I do not want to die,
but I will not squeal even if I am a pig. One can only die once. And once
is enough. . . . No, don't--not yet! Give me a minute till I tell you
something; then you can open the gates. You will have a long time to
live--yes, yes, you are the kind that live long. Well, a minute or two is
not much to ask. If you want to murder, you will open the gates at once;
but if it is punishment, if you are an executioner, you will give me time
to pray."

Jean Jacques did not soften. His voice was harsh and grim. "Well, get on
with your praying, but don't talk. You are going to die," he added, his
hands gripping the lever tighter.

The master-carpenter had had the true inspiration in his hour of danger.
He had touched his appeal with logic, he had offered an argument. Jean
Jacques was a logician, a philosopher! That point made about the
difference between a murder and an execution was a good one. Beside it
was an acknowledgment, by inference, from his victim, that he was getting
what he deserved.

"Pray quick and have it over, pig of an adulterer!" added Jean Jacques.

The master-carpenter raised a protesting hand. "There you are mistaken;
but it is no matter. At the end of to-day I would have been an adulterer,
if you hadn't found out. I don't complain of the word. But see, as a
philosopher"--Jean Jacques jerked a haughty assent--"as a philosopher you
will want to know how and why it is. Carmen will never tell you--a woman
never tells the truth about such things, because she does not know how.
She does not know the truth ever, exactly, about anything. It is because
she is a woman. But I would like to tell you the exact truth; and I can,
because I am a man. For what she did you are as much to blame as she
. . . no, no--not yet!"

Jean Jacques' hand had spasmodically tightened on the lever as though he
would wrench the gates open, and a snarl came from his lips.

"Figure de Christ, but it is true, as true as death! Listen, M'sieu' Jean
Jacques. You are going to kill me, but listen so that you will know how
to speak to her afterwards, understanding what I said as I died."

"Get on--quick!" growled Jean Jacques with white wrinkled lips and the
sun in his agonized eyes. George Masson continued his pleading. "You were
always a man of mind"--Jean Jacques' fierce agitation visibly subsided,
and a surly sort of vanity crept into his face--"and you married a girl
who cared more for what you did than what you thought--that is sure, for
I know women. I am not married, and I have had much to do with many of
them. I will tell you the truth. I left the West because of a woman--of
two women. I had a good business, but I could not keep out of trouble
with women. They made it too easy for me."

"Peacock-pig!" exclaimed Jean Jacques with an ugly sneer.

"Let a man when he is dying tell all the truth, to ease his mind," said
the master-carpenter with a machiavellian pretence and cunning. "It was
vanity, it was, as you say; it was the peacock in me made me be the
friend of many women and not the husband of one. I came down here to
Quebec from the Far West to get away from consequences. It was expensive.
I had to sacrifice. Well, here I am in trouble again--my last trouble,
and with the wife of a man that I respect and admire, not enough to keep
my hands off his wife, but still that I admire. It is my weakness that I
could not be, as a man, honourable to Jean Jacques Barbille. And so I pay
the price; so I have to go without time to make my will. Bless heaven
above, I have no wife--"

"If you had a wife you would not be dying now. You would not then meddle
with the home of Jean Jacques Barbille," sneered Jean Jacques. The note
was savage yet.

"Ah, for sure, for sure! It is so. And if I lived I would marry at once."

Desperate as his condition was, the master-carpenter could almost have
laughed at the idea of marriage preventing him from following the bent of
his nature. He was the born lover. If he had been as high as the Czar, or
as low as the ditcher, he would have been the same; but it would be
madness to admit that to Jean Jacques now.

"But, as you say, let me get on. My time has come--"

Jean Jacques jerked his head angrily. "Enough of this. You keep on saying
'Wait a little,' but your time has come. Now take it so, and don't
repeat."

"A man must get used to the idea of dying, or he will die hard," replied
the master-carpenter, for he saw that Jean Jacques' hands were not so
tightly clenched on the lever now; and time was everything. He had
already been near five minutes, and every minute was a step to a chance
of escape--somehow.

"I said you were to blame," he continued. "Listen, Jean Jacques Barbille.
You, a man of mind, married a girl who cared more for a touch of your
hand than a bucketful of your knowledge, which every man in the province
knows is great. At first you were almost always thinking of her and what
a fine woman she was, and because everyone admired her, you played the
peacock, too. I am not the only peacock. You are a good man--no one ever
said anything against your character. But always, always, you think most
of yourself. It is everywhere you go as if you say, 'Look out. I am
coming. I am Jean Jacques Barbille.

"'Make way for Jean Jacques. I am from the Manor Cartier. You have heard
of me.' . . . That is the way you say things in your mind. But all the
time the people say, 'That is Jean Jacques Barbille, but you should see
his wife. She is a wonder. She is at home at the Manor with the cows and
the geese. Jean Jacques travels alone through the parish to Quebec, to
Three Rivers, to Tadousac, to the great exhibition at Montreal, but
madame, she stays at home. M'sieu' Jean Jacques is nothing beside
her'--that is what the people say. They admire you for your brains, but
they would have fallen down before your wife, if you had given her half a
chance."

"Ah, that's bosh--what do you know!" exclaimed Jean Jacques fiercely, but
he was fascinated too by the argument of the man whose life he was going
to take.

"I know the truth, my money-man. Do you think she'd have looked at me if
you'd been to her what she thought I might be? No, bien sur! Did you take
her where she could see the world? No. Did you bring her presents? No.
Did you say, 'Come along, we will make a little journey to see the
world?' No. Do you think that a woman can sit and darn your socks, and
tidy your room, and bake you pancakes in the morning while you roast your
toes, and be satisfied with just that, and not long for something
outside?"

Jean Jacques was silent. He did not move. He was being hypnotized by a
mind of subtle strength, by the logic of which he was so great a lover.

The master-carpenter pressed his logic home. "No, she must sit in your
shadow always. She must wait till you come. And when you come, it was
'Here am I, your Jean Jacques. Fall down and worship me. I am your
husband.' Did you ever say, 'Heavens, there you are, the woman of all the
world, the rising and the setting sun, the star that shines, the garden
where all the flowers of love grow'? Did you ever do that? But no, there
was only one person in the world--there was only you, Jean Jacques. You
were the only pig in the sty."

It was a bold stroke, but if Jean Jacques could stand that, he could
stand anything. There was a savage start on the part of Jean Jacques, and
the lever almost moved.

"Stop one second!" cried the master-carpenter, sharply now, for in spite
of the sudden savagery on Jean Jacques' part, he felt he had an
advantage, and now he would play his biggest card.

"You can kill me. It is there in your hand. No one can stop you. But will
that give you anything? What is my life? If you take it away, will you be
happier? It is happiness you want. Your wife--she will love you, if you
give her a chance. If you kill me, I will have my revenge in death, for
it is the end of all things for you. You lose your wife for ever. You
need not do so. She would have gone with me, not because of me, but
because I was a man who she thought would treat her like a friend, like a
comrade; who would love her--sacre, what husband could help make love to
such a woman, unless he was in love with himself instead of her!"

Jean Jacques rocked to and fro over the lever in his agitation, yet he
made no motion to move it. He was under a spell.

Straight home drove the master-carpenter's reasoning now. "Kill me, and
you lose her for ever. Kill me, and she will hate you. You think she will
not find out? Then see: as I die I will shriek out so loud that she can
hear me, and she will understand. She will go mad, and give you over to
the law. And then--and then! Did you ever think what will become of your
child, of your Zoe, if you go to the gallows? That would be your legacy
and your blessing to her--the death of a murderer; and she would be left
alone with the woman that would hate you in death! Voila--do you not
see?"

Jean Jacques saw. The terrific logic of the thing smote him. His wife
hating him, himself on the scaffold, his little Zoe disgraced and
dishonoured all her life; and himself out of it all, unable to help her,
and bringing irremediable trouble on her! As a chemical clears a muddy
liquid, leaving it pure and atomless, so there seemed to pass over Jean
Jacques' face a thought like a revelation.

He took his hand from the lever. For a moment he stood like one awakened
out of a sleep. He put his hands to his eyes, then shook his head as
though to free it of some hateful burden. An instant later he stooped,
lifted up the ladder beside him, and let it down to the floor of the
flume.

"There, go--for ever," he said.

Then he turned away with bowed head. He staggered as he stepped down from
the bridge of the flume, where the lever was. He swayed from side to
side. Then he raised his head and looked towards his house. His child
lived there--his Zoe.

"Moi je suis philosophe!" he said brokenly.

After a moment or two, as he stumbled on, he said it again--"Me, I am a
philosopher!"



CHAPTER X

"QUIEN SABE"--WHO KNOWS!

This much must be said for George Masson, that after the terrible
incident at the flume he would have gone straight to the Manor Cartier to
warn Carmen, if it had been possible, though perhaps she already knew.
But there was Jean Jacques on his way back to the Manor, and nothing
remained but to proceed to Laplatte, and give the woman up for ever. He
had no wish to pull up stakes again and begin life afresh, though he was
only forty, and he had plenty of initiative left. But if he had to go, he
would want to go alone, as he had done before. Yes, he would have liked
to tell Carmen that Jean Jacques knew everything; but it was impossible.
She would have to face the full shock from Jean Jacques' own battery. But
then again perhaps she knew already. He hoped she did.

At the very moment that Masson was thinking this, while he went to the
main road where he had left his horse and buggy tied up, Carmen came to
know.

Carmen had not seen her husband that morning until now. She had waked
late, and when she was dressed and went into the dining-room to look for
him, with an apprehension which was the reflection of the bad dreams of
the night, she found that he had had his breakfast earlier than usual and
had gone to the mill. She also learned that he had eaten very little, and
that he had sent a man into Vilray for something or other. Try as she
would to stifle her anxiety, it obtruded itself, and she could eat no
breakfast. She kept her eyes on the door and the window, watching for
Jean Jacques.

Yet she reproved herself for her stupid concern, for Jean Jacques would
have spoken last night, if he had discovered anything. He was not the man
to hold his tongue when he had a chance of talking. He would be sure to
make the most of any opportunity for display of intellectual emotion, and
he would have burst his buttons if he had known. That was the way she put
it in a vernacular which was not Andalusian. Such men love a grievance,
because it gives them an opportunity to talk--with a good case and to
some point, not into the air at imaginary things, as she had so often
seen Jean Jacques do. She knew her Jean Jacques. That is, she thought she
knew her Jean Jacques after living with him for over thirteen years; but
hers was a very common mistake. It is not time which gives revelation, or
which turns a character inside out, and exposes a new and amazing, maybe
revolting side to it. She had never really seen Jean Jacques, and he had
never really seen himself, as he was, but only as circumstances made him
seem to be. What he had showed of his nature all these forty odd years
was only the ferment of a more or less shallow life, in spite of its many
interests: but here now at last was life, with the crust broken over a
deep well of experience and tragedy. She knew as little what he would do
in such a case as he himself knew beforehand. As the incident of the
flume just now showed, he knew little indeed, for he had done exactly the
opposite of what he meant to do. It was possible that Carmen would also
do exactly the opposite of what she meant to do in her own crisis.

Her test was to come. Would she, after all, go off with the
master-carpenter, leaving behind her the pretty, clever, volatile Zoe
. . . Zoe--ah, where was Zoe? Carmen became anxious about Zoe, she knew
not why. Was it the revival of the maternal instinct?

She was told that Zoe had gone off on her pony to take a basket of good
things to a poor old woman down the river three miles away. She would be
gone all morning. By so much, fate was favouring her; for the child's
presence would but heighten the emotion of her exit from that place where
her youth had been wasted. Already the few things she had meant to take
away were secreted in a safe place some distance from the house, beside
the path she meant to take when she left Jean Jacques for ever. George
Masson wanted her, they were to meet to-day, and she was going--going
somewhere out of this intolerable dullness and discontent.

When she pushed her coffee-cup aside and rose from the table without
eating, she went straight to her looking-glass and surveyed herself with
a searching eye. Certainly she was young enough (she said to herself) to
draw the eyes of those who cared for youth and beauty. There was not a
grey hair in the dark brown of her head, there was not a wrinkle--yes,
there were two at the corners of her mouth, which told the story of her
restlessness, of her hunger for the excitement of which she had been
deprived all these years. To go back to Cadiz?--oh, anywhere, anywhere,
so that her blood could beat faster; so that she could feel the stir of
life which had made her spirit flourish even in the dangers of the
far-off day when Gonzales was by her side.

She looked at her guitar. She was sorry she could not take that away with
her. But Jean Jacques would, no doubt, send it after her with his curse.
She would love to play it once again with the old thrill; with the thrill
she had felt on the night of Zoe's birthday a little while ago, when she
was back again with her lover and the birds in the gardens of Granada.
She would sing to someone who cared to hear her, and to someone who would
make her care to sing, which was far more important. She would sing to
the master-carpenter. Though he had not asked her to go with him--only to
meet in a secret place in the hills--she meant to do so, just as she once
meant to marry Jean Jacques, and had done so. It was true she would
probably not have married Jean Jacques, if it had not been for the wreck
of the Antoine; but the wreck had occurred, and she had married him, and
that was done and over so far as she was concerned. She had determined to
go away with the master-carpenter, and though he might feel the same
hesitation as that which Jean Jacques had shown--she had read her Norman
aright aboard the Antoine--yet, still, George Masson should take her
away. A catastrophe had thrown Jean Jacques into her arms; it would not
be a catastrophe which would throw the master-carpenter into her arms. It
would be that they wanted each other.

The mirror gave her a look of dominance--was it her regular features and
her classic head? Does beauty in itself express authority, just because
it has the transcendent thing in it? Does the perfect form convey
something of the same thing that physical force--an army in arms, a
battleship--conveys? In any case it was there, that inherent
masterfulness, though not in its highest form. She was not an aristocrat,
she was no daughter of kings, no duchess of Castile, no dona of Segovia;
and her beauty belonged to more primary manifestations; but it was above
the lower forms, even if it did not reach to the highest. "A handsome
even splendid woman of her class" would have been the judgment of the
connoisseur.

As she looked in the glass at her clear skin, at the wonderful throat
showing so soft and palpable and tower-like under the black velvet ribbon
brightened by a paste ornament; as she saw the smooth breadth of brow,
the fulness of the lips, the limpid lustre of the large eyes, the
well-curved ear, so small and so like ivory, it came home to her, as it
had never done before, that she was wasted in this obscure parish of St.
Saviour's.

There was not a more restless soul or body in all the hemisphere than the
soul and body of Carmen Barbille, as she went from this to that on the
morning when Jean Jacques had refrained from killing the soul-disturber,
the master-carpenter, who had with such skill destroyed the walls and
foundations of his home. Carmen was pointlessly busy as she watched for
the return of Jean Jacques.

At last she saw him coming from the flume of the mill! She saw that he
stumbled as he walked, and that, every now and then, he lifted his head
with an effort and threw it back, and threw his shoulders back also, as
though to assert his physical manhood. He wore no hat, his hands were
making involuntary gestures of helplessness. But presently he seemed to
assert authority over his fumbling body and to come erect. His hands
clenched at his sides, his head came up stiffly and stayed, and with
quickened footsteps he marched rigidly forward towards the Manor.

Then she guessed at the truth, and as soon as she saw his face she was
sure beyond peradventure that he knew.

His figure darkened the doorway. Her first thought was to turn and flee,
not because she was frightened of what he would do, but because she did
not wish to hear what he would say. She shrank from the uprolling of the
curtain of the last thirteen years, from the grim exposure of the
nakedness of their life together. Her indolent nature in repose wanted
the dust of existence swept into a corner out of sight; yet when she was
roused, and there were no corners into which the dust could be swept, she
could be as bold as any better woman.

She hesitated till it was too late to go, and then as he entered the
house from the staring sunlight and the peace of the morning, she
straightened herself, and a sulky, stubborn look came into her eyes. He
might try to kill her, but she had seen death in many forms far away in
Spain, and she would not be afraid till there was cause. Imagination
would not take away her courage. She picked up a half-knitted stocking
which lay upon the table, and standing there, while he came into the
middle of the room, she began to ply the needles.

He stood still. Her face was bent over her knitting. She did not look at
him.

"Well, why don't you look at me?" he asked in a voice husky with passion.

She raised her head and looked straight into his dark, distracted eyes.

"Good morning," she said calmly.

A kind of snarling laugh came to his lips. "I said good morning to my
wife yesterday, but I will not say it to-day. What is the use of saying
good morning, when the morning is not good!"

"That's logical, anyhow," she said, her needles going faster now. She was
getting control of them--and of herself.

"Why isn't the morning good? Speak. Why isn't it good, Carmen?"

"Quien sabe--who knows!" she replied with exasperating coolness.

"I know--I know all; and it is enough for a lifetime," he challenged.

"What do you know--what is the 'all'?" Her voice had lost timbre. It was
suddenly weak, but from suspense and excitement rather than from fear.

"I saw you last night with him, by the river. I saw what you did. I heard
you say, 'Yes, to-morrow, for sure.' I saw what you did."

Her eyes were busy with the knitting now. She did not know what to say.
Then, he had known all since the night before! He knew it when he
pretended that his head ached--knew it as he lay by her side all night.
He knew it, and said nothing! But what had he done--what had he done? She
waited for she knew not what. George Masson was to come and inspect the
flume early that morning. Had he come? She had not seen him. But the
river was flowing through the flume: she could hear the mill-wheel
turning--she could hear the mill-wheel turning!

As she did not speak, with a curious husky shrillness to his voice he
said: "There he was down in the flume, there was I at the lever above,
there was the mill-wheel unlocked. There it was. I gripped the lever,
and--"

Her great eyes stared with horror. The knitting-needles stopped; a pallor
swept across her face. She felt as she did when she heard the
court-martial sentence Carvillho Gonzales to death.

The mill-wheel sounded louder and louder in her ears.

"You let in the river!" she cried. "You drove him into the wheel--you
killed him!"

"What else was there to do?" he demanded. "It had to be done, and it was
the safest way. It would be an accident. Such a thing might easily
happen."

"You have murdered him!" she gasped with a wild look.

"To call it murder!" he sneered. "Surely my wife would not call it
murder."

"Fiend--not to have the courage to fight him!" she flung back at him. "To
crawl like a snake and let loose a river on a man! In any other country,
he'd have been given a chance."

This was his act in a new light. He had had only one idea in his mind
when he planned the act, and that was punishment. What rights had a man
who had stolen what was nearer and dearer than a man's own flesh, and for
which he would have given his own flesh fifty times? Was it that Carmen
would now have him believe he ought to have fought the man, who had
spoiled his life and ruined a woman's whole existence.

"What chance had I when he robbed me in the dark of what is worth fifty
times my own life to me?" he asked savagely.

"Murderer--murderer!" she cried hoarsely. "You shall pay for this."

"You will tell--you will give me up?"

Her eyes were on the mill and the river . . . "Where--where is he? Has he
gone down the river? Did you kill him and let him go--like that!"

She made a flinging gesture, as one would toss a stone.

He stared at her. He had never seen her face like that--so strained and
haggard. George Masson was right when he said that she would give him up;
that his life would be in danger, and that his child's life would be
spoiled.

"Murderer!" she repeated. "And when you go to the gallows, your child's
life--you did not think of that, eh? To have your revenge on the man who
was no more to blame than I, thinking only of yourself, you killed him;
but you did not think of your child."

Ah, yes, surely George Masson was right! That was what he had said about
his child, Zoe. What a good thing it was he had not killed the ravager of
his home!

But suddenly his logic came to his aid. In terrible misery as he was, he
was almost pleased that he could reason. "And you would give me over to
the law? You would send me to the gallows--and spoil your child's life?"
he retorted.

She threw the knitting down and flung her hands up. "I have no husband. I
have no child. Take your life. Take it. I will go and find his body," she
said, and she moved swiftly towards the door. "He has gone down the
river--I will find him!"

"He has gone up the river," he exclaimed. "Up the river, I say!"

She stopped short and looked at him blankly. Then his meaning became
clear to her.

"You did not kill him?" she asked scarce above a whisper.

"I let him go," he replied.

"You did not fight him--why?" There was scorn in her tone.

"And if I had killed him that way?" he asked with terrible logic, as he
thought.

"There was little chance of that," she replied scornfully, and steadied
herself against a chair; for, now that the suspense was over, she felt as
though she had been passed between stones which ground the strength out
of her.

A flush of fierce resentment crossed over his face. "It is not everything
to be big," he rejoined. "The greatest men in the world have been small
like me, but they have brought the giant things to their feet."

She waved a hand disdainfully. "What are you going to do now?" she asked.

He drew himself up. He seemed to rearrange the motions of his mind with a
little of the old vanity, which was at once grotesque and piteous. "I am
going to forgive you and to try to put things right," he said. "I have
had my faults. You were not to blame altogether. I have left you too much
alone. I did not understand everything all through. I had never studied
women. If I had I should have done the right thing always. I must begin
to study women." The drawn look was going a little from his face, the
ghastly pain was fading from his eyes; his heart was speaking for her,
while his vain intellect hunted the solution of his problem.

She could scarcely believe her ears. No Spaniard would ever have acted as
this man was doing. She had come from a land of No Forgiveness. Carvillho
Gonzales would have killed her, if she had been untrue to him; and she
would have expected it and understood it.

But Jean Jacques was going to forgive her--going to study women, and so
understand her and understand women, as he understood philosophy! This
was too fantastic for human reason. She stared at him, unable to say a
word, and the distracted look in her face did not lessen. Forgiveness did
not solve her problem.

"I am going to take you to Montreal--and then out to Winnipeg, when I've
got the cheese-factory going," he said with a wise look in his face, and
with tenderness even coming into his eyes. "I know what mistakes I've
made"--had not George Masson the despoiler told him of them?--"and I know
what a scoundrel that fellow is, and what tricks of the tongue he has.
Also he is as sleek to look at as a bull, and so he got a hold on you. I
grasp things now. Soon we will start away together again as we did at
Gaspe."

He came close to her. "Carmen!" he said, and made as though he would
embrace her.

"Wait--wait a little. Give me time to think," she said with dry lips, her
heart beating hard. Then she added with a flattery which she knew would
tell, "I cannot think quick as you do. I am slow. I must have time. I
want to work it all out. Wait till to-night," she urged. "Then we can--"

"Good, we will make it all up to-night," he said, and he patted her
shoulder as one would that of a child. It had the slight flavour of the
superior and the paternal.

She almost shrank from his touch. If he had kissed her she would have
felt that she must push him away; and yet she also knew how good a man he
was.



CHAPTER XI

THE CLERK OF THE COURT KEEPS A PROMISE

"Well, what is it, M'sieu' Fille? What do you want with me? I've got a
lot to do before sundown, and it isn't far off. Out with it."

George Masson was in no good humour; from the look on the face of the
little Clerk of the Court he had no idea that he would disclose any good
news. It was probably some stupid business about "money not being paid
into the Court," which had been left over from cases tried and lost; and
he had had a number of cases that summer. His head was not so clear
to-day as usual, but he had had little difficulties with M'sieu' Fille
before, and he was sure that there was something wrong now.

"Do you want to make me a present?" he added with humorous impatience,
for though he was not in a good temper, he liked the Clerk of the Court,
who was such a figure at Vilray.

The opening for his purpose did not escape M. Fille. He had been at a
loss to begin, but here was a natural opportunity for him.

"Well, good advice is not always a present, but I should like mine to be
taken as such, monsieur," he said a little oracularly.

"Oh, advice--to give me advice--that's why you've brought me in here,
when I've so much to do I can't breathe! Time is money with me, old 'un."

"Mine is advice which may be money in your pocket, monsieur," remarked
the Clerk of the Court with meaning. "Money saved is money earned."

"How do you mean to save me money--by getting the Judge to give
decisions in my favour? That would be money in my pocket for sure. The
Court has been running against my interests this year. When I think I
was never so right in my life--bang goes the judgment of the Court
against me, and into my pocket goes my hand. I don't only need to save
money, I need to make it; so if you can help me in that way I'm your
man, M'sieu' la Fillette?"

The little man bristled at the misuse of his name, and he flushed
slightly also; but there was always something engaging in the
pleasure-loving master-carpenter. He had such an eloquent and warm
temperament, the atmosphere of his personality was so genial, that his
impertinence was insulated. Certainly the master-carpenter was not
unpopular, and people could not easily resist the grip of his physical
influence, while mentally he was far indeed from being deficient. He
looked as little like a villain as a man could, and yet--and yet--a
nature like that of George Masson (even the little Clerk could see that)
was not capable of being true beyond the minute in which he took his oath
of fidelity. While the fit of willingness was on him he would be true;
yet in reality there was no truth at all--only self-indulgence unmarked
by duty or honour.

"Give me a judgment for defamation of character. Give me a thousand
dollars or so for that, m'sieu', and you'll do a good turn to a deserving
fellow-citizen and admirer--one little thousand, that's all, m'sieu'.
Then I'll dance at your wedding and weep at your tomb--so there!"

How easy he made the way for the little Clerk of the Court! "Defamation
of character"--could there possibly be a better opening for what he had
promised Judge Carcasson he would say!

"Ah, Monsieur Masson," very officially and decorously replied M. Fille,
"but is it defamation of character? If the thing is true, then what is
the judgment? It goes against you--so there!" There was irony in the last
words.

"If what thing is true?" sharply asked the mastercarpenter, catching at
the fringe of the idea in M. Fille's mind. "What thing?"

"Ah, but it is true, for I saw it! Yes, alas! I saw it with my own eyes.
By accident of course; but there it was--absolute, uncompromising, deadly
and complete."

It was a happy moment for the little Clerk of the Court when he could, in
such an impromptu way, coin a phrase, or a set of adjectives, which would
bear inspection of purists of the language. He loved to talk, though he
did not talk a great deal, but he made innumerable conversations in his
mind, and that gave him facility when he did speak. He had made
conversations with George Masson in his mind since yesterday, when he
gave his promise to Judge Carcasson; but none of them was like the real
conversation now taking place. It was all the impression of the moment,
while the phrases in his mind had been wonderfully logical things which,
from an intellectual standpoint, would have delighted the man whose cause
he was now engaged in defending.

"You saw what, M'sieu' la Fillette? Out with it, and don't use such big
adjectives. I'm only a carpenter. 'Absolute, uncompromising, deadly,
complete'--that's a mouthful of grammar, my lords! Come, my sprig of
jurisprudence, tell us what you saw." There was an apparent nervousness
in Masson's manner now. Indeed he showed more agitation than when, a few
hours before, Jean Jacques had stood with his hand on the lever of the
gates of the flume, and the life of the master-carpenter at his feet, to
be kicked into eternity.

"Four days ago at five o'clock in the afternoon"--in a voice formal and
exact, the little Clerk of the Court seemed to be reading from a paper,
since he kept his eyes fixed on the blotter before him, as he did in
Court--"I was coming down the hill behind the Manor Cartier, when my
attention--by accident--was drawn to a scene below me in the Manor. I
stopped short, of course, and--"

"Diable! You stopped short 'of course' before what you saw! Spit it
out--what did you see?" George Masson had had a trying day, and there was
danger of losing control of himself. There was a whiteness growing round
the eyes, and eating up the warmth of the cheek; his admirably smooth
brow was contracted into heavy wrinkles, and a foot shifted uneasily on
the floor with a scraping sole. This drew the attention of M. Fille, who
raised his head reprovingly--he could not get rid of the feeling that he
was in court, and that a case was being tried; and the severity of a
Judge is naught compared with the severity of a Clerk of the Court,
particularly if he is small and unmarried, and has no one to beat him
into manageable humanity.

M. Fille's voice was almost querulous.

"If you will but be patient, monsieur! I saw a man with a woman in his
arms, and I fear that I must mention the name of the man. It is not
necessary to give the name of the woman, but I have it written here"--he
tapped the paper--"and there is no mistake in the identity. The man's
name is George Masson, master-carpenter, of the town of Laplatte in the
province of Quebec."

George Masson was as one hit between the eyes. He made a motion as though
to ward off a blow. "Name of Peter, old cock!" he exclaimed abruptly.
"You saw enough certainly, if you saw that, and you needn't mention the
lady's name, as you say. The evidence is not merely circumstantial. You
saw it with your own eyes, and you are an official of the Court, and have
the ear of the Judge, and you look like a saint to a jury. Well for sure,
I can't prove defamation of character, as you say. But what then--what do
you want?"

"What I want I hope you may be able to grant without demur, monsieur. I
want you to give your pledge on the Book"--he laid his hand on a
Testament lying on the table--"that you will hold no further
communication with the lady."

"Where do you come inhere? What's your standing in the business?" Masson
jerked out his words now. The Clerk of the Court made a reproving
gesture. "Knowing what I did, what I had seen, it was clear that I must
approach one or other of the parties concerned. Out of regard for the
lady I could not approach her husband, and so betray her; out of regard
for the husband I could not approach himself and destroy his peace; out
of regard for all concerned I could not approach the lady's father, for
then--"

Masson interrupted with an oath.

"That old reprobate of Cadiz--well no, bagosh!

"And so you whisked me into your office with the talk of urgent business
and--"

"Is not the business urgent, monsieur?"

"Not at all," was the sharp reply of the culprit.

"Monsieur, you shock me. Do you consider that your conduct is not
criminal? I have here"--he placed his hand on a book--"the Statutes of
Victoria, and it lays down with wholesome severity the law concerning the
theft of the affection of a wife, with the accompanying penalty, going as
high as twenty thousand dollars."

George Masson gasped. Here was a new turn of affairs. But he set his
teeth.

"Twenty thousand dollars--think of that!" he sneered angrily.

"That is what I said, monsieur. I said I could save you money, and money
saved is money earned. I am your benefactor, if you will but permit me to
be so, monsieur. I would save you from the law, and from the damages
which the law gives. Can you not guess what would be given in a court of
the Catholic province of Quebec, against the violation of a good man's
home? Do you not see that the business is urgent?"

"Not at all," curtly replied the master-carpenter. M. Fille bridled up,
and his spare figure seemed to gain courage and dignity.

"If you think I will hold my peace unless you give your sacred pledge,
you are mistaken, monsieur. I am no meddler, but I have had much kindness
at the hands of Monsieur and Madame Barbille, and I will do what I can to
protect them and their daughter--that good and sweet daughter, from the
machinations, corruptions and malfeasance--"

"Three damn good words for the Court, bagosh!" exclaimed Masson with a
jeer.

"No, with a man devoid of honour, I shall not hesitate, for the Manor
Cartier has been the home of domestic peace, and madame, who came to us a
stranger, deserves well of the people of that ancient abode of
chivalry-the chivalry of France."

"When we are wound up, what a humming we can make!" laughed George Masson
sourly. "Have you quite finished, m'sieu'?"

"The matter is urgent, you will admit, monsieur?" again demanded M. Fille
with austerity.

"Not at all."

The master-carpenter was defiant and insolent, yet there was a devilish
kind of humour in his tone as in his attitude.

"You will not heed the warning I give?" The little Clerk pointed to the
open page of the Victorian statutes before him.

"Not at all."

"Then I shall, with profound regret--"

Suddenly George Masson thrust his face forward near that of M. Fille, who
did not draw back.

"You will inform the Court that the prisoner refuses to incriminate
himself, eh?" he interjected.

"No, monsieur, I will inform Monsieur Barbille of what I saw. I will do
this without delay. It is the one thing left me to do."

In quite a grand kind of way he stood up and bowed, as though to dismiss
his visitor.

As George Masson did not move, the other went to the door and opened it.
"It is the only thing left to do," he repeated, as he made a gentle
gesture of dismissal.

"Not at all, my legal bombardier. Not at all, I say. All you know Jean
Jacques knows, and a good deal more--what he has seen with his own eyes,
and understood with his own mind, without legal help. So, you see, you've
kept me here talking when there's no need and while my business waits. It
is urgent, M'sieu' la Fillette--your business is stale. It belongs to
last session of the Court." He laughed at his joke. "M'sieu' Jean Jacques
and I understand each other." He laughed grimly now. "We know each other
like a book, and the Clerk of the Court couldn't get in an adjective that
would make the sense of it all clearer."

Slowly M. Fille shut the door, and very slowly he came back. Almost
blindly, as it might seem, and with a moan, he dropped into his chair.
His eyes fixed themselves on George Masson.

"Ah--that!" he said helplessly. "That! The little Zoe--dear God, the
little Zoe, and the poor madame!" His voice was aching with pain and
repugnance.

"If you were not such an icicle naturally, I'd be thinking your interest
in the child was paternal," said the master-carpenter roughly, for the
virtuous horror of the other's face annoyed him. He had had a vexing day.

The Clerk of the Court was on his feet in a second. "Monsieur, you dare!"
he exclaimed. "You dare to multiply your crimes in that shameless way.
Begone! There are those who can make you respect decency. I am not
without my friends, and we all stand by each other in our love of
home--of sacred home, monsieur."

There was something right in the master-carpenter at the bottom, with all
his villainy. It was not alone that he knew there were fifty men in the
Parish of St. Saviour's who would man-handle him for such a suggestion,
and for what he had done at the Manor Cartier, if they were roused; but
he also had a sudden remorse for insulting the man who, after all, had
tried to do him a service. His amende was instant.

"I take it back with humble apology--all I can hold in both hands,
m'sieu'," he said at once. "I would not insult you so, much less Madame
Barbille. If she'd been like what I've hinted at, I wouldn't have gone
her way, for the promiscuous is not for me. I'll tell you the whole truth
of what happened to-day this morning. Last night I met her at the river,
and--Then briefly he told all that had happened to the moment when Jean
Jacques had left him at the flume with the words, 'Moi, je suis
philosophe!' And at the last he said:

"I give you my word--my oath on this"--he laid his hand on the Testament
on the table--"that beyond what you saw, and what Jean Jacques saw, there
has been nothing." He held up a hand as though taking an oath.

"Name of God, is it not enough what there has been?" whispered the little
Clerk.

"Oh, as you think, and as you say! It is quite enough for me after
to-day. I'm a teetotaller, but I'm not so fond of water as to want to
take my eternal bath in it." He shuddered slightly. "Bien sur, I've had
my fill of the Manor Cartier for one day, my Clerk of the Court."

"Bien sur, it was enough to set you thinking, monsieur," was the dry
comment of M. Fille, who was now recovering his composure.

At that moment there came a knock at the door, and another followed
quickly; then there entered without waiting for a reply--Carmen Barbille.



CHAPTER XII

THE MASTER-CARPENTER HAS A PROBLEM

The Clerk of the Court came to his feet with a startled "Merci!" and the
master-carpenter fell back with a smothered exclamation. Both men stared
confusedly at the woman as she shut the door slowly and, as it might
seem, carefully, before she faced them.

"Here I am, George," she said, her face alive with vital adventure.

His face was instantly swept by a storm of feeling for her, his nature
responded to the sound of her voice and the passion of her face.

"Carmen--ah!" he said, and took a step forward, then stopped. The hoarse
feeling in his voice made her eyes flash gratitude and triumph, and she
waited for him to take her in his arms; but she suddenly remembered M.
Fille. She turned to him.

"I am sorry to intrude, m'sieu'," she said. "I beg your pardon. They told
me at the office of avocat Prideaux that M'sieu' Masson was here. So I
came; but be sure I would not interrupt you if there was not cause."

M. Fille came forward and took her hand respectfully. "Madame, it is the
first time you have honoured me here. I am very glad to receive you.
Monsieur and Mademoiselle Zoe, they are with you? They will also come in
perhaps?"

M. Fille was courteous and kind, yet he felt that a duty was devolving on
him, imposed by his superior officer, Judge Carcasson, and by his own
conscience, and with courage he faced the field of trouble which his
simple question opened up. George Masson had but now said there had been
nothing more than he himself had seen from the hill behind the Manor; and
he had further said, in effect, that all was ended between Carmen
Barbille and himself; yet here they were together, when they ought to be
a hundred miles apart for many a day. Besides, there was the look in the
woman's face, and that intense look also in the face of the
master-carpenter! The Clerk of the Court, from sheer habit of his
profession, watched human faces as other people watch the weather, or the
rise or fall in the price of wheat and potatoes. He was an archaic little
official, and apparently quite unsophisticated; yet there was hidden
behind his ascetic face a quiet astuteness which would have been a
valuable asset to a worldly-minded and ambitious man. Besides, affection
sharpens the wits. Through it the hovering, protecting sense becomes
instinctive, and prescience takes on uncanny certainty. He had a real and
deep affection for Jean Jacques and his Carmen, and a deeper one still
for the child Zoe; and the danger to the home at the Manor Cartier now
became again as sharp as the knife of the guillotine. His eyes ran from
the woman to the man, and back again, and then with great courage he
repeated his question:

"Monsieur and mademoiselle, they are well--they are with you, I hope,
madame?"

