Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Lady Merton, Colonist
Author: Ward, Humphry, Mrs., 1851-1920
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lady Merton, Colonist" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



[Illustration: "ELIZABETH ... COULD YET FIND TIME TO WALK AND CLIMB,
PLUNGING SPIRIT AND SENSE IN THE BEAUTY OF THE ROCKIES"]

LADY MERTON
COLONIST

BY

MRS. HUMPHRY WARD

FRONTISPIECE
BY ALBERT STERNER

1910



A FOREWORD

Towards the end of this story the readers of it will find an account of
an "unknown lake" in the northern Rockies, together with a picture of
its broad expanse, its glorious mountains, and of a white explorers'
tent pitched beside it. Strictly speaking, "Lake Elizabeth" is a lake of
dream. But it has an original on this real earth, which bears another
and a real name, and was discovered two years ago by my friend Mrs.
Schäffer, of Philadelphia, to whose enchanting narratives of travel and
exploration in these untrodden regions I listened with delight at Field,
British Columbia, in June, 1908. She has given me leave to use her own
photograph of the "unknown lake," and some details from her record of
it, for my own purposes; and I can only hope that in the summers to come
she may unlock yet other secrets, unravel yet other mysteries, in that
noble unvisited country which lies north and northeast of the Bow Valley
and the Kicking Horse Pass.

     MARY A. WARD.



LADY MERTON, COLONIST

CHAPTER I

"I call this part of the line beastly depressing."

The speaker tossed his cigarette-end away as he spoke. It fell on the
railway line, and the tiny smoke from it curled up for a moment against
the heavy background of spruce as the train receded.

"All the same, this is going to be one of the most exciting parts of
Canada before long," said Lady Merton, looking up from her guide-book.
"I can tell you all about it."

"For heaven's sake, don't!" said her companion hastily. "My dear
Elizabeth, I really must warn you. You're losing your head."

"I lost it long ago. To-day I am a bore--to-morrow I shall be a
nuisance. Make up your mind to it."

"I thought you were a reasonable person!--you used to be. Now look at
that view, Elizabeth. We've seen the same thing for twelve hours, and if
it wasn't soon going to be dark we should see the same thing for twelve
hours more. What is there to go mad over in that?" Her brother waved
his hand indignantly from right to left across the disappearing scene.
"As for me, I am only sustained by the prospect of the good dinner that
I know Yerkes means to give us in a quarter of an hour. I won't be a
minute late for it! Go and get ready, Elizabeth--"

"Another lake!" cried Lady Merton, with a jump. "Oh, what a darling!
That's the twentieth since tea. Look at the reflections--and that
delicious island! And oh! what _are_ those birds?"

She leant over the side of the observation platform, attached to the
private car in which she and her brother were travelling, at the rear of
the heavy Canadian Pacific train. To the left of the train a small blue
lake had come into view, a lake much indented with small bays running up
among the woods, and a couple of islands covered with scrub of beech and
spruce, set sharply on the clear water. On one side of the lake, the
forest was a hideous waste of burnt trunks, where the gaunt
stems--charred or singed, snapped or twisted, or flayed--of the trees
which remained standing rose dreadfully into the May sunshine, above a
chaos of black ruin below. But except for this blemish--the only sign of
man--the little lake was a gem of beauty. The spring green clothed its
rocky sides; the white spring clouds floated above it, and within it;
and small beaches of white pebbles seemed to invite the human feet which
had scarcely yet come near them.

"What does it matter?" yawned her brother. "I don't want to shoot them.
And why you make such a fuss about the lakes, when, as you say yourself,
there are about two a mile, and none of them has got a name to its back,
and they're all exactly alike, and all full of beastly mosquitoes in the
summer--it beats me! I wish Yerkes would hurry up." He leant back
sleepily against the door of the car and closed his eyes.

"It's _because_ they haven't got a name--and they're so endless!--and
the place is so big!--and the people so few!--and the chances are so
many--and so queer!" said Elizabeth Merton laughing.

"What sort of chances?"

"Chances of the future."

"Hasn't got any chances!" said Philip Gaddesden, keeping his hands in
his pockets.

"Hasn't it? Owl!" Lady Merton neatly pinched the arm nearest to her. "As
I've explained to you many times before, this is the Hinterland of
Ontario--and it's only been surveyed, except just along the railway, a
few years ago--and it's as rich as rich--"

"I say, I wish you wouldn't reel out the guide-book like that!" grumbled
the somnolent person beside her. "As if I didn't know all about the
Cobalt mines, and that kind of stuff."

"Did you make any money out of them, Phil?"

"No--but the other fellows did. That's my luck."

"Never mind, there'll be heaps more directly--hundreds." She stretched
out her hand vaguely towards an enchanting distance--hill beyond hill,
wood beyond wood; everywhere the glimmer of water in the hollows;
everywhere the sparkle of fresh leaf, the shining of the birch trunks
among the firs, the greys and purples of limestone rock; everywhere,
too, the disfiguring stain of fire, fire new or old, written, now on the
mouldering stumps of trees felled thirty years ago when the railway was
making, now on the young stems of yesterday.

"I want to see it all in a moment of time," Elizabeth continued, still
above herself. "An air-ship, you know, Philip--and we should see it all
in a day, from here to James Bay. A thousand miles of it--stretched
below us--just waiting for man! And we'd drop down into an undiscovered
lake, and give it a name--one of our names--and leave a letter under a
stone. And then in a hundred years, when the settlers come, they'd find
it, and your name--or mine--would live forever."

"I forbid you to take any liberties with my name, Elizabeth! I've
something better to do with it than waste it on a lake in--what do you
call it?--the 'Hinterland of Ontario.'" The young man mocked his
sister's tone.

Elizabeth laughed and was silent.

The train sped on, at its steady pace of some thirty miles an hour. The
spring day was alternately sunny and cloudy; the temperature was warm,
and the leaves were rushing out. Elizabeth Merton felt the spring in her
veins, an indefinable joyousness and expectancy; but she was conscious
also of another intoxication--a heat of romantic perception kindled in
her by this vast new country through which she was passing. She was a
person of much travel, and many experiences; and had it been prophesied
to her a year before this date that she could feel as she was now
feeling, she would not have believed it. She was then in Rome, steeped
in, ravished by the past--assisted by what is, in its way, the most
agreeable society in Europe. Here she was absorbed in a rushing present;
held by the vision of a colossal future; and society had dropped out of
her ken. Quebec, Montreal and Ottawa had indeed made themselves pleasant
to her; she had enjoyed them all. But it was in the wilderness that the
spell had come upon her; in these vast spaces, some day to be the home
of a new race; in these lakes, the playground of the Canada of the
future; in these fur stations and scattered log cabins; above all in the
great railway linking east and west, that she and her brother had come
out to see.

For they had a peculiar relation to it. Their father had been one of its
earliest and largest shareholders, might indeed be reckoned among its
founders. He had been one, also, of a small group of very rich men who
had stood by the line in one of the many crises of its early history,
when there was often not enough money in the coffers of the company to
pay the weekly wages of the navvies working on the great iron road. He
was dead now, and his property in the line had been divided among his
children. But his name and services were not forgotten at Montreal, and
when his son and widowed daughter let it be known that they desired to
cross from Quebec to Vancouver, and inquired what the cost of a private
car might be for the journey, the authorities at Montreal insisted on
placing one of the official cars at their disposal. So that they were
now travelling as the guests of the C.P.R.; and the good will of one of
the most powerful of modern corporations went with them.

They had left Toronto, on a May evening, when the orchards ran, one
flush of white and pink, from the great lake to the gorge of Niagara,
and all along the line northwards the white trilliums shone on the
grassy banks in the shadow of the woods; while the pleasant Ontario
farms flitted by, so mellowed and homelike already, midway between the
old life of Quebec, and this new, raw West to which they were going.
They had passed, also--but at night and under the moon--through the lake
country which is the playground of Toronto, as well known, and as
plentifully be-named as Westmoreland; and then at North Bay with the
sunrise they had plunged into the wilderness,--into the thousand miles
of forest and lake that lie between Old Ontario and Winnipeg.

And here it was that Elizabeth's enthusiasm had become in her brother's
eyes a folly; that something wild had stirred in her blood, and sitting
there in her shady hat at the rear of the train, her eyes pursuing the
great track which her father had helped to bring into being, she shook
Europe from her, and felt through her pulses the tremor of one who
watches at a birth, and looks forward to a life to be--

"Dinner is ready, my lady."

"Thank Heaven!" cried Philip Gaddesden, springing up. "Get some
champagne, please, Yerkes."

"Philip!" said his sister reprovingly, "it is not good for you to have
champagne every night."

Philip threw back his curly head, and grinned.

"I'll see if I can do without it to-morrow. Come along, Elizabeth."

They passed through the outer saloon, with its chintz-covered sofas and
chairs, past the two little bedrooms of the car, and the tiny kitchen to
the dining-room at the further end. Here stood a man in steward's livery
ready to serve, while from the door of the kitchen another older man,
thin and tanned, in a cook's white cap and apron, looked
benevolently out.

"Smells good, Yerkes!" said Gaddesden as he passed.

The cook nodded.

"If only her ladyship'll find something she likes," he said, not without
a slight tone of reproach.

"You hear that, Elizabeth?" said her brother as they sat down to the
well-spread board.

Elizabeth looked plaintive. It was one of her chief weaknesses to wish
to be liked--adored, perhaps, is the better word--by her servants and
she generally accomplished it. But the price of Yerkes's affections
was too high.

"It seems to me that we have only just finished luncheon, not to speak
of tea," she said, looking in dismay at the menu before her. "Phil, do
you wish to see me return home like Mrs. Melhuish?"

Phil surveyed his sister. Mrs. Melhuish was the wife of their local
clergyman in Hampshire; a poor lady plagued by abnormal weight, and a
heart disease.

"You might borrow pounds from Mrs. Melhuish, and nobody would ever know.
You really are too thin, Lisa--a perfect scarecrow. Of course Yerkes
sees that he could do a lot for you. All the same, that's a pretty gown
you've got on--an awfully pretty gown," he repeated with emphasis,
adding immediately afterwards in another tone--"Lisa!--I say!--you're
not going to wear black any more?"

"No"--said Lady Merton, "no--I am not going to wear black any more." The
words came lingeringly out, and as the servant removed her plate,
Elizabeth turned to look out of the window at the endless woods, a
shadow on her beautiful eyes.

She was slenderly made, with a small face and head round which the
abundant hair was very smoothly and closely wound. The hair was of a
delicate brown, the complexion clear, but rather colourless. Among other
young and handsome women, Elizabeth Merton made little effect; like a
fine pencil drawing, she required an attentive eye. The modelling of the
features, of the brow, the cheeks, the throat, was singularly refined,
though without a touch of severity; her hands, with their very long and
slender fingers, conveyed the same impression. Her dress, though dainty,
was simple and inconspicuous, and her movements, light, graceful,
self-controlled, seemed to show a person of equable temperament, without
any strong emotions. In her light cheerfulness, her perpetual interest
in the things about her, she might have reminded a spectator of some of
the smaller sea-birds that flit endlessly from wave to wave, for whom
the business of life appears to be summed up in flitting and poising.

The comparison would have been an inadequate one. But Elizabeth Merton's
secrets were not easily known. She could rave of Canada; she rarely
talked of herself. She had married, at the age of nineteen, a young
Cavalry officer, Sir Francis Merton, who had died of fever within a year
of their wedding, on a small West African expedition for which he had
eagerly offered himself. Out of the ten months of their marriage, they
had spent four together. Elizabeth was now twenty-seven, and her
married life had become to her an insubstantial memory. She had been
happy, but in the depths of the mind she knew that she might not have
been happy very long. Her husband's piteous death had stamped upon her,
indeed, a few sharp memories; she saw him always,--as the report of a
brother officer, present at his funeral, had described him--wrapped in
the Flag, and so lowered to his grave, in a desert land. This image
effaced everything else; the weaknesses she knew, and those she had
begun to guess at. But at the same time she had not been crushed by the
tragedy; she had often scourged herself in secret for the rapidity with
which, after it, life had once more become agreeable to her. She knew
that many people thought her incapable of deep feeling. She supposed it
must be true. And yet there were moments when a self within herself
surprised and startled her; not so much, as yet, in connection with
persons, as with ideas, causes--oppressions, injustices, helpless
suffering; or, as now, with a new nation, visibly striking its "being
into bounds."

During her widowhood she had lived much with her mother, and had devoted
herself particularly to this only brother, a delicate lad--lovable,
self-indulgent and provoking--for whom the unquestioning devotion of
two women had not been the best of schools. An attack of rheumatic fever
which had seized him on leaving Christchurch had scared both mother and
sister. He had recovered, but his health was not yet what it had been;
and as at home it was impossible to keep him from playing golf all day,
and bridge all night, the family doctor, in despair, recommended travel,
and Elizabeth had offered to take charge of him. It was not an easy
task, for although Philip was extremely fond of his sister, as the male
head of the family since his father's death he held strong convictions
with regard to the natural supremacy of man, and would probably never
"double Cape Turk." In another year's time, at the age of four and
twenty, he would inherit the family estate, and his mother's
guardianship would come to an end. He then intended to be done with
petticoat government, and to show these two dear women a thing or two.

       *       *       *       *       *

The dinner was good, as usual; in Elizabeth's eyes, monstrously good.
There was to her something repellent in such luxurious fare enjoyed by
strangers, on this tourist-flight through a country so eloquent of man's
hard wrestle with rock and soil, with winter and the wilderness. The
blinds of the car towards the next carriage were rigorously closed,
that no one might interfere with the privacy of the rich; but Elizabeth
had drawn up the blind beside her, and looked occasionally into the
evening, and that endless medley of rock and forest and lake which lay
there outside, under the sunset. Once she gazed out upon a great gorge,
through which ran a noble river, bathed in crimson light; on its way, no
doubt, to Lake Superior, the vast, crescent-shaped lake she had dreamed
of in her school-room days, over her geography lessons, and was soon to
see with her own eyes. She thought of the uncompanioned beauty of the
streams, as it would be when the thunder of the train had gone by, of
its distant sources in the wild, and the loneliness of its long, long
journey. A little shiver stole upon her, the old tremor of man in
presence of a nature not yet tamed to his needs, not yet identified with
his feelings, still full therefore of stealthy and hostile powers,
creeping unawares upon his life.

"This champagne is not nearly as good as last night," said Philip
discontentedly. "Yerkes must really try for something better at
Winnipeg. When do we arrive?"

"Oh, some time to-morrow evening."

"What a blessing we're going to bed!" said the boy, lighting his
cigarette. "You won't be able to bother me about lakes, Lisa."

But he smiled at her as he spoke, and Elizabeth was so enchanted to
notice the gradual passing away of the look of illness, the brightening
of the eye, and slight filling out of the face, that he might tease her
as he pleased.

Within an hour Philip Gaddesden was stretched on a comfortable bed sound
asleep. The two servants had made up berths in the dining-room;
Elizabeth's maid slept in the saloon. Elizabeth herself, wrapped in a
large cloak, sat awhile outside, waiting for the first sight of
Lake Superior.

It came at last. A gleam of silver on the left--a line of purple
islands--frowning headlands in front--and out of the interminable shadow
of the forests, they swept into a broad moonlight. Over high bridges and
the roar of rivers, threading innumerable bays, burrowing through
headlands and peninsulas, now hanging over the cold shining of the
water, now lost again in the woods, the train sped on its wonderful way.
Elizabeth on her platform at its rear was conscious of no other living
creature. She seemed to be alone with the night and the vastness of the
lake, the awfulness of its black and purple coast. As far as she could
see, the trees on its shores were still bare; they had temporarily left
the spring behind; the North seemed to have rushed upon her in its
terror and desolation. She found herself imagining the storms that
sweep the lake in winter, measuring her frail life against the
loneliness and boundlessness around her. No sign of man, save in the few
lights of these scattered stations; and yet, for long, her main
impression was one of exultation in man's power and skill, which bore
her on and on, safe, through the conquered wilderness.

Gradually, however, this note of feeling slid down into something much
softer and sadder. She became conscious of herself, and her personal
life; and little by little her exultation passed into yearning; her eyes
grew wet. For she had no one beside her with whom to share these secret
thoughts and passions--these fresh contacts with life and nature. Was it
always to be so? There was in her a longing, a "sehnsucht," for she
knew not what.

She could marry, of course, if she wished. There was a possibility in
front of her, of which she sometimes thought. She thought of it now,
wistfully and kindly; but it scarcely availed against the sudden
melancholy, the passion of indefinite yearning which had assailed her.

The night began to cloud rapidly. The moonlight died from the lake and
the coast. Soon a wind sprang up, lashing the young spruce and birch
growing among the charred wreck of the older forest, through which the
railway had been driven. Elizabeth went within, and she was no sooner in
bed than the rain came pelting on her window.

She lay sleepless for a long time, thinking now, not of the world
outside, or of herself, but of the long train in front of her, and its
freight of lives; especially of the two emigrant cars, full, as she had
seen at North Bay, of Galicians and Russian Poles. She remembered the
women's faces, and the babies at their breasts. Were they all asleep,
tired out perhaps by long journeying, and soothed by the noise of the
train? Or were there hearts among them aching for some poor hovel left
behind, for a dead child in a Carpathian graveyard?--for a lover?--a
father?--some bowed and wrinkled Galician peasant whom the next winter
would kill? And were the strong, swarthy men dreaming of wealth, of the
broad land waiting, the free country, and the equal laws?

       *       *       *       *       *

Elizabeth awoke. It was light in her little room. The train was at a
standstill. Winnipeg?

A subtle sense of something wrong stole upon her. Why this murmur of
voices round the train? She pushed aside a corner of the blind beside
her. Outside a railway cutting, filled with misty rain--many persons
walking up and down, and a babel of talk--

Bewildered, she rang for her maid, an elderly and precise person who
had accompanied her on many wanderings.

"Simpson, what's the matter? Are we near Winnipeg?"

"We've been standing here for the last two hours, my lady. I've been
expecting to hear you ring long ago."

Simpson's tone implied that her mistress had been somewhat crassly
sleeping while more sensitive persons had been awake and suffering.

Elizabeth rubbed her eyes. "But what's wrong, Simpson, and where are
we?"

"Goodness knows, my lady. We're hours away from Winnipeg--that's all I
know--and we're likely to stay here, by what Yerkes says."

"Has there been an accident?"

Simpson replied--sombrely--that something had happened, she didn't know
what--that Yerkes put it down to "the sink-hole," which according to him
was "always doing it"--that there were two trains in front of them at a
standstill, and trains coming up every minute behind them.

"My dear Simpson!--that must be an exaggeration. There aren't trains
every minute on the C.P.R. Is Mr. Philip awake?"

"Not yet, my lady."

"And what on earth is a sink-hole?" asked Elizabeth.



CHAPTER II

Elizabeth had ample time during the ensuing sixteen hours for inquiry as
to the nature of sink-holes.

When she emerged, dressed, into the saloon--she found Yerkes looking out
of the window in a brown study. He was armed with a dusting brush and a
white apron, but it did not seem to her that he had been making much
use of them.

"Whatever is the matter, Yerkes? What is a sink-hole?"

Yerkes looked round.

"A sink-hole, my lady?" he said slowly--"A sink-hole, well, it's as you
may say--a muskeg."

"A _what?_"

"A place where you can't find no bottom, my lady. This one's a vixen,
she is! What she's cost the C.P.R.!"--he threw up his hands. "And
there's no contenting her--the more you give her the more she wants.
They give her ten trainloads of stuff a couple of months ago. No good! A
bit of moist weather and there she is at it again. Let an engine and
two carriages through last night--ten o'clock!"

"Gracious! Was anybody hurt? What--a kind of bog?--a quicksand?"

"Well," said Yerkes, resuming his dusting, and speaking with polite
obstinacy, "muskegs is what they call 'em in these parts. They'll have
to divert the line. I tell 'em so, scores of times. She was at this game
last year. Held me up twenty-one hours last fall."

When Yerkes was travelling he spoke in a representative capacity. He
_was_ the line.

"How many trains ahead of us are there? Yerkes?"

"Two as I know on--may be more."

"And behind?"

"Three or four, my lady."

"And how long are we likely to be kept?"

"Can't say. They've been at her ten hours. She don't generally let
anyone over her under a good twenty--or twenty-four."

"Yerkes!--what will Mr. Gaddesden say? And it's so damp and horrid."

Elizabeth looked at the outside prospect in dismay. The rain was
drizzling down. The passengers walking up and down the line were in
heavy overcoats with their collars turned up. To the left of the line
there was a misty glimpse of water over a foreground of charred stumps.
On the other side rose a bank of scrubby wood, broken by a patch of
clearing, which held a rude log-cabin. What was she to do with
Philip all day?

Suddenly a cow appeared on the patch of grass round the log hut. With a
sound of jubilation, Yerkes threw down his dusting brush and rushed out
of the car. Elizabeth watched him pursue the cow, and disappear round a
corner. What on earth was he about?

Philip had apparently not yet been called. He was asleep, and Yerkes had
let well alone. But he must soon awake to the situation, and the problem
of his entertainment would begin. Elizabeth took up the guide-book and
with difficulty made out that they were about a hundred miles from
Winnipeg. Somewhere near Rainy Lake apparently. What a foolishly
appropriate name!

"Hi!--hi!--"

The shout startled her. Looking out she saw a group of passengers
grinning, and Yerkes running hard for the car, holding something in his
hand, and pursued by a man in a slouch hat, who seemed to be swearing.
Yerkes dashed into the car, deposited his booty in the kitchen, and
standing in the doorway faced the enemy. A terrific babel arose.

Elizabeth appeared in the passage and demanded to know what had
happened.

"All right, my lady," said Yerkes, mopping his forehead. "I've only been
and milked his cow. No saying where I'd have got any milk this side of
Winnipeg if I hadn't."

"But, Yerkes, he doesn't seem to like it."

"Oh, that's all right, my lady."

But the settler was now on the steps of the car gesticulating and
scolding, in what Elizabeth guessed to be a Scandinavian tongue. He was
indeed a gigantic Swede, furiously angry, and Elizabeth had thoughts of
bearding him herself and restoring the milk, when some mysterious
transaction involving coin passed suddenly between the two men. The
Swede stopped short in the midst of a sentence, pocketed something, and
made off sulkily for the log hut. Yerkes, with a smile, and a wink to
the bystanders, retired triumphant on his prey.

Elizabeth, standing at the door of the kitchen, inquired if supplies
were likely to run short.

"Not in this car," said Yerkes, with emphasis. "What _they'll_ do"--a
jerk of his thumb towards the rest of the train in front--"can't say."

"Of course we shall have to give them food!" cried Lady Merton,
delighted at the thought of getting rid of some of their superfluities.

Yerkes showed a stolid face.

"The C.P.R.'ll have to feed 'em--must. That's the regulation.
Accident--free meals. That hasn't nothing to do with me. They don't come
poaching on my ground. I say, look out! Do yer call that bacon, or
buffaler steaks?"

And Yerkes rushed upon his subordinate, Bettany, who was cutting the
breakfast bacon with undue thickness, and took the thing in hand
himself. The crushed Bettany, who was never allowed to finish anything,
disappeared hastily in order to answer the electric bell which was
ringing madly from Philip Gaddesden's berth.

"Conductor!" cried a voice from the inner platform outside the
dining-room and next the train.

"And what might you be wanting, sir?" said Bettany jauntily, opening the
door to the visitor. Bettany was a small man, with thin harrassed
features and a fragment of beard, glib of speech towards everybody
but Yerkes.

"Your conductor got some milk, I think, from that cabin."

"He did--but only enough for ourselves. Sorry we can't oblige you."

"All the same, I am going to beg some of it. May I speak to the
gentleman?"

"Mr. Gaddesden, sir, is dressing. The steward will attend to you."

And Bettany retired ceremoniously in favour of Yerkes, who hearing
voices had come out of his den.

"I have come to ask for some fresh milk for a baby in the emigrant car,"
said the stranger. "Looks sick, and the mother's been crying. They've
only got tinned milk in the restaurant and the child won't touch it."

"Sorry it's that particular, sir. But I've got only what I want."

"Yerkes!" cried Elizabeth Merton, in the background. "Of course the baby
must have it. Give it to the gentleman, please, at once."

The stranger removed his hat and stepped into the tiny dining-room where
Elizabeth was standing. He was tall and fair-skinned, with a blonde
moustache, and very blue eyes. He spoke--for an English ear--with the
slight accent which on the Canadian side of the border still proclaims
the neighbourhood of the States.

"I am sorry to trouble you, madam," he said, with deference. "But the
child seems very weakly, and the mother herself has nothing to give it.
It was the conductor of the restaurant car who sent me here."

"We shall be delighted," said Lady Merton, eagerly. "May I come with
you, if you are going to take it? Perhaps I could do something for
the mother."

The stranger hesitated a moment.

"An emigrant car full of Galicians is rather a rough sort of
place--especially at this early hour in the morning. But if you
don't mind--"

"I don't mind anything. Yerkes, is that _all_ the milk?".

"All to speak of, my lady," said Yerkes, nimbly retreating to his den.

Elizabeth shook her head as she looked at the milk. But her visitor
laughed.

"The baby won't get through that to-day. It's a regular little
scarecrow. I shouldn't think the mother'll rear it."

They stepped out on to the line. The drizzle descended on Lady Merton's
bare head and grey travelling dress.

"You ought to have an umbrella," said the Canadian, looking at her in
some embarrassment. And he ran back to the car for one. Then, while she
carried the milk carefully in both hands, he held the umbrella over her,
and they passed through the groups of passengers who were strolling
disconsolately up and down the line in spite of the wet, or exchanging
lamentations with others from two more stranded trains, one drawn up
alongside, the other behind.

Many glances were levelled at the slight Englishwoman, with the
delicately pale face, and at the man escorting her. Elizabeth meanwhile
was putting questions. How long would they be detained? Her brother with
whom she was travelling was not at all strong. Unconsciously, perhaps,
her voice took a note of complaint.

"Well, we can't any of us cross--can we?--till they come to some bottom
in the sink-hole," said the Canadian, interrupting her a trifle bluntly.

Elizabeth laughed. "We may be here then till night."

"Possibly. But you'll be the first over."

"How? There are some trains in front."

"That doesn't matter. They'll move you up. They're very vexed it should
have happened to you."

Elizabeth felt a trifle uncomfortable. Was the dear young man tilting at
the idle rich--and the corrupt Old World? She stole a glance at him, but
perceived only that in his own tanned and sunburnt way he was a
remarkably handsome well-made fellow, built on a rather larger scale
than the Canadians she had so far seen. A farmer? His manners were not
countrified. But a farmer in Canada or the States may be of all
social grades.

By this time they had reached the emigrant car, the conductor of which
was standing on the steps. He was loth to allow Lady Merton to enter,
but Elizabeth persisted. Her companion led the way, pushing through a
smoking group of dark-faced men hanging round the entrance.

Inside, the car was thick, indeed, with smoke and the heavy exhalations
of the night. Men and women were sitting on the wooden benches; some
women were cooking in the tiny stove-room attached to the car; children,
half naked and unwashed, were playing on the floor; here and there a man
was still asleep; while one old man was painfully conning a paper of
"Homestead Regulations" which had been given him at Montreal, a lad of
eighteen helping him; and close by another lad was writing a letter, his
eyes passing dreamily from the paper to the Canadian landscape outside,
of which he was clearly not conscious. In a corner, surrounded by three
or four other women, was the mother they had come to seek. She held a
wailing baby of about a year old in her arms. At the sight of Elizabeth,
the child stopped its wailing, and lay breathing fast and feebly, its
large bright eyes fixed on the new-comer. The mother turned away
abruptly. It was not unusual for persons from the parlour-cars to ask
leave to walk through the emigrants'.

But Elizabeth's companion said a few words to her, apparently in
Russian, and Elizabeth, stooping over her, held out the milk. Then a
dark face reluctantly showed itself, and great black eyes, in deep,
lined sockets; eyes rather of a race than a person, hardly conscious,
hardly individualised, yet most poignant, expressing some feeling,
remote and inarticulate, that roused Elizabeth's. She called to the
conductor for a cup and a spoon; she made her way into the malodorous
kitchen, and got some warm water and sugar; then kneeling by the child,
she put a spoonful of the diluted and sweetened milk into the
mother's hand.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Was it foolish of me to offer her that money?" said Elizabeth with
flushed cheeks as they walked back through the rain. "They looked so
terribly poor."

The Canadian smiled.

"I daresay it didn't do any harm," he said indulgently. "But they are
probably not poor at all. The Galicians generally bring in quite a fair
sum. And after a year or two they begin to be rich. They never spend a
farthing they can help. It costs money--or time--to be clean, so they
remain dirty. Perhaps we shall teach them--after a bit."

His companion looked at him with a shy but friendly curiosity.

"How did you come to know Russian?"

"When I was a child there were some Russian Poles on the next farm to
us. I used to play with the boys, and learnt a little. The conductor
called me in this morning to interpret. These people come from the
Russian side of the Carpathians."

"Then you are a Canadian yourself?--from the West?"

"I was born in Manitoba."

"I am quite in love with your country!"

Elizabeth paused beside the steps leading to their car. As she spoke,
her brown eyes lit up, and all her small features ran over, suddenly,
with life and charm.

"Yes, it's a good country," said the Canadian, rather drily. "It's going
to be a great country. Is this your first visit?"

But the conversation was interrupted by a reproachful appeal from
Yerkes.

"Breakfast, my lady, has been hotted twice."

The Canadian looked at Elizabeth curiously, lifted his hat, and went
away.

"Well, if this doesn't take the cake!" said Philip Gaddesden, throwing
himself disconsolately into an armchair. "I bet you, Elizabeth, we
shall be here forty-eight hours. And this damp goes through one."

The young man shivered, as he looked petulantly out through the open
doorway of the car to the wet woods beyond. Elizabeth surveyed him with
some anxiety. Like herself he was small, and lightly built. But his
features were much less regular than hers; the chin and nose were
childishly tilted, the eyes too prominent. His bright colour,
however--(mother and sister could well have dispensed with that touch of
vivid red on the cheeks!)--his curly hair, and his boyish ways made him
personally attractive; while in his moments of physical weakness, his
evident resentment of Nature's treatment of him, and angry determination
to get the best of her, had a touch of something that was
pathetic--that appealed.

Elizabeth brought a rug and wrapped it round him. But she did not try to
console him; she looked round for something or someone to amuse him.

On the line, just beyond the railed platform of the car, a group of men
were lounging and smoking. One of them was her acquaintance of the
morning. Elizabeth, standing on the platform waited till he turned in
her direction--caught his eye, and beckoned. He came with alacrity. She
stooped over the rail to speak to him.

"I'm afraid you'll think it very absurd"--her shy smile broke
again--"but do you think there's anyone in this train who plays bridge?"

He laughed.

"Certainly. There is a game going on at this moment in the car behind
you."

"Is it--is it anybody--we could ask to luncheon?--who'd come, I mean,"
she added, hurriedly.

"I should think they'd come--I should think they'd be glad. Your cook,
Yerkes, is famous on the line. I know two of the people playing. They
are Members of Parliament."

"Oh! then perhaps I know them too," cried Elizabeth, brightening.

He laughed again.

"The Dominion Parliament, I mean." He named two towns in Manitoba, while
Lady Merton's pink flush showed her conscious of having betrayed her
English insularity. "Shall I introduce you?"

"Please!--if you find an opportunity. It's for my brother. He's
recovering from an illness."

"And you want to cheer him up. Of course. Well, he'll want it to-day."
The young man looked round him, at the line strewn with unsightly
débris, the ugly cutting which blocked the view, and the mists
up-curling from the woods; then at the slight figure beside him. The
corners of his mouth tried not to laugh. "I am afraid you are not going
to like Canada, if it treats you like this."

"I've liked every minute of it up till now," said Elizabeth warmly. "Can
you tell me--I should like to know--who all these people are?" She waved
her hand towards the groups walking up and down.

"Well, you see," said the Canadian after a moment's hesitation,
"Canada's a big place!"

He looked round on her with a smile so broad and sudden that Elizabeth
felt a heat rising in her cheeks. Her question had no doubt been a
little naïve.

But the young man hurried on, composing his face quickly.

"Some of them, of course, are tourists like yourselves. But I do know a
few of them. That man in the clerical coat, and the round collar, is
Father Henty--a Jesuit well known in Winnipeg--a great man among the
Catholics here."

"But a disappointed one," said Lady Merton.

The Canadian looked surprised. Elizabeth, proud of her knowledge, went
on:

"Isn't it true the Catholics hoped to conquer the Northwest--and
so--with Quebec--to govern you all? And now the English and American
immigration has spoilt all their chances--poor things!"

"That's about it. Did they tell you that in Toronto?"

Elizabeth stiffened. The slight persistent tone of mockery in the young
man's voice was beginning to offend her.

"And the others?" she said, without noticing his question.

It was the Canadian's turn to redden. He changed his tone.

"--The man next him is a professor at the Manitoba University. The
gentleman in the brown suit is going to Vancouver to look after some big
lumber leases he took out last year. And that little man in the Panama
hat has been keeping us all alive. He's been prospecting for silver in
New Ontario--thinks he's going to make his fortune in a week."

"Oh, but that will do exactly for my brother!" cried Elizabeth,
delighted. "Please introduce us."

And hurrying back into the car she burst upon the discontented gentleman
within. Philip, who was just about to sally forth into the damp, against
the entreaties of his servant, and take his turn at shying stones at a
bottle on the line, was appeased by her report, and was soon seated,
talking toy speculation, with a bronzed and brawny person, who watched
the young Englishman, as they chatted, out of a pair of humorous eyes.
Philip believed himself a great financier, but was not in truth either
very shrewd or very daring, and his various coups or losses generally
left his exchequer at the end of the year pretty much what it had been
the year before. But the stranger, who seemed to have staked out claims
at one time or another, across the whole face of the continent, from
Klondyke to Nova Scotia, kept up a mining talk that held him enthralled;
and Elizabeth breathed freely.

She returned to the platform. The scene was _triste_, but the rain had
for the moment stopped. She hailed an official passing by, and asked if
there was any chance of their soon going on. The man smiled and
shook his head.

Her Canadian acquaintance, who was standing near, came up to the car as
he heard her question.

"I have just seen a divisional superintendent. We may get on about nine
o'clock to-night."

"And it is now eleven o'clock in the morning," sighed Lady Merton.
"Well!--I think a little exercise would be a good thing."

And she descended the steps of the car. The Canadian hesitated.

"Would you allow me to walk with you?" he said, with formality. "I
might perhaps be able to tell you a few things. I belong to
the railway."

"I shall be greatly obliged," said Elizabeth, cordially. "Do you mean
that you are an official?"

"I am an engineer--in charge of some construction work in the Rockies."

Lady Merton's face brightened.

"Indeed! I think that must be one of the most interesting things in the
world to be."

The Canadian's eyebrows lifted a little.

"I don't know that I ever thought of it like that," he said, half
smiling. "It's good work--but I've done things a good deal livelier
in my time."

"You've not always been an engineer?"

"Very few people are always 'anything' in Canada," he said, laughing.
"It's like the States. One tries a lot of things. Oh, I was trained as
an engineer--at Montreal. But directly I had finished with that I went
off to Klondyke. I made a bit of money--came back--and lost it all, in a
milling business--over there"--he pointed eastwards--"on the Lake of the
Woods. My partner cheated me. Then I went exploring to the north, and
took a Government job at the same time--paying treaty money to the
Indians. Then, five years ago, I got work for the C.P.R. But I shall
cut it before long. I've saved some money again. I shall take up land,
and go into politics."

"Politics?" repeated Elizabeth, wishing she might some day know what
politics meant in Canada. "You're not married?" she added pleasantly.

"I am not married."

"And may I ask your name?"

His name, it seemed, was George Anderson, and presently as they walked
up and down he became somewhat communicative about himself, though
always within the limits, as it seemed to her, of a natural dignity,
which developed indeed as their acquaintance progressed. He told her
tales, especially, of his Indian journeys through the wilds about the
Athabasca and Mackenzie rivers, in search of remote Indian
settlements--that the word of England to the red man might be kept; and
his graphic talk called up before her the vision of a northern
wilderness, even wilder and remoter than that she had just passed
through, where yet the earth teemed with lakes and timber and
trout-bearing streams, and where--"we shall grow corn some day," as he
presently informed her. "In twenty years they will have developed seed
that will ripen three weeks earlier than wheat does now in Manitoba.
Then we shall settle that country--right away!--to the far north." His
tone stirred and deepened. A little while before, it had seemed to her
that her tourist enthusiasm amused him. Yet by flashes, she began to
feel in him something, beside which her own raptures fell silent. Had
she, after all, hit upon a man--a practical man--who was yet conscious
of the romance of Canada?

Presently she asked him if there was no one dependent on him--no
mother?--or sisters?

"I have two brothers--in the Government service at Ottawa. I had four
sisters."

"Are they married?"

"They are dead," he said, slowly. "They and my mother were burnt to
death."

She exclaimed. Her brown eyes turned upon him--all sudden horror and
compassion.

"It was a farmhouse where we were living--and it took fire. Mother and
sisters had no time to escape. It was early morning. I was a boy of
eighteen, and was out on the farm doing my chores. When I saw smoke and
came back, the house was a burning mass, and--it was all over."

"Where was your father?"

"My father is dead."

"But he was there--at the time of the fire?"

"Yes. He was there."

He had suddenly ceased to be communicative, and she instinctively asked
no more questions, except as to the cause of the conflagration.

"Probably an explosion of coal-oil. It was sometimes used to light the
fire with in the morning."

"How very, very terrible!" she said gently, after a moment, as though
she felt it. "Did you stay on at the farm?"

