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´╗┐Title: You Never Know Your Luck; being the story of a matrimonial deserter. Complete
Author: Parker, Gilbert, 1860-1932
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "You Never Know Your Luck; being the story of a matrimonial deserter. Complete" ***

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YOU NEVER KNOW YOUR LUCK
[BEING THE STORY OF A MATRIMONIAL DESERTER]

By Gilbert Parker


CONTENTS:

Volume 1.
PROEM
I.     "PIONEERS, O PIONEERS"
II.    CLOSING THE DOORS
III.   THE LOGAN TRIAL AND WHAT CAME OF IT
IV.    "STRENGTH SHALL BE GIVEN THEE"
V.     A STORY TO BE TOLD

Volume 2.
VI.    "HERE ENDETH THE FIRST LESSON"
VII.   A WOMAN'S WAY TO KNOWLEDGE
VIII.  ALL ABOUT AN UNOPENED LETTER
IX.    NIGHT SHADE AND MORNING GLORY
X.    "S. O. S."
XI.    IN THE CAMP OF THE DESERTER

Volume 3.
XII.   AT THE RECEIPT OF CUSTOM
XIII.  KITTY SPEAKS HER MIND AGAIN
XIV.   AWAITING THE VERDICT
XV.    "MALE AND FEMALE CREATED HE THEM"
XVI.   "'TWAS FOR YOUR PLEASURE YOU CAME HERE, YOU GO BACK FOR MINE"
XVII.  WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT?
EPILOGUE



INTRODUCTION

This volume contains two novels dealing with the life of prairie people
in the town of Askatoon in the far West. 'The World for Sale' and the
latter portion of 'The Money Master' deal with the same life, and 'The
Money Master' contained some of the characters to be found in 'Wild
Youth'. 'The World for Sale' also was a picture of prairie country with
strife between a modern Anglo-Canadian town and a French-Canadian town in
the West. These books are of the same people; but 'You Never Know Your
Luck' and 'Wild Youth' have several characters which move prominently
through both.

In the introduction to 'The World for Sale' in this series, I drew a
description of prairie life, and I need not repeat what was said there.
'In You Never Know Your Luck' there is a Proem which describes briefly
the look of the prairie and suggests characteristics of the life of the
people. The basis of the book has a letter written by a wife to her
husband at a critical time in his career when he had broken his promise
to her. One or two critics said the situation is impossible, because no
man would carry a letter unopened for a long number of years. My reply
is: that it is exactly what I myself did. I have still a letter written
to me which was delivered at my door sixteen years ago. I have never read
it, and my reason for not reading it was that I realised, as I think,
what its contents were. I knew that the letter would annoy, and there it
lies. The writer of the letter who was then my enemy is now my friend.
The chief character in the book, Crozier, was an Irishman, with all the
Irishman's cleverness, sensitiveness, audacity, and timidity; for both
those latter qualities are characteristic of the Irish race, and as I am
half Irish I can understand why I suppressed a letter and why Crozier
did. Crozier is the type of man that comes occasionally to the Dominion
of Canada; and Kitty Tynan is the sort of girl that the great West
breeds. She did an immoral thing in opening the letter that Crozier had
suppressed, but she did it in a good cause--for Crozier's sake; she made
his wife write another letter, and she placed it again in the envelope
for Crozier to open and see. Whatever lack of morality there was in her
act was balanced by the good end to the story, though it meant the
sacrifice of Kitty's love for Crozier, and the making of his wife happy
once more.

As for 'Wild Youth' I make no apology for it. It is still fresh in the
minds of the American public, and it is true to the life. Some critics
frankly called it melodramatic. I do not object to the term. I know
nothing more melodramatic than certain of the plots of Shakespeare's
plays. Thomas Hardy is melodramatic; Joseph Conrad is melodramatic;
Balzac was melodramatic, and so were Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, and
Sir Walter Scott. The charge of melodrama is not one that should disturb
a writer of fiction. The question is, are the characters melodramatic.
Will anyone suggest to me the marriage of a girl of seventeen with a man
over sixty is melodramatic. It may be, but I think it tragical, and so it
was in this case. As for Orlando Guise, I describe the man as I knew him,
and he is still alive. Some comments upon the story suggested that it was
impossible for a man to spend the night on the prairie with a woman whom
he loved without causing her to forget her marriage vows. It is not
sentimental to say that is nonsense. It is a prurient mind that only sees
evil in a situation of the sort. Why it should be desirable to make a
young man and woman commit a misdemeanor to secure the praise of a critic
is beyond imagination. It would be easy enough to do. I did it in The
Right of Way. I did it in others of my books. What happens to one man and
one woman does not necessarily happen to another. There are men who, for
love of a woman, would not take advantage of her insecurity. There are
others who would. In my books I have made both classes do their will, and
both are true to life. It does not matter what one book is or is not, but
it does matter that an author writes his book with a sense of the fitting
and the true.

Both these books were written to present that side of life in Canada
which is not wintry and forbidding. There is warmth of summer in both
tales, and thrilling air and the beauty of the wild countryside. As for
the cold, it is severe in most parts of Canada, but the air is dry, and
the sharpness is not felt as it is in this damper climate of England.
Canadians feel the cold of a March or November day in London far more
than the cold of a day in Winnipeg, with the thermometer many degrees
below zero. Both these books present the summer side of Canada, which is
as delightful as that of any climate in the world; both show the modern
western life which is greatly changed since the days when Pierre roamed
the very fields where these tales take place. It should never be
forgotten that British Columbia has a climate like that of England,
where, on the Coast, it is never colder than here, and where there is
rain instead of snow in winter.

There is much humour and good nature in the West, and this also I tried
to bring out in these two books; and Askatoon is as cosmopolitan as
London. Canada in the West has all races, and it was consistent of me to
give a Chinaman of noble birth a part to play in the tragicomedy. I have
a great respect for the Chinaman, and he is a good servant and a faithful
friend. Such a Chinaman as Li Choo I knew in British Columbia, and all I
did was to throw him on the Eastern side of the Rockies, a few miles from
the border of the farthest Western province. The Chinaman's death was
faithful in its detail, and it was true to his nature. He had to die, and
with the old pagan philosophy, still practised in China and Japan, he
chose the better way, to his mind. Princes still destroy themselves in
old Japan, as recent history proves.



YOU NEVER KNOW YOUR LUCK


Volume 1.

     PROEM
     I.     "PIONEERS, O PIONEERS"
     II.    CLOSING THE DOORS
     III.   THE LOGAN TRIAL AND WHAT CAME OF IT
     IV.    "STRENGTH SHALL BE GIVEN THEE"
     V.     A STORY TO BE TOLD



PROEM

Have you ever seen it in reaping-time? A sea of gold it is, with gentle
billows telling of sleep and not of storm, which, like regiments afoot,
salute the reaper and say, "All is fulfilled in the light of the sun and
the way of the earth; let the sharp knife fall." The countless million
heads are heavy with fruition, and sun glorifies and breeze cradles them
to the hour of harvest. The air-like the tingle of water from a
mountain-spring in the throat of the worn wayfarer, bringing a sense of
the dust of the world flushed away.

Arcady? Look closely. Like islands in the shining yellow sea, are
houses--sometimes in a clump of trees, sometimes only like bare-backed
domesticity or naked industry in the workfield. Also rising here and
there in the expanse, clouds that wind skyward, spreading out in a
powdery mist. They look like the rolling smoke of incense, of sacrifice.
Sacrifice it is. The vast steam-threshers are mightily devouring what
their servants, the monster steam-reapers, have gleaned for them. Soon,
when September comes, all that waving sea will be still. What was gold
will still be a rusted gold, but near to the earth-the stubble of the
corn now lying in vast garners by the railway lines, awaiting transport
east and west and south and across the seas.

Not Arcady this, but a land of industry in the grip of industrialists,
whose determination to achieve riches is, in spite of themselves,
chastened by the magnitude and orderly process of nature's travail which
is not pain. Here Nature hides her internal striving under a smother of
white for many months in every year, when what is now gold in the sun
will be a soft--sometimes, too, a hard-shining coverlet like impacted
wool. Then, instead of the majestic clouds of incense from the threshers,
will rise blue spiral wreaths of smoke from the lonely home. There the
farmer rests till spring, comforting himself in the thought that while he
waits, far under the snow the wheat is slowly expanding; and as in April,
the white frost flies out of the soil into the sun, it will push upward
and outward, green and vigorous, greeting his eye with the "What cheer,
partner!" of a mate in the scheme of nature.

Not Arcady; and yet many of the joys of Arcady are here--bright, singing
birds, wide adventurous rivers, innumerable streams, the squirrel in the
wood and the bracken, the wildcat stealing through the undergrowth, the
lizard glittering by the stone, the fish leaping in the stream, the
plaint of the whippoorwill, the call of the bluebird, the golden flash of
the oriole, the honk of the wild geese overhead, the whirr of the mallard
from the sedge. And, more than all, a human voice declaring by its joy in
song that not only God looks upon the world and finds it very good.



CHAPTER I

"PIONEERS, O PIONEERS"

If you had stood on the borders of Askatoon, a prairie town, on the
pathway to the Rockies one late August day not many years ago, you would
have heard a fresh young human voice singing into the morning, as its
possessor looked, from a coat she was brushing, out over the "field of
the cloth of gold," which your eye has already been invited to see. With
the gift of singing for joy at all, you should be able to sing very
joyously at twenty-two. This morning singer was just that age; and if you
had looked at the golden carpet of wheat stretching for scores of miles,
before you looked at her, you would have thought her curiously in tone
with the scene. She was a symphony in gold--nothing less. Her hair, her
cheeks, her eyes, her skin, her laugh, her voice they were all gold.
Everything about her was so demonstratively golden that you might have
had a suspicion it was made and not born; as though it was unreal, and
the girl herself a proper subject of suspicion. The eyelashes were so
long and so black, the eyes were so topaz, the hair was so like such a
cloud of gold as would be found on Joan of Are as seen by a mediaeval
painter, that an air of faint artificiality surrounded what was in every
other way a remarkable effort of nature to give this region, where she
was so very busy, a keynote.

Poseurs have said that nature is garish or exaggerated more often than
not; but it is a libel. She is aristocratic to the nth degree, and is
never over done; courage she has, but no ostentation. There was, however,
just a slight touch of over-emphasis in this singing-girl's
presentation--that you were bound to say, if you considered her quite
apart from her place in this nature-scheme. She was not wholly
aristocratic; she was lacking in that high, social refinement which would
have made her gold not so golden, her black eyelashes not so black. Being
unaristocratic is not always a matter of birth, though it may be a matter
of parentage.

Her parentage was honest and respectable and not exalted. Her father had
been an engineer, who had lost his life on a new railway of the West. His
widow had received a pension from the company insufficient to maintain
her, and so she kept boarders, the coat of one of whom her daughter was
now brushing as she sang. The widow herself was the origin of the girl's
slight disqualification for being of that higher circle of selection
which nature arranges long before society makes its judicial decision.
The father had been a man of high intelligence, which his daughter to a
real degree inherited; but the mother, as kind a soul as ever lived, was
a product of southern English rural life--a little sumptuous, but
wholesome, and for her daughter's sake at least, keeping herself well and
safely within the moral pale in the midst of marked temptations. She was
forty-five, and it said a good deal for her ample but proper graces that
at forty-five she had numerous admirers. The girl was English in
appearance, with a touch perhaps of Spanish--why, who can say? Was it
because of those Spanish hidalgoes wrecked on the Irish coast long since?
Her mind and her tongue, however, were Irish like her father's. You would
have liked her, everybody did,--yet you would have thought that nature
had failed in self-confidence for once, she was so pointedly designed to
express the ancient dame's colour-scheme, even to the delicate auriferous
down on her youthful cheek and the purse-proud look of her faintly
retrousse nose; though in fact she never had had a purse and scarcely
needed one. In any case she had an ample pocket in her dress.

This fairly full description of her is given not because she is the most
important person in the story, but because the end of the story would
have been entirely different had it not been for her; and because she
herself was one of those who are so much the sport of circumstances or
chance that they express the full meaning of the title of this story. As
a line beneath the title explains, the tale concerns a matrimonial
deserter. Certainly this girl had never deserted matrimony, though she
had on more than one occasion avoided it; and there had been men mean and
low enough to imagine they might allure her to the conditions of
matrimony without its status.

As with her mother the advertisement of her appearance was wholly
misleading. A man had once said to her that "she looked too gay to be
good," but in all essentials she was as good as she was gay, and indeed
rather better. Her mother had not kept boarders for seven years without
getting some useful knowledge of the world, or without imparting useful
knowledge; and there were men who, having paid their bills on demand,
turned from her wiser if not better men. Because they had pursued the old
but inglorious profession of hunting tame things, Mrs. Tyndall Tynan had
exacted compensation in one way or another--by extras, by occasional and
deliberate omission of table luxuries, and by making them pay for their
own mending, which she herself only did when her boarders behaved
themselves well. She scored in any contest--in spite of her rather small
brain, large heart, and ardent appearance. A very clever, shiftless Irish
husband had made her develop shrewdness, and she was so busy watching and
fending her daughter that she did not need to watch and fend herself to
the same extent as she would have done had she been free and childless
and thirty. The widow Tynan was practical, and she saw none of those
things which made her daughter stand for minutes at a time and look into
the distance over the prairie towards the sunset light or the grey-blue
foothills. She never sang--she had never sung a note in her life; but
this girl of hers, with a man's coat in her hand, and eyes on the joyous
scene before her, was for ever humming or singing. She had even sung in
the church choir till she declined to do so any longer, because strangers
stared at her so; which goes to show that she was not so vain as people
of her colouring sometimes are. It was just as bad, however, when she sat
in the congregation; for then, too, if she sang, people stared at her. So
it was that she seldom went to church at all; but it was not because of
this that her ideas of right and wrong were quite individual and not
conventional, as the tale of the matrimonial deserter will show.

This was not church, however, and briskly applying a light whisk-broom to
the coat, she hummed one of the songs her father taught her when he was
in his buoyant or in his sentimental moods, and that was a fair
proportion of the time. It used to perplex her the thrilling buoyancy and
the creepy melancholy which alternately mastered her father; but as a
child she had become so inured to it that she was not surprised at the
alternate pensive gaiety and the blazing exhilaration of the particular
man whose coat she now dusted long after there remained a speck of dust
upon it. This was the song she sang:

     "Whereaway, whereaway goes the lad that once was mine?
     Hereaway I waited him, hereaway and oft;
     When I sang my song to him, bright his eyes began to shine--
     Hereaway I loved him well, for my heart was soft.

     "Hereaway my heart was soft; when he kissed my happy eyes,
     Held my hand, and pressed his cheek warm against my brow,
     Home I saw upon the earth, heaven stood there in the skies--
     'Whereaway, whereaway goes my lover now?'"

     "Whereaway goes my lad--tell me, has he gone alone?
     Never harsh word did I speak, never hurt I gave;
     Strong he was and beautiful; like a heron he has flown--
     Hereaway, hereaway will I make my grave.

     "When once more the lad I loved hereaway, hereaway,
     Comes to lay his hand in mine, kiss me on the brow,
     I will whisper down the wind, he will weep to hear me say--
     'Whereaway, whereaway goes my lover now?'"

There was a plaintive quality in the voice of this russet maiden in
perfect keeping with the music and the words; and though her lips smiled,
there was a deep, wistful look in her eyes more in harmony with the
coming autumn than with this gorgeous harvest-time.

For a moment after she had finished singing she stood motionless,
absorbed by the far horizon; then suddenly she gave a little shake of the
body and said in a brisk, playfully chiding way:

"Kitty Tynan, Kitty Tynan, what a girl you are!" There was no one near,
so far as eye could see, so it was clear that the words were addressed to
herself. She was expressing that wonder which so many people feel at
discovering in themselves long-concealed characteristics, or find
themselves doing things out of their natural orbit, as they think. If any
one had told Kitty Tynan that she had rare imagination, she would have
wondered what was meant. If anyone had said to her, "What are you
dreaming about, Kitty?" she would have understood, however, for she had
had fits of dreaming ever since she was a child, and they had increased
during the past few years--since the man came to live with them whose
coat she was brushing. Perhaps this was only imitation, because the man
had a habit of standing or sitting still and looking into space for
minutes--and on Sundays for hours--at a time; and often she had watched
him as he lay on his back in the long grass, head on a hillock, hat down
over his eyes, while the smoke from his pipe came curling up from beneath
the rim. Also she had seen him more than once sitting with a letter
before him and gazing at it for many minutes together. She had also noted
that it was the same letter on each occasion; that it was a closed
letter, and also that it was unstamped. She knew that, because she had
seen it in his desk--the desk once belonging to her father, a sloping
thing with a green-baize top. Sometimes he kept it locked, but very often
he did not; and more than once, when he had asked her to get him
something from the desk, not out of meanness, but chiefly because her
moral standard had not a multitude of delicate punctilios, she had
examined the envelope curiously. The envelope bore a woman's handwriting,
and the name on it was not that of the man who owned the coat--and the
letter. The name on the envelope was Shiel Crozier, but the name of the
man who owned the coat was J. G. Kerry--James Gathorne Kerry, so he said.

Kitty Tynan had certainly enough imagination to make her cherish a
mystery. She wondered greatly what it all meant. Never in anything else
had she been inquisitive or prying where the man was concerned; but she
felt that this letter had the heart of a story, and she had made up fifty
stories which she thought would fit the case of J. G. Kerry, who for over
four years had lived in her mother's house. He had become part of her
life, perhaps just because he was a man,--and what home is a real home
without a man?--perhaps because he always had a kind, quiet, confidential
word for her, or a word of stimulating cheerfulness; indeed, he showed in
his manner occasionally almost a boisterous hilarity. He undoubtedly was
what her mother called "a queer dick," but also "a pippin with a perfect
core," which was her way of saying that he was a man to be trusted with
herself and with her daughter; one who would stand loyally by a friend or
a woman. He had stood by them both when Augustus Burlingame, the lawyer,
who had boarded with them when J. G. Kerry first came, coarsely exceeded
the bounds of liberal friendliness which marked the household, and by
furtive attempts at intimacy began to make life impossible for both
mother and daughter. Burlingame took it into his head, when he received
notice that his rooms were needed for another boarder, that J. G. Kerry
was the cause of it. Perhaps this was not without reason, since Kerry had
seen Kitty Tynan angrily unclasping Burlingame's arm from around her
waist, and had used cutting and decisive words to the sensualist
afterwards.

There had taken the place of Augustus Burlingame a land-agent--Jesse
Bulrush--who came and went like a catapult, now in domicile for three
days together, now gone for three weeks; a voluble, gaseous, humorous
fellow, who covered up a well of commercial evasiveness, honesty and
adroitness by a perspiring gaiety natural in its origin and convenient
for harmless deceit. He was fifty, and no gallant save in words; and, as
a wary bachelor of many years' standing, it was a long time before he
showed a tendency to blandish a good-looking middle-aged nurse named Egan
who also lodged with Mrs. Tynan; though even a plain-faced nurse in
uniform has an advantage over a handsome unprofessional woman. Jesse
Bulrush and J. G. Kerry were friends--became indeed such confidential
friends to all appearance, though their social origin was evidently so
different, that Kitty Tynan, when she wished to have a pleasant
conversation which gave her a glow for hours afterwards, talked to the
fat man of his lean and aristocratic-looking friend.

"Got his head where it ought to be--on his shoulders; and it ain't for
playing football with," was the frequent remark of Mr. Bulrush concerning
Mr. Kerry. This always made Kitty Tynan want to sing, she could not have
told why, save that it seemed to her the equivalent of a long history of
the man whose past lay in mists that never lifted, and whom even the
inquisitive Burlingame had been unable to "discover" when he lived in the
same house. But then Kitty Tynan was as fond of singing as a canary, and
relieved her feelings constantly by this virtuous and becoming means,
with her good contralto voice. She was indeed a creature of
contradictions; for if ever any one should have had a soprano voice it
was she. She looked a soprano.

What she was thinking of as she sang with Kerry's coat in her hand it
would be hard to discover by the process of elimination, as the
detectives say when tracking down a criminal. It is, however, of no
consequence; but it was clear that the song she sang had moved her, for
there was the glint of a tear in her eye as she turned towards the house,
the words of the lyric singing themselves over in her brain:

     "Hereaway my heart was soft; when he kissed my happy eyes,
     Held my hand, and pressed his cheek warm against my brow,
     Home I saw upon the hearth, heaven stood there in the skies'
     Whereaway, whereaway goes my lover now?"'

She knew that no lover had left her; that none was in the habit of laying
his warm cheek against her brow; and perhaps that was why she had said
aloud to herself, "Kitty Tynan, Kitty Tynan, what a girl you are!"
Perhaps--and perhaps not.

As she stepped forward towards the door she heard a voice within the
house, and she quickened her footsteps. The blood in her face, the look
in her eye quickened also. And now a figure appeared in the doorway--a
figure in shirt-sleeves, which shook a fist at the hurrying girl.

"Villain'!" he said gaily, for he was in one of his absurd, ebullient
moods--after a long talk with Jesse Bulrush. "Hither with my coat; my
spotless coat in a spotted world,--the unbelievable anomaly--

         "'For the earth of a dusty to-day
          Is the dust of an earthy to-morrow.'"

When he talked like this she did not understand him, but she thought it
was clever beyond thinking--a heavenly jumble. "If it wasn't for me you'd
be carted for rubbish," she replied joyously as she helped him on with
his coat, though he had made a motion to take it from her.

"I heard you singing--what was it?" he asked cheerily, while it could be
seen that his mind was preoccupied. The song she had sung, floating
through the air, had seemed familiar to him, while he had been greatly
engaged with a big business thing he had been planning for a long time,
with Jesse Bulrush in the background or foreground, as scout or
rear-guard or what you will:

    "'Whereaway, whereaway goes the lad that once was mine?
     Hereaway, I waited him, hereaway and oft--'"

she hummed with an exaggerated gaiety in her voice, for the song had
saddened her, she knew not why. At the words the flaming exhilaration of
the man's face vanished and his eyes took on a poignant, distant look.

"That--oh, that!" he said, and with a little jerk of the head and a
clenching of the hand he moved towards the street.

"Your hat!" she called after him, and ran inside the house. An instant
later she gave it to him. Now his face was clear and his eyes smiled
kindly at her.

"'Whereaway, hereaway' is a wonderful song," he said. "We used to sing it
when I was a boy--and after, and after. It's an old song--old as the
hills. Well, thanks, Kitty Tynan. What a girl you are--to be so kind to a
fellow like--me!"

"Kitty Tynan, what a girl you are!"--these were the very words she had
used about herself a little while before. The song--why did it make Mr.
Kerry take on such a queer look all at once when he heard it? Kitty
watched him striding down the street into the town.

Now a voice--a rich, quizzical, kindly voice-called out to her:

"Come, come, Miss Tynan, I want to be helped on with my coat," it said.

Inside the house a fat, awkward man was struggling, or pretending to
struggle, into his coat.

"Roll into it, Mr. Rolypoly," she answered cheerily as she entered.

"Of course I'm not the star boarder--nothing for me!" he said in affected
protest.

"A little more to starboard and you'll get it on," she retorted with a
glint of her late father's raillery, and she gave the coat a twitch which
put it right on the ample shoulders.

"Bully! bully!" he cried. "I'll give you the tip for the Askatoon cup."

"I'm a Christian. I hate horse-racers and gamblers," she returned
mockingly.

"I'll turn Christian--I want to be loved," he bleated from the doorway.

"Roll on, proud porpoise!" she rejoined, which shows that her
conversation was not quite aristocratic at all times.

"Golly, but she's a gold dollar in a gold bank," remarked Jesse Bulrush
warmly as he lurched into the street.

The girl stood still in the middle of the room looking dreamily down the
way the two men had gone.

The quiet of the late summer day surrounded her. She heard the dizzy din
of the bees, the sleepy grinding of the grass hoppers, the sough of the
solitary pine at the door, and then behind them all a whizzing,
machine-like sound. This particular sound went on and on.

She opened the door of the next room. Her mother sat at a sewing-machine
intent upon some work, the needle eating up a spreading piece of cloth.

"What are you making, mother?" Kitty asked. "New blinds for Mr. Kerry's
bedroom-he likes this green colour," the widow added with a slight flush,
due to leaning over the sewing-machine, no doubt.

"Everybody does everything for him," remarked the girl almost pettishly.

"That's a nice spirit, I must say!" replied her mother reprovingly, the
machine almost stopping.

"If I said it in a different way it would be all right," the other
returned with a smile, and she repeated the words with a winning soft
inflection, like a born actress.

"Kitty-Kitty Tynan, what a girl you are!" declared her mother, and she
bent smiling over the machine, which presently buzzed on its devouring
way. Three people had said the same thing within a few minutes. A look of
pleasure stole over the girl's face, and her bosom rose and fell with a
happy sigh. Somehow it was quite a wonderful day for her.



CHAPTER II

CLOSING THE DOORS

There are many people who, in some subtle psychological way, are very
like their names; as though some one had whispered to "the parents of
this child" the name designed for it from the beginning of time. So it
was with Shiel Crozier. Does not the name suggest a man lean and flat,
sinewy, angular and isolated like a figure in one of El Greco's pictures
in the Prado at Madrid? Does not the name suggest a figure of elongated
humanity with a touch of ancient mysticism and yet also of the
fantastical humour of Don Quixote?

In outward appearance Shiel Crozier, otherwise J. G. Kerry, of Askatoon,
was like his name for the greater part of the time. Take him in repose,
and he looked a lank ascetic who dreamed of a happy land where
flagellation was a joy and pain a panacea. In action, however, as when
Kitty Tynan helped him on with his coat, he was a pure improvisation of
nature. He had a face with a Cromwellian mole, which broke out in emotion
like an April day, with eyes changing from a blue-grey to the deepest
ultramarine that ever delighted the soul and made the reputation of an
Old Master. Even in the prairie town of Askatoon, where every man is so
busy that he scarcely knows his own children when he meets them, and
almost requires an introduction to his wife when the door closes on them
at bedtime, people took a second look at him when he passed. Many who
came in much direct contact with him, as Augustus Burlingame the lawyer
had done, tried to draw from him all there was to tell about himself;
which is a friendly custom of the far West. The native-born greatly
desire to tell about themselves. They wear their hearts on their sleeves,
and are childlike in the frank recitals of all they were and are and hope
to be. This covers up also a good deal of business acumen, shrewdness,
and secretiveness which is not so childlike and bland.

In this they are in sharp contrast to those not native-born. These come
from many places on the earth, and they are seldom garrulously
historical. Some of them go to the prairie country to forget they ever
lived before, and to begin the world again, having been hurt in life
undeservingly; some go to bury their mistakes or worse in pioneer work
and adventure; some flee from a wrath that would devour them--the law,
society, or a woman.

This much must be said at once for Crozier, that he had no crime to hide.
It was not because of crime that "He buckles up his talk like the
bellyband on a broncho," as Malachi Deely, the exile from Tralee, said of
him; and Deely was a man of "horse-sense," no doubt because he was a
horse-doctor--"a veterenny surgeon," as his friends called him when they
wished to flatter him. Deely supplemented this chaste remark about the
broncho with the observation that, "Same as the broncho, you buckle him
tightest when you know the divil is stirring in his underbrush." And he
added further, "'Tis a woman that's put the mumplaster on his tongue,
Sibley, and I bet you a hundred it's another man's wife."

Like many a speculator, Malachi Deely would have made no profit out of
his bet in the end, for Shiel Crozier had had no trouble with the law, or
with another man's wife, nor yet with any single maid--not yet; though
there was now Kitty Tynan in his path. Yet he had had trouble. There was
hint of it in his occasional profound abstraction; but more than all else
in the fact that here he was, a gentleman, having lived his life for over
four years past as a sort of horse-expert, overseer, and stud-manager for
Terry Brennan, the absentee millionaire. In the opinion of the West,
"big-bugs" did not come down to this kind of occupation unless they had
been roughly handled by fate or fortune.

"Talk? Watch me now, he talks like a testimonial in a frame," said
Malachi Deely on the day this tale opens, to John Sibley, the gambling
young farmer who, strange to say, did well out of both gambling and
farming.

"Words to him are like nuts to a monkey. He's an artist, that man is.
Been in the circles where the band plays good and soft, where the music
smells--fairly smells like parfumery," responded Sibley. "I'd like to get
at the bottom of him. There's a real good story under his asbestos
vest--something that'd make a man call for the oh-be-joyful, same as I do
now."

After they had seen the world through the bottom of a tumbler Deely
continued the gossip. "Watch me now, been a friend of dukes in England--
and Ireland, that Mr. James Gathorne Kerry, as any one can see; and there
he is feelin' the hocks of a filly or openin' the jaws of a stud horse,
age-hunting! Why, you needn't tell me--I've had my mind made up ever
since the day he broke the temper of Terry Brennan's Inniskillen
chestnut, and won the gold cup with her afterwards. He just sort of
appeared out of the mist of the marnin', there bein' a divil's lot of
excursions and conferences and holy gatherin's in Askatoon that time
back, ostensible for the business which their names denote, like the
Dioceesan Conference and the Pure White Water Society. That was their
bluff; but they'd come herealong for one good pure white dioceesan thing
before all, and that was to see the dandiest horse-racing which ever
infested the West. Come--he come like that!"--Deely made a motion like a
swoop of an aeroplane to earth--"and here he is buckin' about like a
rough-neck same as you and me; but yet a gent, a swell, a cream della
cream, that's turned his back on a lady--a lady not his own wife, that's
my sure and sacred belief."

"You certainly have got women on the brain," retorted Sibley. "I ain't
ever seen such a man as you. There never was a woman crossing the street
on a muddy day that you didn't sprint to get a look at her ankles. Behind
everything you see a woman. Horses is your profession, but woman is your
practice."

"There ain't but one thing worth livin' for, and that's a woman,"
remarked Deely.

"Do you tell Mrs. Deely that?" asked Sibley.

"Watch me now, she knows. What woman is there don't know when her husband
is what he is! And it's how I know that the trouble with James Gathorne
Kerry is a woman. I know the signs. Divils me own, he's got 'em in his
face."

"He's got in his face what don't belong here and what you don't know much
about--never having kept company with that sort," rejoined Sibley.

"The way he lives and talks--'No, thank you, I don't care for anny
thing,' says he, when you're standin' at the door of a friendly saloon,
which is established by law to bespeak peace and goodwill towards men,
and you ask him pleasant to step inside. He don't seem to have a single
vice. Haven't we tried him? There was Belle Bingley, all frizzy hair and
a kicker; we put her on to him. But he give her ten dollars to buy a hat
on condition she behaved like a lady in the future--smilin' at her, the
divil! And Belle, with temper like dinnemite, took it kneelin' as it
were, and smiled back at him--her! Drink, women--nothin' seems to have a
hold on him. What's his vice? Sure, then, that's what I say, what's his
vice? He's got to have one; anny man as is a man has to have one vice."

"Bosh! Look at me," rejoined Sibley. "Drink women--nit! Not for me! I've
got no vice. I don't even smoke."

"No vice? Begobs, yours has got you like a tire on a wheel! Vice--what do
you call gamblin'? It's the biggest vice ever tuk grip of a man. It's
like a fever, and it's got you, John, like the nail on your finger."

"Well, p'r'aps, he's got that vice too. P'r'aps J. G. Kerry's got that
vice same as me."

"Annyhow, we'll get to know all we want when he goes into the witness box
at the Logan murder trial next week. That's what I'm waitin' for," Deely
returned, with a grin of anticipation. "That drug-eating Gus Burlingame's
got a grudge against him somehow, and when a lawyer's got a grudge
against you it's just as well to look where y' are goin'. Burlingame
don't care what he does to get his way in court. What set him against
Kerry I ain't sure, but, bedad, I think it's looks. Burlingame goes in
for lookin' like a picture in a frame--gold seals hangin' beyant his
vestpocket, broad silk cord to his eye-glass, loose flowin' tie, and long
hair-makes him look pretentuous and showy. But your 'Mr. Kerry, sir,' he
don't have anny tricks to make him look like a doge from Veenis and all
the eyes of the females battin' where'er he goes. Jealousy, John Sibley,
me boy, is a cruil thing."

"Why is it you ain't jealous of him? There's plenty of women that watch
you go down-town--you got a name for it, anyway," remarked Sibley
maliciously.

Deely nodded sagely. "Watch me now, that's right, me boy. I got a name
for it, but I want the game without the name, and that's why I ain't
puttin' on anny airs--none at all. I depend on me tongue, not on me
looks, which goes against me. I like Mr. J. G. Kerry. I've plenty
dealin's with him, naturally, both of us being in the horse business, and
I say he's right as a minted dollar as he goes now. Also, and behold, I'd
take my oath he never done annything to blush for. His touble's been a
woman--wayward woman what stoops to folly! I give up tryin' to pump him
just as soon as I made up my mind it was a woman. That shuts a man's
mouth like a poor-box.

"Next week's fixed for the Logan killin' case, is it?"

"Monday comin', for sure. I wouldn't like to be in Mr. Kerry's shoes.
Watch me now, if he gives the evidence they say he can give--the
prasecution say it--that M'Mahon Gang behind Logan 'll get him sure as
guns, one way or another."

"Some one ought to give Mr. Kerry the tip to get out and not give
evidence," remarked Sibley sagely. Deely shook his head vigorously.
"Begobs, he's had the tip all right, but he's not goin'. He's got as much
fear as a canary has whiskers. He doesn't want to give evidence, he says,
but he wants to see the law do its work. Burlingame 'll try to make it
out manslaughter; but there's a widow with children to suffer for the
manslaughter, just as much as though it was murder, and there isn't a man
that doesn't think murder was the game, and the grand joory had that idea
too.

"Between Gus Burlingame and that M'Mahon bunch of horse-thieves, the
stranger in a strange land 'll have to keep his eyes open, I'm thinkin'."

"Divils me darlin', his eyes are open all right," returned Deely.

"Still, I'd like to jog his elbow," Sibley answered reflectively. "It
couldn't do any harm, and it might do good."

Deely nodded good-naturedly. "If you want to so bad as that, John, you've
got the chance, for he's up at the Sovereign Bank now. I seen him leave
the Great Overland Railway Bureau ten minutes ago and get away quick to
the bank."

"What's he got on at the bank and the railway?"

"Some big deal, I guess. I've seen him with Studd Bradley."

"The Great North Trust Company boss?"

"On it, my boy, on it--the other day as thick as thieves. Studd Bradley
doesn't knit up with an outsider from the old country unless there's
reason for it--good gold-currency reasons."

"A land deal, eh?" ventured Sibley. "What did I say--speculation, that's
his vice, same as mine! P'r'aps that's what ruined him. Cards,
speculation, what's the difference? And he's got a quiet look, same as
me."

Deely laughed loudly. "And bursts out same as you! Quiet one hour like a
mill-pond or a well, and then--swhish, he's blazin'! He's a volcano in
harness, that spalpeen."

"He's a volcano that doesn't erupt when there's danger," responded
Sibley. "It's when there's just fun on that his volcano gets loose. I'll
go wait for him at the bank. I got a fellow-feeling for Mr. Kerry. I'd
like to whisper in his ear that he'd better be lookin' sharp for the
M'Mahon Gang, and that if he's a man of peace he'd best take a holiday
till after next week, or get smallpox or something."

The two friends lounged slowly up the street, and presently parted near
the door of the bank. As Sibley waited, his attention was drawn to a
window on the opposite side of the street at an angle from themselves.
The light was such that the room was revealed to its farthest corners,
and Sibley noted that three men were evidently carefully watching the
bank, and that one of the men was Studd Bradley, the so-called boss. The
others were local men of some position commercially and financially in
the town. Sibley did not give any sign that he noticed the three men, but
he watched carefully from under the rim of his hat. His imagination,
however, read a story of consequence in the secretive vigilance of the
three, who evidently thought that, standing far back in the room, they
could not be seen.

Presently the door of the bank opened, and Sibley saw Studd Bradley lean
forward eagerly, then draw back and speak hurriedly to his companions,
using a gesture of satisfaction.