She looked at him in the eyes without flinching, and on the instant she
was aware that he knew all, and that there had been talk with George
Masson. She knew the little man to be as good as ever can be, but she
resented the fact that he knew. It was clear George Masson had told
him--else how could he know; unless, perhaps, all the world knew!

"You know well enough that I have come alone, my friend," she answered.
"It is no place for Zoe; and it is no place for my husband and him
together," she made a motion of the head towards the mastercarpenter.
"Santa Maria, you know it very well indeed!"

The Clerk of the Court bowed, but made no reply. What was there to say to
a remark like that! It was clear that the problem must be worked out
alone between these two people, though he was not quite sure what the
problem was. The man had said the thing was over; but the woman had come,
and the look of both showed that it was not all over.

What would the man do? What was it the woman wished to do? The
master-carpenter had said that Jean Jacques had spared him, and meant to
forgive his wife. No doubt he had done so, for Jean Jacques was a man of
sentiment and chivalry, and there was no proof that there had been
anything more than a few mad caresses between the two misdemeanants; yet
here was the woman with the man for whom she had imperilled her future
and that of her husband and child!

As though Carmen understood what was going on in his mind, she said:
"Since you know everything, you can understand that I want a few words
with M'sieu' George here alone."

"Madame, I beg of you," the Clerk of the Court answered instantly, his
voice trembling a little--"I beg that you will not be alone with him. As
I believe, your husband is willing to let bygones be bygones, and to
begin to-morrow as though there was no to-day. In such case you should
not see Monsieur Masson here alone. It is bad enough to see him here in
the office of the Clerk of the Court, but to see him alone--what would
Monsieur Jean Jacques say? Also, outside there in the street, if our
neighbours should come to know of the trouble, what would they say? I
wish not to be tiresome, but as a friend, a true friend of your whole
family, madame--yes, in spite of all, your whole family--I hope you will
realize that I must remain here. I owe it to a past made happy by
kindness which is to me like life itself. Monsieur Masson, is it not so?"
he added, turning to the master-carpenter. More flushed and agitated than
when he had faced Jean Jacques in the flume, the master-carpenter said:
"If she wants a few words-of farewell--alone with me, she must have it,
M'sieu' Fille. The other room--eh? Outside there"--he jerked a finger
towards the street--"they won't know that you are not with us; and as for
Jean Jacques, isn't it possible for a Clerk of the Court to stretch the
truth a little? Isn't the Clerk of the Court a man as well as a mummy?
I'd do as much for you, little lawyer, any time. A word to say farewell,
you understand!" He looked M. Fille squarely in the eye.

"If I had to answer M. Jean Jacques on such a matter--and so much at
stake--"

Masson interrupted. "Well, if you like we'll bind your eyes and put wads
in your ears, and you can stay, so that you'll have been in the room all
the time, and yet have heard and seen nothing at all. How is that,
m'sieu'? It's all right, isn't it?"

M. Fille stood petrified for a moment at the audacity of the proposition.
For him, the Clerk of the Court, to be blinded and made ridiculous with
wads in his ears-impossible!

"Grace of Heaven, I would prefer to lie!" he answered quickly. "I will go
into the next room, but I beg that you be brief, monsieur and madame. You
owe it to yourselves and to the situation to be brief, and, if I may say
so, you owe it to me. I am not a practised Ananias."

"As well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, m'sieu'," returned Masson.

"I must beg that you will make your farewells of a minute and no more,"
replied the Clerk of the Court firmly. He took out his watch. "It is six
o'clock. I will come again at three minutes past six. That is long enough
for any farewell--even on the gallows."

Not daring to look at the face of the woman, he softly disappeared into
the other room, and shut the door without a sound.

"Too good for this world," remarked the master-carpenter when the door
closed tight. He said it after the disappearing figure and not to Carmen.
"I don't suppose he ever kissed a real grown-up woman in his life. It
would have shattered his frail little carcass if, if"--he turned to his
companion--"if you had kissed him, Carmen. He's made of
tissue-paper,--not tissue--and apple-jelly. Yes, but a stiff little
backbone, too, or he'd not have faced me down."

Masson talked as though he were trying to gain time. "He said three
minutes," she returned with a look of death in her face. As George Masson
had talked with the Clerk of the Court, she had come to see, in so far as
agitation would permit, that he was not the same as when he left her by
the river the evening before.

"There's no time to waste," she continued. "You spoke of farewells--twice
you spoke, and three times he spoke of farewells between us.
Farewells--farewells--George--!"

With sudden emotion she held out her arms, and her face flushed with
passion and longing.

The tempest which shook her shook him also, and he swayed from side to
side like an animal uncertain if the moment had come to try its strength
with its foe; and in truth the man was fighting with himself. His moments
with Jean Jacques at the flume had expanded him in a curious kind of way.
His own arguments while he was fighting for his life had, in a way,
convinced himself. She was a rare creature, and she was alluring--more
alluring than she had ever been; for a tragic sense had made her thinner,
had refined the boldness of her beauty, had given a wonderful lustre to
her eyes; and suffering has its own attraction to the degenerate. But he,
George Masson, had had a great shock, and he had come out of the jaws of
death by the skin of his teeth. It had been the nearest thing he had ever
known; for though once he had had a pistol pointed at him, there was the
chance that it might miss at half-a-dozen yards, while there was no
chance of the lever of the flume going wrong; and water and a mill-wheel
were as absolute as the rope of the gallows.

In a sense he had saved himself by his cleverness, but if Jean Jacques
had not been just the man he was, he could not have saved himself. It did
not occur to him that Jean Jacques had acted weakly. He would not have
done what Jean Jacques had done, had Jean Jacques spoiled his home. He
would have sprung the lever; but he was not so mean as to despise Jean
Jacques because he had foregone his revenge. This master-carpenter had
certain gifts, or he could not have caused so much trouble in the world.
There is a kind of subtlety necessary to allure or delude even the
humblest of women, if she is not naturally bad; and Masson had had
experiences with the humblest, and also with those a little higher up.
This much had to be said for him, that he did not think Jean Jacques
contemptible because he had been merciful, or degraded because he had
chosen to forgive his wife.

The sight of the woman, as she stood with arms outstretched, had made his
pulses pound in his veins, but the heat was suddenly chilled by the wave
of tragedy which had passed over him. When he had climbed out of the
flume, and opened the lever for the river to rush through, he had felt as
though ice--cold liquid flowed in his veins, not blood; and all day he
had been like that. He had moved much as one in a dream, and he had felt
for the first time in his life that he was not ready to bluff creation.
He had always faced things down, as long as it could be done; and when it
could not, he had retreated, with the comment that no man was wise who
took gruel when he needn't. He was now face to face with his greatest
problem. One thing was clear--they must either part for ever, or go
together, and part no more. There could be no half measures. She was a
remarkable woman in her way, with a will of her own, and a kind of
madness in her; and there could be no backing and filling. They only had
three minutes to talk together alone, and two of them were up.

Her arms were held out to him, but he stood still, and before the fire of
her eyes his own eyes dropped. "No, not yet!" he exclaimed. "It's been a
day--heaven and hell, what a day it's been! He had me like that!" He
opened and shut his hand with fierce, spasmodic strength. "And he let me
go--oh, let me go like a fox out of a trap! I've had enough for one
day--blood of St. Peter, enough, enough!"

The flame of desire in her eyes suddenly turned to fury. "It is farewell,
then, that you wish," she said hoarsely. "It is no more and farewell
then? You said it to him"--she pointed to the other room--"you said it to
Jean Jacques, and you say it to me--to me that's given you all I have.
Ah, what a beast you are, George Masson!"

"No, Carmen, you have not given me all. If you had, there would be no
farewell. I would stand by you to the end of life, if I had taken all."
He lied, but that does not matter here.

"All--all!" she cried. "What is all? Is it but the one thing that the
world says must part husband and wife? Caramba! Is that all? I have given
everything--I have had your arms around me--"

"Yes, the Clerk of the Court saw that," he interrupted. "He saw from the
hill behind the Manor on Tuesday last."

There was a tap at the door of the other room; it slowly opened, and the
figure of the Clerk appeared. "Two minutes--just two minutes more, old
trump!" said the master-carpenter, stretching out a hand. "One minute
will be enough," said Carmen, who was suffering the greatest humiliation
which can come to a woman.

The Clerk looked at them both, and he was content. He saw that one minute
would certainly be enough. "Very well, monsieur and madame," he said, and
closed the door again.

Carmen turned fiercely on the man. "M. Fille saw, did he, from Mont
Violet? Well, when I came here I did not care who saw. I only thought of
you--that you wanted me, and that I wanted you. What the world thought
was nothing, if you were as when we parted last night. . . . I could not
face Jean Jacques' forgiveness. To stay there, feeling that I must be
always grateful, that I must be humble, that I must pretend, that I must
kiss Jean Jacques, and lie in his arms, and go to mass and to confession,
and--"

"There is the child, there is Zoe--"

"Oh, it is you that preaches now--you that tempted me, that said I was
wasted at the Manor; that the parish did not understand me; that Jean
Jacques did not know a jewel of price when he saw it--little did you
think of Zoe then!"

He made a protesting gesture. "Maybe so, Carmen, but I think now before
it is too late."

"The child loves her father as she never loved me," she declared. "She is
twelve years old. She will soon be old enough to keep house for him, and
then to marry--ah, before there is time to think she will marry!"

"It would be better then for you to wait till she marries
before--before--"

"Before I go away with you!" She gave a shrill, agonized laugh. "So that
is the end of it all! What did you think of my child when you forced your
way into my life, when you made me think of you--ah, quel bete--what a
coward and beast you are!"

"No, I am not all coward, though I may be a beast," he answered. "I
didn't think of your child when I began to talk to you as I did. I was
out for all I could get. I was the hunter. And you were the finest woman
that I'd ever met and talked with; you--"

"Oh, stop lying!" she cried with a face suddenly grown white and cold.

"It isn't lying. You're the sort of woman to drive men mad. I went mad,
and I didn't think of your child. But this morning in the flume I saved
my life by thinking of her, and I saved your life, too, maybe, by
thinking of her; and I owe her something. I'm going to try to pay back by
letting her keep her mother. I never felt towards a woman as I've felt
towards you; and that's why I want to make things not so bad for you as
they might be."

In her bitter eagerness she took a step nearer to him. "As things might
be, if you were the man you were yesterday, willing to throw up
everything for me?"

"Like that--if you put it so," he answered.

She walked slowly up to him, looking as though she would plunge a knife
into his heart. "I wish Jean Jacques had opened the gates," she said. "It
would have saved the hangman trouble."

Then suddenly, and with a cry, she raised her hand and struck him full in
the face with her fist. At that instant came a tap at the door of the
other room, and the Clerk of the Court appeared. He saw the blow, and
drew back with an exclamation.

Carmen turned to him. "Farewell has been said, M'sieu' Fille," she
remarked in a voice sombre with rage and despair, and she went to the
door leading to the street.

Masson had winced at the blow, but he remained silent. He knew not what
to say or do.

M. Fille hastily followed Carmen to the door. "You are going home, dear
madame? Permit me to accompany you," he said gently. "I have to do
business with Jean Jacques."

A hand upon his chest, she pushed him back. "Where I go I'm going alone,"
she said. Opening the door she went out, but turning back again she gave
George Masson a look that he never forgot. Then the door closed.

"Grace of God, she is not going home!" brokenly murmured the Clerk of the
Court.

With a groan the master-carpenter started forward towards the door, but
M. Fille stepped between, laid a hand on his arm, and stopped him.

     ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

     Confidence in a weak world gets unearned profit often
     Enjoy his own generosity
     Had the slight flavour of the superior and the paternal
     He had only made of his wife an incident in his life
     He was in fact not a philosopher, but a sentimentalist
     He was not always sorry when his teasing hurt
     Lacks a balance-wheel. He has brains, but not enough
     Man who tells the story in a new way, that is genius
     Missed being a genius by an inch
     Not content to do even the smallest thing ill
     You went north towards heaven and south towards hell



THE MONEY MASTER

By Gilbert Parker
EPOCH THE THIRD

     XIII.  THE MAN FROM OUTSIDE
     XIV.   "I DO NOT WANT TO GO"
     XV.    BON MARCHE



CHAPTER XIII

THE MAN FROM OUTSIDE

          "Oh, who will walk the wood with me,
          I fear to walk alone;
          So young am I, as you may see;
          No dangers have I known.
          So young, so small--ah, yes, m'sieu',
          I'll walk the wood with you!"

In the last note of the song applause came instantaneously, almost
impatiently, as it might seem. With cries of "Encore! Encore!" it lasted
some time, while the happy singer looked around with frank pleasure on
the little group encircling her in the Manor Cartier.

"Did you like it so much?" she asked in a general way, and not looking at
any particular person. A particular person, however, replied, and she had
addressed the question to him, although not looking at him. He was the
Man from Outside, and he sat near the bright wood-fire; for though it was
almost June the night was cool and he was delicate.

"Ah, but splendid, but splendid--it got into every corner of every one of
us," the Man from Outside responded, speaking his fluent French with a
slight English accent, which had a pleasant piquancy--at least to the
ears of the pretty singer, Mdlle. Zoe Barbille. He was a man of about
thirty-three, clean-shaven, dark-haired, with an expression of
cleverness; yet with an irresponsible something about him which M. Fille
had reflected upon with concern. For this slim, eager, talkative,
half-invalid visitor to St. Saviour's had of late shown a marked liking
for the presence and person of Zoe Barbille; and Zoe was as dear to M.
Fille as though she were his own daughter. He it was who, in sarcasm, had
spoken of this young stranger as "The Man from Outside."

Ever since Zoe's mother had vanished--alone--seven years before from the
Manor Cartier, or rather from his office at Vilray, M. Fille had been as
much like a maiden aunt or a very elder brother to the Spanische's
daughter as a man could be. Of M. Fille's influence over his daughter and
her love of his companionship, Jean Jacques had no jealousy whatever.
Very often indeed, when he felt incompetent to do for his child all that
he wished--philosophers are often stupid in human affairs--he thought it
was a blessing Zoe had a friend like M. Fille. Since the terrible day
when he found that his wife had gone from him--not with the
master-carpenter who only made his exit from Laplatte some years
afterwards--he had had no desire to have a woman at the Manor to fill her
place, even as housekeeper. He had never swerved from that. He had had a
hard row to hoe, but he had hoed it with a will not affected by domestic
accidents or inconveniences. The one woman from outside whom he permitted
to go and come at will--and she did not come often, because she and M.
Fille agreed it would be best not to do so--was the sister of the Cure.
To be sure there was Seraphe Corniche, the old cook, but she was buried
in her kitchen, and Jean Jacques treated her like a man.

When Zoe was confirmed, and had come back from Montreal, having spent two
years in a convent there--the only time she had been away from her father
in seven years--having had her education chiefly from a Catholic
"brother," the situation developed in a new way. Zoe at once became as
conspicuous in the country-side as her father had been over so many
years. She was fresh, volatile, without affectation or pride, and had a
temperament responsive to every phase of life's simple interests. She
took the attention of the young men a little bit as her due, but yet
without conceit. The gallants had come about her like bees, for there was
Jean Jacques' many businesses and his reputation for wealth; and there
was her own charm, concerning which there could be far less doubt than
about Jean Jacques' magnificent solvency.

Zoe had gone heart-whole and with no especial preference for any young
man, until the particular person came, the Man from Outside.

His name was Gerard Fynes, and his business was mumming. He was a young
lawyer turned actor, and he had lived in Montreal before he went on the
stage. He was English--that was a misfortune; he was an actor--that was a
greater misfortune, for it suggested vagabondage of morals as well as of
profession; and he was a Protestant, which was the greatest misfortune of
all. But he was only at St. Saviour's for his convalescence after a
so-called attack of congestion of the lungs; and as he still had a slight
cough and looked none too robust, and as, more than all, he was simple in
his ways, enjoying the life of the parish with greater zest than the
residents, he found popularity. Undoubtedly he had a taking way with him.
He was lodging with Louis Charron, a small farmer and kinsman of Jean
Jacques, who sold whisky--"white whisky"--without a license. It was a
Charron family habit to sell liquor illegally, and Louis pursued the
career with all an amateur's enthusiasm. He had a sovereign balm for
"colds," composed of camomile flowers, boneset, liquorice, pennyroyal and
gentian root, which he sold to all comers; and it was not unnatural that
a visitor with weak lungs should lodge with him.

Louis and his wife had only good things to say about Gerard Fynes; for
the young man lived their life as though he was born to it. He ate the
slap-jacks, the buttermilk-pop, the pork and beans, the Indian corn on
the cob, the pea-soup, and the bread baked in the roadside oven, with a
relish which was not all pretence; for indeed he was as primitive as he
was subtle. He himself could not have told how much of him was true and
how much was make-believe. But he was certainly lovable, and he was not
bad by nature. Since coming to St. Saviour's he had been constant to one
attraction, and he had not risked his chances with Zoe by response to the
shy invitations of dark eyes, young and not so young, which met his own
here and there in the parish.

Only M. Fille and Jean Jacques himself had feelings of real antagonism to
him. Jean Jacques, though not naturally suspicious, had, however, seen an
understanding look pass between his Zoe and this stranger--this
Protestant English stranger from the outer world, to which Jean Jacques
went less frequently since his fruitless search for his vanished Carmen.
The Clerk of the Court saw that Jean Jacques had observed the intimate
glances of the two young people, and their eyes met in understanding. It
was just before Zoe had sung so charmingly, 'Oh, Who Will Walk the Wood
With Me'.

At first after Carmen's going Jean Jacques had found it hard to endure
singing in his house. Zoe's trilling was torture to him, though he had
never forbidden her to sing, and she had sung on to her heart's content.
By a subtle instinct, however, and because of the unspoken sorrow in her
own heart, she never sang the songs like 'La Manola'. Never after the day
Carmen went did Zoe speak of her mother to anyone at all. It was worse
than death; it was annihilation, so far as speech was concerned. The
world at large only knew that Carmen Barbille had run away, and that even
Sebastian Dolores her father did not know where she was. The old man had
not heard from her, and he seldom visited at the Manor Cartier or saw his
grand-daughter. His own career of late years had been marked by long
sojourns in Quebec, Montreal and even New York; yet he always came back
to St. Saviour's when he was penniless, and was there started afresh by
Jean Jacques. Some said that Carmen had gone back to Spain, but others
discredited that, for, if she had done so, certainly old Sebastian
Dolores would have gone also. Others continued to insist that she had
gone off with a man; but there was George Masson at Laplatte living
alone, and never going twenty miles away from home, and he was the only
person under suspicion. Others again averred that since her flight Carmen
had become a loose woman in Montreal; but the New Cure came down on that
with a blow which no one was tempted to invite again.

M. Savry's method of punishing was of a kind to make men shrink. If
Carmen Barbille had become a loose woman in Montreal, how did any member
of his flock know that it was the case? What company had he kept in
Montreal that he could say that? Did he see the woman--or did he hear
about her? And if he heard, what sort of company was he keeping when he
went to Montreal without his wife to hear such things? That was final,
and the slanderer was under a cloud for a time, by reason of the anger of
his own wife. It was about this time that the good priest preached from
the text, "Judge not that ye be not judged," and said that there were
only ten commandments on the tables of stone; but that the ten included
all the commandments which the Church made for every man, and which every
man, knowing his own weakness, must also make for himself.

His flock understood, though they did refrain, every one, from looking
towards the place where Jean Jacques sat with Ma'm'selle--she was always
called that, as though she was a great lady; or else she was called "the
little Ma'm'selle Zoe," even when she had grown almost as tall as her
mother had been.

Though no one looked towards the place where Jean Jacques and his
daughter sat when this sermon was preached, and although Zoe seemed not
to apprehend personal reference in the priest's words, when she reached
home, after talking to her father about casual things all the way, she
flew to her room, and, locking the door, flung herself on her bed and
cried till her body felt as though it had been beaten by rods. Then she
suddenly got up and, from a drawer, took out two things--an old
photograph of her mother at the time of her marriage, and Carmen's
guitar, which she had made her own on the day after the flight, and had
kept hidden ever since. She lay on the bed with her cheek pressed to the
guitar, and her eyes hungrily feeding on the face of a woman whose beauty
belonged to spheres other than where she had spent the thirteen years of
her married life.

Zoe had understood more even at the time of the crisis than they thought
she did, child though she was; and as the years had gone on she had
grasped the meaning of it all more clearly perhaps than anyone at all
except her adored friends Judge Carcasson, at whose home she had visited
in Montreal, and M. Fille.

The thing last rumoured about her mother in the parish was that she had
become an actress. To this Zoe made no protest in her mind. It was better
than many other possibilities, and she fixed her mind on it, so saving
herself from other agonizing speculations. In a fixed imagination lay
safety. In her soul she knew that, no matter what happened, her mother
would never return to the Manor Cartier.

The years had not deepened confidence between father and daughter. A
shadow hung between them. They laughed and talked together, were even
boisterous in their fun sometimes, and yet in the eyes of both was the
forbidden thing--the deserted city into which they could not enter. He
could not speak to the child of the shame of her mother; she could not
speak of that in him which had contributed to that mother's shame--the
neglect which existed to some degree in her own life with him. This was
chiefly so because his enterprises had grown to such a number and height,
that he seemed ever to be counting them, ever struggling to the height,
while none of his ventures ever reached that state of success when it
"ran itself", although as years passed men called him rich, and he spent
and loaned money so freely that they called him the Money Master, or the
Money Man Wise, in deference to his philosophy.

Zoe was not beautiful, but there was a wondrous charm in her deep brown
eyes and in the expression of her pretty, if irregular, features.
Sometimes her face seemed as small as that of a young child, and alive
with eerie fancies; and always behind her laughter was something which
got into her eyes, giving them a haunting melancholy. She had no signs of
hysteria, though now and then there came heart-breaking little outbursts
of emotion which had this proof that they were not hysteria--they were
never seen by others. They were sacred to her own solitude. While in
Montreal she had tasted for the first time the joys of the theatre, and
had then secretly read numbers of plays, which she bought from an old
bookseller, who was wise enough to choose them for her. She became
possessed of a love for the stage even before Gerard Fynes came upon the
scene. The beginning of it all was the rumour that her mother was now an
actress; yet the root-cause was far down in a temperament responsive to
all artistic things.

The coming of the Man from Outside acted on the confined elements of her
nature like the shutter of a camera. It let in a world of light upon
unexplored places, it set free elements of being which had not before
been active. She had been instantly drawn to Gerard Fynes. He had the
distance from her own life which provoked interest, and in that distance
was the mother whom perhaps it was her duty to forget, yet for whom she
had a longing which grew greater as the years went on.

Gerard Fynes could talk well, and his vivid pictures of his short
play-acting career absorbed her; and all the time she was vigilant for
some name, for the description of some actress which would seem to be a
clue to the lost spirit of her life. This clue never came, but before she
gave up hope of it, the man had got nearer to her than any man had ever
done.

After meeting him she awoke to the fact that there was a difference
between men, that it was not the same thing to be young as to be old;
that the reason why she could kiss the old Judge and the little Clerk of
the Court, and not kiss, say, the young manager of the great lumber firm
who came every year for a fortnight's fishing at St. Saviour's, was one
which had an understandable cause and was not a mere matter of individual
taste. She had been good friends with this young manager, who was only
thirty years of age, and was married, but when he had wanted to kiss her
on saying good-bye one recent summer, she had said, "Oh, no, oh, no, that
would spoil it all!" Yet when he had asked her why, and what she meant,
she could not tell him. She did not know; but by the end of the first
week after Gerard Fynes had been brought to the Manor Cartier by Louis
Charron, she knew.

She had then been suddenly awakened from mere girlhood. Judge Carcasson
saw the difference in her on a half-hour's visit as he passed westward,
and he had said to M. Fille, "Who is the man, my keeper of the treasure?"
The reply had been of such a sort that the Judge was startled:

"Tut, tut," he had exclaimed, "an actor--an actor once a lawyer! That's
serious. She's at an age--and with a temperament like hers she'll believe
anything, if once her affections are roused. She has a flair for the
romantic, for the thing that's out of reach--the bird on the highest
branch, the bird in the sky beyond ours, the song that was lost before
time was, the light that never was on sea or land. Why, damn it, damn it
all, my Solon, here's the beginning of a case in Court unless we can lay
the fellow by the heels! How long is he here for?"

When M. Fille had told him that he would stay for another month for
certain, and no doubt much longer, if there seemed a prospect of winning
the heiress of the Manor Cartier, the Judge gave a groan.

"We must get him away, somehow," he said. "Where does he stay?"

"At the house of Louis Charron," was the reply. "Louis Charron--isn't he
the fellow that sells whisky without a license?"

"It is so, monsieur."

The Judge moved his head from side to side like a bear in a cage. "It is
that, is it, my Fille? By the thumb of the devil, isn't it time then that
Louis Charron was arrested for breaking the law? Also how do we know but
that the interloping fellow Fynes is an agent for a whisky firm perhaps?
Couldn't he, then, on suspicion, be arrested with--"

The Clerk of the Court shook his head mournfully. His Judge was surely
becoming childish in his old age. He looked again closely at the great
man, and saw a glimmer of moisture in the grey eyes. It was clear that
Judge Carcasson felt deeply the dangers of the crisis, and that the
futile outburst had merely been the agitated protest of the helpless.

"The man is what he says he is--an actor; and it would be folly to arrest
him. If our Zoe is really fond of him, it would only make a martyr of
him."

As he made this reply M. Fille looked furtively at the other--out of the
corner of his eye, as it were. The reply of the Judge was impatient,
almost peevish and rough. "Did you think I was in earnest, my
punchinello? Surely I don't look so young as all that. I am over
sixty-five, and am therefore mentally developed!"

M. Fille was exactly sixty-five years of age, and the blow was a shrewd
one. He drew himself up with rigid dignity.

"You must feel sorry sometimes for those who suffered when your mind was
undeveloped, monsieur," he answered. "You were a judge at forty-nine, and
you defended poor prisoners for twenty years before that."

The Judge was conquered, and he was never the man to pretend he was not
beaten when he was. He admired skill too much for that. He squeezed M.
Fille's arm and said:

"I've been quick with my tongue myself, but I feel sure now, that it's
through long and close association with my Clerk of the Court."

"Ah, monsieur, you are so difficult to understand!" was the reply. "I
have known you all these years, and yet--"

"And yet you did not know how much of the woman there was in me! . . .
But yes, it is that. It is that which I fear with our Zoe. Women break
out--they break out, and then there is the devil to pay. Look at her
mother. She broke out. It was not inevitable. It was the curse of
opportunity, the wrong thing popping up to drive her mad at the wrong
moment. Had the wrong thing come at the right time for her, when she was
quite sane, she would be yonder now with our philosopher. Perhaps she
would not be contented if she were there, but she would be there; and as
time goes on, to be where we were in all things which concern the
affections, that is the great matter."

"Ah, yes, ah, yes," was the bright-eyed reply of that Clerk, "there is no
doubt of that! My sister and I there, we are fifty years together, never
with the wrong thing at the wrong time, always the thing as it was,
always to be where we were."

The Judge shook his head. "There is an eternity of difference, Fille,
between the sister and brother and the husband and wife. The sacredness
of isolation is the thing which holds the brother and sister together.
The familiarity of--but never mind what it is that so often forces
husband and wife apart. It is there, and it breaks out in rebellion as it
did with the wife of Jean Jacques Barbille. As she was a strong woman in
her way, it spoiled her life, and his too when it broke out."

M. Fille's face lighted with memory and feeling. "Ah, a woman of powerful
emotions, monsieur, that is so! I think I never told you, but at the
last, in my office, when she went, she struck George Masson in the face.
It was a blow that--but there it was; I have never liked to think of it.
When I do, I shudder. She was a woman who might have been in other
circumstances--but there!"

The Judge suddenly stopped in his walk and faced round on his friend.
"Did you ever know, my Solon," he said, "that it was not Jean Jacques who
saved Carmen at the wreck of the Antoine, but it was she who saved him;
and yet she never breathed of it in all the years. One who was saved from
the Antoine told me of it. Jean Jacques was going down. Carmen gave him
her piece of wreckage to hang on to, and swam ashore without help. He
never gave her the credit. There was something big in the woman, but it
did not come out right."

M. Fille threw up his hands. "Grace de Dieu, is it so that she saved Jean
Jacques? Then he would not be here if it had not been for her?"

"That is the obvious deduction, Maitre Fille," replied the Judge.

The Clerk of the Court seemed moved. "He did not treat her ill. I know
that he would take her back to-morrow if he could. He has never
forgotten. I saw him weeping one day--it was where she used to sing to
the flax-beaters by the Beau Cheval. I put my hand on his shoulder, and
said, 'I know, I comprehend; but be a philosopher, Jean Jacques.'"

"What did he say?" asked the Judge.

"He drew himself up. 'In my mind, in my soul, I am philosopher always,'
he said, 'but my eyes are the windows of my heart, m'sieu'. They look out
and see the sorrow of one I loved. It is for her sorrow that I weep, not
for my own. I have my child, I have money; the world says to me, "How
goes it, my friend?" I have a home--a home; but where is she, and what
does the world say to her?'"

The Judge shook his head sadly. "I used to think I knew life, but I come
to the belief in the end that I know nothing. Who could have guessed that
he would have spoken like that!"

"He forgave her, monsieur."

The Judge nodded mournfully. "Yes, yes, but I used to think it is such
men who forgive one day and kill the next. You never can tell where they
will explode, philosophy or no philosophy."

The Judge was right. After all the years that had passed since his wife
had left him, Jean Jacques did explode. It was the night of his birthday
party at which was present the Man from Outside. It was in the hour when
he first saw what the Clerk of the Court had seen some time before--the
understanding between Zoe and Gerard Fynes. It had never occurred to him
that there was any danger. Zoe had been so indifferent to the young men
of St. Saviour's and beyond, had always been so much his friend and the
friend of those much older than himself, like Judge Carcasson and M.
Fille, that he had not yet thought of her electing to go and leave him
alone.

To leave him alone! To be left alone--it had never become a possibility
to his mind. It did not break upon him with its full force all at once.
He first got the glimmer of it, then the glimmer grew to a glow, and the
glow to a great red light, in which his brain became drunk, and all his
philosophy was burned up like wood-shavings in a fiery furnace.

"Did you like it so much?" Zoe had asked when her song was finished, and
the Man from Outside had replied, "Ah, but splendid, splendid! It got
into every corner of every one of us."

"Into the senses--why not into the heart? Songs are meant for the heart,"
said Zoe.

"Yes, yes, certainly," was the young man's reply, "but it depends upon
the song whether it touches the heart more than the senses. Won't you
sing that perfect thing, 'La Claire Fontaine'?" he added, with eyes as
bright as passion and the hectic fires of his lung-trouble could make
them.

She nodded and was about to sing, for she loved the song, and it had been
ringing in her head all day; but at that point M. Fille rose, and with
his glass raised high--for at that moment Seraphe Corniche and another
carried round native wine and cider to the company--he said:

"To Monsieur Jean Jacques Barbille, and his fifty years, good
health--bonne sante! This is his birthday. To a hundred years for Jean
Jacques!"

Instantly everyone was up with glass raised, and Zoe ran and threw her
arms round her father's neck. "Kiss me before you drink," she said.

With a touch almost solemn in its tenderness Jean Jacques drew her head
to his shoulder and kissed her hair, then her forehead. "My blessed
one--my angel," he whispered; but there was a look in his eyes which only
M. Fille had seen there before. It was the look which had been in his
eyes at the flax-beaters' place by the river.

"Sing--father, you must sing," said Zoe, and motioned to the fiddler.
"Sing It's Fifty Years," she cried eagerly. They all repeated her
request, and he could but obey.

Jean Jacques' voice was rather rough, but he had some fine resonant notes
in it, and presently, with eyes fastened on the distance, and with free
gesture and much expression, he sang the first verse of the haunting
ballad of the man who had reached his fifty years:

          "Wherefore these flowers?
          This fete for me?
          Ah, no, it is not fifty years,
          Since in my eyes the light you see
          First shone upon life's joys and tears!
          How fast the heedless days have flown
          Too late to wail the misspent hours,
          To mourn the vanished friends I've known,
          To kneel beside love's ruined bowers.
          Ah, have I then seen fifty years,
          With all their joys and hopes and fears!"

Through all the verses he ranged, his voice improving with each phrase,
growing more resonant, till at last it rang out with a ragged richness
which went home to the hearts of all. He was possessed. All at once he
was conscious that the beginning of the end of things was come for him;
and that now, at fifty, in no sphere had he absolutely "arrived," neither
in home nor fortune, nor--but yes, there was one sphere of success; there
was his fatherhood. There was his daughter, his wonderful Zoe. He drew
his eyes from the distance, and saw that her ardent look was not towards
him, but towards one whom she had known but a few weeks.

Suddenly he stopped in the middle of a verse, and broke forward with his
arms outstretched, laughing. He felt that he must laugh, or he would cry;
and that would be a humiliating thing to do.

"Come, come, my friends, my children, enough of that!" he cried. "We'll
have no more maundering. Fifty years--what are fifty years! Think of
Methuselah! It's summer in the world still, and it's only spring at St.
Saviour's. It's the time of the first flowers. Let's dance--no, no, never
mind the Cure to-night! He will not mind. I'll settle it with him. We'll
dance the gay quadrille."

He caught the hands of the two youngest girls present, and nodded at the
fiddler, who at once began to tune his violin afresh. One of the joyous
young girls, however, began to plead with him.

"Ah, no, let us dance, but at the last--not yet, M'sieu' Jean Jacques!
There is Zoe's song, we must have that, and then we must have charades.
Here is M'sieu' Fynes--he can make splendid charades for us. Then the
dance at the last--ah, yes, yes, M'sieu' Jean Jacques! Let it be like
that. We all planned it, and though it is your birthday, it's us are
making the fete."

"As you will then, as you will, little ones," Jean Jacques acquiesced
with a half-sigh; but he did not look at his daughter. Somehow, suddenly,
a strange constraint possessed him where Zoe was concerned. "Then let us
have Zoe's song; let us have 'La Claire Fontaine'," cried the black-eyed
young madcap who held Jean Jacques' arms.

But Zoe interrupted. "No, no," she protested, "the singing spell is
broken. We will have the song after the charades--after the charades."

"Good, good--after the charades!" they all cried, for there would be
charades like none which had ever been played before, with a real actor
to help them, to carry them through as they did on the stage. To them the
stage was compounded of mystery, gaiety and the forbidden.

So, for the next half-hour they were all at the disposal of the Man from
Outside, who worked as though it was a real stage, and they were real
players, and there were great audiences to see them. It was all quite
wonderful, and it involved certain posings, attitudes, mimicry and
pantomime, for they were really ingenious charades.

So it happened that Zoe's fingers often came in touch with those of the
stage-manager, that his hands touched her shoulders, that his cheek
brushed against her dark hair once, and that she had sensations never
experienced before. Why was it that she thrilled when she came near to
him, that her whole body throbbed and her heart fluttered when their
shoulders or arms touched? Her childlike nature, with all its warmth and
vibration of life, had never till now felt the stir of sex in its vital
sense. All men had in one way been the same to her; but now she realized
that there was a world-wide difference between her Judge Carcasson, her
little Clerk of the Court, and this young man whose eyes drank hers. She
had often been excited, even wildly agitated, had been like a sprite let
loose in quiet ways; but that was mere spirit. Here was body and senses
too; here was her whole being alive to a music, which had an aching
sweetness and a harmony coaxing every sense into delight.

"To-morrow evening, by the flume, where the beechtrees are--come--at six.
I want to speak with you. Will you come?"

Thus whispered the maker of this music of the senses, who directed the
charades, but who was also directing the course of another life than his
own.

"Yes, if I can," was Zoe's whispered reply, and the words shook as she
said them; for she felt that their meeting in the beech-trees by the
flume would be of consequence beyond imagination.

Judge Carcasson had always said that Zoe had judgment beyond her years;
M. Fille had remarked often that she had both prudence and shrewdness as
well as a sympathetic spirit; but M. Fille's little whispering sister,
who could never be tempted away from her home to any house, to whom the
market and the church were like pilgrimages to distant wilds, had said to
her brother:

"Wait, Armand--wait till Zoe is waked, and then prudence and wisdom will
be but accident. If all goes well, you will see prudence and wisdom; but
if it does not, you will see--ah, but just Zoe!"