"I brought up my two brothers. They were on a visit to some neighbours
at the time of the fire. We stayed on three years."

"With your father?"

"No; we three alone."

She felt vaguely puzzled; but before she could turn to another subject,
he had added--

"There was nothing else for us to do. We had no money and no
relations--nothing but the land. So we had to work it--and we managed.
But after three years we'd saved a little money, and we wanted to get a
bit more education. So we sold the land and moved up to Montreal."

"How old were the brothers when you took on the farm?"

"Thirteen--and fifteen."

"Wonderful!" she exclaimed. "You must be proud."

He laughed out.

"Why, that kind of thing's done every day in this country! You can't
idle in Canada."

They had turned back towards the train. In the doorway of the car sat
Philip Gaddesden lounging and smoking, enveloped in a fur coat, his
knees covered with a magnificent fur rug. A whisky and soda had just
been placed at his right hand. Elizabeth thought--"He said that because
he had seen Philip." But when she looked at him, she withdrew her
supposition. His eyes were not on the car, and he was evidently thinking
of something else.

"I hope your brother will take no harm," he said to her, as they
approached the car. "Can I be of any service to you in Winnipeg?"

"Oh, thank you. We have some introductions--"

"Of course. But if I can--let me know."

An official came along the line, with a packet in his hand. At sight of
Elizabeth he stopped and raised his hat.

"Am I speaking to Lady Merton? I have some letters here, that have been
waiting for you at Winnipeg, and they've sent them out to you."

He placed the packet in her hand. The Canadian moved away, but not
before Elizabeth had seen again the veiled amusement in his eyes. It
seemed to him comic, no doubt, that the idlers of the world should be so
royally treated. But after all--she drew herself up--her father had
been no idler.

She hastened to her brother; and they fell upon their letters.

"Oh, Philip!"--she said presently, looking up--"Philip! Arthur Delaine
meets us at Winnipeg."

"Does he? _Does he_?" repeated the young man, laughing. "I say, Lisa!--"

Elizabeth took no notice of her brother's teasing tone. Nor did her
voice, as she proceeded to read him the letter she held in her hand,
throw any light upon her own feelings with regard to it.

The weary day passed. The emigrants were consoled by free meals; and the
delicate baby throve on the Swede's ravished milk. For the rest, the
people in the various trains made rapid acquaintance with each other;
bridge went merrily in more than one car, and the general inconvenience
was borne with much philosophy, even by Gaddesden. At last, when
darkness had long fallen, the train to which the private car was
attached moved slowly forward amid cheers of the bystanders.

Elizabeth and her brother were on the observation platform, with the
Canadian, whom with some difficulty they had persuaded to share
their dinner.

"I told you"--said Anderson--"that you would be passed over first." He
pointed to two other trains in front that had been shunted to make
room for them.

Elizabeth turned to him a little proudly.

"But I should like to say--it's not for our own sakes--not in the
least!--it is for my father, that they are so polite to us."

"I know--of course I know!" was the quick response. "I have been talking
to some of our staff," he went on, smiling. "They would do anything for
you. Perhaps you don't understand. You are the guests of the railway.
And I too belong to the railway. I am a very humble person, but--"

"You also would do anything for us?" asked Elizabeth, with her soft
laugh. "How kind you all are!"

She looked charming as she said it--her face and head lit up by the line
of flaring lights through which they were slowly passing. The line was
crowded with dark-faced navvies, watching the passage of the train as it
crept forward.

One of the officials in command leapt up on the platform of the car, and
introduced himself. He was worn out with the day's labour, but
triumphant. "It's all right now--but, my word! the stuff we've
thrown in!--"

He and Anderson began some rapid technical talk. Slowly, they passed
over the quicksand which in the morning had engulfed half a train; amid
the flare of torches, and the murmur of strange speech, from the
Galician and Italian labourers, who rested on their picks and stared and
laughed, as they went safely by.

"How I love adventures!" cried Elizabeth, clasping her hands.

"Even little ones?" said the Canadian, smiling. But this time she was
not conscious of any note of irony in his manner, rather of a kind
protectingness--more pronounced, perhaps, than it would have been in an
Englishman, at the same stage of acquaintance. But Elizabeth liked it;
she liked, too, the fine bare head that the torchlight revealed; and the
general impression of varied life that the man's personality produced
upon her. Her sympathies, her imagination were all trembling towards the
Canadians, no less than towards their country.



CHAPTER III

"Mr. Delaine, sir?"

The gentleman so addressed turned to see the substantial form of Simpson
at his elbow. They were both standing in the spacious hall of the C.P.R.
Hotel adjoining the station at Winnipeg.

"Her ladyship, sir, asked me to tell you she would be down directly. And
would you please wait for her, and take her to see the place where the
emigrants come. She doesn't think Mr. Gaddesden will be down till
luncheon-time."

Arthur Delaine thanked the speaker for her information, and then sat
down in a comfortable corner, _Times_ in hand, to wait for Lady Merton.

She and her brother had arrived, he understood, in the early hours at
Winnipeg, after the agitations and perils of the sink-hole. Philip had
gone at once to bed and to slumber. Lady Merton would soon, it seemed,
be ready for anything that Winnipeg might have to show her.

The new-comer had time, however, to realise and enjoy a pleasant
expectancy before she appeared. He was apparently occupied with the
_Times_, but in reality he was very conscious all the time of his own
affairs and of a certain crisis to which, in his own belief, he had now
brought them. In the first place, he could not get over his astonishment
at finding himself where he was. The very aspect of the Winnipeg hotel,
as he looked curiously round it, seemed to prove to him both the
seriousness of certain plans and intentions of his own, and the unusual
decision with which he had been pursuing them.

For undoubtedly, of his own accord, and for mere travellers' reasons, he
would not at this moment be travelling in Canada. The old world was
enough for him; and neither in the States nor in Canada had he so far
seen anything which would of itself have drawn him away from his
Cumberland house, his classical library, his pets, his friends and
correspondents, his old servants and all the other items in a comely and
dignified way of life.

He was just forty and unmarried, a man of old family, easy disposition,
and classical tastes. He had been for a time Member of Parliament for
one of the old Universities, and he was now engaged on a verse
translation of certain books of the Odyssey. That this particular labour
had been undertaken before did not trouble him. It was in fact his
delight to feel himself a link in the chain of tradition--at once the
successor and progenitor of scholars. Not that his scholarship was
anything illustrious or profound. Neither as poet nor Hellenist would he
ever leave any great mark behind him; but where other men talk of "the
household of faith," he might have talked rather of "the household of
letters," and would have seen himself as a warm and familiar sitter by
its hearth. A new edition of some favourite classic; his weekly
_Athenæum_; occasional correspondence with a French or Italian
scholar--(he did not read German, and disliked the race)--these were his
pleasures. For the rest he was the landlord of a considerable estate, as
much of a sportsman as his position required, and his Conservative
politics did not include any sympathy for the more revolutionary
doctrines--economic or social--which seemed to him to be corrupting his
party. In his youth, before the death of an elder brother, he had been
trained as a doctor, and had spent some time in a London hospital. In no
case would he ever have practised. Before his training was over he had
revolted against the profession, and against the "ugliness," as it
seemed to him, of the matters and topics with which a doctor must
perforce be connected. His elder brother's death, which, however, he
sincerely regretted, had in truth solved many difficulties.

In person he was moderately tall, with dark grizzled hair, agreeable
features and a moustache. Among his aristocratic relations whom he met
in London, the men thought him a little dishevelled and old-fashioned;
the women pronounced him interesting and "a dear." His manners were
generally admired, except by captious persons who held that such a fact
was of itself enough to condemn them; and he was welcome in many English
and some foreign circles. For he travelled every spring, and was well
acquainted with the famous places of Europe. It need only be added that
he had a somewhat severe taste in music, and could render both Bach and
Handel on the piano with success.

His property was only some six miles distant from Martindale Park, the
Gaddesdens' home. During the preceding winter he had become a frequent
visitor at Martindale, while Elizabeth Merton was staying with her
mother and brother, and a little ripple of talk had begun to flow
through the district. Delaine, very fastidious where personal dignity
was concerned, could not make up his mind either to be watched or
laughed at. He would have liked to woo--always supposing that wooing
there was to be--with a maximum of dignity and privacy, surrounded by a
friendly but not a forcing atmosphere. But Elizabeth Merton was a great
favourite in her own neighbourhood, and people became impatient. Was it
to be a marriage or was it not?

As soon as he felt this enquiry in the air, Mr. Delaine went
abroad--abruptly--about a month before Elizabeth and her brother started
for Canada. It was said that he had gone to Italy; but some few persons
knew that it was his intention to start from Genoa for the United
States, in order that he might attend a celebration at Harvard
University in honour of a famous French Hellenist, who had covered
himself with glory in Delaine's eyes by identifying a number of real
sites with places mentioned in the Odyssey. Nobody, however, knew but
himself, that, when that was done, he meant to join the brother and
sister on part of their Canadian journey, and that he hoped thereby to
become better acquainted with Elizabeth Merton than was possible--for a
man at least of his sensitiveness--under the eyes of an inquisitive
neighbourhood.

For this step Lady Merton's consent was of course necessary. He had
accordingly written from Boston to ask if it would be agreeable to them
that he should go with them through the Rockies. The proposal was most
natural. The Delaines and Gaddesdens had been friends for many years,
and Arthur Delaine enjoyed a special fame as a travelling
companion--easy, accomplished and well-informed.

Nevertheless, he waited at Boston in some anxiety for Elizabeth's
answer. When it came, it was all cordiality. By all means let him go
with them to the Rockies. They could not unfortunately offer him
sleeping room in the car. But by day Lady Merton hoped he would be their
guest, and share all their facilities and splendours. "I shall be so
glad of a companion for Philip, who is rapidly getting strong enough to
give me a great deal of trouble."

That was how she put it--how she must put it, of course. He perfectly
understood her.

And now here he was, sitting in the C.P.R. Hotel at Winnipeg, at a time
of year when he was generally in Paris or Rome, investigating the latest
Greek acquisitions of the Louvre, or the last excavation in the Forum;
picnicking in the Campagna; making expeditions to Assisi or Subiaco; and
in the evenings frequenting the drawing-rooms of ministers and
ambassadors.

He looked up presently from the _Times_, and at the street outside; the
new and raw street, with its large commercial buildings of the American
type, its tramcars and crowded sidewalks. The muddy roadway, the gaps
and irregularities in the street façade, the windows of a great store
opposite, displeased his eye. The whole scene seemed to him to have no
atmosphere. As far as he was concerned, it said nothing, it
touched nothing.

What was it he was to be taken to see? Emigration offices? He resigned
himself, with a smile. The prospect made him all the more pleasantly
conscious that one feeling, and one feeling only, could possibly have
brought him here.

"Ah! there you are."

A light figure hurried toward him, and he rose in haste.

But Lady Merton was intercepted midway by a tall man, quite unknown to
Delaine.

"I have arranged everything for three o'clock," said the interloper.
"You are sure that will suit you?"

"Perfectly! And the guests?"

"Half a dozen, about, are coming." George Anderson ran through the list,
and Elizabeth laughed merrily, while extending her hand to Delaine.

"How amusing! A party--and I don't know a soul in Winnipeg. Arrived this
morning--and going this evening! So glad to see you, Mr. Arthur. You are
coming, of course?"

"Where?" said Delaine, bewildered.

"To my tea, this afternoon. Mr. Anderson--Mr. Delaine. Mr. Anderson has
most kindly arranged a perfectly delightful party!--in our car this
afternoon. We are to go and see a great farm belonging to some friend of
his, about twenty miles out--prize cattle and horses--that kind of
thing. Isn't it good of him?"

"Charming!" murmured Delaine. "Charming!" His gaze ran over the figure
of the Canadian.

"Yerkes of course will give us tea," said Elizabeth. "His cakes are a
strong point"; she turned to Anderson. "And we may really have
an engine?"

"Certainly. We shall run you out in forty minutes. You still wish to go
on to-night?"

"Philip does. Can we?"

"You can do anything you wish," said Anderson, smiling.

Elizabeth thanked him, and they chatted a little more about the
arrangements and guests for the afternoon, while Delaine listened. Who
on earth was this new acquaintance of Lady Merton's? Some person she had
met in the train apparently, and connected with the C.P.R. A
good-looking fellow, a little too sure of himself; but that of course
was the Colonial fault.

"One of the persons coming this afternoon is an old Montreal
fellow-student of mine," the Canadian was saying. "He is going to be a
great man some day. But if you get him to talk, you won't like his
opinions--I thought I'd better warn you."

"How very interesting!" put in Delaine, with perhaps excessive
politeness. "What sort of opinions? Do you grow any Socialists here?"

Anderson examined the speaker, as it were for the first time.

"The man I was speaking of is a French-Canadian," he said, rather
shortly, "and a Catholic."

"The very man I want to see," cried Elizabeth. "I suppose he hates us?"

"Who?--England? Not at all. He loves England--or says he does--and hates
the Empire."

"'Love me, love my Empire!'" said Elizabeth. "But, I see--I am not to
talk to him about the Boer War, or contributing to the Navy?"

"Better not," laughed Anderson. "I am sure he will want to behave
himself; but he sometimes loses his head."

Elizabeth sincerely hoped he might lose it at her party.

"We want as much Canada as possible, don't we?" She appealed to
Delaine.

"To see, in fact, the 'young barbarians--all at play!'" said Anderson.
The note of sarcasm had returned to his clear voice. He stood, one hand
on his hip, looking down on Lady Merton.

"Oh!" exclaimed Elizabeth, protesting; while Delaine was conscious of
surprise that anyone in the New World should quote anything.

Anderson hastily resumed: "No, no. I know you are most kind, in wishing
to see everything you can."

"Why else should one come to the Colonies?" put in Delaine. Again his
smile, as he spoke, was a little overdone.

"Oh, we mustn't talk of Colonies," cried Elizabeth, looking at Anderson;
"Canada, Mr. Arthur, doesn't like to be called a colony."

"What is she, then?" asked Delaine, with an amused shrug of the
shoulders.

"She is a nation!" said the Canadian, abruptly. Then, turning to Lady
Merton, he rapidly went through some other business arrangements
with her.

"Three o'clock then for the car. For this morning you are provided?" He
glanced at Delaine.

Lady Merton replied that Mr. Delaine would take her round; and Anderson
bowed and departed.

"Who is he, and how did you come across him?" asked Delaine, as they
stepped into the street.

Elizabeth explained, dwelling with enthusiasm on the kindness and
ability with which the young man, since their acquaintance began, had
made himself their courier. "Philip, you know, is no use at all. But Mr.
Anderson seems to know everybody--gets everything done. Instead of
sending my letters round this morning he telephoned to everybody for me.
And everybody is coming. Isn't it too kind? You know it is for Papa's
sake"--she explained eagerly--"because Canada thinks she owes him
something."

Delaine suggested that perhaps life in Winnipeg was monotonous, and its
inhabitants might be glad of distractions. He also begged--with a slight
touch of acerbity--that now that he had joined them he too might be
made use of.

"Ah! but you don't know the country," said Lady Merton gently. "Don't
you feel that we must get the natives to guide us--to put us in the way?
It is only they who can really feel the poetry of it all."

Her face kindled. Arthur Delaine, who thought that her remark was one of
the foolish exaggerations of nice women, was none the less conscious as
she made it, that her appearance was charming--all indeed that a man
could desire in a wife. Her simple dress of white linen, her black hat,
her lovely eyes, and little pointed chin, the bunch of white trilliums
at her belt, which a child in the emigrant car had gathered and given
her the day before--all her personal possessions and accessories seemed
to him perfection. Yes!--but he meant to go slowly, for both their
sakes. It seemed fitting and right, however, at this point that he
should express his great pleasure and gratitude in being allowed to join
them. Elizabeth replied simply, without any embarrassment that could be
seen. Yet secretly both were conscious that something was on its trial,
and that more was in front of them than a mere journey through the
Rockies. He was an old friend both of herself and her family. She
believed him to be honourable, upright, affectionate. He was of the same
world and tradition as herself, well endowed, a scholar and a gentleman.
He would make a good brother for Philip. And heretofore she had seen him
on ground which had shown him to advantage; either at home or abroad,
during a winter at Rome--a spring at Florence.

Indeed, as they strolled about Winnipeg, he talked to her incessantly
about persons and incidents connected with the spring of the year
before, when they had both been in Rome.

"You remember that delicious day at Castel Gandolfo?--on the terrace of
the Villa Barberini? And the expedition to Horace's farm? You recollect
the little girl there--the daughter of the Dutch Minister? She's married
an American--a very good fellow. They've bought an old villa on
Monte Mario."

And so on, and so on. The dear Italian names rolled out, and the speaker
grew more and more animated and agreeable.

Only, unfortunately, Elizabeth's attention failed him. A motor car had
been lent them in the hospitable Canadian way; and as they sped through
and about the city, up the business streets, round the park, and the
residential suburb rising along the Assiniboine, as they plunged through
seas of black mud to look at the little old-fashioned Cathedral of St.
John, with its graveyard recalling the earliest days of the settlement,
Lady Merton gradually ceased even to pretend to listen to her companion.

"They have found some extremely jolly things lately at Porto D'Anzio--a
fine torso--quite Greek."

"Have they?" said Elizabeth, absently--"Have they?--And to think that in
1870, just a year or two before my father and mother married, there was
nothing here but an outpost in the wilderness!--a few scores of people!
One just _hears_ this country grow." She turned pensively away from the
tombstone of an old Scottish settler in the shady graveyard of St. John.

"Ah! but what will it grow to?" said Delaine, drily. "Is Winnipeg going
to be interesting?--is it going to _matter_?"

"Come and look at the Emigration Offices," laughed Elizabeth for answer.

And he found himself dragged through room after room of the great
building, and standing by while Elizabeth, guided by an official who
seemed to hide a more than Franciscan brotherliness under the aspects of
a canny Scot, and helped by an interpreter, made her way into the groups
of home-seekers crowding round the clerks and counters of the lower
room--English, Americans, Swedes, Dutchmen, Galicians, French Canadians.
Some men, indeed, who were actually hanging over maps, listening to the
directions and information of the officials, were far too busy to talk
to tourists, but there were others who had finished their business, or
were still waiting their turn, and among them, as also among the women,
the little English lady found many willing to talk to her.

And what courage, what vivacity she threw into the business! Delaine,
who had seen her till now as a person whose natural reserve was rather
displayed than concealed by her light agreeable manner, who had often
indeed had cause to wonder where and what might be the real woman,
followed her from group to group in a silent astonishment. Between these
people--belonging to the primitive earth-life--and herself, there seemed
to be some sudden intuitive sympathy which bewildered him; whether she
talked to some Yankee farmer from the Dakotas, long-limbed,
lantern-jawed, all the moisture dried out of him by hot summers, hard
winters, and long toil, who had come over the border with a pocket full
of money, the proceeds of prairie-farming in a republic, to sink it all
joyfully in a new venture under another flag; or to some
broad-shouldered English youth from her own north country; or to some
hunted Russian from the Steppes, in whose eyes had begun to dawn the
first lights of liberty; or to the dark-faced Italians and Frenchmen, to
whom she chattered in their own tongues.

An Indian reserve of good land had just been thrown open to settlers.
The room was thronged. But Elizabeth was afraid of no one; and no one
repulsed her. The high official who took them through, lingered over the
process, busy as the morning was, all for the _beaux yeux_ of Elizabeth;
and they left him pondering by what legerdemain he could possibly so
manipulate his engagements that afternoon as to join Lady Merton's
tea-party.

"Well, that was quite interesting!" said Delaine as they emerged.

Elizabeth, however, would certainly have detected the perfunctoriness of
the tone, and the hypocrisy of the speech, had she had any thoughts
to spare.

But her face showed her absorbed.

"Isn't it _amazing_!" Her tone was quiet, her eyes on the ground.

"Yet, after all, the world has seen a good many emigrations in its day!"
remarked Delaine, not without irritation.

She lifted her eyes.

"Ah--but nothing like this! One hears of how the young nations came down
and peopled the Roman Empire. But that lasted so long. One person--with
one life--could only see a bit of it. And here one sees it _all_--all,
at once!--as a great march--the march of a new people to its home. Fifty
years ago, wolves and bears, and buffaloes--twelve years ago even, the
great movement had not begun--and now, every week, a new town!--the new
nation spreading, spreading over the open land, irresistibly, silently;
no one setting bounds to it, no one knowing what will come of it!"

She checked herself. Her voice had been subdued, but there was a tremor
in it. Delaine caught her up, rather helplessly.

"Ah! isn't that the point? What will come of it? Numbers and size aren't
everything. Where is it all tending?"

She looked up at him, still exalted, still flushed, and said softly, as
though she could not help it, "'On to the bound of the waste--on to the
City of God!'"

He gazed at her in discomfort. Here was an Elizabeth Merton he had yet
to know. No trace of her in the ordinary life of an English
country house!

"You _are_ Canadian!" he said with a smile.

"No, no!" said Elizabeth eagerly, recovering herself, "I am only a
spectator. _We_ see the drama--we feel it--much more than they can who
are in it. At least"--she wavered--"Well!--I have met one man who seems
to feel it!"

"Your Canadian friend?"

Elizabeth nodded.

"He sees the vision--he dreams the dream!" she said brightly. "So few
do. But I think he does. Oh, dear--_dear_!--how time flies! I must go
and see what Philip is after."

Delaine was left discontented. He had come to press his suit, and he
found a lady preoccupied. Canada, it seemed, was to be his rival! Would
he ever be allowed to get in a word edgewise?

Was there ever anything so absurd, so disconcerting? He looked forward
gloomily to a dull afternoon, in quest of fat cattle, with a car-full of
unknown Canadians.



CHAPTER IV

At three o'clock, in the wide Winnipeg station, there gathered on the
platform beside Lady Merton's car a merry and motley group of people. A
Chief Justice from Alberta, one of the Senators for Manitoba, a rich
lumberman from British Columbia, a Toronto manufacturer--owner of the
model farm which the party was to inspect, two or three ladies, among
them a little English girl with fine eyes, whom Philip Gaddesden at once
marked for approval; and a tall, dark-complexioned man with hollow
cheeks, large ears, and a long chin, who was introduced, with particular
emphasis, to Elizabeth by Anderson, as "Mr. Félix Mariette"--Member of
Parliament, apparently, for some constituency in the Province of Quebec.

The small crowd of persons collected, all eminent in the Canadian world,
and some beyond it, examined their hostess of the afternoon with a
kindly amusement. Elizabeth had sent round letters; Anderson, who was
well known, it appeared, in Winnipeg, had done a good deal of
telephoning. And by the letters and the telephoning this group of busy
people had allowed itself to be gathered; simply because Elizabeth was
her father's daughter, and it was worth while to put such people in the
right way, and to send them home with some rational notions of the
country they had come to see.

And she, who at home never went out of her way to make a new
acquaintance, was here the centre of the situation, grasping the
identities of all these strangers with wonderful quickness, flitting
about from one to another, making friends with them all, and
constraining Philip to do the same. Anderson followed her closely,
evidently feeling a responsibility for the party only second to her own.

He found time, however, to whisper to Mariette, as they were all about
to mount the car:

"Eh bien?"

"Mais oui--très gracieuse!" said the other, but without a smile, and
with a shrug of the shoulders. _He_ was only there to please Anderson.
What did the aristocratic Englishwoman on tour--with all her little
Jingoisms and Imperialisms about her--matter to him, or he to her?

While the stream of guests was slowly making its way into the car, while
Yerkes at the further end, resplendent in a buttonhole and a white cap
and apron, was watching the scene, and the special engine, like an
impatient horse, was puffing and hissing to be off, a man, who had
entered the cloak-room of the station to deposit a bundle just as the
car-party arrived, approached the cloak-room door from the inside, and
looked through the glazed upper half. His stealthy movements and his
strange appearance passed unnoticed. There was a noisy emigrant party in
the cloak-room, taking out luggage deposited the night before; they were
absorbed in their own affairs, and in some wrangle with the officials
which involved a good deal of lost temper on both sides.

The man was old and grey. His face, large-featured and originally comely
in outline, wore the unmistakable look of the outcast. His eyes were
bloodshot, his mouth trembled, so did his limbs as he stood peering by
the door. His clothes were squalid, and both they and his person
diffused the odours of the drinking bar from which he had just come. The
porter in charge of the cloak-room had run a hostile eye over him as he
deposited his bundle. But now no one observed him; while he, gathered up
and concentrated, like some old wolf upon a trail, followed every
movement of the party entering the Gaddesden car.

George Anderson and his French Canadian friend left the platform last.
As Anderson reached the door of the car he turned back to speak to
Mariette, and his face and figure were clearly visible to the watcher
behind the barred cloak-room door. A gleam of savage excitement passed
over the old man's face; his limbs trembled more violently.

Through the side windows of the car the party could be seen distributing
themselves over the comfortable seats, laughing and talking in groups.
In the dining-room, the white tablecloth spread for tea, with the china
and silver upon it, made a pleasant show. And now two high officials of
the railway came hurrying up, one to shake hands with Lady Merton and
see that all was right, the other to accompany the party.

Elizabeth Merton came out in her white dress, and leant over the
railing, talking, with smiles, to the official left behind. He raised
his hat, the car moved slowly off, and in the group immediately behind
Lady Merton the handsome face and thick fair hair of George Anderson
showed conspicuous as long as the special train remained in sight.

The old man raised himself and noiselessly went out upon the platform.
Outside the station he fell in with a younger man, who had been
apparently waiting for him; a strong, picturesque fellow, with the skin
and countenance of a half-breed.

"Well?" said the younger, impatiently. "Thought you was goin' to take a
bunk there."

"Couldn't get out before. It's all right."

"Don't care if it is," said the other sulkily. "Don't care a damn button
not for you nor anythin' you're after! But you give me my two dollars
sharp, and don't keep me another half-hour waitin'. That's what I
reckoned for, an' I'm goin' to have it." He held out his hand.

The old man fumbled slowly in an inner pocket of his filthy overcoat.

"You say the car's going on to-night?"

"It is, old bloke, and Mr. George Anderson same train--number
ninety-seven--as ever is. Car shunted at Calgary to-morrow night. So
none of your nonsense--fork out! I had a lot o' trouble gettin' you
the tip."

The old man put some silver into his palm with shaking fingers. The
youth, who was a bartender from a small saloon in the neighbourhood of
the station, looked at him with contempt.

"Wonder when you was sober last? Think you'd better clean yourself a
bit, or they'll not let you on the train."

"Who told you I wanted to go on the train?" said the old man sharply.
"I'm staying at Winnipeg."

"Oh! you are, are you?" said the other mockingly. "We shouldn't cry our
eyes out if you _was_ sayin' good-bye. Ta-ta!" And with the dollars in
his hand, head downwards, he went off like the wind.

The old man waited till the lad was out of sight, then went back into
the station and bought an emigrant ticket to Calgary for the night
train. He emerged again, and walked up the main street of Winnipeg,
which on this bright afternoon was crowded with people and traffic. He
passed the door of a solicitor's office, where a small sum of money, the
proceeds of a legacy, had been paid him the day before, and he finally
made his way into the free library of Winnipeg, and took down a file of
the _Winnipeg Chronicle_.

He turned some pages laboriously, yet not vaguely. His eyes were dim and
his hands palsied, but he knew what he was looking for. He found it at
last, and sat pondering it--the paragraph which, when he had hit upon it
by chance in the same place twenty-four hours earlier, had changed the
whole current of his thoughts.

"Donaldminster, Sask., May 6th.--We are delighted to hear from this
prosperous and go-ahead town that, with regard to the vacant seat the
Liberals of the city have secured as a candidate Mr. George Anderson,
who achieved such an important success last year for the C.P.R. by his
settlement on their behalf of the dangerous strike which had arisen in
the Rocky Mountains section of the line, and which threatened not only
to affect all the construction camps in the district but to spread to
the railway workers proper and to the whole Winnipeg section. Mr.
Anderson seems to have a remarkable hold on the railway men, and he is
besides a speaker of great force. He is said to have addressed
twenty-three meetings, and to have scarcely eaten or slept for a
fortnight. He was shrewd and fair in negotiation, as well as eloquent in
speech. The result was an amicable settlement, satisfactory to all
parties. And the farmers of the West owe Mr. Anderson a good deal. So
does the C.P.R. For if the strike had broken out last October, just as
the movement of the fall crops eastward was at its height, the farmers
and the railway, and Canada in general would have been at its mercy. We
wish Mr. Anderson a prosperous election (it is said, indeed, that he is
not to be opposed) and every success in his political career. He is, we
believe, Canadian born--sprung from a farm in Manitoba--so that he has
grown up with the Northwest, and shares all its hopes and ambitions."

The old man, with both elbows on the table, crouched over the
newspaper, incoherent pictures of the past coursing through his mind,
which was still dazed and stupid from the drink of the night before.

Meanwhile, the special train sped along the noble Red River and out into
the country. All over the prairie the wheat was up in a smooth green
carpet, broken here and there by the fields of timothy and clover, or
the patches of summer fallow, or the white homestead buildings. The June
sun shone down upon the teeming earth, and a mirage, born of sun and
moisture, spread along the edge of the horizon, so that Elizabeth, the
lake-lover, could only imagine in her bewilderment that Lake Winnipeg or
Lake Manitoba had come dancing south and east to meet her, so clearly
did the houses and trees, far away behind them, and on either side, seem
to be standing at the edge of blue water, in which the white clouds
overhead were mirrored, and reed-beds stretched along the shore. But as
the train receded, the mirage followed them; the dream-water lapped up
the trees and the fields, and even the line they had just passed over
seemed to be standing in water.

How foreign to an English eye was the flat, hedgeless landscape! with
its vast satin-smooth fields of bluish-green wheat; its farmhouses with
their ploughed fireguards and shelter-belts of young trees; its rare
villages, each stretching in one long straggling line of wooden houses
along the level earth; its scattered, treeless lakes, from which the
duck rose as the train passed! Was it this mere foreignness, this
likeness in difference, that made it strike so sharply, with such a
pleasant pungency on Elizabeth's senses? Or was it something else--some
perception of an opening future, not only for Canada but for herself,
mingling with the broad light, the keen air, the lovely strangeness of
the scene?

Yet she scarcely spoke to Arthur Delaine, with whom one might have
supposed this hidden feeling connected. She was indeed aware of him all
the time. She watched him secretly; watching herself, too, in the
characteristic modern way. But outwardly she was absorbed in talking
with the guests.

The Chief Justice, roundly modelled, with a pink ball of a face set in
white hair, had been half a century in Canada, and had watched the
Northwest grow from babyhood. He had passed his seventieth year, but
Elizabeth noticed in the old men of Canada a strained expectancy, a
buoyant hope, scarcely inferior to that of the younger generation. There
was in Sir Michael's talk no hint of a Nunc Dimittis; rather a
passionate regret that life was ebbing, and the veil falling over a
national spectacle so enthralling, so dramatic.

"Before this century is out we shall be a people of eighty millions, and
within measurable time this plain of a thousand miles from here to the
Rockies will be as thickly peopled as the plain of Lombardy."

"Well, and what then?" said a harsh voice in a French accent,
interrupting the Chief Justice.

Arthur Delaine's face, turning towards the speaker, suddenly lightened,
as though its owner said, "Ah! precisely."

"The plain of Lombardy is not a Paradise," continued Mariette, with a
laugh that had in it a touch of impatience.

"Not far off it," murmured Delaine, as he looked out on the vast field
of wheat they were passing--a field two miles long, flat and green and
bare as a billiard-table--and remembered the chestnuts and the looping
vines, the patches of silky corn and spiky maize, and all the
interlacing richness and broidering of the Italian plain. His soul
rebelled against this naked new earth, and its bare new fortunes. All
very well for those who must live in it and make it. "Yet is there
better than it!"--lands steeped in a magic that has been woven for them
by the mere life of immemorial generations.

He murmured this to Elizabeth, who smiled.

"Their shroud?" she said, to tease him. "But Canada has on her wedding
garment!"

Again he asked himself what had come to her. She looked years younger
than when he had parted from her in England. The delicious thought shot
through him that his advent might have something to do with it.

He stooped towards her.

"Willy-nilly, your friends must like Canada!" he said, in her ear; "if
it makes you so happy."

He had no art of compliment, but the words were simple and sincere, and
Elizabeth grew suddenly rosy, to her own great annoyance. Before she
could reply, however, the Chief Justice had insisted on bringing her
back into the general conversation.

"Come and keep the peace, Lady Merton! Here is my friend Mariette
playing the devil's advocate as usual. Anderson tells me you are
inclined to think well of us; so perhaps you ought to hear it."

Mariette smiled and bowed a trifle sombrely. He was plain and gaunt, but
he had the air of a _grand seigneur_, and was in fact a member of one of
the old seigneurial families of Quebec.

"I have been enquiring of Sir Michael, madam, whether he is quite happy
in his mind as to these Yankees that are now pouring into the new
provinces. He, like everyone else, prophesies great things for Canada;
but suppose it is an American Canada?"

"Let them come," said Anderson, with a touch of scorn. "Excellent stuff!
We can absorb them. We are doing it fast."

"Can you? They are pouring all over the new districts as fast as the
survey is completed and the railways planned. They bring capital, which
your Englishman doesn't. They bring knowledge of the prairie and the
climate, which your Englishmen haven't got. As for capital, America is
doing everything; financing the railways, the mines, buying up the
lands, and leasing the forests. British Columbia is only nominally
yours; American capital and business have got their grip firm on the
very vitals of the province."

"Perfectly true!"--put in the lumberman from Vancouver--"They have
three-fourths of the forests in their hands."

"No matter!" said Anderson, kindling. "There was a moment of
danger--twenty years ago. It is gone. Canada will no more be American
than she will be Catholic--with apologies to Mariette. These Yankees
come in--they turn Englishmen in six months--they celebrate Dominion Day
on the first of July, and Independence Day, for old sake's sake, on the
fourth; and their children will be as loyal as Toronto."

"Aye, and as dull!" said Mariette fiercely.

The conversation dissolved in protesting laughter. The Chief Justice,
Anderson, and the lumberman fell upon another subject. Philip and the
pretty English girl were flirting on the platform outside, Mariette
dropped into a seat beside Elizabeth.

"You know my friend, Mr. Anderson, madam?"

"I made acquaintance with him on the journey yesterday. He has been most
kind to us."

"He is a very remarkable man. When he gets into the House, he will be
heard of. He will perhaps make his mark on Canada."

"You and he are old friends?"

"Since our student days. I was of course at the French College--and he
at McGill. But we saw a great deal of each other. He used to come home
with me in his holidays."

"He told me something of his early life."

"Did he? It is a sad history, and I fear we--my family, that is, who are
so attached to him--have only made it sadder. Three years ago he was
engaged to my sister. Then the Archbishop forbade mixed marriages. My
sister broke it off, and now she is a nun in the Ursuline Convent
at Quebec."

"Oh, poor things!" cried Elizabeth, her eye on Anderson's distant face.

"My sister is quite happy," said Mariette sharply. "She did her duty.
But my poor friend suffered. However, now he has got over it. And I hope
he will marry. He is very dear to me, though we have not a single
opinion in the world in common."

Elizabeth kept him talking. The picture of Anderson drawn for her by the
admiring but always critical affection of his friend, touched and
stirred her. His influence at college, the efforts by which he had
placed his brothers in the world, the sensitive and generous temperament
which had won him friends among the French Canadian students, he
remaining all the time English of the English; the tendency to
melancholy--a personal and private melancholy--which mingled in him with
a passionate enthusiasm for Canada, and Canada's future; Mariette drew
these things for her, in a stately yet pungent French that affected her
strangely, as though the French of Saint Simon--or something like
it--breathed again from a Canadian mouth. Anderson meanwhile was
standing outside with the Chief Justice. She threw a glance at him now
and then, wondering about his love affair. Had he really got over
it?--or was that M. Mariette's delusion? She liked, on the contrary, to
think of him as constant and broken-hearted!

       *       *       *       *       *

The car stopped, as it seemed, on the green prairie, thirty miles from
Winnipeg. Elizabeth was given up to the owner of the great farm--one of
the rich men of Canada for whom experiment in the public interest
becomes a passion; and Anderson walked on her other hand.

Delaine endured a wearisome half-hour. He got no speech with Elizabeth,
and prize cattle were his abomination. When the half-hour was done, he
slipped away, unnoticed, from the party. He had marked a small lake or
"slough" at the rear of the house, with wide reed-beds and a clump of
cottonwood. He betook himself to the cottonwood, took out his pocket
Homer and a notebook, and fell to his task. He was in the
thirteenth book:

[Greek: ôs d hot anêr dorpoio lilaietai, ô te pauêmar neion an helkêton
boe oinope pêkton arotron]

"As when a man longeth for supper, for whom, the livelong day, two
wine-coloured oxen have dragged the fitted plough through the fallow,
and joyful to such an one is the going down of the sun that sends him to
his meal, for his knees tremble as he goes--so welcome to Odysseus was
the setting of the sun": ...

He lost himself in familiar joy--the joy of the Greek itself, of the
images of the Greek life. He walked with the Greek ploughman, he smelt
the Greek earth, his thoughts caressed the dark oxen under the yoke.
These for him had savour and delight; the wide Canadian fields had none.

Philip Gaddesden meanwhile could not be induced to leave the car. While
the others were going through the splendid stables and cowsheds, kept
like a queen's parlour, he and the pretty girl were playing at
bob-cherry in the saloon, to the scandal of Yerkes, who, with the honour
of the car and the C.P.R. and Canada itself on his shoulders, could not
bear that any of his charges should shuffle out of the main item in the
official programme.

