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´╗┐Title: Wild Youth, 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 "Wild Youth, Complete" ***

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WILD YOUTH

By Gilbert Parker



     Volume 1.
     I.     THE MAZARINES TAKE POSSESSION
     II.    "MY NAME IS LOUISE"
     III.   "I HAVE FOUGHT WITH BEASTS AT EPHESUS"
     IV.    TWO SIDES TO A BARGAIN
     V.     ORLANDO HAS AN ADVENTURE
     VI.    "THINGS MUST HAPPEN"
     VII.   "THE ZOOLYOGICAL GARDEN"
     VIII.   THE ORIENTAL WAY OF IT
     IX.     THE STARS IN THEIR COURSES

     Volume 2.
     X.     THE MOON WAS NOT ALONE
     XI.    LOUISE
     XII.   MAN UNNATURAL
     XIII.  ORLANDO GIVES A WARNING
     XIV.   FILION AND FIONA--ALSO PATSY KERNAGHAN
     XV.    OUTWARD BOUND
     XVI.   AT THE CROSS TRAILS
     XVII.  THE SUPERIOR MAN
     XVIII. YOUTH HAS ITS WAY



WILD YOUTH



CHAPTER I

THE MAZARINES TAKE POSSESSION

From the beginning, Askatoon had had more character and idiosyncrasy than
any other town in the West. Perhaps that was because many of its citizens
had marked personality, while some were distinctly original--a few so
original as to be almost bizarre. The general intelligence was high, and
this made the place alert for the new observer. It slept with one eye
open; it waked with both eyes wide--as wide as the windows of the world.
The virtue of being bright and clever was a doctrine which had never been
taught in Askatoon; it was as natural as eating and drinking. Nothing
ever really shook the place out of a wholesome control and composure. Now
and then, however, the flag of distress was hoisted, and everybody in the
place--from Patsy Kernaghan, the casual, at one end of the scale, and the
Young Doctor, so called because he was young-looking when he first came
to the place, who represented Askatoon in the meridian of its intellect,
at the other--had sudden paralysis. That was the outstanding feature of
Askatoon. Some places made a noise and flung things about in times of
distress; but Askatoon always stood still and fumbled with its
collar-buttons, as though to get more air. When it was poignantly moved,
it leaned against the wall of its common sense, abashed, but vigilant and
careful.

That is what it did when Mr. and Mrs. Joel Mazarine arrived at Askatoon
to take possession of Tralee, the ranch which Michael Turley, abandoning
because he had an unavoidable engagement in another world, left to his
next of kin, with a legacy to another kinsman a little farther off. The
next of kin had proved to be Joel Mazarine, from one of those stern
English counties on the borders of Quebec, where ancient tribal
prejudices and religious hatreds give a necessary relief to hard-driven
human nature.

Michael Turley had lived much to himself on his ranch, but that was
because in his latter days he had developed a secret taste for spirituous
liquors which he had no wish to share with others. With the assistance of
a bad cook and a constant spleen caused by resentment against the
intervention of his priest, good Father Roche, he finished his career
with great haste and without either becoming a nuisance to his neighbours
or ruining his property. The property was clear of mortgage or debt when
he set out on his endless journey.

When the prophet-bearded, huge, swarthy-faced Joel Mazarine, with a
beautiful young girl behind him, stepped from the West-bound train and
was greeted by the Mayor, who was one of the executors of Michael
Turley's will, a shiver passed through Askatoon, and for one instant
animation was suspended; for the jungle-looking newcomer, motioning
forward the young girl, said to the Mayor:

"Mayor, this is Mrs. Mazarine. Shake hands with the Mayor, Mrs.
Mazarine."

Mazarine did not speak very loud, but as an animal senses the truth of a
danger far off with an unshakable certainty, the crowd at the station
seemed to know by instinct what he said.

"Hell--that old whale and her!" growled Jonas Billings, the keeper of the
livery-stable.

At Mazarine's words the Young Doctor, a man of rare gifts, individuality
and authority in the place, who had come to the station to see a patient
off to the mountains by this train, drew in his breath sharply, as though
a spirit of repugnance was in his heart. This happened during the first
years of the Young Doctor's career at Askatoon, when he was still alive
with human prejudices, although he had a nature well balanced and
singularly just. The strife between his prejudices and his sense of
justice was what made him always interesting in all the great prairie and
foothill country of which Askatoon was the centre.

He had got his shock, indeed, before Mazarine had introduced his wife to
the Mayor. Not for nothing had he studied the human mind in its relation
to the human body, and the expression of that mind speaking through the
body. The instant Joel Mazarine and his wife stepped out of the train, he
knew they were what they were to each other. That was a real achievement
in knowledge, because Mazarine was certainly sixty-five if he was a day,
and his wife was a slim, willowy slip of a girl, not more than nineteen
years of age, with the most wonderful Irish blue eyes and long dark
lashes. There was nothing of the wife or woman about her, save something
in the eyes, which seemed to belong to ages past and gone, something so
solemnly wise, yet so painfully confused, that there flashed into the
Young Doctor's mind at first glance of her the vision of a young bird
caught from its thoughtless, sunbright journeyings, its reckless freedom
of winged life, into the captivity of a cage.

She smiled, this child, as she shook hands with the Mayor, and it had the
appeal of one who had learned the value of smiling--as though it answered
many a question and took the place of words and the trials of the tongue.
It was pitifully mechanical. As the Young Doctor saw, it was the smile of
a captive in a strange uncomprehended world, more a dream than a reality.

"Mrs. Mazarine, welcome," said the Mayor after an abashed pause. "We're
proud of this town, but we'll be prouder still, now you've come."

The girl-wife smiled again. At the same time it was as though she glanced
apprehensively out of the corner of her eye at the old man by her side,
as she said:

"Thank you. There seems to be plenty of room for us out here, so we
needn't get in each other's way.... I've never been on the prairie
before," she added.

The Young Doctor realized that her reply had meanings which would escape
the understanding of the Mayor, and her apprehensive glance had told him
of the gruesome jealousy of this old man at her side. The Mayor's polite
words had caused the long, clean-shaven upper lip of the old man with the
look of a debauched prophet, to lengthen surlily; and he noticed that a
wide, flat foot in a big knee-boot, inside trousers too short, tapped the
ground impatiently.

"We must be getting on to Tralee," said a voice that seemed to force its
way through bronchial obstructions. "Come, Mrs. Mazarine."

He laid a big, flat, tropical hand, which gave the impression of being
splayed, on the girl's shoulder. The gallant words of the Mayor--a
chivalrous mountain man--had set dark elements working. As the new master
of Tralee stepped forward, the Young Doctor could not help noticing how
large and hairy were the ears that stood far out from the devilish head.
It was a huge, steel-twisted, primitive man, who somehow gave the
impression of a gorilla. The face was repulsive in its combination of
surly smugness, as shown by the long upper lip, by a repellent darkness
round the small, furtive eyes, by a hardness in the huge, bearded jaw,
and by a mouth of primary animalism.

The Mayor caught sight of the Young Doctor, and he stopped the
incongruous pair as they moved to the station doorway, the girl in front,
as though driven.

"Mr. Mazarine, you've got to know the man who counts for more in Askatoon
than anybody else; Doctor, you've got to know Mr. Mazarine," said the
generous Mayor.

Repugnance was in full possession of the Young Doctor, but he was
scientific and he was philosophic, if nothing else. He shook hands with
Mazarine deliberately. If he could prevent it, there should be, where he
was concerned, no jealousy, such as Mazarine had shown towards the Mayor,
in connection with this helpless, exquisite creature in the grip of hard
fate. Shaking hands with the girl with only a friendly politeness in his
glance, he felt a sudden eager, clinging clasp of her fingers. It was
like lightning, and gone like lightning, as was the look that flashed
between them. Somehow the girl instinctively felt the nature of the man,
and in spirit flew to him for protection. No one saw the swift look, and
in it there was nothing which spoke of youth or heart, of the feeling of
man for woman or woman for man; but only the longing for help on the
girl's part, undefined as it was. On the man's part there was a soul
whose gift and duty were healing. As the two passed on, the Young Doctor
looked around him at the exclaiming crowd, for few had left the station
when the train rolled out. Curiosity was an obsession with the people of
Askatoon.

"Well, I never!" said round-faced Mrs. Skinner, with huge hips and gray
curls. "Did you ever see the like?"

"I call it a shame," declared an indignant young woman, gripping tighter
the hand of her little child, the daughter of a young butcher of
twenty-three years of age.

"Poor lamb!" another motherly voice said.

"She ought to be ashamed of herself--money, I suppose," sneered Ellen
Banner, a sour-faced shopkeeper's daughter, who had taught in Sunday
school for twenty years and was still single.

"Beauty and the beast," remarked the Young Doctor to himself, as he saw
the two drive away, Patsy Kernaghan running beside the wagon, evidently
trying to make friends with the mastodon of Tralee.



CHAPTER II

"MY NAME IS LOUISE"

Askatoon never included the Mazarines in its social scheme. Certainly
Tralee was some distance from the town, but, apart from that, the
new-comers remained incongruous, alien and alone. The handsome, inanimate
girl-wife never appeared by herself in the streets of Askatoon, but
always in the company of her morose husband, whose only human association
seemed to be his membership in the Methodist body so prominent in the
town. Every Sunday morning he tied his pair of bay horses with the
covered buggy to the hitching-post in the church-shed and marched his
wife to the very front seat in the Meeting House, having taken possession
of it on his first visit, as though it had no other claimants.
Subsequently he held it in almost solitary control, because other members
of the congregation, feeling his repugnance to companionship, gave him
the isolation he wished. As a rule he and his wife left the building
before the last hymn was sung, so avoiding conversation. Now and again he
stayed to a prayer-meeting and, doing so, invariably "led in prayer," to
a very limited chorus of "Amens." For in spite of the position which
Tralee conferred on its owner, there was a natural shrinking from "that
wild boar," as outspoken Sister Skinner called him in the presence of the
puzzled and troubled Minister.

This was always a time of pained confusion for the girl-wife. She had
never "got religion," and there was something startling to her
undeveloped nature in the thunderous apostrophes, in terms of the oldest
part of the Old Testament, used by her tyrant when he wrestled with the
Lord in prayer.

These were perhaps the only times when her face was the mirror of her
confused, vague and troubled youth. Captive in a world bounded by a man's
will, she simply did not begin to understand this strange and
overpowering creature who had taken possession of her body, mind and
soul. She trembled and hesitated before every cave of mystery which her
daily life with him opened darkly to her abashed eyes. She felt herself
going round and round and round in a circle, not forlorn enough to rebel
or break away, but dazed and wondering and shrinking. She was like one
robbed of will, made mechanical by a stern conformity to imposed rules of
life and conduct. There were women in Askatoon who were sorry for her and
made efforts to get near her; but whether it was the Methodist Minister
or his wife, or the most voluble sister of the prayer-meeting, none got
beyond the threshold of Tralee, as it were.

The girl-wife abashed them. She was as one who automatically spoke as she
was told to speak, did what she was told to do. Yet she always smiled at
the visitors when they came, or when she saw them and others at the
Meeting House. It was, however, not a smile for an individual, whoever
that individual might chance to be. It was only the kindness of her
nature expressing itself. Talking seemed like the exercise of a foreign
language to her, but her smiling was free and unconstrained, and it
belonged to all, without selection.

The Young Doctor, looking at her one day as she sat in a buggy while her
monster-man was inside the chemist's shop, said to himself:

"Sterilized! Absolutely, shamefully sterilized! But suppose she wakes up
suddenly out of that dream between life and death--what will happen?"

He remembered that curious, sudden, delicate catch of his palm on the day
when they first shook hands at the railway-station, and to him it was
like the flutter of life in a thing which seemed dead. How often he had
noticed it in man and animal on the verge of extinction! He had not
mistaken that fluttering appeal of her fingers. He was young enough to
translate it into flattering terms of emotion, but he did not do so. He
was fancy-free himself, and the time would come when he would do a
tremendous thing where a woman was concerned, a woman in something the
same position as this poor girl; but that shaking, thrilling thing was
still far off from him. For this child he only felt the healer's desire
to heal.

He was one of those men who never force an issue; he never put forward
the hands of the clock. He felt that sooner or later Louise Mazarine--he
did not yet know her Christian name--would command his help, as so many
had done in that prairie country, and not necessarily for relief of
physical pain or the curing of disease. He had helped as many men and
women mentally and morally as physically; the spirit of healing was
behind everything he did. His world recognized it, and that was why he
was never known by his name in all the district--he was only admiringly
called "The Young Doctor."

He had never been to Tralee since the Mazarines had arrived, though he
had passed it often and had sometimes seen Louise in the garden with her
dog, her black cat and her bright canary. The combination of the cat and
the canary did not seem incongruous where she was concerned; it was as
though something in her passionless self neutralized even the antagonisms
of natural history. She had made the gloomy black cat and the
light-hearted canary to be friends. Perhaps that came from an everlasting
patience which her life had bred in her; perhaps it was the powerful gift
of one in touch with the remote, primitive things.

The Young Doctor had also seen her in the paddock with the horses,
bare-headed, lithe and so girlishly slim, with none of the unmistakable
if elusive lines belonging to the maturity which marriage brings. He had
taken off his hat to her in the distance, but she had never waved a hand
in reply. She only stood and gazed at him, and her look followed him long
after he passed by. He knew well that in the gaze was nothing of the
interest which a woman feels in a man; it was the look of one chained to
a rock, who sees a Samaritan in the cheerless distance.

In the daily round of her life she was always busy; not restlessly, but
constantly, and always silently, busy. She was even more silent than her
laconic half-breed hired woman, Rada. There was no talk with her gloating
husband which was not monosyllabic. Her canary sang, but no music ever
broke from her own lips. She murmured over her lovely yellow companion;
she kissed it, pleaded with it for more song, but the only music at her
own lips was the occasional music of her voice; and it had a colourless
quality which, though gentle, had none of the eloquence and warmth of
youth.

In form and feature she was one made for emotion and demonstration, and
the passionate play of the innocent enterprises of wild youth; but there
was nothing of that in her. Gray age had drunk her life and had given her
nothing in return--neither companionship nor sympathy nor understanding;
only the hunger of a coarse manhood. Her obedience to the supreme will of
her jealous jailer gave no ground for scolding or reproach, and that
saved her much. She was even quietly cheerful, but it was only the pale
reflection of a lost youth which would have been buoyant and gallant, gay
and glad, had it been given the natural thing in the natural world.

There came a day, however, when the long, unchanging routine, gray with
prison grayness, was broken; when the round of household duties and the
prison discipline were interrupted. It was as sudden as a storm in the
tropics, as final and as fateful as birth or death. That day she was
taken suddenly and acutely ill. It was only a temporary malady, an
agonizing pain which had its origin in a sudden chill. This chill was
due, as the Young Doctor knew when he came, to a vitality which did not
renew itself, which got nothing from the life to which it was sealed,
which for some reason could not absorb energy from the stinging, vital
life of the prairie world in the June-time.

In her sudden anguish, and in the absence of Joel Mazarine, she sent for
the Young Doctor. That in itself was courageous, because it was
impossible to tell what view the master of Tralee would take of her
action, ill though she was. She was not supposed to exercise her will. If
Joel Mazarine had been at home, he would have sent for wheezy, decrepit
old Doctor Gensing, whose practice the Young Doctor had completely
absorbed over a series of years.

But the Young Doctor came. Rada, the half-breed woman, had undressed
Louise and put her to bed; and he found her white as snow at the end of a
paroxysm of pain, her long eyelashes lying on a cheek as smooth as a
piece of Satsuma ware which has had the loving polish of ten thousand
friendly fingers over innumerable years. When he came and stood beside
her bed, she put out her hand slowly towards him. As he took it in his
firm, reassuring grasp, he felt the same fluttering appeal which had
marked their handclasp on the day of their first meeting at the
railway-station. Looking at the huge bed and the rancher-farmer's coarse
clothes hanging on pegs, the big greased boots against the wall, a sudden
savage feeling of disgust and anger took hold of him; but the spirit of
healing at once emerged, and he concentrated himself upon the duty before
him.

For a whole hour he worked with her, and at length subdued the
convulsions of pain which distorted the beautiful face and made the
childlike body writhe. He had a resentment against the crime which had
been committed. Marriage had not made her into a woman; it had driven her
back into an arrested youth. It was as though she ought to have worn
short skirts and her hair in a long braid down her back. Hers was the
body of a young boy. When she was free from pain, and the colour had come
back to her cheeks a little, she smiled at him, and was about to put out
her hand as a child might to a brother or a father, when suddenly a
shadow stole into her eyes and crept across her face, and she drew her
clenched hand close to her body. Still, she tried to smile at him.

His quiet, impersonal, though friendly look soothed her.

"Am I very sick!" she asked.

He shook his head and smiled. "You'll be all right to-morrow, I hope."

"That's too bad. I would like to be so sick that I couldn't think of
anything else. My father used to say that the world was only the size of
four walls to a sick person."

"I can't promise you so small a world," remarked the Young Doctor with a
kind smile, his arm resting on the side of the bed, his chair drawn
alongside. "You will have to face the whole universe to-morrow, same as
ever."

She looked perplexed, and then said to him: "I used to think it was a
beautiful world, and they try to make me think it is yet; but it isn't."

"Who try to make you?" he asked.

"Oh, my bird Richard, and Nigger the black cat, and Jumbo, the dog," she
replied.

Her eyes closed, then opened strangely wide upon him in an eager, staring
appeal.

"Don't you want to know about me?" she asked. "I want to tell you--I
want to tell you. I'm tired of telling it all over to myself."

The Young Doctor did not want to know. As a doctor he did not want to
know.

"Not now," he said firmly. "Tell me when I come again."

A look of pain came into her face. "But who can tell when you'll come
again!" she pleaded.

"When I will things to be, they generally happen," he answered in a
commonplace tone. "You are my patient now, and I must keep an eye on you.
So I'll come."

Again, with an almost spasmodical movement towards him, she said:

"I must tell you. I wanted to tell you the first day I saw you. You
seemed the same kind of man my father was. My name's Louise. It was my
mother made me do it. There was a mortgage--I was only sixteen. It's
three years ago. He said to my mother he'd tear up the mortgage if I
married him. That's why I'm here with him--Mrs. Mazarine. But my name's
Louise."

"Yes, yes, I know," the Young Doctor answered soothingly. "But you must
not talk of it now. I understand perfectly. Tell me all about it another
time."

"You don't think I should have--" She paused.

"Of course. I tell you I understand. Now you must be quiet. Drink this."
He got up and poured some liquid into a glass.

At that moment there was a noise below in the hall. "That's my husband,"
the girl-wife said, and the old wan captive-look came into her face.

"That's all right," replied the Young Doctor. "He'll find you better."

At that moment the half-breed woman entered the room. "He's here," she
said, and came towards the bed.

"That old woman has sense," the Young Doctor murmured to himself. "She
knows her man."

A minute later Joel Mazarine was in the room, and he saw the half-breed
woman lift his wife's head, while the Young Doctor held a glass to her
lips.

"What's all this?" Mazarine said roughly. "What?" He stopped suddenly,
for the Young Doctor faced him sharply.

"She must be left alone," he said firmly and quietly, his eyes fastening
the old man's eyes; and there was that in them which would not be
gainsaid. "I have just given her medicine. She has been in great pain.

"We are not needed here now." He motioned towards the door. "She must be
left alone."

For an instant it seemed that the old man was going to resist the
dictation; but presently, after a scrutinizing look at the still,
shrinking figure in the bed, he swung round, left the room and descended
the stairs, the Young Doctor following.



CHAPTER III

"I HAVE FOUGHT WITH BEASTS AT EPHESUS"

The old man led the way outside the house, as though to be rid of his
visitor as soon as possible. This was so obvious that, for an instant,
the Young Doctor was disposed to try conclusions with the old slaver, and
summon him back to the dining-room. The Mazarine sort of man always
roused fighting, masterful forces in him. He was never averse to a
contest of wills, and he had had much of it; it was inseparable from his
methods of healing. He knew that nine people out of ten never gave a true
history of their physical troubles, never told their whole story: first
because they had no gift for reporting, no observation; and also because
the physical ailments of many of them were aggravated or induced by
mental anxieties. Then it was that he imposed himself; as it were, fought
the deceiver and his deceit, or the ignorant one and his ignorance; and
numbers of people, under his sympathetic, wordless inquiry, poured their
troubles into his ears, as the girl-wife upstairs had tried to do.

When the old man turned to face him in the sunlight, his boots soiled
with dust and manure, his long upper lip feeling about over the lower lip
and its shaggy growth of beard like some sea-monster feeling for its
prey, the Young Doctor had a sensation of rancour. His mind flashed to
that upstairs room, where a comely captive creature was lying not an
arm's length from the coats and trousers and shabby waistcoats of this
barbarian. Somehow that row of tenantless clothes, and the top-boots,
greased with tallow, standing against the wall, were more characteristic
of the situation than the old land-leviathan himself, blinking his beady,
greenish eyes at the Young Doctor. That blinking was a repulsive
characteristic; it was like serpents gulping live things.

"What's the matter with her?" the old man asked, jerking his head towards
the upper window.

The Young Doctor explained quickly the immediate trouble, and then added:

"But it would not have taken hold of her so if she was not run down. She
is not in a condition to resist. When her system exhausts, it does not
refill, as it were."

"What sort of dictionary talk is that? Run down--here?" The old man
sniffed the air like an ancient sow. "Run down--in this life, with the
best of food, warm weather, and more ozone than a sailor gets at sea!
It's an insult to Jehovah, such nonsense."

"Mr. Mazarine," rejoined the Young Doctor with ominous determination in
his eye, "you know a good deal, I should think, about spring wheat and
fall ploughing, about making sows fat, or burning fallow land--that's
your trade, and I shouldn't want to challenge you on it all; or you know
when to give a horse bran-mash, or a heifer salt-petre, but--well, I know
my job in the same way. They will tell you, about here, that I have a
kind of hobby for keeping people from digging and crawling into their own
graves. That's my business, and the habit of saving human life, because
you're paid for it, becomes in time a habit of saving human life for its
very own sake. I warn you--and perhaps it's a matter of some concern to
you--Mrs. Mazarine is in a bad way."

Resentful and incredulous, the old man was about to speak, but the Young
Doctor made an arresting gesture, and added:

"She has very little strength to go on with. She ought to be plump; her
pulses ought to beat hard; her cheeks ought to be rosy; she should walk
with a spring and be strong and steady as a soldier on the march; but she
is none of these things, can do none of these things. You've got a
thousand things to do, and you do them because you want to do them. There
is something making new life in you all the time, but Mrs. Mazarine makes
no new life as she goes on. Every day is taking something out of her, and
there's nothing being renewed. Sometimes neither good food nor ozone is
enough; and you've got to take care, or you'll lose Mrs. Mazarine." He
could not induce himself to speak of her as "wife."

For a moment the unwholesome mouth seemed to be chewing unpleasant herbs,
and the beady eyes blinked viciously.

"I'm not swallowin' your meaning," Mazarine said at last. "I never
studied Greek. If a woman has a disease, there it is, and you
can deal with it or not; but if she hasn't no disease, then it's
chicanyery--chicanyery. Doctors talk a lot of gibberish these here days.
What I want to know is, has my wife got a disease? I haven't seen any
signs. Is it Bright's, or cancer, or the lungs, or the liver, or the
kidneys, or the heart, or what's its name?"

The Young Doctor had an impulse to flay the heathen, but for the
girl-wife's sake he forbore.

"I don't think it is any of those troubles," he replied smoothly. "She
needs a thorough examination. But one thing is clear: she is wasting; she
is losing ground instead of going ahead. There's a malignant influence
working. She's standing still, and to stand still in youth is fatal. I
can imagine you don't want to lose her, eh?"

The Young Doctor's gray-blue eyes endeavoured to hold the blinking beads
under the shaggy eyebrows long enough to get control of a mind which had
the cunning and cruelty of an animal. He succeeded.

The old man would a thousand times rather his wife lived than died. In
the first place, to lose her was to sacrifice that which he had paid for
dearly--a mortgage of ten thousand dollars torn up. Louise Mazarine
represented that to him first-ten thousand dollars. Secondly, she was
worth it in every way. He had what hosts of others would be glad to
have--men younger and better looking than himself. She represented the
triumph of age. He had lived his life; he had buried two wives; he had
had children; he had made money; and yet here, when other men of his
years were thinking of making wills, and eating porridge, and waiting for
the Dark Policeman to come and arrest them for loitering, he was left a
magnificent piece of property like Tralee; and he had all the sources of
pleasure open to a young man walking the primrose path. He was living
right up to the last. Both his wives were gray-headed when they died--it
turned them gray to live with him; both had died before they were fifty;
and here he was the sole owner of a wonderful young head, with hair that
reached to the waist, with lips like cool fruit from an orchard-tree, and
the indescribable charm of youth and loveliness which the young
themselves never really understood. That was what he used to say to
himself; it was only age could appreciate youth and beauty; youth did not
understand.

Thus the Young Doctor's question roused in him something at once savage
and apprehensive. Of course he wanted Louise to live. Why should she not
live?

"Doesn't any husband want his wife to live!" he answered sullenly. "But I
want to know what ails her. What medicine you going to give her?"

"I don't know," the Young Doctor replied meditatively. "When she is quite
rid of this attack, I'll examine her again and let you know."

Suddenly there shot into the greenish old eyes a reddish look of rage;
jealousy, horrible, gruesome jealousy, took possession of Joel Mazarine.
This young man to come in and go out of his wife's bedroom, to--Why
weren't there women doctors? He would get one over from the Coast, or
from Winnipeg, or else there was old Doctor Gensing, in Askatoon--who was
seventy-five at least. He would call him in and get rid of this offensive
young pill-maker.

"I don't believe there's anything the matter with her," he declared
stubbornly. "She's been healthy as a woman can be, living this life here.
What's her disease? I've asked you. What is it?"

The other laid a hand on himself, and in the colourless voice of the
expert, said: "Old age--that's her trouble, so far as I can see."

He paused, foreseeing the ferocious look which swept into the repulsive
face, and the clenching of the big hands. Then in a soothing, reflective
kind of voice he added:

"Senile decay--you know all about that. Well, now, it happens sometimes
--not often, but it does happen--that a very young person for some cause
or another suffers from senile decay. Some terrible leakage of youth
occurs. It has been cured, though, and I've cured one or two cases
myself."

He was almost prevaricating--but in a good cause. "Mrs. Mazarine's is a
case which can be cured, I think," he continued. "As you've remarked, Mr.
Mazarine,"--his voice was now persuasive,--"here is fine air, and a good,
comfortable home--"

Suddenly he broke off, and as though in innocent inquiry said: "Now, has
she too much to do? Has she sufficient help in the house for one so
young?"

"She doesn't do more than's good for her," answered the old man, "and
there's the half-breed hired critter--you've seen her--and Li Choo, a
Chinaman, too. That ought to be enough," he added scornfully.

The Young Doctor seemed to reflect, and his face became urbane, because
he saw he must proceed warily, if he was to be of service to his new
patient.

"Yes," he said emphatically, "she appears to have help enough. I must
think over her case and see her again to-morrow."