The now alert Jean Jacques had seen the whispering of the two, though he
did not know what had been said. It was, however, something secret, and
if it was secret, then it was--yes, it was love; and love between his
daughter and that waif of the world--the world of the stage--in which men
and women were only grown-up children, and bad grown-up children at
that--it was not to be endured. One thing was sure, the man should come
to the Manor Cartier no more. He would see to that to-morrow. There would
be no faltering or paltering on his part. His home had been shaken to its
foundations once, and he was determined that it should not fall about his
ears a second time. An Englishman, an actor, a Protestant, and a renegade
lawyer! It was not to be endured.

The charade now being played was the best of the evening. One of the
madcap friends of Zoe was to be a singing-girl. She was supposed to carry
a tambourine. When her turn to enter came, with a look of mischief and a
gay dancing step, she ran into the room. In her hands was a guitar, not a
tambourine. When Zoe saw the guitar she gave a cry.

"Where did you get that?" she asked in a low, shocked, indignant voice.

"In your room--your bedroom," was the half-frightened answer. "I saw it
on the dresser, and I took it."

"Come, come, let's get on with the charade," urged the Man from Outside.

On the instant's pause, in which Zoe looked at her lover almost
involuntarily, and without fully understanding what he said, someone else
started forward with a smothered exclamation--of anger, of horror, of
dismay. It was Jean Jacques. He was suddenly transformed.

His eyes were darkened by hideous memory, his face alight with passion.
He caught from the girl's hands the guitar--Carmen's forgotten guitar
which he had not seen for seven years--how well he knew it! With both
hands he broke it across his knee. The strings, as they snapped, gave a
shrill, wailing cry, like a voice stopped suddenly by death. Stepping
jerkily to the fireplace he thrust it into the flame.

"Ah, there!" he said savagely. "There--there!" When he turned round
slowly again, his face--which he had never sought to control before he
had his great Accident seven years ago--was under his command. A strange,
ironic-almost sardonic-smile was on his lips.

"It's in the play," he said.

"No, it's not in the charade, Monsieur Barbille," said the Man from
Outside fretfully.

"That is the way I read it, m'sieu'," retorted Jean Jacques, and he made
a motion to the fiddler.

"The dance! The dance!" he exclaimed.

But yet he looked little like a man who wished to dance, save upon a
grave.



CHAPTER XIV

"I DO NOT WANT TO GO"

It is a bad thing to call down a crisis in the night-time. A "scene" at
midnight is a savage enemy of ultimate understanding, and that Devil,
called Estrangement, laughs as he observes the objects of his attention
in conflict when the midnight candle burns.

He should have been seized with a fit of remorse, however, at the sight
he saw in the Manor Cartier at midnight of the day when Jean Jacques
Barbille had reached his fiftieth year. There is nothing which, for
pathos and for tragedy, can compare with a struggle between the young and
the old.

The Devil of Estrangement when he sees it, may go away and indulge
himself in sleep; for there will be no sleep for those who, one young and
the other old, break their hearts on each other's anvils, when the lights
are low and it is long till morning.

When Jean Jacques had broken the forgotten guitar which his daughter had
retrieved from her mother's life at the Manor Cartier (all else he had
had packed and stored away in the flour-mill out of sight) and thrown it
in the fire, there had begun a revolt in the girl's heart, founded on a
sense of injustice, but which itself became injustice also; and that is a
dark thing to come between those who love--even as parent and child.

After her first exclamation of dismay and pain, Zoe had regained her
composure, and during the rest of the evening she was full of feverish
gaiety. Indeed her spirits and playful hospitality made the evening a
success in spite of the skeleton at the feast. Jean Jacques had also
roused himself, and, when the dance began, he joined in with spirit,
though his face was worn and haggard even when lighted by his smile. But
though the evening came to the conventional height of hilarity, there was
a note running through it which made even the youngest look at each
other, as though to say, "Now, what's going to happen next!"

Three people at any rate knew that something was going to happen. They
were Zoe, the Man from Outside and M. Fille. Zoe had had more than one
revelation that night, and she felt again as she did one day, seven years
before, when, coming home from over the hills, she had stepped into a
house where Horror brooded as palpably as though it sat beside the fire,
or hung above the family table. She had felt something as soon as she had
entered the door that far-off day, though the house seemed empty. It was
an emptiness which was filled with a torturing presence or torturing
presenes. It had stilled her young heart. What was it? She had learned
the truth soon enough. Out of the sunset had come her father with a face
twisted with misery, and as she ran to him, he had caught her by both
shoulders, looked through her eyes to something far beyond, and hoarsely
said: "She is gone--gone from us! She has run away from home! Curse her
baptism--curse it, curse it!"

Zoe could never forget these last words she had ever heard her father
speak of Carmen. They were words which would make any Catholic shudder to
hear. It was a pity he had used them, for they made her think at last
that her mother had been treated with injustice. This, in spite of the
fact that in the days, now so far away, when her mother was with them she
had ever been nearer to her father, and that, after first childhood, she
and her mother were not so close as they had been, when she went to sleep
to the humming of a chanson of Cadiz. Her own latent motherhood, however,
kept stealing up out of the dim distances of childhood's ignorance and,
with modesty and allusiveness, whispering knowledge in her ear. So it was
that now she looked back pensively to the years she had spent within
sight and sound of her handsome mother, and out of the hunger of her own
spirit she had come to idealize her memory. It was good to have a loving
father; but he was a man, and he was so busy just when she wanted--when
she wanted she knew not what, but at least to go and lay her head on a
heart that would understand what was her sorrow, her joy, or her longing.

And now here at last was come Crisis, which showed its thunderous head in
the gay dance, and shook his war-locks in the fire, where her mother's
guitar had shrieked in its last agony.

When all the guests had gone, when the bolts had been shot home, and old
Seraphe Corniche had gone to bed, father and daughter came face to face.

There was a moment's pause, as the two looked at each other, and then Zoe
came up to Jean Jacques to kiss him good-night. It was her way of facing
the issue. Instinctively she knew that he would draw back, and that the
struggle would begin. It might almost seem that she had invited it; for
she had let the Man from Outside hold her hand for far longer than
courtesy required, while her father looked on with fretful eyes--even
with a murmuring which was not a benediction. Indeed, he had evaded
shaking hands with his hated visitor by suddenly offering him a cigar,
and then in the doorway itself handing a lighted match.

"His eminence, Cardinal Christophe, gave these cigars to me when he
passed through St. Saviour's five years ago," Jean Jacques had remarked
loftily, "and I always smoke one on my birthday. I am a good Catholic,
and his eminence rested here for a whole day."

He had had a grim pleasure in avoiding the handshake, and in having the
Protestant outsider smoke the Catholic cigar! In his anger it seemed to
him that he had done something worthy almost of the Vatican, indeed of
the great Cardinal Christophe himself. Even in his moments of crisis, in
his hours of real tragedy, in the times when he was shaken to the centre,
Jean Jacques fancied himself more than a little. It was as the
master-carpenter had remarked seven years before, he was always
involuntarily saying, "Here I come--look at me. I am Jean Jacques
Barbille!"

When Zoe reached out a hand to touch his arm, and raised her face as
though to kiss him good-night, Jean Jacques drew back.

"Not yet, Zoe," he said. "There are some things--What is all this between
you and that man? . . . I have seen. You must not forget who you are--the
daughter of Jean Jacques Barbille, of the Manor Cartier, whose name is
known in the whole province, who was asked to stand for the legislature.
You are Zoe Barbille--Mademoiselle Zoe Barbille. We do not put on airs.
We are kind to our neighbours, but I am descended from the Baron of
Beaugard. I have a place--yes, a place in society; and it is for you to
respect it. You comprehend?"

Zoe flushed, but there was no hesitation whatever in her reply. "I am
what I have always been, and it is not my fault that I am the daughter of
M. Jean Jacques Barbille! I have never done anything which was not good
enough for the Manor Cartier." She held her head firmly as she said it.

Now Jean Jacques flushed, and he did hesitate in his reply. He hated
irony in anyone else, though he loved it in himself, when heaven gave him
inspiration thereto. He was in a state of tension, and was ready to break
out, to be a force let loose--that is the way he would have expressed it;
and he was faced by a new spirit in his daughter which would surely
spring the mine, unless he secured peace by strategy. He had sense enough
to feel the danger.

He did not see, however, any course for diplomacy here, for she had given
him his cue in her last words. As a pure logician he was bound to take
it, though it might lead to drama of a kind painful to them both.

"It is not good enough for the Manor Cartier that you go falling in love
with a nobody from nowhere," he responded.

"I am not falling in love," she rejoined.

"What did you mean, then, by looking at him as you did; by whispering
together; by letting him hold your hand when he left, and him looking at
you as though he'd eat you up--without sugar!"

"I said I was not falling in love," she persisted, quietly, but with
characteristic boldness. "I am in love."

"You are in love with him--with that interloper! Heaven of heavens, do
you speak the truth? Answer me, Zoe Barbille."

She bridled. "Certainly I will answer. Did you think I would let a man
look at me as he did, that I would look at a man as I looked at him, that
I would let him hold my hand as I did, if I did not love him? Have you
ever seen me do it before?"

Her voice was even and quiet--as though she had made up her mind on a
course, and meant to carry it through to the end.

"No, I never saw you look at a man like that, and everything is as you
say, but--" his voice suddenly became uneven and higher--pitched and a
little hoarse, "but he is English, he is an actor--only that; and he is a
Protestant."

"Only that?" she asked, for the tone of his voice was such as one would
use in speaking of a toad or vermin, and she could not bear it. "Is it a
disgrace to be any one of those things?"

"The Barbilles have been here for two hundred years; they have been
French Catholics since the time of"--he was not quite sure--"since the
time of Louis XI.," he added at a venture, and then paused, overcome by
his own rashness.

"Yes, that is a long time," she said, "but what difference does it make?
We are just what we are now, and as if there never had been a Baron of
Beaugard. What is there against Gerard except that he is an actor, that
he is English, and that he is a Protestant? Is there anything?"

"Sacre, is it not enough? An actor, what is that--to pretend to be
someone else and not to be yourself!"

"It would be better for a great many people to be someone else rather
than themselves--for nothing; and he does it for money."

"For money! What money has he got? You don't know. None of us know.
Besides, he's a Protestant, and he's English, and that ends it. There
never has been an Englishman or a Protestant in the Barbille family, and
it shan't begin at the Manor Cartier." Jean Jacques' voice was rising in
proportion as he perceived her quiet determination. Here was something of
the woman who had left him seven years ago--left this comfortable home of
his to go to disgrace and exile, and God only knew what else! Here in
this very room--yes, here where they now were, father and daughter, stood
husband and wife that morning when he had his hand on the lever prepared
to destroy the man who had invaded his home; who had cast a blight upon
it, which remained after all the years; after he had done all a man could
do to keep the home and the woman too. The woman had gone; the home
remained with his daughter in it, and now again there was a fight for
home and the woman. Memory reproduced the picture of the mother standing
just where the daughter now stood, Carmen quiet and well in hand, and
himself all shaken with weakness, and with all power gone out of
him--even the power which rage and a murderous soul give.

But yet this was different. There was no such shame here as had fallen on
him seven years ago. But there was a shame after its kind; and if it were
not averted, there was the end of the home, of the prestige, the pride
and the hope of "M'sieu' Jean Jacques, philosophe."

"What shall not begin here at the Manor Cartier?" she asked with burning
cheek.

"The shame--it shall not begin here."

"What shame, father?"

"Of marriage with a Protestant and an actor."

"You will not let me marry him?" she persisted stubbornly.

Her words seemed to shake him all to pieces. It was as though he was
going through the older tragedy all over again. It had possessed him ever
since the sight of Carmen's guitar had driven him mad three hours ago. He
swayed to and fro, even as he did when his hand left the lever and he let
the master-carpenter go free. It was indeed a philosopher under torture,
a spirit rocking on its anchor. Just now she had put into words herself
what, even in his fear, he had hoped had no place in her mind--marriage
with the man. He did not know this daughter of his very well. There was
that in her which was far beyond his ken. Thousands of miles away in
Spain it had origin, and the stream of tendency came down through long
generations, by courses unknown to him.

"Marry him--you want to marry him!" he gasped. "You, my Zoe, want to
marry that tramp of a Protestant!"

Her eyes blazed in anger. Tramp--the man with the air of a young
Alexander, with a voice like the low notes of the guitar thrown to the
flames! Tramp!

"If I love him I ought to marry him," she answered with a kind of
calmness, however, though all her body was quivering. Suddenly she came
close to her father, a great sympathy welled up in her eyes, and her
voice shook.

"I do not want to leave you, father, and I never meant to do so. I never
thought of it as possible; but now it is different. I want to stay with
you; but I want to go with him too."

Presently as she seemed to weaken before him, he hardened. "You can't
have both," he declared with as much sternness as was possible to him,
and with a Norman wilfulness which was not strength. "You shall not marry
an actor and a Protestant. You shall not marry a man like
that--never--never--never. If you do, you will never have a penny of
mine, and I will never--"

"Oh, hush--Mother of Heaven, hush!" she cried. "You shall not put a curse
on me too."

"What curse?" he burst forth, passion shaking him. "You cursed my
mother's baptism. It would be a curse to be told that you would see me no
more, that I should be no more part of this home. There has been enough
of that curse here. . . . Ah, why--why--" she added with a sudden rush of
indignation, "why did you destroy the only thing I had of hers? It was
all that was left--her guitar. I loved it so."

All at once, with a cry of pain, she turned and ran to the door--entering
on the staircase which led to her room. In the doorway she turned.

"I can't help it. I can't help it, father. I love him--but I love you
too," she cried. "I don't want to go--oh, I don't want to go! Why do
you--?" her voice choked; she did not finish the sentence; or if she did,
he could not hear.

Then she opened the door wide, and disappeared into the darkness of the
unlighted stairway, murmuring, "Pity--have pity on me, holy Mother,
Vierge Marie!" Then the door closed behind her almost with a bang.

After a moment of stupefied inaction Jean Jacques hurried over and threw
open the door she had closed. "Zoe--little Zoe, come back and say
good-night," he called. But she did not hear, for, with a burst of
crying, she had hurried into her own room and shut and locked the door.

It was a pity, a measureless pity, as Mary the Mother must have seen, if
she could see mortal life at all, that Zoe did not hear him. It might
have altered the future. As it was, the Devil of Estrangement might well
be content with his night's work.



CHAPTER XV

BON MARCHE

Vilray was having its market day, and everyone was either going to or
coming from market, or buying and selling in the little square by the
Court House. It was the time when the fruits were coming in, when
vegetables were in full yield, when fish from the Beau Cheval were to be
had in plenty--from mud-cats and suckers, pike and perch, to rock-bass,
sturgeon and even maskinonge. Also it was the time of year when butter
and eggs, chickens and ducks were so cheap that it was a humiliation not
to buy. There were other things on sale also, not for eating and
drinking, but for wear and household use--from pots and pans to
rag-carpets and table-linen, from woollen yarn to pictures of the Virgin
and little calvaries.

These were side by side with dried apples, bottled fruits, jars of maple
syrup, and cordials of so generous and penetrating a nature that the
currant and elderberry wine by which they were flanked were tipple for
babes beside them. Indeed, when a man wanted to forget himself quickly he
drank one of these cordials, in preference to the white whisky so
commonly imbibed in the parishes. But the cordials being expensive, they
were chiefly bought for festive occasions like a wedding, a funeral, a
confirmation, or the going away of some young man or young woman to the
monastery or the convent to forget the world. Meanwhile, if these
spiritual argonauts drank it, they were likely to forget the world on the
way to their voluntary prisons. It was very seldom that a man or woman
bought the cordials for ordinary consumption, and when that was done, it
would almost make a parish talk! Yet cordials of nice brown, of delicate
green, of an enticing yellow colour, were here for sale at Vilray market
on the morning after the painful scene at the Manor Cartier between Zoe
and her father.

The market-place was full--fuller than it had been for many a day. A
great many people were come in as much to "make fete" as to buy and sell.
It was a saint's day, and the bell of St. Monica's had been ringing away
cheerfully twice that morning. To it the bell of the Court House had made
reply, for a big case was being tried in the court. It was a
river-driving and lumber case for which many witnesses had been called;
and there were all kinds of stray people in the place--red-shirted
river-drivers, a black-coated Methodist minister from Chalfonte, clerks
from lumber-firms, and foremen of lumber-yards; and among these was one
who greatly loved such a day as this when he could be free from work, and
celebrate himself!

Other people might celebrate saints dead and gone, and drink to 'La
Patrie', and cry "Vive Napoleon!" or "Vive la Republique!" or "Vive la
Reine!" though this last toast of the Empire was none too common--but he
could only drink with real sincerity to the health of Sebastian Dolores,
which was himself. Sebastian Dolores was the pure anarchist, the most
complete of monomaniacs.

"Here comes the father of the Spanische," remarked Mere Langlois, who
presided over a heap of household necessities, chiefly dried fruits,
preserves and pickles, as Sebastian Dolores appeared not far away.

"Good-for-nothing villain! I pity the poor priest that confesses him."

"Who is the Spanische?" asked a young woman from her own stall or stand
very near, as she involuntarily arranged her hair and adjusted her
waist-belt; for the rakish-looking reprobate, with the air of having been
somewhere, was making towards them; and she was young enough to care how
she looked when a man, who took notice, was near. Her own husband had
been a horse-doctor, farmer, and sportsman of a kind, and she herself was
now a farmer of a kind; and she had only resided in the parish during the
three years since she had been married to, and buried, Palass Poucette.

Old Mere Langlois looked at her companion in merchanting irritably, then
she remembered that Virginie Poucette was a stranger, in a way, and was
therefore deserving of pity, and she said with compassionate patronage:
"Newcomer you--I'd forgotten. Look you then, the Spanische was the wife
of my third cousin, M'sieu' Jean Jacques, and--"

Virginie Poucette nodded, and the slight frown cleared from her low yet
shapely forehead. "Yes, yes, of course I know. I've heard enough. What a
fool she was, and M'sieu' Jean Jacques so rich and kind and good-looking!
So this is her father--well, well, well!"

Palass Poucette's widow leaned forward, and looked intently at Sebastian
Dolores, who had stopped near by, and facing a couple of barrels on which
were exposed some bottles of cordial and home-made wine. He was
addressing himself with cheerful words to the dame that owned the
merchandise.

"I suppose you think it's a pity Jean Jacques can't get a divorce," said
Mere Langlois, rather spitefully to Virginie, for she had her sex's
aversion to widows who had had their share of mankind, and were
afterwards free to have someone else's share as well. But suddenly
repenting, for Virginie was a hard-working widow who had behaved very
well for an outsider--having come from Chalfonte beyond the Beau
Chevalshe added: "But if he was a Protestant and could get a divorce, and
you did marry him, you'd make him have more sense than he's got; for
you've a quiet sensible way, and you've worked hard since Palass Poucette
died."

"Where doesn't he show sense, that M'sieu' Jean Jacques?" the younger
woman asked.

"Where? Why, with his girl--with Ma'm'selle." "Everybody I ever heard
speaks well of Ma'm'selle Zoe," returned the other warmly, for she had a
very generous mind and a truthful, sentimental heart. Mere Langlois
sniffed, and put her hands on her hips, for she had a daughter of her
own; also she was a relation of Jean Jacques, and therefore resented in
one way the difference in their social position, while yet she plumed
herself on being kin.

"Then you'll learn something now you never knew before," she said. "She's
been carrying on--there's no other word for it--with an actor fellow--"

"Yes, yes, I did hear about him--a Protestant and an Englishman."

"Well, then, why do you pretend you don't know--only to hear me talk, is
it? Take my word, I'd teach cousin Zoe a lesson with all her education
and her two years at the convent. Wasn't it enough that her mother should
spoil everything for Jean Jacques, and make the Manor Cartier a place to
point the finger at, without her bringing disgrace on the parish too!
What happened last night--didn't I hear this morning before I had my
breakfast! Didn't I--"

She then proceeded to describe the scene in which Jean Jacques had thrown
the wrecked guitar of his vanished spouse into the fire. Before she had
finished, however, something occurred which swept them into another act
of the famous history of Jean Jacques Barbille and his house.

She had arrived at the point where Zoe had cried aloud in pain at her
father's incendiary act, when there was a great stir at the Court House
door which opened on the market-place, and vagrant cheers arose. These
were presently followed by a more disciplined fusillade; which presently,
in turn, was met by hisses and some raucous cries of resentment. These
increased as a man appeared on the steps of the Court House, looked round
for a moment in a dazed kind of way, then seeing some friends below who
were swarming towards him, gave a ribald cry, and scrambled down the
steps towards them.

He was the prisoner whose release had suddenly been secured by a piece of
evidence which had come as a thunder-clap on judge and jury. Immediately
after giving this remarkable evidence the witness--Sebastian Dolores--had
left the court-room. He was now engaged in buying cordials in the
market-place--in buying and drinking them; for he had pulled the cork out
of a bottle filled with a rich yellow liquid, and had drained half the
bottle at a gulp. Presently he offered the remainder to a passing carter,
who made a gesture of contempt and passed on, for, to him, white whisky
was the only drink worth while. Besides, he disliked Sebastian Dolores.
Then, with a flourish, the Spaniard tendered the bottle to Madame
Langlois and Palass Poucette's widow, at whose corner of merchandise he
had now arrived.

Surely there never was a more benign villain and perjurer in the world
than Sebastian Dolores! His evidence, given a half-hour before, with
every sign of truthfulness, was false. The man--Rocque Valescure--for
whom he gave it was no friend of his; but he owned a tavern called "The
Red Eagle," a few miles from the works where the Spaniard was employed;
also Rocque Valescure's wife set a good table, and Sebastian Dolores was
a very liberal feeder; when he was not hungry he was always thirsty. The
appeasement of hunger and thirst was now become a problem to him, for his
employers at Beauharnais had given him a month's notice because of
certain irregularities which had come to their knowledge. Like a wise man
Sebastian Dolores had said nothing about this abroad, but had enlarged
his credit in every direction, and had then planned this piece of
friendly perjury for Rocque Valescure, who was now descending the steps
of the Court House to the arms of his friends and amid the execrations of
his foes. What the alleged crime was does not matter. It has no vital
significance in the history of Jean Jacques Barbille, though it has its
place as a swivel on which the future swung.

Sebastian Dolores had saved Rocque Valescure from at least three years in
jail, and possibly a very heavy fine as well; and this service must have
its due reward. Something for nothing was not the motto of Sebastian
Dolores; and he confidently looked forward to having a home at "The Red
Eagle" and a banker in its landlord. He was no longer certain that he
could rely on help from Jean Jacques, to whom he already owed so much.
That was why he wanted to make Rocque Valescure his debtor. It was not
his way to perjure his soul for nothing. He had done so in Spain--yet not
for nothing either. He had saved his head, which was now doing useful
work for himself and for a needy fellow-creature. No one could doubt that
he had helped a neighbour in great need, and had done it at some expense
to his own nerve and brain. None but an expert could have lied as he had
done in the witness-box. Also he had upheld his lies with a striking
narrative of circumstantiality. He made things fit in "like mortised
blocks" as the Clerk of the Court said to Judge Carcasson, when they
discussed the infamy afterwards with clear conviction that it was perjury
of a shameless kind; for one who would perjure himself to save a man from
jail, would also swear a man into the gallows-rope. But Judge Carcasson
had not been able to charge the jury in that sense, for there was no
effective evidence to rebut the untruthful attestation of the Spaniard.
It had to be taken for what it was worth, since the prosecuting attorney
could not shake it; and yet to the Court itself it was manifestly false
witness.

Sebastian Dolores was too wise to throw himself into the arms of his
released tavern-keeper here immediately after the trial, or to allow
Rocque Valescure a like indiscretion and luxury; for there was a strong
law against perjury, and right well Sebastian Dolores knew that old Judge
Carcasson would have little mercy on him, in spite of the fact that he
was the grandfather of Zoe Barbille. The Judge would probably think that
safe custody for his wayward character would be the kindest thing he
could do for Zoe. Therefore it was that Sebastian Dolores paid no
attention to the progress of the released landlord of "The Red Eagle,"
though, by a glance out of the corner of his eyes, he made sure that the
footsteps of liberated guilt were marching at a tangent from where he
was--even to the nearest tavern.

It was enough for Dolores that he should watch the result of his good
deed from the isolated area where he now was, in the company of two
virtuous representatives of domesticity. His time with liberated guilt
would come! He chuckled to think how he had provided himself with a
refuge against his hour of trouble. That very day he had left his
employment, meaning to return no more, securing his full wages through
having suddenly become resentful and troublesome, neglectful--and
imperative. To avoid further unpleasantness the firm had paid him all his
wages; and he had straightway come to Vilray to earn his bed and board by
other means than through a pen, a ledger and a gift for figures. It would
not be a permanent security against the future, but it would suffice for
the moment. It was a rest-place on the road. If the worst came to the
worst, there was his grand-daughter and his dear son-in-law whom he so
seldom saw--blood was thicker than water, and he would see to it that it
was not thinned by neglect.

Meanwhile he ogled Palass Poucette's widow with one eye, and talked
softly with his tongue to Mere Langlois, as he importuned Madame to "Sip
the good cordial in the name of charity to all and malice towards none."

"You're a bad man--you, and I want none of your cordials," was Mere
Langlois's response. "Malice towards none, indeed! If you and the devil
started business in the same street, you'd make him close up shop in a
year. I've got your measure, for sure; I have you certain as an arm and a
pair of stirrups."

"I go about doing good--only good," returned the old sinner with a leer
at the young widow, whose fingers he managed to press unseen, as he swung
the little bottle of cordial before the eyes of Mere Langlois. He was not
wholly surprised when Palass Poucette's widow did not show abrupt
displeasure at his bold familiarity.

A wild thought flashed into his mind. Might there not be another refuge
here--here in Palass Poucette's widow! He was sixty-three, it was true,
and she was only thirty-two; but for her to be an old man's darling who
had no doubt been a young man's slave, that would surely have its weight
with her. Also she owned the farm where she lived; and she was pleasant
pasturage--that was the phrase he used in his own mind, even as his eye
swept from Mere Langlois to hers in swift, hungry inquiry.

He seemed in earnest when he spoke--but that was his way; it had done him
service often. "I do good whenever it comes my way to do it," he
continued. "I left my work this morning"--he lied of course--"and hired a
buggy to bring me over here, all at my own cost, to save a fellow-man.
There in the Court House he was sure of prison, with a wife and three
small children weeping in 'The Red Eagle'; and there I come at great
expense and trouble to tell the truth--before all to tell the truth--and
save him and set him free. Yonder he is in the tavern, the work of my
hands, a gift to the world from an honest man with a good heart and a
sense of justice. But for me there would be a wife and three children in
the bondage of shame, sorrow, poverty and misery"--his eyes again
ravished the brown eyes of Palass Poucette's widow--"and here again I
drink to my own health and to that of all good people--with charity to
all and malice towards none!"

The little bottle of golden cordial was raised towards Mere Langlois. The
fingers of one hand, however, were again seeking those of the comely
young widow who was half behind him, when he felt them caught
spasmodically away. Before he had time to turn round he heard a voice,
saying: "I should have thought that 'With malice to all and charity
towards none,' was your motto, Dolores."

He knew that voice well enough. He had always had a lurking fear that he
would hear it say something devastating to him, from the great chair
where its owner sat and dispensed what justice a jury would permit him to
do. That devastating something would be agony to one who loved liberty
and freedom--had not that ever been his watchword, liberty and freedom to
do what he pleased in the world and with the world? Yes, he well knew
Judge Carcasson's voice. He would have recognized it in the dark--or
under the black cap. "M'sieu' le juge!" he said, even before he turned
round and saw the faces of the tiny Judge and his Clerk of the Court.
There was a kind of quivering about his mouth, and a startled look in his
eyes as he faced the two. But there was the widow of Palass Poucette,
and, if he was to pursue and frequent her, something must be done to keep
him decently figured in her eye and mind.

"It cost me three dollars to come here and save a man from jail to-day,
m'sieu' le juge," he added firmly. The Judge pressed the point of his
cane against the stomach of the hypocrite and perjurer. "If the Devil and
you meet, he will take off his hat to you, my escaped anarchist"--Dolores
started almost violently now--"for you can teach him much, and Ananias
was the merest aboriginal to you. But we'll get you--we'll get you,
Dolores. You saved that guilty fellow by a careful and remarkable perjury
to-day. In a long experience I have never seen a better performance--have
you, monsieur?" he added to M. Fille.

"But once," was the pointed and deliberate reply. "Ah, when was that?"
asked Judge Carcasson, interested.

"The year monsieur le juge was ill, and Judge Blaquiere took your place.
It was in Vilray at the Court House here."

"Ah--ah, and who was the phenomenon--the perfect liar?" asked the Judge
with the eagerness of the expert.

"His name was Sebastian Dolores," meditatively replied M. Fille. "It was
even a finer performance than that of to-day."

The Judge gave a little grunt of surprise. "Twice, eh?" he asked. "Yet
this was good enough to break any record," he added. He fastened the
young widow's eyes. "Madame, you are young, and you have an eye of
intelligence. Be sure of this: you can protect yourself against almost
anyone except a liar--eh, madame?" he added to Mere Langlois. "I am sure
your experience of life and your good sense--"

"My good sense would make me think purgatory was hell if I saw him"--she
nodded savagely at Dolores as she said it, for she had seen that last
effort of his to take the fingers of Palass Poucette's widow--"if I saw
him there, m'sieu' le juge."

"We'll have you yet--we'll have you yet, Dolores," said the Judge, as the
Spaniard prepared to move on. But, as Dolores went, he again caught the
eyes of the young widow.

This made him suddenly bold. "'Thou shalt not bear false witness against
thy neighbour,'--that is the commandment, is it not, m'sieu' le juge? You
are doing against me what I didn't do in Court to-day. I saved a man from
your malice."

The crook of the Judge's cane caught the Spaniard's arm, and held him
gently.

"You're possessed of a devil, Dolores," he said, "and I hope I'll never
have to administer justice in your case. I might be more man than judge.
But you will come to no good end. You will certainly--"

He got no further, for the attention of all was suddenly arrested by a
wagon driving furiously round the corner of the Court House. It was a red
wagon. In it was Jean Jacques Barbille.

His face was white and set; his head was thrust forward, as though
looking at something far ahead of him; the pony stallions he was driving
were white with sweat, and he had an air of tragic helplessness and
panic.

Suddenly a child ran across the roadway in front of the ponies, and the
wild cry of the mother roused Jean Jacques out of his agonized trance. He
sprang to his feet, wrenching the horses backward and aside with deftness
and presence of mind. The margin of safety was not more than a foot, but
the child was saved.

The philosopher of the Manor Cartier seemed to come out of a dream as men
and women applauded, and cries arose of "Bravo, M'sieu' Jean Jacques!"

At any other time this would have made Jean Jacques nod and smile, or
wave a hand, or exclaim in good fellowship. Now, however, his eyes were
full of trouble, and the glassiness of the semi-trance leaving them, they
shifted restlessly here and there. Suddenly they fastened on the little
group of which Judge Carcasson was the centre. He had stopped his horses
almost beside them.

"Ah!" he said, "ah!" as his eyes rested on the Judge. "Ah!" he again
exclaimed, as the glance ran from the Judge to Sebastian Dolores. "Ah,
mercy of God!" he added, in a voice which had both a low note and a high
note-deep misery and shrill protest in one. Then he seemed to choke, and
words would not come, but he kept looking, looking at Sebastian Dolores,
as though fascinated and tortured by the sight of him.

"What is it, Jean Jacques?" asked the little Clerk of the Court gently,
coming forward and laying a hand on the steaming flank of a spent and
trembling pony.

As though he could not withdraw his gaze from Sebastian Dolores, Jean
Jacques did not look at M. Fille; but he thrust out the long whip he
carried towards the father of his vanished Carmen and his Zoe's
grandfather, and with the deliberation of one to whom speaking was like
the laceration of a nerve he said: "Zoe's run away--gone--gone!"

At that moment Louis Charron, his cousin, at whose house Gerard Fynes had
lodged, came down the street galloping his horse. Seeing the red wagon,
he made for it, and drew rein.

"It's no good, Jean Jacques," he called. "They're married and gone to
Montreal--married right under our noses by the Protestant minister at
Terrebasse Junction. I've got the telegram here from the stationmaster at
Terrebasse. . . . Ah, the villain to steal away like that--only a
child--from her own father! Here it is--the telegram. But believe me, an
actor, a Protestant and a foreigner--what a devil's mess!"

He waved the telegram towards Jean Jacques.

"Did he owe you anything, Louis?" asked old Mere Langlois, whose
practical mind was alert to find the material status of things.

"Not a sou. Well, but he was honest, I'll say that for the rogue and
seducer."

"Seducer--ah, God choke you with your own tongue!" cried Jean Jacques,
turning on Louis Charron with a savage jerk of the whip he held. "She is
as pure--"

"It is no marriage, of course!" squeaked a voice from the crowd.

"It'll be all right among the English, won't it, monsieur le juge?" asked
the gentle widow of Palass Poucette, whom the scene seemed to rouse out
of her natural shyness.

"Most sure, madame, most sure," answered the Judge. "It will be all right
among the English, and it is all right among the French so far as the law
is concerned. As for the Church, that is another matter. But--but see,"
he added addressing Louis Charron, "does the station-master say what
place they took tickets for?"

"Montreal and Winnipeg," was the reply. "Here it is in the telegram.
Winnipeg--that's as English as London."

"Winnipeg--a thousand miles!" moaned Jean Jacques.

With the finality which the tickets for Winnipeg signified, the shrill
panic emotion seemed to pass from him. In its mumbling, deadening force
it was like a sentence on a prisoner.

As many eyes were on Sebastian Dolores as on Jean Jacques. "It's the bad
blood that was in her," said a farmer with a significant gesture towards
Sebastian Dolores.

"A little bad blood let out would be a good thing," remarked a truculent
river-driver, who had given evidence directly contrary to that given by
Sebastian Dolores in the trial just concluded. There was a savage look in
his eye.

Sebastian Dolores heard, and he was not the man to invite trouble. He
could do no good where he was, and he turned to leave the market-place;
but in doing so he sought the eye of Virginie Poucette, who, however,
kept her face at an angle from him, as she saw Mere Langlois sharply
watching her.

"Grandfather, mother and daughter, all of a piece!" said a spiteful
woman, as Sebastian Dolores passed her. The look he gave her was not the
same as that he had given to Palass Poucette's widow. If it had been
given by a Spanish inquisitor to a heretic, little hope would have
remained in the heretic's heart. Yet there was a sad patient look on his
face, as though he was a martyr. He had no wish to be a martyr; but he
had a feeling that for want of other means of expressing their sympathy
with Jean Jacques, these rough people might tar and feather him at least;
though it was only his misfortune that those sprung from his loins had
such adventurous spirits!

Sebastian Dolores was not without a real instinct regarding things. What
was in his mind was also passing through that of the river-driver and a
few of his friends, and they carefully watched the route he was taking.

Jean Jacques prepared to depart. He had ever loved to be the centre of a
picture, but here was a time when to be in the centre was torture. Eyes
of morbid curiosity were looking at the open wounds of his heart-ragged
wounds made by the shrapnel of tragedy and treachery, not the clean
wounds got in a fair fight, easily healed. For the moment at least the
little egoist was a mere suffering soul--an epitome of shame, misery and
disappointment. He must straightway flee the place where he was tied to
the stake of public curiosity and scorn. He drew the reins tighter, and
the horses straightened to depart. Then it was that old Judge Carcasson
laid a hand on his knee.

"Come, come," he said to the dejected and broken little man, "where is
your philosophy?"

Jean Jacques looked at the Judge, as though with a new-born suspicion
that henceforth the world would laugh at him, and that Judge Carcasson
was setting the fashion; but seeing a pitying moisture in the other's
eyes, he drew himself up, set his jaw, and calling on all the forces at
his command, he said:

"Moi je suis philosophe!"

His voice frayed a little on the last word, but his head was up now. The
Clerk of the Court would have asked to accompany him to the Manor
Cartier, but he was not sure that Jean Jacques would like it. He had a
feeling that Jean Jacques would wish to have his dark hour alone. So he
remained silent, and Jean Jacques touched his horses with the whip. After
starting, however, and having been followed for a hundred yards or so by
the pitying murmurs and a few I-told-you-so's and revilings for having
married as he did, Jean Jacques stopped the ponies. Standing up in the
red wagon he looked round for someone whom, for a moment, he did not see
in the slowly shifting crowd.