But Elizabeth, as before, saw everything transfigured; the splendid
Shire horses; the famous bull, progenitor of a coming race; the sheds
full of glistening cows and mottled calves. These smooth, sleek
creatures, housed there for the profit of Canada and her farm life,
seemed to Elizabeth no less poetic than the cattle of Helios to Delaine.
She loved the horses, and the patient, sweet-breathed kine; she found
even a sympathetic mind for the pigs.

Presently when her host, the owner, left her to explain some of his
experiments to the rest of the party, she fell to Anderson alone. And as
she strolled at his side, Anderson found the June afternoon pass with
extraordinary rapidity. Yet he was not really as forthcoming or as frank
as he had been the day before. The more he liked his companion, the more
he was conscious of differences between them which his pride
exaggerated. He himself had never crossed the Atlantic; but he
understood that she and her people were "swells"--well-born in the
English sense, and rich. Secretly he credited them with those defects of
English society of which the New World talks--its vulgar standards and
prejudices. There was not a sign of them certainly in Lady Merton's
conversation. But it is easy to be gracious in a new country; and the
brother was sometimes inclined to give himself airs. Anderson drew in
his tentacles a little; ready indeed to be wroth with himself that he
had talked so much of his own affairs to this little lady the day
before. What possible interest could she have taken in them!

All the same, he could not tear himself from her side. Whenever Delaine
left his seat by the lake, and strolled round the corner of the wood to
reconnoitre, the result was always the same. If Anderson and Lady
Merton were in sight at all, near or far, they were together. He
returned, disconsolate, to Homer and the reeds.

As they went back to Winnipeg, some chance word revealed to Elizabeth
that Anderson also was taking the night train for Calgary.

"Oh! then to-morrow you will come and talk to us!" cried Elizabeth,
delighted.

Her cordial look, the pretty gesture of her head, evoked in Anderson a
start of pleasure. He was not, however, the only spectator of them.
Arthur Delaine, standing by, thought for the first time in his life that
Elizabeth's manner was really a little excessive.

The car left Winnipeg that night for the Rockies. An old man, in a
crowded emigrant car, with a bundle under his arm, watched the arrival
of the Gaddesden party. He saw Anderson accost them on the platform, and
then make his way to his own coach just ahead of them.

The train sped westwards through the Manitoba farms and villages.
Anderson slept intermittently, haunted by various important affairs that
were on his mind, and by recollections of the afternoon. Meanwhile, in
the front of the train, the paragraph from the _Winnipeg Chronicle_ lay
carefully folded in an old tramp's waistcoat pocket.



CHAPTER V

"I say, Elizabeth, you're not going to sit out there all day, and get
your death of cold? Why don't you come in and read a novel like a
sensible woman?"

"Because I can read a novel at home--and I can't see Canada."

"See Canada! What is there to see?" The youth with the scornful voice
came to lean against the doorway beside her. "A patch of corn--miles and
miles of some withered stuff that calls itself grass, all of it as flat
as your hand--oh! and, by Jove! a little brown fellow--gopher, is that
their silly name?--scootling along the line. Go it, young 'un!" Philip
shied the round end of a biscuit tin after the disappearing brown thing.
"A boggy lake with a kind of salt fringe--unhealthy and horrid and
beastly--a wretched farm building--et cetera, et cetera!"

"Oh! look there, Philip--here is a school!"

Elizabeth bent forward eagerly. On the bare prairie stood a small white
house, like the house that children draw on their slates: a chimney in
the middle, a door, a window on either side. Outside, about twenty
children playing and dancing. Inside, through the wide-open doorway a
vision of desks and a few bending heads.

Philip's patience was put to it. Had she supposed that children went
without schools in Canada?

But she took no heed of him.

"Look how lovely the children are, and how happy! What'll Canada be when
they are old? And not another sign of habitation anywhere--nothing--but
the little house--on the bare wide earth! And there they dance, as
though the world belonged to them. So it does!"

"And my sister to a lunatic asylum!" said Philip, exasperated. "I say,
why doesn't that man Anderson come and see us?"

"He promised to come in and lunch."

"He's an awfully decent kind of fellow," said the boy warmly.

Elizabeth opened her eyes.

"I didn't know you had taken any notice of him, Philip."

"No more I did," was the candid reply. "But did you see what he brought
me this morning?" He pointed to the seat behind him, littered with
novels, which Elizabeth recognized as new additions to their travelling
store. "He begged or borrowed them somewhere from his friends or people
in the hotel; told me frankly he knew I should be bored to-day, and
might want them. Rather 'cute of him, wasn't it?"

Elizabeth was touched. Philip had certainly shown rather scant civility
to Mr. Anderson, and this trait of thoughtfulness for a sickly and
capricious traveller appealed to her.

"I suppose Delaine will be here directly?" Philip went on.

"I suppose so."

Philip let himself down into the seat beside her.

"Look here, Elizabeth," lowering his voice; "I don't think Delaine is
any more excited about Canada than I am. He told me last night he
thought the country about Winnipeg perfectly hideous."

"_Oh_!" cried Elizabeth, as though someone had flipped her.

"You'll have to pay him for this journey, Elizabeth. Why did you ask him
to come?"

"I _didn't_ ask him, Philip. He asked himself."

"Ah! but you let him come," said the youth shrewdly. "I think,
Elizabeth, you're not behaving quite nicely."

"How am I not behaving nicely?"

"Well, you don't pay any attention to him. Do you know what he was doing
while you were looking at the cows yesterday?"

Elizabeth reluctantly confessed that she had no idea.

"Well, he was sitting by a lake--a kind of swamp--at the back of the
house, reading a book." Philip went off into a fit of laughter.

"Poor Mr. Delaine!" cried Elizabeth, though she too laughed. "It was
probably Greek," she added pensively.

"Well, that's funnier still. You know, Elizabeth, he could read Greek at
home. It's because you were neglecting him."

"Don't rub it in, Philip," said Elizabeth, flushing. Then she moved up
to him and laid a coaxing hand on his arm. "Do you know that I have been
awake half the night?"

"All along of Delaine? Shall I tell him?"

"Philip, I just want you to be a dear, and hold your tongue," said Lady
Merton entreatingly. "When there's anything to tell, I'll tell you. And
if I have--"

"Have what?"

"Behaved like a fool, you'll have to stand by me." An expression of pain
passed over her face.

"Oh, I'll stand by you. I don't know that I want Mr. Arthur for an extra
bear-leader, if that's what you mean. You and mother are quite enough.
Hullo! Here he is."

A little later Delaine and Elizabeth were sitting side by side on the
garden chairs, four of which could just be fitted into the little railed
platform at the rear of the car. Elizabeth was making herself agreeable,
and doing it, for a time, with energy. Nothing also could have been more
energetic than Delaine's attempts to meet her. He had been studying
Baedeker, and he made intelligent travellers' remarks on the subject of
Southern Saskatchewan. He discussed the American "trek" into the
province from the adjoining States. He understood the new public
buildings of Regina were to be really fine, only to be surpassed by
those at Edmonton. He admired the effects of light and shadow on the
wide expanse; and noticed the peculiarities of the alkaline lakes.

Meanwhile, as he became more expansive, Elizabeth contracted. One would
have thought soon that Canada had ceased to interest her at all. She led
him slyly on to other topics, and presently the real Arthur Delaine
emerged. Had she heard of the most recent Etruscan excavations at
Grosseto? Wonderful! A whole host of new clues! Boni--Lanciani--the
whole learned world in commotion. A fragment of what might very possibly
turn out to be a bi-lingual inscription was the last find. Were we at
last on the brink of solving the old, the eternal enigma?

He threw himself back in his chair, transformed once more into the
talkative, agreeable person that Europe knew. His black and grizzled
hair, falling perpetually forward in strong waves, made a fine frame for
his grey eyes and large, well-cut features. He had a slight stammer,
which increased when he was animated, and a trick of forever pushing
back the troublesome front locks of hair.

Elizabeth listened for a long, long time, and at last--could have cried
like a baby because she was missing so much! There was a chance, she
knew, all along this portion of the line, of seeing antelope and
coyotes, if only one kept one's eyes open; not to speak of the
gophers--enchanting little fellows, quite new to such travellers as
she--who seemed to choose the very railway line itself, by preference,
for their burrowings and their social gatherings. Then, as she saw, the
wheat country was nearly done; a great change was in progress; her
curiosity sprang to meet it. Droves of horses and cattle began to appear
at rare intervals on the vast expanse. No white, tree-sheltered farms
here, like the farms in Manitoba; but scattered at long distances, near
the railway or on the horizon, the first primitive dwellings of the new
settlers--the rude "shack" of the first year--beginnings of
villages--sketches of towns.

"I have always thought the Etruscan problem the most fascinating in the
whole world," cried Delaine, with pleasant enthusiasm. "When you
consider all its bearings, linguistic and historical--"

"Oh! _do_ you see," exclaimed Elizabeth, pointing--"_do_ you see all
those lines and posts, far out to the horizon? Do you know that all
these lonely farms are connected with each other and the railway by
_telephones_? Mr. Anderson told me so; that some farmers actually make
their fences into telephone lines, and that from that little hut over
there you can speak to Montreal when you please? And just before I left
London I was staying in a big country house, thirty miles from Hyde Park
Corner, and you couldn't telephone to London except by driving five
miles to the nearest town!"

"I wonder why that should strike you so much--the telephones, I mean?"

Delaine's tone was stiff. He had thrown himself back in his chair with
folded arms, and a slight look of patience. "After all, you know, it may
only be one dull person telephoning to another dull person--on subjects
that don't matter!"

Elizabeth laughed and coloured.

"Oh! it isn't telephones in themselves. It's--" She hesitated, and
began again, trying to express herself. "When one thinks of all the
haphazard of history--how nations have tumbled up, or been dragged up,
through centuries of blind horror and mistake, how wonderful to see a
nation made consciously!--before your eyes--by science and
intelligence--everything thought of, everything foreseen! First of all,
this wonderful railway, driven across these deserts, against opposition,
against unbelief, by a handful of men, who risked everything, and
have--perhaps--changed the face of the world!"

She stopped smiling. In truth, her new capacity for dithyramb was no
less surprising to herself than to Delaine.

"I return to my point"--he made it not without tartness--"will the new
men be adequate to the new state?"

"Won't they?" He fancied a certain pride in her bearing. "They explained
to me the other day at Winnipeg what the Government do for the
emigrants--how they guide and help them--take care of them in sickness
and in trouble, through the first years--protect them, really, even from
themselves. And one thinks how Governments have taxed, and tortured, and
robbed, and fleeced--Oh, surely, surely, the world improves!" She
clasped her hands tightly on her knee, as though trying by the physical
action to restrain the feeling within. "And to see here the actual
foundations of a great state laid under your eyes, deep and strong, by
men who know what it is they are doing--to see history begun on a blank
page, by men who know what they are writing--isn't it wonderful,
_wonderful_!"

"Dear lady!" said Delaine, smiling, "America has been dealing with
emigrants for generations; and there are people who say that corruption
is rife in Canada."

But Elizabeth would not be quenched.

"We come after America--we climb on her great shoulders to see the way.
But is there anything in America to equal the suddenness of this? Twelve
years ago even--in all this Northwest--practically nothing. And then God
said: 'Let there be a nation!'--and there was a nation--in a night and a
morning." She waved her hand towards the great expanse of prairie. "And
as for corruption--"

"Well?" He waited maliciously.

"There is no great brew without a scum," she said laughing. "But find me
a brew anywhere in the world, of such power, with so little."

"Mr. Anderson would, I think, be pleased with you," said Delaine, drily.

Elizabeth frowned a little.

"Do you think I learnt it from him? I assure you he never rhapsodises."

"No; but he gives you the material for rhapsodies."

"And why not?" said Elizabeth indignantly. "If he didn't love the
country and believe in it he wouldn't be going into its public life. You
can feel that he is Canadian through and through."

"A farmer's son, I think, from Manitoba?"

"Yes." Elizabeth's tone was a little defensive.

"Will you not sometimes--if you watch his career--regret that, with his
ability, he has not the environment--and the audience--of the
Old World?"

"No, never! He will be one of the shapers of the new."

Delaine looked at her with a certain passion.

"All very well, but _you_ don't belong to it. We can't spare you from
the old."

"Oh, as for me, I'm full of vicious and corrupt habits!" put in
Elizabeth hurriedly. "I am not nearly good enough for the new!"

"Thank goodness for that!" said Delaine fervently, and, bending forward,
he tried to see her face. But Elizabeth did not allow it. She could not
help flushing; but as she bent over the side of the platform looking
ahead, she announced in her gayest voice that there was a town to be
seen, and it was probably Regina.

The station at Regina, when they steamed into it, was crowded with folk,
and gay with flags. Anderson, after a conversation with the
station-master, came to the car to say that the Governor-General, Lord
Wrekin, who had been addressing a meeting at Regina, was expected
immediately, to take the East-bound train; which was indeed already
lying, with its steam up, on the further side of the station, the
Viceregal car in its rear.

"But there are complications. Look there!"

He pointed to a procession coming along the platform. Six men bore a
coffin covered with white flowers. Behind it came persons in black, a
group of men, and one woman; then others, mostly young men, also in
mourning, and bare-headed.

As the procession passed the car, Anderson and Delaine uncovered.

Elizabeth turned a questioning look on Anderson.

"A young man from Ontario," he explained, "quite a lad. He had come here
out West to a farm--to work his way--a good, harmless little fellow--the
son of a widow. A week ago a vicious horse kicked him in the stable. He
died yesterday morning. They are taking him back to Ontario to be
buried. The friends of his chapel subscribed to do it, and they brought
his mother here to nurse him. She arrived just in time. That is she."

He pointed to the bowed figure, hidden in a long crape veil. Elizabeth's
eyes filled.

"But it comes awkwardly," Anderson went on, looking back along the
platform--"for the Governor-General is expected this very moment. The
funeral ought to have been here half an hour ago. They seem to have been
delayed. Ah! here he is!"

"Elizabeth!--his Excellency!" cried Philip, emerging from the car.

"Hush!" Elizabeth put her finger to her lip. The young man looked at the
funeral procession in astonishment, which was just reaching the side of
the empty van on the East-bound train which was waiting, with wide-open
doors, to receive the body. The bearers let down the coffin gently to
the ground, and stood waiting in hesitation. But there were no railway
employés to help them. A flurried station-master and his staff were
receiving the official party. Suddenly someone started the revival hymn,
"Shall We Gather at the River?" It was taken up vigorously by the thirty
or forty young men who had followed the coffin, and their voices,
rising and falling in a familiar lilting melody, filled the station:

     Yes, we'll gather at the river,
     The beautiful, beautiful river--
     Gather with the saints at the river,
     That flows by the throne of God!

Elizabeth looked towards the entrance of the station. A tall and slender
man had just stepped on to the platform. It was the Governor-General,
with a small staff behind him. The staff and the station officials stood
hat in hand. A few English tourists from the West-bound train hurried
up; the men uncovered, the ladies curtsied. A group of settlers' wives
newly arrived from Minnesota, who were standing near the entrance,
watched the arrival with curiosity. Lord Wrekin, seeing women in his
path, saluted them; and they replied with a friendly and democratic nod.
Then suddenly the Governor-General heard the singing, and perceived the
black distant crowd. He inquired of the persons near him, and then
passed on through the groups which had begun to gather round himself,
raising his hand for silence. The passengers of the West-bound train had
by now mostly descended, and pressed after him. Bare-headed, he stood
behind the mourners while the hymn proceeded, and the coffin was lifted
and placed in the car with the wreaths round it. The mother clung a
moment to the side of the door, unconsciously resisting those who tried
to lead her away. The kind grey eyes of the Governor-General rested upon
her, but he made no effort to approach or speak to her. Only his
stillness kept the crowd still.

Elizabeth at her window watched the scene--the tall figure of his
Excellency--the bowed woman--the throng of officials and of mourners.
Over the head of the Governor-General a couple of flags swelled in a
light breeze--the Union Jack and the Maple Leaf; beyond the heads of the
crowd there was a distant glimpse of the barracks of the Mounted Police;
and then boundless prairie and floating cloud.

At last the mother yielded, and was led to the carriage behind the
coffin. Gently, with bent head, Lord Wrekin made his way to her. But no
one heard what passed between them. Then, silently, the funeral crowd
dispersed, and another crowd--of officials and business men--claimed the
Governor-General. Standing in its midst, he turned for a moment to scan
the West-bound train.

"Ah, Lady Merton!" He had perceived the car and Elizabeth's face at the
window, and he hastened across to speak to her. They were old friends in
England, and they had already met in Ottawa.

"So I find you on your travels! Well?"

His look, gay and vivacious as a boy's, interrogated hers. Elizabeth
stammered a few words in praise of Canada. But her eyes were still wet,
and the Governor-General perceived it.

"That was touching?" he said. "To die in your teens in this
country!--just as the curtain is up and the play begins--hard! Hullo,
Anderson!"

The great man extended a cordial hand, chaffed Philip a little, gave
Lady Merton some hurried but very precise directions as to what she was
to see--and whom--at Vancouver and Pretoria. "You must see So-and-so and
So-and-so--great friends of mine. D----'ll tell you all about the
lumbering. Get somebody to show you the Chinese quarter. And there's a
splendid old fellow--a C.P.R. man--did some of the prospecting for the
railway up North, toward the Yellowhead. Never heard such tales; I could
have sat up all night." He hastily scribbled a name on a card and gave
it to Elizabeth. "Good-bye--good-bye!"

He hastened off, but they saw him standing a few moments longer on the
platform, the centre of a group of provincial politicians, farmers,
railway superintendents, and others--his hat on the back of his head,
his pleasant laugh ringing every now and then above the clatter of
talk. Then came departure, and at the last moment he jumped into his
carriage, talking and talked to, almost till it had left the platform.

Anderson hailed a farming acquaintance.

"Well? What has the Governor-General been doing?"

"Speaking at a Farmers' Conference. Awful shindy yesterday!--between the
farmers and the millers. Row about the elevators. The farmers want the
Dominion to own 'em--vow they're cheated and bullied, and all the rest
of it. Row about the railway, too. Shortage of cars; you know the old
story. A regular wasp's nest, the whole thing! Well, the
Governor-General came this morning, and everything's blown over! Can't
remember what he said, but we're all sure somebody's going to do
something. Hope you know how he does it!--I don't."

Anderson laughed as he sat down beside Elizabeth, and the train began to
move.

"We seem to send you the right men!" she said, smiling--with a little
English conceit that became her.

The train left the station. As it did so, an old man in the first
emigrant car, who, during the wait at Regina, had appeared to be asleep
in a corner, with a battered slouch hat drawn down over his eyes and
face, stealthily moved to the window, and looked back upon the now
empty platform.

Some hours later Anderson was still sitting beside Elizabeth. They were
in Southern Alberta. The June day had darkened. And for the first time
Elizabeth felt the chill and loneliness of the prairies, where as yet
she had only felt their exhilaration. A fierce wind was sweeping over
the boundless land, with showers in its train. The signs of habitation
became scantier, the farms fewer. Bunches of horses and herds of cattle
widely scattered over the endless grassy plains--the brown lines of the
ploughed fire-guards running beside the railway--the bents of winter
grass, white in the storm-light, bleaching the rolling surface of the
ground, till the darkness of some cloud-shadow absorbed them; these
things breathed--of a sudden--wildness and desolation. It seemed as
though man could no longer cope with the mere vastness of the earth--an
earth without rivers or trees, too visibly naked and measureless.

"At last I am afraid of it!" said Elizabeth, shivering in her fur coat,
with a little motion of her hand toward the plain. "And what must it be
in winter!"

Anderson laughed.

"The winter is much milder here than in Manitoba! Radiant sunshine day
after day--and the warm chinook-wind. And it is precisely here that the
railway lands are selling at a higher price for the moment than anywhere
else, and that settlers are rushing in. Look there!"

Elizabeth peered through the gloom, and saw the gleam of water. The
train ran along beside it for a minute or two, then the gathering
darkness seemed to swallow it up.

"A river?"

"No, a canal, fed from the Bow River--far ahead of us. We are in the
irrigation belt--and in the next few years thousands of people will
settle here. Give the land water--the wheat follows! South and North,
even now, the wheat is spreading and driving out the ranchers.
Irrigation is the secret. We are mastering it! And you thought"--he
looked at her with amusement and a kind of triumph--"that the country
had mastered us?"

There was something in his voice and eyes, as though not he spoke, but a
nation through him. "Splendid!" was the word that rose in Elizabeth's
mind; and a thrill ran with it.

The gloom of the afternoon deepened. The showers increased. But
Elizabeth could not be prevailed upon to go in. In the car Delaine and
Philip were playing dominoes, in despair of anything more amusing.
Yerkes was giving his great mind to the dinner which was to be the
consolation of Philip's day.

Meanwhile Elizabeth kept Anderson talking. That was her great gift. She
was the best of listeners. Thus led on he could not help himself, any
more than he had been able to help himself on the afternoon of the
sink-hole. He had meant to hold himself strictly in hand with this too
attractive Englishwoman. On the contrary, he had never yet poured out so
frankly to mortal ear the inmost dreams and hopes which fill the ablest
minds of Canada--dreams half imagination, half science; and hopes which,
yesterday romance, become reality to-morrow.

He showed her, for instance, the great Government farms as they passed
them, standing white and trim upon the prairie, and bade her think of
the busy brains at work there--magicians conjuring new wheats that will
ripen before the earliest frosts, and so draw onward the warm tide of
human life over vast regions now desolate; or trees that will stand firm
against the prairie winds, and in the centuries to come turn this bare
and boundless earth, this sea-floor of a primeval ocean, which is now
Western Canada, into a garden of the Lord. Or from the epic of the soil,
he would slip on to the human epic bound up with it--tale after tale of
life in the ranching country, and of the emigration now pouring into
Alberta--witched out of him by this delicately eager face, these lovely
listening eyes. And here, in spite of his blunt, simple speech, came out
the deeper notes of feeling, feeling richly steeped in those "mortal
things"--earthy, tender, humorous, or terrible--which make up
human fate.

Had he talked like this to the Catholic girl in Quebec? And yet she had
renounced him? She had never loved him, of course! To love this man
would be to cleave to him.

Once, in a lifting of the shadows of the prairie, Elizabeth saw a group
of antelope standing only a few hundred yards from the train, tranquilly
indifferent, their branching horns clear in a pallid ray of light; and
once a prairie-wolf, solitary and motionless; and once, as the train
moved off after a stoppage, an old badger leisurely shambling off the
line itself. And once, too, amid a driving storm-shower, and what seemed
to her unbroken formless solitudes, suddenly, a tent by the railway
side, and the blaze of a fire; and as the train slowly passed, three
men--lads rather--emerging to laugh and beckon to it. The tent, the
fire, the gay challenge of the young faces and the English voices,
ringed by darkness and wild weather, brought the tears back to
Elizabeth's eyes, she scarcely knew why.

"Settlers, in their first year," said Anderson, smiling, as he waved
back again.

But, to Elizabeth, it seemed a parable of the new Canada.

An hour later, amid a lightening of the clouds over the West, that
spread a watery gold over the prairie, Anderson sprang to his feet.

"The Rockies!"

And there, a hundred miles away, peering over the edge of the land, ran
from north to south a vast chain of snow peaks, and Elizabeth saw at
last that even the prairies have an end.

The car was shunted at Calgary, in order that its occupants might enjoy
a peaceful night. When she found herself alone in her tiny room,
Elizabeth stood for a while before her reflection in the glass. Her eyes
were frowning and distressed; her cheeks glowed. Arthur Delaine, her old
friend, had bade her a cold good night, and she knew well enough
that--from him--she deserved it. "Yet I gave him the whole morning," she
pleaded with herself. "I did my best. But oh, why, why did I ever let
him come!"

And even in the comparative quiet of the car at rest, she could not
sleep; so quickened were all her pulses, and so vivid the memories
of the day.



CHAPTER VI

Arthur Delaine was strolling and smoking on the broad wooden balcony,
which in the rear of the hotel at Banff overlooks a wide scene of alp
and water. The splendid Bow River comes swirling past the hotel, on its
rush from the high mountains to the plains of Saskatchewan. Craggy
mountains drop almost to the river's edge on one side; on the other,
pine woods mask the railway and the hills; while in the distance shine
the snow-peaks of the Rockies. It is the gateway of the mountains, fair
and widely spaced, as becomes their dignity.

Delaine, however, was not observing the scenery. He was entirely
absorbed by reflection on his own affairs. The party had now been
stationary for three or four days at Banff, enjoying the comforts of
hotel life. The travelling companion on whom Delaine had not calculated
in joining Lady Merton and her brother--Mr. George Anderson--had taken
his leave, temporarily, at Calgary. In thirty-six hours, however, he had
reappeared. It seemed that the construction work in which he was
engaged in the C---- valley did not urgently require his presence; that
his position towards the railway, with which he was about to sever his
official connection, was one of great freedom and influence, owing, no
doubt, to the services he had been able to render it the year before. He
was, in fact, master of his time, and meant to spend it apparently in
making Lady Merton's tour agreeable.

For himself, Delaine could only feel that the advent of this stranger
had spoilt the whole situation. It seemed now as though Elizabeth and
her brother could not get on without him. As he leant over the railing
of the balcony, Delaine could see far below, in the wood, the flutter of
a white dress. It belonged to Lady Merton, and the man beside her was
George Anderson. He had been arranging their walks and expeditions for
the last four days, and was now about to accompany the English
travellers on a special journey with a special engine through the
Kicking Horse Pass and back, a pleasure suggested by the kindness of the
railway authorities.

It was true that he had at one time been actively engaged on the
important engineering work now in progress in the pass; and Lady Merton
could not, therefore, have found a better showman. But why any showman
at all? What did she know about this man who had sprung so rapidly into
intimacy with herself and her brother? Yet Delaine could not honestly
accuse him of presuming on a chance acquaintance, since it was not to be
denied that it was Philip Gaddesden himself, who had taken an invalid's
capricious liking to the tall, fair-haired fellow, and had urgently
requested--almost forced him to come back to them.

Delaine was not a little bruised in spirit, and beginning to be angry.
During the solitary day he had been alone with them Elizabeth had been
kindness and complaisance itself. But instead of that closer
acquaintance, that opportunity for a gradual and delightful courtship on
which he had reckoned, when the restraint of watching eyes and
neighbourly tongues should be removed, he was conscious that he had
never been so remote from her during the preceding winter at home, as he
was now that he had journeyed six thousand miles simply and solely on
the chance of proposing to her. He could not understand how anything so
disastrous, and apparently so final, could have happened to him in one
short week! Lady Merton--he saw quite plainly--did not mean him to
propose to her, if she could possibly avoid it. She kept Philip with
her, and gave no opportunities. And always, as before, she was possessed
and bewitched by Canada! Moreover, the Chief Justice and the French
Canadian, Mariette, had turned up at the hotel two days before, on their
way to Vancouver. Elizabeth had been sitting, figuratively, at the feet
of both of them ever since; and both had accepted an invitation to join
in the Kicking Horse party, and were delaying their journey West
accordingly.

Instead of solitude, therefore, Delaine was aware of a most troublesome
amount of society. Aware also, deep down, that some test he resented but
could not escape had been applied to him on this journey, by
fortune--and Elizabeth!--and that he was not standing it well. And the
worst of it was that as his discouragement in the matter of Lady Merton
increased, so also did his distaste for this raw, new country, without
associations, without art, without antiquities, in which he should
never, never have chosen to spend one of his summers of this short life,
but for the charms of Elizabeth! And the more boredom he was conscious
of, the less congenial and sympathetic, naturally, did he become as a
companion for Lady Merton. Of this he was dismally aware. Well! he
hoped, bitterly, that she knew what she was about, and could take care
of herself. This man she had made friends with was good-looking and, by
his record, possessed ability. He had fairly gentlemanly manners, also;
though, in Delaine's opinion, he was too self-confident on his own
account, and too boastful on Canada's, But he was a man of humble
origin, son of a farmer who seemed, by the way, to be dead; and
grandson, so Delaine had heard him say, through his mother, of one of
the Selkirk settlers of 1812--no doubt of some Scotch gillie or
shepherd. Such a person, in England, would have no claim whatever to the
intimate society of Elizabeth Merton. Yet here she was alone, really
without protection--for what use was this young, scatter-brained
brother?--herself only twenty-seven, and so charming? so much prettier
than she had ever seemed to be at home. It was a dangerous situation--a
situation to which she ought not to have been exposed. Delaine had
always believed her sensitive and fastidious; and in his belief all
women should be sensitive and fastidious, especially as to who are, and
who are not, their social equals. But it was clear he had not quite
understood her. And this man whom they had picked up was undoubtedly
handsome, strong and masterful, of the kind that the natural woman
admires. But then he--Delaine--had never thought of Elizabeth Merton as
the natural woman. There lay the disappointment.

What was his own course to be? He believed himself defeated, but to
show any angry consciousness of it would be to make life very
uncomfortable in future, seeing that he and the Gaddesdens were
inevitably neighbours and old friends. After all, he had not committed
himself beyond repair. Why not resume the friendly relation which had
meant so much to him before other ideas had entered in? Ah! it was no
longer easy. The distress of which he was conscious had some deep roots.
He must marry--the estate demanded it. But his temperament was
invincibly cautious; his mind moved slowly. How was he to begin upon any
fresh quest? His quiet pursuit of Elizabeth had come about naturally and
by degrees. Propinquity had done it. And now that his hopes were dashed,
he could not imagine how he was to find any other chance; for, as a
rule, he was timid and hesitating with women. As he hung, in his
depression, over the river, this man of forty envisaged--suddenly and
not so far away--old age and loneliness. A keen and peevish resentment
took possession of him.

Lady Merton and Anderson began to ascend a long flight of steps leading
from the garden path below to the balcony where Delaine stood. Elizabeth
waved to him with smiles, and he must perforce watch her as she mounted
side by side with the fair-haired Canadian.

"Oh! such delightful plans!" she said, as she sank out of breath into a
seat. "We have ordered the engine for two o'clock. Please observe, Mr.
Arthur. Never again in this mortal life shall I be able to 'order' an
engine for two o'clock!--and one of these C.P.R. engines, too, great
splendid fellows! We go down the pass, and take tea at Field; and come
up the pass again this evening, to dine and sleep at Laggan. As we
descend, the engine goes in front to hold us back; and when we ascend,
it goes behind to push us up; and I understand that the hill is even
steeper"--she bent forward, laughing, to Delaine, appealing to their
common North Country recollections--"than the Shap incline!"

"Too steep, I gather," said Delaine, "to be altogether safe." His tone
was sharp. He stood with his back to the view, looking from Elizabeth to
her companion.

Anderson turned.

"As we manage it, it is perfectly safe! But it costs us too much to make
it safe. That's the reason for the new bit of line."

Elizabeth turned away uncomfortably, conscious again, as she had often
been before, of the jarring between the two men.

At two o'clock the car and the engine were ready, and Yerkes received
them at the station beaming with smiles. According to him, the privilege
allowed them was all his doing, and he was exceedingly jealous of any
claim of Anderson's in the matter.

"You come to _me_, my lady, if you want anything. Last year I ran a
Russian princess through--official. 'You take care of the Grand Duchess,
Yerkes,' they says to me at Montreal; for they know there isn't anybody
on the line they can trust with a lady as they can me. Of course, I
couldn't help her faintin' at the high bridges, going up Rogers Pass;
that wasn't none of my fault!"

"Faint--at bridges!" said Elizabeth with scorn. "I never heard of
anybody doing such a thing, Yerkes."

"Ah! you wait till you see 'em, my lady," said Yerkes, grinning.

The day was radiant, and even Philip, as they started from Banff
station, was in a Canadian mood. So far he had been quite cheerful and
good-tempered, though not, to Elizabeth's anxious eye, much more robust
yet than when they had left England. He smoked far too much, and
Elizabeth wished devoutly that Yerkes would not supply him so liberally
with whisky and champagne. But Philip was not easily controlled. The
very decided fancy, however, which he had lately taken for George
Anderson had enabled Elizabeth, in one or two instances, to manage him
more effectively. The night they arrived at Calgary, the lad had had a
wild desire to go off on a moonlight drive across the prairies to a
ranch worked by an old Cambridge friend of his. The night was cold, and
he was evidently tired by the long journey from Winnipeg. Elizabeth was
in despair, but could not move him at all. Then Anderson had intervened;
had found somehow and somewhere a trapper just in from the mountains
with a wonderful "catch" of fox and marten; and in the amusement of
turning over a bundle of magnificent furs, and of buying something
straight from the hunter for his mother, the youth had forgotten his
waywardness. Behind his back, Elizabeth had warmly thanked her
lieutenant.

"He only wanted a little distraction," Anderson had said, with a shy
smile, as though he both liked and disliked her thanks. And then,
impulsively, she had told him a good deal about Philip and his illness,
and their mother, and the old house in Cumberland. She, of all persons,
to be so communicative about the family affairs to a stranger! Was it
that two days in a private car in Canada went as far as a month's
acquaintance elsewhere?

Another passenger had been introduced to Lady Merton by Anderson, an
hour before the departure of the car, and had made such a pleasant
impression on her that he also had been asked to join the party, and had
very gladly consented. This was the American, Mr. Val Morton, now the
official receiver, so Elizabeth understood, of a great railway system in
the middle west of the United States. The railway had been handed over
to him in a bankrupt condition. His energy and probity were engaged in
pulling it through. More connections between it and the Albertan
railways were required; and he was in Canada looking round and
negotiating. He was already known to the Chief Justice and Mariette, and
Elizabeth fell quickly in love with his white hair, his black eyes, his
rapier-like slenderness and keenness, and that pleasant mingling in
him--so common in the men of his race--of the dry shrewdness of the
financier with a kind of headlong courtesy to women.

On sped the car through the gate of the Rockies. The mountains grew
deeper, the snows deeper against the blue, the air more dazzling, the
forests closer, breathing balm into the sunshine.

Suddenly the car slackened and stopped. No sign of a station. Only a
rustic archway, on which was written "The Great Divide," and beneath the
archway two small brooklets issuing, one flowing to the right, the other
to the left.

They all left the car and stood round the tiny streams. They were on the
watershed. The water in the one streamlet flowed to the Atlantic, that
in its fellow to the Pacific.

Eternal parable of small beginnings and vast fates! But in this setting
of untrodden mountains, and beside this railway which now for a few
short years had been running its parlour and dining cars, its telegraphs
and electric lights and hotels, a winding thread of life and
civilisation, through the lonely and savage splendours of snow-peak and
rock, transforming day by day the destinies of Canada--the parable
became a truth, proved upon the pulses of men.

The party sat down on the grass beside the bright, rippling water, and
Yerkes brought them coffee. While they were taking it, the two
engine-drivers descended from the cab of the engine and began to gather
a few flowers and twigs from spring bushes that grew near. They put them
together and offered them to Lady Merton. She, going to speak to them,
found that they were English and North Country.

"Philip!--Mr. Arthur!--they come from our side of Carlisle!"

Philip looked up with a careless nod and smile. Delaine rose and went to
join her. A lively conversation sprang up between her and the two men.
They were, it seemed, a stalwart pair of friends, kinsmen indeed, who
generally worked together, and were now entrusted with some of the most
important work on the most difficult sections of the line. But they were
not going to spend all their days on the line--not they! Like everybody
in the West, they had their eyes on the land. Upon a particular district
of it, moreover, in Northern Alberta, not yet surveyed or settled. But
they were watching it, and as soon as the "steel gang" of a projected
railway came within measurable distance they meant to claim their
sections and work their land together.

When the conversation came to an end and Elizabeth, who with her
companions had been strolling along the line a little in front of the
train, turned back towards her party, Delaine looked down upon her, at
once anxious to strike the right note, and moodily despondent of
doing it.

"Evidently, two very good fellows!" he said in his rich, ponderous
voice. "You gave them a great pleasure by going to talk to them."

"I?" cried Elizabeth. "They are a perfect pair of gentlemen!--and it is
very kind of them to drive us!"

Delaine laughed uneasily.

"The gradations here are bewildering--or rather the absence of
gradations."

"One gets down to the real thing," said Elizabeth, rather hotly.

Delaine laughed again, with a touch of bitterness.

"The real thing? What kind of reality? There are all sorts."

Elizabeth was suddenly conscious of a soreness in his tone. She tried to
walk warily.

"I was only thinking," she protested, "of the chances a man gets in this
country of showing what is in him."

"Remember, too," said Delaine, with spirit, "the chances that he
misses!"

"The chances that belong only to the old countries? I am rather bored
with them!" said Elizabeth flippantly.

Delaine forced a smile.

"Poor Old World! I wonder if you will ever be fair to it again, or--or
to the people bound up with it!"

She looked at him, a little discomposed, and said, smiling:

"Wait till you meet me next in Rome!"

"Shall I ever meet you again in Rome?" he replied, under his breath, as
though involuntarily.

As he spoke he made a determined pause, a stone's throw from the
rippling stream that marks the watershed; and Elizabeth must needs pause
with him. Beyond the stream, Philip sat lounging among rugs and cushions
brought from the car, Anderson and the American beside him. Anderson's
fair, uncovered head and broad shoulders were strongly thrown out
against the glistening snows of the background. Upon the three typical
figures--the frail English boy--the Canadian--the spare New
Yorker--there shone an indescribable brilliance of light. The energy of
the mountain sunshine and the mountain air seemed to throb and quiver
through the persons talking--through Anderson's face, and his eyes fixed
upon Elizabeth--through the sunlit water--the sparkling grasses--the
shimmering spectacle of mountain and summer cloud that begirt them.

"Dear Mr. Arthur, of course we shall meet again in Rome!" said
Elizabeth, rosy, and not knowing in truth what to say. "This place has
turned my head a little!"--she looked round her, raising her hand to the
spectacle as though in pretty appeal to him to share her own
exhilaration--"but it will be all over so soon--and you _know_ I don't
forget old friends--or old pleasures."