The old man's look suddenly darkened. "Ain't she better:"' he asked.

"She's not so much better that there's no danger of her being worse," the
Young Doctor replied decisively. "I certainly must see her to-morrow."

"Why," the old man remarked, waving his splayed hand up and down in a
gesture of emphasis, "she's never been sick. She's in and out of this
house all day. She goes about with her animals like as if she hadn't a
care or an ache or pain in the world. I've heard of women that fancied
they was sick because they hadn't too much to do, and was too well off,
and was treated too well. Highsterics, they call it. Lots of women, lots
and lots of them, would be glad to have such a home as this, and would
stay healthy in it."

The Young Docor felt he had made headway, and he let it go at that. It
was clear he was to be permitted to come to-morrow. "Yes, it's a fine
place," he replied convincingly. "Three thousand acres is a mighty big
place when you've got farm-land as well as cattle-grazing."

"It's nearly all good farm-land," answered the old man with decision. "I
don't believe much in ranching or cattle. I'm for the plough and the
wheat. There's more danger from cattle disease than from bad crops. I'm
getting rid of my cattle. I expect to sell a lot of 'em to-day." An
avaricious smile of satisfaction drew down the corners of his lips. "I've
got a good customer. He ought to be on the trail now." He drew out a huge
silver watch. "Yes, he's due. The party's a foreigner, I believe. He
lives over at Slow Down Ranch--got a French name."

"Oh, Giggles!" said the Young Doctor with a quick smile.

The old man shook his head: "No, that ain't the name. It's Guise-Orlando
Guise is the name."

"Same thing," remarked the Young Doctor. "They call him Giggles for
short. You've seen him of course?"

"No, I've been dealing with him so far through a third party. Why's he
called Giggles?" asked the Master of Tralee.

"Well, you'll know when you see him. He's not cut according to
everybody's measure. If you're dealing with him, don't think him a fool
because he chirrups, and don't size him up according to his looks. He's a
dude. Some call him The Duke, but mostly he's known as Giggles."

"Fools weary me," grumbled the other.

"Well, as I said, you mustn't begin dealing with him on the basis of his
looks. Looks don't often tell the truth. For instance, you're known as a
Christian and a Methodist!" He looked the old man slowly up and down, and
in anyone else it would have seemed gross insolence, but the urbane smile
at his lips belied the malice of his words. "Well, you know you don't
look like a Methodist. You look like,"--innocence showed in his eye;
there was no ulterior purpose in his face, "you look like one of the bad
McMahon lot of claim-jumpers over there in the foothills. I suppose that
seems so, only because ranchman aren't generally pious. Well, in the same
way, Giggles doesn't really look like a ranchman; but he's every bit as
good a ranchman as you are a Christian and a Methodist!"

The Young Doctor looked the old man in the face with such a semblance of
honesty that he succeeded in disarming a dangerous suspicion of mockery
--dangerous, if he was to continue family physician at Tralee. "Ah," he
suddenly remarked, "there comes Orlando now!" He pointed to a spot about
half a mile away, where a horseman could be seen cantering slowly towards
Tralee.

A moment afterwards, from his buggy, the Young Doctor said: "Mrs.
Mazarine must be left alone until I see her again. She must not be
disturbed. The half-breed woman can look after her. I've told her what to
do. You'll keep to another room, of course."

"There's a bunk in that room where I could sleep," said the other, with a
note of protest.

"I'm afraid that, in our patient's interest, you must do what I say," the
other insisted, with a friendly smile which caused him a great effort.
"If I make her bloom again, that will suit you, won't it?"

A look of gloating came into the other's eyes: "Let it go at that," he
said. "Mebbe I'll take her over to the sea before the wheat-harvest."

Out on the Askatoon trail, the Young Doctor ruminated over what he had
seen and heard at Tralee. "That old geezer will get an awful jolt one
day," he said to himself. "If that girl should wake! Her eyes--if
somebody comes along and draws the curtains! She hasn't the least idea of
where she is or what it all means. All she knows is that she's a prisoner
in some strange, savage country and doesn't know its language or anybody
at all--as though she'd lost her memory. Any fellow, young, handsome and
with enough dash and colour to make him romantic could do it. . . . Poor
little robin in the snow!" he added, and looked back towards Tralee.

As he did so, the man from Slow Down Ranch cantering towards Tralee
caught his eye. "Louise-Orlando," he said musingly; then, with a sudden
flick of the reins on his horse's back, he added abruptly, almost
sternly, "By the great horn spoons, no!"

Thus when his prophecy took concrete form, he revolted from it. A grave
look came into his face.



CHAPTER IV

TWO SIDES TO A BARGAIN

As the Young Doctor had said, Orlando Guise did not look like a real,
simon-pure "cowpuncher." He had the appearance of being dressed for the
part, like an actor who has never mounted a cayuse, in a Wild West play.
Yet on this particular day,--when the whole prairie country was alive
with light, thrilling with elixir from the bottle of old Eden's vintage,
and as comfortable as a garden where upon a red wall the peach-vines
cling--he seemed far more than usual the close-fitting, soil-touched son
of the prairie. His wide felt hat, turned up on one side like a
trooper's, was well back on his head; his pinkish brown face was freely
taking the sun, and his clear, light-blue eyes gazed ahead unblinking in
the strong light. His forehead was unwrinkled--a rare thing in that
prairie country where the dry air corrugates the skin; his light-brown
hair curled loosely on the brow, graduating back to closer, crisper curls
which in their thickness made a kind of furry cap. It was like the coat
of a French poodle, so glossy and so companionable was it to the head. A
bright handkerchief of scarlet was tied loosely around his throat, which
was even a little more bare than was the average ranchman's; and his
thick, much-pocketed flannel shirt, worn in place of a waistcoat and
coat, was of a shade of red which contrasted and yet harmonized with the
scarlet of the neckerchief. He did not wear the sheepskin leggings so
common among the ranchmen of the West, but a pair of yellowish corduory
riding-breeches, with boots that laced from the ankle to the knee. These
boots had that touch of the theatrical which made him more fantastic than
original in the eyes of his fellow-citizens.

Also he wore a ring with a star-sapphire, which made him incongruous,
showy and foppish, and that was a thing not easy of forgiveness in the
West. Certainly the West would not have tolerated him as far as it did,
had it not been for three things: the extraordinary good nature which
made him giggle; the fact that on more than one occasion he had given
conclusive evidence that he was brave; and the knowledge that he was at
least well-to-do. In a kind of vague way people had come to realize that
his giggles belonged to a nature without guile and recklessly frank.

"He beats the band," Jonas Billings, the livery-stable keeper, had said
of him; while Burlingame, the pernicious lawyer of shady character, had
remarked that he had the name of an impostor and the frame of a fop; but
he wasn't sure, as a lawyer, that he'd seen all the papers in the
case--which was tantamount to saying that the Orlando nut needed some
cracking.

It was generally agreed that his name was ridiculous, romantic and
unreasonable. It seemed to challenge public opinion. Most names in the
West were without any picturesqueness or colour; they were commonplace
and almost geometric in their form, more like numbers to represent people
than things of character in themselves. There were names semi-scriptural
and semi-foreign in Askatoon, but no name like Orlando Guise had ever
come that way before, and nothing like the man himself had ever ridden
the Askatoon trails. One thing had to be said, however; he rode the trail
like a broncho-buster, and he sat his horse as though he had been born in
the saddle.--On this particular day, in spite of his garish "get-up," he
seemed to belong to the life in which he was lightheartedly whistling a
solo from one of Meyerbeer's operas. Meyerbeer was certainly incongruous
to the prairie, but it and the whistling were in keeping with the man
himself.

Over on Slow Down Ranch there lived a curious old lady who wore a bonnet
of Sweet Sixteen of the time of the Crimea, and with a sense of colour
which would wreck the reputation of a kaleidoscope. She it was who had
taught her son Orlando the tunefulness of Meyerbeer and Balfe and
Offenbach, and the operatic jingles of that type of composer. Orlando
Guise had come by his outward showiness naturally. Yet he was not like
his mother, save in this particular. His mother was flighty and had no
sense, while he, behind the gaiety of his wardrobe and his giggles, had
very much sense of a quite original kind. Even as he whistled Meyerbeer,
riding towards Tralee, his eyes had a look of one who was trying to see
into things; and his lips, when the whistling ceased, had a cheerful
pucker which seemed to show that he had seen what he wanted.

"Wonder if I'll get a glimpse of the so-called Mrs. Mazarine," he said
aloud. "Bad enough to marry a back-timer, but to marry Mazarine--they
don't say she's blind, either! Money--what won't we do for money, Mary?
But if she's as young as they say, she could have waited a bit for the
oof-bird to fly her way. Lots of men have money as well as looks. Anyhow,
I'm ready to take his cattle off his hands on a fair, square deal, and if
his girl-missis is what they say, I wouldn't mind--"

Having said this, he giggled and giggled again at his unspoken
impertinence. He knew he had almost said something fatuous, but the
suppressed idea appealed to him, nevertheless; for whatever he did, he
always had a vision of doing something else; and wherever he was, he was
always fancying himself to be somewhere else. That was the strain of
romance in him which came from his mixed ancestry. It was the froth and
bubble of a dreamer's legacy, which had made his mother, always
unconsciously theatrical, have a vision of a life on the prairies, with
the white mountains in the distance, where her beloved son would be
master of a vast domain, over which he should ride like one of Cortez'
conquistadores. Having "money to burn," she had, at a fortunate moment,
bought the ranch which, by accident, had done well from the start, and
bade fair, through the giggling astuteness of her spectacular son, to do
far better still by design.

On the first day of their arrival at Slow Down Ranch, the mother had
presented Orlando with a most magnificent Mexican bridle and head-stall
covered with silver conchs, and a saddle with stirrups inlaid with
silver. Wherefore, it was no wonder that most people stared and wondered,
while some sneered and some even hated. On the whole, however, Orlando
Guise was in the way of making a place for himself in the West in spite
of natural drawbacks.

Old Mazarine did not merely sneer as he saw the gay cavalier approach, he
snorted; and he would have blasphemed, if he had not been a professing
Christian.

"Circus rider!" he said to himself. "Wants taking down some, and he's
come to the right place to get it."

On his part, Orlando Guise showed his dislike of the repellent figure by
a brusque giggle, and further expressed what was in his mind by the one
word "Turk!"

His repugnance, however, was balanced by something possessing the old man
still more disagreeable. Like a malignant liquid, there crept up through
Joel Mazarine's body to the roots of his hair the ancient virus of Cain.
It was jealous, ravenous, grim: old age hating the rich, robust, panting
youth of the man be fore him. Was it that being half man, half beast, he
had some animal instinct concerning this young rough-rider before him?
Did he in some vague, prescient way associate this gaudy newcomer with
his girl-wife? He could not himself have said. Primitive passions are
corporate of many feelings but of little sight.

As Orlando Guise slid from his horse, Joel Mazarine steadied himself and
said: "Come about the cattle? Ready to buy and pay cash down?"

Orlando Guise giggled.

"What are you sniggering at?" snorted the old man.

"I thought it was understood that if I liked the bunch I was to pay
cash," Orlando replied. "I've got a good report of the beasts, but I want
to look them over. My head cattleman told you what I'd do. That's why I
smiled. Funny, too: you don't look like a man who'd talk more than was
wanted." He giggled again.

"Fool--I'll make you laugh on the other side of your mouth!" the Master
of Tralee said to himself; and then he motioned to where a bunch of a
hundred or so cattle were grazing in a little dip of the country between
them and Askatoon. "I'll get my buckboard. It's all hitched up and ready,
and we can get down and see them right now," he said aloud. "Won't you
find it rough going on the buckboard? Better ride," remarked Orlando
Guise.

"I don't ever notice rough going," grunted the old man. "Some people ride
horses to show themselves off; I ride a buckboard 'cause it suits me."

Orlando Guise chirruped. "Say, we mustn't get scrapping," he said gaily.
"We've got to make a bargain."

In a few moments they were sweeping across the prairie, and sure enough
the buckboard bumped, tumbled and plunged into the holes of the gophers
and coyotes, but the old man sat the seat with the tenacity of a gorilla
clinging to the branch of a tree.

In about three-quarters of an hour the two returned to Tralee, and in
front of the house the final bargaining took place. There was a
difference of five hundred dollars between them, and the old man fought
stubbornly for it; and though Orlando giggled, it was clear he was no
fool at a bargain, and that he had many resources. At last he threw doubt
upon the pedigree of a bull. With a snarl Mazarine strode into the house.
He had that pedigree, and it was indisputable. He would show the young
swaggerer that he could not be caught anywhere in this game.

As Joel Mazarine entered the doorway of the house Orlando giggled again,
because he had two or three other useful traps ready, and this was really
like baiting a bull. Every thrust made this bull more angry; and Orlando
knew that if he became angry enough he could bring things to a head with
a device by which the old man would be forced to yield; for he did not
want to buy, as much as Mazarine wished to sell.

The device, however, was never used, and Orlando ceased giggling
suddenly, for chancing to glance up he saw a face at a window, pale,
exquisite, delicate, with eyes that stared and stared at him as though he
were a creature from some other world.

Such a look he had never seen in anybody's eyes; such a look Louise
Mazarine had never given in her life before. Something had drawn her out
of her bed in spite of herself--a voice which was not that of old Joel
Mazarine, but a new, fresh, vibrant voice which broke into little spells
of inconsequent laughter. She loved inconsequent laughter, and never
heard it at Tralee. She had crept from her bed and to the window, and
before he saw her, she had watched him with a look which slowly became an
awakening: as though curtains had been drawn aside revealing a new,
strange, ecstatic world.

Louise Mazarine had seen something she had never seen before, because a
feeling had been born in her which she had never felt. She had never
fully known what sex was, or in any real sense what man meant. This
romantic, picturesque, buoyant figure of youth struck her as the rock was
struck by Moses; and for the first time in all her days she was wholly
alive. Also, for the first time in his life, Orlando Guise felt a wonder
which in spite of the hereditary romance in him had never touched him
before. Like Ferdinand and Miranda in The Tempest, "they changed eyes."

A heavy step was heard coming through the hallway, and at once the
exquisite, staring face at the window vanished-while Orlando Guise turned
his back upon the open doorway and walked a few steps towards the gate in
an effort to recover himself. When he turned again to meet Mazarine, who
had a paper in his hand, there was a flush on his cheek and a new light
in his eye. The old man did not notice that, however, for his avaricious
soul was fixed upon the paper in his hand. He thrust it before Orlando's
eyes. "What you got to say to that, Mister?" he demanded.

Orlando appeared to examine the paper carefully, and presently he handed
it back and said slowly: "That gives you the extra five hundred. It's a
bargain." How suddenly he had capitulated--

"Cash?" asked the old man triumphantly. How should he know by what means
Orlando had been conquered!

"I've got a cheque in my pocket. I'll fill it in."

"A cheque ain't cash," growled the grizzly one.

"You can cash it in an hour. Come in to Askatoon, and I'll get you the
cash with it now," said Orlando. "I can't. A man's coming for a stallion
I want to sell. Give me a hundred dollars cash now to clinch the bargain,
and I'll meet you at Askatoon to-morrow and get the whole of it in cash.
I don't deal with banks. I pay hard money, and I get hard money. That's
my rule."

"Well, you're in luck, for I've got a hundred dollars," answered Orlando.
"I've just got that, and a dollar besides, in my pocket. To-morrow you go
to my lawyer, Burlingame, at Askatoon, and you'll get the rest of the
money. It will be there waiting for you."

"Cash?" pressed the old man.

"Certainly: Government hundred-dollar bills. Give me a receipt for this
hundred dollars."

"Come inside," said the old man almost cheerfully. He loved having his
own way. He was almost insanely self-willed. It did his dark soul good to
triumph over this "circus rider."

As Joel Mazarine preceded him, Orlando looked up at the window again. For
one instant the beautiful, pale face of the girl-wife appeared, and then
vanished.

At the doorway of the house Orlando Guise stumbled. That was an unusual
thing to happen to him. He was too athletic to step carelessly, and yet
he stumbled and giggled. It was not a fatuous giggle, however. In it were
all kinds of strange things.



CHAPTER V

ORLANDO HAS AN ADVENTURE

Burlingame had the best practice of any lawyer in Askatoon, although his
character had its shady side. The prairie standards were not low; but
tolerance is natural where the community is ready-made; where people from
all points of the compass come together with all sorts of things behind
them; where standards have at first no organized sanction. Financially
Burlingame was honest enough, his defects being associated with those
ancient sources of misconduct, wine and women--and in his case the
morphia habit as well. It said much for his physique that, in spite of
his indulgences, he not only remained a presentable figure but a lucky
and successful lawyer.

Being something of a philosopher, the Young Doctor looked upon Burlingame
chiefly as one of those inevitable vintages from a vineyard which,
according to the favour or disfavour of Heaven, yields from the same soil
both good and bad. He had none of that Puritanism which would ruthlessly
root out the vines yielding the bad wine. To his mind that could only be
done by the axe, the rope or the bullet. It seemed of little use, and
very unfair, to drive the wolf out of your own garden into that of your
neighbour. Therefore Burlingame must be endured.

The day after the Young Doctor had paid his professional visit to Tralee,
and Orlando Guise had first seen the girl-wife of, the behemoth, the
Young Doctor visited Burlingame's office. Burlingame had only recently
returned from England, whither he had gone on important legal business,
which he had agreeably balanced by unguarded adventures in forbidden
paths. He was in an animated mood. Three things had just happened which
had given him great pleasure.

In the morning he had gained a verdict of acquittal in the case of one of
the McMahon Gang for manslaughter connected with jumping a claim; and
this meant increased reputation.

He had also got a letter from Orlando Guise, and a cheque for six
thousand dollars, with instructions to pay the amount in cash to Joel
Mazarine; and this meant a chance of meeting Mazarine and perhaps getting
a new client.

Likewise he had received a letter of instructions from a client in
Montreal, a kinsman and legatee of old Michael Turley, the late owner of
Tralee, in connection with a legacy. This would involve some legal
proceedings with considerable costs, and also contact with Joel Mazarine,
whom he had not yet seen; for Mazarine had come while he was away in
England.

His interest in Mazarine, however, was really an interest in Mrs.
Mazarine, concerning whom he had heard things which stimulated his
imagination. To him a woman was the supreme interest of existence, apart
from making a necessary living. He was the primitive and pernicious
hunter. He had been discreet enough not to question people too closely
where Mazarine's wife was concerned, but there was, however, one gossip
whom Burlingame questioned with some freedom. This was Patsy Kernaghan.

Before the Young Doctor arrived at his office this particular morning,
Patsy, who had followed him from the Court-house, was put under a light
and skillful cross-examination. He had been of service to Burlingame more
than once; and he was regarded as a useful man to do odd jobs for his
office, as for other offices in Askatoon.

"Aw, him--that murderin' moloch at Tralee!" exclaimed Patsy when the
button was pressed. "That Methodys' fella with the face of a pirate! If
there wasn't a better Protistan' than him in the world, the Meeting
Houses'd be used for kindlin'-wood. Joel, they call him--a dacint
prophet's name misused!

"I h'ard him praying once, as I stood outside the Meetin' House windys.
To hear that holy hyena lift up his voice to the skies! Shure, I've never
been the same man since, for the voice of him says wan thing, and the
look of him another. Sez I to meself, Mr. Burlingame, y'r anner, the
minute I first saw him, sez I, 'Askatoon's no safe place for me.' Whin
wan like that gits a footin' in a place, the locks can't be too manny to
shut ye in whin ye want to sleep at night. That fella's got no pedigree,
and if it wouldn't hurt some dacent woman, maybe, I'd say he was
misbegotten. But still, I'll tell ye: out there at Tralee there's what'd
have saved Sodom and Gomorrah-aye, that'd have saved Jerusalem, and there
wouldn't ha' been a single moan from Jeremiah. Out at Tralee there's as
beautiful a little lady as you'd want to see. Just a girl she is, not
more than nineteen or twenty years of age. She's got a face that'd make
ye want to lift the chorals an' the antiphones to her every marnin'.
She's got the figure of one that was never to grow up, an' there she is
the wedded wife of that crocodile great-grandfather.

"Aw, I know all about it, Mr. Burlingame, y'r anner. How do I know?
Didn't Michael Turley tell me before he died what sort o' man his cousin
was? Didn't he tell me Joel Mazarine married first whin he was eighteen
years of age; an' his daughter was married whin she was seventeen; an'
her son was married whin he was eighteen--an' Joel's a great-grandfather
now. An' see him out there with her that looks as if the kindergarten was
the place for her."

"Do you go to Tralee often?" asked Burlingame. "Aw yis. There's a job now
and then to do. I'm ridin' an old moke on errands for him whin his hired
folks is busy. A man must live, and there's that purty lass with the
Irish eyes! Man alive, but it goes to me heart to luk at her."

"Well, I think I must have a 'luk' at her then," was Burlingame's half
satirical remark.

Not long after Patsy Kernaghan had left Burlingame's office, the Young
Doctor came. His business was brief, and he was about to leave when
Burlingame said:

"The Mazarines out at Tralee-you know them? They came while I was away.
Queer old goat, isn't he?"

"His exact place in natural history I'm not able to select," answered the
Young Doctor dryly, "but I know him."

"And his wife--you know her?" asked Burlingame casually.

The other nodded. "Yes-in a professional way."

"Has she been sick?"

"She is ill now."

"What's the matter?"

"What's the truth about that McMahon claim-jumper who was acquitted this
morning?" asked the Young Doctor with a quizzical eye and an acid note to
his voice. "You've got your verdict, but you know the real truth, and you
mustn't and won't tell it. Well?"

Burlingame saw. "Well, I'll have to ask the old goat myself," he said.
"He's coming here to-day." He took up Orlando Guise's letter from the
table, glanced at it smilingly, and threw it down again. "He must be a
queer specimen," Burlingame continued. "He wouldn't take Orlando Guise's
cheque yesterday. He says he'll only be paid in hard cash. He's coming
here this afternoon to get it. He's a crank, whatever else he is. They
tell me he doesn't keep a bank account. If he gets a cheque, he has it
changed into cash. If he wants to send a cheque away, he buys one for
cash from somebody. He pays for everything in cash, if he can. Actually,
he hasn't a banking account in the place. Cash--nothing but cash! What do
you think of that?"

The Young Doctor nodded: "Cash as a habit is useful. Every man must have
his hobby, I suppose. Considering the crimes tried at the court in this
town, Mazarine's got unusual faith in human nature; or else he feels
himself pretty safe at Tralee."

"Thieves?" asked Burlingame satirically.

"Yes, I believe that's still the name, though judging from some of your
talk in the Court-house, it's a word that gives opportunity to take
cover. I hope your successful client of to-day, and his brothers, are not
familiar with the ways of Mr. Mazarine. I hope they don't know about this
six thousand dollars in cold cash."

A sneering, sour smile came to Burlingame's lips. The medical man's dry
allusions touched him on the raw all too often.

"Oh, of course, I told them all about that six thousand dollars! Of
course! A lot of people suspect those McMahons of being crooked. Well, it
has never been proved. Until it's proved, they're entitled--" Burlingame
paused.

"To the benefit of the doubt, eh?"

"Why not? I've heard you hold the balance pretty fair 'twixt your
patients and the undertaker."

Quite unmoved, the Young Doctor coolly replied: "In your own happy
phrase--of course! I get a commission from the undertaker when the
patient's a poor man; when he's a rich man, I keep him alive! It pays.
The difference between your friends the criminals and me is that probably
nobody will ever be able to catch me out. But the McMahons, we'll get
them yet,"--a stern, determined look came into his honest eye,--"yes,
we'll get them yet. They're a nasty fringe on the skirts of Askatoon.

"But there it is as it is," he continued. "You take their dirty money,
and I don't refuse pay when I'm called in to attend the worst man in the
West, whoever he may be. Why, Burlingame, as your family physician, I
shouldn't hesitate even to present my account against your estate if, in
a tussle with the devil, he got you out of my hands."

Now a large and friendly smile covered his face. He liked hard hitting,
but he also liked to take human nature as it was, and not to quarrel.
Burlingame, on his part, had no desire for strife with the Young Doctor.
He would make a very dangerous enemy. His return smile was a great
effort, however. Ruefulness and exasperation were behind it.

The Young Doctor had only been gone a few minutes when Joel Mazarine
entered Burlingame's office. "I've come about that six thousand dollars
Mr. Guise of Slow Down Ranch owes me," the old man said without any
formal salutation. He was evidently not good-humoured.

At sight of Mazarine, Burlingame at once accepted the general verdict
concerning him. That, however, would not prejudice him greatly.
Burlingame had no moral sense. Mazarine's face might revolt him, but not
his character.

"I've got the cash here for you, and I'll have in a witness and hand the
money over at once," he said: "The receipt is ready. I assume you are
Joel Mazarine," he added, in a weak attempt at being humorous.

"Get on with the business, Mister," said the old man surlily.

In a few moments he had the six thousand dollars in good government notes
in two inner pockets of his shirt. It made him feel very warm and
comfortable. His face almost relaxed into a smile when he bade Burlingame
good-day.

Burlingame had said nothing about the letter from the late Michael
Turley's kinsman in Montreal and the question of the legacy. This was
deliberate on his part. He wanted an excuse to visit Tralee and see its
mistress with his own eyes. He had attempted to pluck many flowers in his
day, and had not been unsuccessful. Out at Tralee was evidently a rare
orchid carefully shielded by the gardener.

As Mazarine left the lawyer's office, he met in the doorway that member
of the McMahon family for whom Burlingame had secured a verdict of
acquittal a couple of hours before. As was his custom, Mazarine gave the
other a sharp, scrutinizing look, but he saw no one he knew; and he
passed on. The furtive smile which had betrayed his content at pocketing
the six thousand dollars still lingered at the corners of his mouth.

Though he did not know the legally innocent McMahon whom he had just
passed, McMahon was not so ignorant. There was no one in all the
countryside whom the McMahons did not know. It was their habit--or
something else--to be familiar with the history of everybody thereabouts,
although they lived secluded lives at Arrowhead Ranch, which adjoined
that belonging to Orlando Guise.

When Tom McMahon saw Mazarine leave Burlingame's office, his furtive eye
lighted. Then it was true, what he had heard from the hired girl at Slow
Down Ranch: that old Mazarine was to receive six thousand dollars in cash
from Orlando Guise by the hands of Burlingame! Only that very morning, at
the moment of his own release from jail, his brother Bill McMahon had
told him of the conversation overheard between Orlando and his mother, by
Milly Gorst, the hired girl.

He turned and watched Mazarine go down the street and enter a barber's
shop. If Mazarine was going to have his hair cut, he would be in the
barber's shop for some time. With intense reflection in his eyes, McMahon
entered Burlingame's office. He had come to settle up accounts for a
clever piece of court-room work on the part of Burlingame. It was very
well worth paying for liberally.

When he entered the office, Burlingame was not there. A clerk, however,
informed him that Burlingame would be free within a few moments--and
would he take a chair? Thereupon, the clerk left the room. McMahon took a
chair--not the one towards which the clerk pointed him, but one beside
the desk whereon were lying a number of open letters.