Philosophy was all very well, and he had courageously given his
allegiance to it, or a formula of it, a moment before; but there was
something deeper and rarer still in the little man's soul. His heart
hungered for the two women who had been the joy and pride of his life,
even when he had been lost in the business of the material world. They
were more to him than he had ever known; they were parts of himself which
had slowly developed, as the features and characteristics of ancestors
gradually emerge and are emphasized in a descendant as his years
increase. Carmen and Zoe were more a part of himself now than they had
ever been.

They were gone, the living spirits of his home. Anything that reminded
him of them, despite the pain of the reminder, was dear to him. Love was
greater than the vengeful desire of injured human nature. His eyes
wandered over the people, over the market. At last he saw what he was
looking for. He called. A man turned. Jean Jacques beckoned to him. He
came eagerly, he hurried to the red wagon.

"Come home with me," said Jean Jacques.

The words were addressed to Sebastian Dolores, who said to himself that
this was a refuge surer than "The Red Eagle," or the home of the widow
Poucette. He climbed in beside Jean Jacques with a sigh of content.

"Ah, but that--but that is the end of our philosopher," said Judge
Carcasson sadly to the Clerk of the Court, as with amazement he saw this
catastrophe.

"Alas! if I had only asked to go with him, as I wished to do!" responded
M. Fille. "There, but a minute ago, it was in my mind," he added with a
look of pain.

"You missed your chance, falterer," said the Judge severely. "If you have
a good thought, act on it--that is the golden rule. You missed your
chance. It will never come again. He has taken the wrong turning, our
unhappy Jean Jacques."

"Monsieur--oh, monsieur, do not shut the door in the face of God like
that!" said the shocked little master of the law. "Those two together--it
may be only for a moment."

"Ah, no, my little owl, Jean Jacques will wind the boa-constrictor round
his neck like a collar, all for love of those he has lost," answered the
Judge with emotion; and he caught M. Fille's arm in the companionship of
sorrow.

In silence these two watched the red wagon till it was out of sight.

     ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

     He hated irony in anyone else
     I said I was not falling in love--I am in love
     If you have a good thought, act on it
     Philosophers are often stupid in human affairs
     The beginning of the end of things was come for him



THE MONEY MASTER

By Gilbert Parker
EPOCH THE FOURTH

     XVI.   MISFORTUNES COME NOT SINGLY
     XVII.  HIS GREATEST ASSET
     XVIII. JEAN JACQUES HAS AN OFFER
     XIX.   SEBASTIAN DOLORES DOES NOT SLEEP
     XX.    "AU 'VOIR, M'SIEU' JEAN JACQUES"
     XXI.   IF SHE HAD KNOWN IN TIME



CHAPTER XVI

MISFORTUNES COME NOT SINGLY

Judge Carcasson was right. For a year after Zoe's flight Jean Jacques
wrapped Sebastian Dolores round his neck like a collar, and it choked him
like a boaconstrictor. But not Sebastian Dolores alone did that. When
things begin to go wrong in the life of a man whose hands have held too
many things, the disorder flutters through all the radii of his affairs,
and presently they rattle away from the hub of his control.

So it was with Jean Jacques. To take his reprobate father-in-law to his
lonely home would have brought him trouble in any case; but as things
were, the Spaniard became only the last straw which broke his camel's
back. And what a burden his camel carried--flour-mill, saw-mill,
ash-factory, farms, a general store, lime-kilns, agency for
lightning-rods and insurance, cattle-dealing, the project for the new
cheese-factory, and money-lending!

Money-lending? It seemed strange that Jean Jacques should be able to lend
money, since he himself had to borrow, and mortgage also, from time to
time. When things began to go really wrong with him financially, he
mortgaged his farms, his flour-mill, and saw-mill, and then lent money on
other mortgages. This he did because he had always lent money, and it was
a habit so associated with his prestige, that he tied himself up in
borrowing and lending and counter-mortgaging till, as the saying is, "a
Philadelphia lawyer" could not have unravelled his affairs without having
been born again in the law. That he was able to manipulate his tangled
affairs, while keeping the confidence of those from whom he borrowed, and
the admiration of those to whom he lent, was evidence of his capacity.
"Genius of a kind" was what his biggest creditor called it later.

After a personal visit to St. Saviour's, this biggest creditor and
financial potentate--M. Mornay--said that if Jean Jacques had been
started right and trained right, he would have been a "general in the
financial field, winning big battles."

M. Mornay chanced to be a friend of Judge Carcasson, and when he visited
Vilray he remembered that the Judge had spoken often of his humble but
learned friend, the Clerk of the Court, and of his sister. So M. Mornay
made his way from the office of the firm of avocats whom he had
instructed in his affairs with Jean Jacques, to that of M. Fille. Here he
was soon engaged in comment on the master-miller and philosopher.

"He has had much trouble, and no doubt his affairs have suffered,"
remarked M. Fille cautiously, when the ice had been broken and the Big
Financier had referred casually to the difficulties among which Jean
Jacques was trying to maintain equilibrium; "but he is a man who can do
things too hard for other men."

The Big Financier lighted another cigar and blew away several clouds of
smoke before he said in reply, "Yes, I know he has had family trouble
again, but that is a year ago, and he has had a chance to get another
grip of things."

"He did not sit down and mope," explained M. Fille. "He was at work the
next day after his daughter's flight just the same as before. He is a man
of great courage. Misfortune does not paralyse him."

M. Mornay's speech was of a kind which came in spurts, with pauses of
thought between, and the pause now was longer than usual.

"Paralysis--certainly not," he said at last. "Physical activity is one of
the manifestations of mental, moral, and even physical shock and injury.
I've seen a man with a bullet in him run a half-mile--anywhere; I've seen
a man ripped up by a crosscut-saw hold himself together, and
walk--anywhere--till he dropped. Physical and nervous activity is one of
the forms which shattered force takes. I expect that your 'M'sieu' Jean
Jacques' has been busier this last year than ever before in his life.
He'd have to be; for a man who has as many irons in the fire as he has,
must keep running from bellows to bellows when misfortune starts to damp
him down."

The Clerk of the Court sighed. He realized the significance of what his
visitor was saying. Ever Since Zoe had gone, Jean Jacques had been for
ever on the move, for ever making hay on which the sun did not shine.
Jean Jacques' face these days was lined and changeful. It looked unstable
and tired--as though disturbing forces were working up to the surface out
of control. The brown eyes, too, were far more restless than they had
ever been since the Antoine was wrecked, and their owner returned with
Carmen to the Manor Cartier. But the new restlessness of the eyes was
different from the old. That was a mobility impelled by an active,
inquisitive soul, trying to observe what was going on in the world, and
to make sure that its possessor was being seen by the world. This
activity was that of a mind essentially concerned to find how many ways
it could see for escape from a maze of things; while his vanity was
taking new forms. It was always anxious to discover if the world was
trying to know how he was taking the blows of fate and fortune. He had
been determined that, whatever came, it should not see him paralysed or
broken.

As M. Fille only nodded his head in sorrowful assent, the Big Financier
became more explicit. He was determined to lose nothing by Jean Jacques,
and he was prepared to take instant action when it was required; but he
was also interested in the man who might have done really powerful things
in the world, had he gone about them in the right way.

"M. Barbille has had some lawsuits this year, is it not so?" he asked.

"Two of importance, monsieur, and one is not yet decided," answered M.
Fille.

"He lost those suits of importance?"

"That is so, monsieur."

"And they cost him six thousand dollars--and over?" The Big Financier
seemed to be pressing towards a point.

"Something over that amount, monsieur."

"And he may lose the suit now before the Courts?"

"Who can tell, monsieur!" vaguely commented the little learned official.

M. Mornay was not to be evaded. "Yes, yes, but the case as it stands--to
you who are wise in experience of legal affairs, does it seem at all a
sure thing for him?"

"I wish I could say it was, monsieur," sadly answered the other.

The Big Financier nodded vigorously. "Exactly. Nothing is so unproductive
as the law. It is expensive whether you win or lose, and it is
murderously expensive when you do lose. You will observe, I know, that
your Jean Jacques is a man who can only be killed once--eh?"

"Monsieur?" M. Fille really did not grasp this remark.

M. Mornay's voice became precise. "I will explain. He has never created;
he has only developed what has been created. He inherited much of what he
has or has had. His designs were always affected by the fact that he had
never built from the very bottom. When he goes to pieces--"

"Monsieur--to pieces!" exclaimed the Clerk of the Court painfully.

"Well, put it another way. If he is broken financially, he will never
come up again. Not because of his age--I lost a second fortune at fifty,
and have a third ready to lose at sixty--but because the primary
initiative won't be in him. He'll say he has lost, and that there's an
end to it all. His philosophy will come into play--just at the last. It
will help him in one way and harm him in another."

"Ah, then you know about his philosophy, monsieur?" queried M. Fille. Was
Jean Jacques' philosophy, after all, to be a real concrete asset of his
life sooner or later?

The Big Financier smiled, and turned some coins over in his pocket rather
loudly. Presently he said: "The first time I ever saw him he treated me
to a page of Descartes. It cost him one per cent. I always charge a man
for talking sentiment to me in business hours. I had to listen to him,
and he had to pay me for listening. I've no doubt his general yearly
expenditure has been increased for the same reason--eh, Maitre Fille? He
has done it with others--yes?" M. Fille waved a hand in deprecation, and
his voice had a little acidity as he replied: "Ah, monsieur, what can we
poor provincials do--any of us--in dealing with men like you, philosophy
or no philosophy? You get us between the upper and the nether mill
stones. You are cosmopolitan; M. Jean Jacques Barbille is a provincial;
and you, because he has soul enough to forget business for a moment and
to speak of things that matter more than money and business, you grind
him into powder."

M. Mornay shook his head and lighted his cigar again. "There you are
wrong, Maitre Fille. It is bad policy to grind to powder, or grind at
all, men out of whom you are making money. It is better to keep them from
between the upper and nether mill-stones.

"I have done so with your Barbille. I could give him such trouble as
would bring things crashing down upon him at once, if I wanted to be
merely vicious in getting my own; but that would make it impossible for
me to meet at dinner my friend Judge Carcasson. So, as long as I can, I
will not press him. But I tell you that the margin of safety on which he
is moving now is too narrow--scarce a foot-hold. He has too much under
construction in the business of his life, and if one stone slips out,
down may come the whole pile. He has stopped building the
cheese-factory--that represents sheer loss. The ash-factory is to close
next week, the saw-mill is only paying its way, and the flour-mill and
the farms, which have to sustain the call of his many interests, can't
stand the drain. Also, he has several people heavily indebted to him, and
if they go down--well, it depends on the soundness of the security he
holds. If they listened to him talk philosophy, encouraged him to do it,
and told him they liked it, when the bargain was being made, the chances
are the security is inadequate."

The Clerk of the Court bridled up. "Monsieur, you are very hard on a man
who for twenty-five years has been a figure and a power in this part of
the province. You sneer at one who has been a benefactor to the place
where he lives; who has given with the right hand and the left; whose
enterprise has been a source of profit to many; and who has got a savage
reward for the acts of a blameless and generous life. You know his
troubles, monsieur, and we who have seen him bear them with fortitude and
Christian philosophy, we resent--"

"You need resent nothing, Maitre Fille," interrupted the Big Financier,
not unkindly. "What I have said has been said to his friend and the
friend of my own great friend, Judge Carcasson; and I am only anxious
that he should be warned by someone whose opinions count with him; whom
he can trust--"

"But, monsieur, alas!" broke in the Clerk of the Court, "that is the
trouble; he does not select those he can trust. He is too confiding. He
believes those who flatter him, who impose on his good heart. It has
always been so."

"I judge it is so still in the case of Monsieur Dolores, his daughter's
grandfather?" the Big Financier asked quizzically.

"It is so, monsieur," replied M. Fille. "The loss of his daughter shook
him even more than the flight of his wife; and it is as though he could
not live without that scoundrel near him--a vicious man, who makes
trouble wherever he goes. He was a cause of loss to M. Barbille years ago
when he managed the ash-factory; he is very dangerous to women--even now
he is a danger to the future of a young widow" (he meant the widow of
Palass Poucette); "and he has caused a scandal by perjury as a witness,
and by the consequences--but I need not speak of that here. He will do
Jean Jacques great harm in the end, of that I am sure. The very day
Mademoiselle Zoe left the Manor Cartier to marry the English actor, Jean
Jacques took that Spanish bad-lot to his home; and there he stays, and
the old friends go--the old friends go; and he does not seem to miss
them."

There was something like a sob in M. Fille's voice. He had loved Zoe in a
way that in a mother would have meant martyrdom, if necessary, and in a
father would have meant sacrifice when needed; and indeed he had
sacrificed both time and money to find Zoe. He had even gone as far as
Winnipeg on the chance of finding her, making that first big journey in
the world, which was as much to him in all ways as a journey to Bagdad
would mean to most people of M. Mornay's world. Also he had spent money
since in corresponding with lawyers in the West whom he engaged to search
for her; but Zoe had never been found. She had never written but one
letter to Jean Jacques since her flight. This letter said, in effect,
that she would come back when her husband was no longer "a beggar" as her
father had called him, and not till then. It was written en route to
Winnipeg, at the dictation of Gerard Fynes, who had a romantic view of
life and a mistaken pride, but some courage too--the courage of love.

"He thinks his daughter will come back--yes?" asked M. Mornay. "Once he
said to me that he was sorry there was no lady to welcome me at the Manor
Cartier, but that he hoped his daughter would yet have the honour. His
talk is quite spacious and lofty at times, as you know."

"So--that is so, monsieur . . . Mademoiselle Zoe's room is always ready
for her. At time of Noel he sent cards to all the families of the parish
who had been his friends, as from his daughter and himself; and when
people came to visit at the Manor on New Year's Day, he said to each and
all that his daughter regretted she could not arrive in time from the
West to receive them; but that next year she would certainly have the
pleasure."

"Like the light in the window for the unreturning sailor," somewhat
cynically remarked the Big Financier. "Did many come to the Manor on that
New Year's Day?"

"But yes, many, monsieur. Some came from kindness, and some because they
were curious--"

"And Monsieur Dolores?"

The lips of the Clerk of the Court curled, "He went about with a manner
as soft as that of a young cure. Butter would not melt in his mouth. Some
of the women were sorry for him, until they knew he had given one of Jean
Jacques' best bear-skin rugs to Madame Palass Poucette for a New Year's
gift."

The Big Financier laughed cheerfully. "It's an old way to
popularity--being generous with other people's money. That is why I am
here. The people that spend your Jean Jacques' money will be spending
mine too, if I don't take care."

M. Fille noted the hard look which now settled in M. Mornay's face, and
it disturbed him. He rose and leaned over the table towards his visitor
anxiously.

"Tell me, if you please, monsieur, is there any real and immediate danger
of the financial collapse of Jean Jacques?"

The other regarded M. Fille with a look of consideration. He liked this
Clerk of the Court, but he liked Jean Jacques for the matter of that, and
away now from the big financial arena where he usually worked, his
natural instincts had play. He had come to St. Saviour's with a bigger
thing in his mind than Jean Jacques and his affairs; he had come on the
matter of a railway, and had taken Jean Jacques on the way, as it were.
The scheme for the railway looked very promising to him, and he was in
good humour; so that all he said about Jean Jacques was free from that
general irritation of spirit which has sacrificed many a small man on a
big man's altar. He saw the agitation he had caused, and he almost
repented of what he had already said; yet he had acted with a view to
getting M. Fille to warn Jean Jacques.

"I repeat what I said," he now replied. "Monsieur Jean Jacques' affairs
are too nicely balanced. A little shove one way or another and over goes
the whole caboose. If anyone here has influence over him, it would be a
kindness to use it. That case before the Court of Appeal, for instance;
he'd be better advised to settle it, if there is still time. One or two
of the mortgages he holds ought to be foreclosed, so that he may get out
of them all the law will let him. He ought to pouch the money that's
owing him; he ought to shave away his insurance, his lightning-rod, and
his horsedealing business; and he ought to sell his farms and his store,
and concentrate on the flour-mill and the saw-mill. He has had his
warnings generally from my lawyers, but what he wants most is the gentle
hand to lead him; and I should think that yours, M. Fille, is the hand
the Almighty would choose if He was concerned with what happens at St.
Saviour's and wanted an agent."

The Clerk of the Court blushed greatly. This was a very big man indeed in
the great commercial world, and flattery from him had unusual
significance; but he threw out his hands with a gesture of helplessness,
and said: "Monsieur, if I could be of use I would; but he has ceased to
listen to me; he--"

He got no further, for there was a sharp knock at the street door of the
outer office, and M. Fille hastened to the other room. After a moment he
came back, a familiar voice following him.

"It is Monsieur Barbille, monsieur," M. Fille said quietly, but with
apprehensive eyes.

"Well--he wants to see me?" asked M. Mornay. "No, no, monsieur. It would
be better if he did not see you. He is in some agitation."

"Fille! Maitre Fille--be quick now," called Jean Jacques' voice from the
other room.

"What did I say, monsieur?" asked the Big Financier. "The mind that's
received a blow must be moving--moving; the man with the many irons must
be flying from bellows to bellows!"

"Come, come, there's no time to lose," came Jean Jacques' voice again,
and the handle of the door of their room turned.

M. Fille's hand caught the handle. "Excuse me, Monsieur Barbille,--a
minute please," he persisted almost querulously. "Be good enough to keep
your manners . . . monsieur!" he added to the Financier, "if you do not
wish to speak with him, there is a door"--he pointed--"which will let you
into the side-street."

"What is his trouble?" asked M. Mornay.

M. Fille hesitated, then said reflectively: "He has lost his case in the
Appeal Court, monsieur; also, his cousin, Auguste Charron, who has been
working the Latouche farm, has flitted, leaving--"

"Leaving Jean Jacques to pay unexpected debts?"

"So, monsieur."

"Then I can be of no use, I fear," remarked M. Mornay dryly.

"Fille! Fille!" came the voice of Jean Jacques insistently from the
room.

"And so I will say au revoir, Monsieur Fille," continued the Big
Financier.

A moment later the great man was gone, and M. Fille was alone with the
philosopher of the Manor Cartier.

"Well, well, why do you keep me waiting! Who was it in there--anyone
that's concerned with my affairs?" asked Jean Jacques.

In these days he was sensitive when there was no cause, and he was
credulous where he ought to be suspicious. The fact that the little man
had held the door against him made him sure that M. Fille had not wished
him to see the departed visitor.

"Come, out with it--who was it making fresh trouble for me?" persisted
Jean Jacques.

"No one making trouble for you, my friend," answered the Clerk of the
Court, "but someone who was trying to do you a good turn."

"He must have been a stranger then," returned Jean Jacques bitterly. "Who
was it?"

M. Fille, after an instant's further hesitation, told him.

"Oh, him--M. Momay!" exclaimed Jean Jacques, with a look of relief, his
face lighting. "That's a big man with a most capable and far-reaching
mind. He takes a thing in as the ocean mouths a river. If I had had men
like that to deal with all my life, what a different ledger I'd be
balancing now! Descartes, Kant, Voltaire, Rousseau, Hume, Hegel--he has
an ear for them all. That is the intellectual side of him; and in
business"--he threw up a hand--"there he views the landscape from the
mountain-top. He has vision, strategy, executive. He is Napoleon and
Anacreon in one. He is of the builders on the one hand, of the Illuminati
and the Encyclopedistes on the other."

Even the Clerk of the Court, with his circumscribed range of thought and
experience, in that moment saw Jean Jacques as he really was. Here was a
man whose house of life was beginning to sway from an earthquake; who had
been smitten in several deadly ways, and was about to receive buffetings
beyond aught he had yet experienced, philosophizing on the
tight-rope--Blondin and Plato in one. Yet sardonically piteous as it was,
the incident had shown Jean Jacques with the germ of something big in
him. He had recognized in M. Mornay, who could level him to the dust
tomorrow financially, a master of the world's affairs, a prospector of
life's fields, who would march fearlessly beyond the farthest frontiers
into the unknown. Jean Jacques' admiration of the lion who could, and
would, slay him was the best tribute to his own character.

M. Fille's eyes moistened as he realized it; and he knew that nothing he
could say or do would make this man accommodate his actions to the hard
rules of the business of life; he must for ever be applying to them
conceptions of a half-developed mind.

"Quite so, quite so, Jean Jacques," M. Fille responded gently,
"but"--here came a firmer note to his voice, for he had taken to heart
the lesson M. Mornay had taught him, and he was determined to do his duty
now when the opportunity was in his hand--"but you have got to deal with
things as they are; not as they might have been. If you cannot have the
great men you have to deal with the little men like me. You have to prove
yourself bigger than the rest of us by doing things better. A man doesn't
fail only because of others, but also because of himself. You were warned
that the chances were all against you in the case that's just been
decided, yet you would go on; you were warned that your cousin, Auguste
Charron, was in debt, and that his wife was mad to get away from the farm
and go West, yet you would take no notice. Now he has gone, and you have
to pay, and your case has gone against you in the Appellate Court
besides. . . . I will tell you the truth, my friend, even if it cuts me
to the heart. You have not kept your judgment in hand; you have gone
ahead like a bull at a gate; and you pay the price. You listen to those
who flatter, and on those who would go through fire and water for you,
you turn your back--on those who would help you in your hour of trouble,
in your dark day."

Jean Jacques drew himself up with a gesture, impatient, masterful and
forbidding. "I have fought my fight alone in the dark day; I have not
asked for any one's help," he answered. "I have wept on no man's
shoulder. I have been mauled by the claws of injury and shame, and I have
not flinched. I have healed my own wounds, and I wear my scars without--"

He stopped, for there came a sharp rat-tat-tat at the door which opened
into the street. Somehow the commonplace, trivial interruption produced
on both a strange, even startling effect. It suddenly produced in their
minds a feeling of apprehension, as though there was whispered in their
ears, "Something is going to happen--beware!"

Rat-tat-tat! The two men looked at each other. The same thought was in
the mind of both. Jean Jacques clutched at his beard nervously, then with
an effort he controlled himself. He took off his hat as though he was
about to greet some important person, or to receive sentence in a court.
Instinctively he felt the little book of philosophy which he always
carried now in his breast-pocket, as a pietist would finger his beads in
moments of fear or anxiety. The Clerk of the Court passed his thin hand
over his hair, as he was wont to do in court when the Judge began his
charge to the Jury, and then with an action more impulsive than was usual
with him, he held out his hand, and Jean Jacques grasped it. Something
was bringing them together just when it seemed that, in the storm of Jean
Jacques' indignation, they were about to fall apart. M. Fille's eyes said
as plainly as words could do, "Courage, my friend!"

Rat-tat-tat! Rat-tat-tat! The knocking was sharp and imperative now. The
Clerk of the Court went quickly forward and threw open the door.

There stepped inside the widow of Palass Poucette. She had a letter in
her hand. "M'sieu', pardon, if I intrude," she said to M. Fille; "but I
heard that M'sieu' Jean Jacques was here. I have news for him."

"News!" repeated Jean Jacques, and he looked like a man who was waiting
for what he feared to hear. "They told me at the post-office that you
were here. I got the letter only a quarter of an hour ago, and I thought
I would go at once to the Manor Cartier and tell M'sieu' Jean Jacques
what the letter says. I wanted to go to the Manor Cartier for something
else as well, but I will speak of that by and by. It is the letter now."

She pulled off first one glove and then the other, still holding the
letter, as though she was about to perform some ceremony. "It was a good
thing I found out that M'sieu' Jean Jacques was here. It saves a
four-mile drive," she remarked.

"The news--ah, nom de Dieu, the slowness of the woman--like a river going
uphill!" exclaimed Jean Jacques, who was finding it hard to still the
trembling of his limbs.

The widow of Palass Poucette flushed, but she had some sense in her head,
and she realized that Jean Jacques was a little unbalanced at the moment.
Indeed, Jean Jacques was not so old that she would have found it
difficult to take a well-defined and warm interest in him, were
circumstances propitious. She held out the letter to him at once. "It is
from my sister in the West--at Shilah," she explained. "There is nothing
in it you can't read, and most of it concerns you." Jean Jacques took the
letter, but he could not bring himself to read it, for Virginie
Poucette's manner was not suggestive of happy tidings. After an instant's
hesitation he handed the letter to M. Fille, who pressed his lips with an
air of determination, and put on his glasses.

Jean Jacques saw the face of the Clerk of the Court flush and then turn
pale as he read the letter. "There, be quick!" he said before M. Fille
had turned the first page.

Then the widow of Palass Poucette came to him and, in a simple harmless
way she had, free from coquetry or guile, stood beside him, took his hand
and held it. He seemed almost unconscious of her act, but his fingers
convulsively tightened on hers; while she reflected that here was one who
needed help sorely; here was a good, warm-hearted man on whom a woman
could empty out affection like rain and get a good harvest. She really
was as simple as a child, was Virginie Poucette, and even in her
acquaintance with Sebastian Dolores, there had only been working in her
the natural desire of a primitive woman to have a man saying that which
would keep alive in her the things that make her sing as she toils; and
certainly Virginie toiled late and early on her farm. She really was
concerned for Jean Jacques. Both wife and daughter had taken flight, and
he was alone and in trouble. At this moment she felt she would like to be
a sister to him--she was young enough to be his daughter almost. Her
heart was kind.

"Now!" said Jean Jacques at last, as the Clerk of the Court's eyes
reached the end of the last page. "Now, speak! It is--it is my Zoe?"

"It is our Zoe," answered M. Fille.

"Figure de Christ, what do you wait for--she is not dead?" exclaimed Jean
Jacques with a courage which made him set his feet squarely.

The Clerk of the Court shook his head and began. "She is alive. Madame
Poucette's sister saw her by chance. Zoe was on her way up the
Saskatchewan River to the Peace River country with her husband. Her
husband's health was bad. He had to leave the stage in the United States
where he had gone after Winnipeg. The doctors said he must live the
open-air life. He and Zoe were going north, to take a farm somewhere."

"Somewhere! Somewhere!" murmured Jean Jacques. "The farther away from
Jean Jacques the better--that is what she thinks."

"No, you are wrong, my friend," rejoined M. Fille. "She said to Madame
Poucette's sister"--he held up the letter--"that when they had proved
they could live without anybody's help they would come back to see you.
Zoe thought that, having taken her life in her own hands, she ought to
justify herself before she asked your forgiveness and a place at your
table. She felt that you could only love her and be glad of her, if her
man was independent of you. It is a proud and sensitive soul--but there
it is!"

"It is romance, it is quixotism--ah, heart of God, what quixotism!"
exclaimed Jean Jacques.

"She gets her romance and quixotism from Jean Jacques Barbille," retorted
the Clerk of the Court. "She does more feeling than thinking--like you."

Jean Jacques' heart was bleeding, but he drew himself up proudly, and
caught his hand away from the warm palm of Poucette's widow. As his
affairs crumbled his pride grew more insistent. M. Fille had challenged
his intellect--his intellect!

"My life has been a procession of practical things," he declared
oracularly. "I have been a man of business who designs. I am no dreamer.
I think. I act. I suffer. I have been the victim of romance, not its
interpreter. Mercy of God, what has broken my life, what but
romance--romance, first with one and then with another! More feeling than
thinking, Maitre Fille--you say that? Why the Barbilles have ever in the
past built up life on a basis of thought and action, and I have added
philosophy--the science of thought and act. Jean Jacques Barbille has
been the man of design and the man of action also. Don Quixote was a
fool, a dreamer, but Jean Jacques is no Don Quixote. He is a man who has
done things, but also he is a man who has been broken on the wheel of
life. He is a man whose heart-strings have been torn--"

He had worked himself up into a fit of eloquence and revolt. He was
touched by the rod of desperation, which makes the soul protest that it
is right when it knows that it is wrong.

Suddenly, breaking off his speech, he threw up his hands and made for the
door.

"I will fight it out alone!" he declared with rough emotion, and at the
door he turned towards them again. He looked at them both as though he
would dare them to contradict him. The restless fire of his eyes seemed
to dart from one to the other.

"That's the way it is," said the widow of Palass Poucette coming quickly
forward to him. "It's always the way. We must fight our battles alone,
but we don't have to bear the wounds alone. In the battle you are alone,
but the hand to heal the wounds may be another's. You are a
philosopher--well, what I speak is true, isn't it?"

Virginie had said the one thing which could have stayed the tide of Jean
Jacques' pessimism and broken his cloud of gloom. She appealed to him in
the tune of an old song. The years and the curses of years had not
dispelled the illusion that he was a philosopher. He stopped with his
hand on the door.

"That's so, without doubt that's so," he said. "You have stumbled on a
truth of life, madame."

Suddenly there came into his look something of the yearning and hunger
which the lonely and forsaken feel when they are not on the full tide of
doing. It was as though he must have companionship, in spite of his brave
announcement that he must fight his fight alone. He had been wounded in
the battle, and here was one who held out the hand of healing to him.
Never since his wife had left him the long lonely years ago had a woman
meant anything to him except as one of a race; but in this moment here a
woman had held his hand, and he could feel still the warm palm which had
comforted his own agitated fingers.

Virginie Poucette saw, and she understood what was passing in his mind.
Yet she did not see and understand all by any means; and it is hard to
tell what further show of fire there might have been, but that the Clerk
of the Court was there, saying harshly under his breath, "The huzzy! The
crafty huzzy!"

The Clerk of the Court was wrong. Virginie was merely sentimental, not
intriguing or deceitful; for Jean Jacques was not a widower--and she was
an honest woman and genuinely tender-hearted.

"I'm coming to the Manor Cartier to-morrow," Virginie continued. "I have
a rug of yours. By mistake it was left at my house by M'sieu' Dolores."

"You needn't do that. I will call at your place tomorrow for it," replied
Jean Jacques almost eagerly. "I told M'sieu' Dolores to-day never to
enter my house again. I didn't know it was your rug. It was giving away
your property, not his own," she hurriedly explained, and her face
flushed.

"That is the Spanish of it," said Jean Jacques bitterly. His eyes were
being opened in many directions to-day.

M. Fille was in distress. Jean Jacques had had a warning about Sebastian
Dolores, but here was another pit into which he might fall, the pit
digged by a widow, who, no doubt, would not hesitate to marry a divorced
Catholic philosopher, if he could get a divorce by hook or by crook. Jean
Jacques had said that he was going to Virginie Poucette's place the next
day. That was as bad as it could be; yet there was this to the good, that
it was to-morrow and not to-day; and who could tell what might happen
between to-day and to-morrow!

A moment later the three were standing outside the office in the street.
As Jean Jacques climbed into his red wagon, Virginie Poucette's eyes were
attracted to the northern sky where a reddish glow appeared, and she gave
an exclamation of surprise.

"That must be a fire," she said, pointing.

"A bit of pine-land probably," said M. Fille--with anxiety, however, for
the red glow lay in the direction of St. Saviour's where were the Manor
Cartier and Jean Jacques' mills. Maitre Fille was possessed of a
superstition that all the things which threaten a man's life to wreck it,
operate awhile in their many fields before they converge like an army in
one field to deliver the last attack on their victim. It would not have
seemed strange to him, if out of the night a voice of the unseen had said
that the glow in the sky came from the Manor Cartier. This very day three
things had smitten Jean Jacques, and, if three, why not four or five, or
fifty!

With a strange fascination Jean Jacques' eyes were fastened on the glow.
He clucked to his horses, and they started jerkily away. M. Fille and the
widow Poucette said good-bye to him, but he did not hear, or if he heard,
he did not heed. His look was set upon the red reflection which widened
in the sky and seemed to grow nearer and nearer. The horses quickened
their pace. He touched them with the whip, and they went faster. The glow
increased as he left Vilray behind. He gave the horses the whip again
sharply, and they broke into a gallop. Yet his eyes scarcely left the
sky. The crimson glow drew him, held him, till his brain was afire also.
Jean Jacques had a premonition and a conviction which was even deeper
than the imagination of M. Fille.

In Vilray, behind him, the telegraph clerk was in the street shouting to
someone to summon the local fire-brigade to go to St. Saviour's.

"What is it--what is it?" asked M. Fille of the telegraph clerk in marked
agitation.

"It's M'sieu' Jean Jacques' flour-mill," was the reply.

Wagons and buggies and carts began to take the road to the Manor Cartier;
and Maitre Fille went also with the widow of Palass Poucette.



CHAPTER XVII

HIS GREATEST ASSET

Jean Jacques did not go to the house of the widow of Palass Poucette
"next day" as he had proposed: and she did not expect him. She had seen
his flour-mill burned to the ground on the-evening when they met in the
office of the Clerk of the evening Court, when Jean Jacques had learned
that his Zoe had gone into farther and farther places away from him.
Perhaps Virginie Poucette never had shed as many tears in any whole year
of her life as she did that night, not excepting the year Palass Poucette
died, and left her his farm and seven horses, more or less sound, and a
threshing-machine in good condition. The woman had a rare heart and there
was that about Jean Jacques which made her want to help him. She had no
clear idea as to how that could be done, but she had held his hand at any
rate, and he had seemed the better for it. Virginie had only an objective
view of things; and if she was not material, still she could best express
herself through the medium of the senses.

There were others besides her who shed tears also--those who saw Jean
Jacques' chief asset suddenly disappear in flame and smoke and all his
other assets become thereby liabilities of a kind; and there were many
who would be the poorer in the end because of it. If Jean Jacques went
down, he probably would not go alone. Jean Jacques had done a good
fire-insurance business over a course of years, but somehow he had not
insured himself as heavily as he ought to have done; and in any case the
fire-policy for the mill was not in his own hands. It was in the
safe-keeping of M. Mornay at Montreal, who had warned M. Fille of the
crisis in the money-master's affairs on the very day that the crisis
came.

No one ever knew how it was that the mill took fire, but there was one
man who had more than a shrewd suspicion, though there was no occasion
for mentioning it. This was Sebastian Dolores. He had not set the mill
afire. That would have been profitable from no standpoint, and he had no
grudge against Jean Jacques. Why should he have a grudge? Jean Jacques'
good fortune, as things were, made his own good fortune; for he ate and
drank and slept and was clothed at his son-in-law's expense. But he
guessed accurately who had set the mill on fire, and that it was done
accidentally. He remembered that a man who smoked bad tobacco which had
to be lighted over and over again, threw a burning match down after
applying it to his pipe. He remembered that there was a heap of
flour-bags near where the man stood when the match was thrown down; and
that some loose strings for tying were also in a pile beside the bags. So
it was easy for the thing to have happened if the man did not turn round
after he threw the match down, but went swaying on out of the mill, and
over to the Manor Cartier, and up staggering to bed; for he had been
drinking potato-brandy, and he had been brought up on the mild wines of
Spain! In other words, the man who threw down the lighted match which did
the mischief was Sebastian Dolores himself.

He regretted it quite as much as he had ever regretted anything; and on
the night of the fire there were tears in his large brown eyes which
deceived the New Cure and others; though they did not deceive the widow
of Palass Poucette, who had found him out, and who now had no pleasure at
all in his aged gallantries. But the regret Dolores experienced would not
prevent him from doing Jean Jacques still greater injury if, and when,
the chance occurred, should it be to his own advantage.

Jean Jacques shed no tears on the night that his beloved flour-mill
became a blackened ruin, and his saw-mill had a narrow escape. He was
like one in a dream, scarcely realizing that men were saying kind things
to him; that the New Cure held his hand and spoke to him more like a
brother than one whose profession it was to be good to those who
suffered. In his eyes was the same half-rapt, intense, distant look which
came into them when, at Vilray, he saw that red reflection in the sky
over against St. Saviour's, and urged his horses onward.

The world knew that the burning of the mill was a blow to Jean Jacques,
but it did not know how great and heavy the blow was. First one and then
another of his friends said he was insured, and that in another six
months the mill-wheel would be turning again. They said so to Jean
Jacques when he stood with his eyes fixed on the burning fabric, which
nothing could save; but he showed no desire to speak. He only nodded and
kept on staring at the fire with that curious underglow in his eyes. Some
chemistry of the soul had taken place in him in the hour when he drove to
the Manor Cartier from Vilray, and it produced a strange fire, which
merged into the reflection of the sky above the burning mill. Later, came
things which were strange and eventful in his life, but that under-glow
was for ever afterwards in his eyes. It was in singular contrast to the
snapping fire which had been theirs all the days of his life till
now--the snapping fire of action, will and design. It still was there
when they said to him suddenly that the wind had changed, and that the
flame and sparks were now blowing toward the saw-mill. Even when he gave
orders, and set to work to defend the saw-mill, arranging a line of men
with buckets on its roof, and so saving it, this look remained. It was
something spiritual and unmaterial, something, maybe, which had to do
with the philosophy he had preached, thought and practised over long
years. It did not disappear when at last, after midnight, everyone had
gone, and the smouldering ruins of his greatest asset lay mournful in the
wan light of the moon.