Her voice wavered a little. He looked at her, with parted lips, and a
rather hostile, heated expression; then drew back, alarmed at his
own temerity.

"Of course I know it! You must forgive a bookworm his grumble. Shall I
help you over the stream?"

But she stepped across the tiny streamlet without giving him her hand.

As they later rejoined the party, Morton, the Chief Justice, and
Mariette returned from a saunter in the course of which they too had
been chatting to the engine-drivers.

"I know the part of the country those men want," the American was
saying. "I was all over Alberta last fall--part of it in a motor car. We
jumped about those stubble-fields in a way to make a leopard jealous!
Every bone in my body was sore for weeks afterwards. But it was worth
while. That's a country!"--he threw up his hands. "I was at Edmonton on
the day when the last Government lands, the odd numbers, were thrown
open. I saw the siege of the land offices, the rush of the new
population. Ah, well, of course, we're used to such scenes in the
States. There's a great trek going on now in our own Southwest. But
when that's over, our free land is done. Canada will have the handling
of the last batch on this planet."

"If Canada by that time is not America," said Mariette, drily.

The American digested the remark.

"Well," he said, at last, with a smile, "if I were a Canadian, perhaps I
should be a bit nervous."

Thereupon, Mariette with great animation developed his theme of the
"American invasion." Winnipeg was one danger spot, British Columbia
another. The "peaceful penetration," both of men and capital, was going
on so rapidly that a movement for annexation, were it once started in
certain districts of Canada, might be irresistible. The harsh and
powerful face of the speaker became transfigured; one divined in him
some hidden motive which was driving him to contest and belittle the
main currents and sympathies about him. He spoke as a prophet, but the
faith which envenomed the prophecy lay far out of sight.

Anderson took it quietly. The Chief Justice smiled.

"It might have been," he said, "it might have been! This railroad has
made the difference." He stretched out his hand towards the line and
the pass. "Twenty years ago, I came over this ground with the first
party that ever pushed through Rogers Pass and down the Illecillewaet
Valley to the Pacific. We camped just about here for the night. And in
the evening I was sitting by myself on the slopes of that mountain
opposite"--he raised his hand--"looking at the railway camps below me,
and the first rough line that had been cut through the forests. And I
thought of the day when the trains would be going backwards and
forwards, and these nameless valleys and peaks would become the
playground of Canada and America. But what I didn't see was the shade of
England looking on!--England, whose greater destiny was being decided by
those gangs of workmen below me, and the thousands of workmen behind me,
busy night and day in bridging the gap between east and west. Traffic
from north and south"--he turned towards the American--"that meant, for
_your_ Northwest, fusion with _our_ Northwest; traffic from east to
west--that meant England, and the English Sisterhood of States! And
that, for the moment, I didn't see."

"Shall I quote you something I found in an Edmonton paper the other
day?" said Anderson, raising his head from where he lay, looking down
into the grass. And with his smiling, intent gaze fixed on the
American, he recited:

     Land of the sweeping eagle, your goal is not our goal!
     For the ages have taught that the North and the South breed
         difference of soul.
     We toiled for years in the snow and the night, because we
         believed in the spring,
     And the mother who cheered us first, shall be first at the
         banquetting!
     The grey old mother, the dear old mother, who taught us the
         note we sing!

The American laughed.

"A bit raw, like some of your prairie towns; but it hits the nail. I
dare say we have missed our bargain. What matter! Our own chunk is as
big as we can chew."

There was a moment's silence. Elizabeth's eyes were shining; even Philip
sat open-mouthed and dumb, staring at Anderson.

In the background Delaine waited, grudgingly expectant, for the turn of
Elizabeth's head, and the spark of consciousness passing between the two
faces which he had learnt to watch. It came--a flash of some high
sympathy--involuntary, lasting but a moment. Then Mariette threw out:

"And in the end, what are you going to make of it? A replica of Europe,
or America?--a money-grubbing civilisation with no faith but the
dollar? If so, we shall have had the great chance of history--and
lost it!"

"We shan't lose it," said Anderson, "unless the gods mock us."

"Why not?" said Mariette sombrely. "Nations have gone mad before now."

"Ah!--prophesy, prophesy!" said the Chief Justice sadly. "All very well
for you young men, but for us, who are passing away! Here we are at the
birth. Shall we never, in any state of being, know the end? I have never
felt so bitterly as I do now the limitations of our knowledge and
our life."

No one answered him. But Elizabeth looking up saw the aspect of
Mariette--the aspect of a thinker and a mystic--slowly relax. Its
harshness became serenity, its bitterness peace. And with her quick
feeling she guessed that the lament of the Chief Justice had only
awakened in the religious mind the typical religious cry, "_Thou_, Lord,
art the Eternal, and Thy years shall not fail."

At Field, where a most friendly inn shelters under the great shoulders
of Mount Stephen, they left the car a while, took tea in the hotel, and
wandered through the woods below it. All the afternoon, Elizabeth had
shown a most delicate and friendly consideration for Delaine. She had
turned the conversation often in his direction and on his subjects, had
placed him by her side at tea, and in general had more than done her
duty by him. To no purpose. Delaine saw himself as the condemned man to
whom indulgences are granted before execution. She would probably have
done none of these things if there had been any real chance for him.

But in the walk after tea, Anderson and Lady Merton drifted together.
There had been so far a curious effort on both their parts to avoid each
other's company. But now the Chief Justice and Delaine had foregathered;
Philip was lounging and smoking on the balcony of the hotel with a
visitor there, an old Etonian fishing and climbing in the Rockies for
health, whom they had chanced upon at tea. Mariette, after one glance at
the company, especially at Elizabeth and Anderson, had turned aside into
the woods by himself.

They crossed the river and strolled up the road to Emerald Lake. Over
the superb valley to their left hung the great snowy mass, glistening
and sunlit, of Mount Stephen; far to the West the jagged peaks of the
Van Home range shot up into the golden air; on the flat beside the river
vivid patches of some crimson flower, new to Elizabeth's eyes, caught
the sloping light; and the voice of a swollen river pursued them.

They began to talk, this time of England. Anderson asked many questions
as to English politics and personalities. And she, to please him,
chattered of great people and events, of scenes and leaders in
Parliament, of diplomats and royalties; all the gossip of the moment, in
fact, fluttering round the principal figures of English and European
politics. It was the talk most natural to her; the talk of the world she
knew best; and as Elizabeth was full of shrewdness and natural salt,
without a trace of malice, no more at least than a woman should have--to
borrow the saying about Wilkes and his squint--her chatter was generally
in request, and she knew it.

But Anderson, though he had led up to it, did not apparently enjoy it;
on the contrary, she felt him gradually withdrawing and cooling,
becoming a little dry and caustic, even satirical, as on the first
afternoon of their acquaintance. So that after a while her gossip
flagged; since the game wants two to play it. Then Anderson walked on
with a furrowed brow, and raised colour; and she could not imagine what
had been done or said to annoy him.

She could only try to lead him back to Canada. But she got little or no
response.

"Our politics must seem to you splashes in a water-butt," he said
impatiently, "after London and Europe."

"A pretty big water-butt!"

"Size makes no difference." Elizabeth's lips twitched as she remembered
Arthur Delaine's similar protests; but she kept her countenance, and
merely worked the harder to pull her companion out of this odd pit of
ill-humour into which he had fallen. And in the end she succeeded; he
repented, and let her manage him as she would. And whether it was the
influence of this hidden action and reaction between their minds, or of
the perfumed June day breathing on them from the pines, or of the giant
splendour of Mount Burgess, rising sheer in front of them out of the
dark avenue of the forest, cannot be told; but, at least, they became
more intimate than they had yet been, more deeply interesting each to
the other. In his thoughts and ideals she found increasing fascination;
her curiosity, her friendly and womanly curiosity, grew with
satisfaction. His view of life was often harsh or melancholy; but there
was never a false nor a mean note.

Yet before the walk was done he had startled her. As they turned back
towards Field, and were in the shadows of the pines, he said, with
abrupt decision:

"Will you forgive me if I say something?"

She looked up surprised.

"Don't let your brother drink so much champagne!"

The colour rushed into Elizabeth's face. She drew herself up, conscious
of sharp pain, but also of anger. A stranger, who had not yet known them
ten days! But she met an expression on his face, timid and yet
passionately resolved, which arrested her.

"I really don't know what you mean, Mr. Anderson!" she said proudly.

"I thought I had seen you anxious. I should be anxious if I were you,"
he went on hurriedly. "He has been ill, and is not quite master of
himself. That is always the critical moment. He is a charming
fellow--you must be devoted to him. For God's sake, don't let him ruin
himself body and soul!"

Elizabeth was dumbfounded. The tears rushed into her eyes, her voice
choked in her throat. She must, she would defend her brother. Then she
thought of the dinner of the night before, and the night before that--of
the wine bill at Winnipeg and Toronto. Her colour faded away; her heart
sank; but it still seemed to her an outrage that he should have dared to
speak of it. He spoke, however, before she could.

"Forgive me," he said, recovering his self-control. "I know it must
seem mere insolence on my part. But I can't help it--I can't look on at
such a thing, silently. May I explain? Please permit me! I told
you"--his voice changed--"my mother and sisters had been burnt to death.
I adored my mother. She was everything to me. She brought us up with
infinite courage, though she was a very frail woman. In those days a
farm in Manitoba was a much harder struggle than it is now. Yet she
never complained; she was always cheerful; always at work. But--my
father drank! It came upon him as a young man--after an illness. It got
worse as he grew older. Every bit of prosperity that came to us, he
drank away; he would have ruined us again and again, but for my mother.
And at last he murdered her--her and my poor sisters!"

Elizabeth made a sound of horror.

"Oh, there was no intention to murder," said Anderson bitterly. "He
merely sat up drinking one winter night with a couple of whisky bottles
beside him. Then in the morning he was awakened by the cold; the fire
had gone out. He stumbled out to get the can of coal-oil from the
stable, still dazed with drink, brought it in and poured some on the
wood. Some more wood was wanted. He went out to fetch it, leaving his
candle alight, a broken end in a rickety candlestick, on the floor
beside the coal-oil. When he got to the stable it was warm and
comfortable; he forgot what he had come for, fell down on a bundle of
straw, and went into a dead sleep. The candle must have fallen over into
the oil, the oil exploded, and in a few seconds the wooden house was in
flames. By the time I came rushing back from the slough where I had been
breaking the ice for water, the roof had already fallen in. My poor
mother and two of the children had evidently tried to escape by the
stairway and had perished there; the two others were burnt in
their beds."

"And your father?" murmured Elizabeth, unable to take her eyes from the
speaker.

"I woke him in the stable, and told him what had happened. Bit by bit I
got out of him what he'd done. And then I said to him, 'Now
choose!--either you go, or we. After the funeral, the boys and I have
done with you. You can't force us to go on living with you. We will kill
ourselves first. Either you stay here, and we go into Winnipeg; or you
can sell the stock, take the money, and go. We'll work the farm.' He
swore at me, but I told him he'd find we'd made up our minds. And a week
later, he disappeared. He had sold the stock, and left us the burnt
walls and the land."

"And you've never seen him since?"

"Never."

"You believe him dead?"

"I know that he died--in the first Yukon rush of ten years ago. I
tracked him there, shortly afterwards. He was probably killed in a
scuffle with some miners as drunken as himself."

There was a silence, which he broke very humbly.

"Do you forgive me? I know I am not sane on this point. I believe I have
spoilt your day."

She looked up, her eyes swimming in tears, and held out her hand.

"It's nothing, you know," she said, trying to smile--"in our case.
Philip is such a baby."

"I know; but look after him!" he said earnestly, as he grasped it.

The trees thinned, and voices approached. They emerged from the forest,
and found themselves hailed by the Chief Justice.

The journey up the pass was even more wonderful than the journey down.
Sunset lights lay on the forests, on the glorious lonely mountains, and
on the valley of the Yoho, roadless and houseless now, but soon to be as
famous through the world as Grindelwald or Chamounix. They dismounted
and explored the great camps of workmen in the pass; they watched the
boiling of the stream, which had carved the path of the railway; they
gathered white dogwood, and yellow snow-lilies, and red painter's-brush.

Elizabeth and Anderson hardly spoke to each other. She talked a great
deal with Delaine, and Mariette held a somewhat acid dispute with her on
modern French books--Loti, Anatole France, Zola--authors whom his
soul loathed.

But the day had forged a lasting bond between Anderson and Elizabeth,
and they knew it.

       *       *       *       *       *

The night rose clear and cold, with stars shining on the snow. Delaine,
who with Anderson had found quarters in one of Laggan's handful of
houses, went out to stroll and smoke alone, before turning into bed. He
walked along the railway line towards Banff, in bitterness of soul,
debating with himself whether he could possibly leave the party at once.

When he was well out of sight of the station and the houses, he became
aware of a man persistently following him, and not without a hasty grip
on the stout stick he carried, he turned at last to confront him.

"What do you want with me? You seem to be following me."

"Are you Mr. Arthur Delaine?" said a thick voice.

"That is my name. What do you want?"

"And you be lodging to-night in the same house with Mr. George
Anderson?"

"I am. What's that to you?"

"Well, I want twenty minutes' talk with you," said the voice, after a
pause. The accent was Scotch. In the darkness Delaine dimly perceived an
old and bent man standing before him, who seemed to sway and totter as
he leant upon his stick.

"I cannot imagine, sir, why you should want anything of the kind." And
he turned to pursue his walk. The old man kept up with him, and
presently said something which brought Delaine to a sudden stop of
astonishment. He stood there listening for a few minutes, transfixed,
and finally, turning round, he allowed his strange companion to walk
slowly beside him back to Laggan.



CHAPTER VII

Oh! the freshness of the morning on Lake Louise!

It was barely eight o'clock, yet Elizabeth Merton had already taken her
coffee on the hotel verandah, and was out wandering by herself. The
hotel, which is nearly six thousand feet above the sea, had only just
been opened for its summer guests, and Elizabeth and her party were its
first inmates. Anderson indeed had arranged their coming, and was to
have brought them hither himself. But on the night of the party's return
to Laggan he had been hastily summoned by telegraph to a consultation of
engineers on a difficult matter of railway grading in the Kootenay
district. Delaine, knocking at his door in the morning, had found him
flown. A note for Lady Merton explained his flight, gave all directions
for the drive to Lake Louise, and expressed his hope to be with them
again as expeditiously as possible. Three days had now elapsed since he
had left them. Delaine, rather to Elizabeth's astonishment, had once or
twice inquired when he might be expected to return.

Elizabeth found a little path by the lake shore, and pursued it a short
way; but presently the splendour and the beauty overpowered her; her
feet paused of themselves. She sat down on a jutting promontory of rock,
and lost herself in the forms and hues of the morning. In front of her
rose a wall of glacier sheer out of the water and thousands of feet
above the lake, into the clear brilliance of the sky. On either side of
its dazzling whiteness, mountains of rose-coloured rock, fledged with
pine, fell steeply to the water's edge, enclosing and holding up the
glacier; and vast rock pinnacles of a paler rose, melting into gold,
broke, here and there, the gleaming splendour of the ice. The sun, just
topping the great basin, kindled the ice surfaces, and all the
glistening pinks and yellows, the pale purples and blood-crimsons of the
rocks, to flame and splendour; while the shadows of the coolest azure
still held the hollows and caves of the glacier. Deep in the motionless
lake, the shining snows repeated themselves, so also the rose-red rocks,
the blue shadows, the dark buttressing crags with their pines. Height
beyond height, glory beyond glory--from the reality above, the eye
descended to its lovelier image below, which lay there, enchanted and
insubstantial, Nature's dream of itself.

The sky was pure light; the air pure fragrance. Heavy dews dripped from
the pines and the moss, and sparkled in the sun. Beside Elizabeth, under
a group of pines, lay a bed of snow-lilies, their golden heads
dew-drenched, waiting for the touch of the morning, waiting, too--so she
thought--for that Canadian poet who will yet place them in English verse
beside the daffodils of Westmoreland.

She could hardly breathe for delight. The Alps, whether in their Swiss
or Italian aspects, were dear and familiar to her. She climbed nimbly
and well; and her senses knew the magic of high places. But never surely
had even travelled eyes beheld a nobler fantasy of Nature than that
composed by these snows and forests of Lake Louise; such rocks of opal
and pearl; such dark gradations of splendour in calm water; such
balanced intricacy and harmony in the building of this ice-palace that
reared its majesty above the lake; such a beauty of subordinate and
converging outline in the supporting mountains on either hand; as though
the Earth Spirit had lingered on his work, finishing and caressing it in
conscious joy.

And in Elizabeth's heart, too, there was a freshness of spring; an
overflow of something elemental and irresistible.

Yet, strangely enough, it was at that moment expressing itself in
regret and compunction. Since the dawn, that morning, she had been
unable to sleep. The strong light, the pricking air, had kept her
wakeful; and she had been employing her time in writing to her mother,
who was also her friend.

"... Dear little mother--You will say I have been unkind--I say it to
myself. But would it really have been fairer if I had forbidden him to
join us? There was just a chance--it seems ridiculous now--but there
was--I confess it! And by my letter from Toronto--though really my
little note might have been written to anybody--I as good as said so to
him, 'Come and throw the dice and--let us see what falls out!'
Practically, that is what it amounted to--I admit it in sackcloth and
ashes. Well!--we have thrown the dice--and it won't do! No, it won't, it
won't do! And it is somehow all my fault--which is abominable. But I see
now, what I never saw at home or in Italy, that he is a thousand years
older than I--that I should weary and jar upon him at every turn, were I
to marry him. Also I have discovered--out here--I believe, darling, you
have known it all along!--that there is at the very root of me a kind of
savage--a creature that hates fish-knives and finger-glasses and
dressing for dinner--the things I have done all my life, and Arthur
Delaine will go on doing all his. Also that I never want to see a museum
again--at least, not for a long time; and that I don't care twopence
whether Herculaneum is excavated or not!

"Isn't it shocking? I can't explain myself; and poor Mr. Arthur
evidently can't make head or tail of me, and thinks me a little mad. So
I am, in a sense. I am suffering from a new kind of _folie des
grandeurs_. The world has suddenly grown so big; everything in the human
story--all its simple fundamental things at least--is writ so large
here. Hope and ambition--love and courage--the man wrestling with the
earth--the woman who bears and brings up children--it is as though I had
never felt, never seen them before. They rise out of the dust and mist
of our modern life--great shapes warm from the breast of Nature--and I
hold my breath. Behind them, for landscape, all the dumb age-long past
of these plains and mountains; and in front, the future on the loom, and
the young radiant nation, shuttle in hand, moving to and fro at her
unfolding task!

"How unfair to Mr. Arthur that this queer intoxication of mine should
have altered him so in my foolish eyes--as though one had scrubbed all
the golden varnish from an old picture, and left it crude and
charmless. It is not his fault--is mine. In Europe we loved the same
things; his pleasure kindled mine. But here he enjoys nothing that I
enjoy; he is longing for a tiresome day to end, when my heart is just
singing for delight. For it is not only Canada in the large that holds
me, but all its dear, human, dusty, incoherent detail--all its clatter
of new towns and spreading farms--of pushing railways and young
parliaments--of roadmaking and bridgemaking--of saw-mills and lumber
camps--detail so different from anything I have ever discussed with
Arthur Delaine before. Some of it is ugly, I know--I don't care! It is
like a Rembrandt ugliness--that only helps and ministers to a stronger
beauty, the beauty of prairie and sky, and the beauty of the human
battle, the battle of blood and brain, with the earth and her forces.

"'_Enter these enchanted woods, ye who dare!_'"

"There is a man here--a Mr. George Anderson, of whom I told you
something in my last letter--who seems to embody the very life of this
country, to be the prairie, and the railway, and the forest--their very
spirit and avatar. Personally, he is often sad; his own life has been
hard; and yet the heart of him is all hope and courage, all delight too
in the daily planning and wrestling, the contrivance and the
cleverness, the rifling and outwitting of Nature--that makes a
Canadian--at any rate a Western Canadian. I suppose he doesn't know
anything about art. Mr. Arthur seems to have nothing in common with him;
but there is in him that rush and energy of life, from which, surely,
art and poetry spring, when the time is ripe.

"Don't of course imagine anything absurd! He is just a young Scotch
engineer, who seems to have made some money as people do make money
here--quickly and honestly--and is shortly going into Parliament. They
say that he is sure to be a great man. To us--to Philip and me, he has
been extremely kind. I only meant that he seems to be in place here--or
anywhere, indeed, where the world is moving; while Mr. Arthur, in
Canada, is a walking anachronism. He is out of perspective; he
doesn't fit.

"You will say, that if I married him, it would not be to live in Canada,
and once at home again, the old estimates and 'values' would reassert
themselves. But in a sense--don't be alarmed--I shall always live in
Canada. Or, rather, I shall never be quite the same again; and Mr.
Arthur would find me a restless, impracticable, discontented woman.

"Would it not really be kinder if I suggested to him to go home by
California, while we come back again through the Rockies? Don't you
think it would? I feel that I have begun to get on his nerves--as he on
mine. If you were only here! But, I assure you, he doesn't _look_
miserable; and I think he will bear up very well. And if it will be any
comfort to you to be told that I know what is meant by the gnawing of
the little worm, Compunction, then be comforted, dearest; for it gnaws
horribly, and out of all proportion--I vow--to my crimes.

"Philip is better on the whole, and has taken an enormous fancy to Mr.
Anderson. But, as I have told you all along, he is not so much better as
you and I hoped he would be. I take every care of him that I can, but
you know that he is not wax, when it comes to managing. However, Mr.
Anderson has been a great help."

Recollections of this letter, and other thoughts besides, coming from
much deeper strata of the mind than she had been willing to reveal to
her mother, kept slipping at intervals through Elizabeth's
consciousness, as she sat beside the lake.

A step beside her startled her, and she looked up to see Delaine
approaching.

"Out already, Mr. Arthur! But _I_ have had breakfast!"

"So have I. What a place!"

Elizabeth did not answer, but her smiling eyes swept the glorious circle
of the lake.

"How soon will it all be spoilt and vulgarised?" said Delaine, with a
shrug. "Next year, I suppose, a funicular, to the top of the glacier."

Elizabeth cried out.

"Why not?" he asked her, as he rather coolly and deliberately took his
seat beside her. "You applaud telephones on the prairies; why not
funiculars here?"

"The one serves, the other spoils," said Elizabeth eagerly.

"Serves whom? Spoils what?" The voice was cold. "All travellers are not
like yourself."

"I am not afraid. The Canadians will guard their heritage."

"How dull England will seem to you when you go back to it!" he said to
her, after a moment. His tone had an under-note of bitterness which
Elizabeth uncomfortably recognised.

"Oh! I have a way of liking what I must like," she said, hurriedly.
"Just now, certainly, I am in love with deserts--flat or
mountainous--tempered by a private car."

He laughed perfunctorily. And suddenly it seemed to her that he had come
out to seek her with a purpose, and that a critical moment might be
approaching. Her cheeks flushed, and to hide them she leant over the
water's edge and began to trail her finger in its clear wave.

He, however, sat in hesitation, looking at her, the prey of thoughts to
which she had no clue. He could not make up his mind, though he had just
spent an almost sleepless night on the attempt to do it.

The silence became embarrassing. Then, if he still groped, she seemed to
see her way, and took it.

"It was very good of you to come out and join our wanderings," she said
suddenly. Her voice was clear and kind. He started.

"You know I could ask for nothing better," was his slow reply, not
without dignity. "It has been an immense privilege to see you like this,
day by day."

Elizabeth's pulse quickened.

"How can I manage it?" she desperately thought. "But I must--"

"That's very sweet of you," she said aloud, "when I have bored you so
with my raptures. And now it's coming to an end, like all nice things.
Philip and I think of staying a little in Vancouver. And the Governor
has asked us to go over to Victoria for a few days. You, I suppose, will
be doing the proper round, and going back by Seattle and San Francisco?"

Delaine received the blow--and understood it. There had been no
definite plans ahead. Tacitly, it had been assumed, he thought, that he
was to return with them to Montreal and England. This gentle question,
then, was Elizabeth's way of telling him that his hopes were vain and
his journey fruitless.

He had not often been crossed in his life, and a flood of resentment
surged up in a very perplexed mind.

"Thank you. Yes--I shall go home by San Francisco."

The touch of haughtiness in his manner, the manner of one accustomed all
his life to be a prominent and considered person in the world, did not
disguise from Elizabeth the soreness underneath. It was hard to hurt her
old friend. But she could only sit as though she felt nothing--meant
nothing--of any importance.

And she achieved it to perfection. Delaine, through all his tumult of
feeling, was sharply conscious of her grace, her reticence, her soft
dignity. They were exactly what he coveted in a wife--what he hoped he
had captured in Elizabeth. How was it they had been snatched from him?
He turned blindly on the obstacle that had risen in his path, and the
secret he had not yet decided how to handle began to run away with him.

He bent forward, with a slightly heightened colour.

"Lady Merton--we might not have another opportunity--will you allow me a
few frank words with you--the privilege of an old friend?"

Elizabeth turned her face to him, and a pair of startled eyes that tried
not to waver.

"Of course, Mr. Arthur," she said smiling. "Have I been doing anything
dreadful?"

"May I ask what you personally know of this Mr. Anderson?"

He saw--or thought he saw--her brace herself under the sudden surprise
of the name, and her momentary discomfiture pleased him.

"What I know of Mr. Anderson?" she repeated wondering. "Why, no more
than we all know. What do you mean, Mr. Arthur? Ah, yes, I remember, you
first met him in Winnipeg; _we_ made acquaintance with him the
day before."

"For the first time? But you are now seeing a great deal of him. Are you
quite sure--forgive me if I seem impertinent--that he is--quite the
person to be admitted to your daily companionship?"

He spoke slowly and harshly. The effort required before a naturally
amiable and nervous man could bring himself to put such an
uncomfortable question made it appear particularly offensive.

"Our daily companionship?" repeated Elizabeth in bewilderment. "What can
you mean, Mr. Arthur? What is wrong with Mr. Anderson? You saw that
everybody at Winnipeg seemed to know him and respect him; people like
the Chief Justice, and the Senator--what was his name?--and Monsieur
Mariette. I don't understand why you ask me such a thing. Why should we
suppose there are any mysteries about Mr. Anderson?"

Unconsciously her slight figure had stiffened, her voice had changed.

Delaine felt an admonitory qualm. He would have drawn back; but it was
too late. He went on doggedly--

"Were not all these persons you named acquainted with Mr. Anderson in
his public capacity? His success in the strike of last year brought him
a great notoriety. But his private history--his family and
antecedents--have you gathered anything at all about them?"

Something that he could not decipher flashed through Elizabeth's
expression. It was a strange and thrilling sense that what she had
gathered she would not reveal for--a kingdom!

"Monsieur Mariette told me all that anyone need want to know!" she
cried, breathing quick. "Ask him what he thinks--what he feels! But if
you ask _me_, I think Mr. Anderson carries his history in his face."

Delaine pondered a moment, while Elizabeth waited, challenging,
expectant, her brown eyes all vivacity.

"Well--some facts have come to my knowledge," he said, at last, "which
have made me ask you these questions. My only object--you must, you will
admit that!--is to save you possible pain--a possible shock."

"Mr. Arthur!" the voice was peremptory--"If you have learned anything
about Mr. Anderson's private history--by chance--without his
knowledge--that perhaps he would rather we did not know--I beg you will
not tell me--indeed--please--I forbid you to tell me. We owe him much
kindness these last few weeks. I cannot gossip about him behind
his back."

All her fine slenderness of form, her small delicacy of feature, seemed
to him tense and vibrating, like some precise and perfect instrument
strained to express a human feeling or intention. But what feeling?
While he divined it, was she herself unconscious of it? His
bitterness grew.

"Dear Lady Merton--can you not trust an old friend?"

She did not soften.

"I do trust him. But"--her smile flashed--"even new acquaintances have
their rights."

"You will not understand," he said, earnestly. "What is in my mind came
to me, through no wish or will of mine. You cannot suppose that I have
been prying into Mr. Anderson's affairs! But now that the information is
mine, I feel a great responsibility towards you."

"Don't feel it. I am a wilful woman."

"A rather perplexing one! May I at least be sure that"--he
hesitated--"that you will be on your guard?"

"On my guard?" she lifted her eyebrows proudly--"and against what?"

"That is precisely what you won't let me tell you."

She laughed--a little fiercely.

"There we are; no forrarder. But please remember, Mr. Arthur, how soon
we shall all be separating. Nothing very dreadful can happen in these
few days--can it?"

For the first time there was a touch of malice in her smile.

Delaine rose, took one or two turns along the path in front of her, and
then suddenly stopped beside her.

"I think"--he said, with emphasis, "that Mr. Anderson will probably find
himself summoned away--immediately--before you get to Vancouver. But
that I will discuss with him. You could give me no address, so I have
not yet been able to communicate with him."

Again Elizabeth's eyebrows went up. She rose.

"Of course you will do what you think best. Shall we go back to the
hotel?"

They walked along in silence. He saw that she was excited, and that he
had completely missed his stroke; but he did not see how to mend the
situation.

"Oh! there is Philip, going to fish," said Elizabeth at last, as though
nothing had happened. "I wondered what could possibly have got him up
so early."

Philip waved to her as she spoke, shouting something which the mountain
echoes absorbed. He was accompanied by a young man, who seemed to be
attached to the hotel as guide, fisherman, hunter--at the pleasure of
visitors. But Elizabeth had already discovered that he had the speech of
a gentleman, and attended the University of Manitoba during the winter.
In the absence of Anderson, Philip had no doubt annexed him for
the morning.

There was a pile of logs lying on the lake side. Philip, rod in hand,
began to scramble over them to a point where several large trunks
overhung deep water. His companion meanwhile was seated on the moss,
busy with some preparations.

"I hope Philip will be careful," said Delaine, suddenly. "There is
nothing so slippery as logs."

Elizabeth, who had been dreaming, looked up anxiously. As she did so
Philip, high perched on the furthest logs, turned again to shout to his
sister, his light figure clear against the sunlit distance. Then the
figure wavered, there was a sound of crashing wood, and Philip fell
head-foremost into the lake before him.

The young man on the bank looked up, threw away his rod and his coat,
and was just plunging into the lake when he was anticipated by another
man who had come running down the bank of the hotel, and was already in
the water. Elizabeth, as she rushed along the edge, recognized Anderson.
Philip seemed to have disappeared; but Anderson dived, and presently
emerged with a limp burden. The guide was now aiding him, and between
them they brought young Gaddesden to land. The whole thing passed so
rapidly that Delaine and Elizabeth, running at full speed, had hardly
reached the spot before Anderson was on the shore, bearing the lad
in his arms.

Elizabeth bent over him with a moan of anguish. He seemed to her dead.

"He has only fainted," said Anderson peremptorily. "We must get him
in." And he hurried on, refusing Delaine's help, carrying the thin body
apparently with ease along the path and up the steps to the hotel. The
guide had already been sent flying ahead to warn the household.

Thus, by one of the commonplace accidents of travel, the whole scene was
changed for this group of travellers. Philip Gaddesden would have taken
small harm from his tumble into the lake, but for the fact that the
effects of rheumatic fever were still upon him. As it was, a certain
amount of fever, and some heart-symptoms that it was thought had been
overcome, reappeared, and within a few hours of the accident it became
plain that, although he was in no danger, they would be detained at
least ten days, perhaps a fortnight, at Lake Louise. Elizabeth sat down
in deep despondency to write to her mother, and then lingered awhile
with the letter before her, her head in her hands, pondering with
emotion what she and Philip owed to George Anderson, who had, it seemed,
arrived by a night train, and walked up to the hotel, in the very nick
of time. As to the accident itself, no doubt the guide, a fine swimmer
and _coureur de bois_, would have been sufficient, unaided, to save her
brother. But after all, it was Anderson's strong arms that had drawn
him from the icy depths of the lake, and carried him to safety! And
since? Never had telephone and railway, and general knowledge of the
resources at command, been worked more skilfully than by him, and the
kind people of the hotel. "Don't be the least anxious"--she had written
to her mother--"we have a capital doctor--all the chemist's stuff we
want--and we could have a nurse at any moment. Mr. Anderson has only to
order one up from the camp hospital in the pass. But for the present,
Simpson and I are enough for the nursing."

She heard voices in the next room; a faint question from Philip,
Anderson replying. What an influence this man of strong character had
already obtained over her wilful, self-indulgent brother! She saw the
signs of it in many directions; and she was passionately grateful for
it. Her thoughts went wandering back over the past three weeks--over the
whole gradual unveiling of Anderson's personality. She recalled her
first impressions of him the day of the "sink-hole." An ordinary,
strong, capable, ambitious young man, full of practical interests, with
brusque manners, and a visible lack of some of the outer wrappings to
which she was accustomed--it was so that she had first envisaged him.
Then at Winnipeg--through Mariette and others--she had seen him as
other men saw him, his seniors and contemporaries, the men engaged with
him in the making of this vast country. She had appreciated his
character in what might be hereafter, apparently, its public aspects;
the character of one for whom the world surrounding him was eagerly
prophesying a future and a career. His profound loyalty to Canada, and
to certain unspoken ideals behind, which were really the source of the
loyalty; the atmosphere at once democratic and imperial in which his
thoughts and desires moved, which had more than once communicated its
passion to her; a touch of poetry, of melancholy, of greatness even--all
this she had gradually perceived. Winnipeg and the prairie journey had
developed him thus before her.

So much for the second stage in her knowledge of him. There was a third;
she was in the midst of it. Her face flooded with colour against her
will. "Out of the strong shall come forth sweetness." The words rushed
into her mind. She hoped, as one who wished him well, that he would
marry soon and happily. And the woman who married him would find it no
tame future.

Suddenly Delaine's warnings occurred to her. She laughed, a little
hysterically.

Could anyone have shown himself more helpless, useless, incompetent,
than Arthur Delaine since the accident? Yet he was still on the spot.
She realised, indeed, that it was hardly possible for their old friend
to desert them under the circumstances. But he merely represented an
additional burden.

A knock at the sitting-room door disturbed her. Anderson appeared.

"I am off to Banff, Lady Merton," he said from the threshold. "I think I
have all your commissions. Is your letter ready?"

She sealed it and gave it to him. Then she looked up at him; and for the
first time he saw her tremulous and shaken; not for her brother, but
for himself.

"I don't know how to thank you." She offered her hand; and one of those
beautiful looks--generous, friendly, sincere--of which she had
the secret.

He, too, flushed, his eyes held a moment by hers. Then he, somewhat
brusquely, disengaged himself.

"Why, I did nothing! He was in no danger; the guide would have had him
out in a twinkle. I wish"--he frowned--"you wouldn't look so done
up over it."

"Oh! I am all right."

"I brought you a book this morning. Mercifully I left it in the
drawing-room, so it hasn't been in the lake."

He drew it from his pocket. It was a French novel she had expressed a
wish to read.

She exclaimed,

"How did you get it?"

"I found Mariette had it with him. He sends it me from Vancouver. Will
you promise to read it--and rest?"

He drew a sofa towards the window. The June sunset was blazing on the
glacier without. Would he next offer to put a shawl over her, and tuck
her up? She retreated hastily to the writing-table, one hand upon it. He
saw the lines of her gray dress, her small neck and head; the Quakerish
smoothness of her brown hair, against the light. The little figure was
grace, refinement, embodied. But it was a grace that implied an
environment--the cosmopolitan, luxurious environment, in which such
women naturally move.

His look clouded. He said a hasty good-bye and departed. Elizabeth was
left breathing quick, one hand on her breast. It was as though she had
escaped something--or missed something.

As he left the hotel, Anderson found himself intercepted by Delaine in
the garden, and paused at once to give him the latest news.

"The report is really good, everything considered," he said, with a
cordiality born of their common anxiety; and he repeated the doctor's
last words to himself.

"Excellent!" said Delaine; then, clearing his throat, "Mr. Anderson, may
I have some conversation with you?"

Anderson looked surprised, threw him a keen glance, and invited him to
accompany him part of the way to Laggan. They turned into a solitary
road, running between the woods. It was late evening, and the sun was
striking through the Laggan valley beneath them in low shafts of gold
and purple.

"I am afraid what I have to say will be disagreeable to you," began
Delaine, abruptly. "And on this particular day--when we owe you so
much--it is more than disagreeable to myself. But I have no choice.
By some extraordinary chance, with which I beg you to believe my
own will has had nothing to do, I have become acquainted with
something--something that concerns you privately--something that I fear
will be a great shock to you."

Anderson stood still.

"What can you possibly mean?" he said, in growing amazement.

"I was accosted the night before last, as I was strolling along the
railway line, by a man I had never seen before, a man who--pardon me, it
is most painful to me to seem to be interfering with anyone's private
affairs--who announced himself as"--the speaker's nervous stammer
intervened before he jerked out the words--"as your father!"

"As my father? Somebody must be mad!" said Anderson quietly. "My father
has been dead ten years."

"I am afraid there is a mistake. The man who spoke to me is aware that
you suppose him dead--he had his own reasons, he declares, for allowing
you to remain under a misconception; he now wishes to reopen
communications with you, and to my great regret, to my indignation, I
may say he chose me--an entire stranger--as his intermediary. He seems
to have watched our party all the way from Winnipeg, where he first saw
you, casually, in the street. Naturally I tried to escape from him--to
refer him to you. But I could not possibly escape from him, at night,
with no road for either of us but the railway line. I was at his mercy."

"What was his reason for not coming direct to me?"

They were still pausing in the road. Delaine could see in the failing
light that Anderson had grown pale. But he perceived also an expression
of scornful impatience in the blue eyes fixed upon him.