The interrogation always in the mind of a natural criminal, prompted
McMahon to take a seat near the open letters. As soon as the clerk left
the room, a hairy hand reached out for the nearest letter, and a swift
glance took in its contents.

A grimly cheerful, vicious smile lighted up the heavily bearded face.
Placing the letter on the desk again, as soon as it was read, McMahon
almost threw himself over to the chair at some distance from the desk,
which the clerk had first offered him. There he sat with his elbows on
his knees and his chin in his hands when Burlingame entered the room.

Ten minutes later, with a receipted bill in his pocket, Tom McMahon made
for the barber's shop which Mazarine had entered. He found it full, but
seated in the red-plush chair, tipped back at a convenient angle, was
Mazarine undergoing the triple operations of shaving his upper lip,
beard-trimming and haircutting. From that moment and for the rest of all
the long day and evening, Joel Mazarine commanded the unvarying interest
of two members of the McMahon family.

Orlando Guise had had a long day, but one that somehow made him whistle
or sing to himself most of the time. In a way, half a lifetime had gone
since the day before, when he had first seen what he called to himself
"the captive maid." He had never been so happy in his life; and yet he
knew that he had not the faintest right to be happy. The girl who had so
upset his self-control as to make him stumble on her doorstep was the
wife of another man. It was, of course, silly to call him "another man,"
because he seemed a million miles away from any sphere in which Orlando
lived. Yet he was another man; and he was also the husband of the girl
who had made Orlando feel for the very first time a strange singing in
his veins. It actually was as though some wonderful, magnetic thing was
making his veins throb and every nerve tingle and sing.

"It beats me," he said to himself fifty times that day. He had never been
in love. He did not know what it was like, except that he had seen it
make men do silly things, just as drink did. He did not know whether he
was in love or not. It was absurd that a man should be in love with a
face at a window--a face with the beauty of a ghost rather than of a real
live woman.

Orlando had little evil in his nature; his eyes did not look towards
Tralee as did Burlingame's eyes. Nothing furtive stirred in Orlando's
intensely blue eyes. Whatever the feeling was, it was an open thing,
which had neither motive nor purpose behind it--just a thing almost
feminine in its nature. As yet it was like the involuntary adoration
which girls at a certain period of their lives feel successively for one
hero after another. What it would become, who could tell? What would
happen to the young girl adoring the actor, or the hero of the North
Pole, the battle-field or the sea, if the adored one was not far off, but
very near? Indeed, who could tell?

But as it was, in the upper room where Louise sat all day looking out
over the prairie, and on the prairie where business carried Orlando from
ranch to ranch on this perfect day, no recreant thought or feeling
existed. Each was a simple soul, as yet unspoiled and in one sense
unsophisticated--the girl, however, with an instinctive caution, such as
an animal possesses in the presence of a foe with which it is in truce;
the man with an astuteness which belonged to a native instinct for
finding a way of doing hard things in the battle of life.

All day Orlando wondered when he should see that face again; all day the
eyes of Louise pleaded for another look at the ranchman with the dress of
a dandy, the laugh of a child, and the face of an Apollo--or so it seemed
to her. It was the sort of day which ministers to human emotion, which
stirs the sluggish blood, revives the drooping spirit. There was a
curious, delicate blueness of the sky over which an infinitely more
delicate veil of mist was softly drawn. At many places on the prairie the
haymakers were loading the great wagons; here and there a fallow field
was burning; yonder a house was building; cattle were being rounded up;
and far off, like moving specks, ranchmen were climbing the hills where
the wild bronchos were, for a day of the toughest, most thrilling sport
which the world knows.

Night fell, and found Orlando making for the trail between what was known
as the Company's Ranch and Tralee. To reach his own ranch, he had to
cross it at an angle near the Tralee homestead. It was dark, with no
moon, but the stars were bright.

As he crossed the Tralee trail, he suddenly heard a cry for help. Between
him and where the sound came from was a fire burning. It was the
camp-fire of some prairie pioneer making for a new settlement in the
North; and beside it was a tent whose owner was absent in Askatoon.

Orlando dug heels into his horse and rode for the point from which the
cry for help had come. Something was undoubtedly wrong. The voice was
that of one in real trouble--a hoarse, strangled sort of voice.

As he galloped through the light of the camp-fire, a pistol-shot rang
out, and he felt a sharp, stinging pain in his side. Still urging his
horse, he cleared the little circle of light and presently saw a man
rapidly mounting a horse, while two others struggled on the ground.

He dashed forward. As he did so, one of the men on the ground freed
himself, sprang to his feet, mounted his horse, and was away into the
night with his companion. Orlando slid to the ground beside the figure
which was slowly raising itself from the ground.

"What's the matter? Are you all right? Have they hurt you?" he asked, as
he stooped over and caught the shoulders of the victim of the two fleeing
figures.

At that instant there were two more pistol-shots, and a bullet hit the
ground beside Orlando. Then he saw dimly the face of the man whom he was
helping to his feet.

"Mazarine! Good Lord-Mazarine!" he said in an anxious voice. "What have
they done to you?"

"Nothing--I'm all right. The dogs, the rogues, the thieves--but they
didn't get it! It was in the pockets of my shirt." The old man was
almost hysterical. "You just come in time, Mr. Guise. You frightened 'em
off. They'd have found it, if it hadn't been for you."

"Found what?" asked Orlando, as he helped the old man towards the
camp-fire, himself in pain, and a dizziness coming over him.

"Found your six thousand dollars that Burlingame paid me to-day," gasped
the old man, spasmodically; "but it's here-it's here!" He caught at his
breast with devouring greed.

Somehow the agitated joy of the old man revolted Orlando. He had a sudden
rush of repulsion; but he fought it down.

"Are you all right?" he asked. "Are you all right?" Somehow the sound of
his own voice was very weak. "Yes, I'm all right," Mazarine said, and he
called to his horse near by.

The horse did not stir, and the old man, whose breath came almost
normally now, moved over and caught its bridle.

In a dazed kind of way, and with growing unsteadiness, Orlando walked
towards the camp-fire. He was leaning against his horse, and opening his
coat and waistcoat to find the wound in his side and staunch it with the
kerchief from his neck, when Mazarine came up.

"What's that on your coat and breeches? Say, you're all bloody!"
exclaimed Mazarine. "Why, they shot you!"

"Yes, they got me," was Orlando's husky reply, and he gave a funny little
laugh. Giggling, people had called it.

"How are we going to get you home?" Mazarine asked. "You can't ride."

At that moment there was the rumbling jolt of a wagon. It was the
pioneer-emigrant returning from Askatoon to his camp.

A few minutes later Orlando was lying on some bags in the emigrant's
wagon, while Mazarine rode beside it. "It's only a few hundred yards to
the house," said the emigrant sympathetically, as he looked down at the
now unconscious figure in the wagon.

"It's four miles to his house," said Mazarine. "Well, I'm not taking him
four miles to his house or any house," said the emigrant. "My horse has
had enough to-day, and the sooner the lad's attended to, the better. He's
going to the nearest house, and that's Tralee, as they call it, just
here."

"That's my house," gruffly replied the old man. "Well, that's where you
want him to go, ain't it?" asked the pioneer sharply. He could not
understand the owner of Tralee.

"Yes, that's where I want him to go," replied Mazarine slowly.

"Then you ride ahead on the trail, and I'll follow," returned the other
decisively.

"What's the matter? Who hurt him?" he presently called to Mazarine,
riding in front.

"I'll tell you when we get to Tralee," answered the old man, with his
eyes fixed on two lights in the near distance. One was in the kitchen,
where a half-breed woman was giving supper to Li Choo, a faithful
Chinaman roustabout; the other was in the room where a young wife sat
with hands clasped, wondering why her husband did not return, yet glad
that he did not.



CHAPTER VI

"THINGS MUST HAPPEN"

Between two sunrises Louise Mazarine had seen her old world pass in a
flash of flame and a new world trembling with a new life spread out
before her; had come to know what her old world really was. The eyes with
which she looked upon her new world had in them the glimmer not only of
awakened feeling but of awakened understanding. To this time she had
endured her aged husband as a slave comes to bear the lashes of his
master, with pain which will be renewed and renewed, but pain only, and
not the deeper torture of the soul; for she had never really grasped what
their relations meant. To her it had all been part of the unavoidable
misery of life. But on that sunny afternoon when Orlando Guise's voice
first sounded in her ears, and his eyes looked into hers as, pale and
ill, she gazed at him from the window, a revelation came to her of what
the three years of life with Joel Mazarine had really been. From that
moment until she heard the pioneer's wagon, escorted by her husband,
bringing the unconscious Orlando Guise to her door, she had lived in a
dream which seemed like a year of time to her.

Since the early morning of that very day, when Joel had leaned over her
bed and asked her in his slow, grinding voice how she was, she had lived
more than in all the past nineteen years of her life. The Young Doctor
had come and gone, amazed at first, but presently with a look of
apprehension in his eyes. There was not much trace of yesterday's illness
in the alert, eager girl-wife, who twenty-four hours before had been
really nearer to the end of all things than her aged husband. The Young
Doctor knew all too well what the curious, throbbing light in her eyes
meant. He knew that the gay and splendid Orlando Guise had made the sun
for this prismatic radiance, and that the story of her life, which Louise
had wished to tell him yesterday, would never now be told--for she would
have no desire to tell it. The old vague misery, the ancient veiled
torture, was behind her, and she was presently to suffer a new
torture--but also a joy for which men and women have borne unspeakable
things. No, Louise would never tell him the story of her life, because
now she knew it was a thing which must not be told. Her mind understood
things it had never known before. To be wise is to be secret, and she had
learned some wisdom; and the Young Doctor wondered if the greater wisdom
she must learn would be drunk from the cup of folly. Before he left her
he had said to her with meaning in his voice:

"My dear young madam, your recovery is too rapid. It is not a cure: it is
a miracle; and miracles are not easily understood. We must, therefore,
make them understood; and so you will take regularly three times a day
the powerful tonic I will give you."

She was about to interrupt him, but he waved a hand reprovingly and added
with kindly irony:

"Yes, we both know you don't need a tonic out of a bottle; but it's just
as well other people should think that the tonic bringing back the colour
to your cheeks comes out of a bottle and not out of a health resort,
called Slow Down Ranch, about four miles to the north-west of Tralee."

As he said this, he looked straight into the eyes which seemed, as it
were, to shrink into cover from what he was saying. But when, an instant
afterwards, he took her hand and said good-bye, he knew by the trembling
clasp of her fingers--even more appealing than they had yet been--that
she understood.

So it was a few moments later, outside the house, he had said to Joel
Mazarine that he had given his wife a powerful tonic, and he hoped to see
an almost instant change in her condition; but she must have her room to
herself for a time, according to his instructions of the day before, as
she was nervous and needed solitude, to induce sleep. He was then about
to start for Askatoon when the old man said:

"I suppose you won't have to come again, as she's going on all right."

To this the Young Doctor had replied firmly: "Yes, I'm coming out
to-morrow. She's not fit yet to go to Askatoon, and I must see her once
again."

"Oh, keep coming--that's right, keep coming!" answered the miserly old
man, who still was not so miserly that he did not want his young wife
blooming. "Coming to-morrow, eh!" he added, with something very like a
sneer.

The other had a sudden flash of fury pass through his veins. The old
Celtic quickness to resent insult swept over him. The ire of his
forefathers waked in him. This outrageous old Caliban, to attempt to
sneer at him! For an instant he was Kilkenny let loose, and then the
cool, trained brain reasserted its mastery, and he replied:

"If there should be a turn for the worse, send for me to-night--not
to-morrow!" And he looked the old man in the eyes with a steady, steelly
glance which had nothing to do with the words he had just uttered, but
was the challenge of a conquering spirit.

The Young Doctor had acted with an almost uncanny prescience. It was as
though he had foreseen that Orlando Giuse would be carried upstairs to a
room nearly opposite that of Louise, and laid unconscious on a bed, till
he himself should come again that very night and extract a bullet from
Orlando's side; that he would open Orlando's eyes to consciousness, hear
Orlando say, "Where am I?" and note his startled look when told he was at
Tralee.

Once during this visit, while making Orlando safe and comfortable, with
the help of Li Choo, the Chinaman, and Rada, the half-breed, he had seen
Louise for a moment. The old man had gone to the stables, and as he came
out of the room where Orlando was, Louise's door opened softly on him.
Dimly, in the half-darkness of her room, in which no light was burning,
he saw her. She beckoned to him. Shutting the door of Orlando's bedroom
behind him, he came quickly to her side and said:

"Go to bed at once, young woman. This will not do."

"I'm not sick now," she urged. "Say, I really am well again."

"You must not be well again so soon," he replied meaningly. "I want you
to understand that you must not," he insisted.

There was a pause, which seemed interminable to the Young Doctor, who was
listening for the heavy footstep of Joel Mazarine outside the house; and
then at last in agitation Louise said to him:

"Will he get well? Rada told me he was shot saving Mr. Mazarine. Will he
get well?"

"Yes, he will get well, and quickly, if--"

He broke off, for there was the thud of a heavy footstep for which he had
been listening. Joel Mazarine was returning.

"Won't they let me help nurse him?" she whispered.

The Young Doctor shook his head in negation. "His mother will be here
to-morrow," he said quickly. "Be wise, my child."

"You understand?" she whispered wistfully.

"I have no understanding. Go to bed," he answered sharply. "Shut the door
at once."

When old Joel Mazarine's footsteps were heard upon the staircase again,
Orlando was lying with half-closed eyes, watching, yet too weak to speak;
and the Young Doctor was giving directions to Rada and Li Choo for the
night-watch in Orlando's room. When Mazarine entered, the Young Doctor
gave him a casual nod and went on with his directions. When he had
finished, Rada said in her broken English, with an accent half-Indian,
half-French:

"His mother you send for--yes? She come queeck. Some one must take care
him when for me get breakfus and Li Choo do chores."

"We'll send for her in the morning," interrupted Joel Mazarine.

"Perhaps Mrs. Mazarine would be well enough to help a little in the
morning," remarked the Young Doctor in a colourless voice. He knew when
to be audacious; or, if he did not know, he had an instinct; and he
noticed that the wounded man's eyelids did not even blink when he threw
out the hint concerning Louise, while the eyes of the old man took on a
sullen flame.

"Mrs. Mazarine has to be molly-coddled herself--that's what you've taught
her," he snarled.

"Well, then, send for Mrs. Guise to-night," commanded the Young Doctor.

He thought Joel Mazarine made unnecessary noise as he stamped down the
staircase to send a farmhand to Slow Down Ranch; and he also thought that
Orlando Guise showed discretion of manner and look in a moment of
delicacy and difficulty. He knew, however, that, as the children say,
"Things must happen."



CHAPTER VII

"THE ZOOLYOGICAL GARDEN"

Patsy Kernaghan regarded Tralee as a kind of Lost Paradise, for the most
part because it had passed from the hands of a son of the Catholic Church
into those of the "prayin' Methodys," as he called them, and also because
he had a "black heart ag'in" Joel Mazarine.

The spark was struck in him with some vigour one day at Tralee. It was
caused by the flamboyant entrance of Mrs. Guise into the front garden, as
the Young Doctor was getting into his buggy for the return journey to
Askatoon, after attending Orlando, whose enforced visit to Tralee had
already extended over a week.

"Aw, Doctor dear," said Patsy, as Orlando's mother fluttered into the
garden like a gorgeous hen with wings outspread, her clothes a riot of
contradictory colours, all of them insistently bright, "d'ye know what
this place is--this terry firmy on which we stand, that's wan mile wan
way, an' half a mile the other? Ye don't? Well, I'll tell ye: it's a
zoolyogical gardin. Is it like a human bein' she is, the dear ould wumman
there? Isn't she just some gay ould bird from the forests of the
Equaytor, wherivir it is? Look at the beautiful little white curls
hanging down her cheek, tied with ribbon-pink ribbon too--an' the bonnet
on her head! Did ye iver see annything like it outside a zoolyogical
gardin? Isn't it like the topknot of some fine old parakeet from
Pernambukoko--and oh, Father Rainbow, the maginta dress of her! Now I
tell you, Doctor dear, I tell you the truth, what I know! She wears
hoops, she does, the same as y'r grandmother used to. An' the bit of rose
ribbon round her waist, hanging down behind--now I ask y'r anner, is it
like a wumman at all? See the face of her, with the little snappin' eyes
an' the yellow beak of a nose, an' the sunset in her cheeks that's put on
wid a painter's brush! Look at her trippin' about! Floatin'--shure,
that's what she's doin'! If you listened hard, you'd hear her buzzin'.
It's the truth I tell ye. D'ye follow me?"

The Young Doctor liked talking to Patsy Kernaghan better than to any
other person in Askatoon. He was always sure to be stimulated by a new
point of view, but he never failed to provoke Kernaghan by scepticism.

"One wild bird from 'Pernambukoko' does not make a zoological garden,
Patsy," he said with an air of dissent.

"Well, that's true for you, Doctor dear," answered Kernaghan, "but this
gardin's got a bunch of specimens for all that. Listen to me now. Did ye
ever notice the likeness between the faces of people and of animals an'
things that fly? You never did? Well, be thinkin' of it now. Ivry man and
wumman here at Tralee looks like an animal or a bird in a zoolyogical
gardin. Shure, there's no likeness between anny two of them; it's as if
they was gathered from ivry corner of the wide wurruld. There's a
Mongolian in the kitchen an' slitherin' about outside, doin' the things
that's part for man and part for wumman. Li Choo they call him. Isn't his
the face of a bald-headed baboon? An' the half-breed crature--she might
ha' come from Patagony. An' the ould man Mazarine--part rhinoceros and
part Methody, he is. An' what do ye be thinkin' of him they call Giggles,
that almost guv his life to save the ould behemoth! Doesn't he remind you
of the zebra, where the wild Hottentots come from--smart and handsome,
but that showy, all stripes and tail and fetlock! D'ye unnerstand what I
mean, y'r anner?"

"Have you finished calling names, Kernaghan?" asked the Young Doctor in a
low tone. "Have you really finished your zoological list?"

Kernaghan's eye flashed. "Aw, Doctor dear," said he, "manny's the time in
County Inniskillen, where you come from, you've seen a wild thing,
bare-footed, springin' from stone to stone on the hillside, wid her hair
flyin' behind like the daughter of a witch or somethin' only half
human-so belongin' to the hills an' the bogs an' the cromlechs was she.
Well, that's the maid that's mistress of Tralee--belongin' as much to the
Gardin of Eden as to this place here. There's none of them here that
belongs. Every wan of them's been caught away from where he ought to be
into this zoolyogical gardin."

"Well, there's one good thing about a zoological garden, Patsy
Kernaghan," said the Young Doctor; "it's generally a safe place for the
birds and animals in it."

"But suppose some wan--suppose, now, the Keeper got drunk and let loose
the popylashin' of the gardin upon each other, d'ye think would it be a
Gardin of Eden?" Suddenly Patsy's manner changed. "Aw, I tell you this,
then: I don't like what I see here, an' I like it less an' less ivry
day."

"What don't you like, Patsy?" asked the other quizzically.

"I don't like the way the old fella watches that child he calls his wife.
I don't like the young fella bein' the cause of the old man's watchin'."

"What has happened? What has he done?" asked the Young Doctor a little
anxiously.

"Divils me own, it isn't what he's done; it's his bein' here. It's his
bein' what he is. It doesn't need doin' to bring wild youth together.
Look at her, y'r anner! A week ago she was like wan that 'd be called to
the Land of Canaan anny minnit. Wasn't you here tendin' her, as if she
was steppin' intil her grave, an' look at her now! She's like a rose in
the garden, like a lark's lilt in the air. What has done it? The young
man's done it. You'll be tellin' the ould fella it's the tonic you've guv
her. Tonic! How long d'ye think he'll belave it?'

"But she never sees Mr. Guise, does she, Patsy? Isn't his mother always
with him? Hasn't Mazarine forbidden his wife to enter the room?"

Kernaghan threw out his hands. "An' you're the man they say's the
cleverest steppin' between Winnipeg and the Mountains--an'--an'--you talk
to me like that! Is the ould fella always in the house? Is he always
upstairs? I ask you now. I'll tell you this, y'r anner--"

The Young Doctor interrupted him. "Don't you suppose that there's
somebody always watching, Patsy--the half-breed, the Chinaman?"

Kernaghan snapped a finger. "Aw, must I be y'r schoolmaster in the days
of your dotage! Of course the ould fella has someone to watch, an' I
dunno which it is--the Chinaman or the half-breed wumman. But I'll tell
you this: they'll take his pay and lie to him about whatever's goin' on
inside the house. That girl has them both in the palms of her hands. Let
him set what spies he will, she'll do what she wants, if the young man
lets her."

"His mother--" interjected the Young Doctor. "Her of the plumage--her!
Shure, she's not livin' in this wurruld. She's only visitin' it. She's
got no responsibility. If iver there was a child of a fairy tale, that
wumman's the child. I belave she'd think her son was doin' right if he
tied the ould fella up to a tree an' stuck him as full of Ingin arrows as
a pin-cushion, an' rode off with the lovely little lady in beyant there.
That's my mind about her. It isn't on her you can rely. If ye want the
truth, y'r anner, them two young people have had words together and
plenty of them, whether it's across the hall--her room from his; or in
his room; or through the windy or down the chimney-shure, I don't care!
They've spoke. There's that between them wants watchin'. Not that there's
wrong in aither of them--divil a bit! I've got me own mind about Mr.
Orlando Giggles. As for her, the purty thing, she doesn't know what wrong
is--that's the worst of it!"

The Young Doctor tapped Kernaghan's head gently with his whip. "Patsy,"
said he, "you talk a lot. There's no greater talker between here and
Donegal. But still I think you know what to say and whom to say it to."

Kernaghan's cap came off. He ran his fingers through his hair and looked
at the other with a primitive intelligence which showed him to be what
the Young Doctor knew him to be--better than his looks, or his place in
the world, or his reputation.

"Thank you kindly, y'r anner," he said, softly. "I'm troubled about
things here, I am. That's why I spoke to ye. I'm afraid of the old fella,
for his place is not in the pen wid that young thing, an' he'll break her
heart, or kill her, if he gets to know the truth."

"What do you mean by 'the truth,' Patsy?" was the sharp query.

"I mean nothin' at all, save that in there wild youth is spakin' to wild
youth--honest and dacint and true. But there's manny a tragedy comes out
of that, y'r anner."

"Orlando has been sitting up for two days," said the Young Doctor
meditatively, "and in two days more he can be removed. Patsy, you are
staying on here.--I know, and I trust you. The girl and the young man
have both been my patients. I think as much of both of them as I can
think of any man or woman. He's straight and--"

"But a girl's mad when the love-song rises in her heart," interjected
Kernaghan.

"Yes, I know, Patsy, but it isn't so bad as you think. I had a talk with
her to-day. Perhaps we can get him away to-morrow. Meanwhile, there can't
much happen."

"Can't much happen, wid that ould wuman in the garden there, an' the
young wife upstairs, an' the fine young fella sittin' alone in his room
achin' for the sound of her voice! Shure, they're together at this
minnit, p'r'aps."

The Young Doctor tapped Kernaghan again on the head with his whip.
"You're a wild Irishman still," he said, "but I think none the worse of
you for that. Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof. Keep your head,
Patsy." And whipping up his horse, he nodded and drove on.

It may be that Kernaghan's instinct was no truer than his own. It may be
the Young Doctor knew Kernaghan's instinct to be true; and it also may be
that what Kernaghan thought possible, the Young Doctor thought possible;
but he also felt that things must be as they must be.

In any case Kernaghan was right; for while the little flamboyant lady
from Slow Down Ranch was busy in the front garden, Louise Mazarine was
with her wounded guest, with the man who had saved her husband's money
and perhaps his life. The wounded guest regarded his wound as a blessing
almost. Perhaps that was why he did not notice that his host had only
been silently grateful.



CHAPTER VIII

THE ORIENTAL WAY OF IT

Orlando Guise's mother was lacking in the caution which mothers generally
have where their men-children are concerned. If she had had sense, she
would have insisted on removing Orlando to Slow Down Ranch at the
earliest possible moment, even at some risk to his physical well-being.
She ought to have seen that Joel Mazarine was possessed of a jealousy as
unreasoning as that of an animal; she ought to have discouraged Louise's
kindnesses. If the kindnesses had been only the ordinary acts of a
mistress of a house to a guest who had saved her husband's life--dishes
made by her own hand, strengthening drinks, flowers picked and arranged
by herself--there could have been no cause for nervousness. Each thing
done by Louise, however, came from a personally and emotionally
solicitous interest. It was to be seen in the glance of the eye, in the
voice a little unsteady, in girlish over-emphasis, in that shining
something in the face, which, in Ireland, they call the love-light.

So great was Mrs. Guise's vanity, so intense her content in her son, so
proud was she of other people's admiration of him, no matter who they
were, that she welcomed Louise's attentions. Kernaghan was wrong.
Mazarine had not forbidden Louise to enter Orlando's room. That was the
contradictory nature of the man. His innate savagery made him brood
wickedly over her natural housewifery attentions to the man who had
probably saved his own life, and certainly had saved him six thousand
dollars; yet it was as though he must see the worst that might happen,
must even encourage a danger which he dreaded. When the Methodist
minister from Askatoon came to offer prayer for Orlando, Joel joined in
it with all the unction of a class-leader, while every word of the prayer
trembled in an atmosphere of hatred. As Patsy Kernaghan said, he himself
watched, and he paid the Chinaman to watch, in the vain belief that money
would secure faithful service.

The Young Doctor had told him that his powerful medicine had brought back
the bloom to his young wife's cheeks and the light to her eyes, but how
much he believed, he could not himself have said. One thing he did know:
it was that Orlando seemed quite indifferent to everything except his
mother, the state of the crops and the reports on his own cattle. Also
Orlando had made a good impression when he resented with a funny little
oath and a funnier little giggle, but with some heat in his cheek, Joel's
ostentatious proposal to pay the Young Doctor's bill for attendance.

The offer had been made when Louise was standing in the doorway; but the
old man did not notice that Louise coloured in sympathy with the flush in
Orlando's face. It was as though a delicate nerve had been touched in
each of them; but it was a nerve that had never been sensitive until they
had met each other for the first time. Orlando's mother dealt with the
situation in her own way. She said in a somewhat awkward pause, following
the old man's proposal, that a doctor's bill was a personal thing, and
she would as soon allow some one else to pay it as to pay for her
washing. At this Orlando giggled again, and ventured the remark that no
doctor could dispense enough medicine in a year to pay her laundry bill
for a month--which pleased the old lady greatly and impelled her to swing
her skirt kittenishly.

It was at this point that Li Choo came knocking at the open door with a
message for Mazarine. It related to a horse-accident at what was known as
One Mile Spring; and Mazarine, having frowned his wife out of the
doorway, made his way downstairs and prepared for his short journey to
the Spring. Before he left, however, he called Li Choo aside, and what he
said caused Li Choo to answer: "Me get money, me do job. Me keep eyes
open. Me tell you."