"Something damn funny there!" Sibley said to himself, and stepped forward
to Crozier with a friendly exclamation. Crozier turned rather
impatiently, for his face was aflame with some exciting reflection. At
this moment his eyes were the deepest blue that could be imagined--an
almost impossible colour, like that of the Mediterranean when it reflects
the perfect sapphire of the sky. There was something almost wonderful in
their expression. A woman once said as she looked at a picture of
Herschel, whose eyes had the unworldly gaze of the great dreamer looking
beyond this sphere, "The stars startled him." Such a look was in
Crozier's eyes now, as though he was seeing the bright end of a long
road, the desire of his soul.

That, indeed, was what he saw. After two years of secret negotiation he
had (inspired by information dropped by Jesse Bulrush, his
fellow-boarder) made definite arrangements for a big land-deal in
connection with the route of a new railway and a town-site, which would
mean more to him than any one could know. If it went through, he would,
for an investment of ten thousand dollars, have a hundred and fifty
thousand dollars; and that would solve an everlasting problem for him.

He had reached a critical point in his enterprise. All that was wanted
now was ten thousand dollars in cash to enable him to close the great
bargain and make his hundred and fifty thousand. But to want ten thousand
dollars and to get it in a given space of time, when you have neither
securities, cash, nor real estate, is enough to keep you awake at night.
Crozier had been so busy with the delicate and difficult negotiations
that he had not deeply concerned himself with the absence of the
necessary ten thousand dollars. He thought he could get the money at any
time, so good was the proposition; and it was best to defer raising it to
the last moment lest some one learning the secret should forestall him.
He must first have the stake to be played for before he moved to get the
cash with which to make the throw. This is not generally thought a good
way, but it was his way, and it had yet to be tested.

There was no cloud of apprehension, however, in Crozier's eyes as they
met those of Sibley. He liked Sibley. At this point it is not necessary
to say why. The reason will appear in due time. Sibley's face had always
something of that immobility and gravity which Crozier's face had part of
the time-paler, less intelligent, with dark lines and secret shadows
absent from Crozier's face; but still with some of the El Greco
characteristics which marked so powerfully that of the man who passed as
J. G. Kerry.

"Ah, Sibley," he said, "glad to see you! Anything I can do for you?"

"It's the other way if there's any doing at all," was the quick response.

"Well, let's walk along together," remarked Crozier a little
abstractedly, for he was thinking hard about his great enterprise.

"We might be seen," said Sibley, with an obvious undermeaning meant to
provoke a question.

Crozier caught the undertone of suggestion. "Being about to burgle the
bank, it's well not to be seen together--eh?"

"No, I'm not in on that business, Mr. Kerry. I'm for breaking banks, not
burgling 'em," was the cheerful reply.

They laughed, but Crozier knew that the observant gambling farmer was not
talking at haphazard. They had met on the highway, as it were, many times
since Crozier had come to Askatoon, and Crozier knew his man.

"Well, what are we going to do, and who will see us if we do it?" Crozier
asked briskly.

"Studd Bradley and his secret-service corps have got their eyes on this
street--and on you," returned Sibley dryly.

Crozier's face sobered and his eyes became less emotional. "I don't see
them anywhere," he answered, but looking nowhere.

"They're in Gus Burlingame's office. They had you under observation while
you were in the bank."

"I couldn't run off with the land, could I?" Crozier remarked dryly, yet
suggestively, in his desire to see how much Sibley knew.

"Well, you said it was a bank. I've no more idea what it is you're tryin'
to run off with than I know what an ace is goin' to do when there's a
joker in the pack," remarked Sibley; "but I thought I'd tell you that
Bradley and his lot are watchin' you gettin' ready to run." Then he
hastily told what he had seen.

Crozier was reassured. It was natural that Bradley & Co. should take an
interest in his movements. They would make a pile of money if he pulled
off the deal-far more than he would. It was not strange that they should
watch his invasion of the bank. They knew he wanted money, and a bank was
the place to get it. That was the way he viewed the matter on the
instant. He replied to Sibley cheerfully. "A hundred to one is a lot when
you win it," he said enigmatically.

"It depends on how much you have on," was Sibley's quiet reply--"a dollar
or a thousand dollars.

"If you've got a big thing on, and you've got an outsider that you think
is goin' to win and beat the favourite, it's just as well to run no
risks. Believe me, Mr. Kerry, if you've got anything on that asks for
your attention, it'd be sense and saving if you didn't give evidence at
the Logan Trial next week. It's pretty well-guessed what you're goin' to
say and what you know, and you take it from me, the M'Mahon mob that's
behind Logan 'll have it in for you. They're terrors when they get goin',
and if your evidence puts one of that lot away, ther'll be trouble for
you. I wouldn't do it--honest, I wouldn't. I've been out West here a good
many years, and I know the place and the people. It's a good place, and
there's lots of first-class people here, but there's a few offscourings
that hang like wolves on the edge of the sheepfold, ready to murder and
git."

"That was what you wanted to see me about, wasn't it?" Crozier asked
quietly.

"Yes; the other was just a shot on the chance. I don't like to see men
sneakin' about and watching. If they do, you can bet there's something
wrong. But the other thing, the Logan Trial business, is a dead
certainty. You're only a new-comer, in a kind of way, and you don't need
to have the same responsibility as the rest. The Law'll get what it wants
whether you chip in or not. Let it alone. What's the Law ever done for
you that you should run risks for it? It's straight talk, Mr. Kerry. Have
a cancer in the bowels next week or go off to see a dyin' brother, but
don't give evidence at the Logan Trial--don't do it. I got a feeling--I'm
superstitious--all sportsmen are. By following my instincts I've saved
myself a whole lot in my time."

"Yes; all men that run chances have their superstitions, and they're not
to be sneered at," replied Crozier thoughtfully. "If you see black, don't
play white; if you see a chestnut crumpled up, put your money on the bay
even when the chestnut is a favourite. Of course you're superstitious,
Sibley. The tan and the green baize are covered with ghosts that want to
help you, if you'll let them."

Sibley's mouth opened in amazement. Crozier was speaking with the look of
the man who hypnotises himself, who "sees things," who dreams as only the
gambler and the plunger on the turf do dream, not even excepting the
latter-day Irish poets.

"Say, I was right what I said to Deely--I was right," remarked Sibley
almost huskily, for it seemed to him as though he had found a long-lost
brother. No man except one who had staked all he had again and again
could have looked or spoken like that.

Crozier looked at the other thoughtfully for a moment, then he said:

"I don't know what you said to Deely, but I do know that I'm going to the
Logan Trial in spite of the M'Mahon mob. I don't feel about it as you do.
I've got a different feeling, Sibley. I'll play the game out. I shall not
hedge. I shall not play for safety. It's everything on the favourite this
time."

"You'll excuse me, but Gus Burlingame is for the defence, and he's got
his knife into you," returned Sibley.

"Not yet." Crozier smiled sardonically.

"Well, I apologise, but what I've said, Mr. Kerry, is said as man to man.
You're ridin' game in a tough place, as any man has to do who starts with
only his pants and his head on. That's the way you begun here, I guess;
and I don't want to see your horse tumble because some one throws a
fence-rail at its legs. Your class has enemies always in a new country
--jealousy, envy."

The lean, aristocratic, angular Crozier, with a musing look on his long
face, grown ascetic again, as he held out his hand and gripped that of
the other, said warmly: "I'm just as much obliged to you as though I took
your advice, Sibley. I am not taking it, but I am taking a pledge to
return the compliment to you if ever I get the chance."

"Well, most men get chances of that kind," was the gratified reply of the
gambling farmer, and then Crozier turned quickly and entered the doorway
of the British Bank, the rival of that from which he had turned in brave
disappointment a little while before.

Left alone in the street, Sibley looked back with the instinct of the
hunter. As he expected, he saw a head thrust out from the window where
Studd Bradley and his friends had been. There was an hotel opposite the
British Bank. He entered and waited. Bradley and one of his companions
presently came in and seated themselves far back in the shadow, where
they could watch the doorway of the bank.

It was quite a half-hour before Shiel Crozier emerged from the bank. His
face was set and pale. For an instant he stood as though wondering which
way to go, then he moved up the street the way he had come.

Sibley heard a low, poisonous laugh of triumph rankle through the hotel
office. He turned round. Bradley, the over-fed, over-confident,
over-estimated financier, laid a hand on the shoulder of his companion as
they moved towards the door.

"That's another gate shut," he said. "I guess we can close 'em all with a
little care. It's working all right. He's got no chance of raising the
cash," he added, as the two passed the chair where Sibley sat--with his
hat over his eyes, chewing an unlighted cigar.

"I don't know what it is, but it's dirt--and muck at that," John Sibley
remarked as he rose from his chair and followed the two into the street.

Bradley and his friends were trying steadily to close up the avenues of
credit to the man to whom the success of his enterprise meant so much. To
crowd him out would mean an extra hundred and fifty thousand dollars for
themselves.



CHAPTER III

THE LOGAN TRIAL AND WHAT CAME OF IT

What the case was in which Shiel Crozier was to give evidence is not
important; what came from the giving of his testimony is all that
matters; and this story would never have been written if he had not
entered the witness-box.

A court-room at any time seems a little warmer than any other spot to all
except the prisoner; but on a July day it is likely to be a punishment
for both innocent and guilty. A man had been killed by one of the group
of toughs called locally the M'Mahon Gang, and against the charge of
murder that of manslaughter had been set up in defence; and manslaughter
might mean jail for a year or two or no jail at all. Any evidence which
justified the charge of murder would mean not jail, but the rope in due
course; for this was not Montana or Idaho, where the law's delays
outlasted even the memory of the crime committed.

The court-room of Askatoon was crowded to suffocation, for the M'Mahons
were detested, and the murdered man had a good reputation in the
district. Besides, a widow and three children mourned their loss, and the
widow was in court. Also Crozier's evidence was expected to be
sensational, and to prove the swivel on which the fate of the accused man
would hang. Among those on the inside it was also known that the clever
but dissipated Augustus Burlingame, the counsel for the prisoner, had a
grudge against Crozier,--no one quite knew why except Kitty Tynan and her
mother, and that cross-examination would be pressed mercilessly when
Crozier entered the witness-box. As Burlingame came into the court-room
he said to the Young Doctor--he was always spoken of as the Young Doctor
in Askatoon, though he had been there a good many years and he was no
longer as young as he looked--who was also called as a witness, "We'll
know more about Mr. J. G. Kerry when this trial is over than will suit
his book." It did not occur to Augustus Burlingame that in Crozier, who
knew why he had fled the house of the showy but virtuous Mrs. Tynan, he
might find a witness of a mental and moral calibre with baffling
qualities and some gift of riposte.

Crozier entered the witness-box at a stage when excitement was at fever
height; for the M'Mahon Gang had given evidence which every one believed
to be perjured; and the widow of the slain man was weeping bitterly in
her seat because of noxious falsehoods sworn against her honest husband.

There was certainly someting credible and prepossessing in the look of
Crozier. He might be this or that, but he carried no evil or vice of
character in his face. He was in his grave mood this summer afternoon.
There he stood with his long face and the very heavy eyebrows,
clean-shaven, hard-bitten, as though by wind and weather, composed and
forceful, the mole on his chin a kind of challenge to the vertical dimple
in his cheek, his high forehead more benevolent than intellectual, his
brown hair faintly sprinkled with grey and a bit unmanageable, his
fathomless eyes shining. "No man ought to have such eyes," remarked a
woman present to the Young Doctor, who abstractedly nodded assent, for,
like Malachi Deely and John Sibley, he himself had a theory about
Crozier; and he had a fear of what the savage enmity of the morally
diseased Burlingame might do. He had made up his mind that so intense a
scrupulousness as Crozier had shown since coming to Askatoon had behind
it not only character, but the rigidity of a set purpose; and that view
was supported by the stern economy of Crozier's daily life, broken only
by sudden bursts of generosity for those in need.

In the box Crozier kept his eye on the crown attorney, who prosecuted,
and on the judge. He appeared not to see any one in the court-room,
though Kitty Tynan had so placed herself that he must see her if he
looked at the audience at all. Kitty thought him magnificent as he told
his story with a simple parsimony but a careful choice of words which
made every syllable poignant with effect. She liked him in his grave mood
even better than when he was aflame with an internal fire of his own
creation, when he was almost wildly vivid with life.

"He's two men," she had often said to herself; and she said it now as she
looked at him in the witness-box, measuring out his words and measuring
off at the same time the span of a murderer's life; for when the crown
attorney said to the judge that he had concluded his examination there
was no one in the room--not even the graceless Burlingame--who did not
think the prisoner guilty.

"That is all," the crown attorney said to Crozier as he sank into his
chair, greatly pleased with one of the best witnesses who had ever been
through his hands--lucid, concentrated, exact, knowing just where he was
going and reaching his goal without meandering. Crozier was about to step
down when Burlingame rose.

"I wish to ask a few questions," he said.

Crozier bowed and turned, again grasping the rail of the witness-box with
one hand, while with an air of cogitation and suspense he stroked his
chin with the long fingers of the other hand.

"What is your name?" asked Burlingame in a tone a little louder than he
had used hitherto in the trial, indeed even louder than lawyers generally
use when they want to bully a witness. In this case it was as though he
wished to summon the attention of the court.

For a second Crozier's fingers caught his chin almost spasmodically. The
real meaning of the question, what lay behind it, flashed to his mind. He
saw in lightning illumination the course Burlingame meant to pursue. For
a moment his heart seemed to stand still, and he turned slightly pale,
but the blue of his eyes took on a new steely look--a look also of
striking watchfulness, as of an animal conscious of its danger, yet
conscious too of its power when at bay.

"What is your name?" Burlingame asked again in a somewhat louder tone,
and turned to look at the jury, as if bidding them note the hesitation of
the witness; though, indeed, the waiting was so slight that none but a
trickster like Burlingame would have taken advantage of it, and only then
when there was much behind.

For a moment longer Crozier remained silent, getting strength, as it
were, and saying to himself, "What does he know?" and then, with a
composed look of inquiry at the judge, who appeared to take no notice, he
said: "I have already, in evidence, given my name to the court."

"Witness, what is your name?" again almost shouted the lawyer, with a
note of indignation in his voice, as though here was a dangerous fellow
committing a misdemeanour in their very presence. He spread out his hands
to the jury, as though bidding them observe, if they would, this witness
hesitating in answer to a simple, primary question--a witness who had
just sworn a man's life away!

"What is your name?"

"James Gathorne Kerry, as I have already given it to the court," was the
calm reply.

"Where do you live?"

"In Askatoon, as I have already said in evidence; and if it is necessary
to give my domicile, I live at the house of Mrs. Tyndall Tynan, Pearl
Street--as you know so well."

The tone in which he uttered the last few words was such that even the
judge pricked up his ears.

A look of hatred came into the decadent but able lawyer's face.

"Where do you live when you are at home?"

"Mrs. Tynan's house is the only home I have at present."

He was outwitting the pursuer so far, but it only gained him time, as he
knew; and he knew also that no suggestive hint concerning the episode at
Mrs. Tynan's, when Burlingame was asked to leave her house, would be of
any avail now.

"Where were you born?"

"In Ireland."

"What part of Ireland?"

"County Kerry."

"What place--what town or city or village in County Kerry?"

"In neither."

"What house, then--what estate?" Burlingame was more than nettled; and he
sharpened his sword.

"The estate of Castlegarry."

"What was your name in Ireland?"

In the short silence that followed, the quick-drawn breath of many
excited and some agitated people could be heard. Among the latter were
Mrs. Tynan and her daughter and Malachi Deely; among those who held their
breath in suspence were John Sibley, Studd Bradley the financier, and the
Young Doctor. The swish of a skirt seemed ridiculously loud in the hush,
and the scratching of the judge's quill pen was noisily irritating.

"My name in Ireland was James Shiel Gathorne Crozier, commonly called
Shiel Crozier," came the even reply from the witness-box.

"James Shiel Gathorne Crozier in Ireland, but James Gathorne Kerry here!"
Burlingame turned to the jury significantly. "What other name have you
been known by in or out of Ireland?" he added sharply to Crozier. "No
other name so far as I know."

"No other name so far as you know," repeated the lawyer in a sarcastic
tone intended to impress the court.

"Who was your father?"

"John Gathorne Crozier."

"Any title?"

"He was a baronet."

"What was his business?"

"He had no profession, though he had business, of course."

"Ah, he lived by his wits?"

"No, he was not a lawyer! I have said he had no profession. He lived on
his money on his estate."

The judge waved down the laughter at Burlingame's expense.

"In official documents what was his description?" snarled Burlingame.

"'Gentleman' was his designation in official documents."

"You, then, were the son of a gentleman?" There was a hateful suggestion
in the tone.

"I was."

"A legitimate son?"

Nothing in Crozier's face showed what he felt, except his eyes, and they
had a look in them which might well have made his questioner shrink. He
turned calmly to the judge.

"Your honour, does this bear upon the case? Must I answer this legal
libertine?"

At the word libertine, the judge, the whole court, and the audience
started; but it was presently clear the witness meant that the questioner
was abusing his legal privileges, though the people present interpreted
it another way, and quite rightly.

The reply of the judge was in favour of the lawyer. "I do not quite see
the full significance of the line of defence, but I think I must allow
the question," was the judge's gentle and reluctant reply, for he was
greatly impressed by this witness, by his transparent honesty and
straightforwardness.

"Were you a legitimate son of John Gathorne Crozier and his wife?" asked
Burlingame.

"Yes, a legitimate son," answered Crozier in an even voice.

"Is John Gathorne Crozier still living?"

"I said that gentleman was his designation in official documents. I
supposed that would convey the fact that he was not living, but I see you
do not quickly grasp a point."

Burlingame was stung by the laughter in the court and ventured a riposte.

"But is once a gentleman always a gentleman an infallible rule?"

"I suppose not; I did not mean to convey that; but once a rogue always a
bad lawyer holds good in every country," was Crozier's comment in a low,
quiet voice which stirred and amused the audience again.

"I must ask counsel to put questions which have some relevance even to
his own line of defence," remarked the judge sternly. "This is not a
corner grocery."

Burlingame bowed. He had had a facer, but he had also shown the witness
to have been living under an assumed name. That was a good start. He
hoped to add to the discredit. He had absolutely no knowledge of
Crozier's origin and past; but he was in a position to find it out if
Crozier told the truth on oath, and he was sure he would.

"Where was your domicile in the old country?" Burlingame asked.

"In County Kerry--with a flat in London."

"An estate in County Kerry?"

"A house and two thousand acres."

"Is it your property still?"

"It is not."

"You sold it?"

"No."

"If you did not sell, how is it that you do not own it?"

"It was sold for me--in spite of me."

The judge smiled, the people smiled, the jury smiled. Truly, though a
life-history was being exposed with incredible slowness--"like pulling
teeth," as the Young Doctor said--it was being touched off with laughter.

"You were in debt?"

"Quite."

"How did you get into debt?"

"By spending more than my income."

If Askatoon had been proud of its legal talent in the past it had now
reason for revising its opinion. Burlingame was frittering away the
effect of his inquiry by elaboration of details. What he gained by the
main startling fact he lost in the details by which the witness scored.
He asked another main question.

"Why did you leave Ireland?"

"To make money."

"You couldn't do it there?"

"They were too many for me over there, so I thought I'd come here," slyly
answered Crozier, and with a grave face; at which the solemn scene of a
prisoner being tried for his life was shaken by a broad smiling, which in
some cases became laughter haughtily suppressed by the court attendant.

"Have you made money here?"

"A little--with expectations."

"What was your income in Ireland?"

"It began with three thousand pounds--"

"Fifteen thousand dollars about?"

"About that--about a lawyer's fee for one whisper to a client less than
that. It began with that and ended with nothing."

"Then you escaped?"

"From creditors, lawyers, and other such? No, I found you here."

The judge intervened again almost harshly on the laughter of the court,
with the remark that a man was being tried for his life; that ribaldry
was out of place; and that, unless the course pursued by the counsel was
to discredit the reliability of the character of the witness, the
examination was in excess of the privilege of counsel.

"Your honour has rightly apprehended what my purpose is," Burlingame said
deprecatingly. He then turned to Crozier again, and his voice rose as it
did when he began the examination. It was as though he was starting all
over again.

"What was it compelled" (he was boldly venturing) "you to leave Ireland
at last? What was the incident which drove you out from the land where
you were born--from being the owner of two thousand acres"--

"Partly bog," interposed Crozier.

"--From being the owner of two thousand acres to becoming a kind of
head-groom on a ranch? What was the cause of your flight?"

"Flight! I came in one of the steamers of the Company for which your firm
are the agents. Eleven days it took to come from Glasgow to Quebec."

Again the court rippled, again the attendant intervened.

Burlingame was nonplussed this time, but he gathered himself together.

"What was the process of law which forced you to leave your own land?"

"None at all."

"What were your debts when you left?"

"None at all."

"How much was the last debt you paid?"

"Two thousand five hundred pounds."

"What was its nature?"

"It was a debt of honour--do you understand?" The subtle challenge of the
voice, the sarcasm, was not lost. Again there was a struggle on the part
of the audience not to laugh outright, and so be driven from the court as
had been threatened.

The judge interposed again with the remark, not very severe in tone, that
the witness was not in the box to ask questions, but to answer them. At
the same time he must remind counsel that the examination must
discontinue unless something more relevant immediately appeared in the
evidence.

There was silence again for a moment, and even Crozier himself seemed to
steel himself for a question he felt was coming.

"Are you married or single?" asked Burlingame, and he did not need to
raise his voice to summon the interest of the court.

"I was married."

One person in the audience nearly cried out. It was Kitty Tynan. She had
never allowed herself to think of that, but even if she had, what
difference could it make whether he was married or single, since he was
out of her star?

"Are you not married now?"

"I do not know."

"You mean you do not know if you have been divorced?"

"No."

"You mean your wife is dead?"

"No."

"What do you mean? That you do not know whether your wife is living or
dead?"

"Quite so."

"Have you heard from her since you saw her last?"

"I had one letter."

Kitty Tynan thought of the unopened letter in a woman's handwriting in
the green baize desk in her mother's house.

"No more?"

"No more."

"Are we to understand that you do not know whether your wife is living or
dead?"

"I have no information that she is dead."

"Why did you leave her?"

"I have not said that I left her. Primarily I left Ireland."

"Assuming that she is alive, your wife will not live with you?"

"Ah, what information have you to that effect?" The judge informed
Crozier that he must not ask questions of counsel.

"Why is she not with you here?"

"As you said, I am only picking up a living here, and even the passage by
your own second-class steamship line is expensive."

The judge suppressed a smile. He greatly liked the witness.

"Do you deny that you parted from your wife in anger?"

"When I am asked that question I will try to answer it. Meanwhile, I do
not deny what has not been put before me in the usual way."

Here the judge sternly rebuked the counsel, who ventured upon one last
question.

"Have you any children?"

"None."

"Has your brother, who inherited, any children?"

"None that I know of."

"Are you the heir-presumptive to the baronetcy?"

"I am."

"Yet your wife will not live with you?"

"Call Mrs. Crozier as a witness and see. Meanwhile, I am not upon my
trial."

He turned to the judge, who promptly called upon Burlingame to conclude
his examination.

Burlingame asked two questions more.

"Why did you change your name when you came here?"

"I wanted to obliterate myself."

"I put it to you, that what you want is to avoid the outraged law of your
own country."

"No--I want to avoid the outrageous lawyers of yours."

Again there was a pause in the proceedings, and on a protest from the
crown attorney the judge put an end to the cross-examination with the
solemn reminder that a man was being tried for his life, and that the
present proceedings were a lamentable reflection on the levity of human
nature--in Askatoon. Turning with friendly scrutiny to Crozier, he said:

"In the early stage of his examination the witness informed the court
that he had made a heavy loss through a debt of honour immediately before
leaving England. Will he say in what way he incurred the obligation? Are
we to assume that it was through gambling-card-playing, or other games of
chance?"

"Through backing the wrong horse," was Crozier's instant reply.

"That phrase is often applied to mining or other unreal flights for
fortune," said the judge, with a dry smile.

"This was a real horse on a real flight to the winning-post," added
Crozier, with a quirk at the corner of his mouth.

"Honest contest with man or horse is no crime, but it is tragedy to stake
all on the contest and lose," was the judge's grave and pedagogic
comment. "We shall now hear from the counsel for defence his reason for
conducting his cross-examination on such unusual lines. Latitude of this
kind is only permissible if it opens up any weakness in the case against
the prisoner."

The judge thus did Burlingame a good turn as well as Crozier, by creating
an atmosphere of gravity, even of tragedy, in which Burlingame could make
his speech in defence of the prisoner.

Burlingame started hesitatingly, got into his stride, assembled the
points of his defence with the skill of which he really was capable. He
made a strong appeal for acquittal, but if not acquittal, then a verdict
of manslaughter. He showed that the only real evidence which could
convict his man of murder was that of the witness Crozier. If he had been
content to discredit evidence of the witness by an adroit but guarded
misuse of the facts he had brought out regarding Crozier's past, to
emphasise the fact that he was living under an assumed name and that his
bona fides was doubtful, he might have impressed the jury to some slight
degree. He could not, however, control the malice he felt, and he was
smarting from Crozier's retorts. He had a vanity easily lacerated, and he
was now too savage to abate the ferocity of his forensic attack. He sat
down, however, with a sure sense of failure. Every orator knows when he
is beating the air, even when his audience is quiet and apparently
attentive.

The crown attorney was a man of the serenest method and of cold,
unforensic logic. He had a deadly precision of speech, a very remarkable
memory, and a great power of organising and assembling his facts. There
was little left of Burlingame's appeal when he sat down. He declared that
to discredit Crozier's evidence because he chose to use another name than
his own, because he was parted from his wife, because he left England
practically penniless to earn an honest living--no one had shown it was
not--was the last resort of legal desperation. It was an indefensible
thing to endeavour to create prejudice against a man because of his own
evidence given with great frankness. Not one single word of evidence had
the defence brought to discredit Crozier, save by Crozier's own word of
mouth; and if Crozier had cared to commit perjury, the defence could not
have proved him guilty of it. Even if Crozier had not told the truth as
it was, counsel for the defence would have found it impossible to convict
him of falsehood. But even if Crozier was a perjurer, justice demanded
that his evidence should be weighed as truth from its own inherent
probability and supported by surrounding facts. In a long experience he
had never seen animus against a witness so recklessly exhibited as by
counsel in this case.

The judge was not quite so severe in his summing up, but he did say of
Crozier that his direct replies to Burlingame's questions, intended to
prejudice him in the eyes of the community into which he had come a
stranger, bore undoubted evidence of truth; for if he had chosen to say
what might have saved him from the suspicions, ill or well founded, of
his present fellow-citizens, he might have done so with impunity, save
for the reproach of his own conscience. On the whole, the judge summed up
powerfully against the prisoner Logan, with the result that the jury were
not out for more than a half-hour. Their verdict was, guilty of murder.

In the scene which followed, Crozier dropped his head into his hand and
sat immovable as the judge put on the black cap and delivered sentence.
When the prisoner left the dock, and the crowd began to disperse,
satisfied that justice had been done--save in that small circle where the
M'Mahons were supreme--Crozier rose with other witnesses to leave. As he
looked ahead of him the first face he saw was that of Kitty Tynan, and
something in it startled him. Where had he seen that look before? Yes, he
remembered. It was when he was twenty-one and had been sent away to
Algiers because he was falling in love with a farmer's daughter. As he
drove down a lane with his father towards the railway station, those long
years ago, he had seen the girl's face looking at him from the window of
a labourer's cottage at the crossroads; and its stupefied desolation
haunted him for many years, even after the girl had married and gone to
live in Scotland--that place of torment for an Irish soul.

The look in Kitty Tynan's face reminded him of that farmer's lass in his
boyhood's history. He was to blame then--was he to blame now? Certainly
not consciously, not by any intended word or act. Now he met her eyes and
smiled at her, not gaily, not gravely, but with a kind of whimsical
helplessness; for she was the first to remind him that he was leaving the
court-room in a different position (if not a different man) from that in
which he entered it. He had entered the court-room as James Gathorne
Kerry, and he was leaving it as Shiel Crozier; and somehow James Gathorne
Kerry had always been to himself a different man from Shiel Crozier, with
different views, different feelings, if not different characteristics.

He saw faces turned to him, a few with intense curiosity, fewer still
with a little furtiveness, some with amusement, and many with
unmistakable approval; for one thing was clear, if his own evidence was
correct: he was the son of a baronet, he was heir-presumptive to a
baronetcy, and he had scored off Augustus Burlingame in a way which
delighted a naturally humorous people. He noted, however, that the nod
which Studd Bradley, the financier, gave him had in it an enigmatic
something which puzzled him. Surely Bradley could not be prejudiced
against him because of the evidence he had given. There was nothing
criminal in living under an assumed name, which, anyhow, was his own name
in three-fourths of it, and in the other part was the name of the county
where he was born.

"Divils me own, I told you he was up among the dukes," said Malachi Deely
to John Sibley as they came out. "And he's from me own county, and I know
the name well enough; an' a damn good name it is. The bulls of
Castlegarry was famous in the south of Ireland."

"I've a warm spot for him. I was right, you see. Backing horses ruined
him," said Sibley in reply; and he looked at Crozier admiringly.

There is the communion of saints, but nearer and dearer is the communion
of sinners; for a common danger is their bond, and that is even more than
a common hope.



CHAPTER IV

"STRENGTH SHALL BE GIVEN THEE"

On the evening of the day of the trial, Mrs. Tynan, having fixed the new
blind to the window of Shiel Crozier's room, which was on the
ground-floor front, was lowering and raising it to see if it worked
properly, when out in the moonlit street she saw a wagon approaching her
house surrounded and followed by obviously excited men. Once before she
had seen just such a group nearing her door. That was when her husband
was brought home to die in her arms. She had a sudden conviction, as,
holding the blind in her hand, she looked out into the night, that again
tragedy was to cross her threshold. Standing for an instant under the
fascination of terror, she recovered herself with a shiver, and, stepping
down from the chair where she had been fixing the blind, with the
instinct of real woman, she ran to the bed of the room where she was, and
made it ready. Why did she feel that it was Shiel Crozier's bed which
should be made ready? Or did she not feel it? Was it only a dazed,
automatic act, not connected with the person who was to lie in the bed?
Was she then a fatalist? Were trouble and sorrow so much her portion that
to her mind this tragedy, whatever it was, must touch the man nearest to
her--and certainly Shiel Crozier was far nearer than Jesse Bulrush. Quite
apart from wealth or position, personality plays a part more powerful
than all else in the eyes of every woman who has a soul which has
substance enough to exist at all. Such men as Crozier have compensations
for "whate'er they lack." It never occurred to Mrs. Tynan to go to Jesse
Bulrush's room or the room of middle-aged, comely Nurse Egan. She did the
instinctive thing, as did the woman who sent a man a rope as a gift, on
the ground that the fortune in his hand said that he was born not to be
drowned.

Mrs. Tynan's instinct was right. By the time she had put the bed into
shape, got a bowl of water ready, lighted a lamp, and drawn the bed out
from the wall, there was a knocking at the door. In a moment she had
opened it, and was faced by John Sibley, whose hat was off as though he
were in the presence of death. This gave her a shock, and her eyes strove
painfully to see the figure which was being borne feet foremost over her
threshold.

"It's Mr. Crozier?" she asked.

"He was shot coming home here--by the M'Mahon mob, I guess," returned
Sibley huskily.

"Is--is he dead?" she asked tremblingly. "No. Hurt bad."

"The kindest man--it'd break Kitty's heart--and mine," she added hastily,
for she might be misunderstood; and John Sibley had shown signs of
interest in her daughter.

"Where's the Young Doctor?" she asked, catching sight of Crozier's face
as they laid him on the bed. "He's done the first aid, and he's off
getting what's needed for the operation. He'll be here in a minute or
so," said a banker who, a few days before, had refused Crozier credit.

"Gently, gently--don't do it that way," said Mrs. Tynan in sharp reproof
as they began to take off Crozier's clothes.

"Are you going to stay while we do it?" asked a maker of mineral waters,
who whined at the prayer meetings of a soul saved and roared at his
employees like a soul damned.

"Oh, don't be a fool!" was the impatient reply. "I've a grown-up girl and
I've had a husband. Don't pull at his vest like that. Go away. You don't
know how. I've had experience--my husband . . . There, wait till I cut it
away with the scissors. Cover him with the quilt. Now, then, catch hold
of his trousers under the quilt, and draw them off slowly. . . . There
you are--and nothing to shock the modesty of a grown-up woman or any
other when a life's at stake. What does the Young Doctor say?"

"Hush! He's coming to," interposed the banker. It was as though the quiet
that followed the removal of his clothes and the touch of Mrs. Tynan's
hand on his head had called Crozier back from unconsciousness.

The first face he saw was that of the banker. In spite of the loss of
blood and his pitiable condition, a whimsical expression came to his
eyes. "Lucky for you you didn't lend me the money," he said feebly.

The banker shook his head. "I'm not thinking of that, Mr. Crozier. God
knows, I'm not!"

Crozier caught sight of Mrs. Tynan. "It's hard on you to have me brought
here," he murmured as she took his hand.

"Not so hard as if they hadn't," she replied. "That's what a home's for
--not just a place for eating and drinking and sleeping."

"It wasn't part of the bargain," he said weakly.

"It was my part of the bargain."

"Here's Kitty," said the maker of mineral waters, as there was the swish
of a skirt at the door.

"Who are you calling 'Kitty'?" asked the girl indignantly, as they
motioned her back from the bedside. "There's too many people here," she
added abruptly to her mother. "We can take care of him"--she nodded
towards the bed. "We don't want any help except--except from John Sibley,
if he will stay, and you too," she added to the banker.

She had not yet looked at the figure on the bed. She felt she could not
do so while all these people were in the room. She needed time to adjust
herself to the situation. It was as though she was the authority in the
household and took control even of her mother. Mrs. Tynan understood. She
had a great belief in her daughter and admired her cleverness, and she
was always ready to be ruled by her; it was like being "bossed" by the
man she had lost.

"Yes, you'd all better go," Mrs. Tynan said. "He wants all the air he can
get, and I can't make things ready with all of you in the room. Go
outdoors for a while, anyway. It's summer and you'll not take cold! The
Young Doctor has work to do, and my girl and I and these two will help
him plenty." She motioned towards the banker and the gambling farmer.

In a moment the room was cleared of all save the four and Crozier, who
knew that upon the coming operation depended his life. He had been
conscious when the Young Doctor said this was so, and he was thinking, as
he lay there watching these two women out of his nearly closed eyes, that
he would like to be back in Ireland at Castlegarry with the girl he had
married and had left without a good-bye near five years gone. If he had
to die he would like to die at home; and that could not be.

Kitty had the courage to turn towards him now. As she caught sight of his
face for the first time--she had so far kept her head turned away--she
became very pale. Then, suddenly, she gathered herself together. Going
over to the bed, she took the limp hand lying on the coverlet.

"Courage, soldier," she said in the colloquialism her father often used,
and she smiled at Crozier a great-hearted, helpful smile.

"You are a brick of bricks, Kitty Tynan," he whispered, and smiled.

"Here comes the Young Doctor," said Mrs. Tynan as the door opened
unceremoniously.

"Well, I have to make an excursion," Crozier said, "and I mayn't come
back. If I don't, au revoir, Kitty."

"You are coming back all right," she answered firmly. "It'll take more
than a horse-thief's bullet to kill you. You've got to come back. You're
as tough as nails. And I'll hold your hand all through it--yes, I will!"
she added to the Young Doctor, who had patted her shoulder and told her
to go to another room.

"I'm going to help you, doctor-man, if you please," she said, as he
turned to the box of instruments which his assistant held.

"There's another--one of my colleagues--coming I hope," the Young Doctor
replied.

"That's all right, but I am staying to see Mr. Crozier through. I said
I'd hold his hand, and I'm going to do it," she added firmly.

"Very well; put on a big apron, and see that you go through with us if
you start. No nonsense."

"There'll be no nonsense from me," she answered quietly.

"I want the bed in the middle of the room," the Young Doctor said, and
the others gently moved it.