"He has professed to be afraid--"

"That I should murder him?" said Anderson with a laugh. "And he told you
some sort of a story?"

"A long one, I regret to say."

"And not to my credit?"

"The tone of it was certainly hostile. I would rather not repeat it."

"I should not dream of asking you to do so. And where is this precious
individual to be found?"

Delaine named the address which had been given him--of a lodging mainly
for railway men near Laggan.

"I will look him up," said Anderson briefly. "The whole story of course
is a mere attempt to get money--for what reason I do not know; but I
will look into it."

Delaine was silent. Anderson divined from his manner that he believed
the story true. In the minds of both the thought of Lady Merton emerged.
Anderson scorned to ask, "Have you said anything to them?" and Delaine
was conscious of a nervous fear lest he should ask it. In the light of
the countenance beside him, no less than of the event of the day, his
behaviour of the morning began to seem to him more than disputable. In
the morning he had seemed to himself the defender of Elizabeth and the
class to which they both belonged against low-born adventurers with
disreputable pasts. But as he stood there, confronting the "adventurer,"
his conscience as a gentleman--which was his main and typical
conscience--pricked him.

The inward qualm, however, only stiffened his manner. And Anderson asked
nothing. He turned towards Laggan.

"Good night. I will let you know the result of my investigations." And,
with the shortest of nods, he went off at a swinging pace down the road.

"I have only done my duty," argued Delaine with himself as he returned
to the hotel. "It was uncommonly difficult to do it at such a moment!
But to him I have no obligations whatever; my obligations are to Lady
Merton and her family."



CHAPTER VIII

It was dark when Anderson reached Laggan, if that can be called darkness
which was rather a starry twilight, interfused with the whiteness of
snow-field and glacier. He first of all despatched a message to Banff
for Elizabeth's commissions. Then he made straight for the ugly frame
house of which Delaine had given him the address. It was kept by a
couple well known to him, an Irishman and his wife who made their living
partly by odd jobs on the railway, partly by lodging men in search of
work in the various construction camps of the line. To all such persons
Anderson was a familiar figure, especially since the great strike of the
year before.

The house stood by itself in a plot of cleared ground, some two or three
hundred yards from the railway station. A rough road through the pine
wood led up to it.

Anderson knocked, and Mrs. Ginnell came to the door, a tired, and
apparently sulky woman.

"I hear you have a lodger here, Mrs. Ginnell," said Anderson, standing
in the doorway, "a man called McEwen; and that he wants to see me on
some business or other."

Mrs. Ginnell's countenance darkened.

"We have an old man here, Mr. Anderson, as answers to that name, but
you'll get no business out of him--and I don't believe he _have_ any
business with any decent crater. When he arrived two days ago he was
worse for liquor, took on at Calgary. I made my husband look after him
that night to see he didn't get at nothing, but yesterday he slipped us
both, an' I believe he's now in that there outhouse, a-sleeping it off.
Old men like him should be sent somewhere safe, an' kep' there."

"I'll go and see if he's awake, Mrs. Ginnell. Don't you trouble to come.
Any other lodgers?"

"No, sir. There was a bunch of 'em left this morning--got work on the
Crow's Nest."

Anderson made his way to the little "shack," Ginnell's house of the
first year, now used as a kind of general receptacle for tools, rubbish
and stores.

He looked in. On a heap of straw in the corner lay a huddled figure, a
kind of human rag. Anderson paused a moment, then entered, hung the lamp
he had brought with him on a peg, and closed the door behind him.

He stood looking down at the sleeper, who was in the restless stage
before waking. McEwen threw himself from side to side, muttered, and
stretched.

Slowly a deep colour flooded Anderson's cheeks and brow; his hands
hanging beside him clenched; he checked a groan that was also a shudder.
The abjectness of the figure, the terrible identification proceeding in
his mind, the memories it evoked, were rending and blinding him. The
winter morning on the snow-strewn prairie, the smell of smoke blown
towards him on the wind, the flames of the burning house, the horror of
the search among the ruins, his father's confession, and his own rage
and despair--deep in the tissues of life these images were stamped. The
anguish of them ran once more through his being.

How had he been deceived? And what was to be done? He sat down on a heap
of rubbish beside the straw, looking at his father. He had last seen him
as a man of fifty, vigorous, red-haired, coarsely handsome, though
already undermined by drink. The man lying on the straw was approaching
seventy, and might have been much older. His matted hair was nearly
white, face blotched and cavernous; and the relaxation of sleep
emphasised the mean cunning of the mouth. His clothing was torn and
filthy, the hands repulsive.

Anderson could only bear a few minutes of this spectacle. A natural
shame intervened. He bent over his father and called him.

"Robert Anderson!"

A sudden shock passed through the sleeper. He started up, and Anderson
saw his hand dart for something lying beside him, no doubt a revolver.

But Anderson grasped the arm.

"Don't be afraid; you're quite safe."

McEwen, still bewildered by sleep and drink, tried to shake off the
grasp, to see who it was standing over him. Anderson released him, and
moved so that the lamplight fell upon himself.

Slowly McEwen's faculties came together, began to work. The lamplight
showed him his son George--the fair-haired, broad-shouldered fellow he
had been tracking all these days--and he understood.

He straightened himself, with an attempt at dignity.

"So it's you, George? You might have given me notice."

"Where have you been all these years?" said Anderson, indistinctly. "And
why did you let me believe you dead?"

"Well, I had my reasons, George. But I don't mean to go into 'em. All
that's dead and gone. There was a pack of fellows then on my
shoulders--I was plumb tired of 'em. I had to get rid of--I did get rid
of 'em--and you, too. I knew you were inquiring after me, and I didn't
want inquiries. They didn't suit me. You may conclude what you like. I
tell you those times are dead and gone. But it seemed to me that Robert
Anderson was best put away for a bit. So I took measures according."

"You knew I was deceived."

"Yes, I knew," said the other composedly. "Couldn't be helped."

"And where have you been since?"

"In Nevada, George--Comstock--silver-mining. Rough lot, but you get a
stroke of luck sometimes. I've got a chance on now--me and a friend of
mine--that's first-rate."

"What brought you back to Canada?"

"Well, it was your aunt, Mrs. Harriet Sykes. Ever hear of her, George?"

Anderson shook his head.

"You must have heard of her when you were a little chap. When I left
Ayrshire in 1840 she was a lass of sixteen; never saw her since. But she
married a man well-to-do, and was left a widder with no children. And
when she died t'other day, she'd left me something in her will, and told
the lawyers to advertise over here, in Canada and the States--both. And
I happened on the advertisement in a Chicago paper. Told yer to call on
Smith & Dawkins, Winnipeg. So that was how I came to see
Winnipeg again."

"When were you there?"

"Just when you was," said the old man, with a triumphant look, which for
the moment effaced the squalor of his aspect. "I was coming out of Smith
& Dawkins's with the money in my pocket, when I saw you opposite, just
going into a shop. You could ha' knocked me down easy, I warrant ye.
Didn't expect to come on yer tracks as fast as all that. But there you
were, and when you came out and went down t' street, I just followed you
at a safe distance, and saw you go into the hotel. Afterwards, I went
into the Free Library to think a bit, and then I saw the piece in the
paper about you and that Saskatchewan place; and I got hold of a young
man in a saloon who found out all about you and those English swells
you've been hanging round with; and that same night, when you boarded
the train, I boarded it, too. See? Only I am not a swell like you. And
here we are. See?"

The last speech was delivered with a mixture of bravado, cunning, and
sinister triumph. Anderson sat with his head in his hands, his eyes on
the mud floor, listening. When it was over he looked up.

"Why didn't you come and speak to me at once?"

The other hesitated.

"Well, I wasn't a beauty to look at. Not much of a credit to you, am I?
Didn't think you'd own me. And I don't like towns--too many people
about. Thought I'd catch you somewhere on the quiet. Heard you was going
to the Rockies. Thought I might as well go round by Seattle home. See?"

"You have had plenty of chances since Winnipeg of making yourself known
to me," said Anderson sombrely. "Why did you speak to a stranger instead
of coming direct to me?"

McEwen hesitated a moment.

"Well, I wasn't sure of you. I didn't know how you'd take it. And I'd
lost my nerve, damn it! the last few years. Thought you might just kick
me out, or set the police on me."

Anderson studied the speaker. His fair skin was deeply flushed; his brow
frowned unconsciously, reflecting the travail of thought behind it.

"What did you say to that gentleman the other night?"

McEwen smiled a shifty smile, and began to pluck some pieces of straw
from his sleeve.

"Don't remember just what I did say. Nothing to do you no harm, anyway.
I might have said you were never an easy chap to get on with. I might
have said that, or I mightn't. Think I did. Don't remember."

The eyes of the two men met for a moment, Anderson's bright and fixed.
He divined perfectly what had been said to the Englishman, Lady Merton's
friend and travelling companion. A father overborne by misfortunes and
poverty, disowned by a prosperous and Pharisaical son--admitting a few
peccadilloes, such as most men forgive, in order to weigh them against
virtues, such as all men hate. Old age and infirmity on the one hand;
mean hardness and cruelty on the other. Was Elizabeth already
contemplating the picture?

And yet--No! unless perhaps under the shelter of darkness, it could
never have been possible for this figure before him to play the part of
innocent misfortune, at all events. Could debauch, could ruin of body
and soul be put more plainly? Could they express themselves more clearly
than through this face and form?

A shudder ran through Anderson, a cry against fate, a sick wondering as
to his own past responsibility, a horror of the future. Then his will
strengthened, and he set himself quietly to see what could be done.

"We can't talk here," he said to his father. "Come back into the house.
There are some rooms vacant. I'll take them for you."

McEwen rose with difficulty, groaning as he put his right foot to the
ground. Anderson then perceived that the right foot and ankle were
wrapped round with a bloodstained rag, and was told that the night
before their owner had stumbled over a jug in Mrs. Ginnell's kitchen,
breaking the jug and inflicting some deep cuts on his own foot and
ankle. McEwen, indeed, could only limp along, with mingled curses and
lamentations, supported by Anderson. In the excitement of his son's
appearance he had forgotten his injury. The pain and annoyance of it
returned upon him now with added sharpness, and Anderson realised that
here was yet another complication as they moved across the yard.

A few words to the astonished Mrs. Ginnell sufficed to secure all her
vacant rooms, four in number. Anderson put his father in one on the
ground floor, then shut the door on him and went back to the woman of
the house. She stood looking at him, flushed, in a bewildered silence.
But she and her husband owed various kindnesses to Anderson, and he
quickly made up his mind.

In a very few words he quietly told her the real facts, confiding them
both to her self-interest and her humanity. McEwen was to be her only
lodger till the next step could be determined. She was to wait on him,
to keep drink from him, to get him clothes. Her husband was to go out
with him, if he should insist on going out; but Anderson thought his
injury would keep him quiet for a day or two. Meanwhile, no babbling to
anybody. And, of course, generous payment for all that was asked
of them.

But Mrs. Ginnell understood that she was being appealed to not only
commercially, but as a woman with a heart in her body and a good share
of Irish wit. That moved and secured her. She threw herself nobly into
the business. Anderson might command her as he pleased, and she answered
for her man. Renewed groans from the room next door disturbed them. Mrs.
Ginnell went in to answer them, and came out demanding a doctor. The
patient was in much pain, the wounds looked bad, and she
suspected fever.

"Yo can't especk places to heal with such as him," she said, grimly.

With doggedness, Anderson resigned himself. He went to the station and
sent a wire to Field for a doctor. What would happen when he arrived he
did not know. He had made no compact with his father. If the old man
chose to announce himself, so be it. Anderson did not mean to bargain
or sue. Other men have had to bear such burdens in the face of the
world. Should it fall to him to be forced to take his up in like manner,
let him set his teeth and shoulder it, sore and shaken as he was. He
felt a fierce confidence that could still make the world respect him.

An hour passed away. An answer came from Field to the effect that a
doctor would be sent up on a freight train just starting, and might be
expected shortly.

While Mrs. Ginnell was still attending on her lodger, Anderson went out
into the starlight to try and think out the situation. The night was
clear and balmy. The high snows glimmered through the lingering
twilight, and in the air there was at last a promise of "midsummer
pomps." Pine woods and streams breathed freshness, and when in his walk
along the railway line--since there is no other road through the Kicking
Horse Pass--he reached a point whence the great Yoho valley became
visible to the right, he checked the rapid movement which had brought
him a kind of physical comfort, and set himself--in face of that
far-stretching and splendid solitude--to wrestle with calamity.

First of all there was the Englishman--Delaine--and the letter that must
be written him. But there, also, no evasions, no suppliancy. Delaine
must be told that the story was true, and would no doubt think himself
entitled to act upon it. The protest on behalf of Lady Merton implied
already in his manner that afternoon was humiliating enough. The smart
of it was still tingling through Anderson's being. He had till now felt
a kind of instinctive contempt for Delaine as a fine gentleman with a
useless education, inclined to patronise "colonists." The two men had
jarred from the beginning, and at Banff, Anderson had both divined in
him the possible suitor of Lady Merton, and had also become aware that
Delaine resented his own intrusion upon the party, and the rapid
intimacy which had grown up between him and the brother and sister.
Well, let him use his chance! if it so pleased him. No promise whatever
should be asked of him; there should be no suggestion even of a line of
action. The bare fact which he had become possessed of should be
admitted, and he should be left to deal with it. Upon his next step
would depend Anderson's; that was all.

But Lady Merton?

Anderson stared across the near valley, up the darkness beyond, where
lay the forests of the Yoho, and to those ethereal summits whence a man
might behold on one side the smoke-wreaths of the great railway, and on
the other side the still virgin peaks of the northern Rockies, untamed,
untrodden. But his eyes were holden; he saw neither snow, nor forests,
and the roar of the stream dashing at his feet was unheard.

Three weeks, was it, since he had first seen that delicately oval face,
and those clear eyes? The strong man--accustomed to hold himself in
check, to guard his own strength as the instrument, firm and
indispensable, of an iron will--recoiled from the truth he was at last
compelled to recognise. In this daily companionship with a sensitive and
charming woman, endowed beneath her light reserve with all the sweetness
of unspoilt feeling, while yet commanding through her long training in
an old society a thousand delicacies and subtleties, which played on
Anderson's fresh senses like the breeze on young leaves--whither had he
been drifting--to the brink of what precipice had he brought himself,
unknowing?

He stood there indefinitely, among the charred tree-trunks that bordered
the line, his arms folded, looking straight before him, motionless.

Supposing to-day had been yesterday, need he--together with this sting
of passion--have felt also this impotent and angry despair? Before his
eyes had seen that figure lying on the straw of Mrs. Ginnell's outhouse,
could he ever have dreamed it possible that Elizabeth Merton should
marry him?

Yes! He thought, trembling from head to foot, of that expression in her
eyes he had seen that very afternoon. Again and again he had checked his
feeling by the harsh reminder of her social advantages. But, at this
moment of crisis, the man in him stood up, confident and rebellious. He
knew himself sound, intellectually and morally. There was a career
before him, to which a cool and reasonable ambition looked forward
without any paralysing doubts. In this growing Canada, measuring himself
against the other men of the moment, he calmly foresaw his own growing
place. As to money, he would make it; he was in process of making it,
honourably and sufficiently.

He was well aware indeed that in the case of many women sprung from the
English governing class, the ties that bind them to their own world, its
traditions, and its outlook, are so strong that to try and break them
would be merely to invite disaster. But then from such women his own
pride--his pride in his country--would have warned his passion. It was
to Elizabeth's lovely sympathy, her generous detachment, her free
kindling mind--that his life had gone out. _She_ would, surely, never be
deterred from marrying a Canadian--if he pleased her--because it would
cut her off from London and Paris, and all the ripe antiquities and
traditions of English or European life? Even in the sparsely peopled
Northwest, with which his own future was bound up, how many English
women are there--fresh, some of them, from luxurious and fastidious
homes--on ranches, on prairie farms, in the Okanagan valley! "This
Northwest is no longer a wilderness!" he proudly thought; "it is no
longer a leap in the dark to bring a woman of delicate nurture and
cultivation to the prairies."

So, only a few hours before, he might have flattered the tyranny of
longing and desire which had taken hold upon him.

But now! All his life seemed besmirched. His passion had been no sooner
born than, like a wounded bird, it fluttered to the ground. Bring upon
such a woman as Elizabeth Merton the most distant responsibility for
such a being as he had left behind him in the log-hut at Laggan? Link
her life in however remote a fashion with that life? Treachery and
sacrilege, indeed! No need for Delaine to tell him that! His father as a
grim memory of the past--that Lady Merton knew. His own origins--his own
story--as to that she had nothing to discover. But the man who might
have dared to love her, up to that moment in the hut, was now a slave,
bound to a corpse--

_Finis_!

And then as the anguish of the thought swept through him, and by a
natural transmission of ideas, there rose in Anderson the sore and
sudden memory of old, unhappy things, of the tender voices and faces of
his first youth. The ugly vision of his degraded father had brought back
upon him, through a thousand channels of association, the recollection
of his mother. He saw her now--the worn, roughened face, the sweet
swimming eyes; he felt her arms around him, the tears of her long agony
on his face. She had endured--he too must endure. Close, close--he
pressed her to his heart. As the radiant image of Elizabeth vanished
from him in the darkness, his mother--broken, despairing, murdered in
her youth--came to him and strengthened him. Let him do his duty to this
poor outcast, as she would have done it--and put high thoughts from him.

He tore himself resolutely from his trance of thought, and began to walk
back along the line. All the same, he would go up to Lake Louise, as he
had promised, on the following morning. As far as his own intention was
concerned, he would not cease to look after Lady Merton and her
brother; Philip Gaddesden would soon have to be moved, and he meant to
escort them to Vancouver.

Sounds approached, from the distance--the "freight," with the doctor,
climbing the steep pass. He stepped on briskly to a signal-man's cabin
and made arrangements to stop the train.

It was towards midnight when he and the doctor emerged from the
Ginnell's cabin.

"Oh, I daresay we'll heal those cuts," said the doctor. "I've told Mrs.
Ginnell what to do; but the old fellow's in a pretty cranky state. I
doubt whether he'll trouble the world very long."

Anderson started. With his eyes on the ground and his hands in his
pockets, he inquired the reason for this opinion.

"Arteries--first and foremost. It's a wonder they've held out so long,
and then--a score of other things. What can you expect?"

The speaker went into some details, discussing the case with gusto. A
miner from Nevada? Queer hells often, those mining camps, whether on the
Canadian or the American side of the border.

"You were acquainted with his family? Canadian, to begin with, I
understand?"

"Yes. He applied to me for help. Did he tell you much about himself?"

"No. He boasted a lot about some mine in the Comstock district which is
to make his fortune, if he can raise the money to buy it up. If he can
raise fifteen thousand dollars, he says, he wouldn't care to call
Rockefeller his uncle!"

"That's what he wants, is it?" said Anderson, absently, "fifteen
thousand dollars?"

"Apparently. Wish he may get it!" laughed the doctor. "Well, keep him
from drink, if you can. But I doubt if you'll cheat the undertaker very
long. Good night. There'll be a train along soon that'll pick me up."

Anderson went back to the cabin, found that his father had dropped
asleep, left money and directions with Mrs. Ginnell, and then returned
to his own lodgings.

He sat down to write to Delaine. It was clear that, so far, that
gentleman and Mrs. Ginnell were the only other participants in the
secret of McEwen's identity. The old man had not revealed himself to the
doctor. Did that mean that--in spite of his first reckless interview
with the Englishman--he had still some notion of a bargain with his son,
on the basis of the fifteen thousand dollars?

Possibly. But that son had still to determine his own line of action.
When at last he began to write, he wrote steadily and without a pause.
Nor was the letter long.



CHAPTER IX

On the morning following his conversation with Anderson on the Laggan
road, Delaine impatiently awaited the arrival of the morning mail from
Laggan. When it came, he recognised Anderson's handwriting on one of the
envelopes put into his hand. Elizabeth, having kept him company at
breakfast, had gone up to sit with Philip. Nevertheless, he took the
precaution of carrying the letter out of doors to read it.

It ran as follows:

     "DEAR MR. DELAINE--You were rightly informed, and the man you
     saw is my father. I was intentionally deceived ten years ago
     by a false report of his death. Into that, however, I need
     not enter. If you talked with him, as I understand you did,
     for half an hour, you will, I think, have gathered that his
     life has been unfortunately of little advantage either to
     himself or others. But that also is my personal affair--and
     his. And although in a moment of caprice, and for reasons not
     yet plain to me, he revealed himself to you, he appears
     still to wish to preserve the assumed name and identity that
     he set up shortly after leaving Manitoba, seventeen years
     ago. As far as I am concerned, I am inclined to indulge him.
     But you will, of course, take your own line, and will no
     doubt communicate it to me. I do not imagine that my private
     affairs or my father's can be of any interest to you, but
     perhaps I may say that he is at present for a few days in the
     doctor's hands and that I propose as soon as his health is
     re-established to arrange for his return to the States, where
     his home has been for so long. I am, of course, ready to make
     any arrangements for his benefit that seem wise, and that he
     will accept. I hope to come up to Lake Louise to-morrow, and
     shall bring with me one or two things that Lady Merton asked
     me to get for her. Next week I hope she may be able and
     inclined to take one or two of the usual excursions from the
     hotel, if Mr. Gaddesden goes on as well as we all expect. I
     could easily make the necessary arrangements for ponies,
     guides, &c.

     "Yours faithfully,

     "GEORGE ANDERSON."

"Upon my word, a cool hand! a very cool hand!" muttered Delaine in some
perplexity, as he thrust the letter into his pocket, and strolled on
toward the lake. His mind went back to the strange nocturnal encounter
which had led to the development of this most annoying relation between
himself and Anderson. He recalled the repulsive old man, his uneducated
speech, the signs about him of low cunning and drunken living, his
rambling embittered charges against his son, who, according to him, had
turned his father out of the Manitoba farm in consequence of a family
quarrel, and had never cared since to find out whether he was alive or
dead. "Sorry to trouble you, sir, I'm sure--a genelman like
you"--obsequious old ruffian!--"but my sons were always kittle-cattle,
and George the worst of 'em all. If you would be so kind, sir, as to gie
'im a word o' preparation--"

Delaine could hear his own impatient reply: "I have nothing whatever,
sir, to do with your business! Approach Mr. Anderson yourself if you
have any claim to make." Whereupon a half-sly, half-threatening hint
from the old fellow that he might be disagreeable unless well handled;
that perhaps "the lady" would listen to him and plead for him with
his son.

Lady Merton! Good heavens! Delaine had been immediately ready to promise
anything in order to protect her.

Yet even now the situation was extremely annoying and improper. Here
was this man, Anderson, still coming up to the hotel, on the most
friendly terms with Lady Merton and her brother, managing for them,
laying them under obligations, and all the time, unknown to Elizabeth,
with this drunken old scamp of a father in the background, who had
already half-threatened to molest her, and would be quite capable, if
thwarted, of blackmailing his son through his English friends!

"What can I do?" he said to himself, in disgust. "I have no right
whatever to betray this man's private affairs; at the same time I should
never forgive myself--Mrs. Gaddesden would never forgive me--if I were
to allow Lady Merton to run any risk of some sordid scandal which might
get into the papers. Of course this young man ought to take himself off!
If he had any proper feeling whatever he would see how altogether
unfitting it is that he, with his antecedents, should be associating in
this very friendly way with such persons as Elizabeth Merton and
her brother!"

Unfortunately the "association" had included the rescue of Philip from
the water of Lake Louise, and the provision of help to Elizabeth, in a
strange country, which she could have ill done without. Philip's unlucky
tumble had been, certainly, doubly unlucky, if it was to be the means
of entangling his sister further in an intimacy which ought never to
have been begun.

And yet how to break through this spider's web? Delaine racked his
brain, and could think of nothing better than delay and a pusillanimous
waiting on Providence. Who knew what mad view Elizabeth might take of
the whole thing, in this overstrained sentimental mood which had
possessed her throughout this Canadian journey? The young man's troubles
might positively recommend him in her eyes!

No! there was nothing for it but to stay on as an old friend and
watchdog, responsible, at least--if Elizabeth would have none of his
counsels--to her mother and kinsfolk at home, who had so clearly
approved his advances in the winter, and would certainly blame
Elizabeth, on her return, for the fact that his long journey had been
fruitless. He magnanimously resolved that Lady Merton should not be
blamed if he could help it, by anyone except himself. And he had no
intention at all of playing the rejected lover. The proud, well-born,
fastidious Englishman stiffened as he walked. It was wounding to his
self-love to stay where he was; since it was quite plain that Elizabeth
could do without him, and would not regret his departure; but it was no
less wounding to be dismissed, as it were, by Anderson. He would not be
dismissed; he would hold his own. He too would go with them to
Vancouver; and not till they were safely in charge of the
Lieutenant-Governor at Victoria, would he desert his post.

As to any further communication to Elizabeth, he realised that the hints
into which he had been so far betrayed had profited neither himself nor
her. She had resented them, and it was most unlikely that she would ask
him for any further explanations; and that being so he had better
henceforward hold his peace. Unless of course any further annoyance were
threatened.

       *       *       *       *       *

The hotel cart going down to Laggan for supplies at midday brought
Anderson his answer:

     "DEAR MR. ANDERSON--Your letter gave me great concern. I
     deeply sympathise with your situation. As far as I am
     concerned, I must necessarily look at the matter entirely
     from the point of view of my fellow-travellers. Lady Merton
     must not be distressed or molested. So long, however, as this
     is secured, I shall not feel myself at liberty to reveal a
     private matter which has accidentally come to my knowledge. I
     understand, of course, that your father will not attempt any
     further communication with me, and I propose to treat the
     interview as though it had not happened.

     "I will give Lady Merton your message. It seems to me
     doubtful whether she will be ready for excursions next week.
     But you are no doubt aware that the hotel makes what are
     apparently very excellent and complete arrangements for such
     things. I am sure Lady Merton would be sorry to give you
     avoidable trouble. However, we shall see you to-morrow, and
     shall of course be very glad of your counsels.

     "Yours faithfully,

     "ARTHUR MANDEVILLE DELAINE."

Anderson's fair skin flushed scarlet as he read this letter. He thrust
it into his pocket and continued to pace up and down in the patch of
half-cleared ground at the back of the Ginnells' house. He perfectly
understood that Delaine's letter was meant to warn him not to be too
officious in Lady Merton's service. "Don't suppose yourself
indispensable--and don't at any time forget your undesirable
antecedents, and compromising situation. On those conditions, I hold
my tongue."

"Pompous ass!" Anderson found it a hard task to keep his own pride in
check. It was of a different variety from Delaine's, but not a whit
less clamorous. Yet for Lady Merton's sake it was desirable, perhaps
imperative, that he should keep on civil terms with this member of her
party. A hot impulse swept through him to tell her everything, to have
done with secrecy. But he stifled it. What right had he to intrude his
personal history upon her?--least of all this ugly and unsavoury
development of it? Pride spoke again, and self-respect. If it humiliated
him to feel himself in Delaine's power, he must bear it. The only other
alternatives were either to cut himself off at once from his English
friends--that, of course, was what Delaine wished--or to appeal to Lady
Merton's sympathy and pity. Well, he would do neither--and Delaine
might go hang!

Mrs. Ginnell, with her apron over her head to shield her from a blazing
sun, appeared at the corner of the house.

"You're wanted, sir!" Her tone was sulky.

"Anything wrong?" Anderson turned apprehensively.

"Nothing more than 'is temper, sir. He won't let yer rest, do what you
will for 'im."

Anderson went into the house. His father was sitting up in bed. Mrs.
Ginnell had been endeavouring during the past hour to make her patient
clean and comfortable, and to tidy his room; but had been at last
obliged to desist, owing to the mixture of ill-humour and bad language
with which he assailed her.

"Can I do anything for you?" Anderson inquired, standing beside him.

"Get me out of this blasted hole as soon as possible! That's about all
you can do! I've told that woman to get me my things, and help me into
the other room--but she's in your pay, I suppose. She won't do anything
I tell her, drat her!"

"The doctor left orders you were to keep quiet to-day."

McEwen vowed he would do nothing of the kind. He had no time to be
lolling in bed like a fine lady. He had business to do, and must
get home.

"If you get up, with this fever on you, and the leg in that state, you
will have blood-poisoning," said Anderson quietly, "which will either
kill you or detain you here for weeks. You say you want to talk business
with me. Well, here I am. In an hour's time I must go to Calgary for an
appointment. Suppose you take this opportunity."

McEwen stared at his son. His blue eyes, frowning in their wrinkled
sockets, gave little or no index, however, to the mind behind them. The
straggling white locks falling round his blotched and feverish face
caught Anderson's attention. Looking back thirty years he could remember
his father vividly--a handsome man, solidly built, with a shock of fair
hair. As a little lad he had been proud to sit high-perched beside him
on the wagon which in summer drove them, every other Sunday, to a
meeting-house fifteen miles away. He could see his mother at the back of
the wagon with the little girls, her grey alpaca dress and cotton
gloves, her patient look. His throat swelled. Nor was the pang of
intolerable pity for his mother only. Deep in the melancholy of his
nature and strengthened by that hateful tie of blood from which he could
not escape, was a bitter, silent compassion for this outcast also. All
the machinery of life set in motion and maintaining itself in the clash
of circumstance for seventy years to produce _this_, at the end! Dismal
questionings ran through his mind. Ought he to have acted as he had done
seventeen years before? How would his mother have judged him? Was he not
in some small degree responsible?

Meanwhile his father began to talk fast and querulously, with plentiful
oaths from time to time, and using a local miner's slang which was not
always intelligible to Anderson. It seemed it was a question of an old
silver mine on a mountainside in Idaho, deserted some ten years before
when the river gravels had been exhausted, and now to be reopened, like
many others in the same neighbourhood, with improved methods and
machinery, tunnelling instead of washing. Silver enough to pave
Montreal! Ten thousand dollars for plant, five thousand for the claim,
and the thing was done.

He became incoherently eloquent, spoke of the ease and rapidity with
which the thing could be resold to a syndicate at an enormous profit,
should his "pardners" and he not care to develop it themselves. If
George would find the money--why, George should make his fortune, like
the rest, though he had behaved so scurvily all these years.

Anderson watched the speaker intently. Presently he began to put
questions--close, technical questions. His father's eyes--till then
eager and greedy--began to flicker. Anderson perceived an unwelcome
surprise--annoyance--

"You knew, of course, that I was a mining engineer?" he said at last,
pulling up in his examination.

"Well, I heard of you that onst at Dawson City," was the slow reply. "I
supposed you were nosin' round like the rest."

"Why, I didn't go as a mere prospector! I'd had my training at
Montreal." And Anderson resumed his questions.

But McEwen presently took no pains to answer them. He grew indeed less
and less communicative. The exact locality of the mine, the names of the
partners, the precise machinery required--Anderson, in the end, could
get at neither the one nor the other. And before many more minutes had
passed he had convinced himself that he was wasting his time. That there
was some swindling plot in his father's mind he was certain; he was
probably the tool of some shrewder confederates, who had no doubt sent
him to Montreal after his legacy, and would fleece him on his return.

"By the way, Aunt Sykes's money, how much was it?" Anderson asked him
suddenly. "I suppose you could draw on that?"

McEwen could not be got to give a plain answer. It wasn't near enough,
anyhow; not near. The evasion seemed to Anderson purposeless; the mere
shifting and doubling that comes of long years of dishonest living. And
again the question stabbed his consciousness--were his children
justified in casting him so inexorably adrift?

"Well, I'd better run down and have a look," he said at last. "If it's a
good thing I dare say I can find you the dollars."

"Run down--where?" asked McEwen sharply.

"To the mine, of course. I might spare the time next week."

"No need to trouble yourself. My pardners wouldn't thank me for
betraying their secrets."

"Well, you couldn't expect me to provide the money without knowing a bit
more about the property, could you?--without a regular survey?" said
Anderson, with a laugh.

"You trust me with three or four thousand dollars," said McEwen
doggedly--"because I'm your father and I give you my word. And if not,
you can let it alone. I don't want any prying into my affairs."

Anderson was silent a moment.

Then he raised his eyes.

"Are you sure it's all square?" The tone had sharpened.

"Square? Of course it is. What are you aiming at? You'll believe any
villainy of your old father, I suppose, just the same as you always used
to. I've not had your opportunities, George. I'm not a fine
gentleman--on the trail with a parcel of English swells. I'm a poor old
broken-down miner, who wants to hole-up somewhere, and get comfortable
for his old age; and if you had a heart in your body, you'd lend a
helping hand. When I saw you at Winnipeg"--the tone became a trifle
plaintive and slippery--"I ses to myself, George used to be a nice chap,
with a good heart. If there's anyone ought to help me it's my own son.
And so I boarded that train. But I'm a broken man, George, and you've
used me hard."

"Better not talk like that," interrupted Anderson in a clear, resolute
voice. "It won't do any good. Look here, father! Suppose you give up
this kind of life, and settle down. I'm ready to give you an allowance,
and look after you. Your health is bad. To speak the truth, this mine
business sounds to me pretty shady. Cut it all! I'll put you with decent
people, who'll look after you."

The eyes of the two men met; Anderson's insistently bright, McEwen's
wavering and frowning. The June sunshine came into the small room
through a striped and battered blind, illuminating the rough planks of
which it was built, the "cuts" from illustrated papers that were pinned
upon them, the scanty furniture, and the untidy bed. Anderson's head and
shoulders were in a full mellowed light; he held himself with an
unconscious energy, answering to a certain force of feeling within; a
proud strength and sincerity expressed itself through every detail of
attitude and gesture; yet perhaps the delicacy, or rather sensibility,
mingling with the pride, would have been no less evident to a seeing
eye. There was Highland blood in him, and a touch therefore of the
Celtic responsiveness, the Celtic magnetism. The old man opposite to him
in shadow, with his back to the light, had a crouching dangerous look.
It was as though he recognised something in his son for ever lost to
himself; and repulsed it, half enviously, half malignantly.

But he did not apparently resent Anderson's proposal. He said sulkily:
"Oh, I dessay you'd like to put me away. But I'm not doddering yet."

All the same he listened in silence to the plan that Anderson developed,
puffing the while at the pipe which he had made Mrs. Ginnell give him.

"I shan't stay on this side," he said, at last, decidedly. "There's a
thing or two that might turn up agin me--and fellows as 'ud do me a bad
turn if they come across me--dudes, as I used to know in Dawson City. I
shan't stay in Canada. You can make up your mind to that. Besides, the
winter'ud kill me!"

Anderson accordingly proposed San Francisco, or Los Angeles. Would his
father go for a time to a Salvation Army colony near Los Angeles?
Anderson knew the chief officials--capital men, with no cant about them.
Fruit farming--a beautiful climate--care in sickness--no drink--as much
work or as little as he liked--and all expenses paid.

McEwen laughed out--a short sharp laugh--at the mention of the Salvation
Army. But he listened patiently, and at the end even professed to think
there might be something in it. As to his own scheme, he dropped all
mention of it. Yet Anderson was under no illusion; there it lay
sparkling, as it were, at the back of his sly wolfish eyes.

"How in blazes could you take me down?" muttered McEwen--"Thought you
was took up with these English swells."

"I'm not taken up with anything that would prevent my looking after
you," said Anderson rising. "You let Mrs. Ginnell attend to you--get the
leg well--and we'll see."

McEwen eyed him--his good looks and his dress, his gentleman's
refinement; and the shaggy white brows of the old miner drew
closer together.

"What did you cast me off like that for, George?" he asked.

Anderson turned away.

"Don't rake up the past. Better not."

"Where are my other sons, George?"

"In Montreal, doing well." Anderson gave the details of their
appointments and salaries.

"And never a thought of their old father, I'll be bound!" said McEwen,
at the end, with slow vindictiveness.

"You forget that it was your own doing; we believed you dead."

"Aye!--you hadn't left a man much to come home for!--and all for an
accident!--a thing as might ha' happened to any man."

The speaker's voice had grown louder. He stared sombrely, defiantly at
his companion.

Anderson stood with his hands on his sides, looking through the further
window. Then slowly he put his hand into his pocket and withdrew from it
a large pocket-book. Out of the pocket-book he took a delicately made
leather case, holding it in his hand a moment, and glancing uncertainly
at the figure in the bed.

"What ha' you got there?" growled McEwen.

Anderson crossed the room. His own face had lost its colour. As he
reached his father, he touched a spring, and held out his hand with the
case lying open within it.

It contained a miniature--of a young woman in the midst of a group of
children.

"Do you remember that photograph that was done of them--in a tent--when
you took us all into Winnipeg for the first agricultural show?" he said
hoarsely. "I had a copy--that wasn't burnt. At Montreal, there was a
French artist one year, that did these things. I got him to do this."

McEwen stared at the miniature--the sweet-faced Scotch woman, the bunch
of children. Then with a brusque movement he turned his face to the
wall, and closed his eyes.

Anderson's lips opened once or twice as though to speak. Some imperious
emotion seemed to be trying to force its way. But he could not find
words; and at last he returned the miniature to his pocket, walked
quietly to the door, and went out of the room.

The sound of the closing door brought immense relief to McEwen. He
turned again in bed, and relit his pipe, shaking off the impression left
by the miniature as quickly as possible. What business had George to
upset him like that? He was down enough on his luck as it was.

He smoked away, gloomily thinking over the conversation. It didn't look
like getting any money out of this close-fisted Puritanical son of his.
Survey indeed! McEwen found himself shaken by a kind of internal
convulsion as he thought of the revelations that would come out. George
was a fool.