Kind and good friends like the Clerk of the Court and the New Cure had
seen him to his bedroom at midnight, leaving him there with a promise
that they would come on the morrow; and he had said goodnight evenly, and
had shut the door upon them with a sort of smile. But long after they had
gone, when Sebastian Dolores and Seraphe Corniche were asleep, he had got
up again and left the house, to gaze at the spot where the big white mill
with the red roof had been-the mill which had been there in the days of
the Baron of Beaugard, and to which time had only added size and
adornment. The gold-cock weathervane of the mill, so long the admiration
of people living and dead, and indeed the symbol of himself, as he had
been told, being so full of life and pride, courage and vigour-it lay
among the ruins, a blackened relic of the Barbilles.

He had said in M. Fille's office not many hours before, "I will fight it
all out alone," and here in the tragic quiet of the night he made his
resolve a reality. In appearance he was not now like the "Seigneur" who
sang to the sailors on the Antoine when she was fighting for the shore of
Gaspe; nevertheless there was that in him which would keep him much the
same man to the end.

Indeed, as he got into bed that fateful night he said aloud: "They shall
see that I am not beaten. If they give me time up there in Montreal I'll
keep the place till Zoe comes back--till Zoe comes home."

As he lay and tried to sleep, he kept saying over to himself, "Till Zoe
comes home."

He thought that if he could but have Zoe back, it all would not matter so
much. She would keep looking at him and saying, "There's the man that
never flinched when things went wrong; there's the man that was a friend
to everyone."

At last a thought came to him--the key to the situation as it seemed, the
one thing necessary to meet the financial situation. He would sell the
biggest farm he owned, which had been to him in its importance like the
flour-mill itself. He had had an offer for it that very day, and a bigger
offer still a week before. It was mortgaged to within eight thousand
dollars of what it could be sold for but, if he could gain time, that
eight thousand dollars would build the mill again. M. Mornay, the Big
Financier, would certainly see that this was his due--to get his chance
to pull things straight. Yes, he would certainly sell the Barbille farm
to-morrow. With this thought in his mind he went to sleep at last, and he
did not wake till the sun was high.

It was a sun of the most wonderful brightness and warmth. Yesterday it
would have made the Manor Cartier and all around it look like Arcady. But
as it shone upon the ruins of the mill, when Jean Jacques went out into
the working world again, it made so gaunt and hideous a picture that, in
spite of himself, a cry of misery came from his lips.

Through all the misfortunes which had come to him the outward semblance
of things had remained, and when he went in and out of the plantation of
the Manor Cartier, there was no physical change in the surroundings,
which betrayed the troubles and disasters fallen upon its overlord. There
it all was just as it had ever been, and seeming to deny that anything
had changed in the lives of those who made the place other than a dead or
deserted world. When Carmen went, when Zoe fled, when his cousin Auguste
Charron took his flight, when defeats at law abashed him, the house and
mills, and stores and offices, and goodly trees, and well-kept yards and
barns and cattle-sheds all looked the same. Thus it was that he had been
fortified. In one sense his miseries had seemed unreal, because all was
the same in the outward scene. It was as though it all said to him: "It
is a dream that those you love have vanished, that ill-fortune sits by
your fireside. One night you will go to bed thinking that wife and child
have gone, that your treasury is nearly empty; and in the morning you
will wake up and find your loved ones sitting in their accustomed places,
and your treasury will be full to overflowing as of old."

So it was while the picture of his home scene remained unbroken and
serene; but the hideous mass of last night's holocaust was now before his
eyes, with little streams of smoke rising from the cindered pile, and a
hundred things with which his eyes had been familiar lay distorted,
excoriated and useless. He realized with sudden completeness that a
terrible change bad come in his life, that a cyclone had ruined the face
of his created world.

This picture did more to open up Jean Jacques' eyes to his real position
in life than anything he had experienced, than any sorrow he had
suffered. He had been in torment in the past, but he had refused to see
that he was in Hades. Now it was as though he had been led through the
streets of Hell by some dark spirit, while in vain he looked round for
his old friends Kant and Hegel, Voltaire and Rousseau and Rochefoucauld,
Plato and Aristotle.

While gazing at the dismal scene, however, and unheeding the idlers who
poked about among the ruins, and watched him as one who was the centre of
a drama, he suddenly caught sight of the gold Cock of Beaugard, which had
stood on the top of the mill, in the very centre of the ruins.

Yes, there it was, the crested golden cock which had typified his own
life, as he went head high, body erect, spurs giving warning, and a
clarion in his throat ready to blare forth at any moment. There was the
golden Cock of Beaugard in the cinders, the ashes and the dust. His chin
dropped on his breast, and a cloud like a fog on the coast of Gaspe
settled round him. Yet even as his head drooped, something else
happened--one of those trivial things which yet may be the pivot of great
things. A cock crowed--almost in his very ear, it seemed. He lifted his
head quickly, and a superstitious look flashed into his face. His eyes
fastened on the burnished head of the Cock among the ruins. To his
excited imagination it was as though the ancient symbol of the Barbilles
had spoken to him in its own language of good cheer and defiance. Yes,
there it was, half covered by the ruins, but its head was erect in the
midst of fire and disaster. Brought low, it was still alert above the
wreckage. The child, the dreamer, the optimist, the egoist, and the man
alive in Jean Jacques sprang into vigour again. It was as though the Cock
of Beaugard had really summoned him to action, and the crowing had not
been that of a barnyard bantam not a hundred feet away from him. Jean
Jacques' head went up too.

"Me--I am what I always was, nothing can change me," he exclaimed
defiantly. "I will sell the Barbille farm and build the mill again."

So it was that by hook or by crook, and because the Big Financier had
more heart than he even acknowledged to his own wife, Jean Jacques did
sell the Barbille farm, and got in cash--in good hard cash-eight thousand
dollars after the mortgage was paid. M. Mornay was even willing to take
the inadequate indemnity of the insurance policy on the mill, and lose
the rest, in order that Jean Jacques should have the eight thousand
dollars to rebuild. This he did because Jean Jacques showed such amazing
courage after the burning of the mill, and spread himself out in a
greater activity than his career had yet shown. He shaved through this
financial crisis, in spite of the blow he had received by the loss of his
lawsuits, the flitting of his cousin, Auguste Charron, and the farm debts
of this same cousin. It all meant a series of manipulations made possible
by the apparent confidence reposed in him by M. Mornay.

On the day he sold his farm he was by no means out of danger of absolute
insolvency--he was in fact ruined; but he was not yet the victim of those
processes which would make him legally insolvent. The vultures were
hovering, but they had not yet swooped, and there was the Manor saw-mill
going night and day; for by the strangest good luck Jean Jacques received
an order for M. Mornay's new railway (Judge Carcasson was behind that)
which would keep his saw-mill working twenty-four hours in the day for
six months.

"I like his pluck, but still, ten to one, he loses," remarked M. Mornay
to Judge Carcasson. "He is an unlucky man, and I agree with Napoleon that
you oughtn't to be partner with an unlucky man."

"Yet you have had to do with Monsieur Jean Jacques," responded the aged
Judge.

M. Mornay nodded indulgently.

"Yes, without risk, up to the burning of the mill. Now I take my chances,
simply because I'm a fool too, in spite of all the wisdom I see in
history and in life's experiences. I ought to have closed him up, but
I've let him go on, you see."

"You will not regret it," remarked the Judge. "He really is worth it."

"But I think I will regret it financially. I think that this is the last
flare of the ambition and energy of your Jean Jacques. That often
happens--a man summons up all his reserves for one last effort. It's
partly pride, partly the undefeated thing in him, partly the gambling
spirit which seizes men when nothing is left but one great spectacular
success or else be blotted out. That's the case with your philosopher;
and I'm not sure that I won't lose twenty thousand dollars by him yet."

"You've lost more with less justification," retorted the Judge, who, in
his ninetieth year, was still as alive as his friend at sixty.

M. Mornay waved a hand in acknowledgment, and rolled his cigar from
corner to corner of his mouth. "Oh, I've lost a lot more in my time,
Judge, but with a squint in my eye! But I'm doing this with no
astigmatism. I've got the focus."

The aged Judge gave a conciliatory murmur-he had a fine persuasive voice.
"You would never be sorry for what you have done if you had known his
daughter--his Zoe. It's the thought of her that keeps him going. He wants
the place to be just as she left it when she comes back."

"Well, well, let's hope it will. I'm giving him a chance," replied M.
Mornay with his wineglass raised. "He's got eight thousand dollars in
cash to build his mill again; and I hope he'll keep a tight hand on it
till the mill is up."

Keep a tight hand on it?

That is what Jean Jacques meant to do; but if a man wants to keep a tight
hand on money he should not carry it about in his pocket in cold, hard
cash. It was a foolish whim of Jean Jacques that he must have the eight
thousand dollars in cash--in hundred-dollar bills--and not in the form of
a cheque; but there was something childlike in him. When, as he thought,
he had saved himself from complete ruin, he wanted to keep and gloat over
the trophy of victory, and his trophy was the eight thousand dollars got
from the Barbille farm. He would have to pay out two thousand dollars in
cash to the contractors for the rebuilding of the mill at once,--they
were more than usually cautious--but he would have six thousand left,
which he would put in the bank after he had let people see that he was
well fortified with cash.

The child in him liked the idea of pulling out of his pocket a few
thousand dollars in hundred-dollar bills. He had always carried a good
deal of money loose in his pocket, and now that his resources were so
limited he would still make a gallant show. After a week or two he would
deposit six thousand dollars in the bank; but he was so eager to begin
building the mill, that he paid over the stipulated two thousand dollars
to the contractors on the very day he received the eight thousand. A few
days later the remaining six thousand were housed in a cupboard with an
iron door in the wall of his office at the Manor Cartier.

"There, that will keep me in heart and promise," said Jean Jacques as he
turned the key in the lock.



CHAPTER XVIII

JEAN JACQUES HAS AN OFFER

The day after Jean Jacques had got a new lease of life and become his own
banker, he treated himself to one of those interludes of pleasure from
which he had emerged in the past like a hermit from his cave. He sat on
the hill above his lime-kilns, reading the little hand-book of philosophy
which had played so big a part in his life. Whatever else had disturbed
his mind and diverted him from his course, nothing had weaned him from
this obsession. He still interlarded all his conversation with quotations
from brilliant poseurs like Chateaubriand and Rochefoucauld, and from
missionaries of thought like Hume and Hegel.

His real joy, however, was in withdrawing for what might be called a
seance of meditation from the world's business. Some men make celebration
in wine, sport and adventure; but Jean Jacques made it in flooding his
mind with streams of human thought which often tried to run uphill, which
were frequently choked with weeds, but still were like the pool of Siloam
to his vain mind. They bathed that vain mind in the illusion that it
could see into the secret springs of experience.

So, on as bright a day as ever the New World offered, Jean Jacques sat
reciting to himself a spectacular bit of logic from one of his idols,
wedged between a piece of Aristotle quartz and Plato marble. The sound of
it was good in his ears. He mouthed it as greedily and happily as though
he was not sitting on the edge of a volcano instead of the moss-grown
limestone on a hill above his own manor.

"The course of events in the life of a man, whatever their gravity or
levity, are only to be valued and measured by the value and measure of
his own soul. Thus, what in its own intrinsic origin and material should
in all outer reason be a tragedy, does not of itself shake the
foundations or make a fissure in the superstructure. Again--"

Thus his oracle, but Jean Jacques' voice suddenly died down, for, as he
sat there, the face of a woman made a vivid call of recognition. He
slowly awakened from his self-hypnotism, to hear a woman speaking to him;
to see two dark eyes looking at him from under heavy black brows with
bright, intent friendliness.

"They said at the Manor you had come this way, so I thought I'd not have
my drive for nothing, and here I am. I wanted to say something to you,
M'sieu' Jean Jacques."

It was the widow of Palass Poucette. She looked very fresh and friendly
indeed, and she was the very acme of neatness. If she was not handsome,
she certainly had a true and sweet comeliness of her own, due to the deep
rose-colour of her cheeks, the ivory whiteness round the lustrous brown
eyes, the regular shining teeth which showed so much when she smiled, and
the look half laughing, half sentimental which dominated all.

Before she had finished speaking Jean Jacques was on his feet with his
hat off. Somehow she seemed to be a part of that abstraction, that
intoxication, in which he had just been drowning his accumulated
anxieties. Not that Virginie Poucette was logical or philosophical, or a
child of thought, for she was wholly the opposite-practical, sensuous,
emotional, a child of nature and of Eve. But neither was Jean Jacques a
real child of thought, though he made unconscious pretence of it. He also
was a child of nature--and Adam. He thought he had the courage of his
convictions, but it was only the courage of his emotions. His philosophy
was but the bent or inclination of a mind with a capacity to feel things
rather than to think them. He had feeling, the first essential of the
philosopher, but there he stayed, an undeveloped chrysalis.

His look was abstracted still as he took the hand of the widow of Palass
Poucette; but he spoke cheerfully. "It is a pleasure, madame, to welcome
you among my friends," he said.

He made a little flourish with the book which had so long been his bosom
friend, and added: "But I hope you are in no trouble that you come to
me--so many come to me in their troubles," he continued with an air of
satisfaction.

"Come to you--why, you have enough troubles of your own!" she made
answer. "It's because you have your own troubles that I'm here."

"Why you are here," he remarked vaguely.

There was something very direct and childlike in Virginie Poucette. She
could not pretend; she wore her heart on her sleeve. She travelled a long
distance in a little while.

"I've got no trouble myself," she responded. "But, yes, I have," she
added. "I've got one trouble--it's yours. It's that you've been having
hard times--the flour-mill, your cousin Auguste Charron, the lawsuits,
and all the rest. They say at Vilray that you have all you can do to keep
out of the Bankruptcy Court, and that--"

Jean Jacques started, flushed, and seemed about to get angry; but she put
things right at once.

"People talk more than they know, but there's always some fire where
there's smoke," she hastened to explain. "Besides, your father-in-law
babbles more than is good for him or for you. I thought at first that M.
Dolores was a first-class kind of man, that he had had hard times too,
and I let him come and see me; but I found him out, and that was the end
of it, you may be sure. If you like him, I don't want to say anything
more, but I'm sure that he's no real friend to you-or to anybody. If that
man went to confession--but there, that's not what I've come for. I've
come to say to you that I never felt so sorry for anyone in my life as I
do for you. I cried all night after your beautiful mill was burned down.
You were coming to see me next day--you remember what you said in M.
Fille's office--but of course you couldn't. Of course, there was no
reason why you should come to see me really--I've 'only got two hundred
acres and the house. It's a good house, though--Palass saw to that--and
it's insured; but still I know you'd have come just the same if I'd had
only two acres. I know. There's hosts of people you've been good to here,
and they're sorry for you; and I'm sorrier than any, for I'm alone, and
you're alone, too, except for the old Dolores, and he's no good to either
of us--mark my words, no good to you! I'm sorry for you, M'sieu' Jean
Jacques, and I've come to say that I'm ready to lend you two thousand
dollars, if that's any help. I could make it more if I had time; but
sometimes money on the spot is worth a lot more than what's just crawling
to you--snailing along while you eat your heart out. Two thousand dollars
is two thousand dollars--I know what it's worth to me, though it mayn't
be much to you; but I didn't earn it. It belonged to a first-class man,
and he worked for it, and he died and left it to me. It's not come easy,
go easy with me. I like to feel I've got two thousand cash without having
to mortgage for it. But it belonged to a number-one man, a man of
brains--I've got no brains, only some sense--and I want another good man
to use it and make the world easier for himself."

It was a long speech, and she delivered it in little gasps of oratory
which were brightened by her wonderfully kind smile and the heart--not to
say sentiment--which showed in her face. The sentiment, however, did not
prejudice Jean Jacques against her, for he was a sentimentalist himself.
His feelings were very quick, and before she had spoken fifty words the
underglow of his eyes was flooded by something which might have been
mistaken for tears. It was, however, only the moisture of gratitude and
the soul's good feeling.

"Well there, well there," he said when she had finished, "I've never had
anything like this in my life before. It's the biggest thing in the art
of being a neighbour I've ever seen. You've only been in the parish three
years, and yet you've shown me a confidence immense, inspiring! It is as
the Greek philosopher said, 'To conceive the human mind aright is the
greatest gift from the gods.' And to you, who never read a line of
philosophy, without doubt, you have done the thing that is greatest. It
says, 'I teach neighbourliness and life's exchange.' Madame, your house
ought to be called Neighbourhood House. It is the epitome of the spirit,
it is the shrine of--"

He was working himself up to a point where he could forget all the things
that trouble humanity, in the inebriation of an idealistic soul which had
a casing of passion, but the passion of the mind and not of the body; for
Jean Jacques had not a sensual drift in his organism. If there had been a
sensual drift, probably Carmen would still have been the lady of his
manor, and he would still have been a magnate and not a potential
bankrupt; for in her way Carmen had been a kind of balance to his
judgment in the business of life, in spite of her own material and (at
the very last) sensual strain. It was a godsend to Jean Jacques to have
such an inspiration as Virginie Poucette had given him. He could not in
these days, somehow, get the fires of his soul lighted, as he was wont to
do in the old times, and he loved talking--how he loved talking of great
things! He was really going hard, galloping strong, when Virginie
interrupted him, first by an exclamation, then, as insistently he
repeated the words, "It is the epitome of the spirit, the shrine of--"

She put out a hand, interrupting him, and said: "Yes, yes, M'sieu' Jean
Jacques, that's as good as Moliere, I s'pose, or the Archbishop at
Quebec, but are you going to take it, the two thousand dollars? I made a
long speech, I know, but that was to tell you why I come with the
money"--she drew out a pocketbook--"with the order on my lawyer to hand
the cash over to you. As a woman I had to explain to you, there being
lots of ideas about what a woman should do and what she shouldn't do; but
there's nothing at all for you to explain, and Mere Langlois and a lot of
others would think I'm vain enough now without your compliments. I'm a
neighbour if you like, and I offer you a loan. Will you take it--that's
all?"

He held out his hand in silence and took the paper from her. Putting his
head a little on one side, he read it. At first he seemed hardly to get
the formal language clear in his mind; however, or maybe his mind was
still away in that abstraction into which he had whisked it when he began
his reply to her fine offer; but he read it out aloud, first quickly,
then very slowly, and he looked at the signature with a deeply meditative
air.

"Virginie Poucette--that's a good name," he remarked; "and also good for
two thousand dollars!" He paused to smile contentedly over his own joke.
"And good for a great deal more than that too," he added with a nod.

"Yes, ten times as much as that," she responded quickly, her eyes fixed
on his face. She scarcely knew herself what she was thinking when she
said it; but most people who read this history will think she was hinting
that her assets might be united with his, and so enable him to wipe out
his liabilities and do a good deal more besides. Yet, how could that be,
since Carmen Dolores was still his wife if she was alive; and also they
both were Catholics, and Catholics did not recognize divorce!

Truth is, Virginie Poucette's mind did not define her feelings at all
clearly, or express exactly what she wanted. Her actions said one thing
certainly; but if the question had been put to her, whether she was doing
this thing because of a wish to take the place of Carmen Dolores in Jean
Jacques' life she would have said no at once. She had not come to
that--yet. She was simply moved by a sentiment of pity for Jean Jacques,
and as she had no child, or husband, or sister, or brother, or father, or
mother, but only relatives who tried to impose upon her, she needed an
objective for the emotions of her nature, for the overflow of her unused
affection and her unsatisfied maternal spirit. Here, then, was the most
obvious opportunity--a man in trouble who had not deserved the bitter bad
luck which had come to him. Even old Mere Langlois in the market-place at
Vilray had admitted that, and had said the same later on in Virginie's
home.

For an instant Jean Jacques was fascinated by the sudden prospect which
opened out before him. If he asked her, this woman would probably loan
him five thousand dollars--and she had mentioned nothing about security!

"What security do you want?" he asked in a husky voice.

"Security? I don't understand about that," she replied. "I'd not offer
you the money if I didn't think you were an honest man, and an honest man
would pay me back. A dishonest man wouldn't pay me back, security or no
security."

"He'd have to pay you back if the security was right to start with," Jean
Jacques insisted. "But you don't want security, because you think I'm an
honest man! Well, for sure you're right. I am honest. I never took a cent
that wasn't mine; but that's not everything. If you lend you ought to
have security. I've lost a good deal from not having enough security at
the start. You are willing to lend me money without security--that's
enough to make me feel thirty again, and I'm fifty--I'm fifty," he added,
as though with an attempt to show her that she could not think of him in
any emotional way; though the day when his flour-mill was burned he had
felt the touch of her fingers comforting and thrilling.

"You think Jean Jacques Barbille's word as good as his bond?" he
continued. "So it is; but I'm going to pull this thing through alone.
That's what I said to you and Maitre Fille at his office. I meant it
too--help of God, it is the truth!"

He had forgotten that if M. Mornay had not made it easy for him, and had
not refrained from insisting on his pound of flesh, he would now be
insolvent and with no roof over him. Like many another man Jean Jacques
was the occasional slave of formula, and also the victim of phases of his
own temperament. In truth he had not realized how big a thing M. Mornay
had done for him. He had accepted the chance given him as the tribute to
his own courage and enterprise and integrity, and as though it was to the
advantage of his greatest creditor to give him another start; though in
reality it had made no difference to the Big Financier, who knew his man
and, with wide-open eyes, did what he had done.

Virginie was not subtle. She did not understand, was never satisfied with
allusions, and she had no gift for catching the drift of things. She
could endure no peradventure in her conversation. She wanted plain
speaking and to be literally sure.

"Are you going to take it?" she asked abruptly.

He could not bear to be checked in his course. He waved a hand and smiled
at her. Then his eyes seemed to travel away into the distance, the look
of the dreamer in them; but behind all was that strange, ruddy underglow
of revelation which kept emerging from shadows, retreating and emerging,
yet always there now, in much or in little, since the burning of the
mill.

"I've lent a good deal of money without security in my time," he
reflected, "but the only people who ever paid me back were a deaf and
dumb man and a flyaway--a woman that was tired of selling herself, and
started straight and right with the money I lent her. She had been the
wife of a man who studied with me at Laval. She paid me back every penny,
too, year by year for five years. The rest I lent money to never paid;
but they paid, the dummy and the harlot that was, they paid! But they
paid for the rest also! If I had refused these two because of the others,
I'd not be fit to visit at Neighbourhood House where Virginie Poucette
lives."

He looked closely at the order she had given him again, as though to let
it sink in his mind and be registered for ever. "I'm going to do without
any further use of your two thousand dollars," he continued cheer fully.
"It has done its work. You've lent it to me, I've used it"--he put the
hand holding it on his breast--"and I'm paying it back to you, but
without interest." He gave the order to her.

"I don't see what you mean," she said helplessly, and she looked at the
paper, as though it had undergone some change while it was in his hand.

"That you would lend it me is worth ten times two thousand to me,
Virginie Poucette," he explained. "It gives me, not a kick from
behind--I've not had much else lately--but it holds a light in front of
me. It calls me. It says, 'March on, Jean Jacques--climb the mountain.'
It summons me to dispose my forces for the campaign which will restore
the Manor Cartier to what it has ever been since the days of the Baron of
Beaugard. It quickens the blood at my heart. It restores--"

Virginie would not allow him to go on. "You won't let me help you?
Suppose I do lose the money--I didn't earn it; it was earned by Palass
Poucette, and he'd understand, if he knew. I can live without the money,
if I have to, but you would pay it back, I know. You oughtn't to take any
extra risks. If your daughter should come back and not find you here, if
she returned to the Manor Cartier, and--"

He made an insistent gesture. "Hush! Be still, my friend--as good a
friend as a man could have. If my Zoe came back I'd like to feel--I'd
like to feel that I had saved things alone; that no woman's money made me
safe. If Zoe or if--"

He was going to say, "If Carmen came back," for his mind was moving in
past scenes; but he stopped short and looked around helplessly. Then
presently, as though by an effort, he added with a bravura note in his
voice:

"The world has been full of trouble for a long time, but there have
always been men to say to trouble, 'I am master, I have the mind to get
above it all.' Well, I am one of them."

There was no note of vanity or bombast in his voice as he said this, and
in his eyes that new underglow deepened and shone. Perhaps in this
instant he saw more of his future than he would speak of to anyone on
earth. Perhaps prevision was given him, and it was as the Big Financier
had said to Maitre Fille, that his philosophy was now, at the last, to be
of use to him. When his wife had betrayed him, and his wife and child had
left him, he had said, "Moi je suis philosophe!" but he was a man of
wealth in those days, and money soothes hurts of that kind in rare
degree. Would he still say, whatever was yet to come, that he was a
philosopher?

"Well, I've done what I thought would help you, and I can't say more than
that," Virginie remarked with a sigh, and there was despondency in her
eyes. Her face became flushed, her bosom showed agitation; she looked at
him as she had done in Maitre Fille's office, and a wave of feeling
passed over him now, as it did then, and he remembered, in response to
her look, the thrill of his fingers in her palm. His face now flushed
also, and he had an impulse to ask her to sit down beside him. He put it
away from him, however, for the present, at any rate-who could tell what
to-morrow might bring forth!--and then he held out his hand to her. His
voice shook a little when he spoke; but it cleared, and began to ring,
before he had said a dozen words.

"I'll never forget what you've said and done this morning, Virginie
Poucette," he declared; "and if I break the back of the trouble that's in
my way, and come out cock o' the walk again"--the gold Cock of Beaugard
in the ruins near and the clarion of the bantam of his barnyard were in
his mind and ears--"it'll be partly because of you. I hug that thought to
me."

"I could do a good deal more than that," she ventured, with a tremulous
voice, and then she took her warm hand from his nervous grasp, and turned
sharply into the path which led back towards the Manor. She did not turn
around, and she walked quickly away.

There was confusion in her eyes and in her mind. It would take some time
to make the confusion into order, and she was now hot, now cold, in all
her frame, when at last she climbed into her wagon.

This physical unrest imparted itself to all she did that day. First her
horses were driven almost at a gallop; then they were held down to a slow
walk; then they were stopped altogether, and she sat in the shade of the
trees on the road to her home, pondering--whispering to herself and
pondering.

As her horses were at a standstill she saw a wagon approaching. Instantly
she touched her pair with the whip, and moved on. Before the approaching
wagon came alongside, she knew from the grey and the darkbrown horses who
was driving them, and she made a strong effort for composure. She
succeeded indifferently, but her friend, Mere Langlois, did not notice
this fact as her wagon drew near. There was excitement in Mere Langlois'
face.

"There's been a shindy at the 'Red Eagle' tavern," she said. "That
father-in-law of M'sieu' Jean Jacques and Rocque Valescure, the landlord,
they got at each other's throats. Dolores hit Valescure on the head with
a bottle."

"He didn't kill Valescure, did he?"

"Not that--no. But Valescure is hurt bad--as bad. It was six to one and
half a dozen to the other--both no good at all. But of course they'll
arrest the old man--your great friend! He'll not give you any more
fur-robes, that's sure. He got away from the tavern, though, and he's
hiding somewhere. M'sieu' Jean Jacques can't protect him now; he isn't
what he once was in the parish. He's done for, and old Dolores will have
to go to trial. They'll make it hot for him when they catch him. No more
fur-robes from your Spanish friend, Virginie! You'll have to look
somewhere else for your beaux, though to be sure there are enough that'd
be glad to get you with that farm of yours, and your thrifty ways, if you
keep your character."

Virginie was quite quiet now. The asperity and suggestiveness of the
other's speech produced a cooling effect upon her.

"Better hurry, Mere Langlois, or everybody won't hear your story before
sundown. If your throat gets tired, there's Brown's Bronchial Troches--"
She pointed to an advertisement on the fence near by. "M. Fille's cook
says they cure a rasping throat."

With that shot, Virginie Poucette whipped up her horses and drove on. She
did not hear what Mere Langlois called after her, for Mere Langlois had
been slow to recover from the unexpected violence dealt by one whom she
had always bullied.

"Poor Jean Jacques!" said Virginie Poucette to herself as her horses ate
up the ground. "That's another bit of bad luck. He'll not sleep to-night.
Ah, the poor Jean Jacques--and all alone--not a hand to hold; no one to
rumple that shaggy head of his or pat him on the back! His wife and
Ma'm'selle Zoe, they didn't know a good thing when they had it. No, he'll
not sleep to-night-ah, my dear Jean Jacques!"



CHAPTER XIX

SEBASTIAN DOLORES DOES NOT SLEEP

But Jean Jacques did sleep well that night; though it would have been
better for him if he had not done so. The contractor's workmen had
arrived in the early afternoon, he had seen the first ton of debris
removed from the ruins of the historic mill, and it was crowned by the
gold Cock of Beaugard, all grimy with the fire, but jaunty as of yore.
The cheerfulness of the workmen, who sang gaily an old chanson of
mill-life as they tugged at the timbers and stones, gave a fillip to the
spirits of Jean Jacques, to whom had come a red-letter day.

Like Mirza on the high hill of Bagdad he had had his philosophic
meditations; his good talk with Virginie Poucette had followed; and the
woman of her lingered in the feeling of his hand all day, as something
kind and homelike and true. Also in the evening had come M. Fille, who
brought him a message from Judge Carcasson, that he must make the world
sing for himself again.

Contrary to what Mere Langlois had thought, he had not been perturbed by
the parish noise about the savage incident at "The Red Eagle," and the
desperate affair which would cause the arrest of his father-in-law. He
was at last well inclined to be rid of Sebastian Dolores, who had ceased
to be a comfort to him, and who brought him hateful and not kindly
memories of his lost women, and the happy hours of the past they
represented.

M. Fille had come to the Manor in much alarm, lest the news of the
miserable episode at "The Red Eagle" should bring Jean Jacques down again
to the depths. He was infinitely relieved, however, to find that the lord
of the Manor Cartier seemed only to be grateful that Sebastian Dolores
did not return, and nodded emphatically when M. Fille remarked that
perhaps it would be just as well if he never did return.

As M. Fille sat with his host at the table in the sunset light, Jean
Jacques seemed quieter and steadier of body and mind than he had been for
a long, long time. He even drank three glasses of the cordial which Mere
Langlois had left for him, with the idea that it might comfort him when
he got the bad news about Sebastian Dolores; and parting with M. Fille at
the door, he waved a hand and said: "Well, good-night, master of the
laws. Safe journey! I'm off to bed, and I'll sleep without rocking,
that's very sure and sweet."

He stood and waved his hand several times to M. Fille--till he was out of
sight indeed; and the Clerk of the Court smiled to himself long
afterwards, recalling Jean Jacques' cheerful face as he had seen it at
their parting in the gathering dusk. As for Jean Jacques, when he locked
up the house at ten o'clock, with Dolores still absent, he had the air of
a man from whose shoulders great weights had fallen.

"Now I've shut the door on him, it'll stay shut," he said firmly. "Let
him go back to work. He's no good here to me, to himself, or to anyone.
And that business of the fur-robe and Virginie Poucette--ah, that!"

He shook his head angrily, then seeing the bottle of cordial still
uncorked on the sideboard, he poured some out and drank it very slowly,
till his eyes were on the ceiling above him and every drop had gone home.
Presently, with the bedroom lamp in his hand, he went upstairs, humming
to himself the chanson the workmen had sung that afternoon as they raised
again the walls of the mill:

          "Distaff of flax flowing behind her
          Margatton goes to the mill
          On the old grey ass she goes,
          The flour of love it will blind her
          Ah, the grist the devil will grind her,
          When Margatton goes to the mill!
          On the old grey ass she goes,
          And the old grey ass, he knows!"

He liked the sound of his own voice this night of his Reconstruction
Period--or such it seemed to him; and he thought that no one heard his
singing save himself. There, however, he was mistaken. Someone was hidden
in the house--in the big kitchen-bunk which served as a bed or a seat, as
needed. This someone had stolen in while Jean Jacques and M. Fille were
at supper. His name was Dolores, and he had a horse just over the hill
near by, to serve him when his work was done, and he could get away.

The constables of Vilray had twice visited the Manor to arrest him that
day, but they had been led in another direction by a clue which he had
provided; and afterwards in the dusk he had doubled back and hid himself
under Jean Jacques' roof. He had very important business at the Manor
Cartier.

Jean Jacques' voice ceased one song, and then, after a silence, it took
up another, not so melodious. Sebastian Dolores had impatiently waited
for this later "musicale" to begin--he had heard it often before; and
when it was at last a regular succession of nasal explosions, he crawled
out and began to do the business which had brought him to the Manor
Cartier.

He did it all alone and with much skill; for when he was an anarchist in
Spain, those long years ago, he had learned how to use tools with expert
understanding. Of late, Spain had been much in his mind. He wanted to go
back there. Nostalgia had possessed him ever since he had come again to
the Manor Cartier after Zoe had left. He thought much of Spain, and but
little of his daughter. Memory of her was only poignant, in so far as it
was associated with the days preceding the wreck of the Antoine. He had
had far more than enough of the respectable working life of the New
World; but there never was sufficient money to take him back to Europe,
even were it safe to go. Of late, however, he felt sure that he might
venture, if he could only get cash for the journey. He wanted to drift
back to the idleness and adventure and the "easy money" of the old
anarchist days in Cadiz and Madrid. He was sick for the patio and the
plaza, for the bull-fight, for the siesta in the sun, for the lazy
glamour of the gardens and the red wine of Valladolid, for the redolent
cigarette of the roadside tavern. This cold iron land had spoiled him,
and he would strive to get himself home again before it was too late. In
Spain there would always be some woman whom he could cajole; some comrade
whom he could betray; some priest whom he could deceive, whose pocket he
could empty by the recital of his troubles. But if, peradventure, he
returned to Spain with money to spare in his pocket, how easy indeed it
would all be, and how happy he would find himself amid old surroundings
and old friends!

The way had suddenly opened up to him when Jean Jacques had brought home
in hard cash, and had locked away in the iron-doored cupboard in the
officewall, his last, his cherished, eight thousand dollars. Six thousand
of that eight were still left, and it was concern for this six thousand
which had brought Dolores to the Manor this night when Jean Jacques
snored so loudly. The events of the day at "The Red Eagle" had brought
things to a crisis in the affairs of Carmen's father. It was a foolish
business that at the tavern--so, at any rate, he thought, when it was all
over, and he was awake to the fact that he must fly or go to jail. From
the time he had, with a bottle of gin, laid Valescure low, Spain was the
word which went ringing through his head, and the way to Spain was by the
Six Thousand Dollar Route, the New World terminal of which was the
cupboard in the wall at the Manor Cartier.

Little cared Sebastian Dolores that the theft of the money would mean the
end of all things for Jean Jacques Barbille-for his own daughter's
husband. He was thinking of himself, as he had always done.

He worked for two whole hours before he succeeded in quietly forcing open
the iron door in the wall; but it was done at last. Curiously enough,
Jean Jacques' snoring stopped on the instant that Sebastian Dolores'
fingers clutched the money; but it began cheerfully again when the door
in the wall closed once more.

Five minutes after Dolores had thrust the six thousand dollars into his
pocket, his horse was galloping away over the hills towards the River St.
Lawrence. If he had luck, he would reach it by the morning. As it
happened, he had the luck. Behind him, in the Manor Cartier, the man who
had had no luck and much philosophy, snored on till morning in
unconscious content.

It was a whole day before Jean Jacques discovered his loss. When he had
finished his lonely supper the next evening, he went to the cupboard in
his office to cheer himself with the sight of the six thousand dollars.
He felt that he must revive his spirits. They had been drooping all day,
he knew not why.

When he saw the empty pigeon-hole in the cupboard, his sight swam. It was
some time before it cleared, but, when it did, and he knew beyond
peradventure the crushing, everlasting truth, not a sound escaped him.
His heart stood still. His face filled with a panic confusion. He seemed
like one bereft of understanding.