From a window Louise had watched the colloquy, and she knew, as well as
though she stood beside them, what was being said. Li Choo had told the
truth: he had got the cash, and he would do the job. But not alone from
Joel Mazarine did he get money. Only two mornings before, Louise, for all
the extra work he had had to do during Orlando's illness and without
thought of bribery, had given him a beautiful gold ten-dollar-piece with
a hole in it. If the piece had been minus the hole, Li Choo would have
returned it to her, for he would have served her for nothing till the end
of his days, had it been possible. Because there was a hole in it,
however, and he could put a string through it and wear it round his neck
inside his waistcoat, he took it, blinking his beady eyes at her; and he
said:

"Me watch most petic'ler, mlissy. Me tell boss Mazaline ev'lytling me
see!" And he giggled almost as Orlando might have done.

After which Li Choo slip-slopped away to his work behind the kitchen.
When he saw Orlando's mother in the garden and the Young Doctor drive to
Askatoon, and Patsy Kernaghan mount an aged cayuse and ride off, he
clucked with his tongue and then went into the kitchen and prepared a
tray on which he placed several pieces of a fine old set of China, which
had belonged to Mazarine's grandmother and was greatly prized by the old
man. Then he clucked to the half-breed woman, and she made ready as
sumptuous a tea as ever entered the room of a convalescent.

Like a waiter at a seaside hotel, Li Choo carried the tray above his head
on three fingers to the staircase, and as he mounted to the landing,
called out, "Welly good tea me bling gen'l'man." This was his way of
warning Orlando Guise, and whoever might be with him, of his coming.

He need not have done so, for though Louise was in Orlando's room, she
was much nearer to the door than she was to Orlando. She hastened to
place a table near to Orlando, for the tray which Li Choo had brought,
and, as she did so, remarked with a shock at the cherished china upon the
tray.

"Li Choo! Li Choo!" she gasped, reprovingly, for it was as though the Ark
of the Covenant had been burgled. But Li Choo, clucking, slip-slopped out
of the room and down the stairs as happy as an Oriental soul could be.
What was in the far recesses of that soul, where these two young people
were concerned, must remain unrevealed; but Li Choo and the halfbreed
woman in their own language--which was almost without words--clucked and
grunted their understanding.

Left alone again, Louise found herself seated with only the table between
herself and Orlando, pouring him tea and offering him white frosted cake
like that dispensed at weddings; while Orlando chuckled his thanks and
thought what a wonderful thing it was that a bullet in a man's side could
bring the unexpected to pass and the heart's desire of a man within the
touch of his fingers.

Their conversation was like that of two children. She talked of her bird
Richard, which she had sent to him every morning that it might sing to
him; of her black cat Nigger, which sat on his lap for many an hour of
the day; of the dog Jumbo, which said its prayers for him to get well,
for a piece of sugar-that was a trick Louise had taught it long ago.
Orlando talked of his horses and of his mother--who, he declared, was the
most unselfish person on the whole continent; how she only thought of
him, and spent her money for him, and gave to him, never thinking of
herself at all.

"She has the youngest heart of anyone in the world," said Orlando.

Louise did not even smile at that. No one with a heart that was not
infantile could dress and talk as Orlando's mother dressed and talked;
and so Louise said softly: "I am sure her heart is a thousand years
younger than mine--or younger than mine was." And then she blushed, and
Orlando blushed, for he understood what was in her mind--that until they
two had met, she was, as the Young Doctor said, a victim to senile decay.

That was the nearest they had come as yet to saying anything which, being
translated, as it were, through several languages, could mean
love-making. Their love-making had only been by an inflection of the
voice, by a soft abstraction, by a tuning of their spirits to each other.
They were indeed like two children; and yet Li Choo was right when, in
his dark soul, he conceived them to be lovers, and thought they would do
what lovers do--hold hands and kiss and whisper, with never an end to a
sentence, never a beginning.

It was not that these things were impossible to them. It was not that
their beating pulses, and the throbbing in them, was not the ancient
passion which has overturned an empire, or made a little spot of earth as
dear as Heaven above. It was that these were forbidden things, and Louise
and Orlando accepted that they were forbidden.

How long would this position last? What would the future bring? This was
only the fluttering approach of two natures, from everlasting distances.
The girl had been roused out of sleep; from her understanding the
curtains had been flung back so that she might see. How long would it
last, this simple, unsoiled story of two lives?

Orlando reached out his hand to put his cup back upon the tray. As her
own hand was extended to take it, her fingers touched his. Then her face
flushed, and a warm cloud seemed to bedim her eyes. There flashed into
her mind the deep, overwhelming fact that for three long years a rough,
heavy hand had held her captive by day, by night, in a pitiless
ownership. She got to her feet suddenly; her breath came quickly, and she
turned towards the door as though she meant to go.

At that instant Li Choo slid softly into the room, caught up the tray,
poised it on his three fingers over his head and said: "Old Mazaline, he
come. Be queeck!"

They heard the heavy footsteps of Joel Mazarine coming into the hall-way
just below.

The old man, as though moved by some uncanny instinct, had come back from
One Mile Spring by a roundabout trail. As the Chinaman came out upon the
landing at the top of the stairs, Joel appeared at the bottom, in the
doorway which gave upon the staircase. Two or three steps down shuffled
the Chinaman; then, as it were by accident, he stumbled and fell, the
tray with the beautiful china crashing down to the feet of Joel Mazarine,
followed by the tumbling, chirruping Li Choo.

Oriental duplicity had made no wrong reckoning. The old man fell back
into the hall-way from the crashing china and tumbling Oriental, who
plunged out into the hall-way muttering and begging pardon, cursing his
soul in good Chinese and bad English.

Looking down on the wreck, Mazarine saw his treasured porcelain
shattered. With a growl of rage he stooped and seized Li Choo by the
collar, flung him out of the door, and then with his heavy boot kicked
him once, twice, thrice, a dozen times, anywhere, everywhere!

Li Choo, however, had done his work well. Joel Mazarine never knew the
reason for the Chinaman's downfall on the stairway, for, in the turmoil,
Louise had slipped away in safety. His rage had vented itself; but, if he
had seen Li Choo's face an hour after, as he talked to the half-breed
woman in the kitchen, he might have had some qualms for his cruel
assault. Passion and hatred in the face of an Oriental are not lovely
things to see.



CHAPTER IX

THE STARS IN THEIR COURSES

"It's been a great day--great."

Orlando Guise leaned lazily on the neck of the broncho he was riding,
peering between its ears, over the lonely prairie, to the sunset which
was making beautiful the western sky. It was as though there was a golden
fire behind vast hills of mauve and pink, purple and saffron; but the
glow was so soft as to suggest a flame which did not burn; which only
shed radiance, colour and an ethereal mist. All the width of land and
life between was full of peace as far as eye could see. The plains were
bountiful with golden harvest, and the activities of men were lost among
the corn. Horses and cattle in the distance were as insects, and in the
great concave sky stars still wan from the intolerant light of their
master, the Sun, looked timidly out to see him burn his way down to the
under-world.

"Great--but it might have been greater!" added Orlando, gazing intently
at the sunset.

Yet, as he spoke, his eyes gazed at something infinitely farther away
than the sunset-even to the goal of his desire. He was thinking that,
great as the day had been, with all he had done and seen, it lacked a
glimpse of the face he had not seen for a whole month. The voice, he had
not heard it since it softly cried, "Oh, Orlando!" when the Chinaman
crashed down the staircase with the tray of cherished porcelain, and had
been maltreated by the owner of Tralee.

How many times since then had those words rung in his ears! Louise had
never called him by name save that once, and then it was the cry of a
soul surprised, the wail of one who felt a heart-break coming on, the
approach of merciless Fate. It was the companionship of trouble; it was
the bird, pursued by a hawk, calling across the lonely valley to its
mate. "Oh, Orlando!" He had waked in the morning with the words in his
ears to make him face the day with hope and cheerfulness. It had sounded
in his ears at night as he sat on the wide stoop watching the moon and
listening to the night-birds, or vaguely heard his mother babbling things
he did not hear.

It is a memorable moment for a man when he hears for the first time his
"little name," as the French call it, spoken by the woman he loves. It is
as the sound of a bell in the distance, a familiar note with a new
meaning, revealing new things of life in the panorama of the mind. By
those two words Orlando knew what was in the mind of Louise. They were a
prayer for protection and a cry for comradeship.

When Louise first clasped hands with the Young Doctor on her arrival at
Askatoon, the soft appeal of her fingers had made him understand that
loneliness where she lived, and to bear which she sought help. But the
"Oh, Orlando!" which was wrung from her, almost unknowingly, was the cry
of one who, to loneliness, had added fear and tragedy. Yet behind the
fear, tragedy and loneliness there was the revelation of a heart.

A courtship is a long or a short ceremonial or convention, a
make-believe, by which people pretend that they slowly come to know and
love each other; but lovers know that each understands the other by one
note or inflection of the voice, by one little act of tenderness. These,
or one of these, tell the whole story, the everlasting truth by which men
and women learn how good at its worst life is, or speak the lightning-lie
by which the bones of a dead world are exposed to the disillusioned soul.

This had been a great day, because, in it, physical being had joyously
celebrated itself in a wild business of the hills; in air so fresh and
sweet that it almost sparkled to the eye; in a sun that was hot, but did
not punish; at a sport by which the earliest men in the earliest age of
the world made life a rare sensation. The man who has not chased the wild
pony in the hills with the lasso on his arm, riding, as they say in the
West, "Hell for leather," down the steep hillside, over the rock and the
rough land, balancing on his broncho with the dexterity of a bird or a
baboon, has failed to find one of life's supreme pleasures.

In the foothills, many miles away from Slow Down Ranch and Tralee, there
lived a herd of wild ponies, and it had been the ambition of a dozen
ranchmen and broncho-busters thereabouts to capture one or many. More
than once Orlando had seen a little gray broncho, with legs like the
wrists of a lady, with a tail like a comet, frisking among the rocks and
the brushwood, or standing alert, moveless and alone upon some
promontory, and he had made up his mind that if, and when, there came a
day of broncho-busting, he would become a hunter of the little gray mare.
When the news came that the ranchmen for miles around were preparing for
the drive of the hills, he determined to take part in it, against the
commands of the Young Doctor, who said that he would run risk in doing
so, for, though his wound was healed, he should still avoid strain and
fatigue.

There is no fatigue like that of broncho-busting. It is not galloping on
the turf; it is being shaken and tossed in a saddle which the knees can
never grip, on the back of something gone mad--for the maddest, wisest,
carefullest thing on earth is a broncho, which itself was once a wild
pony of the hills, and has been hunted down, thrown by the lasso,
saddled, bridled and heart-broken all in an hour. When the broncho which
was once a wild pony sets out on the chase after its own, there is
nothing like it in the world; and so Orlando found.

The veteran broncho-busters and ranchmen gave him no vociferous welcome
as he appeared among them. Had it not been for the reputation which he
already gained for courage, such as he had shown in the recent affair
when he had driven off the men who were robbing Joel Mazarine, and also
for an idea, steadily spreading, that he was masquerading, and that
behind all, was a curly-headed, intrepid, out-door "white man," he would
not have had what he called a great day.

He could not throw the lasso as well as many another, but he could ride
as well as any man that ever rode; and the broncho given him to ride that
day was one sufficiently unreliable in character and sure-footed in
travel to test him to the utmost. He had endured the test; he had even
got his little gray mare, lassoing her like a veteran. He had helped to
break her, and had sent her home from the improvised corral by one of his
men. He had then parted from the others, who had dispersed to their
various ranches with their prizes, and had ridden away on the broncho
with which he had done such a good day's work. He had had the thrill of
the hunter, riding like any wild Indian through the hills; he had had the
throb of conquest in his veins; but while other men had shouted and
happily blasphemed as they rode and captured, he had only giggled in
excitement.

As he looked now into the sunset, he was thinking of the little gray
mare, with the legs like the wrists of a lady and the soft, bright, wild
eye, which had fought and fought to resist subjection; but which,
overpowered by the stronger will of man, had yielded like a lady, and had
been ridden away to Slow Down Ranch, its bucking over for ever, captive
and subdued.

Orlando was picturing the little gray mare with Louise on its back. He
had no right to think of Louise; yet there was never an hour in which he
did not think of her. And Louise had no right to think of Orlando; yet,
sleeping and waking, he was with her. Their homes were four miles apart,
although, in one sense, they were a million miles apart by law and the
convention which shuts a woman off from the love of men other than her
husband; and yet in thought they were as near together always as though
they had lain in the same cradle and grown up under the same rooftree.

There was something about the gray pony, with the look of a captive in
its eye, a wildness in subjection, like the girl at Tralee--the girl
suddenly come to be woman, with her free soul born into understanding,
yet who was as much a captive as though in prison, and guarded by a
warder with a long beard, a carnivorous head, and boots greased with
tallow.

Since they had parted, the day after Li Choo had averted a domestic
"scene" or tragedy, the search had gone on by the Mounted Police-"the
Riders of the Plains"--for the men who had attempted to rob Mazarine, and
to put Orlando out of action by a bullet. Suspicion had been directed
against the McMahons, but Joel Mazarine had declared that it was not the
McMahons who had attacked him, although they were masked. There was
nothing strange in that, because, as the Inspector of the Riders said
"That lot is too fly to do the job themselves; you bet they paid others
to do it."

Orlando had no wish to see the criminals caught or punished. Somehow,
secretly, he looked upon the assault and his wound as a blessing. It had
brought him near to his other self, his mate in the scheme of things.
There was something almost pagan and primitive, something near to the
very beginning of things in what these two felt for each other. It was as
though they really belonged to a world of lovers that "lived before the
god of Love was born."

As Orlando sat watching the sunset, Louise's last words to him, "Oh,
Orlando!" kept ringing in his ears. He thought of what had happened that
very morning before he started for the hills. Soon after daybreak, Li
Choo the Chinaman had come slip-slopping to him at Slow Down Ranch, and
had said to him without any preliminaries, or any reason for his coming:

"I bling Mlissy Mazaline what you like. She cly. What you want me do, I
do. That Mazaline, gloddam! I gloddam Mazaline!"

Orlando had no desire for intrigue, but Li Choo stood there waiting, and
the devotion the Chinaman had shown made him tear a piece of paper from
his pocket-book and write on it the one word "Always." He then folded the
paper up until it was no bigger than a waistcoat button, and gave it to
Li Choo. Also, he offered a five-dollar bill, which Li Choo refused to
take. When he persisted, the Chinaman opened his loose blue jacket and
showed a ten-dollar gold-piece on a string around his neck.

"Mlissy Mazaline glive me that; it all plenty me," he said. "You want me
come, I come. What you say do, I do. I say gloddam Mazaline!"

That scene came to Orlando's mind now, and it agitated him as the
incident itself had not stirred him when it happened. The broncho he was
riding, as though the disturbance in Orlando's breast had passed into its
own wilful body, suddenly became restless to be off, and as Orlando gave
no encouragement, showed signs of bucking.

At that moment Orlando saw in the distance, far north of both Tralee and
Slow Down Ranch, a horse, ridden by a woman, galloping on the prairie.
Presently as he watched the headlong gallop, the horse came down and the
rider was thrown. He watched intently for a moment, and then he saw that
the woman did not move, but lay still beside the fallen horse.

He dug his heels into the broncho's side, and although it had done its
day's work, it reached out upon the trail as though fresh from the
corral. It bucked malevolently as it went, but it went.

It was apparent that no one else had seen the accident. Orlando had been
at a point of vantage on a lonely rise about eighty feet above the level
of the prairie. Where horse and rider lay was a good two miles, but
within seven minutes he had reached the spot.

Flinging the bridle over the broncho's neck, he dismounted. As he did so,
a cry broke from him. It was, as it were, an answer to the "Oh, Orlando!"
which had been ringing in his ears. There, lying upon the ground beside
the horse, with its broken leg caught in a gopher's hole, was Louise.

Orlando's ruddy face turned white; something seemed to blind him for an
instant, and then he was on his knees beside her, lifting up her head,
feeling her heart. Presently the colour came back to his face with a
rush. Her heart was beating; her pulse trembled under his fingers; she
was only unconscious. But was there other injury? Was arm or leg broken?
He called to her. Then with an exclamation of self-reproach, he laid her
down again on the ground, ran to his broncho; caught the water-bottle
from the saddle, lifted her head, and poured some water between the white
lips.

Presently her eyes opened, and she stared confusedly at Orlando, unable
to realize what had happened. Then memory came back, and with it her very
life-blood seemed to flow like water through the opening gates of a
flume, with all the weight of the river behind. As her face flooded, she
shivered with emotion. She was resting against his knee; her head was
upon his arm; his face was very near; and there was that in his eyes
which told a story that any woman, loving, would be thrilled at seeing.
What restrained him from clasping her to his breast? What kept her arms
by her side?

The sun was gone, leaving only a glimmer behind; the swift twilight of
the prairie was drawing down. Warm currents of air were passing like
waves of a sea of breath over the wide plains; the stars were softly
stinging the sky, and a bright moon was asserting itself in the growing
dusk. Here they were who, without words or acts, had been to each other
what Adam and Eve were in the Garden, without furtiveness, and guiltless
of secret acts which poison Love. What restrained them was native,
childlike camaraderie, intense, unusual and strange. The world would call
them romancists, if they believed that this restraint could be. But there
was something more. With all their frank childlikeness, there was also a
shyness, a reserve, which would not have been, if either had ever eaten
of the Fruit of Understanding until they met each other for the first
time.

"Are you--are you hurt?" he asked, his voice calmer than his spirit, his
heart beating terribly hard. "I'm all right," she answered. "I fell soft.
You see, I'm very light."

"No bones broken? Are you sure?" he asked solicitously.

She sat erect, drawing away from his arms and the support of his knee.
"Don't you see my legs and arms are all right! Help me up, please," she
added, and stretched out a hand.

Then, all at once, she saw the horse lying near. Again she shivered, and
her hand was thrown out in a gesture of pain.

"Oh, see-see!" she cried. "His leg is broken." She loved animals far more
than human beings. There were good reasons for it. She had fared hard in
life at the hands of men and women, because the only ones with whom, in
her seclusion, she had had to do, had sacrificed her, all save one-the
man beside her. Animal life had something in it akin to her own voiceless
being. Her spirit had never been vocal until Orlando came.

"Oh, how wicked I've been!" she cried. . . . "I couldn't bear it any
longer. He wouldn't let me ride alone, go anywhere alone. I had to do it.
I'd never ridden this horse before. My own mare wasn't fit.

"See-see. It's my ankle that ought to be broken, not his."

Orlando got to his feet. "Look the other way," he said. "Turn round,
please. I'll put him out of pain. He bolted with you, and he'd have
killed you, if he could; but that doesn't matter. He can't be saved. Turn
round, don't look this way."

She had been commanded to do things all her life, first by her mother,
tyrant-hearted and selfish, and then by her husband, an overlord, with a
savage soul; and she had obeyed always, because she always seemed to be
in the grasp of something against which no pressure could avail. She was
being commanded now, but there was that in the voice which, while
commanding her, made her long to do as she was bid. It was an obedience
filled with passion, resigning itself to the will of a force which was
all gentleness, but oh, so compelling!

She buried her face in her hands, and presently Orlando had opened a vein
in the chestnut's neck, and its life-blood slowly ebbed away.

As he turned towards her again, Orlando was startled by a sudden action
on the part of his broncho. Whether it was the smell of blood which
frightened it, or death itself, which has its own terrors to animal life,
or whether it was as though a naked, shivering animal soul passed by, the
broncho started, shied and presently broke into a trot; then, before
Orlando could reach it, into a gallop, and was away down the prairie in
the direction of Slow Down Ranch.

"That's queer," he said, and he gave a nervous little laugh. "It's the
worst of luck, and--and we're twelve miles from Tralee," he added slowly.

"It's terrible!" Louise said, her fingers twisting together in an effort
at self-control. "Don't you see how terrible it is?" she asked, looking
into Orlando's troubled face but cheerful eyes.

"You couldn't walk that distance, of course," he remarked.

She endeavoured to get to her feet, but seemed to give way. He reached
out his hands. She took them, and he helped her up. His face was anxious.
"Are you sure you're not hurt?" he asked. "There's nothing broken," she
answered. "No bones, anyway. But I don't feel--" She swayed. He put an
arm around her.

"I don't feel as if I could walk even a mile," she continued. "It's
shaken me so."

"Or else you're hurt badly inside," he said apprehensively.

"No, no, I'm sure not," she answered. "It's only the shock."

"Can you walk a little?" he asked. "This poor horse--let's get away from
it. There's a good place over there--see!" He pointed to a little rise in
the ground where were a few stunted trees and some long grass and shrubs.
"Can you walk?"

"Oh, yes, I'm all right," she answered nervously. "I don't need your arm.
I can walk by myself."

"I think not--well, not yet, anyhow," he answered soothingly. "Please do
as you're told. I'm keeping my arm around you for the present."

Always in the past she had obeyed, when commanded by her mother or
husband, with an apathy which had smothered her youth. Now her youth
seemed to drink eagerly a cup of obedience--as though it were the wine of
life itself. She even longed to obey the voice whispering in her soul
from ever so far away: "Close--close to him! Home is in his arms."

With all her unconscious revelation of herself, however, there was that
in her which was pure maidenliness. For, married as she was, she had
never in any real sense been a wife, or truly understood what wifedom
meant, or heard in her heart the call of the cradle. She had been the
victim of possession, which had meant no more to her than to be, as it
were, subjected daily to the milder tortures of the Inquisition.

Yet she knew and could realize to the full that a power which had her in
control, which possessed her by the rights of the law, prevented her--and
would prevent her by whatever torture was possible--from friendship,
alliance, or whatever it might be, with Orlando. She knew the law: one
wife to one husband; and the wife to look neither to the right nor to the
left, to the east nor to the west, to the north nor to the south, but to
remain, and be constant in remaining, the helpmeet, the housewife, the
sole property of her husband, no matter what that husband might
be--vinous, vicious, vagrant, vengeful or any other things, good or bad.

"Why don't you look glad when you see me come in?" Joel Mazarine remarked
to her suddenly the day before. "If you'd had some husbands, you might
have reason for bein' the statue and the dummy you are. Am I a drunkard?
Am I a thief? Am I a nighthawk? Do I go off lookin' for other women?
Don't I keep the commandments? Ain't you got a home here as good as any
in the land? Didn't I take you out of poverty, and make you head of all
this, with people to wait on you and all the rest of it?"

That was the way he had talked, and somehow she had not seemed able to
bear it; and she had said to him, in unexpected revolt, that her tongue
was her own, and what was in her mind was her own, even if her body
wasn't.

Then, in a fury, he had caught his riding-whip from the wall to lash her
with it, just when Li Choo the Chinaman appeared with a message which he
delivered at the appropriate moment, though he had had it to deliver for
some time. It was to the effect that the Clerk of the Court in the
neighbouring town of Waterway wished to see him at once on urgent
business. The message had been left by a rancher in passing.

As Li Choo delivered the word, he managed to put himself between Mazarine
and his wife in such a way as to enrage the old man, who struck the
Chinaman twice savagely across the shoulders with the whip, and then
stamped out of the house, invoking God to punish the rebellious and the
heathen, while Li Choo, shrinking still from the cruel blows, clucked in
his throat. There was something in the sound which belonged to the abyss
dividing the Eastern from the Western races.

That night Louise had refused to go to bed; but at last, fearing physical
force, had obeyed, and had lain with her face to the wall, close up to
it, letting the cold plaster cool her hot palms, for now she burned with
a fire which was consuming the debris of an old life--the fire of
knowledge, for which she had to pay so heavily.

"You couldn't walk even a little of the way to Tralee, could you?" asked
Orlando, when they had reached a shrub-covered hillock.

"No, I couldn't walk it, I'm so shaken. I'm terribly weak; I tremble all
over," she added, as she sat down upon a stone. "But if I don't--if I
don't go back--oh, you know!"

"Yes, I know," answered Orlando. "He's the sort that would horsewhip a
woman."

"He started to do it yesterday," she answered, "but Li Choo came in time,
and he horsewhipped Li Choo instead."

"I wouldn't myself be horsewhipping Chinamen much," said Orlando.
"They're a queer lot."

Suddenly she got to her feet. "I won't stand it. I won't stand it any
longer," she cried. "That is why to-day, although he told me I mustn't
ride, I took that new chestnut, and saddled it and rode--I didn't care
where I rode. I didn't care how fast the horse went. I didn't care what
happened to me. And here I am, and--But oh, I do care what happens to
me!" she added, her voice breaking. "I'm--I'm frightened of him--I'm
frightened, in spite of myself. . . . He doesn't treat me right," she
added. "And I'm terribly frightened."

She raised her eyes to Orlando's face in the growing dusk--there is no
twilight in that prairie land--and there was that in it which made her
feel that she must not give way any further. In Orlando's veins was
Southern sap, mixed with Northern blood; in Orlando's eyes was a sudden
look belonging to that which defies the law.

"Don't--don't look like that," she exclaimed. "Oh, Orlando!"

Once more he heard her speak his name, and it was like salve to a wound.
He put a hand upon himself. "I'll go to Tralee," he said, "if you don't
mind waiting here alone."

"I can't. I will not wait alone. If you go, then I'll go too somehow....
It's twelve miles. You couldn't get there till midnight, and you couldn't
get back here with a wagon for another couple of hours from that. It
would be daylight then. I can't stay here alone. I'm frightened, and I'm
cold."

"Wait a minute," said Orlando.

He ran back to the dead horse, unloosed the saddle from its back,
detached from it a rain-coat strapped to the pommel, and brought it to
her.

"This will keep you warm," he said. "It isn't cold to-night. You only
feel cold because you're upset and nervous."

"I'm frightened," she answered; "frightened of everything. Listen! Don't
you hear something stirring--there!" She peered fearfully into the dusk
behind them.

"Probably," he answered. "There are lots of prairie dogs and things
about. The more you listen, the more you hear on the prairie, especially
at night."

There was silence for a moment, and then he added: "My broncho'll steer
straight for Slow Down Ranch, and that'll bring my men. You can be quite
sure there'll be a search-party out from Tralee, too, at the first streak
of dawn. You can't make the journey, so the only thing to be done is to
wait here. That coat will keep you from getting cold, and I'll cut a lot
of long grass and make you a bed here. Also, the grass is warm, and I'll
cover you with it and with pine branches."

"I can't lie down," she answered. "No, I can't; I'm afraid. It's all so
strange, and to-morrow, he--"

"There's nothing to be frightened about," he interrupted. "Nothing at
all, Louise."

It was the first time he had ever addressed her by name, and it made her
shiver with a new feeling. It seemed to tell a long, long story without
words.

"You must do what I ask you to do--whatever I ask you to do," he
repeated. "Will you?"

"Yes, anything you ask me I'll do," she answered, and then added quickly,
"For you won't ask me to do anything I don't want to do. That's the
difference. You understand, Orlando."

A few minutes later he had found a suitable place to make a kind of bed
of grass for her, and had prepared it, with his knife, cutting the
branches of small shrubs and grass and the scanty branches of the pine.
When it was finished, he came to her and said:

"It's all ready. Come and lie down, and I'll cover you up."