In his feverish reverie, many lines of thought crossed and danced in
his brain; and every now and then he was tormented by the craving for
alcohol. The Salvation Army proposal half amused, half infuriated him.
He knew all about their colonies. Trust him! Your own master for
seventeen years--mixed up in a lot of jobs it wouldn't do to go blabbing
to the Mounted Police--and then to finish up with those hymn-singing
fellows!--George was most certainly a fool! Yet dollars ought to be
screwed out of him--somehow.

Presently, to get rid of some unpleasant reflections, the old man
stretched out his hand for a copy of the _Vancouver Sentinel_ that was
lying on the bed, and began to read it idly. As he did so, a paragraph
drew his attention. He gripped the paper, and, springing up in bed, read
it twice, peering into it, his features quivering with eagerness. The
passage described the "hold up" of a Northern Pacific train, at a point
between Seattle and the Canadian border. By the help of masks, and a few
sticks of dynamite, the thing had been very smartly done--a whole train
terrorised, the mail van broken open and a large "swag" captured. Billy
Symonds, the notorious train robber from Montana, was suspected, and
there was a hue and cry through the whole border after him and his
accomplices, amongst whom, so it was said, was a band from the Canadian
side--foreign miners mixed up in some of the acts of violence which had
marked the strike of the year before.

Bill Symonds!--McEwen threw himself excitedly from side to side, unable
to keep still. _He_ knew Symonds--a chap and a half! Why didn't he come
and try it on this side of the line? Heaps of money going backwards and
forwards over the railway! All these thousands of dollars paid out in
wages week by week to these construction camps--must come from somewhere
in cash--Winnipeg or Montreal. He began to play with the notion,
elaborating and refining it; till presently a whole epic of attack and
capture was rushing through his half-crazy brain.

He had dropped the paper, and was staring abstractedly through the foot
of open window close beside him, which the torn blind did not cover.
Outside, through the clearing with its stumps of jack-pine, ran a path,
a short cut, connecting the station at Laggan with a section-house
further up the line.

As McEwen's eyes followed it, he began to be aware of a group of men
emerging from the trees on the Laggan side, and walking in single file
along the path. Navvies apparently--carrying bundles and picks. The path
came within a few yards of the window, and of the little stream that
supplied the house with water.

Suddenly, McEwen sprang up in bed. The two foremost men paused beside
the water, mopped their hot faces, and taking drinking cups out of their
pockets stooped down to the stream. The old man in the cabin bed watched
them with fierce intentness; and as they straightened themselves and
were about to follow their companions who were already out of sight, he
gave a low call.

The two started and looked round them. Their hands went to their
pockets. McEwen swung himself round so as to reach the window better,
and repeated his call--this time with a different inflection. The men
exchanged a few hurried words. Carefully scrutinising the house, they
noticed a newspaper waving cautiously in an open window. One of them
came forward, the other remained by the stream bathing his feet and
ankles in the water.

No one else was in sight. Mrs. Ginnell was cooking on the other side of
the house. Anderson had gone off to catch his train. For twenty minutes,
the man outside leant against the window-sash apparently lounging and
smoking. Nothing could be seen from the path, but a battered blind
flapping in the June breeze, and a dark space of room beyond.



CHAPTER X

The days passed on. Philip in the comfortable hotel at Lake Louise was
recovering steadily, though not rapidly, from the general shock of
immersion. Elizabeth, while nursing him tenderly, could yet find time to
walk and climb, plunging spirit and sense in the beauty of the Rockies.

On these excursions Delaine generally accompanied her; and she bore it
well. Secretly she cherished some astonishment and chagrin that Anderson
could be with them so little on these bright afternoons among the forest
trails and upper lakes, although she generally found that the plans of
the day had been suggested and organised by him, by telephone from
Laggan, to the kind and competent Scotch lady who was the manager of the
hotel. It seemed to her that he had promised his company; whereas, as a
rule, now he withheld it; and her pride was put to it, on her own part,
not to betray any sign of discontent. He spoke vaguely of "business,"
and on one occasion, apparently had gone off for three days to
Saskatchewan on matters connected with the coming general election.

From the newspaper, or the talk of visitors in the hotel, or the railway
officials who occasionally found their way to Lake Louise to make
courteous inquiries after the English party, Elizabeth became, indeed,
more and more fully aware of the estimation in which Anderson was
beginning to be held. He was already a personage in the Northwest; was
said to be sure of success in his contest at Donaldminster, and of an
immediate Parliamentary career at Ottawa. These prophecies seemed to
depend more upon the man's character than his actual achievements;
though, indeed, the story of the great strike, as she had gathered it
once or twice from the lips of eye-witnesses, was a fine one. For weeks
he had carried his life in his hand among thousands of infuriated
navvies and miners--since the miners had made common cause with the
railwaymen--with a cheerfulness, daring, and resource which in the end
had wrung success from an apparently hopeless situation; a success
attended, when all was over, by an amazing effusion of good will among
both masters and men, especially towards Anderson himself, and a general
improvement in the industrial temper and atmosphere of the Northwest.

The recital of these things stirred Elizabeth's pulses. But why did she
never hear them from himself? Surely he had offered her friendship, and
the rights of friendship. How else could he justify the scene at Field,
when he had so brusquely probed her secret anxieties for Philip? Her
pride rebelled when she thought of it, when she recalled her wet eyes,
her outstretched hand. Mere humiliation!--in the case of a casual or
indifferent acquaintance. No; on that day, certainly, he had claimed the
utmost privileges, had even strained the rights, of a friend, a real
friend. But his behaviour since had almost revived her first natural
resentment.

Thoughts like these ran in her mind, and occasionally affected her
manner when they did meet. Anderson found her more reserved, and noticed
that she did not so often ask him for small services as of old. He
suffered under the change; but it was, he knew, his own doing, and he
did not alter his course.

Whenever he did come, he sat mostly with Philip, over whom he had
gradually established a remarkable influence, not by any definite acts
or speeches, but rather by the stoicism of his own mode of life, coupled
with a proud or laughing contempt for certain vices and self-indulgences
to which it was evident that he himself felt no temptation. As soon as
Philip felt himself sufficiently at home with the Canadian to begin to
jibe at his teetotalism, Anderson seldom took the trouble to defend
himself; yet the passion of moral independence in his nature, of
loathing for any habit that weakens and enslaves the will, infected the
English lad whether he would or no. "There's lots of things he's
stick-stock mad on," Philip would say impatiently to his sister. But the
madness told. And the madman was all the while consolingly rich in
other, and, to Philip, more attractive kinds of madness--the follies of
the hunter and climber, of the man who holds his neck as dross in
comparison with the satisfaction of certain wild instincts that the
Rockies excite in him. Anderson had enjoyed his full share of adventures
with goat and bear. Such things are the customary amusements, it seemed,
of a young engineer in the Rockies. Beside them, English covert-shooting
is a sport for babes; and Philip ceased to boast of his own prowess in
that direction. He would listen, indeed, open-mouthed, to Anderson's
yarns, lying on his long chair on the verandah--a graceful languid
figure--with a coyote rug heaped about him. It was clear to Elizabeth
that Anderson on his side had become very fond of the boy. There was no
trouble he would not take for him. And gradually, silently, proudly,
she allowed him to take less and less for herself.

Once or twice Arthur Delaine's clumsy hints occurred to her. Was there,
indeed, some private matter weighing on the young man's mind? She would
not allow herself to speculate upon it; though she could not help
watching the relation between the two men with some curiosity. It was
polite enough; but there was certainly no cordiality in it; and once or
twice she suspected a hidden understanding.

Delaine meanwhile felt a kind of dull satisfaction in the turn of
events. The intimacy between Anderson and Lady Merton had clearly been
checked, or was at least not advancing. Whether it was due to his own
hints to Elizabeth, or to Anderson's chivalrous feeling, he did not
know. But he wrote every mail to Mrs. Gaddesden, discreetly, yet not
without giving her some significant information; he did whatever small
services were possible in the case of a man who went about Canada as a
Johnny Head-in-air, with his mind in another hemisphere; and it was
understood that he was to leave them at Vancouver. In the forced
association of their walks and rides, Elizabeth showed herself gay,
kind, companionable; although often, and generally for no reason that he
could discover, something sharp and icy in her would momentarily make
itself felt, and he would find himself driven back within bounds that he
had perhaps been tempted to transgress. And the result of it all was
that he fell day by day more tormentingly in love with her. Those placid
matrimonial ambitions with which he had left England had been all swept
away; and as he followed her--she on pony-back, he on foot--along the
mountain trails, watching the lightness of her small figure against the
splendid background of peak and pine, he became a troubled,
introspective person; concentrating upon himself and his disagreeable
plight the attention he had hitherto given to a delightful outer world,
sown with the _caches_ of antiquity, in order to amuse him.

Meanwhile the situation in the cabin at Laggan appeared to be steadily
improving. McEwen had abruptly ceased to be a rebellious and difficult
patient. The doctor's orders had been obeyed; the leg had healed
rapidly; and he no longer threatened or cajoled Mrs. Ginnell on the
subject of liquor. As far as Anderson was concerned, he was generally
sulky and uncommunicative. But Anderson got enough out of him by degrees
to be able to form a fairly complete idea of his father's course of life
since the false report of his death in the Yukon. He realised an
existence on the fringe of civilisation, with its strokes of luck
neutralised by drink, and its desperate, and probably criminal, moments.
And as soon as his father got well enough to limp along the trails of
the Laggan valley, the son noticed incidents which appeared to show that
the old man, while playing the part of the helpless stranger, was by no
means without acquaintance among the motley host of workmen that were
constantly passing through. The links of international trades unionism
no doubt accounted for it. But in McEwen's case, the fraternity to which
he belonged seemed to apply only to the looser and more disreputable
elements among the emigrant throng.

But at the same time he had shown surprising docility in the matter of
Anderson's counsels. All talk of the Idaho mine had dropped between
them, as though by common consent. Anderson had laid hands upon a young
man, a Salvation Army officer in Vancouver, with whom his father
consented to lodge for the next six weeks; and further arrangements were
to be postponed till the end of that period. Anderson hoped, indeed, to
get his father settled there before Lady Merton moved from Lake Louise.
For in a few days now, the private car was to return from the coast, in
order to take up the English party.

McEwen's unexpected complaisance led to a great softening in Anderson's
feeling towards his father. All those inner compunctions that haunt a
just and scrupulous nature came freely into play. And his evangelical
religion--for he was a devout though liberal-minded Presbyterian--also
entered in. Was it possible that he might be the agent of his father's
redemption? The idea, the hope, produced in him occasional hidden
exaltations--flights of prayer--mystical memories of his mother--which
lightened what was otherwise a time of bitter renunciation, and
determined wrestling with himself.

During the latter days of this fortnight, indeed, he could not do enough
for his father. He had made all the Vancouver arrangements; he had
supplied him amply with clothes and other personal necessaries; and he
came home early at night in order to sit and smoke with him. Mrs.
Ginnell, looking in of an evening, beheld what seemed to her a touching
sight, though one far beyond the deserts of such creatures as
McEwen--the son reading the newspaper aloud, or playing dominoes with
his father, or just smoking and chatting. Her hard common sense as a
working-woman suggested to her that Anderson was nursing illusions; and
she scornfully though silently hoped that the "old rip" would soon, one
way or another, be off his shoulders.

But the illusions, for the moment, were Anderson's sustenance. His
imagination, denied a more personal and passionate food, gave itself
with fire to the redeeming of an outlaw, and the paying of a
spiritual debt.

It was Wednesday. After a couple of drizzling days the weather was again
fair. The trains rolling through the pass began with these early days of
July to bring a first crop of holiday-makers from Eastern Canada and the
States; the hotels were filling up. On the morrow McEwen was to start
for Vancouver. And a letter from Philip Gaddesden, delivered at Laggan
in the morning, had bitterly reproached Anderson for neglecting them,
and leaving him, in particular, to be bored to death by glaciers
and tourists.

Early in the afternoon Anderson took his way up the mountain road to
Lake Louise. He found the English travellers established among the pines
by the lake-side, Philip half asleep in a hammock strung between two
pines, while Delaine was reading to Elizabeth from an article in an
archæological review on "Some Fresh Light on the Cippus of Palestrina."

Lady Merton was embroidering; it seemed to Anderson that she was tired
or depressed. Delaine's booming voice, and the frequent Latin passages
interspersed with stammering translations of his own, in which he
appeared to be interminably tangled, would be enough--the Canadian
thought--to account for a subdued demeanour; and there was, moreover, a
sudden thunderous heat in the afternoon.

Elizabeth received him a little stiffly, and Philip roused himself from
sleep only to complain: "You've been four mortal days without
coming near us!"

"I had to go away. I have been to Regina."

"On politics?" asked Delaine.

"Yes. We had a couple of meetings and a row."

"Jolly for you!" grumbled Philip. "But we've had a beastly time. Ask
Elizabeth."

"Nothing but the weather!" said Elizabeth carelessly. "We couldn't even
see the mountains."

But why, as she spoke, should the delicate cheek change colour, suddenly
and brightly? The answering blood leapt in Anderson. She _had_ missed
him, though she would not show it.

Delaine began to question him about Saskatchewan. The Englishman's forms
of conversation were apt to be tediously inquisitive, and Anderson had
often resented them. To-day, however, he let himself be catechised
patiently enough, while all the time conscious, from head to foot, of
one person only--one near and yet distant person.

Elizabeth wore a dress of white linen, and a broad hat of soft blue. The
combination of the white and blue with her brown hair, and the pale
refinement of her face, seemed to him ravishing, enchanting. So were the
movements of her hands at work, and all the devices of her light
self-command; more attractive, infinitely, to his mature sense than the
involuntary tremor of girlhood.

"Hallo! What does Stewart want?" said Philip, raising himself in his
hammock. The hunter who had been the companion of his first unlucky
attempt at fishing was coming towards them. The boy sprang to the
ground, and, vowing that he would fish the following morning whatever
Elizabeth might say, went off to consult.

She looked after him with a smile and a sigh.

"Better give him his head!" laughed Anderson. Then, from where he stood,
he studied her a moment, unseen, except by Delaine, who was sitting
among the moss a few yards away, and had temporarily forgotten the
Cippus of Palestrina.

Suddenly the Canadian came forward.

"Have you explored that path yet, over the shoulder?" he said to Lady
Merton, pointing to the fine promontory of purple piny rock which jutted
out in front of the glacier on the southern side of the lake.

She shook her head; but was it not still too early and too hot to walk?
Anderson persisted. The path was in shade, and would repay climbing. She
hesitated--and yielded; making a show of asking Delaine to come with
them. Delaine also hesitated, and refrained; making a show of preferring
the "Archaeological Review." He was left to watch them mount the first
stretches of the trail; while Philip strolled along the lake with his
companion in the slouch hat and leggings, deep in tales of bass
and trout.

Elizabeth and Anderson climbed a long sloping ascent through the pines.
The air was warm and scented; the heat of the sun on the moistened earth
was releasing all its virtues and fragrances, overpowering in the open
places, and stealing even through the shadows. When the trees broke or
receded, the full splendour of the glacier was upon them to their left;
and then for a space they must divine it as a presence behind the
actual, faintly gleaming and flashing through the serried ranks of the
forest. There were heaths and mosses under the pines; but otherwise for
a while the path was flowerless; and Elizabeth discontentedly remarked
it. Anderson smiled.

"Wait a little--or you'll have to apologise to the Rockies."

He looked down upon her, and saw that her small face had bloomed into a
vivacity and charm that startled him. Was it only the physical effort
and pleasure of the climb? As for himself, it took all the power of a
strong will to check the happy tumult in his heart.

Elizabeth asked him of his Saskatchewan journey. He described to her the
growing town he hoped to represent--the rush of its new life.

"On one Sunday morning there was nothing--the bare prairie; by the
next--so to speak--there was a town all complete, with a hotel, an
elevator, a bank, and a church. That was ten years ago. Then the railway
came; I saw the first train come in, garlanded and wreathed with
flowers. Now there are eight thousand people. They have reserved land
for a park along the river, and sent for a landscape gardener from
England to lay it out; they have made trees grow on the prairie; they
have built a high school and a concert hall; the municipality is full of
ambitions; and all round the town, settlers are pouring in. On market
day you find yourself in a crowd of men, talking cattle and crops, the
last thing in binders and threshers, as farmers do all over the world.
But yet you couldn't match that crowd in the old world."

"Which you don't know," put in Elizabeth, with her sly smile.

"Which I don't know," repeated Anderson meekly. "But I guess. And I am
thinking of sayings of yours. Where in Europe can you match the sense of
_boundlessness_ we have here--boundless space, boundless opportunity? It
often makes fools of us: it intoxicates, turns our heads. There is a
germ of madness in this Northwest. I have seen men destroyed by it. But
it is Nature who is the witch. She brews the cup."

"All very well for the men," Elizabeth said, musing--"and the strong
men. About the women in this country I can't make up my mind."

"You think of the drudgery, the domestic hardships?"

"There are some ladies in the hotel, from British Columbia. They are in
easy circumstances--and the daughter is dying of overwork! The husband
has a large fruit farm, but they can get no service; the fruit rots on
the ground; and the two women are worn to death."

"Aye," said Anderson gravely. "This country breeds life, but it also
devours it."

"I asked these two women--Englishwomen--if they wanted to go home, and
give it up. They fell upon me with scorn."

"And you?"

Elizabeth sighed.

"I admired them. But could I imitate them? I thought of the house at
home; of the old servants; how it runs on wheels; how pretty and--and
dignified it all is; everybody at their post; no drudgery, no disorder."

"It is a dignity that costs you dear," said Anderson almost roughly, and
with a change of countenance. "You sacrifice to it things a thousand
times more real, more human."

"Do we?" said Elizabeth; and then, with a drop in her voice: "Dear, dear
England!" She paused to take breath, and as she leant resting against a
tree he saw her expression change, as though a struggle passed
through her.

The trees had opened behind them, and they looked back over the lake,
the hotel, and the wide Laggan valley beyond. In all that valley, not a
sign of human life, but the line of the railway. Not a house, not a
village to be seen; and at this distance the forest appeared continuous,
till it died against the rock and snow of the higher peaks.

For the first time, Elizabeth was home-sick; for the first time she
shrank from a raw, untamed land where the House of Life is only now
rearing its walls and its roof-timbers, and all its warm furnishings,
its ornaments and hangings are still to add. She thought of the English
landscapes, of the woods and uplands round her Cumberland home; of the
old church, the embowered cottages, the lichened farms; the generations
of lives that have died into the soil, like the summer leaves of the
trees; of the ghosts to be felt in the air--ghosts of squire and
labourer and farmer, alive still in men and women of the present, as
they too will live in the unborn. Her heart went out to England; fled
back to it over the seas, as though renewing, in penitence, an
allegiance that had wavered. And Anderson divined it, in the yearning of
her just-parted lips, in the quivering, restrained sweetness of
her look.

His own heart sank. They resumed their walk, and presently the path grew
steeper. Some of it was rough-hewn in the rock, and encumbered by roots
of trees. Anderson held out a helping hand; her fingers slipped
willingly into it; her light weight hung upon him, and every step was to
him a mingled delight and bitterness.

"Hard work!" he said presently, with his encouraging smile; "but you'll
be paid."

The pines grew closer, and then suddenly lightened. A few more steps,
and Elizabeth gave a cry of pleasure. They were on the edge of an
alpine meadow, encircled by dense forest, and sloping down beneath their
feet to a lake that lay half in black shadow, half blazing in the
afternoon sun. Beyond was a tossed wilderness of peaks to west and
south. Light masses of cumulus cloud were rushing over the sky, and
driving waves of blue and purple colour across the mountain masses and
the forest slopes. Golden was the sinking light and the sunlit half of
the lake; golden the western faces and edges of the mountain world;
while beyond the valley, where ran the white smoke of a train, there
hung in the northern sky a dream-world of undiscovered snows, range, it
seemed, beyond range, remote, ethereal; a Valhalla of the old gods of
this vast land, where one might guess them still throned at bay,
majestic, inviolate.

But it was the flowers that held Elizabeth mute. Anderson had brought
her to a wild garden of incredible beauty. Scarlet and blue, purple and
pearl and opal, rose-pink and lavender-grey the flower-field ran about
her, as though Persephone herself had just risen from the shadow of this
nameless northern lake, and the new earth had broken into eager flame at
her feet. Painter's brush, harebell, speedwell, golden-brown
gaillardias, silvery hawkweed, columbines yellow and blue, heaths, and
lush grasses--Elizabeth sank down among them in speechless joy. Anderson
gathered handfuls of columbine and vetch, of harebell and heath, and
filled her lap with them, till she gently stopped him.

"No! Let me only look!"

And with her hands around her knees she sat motionless and still.
Anderson threw himself down beside her. Fragrance, colour, warmth; the
stir of an endless self-sufficient life; the fruitfulness and bounty of
the earth; these things wove their ancient spells about them. Every
little rush of the breeze seemed an invitation and a caress.

Presently she thanked him for having brought her there, and said
something of remembering it in England.

"As one who will never see it again?" He turned and faced her smiling.
But behind his frank, pleasant look there was something from which
she shrank.

"I shall hardly see it, again," she said hesitating. "Perhaps that makes
it the more--the more touching. One clings to it the more--the
impression--because it is so fugitive--will be so soon gone."

He was silent a moment, then said abruptly:

"And the upshot of all this is, that you could not imagine living in
Canada?"

She started.

"I never said so. Of course I could imagine living in Canada!"

"But you think, for women, the life up here--in the Northwest--is too
hard."

She looked at him timidly.

"That's because I look at it from my English point of view. I am afraid
English life makes weaklings of us."

"No--not of you!" he said, almost scornfully. "Any life that seemed to
you worth while would find you strong enough for it. I am sure of that."

Elizabeth smiled and shrugged her shoulders. He went on--almost as
though pleading with her.

"And as to our Western life--which you will soon have left so far
behind--it strains and tests the women--true--but it rewards them. They
have a great place among us. It is like the women of the early races. We
listen to them in the house, and on the land; we depend on them indoors
and out; their husbands and their sons worship them!"

Elizabeth flushed involuntarily; but she met him gaily.

"In England too! Come and see!"

"I shall probably be in England next spring."

Elizabeth made a sudden movement.

"I thought you would be in political life here!"

"I have had an offer--an exciting and flattering offer. May I tell you?"

He turned to her eagerly; and she smiled her sympathy, her curiosity.
Whereupon he took a letter from his pocket--a letter from the Dominion
Prime Minister, offering him a mission of inquiry to England, on some
important matters connected with labour and emigration. The letter was
remarkable, addressed to a man so young, and on the threshold of his
political career.

Elizabeth congratulated him warmly.

"Of course you will come to stay with us!"

It was his turn to redden.

"You are very kind," he said formally. "As you know, I shall have
everything to learn."

"I will show you _our_ farms!" cried Elizabeth, "and all our dear
decrepit life--our little chessboard of an England."

"How proud you are, you Englishwomen!" he said, half frowning. "You run
yourselves down--and at bottom there is a pride like Lucifer's."

"But it is not my pride," she said, hurt, "any more than yours. We are
yours--and you are ours. One state--one country."

"No, don't let us sentimentalise. We have our own future. It is not
yours."

"But you are loyal!" The note was one of pain.

"Are we? Foolish word! Yes, we are loyal, as you are--loyal to a common
ideal, a common mission in the world."

"To blood also--and to history?" Her voice was almost entreating. What
he had said seemed to jar with other and earlier sayings of his, which
had stirred in her a patriotic pleasure.

He smiled at her emotion--her implied reproach.

"Yes, we stand together. We march together. But Canada will have her own
history; and you must not try to make it for her."

Their eyes met; in hers exaltion, in his a touch of sternness, a
moment's revelation of the Covenanter in his soul.

Then as the delightful vision of her among the flowers, in her white
dress, the mountains behind and around her, imprinted itself on his
senses, he was conscious of a moment of intolerable pain. Between her
and him--as it were--the abyss opened. The trembling waves of colour in
the grass, the noble procession of the clouds, the gleaming of the
snows, the shadow of the valleys--they were all wiped out. He saw
instead a small unsavoury room--the cunning eyes and coarse mouth of his
father. He saw his own future as it must now be; weighted with this
burden, this secret; if indeed it were still to be a secret; if it were
not rather the wiser and the manlier plan to have done with secrecy.

Elizabeth rose with a little shiver. The wind had begun to blow cold
from the northwest.

"How soon can we run down? I hope Mr. Arthur will have sent Philip
indoors."

Anderson left Lake Louise about eight o'clock, and hurried down the
Laggan road. His mind was divided between the bitter-sweet of these last
hours with Elizabeth Merton, and anxieties, small practical anxieties,
about his father. There were arrangements still to make. He was not
himself going to Vancouver. McEwen had lately shown a strong and
petulant wish to preserve his incognito, or what was left of it. He
would not have his son's escort. George might come and see him at
Vancouver; and that would be time enough to settle up for the winter.

So Ginnell, owner of the boarding house, a stalwart Irishman of six foot
three, had been appointed to see him through his journey, settle him
with his new protectors, and pay all necessary expenses.

Anderson knocked at his father's door and was allowed to enter. He found
McEwen walking up and down his room, with the aid of a stick, irritably
pushing chairs and clothes out of his way. The room was in squalid
disorder, and its inmate had a flushed, exasperated look that did not
escape Anderson's notice. He thought it probable that his father was
already repenting his consent to go to Vancouver, and he avoided general
conversation as much as possible.

McEwen complained of having been left alone; abused Mrs. Ginnell; vowed
she had starved and ill-treated him; and then, to Anderson's surprise,
broke out against his son for having refused to provide him with the
money he wanted for the mine, and so ruined his last chance. Anderson
hardly replied; but what he did say was as soothing as possible; and at
last the old man flung himself on his bed, excitement dying away in a
sulky taciturnity.

Before Anderson left his room, Ginnell came in, bringing his accounts
for certain small expenses. Anderson, standing with his back to his
father, took out a pocketbook full of bills. At Calgary the day before a
friend had repaid him a loan of a thousand dollars. He gave Ginnell a
certain sum; talked to him in a low voice for a time, thinking his
father had dropped asleep; and then dismissed him, putting the money in
his pocket.

"Good night, father," he said, standing beside the bed.

McEwen opened his eyes.

"Eh?"

The eyes into which Anderson looked had no sleep in them. They were wild
and bloodshot, and again Anderson felt a pang of helpless pity for a
dishonoured and miserable old age.

"I'm sure you'll get on at Vancouver, father," he said gently. "And I
shall be there next week."

His father growled some unintelligible answer. As Anderson went to the
door he again called after him angrily: "You were a d---- fool, George,
not to find those dibs."

"What, for the mine?" Anderson laughed. "Oh, we'll go into that again at
Vancouver."

McEwen made no reply, and Anderson left him.

Anderson woke before seven. The long evening had passed into the dawn
with scarcely any darkness, and the sun was now high. He sprang up, and
dressed hastily. Going into the passage he saw to his astonishment that
while the door of the Ginnells' room was still closed, his father's was
wide open. He walked in. The room and the bed were empty. The contents
of a box carefully packed by Ginnell--mostly with new clothes--the night
before, were lying strewn about the room. But McEwen's old clothes were
gone, his gun and revolver, also his pipes and tobacco.

Anderson roused Ginnell, and they searched the house and its
neighbourhood in vain. On going back into his own room, Anderson noticed
an open drawer. He had placed his pocketbook there the night before, but
without locking the drawer. It was gone, and in its place was a dirty
scrap of paper.

"Don't you try chivvying me, George, for you won't get any good of it.
You let me alone, and I'll let you. You were a stingy fellow about that
money, so I've took some of it. Good-bye."

Sick at heart, Anderson resumed the search, further afield. He sent
Ginnell along the line to make confidential inquiries. He telegraphed to
persons known to him at Golden, Revelstoke, Kamloops, Ashcroft, all to
no purpose. Twenty-four--thirty-six hours passed and nothing had been
heard of the fugitive.

He felt himself baffled and tricked, with certain deep instincts and
yearnings wounded to the death. The brutal manner of his father's
escape--the robbery--the letter--had struck him hard.

When Friday night came, and still no news, Anderson found himself at the
C.P.R. Hotel at Field. He was stupid with fatigue and depression. But
he had been in telephonic communication all the afternoon with Delaine
and Lady Merton at Lake Louise, as to their departure for the Pacific.
They knew nothing and should know nothing of his own catastrophe; their
plans should not suffer.

He went out into the summer night to take breath, and commune with
himself. The night was balmy; the stars glorious. On a siding near the
hotel stood the private car which had arrived that evening from
Vancouver, and was to go to Laggan the following morning to fetch the
English party. They were to pick him up, on the return, at Field.

He had failed to save his father, and his honest effort had been made in
vain. Humiliation and disappointment overshadowed him. Passionately, his
whole soul turned to Elizabeth. He did not yet grasp all the bearings of
what had happened. But he began to count the hours to the time when he
should see her.



CHAPTER XI

A day of showers and breaking clouds--of sudden sunlight, and broad
clefts of blue; a day when shreds of mist are lightly looped and meshed
about the higher peaks of the Rockies and the Selkirks, dividing the
forest world from the ice world above....

The car was slowly descending the Kicking Horse Pass, at the rear of a
heavy train. Elizabeth, on her platform, was feasting her eyes once more
on the great savage landscape, on these peaks and valleys that have
never till now known man, save as the hunter, treading them once or
twice perhaps in a century. Dreamily her mind contrasted them with the
Alps, where from all time man has laboured and sheltered, blending his
life, his births and deaths, his loves and hates with the glaciers and
the forests, wresting his food from the valleys, creeping height over
height to the snow line, writing his will on the country, so that in our
thought of it he stands first, and Nature second. The Swiss mountains
and streams breathe a "mighty voice," lent to them by the free passion
and aspiration of man; they are interfused and interwoven forever with
human fate. But in the Rockies and the Selkirks man counts for nothing
in their past; and, except as wayfarer and playfellow, it is probable
that he will count for nothing in their future. They will never be the
familiar companions of his work and prayer and love; a couple of
railways, indeed, will soon be driving through them, linking the life of
the prairies to the life of the Pacific; but, except for this conquest
of them as barriers in his path, when his summer camps in them are
struck, they, sheeted in a winter inaccessible and superb, know him and
his puny deeds no more, till again the lakes melt and the trees bud.
This it is that gives them their strange majesty, and clothes their
brief summer, their laughing fields of flowers, their thickets of red
raspberry and slopes of strawberry, their infinity of gleaming lakes and
foaming rivers--rivers that turn no mill and light no town--with a
charm, half magical, half mocking.

And yet, though the travelled intelligence made comparisons of this
kind, it was not with the mountains that Elizabeth's deepest mind was
busy. She took really keener note of the railway itself, and its
appurtenances. For here man had expressed himself; had pitched his
battle with a fierce nature and won it; as no doubt he will win other
similar battles in the coming years. Through Anderson this battle had
become real to her. She looked eagerly at the construction camps in the
pass; at the new line that is soon to supersede the old; at the bridges
and tunnels and snow-sheds, by which contriving man had made his purpose
prevail over the physical forces of this wild world. The great railway
spoke to her in terms of human life; and because she had known Anderson
she understood its message.

Secretly and sorely her thoughts clung to him. Just as, insensibly, her
vision of Canada had changed, so had her vision of Anderson. Canada was
no longer mere fairy tale and romance; Anderson was no longer merely its
picturesque exponent or representative. She had come to realise him as a
man, with a man's cares and passions; and her feelings about him had
begun to change her life.

Arthur Delaine, she supposed, had meant to warn her that Mr. Anderson
was falling in love with her and that she had no right to encourage it.
Her thoughts went back intently over the last fortnight--Anderson's
absences--his partial withdrawal from the intimacy which had grown up
between himself and her--their last walk at Lake Louise. The delight of
that walk was still in her veins, and at last she was frank with
herself about it! In his attitude towards her, now that she forced
herself to face the truth, she must needs recognise a passionate
eagerness, restrained no less passionately; a profound impulse, strongly
felt, and strongly held back. By mere despair of attainment?--or by the
scruple of an honourable self-control?

Could she--_could_ she marry a Canadian? There was the central question,
out at last!--irrevocable!--writ large on the mountains and the forests,
as she sped through them. Could she, possessed by inheritance of all
that is most desirable and delightful in English society, linked with
its great interests and its dominant class, and through them with the
rich cosmopolitan life of cultivated Europe--could she tear herself
from that old soil, and that dear familiar environment? Had the plant
vitality enough to bear transplanting? She did not put her question in
these terms; but that was what her sudden tumult and distress of mind
really meant.

Looking up, she saw Delaine beside her. Well, there was Europe, and at
her feet! For the last month she had been occupied in scorning it.
English country-house life, artistic society and pursuits, London in the
season, Paris and Rome in the spring, English social and political
influence--there they were beside her. She had only to stretch out
her hand.

A chill, uncomfortable laughter seemed to fill the inner mind through
which the debate passed, while all the time she was apparently looking
at the landscape, and chatting with her brother or Delaine. She fell
into an angry contempt for that mood of imaginative delight in which she
had journeyed through Canada so far. What! treat a great nation in the
birth as though it were there for her mere pleasure and entertainment?
Make of it a mere spectacle and pageant, and turn with disgust from the
notion that you, too, could ever throw in your lot with it, fight as a
foot-soldier in its ranks, on equal terms, for life and death!

She despised herself. And yet--and yet! She thought of her mother--her
frail, refined, artistic mother; of a hundred subtleties and charms and
claims, in that world she understood, in which she had been reared; of
all that she must leave behind, were she asked, and did she consent, to
share the life of a Canadian of Anderson's type. What would it be to
fail in such a venture! To dare it, and then to find life sinking in
sands of cowardice and weakness! Very often, and sometimes as though by
design, Anderson had spoken to her of the part to be played by women in
Canada; not in the defensive, optimistic tone of their last walk
together, but forbiddingly, with a kind of rough insistence. Substantial
comfort, a large amount of applied science--that could be got. But the
elegancies and refinements of English rich life in a prairie
farm--impossible! A woman who marries a Canadian farmer, large or small,
must put her own hands to the drudgery of life, to the cooking, sewing,
baking, that keep man--animal man--alive. A certain amount of rude
service money can command in the Northwest; but it is a service which
only the housewife's personal coöperation can make tolerable. Life
returns, in fact, to the old primitive pattern; and a woman counts on
the prairie according as "she looketh well to the ways of her household
and eateth not the bread of idleness."

Suddenly Elizabeth perceived her own hands lying on her lap. Useless
bejewelled things! When had they ever fed a man or nursed a child?

Under her gauze veil she coloured fiercely. If the housewife, in her
primitive meaning and office, is vital to Canada, still more is the
house-mother. "Bear me sons and daughters; people my wastes!" seems to
be the cry of the land itself. Deep in Elizabeth's being there stirred
instincts and yearnings which life had so far stifled in her. She
shivered as though some voice, passionate and yet austere, spoke to her
from this great spectacle of mountain and water through which she
was passing.

       *       *       *       *       *

"There he is!" cried Philip, craning his head to look ahead along the
train.

Anderson stood waiting for them on the Field platform. Very soon he was
seated beside her, outside the car, while Philip lounged in the doorway,
and Delaine inside, having done his duty to the Kicking Horse Pass, was
devoting himself to a belated number of the "Athenæum" which had just
reached him.

Philip had stored up a string of questions as to the hunting of goat in
the Rockies, and impatiently produced them. Anderson replied, but, as
Elizabeth immediately perceived, with a complete lack of his usual
animation. He spoke with effort, occasionally stumbling over his words.
She could not help looking at him curiously, and presently even Philip
noticed something wrong.

"I say, Anderson!--what have you been doing to yourself? You look as
though you had been knocking up."

"I have been a bit driven this week," said Anderson, with a start. "Oh,
nothing! You must look at this piece of line."

And as they ran down the long ravine from Field to Golden, beside a
river which all the way seems to threaten the gliding train by the
savage force of its descent, he played the showman. The epic of the
C.P.R.--no one knew it better, and no one could recite it more
vividly than he.

So also, as they left the Rockies behind; as they sped along the
Columbia between the Rockies to their right and the Selkirks to their
left; or as they turned away from the Columbia, and, on the flanks of
the Selkirks, began to mount that forest valley which leads to Roger's
Pass, he talked freely and well, exerting himself to the utmost. The
hopes and despairs, the endurances and ambitions of the first explorers
who ever broke into that fierce solitude, he could reproduce them; for,
though himself of a younger generation, yet by sympathy he had lived
them. And if he had not been one of the builders of the line, in the
incessant guardianship which preserves it from day to day, he had at one
time played a prominent part, battling with Nature for it, summer
and winter.

Delaine, at last, came out to listen. Philip in the grip of his first
hero-worship, lay silent and absorbed, watching the face and gestures of
the speaker. Elizabeth sat with her eyes turned away from Anderson
towards the wild valley, as they rose and rose above it. She listened;
but her heart was full of new anxieties. What had happened to him? She
felt him changed. He was talking for their pleasure, by a strong effort
of will; that she realised. When could she get him alone?--her
friend!--who was clearly in distress.

They approached the famous bridges on the long ascent. Yerkes came
running through the car to point out with pride the place where the
Grand Duchess had fainted beneath the terrors of the line. With only the
railing of their little platform between them and the abyss, they ran
over ravines hundreds of feet deep--the valley, a thousand feet sheer,
below. And in that valley, not a sign of house, of path; only black
impenetrable forest--huge cedars and Douglas pines, filling up the
bottoms, choking the river with their débris, climbing up the further
sides, towards the gleaming line of peaks.

"It is a nightmare!" said Delaine involuntarily, looking round him.