CHAPTER XX

"AU 'VOIR, M'SIEU' JEAN JACQUES"

It is seldom that Justice travels as swiftly as Crime, and it is also
seldom that the luck is more with the law than with the criminal. It took
the parish of St. Saviour's so long to make up its mind who stole Jean
Jacques' six thousand dollars, that when the hounds got the scent at last
the quarry had reached the water--in other words, Sebastian Dolores had
achieved the St. Lawrence. The criminal had had near a day's start before
a telegram was sent to the police at Montreal, Quebec, and other places
to look out for the picaroon who had left his mark on the parish of St.
Saviour's. The telegram would not even then have been sent had it not
been for M. Fille, who, suspecting Sebastian Dolores, still refrained
from instant action. This he did because he thought Jean Jacques would
not wish his beloved Zoe's grandfather sent to prison. But when other
people at last declared that it must have been Dolores, M. Fille insisted
on telegrams being sent by the magistrate at Vilray without Jean Jacques'
consent. He had even urged the magistrate to "rush" the wire, because it
came home to him with stunning force that, if the money was not
recovered, Jean Jacques would be a beggar. It was better to jail the
father-in-law, than for the little money-master to take to the road a
pauper, or stay on at St. Saviour's as an underling where he had been
overlord.

As for Jean Jacques, in his heart of hearts he knew who had robbed him.
He realized that it was one of the radii of the comedy-tragedy which
began on the Antoine, so many years before; and it had settled in his
mind at last that Sebastian Dolores was but part of the dark machinery of
fate, and that what was now had to be.

For one whole day after the robbery he was like a man
paralysed--dispossessed of active being; but when his creditors began to
swarm, when M. Mornay sent his man of business down to foreclose his
mortgages before others could take action, Jean Jacques waked from his
apathy. He began an imitation of his old restlessness, and made essay
again to pull the strings of his affairs. They were, however, so confused
that a pull at one string tangled them all.

When the constables and others came to him, and said that they were on
the trail of the robber, and that the rogue would be caught, he nodded
his head encouragingly; but he was sure in his own mind that the flight
of Dolores would be as successful as that of Carmen and Zoe.

This is the way he put it: "That man--we will just miss finding him, as I
missed Zoe at the railroad junction when she went away, as I missed
catching Carmen at St. Chrisanthine. When you are at the shore, he will
be on the river; when you are getting into the train, he will be getting
out. It is the custom of the family. At Bordeaux, the Spanish detectives
were on the shore gnashing their teeth, when he was a hundred yards away
at sea on the Antoine. They missed him like that; and we'll miss him too.
What is the good! It was not his fault--that was the way of his bringing
up beyond there at Cadiz, where they think more of a toreador than of
John the Baptist. It was my fault. I ought to have banked the money. I
ought not to have kept it to look at like a gamin with his marbles. There
it was in the wall; and there was Dolores a long way from home and
wanting to get back. He found the way by a gift of the tools; and I wish
I had the same gift now; for I've got no other gift that'll earn anything
for me."

These were the last dark or pessimistic words spoken at St. Saviour's by
Jean Jacques; and they were said to the Clerk of the Court, who could not
deny the truth of them; but he wrung the hand of Jean Jacques
nevertheless, and would not leave him night or day. M. Fille was like a
little cruiser protecting a fort when gunboats swarm near, not daring to
attack till their battleship heaves in sight. The battleship was the Big
Financier, who saw that a wreck was now inevitable, and was only
concerned that there should be a fair distribution of the assets. That
meant, of course, that he should be served first, and then that those
below the salt should get a share.

Revelation after revelation had been Jean Jacques' lot of late years, but
the final revelation of his own impotence was overwhelming. When he began
to stir about among his affairs, he was faced by the fact that the law
stood in his way. He realized with inward horror his shattered egotism
and natural vanity; he saw that he might just as well be in jail; that he
had no freedom; that he could do nothing at all in regard to anything he
owned; that he was, in effect, a prisoner of war where he had been the
general commanding an army.

Yet the old pride intervened, and it was associated with some innate
nobility; for from the hour in which it was known that Sebastian Dolores
had escaped in a steamer bound for France, and could not be overhauled,
and the chances were that he would never have to yield up the six
thousand dollars, Jean Jacques bustled about cheerfully, and as though he
had still great affairs of business to order and regulate. It was a
make-believe which few treated with scorn. Even the workmen at the mill
humoured him, as he came several times every day to inspect the work of
rebuilding; and they took his orders, though they did not carry them out.
No one really carried out any of his orders except Seraphe Corniche, who,
weeping from morning till night, protested that there never was so good a
man as M'sieu' Jean Jacques; and she cooked his favourite dishes, giving
him no peace until he had eaten them.

The days, the weeks went on, with Jean Jacques growing thinner and
thinner, but going about with his head up like the gold Cock of Beaugard,
and even crowing now and then, as he had done of yore. He faced the
inevitable with something of his old smiling volubility; treating nothing
of his disaster as though it really existed; signing off this asset and
that; disposing of this thing and that; stripping himself bare of all the
properties on his life's stage, in such a manner as might have been his
had he been receiving gifts and not yielding up all he owned. He chatted
as his belongings were, figuratively speaking, being carried away--as
though they were mechanical, formal things to be done as he had done them
every day of a fairly long life; as a clerk would check off the boxes or
parcels carried past him by the porters. M. Fille could hardly bear to
see him in this mood, and the New Cure hovered round him with a mournful
and harmlessly deceptive kindness. But the end had to come, and
practically all the parish was present when it came. That was on the day
when the contents of the Manor were sold at auction by order of the
Court. One thing Jean Jacques refused absolutely and irrevocably to do
from the first--refused it at last in anger and even with an oath: he
would not go through the Bankruptcy Court. No persuasion had any effect.
The very suggestion seemed to smirch his honour. His lawyer pleaded with
him, said he would be able to save something out of the wreck, and that
his creditors would be willing that he should take advantage of the
privileges of that court; but he only said in reply:

"Thank you, thank you altogether, monsieur, but it is impossible--'non
possumus, non possumus, my son,' as the Pope said to Bonaparte. I owe and
I will pay what I can; and what I can't pay now I will try to pay in the
future, by the cent, by the dollar, till all is paid to the last copper.
It is the way with the Barbilles. They have paid their way and their
debts in honour, and it is in the bond with all the Barbilles of the past
that I do as they do. If I can't do it, then that I have tried to do it
will be endorsed on the foot of the bill."

No one could move him, not even Judge Carcasson, who from his armchair in
Montreal wrote a feeble-handed letter begging him to believe that it was
"well within his rights as a gentleman"--this he put in at the request of
M. Mornay--to take advantage of the privileges of the Bankruptcy Court.
Even then Jean Jacques had only a few moments' hesitation. What the Judge
said made a deep impression; but he had determined to drink the cup of
his misfortune to the dregs. He was set upon complete renunciation; on
going forth like a pilgrim from the place of his troubles and sorrows,
taking no gifts, no mercies save those which heaven accorded him.

When the day of the auction came everything went. Even his best suit of
clothes was sold to a blacksmith, while his fur-coat was bought by a
horse-doctor for fifteen dollars. Things that had been part of his life
for a generation found their way into hands where he would least have
wished them to go--of those who had been envious of him, who had cheated
or deceived him, of people with whom he had had nothing in common. The
red wagon and the pair of little longtailed stallions, which he had
driven for six years, were bought by the owner of a rival flour-mill in
the parish of Vilray; but his best sleigh, with its coon-skin robes, was
bought by the widow of Palass Poucette, who bought also the famous
bearskin which Dolores had given her at Jean Jacques' expense, and had
been returned by her to its proper owner. The silver fruitdish, once (it
was said) the property of the Baron of Beaugard, which each generation of
Barbilles had displayed with as much ceremony as though it was a chalice
given by the Pope, went to Virginie Poucette. Virginie also bought the
furniture from Zoe's bedroom as it stood, together with the little
upright piano on which she used to play. The Cure bought Jean Jacques'
writing-desk, and M. Fille purchased his armchair, in which had sat at
least six Barbilles as owners of the Manor. The beaver-hat which Jean
Jacques wore on state occasions, as his grandfather had done, together
with the bonnet rouge of the habitant, donned by him in his younger
days--they fell to the nod of Mere Langlois, who declared that, as she
was a cousin, she would keep the things in the family. Mere Langlois
would have bought the fruit-dish also if she could have afforded to bid
against Virginie Poucette; but the latter would have had the dish if it
had cost her two hundred dollars. The only time she had broken bread in
Jean Jacques' house, she had eaten cake from this fruit-dish; and to her,
as to the parish generally, the dish so beautifully shaped, with its
graceful depth and its fine-chased handles, was symbol of the social
caste of the Barbilles, as the gold Cock of Beaugard was sign of their
civic and commercial glory.

Jean Jacques, who had moved about all day with an almost voluble
affability, seeming not to realize the tragedy going on, or, if he
realized it, rising superior to it, was noticed to stand still suddenly
when the auctioneer put up the fruit-dish for sale. Then the smile left
his face, and the reddish glow in his eyes, which had been there since
the burning of the mill, fled, and a touch of amazement and confusion
took its place. All in a moment he was like a fluttered dweller of the
wilds to whom comes some tremor of danger.

His mouth opened as though he would forbid the selling of the heirloom;
but it closed again, because he knew he had no right to withhold it from
the hammer; and he took on a look like that which comes to the eyes of a
child when it faces humiliating denial. Quickly as it came, however, it
vanished, for he remembered that he could buy the dish himself. He could
buy it himself and keep it. . . . Yet what could he do with it? Even so,
he could keep it. It could still be his till better days came.

The auctioneer's voice told off the value of the fruitdish--"As an
heirloom, as an antique; as a piece of workmanship impossible of
duplication in these days of no handicraft; as good pure silver, bearing
the head of Louis Quinze--beautiful, marvellous, historic, honourable,"
and Jean Jacques made ready to bid. Then he remembered he had no
money--he who all his life had been able to take a roll of bills from his
pocket as another man took a packet of letters. His glance fell in shame,
and the words died on his lips, even as M. Manotel, the auctioneer, was
about to add another five-dollar bid to the price, which already was
standing at forty dollars.

It was at this moment Jean Jacques heard a woman's voice bidding, then
two women's voices. Looking up he saw that one of the women was Mere
Langlois and the other was Virginie Poucette, who had made the first bid.
For a moment they contended, and then Mere Langlois fell out of the
contest, and Virginie continued it with an ambitious farmer from the next
county, who was about to become a Member of Parliament. Presently the
owner of a river pleasure-steamer entered into the costly emulation also,
but he soon fell away; and Virginie Poucette stubbornly raised the
bidding by five dollars each time, till the silver symbol of the
Barbilles' pride had reached one hundred dollars. Then she raised the
price by ten dollars, and her rival, seeing that he was face to face with
a woman who would now bid till her last dollar was at stake, withdrew;
and Virginie was left triumphant with the heirloom.

At the moment when Virginie turned away with the handsome dish from M.
Manotel, and the crowd cheered her gaily, she caught Jean-Jacques' eye,
and she came straight towards him. She wanted to give the dish to him
then and there; but she knew that this would provide annoying gossip for
many a day, and besides, she thought he would refuse. More than that, she
had in her mind another alternative which might in the end secure the
heirloom to him, in spite of all. As she passed him, she said:

"At least we keep it in the parish. If you don't have it, well, then..."

She paused, for she did not quite know what to say unless she spoke what
was really in her mind, and she dared not do that.

"But you ought to have an heirloom," she added, leaving unsaid what was
her real thought and hope. With sudden inspiration, for he saw she was
trying to make it easy for him, he drew the great silver-watch from his
pocket, which the head of the Barbilles had worn for generations, and
said:

"I have the only heirloom I could carry about with me. It will keep time
for me as long as I'll last. The Manor clock strikes the time for the
world, and this watch is set by the Manor clock."

"Well said--well and truly said, M'sieu' Jean Jacques," remarked the lean
watchmaker and so-called jeweller of Vilray, who stood near. "It is a
watch which couldn't miss the stroke of Judgment Day."

It was at that moment, in the sunset hour, when the sale had drawn to a
close, and the people had begun to disperse, that the avocat of Vilray
who represented the Big Financier came to Jean Jacques and said:

"M'sieu', I have to say that there is due to you three hundred and fifty
dollars from the settlement, excluding this sale, which will just do what
was expected of it. I am instructed to give it to you from the creditors.
Here it is."

He took out a roll of bills and offered it to Jean Jacques.

"What creditors?" asked Jean Jacques.

"All the creditors," responded the other, and he produced a receipt for
Jean Jacques to sign. "A formal statement will be sent you, and if there
is any more due to you, it will be added then. But now--well, there it
is, the creditors think there is no reason for you to wait."

Jean Jacques did not yet take the roll of bills. "They come from M.
Mornay?" he asked with an air of resistance, for he did not wish to be
under further obligations to the man who would lose most by him.

The lawyer was prepared. M. Mornay had foreseen the timidity and
sensitiveness of Jean Jacques, had anticipated his mistaken chivalry--for
how could a man decline to take advantage of the Bankruptcy Court unless
he was another Don Quixote! He had therefore arranged with all the
creditors for them to take responsibility with 'himself, though he
provided the cash which manipulated this settlement.

"No, M'sieu' Jean Jacques," the lawyer replied, "this comes from all the
creditors, as the sum due to you from all the transactions, so far as can
be seen as yet. Further adjustment may be necessary, but this is the
interim settlement."

Jean Jacques was far from being ignorant of business, but so bemused was
his judgment and his intelligence now, that he did not see there was no
balance which could possibly be his, since his liabilities vastly
exceeded his assets. Yet with a wave of the hand he accepted the roll of
bills, and signed the receipt with an air which said, "These forms must
be observed, I suppose."

What he would have done if the three hundred and fifty dollars had not
been given him, it would be hard to say, for with gentle asperity he had
declined a loan from his friend M. Fille, and he had but one silver
dollar in his pocket, or in the world. Indeed, Jean Jacques was living in
a dream in these dark days--a dream of renunciation and sacrifice, and in
the spirit of one who gives up all to some great cause. He was not yet
even face to face with the fulness of his disaster. Only at moments had
the real significance of it all come to him, and then he had shivered as
before some terror menacing his path. Also, as M. Mornay had said, his
philosophy was now in his bones and marrow rather than in his words. It
had, after all, tinctured his blood and impregnated his mind. He had
babbled and been the egotist, and played cock o' the walk; and now at
last his philosophy was giving some foundation for his feet. Yet at this
auction-sale he looked a distracted, if smiling, whimsical, rather
bustling figure of misfortune, with a tragic air of exile, of isolation
from all by which he was surrounded. A profound and wayworn loneliness
showed in his figure, in his face, in his eyes.

The crowd thinned in time, and yet very many lingered to see the last of
this drama of lost fortunes. A few of the riff-raff, who invariably
attend these public scenes, were now rather the worse for drink, from the
indifferent liquor provided by the auctioneer, and they were inclined to
horseplay and coarse chaff. More than one ribald reference to Jean
Jacques had been checked by his chivalrous fellow-citizens; indeed, M.
Fille had almost laid himself open to a charge of assault in his own
court by raising his stick at a loafer, who made insulting references to
Jean Jacques. But as the sale drew to a close, an air of rollicking
humour among the younger men would not be suppressed, and it looked as
though Jean Jacques' exit would be attended by the elements of farce and
satire.

In this world, however, things do not happen logically, and Jean Jacques
made his exit in a wholly unexpected manner. He was going away by the
train which left a new railway junction a few miles off, having gently
yet firmly declined M. Fille's invitation, and also the invitations of
others--including the Cure and Mere Langlois--to spend the night with
them and start off the next day. He elected to go on to Montreal that
very night, and before the sale was quite finished he prepared to start.
His carpet-bag containing a few clothes and necessaries had been sent on
to the junction, and he meant to walk to the station in the cool of the
evening.

M. Manotel, the auctioneer, hoarse with his heavy day's work, was
announcing that there were only a few more things to sell, and no doubt
they could be had at a bargain, when Jean Jacques began a tour of the
Manor. There was something inexpressibly mournful in this lonely
pilgrimage of the dismantled mansion. Yet there was no show of cheap
emotion by Jean Jacques; and a wave of the hand prevented any one from
following him in his dry-eyed progress to say farewell to these haunts of
childhood, manhood, family, and home. There was a strange numbness in his
mind and body, and he had a feeling that he moved immense and reflective
among material things. Only tragedy can produce that feeling. Happiness
makes the universe infinite and stupendous, despair makes it small and
even trivial.

It was when he had reached the little office where he had done the
business of his life--a kind of neutral place where he had ever isolated
himself from the domestic scene--that the final sensation, save one, of
his existence at the Manor came to him. Virginie Poucette had divined his
purpose when he began the tour of the house, and going by a roundabout
way, she had placed herself where she could speak with him alone before
he left the place for ever--if that was to be. She was not sure that his
exit was really inevitable--not yet.

When Jean Jacques saw Virginie standing beside the table in his office
where he lead worked over so many years, now marked Sold, and waiting to
be taken away by its new owner, he started and drew back, but she held
out her hand and said:

"But one word, M'sieu' Jean Jacques; only one word from a friend--indeed
a friend."

"A friend of friends," he answered, still in abstraction, his eyes having
that burnished light which belonged to the night of the fire; but yet
realizing that she was a sympathetic soul who had offered to lend him
money without security.

"Oh, indeed yes, as good a friend as you can ever have!" she added.

Something had waked the bigger part of her, which had never been awake in
the days of Palass Poucette. Jean Jacques was much older than she, but
what she felt had nothing to do with age, or place or station. It had
only to do with understanding, with the call of nature and of a
motherhood crying for expression. Her heart ached for him.

"Well, good-bye, my friend," he said, and held out his hand. "I must be
going now."

"Wait," she said, and there was something insistent and yet pleading in
her voice. "I've got something to say. You must hear it. . . . Why should
you go? There is my farm--it needs to be worked right. It has got good
chances. It has water-power and wood and the best flax in the
province--they want to start a flax-mill on it--I've had letters from big
men in Montreal. Well, why shouldn't you do it instead? There it is, the
farm, and there am I a woman alone. I need help. I've got no head. I have
to work at a sum of figures all night to get it straight. . . . Ah,
m'sieu', it is a need both sides! You want someone to look after you; you
want a chance again to do things; but you want someone to look after you,
and it is all waiting there on the farm. Palass Poucette left behind him
seven sound horses, and cows and sheep, and a threshing-machine and a
fanning-mill, and no debts, and two thousand dollars in the bank. You
will never do anything away from here. You must stay here, where--where I
can look after you, Jean Jacques."

The light in his eyes flamed up, died down, flamed up again, and
presently it covered all his face, as he grasped what she meant.

"Wonder of God, do you forget?" he asked. "I am married--married still,
Virginie Poucette. There is no divorce in the Catholic Church--no, none
at all. It is for ever and ever."

"I said nothing about marriage," she said bravely, though her face
suffused.

"Hand of Heaven, what do you mean? You mean to say you would do that for
me in spite of the Cure and--and everybody and everything?"

"You ought to be taken care of," she protested. "You ought to have your
chance again. No one here is free to do it all but me. You are alone.
Your wife that was--maybe she is dead. I am alone, and I'm not afraid of
what the good God will say. I will settle with Him myself. Well, then, do
you think I'd care what--what Mere Langlois or the rest of the world
would say? . . . I can't bear to think of you going away with nothing,
with nobody, when here is something and somebody--somebody who would be
good to you. Everybody knows that you've been badly used--everybody. I'm
young enough to make things bright and warm in your life, and the place
is big enough for two, even if it isn't the Manor Cartier."

"Figure de Christ, do you think I'd let you do it--me?" declared Jean
Jacques, with lips trembling now and his shoulders heaving. Misfortune
and pain and penalty he could stand, but sacrifice like this and--and
whatever else it was, were too much for him. They brought him back to the
dusty road and everyday life again; they subtracted him from his big
dream, in which he had been detached from the details of his catastrophe.

"No, no, no," he added. "You go look another way, Virginie. Turn your
face to the young spring, not to the dead winter. To-morrow I'll be gone
to find what I've got to find. I've finished here, but there's many a
good man waiting for you--men who'll bring you something worth while
besides themselves. Make no mistake, I've finished. I've done my term of
life. I'm only out on ticket-of-leave now--but there, enough, I shall
always want to think of you. I wish I had something to give you--but yes,
here is something." He drew from his pocket a silver napkin-ring. "I've
had that since I was five years old. My uncle Stefan gave it to me. I've
always used it. I don't know why I put it in my pocket this morning, but
I did. Take it. It's more than money. It's got something of Jean Jacques
about it. You've got the Barbille fruit-dish-that is a thing I'll
remember. I'm glad you've got it, and--"

"I meant we should both eat from it," she said helplessly.

"It would cost too much to eat from it with you, Virginie--"

He stopped short, choked, then his face cleared, and his eyes became
steady.

"Well then, good-bye, Virginie," he said, holding out his hand.

"You don't think I'd say to any other living man what I've said to you?"
she asked.

He nodded understandingly. "That's the best part of it. It was for me of
all the world," he answered. "When I look back, I'll see the light in
your window--the light you lit for the lost one--for Jean Jacques
Barbille."

Suddenly, with eyes that did not see and hands held out before him, he
turned, felt for the door and left the room.

She leaned helplessly against the table. "The poor Jean Jacques--the poor
Jean Jacques!" she murmured. "Cure or no Cure, I'd have done it," she
declared, with a ring to her voice. "Ah, but Jean Jacques, come with me!"
she added with a hungry and compassionate gesture, speaking into space.
"I could make life worth while for us both."

A moment later Virginie was outside, watching the last act in the career
of Jean Jacques in the parish of St. Saviour's.

This was what she saw.

The auctioneer was holding up a bird-cage containing a canary-Carmen's
bird-cage, and Zoe's canary which had remained to be a vocal memory of
her in her old home.

"Here," said the rhetorical, inflammable auctioneer, "here is the
choicest lot left to the last. I put it away in the bakery, meaning to
sell it at noon, when everybody was eating-food for the soul and food for
the body. I forgot it. But here it is, worth anything you like to anybody
that loves the beautiful, the good, and the harmonious. What do I hear
for this lovely saffron singer from the Elysian fields? What did the
immortal poet of France say of the bird in his garret, in 'L'Oiseau de
Mon Crenier'? What did he say:

          'Sing me a song of the bygone hour,
          A song of the stream and the sun;
          Sing of my love in her bosky bower,
          When my heart it was twenty-one.'

"Come now, who will renew his age or regale her youth with the divine
notes of nature's minstrel? Who will make me an offer for this vestal
virgin of song--the joy of the morning and the benediction of the
evening? What do I hear? The best of the wine to the last of the feast!
What do I hear?--five dollars--seven dollars--nine dollars--going at nine
dollars--ten dollars--Well, ladies and gentlemen, the bird can sing--ah,
voila!"

He stopped short for a moment, for as the evening sun swept its veil of
rainbow radiance over the scene, the bird began to sing. Its little
throat swelled, it chirruped, it trilled, it called, it soared, it lost
itself in a flood of ecstasy. In the applausive silence, the emotional
recess of the sale, as it were, the man to whom the bird and the song
meant most, pushed his way up to the stand where M. Manotel stood. When
the people saw who it was, they fell back, for there was that in his face
which needed no interpretation. It filled them with a kind of awe.

He reached up a brown, eager, affectionate hand--it had always been
that--fat and small, but rather fine and certainly emotional, though not
material or sensual.

"Go on with your bidding," he said.

He was going to buy the thing which had belonged to his daughter, was
beloved by her--the living oracle of the morning, the muezzin of his
mosque of home. It had been to the girl who had gone as another such a
bird had been to the mother of the girl, the voice that sang, "Praise
God," in the short summer of that bygone happiness of his. Even this cage
and its homebird were not his; they belonged to the creditors.

"Go on. I buy--I bid," Jean Jacques said in a voice that rang. It had no
blur of emotion. It had resonance. The hammer that struck the bell of his
voice was the hammer of memory, and if it was plaintive it also was
clear, and it was also vibrant with the silver of lost hopes.

M. Manotel humoured him, while the bird still sang. "Four dollars--five
dollars: do I hear no more than five dollars?--going once, going twice,
going three times--gone!" he cried, for no one had made a further bid;
and indeed M. Manotel would not have heard another voice than Jean
Jacques' if it had been as loud as the falls of the Saguenay. He was a
kind of poet in his way, was M. Manotel. He had been married four times,
and he would be married again if he had the chance; also he wrote verses
for tombstones in the churchyard at St. Saviour's, and couplets for fetes
and weddings.

He handed the cage to Jean Jacques, who put it down on the ground at his
feet, and in an instant had handed up five dollars for one of the idols
of his own altar. Anyone else than M. Manotel, or perhaps M. Fille or the
New Cure, would have hesitated to take the five dollars, or, if they had
done so, would have handed it back; but they had souls to understand this
Jean Jacques, and they would not deny him his insistent independence. And
so, in a moment, he was making his way out of the crowd with the cage in
his hand, the bird silent now.

As he went, some one touched his arm and slipped a book into his hand. It
was M. Fille, and the book was his little compendium of philosophy which
his friend had retrieved from his bedroom in the early morning.

"You weren't going to forget it, Jean Jacques?" M. Fille said
reproachfully. "It is an old friend. It would not be happy with any one
else."

Jean Jacques looked M. Fille in the eyes. "Moi--je suis philosophe," he
said without any of the old insistence and pride and egotism, but as one
would make an affirmation or repeat a creed.

"Yes, yes, to be sure, always, as of old," answered M. Fille firmly; for,
from that formula might come strength, when it was most needed, in a
sense other and deeper far than it had been or was now. "You will
remember that you will always know where to find us--eh?" added the
little Clerk of the Court.

The going of Jean Jacques was inevitable; all persuasion had failed to
induce him to stay--even that of Virginie; and M. Fille now treated it as
though it was the beginning of a new career for Jean Jacques, whatever
that career might be. It might be he would come back some day, but not to
things as they were, not ever again, nor as the same man.

"You will move on with the world outside there," continued M. Fille, "but
we shall be turning on the same swivel here always; and whenever you
come--there, you understand. With us it is semper fidelis, always the
same."

Jean Jacques looked at M. Fille again as though to ask him a question,
but presently he shook his head in negation to his thought.

"Well, good-bye," he said cheerfully--"A la bonne heure!"

By that M. Fille knew that Jean Jacques did not wish for company as he
went--not even the company of his old friend who had loved the bright
whimsical emotional Zoe; who had hovered around his life like a
protecting spirit.

"A bi'tot," responded M. Fille, declining upon the homely patois.

But as Jean Jacques walked away with his little book of philosophy in his
pocket, and the bird-cage in his hand, someone sobbed. M. Fille turned
and saw. It was Virginie Poucette. Fortunately for Virginie other women
did the same, not for the same reason, but out of a sympathy which was
part of the scene.

It had been the intention of some friends of Jean Jacques to give him a
cheer when he left, and even his sullen local creditors, now that the
worst had come, were disposed to give him a good send-off; but the
incident of the canary in its cage gave a turn to the feeling of the
crowd which could not be resisted. They were not a people who could cut
and dry their sentiments; they were all impulse and simplicity, with an
obvious cocksure shrewdness too, like that of Jean Jacques--of the old
Jean Jacques. He had been the epitome of all their faults and all their
virtues.

No one cheered. Only one person called, "Au 'voir, M'sieu' Jean Jacques!"
and no one followed him--a curious, assertive, feebly-brisk, shock-headed
figure in the brown velveteen jacket, which he had bought in Paris on his
Grand Tour.

"What a ridiculous little man!" said a woman from Chalfonte over the
water, who had been buying freely all day for her new "Manor," her
husband being a member of the provincial legislature.

The words were no sooner out of her mouth than two women faced her
threateningly.

"For two pins I'd slap your face," said old Mere Langlois, her great
breast heaving. "Popinjay--you, that ought to be in a cage like his
canary."

But Virginie Poucette also was there in front of the offender, and she
also had come from Chalfonte--was born in that parish; and she knew what
she was facing.

"Better carry a bird-cage and a book than carry swill to swine," she
said; and madame from Chalfonte turned white, for it had been said that
her father was once a swine-herd, and that she had tried her best to
forget it when, with her coarse beauty, she married the well-to-do farmer
who was now in the legislature.

"Hold your tongues, all of you, and look at that," said M. Manotel, who
had joined the agitated group. He was pointing towards the departing Jean
Jacques, who was now away upon his road.

Jean Jacques had raised the cage on a level with his face, and was
evidently speaking to the bird in the way birds love--that soft kissing
sound to which they reply with song.

Presently there came a chirp or two, and then the bird thrust up its
head, and out came the full blessedness of its song, exultant, home-like,
intimate.

Jean Jacques walked on, the bird singing by his side; and he did not look
back.



CHAPTER XXI

IF SHE HAD KNOWN IN TIME

Nothing stops when we stop for a time, or for all time, except ourselves.
Everything else goes on--not in the same way; but it does go on. Life did
not stop at St. Saviour's after Jean Jacques made his exit. Slowly the
ruined mill rose up again, and very slowly indeed the widow of Palass
Poucette recovered her spirits, though she remained a widow in spite of
all appeals; but M. Fille and his sister never were the same after they
lost their friend. They had great comfort in the dog which Jean Jacques
had given to them, and they roused themselves to a malicious pleasure
when Bobon, as he had been called by Zoe, rushed out at the heels of an
importunate local creditor who had greatly worried Jean Jacques at the
last. They waited in vain for a letter from Jean Jacques, but none came;
nor did they hear anything from him, or of him, for a long, long time.

Jean Jacques did not mean that they should. When he went away with his
book of philosophy and his canary he had but one thing in his mind, and
that was to find Zoe and make her understand that he knew he had been in
the wrong. He had illusions about starting life again, in which he
probably did not believe; but the make-believe was good for him. Long
before the crash came, in Zoe's name--not his own--he had bought from the
Government three hundred and twenty acres of land out near the Rockies
and had spent five hundred dollars in improvements on it.

There it was in the West, one remaining asset still his own--or rather
Zoe's--but worth little if he or she did not develop it. As he left St.
Saviour's, however, he kept fixing his mind on that "last domain," as he
called it to himself. If this was done intentionally, that he might be
saved from distraction and despair, it was well done; if it was a real
illusion--the old self-deception which had been his bane so often in the
past--it still could only do him good at the present. It prevented him
from noticing the attention he attracted on the railway journey from St.
Saviour's to Montreal, cherishing his canary and his book as he went.

He was not so self-conscious now as in the days when he was surprised
that Paris did not stop to say, "Bless us, here is that fine fellow, Jean
Jacques Barbille of St. Saviour's!" He could concentrate himself more now
on things that did not concern the impression he was making on the world.
At present he could only think of Zoe and of her future.

When a patronizing and aggressive commercial traveller in the little
hotel on a side-street where he had taken a room in Montreal said to him,
"Bien, mon vieux" (which is to say, "Well, old cock"), "aren't you a long
way from home?" something of a new dignity came into Jean Jacques'
bearing, very different from the assurance of the old days, and in reply
he said:

"Not so far that I need be careless about my company." This made the
landlady of the little hotel laugh quite hard, for she did not like the
braggart "drummer" who had treated her with great condescension for a
number of years. Also Madame Glozel liked Jean Jacques because of his
canary. She thought there must be some sentimental reason for a man of
fifty or more carrying a bird about with him; and she did not rest until
she had drawn from Jean Jacques that he was taking the bird to his
daughter in the West. There, however, madame was stayed in her search for
information. Jean Jacques closed up, and did but smile when she adroitly
set traps for him, and at last asked him outright where his daughter was.

Why he waited in Montreal it would be hard to say, save that it was a
kind of middle place between the old life and the new, and also because
he must decide what was to be his plan of search. First the West--first
Winnipeg, but where after that? He had at last secured information of
where Zoe and Gerard Fynes had stayed while in Montreal; and now he
followed clues which would bring him in touch with folk who knew them. He
came to know one or two people who were with Zoe and Gerard in the last
days they spent in the metropolis, and he turned over and over in his
mind every word said about his girl, as a child turns a sweetmeat in its
mouth. This made him eager to be off; but on the very day he decided to
start at once for the West, something strange happened.

It was towards the late afternoon of a Saturday, when the streets were
full of people going to and from the shops in a marketing quarter, that
Madame Glozel came to him and said:

"M'sieu', I have an idea, and you will not think it strange, for you have
a kind heart. There is a woman--look you, it is a sad, sad story hers.
She is ill and dying in a room a little way down the street. But yes, I
am sure she is dying--of heart disease it is. She came here first when
the illness took her, but she could not afford to stay. She went to those
cheaper lodgings down the street. She used to be on the stage over in the
States, and then she came back here, and there was a man--married to him
or not I do not know, and I will not think. Well, the man--the brute--he
left her when she got ill--but yes, forsook her absolutely! He was a
land-agent or something like that, and all very fine to your face, to
promise and to pretend--just make-believe. When her sickness got worse,
off he went with 'Au revoir, my dear--I will be back to supper.' Supper!
If she'd waited for her supper till he came back, she'd have waited as
long as I've done for the fortune the gipsy promised me forty years ago.
Away he went, the rogue, without a thought of her, and with another
woman. That's what hurt her most of all. Straight from her that could
hardly drag herself about--ah, yes, and has been as handsome a woman as
ever was!--straight from her he went to a slut. She was a slut,
m'sieu'--did I not know her? Did Ma'm'selle Slut not wait at table in
this house and lead the men a dance here night and day-day and night till
I found it out! Well, off he went with the slut, and left the lady
behind. . . . You men, you treat women so."

Jean Jacques put out a hand as though to argue with her. "Sometimes it is
the other way," he retorted. "Most of us have seen it like that."

"Well, for sure, you're right enough there, m'sieu'," was the response.
"I've got nothing to say to that, except that it's a man that runs away
with a woman, or that gets her to leave her husband when she does go.
There's always a man that says, 'Come along, I'm the better chap for
you.'"

Jean Jacques wearily turned his head away towards the cage where his
canary was beginning to pipe its evening lay.

"It all comes to the same thing in the end," he said pensively; and then
he who had been so quiet since he came to the little hotel--Glozel's, it
was called--began to move about the room excitedly, running his fingers
through his still bushy hair, which, to his credit, was always as clean
as could be, burnished and shiny even at his mid-century period. He began
murmuring to himself, and a frown settled on his fore head. Mme. Glozel
saw that she had perturbed him, and that no doubt she had roused some
memories which made sombre the sunny little room where the canary sang;
where, to ravish the eyes of the pessimist, was a picture of Louis XVI.
going to heaven in the arms of St. Peter.

When started, however, the good woman could no more "slow down" than her
French pony would stop when its head was turned homewards from market. So
she kept on with the history of the woman down the street.

"Heart disease," she said, nodding with assurance and finality; "and we
know what that is--a start, a shock, a fall, a strain, and pht! off the
poor thing goes. Yes, heart disease, and sometimes with such awful pain.
But so; and yesterday she told me she had only a hundred dollars left.
'Enough to last me through,' she said to me. Poor thing, she lifted up
her eyes with a way she has, as if looking for something she couldn't
find, and she says, as simple as though she was asking about the price of
a bed-tick, 'It won't cost more than fifty dollars to bury me, I s'pose?'
Well, that made me squeamish, for the poor dear's plight came home to me
so clear, and she young enough yet to get plenty out of life, if she had
the chance. So I asked her again about her people--whether I couldn't
send for someone belonging to her. 'There's none that belongs to me,' she
says, 'and there's no one I belong to.'

"I thought very likely she didn't want to tell me about herself; perhaps
because she had done wrong, and her family had not been good to her. Yet
it was right I should try and get her folks to come, if she had any
folks. So I said to her, 'Where was your home?' And now, what do you
think she answered, m'sieu'?' 'Look there,' she said to me, with her big
eyes standing out of her head almost--for that's what comes to her
sometimes when she is in pain, and she looks more handsome then than at
any other time--'Look there,' she said to me, 'it was in heaven, that's
where--my home was; but I didn't know it. I hadn't been taught to know
the place when I saw it.'

"Well, I felt my skin go goosey, for I saw what was going on in her mind,
and how she was remembering what had happened to her some time,
somewhere; but there wasn't a tear in her eyes, and I never saw her
cry-never once, m'sieu'--well, but as brave as brave. Her eyes are always
dry--burning. They're like two furnaces scorching up her face. So I never
found out her history, and she won't have the priest. I believe that's
because she wants to die unknown, and doesn't want to confess. I never
saw a woman I was sorrier for, though I think she wasn't married to the
man that left her. But whatever she was, there's good in her--I haven't
known hundreds of women and had seven sisters for nothing. Well, there
she is--not a friend near her at the last; for it's coming soon, the
end--no one to speak to her, except the woman she pays to come in and
look after her and nurse her a bit. Of course there's the landlady too,
Madame Popincourt, a kind enough little cricket of a woman, but with no
sense and no head for business. And so the poor sick thing has not a
single pleasure in the world. She can't read, because it makes her head
ache, she says; and she never writes to any one. One day she tried to
sing a little, but it seemed to hurt her, and she stopped before she had
begun almost. Yes, m'sieu', there she is without a single pleasure in the
long hours when she doesn't sleep."