CHAPTER V

A STORY TO BE TOLD

A great surgeon said a few years ago that he was never nervous when
performing an operation, though there was sometimes a moment when every
resource of character, skill, and brain came into play. That was when,
having diagnosed correctly and operated, a new and unexpected seat of
trouble and peril was exposed, and instant action had to be taken. The
great man naturally rose to the situation and dealt with it coolly; but
he paid the price afterwards in his sleep when, night after night, he
performed the operation over and over again with the same strain on his
subconscious self.

So it was with Kitty Tynan in her small way. She had insisted on being
allowed to help at the operation, and the Young Doctor, who had a good
knowledge of life and knew the stuff in her, consented; and so far as the
operation was concerned she justified his faith in her. When the banker
had to leave the room at the sight of the carnage, she remained, and she
and John Sibley were as cool as the Young Doctor and his
fellow-anatomist, till it was all over, and Shiel Crozier was started
again on a safe journey back to health. Then a thing, which would have
been amusing if it had not been so deeply human, happened. She and John
Sibley went out of the house together into the moonlit night, and the
reaction seized them both at the same moment. She gave a gulp and burst
into tears, and he, though as tall as Crozier, also broke down, and they
sat on the stump of a tree together, her hand in his, and cried like two
children.

"Never since I was a little runt--did I--never cried in thirty years--
and here I am-leaking like a pail!" Thus spoke John Sibley in gasps and
squeezing Kitty's hand all the time unconsciously, but spontaneously, and
as part of what he felt. He would not, however, have dared to hold her
hand on any other occasion, while always wanting to hold it, and wanting
her also to share his not wholly reputed, though far from precarious,
existence. He had never got so far as to tell her that; but if she had
understanding she would realise after to-night what he had in his mind.
She, feeling her arm thrill with the magnetism of his very vital palm,
had her turn at explanation. "I wouldn't have broke down myself--it was
all your fault," she said. "I saw it--yes--in your face as we left the
house. I'm so glad it's over safe--no one belonging to him here, and not
knowing if he'd wake up alive or not--I just was swamped."

He took up the misty excuse and explanation. "I had a feeling for him
from the start; and then that Logan Trial to-day, and the way he talked
out straight, and told the truth to shame the devil--it's what does a man
good! And going bung over a horserace--that's what got me too, where I
was young and tender. Swatted that Burlingame every time--one eye, two
eyes all black, teeth out, nose flattened--called him an 'outrageous
lawyer'--my, that last clip was a good one! You bet he's a sport--
Crozier."

Kitty nodded eagerly while still wiping her red eyes. "He made the judge
smile--I saw it, not ten minutes before his honour put on the black cap.
You couldn't have believed it, if you hadn't seen it--

"Here, let go my hand," she added, suddenly conscious of the enormity
John Sibley was committing by squeezing it now.

It is perfectly true that she did not quite realise that he had taken her
hand--that he had taken her hand. She was conscious in a nice,
sympathetic way that her hand had been taken, but it was lost in the
abstraction of her emotion.

"Oh, here, let it go quick!" she added--"and not because mother's coming,
either," she added as the door opened and her mother came out--not to
spy, not to reproach her daughter for sitting with a man in the moonlight
at ten o'clock at night, but--good, practical soul--to bring them each a
cup of beef-tea.

"Here, you two," she said as she hurried to them. "You need something
after that business in there, and there isn't time to get supper ready.
It's as good for you as supper, anyway. I don't believe in underfeeding.
Nothing's too good to swallow."

She watched them sip the tea slowly like two schoolchildren.

"And when you've drunk it you must go right to bed, Kitty," she added
presently. "You've had your own way, and you saw the thing through; but
there's always a reaction, and you'll pay for it. It wasn't fit work for
a girl of your age; but I'm proud of your nerve, and I'm glad you showed
the Young Doctor what you can do. You've got your father's brains and my
grit," she added with a sigh of satisfaction. "Come along--bed now,
Kitty. If you get too tired you'll have bad dreams."

Perhaps she was too tired. In any case she had dreams. Just as the great
surgeon performed his operation over and over in his sleep, so Kitty
Tynan, through long hours that night, and for many nights afterwards, saw
the swift knives, helped to staunch the blood, held the basin,
disinfected the instruments which had made an attack on the man of men in
her eyes, and saw the wound stitched up--the last act of the business
before the Young Doctor turned to her and said, "You'll do wherever
you're put in life, Miss Kitty Tynan. You're a great girl. And now get
some fresh air and forget all about it."

Forget all about it! So, the Young Doctor knew what happened after a
terrific experience like that! In truth, he knew only too well. Great
surgeons do surgery only and have innumerable operations to give them
skill; but a country physician and surgeon must be a sane being to keep
his nerve when called on to use the knife, and he must have a more than
usual gift for such business. That is what the Young Doctor had; but he
knew it was not easy to forget those scenes in which man carved the body
of fellow-man, laying bare the very vitals of existence, seeing "the
wheels go round."

It haunted Kitty Tynan in the night-time, and perhaps it was that which
toned down a little the colour of her face--the kind of difference of
colouring there is between natural gold and 14-carat. But in the daytime
she was quite happy, and though there was haunting, it was Shiel Crozier
who, first helpless, then convalescent, was haunted by her presence. It
gave him pleasure, but it was a pleasure which brought pain. He was not
so blind that he had not caught at her romance, in which he was the
central figure--a romance which had not vanished since the day he
declared in the court-room that he was married, or had been married.
Kitty's eyes told their own story, and it made him uneasy and remorseful.
Yet he could not remember when, even for an instant, he had played with
her. She had always seemed part of a simple family life for which he and
Jesse Bulrush and her mother and the nurse-Nurse Egan-were responsible.
What a blessing Nurse Egan had been! Otherwise, all the nursing would
have been performed by Kitty and her mother, and it might well have
broken them down, for they were determined to nurse him themselves.

When, however, Nurse Egan came back, two days after the operation was
performed, they included her in the responsibility, as one of the family;
and as she had no other important case on at the time, fortunately she
could give Crozier almost undivided attention. She had been at first
disposed to keep Kitty out of the sick-chamber, as no place for a girl,
but she soon abandoned that position, for Kitty was not the girl ever to
think of impropriety. She was primitive and she had rather a
before-the-flood nature, but she had not the faintest vulgar strain in
her. Her mind was essentially pure; nothing material in her had been
awakened. Her greatest joy was to do the many things for the patient
which a nurse must do--prepare his food, give him drink, adjust his
pillows, bathe his face and hands, take his temperature; and on his part
he tried hard to disguise from her the apprehension he felt, and to avoid
any hint by word or look that he saw anything save the actions of a kind
heart. True, her views as to what was proper and improper might possibly
be on a different plane from his own. For instance, he had seen girls of
her station in the West kiss young men freely--men whom they had no
thought of marrying; and that was not the custom of his own class in his
home-country.

As he got well slowly, and life opened out before him again, he felt he
had to pursue a new course, and in that course he must take account of
Kitty Tynan, though he could not decide how. He had a deep confidence in
the Young Doctor, in his judgment and his character; and it was almost
inevitable that he should tell his life-story to the man whose skill had
saved him from death in a strange land, with all undone he wanted to do
ere he returned to a land which was not strange.

The thing happened, as such things do happen, in a quite natural way one
day when he and the Young Doctor were discussing the probable verdict
against the man who had shot him--the trial was to come on soon, and once
again Augustus Burlingame was to be counsel for the defence, and once
again Crozier would have to appear in a witness-box.

"I think you ought to know, Crozier, that, in view of the trial,
Burlingame has written to a firm of lawyers in Kerry to get full
information about your past," the Young Doctor said.

Crozier gave one of those little jerks of the head characteristic of him
and said: "Why, of course; I knew he would do that after I gave my
evidence in the Logan Trial." He raised himself on his elbow. "I owe you
a great deal," he added feelingly, "and I can't repay you in cash or
kindness for what you have done; but it is due you to tell you my whole
story, and that is what I propose to do now."

"If you think--"

"I do think; and also I want both Mrs. Tynan and her daughter to hear my
story. Better, truer friends a man could not have; and I want them to
know the worst and the best there is, if there is any best. They and you
have trusted me, been too good to me, and what I said at the trial is not
enough. I want to do what I've never done before. I want to tell
everything. It will do me good; and perhaps as I tell it I'll see myself
and everything else in a truer light than I've yet seen it all."

"You are sure you want Mrs. Tynan and her daughter to hear?"

"Absolutely sure."

"They are not in your rank in life, you know."

"They are my friends, and I owe them more than I can say. There is
nothing they cannot or should not hear. I can say that at least."

"Shall I ask them to come?"

"Yes. Give me a swig of water first. It won't be easy, but--"

He held out his hand, and the Young Doctor grasped it.

Suddenly the latter said: "You are sure you will not be sorry? That it is
not a mood of the moment due to physical weakness?"

"Quite sure. I determined on it the day I was shot--and before I was
shot."

"All right." The Young Doctor disappeared.

     ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

     Anny man as is a man has to have one vice
     Her moral standard had not a multitude of delicate punctilios
     Law's delays outlasted even the memory of the crime committed
     She looked too gay to be good
     They had seen the world through the bottom of a tumbler



YOU NEVER KNOW YOUR LUCK

[BEING THE STORY OF A MATRIMONIAL DESERTER]

By Gilbert Parker

Volume 2.

     VI.    "HERE ENDETH THE FIRST LESSON"
     VII.   A WOMAN'S WAY TO KNOWLEDGE
     VIII.  ALL ABOUT AN UNOPENED LETTER
     IX.    NIGHT SHADE AND MORNING GLORY
     X.     "S. O. S."
     XI.    IN THE CAMP OF THE DESERTER



CHAPTER VI

"HERE ENDETH THE FIRST LESSON"

The stillness of a summer's day in Prairie Land has all the
characteristics of music. That is not so paradoxical as it seems. The
effect of some music is to produce a divine quiescence of the senses, a
suspension of motion and aggressive life; to reduce existence to mere
pulsation. It was this kind of feeling which pervaded that region of
sentient being when Shiel Crozier told his story. The sounds that
sprinkled the general stillness were in themselves sleepy notes of the
pervasive music of somnolent nature--the sough of the pine at the door,
the murmur of insect life, the low, thudding beat of the steam-thresher
out of sight hard by, the purring of the cat in the arms of Kitty Tynan
as, with fascinated eyes, she listened to a man tell the tale of a life
as distant from that which she lived as she was from Eve.

She felt more awed than curious as the tale went on; it even seemed to
her she was listening to a theme beyond her sphere, like some shameless
eavesdropper at the curtains of a secret ceremonial. Once or twice she
looked at her mother and at the Young Doctor, as though to reassure
herself that she was not a vulgar intruder. It was far more impressive to
her, and to the Young Doctor too, than the scene at the Logan Trial when
a man was sentenced to death. It was strangely magnetic, this tale of a
man's existence; and the clock which sounded so loud on the mantelpiece,
as it mechanically ticked off the time, seemed only part of some
mysterious machinery of life. Once a dove swept down upon the
window-sill, and, peering in, filled one of the pauses in the recital
with its deep contralto note, and then fled like a small blue cloud into
the wide and--as it seemed--everlasting peace beyond the doorway.

There was nothing at all between themselves and the far sky-line save
little clumps of trees here and there, little clusters of buildings and
houses--no visible animal life. Everything conspired to give a dignity in
keeping with the drama of failure being unfolded in the commonplace home
of the widow Tynan. Yet the home too had its dignity. The engineer father
had had tastes, and he had insisted on plain, unfigured curtains and
wallpaper and carpets, when carpets were used; and though his wife had at
first protested against the unfigured carpets as more difficult to keep
clean and as showing the dirt too easily, she had come to like the
one-colour scheme, and in that respect her home had an individuality rare
in her surroundings.

That was why Kitty Tynan had always a good background; for what her
bright colouring would have been in the midst of gaudy, cheap chintzes
and "Axminsters," such as abounded in Askatoon, is better left to the
imagination. It was not, therefore, in sordid, mean, or incongruous
surroundings that Crozier told his tale; as would no doubt have been
arranged by a dramatist, if he had had the making and the setting of the
story; and if it were not a true tale told just as it happened.

Perhaps the tale was the more impressive because of Crozier's deep
baritone voice, capable, as it was, of much modulation, yet, except when.
he was excited, having a slight monotone like the note of a violin with
the mute upon the strings.

This was his tale:

"Well, to begin with, I was born at Castlegarry, in Kerry--you know the
main facts from what I said in court. As a boy I wasn't so bad a sort. I
had one peculiarity. I always wanted 'to have something on,' as John
Sibley would say. No matter what it was, I must have something on it. And
I was very lucky--worse luck!"

They all laughed at the bull. "I feel at home at once," murmured the
Young Doctor, for he had come from near Enniskillen years agone, and
there is not so much difference between Enniskillen and Kerry when it
comes to Irish bulls.

"Worse luck, it was," continued Crozier, "because it made me confident of
always winning. It's hard to say how early I began to believe I could see
things that were going to happen. By the hour I used to shake the dice on
the billiard-table at Castlegarry, trying to see with my eyes shut the
numbers about to come up. Of course now and then I saw the right numbers;
and it deepened the conviction that if I cultivated the gift I'd be able
to be right nearly every time. When I went to a horse-race I used to
fasten my mind on the signal, and tried to see beforehand the number of
the winner. Again sometimes I was very right indeed, and that deepened my
confidence in myself. I was always at it. I'd try and guess--try and
see--the number of the hymn which was on the paper in the vicar's hand
before he gave it out, and I would bet with myself on it. I would bet
with myself or with anybody available on any conceivable thing--the
minutes late a train would be; the pints of milk a cow would give; the
people who would be at a hunt breakfast; the babies that would be
christened on a Sunday; the number of eyes in a peck of raw potatoes. I
was out against the universe. But it wasn't serious at all--just a boy's
mania--till one day my father met me in London when I came down from
Oxford, and took me to Thwaite's Club in St. James's Street. There was
the thing that finished me. I was twenty-one, and restless-minded, and
with eyes wide open.

"Well, he took me to Thwaite's where I was to become a member, and after
a little while he left me to go and have a long pow-wow with the
committee--he was a member of it. He told me to make myself at home, and
I did so as soon as his back was turned. Almost the first thing with
which I became sociable was a book which, at my first sight of it, had a
fascination for me. The binding was very old, and the leather was worn,
as you will see the leather of a pocketbook, till it looks and feels like
a nice soap. That book brought me here."

He paused, and in the silence the Young Doctor pushed a glass of milk and
brandy towards him. He sipped the contents. The others were in a state of
tension. Kitty Tynan's eyes were fixed on him as though hypnotised, and
the Young Doctor was scarcely less interested; while the widow knitted
harder and faster than she had ever done, and she could knit very fast
indeed.

"It was the betting-book of Thwaite's, and it dated back almost to the
time of the conquest of Quebec. Great men dead and gone long ago--near a
hundred and fifty years ago-had put down their bets in the book, for
Thwaite's was then what it is now, the highest and best sporting club in
the world."

Kitty Tynan's face had a curious look, for there was a club in Askatoon,
and it was said that all the "sports" assembled there. She had no idea
what Thwaite's Club in St. James's Street would look like; but that did
not matter. She supposed it must be as big as the Askatoon Court House at
least.

"Bets--bets--bets by men whose names were in every history, and the names
of their sons and grandsons and great-grandsons; and all betting on the
oddest things as well as the most natural things in the world. Some of
the bets made were as mad as the bets I made myself. Oh! ridiculous, some
of them were; and then again bets on things that stirred the world to the
centre, from the loss of America to the beheading of Louis XVI.

"It was strange enough to see the half-dozen lines of a bet by a marquis
whose great-grandson bet on the Franco-German War; that the Government
which imposed the tea-tax in America would be out of power within six
months; or that the French Canadians would join the colonists in what is
now the United States if they revolted. This would be cheek-by-jowl with
a bet that an heir would be born to one new-married pair before another
pair. The very last bet made on the day I opened the book was that Queen
Victoria would make Lord Salisbury a duke, that a certain gentleman known
as S. S. could find his own door in St. James's Square, blindfold, from
the club, and that Corsair would win the Derby.

"For two long hours I sat forgetful of everything around me, while I read
that record--to me the most interesting the world could show. Every line
was part of the history of the country, a part of the history of many
lives, and it was all part of the ritual of the temple of the great god
Chance. I was fascinated, lost in a land of wonders. Men came and went,
but silently. At last there entered a gentleman whose picture I had so
often seen in the papers--a man as well known in the sporting world as
was Chamberlain in the political world. He was dressed spectacularly, but
his face oozed good-nature, though his eyes were like bright bits of
coal. He bred horses, he raced this, he backed that, he laid against the
other; he was one of the greatest plungers, one of the biggest figures on
the turf. He had been a kind of god to me--a god in a grey frock-coat,
with a grey top-hat and field-glasses slung over his shoulder; or in a
hunting-suit of the most picturesque kind--great pockets in a
well-fitting coat, splendid striped waistcoat. Well, there, I only
mention this because it played so big a part in bringing me to Askatoon.

"He came up to the table where I sat in the room with the beautiful
Adam's fireplace and the ceiling like an architrave of Valhalla, and
said, 'Do you mind--for one minute?' and he reached out a hand for the
book.

"I made way for him, and I suppose admiration showed in my eyes, because
as he hastily wrote--what a generous scrawl it was!--he said to me,
'Haven't we met somewhere before? I seem to remember your face.

"Great gentleman, I thought, because it was certain he knew he had never
seen me before, and I was overcome by the reflection that he wished to be
civil in that way to me. 'It's my father's face you remember, I should
think,' I answered. 'He is a member here. I am only a visitor. I haven't
been elected yet.' 'Ah, we must see to that!' he said with a smile, and
laid a hand on my shoulder as though he'd known me many a year--and I
only twenty-one. 'Who is your father?' he asked. When I told him he
nodded. 'Yes, yes, I know him--Crozier of Castlegarry; but I knew his
father far better, though he was so much older than me, and indeed your
grandfather also. Look--in this book is the first bet I ever made here
after my election to the club, and it was made with your grandfather.
There's no age in the kingdom of sport, dear lad,' he added,
laughing--'neither age nor sex nor position nor place. It's the one
democratic thing in the modern world. It's a republic inside this old
monarchy of ours. Look, here it is, my first bet with your
grandfather--and I'm only sixty now!' He smoothed the page with his hand
in a manner such as I have seen a dean do with his sermon-paper in a
cathedral puplit. 'Here it is, thirty-six years ago.' He read the bet
aloud. It was on the Derby, he himself having bet that the Prince of
Wale's horse would win. 'Your grandfather, dear lad,' he repeated, 'but
you'll find no bets of mine with your father. He didn't inherit that
strain, but your grandfather and your great-grandfather had it--sportsmen
both, afraid of nothing, with big minds, great eyes for seeing, and a
sense for a winner almost uncanny. Have you got it by any chance? Yes,
yes, by George and by John, I see you have; you are your grandfather to a
hair! His portrait is here in the club--in the next room. Have a look at
it. He was only forty when it was done, and you're very like him; the cut
of the jib is there.' He took my hand. 'Good-bye, dear lad,' he said;
'we'll meet-yes, we'll meet often enough if you are like your
grandfather. And I'll always like to see you,' he added generously.

"'I always wanted to meet you,' I answered. 'I've cut your pictures out
of the papers to keep them--at Eton and Oxford.' He laughed in great
good-humour and pride. 'So so, so so, and I am a hero then, with one
follower! Well, well, dear lad, I don't often go wrong, or anyhow I'm
oftener right than wrong, and you might do worse than follow me--but no,
I don't want that responsibility. Go on your own--go on your own.'

"A minute more and he was gone with a wave of the hand, and in excitement
I picked up the betting-book. It almost took my breath away. He had
staked a thousand pounds that the favourite of the Derby would not win
the race, and that one of three outsiders would. As I sat overpowered by
the magnitude of the bet the door opened, and he appeared with another
man, not one with whose face I was then familiar, though as a duke and
owner of great possessions, he was familiar to society. 'I've put it
down,' he said. 'Sign it, if it's all in order.' This the duke did, after
apologizing for disturbing me. He looked at me keenly as he turned away.
'Not the most elevating literature in the library,' he said, smiling
ironically. 'If you haven't got a taste for it beyond control, don't
cultivate it.' He nodded kindly, and left; and again, till my father came
and found me, I buried myself in that book of fate--to me. I found many
entries in my grandfather's name, but not one in my father's name. I have
an idea that when a vice or virtue skips one generation, it appears with
increased violence or persistence in the next, for, passing over my
father into my defenceless breast, the spirit of sport went mad in me--or
almost so. No miser ever had a more cheerful and happy hour than I had as
I read the betting-book at Thwaites'.

"I became a member of Thwaite's soon after I left Oxford. As some men go
to the Temple, some to the Stock Exchange, some to Parliament, I went to
Thwaite's. It was the centre of my interest, and I took chambers in Park
Place, St. James's Street, a few steps away. Here I met again constantly
the great sportsman who had noticed me so kindly, and I became his
follower, his disciple. I had started with him on a wave of prejudice in
his favour; because that day when I read in the betting-book what he had
staked against the favourite, I laid all the cash and credit I could get
with his outsiders and against the favourite, and I won five hundred
pounds. What he won--to my youthful eyes-was fabulous. There's no use
saying what you think--you kind friends, who've always done something in
life--that I was a good-for-nothing creature to give myself up to the
turf, to horses and jockeys, and the janissaries of sport. You must
remember that for generations my family had run on a very narrow margin
of succession, there seldom, if ever, being more than two born in any
generation of the family, so that there was always enough for the younger
son or daughter; and to take up a profession was not necessary for
livelihood. If my mother, who was an intellectual and able woman, had
lived, it's hard to tell what I should have become; for steered aright,
given true ideas of what life should mean to a man, I might have become
ambitious and forged ahead in one direction or another. But there it was,
she died when I was ten, and there was no one to mould me. At Eton, at
Oxford-well, they are not preparatory schools to the business of life.
And when at twenty-four I inherited the fortune my mother left me, I had
only one idea: to live the life of a sporting gentleman. I had a name as
a cricketer--"

"Ah--I remember, Crozier of Lammis!" interjected the Young Doctor
involuntarily. "I'm a north of Ireland man, but I remember--"

"Yes, Lammis," the sick man went on. "Castlegarry was my father's place,
but my mother left me Lammis. When I got control of it, and of the
securities she left, I felt my oats, as they say; and I wasn't long in
making a show of courage, not to say rashness, in following my leader. He
gave me luck for a time, indeed so great that I could even breed horses
of my own. But the luck went against him at last, and then, of course,
against me; and I began to feel that suction which, as it draws the cash
out of your pocket, the credit out of your bank, seems to draw also the
whole internal economy out of your body--a ghastly, empty, collapsing
thing."

Mrs. Tynan gave a great sigh. She had once put two hundred dollars in a
mine--on paper--and it ended in a lawsuit; and on the verdict in the
lawsuit depended the two hundred dollars and more. When she read a fatal
telegram to her saying that all was lost, she had had that empty,
collapsing feeling.

Pausing for a moment, in which he sipped some milk, Crozier then
continued: "At last my leader died, and the see-saw of fortune began for
me; and a good deal of my sound timber was sawed into logs and made into
lumber to build some one else's fortune. When things were balancing
pretty easily, I married. It wasn't a sordid business to restore my
fortunes--I'll say that for myself; but it wasn't the thing to do, for I
wasn't secure in my position. I might go on the rocks; but was there ever
a gambler who didn't believe that he'd pull it off in a big way next
time, and that the turn of the wheel against him was only to tame his
spirit? Was there ever a gambler or sportsman of my class who didn't talk
about the 'law of chances,' on the basis that if red, as it were, came up
three times, black stood a fair chance of coming up the fourth time? A
silly enough conclusion; for on the law of chances there's no reason why
red shouldn't come up three hundred times; and so I found that your run
of bad luck may be so long that you cannot have a chance to recover, and
are out of it before the wheel turns in your favour. I oughn't to have
married."

His voice had changed in tone, his look become most grave, there was
something very like reverence in his face, and deprecating submission in
his eyes. His fingers fussed with the rug that covered his knees.

"God help the man that's afraid of his own wife!" remarked the Young
Doctor to himself, not erroneously reading the expression of Crozier's
face and the tone of his voice. "There's nothing so unnerving."

"No, I oughtn't to have done it," Crozier went on. "But I will say again
it wasn't a sordid marriage, though she had great expectations, but not
immediate; and she was a girl of great character. She was able and
brilliant and splendid and far-seeing, and she knew her own mind, and was
radiantly handsome."

Kitty Tynan almost sniffed. Through a whole fortnight she had, with a
courage and a right-mindedness quite remarkable, fought her infatuation
for this man, and as she fought she had imagined a hundred times what his
wife was like. She had pictured to herself a gossamer kind of woman,
delicate, and in contour like one of the fashion-plate figures she saw in
the picture-papers. She had imagined her with a wide, drooping hat, with
a soft, clinging gown, and a bodice like a great white handkerchief
crossed on her breast, holding a basket of flowers, while a King Charles
spaniel gambolled at her feet.

This was what she had imagined with a kind of awe; but the few words
Crozier had said of her gave the impression of a Juno, commanding,
exacting, bullying, sailing on with this man of men in her wake, who was
afraid of stepping on her train. Was it strange she should think that?
She was only a simple prairie girl who drew her own comparisons according
to her kind and from what she knew of life. So she imagined Crozier's
wife to have been a sort of Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, who swept up the
dust of the universe with her skirts, and gave no chance at all to the
children of nature like Kitty, who wore skirts scarcely lower than their
ankles. She almost sniffed, and she became angry, too, that a man like
Crozier, who had faced the offensive Augustus Burlingame in the
witness-box as he did; who took the bullet of the assassin with such
courage; who broke a horse like a Mexican; who could ride like a leech on
a filly's flank, should crumple up at the thought of a woman who, anyhow,
couldn't be taller than Crozier himself was, and hadn't a hand like a
piece of steel and the skin of an antelope. It was enough to make a cat
laugh, or a woman cry with rage.

"Able and brilliant and splendid and far-seeing, and radiantly handsome!"
There the picture was of a high, haughty, and overbearing woman, in
velvet, or brocade, or poplin-yes, something stiff and overbearing, like
grey poplin. Kitty looked at herself suddenly in the mirror-the
half-length mirror on the opposite wall--and she felt her hands clench
and her bosom beat hard under her pretty and inexpensive calico frock, a
thing for Chloe, not for Juno.

She was very angry with Crozier, for it was absurd, that look of
deprecating homage, that "Hush-she-is-coming" in his eyes. What a fool a
man was where a woman was concerned! Here she had been fighting herself
for a fortnight to conquer a useless passion for her man of all the
world, fit to command an array of giants; and she saw him now almost
breathless as he spoke of a great wild-cat of a woman who ought to be by
his side now. What sort of a woman was she anyhow, who could let him go
into exile as he had done and live apart from her all these years, while
he "slogged away"--that was the Western phrase which came to her mind--to
pull himself level with things again? Her feet shuffled unevenly on the
floor, and it would have been a joy to shake the in valid there with the
rapt look in his face. Unable to bear the situation without some
demonstration, she got to her feet and caught up the glass of brandy and
milk with a little exclamation.

"Here," she said, holding the glass to his lips, "here, courage, soldier.
You don't need to be afraid at a six-thousand-mile range."

The Young Doctor started, for she had said what was in his own mind, but
what he would not have said for a thousand dollars. It was fortunate that
Crozier was scarcely conscious of what she was saying. His mind was far
away. Yet, when she took the glass from him again, he touched her arm.

"Nothing is good enough for your friends, is it?" he said gratefully.

"That wouldn't be an excuse for not getting them the best there was at
hand," she answered with a little laugh, and at least the Young Doctor
read the meaning of her words.

Presently Crozier, with a sigh, continued: "If I had done what my wife
wanted from the start, I shouldn't have been here. I'd have saved what
was left of a fortune, and I'd have had a home of my own."

"Is she earning her living too?" asked Kitty softly, and Crozier did not
notice the irony under the question.

"She has a home of her own," answered Crozier almost sharply. "Just
before the worst came to the worst she inherited her fortune--plenty of
it, as I got near the end of mine. One thing after another had gone. I
was mortgaged up to the eyes. I knew the money-lenders from Newry to
Jewry and Jewry to Jerusalem. Then it was I promised her I'd bet no
more--never again: I'd give up the turf; I'd try and start again. Down in
my soul I knew I couldn't start again--not just then. But I wanted to
please her. She was remarkable in her way; she had one of the most
imposing intelligences I have ever known. So I promised. I promised I'd
bet no more."

The Young Doctor caught Kitty Tynan's eyes by accident, and there was the
same look of understanding in both. They both knew that here was the real
tragedy of Crozier's life. If he had had less reverence for his wife,
less of that obvious prostration of soul, he probably would never have
come to Askatoon.

"I broke my promise," he murmured. "It was a horse--well, never mind. I
was as sure of Flamingo as that the sun would rise by day and set by
night. It was a certainty; and it was a certainty. The horse could win,
it would win; I had it from a sure source. My judgment was right, too. I
bet heavily on Flamingo, intending it for my last fling, and, to save
what I had left, to get back what I had lost. I could get big odds on
him. It was good enough. From what I knew, it was like picking up a
gold-mine. And I was right, right as could be. There was no chance about
it. It was being out where the rain fell to get wet. It was just being
present when they called the roll of the good people that God wished to
be kind to. It meant so much to me. I couldn't bear to have nothing and
my wife to have all. I simply couldn't stand--"

Again the Young Doctor met the glance of Kitty Tynan, and there was, once
more, a new and sudden look of comprehension in the eyes of both. They
began to see light where their man was concerned.

After a moment of struggle to control himself, Crozier proceeded: "It
didn't seem like betting. Besides, I had planned it, that when I showed
her what I had won, she would shut her eyes to the broken promise, and
I'd make another, and keep it ever after. I put on all the cash there was
to put on, all I could raise on what was left of my property."

He paused as though to get strength to continue. Then a look of intense
excitement suddenly possessed him, and there--passed over him a wave of
feeling which transformed him. The naturally grave mediaeval face became
fired, the eyes blazed, the skin shone, the mouth almost trembled with
agitation. He was the dreamer, the enthusiast, the fanatic almost, with
that look which the pioneer, the discoverer, the adventurer has when he
sees the end of his quest.

His voice rose, vibrated. "It was a day to make you thank Heaven the
world was made. Such days only come once in a while in England, but when
they do come, what price Arcady or Askatoon! Never had there been so big
a Derby. Everybody had the fever of the place at its worst. I was happy.
I meant to pouch my winnings and go straight to my wife and say,
'Peccavi,' and I should hear her say to me, 'Go and sin no more.' Yes, I
was happy. The sky, the green of the fields, the still, home-like,
comforting trees, the mass of glorious colour, the hundreds of horses
that weren't running and the scores that were to run, sleek and long, and
made like shining silk and steel, it all was like heaven on earth to me--
a horse-race heaven on earth. There you have the state of my mind in
those days, the kind of man I was."

Sitting up, he gazed straight in front of him as though he saw Epsom
Downs before his eyes; as though he was watching the fateful race that
bore him down. He was terribly, exhaustingly alive. Something possessed
him, and he possessed his hearers.

"It was just as I said and knew--my horse, Flamingo, stretched away from
the rest at Tattenham Corner and came sailing away home two lengths
ahead. It was a sight to last a lifetime, and that was what I meant it to
be for me. The race was all Flamingo's own, and the mob was going wild,
when all of a sudden a woman--the widow of a racing-man gone suddenly
mad--rushed out in front of the horse, snatched at its bridle with a
shrill cry and down she came, and down Flamingo and the jockey came, a
melee of crushed humanity. And that was how I lost my last two thousand
five hundred pounds, as I said at the Logan Trial."

"Oh! Oh!" said Kitty Tynan, her face aflame, her eyes like topaz suns,
her hands wringing. "Oh, that was--oh, poor Flamingo!" she added.

A strange smile shot into Crozier's face, and the dark passion of
reminiscence fled from his eyes. "Yes, you are right, little friend," he
said. "That was the real tragedy after all. There was the horse doing his
best, his most beautiful best, as though he knew so much depended on him,
stretching himself with the last ounce of energy he could summon, feeling
the psalm of success in his heart--yes, he knows, he knows what he has
done, none so well!--and out comes a black, hateful thing against him,
and down he goes, his game over, his course run. I felt exactly as you
do, and I felt that before everything else when it happened. Then I felt
for myself afterwards, and I felt it hard, as you can think."

The break went from his voice, but it rang with reflective, remembered
misery. "I was ruined. One thing was clear to me. I would not live on my
wife's money. I would not eat and drink what her money bought. No, I
would not live on my wife. Her brother, a good enough, impulsive lad,
with a tongue of his own and too small to thresh, came to me in London
the night of the race. He said his sister had been in the country-down at
Epsom--and that she bitterly resented my having broken my promise and
lost all I had. He said he had never seen her so angry, and he gave me a
letter from her. On her return to town she had been obliged to go away at
once to see her sister taken suddenly ill. He added, with an unfeeling
jibe, that he wouldn't like the reading of the letter himself. If he
hadn't been such a chipmunk of a fellow I'd have wrung his neck. I put
the letter her letter-in my pocket, and next day gave my lawyer full
instructions and a power of attorney. Then I went straight to Glasgow,
took steamer for Canada, and here I am. That was near five years ago."

"And the letter from your wife?" asked Kitty Tynan demurely and slyly.

The Young Doctor looked at Crozier, surprised at her temerity, but
Crozier only smiled gently. "It is in the desk there. Bring it to me,
please," he said.

In a moment Kitty was beside him with the letter. He took it, turned it
over, examined it carefully as though seeing it for the first time, and
laid it on his knee.

"I have never opened it," he said. "There it is, just as it was handed to
me."

"You don't know what is in it?" asked Kitty in a shocked voice. "Why, it
may be that--"

"Oh, yes, I know what is in it!" he replied. "Her brother's confidences
were enough. I didn't want to read it. I can imagine it all."

"It's pretty cowardly," remarked Kitty.

"No, I think not. It would only hurt, and the hurting could do no good. I
can hear what it says, and I don't want to see it."

He held the letter up to his ear whimsically. Then he handed it back to
her, and she replaced it in the desk.

"So, there it is, and there it is," he sighed. "You have got my story,
and it's bad enough, but you can see it's not what Burlingame suggested."

"Burlingame--but Burlingame's beneath notice," rejoined Kitty. "Isn't he,
mother?"

Mrs. Tynan nodded. Then, as though with sudden impulse, Kitty came
forward to Crozier and leaned over him. The look of a mother was in her
eyes. Somehow she seemed to herself twenty years older than this man with
the heart of a boy, who was afraid of his own wife.

"It's time for your beef-tea, and when you've had it you must get your
sleep," she said, with a hovering solicitude.

"I'd like to give him a threshing first, if you don't mind," said the
Young Doctor to her.

"Please let a little good advice satisfy you," Crozier remarked ruefully.
"It will seem like old times," he added rather bitterly.

"You are too young to have had 'old times,'" said Kitty with gentle
scorn. "I'll like you better when you are older," she added.

"Naughty jade," exclaimed the Young Doctor, "you ought to be more
respectful to those older than yourself."

"Oh, grandpapa!" she retorted.



CHAPTER VII

A WOMAN'S WAY TO KNOWLEDGE

The harvest was over. The grain was cut, the prairie no longer waved like
a golden sea, but the smoke of the incense of sacrifice still rose in
innumerable spirals in the circle of the eye. The ground appeared bare
and ill-treated, like a sheep first shorn; but yet nothing could take
away from it the look of plenty, even as the fat sides of the shorn sheep
invite the satisfied eye of the expert. The land now, all stubble, still
looked good for anything. If bare, it did not seem starved. It was naked
and unshaven; it was stripped like a boxer for the rubbing-down after the
fight. Not so refined and suggestive and luxurious as when it was clothed
with the coat of ripe corn in the ear, it still showed the fibre of its
being to no disadvantage. And overhead the joy of the prairie grew apace.