Elizabeth laughed, a bright colour in her cheeks. Again the wilderness
ran through her blood, answering the challenge of Nature. Faint!--she
was more inclined to sing or shout. And with the exhilaration, physical
and mental, that stole upon her, there mingled secretly, the first
thrill of passion she had ever known. Anderson sat beside her, once more
silent after his burst of talk. She was vividly conscious of him--of his
bare curly head--of certain lines of fatigue and suffering in the
bronzed face. And it was conveyed to her that, although he was clearly
preoccupied and sad, he was yet conscious of her in the same way. Once,
as they were passing the highest bridge of all, where, carried on a
great steel arch, that has replaced the older trestles, the rails run
naked and gleaming, without the smallest shred of wall or parapet,
across a gash in the mountain up which they were creeping, and at a
terrific height above the valley, Elizabeth, who was sitting with her
back to the engine, bent suddenly to one side, leaning over the little
railing and looking ahead--that she might if possible get a clearer
sight of Mount Macdonald, the giant at whose feet lies Roger's Pass.
Suddenly, as her weight pressed against the ironwork where only that
morning a fastening had been mended, she felt a grip on her arm. She
drew back, startled.

"I beg your pardon!" said Anderson, smiling, but a trifle paler than
before. "I'm not troubled with nerves for myself, but--"

He did not complete the sentence, and Elizabeth, could find nothing to
say.

"Why, Elizabeth's not afraid!" cried Philip, scornfully.

"This is Roger's Pass, and here we are at the top of the Selkirks," said
Anderson, rising. "The train will wait here some twenty minutes. Perhaps
you would like to walk about."

They descended, all but Philip, who grumbled at the cold, wrapped
himself in a rug inside the car, and summoned Yerkes to bring him a cup
of coffee.

On this height indeed, and beneath the precipices of Mount Macdonald,
which rise some five thousand feet perpendicularly above the railway,
the air was chill and the clouds had gathered. On the right, ran a line
of glacier-laden peaks, calling to their fellows across the pass. The
ravine itself, darkly magnificent, made a gulf of shadow out of which
rose glacier and snow slope, now veiled and now revealed by scudding
cloud. Heavy rain had not long since fallen on the pass; the small
stream, winding and looping through the narrow strip of desolate ground
which marks the summit, roared in flood through marshy growths of dank
weed and stunted shrub; and the noise reverberated from the mountain
walls, pressing straight and close on either hand.

"Hark!" cried Elizabeth, standing still, her face and her light dress
beaten by the wind.

A sound which was neither thunder nor the voice of the stream rose and
swelled and filled the pass. Another followed it. Anderson pointed to
the snowy crags of Mount Macdonald, and there, leaping from ledge to
ledge, they saw the summer avalanches descend, roaring as they came,
till they sank engulfed in a vaporous whirl of snow.

Delaine tried to persuade Elizabeth to return to the car--in vain. He
himself returned thither for a warmer coat, and she and Anderson
walked on alone.

"The Rockies were fine!--but the Selkirks are superb!"

She smiled at him as she spoke, as though she thanked him personally for
the grandeur round them. Her slender form seemed to have grown in
stature and in energy. The mountain rain was on her fresh cheek and her
hair; a blue veil eddying round her head and face framed the brilliance
of her eyes. Those who had known Elizabeth in Europe would hardly have
recognised her here. The spirit of earth's wild and virgin places had
mingled with her spirit, and as she had grown in sympathy, so also she
had grown in beauty. Anderson looked at her from time to time in
enchantment, grudging every minute that passed. The temptation
strengthened to tell her his trouble. But how, or when?

As he turned to her he saw that she, too, was gazing at him with an
anxious, wistful expression, her lips parted as though to speak.

He bent over her.

"What was that?" exclaimed Elizabeth, looking round her.

They had passed beyond the station where the train was at rest. But the
sound of shouts pursued them. Anderson distinguished his own name. A
couple of railway officials had left the station and were hurrying
towards them.

A sudden thought struck Anderson. He held up his hand with a gesture as
though to ask Lady Merton not to follow, and himself ran back to
the station.

Elizabeth, from where she stood, saw the passengers all pouring out of
the train on to the platform. Even Philip emerged and waved to her. She
slowly returned, and meanwhile Anderson had disappeared.

She found an excited crowd of travellers and a babel of noise. Delaine
hurried to her.

It appeared that an extraordinary thing had happened. The train
immediately in front of them, carrying mail and express cars but no
passengers, had been "held up" by a gang of train-robbers, at a spot
between Sicamous junction and Kamloops. In order to break open the mail
van the robbers had employed a charge of dynamite, which had wrecked
the car and caused some damage to the line; enough to block the
permanent way for some hours.

"And Philip has just opened this telegram for you."

Delaine handed it to her. It was from the District Superintendent,
expressing great regret for the interruption to their journey, and
suggesting that they should spend the night at the hotel at Glacier.

"Which I understand is only four miles off, the other side of the pass,"
said Delaine. "Was there ever anything more annoying!"

Elizabeth's face expressed an utter bewilderment.

"A train held up in Canada--and on the C.P.R.--impossible!"

An elderly man in front of her heard what she said, and turned upon her
a face purple with wrath.

"You may well say that, madam! We are a law-abiding nation. We don't put
up with the pranks they play in Montana. They say the scoundrels have
got off. If we don't catch them, Canada's disgraced."

"I say, Elizabeth," cried Philip, pushing his way to her through the
crowd, "there's been a lot of shooting. There's some Mounted Police
here, we picked up at Revelstoke, on their way to help catch these
fellows. I've been talking to them. The police from Kamloops came upon
them just as they were making off with a pretty pile--boxes full of
money for some of the banks in Vancouver. The police fired, so did the
robbers. One of the police was killed, and one of the thieves. Then the
rest got off. I say, let's go and help hunt them!"

The boy's eyes danced with the joy of adventure.

"If they've any sense they'll send bloodhounds after them," said the
elderly man, fiercely. "I helped catch a murderer with my own hands that
way, last summer, near the Arrow Lakes."

"Where is Mr. Anderson?"

The question escaped Elizabeth involuntarily. She had not meant to put
it. But it was curious that he should have left them in the lurch at
this particular moment.

"Take your seats!" cried the station-master, making his way through the
crowded platform. "This train goes as far as Sicamous Junction only. Any
passenger who wishes to break his journey will find accommodation at
Glacier--next station."

The English travellers were hurried back into their car. Still no sign
of Anderson. Yerkes was only able to tell them that he had seen
Anderson go into the station-master's private room with a couple of the
Mounted Police. He might have come out again, or he might not. Yerkes
had been too well occupied in exciting gossip with all his many
acquaintances in the train and the station to notice.

The conductor went along through the train. Yerkes, standing on the
inside platform, called to him:

"Have you seen Mr. Anderson?"

The man shook his head, but another standing by, evidently an official
of some kind, looked round and ran up to the car.

"I'm sorry, madam," he said, addressing Elizabeth, who was standing in
the doorway, "but Mr. Anderson isn't at liberty just now. He'll be
travelling with the police."

And as he spoke a door in the station building opened, and Anderson came
out, accompanied by two constables of the Mounted Police and two or
three officials. They walked hurriedly along the train and got into an
empty compartment together. Immediately afterwards the train moved off.

"Well, I wonder what's up now!" said Philip in astonishment. "Do you
suppose Anderson's got some clue to the men?"

Delaine looked uncomfortably at Elizabeth. As an old adviser and
servant of the railway, extensively acquainted moreover with the
population--settled or occasional--of the district it was very natural
that Anderson should be consulted on such an event. And yet--Delaine had
caught a glimpse of his aspect on his way along the platform, and had
noticed that he never looked towards the car. Some odd conjectures ran
through his mind.

Elizabeth sat silent, looking back on the grim defile the train was just
leaving. It was evident that they had passed the water-shed, and the
train was descending. In a few minutes they would be at Glacier.

She roused herself to hold a rapid consultation over plans.

They must of course do as they were advised, and spend the night at
Glacier.

       *       *       *       *       *

The train drew up.

"Well, of all the nuisances!"--cried Philip, disgusted, as they prepared
to leave the car.

Yerkes, like the showman that he was, began to descant volubly on the
advantages and charms of the hotel, its Swiss guides, and the
distinguished travellers who stayed there; dragging rugs and bags
meanwhile out of the car. Nobody listened to him. Everybody in the
little party, as they stood forlornly on the platform, was in truth
searching for Anderson.

And at last he came--hurrying along towards them. His face, set,
strained, and colourless, bore the stamp of calamity. But he gave them
no time to question him.

"I am going on," he said hastily to Elizabeth; "they will look after you
here. I will arrange everything for you as soon as possible, and if we
don't meet before, perhaps--in Vancouver--"

"I say, are you going to hunt the robbers?" asked Philip, catching his
arm.

Anderson made no reply. He turned to Delaine, drew him aside a moment,
and put a letter into his hand.

"My father was one of them," he said, without emotion, "and is dead. I
have asked you to tell Lady Merton."

There was a call for him. The train was already moving. He jumped into
it, and was gone.



CHAPTER XII

The station and hotel at Sicamous Junction, overlooking the lovely Mara
lake, were full of people--busy officials of different kinds, or excited
on-lookers--when Anderson reached them. The long summer day was just
passing into a night that was rather twilight than darkness, and in the
lower country the heat was great. Far away to the north stretched the
wide and straggling waters of another and larger lake. Woods of poplar
and cottonwood grew along its swampy shore, and hills, forest clad, held
it in a shallow cup flooded with the mingled light of sunset and
moonlight.

Anderson was met by a district superintendent, of the name of Dixon, as
he descended from the train. The young man, with whom he was slightly
acquainted, looked at him with excitement.

"This is a precious bad business! If you can throw any light upon it,
Mr. Anderson, we shall be uncommonly obliged to you--"

Anderson interrupted him.

"Is the inquest to be held here?"

"Certainly. The bodies were brought in a few hours ago."

His companion pointed to a shed beyond the station. They walked thither,
the Superintendent describing in detail the attack on the train and the
measures taken for the capture of the marauders, Anderson listening in
silence. The affair had taken place early that morning, but the
telegraph wires had been cut in several places on both sides of the
damaged line, so that no precise news of what had happened had reached
either Vancouver on the west, or Golden on the east, till the afternoon.
The whole countryside was now in movement, and a vigorous man-hunt was
proceeding on both sides of the line.

"There is no doubt the whole thing was planned by a couple of men from
Montana, one of whom was certainly concerned in the hold-up there a few
months ago and got clean away. But there were six or seven of them
altogether and most of the rest--we suspect--from this side of the
boundary. The old man who was killed"--Anderson raised his eyes abruptly
to the speaker--"seems to have come from Nevada. There were some
cuttings from a Nevada newspaper found upon him, besides the envelope
addressed to you, of which I sent you word at Roger's Pass. Could you
recognise anything in my description of the man? There was one thing I
forgot to say. He had evidently been in the doctor's hands lately. There
is a surgical bandage on the right ankle."

"Was there nothing in the envelope?" asked Anderson, putting the
question aside, in spite of the evident eagerness of the questioner.

"Nothing."

"And where is it?"

"It was given to the Kamloops coroner, who has just arrived." Anderson
said nothing more. They had reached the shed, which his companion
unlocked. Inside were two rough tables on trestles and lying on them two
sheeted forms.

Dixon uncovered the first, and Anderson looked steadily down at the face
underneath. Death had wrought its strange ironic miracle once more, and
out of the face of an outcast had made the face of a sage. There was
little disfigurement; the eyes were closed with dignity; the mouth
seemed to have unlearnt its coarseness. Silently the tension of
Anderson's inner being gave way; he was conscious of a passionate
acceptance of the mere stillness and dumbness of death.

"Where was the wound?" he asked, stooping over the body.

"Ah, that was the strange thing! He didn't die of his wound at all! It
was a mere graze on the arm." The Superintendent pointed to a rent on
the coat-sleeve. "He died of something quite different--perhaps
excitement and a weak heart. There may have to be a post-mortem."

"I doubt whether that will be necessary," said Anderson.

The other looked at him with undisguised curiosity.

"Then you do recognise him?"

"I will tell the coroner what I know."

Anderson drew back from his close examination of the dead face, and
began in his turn to question the Superintendent. Was it certain that
this man had been himself concerned in the hold-up and in the struggle
with the police?

Dixon could not see how there could be any doubt of it. The constables
who had rushed in upon the gang while they were still looting the
express car--the brakesman having managed to get away and convey the
alarm to Kamloops--remembered seeing an old man with white hair,
apparently lame, at the rear of the more active thieves, and posted as
sentinel. He had been the first to give warning of the police approach,
and had levelled his revolver at the foremost constable but had missed
his shot. In the free firing which had followed nobody exactly knew what
had happened. One of the attacking force, Constable Brown, had fallen,
and while his comrades were attempting to save him, the thieves had
dropped down the steep bank of the river close by, into a boat waiting
for them, and got off. The constable was left dead upon the ground, and
not far from him lay the old man, also lifeless. But when they came to
examine the bodies, while the constable was shot through the head, the
other had received nothing but the trifling wound Dixon had already
pointed out.

Anderson listened to the story in silence. Then with a last long look at
the rigid features below him, he replaced the covering. Passing on to
the other table, he raised the sheet from the face of a splendid young
Englishman, whom he had last seen the week before at Regina; an English
public-school boy of the manliest type, full of hope for himself, and of
enthusiasm, both for Canada and for the fine body of men in which he had
been just promoted. For the first time a stifled groan escaped from
Anderson's lips. What hand had done this murder?

They left the shed. Anderson inquired what doctor had been sent for. He
recognised the name given as that of a Kamloops man whom he knew and
respected; and he went on to look for him at the hotel.

For some time he and the doctor paced a trail beside the line together.
Among other facts that Anderson got from this conversation, he learnt
that the American authorities had been telegraphed to, and that a couple
of deputy sheriffs were coming to assist the Canadian police. They were
expected the following morning, when also the coroner's inquest would
be held.

As to Anderson's own share in the interview, when the two men parted,
with a silent grasp of the hand, the Doctor had nothing to say to the
bystanders, except that Mr. Anderson would have some evidence to give on
the morrow, and that, for himself, he was not at liberty to divulge what
had passed between them.

It was by this time late. Anderson shut himself up in his room at the
hotel; but among the groups lounging at the bar or in the neighbourhood
of the station excitement and discussion ran high. The envelope
addressed to Anderson, Anderson's own demeanour since his arrival on the
scene--with the meaning of both conjecture was busy.

       *       *       *       *       *

Towards midnight a train arrived from Field. A messenger from the
station knocked at Anderson's door with a train letter. Anderson locked
the door again behind the man who had brought it, and stood looking at
it a moment in silence. It was from Lady Merton. He opened it slowly,
took it to the small deal table, which held a paraffin lamp, and sat
down to read it.

     "Dear Mr. Anderson--Mr. Delaine has given me your message and
     read me some of your letter to him. He has also told me what
     he knew before this happened--we understood that you wished
     it. Oh! I cannot say how very sorry we are, Philip and I, for
     your great trouble. It makes me sore at heart to think that
     all the time you have been looking after us so kindly, taking
     this infinite pains for us, you have had this heavy anxiety
     on your mind. Oh, why didn't you tell me! I thought we were
     to be friends. And now this tragedy! It is
     terrible--terrible! Your father has been his own worst
     enemy--and at last death has come,--and he has escaped
     himself. Is there not some comfort in that? And you tried to
     save him. I can imagine all that you have been doing and
     planning for him. It is not lost, dear Mr. Anderson. No love
     and pity are ever lost. They are undying--for they are God's
     life in us. They are the pledge--the sign--to which He is
     eternally bound. He will surely, surely, redeem--and fulfil.

     "I write incoherently, for they are waiting for my letter. I
     want you to write to me, if you will. And when will you come
     back to us? We shall, I think, be two or three days here, for
     Philip has made friends with a man we have met here--a
     surveyor, who has been camping high up, and shooting wild
     goat. He is determined to go for an expedition with him, and
     I had to telegraph to the Lieutenant-Governor to ask him not
     to expect us till Thursday. So if you were to come back here
     before then you would still find us. I don't know that I
     could be of any use to you, or any consolation to you. But,
     indeed, I would try.

     "To-morrow I am told will be the inquest. My thoughts will be
     with you constantly. By now you will have determined on your
     line of action. I only know that it will be noble and
     upright--like yourself.

     "I remain, yours most sincerely"

     "ELIZABETH MERTON."

Anderson pressed the letter to his lips. Its tender philosophising found
no echo in his own mind. But it soothed, because it came from her.

He lay dressed and wakeful on his bed through the night, and at nine
next morning the inquest opened, in the coffee-room of the hotel.

The body of the young constable was first identified. As to the hand
which had fired the shot that killed him, there was no certain evidence;
one of the police had seen the lame man with the white hair level his
revolver again after the first miss; but there was much shooting going
on, and no one could be sure from what quarter the fatal bullet
had come.

The court then proceeded to the identification of the dead robber. The
coroner, a rancher who bred the best horses in the district, called
first upon two strangers in plain clothes, who had arrived by the first
train from the South that morning. They proved to be the two officers
from Nevada. They had already examined the body, and they gave clear and
unhesitating evidence, identifying the old man as one Alexander McEwen,
well known to the police of the silver-mining State as a lawless and
dangerous character. He had been twice in jail, and had been the
associate of the notorious Bill Symonds in one or two criminal affairs
connected with "faked" claims and the like. The elder of the two
officers in particular drew a vivid and damning picture of the man's
life and personality, of the cunning with which he had evaded the law,
and the ruthlessness with which he had avenged one or two
private grudges.

"We have reason to suppose," said the American officer finally, "that
McEwen was not originally a native of the States. We believe that he
came from Dawson City or the neighbourhood about ten years ago, and that
he crossed the border in consequence of a mysterious affair--which has
never been cleared up--in which a rich German gentleman, Baron von
Aeschenbach, disappeared, and has not been heard of since. Of that,
however, we have no proof, and we cannot supply the court with any
information as to the man's real origin and early history. But we are
prepared to swear that the body we have seen this morning is that of
Alexander McEwen, who for some years past has been well known to us, now
in one camp, now in another, of the Comstock district."

The American police officer resumed his seat. George Anderson, who was
to the right of the coroner, had sat, all through this witness's
evidence, bending forward, his eyes on the ground, his hands clasped
between his knees. There was something in the rigidity of his attitude,
which gradually compelled the attention of the onlookers, as though the
perception gained ground that here--in that stillness--those bowed
shoulders--lay the real interest of this sordid outrage, which had so
affronted the pride of Canada's great railway.

The coroner rose. He briefly expressed the thanks of the court to the
Nevada State authorities for having so promptly supplied the information
in their possession in regard to this man McEwen. He would now ask Mr.
George Anderson, of the C.P.R., whether he could in any way assist the
court in this investigation. An empty envelope, fully addressed to Mr.
George Anderson, Ginnell's Boarding House, Laggan, Alberta, had,
strangely enough, been found in McEwen's pocket. Could Mr. Anderson
throw any light upon the matter?

Anderson stood up as the coroner handed him the envelope. He took it,
looked at it, and slowly put it down on the table before him. He was
perfectly composed, but there was that in his aspect which instantly
hushed all sounds in the crowded room, and drew the eyes of everybody in
it upon him. The Kamloops doctor looked at him from a distance with a
sudden twitching smile--the smile of a reticent man in whom strong
feeling must somehow find a physical expression. Dixon, the young
Superintendent, bent forward eagerly. At the back of the room a group of
Japanese railway workers, with their round, yellow faces and half-opened
eyes stared impassively at the tall figure of the fair-haired Canadian;
and through windows and doors, thrown open to the heat, shimmered lake
and forest, the eternal background of Canada.

"Mr. Coroner," said Anderson, straightening himself to his full height,
"the name of the man into whose death you are inquiring is not Alexander
McEwen. He came from Scotland to Manitoba in 1869. His real name was
Robert Anderson, and I--am his son."

The coroner gave an involuntary "Ah!" of amazement, which was echoed, it
seemed, throughout the room.

On one of the small deal tables belonging to the coffee-room, which had
been pushed aside to make room for the sitting of the court, lay the
newspapers of the morning--the _Vancouver Sentinel_ and the _Montreal
Star_. Both contained short and flattering articles on the important
Commission entrusted to Mr. George Anderson by the Prime Minister. "A
great compliment to so young a man," said the _Star_, "but one amply
deserved by Mr. Anderson's record. We look forward on his behalf to a
brilliant career, honourable both to himself and to Canada."

Several persons had already knocked at Anderson's door early that
morning in order to congratulate him; but without finding him. And this
honoured and fortunate person--?

Men pushed each other forward in their eagerness not to lose a word, or
a shade of expression on the pale face which confronted them.

Anderson, after a short pause, as though to collect himself, gave the
outlines of his father's early history, of the farm in Manitoba, the
fire and its consequences, the breach between Robert Anderson and his
sons. He described the struggle of the three boys on the farm, their
migration to Montreal in search of education, and his own later sojourn
in the Yukon, with the evidence which had convinced him of his
father's death.

"Then, only a fortnight ago, he appeared at Laggan and made himself
known to me, having followed me apparently from Winnipeg. He seemed to
be in great poverty, and in bad health. If he had wished it, I was
prepared to acknowledge him; but he seemed not to wish it; there were no
doubt reasons why he preferred to keep his assumed name. I did what I
could for him, and arrangements had been made to put him with decent
people at Vancouver. But last Wednesday night he disappeared from the
boarding house where he and I were both lodging, and various persons
here will know"--he glanced at one or two faces in the ring before
him--"that I have been making inquiries since, with no result. As to
what or who led him into this horrible business, I know nothing. The
Nevada deputies have told you that he was acquainted with Symonds--a
fact unknown to me--and I noticed on one or two occasions that he seemed
to have acquaintances among the men tramping west to the Kootenay
district. I can only imagine that after his success in Montana last
year, Symonds made up his mind to try the same game on the C.P.R., and
that during the last fortnight he came somehow into communication with
my father. My father must have been aware of Symonds's plans--and may
have been unable at the last to resist the temptation to join in the
scheme. As to all that I am entirely in the dark."

He paused, and then, looking down, he added, under his breath, as though
involuntarily--"I pray--that he may not have been concerned in the
murder of poor Brown. But there is--I think--no evidence to connect him
with it. I shall be glad to answer to the best of my power any questions
that the court may wish to put."

He sat down heavily, very pale, but entirely collected. The room watched
him a moment, and then a friendly, encouraging murmur seemed to rise
from the crowd--to pass from them to Anderson.

The coroner, who was an old friend of Anderson's, fidgeted a little and
in silence. He took off his glasses and put them on again. His tanned
face, long and slightly twisted, with square harsh brows, and powerful
jaw set in a white fringe of whisker, showed an unusual amount of
disturbance. At last he said, clearing his throat: "We are much obliged
to you, Mr. Anderson, for your frankness towards this court. There's
not a man here that don't feel for you, and don't wish to offer you his
respectful sympathy. We know you--and I reckon we know what to think
about you. Gentlemen," he spoke with nasal deliberation, looking round
the court, "I think that's so?"

A shout of consent--the shout of men deeply moved--went up. Anderson,
who had resumed his former attitude, appeared to take no notice, and the
coroner resumed.

"I will now call on Mrs. Ginnell to give her evidence."

The Irishwoman rose with alacrity--what she had to say held the
audience. The surly yet good-hearted creature was divided between her
wish to do justice to the demerits of McEwen, whom she had detested, and
her fear of hurting Anderson's feelings in public. Beneath her rough
exterior, she carried some of the delicacies of Celtic feeling, and she
had no sooner given some fact that showed the coarse dishonesty of the
father, than she veered off in haste to describe the pathetic efforts of
the son. Her homely talk told; the picture grew.

Meanwhile Anderson sat impatient or benumbed, annoyed with Mrs.
Ginnell's garrulity, and longing for the whole thing to end. He had a
letter to write to Ottawa before post-time.

When the verdicts had been given, the doctor and he walked away from
the court together. The necessary formalities were carried through, a
coffin ordered, and provision made for the burial of Robert Anderson. As
the two men passed once or twice through the groups now lounging and
smoking as before outside the hotel, all conversation ceased, and all
eyes followed Anderson. Sincere pity was felt for him; and at the same
time men asked each other anxiously how the revelation would affect his
political and other chances.

Late in the same evening the burial of McEwen took place. A
congregational minister at the graveside said a prayer for mercy on the
sinner. Anderson had not asked him to do it, and felt a dull resentment
of the man's officiousness, and the unctious length of his prayer. Half
an hour later he was on the platform, waiting for the train to Glacier.

He arrived there in the first glorious dawn of a summer morning. Over
the vast Illecillowaet glacier rosy feather-clouds were floating in a
crystal air, beneath a dome of pale blue. Light mists rose from the
forests and the course of the river, and above them shone the dazzling
snows, the hanging glaciers, and glistening rock faces, ledge piled on
ledge, of the Selkirk giants--Hermit and Tupper, Avalanche and Sir
Donald--with that cleft of the pass between.

The pleasant hotel, built to offer as much shelter and comfort as
possible to the tired traveller and climber, was scarcely awake. A
sleepy-eyed Japanese showed Anderson to his room. He threw himself on
the bed, longing for sleep, yet incapable of it. He was once more under
the same roof with Elizabeth Merton--and for the last time! He longed
for her presence, her look, her touch; and yet with equal intensity he
shrank from seeing her. That very morning through the length of Canada
and the States would go out the news of the train-robbery on the main
line of the C.P.R., and with it the "dramatic" story of himself and his
father, made more dramatic by a score of reporters. And as the news of
his appointment, in the papers of the day before, had made him a public
person, and had been no doubt telegraphed to London and Europe, so also
would it be with the news of the "hold-up," and his own connection with
it; partly because it had happened on the C.P.R.; still more because of
the prominence given to his name the day before.

He felt himself a disgraced man; and he had already put from him all
thought of a public career. Yet he wondered, not without self-contempt,
as he lay there in the broadening light, what it was in truth that made
the enormous difference between this Monday and the Monday before. His
father was dead, and had died in the very commission of a criminal act.
But all or nearly all that Anderson knew now about his character he had
known before this happened. The details given by the Nevada officers
were indeed new to him; but he had shrewdly suspected all along that the
record, did he know it, would be something like that. If such a
parentage in itself involves stain and degradation, the stain and
degradation had been always there, and the situation, looked at
philosophically, was no worse for the catastrophe which had intervened
between this week and last.

And yet it was of course immeasurably worse! Such is the "bubble
reputation"--the difference between the known and the unknown.

At nine o'clock a note was brought to his room:

     "Will you breakfast with me in half an hour? You will find me
     alone.

     "E.M."

Before the clock struck the half-hour, Elizabeth was already waiting for
her guest, listening for every sound. She too had been awake half
the night.

When he came in she went up to him, with her quick-tripping step,
holding out both her hands; and he saw that her eyes were full of tears.

"I am so--so sorry!" was all she could say. He looked into her eyes,
and as her hands lay in his he stooped suddenly and kissed them. There
was a great piteousness in his expression, and she felt through every
nerve the humiliation and the moral weariness which oppressed him.
Suddenly she recalled that first moment of intimacy between them when he
had so brusquely warned her about Philip, and she had been wounded by
his mere strength and fearlessness; and it hurt her to realise the
contrast between that strength and this weakness.

She made him sit down beside her in the broad window of her little
sitting-room, which over-looked the winding valley with the famous loops
of the descending railway, and the moving light and shade on the forest;
and very gently and tenderly she made him tell her all the story from
first to last.

His shrinking passed away, soothed by her sweetness, her restrained
emotion, and after a little he talked with freedom, gradually recovering
his normal steadiness and clearness of mind.

At the same time she perceived some great change in him. The hidden
spring of melancholy in his nature, which, amid all his practical
energies and activities, she had always discerned, seemed to have
overleaped its barriers, and to be invading the landmarks of character.

At the end of his narrative he said something in a hurried, low voice
which gave her a clue.

"I did what I could to help him--but my father hated me. He died hating
me. Nothing I could do altered him. Had he reason? When my brother and I
in our anger thought we were avenging our mother's death, were we in
truth destroying him also--driving him into wickedness beyond hope? Were
we--was I--for I was the eldest--responsible? Does his death, moral and
physical, lie at my door?"

He raised his eyes to her--his tired appealing eyes--and Elizabeth
realised sharply how deep a hold such questionings take on such a man.
She tried to argue with and comfort him--and he seemed to absorb, to
listen--but in the middle of it, he said abruptly, as though to change
the subject:

"And I confess the publicity has hit me hard. It may be cowardly, but I
can't face it for a while. I think I told you I owned some land in
Saskatchewan. I shall go and settle down on it at once."

"And give up your appointment--your public life?" she cried in dismay.

He smiled at her faintly, as though trying to console her.

"Yes; I shan't be missed, and I shall do better by myself. I understand
the wheat and the land. They are friends that don't fail one."

Elizabeth flushed.

"Mr. Anderson!--you mustn't give up your work. Canada asks it of you."

"I shall only be changing my work. A man can do nothing better for
Canada than break up land."

"You can do that--and other things besides. Please--please--do nothing
rash!"

She bent over to him, her brown eyes full of entreaty, her hand laid
gently, timidly on his.

He could not bear to distress her--but he must.

"I sent in my resignation yesterday to the Prime Minister."

The delicate face beside him clouded.

"He won't accept it."

Anderson shook his head. "I think he must."

Elizabeth looked at him in despair.

"Oh! no. You oughtn't to do this--indeed, indeed you oughtn't. It is
cowardly--forgive me!--unworthy of you. Oh! can't you see how the
sympathy of everybody who knows--everybody whose opinion you care for--"

She stopped a moment, colouring deeply, checked indeed by the thought of
a conversation between herself and Philip of the night before. Anderson
interrupted her:

"The sympathy of one person," he said hoarsely, "is very precious to
me. But even for her--"

She held out her hands to him again imploringly--

"Even for her?--"

But instead of taking the hands he rose and went out on the balcony a
moment, as though to look at the great view. Then he returned, and
stood over her.

"Lady Merton, I am afraid--it's no use. We are not--we can't
be--friends."

"Not friends?" she said, her lip quivering. "I thought I--"

He looked down steadily on her upturned face. His own spoke eloquently
enough. Turning her head away, with fluttering breath, she began to
speak fast and brokenly:

"I, too, have been very lonely. I want a friend whom I might help--who
would help me. Why should you refuse? We are not either of us quite
young; what we undertook we could carry through. Since my husband's
death I--I have been playing at life. I have always been hungry,
dissatisfied, discontented. There were such splendid things going on in
the world, and I--I was just marking time. Nothing to do!--as much money
as I could possibly want--society of course--travelling--and
visiting--and amusing myself--but oh! so tired all the time. And
somehow Canada has been a great revelation of real, strong, living
things--this great Northwest--and you, who seemed to explain it to me--"

"Dear Lady Merton!" His tone was low and full of emotion. And this time
it was he who stooped and took her unresisting hands in his. She went on
in the same soft, pleading tone--

"I felt what it might be--to help in the building up a better human
life--in this vast new country. God has given to you this task--such a
noble task!--and through your friendship, I too seemed to have a little
part in it, if only by sympathy. Oh, no! you mustn't turn back--you
mustn't shrink--because of what has happened to you. And let me, from a
distance, watch and help. It will ennoble my life, too. Let me!"--she
smiled--"I shall make a good friend, you'll see. I shall write very
often. I shall argue--and criticise--and want a great deal of
explaining. And you'll come over to us, and do splendid work, and make
many English friends. Your strength will all come back to you."

He pressed the hands he held more closely.

"It is like you to say all this--but--don't let us deceive ourselves. I
could not be your friend, Lady Merton. I must not come and see you."

She was silent, very pale, her eyes on his--and he went on:

"It is strange to say it in this way, at such a moment; but it seems as
though I had better say it. I have had the audacity, you see--to fall in
love with you. And if it was audacity a week ago, you can guess what it
is now--now when--Ask your mother and brother what they would think of
it!" he said abruptly, almost fiercely.

There was a moment's silence. All consciousness, all feeling in each of
these two human beings had come to be--with the irrevocable swiftness of
love--a consciousness of the other. Under the sombre renouncing passion
of his look, her own eyes filled slowly--beautifully--with tears. And
through all his perplexity and pain there shot a thrill of joy, of
triumph even, sharp and wonderful. He understood. All this might have
been his--this delicate beauty, this quick will, this rare
intelligence--and yet the surrender in her aspect was not the simple
surrender of love; he knew before she spoke that she did not pretend to
ignore the obstacles between them; that she was not going to throw
herself upon his renunciation, trying vehemently to break it down, in a
mere blind girlish impulsiveness. He realised at once her heart, and her
common sense; and was grateful to her for both.

Gently she drew herself away, drawing a long breath. "My mother and
brother would not decide those things for me--oh, _never_!--I should
decide them for myself. But we are not going to talk of them to-day. We
are not going to make any--any rash promises to each other. It is you we
must think for--your future--your life. And then--if you won't give me a
friend's right to speak--you will be unkind--and I shall respect
you less."

She threw back her little head with vivacity. In the gesture he saw the
strength of her will and his own wavered.

"How can it be unkind?" he protested. "You ought not to be troubled with
me any more."

"Let me be judge of that. If you will persist in giving up this
appointment, promise me at least to come to England. That will break
this spell of this--this terrible thing, and give you courage--again.
Promise me!"

"No, no!--you are too good to me--too good;--let it end here. It is
much, much better so."

Then she broke down a little.

She looked round her, like some hurt creature seeking a means of escape.
Her lips trembled. She gave a low cry. "And I have loved Canada so! I
have been so happy here."

"And now I have hurt you?--I have spoilt everything?"

"It is your unhappiness does that--and that you will spoil your life.
Promise me only this one thing--to come to England! Promise me!"

He sat down in a quiet despair that she would urge him so. A long
argument followed between them, and at last she wore him down. She dared
say nothing more of the Commissionership; but he promised her to come to
England some time in the following winter; and with that she had to
be content.

Then she gave him breakfast. During their conversation, which Elizabeth
guided as far as possible to indifferent topics, the name of Mariette
was mentioned. He was still, it seemed, at Vancouver. Elizabeth gave
Anderson a sudden look, and casually, without his noticing, she
possessed herself of the name of Mariette's hotel.

At breakfast also she described, with a smile and sigh, her brother's
first and last attempt to shoot wild goat in the Rockies, an expedition
which had ended in a wetting and a chill--"luckily nothing much; but
poor Philip won't be out of his room to-day."

"I will go and see him," said Anderson, rising.

Elizabeth looked up, her colour fluttering.

"Mr. Anderson, Philip is only a boy, and sometimes a foolish boy--"

"I understand," said Anderson quietly, after a moment. "Philip thinks
his sister has been running risks. Who warned him?"

Elizabeth shrugged her shoulders without replying. He saw a touch of
scorn in her face that was new to him.

"I think I guess," he said. "Why not? It was the natural thing. So Mr.
Delaine is still here?"

"Till to-morrow."

"I am glad. I shall like to assure him that his name was not
mentioned--he was not involved at all!"

Elizabeth's lip curled a little, but she said nothing. During the
preceding forty-eight hours there had been passages between herself and
Delaine that she did not intend Anderson to know anything about. In his
finical repugnance to soiling his hands with matters so distasteful,
Delaine had carried out the embassy which Anderson had perforce
entrusted to him in such a manner as to rouse in Elizabeth a maximum of
pride on her own account, and of indignation on Anderson's. She was not
even sorry for him any more; being, of course, therein a little unjust
to him, as was natural to a high-spirited and warm-hearted woman.

Anderson, meanwhile, went off to knock at Philip's door, and Philip's
sister was left behind to wonder nervously how Philip would behave and
what he would say. She was still smarting under the boy's furious
outburst of the night before when, through a calculated indiscretion of
Delaine's, the notion that Anderson had presumed and might still presume
to set his ambitions on Elizabeth had been presented to him for the
first time.

"My sister marry a mining engineer!--with a drunken old robber for a
father! By Jove! Anybody talking nonsense of that kind will jolly well
have to reckon with me! Elizabeth!--you may say what you like, but I am
the head of the family!"

Anderson found the head of the family in bed, surrounded by novels, and
a dozen books on big-game shooting in the Rockies. Philip received him
with an evident and ungracious embarrassment.

"I am awfully sorry--beastly business. Hard lines on you, of
course--very. Hope they'll get the men."

"Thank you. They are doing their best."

Anderson sat down beside the lad. The fragility of his look struck him
painfully, and the pathetic contrast between it and the fretting
spirit--the books of travel and adventure heaped round him.

"Have you been ill again?" he asked in his kind, deep voice.

"Oh, just a beastly chill. Elizabeth would make me take too many wraps.
Everyone knows you oughtn't to get overheated walking."

"Do you want to stay on here longer?"

"Not I! What do I care about glaciers and mountains and that sort of
stuff if I can't hunt? But Elizabeth's got at the doctor somehow, and he
won't let me go for three or four days unless I kick over the traces. I
daresay I shall."

"No you won't--for your sister's sake. I'll see all arrangements are
made."

Philip made no direct reply. He lay staring at the ceiling--till at last
he said--

"Delaine's going. He's going to-morrow. He gets on Elizabeth's nerves."

"Did he say anything to you about me?" said Anderson.

Philip flushed.

"Well, I daresay he did."

"Make your mind easy, Gaddesden. A man with my story is not going to ask
your sister to marry him."

Philip looked up. Anderson sat composedly erect, the traces of his
nights of sleeplessness and revolt marked on every feature, but as much
master of himself and his life--so Gaddesden intuitively felt--as he had
ever been. A movement of remorse and affection stirred in the young man
mingled with the strength of other inherited things.

"Awfully sorry, you know," he said clumsily, but this time sincerely. "I
don't suppose it makes any difference to you that your father--well, I'd
better not talk about it. But you see--Elizabeth might marry anybody.
She might have married heaps of times since Merton died, if she hadn't
been such an icicle. She's got lots of money, and--well, I don't want to
be snobbish--but at home--we--our family--"

"I understand," said Anderson, perhaps a little impatiently--"you are
great people. I understood that all along."