"There's my canary--that would cheer her up," eagerly said Jean Jacques,
who, as the story of the chirruping landlady continued, became master of
his agitation, and listened as though to the tale of some life for which
he had concern. "Yes, take my canary to her, madame. It picked me up when
I was down. It'll help her--such a bird it is! It's the best singer in
the world. It's got in its throat the music of Malibran and Jenny Lind
and Grisi, and all the stars in heaven that sang together. Also, to be
sure, it doesn't charge anything, but just as long as there's daylight it
sings and sings, as you know."

"M'sieu'--oh, m'sieu', it was what I wanted to ask you, and I didn't
dare!" gushingly declared madame. "I never heard a bird sing like
that--just as if it knew how much good it was doing, and with all the
airs of a grand seigneur. It's a prince of birds, that. If you mean it,
m'sieu', you'll do as good a thing as you have ever done."

"It would have to be much better, or it wouldn't be any use," remarked
Jean Jacques.

The woman made a motion of friendliness with both hands. "I don't believe
that. You may be queer, but you've got a kind eye. It won't be for long
she'll need the canary, and it will cheer her. There certainly was never
a bird so little tied to one note. Now this note, now that, and so
amusing. At times it's as though he was laughing at you."

"That's because, with me for his master, he has had good reason to
laugh," remarked Jean Jacques, who had come at last to take a despondent
view of himself.

"That's bosh," rejoined Mme. Glozel; "I've seen several people odder than
you."

She went over to the cage eagerly, and was about to take it away. "Excuse
me," interposed Jean Jacques, "I will carry the cage to the house. Then
you will go in with the bird, and I'll wait outside and see if the little
rascal sings."

"This minute?" asked madame.

"For sure, this very minute. Why should the poor lady wait? It's a lonely
time of day, this, the evening, when the long night's ahead."

A moment later the two were walking along the street to the door of Mme.
Popincourt's lodgings, and people turned to look at the pair, one
carrying something covered with a white cloth, evidently a savoury dish
of some kind--the other with a cage in which a handsome canary hopped
about, well pleased with the world.

At Mme. Popincourt's door Mme. Glozel took the cage and went upstairs.
Jean Jacques, left behind, paced backwards and forwards in front of the
house waiting and looking up, for Mme. Glozel had said that behind the
front window on the third floor was where the sick woman lived. He had
not long to wait. The setting sun shining full on the window had roused
the bird, and he began to pour out a flood of delicious melody which
flowed on and on, causing the people in the street to stay their steps
and look up. Jean Jacques' face, as he listened, had something very like
a smile. There was that in the smile belonging to the old pride, which in
days gone by had made him say when he looked at his domains at the Manor
Cartier--his houses, his mills, his store, his buildings and his
lands--"It is all mine. It all belongs to Jean Jacques Barbille."

Suddenly, however, there came a sharp pause in the singing, and after
that a cry--a faint, startled cry. Then Mme. Glozel's head was thrust out
of the window three floors up, and she called to Jean Jacques to come
quickly. As she bade him come, some strange premonition flashed to Jean
Jacques, and with thumping heart he hastened up the staircase. Outside a
bedroom door, Mme. Glozel met him. She was so excited she could only
whisper.

"Be very quiet," she said. "There is something strange. When the bird
sang as it did--you heard it--she sat like one in a trance. Then her face
took on a look glad and frightened too, and she stared hard at the cage.
'Bring that cage to me,' she said. I brought it. She looked sharp at it,
then she gave a cry and fell back. As I took the cage away I saw what she
had been looking at--a writing at the bottom of the cage. It was the name
Carmen."

With a stifled cry Jean Jacques pushed her aside and entered the room. As
he did so, the sick woman in the big armchair, so pale yet so splendid in
her death-beauty, raised herself up. With eyes that Francesca might have
turned to the vision of her fate, she looked at the opening door, as
though to learn if he who came was one she had wished to see through
long, relentless days.

"Jean Jacques--ah, my beautiful Jean Jacques!" she cried out presently in
a voice like a wisp of sound, for she had little breath; and then with a
smile she sank back, too late to hear, but not too late to know, what
Jean Jacques said to her.

     ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

     Being generous with other people's money
     I had to listen to him, and he had to pay me for listening
     Law. It is expensive whether you win or lose
     Protest that it is right when it knows that it is wrong



THE MONEY MASTER

By Gilbert Parker
EPOCH THE FIFTH

     XXII.   BELLS OF MEMORY
     XXIII.  JEAN JACQUES HAS WORK TO DO
     XXIV.   JEAN JACQUES ENCAMPED.
     XXV.    WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE

     EPILOGUE



CHAPTER XXII

BELLS OF MEMORY

However far Jean Jacques went, however long the day since leaving the
Manor Cartier, he could not escape the signals from his past. He heard
more than once the bells of memory ringing at the touch of the invisible
hand of Destiny which accepts no philosophy save its own. At Montreal,
for one hallowed instant, he had regained his lost Carmen, but he had
turned from her grave--the only mourners being himself, Mme. Glozel and
Mme. Popincourt, together with a barber who had coiffed her wonderful
hair once a week--with a strange burning at his heart. That iceberg which
most mourners carry in their breasts was not his, as he walked down the
mountainside from Carmen's grave. Behind him trotted Mme. Glozel and Mme.
Popincourt, like little magpies, attendants on this eagle of sorrow whose
life-love had been laid to rest, her heart-troubles over. Passion or
ennui would no more vex her.

She had had a soul, had Carmen Dolores, though she had never known it
till her days closed in on her, and from the dusk she looked out of the
casements of life to such a glowing as Jean Jacques had seen when his
burning mill beatified the evening sky. She had known passion and vivid
life in the days when she went hand-in-hand with Carvillho Gonzales
through the gardens of Granada; she had known the smothering
home-sickness which does not alone mean being sick for a distant home,
but a sickness of the home that is; and she had known what George Masson
gave her for one thrilling hour, and then--then the man who left her in
her death-year, taking not only the last thread of hope which held her to
life. This vulture had taken also little things dear to her daily life,
such as the ring Carvillho Gonzales had given her long ago in Cadiz, also
another ring, a gift of Jean Jacques, and things less valuable to her,
such as money, for which she knew surely she would have no long use.

As she lay waiting for the day when she must go from the garish scene,
she unconsciously took stock of life in her own way. There intruded on
her sight the stages of the theatres where she had played and danced, and
she heard again the music of the paloma and those other Spanish airs
which had made the world dance under her girl's feet long ago. At first
she kept seeing the faces of thousands looking up at her from the stalls,
down at her from the gallery, over at her from the boxes; and the hot
breath of that excitement smote her face with a drunken odour that sent
her mad. Then, alas! somehow, as disease took hold of her, there were the
colder lights, the colder breath from the few who applauded so little.
And always the man who had left her in her day of direst need; who had
had the last warm fires of her life, the last brief outrush of her soul,
eager as it was for a joy which would prove she had not lost all when she
fled from the Manor Cartier--a joy which would make her forget!

What she really did feel in this last adventure of passion only made her
remember the more when she was alone now, her life at the Manor Cartier.
She was wont to wake up suddenly in the morning--the very early
morning--with the imagined sound of the gold Cock of Beaugard crowing in
her ears. Memory, memory, memory--yet never a word, and never a hearsay
of what had happened at the Manor Cartier since she had left it! Then
there came a time when she longed intensely to see Jean Jacques before
she died, though she could not bring herself to send word to him. She
dreaded what the answer might be--not Jean Jacques' answer, but the answer
of Life. Jean Jacques and her child, her Zoe--more his than hers in years
gone by--one or both might be dead! She dared not write, but she
cherished a desire long denied. Then one day she saw everything in her
life more clearly than she had ever done. She found an old book of French
verse, once belonging to Mme. Popincourt's husband, who had been a
professor. Some lines therein opened up a chamber of her being never
before unlocked. At first only the feeling of the thing came, then slowly
the spiritual meaning possessed her. She learnt it by heart and let it
sing to her as she lay half-sleeping and half-waking, half-living and
half-dying:

     "There is a World; men compass it through tears,
     Dare doom for joy of it; it called me o'er the foam;
     I found it down the track of sundering years,
     Beyond the long island where the sea steals home.

     "A land that triumphs over shame and pain,
     Penitence and passion and the parting breath,
     Over the former and the latter rain,
     The birth-morn fire and the frost of death.

     "From its safe shores the white boats ride away,
     Salving the wreckage of the portless ships
     The light desires of the amorous day,
     The wayward, wanton wastage of the lips.

     "Star-mist and music and the pensive moon
     These when I harboured at that perfumed shore;
     And then, how soon! the radiance of noon,
     And faces of dear children at the door.

     "Land of the Greater Love--men call it this;
     No light-o'-love sets here an ambuscade;
     No tender torture of the secret kiss
     Makes sick the spirit and the soul afraid.

     "Bright bowers and the anthems of the free,
     The lovers absolute--ah, hear the call!
     Beyond the long island and the sheltering sea,
     That World I found which holds my world in thrall.

     "There is a World; men compass it through tears,
     Dare doom for joy of it; it called me o'er the foam;
     I found it down the track of sundering years,
     Beyond the long island where the sea steals home."

At last the inner thought of it got into her heart, and then it was in
reply to Mme. Glozel, who asked her where her home was, she said: "In
Heaven, but I did not know it!" And thus it was, too, that at the very
last, when Jean Jacques followed the singing bird into her death-chamber,
she cried out, "Ah, my beautiful Jean Jacques!"

And because Jean Jacques knew that, at the last, she had been his, soul
and body, he went down from the mountain-side, the two black magpies
fluttering mournfully and yet hopefully behind him, with more warmth at
his heart than he had known for years. It never occurred to him that the
two elderly magpies would jointly or severally have given the rest of
their lives and their scant fortunes to have him with them either as
husband, or as one who honourably hires a home at so much a day.

Though Jean Jacques did not know this last fact, when he fared forth
again he left behind his canary with Mme. Glozel; also all Carmen's
clothes, except the dress she died in, he gave to Mme. Popincourt, on
condition that she did not wear them till he had gone. The dress in which
Carmen died he wrapped up carefully, with her few jewels and her
wedding-ring, and gave the parcel to Mme. Glozel to care for till he
should send for it or come again.

"The bird--take him on my birthday to sing at her grave," he said to Mme.
Glozel just before he went West. "It is in summer, my birthday, and you
shall hear how he will sing there," he added in a low voice at the very
door. Then he took out a ten-dollar bill, and would have given it to her
to do this thing for him; but she would have none of his money. She only
wiped her eyes and deplored his going, and said that if ever he wanted a
home, and she was alive, he would know where to find it. It sounded and
looked sentimental, yet Jean Jacques was never less sentimental in a very
sentimental life. This particular morning he was very quiet and grave,
and not in the least agitated; he spoke like one from a friendly,
sun-bright distance to Mme. Glozel, and also to Mme. Popincourt as he
passed her at the door of her house.

Jean Jacques had no elation as he took the Western trail; there was not
much hope in his voice; but there was purpose and there was a little
stream of peace flowing through his being--and also, mark, a stream of
anger tumbling over rough places. He had read two letters addressed to
Carmen by the man--Hugo Stolphe--who had left her to her fate; and there
was a grim devouring thing in him which would break loose, if ever the
man crossed his path. He would not go hunting him, but if he passed him
or met him on the way--! Still he would go hunting--to find his
Carmencita, his little Carmen, his Zoe whom he had unwittingly, God knew!
driven forth into the far world of the millions of acres--a wide, wide
hunting-ground in good sooth.

So he left his beloved province where he no longer had a home, and though
no letters came to him from St. Saviour's, from Vilray or the Manor
Cartier, yet he heard the bells of memory when the Hand Invisible
arrested his footsteps. One day these bells rang so loud that he would
have heard them were he sunk in the world's deepest well of shame; but,
as it was, he now marched on hills far higher than the passes through the
mountains which his patchwork philosophy had ever provided.

It was in the town of Shilah on the Watloon River that the bells boomed
out--not because he had encountered one he had ever known far down by the
Beau Cheval, or in his glorious province, not because he had found his
Zoe, but because a man, the man--not George Masson, but the other--met
him in the way.

Shilah was a place to which, almost unconsciously, he had deviated his
course, because once Virginie Poucette had read him a letter from there.
That was in the office of the little Clerk of the Court at Vilray. The
letter was from Virginie's sister at Shilah, and told him that Zoe and
her husband had gone away into farther fields of homelessness. Thus it
was that Shilah ever seemed to him, as he worked West, a goal in his
quest--not the last goal perhaps, but a goal.

He had been far past it by another route, up, up and out into the more
scattered settlements, and now at last he had come to it again, having
completed a kind of circle. As he entered it, the past crowded on to him
with a hundred pictures. Shilah--it was where Virginie Poucette's sister
lived; and Virginie had been a part of the great revelation of his life
at St. Saviour's.

As he was walking by the riverside at Shilah, a woman spoke to him,
touching his arm as she did so. He was in a deep dream as she spoke, but
there certainly was a look in her face that reminded him of someone
belonging to the old life. For an instant he could not remember. For a
moment he did not even realize that he was at Shilah. His meditation had
almost been a trance, and it took him time to adjust himself to the
knowledge of the conscious mind. His subconsciousness was very powerfully
alive in these days. There was not the same ceaselessly active eye, nor
the vibration of the impatient body which belonged to the money-master
and miller of the Manor Cartier. Yet the eye had more depth and force,
and the body was more powerful and vigorous than it had ever been. The
long tramping, the everlasting trail on false scents, the mental battling
with troubles past and present, had given a fortitude and vigour to the
body beyond what it had ever known. In spite of his homelessness and
pilgrim equipment he looked as though he had a home--far off. The eyes
did not smile; but the lips showed the goodness of his heart--and its
hardness too. Hardness had never been there in the old days. It was,
however, the hardness of resentment, and not of cruelty. It was not his
wife's or his daughter's flight that he resented, nor yet the loss of all
he had, nor the injury done him by Sebastian Dolores. No, his resentment
was against one he had never seen, but was now soon to see. As his mind
came back from the far places where it had been, and his eyes returned to
the concrete world, he saw what the woman recalled to him. It was--yes,
it was Virginie Poucette--the kind and beautiful Virginie--for her
goodness had made him remember her as beautiful, though indeed she was
but comely, like this woman who stayed him as he walked by the river.

"You are M'sieu' Jean Jacques Barbille?" she said questioningly.

"How did you know?" he asked. . . . "Is Virginie Poucette here?"

"Ah, you knew me from her?" she asked.

"There was something about her--and you have it also--and the look in the
eyes, and then the lips!" he replied.

Certainly they were quite wonderful, luxurious lips, and so shapely
too--like those of Virginie.

"But how did you know I was Jean Jacques Barbille?" he repeated.

"Well, then it is quite easy," she replied with a laugh almost like a
giggle, for she was quite as simple and primitive as her sister. "There
is a photographer at Vilray, and Virginie got one of your pictures there,
and sent, it to me. 'He may come your way,' said Virginie to me, 'and if
he does, do not forget that he is my friend.'"

"That she is my friend," corrected Jean Jacques. "And what a
friend--merci, what a friend!" Suddenly he caught the woman's arm. "You
once wrote to your sister about my Zoe, my daughter, that married and ran
away--"

"That ran away and got married," she interrupted.

"Is there any more news--tell me, do you know-?"

But Virginie's sister shook her head. "Only once since I wrote Virginie
have I heard, and then the two poor children--but how helpless they were,
clinging to each other so! Well, then, once I heard from Faragay, but
that was much more than a year ago. Nothing since, and they were going
on--on to Fort Providence to spend the winter--for his health--his
lungs."

"What to do--on what to live?" moaned Jean Jacques.

"His grandmother sent him a thousand dollars, so your Madame Zoe wrote
me."

Jean Jacques raised a hand with a gesture of emotion. "Ah, the blessed
woman! May there be no purgatory for her, but Heaven at once and always!"

"Come home with me--where are your things?" she asked.

"I have only a knapsack," he replied. "It is not far from here. But I
cannot stay with you. I have no claim. No, I will not, for--"

"As to that, we keep a tavern," she returned. "You can come the same as
the rest of the world. The company is mixed, but there it is. You needn't
eat off the same plate, as they say in Quebec."

Quebec! He looked at her with the face of one who saw a vision. How like
Virginie Poucette--the brave, generous Virginie--how like she was!

In silence now he went with her, and seeing his mood she did not talk to
him. People stared as they walked along, for his dress was curious and
his head was bare, and his hair like the coat of a young lion. Besides,
this woman was, in her way, as brave and as generous as Virginie
Poucette. In the very doorway of the tavern by the river a man jostled
them. He did not apologize. He only leered. It made his foreign-looking,
coarsely handsome face detestable.

"Pig!" exclaimed Virginie Poucette's sister. "That's a man--well, look
out! There's trouble brewing for him. If he only knew! If suspicion comes
out right and it's proved--well, there, he'll jostle the door-jamb of a
jail."

Jean Jacques stared after the man, and somehow every nerve in his body
became angry. He had all at once a sense of hatred. He shook the shoulder
against which the man had collided. He remembered the leer on the
insolent, handsome face.

"I'd like to see him thrown into the river," said Virginie Poucette's
sister. "We have a nice girl here--come from Ireland--as good as can be.
Well, last night--but there, she oughtn't to have let him speak to her.
'A kiss is nothing,' he said. Well, if he kissed me I would kill him--if
I didn't vomit myself to death first. He's a mongrel--a South American
mongrel with nigger blood."

Jean Jacques kept looking after the man. "Why don't you turn him out?" he
asked sharply.

"He's going away to-morrow anyhow," she replied. "Besides, the girl,
she's so ashamed--and she doesn't want anyone to know. 'Who'd want to
kiss me after him' she said, and so he stays till to-morrow. He's not in
the tavern itself, but in the little annex next door-there, where he's
going now. He's only had his meals here, though the annex belongs to us
as well. He's alone there on his dung-hill."

She brought Jean Jacques into a room that overlooked the river--which,
indeed, hung on its very brink. From the steps at its river-door, a
little ferry-boat took people to the other side of the Watloon, and very
near--just a few hand-breadths away--was the annex where was the man who
had jostled Jean Jacques.



CHAPTER XXIII

JEAN JACQUES HAS WORK TO DO

A single lighted lamp, turned low, was suspended from the ceiling of the
raftered room, and through the open doorway which gave on to a little
wooden piazza with a slight railing and small, shaky gate came the swish
of the Watloon River. No moon was visible, but the stars were radiant and
alive--trembling with life. There was something soothing, something
endlessly soothing in the sound of the river. It suggested the ceaseless
movement of life to the final fulness thereof.

So still was the room that it might have seemed to be without life, were
it not for a faint sound of breathing. The bed, however, was empty, and
no chair was occupied; but on a settle in a corner beside an unused
fireplace sat a man, now with hands clasped between his knees, again with
arms folded across his breast; but with his head always in a listening
attitude. The whole figure suggested suspense, vigilance and
preparedness. The man had taken off his boots and stockings, and his bare
feet seemed to grip the floor; also the sleeves of his jacket were rolled
up a little. It was not a figure you would wish to see in your room at
midnight unasked. Once or twice he sighed heavily, as he listened to the
river slishing past and looked out to the sparkle of the skies. It was as
though the infinite had drawn near to the man, or else that the man had
drawn near to the infinite. Now and again he brought his fists down on
his knees with a savage, though noiseless, force. The peace of the river
and the night could not contend successfully against a dark spirit
working in him. When, during his vigil, he shook his shaggy head and his
lips opened on his set teeth, he seemed like one who would take toll at a
gateway of forbidden things.

He started to his feet at last, hearing footsteps outside upon the
stairs. Then he settled back again, drawing near to the chimney-wall, so
that he should not be easily seen by anyone entering. Presently there was
the click of a latch, then the door opened and shut, and cigar-smoke
invaded the room. An instant later a hand went up to the suspended
oil-lamp and twisted the wick into brighter flame. As it did so, there
was a slight noise, then the click of a lock. Turning sharply, the man
under the lamp saw at the door the man who had been sitting in the
corner. The man had a key in his hand. Exit now could only be had through
the door opening on to the river.

"Who are you? What the hell do you want here?" asked the fellow under the
lamp, his swarthy face drawn with fear and yet frowning with anger.

"Me--I am Jean Jacques Barbille," said the other in French, putting the
key of the door in his pocket. The other replied in French, with a
Spanish-English accent. "Barbille--Carmen's husband! Well, who would have
thought--!"

He ended with a laugh not pleasant to hear, for it was coarse with
sardonic mirth; yet it had also an unreasonable apprehension; for why
should he fear the husband of the woman who had done that husband such an
injury!

"She treated you pretty bad, didn't she--not much heart, had Carmen!" he
added.

"Sit down. I want to talk to you," said Jean Jacques, motioning to two
chairs by a table at the side of the room. This table was in the middle
of the room when the man under the lamp-Hugo Stolphe was his name--had
left it last. Why had the table been moved?

"Why should I sit down, and what are you doing here?--I want to know
that," Stolphe demanded. Jean Jacques' hands were opening and shutting.
"Because I want to talk to you. If you don't sit down, I'll give you no
chance at all. . . . Sit down!" Jean Jacques was smaller than Stolphe,
but he was all whipcord and leather; the other was sleek and soft, but
powerful too; and he had one of those savage natures which go blind with
hatred, and which fight like beasts. He glanced swiftly round the room.

"There is no weapon here," said Jean Jacques, nodding. "I have put
everything away--so you could not hurt me if you wanted. . . . Sit down!"

To gain time Stolphe sat down, for he had a fear that Jean Jacques was
armed, and might be a madman armed--there were his feet bare on the brown
painted boards. They looked so strange, so uncanny. He surely must be a
madman if he wanted to do harm to Hugo Stolphe; for Hugo Stolphe had only
"kept" the woman who had left her husband, not because of himself, but
because of another man altogether--one George Masson. Had not Carmen
herself told him that before she and he lived together? What grudge could
Carmen's husband have against Hugo Stolphe?

Jean Jacques sat down also, and, leaning on the table said: "Once I was a
fool and let the other man escape-George Masson it was. Because of what
he did, my wife left me."

His voice became husky, but he shook his throat, as it were, cleared it,
and went on. "I won't let you go. I was going to kill George Masson--I
had him like that!" He opened and shut his hand with a gesture of fierce
possession. "But I did not kill him. I let him go. He was so
clever--cleverer than you will know how to be. She said to me--my wife
said to me, when she thought I had killed him, 'Why did you not fight
him? Any man would have fought him.' That was her view. She was
right--not to kill without fighting. That is why I did not kill you at
once when I knew."

"When you knew what?" Stolphe was staring at the madman.

"When I knew you were you. First I saw that ring--that ring on your hand.
It was my wife's. I gave it to her the first New Year after we married. I
saw it on your hand when you were drinking at the bar next door. Then I
asked them your name. I knew it. I had read your letters to my wife--"

"Your wife once on a time!"

Jean Jacques' eyes swam red. "My wife always and always--and at the last
there in my arms." Stolphe temporized. "I never knew you. She did not
leave you because of me. She came to me because--because I was there for
her to come to, and you weren't there. Why do you want to do me any
harm?" He still must be careful, for undoubtedly the man was mad--his
eyes were too bright.

"You were the death of her," answered Jean Jacques, leaning forward. "She
was most ill-ah, who would not have been sorry for her! She was poor. She
had been to you--but to live with a woman day by day, but to be by her
side when the days are done, and then one morning to say, 'Au revoir till
supper' and then go and never come back, and to take money and rings that
belonged to her! . . . That was her death--that was the end of Carmen
Barbille; and it was your fault."

"You would do me harm and not hurt her! Look how she treated you--and
others."

Jean Jacques half rose from his seat in sudden rage, but he restrained
himself, and sat down again. "She had one husband--only one. It was Jean
Jacques Barbille. She could only treat one as she treated me--me, her
husband. But you, what had you to do with that! You used her--so!" He
made a motion as though to stamp out an insect with his foot. "Beautiful,
a genius, sick and alone--no husband, no child, and you used her so! That
is why I shall kill you to-night. We will fight for it."

Yes, but surely the man was mad, and the thing to do was to humour him,
to gain time. To humour a madman--that is what one always advised,
therefore Stolphe would make the pourparler, as the French say.

"Well, that's all right," he rejoined, "but how is it going to be done?
Have you got a pistol?" He thought he was very clever, and that he would
now see whether Jean Jacques Barbille was armed. If he was not armed,
well, then, there would be the chances in his favour; it wasn't easy to
kill with hands alone.

Jean Jacques ignored the question, however. He waved a hand impatiently,
as though to dismiss it. "She was beautiful and splendid; she had been a
queen down there in Quebec. You lied to her, and she was blind at
first--I can see it all. She believed so easily--but yes, always! There
she was what she was, and you were what you are, not a Frenchman, not
Catholic, and an American--no, not an American--a South American. But no,
not quite a South American, for there was the Portuguese nigger in
you--Sit down!"

Jean Jacques was on his feet bending over the enraged mongrel. He had
spoken the truth, and Carmen's last lover had been stung as though a
serpent's tooth was in his flesh. Of all things that could be said about
him, that which Jean Jacques said was the worst--that he was not all
white, that he had nigger blood! Yet it was true; and he realized that
Jean Jacques must have got his information in Shilah itself where he had
been charged with it. Yet, raging as he was, and ready to take the Johnny
Crapaud--that is the name by which he had always called Carmen's
husband--by the throat, he was not yet sure that Jean Jacques was
unarmed. He sat still under an anger greater than his own, for there was
in it that fanaticism which only the love or hate of a woman could breed
in a man's mind.

Suddenly Stolphe laughed outright, a crackling, mirthless, ironical
laugh; for it really was absurdity made sublime that this man, who had
been abandoned by his wife, should now want to kill one who had abandoned
her! This outdid Don Quixote over and over.

"Well, what do you want?" he asked.

"I want you to fight," said Jean Jacques. "That is the way. That was
Carmen's view. You shall have your chance to live, but I shall throw you
in the river, and you can then fight the river. The current is swift, the
banks are steep and high as a house down below there. Now, I am
ready . . . !"

He had need to be, for Stolphe was quick, kicking the chair from beneath
him, and throwing himself heavily on Jean Jacques. He had had his day at
that in South America, and as Jean Jacques Barbille had said, the water
was swift and deep, and the banks of the Watloon high and steep!

But Jean Jacques was unconscious of everything save a debt to be
collected for a woman he had loved, a compensation which must be taken in
flesh and blood. Perhaps at the moment, as Stolphe had said to himself,
he was a little mad, for all his past, all his plundered, squandered,
spoiled life was crying out at him like a hundred ghosts, and he was
fighting with beasts at Ephesus. An exaltation possessed him. Not since
the day when his hand was on the lever of the flume with George Masson
below; not since the day he had turned his back for ever on the Manor
Cartier had he been so young and so much his old self-an egotist, with
all the blind confidence of his kind; a dreamer inflamed into action with
all a mad dreamer's wild power. He was not fifty-two years of age, but
thirty-two at this moment, and all the knowledge got of the wrestling
river-drivers of his boyhood, when he had spent hours by the river
struggling with river-champions, came back to him. It was a relief to his
sick soul to wrench and strain, and propel and twist and force onward,
step by step, to the door opening on the river, this creature who had
left his Carmen to die alone.

"No, you don't--not yet. The jail before the river!" called a cool,
sharp, sour voice; and on the edge of the trembling platform overhanging
the river, Hugo Stolphe was dragged back from the plunge downward he was
about to take, with Jean Jacques' hand at his throat.

Stolphe had heard the door of the bedroom forced, but Jean Jacques had
not heard it; he was only conscious of hands dragging him back just at
the moment of Stolphe's deadly peril.

"What is it?" asked Jean Jacques, seeing Stolphe in the hands of two men,
and hearing the snap of steel. "Wanted for firing a house for
insurance--wanted for falsifying the accounts of a Land Company--wanted
for his own good, Mr. Hugo Stolphe, C.O.D.--collect on delivery!" said
the officer of the law. "And collected just in time!"

"We didn't mean to take him till to-morrow," the officer added, "but out
on the river one of us saw this gladiator business here in the red-light
zone, and there wasn't any time to lose. . . . I don't know what your
business with him was," the long-moustached detective said to Jean
Jacques, "but whatever the grudge is, if you don't want to appear in
court in the morning, the walking's good out of town night or day--so
long!"

He hustled his prisoner out.

Jean Jacques did not want to appear in court, and as the walking was
officially good at dawn, he said good-bye to Virginie Poucette's sister
through the crack of a door, and was gone before she could restrain him.

"Well, things happen that way," he said, as he turned back to look at
Shilah before it disappeared from view.

"Ah, the poor, handsome vaurien!" the woman at the tavern kept saying to
her husband all that day; and she could not rest till she had written to
Virginie how Jean Jacques came to Shilah in the evening, and went with
the dawn.



CHAPTER XXIV

JEAN JACQUES ENCAMPED

The Young Doctor of Askatoon had a good heart, and he was exercising it
honourably one winter's day near three years after Jean Jacques had left
St. Saviour's.

"There are many French Canadians working on the railway now, and a good
many habitant farmers live hereabouts, and they have plenty of
children--why not stay here and teach school? You are a Catholic, of
course, monsieur?"

This is what the Young Doctor said to one who had been under his anxious
care for a few, vivid days. The little brown-bearded man with the
grey-brown hair nodded in reply, but his gaze was on the billowing waste
of snow, which stretched as far as eye could see to the pine-hills in the
far distance. He nodded assent, but it was plain to be seen that the
Young Doctor's suggestion was not in tune with his thought. His nod only
acknowledged the reasonableness of the proposal. In his eyes, however,
was the wanderlust which had possessed him for three long years, in which
he had been searching for what to him was more than Eldorado, for it was
hope and home. Hope was all he had left of the assets which had made him
so great a figure--as he once thought--in his native parish of St.
Saviour's. It was his fixed idea--une idee fixe, as he himself said.
Lands, mills, manor, lime-kilns, factories, store, all were gone, and his
wife Carmen also was gone. He had buried her with simple magnificence in
Montreal--Mme. Glozel had said to her neighbours afterwards that the
funeral cost over seventy-five dollars--and had set up a stone to her
memory on which was carved, "Chez nous autrefois, et chez Dieu
maintenant"--which was to say, "Our home once, and God's Home now."

That done, with a sorrow which still had the peace of finality in his
mind, he had turned his face to the West. His long, long sojourning had
brought him to Shilah where a new chapter of his life was closed, and at
last to Askatoon, where another chapter still closed an epoch in his
life, and gave finality to all. There he had been taken down with
congestion of the lungs, and, fainting at the door of a drug-store, had
been taken possession of by the Young Doctor, who would not send him to
the hospital. He would not send him there because he found inside the
waistcoat of this cleanest tramp--if he was a tramp--that he had ever
seen, a book of philosophy, the daguerreotype photo of a beautiful
foreign-looking woman, and some verses in a child's handwriting. The book
of philosophy was underlined and interlined on every page, and every
margin had comment which showed a mind of the most singular simplicity,
searching wisdom, and hopeless confusion, all in one.

The Young Doctor was a man of decision, and he had whisked the little
brown-grey sufferer to his own home, and tended him there like a brother
till the danger disappeared; and behold he was rewarded for his humanity
by as quaint an experience as he had ever known. He had not
succeeded--though he tried hard--in getting at the history of his
patient's life; but he did succeed in reading the fascinating story of a
mind; for Jean Jacques, if not so voluble as of yore, had still moments
when he seemed to hypnotize himself, and his thoughts were alive in an
atmosphere of intellectual passion ill in accord with his condition.

Presently the little brown man withdrew his eyes from the window of the
Young Doctor's office and the snowy waste beyond. They had a curious red
underglow which had first come to them an evening long ago, when they
caught from the sky the reflection of a burning mill. There was distance
and the far thing in that underglow of his eyes. It had to do with the
horizon, not with the place where his feet were. It said, "Out there,
beyond, is what I go to seek, what I must find, what will be home to me."

"Well, I must be getting on," he said in a low voice to the Young Doctor,
ignoring the question which had been asked.

"If you want work, there's work to be had here, as I said," responded the
Young Doctor. "You are a man of education--"

"How do you know that?" asked Jean Jacques.

"I hear you speak," answered the other, and then Jean Jacques drew
himself up and threw back his head. He had ever loved appreciation, not
to say flattery, and he had had very little of it lately.

"I was at Laval," he remarked with a flash of pride. "No degree, but a
year there, and travel abroad--the Grand Tour, and in good style, with
plenty to do it with. Oh, certainly, no thought for sous, hardly for
francs! It was gold louis abroad and silver dollars at home--that was the
standard."

"The dollars are much scarcer now, eh?" asked the Young Doctor
quizzically.

"I should think I had just enough to pay you," said the other, bridling
up suddenly; for it seemed to him the Young Doctor had become ironical
and mocking; and though he had been mocked much in his day, there were
times when it was not easy to endure it.

The truth is the Young Doctor was somewhat of an expert in human nature,
and he deeply wanted to know the history of this wandering habitant,
because he had a great compassionate liking for him. If he could get the
little man excited, he might be able to find out what he wanted. During
the days in which the wanderer had been in his house, he had been far
from silent, for he joked at his own suffering and kept the housekeeper
laughing at his whimsical remarks; while he won her heart by the
extraordinary cleanliness of his threadbare clothes, and the perfect
order of his scantily-furnished knapsack. It had the exactness of one who
was set upon a far course and would carry it out on scientific
calculation. He had been full of mocking quips and sallies at himself,
but from first to last he never talked. The things he said were nothing
more than surface sounds, as it were--the ejaculations of a mind, not its
language or its meanings.

"He's had some strange history, this queer little man," said the
housekeeper to the Young Doctor; "and I'd like to know what it is. Why,
we don't even know his name."

"So would I," rejoined the Young Doctor, "and I'll have a good try for
it."

He had had his try more than once, but it had not succeeded. Perhaps a
little torture would do it, he thought; and so he had made the rather
tactless remark about the scarcity of dollars. Also his look was
incredulous when Jean Jacques protested that he had enough to pay the
fee.

"When you searched me you forgot to look in the right place," continued
Jean Jacques; and he drew from the lining of the hat he held in his hand
a little bundle of ten-dollar bills. "Here--take your pay from them," he
said, and held out the roll of bills. "I suppose it won't be more than
four dollars a day; and there's enough, I think. I can't pay you for your
kindness to me, and I don't want to. I'd like to owe you that; and it's a
good thing for a man himself to be owed kindness. He remembers it when he
gets older. It helps him to forgive himself more or less for what he's
sorry for in life. I've enough in this bunch to pay for board and
professional attendance, or else the price has gone up since I had a
doctor before."

He laughed now, and the laugh was half-ironical, half-protesting. It
seemed to come from the well of a hidden past; and no past that is hidden
has ever been a happy past.

The Young Doctor took the bills, looked at them as though they were
curios, and then returned them with the remark that they were of a kind
and denomination of no use to him. There was a twinkle in his eye as he
said it. Then he added:

"I agree with you that it's a good thing for a man to lay up a little
credit of kindness here and there for his old age. Well, anything I did
for you was meant for kindness and nothing else. You weren't a bit of
trouble, and it was simply your good constitution and a warm room and a
few fly-blisters that pulled you through. It wasn't any skill of mine. Go
and thank my housekeeper if you like. She did it all."

"I did my best to thank her," answered Jean Jacques. "I said she reminded
me of Virginie Palass Poucette, and I could say nothing better than that,
except one thing; and I'm not saying that to anybody."

The Young Doctor had a thrill. Here was a very unusual man, with mystery
and tragedy, and yet something above both, in his eyes.

"Who was Virginie Palass Poucette?" he asked. Jean Jacques threw out a
hand as though to say, "Attend--here is a great thing," and he began,
"Virginie Poucette--ah, there . . . !"