September saw the vast prairie spaces around Askatoon shorn and
shrivelled of its glory of ripened grain, but with a new life come into
the air-sweet, stinging, vibrant life, which had the suggestion of nature
recreating her vitality, inflaming herself with Edenic strength, a
battery charging itself, to charge the world in turn with force and
energy. Morning gave pure elation, as though all created being must
strive; noon was the pulse of existence at the top of its activity;
evening was glamorous; and all the lower sky was spread with those
colours which Titian stole from the joyous horizon that filled his eyes.
There was in that evening light, somehow, just a touch of pensiveness--
the triste delicacy of heliotrope, harbinger of the Indian summer soon to
come, when the air would make all sensitive souls turn to the past and
forget that to-morrow was all in all.

Sensitive souls, however, are not so many as to crowd each other unduly
in this world, and they were not more numerous in Askatoon than
elsewhere. Not everybody was taking joy of sunrises and losing himself in
the delicate contentment of the sunset. There were many who took it all
without thought, who absorbed it unconsciously, and got something from
it; though there were many others who got nothing out of it at all, save
the health and comfort brought by a precious climate whose solicitous
friend is the sun. These heeded it little, even though a good number of
them came from the damp islands lying between the north Atlantic and the
German Ocean. From Erin and England and the land o' cakes they came, had
a few days of staring bright-eyed happy incredulity as to the permanency
of such conditions, and then settled down to take it as it was, endless
days of sunshine and stirring vivacious air--as though they had always
known it and had it.

There were exceptions, and these had joy in what they saw and felt
according to the measure of their temperament. Shiel Crozier saw and felt
much of it, and probably the Young Doctor saw more of it than any one;
stray people here and there who take no part in this veracious tale had
it in greater or less degree; fat Jesse Bulrush was so sensitive to it
that he, as he himself said, "almost leaked sentimentality" and Kitty
Tynan possessed it. She was pulsing with life, as a bird drunken with the
air's sweetness sings itself into an abandonment of motion.

Before Crozier came she had enjoyed existence as existence, wondering
often why it was she wanted to spring up from the ground with the idea
that she could fly, if she chose to try. Once when she was quite a little
girl she had said to her mother, "I'm going to ile away," and her mother,
puzzled, asked her what she meant. Her reply was, "It's in the hymn." Her
mother persisted in asking what hymn; and was told with something like
scorn that it was the hymn she herself had taught her only child--"I'll
away, I'll away to the Promised Land."

Kitty had thought that "I'll away" meant some delicious motion which was
to ile, and she had visions of something between floating and flying as
being that blessed means of transportation.

As the years grew, she still wanted to "ile away" whenever the spirit of
elation seized her, and it had increased greatly since Shiel Crozier
came. Out of her star as he was, she still felt near to him, and as
though she understood him and he comprehended her. He had almost at once
become to her an admired mystery, which, however, at first she did not
dare wish to solve. She had been content to be a kind of handmaiden to a
generous and adored master. She knew that where he had been she could in
one sense never go, and yet she wanted to be near him just the same. This
was intensified after the Logan Trial and the shooting of the man who
somehow seemed to have made her live in a new way.

As long ago as she could recall she had, in a crude, untutored way, been
fond of the things that nature made beautiful; but now she seemed to see
them in a new light, but not because any one had deliberately taught her.
Indeed, it bored her almost to hear books read as Jesse Bulrush and Nurse
Egan, and even her mother, read them to Crozier after his operation, to
help him pass away the time. The only time she ever cared to listen--at
school, though quick and clever, she had never cared for the printed
page--was when, by chance, poetry or verses were read or recited. Then
she would listen eagerly, not attracted by the words, but by the music of
the lines, by the rhyme and rhythm, by the underlying feeling; and she
got something out of it which had in one sense nothing to do with the
verses themselves or with the conception of the poet.

Curiously enough, she most liked to hear Jesse Bulrush read. He was a
born sentimentalist, and this became by no means subtly apparent to Kitty
during Crozier's illness. Whenever Nurse Egan was on duty Jesse contrived
to be about, and to make himself useful and ornamental too; for he was a
picturesque figure, with a taste for figured waistcoats and clean
linen--he always washed his own white trousers and waistcoats, and he had
a taste in ties, which he made for himself out of silk bought by the
yard. He was, in fact, a clean, wholesome man, with a flair for material
things, as he had shown in the land proposal on which Shiel Crozier's
fortunes hung, but with no gift for carrying them out, having neither
constructive ability nor continuity of purpose. Yet he was an agreeable,
humorous, sentimental soul, who at fifty years of age found himself "an
old bach," as he called himself, in love at last with a middle-aged nurse
with dark brown hair and set figure, keen, intelligent eyes, and a most
cheerful, orderly, and soothing way with her.

Before Shiel Crozier was taken ill their romance began; but it grew in
volume and intensity after the trial and the shooting, when they met by
the bedside of the wounded man. Jesse had been away so much in different
parts of the country before then that their individual merits never had
had a real chance to make permanent impression. By accident, however, his
business made it necessary for him to be much in Askatoon at the moment,
and it was a propitious time for the growth of the finer feelings.

It had given Jesse Bulrush real satisfaction that Kitty Tynan listened to
his reading of poetry--Longfellow, Byron, Tennyson, Whyte Melville, and
Adam Lindsay Gordon chiefly--with such absorbed interest. His content was
the greater because his lovely nurse--he did think she was lovely, as
Rubens thought his painted ladies beautiful, though their cordial,
ostentatious proportions are not what Raphael regarded as the divine
lines--because his lovely nurse listened to his fat, happy voice rising
and falling, swelling and receding on the waves of verse; though it meant
nothing to her that one who had the gift of pleasant sound was using it
on her behalf.

This was not apparent to her Bulrush, though Crozier and Kitty
understood. Jesse only saw in the blue-garbed, clear-visaged woman a
mistress of his heart, who had all the virtues and graces and who did not
talk. That, to him, was the best thing of all. She was a superb listener,
and he was a prodigious talker--was it not all appropriate?

One day he went searching for Kitty at her favourite retreat, a little
knoll behind and to the left of the house, where a half-dozen trees made
a pleasant resting-place at a fine look-out point. He found her in her
usual place, with a look almost pensive on her face. He did not notice
that, for he was excited and elated.

"I want to read you something I've written," he said, and he drew from
his pocket a paper.

"If it's another description of the timber-land you have for sale-please,
not to me," she answered provokingly, for she guessed well what he held
in his hand. She had seen him writing it. She had even seen some of the
lines scrawled and re-scrawled on bits of paper, showing careful if not
swift and skillful manufacture. One of these crumpled-up bits of paper
she had in her pocket now, having recovered it that she might tease him
by quoting the lines at a provoking opportunity.

"It's not that. It's some verses I've written," he said, with a wave of
his hand.

"All your own?" she asked with an air of assumed innocent interest, and
he did not see the frivolous gleam in her eyes, or notice the touch of
aloes on her tongue.

"Yes. Yes. I've always written verses more or less--I write a good many
advertisements in verse," he added cheerfully. "They are very popular.
Not genius, quite, but there it is, the gift; and it has its uses in
commerce as in affairs of the heart. But if you'd rather not, if it makes
you tired--"

"Courage, soldier, bear your burden," she said gaily. "Mount your horse
and get galloping," she added, motioning him to sit.

A moment later he was pouring out his soul through a pleasing voice, from
fat lips, flanked by a high-coloured healthy cheek like a russet apple:

       "Like jewels of the sky they gleam,
        Your eyes of light, your eyes of fire;
        In their dark depths behold the dream
        Of Life's glad hope and Love's desire.

       "Above your quiet brow, endowed
        With Grecian charm to crown your grace,
        Your hair in one soft Titian cloud
        Throws heavenly shadows on your face."

"Well, I've never had verses written to me before," Kitty remarked
demurely, when he had finished and sat looking at her questioningly. "But
'dark depths'--that isn't the right thing to say of my eyes! And Titian
cloud of hair--is my hair Titian? I thought Titian hair was bronzy-tawny
was what Mr. Burlingame called it when he was spouting,"--her upper lip
curled in contempt.

"It isn't you, and you know it," he replied jerkily. She bridled. "Do you
mean to say that you come and read to me without a word of explanation,
so that I shouldn't misunderstand, verses written for another? Am I to be
told now that my eyes aren't eyes of light and eyes of fire, that I
haven't got a Grecian brow? Do you dare to say those verses don't fit
me--except for the Titian hair and heavenly shadows? And that I've got no
right to think they're meant for me? Is it so, that a man that's lived in
my mother's house for years, eating at the same table with the family,
and having his clothes mended free, with supper to suit him and no
questions asked--is it so, that he reads me poetry, four lines at a
stretch, and a rhyme every other line, and then announces it isn't for
me!"

Her eyes flashed, her bosom palpitated, her hand made passionate
gestures, and she really seemed a young fury let loose. For a moment he
was deceived by her acting; he did not see the lurking grin in the depths
of her eyes.

Her voice shook with assumed passion. "Because I didn't show what I felt
all these years, and only exposed my real feelings when you read those
verses to me, do you think any man who was a gentleman wouldn't in the
circumstances say, 'These verses are for you, Kitty Tynan'? You betrayed
me into showing you what I felt, and then you tell me your verses are for
another girl!"

"Girl! Girl! Girl!" he burst out. "Nurse is thirty-seven--she told me so
herself, and how could I tell that you--why, it's absurd! I've only
thought of you always as a baby in long skirts"--she spasmodically drew
her skirts down over her pretty, shapely ankles, while she kept her eyes
covered with one hand--"and you've seen me makin' up to her ever since
Crozier got the bullet. Ever since he was operated on, I've--"

"Yes, yes, that's right," she interrupted. "That's manly! Put the blame
on him--him that couldn't help himself, struck by a horse-thief's bullet
in the dark; him that's no more to blame for your carryings on while
death was prowling about the door there--"

"Carryings on! Carryings on!" Jesse Bulrush was thoroughly excited and
indignant. The little devil, to put him in a hole like this! "Carryings
on! I've acted like a man all through--never anything else in your house,
and it's a shame that I've got to listen to things that have never been
said of me in all my life. My mother was a good, true woman, and she
brought me up--"

"Yes, that's it, put it on your mother now, poor woman! who isn't here to
stretch out her hand and stop you from playing a double game with two
girls so placed they couldn't help themselves--just doing kind acts for a
sick man." Suddenly she got to her feet. "I tell you, Jesse Bulrush, that
you're a man--you're a man--"

But she could keep it up no longer. She burst out laughing, and the false
tears of the actress she dashed from her eyes as she added: "That you're
a man after my own heart. But you can't have it, even if you are after
it, and you are welcome to the thirty-seven-year-old seraph in there!"
She tossed a hand towards the house.

By this time he was on his feet too, almost bursting. "Well, you wicked
little rip--you Ellen Terry at twenty-two, to think you could play it up
like that! Why, never on the stage was there such--!"

"It's the poetry made me do it. It inspired me," she gurgled. "I felt
--why, I felt here"--she pressed her hand to her heart "all the pangs of
unrequited love--oh, go away, go back to the house and read that to her!
She's in the sitting-room, and my mother's away down-town. Now's your
chance, Claude Melnotte."

She put both hands on his big, panting chest and pushed him backward
towards the house. "You're good enough for anybody, and if I wasn't so
young and daren't leave mother till I get my wisdom-teeth cut, and till
I'm thirty-seven--oh, oh, oh!" She laughed till the tears came into her
eyes. "This is as good as--as a play."

"It's the best acted play I ever saw, from 'Ten Nights in a Bar-room' to
'Struck Oil,'" rejoined Jesse Bulrush, with a face still half ashamed yet
beaming. "But, tell me, you heartless little woman, are the verses worth
anything? Do you think she'll like them?"

Kitty grew suddenly serious, and a curious look he could not read
deepened in her eyes. "Nurse 'll like them--of course she will," she said
gently. "She'll like them because they are you. Read them to her as you
read them to me, and she'll only hear your voice, and she'll think them
clever and you a wonderful man, even if you are fifty and weigh a
thousand pounds. It doesn't matter to a woman what a man's saying or
doing, or whether he's so much cleverer than she is, if she knows that
under everthing he's saying, 'I love you.' A man isn't that way, but a
woman is. Now go." Again she pushed him with a small brown hand.

"Kitty Tynan, what a girl you are!" he said admiringly.

"Then be a father to me," she said teasingly.

"I can't marry both your mother and nurse."

"P'r'aps you can't marry either," she replied sarcastically, "and I know
that in any case you'll never be any relative of mine by marriage. Get
going," she said almost impatiently.

He turned to go, and she said after him, as he rolled away, "I'll let you
hear some of my verses one day when you're more developed and can
understand them."

"I'll bet they beat mine," he called back.

"You'll win your bet," she answered, and stood leaning against a tree
with a curious look emerging and receding in her eyes. When he had
disappeared, sitting down, she drew from her breast a slip of paper,
unfolded it, and laid it on her knee. "It is better," she said. "It's not
good poetry, of course, but it's truer, and it's not done according to a
pattern like his. Yes, it's real, real, real, and he'll never see
it--never see it now, for I've fought it' all out, and I've won."

Then she slowly read the verses aloud:

"Yes, I've won," she said with determination. So many of her sex have
said things just as decisively, and while yet the exhilaration of their
decision was inflaming them, have done what they said they would never,
never, never do. Still there was a look in the fair face which meant a
new force awakened in her character.

For a long time she sat brooding, forgetful of the present and of the
little comedy of elderly lovers going on inside the house. She was
thinking of the way conventions hold and bind us; of the lack of freedom
in the lives of all, unless they live in wild places beyond the social
pale. Within the past few weeks she had had visions of such a world
beyond this active and ordered civilisation, where the will and the
conscience of a man or woman was the only law. She was not lawless in
mind or spirit. She was only rebelling gainst a situation in which she
was bound hand and foot, and could not follow her honest and exclusive
desire, if she wished to do so.

Here was a man who was married, yet in a real sense who had no wife.
Suppose that man cared for her, what a tragedy it would be for them to be
kept apart! This man did not love her, and so there was no tragedy for
both. Still all was not over yet--yes, all was "over and over and over,"
she said to herself as she sprang to her feet with a sharp exclamation of
disgust--with herself.

Her mother was coming hurriedly towards her from the house. There was a
quickness in her walk suggesting excitement, yet from the look in her
face it was plain that the news she brought was not painful. "He told me
you were here, and--"

"Who told you I was here?"

"Mr. Bulrush."

"So it's all settled," she said, with a little quirk of her shoulders.

"Yes, he's asked her, and they're going to be married. It's enough to
make you die laughing to see the two middle-aged doves cooing in there."

"I thought perhaps it would be you. He said he would like to be a father
to me."

"That would prevent me if nothing else would," answered the widow of
Tyndall Tynan. "A stepfather to an unmarried girl, both eyeing each other
for a chance to find fault--if you please, no thank you!"

"That means you won't get married till I'm out of the way?" asked Kitty,
with a look which was as much touched with myrrh as with mirth.

"It means I wouldn't get married till you are married, anyway," was the
complacent answer.

"Is there any one special that--"

"Don't talk nonsense. Since your father died I've only thought of his
child and mine, and I've not looked where I might. Instead, I've done my
best to prove that two women could live and succeed without a man to earn
for them; though of course without the pension it couldn't have been done
in the style we've done it. We've got our place!"

There is a dignity attached to a pension which has an influence quite its
own, and in the most primitive communities it has an aristocratic
character which commands general respect. In Askatoon people gave Mrs.
Tynan a better place socially because of her pension than they would have
done if she had earned double the money which the pension brought her.

"Everybody has called on us," she added with reflective pride.

"Principally since Mr. Crozier came," added Kitty. "It's funny, isn't it,
how he made people respect him before they knew who he was?"

"He would make Satan stand up and take off his hat, if he paid Hades a
visit," said Mrs. Tynan admiringly. "Anybody'd do anything for him."

Kitty eyed her mother closely. There was a strange, far-away, brooding
look in Mrs. Tynan's eyes, and she seemed for a moment lost in thought.

"You're in love with him," said Kitty sharply.

"I was, in a way," answered her mother frankly. "I was, in a way, a kind
of way, till I knew he was married. But it didn't mean anything. I never
thought of it except as a thing that couldn't be."

"Why couldn't it be?" asked Kitty, smothering an agitation rising in her
breast.

"Because I always knew he belonged to where we didn't, and because if he
was going to be in love himself, it would be with some girl like you.
He's young enough for that, and it's natural he should get as his profit
the years of youth that a young woman has yet to live."

"As though it was a choice between you and me, for instance!"

Mrs. Tynan started, but recovered herself. "Yes. If there had been any
choosing, he'd not have hesitated a minute. He'd have taken you, of
course. But he never gave either of us a thought that way."

"I thought that till--till after he'd told us his story," replied Kitty
boldly.

"What has happened since then?" asked her mother, with sudden
apprehension.

"Nothing has happened since. I don't understand it, but it's as though
he'd been asleep for a long time and was awake again."

Mrs. Tynan gravely regarded her daughter, and a look of fear came into
her face. "I knew you kept thinking of him always," she said; "but you
had such sense, and he never showed any feeling for you; and young girls
get over things. Besides, you always showed you knew he wasn't a
possibility. But since he told us that day about his being married and
all, has--has he been different towards you?"

"Not a thing, not a word," was the reply; "but--but there's a difference
with him in a way. I feel it when I go in the room where he is."

"You've got to stop thinking of him," insisted the elder woman
querulously. "You've got to stop it at once. It's no good. It's bad for
you. You've too much sense to go on caring for a man that--"

"I'm going to get married," said Kitty firmly. "I've made up my mind. If
you have to think about one person, you should stop thinking about
another; anyhow, you've got to make yourself stop. So I'm going to
marry--and stop."

"Who are you going to marry, Kitty? You don't mean to say it's John
Sibley!"

"P'r'aps. He keeps coming."

"That gambling and racing fellow!"

"He owns a big farm, and it pays, and he has got an interest in a mine,
and--"

"I tell you, you shan't," peevishly interjected Mrs. Tynan. "You shan't.
He's vicious. He's--oh, you shan't! I'd rather--"

"You'd rather I threw myself away--on a married man?" asked Kitty
covertly.

"My God--oh, Kitty!" said the other, breaking down. "You can't mean it
--oh, you can't mean that you'd--"

"I've got to work out my case in my own way," broke in Kitty calmly. "I
know how I've got to do it. I have to make my own medicine--and take it.
You say John Sibley is vicious. He has only got one vice."

"Isn't it enough? Gambling--"

"That isn't a vice; it's a sport. It's the same as Mr. Crozier had. Mr.
Crozier did it with horses only, the other does it with cards and horses.
The only vice John Sibley's got is me."

"Is you?" asked her mother bewilderedly.

"Well, when you've got an idea you can't control and it makes you its
slave, it's a vice. I'm John's vice, and I'm thinking of trying to cure
him of it--and cure myself too," Kitty added, folding and unfolding the
paper in her hand.

"Here comes the Young Doctor," said her mother, turning towards the
house. "I think you don't mean to marry Sibley, but if you do, make him
give up gambling."

"I don't know that I want him to give it up," answered Kitty musingly.

A moment later she was alone with the Young Doctor.



CHAPTER VIII

ALL ABOUT AN UNOPENED LETTER

"What's this you've been doing?" asked the Young Doctor, with a quizzical
smile. "We never can tell where you'll break out."

"Kitty Tynan's measles!" she rejoined, swinging her hat by its ribbon.
"Mine isn't a one-sided character, is it?"

"I know one of the sides quite well," returned the Young Doctor.

"Which, please, sir?"

The Young Doctor pretended to look wise. "The outside. I read it like a
book. It fits the life in which it moves like the paper on the wall. But
I'm not sure of the inside. In fact, I don't think I know that at all."

"So I couldn't call you in if my character was sick inside, could I?" she
asked obliquely.

"I might have an operation, and see what's wrong with it," he answered
playfully.

Suddenly she shivered. "I've had enough of operations to last me awhile,"
she rejoined. "I thought I could stand anything, but your operation on
Mr. Crozier taught me a lesson. I'd never be a doctor's wife if I had to
help him cut up human beings."

"I'll remember that," the Young Doctor replied mockingly.

"But if it would help put things on a right basis, I'd make a bargain
that I wasn't to help do the carving," she rejoined wickedly. The Young
Doctor always incited her to say daring things. They understood each
other well. "So don't let that stand in the way," she added slyly.

"The man who marries you will be glad to get you without the anatomy," he
returned gallantly.

"I wasn't talking of a man; I was talking of a doctor."

He threw up a hand and his eyebrows. "Isn't a doctor a man?"

"Those I've seen have been mostly fish."

"No feelings--eh?"

She looked him in the eyes, and he felt a kind of shiver go through him.
"Not enough to notice. I never observed you had any," she replied. "If I
saw that you had, I'd be so frightened I'd fly. I've seen pictures of an
excited whale turning a boat full of men over. No, I couldn't bear to see
you show any feeling."

The dark eyes of the Young Doctor suddenly took on a look which was a
stranger to them. In his relations with women he was singularly
impersonal, but he was a man, and he was young enough to feel the Adam
stir in him. The hidden or controlled thing suddenly emerged. It was not
the look which would be in his eyes if he were speaking to the woman he
wanted to marry. Kitty saw it, and she did not understand it, for she had
at heart a feeling that she could go to him in any trouble of life and be
sure of healing. To her he seemed wonderful; but she thought of him as
she would have thought of her father, as a person of authority and
knowledge--that operation showed him a great man, she thought, so
skillful and precise and splendid; and the whole countryside had such
confidence in him.

She regarded him as a being apart; but for a moment, an ominous moment,
he was almost one with that race of men who feed in strange pastures. She
only half saw the reddish glow which came swimming into his eyes, and she
did not realise it, for she did not expect to find it there. For an
instant, however, he saw with new eyes that primary eloquence of woman
life, the unspent splendour of youth, the warm joy of the material being,
the mystery of maidenhood in all its efflorescence. It was the emergence
of his own youth again, as why should it not be, since he had never
married and had never dallied! But in a moment it was gone again--driven
away.

"What a wicked little flirt you are!" he said, with a shake of the head.
"You'll come to a bad end, if you don't change your ways."

"Perform an operation, then, if you think you know what's the matter with
me," she retorted. "Sometimes in operating for one disease we come on
another, and then there's a lot of thinking to be done."

The look in her face was quizzical, yet there was a strange, elusive
gravity in her eyes, an almost pathetic appealing. "If you were going to
operate on me, what would it be for?" she asked more flippantly than her
face showed.

"Well, it's obscure, and the symptoms are not usual, but I should strike
for the cancer love," he answered, with a direct look.

She flushed and changed on the instant. "Is love a cancer?" she asked.
All at once she felt sure that he read her real story, and something very
like anger quickened in her.

"Unrequited love is," he answered deliberately. "How do you know it is
unrequited?" she asked sharply.

"Well, I don't know it," he answered, dismayed by the look in her face.
"But I certainly hope I'm right. I do, indeed."

"And if you were right, what would you do--as a surgeon?" she questioned,
with an undertone of meaning.

"I would remove the cause of the disease."

She came close and looked him straight in the eyes. "You mean that he
should go? You think that would cure the disease? Well, you are not going
to interfere. You are not going to manoeuvre anything to get him away--I
know doctors' tricks. You'd say he must go away east or west to the sea
for change of air to get well. That's nonsense, and it isn't necessary.
You are absolutely wrong in your diagnosis--if that's what you call it.
He is going to stay here. You aren't going to drive away one of our
boarders and take the bread out of our mouths. Anyhow, you're wrong. You
think because a girl worships a man's ability that she's in love with
him. I adore your ability, but I'd as soon fall in love with a
lobster--and be boiled with the lobster in a black pot. Such conceit men
have!"

He was not convinced. He had a deep-seeing eye, and he saw that she was
boldly trying to divert his belief or suspicion. He respected her for it.
He might have said he loved her for it--with a kind of love which can be
spoken of without blushing or giving cause to blush, or reason for
jealousy, anger, or apprehension.

He smiled down into her gold-brown eyes, and he thought what a real woman
she was. He felt, too, that she would tell him something that would give
him further light if he spoke wisely now.

"I'd like to see some proof that you are right, if I am wrong," he
answered cautiously.

"Well, I'm going to be married," she said, with an air of finality.

He waved a hand deprecatingly. "Impossible--there's no man worth it. Who
is the undeserving wretch?"

"I'll tell you to-morrow," she replied. "He doesn't know yet how happy
he's going to be. What did you come here for? Why did you want to see
me?" she added. "You had something you were going to tell me. Hadn't
you?"

"That's quite right," he replied. "It's about Crozier. This is my last
visit to him professionally. He can go on now without my care. Yours will
be sufficient for him. It has been all along the very best care he could
have had. It did more for him than all the rest, it--"

"You don't mean that," she interrupted, with a flush and a bosom that
leaped under her pretty gown. "You don't mean that I was of more use than
the nurse--than the future Mrs. Jesse Bulrush?"

"I mean just that," he answered. "Nearly every sick person, every sick
man, I should say, has his mascot, his ministering angel, as it were.
It's a kind of obsession, and it often means life or death, whether the
mascot can stand the strain of the situation. I knew an old man--down by
Dingley's Flat it was, and he wanted a boy--his grand-nephew-beside him
always. He was getting well, but the boy took sick and the old man died
the next day. The boy had been his medicine. Sometimes it's a particular
nurse that does the trick; but whoever it is, it's a great vital fact.
Well, that's the part you played to Mr. Shiel Crozier of Lammis and
Castlegarry aforetime. He owes you much."

"I am glad of that," she said softly, her eyes on the distance.

"She is in love with him in spite of what she says," remarked the Young
Doctor to himself. "Well," he continued aloud, "the fact is, Crozier's
almost well in a way, but his mind is in a state, and he is not going to
get wholly right as things are. Since things came out in court, since he
told us his whole story, he has been different. It's as though--"

She interrupted him hastily and with suppressed emotion. "Yes, yes, do
you think I've not noticed that? He's been asleep in a way for five
years, and now he's awake again. He is not James Gathorne Kerry now; he
is James Shiel Gathorne Crozier, and--oh, you understand: he's back again
where he was before--before he left her."

The Young Doctor nodded approvingly. "What a little brazen wonder you
are! I declare you see more than--"

"Yet you won't have me?" she asked mockingly. "You're too clever for me,"
he rejoined with spirit. "I'm too conceited. I must marry a girl that'd
kneel to me and think me as wise as Socrates. But he's back again, as you
say, and, in my view, his wife ought to be back again also."

"She ought to be here," was Kitty's swift reply, "though I think mighty
little of her--mighty little, I can tell you. Stuckup, great tall stork
of a woman, that lords it over a man as though she was a goddess. Wears
diamonds in the middle of the day, I suppose, and cold-blooded as--as a
fish."

"She ought to have married me, according to your opinion of me. You said
I was a fish," remarked the Young Doctor, with a laugh.

"The whale and the catfish!"

"Heavens, what spite!" he rejoined. "Catfish--what do you know about Mrs.
Crozier? You may be brutally unjust--waspishly unjust, I should say."

"Do I look like a wasp?" she asked half tearfully. She was in a strange
mood.

"You look like a golden busy bee," he answered. "But tell me, how did you
come to know enough about her to call her a cat?"

"Because, as you say, I was a busy golden bee," she retorted.

"That information doesn't get me much further," he answered.

"I opened that letter," she replied.

"'That letter'--you mean you opened the letter he showed us which he had
left sealed as it came to him five years ago?" The Young Doctor's face
wore a look of dismay.

"I steamed the envelope open--how else could I have done it! I steamed it
open, saw what I wanted, and closed it up again."

The Young Doctor's face was pale now. This was a terrible revelation. He
had a man's view of such conduct. He almost shrank from her, though she
stood there as inviting and innocent a specimen of girlhood as the eye
could wish to see. She did not look dishonourable.

"Do you realise what that means?" he asked in a cold, hard tone.

"Oh, come, don't put on that look and don't talk like John the
Evangelist," she retorted. "I did it, not out of curiosity, and not to do
any one harm, but to do her good--his wife."

"It was dishonourable--wicked and dishonourable."

"If you talk like that, Mr. Piety, I'm off," she rejoined, and she
started away.

"Wait--wait," he said, laying firm fingers on her arm. "Of course you did
it for a good purpose. I know. You cared enough for him for that."

He had said the right thing, and she halted and faced him. "I cared
enough to do a good deal more than that if necessary. He has been like a
second father to me, and--"

Suddenly a light of humour shot into the eyes of both. Sheil Crozier as a
"father" to her was too artificial not to provoke their sense of the
grotesque.

"I wanted to find out his wife's address to write to her and tell her to
come quick," she explained. "It was when he was at the worst. And then,
too, I wanted to know the kind of woman she was before I wrote to her.
So--"

"You mean to say you read that letter which he had kept unopened and
unread for five long years?" The Young Doctor was certainly disturbed
again.

"Every word of it," Kitty answered shamelessly, "and I'm not sorry. It
was in a good cause. If he had said, 'Courage, soldier,' and opened it
five years ago, it would have been good for him. Better to get things
like that over."

"It was that kind of a letter, was it--a catfish letter?"

Kitty laughed a little scornfully. "Yes, just like that, Mr. Easily
Shocked. Great, showy, purse-proud creature!"

"And you wrote to her?"

"Yes--a letter that would make her come if anything would. Talk of tact
--I was as smooth as a billiard-ball. But she hasn't come."

"The day after the operation I cabled to her," said the Young Doctor.

"Then you steamed the letter open and read it too?" asked Kitty
sarcastically.

"Certainly not. Ladies first-and last," was the equally sarcastic answer.
"I cabled to Castlegarry, his father's place, also to Lammis that he
mentioned when he told us his story. Crozier of Lammis, he was."

"Well, I wrote to the London address in the letter," added Kitty. "I
don't think she'll come. I asked her to cable me, and she hasn't. I wrote
such a nice letter, too. I did it for his sake."

The Young Doctor laid his hands on both her shoulders. "Kitty Tynan, the
man who gets you will get what he doesn't deserve," he remarked.

"That might mean anything."

"It means that Crozier owes you more than he can guess."

Her eyes shone with a strange, soft glow. "In spite of opening the
letter?"

The Young Doctor nodded, then added humorously: "That letter you wrote
her--I'm not sure that my cable wouldn't have far more effect than your
letter."

"Certainly not. You tried to frighten her, but I tried to coax her, to
make her feel ashamed. I wrote as though I was fifty."

The Young Doctor regarded her dubiously. "What was the sort of thing you
said to her?"

"For one thing, I said that he had every comfort and attention two loving
women and one fond nurse could give him; but that, of course, his
legitimate wife would naturally be glad to be beside him when he passed
away, and that if she made haste she might be here in time."

The Young Doctor leaned against a tree shaking with laughter.

"What are you smiling at?" Kitty asked ironically. "Oh, she'll be sure to
come--nothing will keep her away after being coaxed like that!" he said,
when he could get breath.

"Laughing at me as though I was a clown in a circus!" she exclaimed.
"Laughing when, as you say yourself, the man that she--the cat--wrote
that fiendish letter to is in trouble."

"It was a fiendish letter, was it?" he asked, suddenly sobered again.
"No, no, don't tell me," he added, with a protesting gesture. "I don't
want to hear. I don't want to know. I oughtn't to know. Besides, if she
comes, I don't want to be prejudiced against her. He is troubled, poor
fellow."

"Of course he is. There's the big land deal--his syndicate. He's got a
chance of making a fortune, and he can't do it because--but Jesse Bulrush
told me in confidence, so I can't explain."

"I have an idea, a pretty good idea. Askatoon is small."

"And mean sometimes."

"Tell me what you know. Perhaps I can help him," urged the Young Doctor.
"I have helped more than one good man turn a sharp corner here."

She caught his arm. "You are as good as gold."

"You are--impossible," he replied.

They talked of Crozier's land deal and syndicate as they walked slowly
towards the house. Mrs. Tynan met them at the door, a look of excitement
in her face. "A telegram for you Kitty," she said.

"For me!" exclaimed Kitty eagerly. "It's a year since I had one."

She tore open the yellow envelope. A light shot up in her face. She
thrust the telegram into the Young Doctor's hands.

"She's coming; his wife's coming. She's in Quebec now. It was my
letter--my letter, not your cable, that brought her," Kitty added
triumphantly.



CHAPTER IX

NIGHT SHADE AND MORNING GLORY

It was as though Crozier had been told of the coming of his wife, for
when night came, on the day Kitty had received her telegram, he could not
sleep. He was the sport of a consuming restlessness. His brain would not
be still. He could not discharge from it the thoughts of the day and make
it vacuous. It would not relax. It seized with intentness on each thing
in turn, which was part of his life at the moment, and gave it an
abnormal significance. In vain he tried to shake himself free of the
successive obsessions which stormed down the path of the night, dragging
him after them, a slave lashed to the wheels of a chariot of flame.

At last it was the land deal and syndicate on which his future depended,
and the savage fate which seemed about to snatch his fortune away as it
had done so often before; as it had done on the day when Flamingo went
down near the post at the Derby with a madwoman dragging at the bridle.
He had had a sure thing then, and it was whisked away just when it would
have enabled him to pass the crisis of his life. Wife, home, the old
fascinating, crowded life--they had all vanished because of that vile
trick of destiny; and ever since then he had been wandering in the
wilderness through years that brought no fruit of his labours. Yet here
was his chance, his great chance, to get back what he had and was in the
old misspent days, with new purposes in life to follow and serve; and it
was all in cruel danger of being swept away when almost within his grasp.

If he could but achieve the big deal, he could return to wife and home,
he could be master in his own house, not a dependent on his wife's
bounty. That very evening Jesse Bulrush, elated by his own good fortune
in capturing Cupid, had told him as sadly as was possible, while his own
fortunes were, as he thought, soaring, that every avenue of credit seemed
closed; that neither bank nor money-lender, trust nor loan company, would
let him have the ten thousand dollars necessary for him to hold his place
in the syndicate; while each of the other members of the clique had
flatly and cheerfully refused, saying they were busy carrying their own
loads. Crozier had commanded Jesse not to approach them, but the fat
idealist had an idea that his tongue had a gift of wheedling, and he
believed that he could make them "shell out," as he put it. He had
failed, and he was obliged to say so, when Crozier, suspecting, brought
him to book.

"They mean to crowd you out--that's their game," Bulrush had said.
"They've closed up all the ways to cash or credit. They're laying to do
you out of your share. Unless you put up the cash within the four days
left, they'll put it through without you. They told me to tell you that."

And Crozier had not even cursed them. He said to Jesse Bulrush that it
was an old game to get hold of a patent that made a fortune for a song
while the patentee died in the poor-house. Yet that four days was time
enough for a live man to do a "flurry of work," and he was fit enough to
walk up their backs yet with hobnailed boots, as they said in Kerry when
a man was out for war.

Over and over again this hovering tragedy drove sleep from his eyes; and
in the spaces between there were a hundred fleeting visions of little and
big things to torture him--remembrances of incidents when debts and
disasters dogged his footsteps; and behind them all, floating among the
elves and gnomes of ill-luck and disappointment, was a woman's face. It
was not his wife's face, not a face that belonged to the old life, but
one which had been part of his daily existence for over four years. It
was the first face he saw when he came back from consciousness after the
operation which saved his life--the face of Kitty Tynan.

And ever since the day when he had told the story of his life this face
had kept passing before his eyes with a disturbing persistence. Kitty had
said to her mother and to the Young Doctor that he had seemed after he
had told his story like one who had awakened; and in a sense it was
startlingly true. It was as though, while he was living under an assumed
name, the real James Shiel Gathorne Crozier did not exist, or was in the
far background of the doings and sayings of J. G. Kerry. His wife and the
past had been shadowy in a way, had been as part of a life lived out,
which would return in some distant day, but was not vital to the present.
Much as he had loved his wife, the violent wrench away from her had
seemed almost as complete as death itself; but the resumption of his own
name and the telling if his story had produced a complete psychological
change in him mentally and bodily. The impersonal feeling which had
marked his relations with the two women of this household, and with all
women, was suddenly gone. He longed for the arms of a woman round his
neck--it was five years since any woman's arms had been there, since he
had kissed any woman's lips. Now, in the hour when his fortunes were
again in the fatal balance, when he would be started again for a fair
race with the wife from whom he had been so long parted, another face
came between.