She got to her feet slowly, for she was in pain greater than she knew, so
absorbed was her mind in this new life suddenly enveloping her, and then
she said in a low voice: "No, not yet; I can't yet. I want to sit here.
I've never felt the night like this before. It's wonderful, and I'm not
nearly so cold now. I know I oughtn't to be cold at all, in the middle of
summer like this." She paused, and seemed lost in contemplation of the
sky. After a moment she added: "I never knew I could feel so far away
from all the world as I do tonight. But the sky seems so near, and the
moon and the stars so friendly."

"You haven't slept out of doors as I have hundreds of times," he
answered. "The night and I are brothers; the stars are my little cousins;
and the moon"--he giggled in his boyish way--"is my maiden aunt. She's so
prudish and so kind and friendly, as you say. She's like an aunt I
had--Aunt Samantha. She was my father's sister. I used to love her to
visit my mother. She always brought me things, and she gave them to me as
if they were on silver dishes--like a ceremony. She was so prim, I used
to call her Aunt Primrose. She made me feel as if I could do anything I
liked and break any law I pleased. But all the time, like a saint in a
stained-glass window, she always seemed to be saying, 'Yes, you'd like
to, but you mustn't.' She was just like the moon. I'm well acquainted
with the moon, and--"

"Hush!" Louise interrupted. "Don't you hear something stirring--there,
behind us?"

He laughed. "Of course something's always 'stirring behind us' on the
prairie, and things you can't hear at all in the day are almost loud at
night. There are thousands of sounds that never get to your ears when the
sun is busy, but when Aunt Primrose Moon is saying, 'Hush! Hush!' to the
naughty children of this world, you can hear a whole new population at
work, cracking away like mad. Say, ain't I letting myself go to-night?"
he added, giggling again and sitting down beside her. "I'm going to give
you just half an hour, and at the end of that half-hour you've got to go
to sleep."

"I can't--I can't," she said scarcely above a whisper. As though in
response to an unspoken thought, he said casually: "I'm going to walk
awhile when you've lain down, and then--" He pointed to a spot about
twenty yards away. "Do you see the two big stones there? Well, when I've
finished my walk and my talk with Aunty Primrose"--he laughed up at the
moon--"I'm going to sit down there and snooze till daylight." He pointed
again: "Right over there beside those two rocks. That's my bed. Do you
see?"

She did not reply at once, but a long sigh came from her lips. "You'll be
cold," she said.

"No, it's a hot night," he answered. "I'm too hot as it is." And he
loosened his heavy red shirt at the throat.

"If I've got to go to bed in half an hour," she said presently, "tell me
more about your Aunt Samantha, and about yourself, and your home before
you came out here, and what you did when you were a little boy--tell me
everything about yourself."

She was forgetting Tralee for the moment, and the man who raised his hand
against her yesterday, and the life she had lived. Or was it only that
she had grown young during these last two months, and the young can so
easily forget!

"You want to hear? You really want to hear?" he asked. "Say, it won't be
a very interesting story. Better let me tell you about the
broncho-busting today."

"No, I want to hear about yourself." She looked intently at him for an
instant, and then her eyes closed and the long lashes touched her cheek.
There was something very wilful in her beauty, and her body too had
delicate, melancholy lines strange in one so young. She was not conscious
that, in her dreamy abstraction, she was leaning towards him.

It was but an instant, though it seemed to him an interminable time, in
which he fought the fierce desire to clasp her in his arms, and kiss the
lips which, to his ears, said things more wonderful than he had ever
dreamed of in his friendship with the night and the primrose moon. He
knew, however, that if he did, she would not go back to Tralee to-morrow;
that tomorrow she would defy the leviathan; and that tomorrow he would
not have the courage to say the things he must say to the evil-hearted
master of Tralee, who, he knew, would challenge them with ugly
accusations. He must be able to look old Mazarine fearlessly in the face;
he would not be the slave of opportunity. He was going to fight clean.
She was here beside him in the warm loneliness of the northern world, and
he was full-grown in body and brain, with all the human emotions alive in
him; yet he would fight clean.

Not for a half-hour, but for nearly an hour he told her what she wished
to know, while she listened in a happy dream; and when at last she lay
down, she refused his coverlet of dry grass, saying that she was quite
warm. She declared that she did not even need the coat he had taken from
the saddle of the dead horse, but he wrapped it around her, and, saying
"Goodnight" almost brusquely, marched away in the light of the dying
moon.

The night wore on. At first Louise's ears were sensitive to every sound,
and there were stirrings in the hillock by which she slept, but she
comforted herself with the thought that they were the stirrings of lonely
little waifs of nature like herself. Though she dared not let the thought
take form, yet she feared, too, the sound of human footsteps. By and by,
however, in the sweet quiet of the night and the somnolent light of the
moon, sleep captured her. When at last Orlando's footsteps did crush the
dry grass, the sound failed to reach her ears, for it was then not very
far from daylight, and she had slept for several hours. Sleep had not
touched Orlando's eyes when, sitting down by the stones which were to
mark his resting-place, he waited for Louise to wake.

    ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

    Highsterics, they call it
    World was only the size of four walls to a sick person



WILD YOUTH

By Gilbert Parker

Volume 2.

     X.    THE MOON WAS NOT ALONE
     XI.    LOUISE
     XII.   MAN UNNATURAL
     XIII.   ORLANDO GIVES A WARNING
     XIV.   FILION AND FIONA--ALSO PATSY KERNAGHAN
     XV.    OUTWARD BOUND
     XVI.   AT THE CROSS TRAILS
     XVII.   THE SUPERIOR MAN
     XVIII.  YOUTH HAS ITS WAY



CHAPTER X

THE MOON WAS NOT ALONE

Out on the prairie under the light of the stars a man had fought the
first great battle of his life, and had emerged victorious. There are no
drawn battles in the struggles of the soul. As Orlando fought, he was
tortured by the thought that none would believe the truth to-morrow when
it was told; and that there would be penalty though there was no crime.

As for Louise, she could have returned, almost blindly defiant, to her
world, hand in hand with Orlando; and yet, when morning came, and her
eyes opened on the prairie at day-break, with life stirring everywhere,
she was glad of the victory--though the shadow of a great trouble to come
was showing in her eyes.

She knew what she had to face at Tralee, and that she had no proof of her
perfect innocence. It was of little use for them to call upon Heaven to
witness what the night had been; and Joel Mazarine, who distrusted every
man and woman, would distrust her with a sternness which guilt only could
effectively defy!

Orlando's enforced gaiety as he invited her to a breakfast of a couple of
biscuits, left from yesterday's broncho-busting, heartened her; yet both
were conscious of the make-believe. They realized they were helpless in
the grip of harsh circumstance. It was almost enough to make them take
advantage of calumny and the traps set for them by Fate, and join hands
for ever.

As they looked into each other's eyes, the same hopeless yet reckless
thought flickered--flickered, and vanished. Yet as they looked out over
the prairie towards Tralee, to which Louise must presently return, a
rebellious sort of joy possessed them.

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

The discord of their thoughts was like music beside what had passed at
Tralee. There nothing relieved the black, sullen rage of Joel Mazarine.
He had returned to the house where his voice had always been able to
summon his slaves, and to know that they would come--Chinaman,
half-breed, wife. Now he called, and the wife did not come. On the new
chestnut she had ridden away on the prairie, so the halfbreed woman had
said, as hard as he could go. He had scanned the prairie till night came,
without seeing a sign of her.

His black imagination instantly conceived the worst that Louise might do.
It was not in him ever to have the decent alternative. He questioned the
half-breed woman closely; he savagely interrogated the Chinaman; and then
he declared that they lied to him, that they knew more than they said;
and when he was unable to bear it any longer, he mounted his horse and
galloped over to Slow Down Ranch. As he went, he kept swearing to himself
that Louise had flown thither; and anger made his brain malignant. He
could scarcely frame his words intelligibly when he arrived at Slow Down
Ranch.

There he was presently convinced that his worst suspicions were true, for
Orlando also had not returned. He saw it all. They had agreed to meet;
they had met; they had eloped and were gone! His beady eyes were those of
serpents watching for the instant to strike, and his words burst over the
head of Orlando's mother like shrapnel.

For once, however, the futile, fantastic mother rose higher than herself,
and declared that her son had never run away from, or with, anything in
his life; that he--Joel Mazarine--had never had anything worth her son's
running away with; and that her son, when he came back, would make him
ask forgiveness as he had never asked it of his God.

Indeed, the gaudy little lady stood in her doorway and chattered her
maledictions after him, as he rode back again towards Tralee muttering
curses which no class leader in the Methodist Church ought even to quote
for pious purposes.

Joel Mazarine had flattered himself that he had everything life could
give--money, property and a garden of youth in which his old age could
loiter and be glad; and that he should be defied suddenly and his garden
made desolate, that the lines of his good fortune should be crossed,
caused him to rage like any heathen. His monstrous egotism made him like
some infuriated bull in the arena, with the banderillos sticking in his
hot hide.

The two people whom he cursed were in Elysium compared to the place where
he tortured himself. There are desert birds that silently surround a
rattlesnake, as he sleeps, with little bundles of cactus-heads and their
million needles, so that, when the reptile wakes, it cannot escape
through the palisade of bristling weapons by which it is surrounded; and
in ghoulish anger it strikes its fangs into its own body until it dies.
Just such a helpless rage held Joel Mazarine, and his religion did not
suggest seeking comfort at that Throne of Grace to which he had so
publicly prayed on occasions.

Night held him prowling in his own coverts; morning found him yellow and
mottled, malicious, but now silent. He somehow felt that he would know
the truth and the whole truth soon. He ate his pork and beans for
breakfast with the appetite of a ravenous animal. He put pieces of the
pork chop in his mouth with his fingers; he gulped his coffee; but all
the time he kept his eyes on the open door, as though he expected some
messenger to announce that Providence had stricken his rebellious wife by
sudden death. It seemed to him that Nature and Jehovah must unite to
avenge him.

After three hours of further waiting he determined to go into Askatoon.
He would have bills printed advertising for Louise as he had done for
stray cattle; he would have notices put in the newspapers proclaiming
that his wife was strayed or stolen and must be put in pound when
discovered. At the moment he decided thus, he caught sight of a wagon
approaching from the north. It was near enough for him to see that there
was a woman in it; and the eyes of the half-breed hired woman, possessing
the Indian far-sight, saw that it was Louise, and told her master so.

Ten minutes later Louise stood in front of the Master of Tralee, and the
Master of Tralee filled the doorway. "What you want here?" he asked of
her with blurred rage in his voice.

"I want to go to my room," Louise answered quietly but firmly. "Please
stand aside."

Now that Louise was face to face with her foe, a new spirit had suddenly
possessed her; and standing beside his broncho, a hand on its neck,
Orlando almost smiled, for this was Louise with a new nature. There was
defiance and courage in her face, not the apprehension which had almost
overwhelmed her as they started back to Tralee, having been rescued by
the search-party from Slow Down Ranch. The night had done something to
Louise which was making itself felt.

"You think you can come back here after what you've done--after where
you've been--the likes of you!" Mazarine snarled unmoving. "You think you
can!"

Louise turned swiftly to look at Orlando and the three men, one riding
and two in the wagon, as though to call them in evidence of her
innocence; but there came to her eyes a sudden fire of courage, and she
turned again to Mazarine and said:

"I'm your wife by the law--just as much your wife to-day as yesterday.
You treat me before strangers as if I were a criminal. I'm not going to
be treated that way. I've got my rights. Stand back and let me in--stand
back, Joel Mazarine," she said, and she took a step forward, child though
she was, as if she would strike him. Something had transformed her.

To Orlando she seemed scarcely real. The shrinking, colourless child of a
few weeks had suddenly become a woman--and such a woman!

"I'll tell you in my own time where I've been and what I've done," she
continued. "I want to go upstairs. Stand out of the doorway."

There was a movement behind her. A man in the wagon and the one on his
horse seemed to grow angry and threatening. The ranchman dropped from his
horse. Only Orlando stood cool, quiet and ominously watchful. Mazarine
did not fail to notice the movement of the two men.

Presently Orlando's voice said slowly and calmly: "Stand back, Mazarine.
Let her go to her room. This is a free country, and she's free in her own
house. It's her house until you've proved she's got no right there." Then
he added with sharp insistence and menace: "Stand back--damn you,
Mazarine!"

Orlando did not move as he spoke, but there was a look in his face which
an enemy would not care to see. Mazarine, in spite of his rage, quailed
before the sharp, menacing voice so little in tune with its reputation
for giggling, and stepping back, he let Louise pass. Then he plunged
forward out of the doorway.

"That's right. Come outside," said Orlando scornfully. "Come out into the
open." His voice became lower. There was something deadly in it, boy as
he was. "Come out, you hypocrite, and listen to what I've got to say.
Listen to the truth I've got to tell you. If you don't listen, I'll
horsewhip you, that'd horsewhip a woman, till you can't stand--you
loathsome old dog. . . . Yes, he took his horsewhip to her yesterday," he
added to the spectators, who muttered angrily, for the West is chivalrous
towards women.

Something near to madness possessed Orlando. No one had ever seen him as
he was at that moment. Down through generations had come to him some iron
thing that suddenly revealed itself in him, as something had just
suddenly revealed itself in Louise.

The other three men--two in the wagon and one beside his horse-stared at
him as though they had seen him for the first time. They were unready for
the passion that possessed him. Not a muscle of his body appeared to
move; he was as motionless as the trunk of a tree. But in his eyes and
his voice there was, as one of the ranchers said afterwards, "Hell--and
then some more."

"Listen to me," he said again, and his voice was low and husky now.
"Yesterday I was broncho-busting--"

Thereupon he told the whole story of what had happened since he had seen
Louise thrown from her chestnut on the prairie. He told how Louise was
too shaken and ill to attempt the journey back to Tralee, and how they
had camped where they were, near the dead horse.

As Orlando talked, the old man was seized by terrible hatred and
jealousy. "You needn't tell me the rest," he broke in, his hands savagely
opening and shutting. "I guess I understand everything."

The words had scarcely left his mouth when from the wagon a man said:
"Wait--wait, Mister. I got something to say."

He sprang to the ground, and ran between Mazarine and Orlando.

"This is where I come in," he said, as Louise's face appeared at an upper
window, and she listened. "You don't know me. Well, I know you. Everybody
knows you, and nobody likes you. I know what happened last night. I'm a
brother of your fellow Christian Rigby, the druggist, over there in
Askatoon. He's a Methodist. I'm not. I'm only good. I been a lot o'
things, and nothing in the end. Well, you hearken to my tale.

"I was tramping with my bundle on my back acrost the prairie to Askatoon
from Waterway. I'm a sundowner, as they say in Australia. When the sun
goes down, I down to my bed wherever I be on the prairie. I was
asleep-I'd been half drunk--when the chestnut threw your wife and broke
its leg; but I was awake when he rode up." He pointed to Orlando. "I was
awake, and so I watched. I knew who she was; I knew who he was." He
pointed to Orlando again. "I guessed I'd see something. I did.

"I watched them two people all night. There was a moon. I could see. I
wasn't fifteen feet from her all night, and I jined the others when they
come to rescue. I guess I got the truth, and I guess if you want any
evidence about me you can get it. Lots of people know me out here. I
ain't got any house or any home, and I get drunk sometimes, and I ain't
got money to buy meals with, lots of times, but nobody ever knowed me
lie. That's what ruined me--I been too truthful. Well, I'm not lying now,
Mister. I'm telling you the God-help-me truth. He's a gentleman." He
pointed again to Orlando. "He's a gentleman from away back in God's
country, wherever that is, and she's the best of the best of the very
best.

"You can bet your greasy old boots and ugly face that you've got a bigger
fortune in that wife of yours than you've any right to. Say, she's a
queen, Mister, and don't you forget it, and"--he drawled out his
words--"you go inside your house and get down on your knees, same as you
do in the Meeting House, and thank the Lord you love so well for all his
blessings. As my friend here said a little while back"--he pointed to
Orlando again--"'Damn you, Mazarine!' Go and hide yourself."

The old man stood for a moment dumbfounded; then, without a word, he
turned and hunched inside the house.

"He raised his horsewhip ag'in' a woman, did he?" said one of Orlando's
ranchmen. "Ain't that a matter we got to take notice of?"

"Boys," said Orlando as he motioned them to be off, "Mrs. Mazarine can
take care of herself. You'll forget what's happened, if you want to play
up to her. If she needs you, she'll be sure to let you know."

A moment afterwards they were all on their way on the road leading to
Slow Down Ranch.

"He didn't giggle much that time," said one of the ranchmen of Orlando,
as they moved on.



CHAPTER XI

LOUISE

The Young Doctor had had a trying day. Certain of his cases had given him
anxiety; his drives had been long and fatiguing; he had had little sleep
for several nights; and he was what Patsy Kernaghan had called "brittle";
for when Patsy was in a vexed condition, he used to say, "I'm so brittle
I'll break if you look at me." As the Young Doctor drew his chair up to
the supper-table and looked at his food with a critical air, he was very
brittle.

For one born in Enniskillen he had an even nature, but its evenness was
more the result of mental control than temperament. He sighed as he
looked at the marrow bones which, as a rule, gave him joy when their turn
came in the weekly menu; he eyed askance the baked potatoes; and the
salad waiting for his skilled hand only gave him an extra feeling of
fatigue.

Most men in a like state say, "I don't know what's the matter with me,"
and yet many a one has been stimulated out of it, away from it, by the
soft voice and friendly hand of a woman.

There was, however, no woman to distract the overworked Young Doctor by
her freshness, drawn from the reservoir of her vitality; and that was a
pity, because, as Patsy Kernaghan many a time said: "Aw, Doctor dear,
what's the good of a tongue to a wagon if there's only wan horse to draw
it! Shure, you'll think a lot more of yourself whin you're able to stand
at the head of your own table and say grace for two at least, and
thanksgiving for manny, if it's the will of God."

The Young Doctor did not know why he was so brittle, but the truth is he
was feeding on himself, and that is a poor business. Every dog knows it
is good to feed on the knuckle of a goat if he hasn't got a beefbone, and
every real man knows--though to know anything at all he must have been
married--that any marriage is better than no marriage at all; because
whether it's happy or unhappy, it makes you concerned for some one
besides yourself, if you have any soul or sense at all.

The Young Doctor was under the delusion that he loved his lonely table
and the making of a simple salad for a simple man, but then he came from
Ireland and had imagination; and that is always a curse when it isn't a
blessing, for there is nothing between the two. At the end of his
troubled day he almost cursed the salad as it crinkled in the dish just
slightly rubbed with garlic. He was turning away in apathy from it--from
the bones with the marrow oozing out of the ends, from the bursting baked
potatoes, from the beautiful crusts of brown bread, when he heard the
door-bell ring. At the sound his face set as though it were mortar. He
wanted no patients this night; but from the peremptory sound of the bell
he was sure some one had come who needed medicine or the knife, and he
could refuse neither; for was he not at everybody's beck and call, the
Medicine Man whose door was everybody's door!

"Damnation!" he said aloud, and turned towards the door expectantly.

Then he bitted himself to wait; and he did not wait long. Presently he
heard a voice say, "I must see him," and the door opened wide, and Louise
Mazarine stepped into the room. Her face was pale and distraught; her
blue eyes, with their long, melancholy lashes, stared at him in appealing
apprehension. Her lips were almost white; her hands trembled out towards
him.

"I've come--I've come!" she said. It had the finality of the last chapter
of a book.

The Young Doctor closed the door, ignoring for the instant the hands held
out to him. After all, he was a very sane Young Doctor, and he had the
faculty of keeping his head, and his heart, and his own counsel. Also he
knew there was an inquisitive old servant in the hallway.

When the door was closed, he turned round on Louise slowly, and then he
held out his hands to her, for she was shrinking away, as though he had
repulsed her. He pressed her trembling hands in the way that only
faithful friendship shows, and said:

"Yes, I know you've come, but tell me what you've come for."

"I couldn't bear it any longer," she said brokenly. "I'm not made of
steel or stone. It's been terrible. He doesn't speak to me except to
order me to do this or that. I haven't done anything wrong, and I won't
be treated so. I won't! When he made me kneel down by him in the trail
and tried to make me pray to be forgiven of my sins, I couldn't stand it.
I don't know what my sins are, and I won't be converted if I don't want
to. I'm not a slave. I'm of age. I'm twenty."

There was no sign of fatigue now in the Young Doctor's face. Something
had called him out of himself, and this human need had done what a wife's
hand might have done, or the welcome of a child.

"No, you're not twenty," he declared, with a friendly smile. "You aren't
ten. You are only one. In fact, I think you're only just born!"

He did not speak as lightly as the words read. In his voice there was
that compassionate irony with which men shield those for whom they care.
It means protection and defence. Somehow she seemed to him like a small
bird on its first flight from the nest, or, as Patsy Kernaghan would have
said, "a tame lamb loose in a zoolyogical gardin."

"So because you won't pray and can't bear it any longer, you run away
from him, and come to me!" the other remarked with a sorry smile, pouring
out a glass of wine from a decanter that stood on the table.

"Drink this," he said presently, pushing her down gently into a chair
with one hand and holding the glass to her lips. "Drink it every drop. As
I said, you've only run away from one master to fall into another
master's hands. You're a wicked girl. Drink it--every drop. . . . That's
right."

He took the empty glass from her, put it on the table, and then stood and
looked at her meditatively, fastening her eyes with his own. More than
her eyes were fastened, however. Her mind was also under control: but
that was because she believed in him so.

"Yes, you're a wicked girl," he said decisively.

She shuddered and shrank back. In her eyes was a helpless look, very
different from that which she had given not so many days before when,
with Orlando Guise behind her, she had defied her aged husband in his
doorway, and her defiance had moved him from her path. Then she had been
inspired by the fact that the man she loved was near her, that she had
been wrongfully accused and was ready to fight. Afterwards, however, when
she was alone, the sterile presence of Joel Mazarine, his merciless eyes,
his hopeless religious tyranny, had worn upon her as his past violence
had never done.

"Wicked!" Did this man, then, believe her guilty? Did he, of all men,
think that the night upon the prairie alone with Orlando had been her
undoing? Had not the brother of Rigby the chemist borne witness with his
own eyes to her complete innocence? If the Young Doctor disbelieved, then
indeed she was undone.

"You don't think that of me--of me!" she gasped, her lips all white
again. She got to her feet excitedly. "You shall not believe it of me."

"No, I did not say I believed that," the other remarked almost casually.
"But if I did believe it, I don't know that it would make much difference
to me. Fate, or God Almighty, or whatever it was, had stacked the cards
against you. When I said it was wicked, I meant you did wrong in rushing
away from your husband and coming to me. I suppose you have definitely
left your husband--eh? You've 'left' him, as they say?"

He had an incorrigible sense of humour, as well as an infinite common
sense. He wanted to break this spell of tense emotion which possessed
her. So he pursued a new course.

"Don't you think it's rather hard on me?" he continued. "I'm a lone man
in this house, with only one old woman to protect me, and I'm unmarried.
I've a reputation to lose, and there are lots of mothers and daughters
hereabouts. Besides, a medical practice is hard to get and not easy to
keep. What do you mean by making a refuge of me, when there's nothing for
me in it, not even the satisfaction of going into the Divorce Court with
you? You wicked Mrs. Mazarine!"

"Oh, don't speak like that!" Louise interjected. "Please don't. Don't
scold me. I had to come. I was going mad."

The Young Doctor had the case well in hand. He had eased the terrible
tension; he was slowly reducing her to the normal. It was the only thing
to do.

"What did Mazarine do or say to you that made you run away? Come now,
didn't you first make up your mind to go to Slow Down Ranch--to Orlando?"

She flushed. "Yes, but only for a minute. Then I thought of you, because
I knew you could help me as no one else could. Everybody believes in you.
But then Li Choo--"

"Oh, Li Choo! So Li Choo comes into this, eh? So he said fly to Orlando,
eh? Well, that's what he would do. But why Li Choo--a Chinaman? Tell me,
what does Li Choo know?"

Quickly she told him the story of the day when Joel Mazarine had almost
surprised her in Orlando's room; how Li Choo had saved the situation by
falling down the staircase with the priceless porcelain, and how Mazarine
had kicked him--"manhandled" him, as they say in the West.

"Chinamen don't like being kicked, especially Chinamen of Li Choo's
station," remarked the Young Doctor meditatively. "You don't know, of
course, that Li Choo was a prince or a big bug of some sort in his own
country. Why he left China I don't know, but I do chance to know that if
another Chinky meets Li Choo carrying a basket on his shoulders, or a
package in his hand, he kow-tows, and takes it away from him, and carries
it himself. . . . No, I don't know why Li Choo is here in Askatoon, or
why he's such a slave to Mrs. Mazarine; but I do know that he's a
different-looking man when a Chinky runs up against him than when he's
choring at Tralee. A sick Chinaman told me only a week ago that Li Choo
was 'once big high boss Chinaman in Pekin.' . . . And so the mandarin
advised you to fly to Orlando, did he? I wonder if it's a way they have
in China."

"But I wouldn't go. I've come to you--Patsy Kernaghan brought me," Louise
urged.

"Yes, I see you've come to me," remarked the Young Doctor dryly, "and
you've stayed about long enough for me to feel your pulse and diagnose
your case. And now you're going back with Patsy Kernaghan to your own
home."

She trembled; then she seemed to strengthen herself in defiance. What a
change it was from the child of a few weeks ago--indeed, of a few moments
ago! The same passionate determination which seized her when she faced
Mazarine with Orlando, possessed her again. With her whole being
palpitating, she said: "I will not go back. I will not go back. I will
kill myself first."

"That would be a useless sacrifice of yourself and others," the Young
Doctor answered quietly. Seeing that the new thing in her was not to be
conquered in a moment, he quickly made up his mind what to do.

"See," he continued, "you needn't go back to Tralee to-night, but you're
not going to stay here, dear child. I'll take you over to Nolan Doyle's
ranch, to Mrs. Doyle. You'll spend the night there, and we'll think about
to-morrow when to-morrow comes. You certainly can't stay here. I'm not
going to have it.

"Bless you, you're neither so young nor so old as all that!"

Suddenly he grasped both her arms and looked her in the face. "My dear
young lady," he said gently, "I'm not your only friend, but I'm a stout
friend--so stout that there isn't a mount can carry us both together.
When you ride, I walk; when I ride, you walk--you understand? We don't
walk or ride together. I'm taking care of you. Your life is too good to
be ruined by rashness. You're in a 'state,' as my old housekeeper would
say, but you'll be all right presently. As soon as I've made a salad, and
had a marrowbone, you and I and Patsy Kernaghan are going to Nolan
Doyle's ranch. . . . My dear, you must do what I say, and if you do,
you'll be happy yet. I don't see how, quite, but it is so; and meanwhile,
you mustn't make any mistakes. You must play the game. And now come and
have some supper."

She waved her hand in protest. "I can't eat," she said. "Indeed, I
can't."

"Well, you can drink," he answered. "You shall not leave this house alive
unless you have a pint of milk with a little dash of what Patsy calls
'oh-be-joyful' in it."

He left the room for a moment, while she sat watching the door as a
prisoner might watch for the return of a friendly jailer. He had a
curious influence over her. It was wholly different from that of Orlando.
Presently he returned.