Then he paused, for suddenly there spread out before him that past, now
so far away, in which he had lived--and died. Strange that when he had
mentioned Virginie's name to the housekeeper he had no such feeling as
possessed him now. It had been on the surface, and he had used her name
without any deep stir of the waters far down in his soul. But the Young
Doctor was fingering the doors of his inner life--all at once this
conviction came to him--and the past rushed upon him with all its
disarray and ignominy, its sorrow, joy, elation and loss. Not since he
had left the scene of his defeat, not since the farewell to his dead
Carmen, that sweet summer day when he had put the lovely, ruined being
away with her words, "Jean Jacques--ah, my beautiful Jean Jacques,"
ringing in his ears, had he ever told anyone his story. He had had a
feeling that, as Carmen had been restored to him without his crying out,
or vexing others with his sad history, so would Zoe also come back to
him. Patience and silence was his motto.

Yet how was it that here and now there came an overpowering feeling, that
he must tell this healer of sick bodies the story of an invalid soul?
This man with the piercing dark-blue eyes before him, who looked so
resolute, who had the air of one who could say,

"This is the way to go," because he knew and was sure; he was not to be
denied.

"Who was Virginie Poucette?" repeated the Young Doctor insistently, yet
ever so gently. "Was she such a prize among women? What did she do?"

A flood of feeling passed over Jean Jacques' face. He looked at his hat
and his knapsack lying in a chair, with a desire to seize them and fly
from the inquisitor; then a sense of fatalism came upon him. As though he
had received an order from within his soul, he said helplessly:

"Well, if it must be, it must."

Then he swept the knapsack and his hat from the chair to the floor, and
sat down.

"I will begin at the beginning," he said with his eyes fixed on those of
the Young Doctor, yet looking beyond him to far-off things. "I will start
from the time when I used to watch the gold Cock of Beaugard turning on
the mill, when I sat in the doorway of the Manor Cartier in my pinafore.
I don't know why I tell you, but maybe it was meant I should. I obey
conviction. While you are able to keep logic and conviction hand in hand
then everything is all right. I have found that out. Logic, philosophy
are the props of life, but still you must obey the impulse of the
soul--oh, absolutely! You must--"

He stopped short. "But it will seem strange to you," he added after a
moment, in which the Young Doctor gestured to him to proceed, "to hear me
talk like this--a wayfarer--a vagabond you may think. But in other days I
was in places--"

The Young Doctor interjected with abrupt friendliness that there was no
need to say he had been in high places. It would still be apparent, if he
were in rags.

"Then, there, I will speak freely," rejoined Jean Jacques, and he took
the cherry-brandy which the other offered him, and drank it off with
gusto.

"Ah, that--that," he said, "is like the cordials Mere Langlois used to
sell at Vilray. She and Virginie Poucette had a place together on the
market--none better than Mere Langlois except Virginie Poucette, and she
was like a drink of water in the desert. . . . Well, there, I will begin.
Now my father was--"

It was lucky there were no calls for the Young Doctor that particular
early morning, else the course of Jean Jacques' life might have been
greatly different from what it became. He was able to tell his story from
the very first to the last. Had it been interrupted or unfinished one
name might not have been mentioned. When Jean Jacques used it, the Young
Doctor sat up and leaned forward eagerly, while a light came into his
face-a light of surprise, of revelation and understanding.

When Jean Jacques came to that portion of his life when manifest tragedy
began--it began of course on the Antoine, but then it was not
manifest--when his Carmen left him after the terrible scene with George
Masson, he paused and said: "I don't know why I tell you this, for it is
not easy to tell; but you saved my life, and you have a right to know
what it is you have saved, no matter how hard it is to put it all before
you."

It was at this point that he mentioned Zoe's name--he had hitherto only
spoken of her as "my daughter"; and here it was the Young Doctor showed
startled interest, and repeated the name after Jean Jacques. "Zoe!
Zoe!--ah!" he said, and became silent again.

Jean Jacques had not noticed the Young Doctor's pregnant interruption, he
was so busy with his own memories of the past; and he brought the tale to
the day when he turned his face to the West to look for Zoe. Then he
paused.

"And then?" the Young Doctor asked. "There is more--there is the search
for Zoe ever since."

"What is there to say?" continued Jean Jacques. "I have searched till
now, and have not found."

"How have you lived?" asked the other.

"Keeping books in shops and factories, collecting accounts for
storekeepers, when they saw they could trust me, working at threshings
and harvests, teaching school here and there. Once I made fifty dollars
at a railway camp telling French Canadian tales and singing chansons
Canadiennes. I have been insurance agent, sold lightning-rods, and been
foreman of a gang building a mill--but I could not bear that. Every time
I looked up I could see the Cock of Beaugard where the roof should be.
And so on, so on, first one thing and then another till now--till I came
to Askatoon and fell down by the drug-store, and you played the good
Samaritan. So it goes, and I step on from here again, looking--looking."

"Wait till spring," said the Young Doctor. "What is the good of going on
now! You can only tramp to the next town, and--"

"And the next," interposed Jean Jacques. "But so it is my orders." He put
his hand on his heart, and gathered up his hat and knapsack.

"But you haven't searched here at Askatoon."

"Ah? . . . Ah-well, surely that is so," answered Jean Jacques wistfully.
"I had forgotten that. Perhaps you can tell me, you who know all. Have
you any news about my Zoe for me? Do you know--was she ever here? Madame
Gerard Fynes would be her name. My name is Jean Jacques Barbille."

"Madame Zoe was here, but she has gone," quietly answered the Young
Doctor.

Jean Jacques dropped the hat and the knapsack. His eyes had a glad, yet
staring and frightened look, for the Young Doctor's face was not the
bearer of good tidings.

"Zoe--my Zoe! You are sure? . . . When was she here?" he added huskily.

"A month ago."

"When did she go?" Jean Jacques' voice was almost a whisper.

"A month ago."

"Where did she go?" asked Jean Jacques, holding himself steady, for he
had a strange dreadful premonition.

"Out of all care at last," answered the Young Doctor, and took a step
towards the little man, who staggered, then recovered himself.

"She--my Zoe is dead! How?" questioned Jean Jacques in a ghostly sort of
voice, but there was a steadiness and control unlike what he had shown in
other tragic moments.

"It was a blizzard. She was bringing her husband's body in a sleigh to
the railway here. He had died of consumption. She and the driver of the
sleigh went down in the blizzard. Her body covered the child and saved
it. The driver was lost also."

"Her child--Zoe's child?" quavered Jean Jacques. "A little girl--Zoe. The
name was on her clothes. There were letters. One to her father--to you.
Your name is Jean Jacques Barbille, is it not? I have that letter to you.
We buried her and her husband in the graveyard yonder." He pointed.
"Everybody was there--even when they knew it was to be a Catholic
funeral."

"Ah! she was buried a Catholic?" Jean Jacques' voice was not quite so
blurred now.

"Yes. Her husband had become Catholic too. A priest who had met them in
the Peace River Country was here at the time."

At that, with a moan, Jean Jacques collapsed. He shed no tears, but he
sat with his hands between his knees, whispering his child's name.

The Young Doctor laid a hand on his shoulder gently, but presently went
out, shutting the door after him. As he left the room, however, he turned
and said, "Courage, Monsieur Jean Jacques! Courage!"

When the Young Doctor came back a half-hour later he had in his hand the
letters found in Zoe's pocket. "Monsieur Jean Jacques," he said gently to
the bowed figure still sitting as he left him.

Jean Jacques got up slowly and looked at him as though scarce
understanding where he was.

"The child--the child--where is my Zoe's child? Where is Zoe's Zoe?" he
asked in agitation. His whole body seemed to palpitate. His eyes were all
red fire.



CHAPTER XXV

WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE?

The Young Doctor did not answer Jean Jacques at once. As he looked at
this wayworn fugitive he knew that another, and perhaps the final crisis
of his life, was come to Jean Jacques Barbille, and the human pity in him
shrank from the possible end to it all. It was an old-world figure this,
with the face of a peasant troubadour and the carriage of an
aboriginal--or an aristocrat. Indeed, the ruin, the lonely wandering
which had been Jean Jacques' portion, had given him that dignity which
often comes to those who defy destiny and the blows of angry fate. Once
there had been in his carriage something jaunty. This was merely life and
energy and a little vain confidence; now there was the look of courage
which awaits the worst the world can do. The life which, according to the
world's logic, should have made Jean Jacques a miserable figure, an
ill-nourished vagabond, had given him a physical grace never before
possessed by him. The face, however, showed the ravages which loss and
sorrow had made. It was lined and shadowed with dark reflection, yet the
forehead had a strange smoothness and serenity little in accord with the
rest of the countenance. It was like the snow-summit of a mountain below
which are the ragged escarpments of trees and rocks, making a look of
storm and warfare.

"Where is she--the child of my Zoe?" Jean Jacques repeated with an almost
angry emphasis; as though the Young Doctor were hiding her from him.

"She is with the wife of Nolan Doyle, my partner in horse-breeding, not
very far from here. Norah Doyle was married five years, and she had no
child. This was a grief to her, even more than to Nolan, who, like her,
came of a stock that was prolific. It was Nolan who found your daughter
on the prairie--the driver dead, but she just alive when found. To give
her ease of mind, Nolan said he would make the child his own. When he
said that, she smiled and tried to speak, but it was too late, and she
was gone."

In sudden agony Jean Jacques threw up his hands. "So young and so soon to
be gone!" he exclaimed. "But a child she was and had scarce tasted the
world. The mercy of God--what is it!"

"You can't take time as the measure of life," rejoined the Young Doctor
with a compassionate gesture. "Perhaps she had her share of happiness--as
much as most of us get, maybe, in a longer course."

"Share! She was worth a hundred years of happiness!" bitterly retorted
Jean Jacques.

"Perhaps she knew her child would have it?" gently remarked the Young
Doctor.

"Ah, that--that! . . . Do you think that possible, m'sieu'? Tell me, do
you think that was in her mind--to have loved, and been a mother, and
given her life for the child, and then the bosom of God. Answer that to
me, m'sieu'?"

There was intense, poignant inquiry in Jean Jacques' face, and a light
seemed to play over it. The Young Doctor heeded the look and all that was
in the face. It was his mission to heal, and he knew that to heal the
mind was often more necessary than to heal the body. Here he would try to
heal the mind, if only in a little.

"That might well have been in her thought," he answered. "I saw her face.
It had a wonderful look of peace, and a smile that would reconcile anyone
she loved to her going. I thought of that when I looked at her. I recall
it now. It was the smile of understanding."

He had said the only thing which could have comforted Jean Jacques at
that moment. Perhaps it was meant to be that Zoe's child should represent
to him all that he had lost--home, fortune, place, Carmen and Zoe.
Perhaps she would be home again for him and all that home should mean--be
the promise of a day when home would again include that fled from Carmen,
and himself, and Carmen's child. Maybe it was sentiment in him, maybe it
was sentimentality--and maybe it was not.

"Come, m'sieu'," Jean Jacques said impatiently: "let us go to the house
of that M'sieu' Doyle. But first, mark this: I have in the West here some
land--three hundred and twenty acres. It may yet be to me a home, where I
shall begin once more with my Zoe's child--with my Zoe of Zoe--the
home-life I lost down by the Beau Cheval. . . . Let us go at once."

"Yes, at once," answered the Young Doctor. Yet his feet were laggard, for
he was not so sure that there would be another home for Jean Jacques with
his grandchild as its star. He was thinking of Norah, to whom a waif of
the prairie had made home what home should be for herself and Nolan
Doyle.

"Read these letters first," he said, and he put the letters found on Zoe
in Jean Jacques' eager hands.

A half-hour later, at the horse-breeding ranch, the Young Doctor
introduced Jean Jacques to Norah Doyle, and instantly left the house. He
had no wish to hear the interview which must take place between the two.
Nolan Doyle was not at home, but in the room where they were shown to
Norah was a cradle. Norah was rocking it with one foot while, standing by
the table, she busied herself with sewing.

The introduction was of the briefest. "Monsieur Barbille wishes a word
with you, Mrs. Doyle," said the Young Doctor. "It's a matter that doesn't
need me. Monsieur has been in my care, as you know. . . . Well, there, I
hope Nolan is all right. Tell him I'd like to see him to-morrow about the
bay stallion and the roans. I've had an offer for them.
Good-bye--good-bye, Mrs. Doyle"--he was at the door--"I hope you and
Monsieur Barbille will decide what's best for the child without
difficulty."

The door opened quickly and shut again, and Jean Jacques was alone with
the woman and the child. "What's best for the child!"

That was what the Young Doctor had said. Norah stopped rocking the cradle
and stared at the closed door. What had this man before her, this tramp
habitant of whom she had heard, of course, to do with little Zoe in the
cradle--her little Zoe who had come just when she was most needed; who
had brought her man and herself close together again after an
estrangement which neither had seemed able to prevent.

"What's best for the child!" How did the child in the cradle concern this
man? Then suddenly his name almost shrieked in her brain. Barbille--that
was the name on the letter found on the body of the woman who died and
left Zoe behind--M. Jean Jacques Barbille.

Yes, that was the name. What was going to happen? Did the man intend to
try and take Zoe from her?

"What is your name--all of it?" she asked sharply. She had a very fine
set of teeth, as Jean Jacques saw mechanically; and subconsciously he
said to himself that they seemed cruel, they were so white and
regular--and cruel. The cruelty was evident to him as she bit in two the
thread for the waistcoat she was mending, and then plied her needle
again. Also the needle in her fingers might have been intended to sew up
his shroud, so angry did it appear at the moment. But her teeth had
something almost savage about them. If he had seen them when she was
smiling, he would have thought them merely beautiful and rare, atoning
for her plain face and flat breast--not so flat as it had been; for since
the child had come into her life, her figure, strangely enough, had
rounded out, and lines never before seen in her contour appeared.

He braced himself for the contest he knew was at hand, and replied to
her. "My name is Jean Jacques Barbille. I was of the Manor Cartier, in
St. Saviour's parish, Quebec. The mother of the child Zoe, there, was
born at the Manor Cartier. I was her father. I am the grandfather of this
Zoe." He motioned towards the cradle.

Then, with an impulse he could not check and did not seek to check--why
should he? was not the child his own by every right?--he went to the
cradle and looked down at the tiny face on its white pillow. There could
be no mistake about it; here was the face of his lost Zoe, with
something, too, of Carmen, and also the forehead of the Barbilles. As
though the child knew, it opened its eyes wide-big, brown eyes like those
of Carmen Dolores.

"Ah, the beautiful, beloved thing!" he exclaimed in a low-voice, ere
Norah stepped between and almost pushed him back. An outstretched arm in
front of her prevented him from stooping to kiss the child. "Stand back.
The child must not be waked," she said. "It must sleep another hour. It
has its milk at twelve o'clock. Stand aside. I won't have my child
disturbed."

"Have my child disturbed"--that was what she had said, and Jean Jacques
realized what he had to overbear. Here was the thing which must be fought
out at once.

"The child is not yours, but mine," he declared. "Here is proof--the
letter found on my Zoe when she died--addressed to me. The doctor knew.
There is no mistake."

He held out the letter for her to see. "As you can read here, my daughter
was on her way back to the Manor Cartier, to her old home at St.
Saviour's. She was on her way back when she died. If she had lived I
should have had them both; but one is left, according to the will of God.
And so I will take her--this flower of the prairie--and begin life
again."

The face Norah turned on him had that look which is in the face of an
animal, when its young is being forced from it--fierce, hungering,
furtive, vicious.

"The child is mine," she exclaimed--"mine and no other's. The prairie
gave it to me. It came to me out of the storm. 'Tis mine-mine only. I was
barren and wantin', and my man was slippin' from me, because there was
only two of us in our home. I was older than him, and yonder was a girl
with hair like a sheaf of wheat in the sun, and she kept lookin' at him,
and he kept goin' to her. 'Twas a man she wanted, 'twas a child he
wanted, and there they were wantin', and me atin' my heart out with
passion and pride and shame and sorrow. There was he wantin' a child, and
the girl wantin' a man, and I only wantin' what God should grant all
women that give themselves to a man's arms after the priest has blessed
them. And whin all was at the worst, and it looked as if he was away with
her--the girl yonder--then two things happened. A man--he was me own
brother and a millionaire if I do say it--he took her and married her;
and then, too, Heaven's will sent this child's mother to her last end and
the child itself to my Nolan's arms. To my husband's arms first it came,
you understand; and he give the child to me, as it should be, and said
he, 'We'll make believe it is our own.' But I said to him, 'There's no
make-believe. 'Tis mine. 'Tis mine. It came to me out of the storm from
the hand of God.' And so it was and is; and all's well here in the home,
praise be to God. And listen to me: you'll not come here to take the
child away from me. It can't be done. I'll not have it. Yes, you can let
that sink down into you--I'll not have it."

During her passionate and defiant appeal Jean Jacques was restless with
the old unrest of years ago, and his face twitched with emotion; but
before she had finished he had himself in some sort of control.

"You--madame, you are only thinking of yourself in this. You are only
thinking what you want, what you and your man need. But it's not to be
looked at that way only, and--"

"Well, then it isn't to be looked at that way only," she interrupted. "As
you say, it isn't Nolan and me alone to be considered. There's--"

"There's me," he interrupted sharply. "The child is bone of my bone. It
is bone of all the Barbilles back to the time of Louis XI."--he had said
that long ago to Zoe first, and it was now becoming a fact in his mind.
"It is linked up in the chain of the history of the Barbilles. It is one
with the generations of noblesse and honour and virtue. It is--"

"It's one with Abel the son of Adam, if it comes to that, and so am I,"
Norah bitingly interjected, while her eyes flashed fire, and she rocked
the cradle more swiftly than was good for the child's sleep.

Jean Jacques flared up. "There were sons and daughters of the family of
Adam that had names, but there were plenty others you whistled to as you
would to a four-footer, and they'd come. The Barbilles had names--always
names of their own back to Adam. The child is a Barbille--Don't rock the
cradle so fast," he suddenly added with an irritable gesture, breaking
off from his argument. "Don't you know better than that when a child's
asleep? Do you want it to wake up and cry?"

She flushed to the roots of her hair, for he had said something for which
she had no reply. She had undoubtedly disturbed the child. It stirred in
its sleep, then opened its eyes, and at once began to cry.

"There," said Jean Jacques, "what did I tell you? Any one that had ever
had children would know better than that."

Norah paid no attention to his mocking words, to the undoubted-truth of
his complaint. Stooping over, she gently lifted the child up. With hungry
tenderness she laid it against her breast and pressed its cheek to her
own, murmuring and crooning to it.

"Acushla! Acushla! Ah, the pretty bird--mother's sweet--mother's angel!"
she said softly.

She rocked backwards and forwards. Her eyes, though looking at Jean
Jacques as she crooned and coaxed and made lullaby, apparently did not
see him. She was as concentrated as though it were a matter of life and
death. She was like some ancient nurse of a sovereign-child, plainly
dressed, while the dainty white clothes of the babe in her arms--ah,
hadn't she raided the hoard she had begun when first married, in the hope
of a child of her own, to provide this orphan with clothes good enough
for a royal princess!

The flow of the long, white dress of the waif on the dark blue of Norah's
gown, which so matched the deep sapphire of her eyes, caught Jean
Jacques' glance, allured his mind. It was the symbol of youth and
innocence and home. Suddenly he had a vision of the day when his own Zoe
had been given to the cradle for the first time, and he had done exactly
what Norah had done--rocked too fast and too hard, and waked his little
one; and Carmen had taken her up in her long white draperies, and had
rocked to and fro, just like this, singing a lullaby. That lullaby he had
himself sung often afterwards; and now, with his grandchild in Norah's
arms there before him--with this other Zoe--the refrain of it kept
lilting in his brain. In the pause ensuing, when Norah stooped to put the
pacified child again in its nest, he also stooped over the cradle and
began to hum the words of the lullaby:

     "Sing, little bird, of the whispering leaves,
     Sing a song of the harvest sheaves;
     Sing a song to my Fanchonette,
     Sing a song to my Fanchonette!
     Over her eyes, over her eyes, over her eyes of violet,
     See the web that the weaver weaves,
     The web of sleep that the weaver weaves--
     Weaves, weaves, weaves!
     Over those eyes of violet,
     Over those eyes of my Fanchonette,
     Weaves, weaves, weaves--
     See the web that the weaver weaves!"

For quite two minutes Jean Jacques and Norah Doyle stooped over the
cradle, looking at Zoe's rosy, healthy, pretty face, as though
unconscious of each other, and only conscious of the child. When Jean
Jacques had finished the long first verse of the chanson, and would have
begun another, Norah made a protesting gesture.

"She's asleep, and there's no more need," she said. "Wasn't it a good
lullaby, madame?" Jean Jacques asked.

"So, so," she replied, on her defence again.

"It was good enough for her mother," he replied, pointing to the cradle.

"It's French and fanciful," she retorted--"both music and words."

"The child's French--what would you have?" asked Jean Jacques
indignantly.

"The child's father was English, and she's goin' to be English, the
darlin', from now on and on and on. That's settled. There's manny an
English and Irish lullaby that'll be sung to her hence and onward; and
there's manny an English song she'll sing when she's got her voice, and
is big enough. Well, I think she'll sing like a canary."

"Do the birds sing in English?" exclaimed Jean Jacques, with anger in his
face now. Was there ever any vanity like the vanity of these people who
had made the conquest of Quebec, when sixteen Barbilles lost their lives,
one of them being aide-de-camp to M. Vaudreuil, the governor!

"All the canaries I ever heard sung in English," she returned stubbornly.

"How do Frenchmen understand their singing, then?" irritably questioned
Jean Jacques.

"Well, in translation only," she retorted, and with her sharp white teeth
she again bit the black thread of her needle, tied the end into a little
knot, and began to mend the waistcoat which she had laid down in the
first moments of the interview.

"I want the child," Jean Jacques insisted abruptly. "I'll wait till she
wakes, and then I'll wrap her up and take her away."

"Didn't you hear me say she was to be brought up English?" asked Norah,
with a slowness which clothed her fiercest impulses.

"Name of God, do you think I'll let you have her!" returned Jean Jacques
with asperity and decision. "You say you are alone, you and your M'sieu'
Nolan. Well, I am alone--all alone in the world, and I need her--Mother
of God, I need her more than I ever needed anything in my life! You have
each other, but I have only myself, and it is not good company. Besides,
the child is mine, a Barbille of Barbilles, une legitime--a rightful
child of marriage. But if it was a love-child only it would still be
mine, being my daughter's child. Look you, it is no such thing. It is of
those who can claim inheritance back to Louis XI. She will be to me the
gift of God in return for the robbery of death."

He leaned over the cradle, and his look was like that of one who had
found a treasure in the earth.

Now she struck hard. Yet very subtly too did she attack him. "You--you
are thinking of yourself, m'sieu', only of yourself. Aren't you going to
think of the child at all? It isn't yourself that counts so much. You've
had your day, or the part of it that matters most. But her time is not
yet even begun. It's all--all--before her. You say you'll take her
away--well, to what? To what will you take her? What have you got to give
her? What--"

"I have the three hundred and twenty acres out there"--he pointed
westward--"and I will make a home and begin again with her."

"Three hundred and twenty acres--'out there'!" she exclaimed in scorn.
"Any one can have a farm here for the askin'. What is that? Is it a home?
What have you got to start a home with? Do you deny you are no better
than a tramp? Have you got a hundred dollars in the world? Have you got a
roof over your head? Have you got a trade? You'll take her where--to
what? Even if you had a home, what then? You would have to get someone to
look after her--some old crone, a wench maybe, who'd be as fit to bring
up a child as I would be to--" she paused and looked round in helpless
quest for a simile, when, in despair, she caught sight of Jean Jacques'
watch-chain--"as I would be to make a watch!" she added.

Instinctively Jean Jacques drew out the ancient timepiece he had worn on
the Grand Tour; which had gone down with the Antoine and come up with
himself. It gave him courage to make the fight for his own.

"The good God would see that--" he began.

"The good God doesn't interfere in bringing up babies," she retorted.
"That's the work for the fathers and mothers, or godfathers and
godmothers."

"You are neither," exclaimed Jean Jacques. "You have no rights at all."

"I have no rights--eh? I have no rights! Look at the child. Look at the
way she's clothed. Look at the cradle in which it lies. It cost fifteen
dollars; and the clothes--what they cost would keep a family half a year.
I have no rights, is it?--I who stepped in and took the child without
question, without bein' asked, and made it my own, and treated it as if
it was me own. No, by the love of God, I treated it far, far better than
if it had been me own. Because a child was denied me, the hunger of the
years made me love the child as a mother would on a desert island with
one child at her knees."

"You can get another-one not your own, as this isn't," argued Jean
Jacques fiercely.

She was not to be forced to answer his arguments directly. She chose her
own course to convince. "Nolan loves this child as if it was his," she
declared, her eyes all afire, "but he mightn't love another--men are
queer creatures. Then where would I be? and what would the home be but
what it was before--as cold, as cold and bitter! It was the hand of God
brought the child to the door of two people who had no child and who
prayed for one. Do you deny it was the hand of God that brought your
daughter here away, that put the child in my arms? Not its mother, am I
not? But I love her better than twenty mothers could. It's the
hunger--the hunger--the hunger in me. She's made a woman of me. She has a
home where everything is hers--everything. To see Nolan play with her,
tossin' her up and down in his arms as if he'd done it all his life--as
natural as natural! To take her away from that--all the comfort here
where she can have anything she wants! With my old mother to care for
her, if so be I was away to market or whereabouts--one that brought up
six children, a millionaire among them, praise be to God as my mother
did--to take this delicate little thing away from here, what a sin and
crime 'twould be! She herself 'd never forgive you for it, if ever she
grew up--though that's not likely, things bein' as they are with you, and
you bein' what you are. Ah, there--there she is awake and smilin', and
kickin' up her pretty toes this minute! There she is, the lovely little
Zoe, with eyes like black pearls. . . . See now--see now which she'll
come to--to you or me, m'sieu'. There, put out your arms to her, and I'll
put out mine, and see which she'll take. I'll stand by that--I'll stand
by that. Let the child decide. Hold out your arms, and so will I."

With an impassioned word Jean Jacques reached down his arms to the child,
which lay laughing up at them and kicking its pink toes into the air, and
Norah Doyle did the same, murmuring an Irish love-name for a child. Jean
Jacques was silent, but in his face was the longing of a soul sick for
home, of one who desires the end of a toilsome road.

The laughing child crooned and spluttered and shook its head, as though
it was playing some happy game. It looked first at Norah, then at Jean
Jacques, then at Norah again, and then, with a little gurgle of pleasure,
stretched out its arms to her and half-raised itself from the pillow.
With a glad cry Norah gathered it to her bosom, and triumph shone in her
face.

"Ah, there, you see!" she said, as she lifted her face from the blossom
at her breast.

"There it is," said Jean Jacques with shaking voice.

"You have nothing to give her--I have everything," she urged. "My rights
are that I would die for the child--oh, fifty times! . . . What are you
going to do, m'sieu'?"

Jean Jacques slowly turned and picked up his hat. He moved with the
dignity of a hero who marches towards a wall to meet the bullets of a
firing-squad.

"You are going?" Norah whispered, and in her eyes was a great relief and
the light of victory. The golden link binding Nolan and herself was in
her arms, over her heart.

Jean Jacques did not speak a word in reply, though his lips moved. She
held out the little one to him for a good-bye, but he shook his head. If
he did that--if he once held her in his arms--he would not be able to
give her up. Gravely and solemnly, however, he stooped over and kissed
the lips of the child lying against Norah's breast. As he did so, with a
quick, mothering instinct Norah impulsively kissed his shaggy head, and
her eyes filled with tears. She smiled too, and Jean Jacques saw how
beautiful her teeth were--cruel no longer.

He moved away slowly. At the door he turned, and looked back at the
two--a long, lingering look he gave. Then he faced away from them again.

"Moi je suis philosophe," he said gently, and opened the door and stepped
out and away into the frozen world.



EPILOGUE

Change might lay its hand on the parish of St. Saviour's, and it did so
on the beautiful sentient living thing, as on the thing material and
man-made; but there was no change in the sheltering friendship of Mont
Violet or the flow of the illustrious Beau Cheval. The autumns also
changed not at all. They cast their pensive canopies over the home-scene
which Jean Jacques loved so well, before he was exhaled from its bosom.

One autumn when the hillsides were in those colours which none but a
rainbow of the moon ever had, so delicately sad, so tenderly assuring, a
traveller came back to St. Saviour's after a long journey. He came by
boat to the landing at the Manor Cartier, rather than by train to the
railway-station, from which there was a drive of several miles to Vilray.
At the landing he was met by a woman, as much a miniature of the days of
Orleanist France as himself. She wore lace mits which covered the hands
but not the fingers, and her gown showed the outline of a meek crinoline.

"Ah, Fille--ah, dear Fille!" said the little fragment of an antique day,
as the Clerk of the Court--rather, he that had been for so many years
Clerk of the Court--stepped from the boat. "I can scarce believe that you
are here once more. Have you good news?"

"It was to come back with good news that I went," her brother answered
smiling, his face lighted by an inner exaltation.

"Dear, dear Fille!" She always called him that now, and not by his
Christian name, as though he was a peer. She had done so ever since the
Government had made him a magistrate, and Laval University had honoured
him with the degree of doctor of laws.

She was leading him to the pony-carriage in which she had come to meet
him, when he said:

"Do you think you could walk the distance, my dear? . . . It would be
like old times," he added gently.

"I could walk twice as far to-day," she answered, and at once gave
directions for the young coachman to put "His Honour's" bag into the
carriage. In spite of Fille's reproofs she insisted in calling him that
to the servants. They had two servants now, thanks to the legacy left
them by the late Judge Carcasson. Presently M. Fille took her by the
hand. "Before we start--one look yonder," he murmured, pointing towards
the mill which had once belonged to Jean Jacques, now rebuilt and looking
almost as of old. "I promised Jean Jacques that I would come and salute
it in his name, before I did aught else, and so now I do salute it."

He waved a hand and made a bow to the gold Cock of Beaugard, the pride of
all the vanished Barbilles. "Jean Jacques Barbille says that his head is
up like yours, M. le Coq, and he wishes you many, many winds to come," he
recited quite seriously, and as though it was not out of tune with the
modern world.

The gold Cock of Beaugard seemed to understand, for it swung to the left,
and now a little to the right, and then stood still, as if looking at the
little pair of exiles from an ancient world--of which the only vestiges
remaining may be found in old Quebec.

This ceremony over, they walked towards Mont Violet, averting their heads
as they passed the Manor Cartier, in a kind of tribute to its departed
master--as a Stuart Legitimist might pass the big palace at the end of
the Mall in London. In the wood-path, Fille took his sister's hand.

"I will tell you what you are so trembling to hear," he said. "There they
are at peace, Jean Jacques and Virginie--that best of best women."

"To think--married to Virginie Poucette--to think of that!" His sister's
voice fluttered as she spoke. "But entirely. There was nothing in the
way--and she meant to have him, the dear soul! I do not blame her, for at
bottom he is as good a man as lives. Our Judge called him 'That dear
fool, Jean Jacques, a man of men in his way, after all,' and our Judge
was always right--but yes, nearly always right."

After a moment of contented meditation he resumed. "Well, when Virginie
sold her place here and went to live with her sister out at Shilah in the
West, she said, 'If Jean Jacques is alive, he will be on the land which
was Zoe's, which he bought for her. If he is alive--then!' So it was, and
by one of the strange accidents which chance or women like Virginie, who
have plenty of courage in their simpleness, arrange, they met on that
three hundred and sixty acres. It was like the genius of Jean Jacques to
have done that one right thing which would save him in the end--a thing
which came out of his love for his child--the emotion of an hour. Indeed,
that three hundred and sixty acres was his salvation after he learned of
Zoe's death, and the other little Zoe, his grandchild, was denied to
him--to close his heart against what seemed that last hope, was it not
courage? And so, and so he has the reward of his own soul--a home at last
once more."

"With Virginie Poucette--Fille, Fille, how things come round!" exclaimed
the little lady in the tiny bonnet with the mauve strings.

"More than Virginie came round," he replied almost oracularly. "Who,
think you, brought him the news that coal was found on his acres--who but
the husband of Virginie's sister! Then came Virginie. On the day Jean
Jacques saw her again, he said to her, 'What you would have given me at
such cost, now let me pay for with the rest of my life. It is the great
thought which was in your heart that I will pay for with the days left to
me.'"

A flickering smile brightened the sensitive ascetic face, and humour was
in the eyes. "What do you think Virginie said to that? Her sister told
me. Virginie said to that, 'You will have more days left, Jean Jacques,
if you have a better cook. What do you like best for supper?' And Jean
Jacques laughed much at that. Years ago he would have made a speech at
it!"

"Then he is no more a philosopher?"

"Oh always, always, but in his heart, and not with his tongue. I cried,
and so did he, when we met and when we parted. I think I am getting old,
for indeed I could not help it: yet there was peace in his eyes--peace."

"His eyes used to rustle so."

"Rustle--that is the word. Now, that is what, he has learned in life--the
way to peace. When I left him, it was with Virginie close beside him, and
when I said to him, 'Will you come back to us one day, Jean Jacques?' he
said, 'But no, Fille, my friend; it is too far. I see it--it is a million
miles away--too great a journey to go with the feet, but with the soul I
will visit it. The soul is a great traveller. I see it always--the clouds
and the burnings and the pitfalls gone--out of sight--in memory as it was
when I was a child. Well, there it is, everything has changed, except the
child-memory. I have had, and I have had not; and there it is. I am not
the same man--but yes, in my love just the same, with all the rest--' He
did not go on, so I said, 'If not the same, then what are you, Jean
Jacques?'"

"Ah, Fille, in the old days he would have said that he was a
philosopher"--said his sister interrupting. "Yes, yes, one knows--he said
it often enough and had need enough to say it. Well, said he to me, 'Me,
I am a'--then he stopped, shook his head, and so I could scarcely hear
him, murmured, 'Me--I am a man who has been a long journey with a pack on
his back, and has got home again.' Then he took Virginie's hand in his."

The old man's fingers touched the corner of his eye as though to find
something there; then continued. "'Ah, a pedlar!' said I to him, to hear
what he would answer. 'Follies to sell for sous of wisdom,' he answered.
Then he put his arm around Virginie, and she gave him his pipe."

"I wish M. Carcasson knew," the little grey lady remarked.

"But of course he knows," said the Clerk of the Court, with his face
turned to the sunset.

     ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

     Courage which awaits the worst the world can do
     Good thing for a man himself to be owed kindness
     I can't pay you for your kindness to me, and I don't want to
     No past that is hidden has ever been a happy past
     She was not to be forced to answer his arguments directly
     That iceberg which most mourners carry in their breasts
     The soul is a great traveller
     You can't take time as the measure of life



     ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS FOR "THE MONEY MASTER", COMPLETE:

     Air of certainty and universal comprehension
     Always calling to something, for something outside ourselves
     Being generous with other people's money
     Came of a race who set great store by mothers and grandmothers
     Confidence in a weak world gets unearned profit often
     Courage which awaits the worst the world can do
     Enjoy his own generosity
     Good thing for a man himself to be owed kindness
     Grove of pines to give a sense of warmth in winter
     Grow more intense, more convinced, more thorough, as they talk
     Had the slight flavour of the superior and the paternal
     He had only made of his wife an incident in his life
     He was in fact not a philosopher, but a sentimentalist
     He was not always sorry when his teasing hurt
     He admired, yet he wished to be admired
     He hated irony in anyone else
     I had to listen to him, and he had to pay me for listening
     I can't pay you for your kindness to me, and I don't want to
     I said I was not falling in love--I am in love
     If you have a good thought, act on it
     Inclined to resent his own insignificance
     Lacks a balance-wheel. He has brains, but not enough
     Law. It is expensive whether you win or lose
     Lyrical in his enthusiasms
     Man who tells the story in a new way, that is genius
     Missed being a genius by an inch
     No past that is hidden has ever been a happy past
     No man so simply sincere, or so extraordinarily prejudiced
     Not content to do even the smallest thing ill
     Of those who hypnotize themselves, who glow with self-creation
     Philosophers are often stupid in human affairs
     Protest that it is right when it knows that it is wrong
     She was not to be forced to answer his arguments directly
     Spurting out little geysers of other people's cheap wisdom
     That iceberg which most mourners carry in their breasts
     The beginning of the end of things was come for him
     The soul is a great traveller
     Untamed by the normal restraints of a happy married life
     You can't take time as the measure of life
     You went north towards heaven and south towards hell





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