All at once the question Burlingame asked him, as to whether his wife was
living, came to him. He had never for an instant thought of her as dead,
but now a sharp and terrifying anxiety came to him. If his wife was
living! Living? Her death had never been even a remote possibility to his
mind, though the parting had had the decisiveness of death. Beneath all
his shrewdness and ability he was at heart a dreamer, a romancist to whom
life was an adventure in a half-real world.

It was impossible to sleep. He tossed from side to side. Once he got up
in the dark and drank great draughts of water; once again, as he thought
of Mona, his wife, as she was in the first days of their married life, a
sudden impulse seized him. He sprang from his bed, lit a candle, went to
the desk where the unopened letter lay, and took it out. With the feeling
that he must destroy this record, this unread but, as he knew, ugly
record of their differences, and so clear her memory of any cruelty, of
any act of anger, he was about to hold it to the flame of the candle when
he thought he heard a sound behind him as of the door of his room gently
closing. Laying the letter down, he went to the door and opened it. There
was no one stirring. Yet he had a feeling as though some one was there in
the darkness. His lips framed the words,

"Who is it? Is any one there?" but he did not utter them.

A kind of awe possessed him. He was Celtic; he had been fed on the
supernatural when he was a child; he had had strange, indefinable
experiences or hallucinations in the days when he lived at Castlegarry,
and all his life he had been a friend of the mystical. It is hard to tell
what he thought as he stood there and peered into the darkness of the
other room-the living-room of the house. He was in a state of trance,
almost, a victim of the night. But as he closed the door softly the words
of the song that Kitty Tynan had sung to him the day when he found her
brushing his coat came to him and flooded his brain. The last two verses
of the song kept drowning his sense of the actual, and he was swayed by
the superstition of bygone ancestors:

     "Whereaway goes my lad--tell me, has he gone alone?
     Never harsh word did I speak, never hurt I gave;
     Strong he was and beautiful; like a heron he has flown
     Hereaway, hereaway will I make my grave.

     "When once more the lad I loved hereaway, hereaway,
     Comes to lay his hand in mine, kiss me on the brow,
     I will whisper down the wind, he will weep to hear me say--
     'Whereaway, whereaway goes my lover now?'"

He went to bed again, but sleep would not come. The verses of the lament
kept singing in his brain. He tossed from side to side, he sought to
control himself, but it was of no avail. Suddenly he remembered the bed
of boughs he had made for himself at the place where Kitty had had her
meeting with the Young Doctor the previous day. Before he was shot he
used to sleep in the open in the summer-time. If he could get to sleep
anywhere it would be there.

Hastily dressing himself in flannel shirt and trousers, and dragging a
blanket from the bed, he found his way to the bedroom door, went into the
other room, and felt his way to the front door, which would open into the
night. All at once he was conscious of another presence in the room, but
the folk-song was still beating in his brain, and he reproved himself for
succumbing to fantasy. Finding the front door in the dark, he opened it
and stepped outside. There was no moon, but there were millions of stars
in the blue vault above, and there was enough light for him to make his
way to the place where he had slept "hereaway and oft."

He knew that the bed of boughs would be dry, but the night would be his,
and the good, cool ground, and the soughing of the pines, and the sweet,
infinitesimal and innumerable sounds of the breathing, sleeping earth. He
found the place and threw himself down. Why, here were green boughs under
him, not the dried remains of what he had placed there! Kitty--it was
Kitty, dear, gay, joyous, various Kitty, who had done this thing,
thinking that he might want to sleep in the open again after his illness.
Kitty--it was she who had so thoughtfully served him; Kitty, with the
instinct of strong, unselfish womanhood, with the gift of the outdoor
life, with the unpurchasable gift of friendship. What a girl she was! How
rich she could make the life of a man!

     "Hereaway my heart was soft; when he kissed my happy eyes,
     Held my hand, and laid his cheek warm against my brow,
     Home I saw upon the earth, heaven stood there in the skies
     Whereaway, whereaway goes my lover now?"

How different she was, this child of the West, of Nature, from the woman
he had left behind in England, the sophisticated, well-appointed,
well-controlled girl; too well-controlled even in the first days of
married life; too well-controlled for him who had the rushing impulses of
a Celtic warrior of olden days. Delicate, refined, perfectly poised, and
Kitty beside her like a sunflower to a sprig of heliotrope! Mona--Kitty,
the two names, the two who, so far, had touched his life, each in her own
way, as none others had done, they floated before his eyes till sight and
feeling grew dim. With a last effort he strove to eject Kitty from his
thoughts, for there was the wife he had won in the race of life, and he
must stand by her, play the game, ride honestly, even in exile from her,
run straight, even with that unopened, bitter, upbraiding letter in the--

He fell asleep, and soon and slowly and ever so dimly the opal light of
the prairie dawn crept shyly over the landscape. With it came stealing
the figure of a girl towards the group of trees where lay the man of
Lammis on the bed of green boughs which she had renewed for him. She had
followed him from the dark room, where she had waited near him through
the night--near him, to be near him for the last time; alone with him and
the kind, holy night before the morrow came which belonged to the other
woman, who had written to him as she never could have written to any man
in whose arms she ever had lain. And the pity and the tragedy of it was
that he loved his wife--the catfish wife. The sharp, pitiless instinct of
love told her that the stirring in his veins which had come of late to
him, which beat higher, even poignantly, when she was near him now, was
only the reflection of what he felt for his wife. She knew the unmerciful
truth, but it only deepened what she felt for him, yet what she must put
away from herself after to-morrow. Those verses she wrote--they were to
show that she had conquered herself. Yet, but a few hours after, here she
was kneeling outside his door at night, here she was pursuing him to the
place where he slept. The coming of the other woman--she knew well that
she was something to this man of men--had roused in her all she had felt,
had intensified it.

She trembled, but she drew near, accompanied by the heavenly odours of
the freshened herbs and foliage and the cool tenderness of the river
close by. In her white dress and loosened hair she was like some spirit
of a new-born world finding her way to the place she must call home. It
was all so dim, so like clouded silver, the trees and the grass and the
bushes and the night. Noiselessly she stole over the grass and into the
shadows of the trees where he lay. Again and again she paused. What would
she do if he was awake and saw her? She did not know. The moment must
take care of itself. She longed to find him sleeping.

It was so. The hazy light showed his face upward to the skies, his breast
rising and falling in a heavy, luxurious sleep.

She drew nearer and nearer till she was kneeling beside him. His face was
warm with colour even in the night air, warmer than she had ever seen it.
One hand lay across his chest and one was thrown back over his head with
the abandon of perfect rest. All the anxiety and restlessness which had
tortured him had fled, and his manhood showed bold and serene in the
brightening dusk.

A sob almost broke from her as she gazed her fill, then slowly she leaned
over and softly pressed her lips to his--the first time that ever in love
they had been given to any man. She had the impulse to throw her arms
round him, but she mastered herself. He stirred, but he did not wake. His
lips moved as she withdrew hers.

"My darling!" he said in the quick, broken way of the dreamer.

She rose swiftly and fled away among the trees towards the house.

What he had said in his sleep--was it in reality the words of
unconsciousness, or was it subconscious knowledge?--they kept ringing in
her ears.

"My darling!" he had said when she kissed him. There was a light of joy
in her eyes now, though she felt that the words were meant for another.
Yet it was her kiss, her own kiss, which had made him say it. If--but
with happy eyes she stole to her room.



CHAPTER X

"S. O. S."

At breakfast next morning Kitty did not appear. Had it been possible she
would have fled into the far prairie and set up a lonely tabernacle
there; for with the day came a reaction from the courage possessing her
the night before and in the opal wakening of the dawn. When broad
daylight came she felt as though her bones were water and her body a wisp
of straw. She could not bear to meet Shiel Crozier's eyes, and thus it
was she had an early breakfast on the plea that she had ironing to do.
She was not, however, prepared to see Jesse Bulrush drive up with a buggy
after breakfast and take Crozier away. When she did see them at the gate
the impulse came to cry out to Crozier; what to say she did not know, but
still to cry out. The cry on her lips was that which she had seen in the
newspaper the day before, the cry of the shipwrecked seafarers, the
signal of the wireless telegraphy, "S. O. S."--the piteous call, "Save
Our Souls!" It sprang to her lips, but it got no farther except in an
unconscious whisper. On the instant she felt so weak and shaken and
lonely that she wanted to lean upon some one stronger than herself; as
she used to lean against her father, while he sat with one arm round her
studying his railway problems. She had been self-sufficient enough all
her life,--"an independent little bird of freedom," as Crozier had called
her; but she was like a boat tossed on mountainous waves now.

"S. O. S.!--Save Our Souls!"

As though she really had made this poignant call Crozier turned round in
the buggy where he sat with Jesse Bulrush, pale but erect; and, with a
strange instinct, he looked straight to where she was. When he saw her
his face flushed, he could not have told why. Was it that there had
passed to him in his sleep the subconscious knowledge of the kiss which
Kitty had given him; and, after all, had he said "My darling" to her and
not to the wife far away across the seas, as he thought? A strange
feeling, as of secret intimacy, never felt before where Kitty was
concerned, passed through him now, and he was suddenly conscious that
things were not as they had ever been; that the old impersonal
comradeship had vanished. It disturbed, it almost shocked him. Whereupon
he made a valiant effort to recover the old ground, to get out of the new
atmosphere into the old, cheering air.

"Come and say good-bye, won't you?" he called to her.

"S. O. S.--S. O. S.--S. O. S.!" was the cry in her heart, but she called
back to him from her lips, "I can't. I'm too busy. Come back soon,
soldier."

With a wave of the hand he was gone. "Not a care in the world she has,"
Crozier said to Jesse Bulrush. "She's the sunniest creature Heaven ever
made."

"Too skittish for me," responded the other with a sidelong look, for he
had caught a note in Crozier's voice which gave him a sudden suspicion.

"You want the kind you can drive with an oatstraw and a chirp--eh, my
friend?"

"Well, I've got what I want," was the reply. "Neither of us 'll kick over
the traces."

"You are a lucky man," replied Crozier. "You've got a remarkably big
prize in the lottery. She is a fine woman, is Nurse Egan, and I owe her a
great deal. I only hope things turn out so well that I can give her a
good fat wedding-present. But I shan't be able to do anything that's
close to my heart if I can't get the cash for my share in the syndicate."

"Courage, soldier, as Kitty Tynan says," responded Jesse Bulrush
cheerily. "You never know your luck. The cash is waiting for you
somewhere, and it'll turn up, be sure of that."

"I'm not sure of that. I can see as plain as your nose how Bradley and
his clique have blocked me everywhere from getting credit, and I'd give
five years of my life to beat them in their dirty game. If I fail to get
it at Aspen Vale I'm done. But I'll have a try, a good big try. How far
exactly is it? I've never gone by this trail."

Bulrush shook his head reprovingly. "It's too long a journey for you to
take after your knock-out. You're not fit to travel yet. I don't like it
a bit. Lydia said this morning it was a crime against yourself, going off
like this, and--"

"Lydia?--oh yes, pardonnez-moi, m'sieu'! I did not know her name was
Lydia."

"I didn't either till after we were engaged." Crozier stared in blank
amazement. "You didn't know her name till after you were engaged? What
did you call her before that?"

"Why, I called her Nurse." answered the fat lover. "We all called her
that, and it sounded comfortable and homelike and good for every day. It
had a sort of York-shilling confidence, and your life was in her hands
--a first-class you-and-me kind of feeling."

"Why don't you stick to it, then?"

"She doesn't want it. She says it sounds so old, and that I'd be calling
her 'mother' next."

"And won't you?" asked Crozier slyly. "Everything in season," beamed
Jesse, and he shone, and was at once happy and composed. Crozier relapsed
into silence, for he was thinking that the lost years had been barren of
children. He turned to look at the home they had left. It was some
distance away now, but he could see Kitty still at the corner of the
house with a small harvest of laundered linen in her hand.

"She made that fresh bed of boughs for me--ah, but I had a good sleep
last night!" he added aloud. "I feel fit for the fight before me." He
drew himself up and began to nod here and there to people who greeted
him.

In the house behind them at that moment Kitty was saying to her mother,
"Where is he going, mother?"

"To Aspen Vale," was the reply. "If you'd been at breakfast you'd have
heard. He'll be gone two days, perhaps three."

Three days! She regretted now that she had not said to herself, "Courage,
soldier," and gone to say good-bye to him when he called to her. Perhaps
she would not see him again till after the other woman--till after the
wife-came. Then--then the house would be empty; then the house would be
so still. And then John Sibley would come and--



CHAPTER XI

IN THE CAMP OF THE DESERTER

Three days passed, but before they ended there came another telegram from
Mrs. Crozier stating the time of her expected arrival at Askatoon. It was
addressed to Kitty, and Kitty almost savagely tore it up into little
pieces and scattered it to the winds. She did not even wait to show it to
the Young Doctor; but he had a subtle instinct as to why she did not; and
he was rather more puzzled than usual at what was passing before his
eyes. In any case, the coming of the wife must alter all the relations
existing in the household of the widow Tynan. The old, unrestrained,
careless friendship could not continue. The newcomer would import an
element of caste and class which would freeze mother and daughter to the
bones. Crozier was the essence of democracy, which in its purest form is
akin to the most aristocratic element and is easily affiliated with it.
He had no fear of Crozier. Crozier would remain exactly the same; but
would not Crozier be whisked away out of Askatoon to a new fate,
reconciled to being a receiver of his wife's bounty.

"If his wife gets her arms round his neck, and if she wants to get them
there, she will, and once there he'll go with her like a gentleman," said
the Young Doctor sarcastically. Admiring Crozier as he did, he also had
underneath all his knowledge of life an unreasonable apprehension of
man's weakness where a woman was concerned. The man who would face a
cannon's mouth would falter before the face of a woman whom he could
crumple with one hand.

The wife arrived before Crozier returned, and the Young Doctor and Kitty
met the train. The local operator had not divulged to any one the
contents of the telegram to Kitty, and there were no staring spectators
on the platform. As the great express stole in almost noiselessly, like a
tired serpent, Kitty watched its approach with outward cheerfulness. She
had braced herself to this moment, till she looked the most buoyant,
joyous thing in the world. It had not come easily. With desperation she
had fought a fight during these three lonely days, till at last she had
conquered, sleeping each night on Crozier's star-lit bed of boughs and
coming in with the silver-grey light of dawn. Now she leaned forward with
heart beating fast; but with smiling face and with eyes so bright that
she deceived the Young Doctor.

There was no sign of inward emotion, of hidden troubles, as she leaned
forward to see the great lady step from the train--great in every sense
was this lady in her mind; imposing in stature, a Juno, a tragedy queen,
a Zenobia, a daughter of the gods who would not stoop to conquer. She
looked in vain, however, for the Mrs. Crozier she had imagined made no
appearance from the train. She hastened down the platform still with keen
eyes scanning the passengers, who were mostly alighting to stretch their
legs and get a breath of air.

"She's not here," she said at last darkly to the Young Doctor who had
followed her.

Then suddenly she saw emerge from a little group at the steps of a car a
child in a long dress--so it seemed to her, the being was so small and
delicate--and come forward, having hastily said good-bye to her
fellow-passengers. As the Young Doctor said afterwards, "She wasn't
bigger than a fly," and she certainly was as graceful and pretty and
piquante as a child-woman could be.

Presently, with her alert, rather assertive blue eyes she saw Kitty, and
came forward. "Miss Tynan?" she asked, with an encompassing look.

Now Kitty was idiomatic in her speech at times, and she occasionally used
slang of the best brand, but she avoided those colloquialisms which were
of the vocabulary of the uneducated. Indeed, she had had no inclination
to use them, for her father had set her a good example, and she liked to
hear good English spoken. That was why Crozier's talk had been like music
to her; and she had been keen to distinguish between the rhetorical
method of Augustus Burlingame, who modelled himself on the orators of all
the continents, and was what might be called a synthetic elocutionist.
Kitty was as simple and natural as a girl could be, and as a rule had
herself in perfect command; but she was so stunned by the sight of this
petite person before her that, in reply to Mrs. Crozier's question, she
only said abruptly

"The same!"

Then she came to herself and could have bitten her tongue out for that
plunge into the vernacular of the West; and forthwith a great prejudice
was set up in her mind against Mona Crozier, in whose eyes she caught a
look of quizzical criticism or, as she thought, contemptuous comment.
That for one instant she had been caught unawares and so had put herself
at a disadvantage angered her; but she had been embarrassed and
confounded by this miniature goddess, and her reply was a vague echo of
talk she heard around her every day. Also she could have choked the Young
Doctor, whom she caught looking at her with wondering humour, as though
he was trying to see "what her game was," as he said to her afterwards.

It was all due to the fact that from the day of the Logan Trial, and
particularly from the day when Shiel Crozier had told his life-story, she
had always imagined his wife as a stately Amazonian being with the
carriage of a Boadicea. She had looked for an empress in splendid
garments, and--and here was a humming-bird of a woman, scarcely bigger,
than a child, with the buzzing energy of a bee, but with a queer sort of
manfulness too; with a square, slightly-projecting chin, as Kitty came to
notice afterwards; together with some small lines about the mouth and at
the eyes, which came from trouble endured and suffering undergone. Kitty
did not notice that, but the Young Doctor took it in with his embracing
glance, as the wife saluted Kitty with her inward comment, which was:

"So this is the chit who wrote to me like a mother!" But Mona Crozier did
not underestimate Kitty for all that, and she wondered why it was that
Kitty had written as she did. One thing was quite clear: Kitty had had
good intentions, else why have written at all?

All these thoughts had passed through the mind of each, with a good many
others, while they were shaking hands; and the Young Doctor summoned his
man to carry Mona's hand-luggage to the extra buggy he had brought to the
station. One of the many other thoughts that were passing through three
active minds was Kitty's unspoken satire:

"Just think; this is the woman he talked of as though she was a moving
mountain which would fall on you and crush you, if you didn't look out!"

No doubt Crozier would have repudiated this description of his talk, but
the fact was he had unconsciously spoken of Mona with a sort of hush in
his voice; for a woman to him was something outside real understanding.
He had a romantic mediaeval view, which translated weakness and beauty
into a miracle, and what psychologists call "an inspired control."

"She's no bigger than--than a wasp," said Kitty to herself, after the
Young Doctor had assured Mrs. Crozier that her husband was almost well
again; that he had recovered more quickly than was expected, and had
gained strength wonderfully after the crisis was passed.

"An elephant can crush you, but a wasp can sting you," was Kitty's
further inward comment, "and that's why he was always nervous when he
spoke of her." Then, as the Young Doctor had already done, she noticed
the tiny lines about the tiny mouth, and the fine-spun webs about the
bird-bright eyes.

The Young Doctor attributed these lines mostly to anxiety and inward
suffering, but Kitty set them down as the outward signs of an inward
fretfulness and quarrelsomeness, which was rendered all the more
offensive in her eyes by the fact that Mona Crozier was the most,
spotless thing she had ever seen, at the end of a journey--and this, a
journey across a continent. Orderliness and prim exactness, taste and
fastidiousness, tireless tidiness were seen in every turn, in every fold
of her dress, in the way everything she wore had been put on, in the
decision of every step and gesture. Kitty noticed all this, and she said
to herself,

"Wound up like a watch, cut like a cameo," and she instinctively felt the
little dainty cameo-brooch at her own throat, the only jewellery she ever
wore, or had ever worn.

"Sensible of her not to bring a maid," commented the Young Doctor
inwardly. "That would have thrown Kitty into a fit. Yet how she manages
to look like this after six thousand miles of sea and land going is
beyond me--and Crozier so rather careless in his ways. Not what you would
call two notes in the same key, she and Crozier," he reflected as he told
her she need not trouble about her luggage, and took charge of the checks
for it.

"My husband--is--is he quite better now?" Mrs. Crozier asked with sharp
anxiety, as the two-seated "rig" started away with the ladies in the back
seat.

"Oh, better, thanks to him," was Kitty's reply, nodding towards the Young
Doctor.

"You have told him I was coming?"

"Wasn't it better to have a talk with you first?" asked Kitty meaningly.

Mrs. Crozier almost nervously twitched the little jet bag she carried,
then she looked Kitty in the eyes.

"You will, of course, have reason for thinking so, if you say it," was
her enigmatical reply. "And of course you will tell me. You did not let
him know that you had written to me, or that the doctor had cabled me?"

"Oh, you got his cable?" questioned Kitty with a little ring of triumph
in her voice, meant to reach the ears of the Young Doctor. It did reach
him, and he replied to the question.

"We thought it better not; chiefly because he had in this country planned
his life with an exclusiveness, and on a principle which did not,
unfortunately, take you into account."

The little lady blushed, or flushed. "May I ask how you know this to be
so, if it is so?" she asked, and there was the sharpness of the wasp in
her tone, as it seemed to Kitty.

"The Logan Trial--I mentioned it in my letter to you," interposed Kitty.
"He was shot for the evidence he gave at the trial. Well, at the trial a
great many questions were asked by a lawyer who wanted to hurt him, and
he answered them."

"Why did the lawyer want to hurt him?" Mona Crozier asked quickly.

"Just mean-hearted envy and spite and devilry," was Kitty's answer. "They
were both handsome men, and perhaps that was it."

"I never thought my husband handsome, though he was always distinguished
looking," was the quiet reply.

"Ah, but you haven't seen him at all for so long!" remarked Kitty, a
little spitefully.

"How do you know that?" Mrs. Crozier was nettled, though she did not show
it; but Kitty felt it was so, and was glad.

"He said so at the Logan Trial."

"Was that the kind of question asked at the trial?" the wife quickly
interjected.

"Yes, lots of that kind," returned Kitty.

"What was the object?"

"To make him look not so distinguished--like nothing. If a man isn't
handsome, but only distinguished"--Kitty's mood was dangerous--"and you
make him look cheap, that's one advantage, and--"

Here the Young Doctor, having observed the rising tide of antagonism in
the tone of the voices behind him, gently interposed, and made it clear
that the purpose was to throw a shadow on the past of her husband in
order to discredit his evidence; to which Mrs. Crozier nodded her
understanding. She liked the Young Doctor, as who did not who came in
contact with him, except those who had fear of him, and who had an idea
that he could read their minds as he read their bodies. And even this
girl at her side--Mona Crozier realised that the part she had played was
evidently an unselfish one, though she felt with piercing intuition that
whatever her husband thought of the girl, the girl thought too much of
her husband. Somehow, all in a moment, it made her sorry for the girl's
sake. The girl had meant well by her husband in sending for his wife,
that was certain; and she did not look bad. She was too sedately and
reservedly dressed, in spite of her auriferous face and head and her
burnished tone, to be bad; too fearless in eye, too concentrated to be
the rover in fields where she had no tenure or right.

She turned and looked Kitty squarely in the eyes, and a new, softer look
came into her own, subduing what to Kitty was the challenging alertness
and selfish inquisitiveness.

"You have been very good to Shiel--you two kind people," she said, and
there came a sudden faint mist to her eyes.

That was her lucky moment, and she spoke as she did just in time, for
Kitty was beginning to resent her deeply; to dislike her far more than
was reasonable, and certainly without any justice.

Kitty spoke up quickly. "Well, you see, he was always kind and good to
other people, and that was why--"

"But that Mr. Burlingame did not like him?" The wife had a strange
intuition regarding Mr. Burlingame. She was sure that there was a woman
in the case--the girl beside her?

"That was because Mr. Burlingame was not kind or good to other people,"
was Kitty's sedate response. There was an undertone of reflection in the
voice which did not escape Mrs. Crozier's senses, and it also caught the
ear of the Young Doctor, to whom there came a sudden revelation of the
reason why Burlingame had left Mrs. Tynan's house.

"Oh!" exclaimed Mrs. Crozier enigmatically. Presently, with suppressed
excitement as she saw the Young Doctor reining in the horses slowly, she
added: "My husband--when have you arranged that I should see him?"

"When he gets back--home," Kitty replied, with an accent on the last
word.

Mrs. Crozier started visibly. "When he gets back home-back from where? He
is not here?" she asked in a tone of chagrin. She had come a long way,
and she had pictured this meeting at the end of the journey with a
hundred variations, but never with this one--that she should not see
Shiel at once when the journey was over, if he was alive. Was it hurt
pride or disappointed love which spoke in her face, in her words? After
all, it was bad enough that her private life and affairs should be
dragged out in a court of law; that these two kind strangers, whom she
had never seen till a few minutes ago, should be in the inner circle of
knowledge of the life of her husband and herself, without her self-esteem
being hurt like this. She was very woman, and the look of the thing was
not nice to her eyes, while it must belittle her in theirs. Had this girl
done it on purpose? Yet why should she--she who had so appealed to her to
come to him--have sought to humiliate her?

Kitty was not quite sure what she ought to say. "You see, we expected him
back before this. He is very exact!"

"Very exact?" asked Mrs. Crozier in astonishment. This was a new phase of
Shiel Crozier's character. He must, indeed, have changed since he had
caused her so much anxiety in days gone by.

"Usen't he to be so?" asked Kitty, a little viciously. "He is so very
exact now," she added. "He expected to be back home before this"--how she
loved to use that word home--"and so we thought he would be here when you
arrived. But he has been detained at Aspen Vale. He had a big business
deal on--"

"A big business deal? Is he--is he in a large way of business?" Mona
asked almost incredulously. Shiel Crozier in a large way of business, in
a big business deal? It did not seem possible. His had ever been the game
of chance. Business--business?

"He doesn't talk himself, of course; that wouldn't be like him,"--Kitty
had joy in giving this wife the character of her husband, "but they say
that if he succeeds in what he's trying to do now he will make a great
deal of money."

"Then he has not made it yet?" asked Mrs. Crozier.

"He has always been able to pay his board regularly, with enough left for
a pew in church," answered Kitty with dry malice; for she mistook the
light in the other's eyes, and thought it was avarice; and the love of
money had no place in Kitty's make-up. She herself would never have been
influenced by money where a man was concerned.

"Here's the house," she quickly added; "our home, where Mr. Crozier
lives. He has the best room, so yours won't be quite so good. It's
mother's--she's giving it up to you. With your trunks and things, you'll
want a room to yourself," Kitty added, not at all unconscious that she
was putting a phase of the problem of Crozier and his wife in a very
commonplace way; but she did not look into Mrs. Crozier's face as she
said it.

Mrs. Crozier, however, was fully conscious of the poignancy of the
remark, and once again her face flushed slightly, though she kept outward
composure.

"Mother, mother, are you there?" Kitty called, as she escorted the wife
up the garden walk.

An instant later Mrs. Tynan cheerfully welcomed the disturber of the
peace of the home where Shiel Crozier had been the central figure for so
long.

     ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

     And I was very lucky--worse luck!
     God help the man that's afraid of his own wife!
     Sensitive souls, however, are not so many as to crowd each other



YOU NEVER KNOW YOUR LUCK

[BEING THE STORY OF A MATRIMONIAL DESERTER]

By Gilbert Parker

Volume 3.

     XII.   AT THE RECEIPT OF CUSTOM
     XIII.  KITTY SPEAKS HER MIND AGAIN
     XIV.   AWAITING THE VERDICT
     XV.    "MALE AND FEMALE CREATED HE THEM"
     XVI.   "'TWAS FOR YOUR PLEASURE YOU CAME HERE, YOU GO BACK FOR MINE"
     XVII.  WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT?

     EPILOGUE



CHAPTER XII

AT THE RECEIPT OF CUSTOM

"What are you laughing at, Kitty? You cackle like a young hen with her
first egg." So spoke Mrs. Tynan to her daughter, who alternately swung
backwards and forwards in a big rocking-chair, silently gazing into the
distant sky, or sat still and "cackled" as her mother had said.

A person of real observation and astuteness, however, would have noticed
that Kitty's laughter told a story which was not joy and gladness--
neither good humour nor the abandonment of a luxurious nature. It was
tinged with bitterness and had the smart of the nettle.

Her mother's question only made her laugh the more, and at last Mrs.
Tynan stooped over her and said, "I could shake you, Kitty. You'd make a
snail fidget, and I've got enough to do to keep my senses steady with all
the house-work--and now her in there!" She tossed a hand behind her
fretfully.

Quick with love for her mother, as she always was, Kitty caught the
other's trembling hand. "You've always had too much to do, mother; always
been slaving for others. You've never had time to think whether you're
happy or not, or whether you've got a problem--that's what people call
things, when they're got so much time on their hands that they make a
play of their inside feelings and work it up till it sets them crazy."

Mrs. Tynan's mouth tightened and her brow clouded. "I've had my problems
too, but I always made quick work of them. They never had a chance to
overlay me like a mother overlays her baby and kills it."

"Not 'like a mother overlays,' but 'as a mother overlays,'" returned
Kitty with a queer note to her voice. "That's what they taught me at
school. The teacher was always picking us up on that kind of thing. I
said a thing worse than that when Mrs. Crozier"--her fingers motioned
towards another room--"came to-day. I don't know what possessed me. I was
off my trolley, I suppose, as John Sibley puts it. Well, when Mrs. James
Shiel Gathorne Crozier said--oh, so sweetly and kindly--'You are Miss
Tynan?' what do you think I replied? I said to her, 'The same'!"

Rather an acidly satisfied smile came to Mrs. Tynan's lips. "That was
like the Slatterly girls," she replied. "Your father would have said it
was the vernacular of the rail-head. He was a great man for odd words,
but he knew always just what he wanted to say and he said it out. You've
got his gift. You always say the right thing, and I don't know why you
made that break with her--of all people."

A meditative look came into Kitty's eyes. "Mr. Crozier says every one has
an imp that loves to tease us, and trip us up, and make us appear
ridiculous before those we don't want to have any advantage over us."

"I don't want Mrs. Crozier to have any advantage over you and me, I can
tell you that. Things'll never be the same here again, Kitty dear, and
we've all got on so well; with him so considerate of every one, and a
good friend always, and just one of us, and his sickness making him seem
like our own, and--"

"Oh, hush--will you hush, mother!" interposed Kitty sharply. "He's going
away with her back to the old country, and we might just as well think
about getting other borders, for I suppose Mr. Bulrush and his bonny
bride will set up a little bulrush tabernacle on the banks of the
Nile"--she nodded in the direction of the river outside--"and they'll
find a little Moses and will treat it as their very own."

"Kitty, how can you!"

Kitty shrugged a shoulder. "It would be ridiculous for that pair to have
one of their own. It's only the young mother with a new baby that looks
natural to me."

"Don't talk that way, Kitty," rejoined her mother sharply. "You aren't
fit to judge of such things."

"I will be before long," said her daughter. "Anyway, Mrs. Crozier isn't
any better able to talk than I am," she added irrelevantly. "She never
was a mother."

"Don't blame her," said Mrs. Tynan severely. "That's God's business. I'd
be sorry for her, so far as that was concerned, if I were you. It's not
her fault."

"It's an easy way of accounting for good undone," returned Kitty.
"P'r'aps it was God's fault, and p'r'aps if she had loved him more--"

Mrs. Tynan's face flushed with sudden irritation and that fretful look
came to her eyes which accompanies a lack of comprehension. "Upon my
word, well, upon my word, of all the vixens that ever lived, and you
looking like a yellow pansy and too sweet for daily use! Such thoughts in
your head! Who'd have believed that you--!"

Kitty made a mocking face at her mother. "I'm more than a girl, I'm a
woman, mother, who sees life all around me, from the insect to the
mountain, and I know things without being told. I always did. Just life
and living tell me things, and maybe, too, the Irish in me that father
was."

"It's so odd. You're such a mixture of fun and fancy, at least you always
have been; but there's something new in you these days. Kitty, you make
me afraid--yes, you make your mother afraid. After what you said the
other day about Mr. Crozier I've had bad nights, and I get nervous
thinking."

Kitty suddenly got up, put her arm round her mother and kissed her. "You
needn't be afraid of me, mother. If there'd been any real danger, I
wouldn't have told you. Mr. Crozier's away, and when he comes back he'll
find his wife here, and there's the end of everything. If there'd been
danger, it would have been settled the night before he went away. I
kissed him that night as he was sleeping out there under the trees."

Mrs. Tynan sat down weakly and fanned herself with her apron. "Oh, oh,
oh, dear Lord!" she said. "I'm not afraid to tell you anything I ever
did, mother," declared Kitty firmly; "though I'm not prepared to tell you
everything I've felt. I kissed him as he slept. He didn't wake, he just
lay there sleeping--sleeping." A strange, distant, dreaming look came
into her eyes. She smiled like one who saw a happy vision, and an eerie
expression stole into her face. "I didn't want him to wake," she
continued. "I asked God not to let him wake. If he'd waked--oh, I'd have
been ashamed enough till the day I died in one way! Still he'd have
understood, and he'd have thought no harm. But it wouldn't have been fair
to him--and there's his wife in there," she added, breaking off into a
different tone. "They're a long way above us--up among the peaks, and
we're at the foot of the foothills, mother; but he never made us feel
that, did he? The difference between him and most of the men I've ever
seen! The difference!"

"There's the Young Doctor," said her mother reproachfully.

"He-him! He's by himself, with something of every sort in him from the
top to the bottom. There's been a ditcher in his family, and there may
have been a duke. But Shiel Crozier--Shiel"--she flushed as she said the
name like that, but a little touch of defiance came into her face too--
"he is all of one kind. He's not a blend. And he's married to her in
there!"

"You needn't speak in that tone about her. She's as fine as can be."

"She's as fine as a bee," retorted Kitty. Again she laughed that almost
mirthless laugh for which her mother had called her to account a moment
before. "You asked me a while ago what I was laughing at, mother," she
continued. "Why, can't you guess? Mr. Crozier talked of her always as
though she was--well, like the pictures you've seen of Britannia, all
swelling and spreading, with her hand on a shield and her face saying,
'Look at me and be good,' and her eyes saying, 'Son of man, get upon thy
knees!' Why, I expected to see a sort of great--goodness--gracious
goddess, that kept him frightened to death of her. Bless you, he never
opened her letter, he was so afraid of her; and he used to breathe once
or twice hard--like that, when he mentioned her!" She breathed in such
mock awe that her mother laughed with a little kindly malice too.

"Even her letter," Kitty continued remorselessly, "it was as though she
--that little sprite--wrote it with a rod of chastisement, as the Bible
says. It--"

"What do you know of the inside of that letter?" asked her mother,
staring.

"What the steam of the tea-kettle could let me see," responded Kitty
defiantly; and then, to her shocked mother, she told what she had done,
and what the nature of the letter was.

"I wanted to help him if I could, and I think I'll be able to do it--I've
worked it all out," Kitty added eagerly, with a glint of steel in the
gold of her eyes and a fantastic kind of wisdom in her look.

"Kitty," said her mother severely and anxiously, "it's madness
interfering with other people's affairs--of that kind. It never was any
use."

"This will be the exception to the rule," returned Kitty. "There she
is"--again she flicked a hand towards the other room--"after they've been
parted five years. Well, she came after she read my letter to her, and
after I'd read that unopened letter to him, which made me know how to put
it all to her. I've got intuition--that's Celtic and mad," she added,
with her chin thrusting out at her mother, to whom the Irish that her
husband had been, which was so deep in her daughter, was ever a mystery
to her, and of which she was more or less afraid.

"I've got a plan, and I believe--I know--it will work," Kitty continued.
"I've been thinking and thinking, and if there's trouble between them; if
he says he isn't going on with her till he's made his fortune; if he
throws that unopened letter in her face, I'll bring in my invention to
deal with the problem, and then you'll see! But all this fuss for a
little tiny button of a thing like that in there--pshaw! Mr. Crozier is
worth a real queen with the beauty of one of the Rhine maidens. How he
used to tell that story of the Rhinegold--do you remember? Wasn't it
grand? Well, I am glad now that he's going--yes, whatever trouble there
may be, still he is going. I feel it in my heart."