"It's all right," he said. "Patsy and you and I will be at Nolan Doyle's
ranch in another hour. I've sent word to Mrs. Doyle. I've ordered your
milk-punch too, and now I think I'll make my salad. You never saw me make
a salad," he added, smiling. "I've done some successful operations in my
day; I've played about with bones and sinews, proud of my work sometimes,
but the making of a perfect salad is the proud achievement of a
master-mind." He laughed like a boy. "'Come hither, come hither, my
little daughter, and do not tremble so,'" he said so cheerfully as to be
almost jeering.

His cheerfulness was not in vain, for a smile stole to her lips, though
it only flickered for an instant and was gone. For all that, he knew he
had saved the situation, and that another chapter of the life-history of
Orlando and Louise had been ended. A fresh chapter would begin tomorrow;
but sufficient unto the day was the evil thereof.



CHAPTER XII

MAN UNNATURAL

Mazarine discovered the flight of Louise soon after she had gone. He had
not been five hundred yards from the house since she returned with
Orlando after the night spent upon the prairie, save when he had been
obliged to go in to Askatoon and had taken her with him, dumb and
passive. She had been a prisoner, tied to the stirrups of her captor; and
he had berated her, had preached at her. As Louise had said, once on the
way to Askatoon, he had even tried to make her kneel down in the dust of
the trail and plead with Heaven to convict her of sin.

On the evening of Louise's flight, however, he had been forced to go to a
neighbouring ranch, and had commanded Li Choo to keep a strict watch at
the windows of her room to see that she did not attempt escape. She could
not escape by the door of the room because he had the key in his pocket.
Li Choo was not a stern jailer, however. Mazarine had not been gone three
minutes before the Chinaman had touch with Louise. He did more; he threw
up into the open window of her room a screw-driver, with which she took
the old-fashioned door off its hinges, after half an hour's work. Then,
leaving a note on the table of the dining-room, to say that she could not
bear it any longer, that she would never come back, and that she meant to
be free, she summoned Patsy Kernaghan and fled to the Young Doctor.

When Mazarine returned and found her note, he plunged up the stairs to
her bedroom, his pious wrath gurgling in his throat, only to find the
door locked; for Li Choo had promptly restored it to its hinges after
Louise had gone, afterwards dropping from the high window like a cat,
without hurt.

Li Choo, blinking, opaque, immobile, save for his piercing and mysterious
eyes, had no explanation to give. All he said was, "Me no see all sides
house same time"; so suggesting that, as the room had windows on all
three sides, Louise must have escaped while he made his supposed
sentry-go, slip-slopping round the house. Mazarine showed what he thought
by spitting in Li Choo's face, and then rushing into the house to get the
raw-hide whip with which he had punished the Chinaman before, and with
which he had threatened his wife.

When he returned a moment afterwards, Li Choo was nowhere to be seen; but
in his place were two other Chinamen who had, as it were, fallen from the
skies, standing where Li Choo had stood, immobile, blinking and passive
like Li Choo, their hands lost in the long sleeves of their coats, their
pigtails so tightly braided as, in seeming, to draw their slanting
eyelids still to greater incline, and to give a look of petrified
intentness to their faces.

Something in their attitude gave Mazarine apprehension. It was as though
Li Choo had been transformed by some hellish magic into two other
Chinamen. The rage of his being seemed to stupefy him; he could not
resist the sensation of the unnatural.

"What do you want? How did you come here?" he asked of the two in a husky
voice.

"We want speak Li Choo. We come see Li Choo," answered one of the
Chinamen impassively.

"He was here a minute ago," answered Mazarine gruffly.

Then he turned away, going swiftly toward the kitchen, and calling to Li
Choo. As he went, he was conscious of low, cackling laughter, but when he
turned to look, the two Chinamen stood where he had left them, blinking
and immobile.

The uncanny feeling possessing him increased; the thing was unnatural. He
lurched on, however, looking for Li Choo. The Chinaman was not to be
found in the kitchen, in the woodshed, in the cellar, in the loft, or in
his own attic room; and the half-breed, Rada, declared she had not seen
him. He could not be at the stables, for they were too far away to be
reached in the time; and there were no signs of him between the house and
the stables. When Mazarine returned to the front of the house, the two
Chinamen also had vanished; there were no signs of them anywhere. Search
did not discover them.

Mingled anger and fear now possessed Mazarine. He would search no longer.
No doubt the other two Chinamen had joined Li Choo in his hiding-place,
wherever it was. Why had the Chinamen come? What were they after? It did
not matter for the moment. What he wanted was Louise, his bad child-wife,
who had broken from her cage and flown from him. Where would she go?
Where, but to Slow Down Ranch? Where, but to her lover, the circus-rider,
the boy with the head of brown curls, with the ring on his finger and the
Cupid mouth! Where would she go but to the man with whom she had spent
the night on the prairie!

Now he believed altogether that she was guilty, that everybody had
conspired to deceive him, that he was in a net of dark deception. Even
the two Chinamen, mysteriously coming and going, had laughed at him like
two heathen gods, and had vanished suddenly like heathen gods.

A weakness came over him, and the skin of his face became creased and
clammy like that of a drowned man; his limbs trembled, so desperate was
his passion. He stumbled into the house and into the dining-room, where
he kept a little black-bound Bible once belonging to his
great-grandfather. He had thumbed it well in past years, searching it for
passages of violence and denunciation. Now holy superstition seized him
in the midst of the work of the devil, surrounding him with an almost
medieval instinct. He seized the ancient book, as it were to deliver its
incantations against everyone destroying his peace, stealing from him
that which he prized beyond all earthly things.

Take this woman away from him, this child-wife from his sixty-five years,
and what was left for him? She was the garden of spring in which his old
age roamed at ease luxuriously. She was the fruit of the tree of
pleasure. She was that which made him young again, renewed in him youth
and the joys of youth. Take her away, the flower that smelled so sweet
and luscious, the thing that he had held so often to his lips and to his
breast? Take away what was his, by every holy right, because it was all
according to the law of the land and of the Holy Gospel, and what was
left? Only old age, the empty house bereft of a fair young mistress,
something to smile at and to curse, if need be, since it was his own by
the laws of God and man.

Take her away, and the two wives that he had buried long years ago, with
their gray heads and lank, sour faces, from which the light of youth had
fled with the first child come to them--their ghosts would seek him out.
They would sit at his table, and taunt him with his vanished Louise,
asking him if he thought she was anything more than one of the trolls
that tempted men aforetime; one of the devil's wenches that lured him
into the secret garden, only at last to leave him scorned and alone.

Where had she gone, his troll, with the face of an angel? Where had she
gone? Where would she go, except to her devil's lover at Slow Down Ranch?

He had just started for Slow Down Ranch armed with his greasy,
well-thumbed Bible like a weapon in his pocket, when he heard a voice
call him. It was full of the devil's laughter. It was the voice of
Burlingame, the lawyer, on his horse. Burlingame had had a weary day and
was refreshing himself by a canter on the prairie.

"Where are you going?" asked Burlingame, as he cantered up to Mazarine's
wagon.

"To Slow Down Ranch?"

He saw the look of the drowned man in the face of Mazarine, over whom the
flood of disaster had passed, and he guessed at once the cause of it; for
Burlingame had the philosophy of a Satanic mind, and he knew the things
that happen to human nature.

"So, she's gone again, has she?" he added deliberately, with intent to
put a knife into the old man's feelings and to turn it in the thick of
them. He wanted to hurt, because Mazarine had only a short time before
dispensed with his services as a lawyer, and had blocked the way to that
intimacy which he had hoped to establish with Tralee and its mistress.
Besides, his pride as a professional man had been hurt, and he had been
deprived of income which now went to his most hated professional rival.
Mazarine's jealous soul had cut him off, on coming to know Burlingame's
dark reputation. He had not liked the look Burlingame had given Louise
when they met.

"Gone again, has she?" Burlingame repeated sarcastically. "Well, you
needn't go to Slow Down Ranch to find her. She isn't there, and you won't
find him there either, for I saw him come by the Lark River Trail into
Askatoon as I left, and a lady was with him. He booked this morning for
the sleeper of the express going East to-night; so, if I were you, I'd
turn my horse's nose to Askatoon, Mr. Mazarine. I don't know why I tell
you this, as you're not my client now, but I go about the world doing
good, Mr. Mazarine--only doing good."

There was a look in Burlingame's face which Heaven would not have
accepted as goodness, and there was that in his voice which did not
belong to the Courts of the Lord. Malice, though veiled, showed in face
and sounded in voice. Even as he spoke, Joel Mazarine turned his horse's
head towards Askatoon.

"You're sure a woman was with him? You're sure she was with him?" he
asked in chaos of passion.

"I couldn't see her face; it was too far away," answered Burlingame
suggestively, "but you can form your own conclusions--and the express is
due in thirty minutes!"

He looked at his watch complacently. "What's the good, Mazarine? Why
don't you say, 'Go and sin no more?' Or why don't you divorce her with
the evidence about that night on the prairie? I could have got you a
verdict and damages. Yes, I could have got you plenty of damages. He's
rich. You took her back and condoned; you condoned, Mazarine, and now
you'll neither have damages nor wife--and the express goes in thirty
minutes!"

"The express won't take Mrs. Mazarine away tonight," the old man said, a
look of jungle fierceness filling his face.

Burlingame laughed unpleasantly. "Yes, you'll foul your own nest,
Mazarine, and then bring her back to live in it. I know you. It isn't the
love of God in your heart, because you'll never forgive her; but you'll
bring her back to the nest you fouled, just because you want her--'You
damned and luxurious mountain goat,' as Shakespeare called your kind."

With another laugh, which somewhat resembled that of the two strange
vanished Chinamen, Burlingame flicked his horse and cantered away. A
little time afterwards, however, he turned and looked toward Askatoon,
and he saw the old man whipping his horse into a gallop to reach Askatoon
railway station before the express went East.

"It's true, Mazarine," he said aloud. "Orlando booked for the sleeper
going East in thirty minutes; but the sleeper was for one only, and that
one was his mother, you old hippopotamus. . . . But I wonder where she
is--where the divine Louise is? She hasn't levanted with her Orlando.
. . . Now, I wonder!" he added.

Then, with a sudden impulse, he dug heels into his horse's sides, and
galloped back towards Askatoon. He wanted to see what would happen before
the express went East.



CHAPTER XIII

ORLANDO GIVES A WARNING

Askatoon had never lost its interest for Mazarine and his wife since the
day the Mayor had welcomed them at the railway station. Askatoon was not
a petty town. Its career had been chequered and interesting, and it had
given haven to a large number of uncommon people. Unusual happenings had
been its portion ever since it had been the rail-head of the Great
Transcontinental Line, and many enterprising men, instead of moving on
with the railway, when it ceased to be the rail-head, settled there and
gave the place its character. The town had never been lawless, although
some lawless people had sojourned there.

It was too busy a place to be fussing about little things, or tearing
people's characters to pieces, or gossiping even to the usual degree; yet
in its history it had never gossiped so much as it had done since the
Mazarines had come.

From the first the vast majority of folk had sided with Louise and
denounced Mazarine. They knew well she had married too young to be
self-seeking or intriguing; and, in any case, no woman in Askatoon or yet
in the West, could have conceived of a girl marrying "the ancient one
from the jungle," as Burlingame had called him.

Burlingame could never have been on the side of the Ten Commandments
himself, even with a sure and certain hope of happiness on earth, and in
Heaven also, guaranteed to him. Nothing could have condemned Mazarine so
utterly as the coalition between the "holy good people," as Burlingame
called them, and himself; and between the holy good people and himself
were many who in their secret hearts would never have shunned Louise if,
after the night on the prairie with Orlando, release had been found for
her in the Divorce Court. Jonas Billings had put the matter in a nutshell
when he said:

"It ain't natural, them two, at Tralee. For marrying her he ought to be
tarred and feathered, and for the way he treats her he ought to be let
loose in the ha'nts of the grizzlies. What he done to that girl is a
crime ag'in' the law. If there was any real spunk in the Methodists,
they'd spit him out like pus."

That was exactly what the Methodist body had decided to do on the very
day that Louise had fled from Tralee and the old man pursued her in the
wrong direction. The Methodist body had determined to discipline
Mazarine, to eject him from their communion, because he had raised a whip
against his wife; because he had maltreated Li Choo; and because he had
used language unbecoming a Christian. They had decided that Mazarine had
not shown the righteous anger of a Christian man, but of one who had
backslided, and who, in the words of Rigby the chemist, "Must be spewed
out of the mouth of the righteous into the dust of shame."

That was the situation when Joel Mazarine drove furiously into the town
and made for the railway station. Men like Jonas Billings, who saw him,
and had the scent for sensation, passed the word on downtown, as it is
called, that something "was up" with Mazarine, and the railway station
was the place where what was up could be seen. Therefore; a quarter of an
hour before the arrival of the express which was to carry Orlando Guise's
mother to her sick sister three hundred miles down the line, a goodly
number of citizens had gathered at the station-far more than usually
watched the entrance or exit of the express.

Mazarine's wagon and steaming horses were tied up outside the station,
and inside on the platform Moses-not-much, as Mazarine had been called by
Jonas Billings, marched up and down, his snaky little eyes blinking at
the doorway of the station reception-room. People came and some of them
nodded to him derisively. Some, with more hardihood, asked him if he was
going East; if he was expecting anyone; if he was seeing somebody off.

A good many asked him the last question, because, as the minutes had
passed, Burlingame had arrived. He had also disclosed his great joke to
those who would carry it far and near, together with the news that Louise
had taken flight. The last fact, however, was known to several people,
because more than one had seen the Young Doctor and Patsy Kernaghan
taking Louise to Nolan Doyle's ranch.

It was dusk. The lamps of the station were being lighted five minutes
before the express arrived, and as the lights flared up, Orlando entered
the waiting-room of the station, with a lady on his arm, and presently
showed at the platform doorway, smiling and cheerful. He did not blench
when Mazarine came towards him. Mazarine had seen the flutter of a blue
skirt in the waiting-room, and his wife had worn blue that day!

Orlando saw the heavy, offensive figure of Mazarine making for him. He,
however, appeared to take no notice, though he watched his outrageous
pursuer out of the corner of his eye, as he quietly gave orders to a
porter concerning a little heap of luggage. When he had finished this, he
turned, as it were casually, to Mazarine. Then he giggled in the face of
the Master of Tralee. It was like the matador's waving of the scarlet
cloth in the face of the enraged bull. Having thus relieved his feelings,
Orlando turned and walked to the door of the reception-room, but was
stopped by the old man rushing at him. Swinging round, Orlando almost
filled the doorway.

"You devil's spawn," Mazarine almost shouted, "get out of that doorway. I
want my wife. You needn't try to hide her. You thief! You lecherous
circus rider! Stand aside--leper!"

Orlando coolly stretched out his elbows till they touched the sides of
the door, and as the crowd pressed, he said to them mockingly:

"Get back, boys. Give him air. Can't you see he's gasping for breath."
Then he giggled again.

The old man looked round at the crowd, but he saw no sympathy--only
aversion and ridicule. Suddenly he snatched his little black-bound Bible
from his pocket, and held it up.

"What does this Book say?" he thundered. "It says that a wife shall
cleave unto her husband until death. For the seducer and the betrayer
death is the portion."

The whistle of the incoming train was heard in the distance.

The old man was desperate. It was clear he meant to assault Orlando. "You
will only take her away over my dead body," he ground out in his passion.
"The Lord gave, and only the Lord shall take away." He gathered himself
together for the attack.

Orlando waved a hand at him as one would at a troublesome child. At that
instant, his mother stepped up behind him in the reception-room.

"Orlando," she said in her mincing, piping little voice, "Orlando, dear,
the train is coming. Let me out. I'm not afraid of that bad man. I want
to catch my train."

Orlando stepped aside, and his mother passed through, to the
consternation of Mazarine, who fell back. The old man now realized that
Burlingame had tricked him. Laughter went up from the crowd. They had had
a great show at no cost.

"'If at first you don't succeed, try, try again,' Mr. Mazarine!" called
someone from the crowd.

"It's the next train she's going by, old Moses-not-much," shouted a
friend of Jonas Billings.

"She's had enough of you, Joel!" sneered another mocker.

"Wouldn't you like to know where she is, yellow-lugs?" queried a fat
washerwoman.

For an instant Mazarine stood demused, and then, thrusting the Bible into
his pocket, he drew himself up in an effort of pride and defiance.

"Judases! Jezebels!" he burst out at them all. Then he lunged through the
doorway of the reception-room; but at the door opening on the street his
courage gave way, and hunched up like one in pain, he ran towards the
hitching-post where he had left his horses and wagon. They were not
there. With a groan which was also a malediction, he went up the street
like a wounded elephant, and made his way to the police-station through a
town which had no pity for him.

During the hour he remained in the town, Mazarine searched in vain for
his horses and wagon. He looked everywhere except the shed behind the
Methodist Church. It was there the two wags who had played the trick on
him had carefully hitched the horses, and presently they announced in
town that they did it because they knew Mazarine would want to go to the
prayer-meeting to lay his crimes before the Mercy Seat!

It was quite true that it was prayer-meeting night, and as the merciless
wags left the shed, the voice of brother Rigby the chemist was narrating
for the hundredth time the story of his conversion, when, as he said,
"the pains of hell gat hold of him." Brother Rigby loved to relate the
tortures of the day when he was convicted of sin; but on this night his
ancient story seemed appropriate, as he had dealt with great severity on
the doings of the backslider, Joel Mazarine.

When the two wags returned to the front street of Askatoon, they were
just in time to see the second meeting of Orlando and Mazarine. Mazarine
had not been able to find his horses at any hotel or livery stable, or in
any street. It was at the moment, when, in his distraction, he had
decided to walk back to Tralee, that Orlando, driving up the street, saw
him. Orlando reined in his horses dropped from his buggy and approached
him.

There was a look in Orlando's eyes which was a reflection from a remote
past, from ancestors who had settled their troubles with the first weapon
and the best opportunity to their hands. "The furrin element in him," as
Jonas Billings called it, had been at full flood ever since he had bade
his mother good-bye. A storm of anger had been raised in him. As he said
to himself, he had had enough; he had been filled up to the chin by the
Mazarine business; and his impulsive youth wanted to end it by some
smashing act which would be sensational and decisive. So it was that Fate
offered the opportunity, as he came up the front street of Askatoon, and
found himself face to face with Mazarine, over against the offices of
Burlingame.

"A word with you, Mr. Mazarine," he said, with the air of a man who wants
to ease his mind of its trouble by action. "Back there at the station, I
kept my tongue and let you down easy enough, because my mother was
present. She is old and sensitive, and she doesn't like to see her son
doing the dirty work every man must do some time or other, when there's
street cleaning to be done. Now, let me tell you this: you've slandered
as good a girl, you've libelled as straight a wife, as the best man in
the world ever had. You've made a public scandal of your private home.
You've treated the pure thing as if it were the foul thing; and yet, you
want to keep the pure thing that you treat like a foul thing, under your
rawhide whip, because it's young and beautiful and good. You don't want
to save her soul"--he pointed to the Bible, which the old man had
snatched from his pocket again--"you don't want to save her soul. You
don't care whether she's happy in this world or the next; what you want
is what you can see of her, for your life in this world only. You want--"

The old man interrupted him with a savage emotion which Jonas Billings
said made him look like "a satyre."

"I want to save her from the wrath to come," he said. "This here holy
Book gives me my rights. It says, 'Thou shalt not steal,' and the trouble
I have comes from you that's stole my wife, that's put her soul in
jeopardy, robbed my home--"

"Robbed your home!" interjected Orlando quietly, but with a voice of
suppressed passion. "Robbed your home! Why, the other day you tried to
prevent her entering it. You wanted to shut her out. After she had lived
with you all those years, you believed she lied to you when she told you
the truth about that night on the prairie; but her innocence was proved
by one who was there all the time, and for shame's sake you had to let
her in. But she couldn't stand it. I don't wonder. A lark wouldn't be at
home where a vulture roosted."

"And so the lark flies away to the cuckoo," snarled the old man, with
flecks of froth gathering at the corners of his mouth; for the sight of
this handsome, long-limbed youth enraged him.

"Give her back to me. You know where she is," he persisted. "You've got
her hid away. That's why you've sent your mother East--so's she wouldn't
know, though from what I see, I shouldn't think it'd have made much
difference to her."

Exclamations broke from the crowd. It was the wild West. It was a country
where, not twenty years before, men did justice upon men without the
assistance of the law; and the West understood that the dark insult just
uttered would in days not far gone have meant death. The onlookers
exclaimed, and then became silent, because a subtle sense of tragedy
suddenly smothered their voices. Upon the silence there broke a little
giggling laugh. It came from lips that were one in paleness with a face
grown stony.

"I ought to kill you," Orlando said quietly after a moment, yet scarcely
above a whisper. "I ought to kill you, Mazarine, but that would only be
playing your game, for the law would get hold of me, and the girl that
has left you would be sorrowful, for she knows I love her, though I never
told her so. She'd be sorry to see the law get at me. She's going to be
mine some day, in the right way. I'm not going behind your back to say
it; I'm announcing it to all and sundry. I never did a thing to her that
couldn't have been seen by all the world, and I never said a thing to her
that couldn't be heard by all the world; but I hope she'll never go back
to you. You've made a sewer for her to live in, not a home. As I said, I
ought to kill you, but that would play your game, so I won't, not now.
But I tell you this, Mazarine: if I ever meet you again--and I'm sure to
do so--and you don't get off the road I'm travelling on, or the side-walk
I'm walking on, when I meet you or when I pass you, I'll let you have
what'll send you to hell, before you can wink twice.

"As for Louise--as for her: I don't know where she is, but I'll find her.
One thing is sure: if I see her, I'll tell her never to go back to you;
and she won't. You've drunk at the waters of Canaan for the last time.
For a Christian you're pretty filthy. Go and wash in the pool of Siloam
and be clean--damn you, Mazarine!"

With that he turned, almost unheeding the hands thrust out to grip his,
the voices murmuring approval. In a moment he had swung his horses round.
He did not go beyond ten yards, however, before someone, running beside
his wagon, whispered up to him: "She's out at Nolan Doyle's ranch. She
went with the Young Doctor and Patsy Kernaghan."

Behind, in the street, a young boy came running through the crowd and
shouting: "I know where they are! I know where they are!" He stopped
before Mazarine. "Gimme half a dollar, and I'll tell you where your
horses are. Gimme half a dollar. Gimme half a dollar, and I'll tell you."

An instant later, with the half-dollar in his hand, he said: "They're up
to the shed of the Meetin' House."

"Yes, go along up to the Meetin' House, Mr. Mazarine," said one of the
miscreants who had driven the horses there. "They're holding a
post-mortem on you at the prayer meetin'. They say you're dead in
trespasses and sins. Get along, Joel."

The crowd started to follow him to the shed where his horses were, but
after a moment he turned on them and said:

"Ain't you heerd and seen enough? Ain't there no law to protect a man?"

A hoe was leaning against a fence. He saw it, and with sudden fury,
seizing it, swung it round his head as if to throw it into the crowd. At
that moment a stalwart constable ran forward, raised a hand towards
Mazarine, and then addressed the crowd.

"We've had enough of this," he said. "I'll lock up any man that goes a
step further towards the Meetin' House. Where do you think you are? This
is Askatoon, the place of peace and happiness, and we're going to be
happy, if I have to lock up the hull lot of you. I guess you can go right
on, Mr. Mazarine," he added. "Go right on and git your wagon."

A moment later Mazarine was walking alone towards the Meeting House; but
no, not alone, for a hundred devils were with him.



CHAPTER XIV

FILION AND FIONA--ALSO PATSY KERNAGHAN

Patsy Kernaghan was in his element in the garden with which Norah Doyle
had decorated the brown bosom of the prairie. It had verdant shrubs,
green turf, thick fringes of flowers, and one solitary elmtree in the
centre whose branches spread like a cedar of Lebanon. In the moonlight
Patsy had the telling of a wonderful story to such an audience as he had
never had before in his life, and he had had them from Bundoran to
Limerick, from Limerick to the foothills of the Rockies.

The seance of love and legend had been Patsy's own idea. At the
supper-table spread by Norah Doyle, in spite of the protests of her
visitors--the Young Doctor, Louise and Patsy--Nolan Doyle, who had a
fine gift for playful talk, had tried to keep the situation free from
melodrama. Yet Patsy had observed that, in spite of all efforts, Louise's
eyes now and then filled with tears. Also, he saw that her senses seemed
alert for something outside their little circle. It was as though she
expected someone to arrive. She was in that state which is not normal and
yet not abnormal--a kind of trance in which she did ordinary things in a
natural way, yet mechanically, without full consciousness.

There was no one at the table who did not realize what, and for whom, she
was waiting. To her primitive spirit, now that she was in trouble because
of him, it seemed inevitable that Orlando should come. One thing was
fixed in her mind: she would never return to Tralee or to the man whose
odious presence made her feel as though she was in a cage with an animal.

Jonas Billings had called him "The ancient one from the jungle," and that
was how at last he appeared to her. His arms and breast were thick with
hair; the hair on his face grew almost up to the eyes; the fingers of his
splayed hands were blunt and broad; and his hair was like a nest for
things of the jungle undergrowth.

Since she had been awakened, the memory of his hot breath in her face, of
his clumsy fevered embraces was a torment to her; for always in contrast
there were the fresh clean-shaven cheeks and chin of a young Berserker
with honest, wondering blue eyes, the curly head of a child, and body and
limbs like a young lean stag.

Orlando's touch was never either clammy or fevered. She could recall
every time that he had touched her: when her fingers and his met on the
afternoon that Li Choo had thrown himself down the staircase with the
priceless porcelain; also the evening of the night spent on the prairie
when, after the accident, her hand had been linked into his arm; also
when he had clasped her fingers at their meeting in the morning. On each
occasion she had felt a thrill like that of music--persuasive, living
vibrations passing to remote recesses of her being.

No nearer had she ever come to the man she loved, no nearer had he sought
to come. Once, the evening after the night spent on the prairie, when old
Joel Mazarine had tried to make her pray and ask God's forgiveness, and
he had kissed her with the lips of hungry old age, she had suddenly sat
up in bed, her heart beating hard, every nerve palpitating, because in
imagination she had seen herself in Orlando's arms, with his lips pressed
to hers.

Poor neophyte in life's mysteries, having served as a slave at false
altars of which she did not even know the ritual, it was no wonder that,
after all she had suffered, she could not now bring herself into tune
with the commonplace intercourse of life. Not that her friends utterly
failed to lure her into it. She might well have been the victim of
hysterics, but she was only distrait, pensive and gently smiling, with
the smile of a good heart. Smiling with her had ever taken the place of
conversation. It was an apology for not speaking when she could not speak
what she felt.