She paused, and her eyes took on a sombre tone. Presently, with a slight,
husky pain in her voice, like the faint echo of a wail, she went on: "Now
that he's going, I'm glad we've had the things he gave us, things that
can't be taken away from us. What you have enjoyed is yours for ever and
ever. It's memory; and for one moment or for one day or one year of those
things you loved, there's fifty years, perhaps, for memory. Don't you
remember the verses I cut out of the magazine:

         "'Time, the ruthless idol-breaker,
          Smileless, cold iconoclast,
          Though he rob us of our altars,
          Cannot rob us of the past.'"

"That's the way your father used to talk," replied her mother. "There's a
lot of poetry in you, Kitty."

"More than there is in her?" asked Kitty, again indicating the region
where Mrs. Crozier was.

"There's as much poetry in her as there is in--in me. But she can do
things; that little bit of a babywoman can do things, Kitty. I know
women, and I tell you that if that woman hadn't a penny, she'd set to and
earn it; and if her husband hadn't a penny, she'd make his home
comfortable just the same somehow, for she's as capable as can be. She
had her things unpacked, her room in order herself--she didn't want your
help or mine--and herself with a fresh dress on before you could turn
round."

Kitty's eyes softened still more. "Well, if she'd been poor he would
never have left her, and then they wouldn't have lost five years--think
of it, five years of life with the man you love lost to you!--and there
wouldn't be this tough old knot to untie now."

"She has suffered--that little sparrow has suffered, I tell you, Kitty.
She has a grip on herself like--like--"

"Like Mr. Crozier with a broncho under his hand," interjected Kitty.
"She's too neat, too eternally spick and span for me, mother. It's as
though the Being that made her said, 'Now I'll try and see if I can
produce a model of a grown-up, full-sized piece of my work.' Mrs. Crozier
is an exhibition model, and Shiel Crozier's over six feet three, and
loose and free, and like a wapiti in his gait. If he was a wapiti he'd
carry the finest pair of antlers ever was."

"Kitty, you make me laugh," responded the puzzled woman. "I declare,
you're the most whimsical creature, and--"

At that moment there came a tapping at the door behind them, and a small,
silvery voice said, "May I come in?" as the door opened and Mrs. Crozier,
very precisely yet prettily dressed, entered.

"Please make yourself at home--no need to rap," answered Mrs. Tynan. "Out
in the West here we live in the open like. There's no room closed to you,
if you can put up with what there is, though it's not what you're used
to."

"For five months in the year during the past five years I've lived in a
house about half as large as this," was Mrs. Crozier's reply. "With my
husband away there wasn't the need of much room."

"Well, he only has one room here," responded Mrs. Tynan. "He never seemed
too crowded in it."

"Where is it? Might I see it?" asked the small, dark-eyed, dark-haired
wife, with the little touch of nectarine bloom and a little powder also;
and though she spoke in a matter-of-fact tone, there was a look of
wistfulness in her eyes, a gleam of which Kitty caught ere it passed.

"You've been separated, Mrs. Crozier," answered the elder woman, "and
I've no right to let you into his room without his consent. You've had no
correspondence at all for five years--isn't that so?"

"Did he tell you that?" the regal little lady asked composedly, but with
an underglow of anger in her eyes.

"He told the court that at the Logan Trial," was the reply.

"At the murder trial--he told that?" Mrs. Crozier asked almost
mechanically, her face gone pale and a little haggard.

"He was obliged to answer when that wolf, Gus Burlingame, was after him,"
interposed Kitty with kindness in her tone, for, suddenly, she saw
through the outer walls of the little wife's being into the inner courts.
She saw that Mrs. Crozier loved her husband now, whatever she had done in
the past. The sight of love does not beget compassion in a loveless
heart, but there was love in Kitty's heart; and it was even greater than
she would have wished any human being to see; and by it she saw with
radium clearness through the veil of the other woman's being.

"Surely he could have avoided answering that," urged Mona Crozier
bitterly.

"Only by telling a lie," Kitty quickly answered, "and I don't believe he
ever told a lie in his life. Come," she added, "I will show you his room.
My mother needn't do it, and so she won't be responsible. You have your
rights as a wife until they're denied you. You mustn't come, mother," she
said to Mrs. Tynan, and she put a tender hand on her arm.

"This way," she added to the little person in the pale blue, which suited
well her very dark hair, blue eyes, and rose-touched cheeks.



CHAPTER XIII

KITTY SPEAKS HER MIND AGAIN

A moment later they stood inside Shiel Crozier's room. The first glance
his wife gave took in the walls, the table, the bureau, and the desk
which contained her own unopened letter. She was looking for a photograph
of herself.

There was none in the room, and an arid look came into her face. The
glance and its sequel did not escape Kitty's notice. She knew well--as
who would not?--what Mona Crozier was hoping to see, and she was human
enough to feel a kind of satisfaction in the wife's chagrin and
disappointment; for the unopened letter in the baize-covered desk which
she had read was sufficient warrant for a punishment and penalty due the
little lady, and not the less because it was so long delayed. Had not
Shiel Crozier had his draught of bitter herbs to drink over the past five
years?

Moreover, Kitty was sure beyond any doubt at all that Shiel Crozier's
wife, when she wrote the letter, did not love her husband, or at least
did not love him in the right or true way. She loved him only so far as
her then selfish nature permitted her to do; only in so far as the pride
of money which she had, and her husband had not, did not prevent; only in
so far as the nature of a tyrant could love--though the tyranny was pink
and white and sweetly perfumed and had the lure of youth. In her
primitive way Kitty had intuitively apprehended the main truth, and that
was enough to justify her in contributing to Mona Crozier's punishment.

Kitty's perceptions were true. At the start, Mona was in nature
proportionate to her size; and when she married she had not loved Crozier
as he had loved her. Maybe that was why--though he may not have admitted
it to himself--he could not bear to be beholden to her when his ruin
came. Love makes all things possible, and there is no humiliation in
taking from one who loves and is loved, that uncapitalised and communal
partnership which is not of the earth earthy. Perhaps that was why,
though Shiel loved her, he had had a bitterness which galled his soul;
why he had a determination to win sufficient wealth to make himself
independent of her. Down at the bottom of his chivalrous Irish heart he
had learned the truth, that to be dependent on her would beget in her
contempt for him, and he would be only her paid paramour and not her
husband in the true sense. Quixotic he had been, but under his quixotism
there was at least the shadow of a great tragical fact, and it had made
him a matrimonial deserter. Whether tragedy or comedy would emerge was
all on the knees of the gods.

"It's a nice room, isn't it?" asked Kitty when there had passed from Mona
Crozier's eyes the glaze or mist--not of tears, but stupefaction--which
had followed her inspection of the walls, the bureau, the table, and the
desk.

"Most comfortable, and so very clean--quite spotless," the wife answered
admiringly, and yet drearily. It made her feel humiliated that her man
could live this narrow life of one room without despair, with sufficient
resistance to the lure of her hundred and fifty thousand pounds and her
own delicate and charming person. Here, it would seem, he was content.
One easy-chair, made out of a barrel, a couch, a bed--a very narrow bed,
like a soldier's, a bed for himself alone--a small table, a shelf on the
wall with a dozen books, a little table, a bureau, and an old-fashioned,
sloping-topped, shallow desk covered with green baize, on high legs, so
that like a soldier too he could stand as he wrote (Crozier had made that
high stand for the desk himself). That was what the room conveyed to
her--the spirit of the soldier, bare, clean, strong, sparse: a workshop
and a chamber of sleep in one, like the tent of an officer on the march.
After the feeling had come to her, to heighten the sensation she espied a
little card hung under the small mirror on the wall. There was writing on
it, and going nearer, she saw in red pencil the words, "Courage,
soldier!"

These were the words which Kitty was so fond of using, and the girl had a
thrill of triumph now as she saw the woman from whom Crozier had fled
looking at the card. She herself had come and looked at it many times
since Crozier had gone, for he had only put it there just before he left
on his last expedition to Aspen Vale to carry through his deal. It had
brought a great joy to Kitty's heart. It had made her feel that she had
some share in his life; that, in a way, she had helped him on the march,
the vivandiere who carried the water-bag which would give him drink when
parched, battle-worn, or wounded.

Mona Crozier turned away from the card, sadly reflecting that nothing in
the room recalled herself; that she was not here in the very core of his
life in even the smallest way. Yet this girl, this sunny creature with
the call of youth and passion in her eyes, this Ruth of the wheat-fields,
came and went here as though she was a part of it. She did this and that
for him, and she was no doubt on such terms of intimacy with him that
they were really part of each other's life in a scheme of domesticity
unlike any boarding-house organization she had ever known. Here in
everything there was the air, the decorum, and the unartificial comfort
of home.

This was why he could live without his wedded wife and her gold and her
brocade, and the silk and the Persian rugs, and the grand piano and the
carriages and the high silk hat from Piccadilly. Her husband had had the
luxuries of wealth, and here he was living like a Spartan on his hill--
and alone; though he had a wife whom men had beseiged both before and
after marriage. A feeling of impotent indignation suddenly took
possession of her. Here he was with two women, unattached,--one
interesting and good and agreeable and good-looking, and the other almost
a beauty,--who were part of the whole rustic scheme in which he lived.
They made him comfortable, they did the hundred things that a valet or a
fond wife would do; they no doubt hung on every word he uttered--and he
could be interesting beyond most men. She had realised terribly how
interesting he was after he had fled; when men came about her and talked
to her in many ways, with many variations, but always with the one tune
behind all they said; always making for the one goal, whatever the point
from which they started or however circuitous their route.

As time went on she had hungrily longed to see her husband again, and
other men had no power to interest her; but still she had not sought to
find him. At first it had been offended pride, injured self-esteem, in
which the value of her own desirable self and of her very desirable
fortune was not lost; then it became the pride of a wife in whom the
spirit of the eternal woman was working; and she would have died rather
than have sought to find him. Five years--and not a word from him.

Five years--and not a letter from him! Her eyes involuntarily fell on the
high desk with the greenbaize top. Of all the letters he had written at
that desk not one had been addressed to her. Slowly, and with an
unintentional solemnity, she went up to it and laid a hand upon it. Her
chin only cleared the edge of it-he was a tall man, her husband.

"This is the place of secrets, I suppose?" she said, with a bright smile
and an attempt at gaiety to Kitty, who had watched her with burning eyes;
for she had felt the thrill of the moment. She was as sensitive to
atmosphere of this sad play of life as nearly and as vitally as the
deserted wife.

"I shouldn't think it a place of secrets," Kitty answered after a moment.
"He seldom locks it, and when he does I know where the key is."

"Indeed?" Mona Crozier stiffened. A look of reproach came into her eyes.
It was as though she was looking down from a great height upon a poor
creature who did not know the first rudiments of personal honour, the
fine elemental customs of life.

Kitty saw and understood, but she did not hasten to reply, or to set
things right. She met the lofty look unflinchingly, and she had pride and
some little malice too--it would do Mrs. Crozier good, she thought--in
saying, as she looked down on the humming-bird trying to be an eagle:

"I've had to get things for him-papers and so on, and send them on when
he was away, and even when he was at home I've had to act for him; and so
even when it was locked I had to know where the key was. He asked me to
help him that way."

Mona noted the stress laid upon the word home, and for the first time she
had a suspicion that this girl knew more than even the Logan Trial had
disclosed, and that she was being satirical and suggestive.

"Oh, of course," she returned cheerfully in response to Kitty--"you acted
as a kind of clerk for him!" There was a note in her voice which she
might better not have used. If she but knew it, she needed this girl's
friendship very badly. She ought to have remembered that she would not
have been here in her husband's room had it not been for the letter Kitty
had written--a letter which had made her heart beat so fast when she
received it, that she had sunk helpless to the floor on one of those soft
rugs, representing the soft comfort which wealth can bring.

The reply was like a slap in the face.

"I acted for him in any way at all that he wished me to," Kitty answered,
with quiet boldness and shining, defiant face.

Mona's hand fell away from the green baize desk, and her eyes again lost
their sight for a moment. Kitty was not savage by nature. She had been
goaded as much by the thought of the letter Crozier's wife had written to
him in the hour of his ruin as by the presence of the woman in this
house, where things would never be as they had been before. She had
struck hard, and now she was immediately sorry for it: for this woman was
here in response to her own appeal; and, after all, she might well be
jealous of the fact that Crozier had had close to him for so long and in
such conditions a girl like herself, younger than his own wife, and
prettier--yes, certainly prettier, she admitted to herself.

"He is that kind of a man. What he asked for, any good woman could give
and not be sorry," Kitty convincingly added when the knife had gone deep
enough.

"Yes, he was that kind of a man," responded the other gently now, and
with a great sigh of relief. Suddenly she came nearer and touched Kitty's
arm. "And thank you for saying so," she added. "He and I have been so
long parted, and you have seen so much more of him than I have of late
years! You know him better--as he is. If I said something sharp just now,
please forgive me. I am--indeed, I am grateful to you and your mother."

She paused. It was hard for her to say what she felt she must say, for
she did not know how her husband would receive her--he had done without
her for so long; and she might need this girl and her mother sorely. The
girl was a friend in the best sense, or she would not have sent for her.
She must remind herself of this continually lest she should take wrong
views.

Kitty nodded, but for a moment she did not reply. Her hand was on the
baize-covered desk. All at once, with determination in her eyes, she
said: "You didn't use him right or you'd not have been parted for five
years. You were rich and he was poor, he is poor now, though he may be
rich any day, and he wouldn't stay with you because he wouldn't take your
money to live on. If you had been a real wife to him he wouldn't have
seen that he'd be using your money; he'd have taken it as though it was
his own, out of the purse always open and belonging to both, just as
though you were partners. You must feel--"

"Hush, for pity's sake, hush!" interrupted the other.

"You are going to see him again," Kitty persisted. "Now, don't you think
it just as well to know what the real truth is?"

"How do you know what is the truth?" asked the trembling little stranger
with a last attempt to hold her position, to conceal from herself the
actual facts.

"The Young Doctor and my mother and I were with him all the time he was
ill after he was shot, and the Trial had only told half the truth. He
wanted us, his best friends here, to know the whole truth, so he told us
that he left you because he couldn't bear to live on your money. It was
you made him feel that, though he didn't say so. All the time he told his
story he spoke of you as though you were some goddess, some great
queen--"

A look of hope, of wonder, of relief came into the tiny creature's eyes.
"He spoke like that of me; he said--?"

"He said what no one else would have said, probably; but that's the way
with people in love--they see what no one else sees, they think what no
one else thinks. He talked with a sort of hush in his voice about you
till we thought you must be some stately, tall, splendid Helen of Troy
with a soul like an ocean, instead of"--she was going to say something
that would have seemed unkind, and she stopped herself in time--"instead
of a sort of fairy, one of the little folk that never grow up; the same
as my father used to tell me about."

"You think very badly of me, then?" returned the other with a sigh. Her
courage, her pride, her attempt to control the situation had vanished
suddenly, and she became for the moment almost the child she looked.

"We've only just begun. We're all his friends here, and we'll judge you
and think of you according to what happens between you and him. You wrote
him that letter!"

She suddenly placed her hand on the desk as the inspiration came to her
to have this matter of the letter out now, and to have Mrs. Crozier know
exactly what the position was, no matter what might be thought of
herself. She was only thinking of Shiel Crozier and his future now.

"What letter did I write?" There was real surprise and wonder in her
tone.

"That last letter you wrote to him--the letter in which you gave him fits
for breaking his promise, and talked like a proud, angry angel from the
top of the stairs."

"How do you know of that letter? He, my husband, told you what was in
that letter; he showed it to you?" The voice was indignant, low, and
almost rough with anger.

"Yes, your husband showed me the letter--unopened."

"Unopened--I do not understand." Mona steadied herself against the foot
of the bed and looked in a helpless way at Kitty. Her composure was gone,
though she was very quiet, and she had that look of a vital absorption
which possesses human beings in crises of their lives.

Suddenly Kitty took from behind a book on the shelf a key, opened the
desk, and drew out the letter which Crozier had kept sealed and unopened
all the years, which he had never read.

"Do you know that?" Kitty asked, and held it out for Mrs. Crozier to see.

Two dark blue eyes stared confusedly at the letter--at her own
handwriting. Kitty turned it over. "You see it is closed as it was when
you sent it to him. He has never opened it. He does not know what is in
it."

"He has-kept it--five years--unopened," Mona said in broken phrases
scarce above a whisper.

"He has never opened it, as you see."

"Give--give it to me," the wife said, stepping forward to stay Kitty's
hand as she opened the lid of the desk to replace the letter.

"It's not your letter--no, you shall not," said Kitty firmly as she
jerked aside the hand laid upon her wrist, and threw one arm on the lid,
holding it down as Mrs. Crozier tried to keep it open. Then with a swift
action of the free hand she locked the desk and put the key in her
pocket.

"If you destroyed this letter he would never believe but that it was
worse than it is; and it is bad enough, Heaven knows, for any woman to
have written to her husband--or to any one else's husband. You thought
you were the centre of the world when you wrote that letter. Without a
penny, he would be a great man, with a great future; but you are only a
pretty little woman with a fortune, who has thought a great lot of
herself, and far too much of herself only, when she wrote that letter."

"How do you know what is in it?" There was agony and challenge at once in
the other's voice. "Because I read it--oh, don't look so shocked! I'd do
it again. I knew just how to act when I'd read it. I steamed it open and
closed it up again. Then I wrote to you. I'm not sorry I did it. My
motive was a good one. I wanted to help him. I wanted to understand
everything, so that I'd know best what to do. Though he's so far above us
in birth and position, he seemed in one way like our own. That's the way
it is in new countries like this. We don't think of lots of things that
you finer people in the old countries do, and we don't think evil till it
trips us up. In a new country all are strangers among the pioneers, and
they have to come together. This town is only twenty years old, and
scarcely anybody knew each other at the start. We had to take each other
on trust, and we think the best as long as we can. Mr. Crozier came to
live with us, and soon he was just part of our life--not a boarder; not
some one staying the night who paid you what he owed you in the morning.
He was a friend you could say your prayers with, or eat your meals with,
or ride a hundred miles with, and just take it as a matter of course; for
he was part of what you were part of, all this out here--don't you
understand?"

"I am trying hard to do so," was the reply in a hushed voice. Here was a
world, here were people of whom Mona Crozier had never dreamed. They were
so much of an antique time--far behind the time that her old land
represented; not a new world, but the oldest world of all. She began to
understand the girl also, and her face took on a comprehending look, as
with eyes like bronze suns Kitty continued:

"So, though it was wrong--wicked--in one way, I read the letter, to do
some good by it, if it could be done. If I hadn't read it you wouldn't be
here. Was it worth while?"

At that moment there was a knock at the outer door of the other room, or,
rather, on the lintel of it. Mona started. Suppose it was her husband
--that was her thought.

Kitty read the look. "No, it isn't Mr. Crozier. It's the Young Doctor. I
know his knock. Will you come and see him?"

The wife was trembling, she was very pale, her eyes were rather staring,
but she fought to control herself. It was evident that Kitty expected her
to do so. It was also quite certain that Kitty meant to settle things
now, in so far as it could be done.

"He knows as much as you do?" asked Mrs. Crozier.

"No, the Young Doctor hasn't read the letter and I haven't told him
what's in it; but he knows that I read it, and what he doesn't know he
guesses. He is Mr. Crozier's honest, clever friend. I've got an idea--an
invention to put this thing right. It's a good one. You'll see. But I
want the Young Doctor to know about it. He never has to think twice. He
knows what to do the very first time."

A moment later they were in the other room, with the Young Doctor smiling
down at "the little spot of a woman," as he called Crozier's wife.



CHAPTER XIV

AWAITING THE VERDICT

"You look quite settled and at home," the Young Doctor remarked, as he
offered Mrs. Crozier a chair. She took it, for never in her life had she
felt so small physically since coming to the great, new land. The islands
where she was born were in themselves so miniature that the minds of
their people, however small, were not made to feel insignificant. But her
mind, which was, after all, vastly larger in proportion than the body
enshrining it, felt suddenly that both were lost in a universe. Her
impulse was to let go and sink into the helplessness of tears, to be
overwhelmed by an unconquerable loneliness; but the Celtic courage in
her, added to that ancient native pride which prevents one woman from
giving way before another woman towards whom she bears jealousy,
prevented her from showing the weakness she felt. Instead, it roused her
vanity and made her choose to sit down, so disguising perceptibly the
disparity of height which gave Kitty an advantage over her and made the
Young Doctor like some menacing Polynesian god.

Both these people had an influence and authority in Mona Crozier's life
which now outweighed the advantage wealth gave her. Her wealth had not
kept her husband beside her when delicate and perfumed tyranny began to
flutter its banners of control over him. Her fortune had driven him forth
when her beauty and her love ought to have kept him close to her,
whatever fate might bring to their door, or whatever his misfortune or
the catastrophe falling on him. It was all deeply humiliating, and the
inward dejection made her now feel that her body was the last effort of a
failing creative power. So she sat down instead of standing up in a vain
effort at retrieval.

The Young Doctor sat down also, but Kitty did not, and in her buoyant
youth and command of the situation she seemed Amazonian to Mona's eyes.
It must be said for Kitty that she remained standing only because a
restlessness had seized her which was not present when she was with Mona
in Crozier's room. It was now as though something was going to happen
which she must face standing; as though something was coming out of the
unknown and forbidding future and was making itself felt before its time.
Her eyes were almost painfully bright as she moved about the room doing
little things. Presently she began to lay a cloth and place dishes
silently on the table--long before the proper time, as her mother
reminded her when she entered for a moment and then quickly passed on
into the kitchen, at a warning glance from Kitty, which said that the
Young Doctor and Mona were not to be disturbed.

"Well, Askatoon is a place where one feels at home quickly," added the
Young Doctor, as Mona did not at once respond to his first remark. "Every
one who comes here always feels as though he--or she--owns the place.
It's the way the place is made. The trouble with most of us is that we
want to put the feeling into practice and take possession of 'all and
sundry.' Isn't that true, Miss Tynan?"

"As true as most things you say," retorted Kitty, as she flicked the
white tablecloth. "If mother and I hadn't such wonderful good health I
suppose you'd come often enough here to give you real possession. Do you
know, Mrs. Crozier," she added, with her wistful eyes vainly trying to be
merely mischievous, "he once charged me five dollars for torturing me
like a Red Indian. I had put my elbow out of joint, and he put it in
again with his knee and both hands, as though it was the wheel of a wagon
and he was trying to put on the tire."

"Well, you were running round soon after," answered the Young Doctor.
"But as for the five dollars, I only took it to keep you quiet. So long
as you had a grievance you would talk and talk and talk, and you never
were so astonished in your life as when I took that five dollars."

"I've taken care never to dislocate my elbow since."

"No, not your elbow," remarked the Young Doctor meaningly, and turned to
Mona, who had now regained her composure.

"Well, I shan't call you in to reduce the dislocation--that's the medical
term, isn't it?" persisted Kitty, with fire in her eyes.

"What is the dislocation?" asked Mona, with a subtle, inquiring look but
a manner which conveyed interest.

The Young Doctor smiled. "It's only her way of saying that my mind is
unhinged and that I ought to be sent to a private hospital for two."

"No--only one," returned Kitty.

"Marriage means common catastrophe, doesn't it?" he asked quizzically.

"Generally it means that one only is permanently injured," replied Kitty,
lifting a tumbler and looking through it at him as though to see if the
glass was properly polished.

Mona was mystified. At first she thought there had been oblique
references to her husband, but these remarks about marriage would
certainly exclude him. Yet, would they exclude him? During the time in
which Shiel's history was not known might there not have been--but no, it
could not have been so, for it was Kitty who had sent the letter which
had brought her to Askatoon.

"Are you to be married--soon?" she asked of Kitty, with a friendly yet
trembling smile, for her agitation was, despite appearances, troubling
every nerve.

"I've thought of it quite lately," responded Kitty calmly, seating
herself now and looking straight into the eyes of the woman, who was
suggesting more truth than she knew.

"May I congratulate you? Am I justified on such slight acquaintance? I am
sure you have chosen wisely," was the smooth rejoinder.

Kitty did not shrink from looking Mona in the eyes. "It isn't quite time
for congratulations yet, and I'm not sure I've chosen wisely. My family
very strongly disapproves. I can't help that, of course, and I may have
to elope and take the consequences."

"It takes two to elope," interposed the Young Doctor, who thought that
Kitty, in her humorous extravagance, was treading very dangerous ground
indeed. He was thinking of Crozier and Kitty; but Kitty was thinking of
Crozier, and meaning John Sibley. Somehow she could not help playing with
this torturing thing in the presence of the wife of the man who was the
real "man in possession" so far as her life was concerned.

"Why, he is waiting on the doorstep," replied Kitty boldly and referring
only to John Sibley.

At that minute there was the crunch of gravel on the pathway and the
sound of a quick footstep. Kitty and Mona were on their feet at once.
Both recognised the step of Shiel Crozier. Presently the Young Doctor
recognised it also, but he rose with more deliberation.

At that instant a voice calling from the road arrested Crozier's advance
to the open door of the room where they were. It was Jesse Bulrush asking
a question. Crozier paused in his progress, and in the moment's time it
gave, Kitty, with a swift look of inquiry and with a burst of the real
soul in her, caught the hand of Crozier's wife and pressed it warmly.
Then, with a face flushed and eyes that looked straight ahead of her, she
left the room as the Young Doctor went to the doorway and stepped
outside. Within ten feet of the door he met Crozier.

"How goes it, patient?" he said, standing in Crozier's way. Being a man
who thought much and wisely for other people, he wanted to give the wife
time to get herself in control.

"Right enough in your sphere of operations," answered Crozier.

"And not so right in other fields, eh?"

"I've come back after a fruitless hunt. They've got me, the thieves!"
said Crozier, with a look which gave his long face an almost tragic
austerity. Then suddenly the look changed, the mediaeval remoteness
passed, and a thought flashed up into his eyes which made his expression
alive with humour.

"Isn't it wonderful, that just when a man feels he wants a rope to hang
himself with, the rope isn't to be had?" he exclaimed. "Before he can lay
his hands on it he wants to hang somebody else, and then he has to pause
whether he will or no. Did I ever tell you the story of the old
Irishwoman who lived down at Kenmare, in Kerry? Well, she used to sit at
her doorway and lament the sorrows of the world with a depth of passion
that you'd think never could be assuaged. 'Oh, I fale so bad, I am so
wake--oh, I do fale so bad,' she used to say. 'I wish some wan would take
me by the ear and lade me round to the ould shebeen, and set me down, and
fill a noggen of whusky and make me dhrink it--whether I would or no!'
Whether I would or no I have to drink the cup of self-denial," Crozier
continued, "though Bradley and his gang have closed every door against me
here, and I've come back without what I went for at Aspen Vale, for my
men were away. I've come back without what I went for, but I must just
grin and bear it." He shrugged his shoulders and gave a great sigh.

"Perhaps you'll find what you went for here," returned the Young Doctor
meaningly.

"There's a lot here--enough to make a man think life worth while"--inside
the room the wife shrank at the words, for she could hear all--"but just
the same I'm not thinking the thing I went to look for is hereabouts."

"You never know your luck," was the reply. "'Ask and you shall find,
knock and it shall be opened unto you.'"

The long face blazed up with humour again. "Do you mean that I haven't
asked you yet?" Crozier remarked, with a quizzical look, which had still
that faint hope against hope which is a painful thing for a good man's
eyes to see.

The Young Doctor laid a hand on Crozier's arm. "No, I didn't mean that,
patient. I'm in that state when every penny I have is out to keep me from
getting a fall. I'm in that Starwhon coal-mine down at Bethbridge, and
it's like a suction-pump. I couldn't borrow a thousand dollars myself
now. I can't do it, or I'd stand in with you, Crozier. No, I can't help
you a bit; but step inside. There's a room in this house where you got
back your life by the help of a knife. There's another room in there
where you may get back your fortune by the help of a wife."

Stepping aside he gave the wondering Crozier a slight push forward into
the doorway, then left him and hurried round to the back of the house,
where he hoped he might see Kitty.

The Young Doctor found Kitty pumping water on a pail of potatoes and
stirring them with a broom-handle.

"A most unscientific way of cleaning potatoes," he said, as Kitty did not
look at him. "If you put them in a trough where the water could run off,
the dirt would go with the water, and you would'nt waste time and
intelligence, and your fingers would be cleaner in the end."

The only reply Kitty made was to flick the broomhead at him. It had been
dipped in water, and the spray from it slightly spattered his face.

"Will you never grow up?" he exclaimed as he applied a handkerchief to
his ruddy face.

"I'd like you so much better if you were younger--will you never be
young?" she asked.

"It makes a man old before his time to have to meet you day by day and
live near you."

"Why don't you try living with me?" she retorted. "Ah, then, you meant me
when you said to Mrs. Crozier that you were going to be married? Wasn't
that a bit 'momentary'? as my mother's cook used to remark. I think we
haven't 'kept company'--you and I."

"It's true you haven't been a beau of mine, but I'd rather marry you than
be obliged to live with you," was the paradoxical retort.

"You have me this time," he said, trying in vain to solve her reply.

Kitty tossed her head. "No, I haven't got you this time, thank Heaven,
and I don't want you; but I'd rather marry you than live with you, as I
said. Isn't it the custom for really nice-minded people to marry to get
rid of each other--for five years, or for ever and ever and ever?"

"What a girl you are, Kitty Tynan!" he said reprovingly. He saw that she
meant Crozier and his wife.

Kitty ceased her work for an instant and, looking away from him into the
distance, said: "Three people said those same words to me all in one day
a thousand years ago. It was Mr. Crozier, Jesse Bulrush, and my mother;
and now you've said it a thousand years after; as with your inexpensive
education and slow mind you'd be sure to do."

"I have an idea that Mrs. Crozier said the same to you also this very
day. Did she--come, did she?"

"She didn't say, 'What a girl you are!' but in her mind she probably did
say, 'What a vixen!"'

The Young Doctor nodded satirically. "If you continued as you began when
coming from the station, I'm sure she did; and also I'm sure it wasn't
wrong of her to say it."

"I wanted her to say it. That's why I uttered the too, too utter-things,
as the comic opera says. What else was there to do? I had to help cure
her."

"To cure her of what, miss?"

"Of herself, doctor-man."

The Young Doctor's look became graver. He wondered greatly at this young
girl's sage instinct and penetration. "Of herself? Ah, yes, to think more
of some one else than herself! That is--"

"Yes, that is love," Kitty answered, her head bent over the pail and
stirring the potatoes hard.

"I suppose it is," he answered.

"I know it is," she returned.

"Is that why you are going to be married?" he asked quizzically.

"It will probably cure the man I marry of himself," she retorted. "Oh,
neither of us know what we are talking about--let's change the subject!"
she added impatiently now, with a change of mood, as she poured the water
off the potatoes.

There was a moment's silence in which they were both thinking of the same
thing. "I wonder how it's all going inside there?" he remarked. "I hope
all right, but I have my doubts."

"I haven't any doubt at all. It isn't going right," she answered
ruefully; "but it has to be made go right."

"Whom do you think can do that?"

Kitty looked him frankly and decisively in the face. Her eyes had the
look of a dreaming pietist for the moment. The deep-sea soul of her was
awake. "I can do it if they don't break away altogether at once. I helped
her more than you think. I told her I had opened that letter."

He gasped. "My dear girl--that letter--you told her you had done such a
thing, such--!"

"Don't dear girl me, if you please. I know what I am doing. I told her
that and a great deal more. She won't leave this house the woman she was
yesterday. She is having a quick cure--a cure while you wait."

"Perhaps he is cured of her," remarked the Young Doctor very gravely.

"No, no, the disease might have got headway, but it didn't," Kitty
returned, her face turned away. "He became a little better; but he was
never cured. That's the way with a man. He can never forget a woman he
has once cared for, and he can go back to her half loving her; but it
isn't the case with a woman. There's nothing so dead to a woman as a man
when she's cured of him. The woman is never dead to the man, no matter
what happens."

The Young Doctor regarded her with a strange, new interest and a puzzled
surprise. "Sappho--Sappho, how did you come to know these things!" he
exclaimed. "You are only a girl at best, or something of a boy-girl at
worst, and yet you have, or think you have, got into those places which
are reserved for the old-timers in life's scramble. You talk like an
ancient dame."

Kitty smiled, but her eyes had a slumbering look as if she was half
dreaming. "That's the mistake most of you make--men and women. There's
such a thing as instinct, and there's such a thing as keeping your eyes
open."

"What did Mrs. Crozier say when you told her about opening that
five-year-old letter? Did she hate you?"

Kitty nodded with wistful whimsicality. "For a minute she was like an
industrious hornet. Then I made her see she wouldn't have been here at
all if I hadn't opened it. That made, her come down from the top of her
nest on the church-spire, and she said that, considering my
opportunities, I was not such an aboriginal after all."

"Now, look you, Saphira, prospective wife of Ananias, she didn't say
that, of course. Still, it doesn't matter, does it? The point is, suppose
he opens that letter now."

"If he does, he'll probably not go with her. It was a letter that would
send a man out with a scalping-knife. Still, if Mr. Crozier had his
land-deal through he might not read the letter as it really is. His brain
wouldn't then be grasping what his eyes saw."

"He hasn't got his land-deal through. He told me so just now before he
saw her."

"Then it's ora pro nobis--it's pray for us hard," rejoined Kitty
sorrowfully. "Poor man from Kerry!" At that moment Mrs. Tynan came from
the house, her face flushed, her manner slightly agitated. "John Sibley
is here, Kitty--with two saddle-horses.... He says you promised to ride
with him to-day."

"I probably did," responded Kitty calmly. "It's a good day for riding
too. But John will have to wait. Please tell him to come back at six
o'clock. There'll be plenty of time for an hour's ride before sundown."

"Are you lame, dear child?" asked her mother ironically. "Because if
you're not, perhaps you'll be your own messenger. It's no way to treat a
friend--or whatever you like to call him."

Kitty smiled tenderly at her mother. "Then would you mind telling him to
come here, mother darling? I'm giving this doctor-man a prescription. Ah,
please do what I ask you, mother! It is true about the prescription. It's
not for himself; it's for the foreign people quarantined inside." She
nodded towards the room where Shiel Crozier and his wife were shaping
their fate.

As her mother disappeared with a gesture of impatience and the remark
that she washed her hands of the whole Sibley business, the Young Doctor
said to Kitty, "What is your prescription, Ma'm'selle Saphira? Suppose
they come out of quarantine with a clean bill of health?"

"If they do that you needn't make up the prescription. But if Aspen Vale
hasn't given him what he wanted, then Mr. Shiel Crozier will still be an
exile from home and the angel in the house."

"What is the prescription? Out with your Sibylline leaves!"

"It's in that unopened letter. When the letter is opened you'll see it
effervesce like a seidlitz powder."

"But suppose I am not here when the letter is opened?"

"You must be here-you must. You'll stay now, if you please."

"I'm afraid I can't. I have patients waiting." Kitty made an impetuous
gesture of command. "There are two patients here who are at the crisis of
their disease. You may be wanted to save a life any minute now."

"I thought that with your prescription you were to be the AEsculapius."

"No, I'm only going to save the reputation of AEsculapius by giving him a
prescription got from a quack to give to a goose."

"Come, come, no names. You are incorrigible. I believe you'd have your
joke on your death-bed."

"I should if you were there. I should die laughing," Kitty retorted.

"There will be no death-bed for you, miss. You'll be translated--no,
that's not right; no one could translate you."

"God might--or a man I loved well enough not to marry him."

There was a note of emotion in her laugh as she uttered the words. It did
not escape the ear of the Young Doctor, who regarded her fixedly for a
moment before he said: "I'm not sure that even He would be able to
translate you. You speak your own language, and it's surely original. I
am only just learning its alphabet. No one else speaks it. I have a fear
that you'll be terribly lonely as you travel along the trail, Kitty
Tynan."

A light of pleasure came into Kitty's eyes, though her face was a little
drawn. "You really do think I'm original--that I'm myself and not like
anybody else?" she asked him with a childlike eagerness.

"Almost more than any one I ever met," answered the Young Doctor gently;
for he saw that she had her own great troubles, and he also felt now
fully what this comedy or tragedy inside the house meant to her. "But
you're terribly lonely--and that's why: because you are the only one of
your kind."

"No, that's why I'm not going to be lonely," she said, nodding towards
the corner of the house where John Sibley appeared.

Suddenly, with a gesture of confidence and almost of affection, she laid
a hand on the Young Doctor's breast. "I've left the trail, doctor-man.
I'm cutting across the prairie. Perhaps I shall reach camp and perhaps I
shan't; but anyhow I'll know that I met one good man on the way. And I
also saw a resthouse that I'd like to have stayed at, but the blinds were
drawn and the door was locked."

There was a strange, eerie look in her face again as her eyes of soft
umber dwelt on his for a moment; then she turned with a gay smile to John
Sibley, who had seen her hand on the Young Doctor's chest without dismay;
for the joy of Kitty was that she hid nothing; and, anyhow, the Young
Doctor had a place of his own; and also, anyhow, Kitty did what she
pleased. Once when she had visited the Coast the Governor had talked to
her with great gusto and friendliness; and she had even gone so far as to
touch his arm while, chuckling at her whimsically, he listened to a story
she told him of life at the rail-head. And the Governor had patted her
fingers in quite a fatherly way--or not, as the mind of the observer saw
it; while subsequently his secretary had written verses to her.

"So you've been gambling again--you've broken your promise to me," she
said reprovingly to Sibley, but with that wonderful, wistful laughter in
her eyes.

Sibley looked at her in astonishment. "Who told you?" he asked. It had
only happened the night before, and it didn't seem possible she could
know.

He was quite right. It wasn't possible she could know, and she didn't
know. She only divined.

"I knew when you made the promise you couldn't keep it; that's why I
forgive you now," she added. "Knowing what I did about you, I oughtn't to
have let you make it."

The Young Doctor saw in her words a meaning that John Sibley could never
have understood, for it was a part of the story of Crozier's life
reproduced--and with what a different ending!



CHAPTER XV

"MALE AND FEMALE CREATED HE THEM"

When Crozier stepped out of the bright sunlight into the shady
living-room of the Tynan home, his eyes were clouded by the memory of his
conference with Studd Bradley and his financial associates, and by the
desolate feeling that the five years since he had left England had
brought him nothing--nothing at all except a new manhood. But that he did
not count an asset, because he had not himself taken account of this new
capital. He had never been an introspective man in the philosophic sense,
and he never had thought that he was of much account. He had lived long
on his luck, and nothing had come of it--"nothing at all, at all," as he
said to himself when he stepped inside the room where, unknown to him,
his wife awaited him. So abstracted was he, so disturbed was his gaze
(fixed on the inner thing), that he did not see the figure in blue and
white over against the wall, her hand on the big arm-chair once belonging
to Tyndall Tynan, and now used always by Shiel Crozier, "the white-haired
boy of the Tynan sanatorium," as Jesse Bulrush had called him.

There was a strange timidity, and a fear not so strange, in Mona's eyes
as she saw her husband enter with that quick step which she had so
longingly remembered after he had fled from her; but of which she had
taken less account when he was with her at Lammis long ago-When Crozier
of Lammis was with her long ago. How tall and shapely he was! How large
he loomed with the light behind him! How shadowed his face and how
distant the look in his eyes.

Somehow the room seemed too small for him, and yet he had lived in this
very house for four years and more; he had slept in the next room all
that time; had eaten at this table and sat in this very chair--Mrs. Tynan
had told her that--for this long time, like the master of a household.
With that far-away, brooding look in his face, he seemed in one sense as
distant from her as when she was in London in those dreary, desolate
years with no knowledge of his whereabouts, a widow in every sense save
one; but in her acts--that had to be said for her--a wife always and not
a widow. She had not turned elsewhere, though there had been temptation
enough to do so.

Crozier advanced to the centre of the room, even to the table laid for
dinner, before he was conscious of some one in the room, of a figure by
the chair. For a moment he stood still, startled as if he had seen a
vision, and his sight became blurred. When it cleared, Mona had come a
step nearer to him, and then he saw her clearly. He caught his breath as
though Life had burst upon him with some staggering revelation. If she
had been a woman of genius, as in her way Kitty Tynan was, she would have
spoken before he had a chance to do so. Instead, she wished to see how he
would greet her, to hear what he would say. She was afraid of him now. It
was not her gift to do the right thing by perfect instinct; she had to
think things out; and so she did now. Still it has to be said for her
that she also had a strange, deep sense of apprehension in the presence
of the man whose arms had held her fast, and then let her go for so
bitter a length of time, in which her pride was lacerated and her heart
brought low. She did not know how she was going to be met now, and a
womanly shyness held her back. If she had said one word--his name
only--it might have made a world of difference to them both at that
moment; for he was tortured by failure, and now when hope was gone, here
was the woman whom he had left in order to force gifts from fate to bring
himself back to her.

"You--you here!" he exclaimed hoarsely. He did not open his arms to her
or go a step nearer to her. His look was that of blank amazement, of
mingled remembrance and stark realisation. This was a turn of affairs for
which he had made no calculation. There had ever been the question of his
return to her, but never of her coming to him. Yet here she was,
debonnaire and fresh and perfectly appointed--and ah, so terribly neat
and spectacularly finessed! Here she was with all that expert formality
which, in the old days, had been a reproach to his loosely-swung life and
person, to his careless, almost slovenly but well-brushed, cleanly, and
polished ease--not like his wife, as though he had been poured out of a
mould and set up to dry. He was not tailor-made, and she had ever been so
exact that it was as though she had been crystallised, clothes and all--a
perfect crystal, yet a crystal. It was this very perfection, so charming
to see, but in a sense so inhuman, which had ever dismayed him. "What
should I be doing in the home of an angel!" he had exclaimed to himself
in the old home at Lammis.

Truth is, he ought never to have had such a feeling, and he would not
have had it, if she had diffused the radiance of love, which would have
made her outer perfectness mere slovenliness beside her inner charm and
magnetism. Very little of all this passed through Crozier's mind, as with
confused vision he looked at her. He had borne the ordeal of the
witness-box in the Logan Trial with superb coolness; he had been in
physical danger over and over again, and had kept his head; he had never
been faced by a human being who embarrassed him--except his own wife.
"There is no fear like that of one's own wife," was the saying of an
ancient philosopher, and Crozier had proved it true; not because of
errors committed, but because he was as sensitive as a girl of
sensibility; because he felt that his wife did not understand him, and he
was ever in fear of doing the wrong thing, while eager beyond telling to
please her. After all, during the past five years, parted from her while
loving her, there had still been a feeling of relief unexplainable to
himself in not having to think whether he was pleasing her or not, or to
reproach himself constantly that he was failing to conform to her
standard.

"How did you come--why? How did you know?" he asked helplessly, as she
made no motion to come nearer; as she kept looking at him with an
expression in her eyes wholly unfamiliar to him. Yet it was not wholly
unfamiliar, for it belonged to the days when he courted her, when she
seemed to have got nearer to him than in the more intimate relations of
married life.

"Is--is that all you have to say to me, Shiel?" she asked, with a
swelling note of feeling in her voice; while there was also emerging in
her look an elusive pride which might quickly become sharp indignation.
That her deserter should greet her so after five years of such offence to
a woman's self-respect, as might entitle her to become a rebel against
matrimony, was too cruel to be borne. This feeling suddenly became alive
in her, in spite of a joy in her heart different from that which she had
ever known; in defiance of the fact that now that they were together once
more, what would she not do to prevent their being driven apart again!

"After abandoning me for five years, is that all you have to say to me,
Shiel? After I have suffered before the world--"

He threw up his arms with a passionate gesture. "The world!" he
exclaimed--"the devil take the world! I've been out of it for five years,
and well out of it. What do I care for the world!"

She drew herself up in a spirit of defence. "It isn't what you care for
the world, but I had to live in it--alone, and because I was alone,
eyebrows were lifted. It has been easy enough for you. You were where no
one knew you. You had your freedom"--she advanced to the table, and, as
though unconsciously, he did the same, and they gazed at each other over
the white linen and its furnishings--"and no one was saying that your
wife had left you for this or that, because of her bad conduct or of
yours. Either way it was not what was fair and just; yet I had to bear
and suffer, not you. There is no pain like it. There I was in misery
and--"

A bitter smile came to his lips. "A woman can endure a good deal when she
has all life's luxuries in her grasp. Did you ever think, Mona, that a
man must suffer when he goes out into a world where he knows no one,
penniless, with no trade, no profession, nothing except his own helpless
self? He might have stayed behind among the luxuries that belonged to
another, and eaten from the hand of his wife's charity, but"--(all the
pride and pain of the old situation rose up in him, impelled by the
brooding of the years of separation, heightened by the fact that he was
no nearer to his goal of financial independence of her than he was when
he left London five years before)--"but do you think, no matter what I've
done, broken a pledge or not, been in the wrong a thousand times as much
as I was, that I'd be fed by the hand of one to whom I had given a pledge
and broken it? Do you think that I'd give her the chance to say, or not
to say, but only think, 'I forgive you; I will give you your food and
clothes and board and bed, but if you are not good in the future, I will
be very, very angry with you'? Do you think--?"

His face was flaming now. The pent-up flood of remorse and resentment and
pride and love--the love that tore itself in pieces because it had not
the pride and self-respect which independence as to money gives--broke
forth in him, fresh as he was from a brutal interview with the financial
clique whom he had given the chance to make much money, and who were now,
for a few thousand dollars, trying to cudgel him out of his one
opportunity to regain his place in his lost world.

"I live--I live like this," he continued, with a gesture that embraced
the room where they were, "and I have one room to myself where I have
lived over four years"--he pointed towards it. "Do you think I would
choose this and all it means--its poverty and its crudeness, its distance
from all I ever had and all my people had, if I could have stood the
other thing--a pauper taking pennies from his own wife? I had had taste
enough of it while I had a little something left; but when I lost
everything on Flamingo, and I was a beggar, I knew I could not stand the
whole thing. I could not, would not, go under the poor-law and accept
you, with the lash of a broken pledge in your hand, as my guardian. So
that's why I left, and that's why I stay here, and that's why I'm going
to stay here, Mona."

He looked at her firmly, though his face had that illumination which the
spirit in his eyes--the Celtic fire drawn through the veins of his
ancestors--gave to all he did and felt; and now as in a dream he saw
little things in her he had never seen before. He saw that a little
strand of her beautiful dark hair had broken away from its ordered place
and hung prettily against the rosy, fevered skin of her cheek just beside
her ear. He saw that there were no rings on her fingers save one, and
that was her wedding-ring--and she had always been fond of wearing rings.
He noted, involuntarily, that in her agitation the white tulle at her
bosom had been disturbed into pretty disarray, and that there was neither
brooch nor necklace at her breast or throat.

"If you stay, I am going to stay too," she declared in an almost
passionate voice, and she spoke with deliberation and a look which left
no way open to doubt. She was now a valiant little figure making a fight
for happiness.

"I can't prevent that," he responded stubbornly.

She made a quick, appealing motion of her hands. "Would you prevent it?
Aren't you glad to see me? Don't you love me any more? You used to love
me. In spite of all, you used to love me. Even though you hated my money,
and I hated your gambling--your betting on horses. You used to love me--I
was sure you did then. Don't you love me now, Shiel?"

A gloomy look passed over his face. Memory of other days was admonishing
him. "What is the good of one loving when the other doesn't? And, anyhow,
I made up my mind five years ago that I would not live on my wife. I
haven't done so, and I don't mean to 'do so. I don't mean to take a penny
of your money. I should curse it to damnation if I was living on it. I'm
not, and I don't mean to do so."

"Then I'll stay here and work too, without it," she urged, with a light
in her eyes which they had never known.

He laughed mirthlessly. "What could you do--you never did a day's work in
your life!"

"You could teach me how, Shiel."

His jaw jerked in a way it had when he was incredulous. "You used to say
I was only--mark you, only a dreamer and a sportsman. Well, I'm no longer
a dreamer and a sportsman; I'm a practical man. I've done with dreaming
and sportsmanship. I can look at a situation as it is, and--"

"You are dreaming--but yes, you are dreaming still," she interjected.
"And you are a sportsman still, but it is the sport of a dreamer, and a
mad dreamer too. Shiel, in spite of all my faults in the past, I come to
you, to stay with you, to live on what you earn if you like, if it's only
a loaf of bread a day. I--I don't care about my money. I don't care about
the luxuries which money can buy; I can do without them if I have you. Am
I not to stay, and won't you--won't you kiss me, Shiel?"

She came close to him-came round the table till she stood within a few
feet of him.

There was one trembling instant when he would have taken her hungrily
into his arms, but as if some evil spirit interposed with malign purpose,
there came the sound of feet on the gravel outside, and the figure of a
man darkened the doorway. It was Augustus Burlingame, whose face as he
saw Mona Crozier took on an ironical smile.

"Yes--what do you want?" inquired Crozier quietly. "A few words with Mr.
Crozier on business, if he is not too much occupied?"

"What business?"

"I am acting for Messrs. Bradley, Willingden, Baxter, & Simmons."

The cloud darkened on Crozier's face. His lips tightened, his face
hardened. "I will see you in a moment--wait outside, please," he added,
as Burlingame made as though to step inside. "Wait at the gate," he added
quietly, but with undisguised contempt.

The moment of moments for Mona and himself had passed. All the bitterness
of defeat was on him again. All the humiliation of undeserved failure to
accomplish what had been the dear desire of five years bore down his
spirit now. Suddenly he had a suspicion that his wife had received
information of his whereabouts from this very man, Burlingame. Had not
the Young Doctor said that Burlingame had written to lawyers in the old
land to get information concerning him? Was it not more than likely that
he had given his wife the knowledge which had brought her here?

When Burlingame had disappeared he turned to Mona. "Who told you I was
here? Who wrote to you?" he asked darkly. The light had died away from
his face. It was ascetic in its lonely gravity now.

"Your doctor cabled to Castlegarry and Miss Tynan wrote to me."

A faint flush spread over Crozier's face. "How did Miss Tynan know where
to write?"

Mona had told the truth at once because she felt it was the only way.
Now, however, she was in a position where she must either tell him that
Kitty had opened that still sealed letter from herself to him which he
had carried all these years, or else tell him an untruth. She had no
right to tell him what Kitty had confided to her. There was no other way
save to lie.

"How should I know? It was enough for me to get her letter," she replied.

"At Castlegarry?"

What was there to do? She must keep faith with Kitty, who had given her
this sight of her husband again.

"Forwarded from Lammis," she said. "It reached me before the doctor's
cable."

So it was Kitty--Kitty Tynan-who had brought his wife to this new home
from which he had been trying so hard to get back to the old home. Kitty,
the angel of the house.

"You wrote me a letter which drove me from home," he said heavily.

"No--no--no," she protested. "It was not that. I know it was not that. It
was my money--it was that which drove you away. You have just said so."

"You wrote me a hateful letter," he persisted. "You didn't want to see
me. You sent it to me by your sweet, young brother."

Her eyes flashed. "My letter did not drive you away. It couldn't have.
You went because you did not love me. It was that and my money, not the
letter, not the letter."

Somehow she had a curious feeling that the very letter which contained
her bitter and hateful reproaches might save her yet. The fact that he
had not opened it--well, she must see Kitty again. Her husband was in a
dark mood. She must wait. She knew that her fortunate moment had passed
when the rogue Burlingame appeared. She must wait for another.

"Shall I go now? You want to see that man outside. Shall I go, Shiel?"
She was very pale, very quiet, steady and gentle.

"I must hear what that fellow has to say. It is business--important," he
replied. "It may mean anything--everything, or nothing."

As she left the room he had an impulse to call her back, but he conquered
it.



CHAPTER XVI

"'TWAS FOR YOUR PLEASURE YOU CAME HERE, YOU SHALL GO BACK FOR MINE"

For a moment Crozier stood looking at the closed doorway through which
Mona had gone, with a look of repentant affection in his eyes; but as the
thought of his own helpless insolvency and broken hopes flashed across
his mind, a look of dark and harassed reflection shadowed his face. He
turned to the front doorway with a savage gesture. The mutilated dignity
of his manhood, the broken pride of a lifetime, the bitterness in his
heart need not be held in check in dealing with the man who waited to
give him a last thrust of enmity.

He left the house. Burlingame was seated on the stump of a tree which had
been made into a seat. "Come to my room if you have business with me,"
Crozier said sharply.

As they went, Crozier swung aside from the front door towards the corner
of the house.

"The back way?" asked Burlingame with a sneer.

"The old familiar way to you," was the smarting reply. "In any case, you
are not welcome in Mrs. Tynan's part of the house. My room is my own,
however, and I should prefer you within four walls while doing business
with you."

Burlingame's face changed colour slightly, for the tone of Crozier's
voice, the grimness of his manner, suggested an abnormal condition.
Burlingame was not a brave man physically. He had never lived the outdoor
life, though he had lived so much among outdoor people. He was that rare
thing in a new land, a decadent, a connoisseur in vice, a lover of
opiates and of liquor. He was young enough yet not to be incapacitated by
it. His face and hands were white and a little flabby, and he wore his
hair rather long, which, it is said, accounts for the weakness of some
men, on the assumption that long hair wastes the strength. But Burlingame
quickly remembered the attitude of the lady--Crozier's wife, he was
certain--and of Crozier in the dining-room a few moments before, and to
his suspicious eyes it was not characteristic of a happy family party. No
doubt this grimness of Crozier was due to domestic trouble and not wholly
to his own presence. Still, he felt softly for the tiny pistol he always
carried in his big waistcoat pocket, and it comforted him.

Beyond the corner of the house Crozier paused and took a key from his
pocket. It opened a side door to his own room, seldom used, since it was
always so pleasant in this happy home to go through the main living-room,
which every one liked so much that, though it was not the dining-room, it
was generally used as such, and though it was not the parlour, it was its
frequent substitute. Opening the door, Crozier stepped aside to let
Burlingame pass. It was two years since Burlingame had been in this room,
and then he had entered it without invitation. His inquisitiveness had
led him to explore it with no good intent when he lived in the house.

Entering now, he gave it quick scrutiny. It was clear he was looking for
something in particular. He was, in fact, searching for signs of its
occupancy by another than Shiel Crozier--tokens of a woman's presence.
There was, however, no sign at all of that, though there were signs of a
woman's care and attention in a number of little things--homelike,
solicitous, perhaps affectionate care and attention. Certainly the
spotless pillows, the pretty curtains, the pincushion, and charmingly
valanced bed and shelves, cheap though the material was, showed a woman's
very friendly care. When he lived in that house there were no such little
attentions paid to him! It was his experience that where such attentions
went something else went with them. A sensualist himself, it was not
conceivable to him that men and women could be under the same roof
without "passages of sympathetic friendship and tokens of affinity." That
was a phrase he had frequently used when pursuing his own sort of
happiness.

His swift scrutiny showed that Crozier's wife had no habitation here, and
that gave him his cue for what the French call "the reconstruction of the
crime." It certainly was clear that, as he had suggested at the Logan
Trial, there was serious trouble in the Crozier family of two, and the
offender must naturally be the man who had flown, not the woman who had
stayed. Here was circumstantial evidence.

His suggestive glance, the look in his eyes, did not escape Crozier, who
read it all aright; and a primitive expression of natural antipathy
passed across his mediaeval face, making it almost inquisitorial.

"Will you care to sit?" he said, however, with the courtesy he could
never avoid; and he pointed to a chair beside the little table in the
centre of the room. As Burlingame sat down he noticed on the table a
crumpled handkerchief. It had lettering in the corner. He spread it out
slightly with his fingers, as though abstractedly thinking of what he was
about to say. The initial in the corner was K. Kitty had left it on the
table while she was talking to Mrs. Crozier a halfhour before. Whatever
Burlingame actually thought or believed, he could not now resist picking
up the handkerchief and looking at it with a mocking smile. It was too
good a chance to waste. He still hugged to his evil heart the humiliating
remembrance of his expulsion from this house, the share Crozier had had
in it, and the things which Crozier had said to him then. He had his
enemy now between the upper and the nether mill-stones, and he meant to
grind him to the flour of utter abasement. It was clear that the arrival
of Mrs. Crozier had brought him no relief, for Crozier's face was not
that of a man who had found and opened a casket of good fortune.

"Rather dangerous that, in the bedroom of a family man," he said, picking
up the handkerchief and looking suggestively from the lettering in the
corner to Crozier. He laid it down again, smiling detestably.

Crozier calmly picked up the handkerchief, saw the lettering, then went
quietly to the door of the room and called Mrs. Tynan's name. Presently
she appeared. Crozier beckoned her into the room. When she entered, he
closed the door behind her.

"Mrs. Tynan," he said, "this fellow found your daughter's handkerchief on
my table, and he has said regarding it, 'Rather dangerous that, in the
bedroom of a family man.' What would you like me to do with him?"

Mrs. Tynan walked up to Burlingame with the look of a woman of the
Commune and said: "If I had a son I would disown him if he didn't mangle
you till your wife would never know you again, you loathesome thing.
There isn't a man or woman in Askatoon who'd believe your sickening
slanders, for every one knows what you are. How dare you enter this
house? If the men of Askatoon had any manhood in them they would
tar-and-feather you. My girl is as good as any girl that ever lived, and
you know it. Now go out of here--now!"

Crozier intervened quietly. "Mrs. Tynan, I asked him in here because it
is my room. I have some business with him. When it is over, then he shall
go, and we will fumigate the place. As for the tar-and-feathers, you
might leave that to me. I think I can arrange it.

"I'll turn the hose on him as he goes out, if you don't mind," the irate
mother exclaimed as she left the room.

Crozier nodded. "Well, that would be appropriate, Mrs. Tynan, but it
wouldn't cleanse him. He is the original leopard whose spots are there
for ever."

By this time Burlingame was on his feet, and a look of craft and fear and
ugly meaning was in his face. Morally he was a coward, physically he was
a coward, but he had in his pocket a weapon which gave him a feeling of
superiority in the situation; and after a night of extreme
self-indulgence he was in a state of irritation of the nerves which gave
him what the searchers after excuses for ungoverned instincts and acts
call "brain-storms." He had had sense enough to know that his amorous
escapades would get him into trouble one day, and he had always carried
the little pistol which was now so convenient to his hand. It gave him a
fictitious courage which he would not have had unarmed against almost any
man--or woman--in Askatoon.

"You get a woman to do your fighting for you," he said hatefully. "You
have to drag her in. It was you I meant to challenge, not the poor girl
young enough to be your daughter." His hand went to his waistcoat pocket.
Crozier saw and understood.

Suddenly Crozier's eyes blazed. The abnormal in him--the Celtic strain
always at variance with the normal, an almost ultra-natural attendant of
it awoke like a tempest in the tropics. His face became transformed,
alive with a passion uncanny in its recklessness and purpose. It was a
brain-storm indeed, but it had behind it a normal power, a moral force
which was not to be resisted.

"None of your sickly melodrama here. Take out of your pocket the pistol
you carry and give it to me," Crozier growled. "You are not to be
trusted. The habit of thinking you would shoot somebody some time--
somebody you had injured--might become too much for you to-day, and then
I should have to kill you, and for your wife's sake I don't want to do
that. I always feel sorry for a woman with a husband like you. You could
never shoot me. You couldn't be quick enough, but you might try. Then I
should end you, and there'd be another trial; but the lawyer who defended
me would not have to cross-examine any witness about your character. It
is too well-known, Burlingame. Out with it--the pistol!" he added,
standing menacingly over the other.

In a kind of stupor, under the storm that was breaking above him,
Burlingame slowly drew out of a capacious waistcoat pocket a tiny but
powerful pistol of the most modern make.

"Put it in my hand," insisted Crozier, his eyes on the other's.

The flabby hand laid the weapon in Crozier's lean and strenuous fingers.
Crozier calmly withdrew the cartridges and then tossed the weapon back on
the table.

"Now we have equality of opportunity," he remarked quietly. "If you think
you would like to repeat any slander that's slid off your foul tongue, do
it now; and in a moment or two Mrs. Tynan can turn the hose on the floor
of this room."

"I want to get to business," said Burlingame sullenly, as he took from
his pocket a paper.

Crozier nodded. "I can imagine your haste," he remarked. "You need all
the fees you can get to pay Belle Bingley's bills."

Burlingame did not wince. He made no reply to the challenge that he was
the chief supporter of a certain wanton thereabouts.

"The time for your option to take ten thousand dollars' worth of shares
in the syndicate is up," he said; "and I am instructed to inform you that
Messrs. Bradley, Willingden, Baxter, & Simmons propose to take over your
unpaid shares and to complete the transaction without you."

"Who informed Messrs. Bradley, Willingden, Baxter, & Simmons that I am
not prepared to pay for my shares?" asked Crozier sharply.

"The time is up," surlily replied Burlingame. "It is assumed you can't
take up your shares, and that you don't want to do so. The time us up,"
he added emphatically, and he tapped the paper spread before him on the
table.

Crozier's eyes half closed in an access of stubbornness and hatred. "You
are not to assume anything whatever," he declared. "You are to
accommodate yourself to actual facts. The time is not up. It is not up
till midnight, and any action taken before then on any other assumption
will give grounds for damages."

Crozier spoke without passion and with a coldblooded insistence not lost
on Burlingame. Taking down a calendar from the wall, he laid it beside
the paper on the table before the too eager lawyer. "Examine the dates,"
he said. "At twelve o'clock tonight Messrs. Bradley, Willingden, Baxter,
& Simmons are free to act, if the money is not at the disposal of the
syndicate by then; but till then my option is indefeasible. Does that
meet the case or not?"

"It meets the case," said Burlingame in a morose voice, rising. "If you
can produce the money before the stroke of midnight, why can't you
produce it now? What's the use of bluffing! It can't do any good in the
end. Your credit--"

"My credit has been stopped by your friends," interrupted Crozier, "but
my resources are current."

"Midnight is not far off," viciously remarked Burlingame as he made for
the door.

Crozier intercepted him. "One word with you on another business before
you go," he said. "The tar-and-feathers for which Mrs. Tynan asks will be
yours at any moment I raise my hand in Askatoon. There are enough women
alone who would do it."

"Talk of that after midnight," sneered Burlingame desperately as the door
was opened for him by Crozier. "Better not go out by the front gate,"
remarked Crozier scornfully. "Mrs. Tynan is a woman of her word, and the
hose is handy."

A moment later, with contemptuous satisfaction, he saw Burlingame climb
the picket-fence at the side of the house.

Turning back into the room, he threw up his arms. "Midnight--midnight--
my God, where am I to get the money! I must--I must have it . . . It's
the only way back."

Sitting down at the table, he dropped his head into his hands and shut
his eyes in utter dejection. "Mona--by Heaven, no, I'll never take it
from her!" he said once, and clenched his hands at his temples and sat on
and on unmoving.



CHAPTER XVII

WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT?

For a full half-hour Crozier sat buried in dark reflection, then he
slowly raised his head, and for a minute looked round dazedly. His
absorption had been so great that for a moment he was like one who had
awakened upon unfamiliar things. As when in a dream of the night the
history of years will flash past like a ray of light, so for the bad
half-hour in which Crozier had given himself up to despair, his mind had
travelled through an incongruous series of incidents of his past life,
and had also revealed pictures of solution after solution of his present
troubles.

He had that-gift of visualization which makes life an endless procession
of pictures which allure, or which wear the nature into premature old
age. The last picture flashing before his eyes, as he sat there alone,
was of himself and his elder brother, Garnett, now master of Castlegarry,
racing ponies to reach the lodge-gates before they closed for the night,
after a day of disobedience and truancy. He remembered how Garnett had
given him the better pony of the two, so that the younger brother, who
would be more heavily punished if they were locked out, should have the
better chance. Garnett, if odd in manner and character, had always been a
true sportsman though not a lover of sport.

If--if--why had he never thought of Garnett? Garnett could help him, and
he would do so. He would let Garnett stand in with him--take one-third of
his profits from the syndicate. Yes, he must ask Garnett to see him
through. Then it was that he lifted his head from his hands, and his mind
awakened out of a dream as real as though he had actually been asleep.
Garnett--alas! Garnett was thousands of miles away, and he had not heard
from him for five years. Still, he knew the master of Castlegarry was
alive, for he had seen him mentioned in a chance number of The Morning
Post lately come to his hands. What avail! Garnett was at Castlegarry,
and at midnight his chance of fortune and a new life would be gone. Then,
penniless, he would have to face Mona again; and what would come of that
he could not see, would not try to see. There was an alternative he would
not attempt to face until after midnight, when this crisis in his life
would be over. Beyond midnight was a darkness which he would not now try
to pierce. As his eyes again became used to his surroundings, a look of
determination, the determination of the true gambler, came into his face.
The real gambler never throws up the sponge till all is gone; never gives
up till after the last toss of the last penny of cash or credit; for he
has seen such innumerable times the thing come right and good fortune
extend a friendly hand with the last hazard of all.

Suddenly he remembered--saw--a scene in the gambling rooms at Monte Carlo
on the only visit he had ever paid to the place. He had played
constantly, and had won more or less each day. Then his fortune turned
and he lost and lost each day. At last, one evening, he walked up to a
table and said to the croupier, "When was zero up last?" The croupier
answered, "Not for an hour." Forthwith he began to stake on zero and on
nothing else. For two hours he put his louis at each turn of the wheel on
the Lonely Nought. For two hours he lost. Increasing his stake, which had
begun at five francs and had risen at length to five louis, he still
coaxed the sardonic deity. Finally midnight came, and he was the only
person playing at the table. All others had gone or had ceased to play.
These stayed to watch the "mad Inglesi," as a foreigner called him,
knocking his head against the foot stool of an unresponsive god of
chance. The croupiers watched also with somewhat disdainful, somewhat
pitying interest, this last representative of a class who have an insane
notion that the law of chances is in their favour if they can but stay
the course. And how often had they seen the stubborn challenger of a
black demon, who would not appear according to the law of chances, leave
the table ruined for ever!

Smiling, Crozier had played on till he had but ten louis left. Counting
them over with cheerful exactness, he rose up, lit a cigarette, placed
the ten louis on the fatal spot with cynical precision, and with a gay
smile kissed his hand to the refractory Nothing and said, "You've got it
all, Zero-good-night! Goodnight, Zero!" Then he had buttoned his coat and
turned away to seek the cool air of the Mediterranean. He had gone but a
step or two, his head half gaily turned to the table where the dwindling
onlookers stood watching the wheel spin round, when suddenly the
croupier's cry of "Zero!" fell upon his ears.

With cheerful nonchalance he had come back to the table and picked up the
many louis he had won--won by his last throw and with his last available
coin.

As the scene passed before him now he got to his feet and, with that look
of the visionary in his eyes, which those only know who have watched the
born gamester, said, "I'll back my hand till the last throw." Then it
was, as his eyes gazed in front of him dreamily, he saw the card on his
mirror bearing the words, "Courage, soldier!"

With a deepening flame in his eyes he went over and gazed at it. At
length he reached out and touched the writing with a caressing finger.

"Kitty--Kitty, how great you are!" he said. Then as he turned to the
outer door a softness came into his face, stole up into his brilliant
eyes and dimmed them with a tear. "What a hand to hold in the dark--the
dark of life!" he said aloud. "Courage, soldier!" he added, as he opened
the door by which he had entered, through which Burlingame had gone, and
strode away towards the town of Askatoon, feeling somehow in his heart
that before midnight his luck would turn.

From the dining-room Kitty had watched him go. "Courage, soldier!" she
whispered after him, and she laughed; but almost immediately she threw
her head up with a gasping sigh, and when it was lowered again two tears
were stealing down her cheeks.

With an effort she conquered herself, wiped away the tears, and said
aloud, with a whimsical but none the less pitiful self-reproach,
"Kitty-Kitty Tynan, what a fool you are!"

Entering the room Crozier had left, she went to the desk with the
green-baize top, opened it, and took out the fateful letter which Mona
Crozier had written to her husband five years ago. Putting it into her
pocket she returned to the dining-room. She stood there for a moment with
her chin in her hands and deep reflection in her eyes, and then, going to
the door of her mother's sitting-room, she opened it and beckoned. A
moment later Mrs. Crozier and the Young Doctor entered the dining-room
and sat down at a motion from her. Presently she said:

"Mrs. Crozier, I have here the letter your husband received from you five
years ago in London."

Mrs. Crozier flushed. She had been masterful by nature and she had had
her way very much in life. To be dominated in the most intimate things of
her life by this girl was not easy to be borne; but she realised that
Kitty had been a friend indeed, even if not conventional. In response to
Kitty's remark now she inclined her head.

"Well, you have told us that you and your husband haven't made it up.
That is so, isn't it?" Kitty continued.

"If you wish to put it that way," answered Mona, stiffening a little in
spite of herself.

"P'r'aps I don't put it very well, but it is the stony fact, isn't it,
Mrs. Crozier?"

Mona hesitated a moment, then answered: "He is very upset concerning the
land syndicate, and he has a quixotic idea that he cannot take money from
me to help him carry it through."

"I don't quite know what quixotic means," rejoined Kitty dryly. "If it
wasn't understood while you lived together that what was one's was the
other's, that it was all in one purse, and that you shut your eyes to the
name on the purse and took as you wanted, I don't see how you could
expect him, after your five years' desertion, to take money from you
now."

"My five years' desertion!" exclaimed Mona. Surely this girl was more
than reckless in her talk. Kitty was not to be put down. "If you don't
mind plain speaking, he was always with you, but you weren't always with
him in those days. This letter showed that." She tapped it on her
thumb-nail. "It was only when he had gone and you saw what you had lost,
that you came back to him--in heart, I mean. Well, if you didn't go away
with him when he went, and you wouldn't have gone unless he had ordered
you to go--and he wouldn't do that--it's clear you deserted him, since
you did that which drove him from home, and you stayed there instead of
going with him. I've worked it out, and it is certain you deserted him
five years ago. Desertion does't mean a sea of water between, it means an
ocean of self-will and love-me-first between. If you hadn't deserted him,
as this letter shows, he wouldn't have been here. I expect he told you
so; and if he did, what did you say to him?"

The Young Doctor's eyes were full of decorous mirth and apprehension, for
such logic and such impudence as Kitty's was like none he had ever heard.
Yet it was commanding too.

Kitty caught the look in his eyes and blazed up. "Isn't what I said
correct? Isn't it all true and logical? And if it is, why do you sit
there looking so superior?"

The Young Doctor made a gesture of deprecating apology. "It's all true,
and it's logical, too, if you stand on your head when you think it. But
whether it is logical or not, it is your conclusion, and as you've taken
the thing in hand to set it right, it is up to you now. We can only hold
hard and wait."

With a shrug of her graceful shoulders Kitty turned again to Mrs.
Crozier, who intervened hastily, saying, "I did not have a chance of
saying to him all I wished. Of course he could not take my money, but
there was his own money! I was going to tell him about that, but just
then the lawyer, Mr. Burlingame--"

"They all call him 'Gus' Burlingame. He doesn't get the civility of Mr.
here in Askatoon," interposed Kitty.

Mona made an impatient gesture. "If you will listen, I want to tell you
about Mr. Crozier's money. He thinks he has no money, but he has. He has
a good deal."

She paused, and the Young Doctor and Kitty leaned forward eagerly. "Well,
but go on," said Kitty. "If he has money he must have it to-day, and now.
Certainly he doesn't know of it. He thinks he is broke,--dead broke,--and
there'd be a hundred and fifty thousand dollars for him if he could put
up ten thousand dollars to-night. If I were you I wouldn't hide it from
him any longer."

Mona got to her feet in anger. "If you would give me a chance to explain,
I would do so," she said, her lips trembling. "Unfortunately, I am in
your hands, but please give me credit for some intelligence--and some
heart. In any case I shall not be bullied."

The Young Doctor almost laughed outright, despite the danger of the
situation. He was not prepared for Kitty's reply and the impulsive act
that marched with it. In an instant Kitty had caught Mona Crozier's hand
and pressed it warmly. "I was only doing what I've seen lawyers do," she
said eagerly. "I've got something that I want you to do, and I've been
trying to work up to it. That's all. I'm not as mean and bad mannered as
you think me. I really do care what happens to him--to you both," she
hastened to add.