Once during the meal she seemed to start slightly, as though she heard a
familiar sound, and for some minutes afterwards she seemed to be
listening, as it were, for a knock at the door, which did not come.
Immediately after that, Patsy, happy in sitting down to table with "the
quality"--for such they were to him--because he saw that Louise must be
distracted, and because he had seen story-telling, many a time, draw
people away from their troubles even more than music, said:

"Did you remember the day it is, anny of you? Shure, it's St. Droid's
Day! Aw, then, don't you know who he was? You don't! Well, well, there's
no tellin' how ignorant the wurruld can be. St. Droid--aw, he was a good
man that brought the two children of Chief Diarmid and Queen Moira
together. You didn't know about them two? You niver h'ard of Chief
Diarmid and Queen Moira and their two lovely children? Well, there it is,
there's no sayin' how ignorant y'are if y'are not Irish. Aw no, they
wasn't man and wife. Diarmid was a widower and Moira was a widow.
Diarmid's boy was Filion and Moira's girl was Fiona, an' the troubles of
the two'd make a book for ivry day of the week, an' two for Sunday. An'
the way that St. Droid brought them two together Aw, come outside in the
gardin where the moon's to the full, an' it's warm enough for anny man or
woman that's got a warm heart, an' I'll tell you the story of Filion and
Fiona. You'll not be forgettin' the names of them now, will ye? And while
I'm tellin' you, all the time you'll be thinkin' of St. Droid, for it's
his day. It was nothin' till him, St. Droid, that he lived in a cave, you
understan'? Wasn't his face like the sun comin' up over the lake at
Ballinhoe in the month of June! Well, it doesn't matter if you've niver
seen Ballinhoe--you understan' what I mean. Well, then come out intil the
gardin, darlins. Shure, I'm achin' to tell you the story--as fine a
love-story as iver was told to man and woman."

So it was that Louise with eyes alight-for Patsy had a voice that could
stir imagination in the dullest--so it was that Louise and the others
went out into the moonlit garden, the prairie around them like an endless
waste of sea. There they placed themselves in a half circle around Patsy,
who sat upon a little bench, with his back to the big spreading elm-tree,
which by some special gift had grown alone over the myriad years, defying
storm and winter's frost, until it seemed to have an honoured permanence,
as stable as the prairie earth itself.

As they seated themselves, there was renewed in Louise the feeling she
had at supper-time, when she had imagined--or had her senses accurately
divined? that Orlando was near, so sure had been the sensation that she
had expected Orlando to enter the room where they sat. Now it was on her
again, and somehow she felt him there with her. He was Filion and she was
Fiona.

Since the day she had first seen Orlando, she had awakened to life's
realities. There had grown in her an alertness and a delicate sense of
things, which, though natural to one born with a soul that cared little
for sordid things, was not common, except in Celtic circles where the
unseen thing is more real than the seen; where gold and precious stones
are only valued in so far as they can purchase freedom, dreams and
desire.

Louise had not been thrilled without cause. Orlando, the real material
Orlando, had driven out to Nolan Doyle's ranch, but having come, could
not at first bring himself to enter. Something in him kept saying that it
was not fair to her; kept admonishing him to let things take their
course; that now was not the time to see her; that it might place her in
a false position. Blameless though she was, she might be blamed by the
world, if he and she, on the night that she fled from Joel Mazarine
should meet, and, above all, meet alone--and what was the good of meeting
at all, if they did not meet alone! What could two voiceless people say
to each other, people who only spoke with their hearts and souls, when
others were staring at them, watching every act, listening for every
word. His better sense kept telling him to go back to Slow Down Ranch.

But there she was inside Nolan Doyle's house, and he had come
deliberately to see her.

He stood outside in the garden near the great spreading elm-tree, torn by
a sense of duty and a sense of desire; but the desire was to let her see
by his presence that he would be a tower of strength to her, no matter
what happened. It was not the desire which had possessed him whom Patsy
Kernaghan had called the keeper of the "zoolyogical" garden.

He had just made up his mind that courage was the right thing: that he
must see her in the presence of others for one minute, whatever the
issue, when she came out with Patsy Kernaghan, the Young Doctor, and
Norah and Nolan Doyle. None saw him, and, as they seated themselves, he
stepped noiselessly under the spreading branches of the elm-tree. He
would not speak to them yet; he would wait. In the shade made by the
drooping branches he could not be seen, yet he could hear and see all.

There was silence for a moment, and then Patsy began the tale of St.
Droid--"whoever he was," as Patsy said to himself; for he was going to
make up out of his head this story of St. Droid and St. Droid's Day, and
Queen Moira, Filion and Fiona. It was a bold idea, but it gave Patsy the
opportunity of his life.

His description of Black Brian, the rich, ruthless King, to whom Queen
Moira gave her daughter Fiona, despite the girl's bitter sorrow, was a
masterpiece. It was modelled on Joel Mazarine. It was the behemoth
transferred to Ireland, to the cromlechs and castles, to the causeways,
the caves, and the stony hillsides; to the bogs and the quicksands and
the Little Men; but it could not be recognized as a portrait, though
everyone felt how wonderful it was that a legend of a thousand years
should be so close to the life of Askatoon.

Patsy had no knowledge of what the mother of Louise was like, but the
likeness between her cruel, material, selfish spirit and Queen Moira, in
the sacrifice of their offspring, provoked the admiration of the Young
Doctor, whose philosophical mind had soon discovered that Patsy was
making up the tale.

That did not matter. Having got the thing started, Patsy gave reins to
his imagination; and storm, terror, danger, and the capture of Fiona by
Filion, from Black Brian's castle in the hills, was told with primitive
force and passion. But the most wonderful part of the story described how
a strange dwarfed Little Man came out of the hills in the East, across
the land, to the Western fastness of Black Brian, and there slew that
evil man, because of an ancient feud--slew him in a situation of great
indignity, and left him lying on the sands for the tide to wash him out
to the deep and hungry sea. Even here Patsy had his inspiration from real
life; and yet he disguised it all so well that no one except the Young
Doctor even imagined what he meant.

Under the tree Orlando listened with strained attention, absorbed and, at
times, almost overcome. His long sigh of relief was joined to the sighs
of the others when Patsy finished. The Young Doctor rose to go, and the
others rose also.

"That's a wonderful story, Patsy," said the Young Doctor to him; and he
added quizzically: "You tell it so well because you've told it so often
before, I suppose?"

"Aw, well, that's it, I expect," answered the Irishman coolly.

"I thought so," responded the Young Doctor. "Now, how many times do you
think you've told that story before, Patsy?"

"About a hundred, I should think; or no--I should think about two hundred
times," answered Patsy shamelessly.

"I thought so," said the Young Doctor, but before turning to go into the
house, he leaned and whispered in his ear: "Patsy, you're the most
beautiful liar that ever come out of Ireland."

"Aw, Doctor dear!" said Patsy softly.

They all moved towards the house, save Louise. "Please, I want to stay
behind a minute or two," she said, as she held out a hand to the Young
Doctor. "Don't wait for me. I want to be alone a little while." Once more
the Young Doctor felt the trembling appeal of her palm as on the first
day they met, and he gripped her hand warmly.

"It will all come right. Good-night, my dear," he said cheerfully. "Have
a good sleep on it."

Louise remained in the garden alone, the moon shining on her face lifted
to the sky. For a moment she stood so, wrapped in the peace of the night,
but her body was almost panting from the thrill of the legend which Patsy
Kernaghan had told. As he had meant it to do, it gave her hope; although
before her eyes was the picture that Patsy had drawn of Black Brian with
his great sword beside him lying on the sands, waiting for the hungry sea
to claim him.

Presently there stole through the warm air of the night the sound of her
own name. She did not start. It seemed to her part of the dream in which
she was. Her hand went to her heart, however.

Again in Orlando's voice came the word "Louise," a little louder now. She
turned towards the tree, and there beside it stood Orlando.

For an instant there was a sense of unreality, of ghostliness, and then
she gave a little cry of pain and joy. As she ran towards him, with
sudden impulse, his arms spread out and he caught her to his breast.

His lips swept her hair. "Louise! Louise!" he whispered passionately. For
an instant they stood so, and then he gently pressed her away from him.

"I had to come," he said. "I want you to know that whatever happens, you
may depend on me. When you call, I will come. I must go now. For your
sake I must not stay. I had to see you, I had to tell you what I had
never told you."

"You've always told me," she murmured.

He stretched out his hand to clasp hers. He did not dare to open his arms
again. The lips which he had never kissed were very near, and ah, so
sweet! She must not come to him now.

One swift clasp of the hand, and then he vaulted over the fence and was
gone. A few moments afterwards she heard the rumble of his wagon on the
prairie--he had tied up his horses some distance from the house.

As the Young Doctor drove homeward with Patsy Kernaghan, he also heard
the rumble of the wagon not far in front of him. Then he began to wonder
why Louise had waited behind in the garden. He put the thought away from
him, however. There was no deceit in Louise; he was sure of that.



CHAPTER XV

OUTWARD BOUND

Joel Mazarine did not take the trail to Tralee immediately after he found
his wagon and horses in the shed of the Methodist Meeting House. As he
drove through the main street of Askatoon again, his lawyer--Burlingame's
rival--waved a hand towards him in greeting. An idea suddenly possessed
the old man, and he stopped the horses and beckoned.

"Get in and come to your office with me," he said to the lawyer. "There's
some business to do right off."

The unpopularity of a client in no way affects a lawyer. Indeed, the most
notorious criminal is the greatest legal advertisement, and the fortunate
part of the business is that no lawyer is ever identified with the
morals, crimes or virtues of his client, yet has particular advantage
from his crimes. So it was that Mazarine's lawyer enjoyed the public
attention given to his drive through the town with Mazarine. He could
hear this man say, "Hello, what's up!" or another remark that the Law and
the Gospel were out for war.

Just as they were about to enter the office, however, Jonas Billings, who
had a faculty for being everywhere at the interesting moment, said, so as
to be heard by Mazarine and his lawyer, and all others standing near.

"Goin' to leave his property away from his wife! Makin' a new will--eh?
That's it, stamp on a girl when she's down! When you can't win the woman,
keep the cash. Woe is me, Willy, but the wild one rageth!"

Jonas' drawling, nasal, high-pitched sarcasm reached Mazarine's ears and
stung him. He lurched round, and with beady eyes blinking with malice,
said roughly: "The fool is known by his folly."

"You don't need to label yourself, Mr. Mazarine," retorted Jonas with a
grin.

The crowd laughed in approval. The loose lower lip of the Master of
Tralee quivered. The leviathan was being tortured by the little sharks.

Presently the door of the lawyer's office slammed on the street, and
Mazarine proceeded to make a new will, which should leave everything away
from Louise. After he had slowly dictated the terms of the will, with a
glutinous solemnity he said:

"There; that's what comes of breaking the laws of God and man. That's
what a woman loses who doesn't do her duty by the man that can give her
everything, and that's give her everything, while she plays the Jezebel."

"I'll complete this for you, and you can sign it now," remarked the
lawyer evasively, not without shrinking; "but it won't stand as it is, or
as you want it to stand, because Mrs. Mazarine has her legal claims in
spite of it! She's got a wife's dower-rights according to the law. That's
one-third of your property. It's the law of the land, and you can't sign
it away from her, Mr. Mazarine."

The old man's face darkened still more; his crooked fingers twisted in
his beard.

"I see you forgot that," added the lawyer. "There's only one way to
dispossess her, and that's to put her through Divorce--if you think you
can. Of course this document'll stand as far as it goes, and it's
perfectly legal, but it isn't what you intend, and she'd get her
one-third in spite of it."

"I'll come back to-morrow," said the old man, rising to his feet. "You
make it out, and I'll come back and sign it to-morrow. I'll make a sure
thing of so much, anyway. The divorce'll settle the rest. You have it
ready at noon to-morrow, and you can start divorce proceedings to-morrow
too. There's plenty of evidence. She run away from me to go to him. She
stayed with him a whole night on the prairie. I want the divorce, and I
can get the evidence. Everybody knows. This is the Lord's business, and I
mean to see it through. Shame has come to the house of a servant of the
Lord, and there must be purging. In the days of David she would have been
stoned to death, and not so far back as that, either."

A moment afterwards he was gone, slamming the door behind him. His blood
was up-a turgid, angry flood almost bursting his veins. He now made his
way to the house of the Methodist minister. There he announced that if he
was disciplined at Quarterly Meeting, as was talked about in the streets,
he would go to law against every class-leader for defamation of
character.

By the time this was done the evening was well advanced. He did not leave
Askatoon until the moment which coincided with that in which Orlando left
Nolan Doyle's garden and took the trail to Slow Down Ranch. Orlando would
strike the trail from Askatoon to Tralee at a point where another trail
also joined.

Mazarine drove fast through the town, as though eager to put it behind
him, but when he reached the trail on the prairie he slackened his pace,
and drove steadily homewards, lost in the darkest reflections he had ever
known; and that was saying much. The reins lay loose in his fingers, and
he became so absorbed that he was conscious of nothing save movement.

The heart of Black Brian, the King, of whom Patsy Kernaghan told his
mythical story in Nolan Doyle's garden, had never housed more repulsive
thoughts than were in Mazarine's heart in this unfortunate hour of his
own making. No single feeling of kindness was in his spirit. He heard
nothing, was conscious of nothing, save his own grim, fantastic
imaginings.

A jealousy and hatred as terrible as ever possessed a man were on him. An
egregious self-will, a dreadful spirit of unholy old age in him, was
turned hatefully upon the youth long since gone from himself--the youth
which, in its wild, innocent ardours, had brought two young people
together, one of them his own captive for years.

The peace of the prairie, the shining, infant moon, the kindly darkness,
were all at variance with the soul of the man, whose only possession was
what money could buy; and what money had bought in the way of human flesh
and blood, beauty and sweet youth he had not been able to hold. To his
mind, what was the good of having riches and power, if you could not also
have love, licence and the loot of the conqueror!

He had wrestled with the Lord in prayer; he had been a class-leader and a
lay-preacher; he had exhorted and denounced; he had pleaded and
proscribed; yet never in all his days of professed religion had a heart
for others really moved Joel Mazarine.

He had given now and then of gold and silver, because of the glow of mind
which the upraised hands of admiration brought him, mistaking it for the
real thing; but his life had been barren because it had not emptied
itself for others, at any time, or anywhere.

He had been a professed Christian, not because of Olivet, but because of
Sinai. It was the stormy authority of the sword of the Lord of Gideon of
the Old Testament which had drawn him into the fold of religion. It was
some strain of heredity, his upbringing, the life into which he was born,
pious, pedantic and preposterously prayerful, which had made him a
professional Christian, as he was a professional farmer, rancher and
money-maker. For such a man there never could be peace.

In his own world of wanton inhumanity, oblivious of all except his
torturing thoughts, he did not know that, as he neared the Cross Trails
on his way homewards, something shadowy, stooping, sprang up from the
roadside and slip-slopped after his wagon--slip-slopped--slip-slopped
--catching the thud of the horses' hoofs, and making its footsteps
coincide.

All at once the shadowy figure swung itself up softly and remained for an
instant, half-kneeling, in the body of the wagon. Then suddenly,
noiselessly, it rose up, leaned over the absorbed Joel Mazarine, and with
long, hooked, steely fingers caught the throat of the Master of Tralee
under the grayish beard. They clenched there with a power like that of
three men; for this was the kind of grip which, far away in the country
of the Yang-tse-kiang, Li Choo had learned in the days when he had made
youth a thing to be remembered.

No convulsive effort on the part of the victim could loosen that terrible
grip; but the horses, responding to the first jerk of the reins following
the attack, stood still, while a human soul was being wrenched out of the
world behind them.

No word was spoken. From the moment the fingers clutched his throat Joel
Mazarine could not speak, and Li Choo did his swift work in grim and
ghastly silence.

It did not take long. When the vain struggles had ceased and the fingers
were loosened, Li Choo's tongue clucked in his mouth, once, twice,
thrice; and that was all. It was a ghastly sort of mirth, and it had in
it a multitude of things. Among them was vengeance and wild justice, and
the thing that comes down through innumerable years in the Oriental mind
--that the East is greater than the West; that now and then the East must
prove itself against the West with all the cruelty of the world's prime.

For a moment Li Choo stood and looked at the motionless figure, with the
head fallen on the breast; then he put the reins carefully in the hands
of the dead man, placed the fallen hat on his head, climbed down from the
wagon, patted a horse as he slip-slopped by, and disappeared towards
Tralee into the night, leaving what was left of Joel Mazarine in his
wagon at the crossing of the trails.

As Li Choo stole swiftly away, he met two other figures, silent and
shadowy, and somehow strangely unreal, like his own. After a moment's
whisperings, they all three turned their faces again towards Tralee.

Once they stopped and listened. There was the sound of wagons. One was
coming from the north--that is, from the direction of Tralee; the other
was coming from the south-east-that is, Nolan Doyle's ranch.

Li Choo's tongue clucked in his mouth; then he made an exclamation in
Chinese, at which the others clucked also, and then they moved on again.



CHAPTER XVI

THE CROSS TRAILS

Like Joel Mazarine on his journey from Askatoon, Orlando, on his journey
from Nolan Doyle's ranch, was absorbed, but his reflections were as
different from those of the Master of Tralee as sunrise is from midnight;
indeed, so bright was the light within Orlando's spirit that the very
prairie around him seemed aflame. The moment with Louise in the garden
lighted by the dim moon, the passing instant of perfect understanding,
the touch of her hair upon his lips, her supple form yielding to his as
he clasped her in his arms, had dropped like a curtain between him and
the fateful episode in the main street of Askatoon.

That wonderful elation of youth on its first excursion into perfumed
meads of Love possessed him. He had never had flutterings of the heart
for any woman until his eyes met the eyes of Louise at their first
meeting, and a new world had been opened up to him. He had been as naive
and native a human being with all his apparent foppishness, as had ever
moved among men. What seemed his vanity had nothing to do with thoughts
of womankind. It had been a decorative sense come honestly from
picturesque forebears, and indeed from his own mother.

In truth, until the day he had met Louise, or rather until the day of the
broncho-busting, and the fateful night on the prairie, he had never grown
up. He was wise with the wisdom of a child--sheer instinct, rightness of
mind, real decision of character. His giggling laugh had been the
undisciplined simplicity of the child, which, when he had reached
manhood, had never been formalized by conventions. Something indefinite
had marked him until Louise had come, and now he was definite,
determined, alive with a new feeling which made his spirit sing--his
spirit and his lips; for, as he came from Nolan Doyle's ranch to the
Cross Trails, he kept humming to himself, between moments of silence in
which he visualized Louise in a hundred attitudes, as he had seen her.
There had come to him, without the asking even, that which Joel Mazarine,
had he been as rich as any man alive or dead, could not have bought. That
was why he hummed to himself in happiness.

Youth answering to youth had claimed its own; love springing from the
dawn, brave and bright-eyed, had waved its wand towards that good country
called Home. Never from the first had any thought come into the minds of
either of these two that was not linked with the idea of home. Nothing of
the jungle had been in their thoughts, though they had been tempted, and
love and the moment's despair had stung them to take revenge in each
other's arms; yet they had kept the narrow path. There was in their love
something primeval, that belonged to the beginning of the world.

Orlando had almost reached the Cross Trails before he saw Mazarine's
wagon standing in the way. At first he did not recognize the horses, and
he called to the driver sitting motionless to move aside. He thought it
to be some drunken ranchman.

Presently, however, coming nearer, he recognized the horses and the man.
Standing up, Orlando was about to call out again in peremptory tones,
when, suddenly, the spirit of death touched his senses, and his heart
stood still for an instant.

As he looked at the motionless figure, he was only subconsciously aware
of the thud of horses' hoofs coming down one of the side-trails.
Springing to the ground, he approached Mazarine's wagon.

The horses neighed; it was a curious, lonely sound. For a moment he stood
with his hand on the wheel looking at the still figure; then he reached
out and touched Mazarine's knee.

"Hi, there!" he said.

There was no reply. He mounted the wagon, touched the dead man's
shoulder, and then, with one hand, loosened the waistcoat and felt the
heart. It was still. He examined the body. There was no wound. He peered
into the face, and saw the distortion there. "Dead--dead!" he said in an
awed voice.

The husband of Louise was dead. How he died, in one sense, did not
matter. Louise's husband was dead; he would torture her no more. Louise
was free!

Slowly he got down from the wagon, vaguely wondering what to do, so had
the tragedy confused his brain for the moment. As he did so, he was
conscious of another wagon and horses a few yards away.

"Who goes there?" called the voice of the newcomer.

"A friend," answered Orlando mechanically. Presently the new-comer sprang
down from his wagon and came over to Orlando.

"What is it, Mr. Guise?" he asked. "What's the trouble? . . . Who's
that?" he added, pointing to the dead body.

"It's Mazarine. He's dead," answered Orlando quietly.

"Oh, good God!" said the other.

He was an insurance agent of the town of Askatoon, who, that very
evening, had heard Orlando threaten the Master of Tralee--that if ever he
passed him or met him, and Mazarine did not get out of the way, it would
be the worse for him. Well, here in the trail were Orlando and Mazarine
--and Mazarine was dead!

"Good God!" the new-comer repeated. Scarsdale was his name.

Then Orlando explained. "It's not what you think," he said. Then he told
the story--such as there was to tell--of what had happened during the
last few moments.

Scarsdale climbed up into the wagon, struck a light, looked at the body
of Mazarine, at his face, and then lifted up the beard and examined the
neck. There were finger-marks in the flesh.

"So, that's it," he said. "Strangled! He seems to have took it easy,
sittin' there like that," he added as he climbed down.

"I don't understand it," remarked Orlando. "As you say, it's weird, his
sitting there like that with the reins in his hands. I don't understand
it!"

"I saw you getting down from the wagon," remarked Scarsdale meaningly.

"Say, do you really believe--?" began Orlando without agitation, but with
a sudden sense of his own false position.

"It ain't a matter of belief," the other declared. "If there's an
inquest, I've got to tell what I've seen. You know that, don't you?"

"That's all right," replied Orlando. "You've got to tell what you've
seen, and so have I. I guess the truth will out. Come, let's move him on
to Tralee. We'll lay him down in the bottom of the wagon, and I'll lead
his horses with a halter. . . . No," he added, changing his mind, "you
lead my horses, and I'll drive him home."

A moment afterwards, as the procession made its way to Tralee, Scarsdale
said to himself:

"He must have nerves like iron to drive Mazarine home, if he killed him.
Well, he's got them, and still they call him Giggles as if he was a silly
girl!"



CHAPTER XVII

THE SUPERIOR MAN

Students of life have noticed constantly that moral distinctions are not
matters of principle but of certain peremptory rules found on nice
calculations of the social mind. In the field of crime, responsibility is
most often calculated, not upon the crime itself, but upon how the thing
is done.

In Askatoon, no one would have been greatly shocked if, when Orlando
Guise and Joel Mazarine met at the railway-station or in the main street,
Orlando had killed Mazarine.

Mazarine would have been dead in either case; and he would have been
killed by another hand in either case; but the attitude of the public
would not have been the same in either case. The public would have
considered the killing of Mazarine before the eyes of the world as
justifiable homicide; its dislike of the man would have induced it to add
the word justifiable.

But that Joel Mazarine should be killed by night without an audience,
secretly--however righteously--shocked the people of Askatoon.

Had they seen the thing done, there would have been sensation, but no
mystery; but night, secrecy, distance, mystery, all begot, not a reaction
in Mazarine's favour, but a protest against the thing being done under
cover, as it were, unhelped by popular observation. Also, to the Askatoon
mind, that one man should kill another in open quarrel was courageous, or
might be courageous,--but for one man to kill another, whoever that other
was, in a hidden way, was a barbarian business.

It seemed impossible to have any doubt as to who killed the man, though
Orlando had not waited a moment after the body had been brought to
Tralee, but had gone straight to the police, and told what had happened,
so far as he knew it. He stated the exact facts.

The insurance man, Scarsdale, would not open his mouth until the inquest,
which took place on the afternoon after the crime had been committed. It
was held at Tralee. Great crowds surrounded the house, but only a few
found entrance to the inquest room.

Immediately on opening the inquest, Orlando was called to tell his story.
Every eye was fixed upon him intently; every ear was strained as he
described his coming upon the isolated wagon and the dead man with the
reins in his hands. It is hard to say if all believed his story, but the
Coroner did, and Burlingame, his lawyer, also did.

Burlingame was present, not to defend Orlando, because it was not a
trial, but to watch his interests in the face of staggering
circumstantial evidence. To Burlingame's mind Orlando was not the man to
kill another by strangling him to death. It was not in keeping with his
character. It was too aboriginal.

The Coroner believed the story solely because Orlando's frankness and
straightforwardness filled him with confidence. Also men of rude sense,
like Jonas Billings, were willing to take bets, five to one, that Orlando
was innocent.

The Young Doctor had not an instant's doubt, but he could not at first
fix his suspicions in a likely quarter. He had examined the body, and
there were no marks save bruises at the throat. In his evidence he said
that enormous strength of hands had been necessary to kill so quickly,
for it was clear the attack was so overpowering that there was little
struggle.

The Coroner here interposed a question as to whether it would have been
possible for anyone but a man to commit the crime. At his words everybody
moved impatiently. It was certain he was referring to the absent wife.
The idea of Louise committing such a crime, or being able to commit it,
was ridiculous. The Coroner presently stated that he had only asked the
question so as to remove this possibility from consideration.

The Young Doctor immediately said that probably no woman in the
hemisphere could have committed the crime, which needed enormous strength
of hands.

The Coroner looked round the room. "The widow, Mrs. Mazarine, is not
here?" he said questioningly.

Nolan Doyle interposed. "Mrs. Mazarine is at my ranch. She came there
yesterday evening at eight o'clock and remained with my wife and myself
until twelve o'clock. The murder was committed before twelve o'clock.
Mrs. Mazarine does not even know that her husband is dead. She is not
well to-day, and we have kept the knowledge from her."

"Is she under medical care?" asked the Coroner. Nolan Doyle nodded
towards the Young Doctor, who said: "I saw Mrs. Mazarine at the house of
Mr. Doyle last evening between the hours of eight and ten o'clock. To-day
at noon also I visited her. She has a slight illness, and is not fit to
take part in these proceedings."

At this point, Scarsdale, who had come upon Orlando and the dead man at
the Cross Trails the night before, told his story. He did it with evident
reluctance.

He spoke with hesitation, yet firmly and straightforwardly. He described
how he saw Orlando climb down from the wagon where the dead man was. He
added, however, that he had seen no struggle of any kind, though he had
seen Orlando close to the corpse. Questioned by the Coroner, he described
the scenes between Orlando and Mazarine in the main street of Askatoon
and at the railway-station, both of which he had seen. He repeated
Orlando's threat to Mazarine.

He was pressed as to whether Orlando showed agitation at the Cross
Trails. He replied that Orlando seemed stunned but not agitated.

He was asked whether Orlando had shown the greater agitation at the Cross
Trails or in the town when he threatened Mazarine. The answer was that he
showed agitation only in the town. He was asked to repeat what Orlando
had said to him. This he did accurately.

He was then asked by counsel whether he had arrived at any conclusion,
when at the Cross Trails or afterwards, as to who committed the crime;
but the Coroner would not permit the question. The Coroner added that it
was only the duty of the witness to state what he had seen. Opinions were
not permissible as evidence. The facts were in possession of the Court,
and the Court could form its own judgment.

It was clear to everyone that the jury must return a verdict of wilful
murder, and it was equally clear that the evidence was sufficient to fix
suspicion upon Orlando, which must lead to his arrest. Two constables
were in close attendance, and were ready to take charge of the man who,
above all others, or so it was thought, had most reason to wish Mazarine
out of the way. Indeed, Orlando had resigned himself to the situation,
having realized how all the evidence was against him.

Recalling Orlando, the Coroner asked if it was the case that the death of
Mazarine might be an advantage to him in any way. Orlando replied that it
might be an advantage to him, but he was not sure. He added, however,
that if, as the Coroner seemed to suggest, he himself was under
suspicion, it ought to appear to all that to have murdered Mazarine in
the circumstances would have put in jeopardy any possible advantage. That
seemed logical enough, but it was presently pointed out to the Coroner
that the same consideration had existed when Orlando had threatened
Mazarine in the streets of Askatoon.

Presently the Coroner said: "There's a half-breed woman and a Chinaman,
servants of the late Mr. Mazarine. Have the woman called."

It was at this moment that the Young Doctor and Orlando also were
suddenly seized with a suspicion of their own. Orlando remembered how
Mazarine had horsewhipped and maltreated Li Choo. The Young Doctor fixed
his eyes intently on the body, and presently went to it again, raised the
beard and looked at the neck. Coming back to his place, he nodded to
himself. He had a clue. Now he understood about the enormous strength
which had killed Mazarine practically without a struggle. He had noticed
more than once the sinewy fingers of the Chinaman. As the inquest went
on, he had again and again looked at the hands and arms of Orlando, and
it had seemed impossible that, strong as he was, his fingers had the
particular strength which could have done this thing.

The Coroner stood waiting for Rada to come, when suddenly the door opened
and a Chinaman entered--one of the two who had appeared so strangely on
the scene the day before. He advanced to the Coroner with both hands
loosely hanging in the great sleeves of his blue padded coat, his eyes
blinking slowly underneath the brown forehead and the little black
skullcap, and after making salutation with his arms, in curious,
monotonous English with a quaint accent he said:

"Li Choo--Li Choo--he speak. He have to say. He send."

Holding up a piece of paper, he handed it to the Coroner and then stood
blinking and immobile.

A few moments afterwards, the Coroner said: "I have received this note
from Li Choo the Chinaman, sometime employed by the deceased Joel
Mazarine. I will read it to you." Slowly he read:

"I say gloddam. That Orlando he not kill Mazaline. I say gloddam
Mazaline. That Mazaline he Chlistian. He says Chlist his brother. Chlist
not save him when Li Choo's fingers had Mazaline's thloat. That gloddam
Mazaline I kill. That Mazaline kicked me, hit me with whip; where he
kick, I sick all time. I not sleep no more since then. That Louise, it no
good she stay with Mazaline. Confucius speak like this: 'Young woman go
to young man; young bird is for green leaves, not dry branch.' That
Louise good woman; that Orlando hell-fellow good. I kill
Mazaline--gloddam, with my hands I kill. You want know all why Li Choo
kill? You want kill Li Choo? You come!"

As the Coroner stopped reading, amid gasps of excitement, the Chinaman
who had brought the notewith brown skin polished like a kettle,
expressionless, save for the twinkling mystery of the brown eyesmade
three motions of obeisance up and down with his hands clasped in the
great sleeves, and then said:

"He not come you; you come him. He gleat man. He speak all--come. I show
where."

"Where is he?" asked the Coroner.

The Chinaman did not reply for a moment. Then he said: "He sacrifice
before you take him. He gleat man--come." He slip-slopped towards the
door as though confident he would be followed.

Two minutes afterwards the Coroner, Orlando, the Young Doctor, Nolan
Doyle and the rest stood at the low doorway of what looked like a great
grave. It was, however, a big root-house used for storing vegetables in
the winter-time. It had not been used since Mazarine arrived at Tralee.
Into this place, nor far from the house, Li Choo and his two fellow
countrymen had gone the day before, when Mazarine, in his rage, had come
forth with the horsewhip to punish the "Chinky," as Li Choo was
familiarly known on the ranch.

As they arrived at the vault-like place in the ground, which would hold
many tons of roots, another Chinaman came to the doorway. He was one of
the two who, in their sudden coming and going, had seemed like magic
people to Mazarine the day before. He made upward and downward motions of
respect with clasped hands in the blue sleeves, and presently, in perfect
English, he said:

"In one minute Li Choo will receive you. It is the moment of sacrifice.
You wish him to die for the death of Mazarine. So be it. It is right for
him to die. You will hang him; that is your law. He will not prevent you.
He has told the truth, but he is making the sacrifice. When that is done
you will enter and take him to prison."

The two constables standing beside the Coroner made a move forward, as
though to show they meant to enforce the law without any palaver.

The Chinaman raised the palms of both hands at them. "Not yet," he said.
Then he looked at the Coroner. "You are master. Will you not prevent
them?"

The Coroner motioned the constables back. "All right," he said. "You seem
to speak good English."

"I come from England-from Oxford University," answered the Chinaman with
dignity. "I have learned English for many years. I am the son of Duke Ki.
I came to see my uncle, the brother of Duke Ki. He is making sacrifice
before you take him."

"Well, I'm blasted," said Jonas Billings from the crowd. "Chinese dukes,
eh! What's it all about?"

"Reg'lar hocus-pocus," remarked the vagabond brother of Rigby the
chemist.

At that moment little coloured lights suddenly showed in the darkness of
the root-house, and there was the tinkling of a bell. Then a voice seemed
calling, but softly, with a long, monotonous, thrilling note.

"Many may not come," said the Chinaman at the door to the Coroner, as he
turned and entered the low doorway.

A minute afterwards the two constables held back the crowd from the
doorway of the root-house, from the threshold of which a few wooden steps
descended to the ground inside.

A strange sight greeted the eyes of those permitted to enter.

The root-house had been transformed. What had been a semi-underground
place composed of scantlings, branches of trees and mother earth, with a
kind of vaulted roof, had been made into a sort of Chinese temple. All
round the walls were hung curtains of black and yellow, decorated with
dragons in gold, and above, suspended by cords at the four corners, was a
rug or banner of white ornamented with a great tortoise--the sacred
animal of Chinese religion--with gold eyes and claws. All round the side
of the room were set coloured lights, shaded and dim. Coming from the
bright outer sunlight, the place in its shadowed state seemed
half-sepulchral.

When the Coroner, Orlando, the Young Doctor and the others had accustomed
themselves to the dimness, they saw at the end of the chamber--for such,
in effect, it had been made with its trappings and decorations--a figure
seated upon the ground. Near by the figure, on either hand, there were
standards bearing banners, and the staffs holding the banners were, bound
in white silk, with long streamers hanging down. Half enclosing the
banners were fanlike screens. Along the walls also were flags with
toothed edges. The figure was seated on a mat of fine bamboo in the midst
of this strange scheme of decoration. Behind him, and drawn straight
across the chamber, was a sheet of fine white cloth, embroidered with
strange designs. He was clothed in a rich jacket of blue, and a pair of
sandal-like shoes was placed neatly in front of the bamboo mat. On either
side and in front of all, raised a little from the ground, were bowls or
calabashes containing fruit, grain and dried and pickled meats. It was
all orderly, circumspect, weird, and even stately though the place was
small. Finally, in front of the motionless figure was a tiny brazier in
which was a small fire.

Before the spectators had taken in the whole picture, the Chinaman who
had entered with them came and stood on the right of the space occupied
by the mat, near to the banners and the screens, and under a yellow light
which hung from the vaulted roof.

The figure on the fine bamboo mat was Li Choo, but not the Li Choo which
Tralee and Askatoon had known. He was seated with legs crossed in
Oriental fashion and with head slightly bowed. His face was calm and
dignified. It had an impassiveness which made an interminable distance
between him and those who had till now looked upon him as a poor Chinky,
doing a roustabout's work on a ranch, the handy-man, the
Jack-of-all-trades. Yet in spite of the menial work which he had done, it
was now to be seen that the despised Li Choo had still lived his own
life, removed by centuries and innumerable leagues from his daily
slavery.

As they looked at him, brooding, immobile, strange, he lifted his head,
and the excessive brightness of his black eyes struck with a sense of awe
all who saw. It was absurd that Li Choo, the hireling, "Yellowphiz," as
he had also been called, should here command a situation with the
authority of one who ruled.

Presently he spoke, not in broken English, but in Chinese. It was
interpreted by the Chinaman standing on the right by the screens, in well
cadenced, cultured English.

"I have to tell you," said Li Choo--the other's voice repeated the words
after him--"that I am the son of greatness, of a ruler in my own land. It
was by the Yang-tze-kiang, and there were riches and pleasant things in
the days of my youth. In the hunt, at the tavern, I was first amongst
them all. I had great strength. I once killed a bear with my bare hands.
My hands had fame.

"I had office in the city where my cousin ruled. He was a bad man, and
was soon forgotten, though his children mourn for him as is the custom. I
killed him. He gave counsel concerning the city when there was war, but
his counsel was that of a traitor, and the city was lost. Now behold, it
is written that he who has given counsel about the country or its capital
should perish with it when it comes into peril. He would not die--so I
killed him; but not before he had heaped upon me baseness and shame. So I
killed him.

"Yet it is written that when a minister kills his ruler, all who are in
office with him shall without mercy kill him who did the deed. That is
the law. It was the word of the Son of Heaven that this should be. But
those who were in office with me would not kill me, because they approved
of what I did. Yet they must kill me, since it was the law. What was
there to do but in the night to flee, so that they who should kill me
might not obey the law? Had I remained, and they had not obeyed the law,
they also would have been slain."

He paused for a moment and then went on. "So I fled, and it is many years
since by the Yang-tze-kiang I killed my ruler and saved my friends. Yet I
had not been faithful to the ancient law, and so through the long years I
have done low work among a low people. This was for atonement, for long
ago by the Yang-tzekiang I should have died, and behold, I have lived
until now. To save my friends from the pain of killing me I fled and
lived; but at last here at this place I said to myself that I must die.
So, secretly, I made this cellar into a temple.

"That was a year ago, and I sent to my brother the Duke Ki to speak to
him what was in my mind, so that he might send my kinsmen to me, that
when I came to die, it should be after the manner ordained by the Son of
Heaven; that my body should be clothed according to the ancient rites by
my own people, my mouth filled with rice, and the meats, and grains and
fruits of sacrifice be placed on a mat at the east of my body when I
died; that the curtain should be hung before my corpse; that I should be
laid upon a mat of fine bamboo, and dressed, and prepared for my grave,
and put into a noble coffin as becomes a superior man. Did not the Son of
Heaven say that we speak of the end of a superior man, but we speak of
the death of a small man? I was a superior man, but I have lived as a
small man these many days; and now, behold, I am drawing near to my end
as a superior man.

"I wished that nothing should be forgotten; that all should be done when
I, of the house of the Duke Ki, came to my superior end. So, these my
kinsmen came, these of my family, to be with me at my going, to call my
spirit back from the roof-top with face turned to the north, to leap
before my death-mat, to wail and bare the shoulders and bind the
sackcloth about the head.

"I have served among the low people doing low things, and now I would
die, but in the correct way. Once to the listeners Confucius said: 'The
great mountain must crumble; the strong beam must break; the wise man
must wither away like a plant.' So it is. It is my duty to go to my end,
for the time is far spent, and I should do what my friends must have done
had I stayed in my ancestral city."

Again he paused, and now he rocked his body backwards and forwards for a
moment; then presently he continued: "Yet I would not go without doing
good. There should be some act among the low people by which I should be
remembered. So, once again, I killed a man. He could not withstand the
strength of my fingers--they were like steel upon his throat. As a young
man my fingers were like those of three men.

"Shall a man treat his wife as she, Louise, was treated? Shall a man
raise his hand against his wife, and live? also, was he to live--the low
man--that struck a high man like me with his hands, with the whip, with
his feet, stamping upon me on the ground? Was that to be, and he live?
Were the young that should have but one nest to be parted, to have only
sorrow, if Joel lived? So I killed him with my hands" (he slightly raised
his clasped hands, as though to emphasize what he said, but the gesture
was grave and quiet)"--so I killed him, and so I must die.

"It was the duty of my friends to kill me by the Yang-tze-kiang. It is
your duty, you of the low people, to kill me who has killed a low man;
but my friends by the Yang-tze-kiang were glad that the ruler died, and
you of the low people are glad that Joel is dead. Yet it is your duty to
kill me. . . . But it shall not be."

He quickly reached out his hands and drew the burning brazier close to
his feet; then, suddenly, from a sleeve of his robe he took a little box
of the sacred tortoise-shell, pressed his lips to it, opened it, poured
its contents upon the flame, leaned over with his face close to the
brazier and inhaled the little puff of smoke that came from it.

So for a few seconds--and then he raised himself and sat still with eyes
closed and hands clasped in his long sleeves. Presently his head fell
forward on his breast.

A pungent smell passed through the chamber. It produced for the moment
dizziness in all present. Then the sensation cleared away. The Chinaman
at the right of Li Choo looked steadfastly at him; then, all at once, he
bared his shoulders and quickly bound a piece of sackcloth round his
head. This done, he raised his voice and cried out with a monotonous
ululation, and at once a second voice cried out in a long wailing call.

Outside Li Choo's kinsman, with his face turned to the north, was calling
his spirit back, though he knew it would not come.

At the first sound of the voice crying outside, the Chinaman beside Li
Choo leaped thrice in front of the brazier, the mat and the moveless
body.

At that moment the Young Doctor came forward. He who had leaped stood
between him and the body of Li Choo.

"You must not come. Li Choo, the superior man, is dead," he protested.

"I am a doctor," was the reply. "If he is dead, the law will not touch
him, and you shall be alone with him, but the law must know that he is
dead. That is the way that prevails among the 'low people,'" he added
ironically.

The Chinaman stood aside, and the Young Doctor stooped, felt the pulse,
touched the heart and lifted up the head and looked into Li Choo's
sightless eyes.

"He is dead," he said, and he came back again to the Coroner and the
others. "Let's get out of this," he added. "He is beyond our reach now.
No need for an inquest here. He has killed himself." Then he caught
Orlando's hand in a warm grip.

As they left the chamber, the kinsman of Li Choo was gently laying the
body down upon the bamboo mat. At the doorway the other son of the Duke
Ki was still monotonously calling back the departed spirit.

The inquest on Joel Mazarine was ended presently, and Nolan Doyle and the
Young Doctor set out to tell Louise that a "low man," once her husband,
had paid a high price for all that he had bought of the fruits of life
out of due season.



CHAPTER XVIII

YOUTH HAS ITS WAY

"Aw, Doctor dear, there's manny that's less use in the wurruld than
Chinamen, and I'd like to see more o' them here-away," remarked Patsy
Kernaghan to the Young Doctor in the springtime of another year.
"Stren'th of mind is all right, but stren'th of fingers is better still."

"You're a bloodthirsty pagan, Patsy," returned the Young Doctor.

"Hell to me sowl, then, didn't Li Choo pull things straight? I'm not much
of a murd'ring man meself--I haven't the stren'th with me fingers, but
there's manny a time I'd like to do what Li Choo done. . . . Shure, I
don't want to be sp'akin' ill of the dead, but look at it now. There was
ould Mazarine, breakin' the poor child's heart, as fine a fella as iver
trod the wurruld achin' for her, and his life bein' spoilt by the goin's
on at Tralee. Then in steps the Chinky and with stren'th of mind and
stren'th of fingers puts things right."

"No, no, Patsy, you've got bad logic and worse morals in your head. As
you say, things were put right, but trouble enough came of it."

"Divils me darlin', Doctor, it was bound to come all right some time.
Shure, wasn't it natural the child should be all crumpled up like and
lose her head for a while? Wasn't it natural she should fight out agin'
takin' the property the leviathin left her, whin she knew there was
another will he'd spoke on a paper to the lawyer the night he died,
though he hadn't signed it? And isn't it so that yourself it was talked
her round!"

The Young Doctor waved a hand reprovingly, but Patsy continued:

"Now, lookin' back on it, don't ye think it was clever enough what you
said till her? 'Do justice to yourself and to others, little lady,' sez
you. 'Be just--divide the place up; give two-thirds of it away to the
children of Joel's first two wives and keep one-third, which is yours by
law in anny case. For why should it be that you should give iverythin'
and get nothin'? He had the best of you-of your girlhood and your youth,'
sez you. 'Shure y'are entitled to bread and meat, and a roof over you, as
a wife, and as one that got nothin' from your married life of what ought
to be got by honest girls like you, or by anny woman, if it comes to
that,' sez you. Aw, shure then, I know you said it, because, didn't she
tell it all to Norah Doyle, and didn't Norah tell Nolan, and me sittin'
by and glad enough that the cleverest man betune here and the other side
of the wurruld talked her round! Aw, how you talk, y'r anner! Shure,
isn't it the wonder that you don't talk the dead back to the wurruld out
of which you help them? I might ha' been a great man meself"--he
grinned--"if I'd had your eddication, but here I am, a 'low man' as Li
Choo said, takin' me place simple as a babe."

"Patsy, you save my life," remarked the Young Doctor. "You save my life
daily. That's why I'm glad you're getting a good home at last."

"At Slow Down Ranch, with her that's to be its queen! Well, isn't that
like her to be thinkin' of others? As a rule the rich is so busy lookin'
afther what they've got that they're not worryin' about the poor; but she
thought of me, didn't she?"

The Young Doctor nodded, and Patsy pursued his tale. "Haven't I see her
day in, day out, at Nolan Doyle's ranch, and don't I understan' why it is
she's not set foot in Tralee since the ould one left it feet foremost,
for his new seven-foot home, housed in a bit of wood-him that had had the
run of the wurruld? She'll set no foot in Tralee at all anny time, if she
can help it--that's the breed of her.

"Well, it is as it is, and what's goin' to be will plaze every mother's
son in Askatoon. Giggles they called him! A bit of a girl they thought
him! What's he turned out to be, though he's giggling still? Why, a man
that's got the double cinch on Askatoon. Even that fella Burlingame had
nothin' to say ag'in' him; and when Burlingame hasn't anny mud to throw,
then you must stop and look hard. Shure, the blessed Virgin, or the
Almighty himself, couldn't escape the tongue of Augustus Burlingame--not
even you."

The Young Doctor burst out laughing. "'The Blessed Mary, or the Almighty
himself--not even you!' Well, Patsy, you're a wonder," he said.

"Aw, you're not goin' to get off by scoffin' at me," remarked Patsy.
"Shure, what did Augustus Burlingame say of you?--well now, what did he
say?"

"Yes, Patsy, what was it?" urged the other. "Shure, he criticized you. He
called you 'Squills,' and said you'd helped more people intil the wurruld
than out of it."

"You call that criticism. Patsy?"

"Whichever way you look at it, hasn't it an ugly face? Is it a kindness
to man to bring him into the wurruld? That's wan way of lookin' at it.
But suppose he meant the other thing, that not being married, you--"

"Patsy Kernaghan," interjected the Young Doctor sternly, "you're not fit
company. Take care, or there'll be no Slow Down Ranch for you. An evil
mind----"

Now it was Patsy's turn to interrupt: "Watch me now, I think that wan of
the most beautiful things I iver saw was them two young people comin'
together. Five long months it was, afther Mazarine was put away before
she spoke with him. It was in the gardin at Nolan's ranch, and even then
it wasn't aisy till her. Not that she didn't want to see him all the
time; not, I'll be bound, that she didn't say, when you and Nolan first
told her the mastodon was dead, 'Thank God, I'm free!' But, there he was,
flung out of the wurruld without a minute's notice, and with the black
thing in his heart. Shure you'll be understandin' it a thousand times
better than meself, y'r anner."

He took a pinch of snuff from a little box, offered it to the Young
Doctor and continued his story.

"Well, as I said, whin five months had gone by they met. By chanct I saw
the meetin'. Watch me now, I'll tell you how it was. She was sittin' on a
bench in the gardin, lookin' in front of her and seein' nothin' but what
was in her mind's eye, and who can tell what she would be seein'! There
she sat sweet as a saint, very straight up, the palms of her hands laid
on the bench on either side, as though they was supporfin' her--like a
statue she looked. I watched her manny a minute, but she niver moved.
Well, there she was, lookin'--lookin' in front o' her, whin round the big
tree in the middle of the gardin he come and stood forninst her. They
just looked and looked at each other without a word. Like months it
seemed. They looked, and looked, as though they was tryin' to read some
story in each other's eyes, and then she give a kind of joyful moan, and
intil his arms she went like a nestlin' bird.

"He raised up her head, and-well, now, y'r anner, I niver saw anything I
liked better. There niver had been a girl in his life, and there niver
was a man in hers--not one that mattered, till they two took up with each
other, and it's a thing--well, y'r anner, I'd be a proud man if I could
write it down. It's a story that'd take its place beside the ancient
ones."

The Young Doctor looked at Patsy meditatively. "Patsy," said he, "the
difference between the north and the south of Ireland is that in the
south they are all poets--" He paused.

"Well, you haven't finished, y 'r anner," said Kernaghan.

"And in the north they think they are," continued the Young Doctor. "I'd
like to see those two as your eyes in front of your mind saw them,
Patsy."

"Aw, well then, you couldn't do it, Doctor dear, for you've niver been in
love. Shure, there's no heart till ye!" answered the Irishman, and took
another pinch of snuff with a flourish.

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

Flamingo-like in her bright-coloured, figured gown, with a wild flower in
her hair and her gray curls dancing gently at her temples, a little old
lady trotted up and down the big sitting-room of Slow Down Ranch, talking
volubly and insistently. One ironically minded would have said she
chirruped, for her words came out in not unmusical, if staccato, notes,
and she shook her shrivelled, ringed fingers reprovingly at a stalwart
young man.

Once or twice, as she seemed to threaten him with what the poet called
"The slow, unmoving finger of scorn," he giggled. It was evident that he
was at once amused and troubled. This voice had cherished and chided him
all his life, and he could measure accurately what was behind it. It was
a wilful voice. It had the insistance which power gives, and to a woman
--or to most women--power is either money or beauty, since, in the world
as it is, office and authority are denied them. Beauty was gone from the
face of the ancient dame, but she still had much money, and, on rare
occasions, it gave her a little arrogance. It did so now as she
admonished her beloved son, who at any time would have renounced fortune,
or hope of fortune, for some wilful idea of his own. A less sordid modern
did not exist.

He was not very effective in the contest of tongue between his mother and
himself. As the talk went on he foresaw that he was to be beaten; yet he
persisted, for he loved a joy-wrangle, as he called it, with his mother.
He had argued with her many a time, just to see her in a harmless
passion, and note how the youth of her came back, giving high colour to
the wrinkled face, and how the eyes shone with a brightness which had
been constant in them long ago. They were now quarrelling over that
ever-fruitful cause of antagonism--the second woman in the life of a man.
Yet, strange to say, the flamingo-like Eugenie Guise, was fighting for
the second woman, not against her.

"I'll say it all again and again and again till you have sense, Orlando,"
she declared. "Your old mother hasn't lived all these years for nothing.
I'm not thinking of you; I'm thinking of her." She pointed towards the
door of another room, from which came sounds of laughter--happy laughter
--in which a man's and a woman's voices sounded. "On the day she comes
into this house--and that's the day after to-morrow--I shall go. I'll
stand at the door and welcome you, and see you have a good
wedding-breakfast and that it all goes off grand, then I shall vanish."

Orlando made a helpless gesture of the hand. "Well, mother, as I said, it
will make us both unhappy--Louise as much as me. You and I have never
been parted except for a few weeks at a time, and I'm sure I don't know
how I could stand it."

"Rather late to think about it," the other returned. "You can't have two
women spoiling you in one house and being jealous of each other--oh, you
needn't toss your fingers! Even two women that love each other can't bear
the competition. Just because I love her and want her to be happy, off I
go to your Aunt Amelia to live with her. She's poor, and I'll still have
someone to boss as I've bossed you. I never knew how much I loved Amelia
till she got sick last year when everything terrible was happening here.
I'm going, Orlando--

        Two birds hopping on one branch
        Would kill the joy of Slow Down Ranch--

"There, I made that up on the moment. It's true, even if it is poetry."

"It isn't poetry, mother," was the reply, and there was an ironical look
in Orlando's eyes. "Poetry's the truth of life," he hastened to add
carefully, "and it's not poetry to say that you could be a kill-joy."

The little lady tossed her head. "Well, you'll never have a chance to
prove it, for I'm taking the express east on the night of your wedding.
That's settled. Amelia needs me, and I'm going to her. . . . Your wedding
present will be the ranch and a hundred thousand dollars," she added.

"You're the sun-dried fruit of Paradise, Mother," Orlando said, taking
her by the arms.

"I heard the Young Doctor call me a bird of Paradise once," she returned.
"People don't know how sharp my ears are. . . . But I never stored it up
against him. Taste is born in you, and if people haven't got it in the
cradle, they never have it. I suppose his mother went around in a black
alpaca and wore her hair like a wardress in a jail. I'm sorry for
him--that's all."

"Suppose I should get homesick for you and run away from her!" remarked
Orlando slyly.

"Run away with her to me," chirruped Eugenie, with a vain little laugh.

Suddenly her manner changed, and she looked at her son with dreamy
intensity. "You are so wonderfully young, my dear," she said, "and I am
very old. I had much happiness with your father while he lived. He was
such a wise man. Always he gave in to me in the little things, and I gave
in to him in all the big things. He almost made me a sensible woman."

There was a strange wistfulness in her face. Through all the years, down
beneath everything, there had been the helpless knowledge in her own
small, garish mind that she had little sense; now she realized that she
was given a chance to atone for all her pettiness by doing one great
sensible thing.

Orlando was about to embrace her, but she briskly, turned away. She could
not endure that. If he did it, the pent-up motherhood would break forth,
and her courage would take flight. She was something more than the
"parokeet of Pernambukoko," as Patsy Kernaghan had called her.

She went to the door of the other room. "I want to talk to the Young
Doctor about Amelia," she said. "He's clever, and perhaps he could give
her a good prescription. I'll send Louise to you. It's nicer courting in
this room where you can see the garden and the grand hills. You're going
to give Louise the little gray mare you lassooed last year, aren't you? I
always think of Louise when I look at that gray mare. You had to break
the pony's heart before she could be what she is--the nicest little thing
that ever was broken by a man's hand; and Louise, she had to have her
heart broken too. Your father and I were almost of an age--he was two
years older, and we had our youth together. And you and Louise are so
wonderfully young, too. Be good to her, son. She's never been married.
She was only in prison with that old lizard. What a horrible mouth he
had! It's shut now," she added remorselessly. Opening the door of the
other room, she disappeared.

A moment later, Louise entered upon Orlando.

The vanished months had worked wonders in her. She was like the young
summer beyond the open windows, alive to her finger-tips, shyly radiant,
with shining eyes, yet in their depths an alluring pensiveness never to
leave them altogether. Knowledge had come to her; an apprehending soul
was speaking in her face. The sweetness of her smile, as she looked at
the man before her, was such as could only be distilled from the bitter
herbs of the desert.

"Oh, Orlando!" she said joyously, as she came forward.



    ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

    Highsterics, they call it
    World was only the size of four walls to a sick person





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