Struggling to keep back her tears, and in a low voice, Mona rejoined: "I
meant to have told him what I'm going to tell you now. I couldn't say
anything about the money belonging to him till I had told him how it came
to be his."

After a moment' pause she continued: "He told you all about the race
which Flamingo lost, and about that letter." She pointed to the letter
which Kitty still carried in her hand. "Well, that letter was written
under the sting of bitter disappointment. I was vain. I was young. I did
not understand as I do now. If you were not such good friends--of his--I
could not tell you this. It seemed to me that by breaking his pledge he
showed he did not care for me; that he thought he could break a sacred
pledge to me, and it didn't matter. I thought it was treating me
lightly--to do it so soon after the pledge was given. I was indignant. I
felt we weren't as we might be, and I felt, too, that I must be at fault;
but I was so proud that I didn't want to admit it, I suppose, when he did
give me a grievance. It was all so mixed. I was shocked at his breaking
his pledge, I was so vexed that our marriage hadn't been the success it
might have been, and I think I was a little mad."

"That is not the monopoly of only one of your sex," interposed the Young
Doctor dryly. "If I were you I wouldn't apologise for it. You speak to a
sister in like distress."

Kitty's eyes flamed up, but she turned her head, as though some licensed
libertine of speech had had his say, and looked with friendly eyes at
Mona. "Yes, yes--please go on," she urged.

"When I wrote that letter I had forgotten what I had done the day before
the race. I had gone into my husband's room to find some things I needed
from the drawer of his dressing-table; and far at the back of a drawer I
found a crumpled-up roll of ten-pound notes. It was fifty pounds
altogether. I took the notes--"

She paused a moment, and the room became very still. Both her listeners
were sure that they were nearing a thing of deep importance.

In a lower voice Mona continued: "I don't know what possessed me, but
perhaps it was that the things he did of which I disapproved most had got
a hold on me in spite of myself. I said to myself: 'I am going to the
Derby. I will take the fifty pounds, and I'll put it on a horse for
Shiel.' He had talked so much to my brother about Flamingo, and I had
seen him go wrong so often, that I had a feeling if I put it on a horse
that Shiel particularly banned, it would probably win. He had been wrong
nearly every time for two years. It was his money, and if it won, it
would make him happy; and if it didn't win, well, he didn't know the
money existed--I was sure of that; and, anyhow, I could replace it. I put
it on a horse he condemned utterly, but of which one or two people spoke
well. You know what happened to Flamingo. While at Epsom I heard from
friends that Shiel was present at the race, though he had said he would
not go. Later I learned that he had lost heavily. Then I saw him in the
distance paying out money and giving bills to the bookmakers. It made me
very angry. I don't think I was quite sane. Most women are like that at
times."

"As I said," remarked the Young Doctor, his face mirthfully alive. Here
was a situation indeed.

"So I wrote him that letter," Mona went on. "I had forgotten all about
the money I put on the outsider which won the race. As you know, I was
called away to my sick sister that evening, and the money I won with
Shiel's fifty pounds was not paid to me till after Shiel had gone."

"How much was it?" asked Kitty breathlessly.

"Four thousand pounds."

Kitty exclaimed so loudly that she smothered her mouth with a hand. "Why,
he only needs for the syndicate two thousand pounds--ten thousand
dollars," she said excitedly. "But what's the good of it, if he can't lay
his hand on it by midnight to-night!"

"He can do so," was Mona's quick reply. "I was going to tell him that,
but the lawyer came, and--"

Kitty sprang up and down in excitement. "I had a plan. It might have
worked without this. It was the only way then. But this makes it sure
--yes, most beautifully sure. It shows that the thing to do is to follow
your convictions. You say you actually have the money, Mrs. Crozier?"

Mona took from her pocket an envelope, and out of it she drew four Bank
of England notes. "Here it is--here are four one-thousand-pound notes. I
had it paid to me that way five years ago, and here--here it is," she
added, with almost a touch of hysteria in her voice, for the excitement
of it all acted on her like an electric storm.

"Well, we'll get to work at once," declared Kitty, looking at the notes
admiringly, then taking them from Mona and smoothing them out with tender
firmness. "It's just the luck of the wide world, as my father used to
say. It actually is. Now you see," she continued, "it's like this. That
letter you wrote him"--she addressed herself to Mona--"it has to be
changed. You have got to rewrite it, and you must put into it these four
bank-notes. Then when you see him again you must have that letter opened
at exactly the right moment, and--oh, I wonder if you will do it exactly
right!" she added dubiously to Mona. "You don't play your game very well,
and it's just possible that, even now, with all the cards in your hands,
you will throw them away as you did in the past. I wish that--"

Seeing Mona's agitation changing to choler, the Young Doctor intervened.
He did not know Kitty was purposely stinging Crozier's unhappy little
consort, so that she should be put upon her mettle to do the thing
without bungling.

"You can trust Mrs. Crozier to act carefully; but what exactly do you
mean? I judge that Mrs. Crozier does not see more distinctly than I do,"
he remarked inquiringly to Kitty, and with admonishment in tone and
emphasis.

"No, I do not understand quite--will you explain?" interposed Mona with
inner resentment at being managed, but feeling that she could not do
without Kitty even if she would.

"As I said," continued Kitty, "I will open that letter, and you will put
in another letter and these bank-notes; and when he repeats what he said
about the way you felt and wrote when he broke his pledge, you can blaze
up and tell him to open the letter. Then he will be so sorry that he'll
get down on his knees, and you will be happy ever after."

"But it will be a fraud, and dishonest and dishonourable," protested
Mona.

Kitty almost sniffed, but she was too agitated to be scornful. "Just
leave that to me, please. It won't make me a bit more dishonourable to
open the letter again--I've opened it once, and I don't feel any the
worse for it. I have no conscience, and things don't weigh on my mind at
all. I'm a light-minded person."

Looking closely at her, the Young Doctor got a still further insight into
the mind and soul of this prairie girl, who used a lid of irony to cover
a well of deep feeling. Things did not weigh on her mind! He was sure
that pain to the wife of Shiel Crozier would be mortal torture to Kitty
Tynan.

"But I felt exactly what I wrote that Derby Day when he broke his pledge,
and he ought to know me exactly as I was," urged Mona. "I don't want to
deceive him, to appear a bit better than I am."

"Oh, you'd rather lose him!" said Kitty almost savagely. "Knowing how
hard it is to keep a man under the best circumstances, you'd willingly
make the circumstances as bad as they can be--is that it? Besides,
weren't you sorry afterwards that you wrote that letter?"

"Yes, yes, desperately sorry."

"And you wished often that your real self had written on Derby Day and
not the scratch-cat you were then?"

Mona flushed, but answered bravely, "Yes, a thousand times."

"What business had you to show him your cat-self, your unreal, not your
real self on Derby Day five years ago? Wasn't it your duty to show him
your real self?"

Mona nodded helplessly. "Yes, I know it was."

"Then isn't it your duty to see that your real self speaks in that letter
now?"

"I want him to know me exactly as I am, and then--"

Kitty made a passionate gesture. Was ever such an uncomprehending woman
as this diamond-button of a wife?

"And then you would be unhappy ever after instead of being happy ever
after. What is the good of prejudicing your husband against you by
telling the unnecessary truth. He is desperate, and besides, he has been
away from you for five years, and we all change somehow--particularly
men, when there are so many women in the world, and very pretty women of
all ages and kinds and colours and tastes, and dazzling, deceitful
hussies too. It isn't wise for any woman to let her husband or any one at
all see her exactly as she is; and only the silly ones do it. They tell
what they think is the truth about their own wickedness, and it isn't the
truth at all, because I suppose women don't know how to tell the exact
truth; and they can be just as unfair to themselves as they are to
others. Besides, haven't you any sense of humour, Mrs. Crozier? It's as
good as a play, this. Just think: after five years of desertion, and
trouble without end, and it all put right by a little sleight-of-hand.
Shall I open it?"

She held the letter up. Mona nodded almost eagerly now, for come of a
subtle, social world far away, she still was no match for the subtlety of
the wilds--or was it the cunning the wild things know?

Kitty left the room, but in a moment afterwards returned with the letter
open. "The kettle on the hob is the friend of the family," she said
gaily. "Here it is all ready for what there is to do. You go and keep
watch for Mr. Crozier," she added to the Young Doctor. "He won't be gone
long, I should think, and we don't want him bursting in on us before I've
got that letter safe back into his desk. If he comes, you keep him busy
for a moment. When we're quite ready I'll come to the front door, and
then you will know it is all right."

"I'm to go while you make up your prescription--all right!" said the
Young Doctor, and with a wave of the hand he left the room.

Instantly Kitty brought a lead pencil and paper. "Now sit down and write
to him, Mrs. Crozier," she said briskly. "Use discretion; don't gush;
slap his face a little for breaking his pledge, and afterwards tell him
that you did at the Derby what you had abused him for doing. Then explain
to him about this four thousand pounds--twenty thousand dollars--my,
what a lot of money, and all got in one day! Tell him that it was all won
by his own cash. It's as easy as can be, and it will be a certainty now."

So saying, she lit a match. "You--hold this wicked old catfish letter
into the flame, please, Mrs. Crozier, and keep praying all the time, and
please remember that 'our little hands were never made to tear each
other's eyes.'"

Mona's small fingers were trembling as she held the fateful letter into
the flame, and then in silence both watched it burn to a cinder. A faint,
hopeful smile was on Mona's face now.

"What isn't never was to those that never knew," said Kitty briskly, and
pushed a chair up to the table. "Now sit down and write, please."

Mona sat down. Taking up a sheet of notepaper she looked at it dubiously.

"Oh, what a fool I am!" said Kitty, understanding the look. "And that's
what every criminal does--he forgets something. I forgot the notepaper.
Of course you can't use that notepaper. Of course not. He'd know it in a
minute. Besides, the sheet we burned had an engraved address on it. I
never thought of that--good gracious!"

"Wait--wait," said Mona, her face lighting. "I may have some sheets in my
writing-case. It's only a chance, but there were some loose sheets in it
when I left home. I'll go and see."

While she was gone to her bedroom Kitty stood still in the middle of the
room lost in reflection, as completely absorbed as though she was seeing
things thousands of miles away. In truth, she was seeing things millions
of miles away; she was seeing a Promised Land. It was a gift of hers, or
a penalty of her life, perhaps, that she could lose herself in reverie at
a moment's notice--a reverie as complete as though she was subtracted
from life's realities. Now, as she looked out of the door, far over the
prairie to a tiny group of pine-trees in the vanishing distance, lines
she once read floated through her mind:

       "Away and beyond the point of pines,
        In a pleasant land where the glad grapes be,
        Purple and pendent on verdant vines,
        I know that my fate is awaiting me."

What fate was to be hers? There was no joy in her eyes as she gazed. Mrs.
Crozier was beside the table again before she roused herself from her
trance.

"I've got it--just two sheets, two solitary sheets," said Mona in
triumph. "How long they have been in my case I don't know. It is almost
uncanny they should be there just when they're most needed."

"Providential, we should say out here," was Kitty's response. "Begin,
please. Be sure you have the right date. It was--"

Mona had already written the date, and she interrupted Kitty with the
words, "As though I could forget it!" All at once Kitty put a restraining
hand on her arm.

"Wait--wait, you mustn't write on that paper yet. Suppose you didn't
write the real wise thing--and only two sheets of paper and so much to
say?"

"How right you always are!" said Mona, and took up one of the blank
sheets which Kitty had just brought her.

Then she began to write. For a minute she wrote swiftly, nervously, and
had nearly finished a page when Kitty said to her, "I think I had better
see what you have written. I don't think you are the best judge. You see,
I have known him better than you for the last five years, and I am the
best judge please, I mean it in the rightest, kindest way," she added, as
she saw Mona shrink. It was like hurting a child, and she loved
children--so much. She had always a vision of children at her knee.

Silently Mrs. Crozier pushed the sheets towards her. Kitty read the page
with a strange, eager look in her eyes. "Yes, that's right as far as it
goes," she said. "It doesn't gush. It's natural. It's you as you are now,
not as you were then, of course."

Again Mona bent over the paper and wrote till she had completed a page.
Then Kitty looked over her shoulder and read what had been written. "No,
no, no, that won't do," she exclaimed. "That won't do at all. It isn't in
the way that will accomplish what we want. You've gone quite, quite
wrong. I'll do it. I'll dictate it to you. I know exactly what to say,
and we mustn't make any mistake. Write, please--you must."

Mona scratched out what had been written without a word. "I am waiting,"
she said submissively.

"All right. Now we go on. Write. I'll dictate." "'And look here,
dearest,'" she began, but Mona stopped her.

"We do not say 'look here' in England. I would have said 'and see.'"

"'And see-dearest,'" corrected Kitty, with an accent on the last word,
"'while I was mad at you for the moment for breaking your promise--'"

"In England we don't say 'mad' in that connection," Mona again
interrupted. "We say 'angry' or 'annoyed' or 'vexed.'" There was real
distress in her tone.

"Now I'll tell you what to do," said Kitty cheerfully. "I'll speak it,
and you write it my way of thinking, and then when we've finished you
will take out of the letter any words that are not pure, noble, classic
English. I know what you mean, and you are quite right. Mr. Crozier never
says 'look here' or 'mad,' and he speaks better than any one I ever
heard. Now, we certainly must get on."

After an instant she began again.

"--While I was angry at you a moment for breaking your promise, I cannot
reproach you for it, because I, too, bet on the Derby, but I bet on a
horse that you had said as much against as you could. I did it because
you had very bad luck all this year and lost, and also last year, and I
thought--"

For several minutes, with greater deliberation than was usual with her,
Kitty dictated, and at the end of the letter she said, "I am, dearest,
your--"

Here Mona sharply interrupted her. "If you don't mind I will say that
myself in my own way," she said, flushing.

"Oh, I forgot for the moment that I was speaking for you!" responded
Kitty, with a lurking, undermeaning in her voice. "I threw myself into it
so. Do you think I've done the thing right?" she added.

With a direct, honest friendliness Mona looked into Kitty eyes. "You have
said the exact right thing as to meaning, I am sure, and I can change an
occasional word here and there to make it all conventional English."

Kitty nodded. "Don't lose a minute in copying it. We must get the letter
back in his desk as soon as possible."

As Mona wrote, Kitty sat with the envelope in her hand, alternately
looking at it and into the distance beyond the point of pines. She was
certain that she had found the solution of the troubles of Shiel and Mona
Crozier, for Crozier would now have his fortune, and the return to his
wife was a matter of course. Was she altogether sure? But yes, she was
altogether sure. She remembered, with a sudden, swift plunge of blood in
her veins, that early dawn when she bent over him as he lay beneath the
tree, and as she kissed him in his sleep he had murmured, "My darling!"
That had not been for her, though it had been her kiss which had stirred
his dreaming soul to say the words. If they had only been meant for her,
then--oh, then life would be so much easier in the future! If--if she
could only kiss him again and he would wake and say--

She got to her feet with an involuntary exclamation. For an instant she
had been lost in a world of her own, a world of the impossible.

"I almost thought I heard a step in the other room," she said in
explanation to Mona. Going to the door of Crozier's room, she appeared to
listen for a moment, and then she opened it.

"No, it is all right," she said.

In another few minutes Mona had finished the letter. "Do you wish to read
it again?" she asked Kitty, but not handing it to her.

"No, I leave the words to you. It was the right meaning I wanted in it,"
she replied.

Suddenly Mona came to her and laid a hand on her arm. "You are
wonderful--a wonderful, wise, beloved girl," she said, and there were
tears in her eyes.

Kitty gave the tiny fingers a spasmodic clasp, and said: "Quick, we must
get them in!" She put the banknotes inside the sheets of paper, then
hastily placed both in the envelope and sealed the envelope again.

"It's just a tiny bit damp with the steam yet, but it will be all right
in five minutes. How soiled the envelope is!" Kitty added. "Five years in
and out of the desk, in and out of his pocket--but all so nice and
unsoiled and sweet and bonny inside," she added. "To say nothing of the
bawbees, as Mr. Crozier calls money. Well, we are ready. It all depends
on you now, Mrs. Crozier."

"No, not all."

"He used to be afraid of you; now you are afraid of him," said Kitty, as
though stating a commonplace.

There was no more shrewishness left in the little woman to meet this
chastisement. The forces against her were too many. Loneliness and the
long struggle to face the world without her man; the determination of
this masterful young woman who had been so long a part of her husband's
life; and, more than all, a new feeling altogether--love, and the
dependence a woman feels, the longing to find rest in strong arms, which
comes with the first revelation of love, had conquered what Kitty had
called her "bossiness." She was now tremulous before the crisis which she
must presently face. Pride in her fortune, in her independence, had died
down in her. She no longer thought of herself as a woman especially
endowed and privileged. She took her fortune now like a man; for she had
been taught that a man could set her aside just because she had money,
could desert her to be independent of it. It had been a revelation to
her, and she was chastened of all the termagancy visible and invisible in
her. She stood now before Kitty of "a humble and a contrite heart," and
made no reply at all to the implied challenge. Kitty, instantly sorry for
what she had said, let it go at that. She was only now aware of how
deeply her arrows had gone home.

As they stood silent there was a click at the gate. Kitty ran into
Crozier's room, thrust the letter into its pigeonhole in the desk, and in
a moment was back again. In the garden the Young Doctor was holding
Crozier in conversation, but watching the front door. So soon, however,
as Kitty had shown herself, as she had promised, at the front door and
then vanished, he turned Crozier towards the house again by an adroit
word, and left him at the door-step.

Seeing who was inside the room Crozier hesitated, and his long face, with
paleness added to its asceticism, took on a look which could have given
no hope of happiness to Mona. It went to her heart as no look of his had
ever gone. Suddenly she had a revelation of how little she had known of
what he was, or what any man was or could be, or of those springs of
nature lying far below the outer lives which move in orbits of sheltering
convention. It is because some men and women are so sheltered from the
storms of life by wealth and comfort that these piercing agonies which
strike down to the uttermost depths so seldom reach them.

Shiel half turned away, not sullen, not morose, but with a strange apathy
settled on him. He had once heard a man say, "I feel as though I wanted
to crawl into a hole and die." That was the way he felt now, for to be
beaten in the game which you have played like a man yourself and have
been fouled into an unchallenged defeat, without the voice of the umpire,
is a fate which has smothered the soul of better men than Crozier.

Mona's voice stopped him. "Do not go, Shiel," she urged gently. "No, you
must not go--I want fair-play from you, if nothing else. You must play
the game with me. I want justice. I have to say some things I had no
chance to say before, and I want to hear some things I have a right to
hear. Indeed, you must play the game."

He drew himself up. Not to be a sportsman, not to play the game--to
accuse him of this would have brought him back from the edge of the
grave.

"I'm not fit to-day. Let it be to-morrow, Mona," was his hesitating
reply; but he did not leave the doorway.

She shook her head and made a swift little childlike gesture towards him.
"We are sure of to-day; we are not sure of to-morrow. One or the other of
us might not be here to-morrow. Let us do to-day the thing that belongs
to to-day."

That note struck home, for indeed the black spirit which whispers to men
in their most despairing hours to end it all had whispered to him.

"Let us do to-day the thing that belongs to to-day," she had just said,
and, strange to say, there shot into his mind words that belonged to the
days when he went to church at Castlegarry and thought of a thousand
things other than prayer or praise, but yet heard with the acute ears of
the young, and remembered with the persistent memory of youth. "For the
night cometh when no man can work," were the words which came to him. He
shuddered slightly. Suppose that this indeed was the beginning of the
night! As she said, he must play the game--play it as Crozier of Lammis
would have played it.

He stepped inside the room. "Let it be to-day," he said.

"We may be interrupted here," she replied. Courage came to her. "Let us
talk in your own room," she added, and going over she opened the door of
it and walked in. The matured modesty of a lost five years did not cloak
her actions now. She was a woman fighting for happiness, and she had been
so beaten by the rods of scorn, so smothered by the dust of humiliation,
that there had come to her the courage of those who would rather die
fighting than in the lethargy of despair.

It was like her old self to take the initiative, but she did it now in so
different a way--without masterfulness or assumption. It was rather like
saying, "I will do what I know you wish me to do; I will lay all reserve
aside for your sake; I will be bold because I love you."

He shut the door behind them and motioned her to a chair.

"No, I will not sit," she said. "That is too formal. You ask any stranger
to sit. I am at home here, Shiel, and I will stand."

"What was it you wanted to say, Mona?" he asked, scarcely looking at her.

"I should like to think that there was something you wished to hear," she
replied. "Don't you want to know all that has happened since you left
us--about me, about your brother, about your friends, about Lammis? I
bought Lammis at the sale you ordered; it is still ours." She gave
emphasis to "ours." "You may not want to hear all that has happened to me
since you left, still I must tell you some things that you ought to know,
if we are going to part again. You treated me badly. There was no reason
why you should have left and placed me in the position you did."

His head came up sharply and his voice became a little hard. "I told you
I was penniless, and I would not live on you, and I could do nothing in
England; I had no trade or profession. If I had said good-bye to you, you
would probably have offered me a ticket to Canada. As I was a pauper I
preferred to go with what I had out of the wreck--just enough to bring me
here. But I've earned my own living since."

"Penniless--just enough to bring you out here!" Her voice had a sound of
honest amazement. "How can you say such a thing! You had my letter--you
said you had my letter?"

"Yes, I had your letter," he answered. "Your thoughtful brother brought
it to me. You had told him all the dear womanly things you had said or
were going to say to your husband, and he passed them on to me with the
letter."

"Never mind what he said to you, Shiel. It was what I said that
mattered." She was getting bolder every minute. The comedy was playing
into her hands.

"You wrote in your letter the things he said to me," he replied.

Her protest sounded indignantly real. "I said nothing in the letter I
wrote you that any man would not wish to hear. Is it so unpleasant for a
man who thinks he is penniless to be told that he has made the year's
income of a cabinet minister?"

"I don't understand," he returned helplessly.

"You talk as though you had never read my letter.

"I never have read your letter," he replied in bewilderment.

Her face had the flush of honest anger. "You do not dare to tell me you
destroyed my letter without reading it--that you destroyed all that
letter contained simply because you no longer cared for your wife;
because you wanted to be rid of her, wanted to vanish and never see her
any more, and so go and leave no trace of yourself! You have the courage
here to my face"--the comedy of the situation gained much from the mock
indignation--she no longer had any compunctions--"to say that you
destroyed my letter and what it contained--a small fortune it would be
out here."

"I did not destroy your letter, Mona," was the embarrassed response.

"Then what did you do with it? Gave it to some one else to read--to some
other woman, perhaps."

He was really shocked and greatly pained. "Hush! You shall not say that
kind of thing, Mona. I've never had anything to do with any woman but my
wife since I married her."

"Then what did you do with the letter?"

"It's there," he said, pointing to the high desk with the green baize
top.

"And you say you have never read it?"

"Never."

She raised her head with dainty haughtiness. "Then if you have still the
same sense of honour that made you keep faith with the bookmakers--you
didn't run away from them!--read it now, here in my presence. Read it,
Shiel. I demand that you read it now. It is my right. You are in honour
bound--"

It was the only way. She dare not give him time to question, to suspect;
she must sweep him along to conviction. She was by no means sure that
there wasn't a flaw in the scheme somewhere, something that would betray
her; and she could hardly wait till it was over, till he had read the
letter.

In a moment he was again near her with the letter in his hand.

"Yes, that's it--that's the letter," she said, with wondering and
reproachful eyes. "I remember the little scratchy blot from the pen on
the envelope. There it is, just as I made it five years ago. But how
disgracefully soiled the envelope is! I suppose it has been tossed about
in your saddle-bag, or with your old clothes, and only kept to remind you
day by day that you had a wife you couldn't live with--kept as a warning
never to think of her except to say, 'I hate you, Mona, because you are
rich and heartless, and not bigger than a pinch of snuff.' That was the
kind way you used to speak of her even when you were first married to
her--contemptuously always in your heart, no matter what you said out
loud. And the end showed it--the end showed it; you deserted her."

He was so fascinated by the picture she made of passion and incensed
declamation that he did not attempt to open the letter, and he wondered
why there was such a difference between the effect of her temper on him
now and the effect of it those long years ago. He had no feeling of
uneasiness in her presence now, no sense of irritation. In spite of her
tirade, he had a feeling that it didn't matter, that she must bluster in
her tiny teacup if she wanted to do so.

"Open the letter at once," she insisted. "If you don't, I will." She made
as though to take the letter from him, but with a sudden twist he tore
open the envelope. The bank-notes fell to the floor as he took out the
sheet inside. Wondering, he stooped to pick them up.

"Four thousand pounds!" he exclaimed, examining them. "What does it
mean?"

"Read," she commanded.

He devoured the letter. His eyes swam; then there rushed into them the
flame which always made them illumine his mediaeval face like the light
from "the burning bush." He did not question or doubt, because he saw
what he wished to see, which is the way of man. It all looked perfectly
natural and convincing to him.

"Mona--Mona--heaven above and all the gods of hell and Hellas, what a
fool, what a fool I've been!" he exclaimed. "Mona--Mona, can you forgive
your idiot husband? I didn't read this letter because I thought it was
going to slash me on the raw--on the raw flesh of my own lacerating. I
simply couldn't bear to read what your brother said was in the letter.
Yet I couldn't destroy it, either. It was you. I had to keep it. Mona, am
I too big a fool to be your husband?"

He held out his arms with a passionate exclamation. "I asked you to kiss
me yesterday, and you wouldn't," she protested. "I tried to make you love
me yesterday, and you wouldn't. When a woman gets a rebuff like that,
when--"

She could not bear it any longer. With a cry of joy she was in his arms.

After a moment he said, "The best of all was, that you--you vixen, you
bet on that Derby and won, and--"

"With your money, remember, Shiel."

"With my money!" he cried exultingly. "Yes, that's the best of it--the
next best of it. It was your betting that was the best of all--the best
thing you ever did since we married, except your coming here."

"It's in time to help you, too--with your own money, isn't it?"

He glanced at his watch. "Hours--I'm hours to the good. That crowd--that
gang of thieves--that bunch of highwaymen! I've got them--got them, and
got a hundred and fifty thousand dollars, too, to start again at home, at
Lammis, Mona, back on the--but no, I'm not sure that I can live there now
after this big life out here."

"I'm not so sure, either," Mona replied, with a light of larger
understanding in her eyes. "But we'll have to go back and stop the world
talking, and put things in shape before we come here to stay."

"To stay here--do you mean that?" he asked eagerly.

"Somewhere in this big land," she replied softly; "anyhow, to stay here
till I've grown up a little. I wasn't only small in body in the old days,
I was small in mind, Shiel."

"Anyhow, I've done with betting and racing, Mona. I've just got time
left--I'm only thirty-nine--to start and really do something with
myself."

"Well, start now, dear man of Lammis. What is it you have to do before
twelve o'clock to-night?" "What is it? Why, I have to pay over two
thousand of this,"--he flourished the banknotes--"and even then I'll
still have two thousand left. But wait--wait. There was the original
fifty pounds. Where is that fifty pounds, little girl alive? Out with it.
This is the profit. Where is the fifty you staked?" His voice was gay
with raillery.

She could look him in the face now and prevaricate without any shame or
compunction at all. "That fifty pounds--that! Why, I used it to buy my
ticket for Canada. My husband ought to pay my expenses out to him."

He laughed greatly. All Ireland was rioting in his veins now. He had no
logic or reasoning left. "Well, that's the way to get into your old man's
heart, Mona. To think of that! I call it tact divine. Everything has spun
my way at last. I was right about that Derby, after all. It was in my
bones that I'd make a pot out of it, but I thought I had lost it all when
Flamingo went down."

"You never know your luck--you used to say that, Shiel."

"I say it again. Come, we must tell our friends--Kitty, her mother, and
the Young Doctor. You don't know what good friends they have been to me,
mavourneen."

"Yes, I think I do," said Mona, opening the door to the outer room.

Then Crozier called with a great, cheery voice--what Mona used to call
his tally-ho voice. Mrs. Tynan appeared, smiling. She knew at a glance
what had happened. It was so interesting that she could even forgive
Mona.

"Where's Kitty?" asked Crozier, almost boisterously.

"She has gone for a ride with John Sibley," answered Mrs. Tynan.

"Look, there she is!" said Mona, laying a hand on Crozier's arm, and
pointing with the other out over the prairie.

Crozier looked out towards the northwestern horizon, and in the distance
was a woman riding as hard as her horse could go, with a man galloping
hard after her. It seemed as though they were riding into the sunset.

"She's riding the horse you won that race with years ago when you first
came here, Mr. Crozier," said Mrs. Tynan. "John Sibley bought it from Mr.
Brennan."

Mona did not see the look which came into Crozier's face as, with one
hand shading his eyes and the other grasping the banknotes which were to
start him in life again, independent and self-respecting, he watched the
girl riding on and on, ever ahead of the man.

It was at that moment the Young Doctor entered the room, and he
distracted Mona's attention for a moment. Going forward to him Mona shook
him warmly by the hand. Then she went up to Mrs. Tynan and kissed her.

"I would like to kiss your daughter too, Mrs. Tynan," Mona said. . . .
"What are you looking at so hard, Shiel?" she presently added to her
husband.

He did not turn to her. His eyes were still shaded by his hand.

"That horse goes well yet," he said in a low voice. "As good as ever--as
good as ever."

"He loves horses so," remarked Mona, as though she could tell Mrs. Tynan
and the Young Doctor anything about Shiel Crozier which they did not
know.

"Kitty rides well, doesn't she?" asked Mrs. Tynan of Crozier.

"What a pair--girl and horse!" Crozier exclaimed. "Thoroughbred--
absolutely thoroughbred!"

Kitty had ridden away with her heart's secret, her very own, as she
thought: but Shiel Crozier knew--the man that mattered knew.



EPILOGUE

Golden, all golden, save where there was a fringe of trees at a
watercourse; save where a garden, like a spot of emerald, made a button
on the royal garment wrapped across the breast of the prairie. Above,
making for the trees of the foothills far away, a golden eagle floated, a
prairie-hen sped affrighted from some invisible thing; and in the far
distance a railway train slipped down the plain like a serpent making for
a covert in the first hills of the first world that ever was.

At a casual glance the vast plain seemed uninhabited, yet here and there
were men and horses, tiny in the vastness, but conquering. Here and there
also--for it was July--a haymaker sharpened his scythe, and the sound
came singing through the air radiant and stirring with life.

Seated in the shade of a clump of trees a girl sat with her chin in her
hands looking out over the prairie, an intense dreaming in her eyes. Her
horse was tethered near by, but it scarcely made a sound. It was a horse
which had once won a great race, with an Irish gentleman on his back.
Long time the girl sat absorbed, her golden colour, her brown-gold hair
in harmony with the universal stencil of gold. With her eyes drowned in
the distance, she presently murmured something to herself, and as she did
so the eyes deepened to a nameless umber tone, deeper than gold, warmer
than brown; such a colour as only can be found in a jewel or in a leaf
the frost has touched.

The frost had touched the soul which gave the colour to the eyes of the
girl. Yet she seemed all summer, all glow and youth and gladness. Her
voice was golden, too, and the words which fell from her lips were as
though tuned to the sound of falling water. The tone of the voice would
last when the gold of all else became faded or tarnished. It had its
origin in the soul:

     "Whereaway goes my lad? Tell me, has he gone alone?
     Never harsh word did I speak; never hurt I gave;
     Strong he was and beautiful; like a heron he has flown
     Hereaway, hereaway will I make my grave."

The voice lingered on the words till it trailed away into nothing, like
the vanishing note of a violin which seems still to pulse faintly after
the sound has ceased.

"But he did not go alone, and I have not made my grave," the girl said,
and raised her head at the sound of footsteps. With an effort she emerged
from the half-trance in which she had been, and smiled at a man hastening
towards her.

"Dear bully, bulbous being--how that word 'bully' would have, made her
cringe!" she said as the man ambled nearer. He could not go as fast as
his mind urged him.

"I've got news--news, news!" he exclaimed, wading through his own
perspiration to where she sat. "I can guess what it is," the girl
remarked smilingly, as she reached out a hand to him, but remained
seated. "It's a real, live baby born to Lydia, wife of Methuselah, the
woman also being of goodly years. It is, isn't it."

"The fattest, finest, most 'scrumpshus' son of all the ages that ever--"

Kitty laughed happily and very whimsically. "Like none since Moses was
found among the bulrushes! Where was this one found, and what do you
intend to call him--Jesse, after his 'pa'?"

"No--nothing so common. He's to be called Shiel--Shiel Crozier Bulrush,
that's to be his name."

The face of the girl became a shade pensive now. "Oh! And do you think
you can guarantee that he will be worth the name? Do you never think what
his father is?"

"I'm starting him right with that name. I can do so much, anyway,"
laughed the imperturbable one. "And Mrs. Bulrush, after her great
effort--how is she?

"Flying--simply flying. Earth not good enough for her. Simply flying. But
here--here is more news. Guess what--it's for you. I've just come from
the post office, and they said there was an English letter for you, so I
brought it."

He handed it over. She laid it in her lap and waited as though for him to
go.

"Can't I hear how he is? He's the best man that ever crossed my path," he
said.

"It happens to be in his wife's, not his, handwriting--did ever such a
scrap of a woman write so sprawling a hand!" she replied, holding the
letter up.

"But she'll let us know in the letter how Crozier is, won't she?"

Kitty had now recovered herself, and slowly she opened the envelope and
took out the letter. As she did so something fluttered to the ground.

Jesse Bulrush picked it up. "That looks nice," he said, and he whistled
in surprise. "It's a money-draft on a bank."

Kitty, whose eyes were fixed on the big, important handwriting, answered
calmly and without apparently looking, as she took the paper from his
hand: "Yes, it's a wedding present--five hundred dollars to buy what I
like best for my home. So she says."

"Mrs. Crozier, of course."

"Of course."

"Well, that's magnificent. What will you do with it?"

Kitty rose and held out her hand. "Go back to your flying partner, happy
man, and ask her what she would do with five hundred dollars if she had
it."

"She'd buy her lord and master a present with it, of course," he
answered.

"Good-bye, Mr. Rolypoly," she responded, laughing. "You always could
think of things for other people to do; and have never done anything
yourself until now. Good-bye, father."

When he was gone and out of sight her face changed. With sudden anger she
crushed and crumpled up the draft for five hundred in her hand. "'A token
of affection from both!'" she exclaimed, quoting from the letter. "One
lone leaf of Irish shamrock from him would--"

She stopped. "But he will send a message of his own," she continued. "He
will--he will. Even if he doesn't, I'll know that he remembers just the
same. He does--he does remember."

She drew herself up with an effort, and, as it were, shook herself free
from the memories which dimmed her eyes.

Not far away a man was riding towards the clump of trees where she was.
She saw, and hastened to her horse.

"If I told John all I feel he'd understand. I believe he always has
understood," she added with a far-off look.

The draft was still crushed in her hand when she mounted the beloved
horse, whose name now was Shiel.

Presently she smoothed out the crumpled paper. "Yes, I'll take it; I'll
put it by," she murmured. "John will keep on betting. He'll be broke some
day and he'll need it, maybe."

A moment later she was riding hard to meet the man who, before the
wheat-harvest came, would call her wife.


     ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

     He saw what he wished to see, which is the way of man
     Searchers after excuses for ungoverned instincts and acts
     Telling the unnecessary truth
     What isn't never was to those that never knew



     ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS FOR THE ENTIRE "NEVER KNOW YOUR LUCK":

     And I was very lucky--worse luck!
     Anny man as is a man has to have one vice
     God help the man that's afraid of his own wife!
     He saw what he wished to see, which is the way of man
     Her moral standard had not a multitude of delicate punctilios
     Law's delays outlasted even the memory of the crime committed
     Searchers after excuses for ungoverned instincts and acts
     Sensitive souls, however, are not so many as to crowd each other
     She looked too gay to be good
     Telling the unnecessary truth
     They had seen the world through the bottom of a tumbler
     What isn't never was to those that never knew





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