Family pride cried out in Philip. "Then why the deuce--" But he said
aloud in some confusion, "I suppose that sounded disgusting"--then
floundering deeper--"but you see--well, I'm very fond of Elizabeth!"

Anderson rose and walked to the window which commanded a view of the
railway line.

"I see the car outside. I'll go and have a few words with Yerkes."

The boy let him go in silence--conscious on the one hand that he had
himself played a mean part in their conversation, and on the other that
Anderson, under this onset of sordid misfortune, was somehow more of a
hero in his eyes, and no doubt in other people's, than ever.

On his way downstairs Anderson ran into Delaine, who was ascending with
an armful of books and pamphlets.

"Oh, how do you do? Had only just heard you were here. May I have a word
with you?"

Anderson remounted the stairs in silence, and the two men paused, seeing
no one in sight, in the corridor beyond.

"I have just read the report of the inquest, and should like to offer
you my sincere sympathy and congratulations on your very straightforward
behaviour--" Anderson made a movement. Delaine went on hurriedly--

"I should like also to thank you for having kept my name out of it."

"There was no need to bring it in," said Anderson coldly.

"No of course not--of course not! I have also seen the news of your
appointment. I trust nothing will interfere with that."

Anderson turned towards the stairs again. He was conscious of a keen
antipathy--the antipathy of tired nerves--to the speaker's mere aspect,
his long hair, his too picturesque dress, the antique on his little
finger, the effeminate stammer in his voice.

"Are you going to-day? What train?" he said, in a careless voice as he
moved away.

Delaine drew back, made a curt reply, and the two men parted.

"Oh, he'll get over it; there will very likely be nothing to get over,"
Delaine reflected tartly, as he made his way to his room. "A new country
like this can't be too particular." He was thankful, at any rate, that
he would have an opportunity before long--for he was going straight home
and to Cumberland--of putting Mrs. Gaddesden on her guard. "I may be
thought officious; Lady Merton let me see very plainly that she thinks
me so--but I shall do my duty nevertheless."

And as he stood over his packing, bewildering his valet with a number of
precise and old-maidish directions, his sore mind ran alternately on the
fiasco of his own journey and on the incredible folly of nice women.

Delaine departed; and for two days Elizabeth ministered to Anderson. She
herself went strangely through it, feeling between them, as it were,
the bared sword of his ascetic will--no less than her own terrors and
hesitations. But she set herself to lift him from the depths; and as
they walked about the mountains and the forests, in a glory of summer
sunshine, the sanity and sweetness of her nature made for him a
spiritual atmosphere akin in its healing power to the influence of pine
and glacier upon his physical weariness.

On the second evening, Mariette walked into the hotel. Anderson, who had
just concluded all arrangements for the departure of the car with its
party within forty-eight hours, received him with astonishment.

"What brings you here?"

Mariette's harsh face smiled at him gravely.

"The conviction that if I didn't come, you would be committing a folly."

"What do you mean?"

"Giving up your Commissionership, or some nonsense of that sort."

"I have given it up."

"H'm! Anything from Ottawa yet?"

It was impossible, Anderson pointed out, that there should be any letter
for another three days. But he had written finally and did not mean to
be over-persuaded.

Mariette at once carried him off for a walk and attacked him
vigorously. "Your private affairs have nothing whatever to do with your
public work. Canada wants you--you must go."

"Canada can easily get hold of a Commissioner who would do her more
credit," was the bitter reply. "A man's personal circumstances are part
of his equipment. They must not be such as to injure his mission."

Mariette argued in vain.

As they were both dining in the evening with Elizabeth and Philip, a
telegram was brought in for Anderson from the Prime Minister. It
contained a peremptory and flattering refusal to accept his resignation.
"Nothing has occurred which affects your public or private character. My
confidence quite unchanged. Work is best for yourself, and the public
expects it of you. Take time to consider, and wire me in two days."

Anderson thrust it into his pocket, and was only with difficulty
persuaded to show it to Mariette.

But in the course of the evening many letters arrived--letters of
sympathy from old friends in Quebec and Manitoba, from colleagues and
officials, from navvies and railwaymen, even, on the C.P.R., from his
future constituents in Saskatchewan--drawn out by the newspaper reports
of the inquest and of Anderson's evidence. For once the world rallied to
a good man in distress! and Anderson was strangely touched and
overwhelmed by it.

He passed an almost sleepless night, and in the morning as he met
Elizabeth on her balcony he said to her, half reproachfully, pointing to
Mariette below--

"It was you sent for him."

Elizabeth smiled.

"A woman knows her limitations! It is harder to refuse two than one."

For twenty-four hours the issue remained uncertain. Letters continued to
pour in; Mariette applied the plain-spoken, half-scornful arguments
natural to a man holding a purely spiritual standard of life; and
Elizabeth pleaded more by look and manner than by words.

Anderson held out as long as he could. He was assaulted by that dark
midway hour of manhood, that distrust of life and his own powers, which
disables so many of the world's best men in these heightened, hurrying
days. But in the end his two friends saved him--as by fire.

Mariette himself dictated the telegram to the Prime Minister in which
Anderson withdrew his resignation; and then, while Anderson, with a
fallen countenance, carried it to the post, the French Canadian and
Elizabeth looked at each other--in a common exhaustion and relief.

"I feel a wreck," said Elizabeth. "Monsieur, you are an excellent
ally." And she held out her hand to her colleague. Mariette took it, and
bowed over it with the air of a _grand seigneur_ of 1680.

"The next step must be yours, madam--if you really take an interest in
our friend."

Elizabeth rather nervously inquired what it might be.

"Find him a wife!--a good wife. He was not made to live alone."

His penetrating eyes in his ugly well-bred face searched the features of
his companion. Elizabeth bore it smiling, without flinching.

A fortnight passed--and Elizabeth and Philip were on their way home
through the heat of July. Once more the railway which had become their
kind familiar friend sped them through the prairies, already whitening
to the harvest, through the Ontarian forests and the Ottawa valley. The
wheat was standing thick on the illimitable earth; the plains in their
green or golden dress seemed to laugh and sing under the hot dome of
sky. Again the great Canadian spectacle unrolled itself from west to
east, and the heart Elizabeth brought to it was no longer the heart of a
stranger. The teeming Canadian life had become interwoven with her life;
and when Anderson came to bid her a hurried farewell on the platform at
Regina, she carried the passionate memory of his face with her, as the
embodiment and symbol of all that she had seen and felt.

Then her thoughts turned to England, and the struggle before her. She
braced herself against the Old World as against an enemy. But her spirit
failed her when she remembered that in Anderson himself she was like to
find her chiefest foe.



CHAPTER XIII

"What about the shooters, Wilson? I suppose they'll be in directly?"

"They're just finishing the last beat, ma'am. Shall I bring in tea?"

Mrs. Gaddesden assented, and then leaving her seat by the fire she moved
to the window to see if she could discover any signs in the wintry
landscape outside of Philip and his shooting party. As she did so she
heard a rattle of distant shots coming from a point to her right beyond
the girdling trees of the garden. But she saw none of the shooters--only
two persons, walking up and down the stone terrace outside, in the glow
of the November sunset. One was Elizabeth, the other a tall, ungainly,
yet remarkable figure, was a Canadian friend of Elizabeth's, who had
only arrived that forenoon--M. Félix Mariette, of Quebec. According to
Elizabeth, he had come over to attend a Catholic Congress in London.
Mrs. Gaddesden understood that he was an Ultramontane, and that she was
not to mention to him the word "Empire." She knew also that Elizabeth
had made arrangements with a neighbouring landowner, who was also a
Catholic, that he should be motored fifteen miles to Mass on the
following morning, which was Sunday; and her own easy-going Anglican
temper, which carried her to the parish church about twelve times a
year, had been thereby a good deal impressed.

How well those furs became Elizabeth! It was a chill frosty evening, and
Elizabeth's slight form was wrapped in the sables which had been one of
poor Merton's earliest gifts to her. The mother's eye dwelt with an
habitual pride on the daughter's grace of movement and carriage. "She is
always so distinguished," she thought, and then checked herself by the
remembrance that she was applying to Elizabeth an adjective that
Elizabeth particularly disliked. Nevertheless, Mrs. Gaddesden knew very
well what she herself meant by it. She meant something--some quality in
Elizabeth, which was always provoking in her mother's mind despairing
comparisons between what she might make of her life and what she was
actually making, or threatening to make of it.

Alas, for that Canadian journey--that disastrous Canadian journey! Mrs.
Gaddesden's thoughts, as she watched the two strollers outside, were
carried back to the moment in early August when Arthur Delaine had
reappeared in her drawing-room, three weeks before Elizabeth's return,
and she had gathered from his cautious and stammering revelations what
kind of man it was who seemed to have established this strange hold on
her daughter. Delaine, she thought, had spoken most generously of
Elizabeth and his own disappointment, and most kindly of this
Mr. Anderson.

"I know nothing against him personally--nothing! No doubt a very
estimable young fellow, with just the kind of ability that will help him
in Canada. Lady Merton, I imagine, will have told you of the sad events
in which we found him involved?"

Mrs. Gaddesden had replied that certainly Elizabeth had told her the
whole story, so far as it concerned Mr. Anderson. She pointed to the
letters beside her.

"But you cannot suppose," had been her further indignant remark, "that
Elizabeth would ever dream of marrying him!"

"That, my dear old friend, is for her mother to find out," Delaine had
replied, not without a touch of venom. "I can certainly assure you that
Lady Merton is deeply interested in this young man, and he in her."

"Elizabeth--exiling herself in Canada--burying herself on the
prairies--when she might have everything here--the best of
everything--at her feet. It is inconceivable!"

Delaine had agreed that it was inconceivable, and they had mourned
together over the grotesque possibilities of life. "But you will save
her," he had said at last. "You will save her! You will point out to her
all she would be giving up--the absurdity, the really criminal waste
of it!"

On which he had gloomily taken his departure for an archæological
congress at Berlin, and an autumn in Italy; and a few weeks later she
had recovered her darling Elizabeth, paler and thinner than before--and
quite, quite incomprehensible!

As for "saving" her, Mrs. Gaddesden had not been allowed to attempt it.
In the first place, Elizabeth had stoutly denied that there was anything
to save her from. "Don't believe anything at all, dear Mummy, that
Arthur Delaine may have said to you! I have made a great friend--of a
very interesting man; and I am going to correspond with him. He is
coming to London in November, and I have asked him to stay here. And you
must be _very_ kind to him, darling--just as kind as you can be--for he
has had a hard time--he saved Philip's life--and he is an uncommonly
fine fellow!"

And with that--great readiness to talk about everything except just
what Mrs. Gaddesden most wanted to know. Elizabeth sitting on her
mother's bed at night, crooning about Canada--her soft brown hair over
her shoulders, and her eyes sparkling with patriotic enthusiasm, was a
charming figure. But let Mrs. Gaddesden attempt to probe and penetrate
beyond a certain point, and the way was resolutely barred. Elizabeth
would kiss her mother tenderly--it was as though her own reticence hurt
her--but would say nothing. Mrs. Gaddesden could only feel sorely that a
great change had come over the being she loved best in the world, and
that she was not to know the whys and wherefores of it.

And Philip--alack! had been of very little use to her in the matter!

"Don't you bother your head, Mother! Anderson's an awfully good
chap--but he's not going to marry Elizabeth. Told me he knew he wasn't
the kind. And of course he isn't--must draw the line somewhere--hang it!
But he's an awfully decent fellow. He's not going to push himself in
where he isn't wanted. You let Elizabeth alone, Mummy--it'll work off.
And of course we must be civil to him when he comes over--I should jolly
well think we must--considering he saved my life!"

Certainly they must be civil! News of Anderson's sailing and arrival
had been anxiously looked for. He had reached London three days before
this date, had presented his credentials at the Board of Trade and the
Colonial Office, and after various preliminary interviews with
ministers, was now coming down to Martindale for a week-end before the
assembling of the small conference of English and colonial
representatives to which he had been sent.

Mrs. Gaddesden saw from the various notices of his arrival in the
English papers that even in England, among the initiated he was
understood to be a man of mark. She was all impatience to see him, and
had shown it outwardly much more plainly than Elizabeth. How quiet
Elizabeth had been these last days! moving about the house so silently,
with vaguely smiling eyes, like one husbanding her strength before
an ordeal.

What was going to happen? Mrs. Gaddesden was conscious in her own mind
of a strained hush of expectation. But she had never ventured to say a
word to Elizabeth. In half an hour--or less--he would be here. A motor
had been sent to meet the express train at the country town fifteen
miles off. Mrs. Gaddesden looked round her in the warm dusk, as though
trying to forecast how Martindale and its inmates would look to the
new-comer. She saw a room of medium size, which from the end of the
sixteenth century had been known as the Red Drawing Room--a room
panelled in stamped Cordovan leather, and filled with rare and beautiful
things; with ebony cabinets, and fine lacquer; with the rarest of
oriental carpets, with carved chairs, and luxurious sofas. Set here and
there, sparingly, among the shadows, as though in scorn of any vulgar
profusion, the eye caught the gleam of old silver, or rock crystal, or
agate; _bibelots_ collected a hundred and fifty years ago by a Gaddesden
of taste, and still in their original places. Overhead, the uneven
stucco ceiling showed a pattern of Tudor roses; opposite to Mrs.
Gaddesden the wall was divided between a round mirror, in whose depths
she saw herself reflected and a fine Holbein portrait of a man, in a
flat velvet hat on a green background. Over the carved mantelpiece with
its date of 1586, there reigned a Romney portrait--one of the most
famous in existence--of a young girl in black. Elizabeth Merton bore a
curious resemblance to it. Chrysanthemums, white, yellow and purple,
gleamed amid the richness of the room; while the light of the solitary
lamp beside which Mrs. Gaddesden had been sitting with her embroidery,
blended with the orange glow from outside now streaming in through the
unshuttered windows, to deepen a colour effect of extraordinary beauty,
produced partly by time, partly by the conscious effort of a dozen
generations.

And from the window, under the winter sunset, Mrs. Gaddesden could see,
at right angles to her on either side, the northern and southern wings
of the great house; the sloping lawns; the river winding through the
park; the ivy-grown church among the trees; the distant woods and
plantations; the purple outlines of the fells. Just as in the room
within, so the scene without was fused into a perfect harmony and
keeping by the mellowing light. There was in it not a jarring note, a
ragged line--age and dignity, wealth and undisputed place: Martindale
expressed them all. The Gaddesdens had twice refused a peerage; and with
contempt. In their belief, to be Mr. Gaddesden of Martindale was enough;
a dukedom could not have bettered it. And the whole country-side in
which they had been rooted for centuries agreed with them. There had
even been a certain disapproval of the financial successes of Philip
Gaddesden's father. It was true that the Gaddesden rents had gone down.
But the country, however commercialised itself, looked with jealousy on
any intrusion of "commercialism" into the guarded and venerable
precincts of Martindale.

The little lady who was now, till Philip's majority and marriage,
mistress of Martindale, was a small, soft, tremulous person, without the
intelligence of her daughter, but by no means without character.
Secretly she had often felt oppressed by her surroundings. Whenever
Philip married, she would find it no hardship at all to retire to the
dower house at the edge of the park. Meanwhile she did her best to
uphold the ancient ways. But if _she_ sometimes found Martindale
oppressive--too old, too large, too rich, too perfect--how was it going
to strike a young Canadian, fresh from the prairies, who had never been
in England before?

A sudden sound of many footsteps in the hall. The drawing-room door was
thrown open by Philip, and a troop of men entered. A fresh-coloured man
with grizzled hair led the van.

"Well, Mrs. Gaddesden, here we all are. Philip has given us a capital
day!"

A group of men followed him; the agent of the property, two small
neighbouring squires, a broad-browed burly man in knickerbockers, who
was apparently a clergyman, to judge from his white tie, the adjutant of
the local regiment, and a couple of good-looking youths, Etonian friends
of Philip. Elizabeth and Mariette came in from the garden, and a young
cousin of the Gaddesdens, a Miss Lucas, slipped into the room under
Elizabeth's wing. She was a pretty girl, dressed in an elaborate
demi-toilette of white chiffon, and the younger men of the party in
their shooting dress--with Philip at their head--were presently
clustered thick about her, like bees after pollen. It was clear, indeed,
that Philip was paying her considerable attention, and as he laughed and
sparred with her, the transient colour that exercise had given him
disappeared, and a pale look of excitement took its place.

Mariette glanced from one to another with a scarcely disguised
curiosity. This was only his third visit to England and he felt himself
in a foreign country. That was a _pasteur_ he supposed, in the
gaiters--grotesque! And why was the young lady in evening dress, while
Lady Merton, now that she had thrown off her furs, appeared in the
severest of tweed coats and skirts? The rosy old fellow beside Mrs.
Gaddesden was, he understood from Lady Merton, the Lord Lieutenant of
the county.

But at that moment his hostess laid hands upon him to present him to her
neighbour. "Monsieur Mariette--Lord Waynflete."

"Delighted to see you," said the great man affably, holding out his
hand. "What a fine place Canada is getting! I am thinking of sending my
third son there."

Mariette bowed.

"There will be room for him."

"I am afraid he hasn't brains enough to do much here--but perhaps in a
new country--"

"He will not require them? Yes, it is a common opinion," said Mariette,
with composure. Lord Waynflete stared a little, and returned to his
hostess. Mariette betook himself to Elizabeth for tea, and she
introduced him to the girl in white, who looked at him with enthusiasm,
and at once threw over her bevy of young men, in favour of the
spectacled and lean-faced stranger.

"You are a Catholic, Monsieur?" she asked him, fervently. "How I envy
you! I _adore_ the Oratory! When we are in town I always go there to
Benediction--unless Mamma wants me at home to pour out tea. Do you know
Cardinal C----?"

She named a Cardinal Archbishop, then presiding over the diocese of
Westminster.

"Yes, mademoiselle, I know him quite well. I have just been staying with
him."

She clasped her hands eagerly.

"How _very_ interesting! I know him a little. _Isn't_ he nice?"

"No," said Mariette resolutely. "He is magnificent--a saint--a
scholar--everything--but not nice!"

The girl looked a little puzzled, then angry, and after a few minutes'
more conversation she returned to her young men, conspicuously turning
her back on Mariette.

He threw a deprecating, half-penitent look at Elizabeth, whose faced
twitched with amusement, and sat down in a corner behind her that he
might observe without talking. His quick intelligence sorted the people
about him almost at once--the two yeoman-squires, who were not quite at
home in Mrs. Gaddesden's drawing-room, were awkward with their tea-cups,
and talked to each other in subdued voices, till Elizabeth found them
out, summoned them to her side, and made them happy; the agent who was
helping Lady Merton with tea, making himself generally useful; Philip
and another gilded youth, the son, he understood, of a neighbouring
peer, who were flirting with the girl in white; and yet a third
fastidious Etonian, who was clearly bored by the ladies, and was amusing
himself with the adjutant and a cigarette in a distant corner. His eyes
came back at last to the _pasteur_. An able face after all; cool,
shrewd, and not unspiritual. Very soon, he, the parson--whose name was
Everett--and Elizabeth were drawn into conversation, and Marietta under
Everett's good-humoured glance found himself observed as well
as observer.

"You are trying to decipher us?" said Everett, at last, with a smile.
"Well, we are not easy."

"Could you be a great nation if you were?"

"Perhaps not. England just now is a palimpsest--the new writing
everywhere on top of the old. Yet it is the same parchment, and the old
is there. Now _you_ are writing on a fresh skin."

"But with the old ideas!" said Mariette, a flash in his dark eyes.
"Church--State--family!--there is nothing else to write with."

The two men drew closer together, and plunged into conversation.
Elizabeth was left solitary a moment, behind the tea-things. The buzz of
the room, the hearty laugh of the Lord Lieutenant, reached the outer
ear. But every deeper sense was strained to catch a voice--a step--that
must soon be here. And presently across the room, her eyes met her
mother's, and their two expectancies touched.

"Mother!--here is Mr. Anderson!"

Philip entered joyously, escorting his guest.

To Anderson's half-dazzled sight, the room, which was now fully lit by
lamplight and fire, seemed crowded. He found himself greeted by a gentle
grey-haired lady of fifty-five, with a strong likeness to a face he
knew; and then his hand touched Elizabeth's. Various commonplaces passed
between him and her, as to his journey, the new motor which had brought
him to the house, the frosty evening. Mariette gave him a nod and smile,
and he was introduced to various men who bowed without any change of
expression, and to a girl, who smiled carelessly, and turned immediately
towards Philip, hanging over the back of her chair.

Elizabeth pointed to a seat beside her, and gave him tea. They talked of
London a little, and his first impressions. All the time he was trying
to grasp the identity of the woman speaking with the woman he had parted
from in Canada. Something surely had gone? This restrained and rather
cold person was not the Elizabeth of the Rockies. He watched her when
she turned from him to her other guests; her light impersonal manner
towards the younger men, with its occasional touch of satire; the
friendly relation between her and the parson; the kindly deference she
showed the old Lord Lieutenant. Evidently she was mistress here, much
more than her mother. Everything seemed to be referred to her, to circle
round her.

Presently there was a stir in the room. Lord Waynflete asked for his
carriage.

"Don't forget, my dear lady, that you open the new Town Hall next
Wednesday," he said, as he made his way to Elizabeth.

She shrugged her shoulders.

"But you make the speech!"

"Not at all. They only want to hear you. And there'll be a great crowd."

"Elizabeth can't speak worth a cent!" said Philip, with brotherly
candour. "Can you, Lisa?"

"I don't believe it," said Lord Waynflete, "but it don't matter. All
they want is that a Gaddesden should say something. Ah, Mrs.
Gaddesden--how glorious the Romney looks to-night!" He turned to the
fireplace, admiring the illuminated picture, his hands on his sides.

"Is it an ancestress?" Mariette addressed the question to Elizabeth.

"Yes. She had three husbands, and is supposed to have murdered the
fourth," said Elizabeth drily.

"All the same she's an extremely handsome woman," put in Lord Waynflete.
"And as you're the image of her, Lady Merton, you'd better not run her
down." Elizabeth joined in the laugh against herself and the speaker
turned to Anderson.

"You'll find this place a perfect treasure-house, Mr. Anderson, and I
advise you to study it--for the Radicals won't leave any of us anything,
before many years are out. You're from Manitoba? Ah, you're not
troubled with any of these Socialist fellows yet! But you'll get
'em--you'll get 'em--like rats in the corn. They'll pull the old flag
down if they can. But you'll help us to keep it flying. The Colonies are
our hope--we look to the Colonies!"

The handsome old man raised an oratorical hand, and looked round on his
audience, like one to whom public speaking was second nature.

Anderson made a gesture of assent; he was not really expected to say
anything. Mariette in the background observed the speaker with an amused
and critical detachment.

"Your carriage will be round directly, Lord Waynflete," said Philip,
"but I don't see why you should go."

"My dear fellow--I have to catch the night train. There is a most
important debate in the House of Lords to-morrow." He turned to the
Canadian politely. "Of course you know there is an autumn session on.
With these Radical Governments we shall soon have one every year."

"What! the Education Bill again to-morrow?" said Everett. "What are you
going to do with it?"

Lord Waynflete looked at the speaker with some distaste. He did not much
approve of sporting parsons, and Everett's opinions were too Liberal to
please him. But he let himself be drawn, and soon the whole room was in
eager debate on some of the old hot issues between Church and Dissent.
Lord Waynflete ceased to be merely fatuous and kindly. His talk became
shrewd, statesmanlike even; he was the typical English aristocrat and
Anglican Churchman, discussing topics with which he had been familiar
from his cradle, and in a manner and tone which every man in the
room--save the two Canadians--accepted without question. He was the
natural leader of these men of the land-owning or military class; they
liked to hear him harangue; and harangue he did, till the striking of a
clock suddenly checked him.

"I must be off! Well, Mrs. Gaddesden, it's the _Church_--the Church we
have to think of!--the Church we have to fight for! What would England
be without the Church--let's ask ourselves that. Good-bye--good-bye!"

"Is he talking of the Anglican establishment?" muttered Mariette. "_Quel
drôle de vieillard!_"

The parson heard him, and, with a twinkle in his eyes, turned and
proposed to show the French Canadian the famous library of the house.

The party melted away. Even Elizabeth had been summoned for some last
word with Lord Waynflete on the subject of the opening of the Town Hall.
Anderson was left alone.

He looked around him, at the room, the pictures, the panelled walls,
and then moving to the window which was still unshuttered, he gazed out
into the starlit dusk, and the dim, stately landscape. There were lights
in the church showing the stained glass of the perpendicular windows,
and a flight of rooks was circling round the old tower.

As he stood there, somebody came back into the room. It was the
adjutant, looking for his hat.

"Jolly old place, isn't it?" said the young man civilly, seeing that the
stranger was studying the view. "It's to be hoped that Philip will keep
it up properly."

"He seems fond of it," said Anderson.

"Oh, yes! But you've got to be a big man to fill the position. However,
there's money enough. They're all rich--and they marry money."

Anderson murmured something inaudible, and the young man departed.

A little later Anderson and Elizabeth were seated together in the Red
Drawing Room. Mrs. Gaddesden, after a little perfunctory conversation
with the new-comer, had disappeared on the plea of letters to write. The
girl in white, the centre of a large party in the hall, was flirting to
her heart's content. Philip would have dearly liked to stay and flirt
with her himself; but his mother, terrified by his pallor and fatigue
after the exertion of the shoot, had hurried him off to take a warm bath
and rest before dinner. So that Anderson and Elizabeth were alone.

Conversation between them did not move easily. Elizabeth was conscious
of an oppression against which it seemed vain to fight. Up to the moment
of his sailing from Canada his letters had been frank and full, the
letters of a deeply attached friend, though with no trace in them of the
language of love. What change was it that the touch of English
ground--the sight of Martindale--had wrought? He talked with some
readiness of the early stages of his mission--of the kindness shown to
him by English public men, and the impressions of a first night in the
House of Commons. But his manner was constrained; anything that he said
might have been heard by all the world; and as their talk progressed,
Elizabeth felt a miserable paralysis descending on her own will. She
grew whiter and whiter. This old house in which they sat, with its
splendours and treasures, this environment of the past all about them
seemed to engulf and entomb them both. She had looked forward with a
girlish pleasure--and yet with a certain tremor--to showing Anderson her
old home, the things she loved and had inherited. And now it was as
though she were vulgarly conscious of wealth and ancestry as dividing
her from him. The wildness within her which found its scope and its
voice in Canada was here like an imprisoned stream, chafing in caverns
underground. Ah! it had been easy to defy the Old World in Canada, its
myriad voices and claims--the many-fingered magic with which an old
society plays on those born into it!

"I shall be here perhaps a month," said Anderson, "but then I shall be
wanted at Ottawa."

And he began to describe a new matter in which he had been lately
engaged--a large development scheme applying to some of the great Peace
River region north of Edmonton. And as he told her of his August journey
through this noble country, with its superb rivers, its shining lakes
and forests, and its scattered settlers, waiting for a Government which
was their servant and not their tyrant, to come and help their first
steps in ordered civilisation; to bring steamers to their waters,
railways to link their settlements, and fresh settlers to let loose the
fertile forces of their earth--she suddenly saw in him his old self--the
Anderson who had sat beside her in the crossing of the prairies, who had
looked into her eyes the day of Roger's Pass. He had grown older and
thinner; his hair was even lightly touched with grey. But the traces in
him of endurance and of pain were like the weathering of a fine
building; mellowing had come, and strength had not been lost.

Yet still no word of feeling, of intimacy even. Her soul cried out
within her, but there was no answer. Then, when it was time to dress,
and she led him through the hall, to the inlaid staircase with its
famous balustrading--early English ironwork of extraordinary
delicacy--and through the endless corridors upstairs, old and dim, but
crowded with portraits and fine furniture, Anderson looked round him in
amazement.

"What a wonderful place!"

"It is too old!" cried Elizabeth, petulantly; then with a touch of
repentance--"Yet of course we love it. We are not so stifled here as you
would be."

He smiled and did not reply.

"Confess you have been stifled--ever since you came to England."

He drew a long breath, throwing back his head with a gesture which made
Elizabeth smile. He smiled in return.

"It was you who warned me how small it would all seem. Such little
fields--such little rivers--such tiny journeys! And these immense towns
treading on each other's heels. Don't you feel crowded up?"

"You are home-sick already?"

He laughed--"No, no!" But the gleam in his eyes admitted it. And
Elizabeth's heart sank--down and down.

       *       *       *       *       *

A few more guests arrived for Sunday--a couple of politicians, a
journalist, a poet, one or two agreeable women, a young Lord S., who had
just succeeded to one of the oldest of English marquisates, and so on.

Elizabeth had chosen the party to give Anderson pleasure, and as a guest
he did not disappoint her pride in him. He talked well and modestly, and
the feeling towards Canada and the Canadians in English society had been
of late years so friendly that although there was often colossal
ignorance, there was no coolness in the atmosphere about him. Lord S.
confused Lake Superior with Lake Ontario, and was of opinion that the
Mackenzie River flowed into the Ottawa. But he was kind enough to say
that he would far sooner go to Canada than any of "those beastly places
abroad"--and as he was just a simple handsome youth, Anderson took to
him, as he had taken to Philip at Lake Louise, and by the afternoon of
Sunday was talking sport and big game in a manner to hold the
smoking-room enthralled.

Only unfortunately Philip was not there to hear. He had been over-tired
by the shoot, and had caught a chill beside. The doctor was in the
house, and Mrs. Gaddesden had very little mind to give to her Sunday
party. Elizabeth felt a thrill of something like comfort as she noticed
how in the course of the day Anderson unconsciously slipped back into
the old Canadian position; sitting with Philip, amusing him and
"chaffing" him; inducing him to obey his doctor; cheering his mother,
and in general producing in Martindale itself the same impression of
masculine help and support which he had produced on Elizabeth, five
months before, in a Canadian hotel.

By Sunday evening Mrs. Gaddesden, instead of a watchful enemy, had
become his firm friend; and in her timid, confused way she asked him to
come for a walk with her in the November dusk. Then, to his
astonishment, she poured out her heart to him about her son, whose
health, together with his recklessness, his determination to live like
other and sound men, was making the two women who loved him more and
more anxious. Anderson was very sorry for the little lady, and genuinely
alarmed himself with regard to Philip, whose physical condition seemed
to him to have changed considerably for the worse since the Canadian
journey. His kindness, his real concern, melted Mrs. Gaddesden's heart.

"I hope we shall find you in town when we come up!" she said, eagerly,
as they turned back to the house, forgetting, in her maternal egotism,
everything but her boy. "Our man here wants a consultation. We shall go
up next week for a short time before Christmas."

Anderson hesitated a moment.

"Yes," he said, slowly, but in a changed voice, "Yes, I shall still be
there."

Whereupon, with perturbation, Mrs. Gaddesden at last remembered there
were other lions in the path. They had not said a single word--however
conventional--of Elizabeth. But she quickly consoled herself by the
reflection that he must have seen by now, poor fellow, how hopeless it
was; and that being so, what was there to be said against admitting him
to their circle, as a real friend of all the family--Philip's friend,
Elizabeth's, and her own?

That night Mrs. Gaddesden was awakened by her maid between twelve and
one. Mr. Gaddesden wanted a certain medicine that he thought was in his
mother's room. Mrs. Gaddesden threw on her dressing-gown and looked for
it anxiously in vain. Perhaps Elizabeth might remember where it was last
seen. She hurried to her. Elizabeth had a sitting-room and bedroom at
the end of the corridor, and Mrs. Gaddesden went into the sitting-room
first, as quietly as possible, so as not to startle her daughter.

She had hardly entered and closed the door behind her, guided by the
light of a still flickering fire, when a sound from the inner room
arrested her.

Elizabeth--Elizabeth in distress?

The mother stood rooted to the spot, in a sudden anguish.
Elizabeth--sobbing? Only once in her life had Mrs. Gaddesden heard that
sound before--the night that the news of Francis Merton's death reached
Martindale, and Elizabeth had wept, as her mother believed, more for
what her young husband might have been to her, than for what he had
been. Elizabeth's eyes filled readily with tears answering to pity or
high feeling; but this fierce stifled emotion--this abandonment of pain!

Mrs. Gaddesden stood trembling and motionless, the tears on her own
cheeks. Conjecture hurried through her mind. She seemed to be learning
her daughter, her gay and tender Elizabeth, afresh. At last she turned
and crept out of the room, noiselessly shutting the door. After
lingering a while in the passage, she knocked, with an uncertain hand,
and waited till Elizabeth came--Elizabeth, hardly visible in the
firelight, her brown hair falling like a veil round her face.



CHAPTER XIV

A few days later the Gaddesdens were in town, settled in a house in
Portman Square. Philip was increasingly ill, and moreover shrouded in a
bitterness of spirit which wrung his mother's heart. She suspected a new
cause for it in the fancy that he had lately taken for Alice Lucas, the
girl in the white chiffon, who had piped to Mariette in vain. Not that
he ever now wanted to see her. He had passed into a phase indeed of
refusing all society--except that of George Anderson. A floor of the
Portman Square house was given up to him. Various treatments were being
tried, and as soon as he was strong enough his mother was to take him to
the South. Meanwhile his only pleasure seemed to lie in Anderson's
visits, which however could not be frequent, for the business of the
Conference was heavy, and after the daily sittings were over, the
interviews and correspondence connected with them took much time.

On these occasions, whether early in the morning before the business of
the day began, or in the hour before dinner--sometimes even late at
night--Anderson after his chat with the invalid would descend from
Philip's room to the drawing-room below, only allowing himself a few
minutes, and glancing always with a quickening of the pulse through the
shadows of the large room, to see whether it held two persons or one.
Mrs. Gaddesden was invariably there; a small, faded woman in trailing
lace dresses, who would sit waiting for him, her embroidery on her knee,
and when he appeared would hurry across the floor to meet him, dropping
silks, scissors, handkerchief on the way. This dropping of all her
incidental possessions--a performance repeated night after night, and
followed always by her soft fluttering apologies--soon came to be
symbolic, in Anderson's eyes. She moved on the impulse of the moment,
without thinking what she might scatter by the way. Yet the impulse was
always a loving impulse--and the regrets were sincere.

As to the relation to Anderson, Philip was here the pivot of the
situation exactly as he had been in Canada. Just as his physical
weakness, and the demands he founded upon it had bound the Canadian to
their chariot wheels in the Rockies, so now--_mutatis mutandis_--in
London. Mrs. Gaddesden before a week was over had become pitifully
dependent upon him, simply because Philip was pleased to desire his
society, and showed a flicker of cheerfulness whenever he appeared. She
was torn indeed between her memory of Elizabeth's sobbing, and her
hunger to give Philip the moon out of the sky, should he happen to want
it. Sons must come first, daughters second; such has been the philosophy
of mothers from the beginning. She feared--desperately feared--that
Elizabeth had given her heart away. And as she agreed with Philip that
it would not be a seemly or tolerable marriage for Elizabeth, she would,
in the natural course of things, both for Elizabeth's sake and the
family's, have tried to keep the unseemly suitor at a distance. But here
he was, planted somehow in the very midst of their life, and she, making
feeble efforts day after day to induce him to root himself there still
more firmly. Sometimes indeed she would try to press alternatives on
Philip. But Philip would not have them. What with the physical and moral
force that seemed to radiate from Anderson, and bring stimulus with them
to the weaker life--and what with the lad's sick alienation for the
moment from his ordinary friends and occupations, Anderson reigned
supreme, often clearly to his own trouble and embarrassment. Had it not
been for Philip, Portman Square would have seen him but seldom. That
Elizabeth knew with a sharp certainty, dim though it might be to her
mother. But as it was, the boy's tragic clinging to his new friend
governed all else, simply because at the bottom of each heart,
unrecognised and unexpressed, lurked the same foreboding, the same
fear of fears.

The tragic clinging was also, alack, a tragic selfishness. Philip had a
substantial share of that quick perception which in Elizabeth became
something exquisite and impersonal, the source of all high emotions.
When Delaine had first suggested to him "an attachment" between Anderson
and his sister, a hundred impressions of his own had emerged to verify
the statement and aggravate his wrath; and when Anderson had said "a man
of my history is not going to ask your sister to marry him," Philip
perfectly understood that but for the history the attempt would have
been made. Anderson was therefore--most unreasonably and
presumptuously--in love with Elizabeth; and as to Elizabeth, the
indications here also were not lost upon Philip. It was all very
amazing, and he wished, to use his phrase to his mother, that it would
"work off." But whether or no, he could not do without Anderson--if
Anderson was to be had. He threw him and Elizabeth together, recklessly;
trusting to Anderson's word, and unable to resist his own craving for
comfort and distraction.

The days passed on, days so charged with feeling for Elizabeth that they
could only be met at all by a kind of resolute stillness and
self-control. Philip was very dependent on the gossip his mother and
sister brought him from the world outside. Elizabeth therefore, to
please him, went into society as usual, and forgot her heartaches, for
her brother and for herself, as best she could. Outwardly she was much
occupied in doing all that could be done--socially and even
politically--for Anderson and Mariette. She had power and she used it.
The two friends found themselves the object of one of those sudden
cordialities that open all doors, even the most difficult, and run like
a warm wave through London society. Mariette remained throughout the
ironic spectator--friendly on his own terms, but entirely rejecting,
often, the terms offered him tacitly or openly, by his English
acquaintance.

"Your ways are not mine--your ideals are not mine, God forbid they
should be!"--he seemed to be constantly saying. "But we happen to be
oxen bound under the same yoke, and dragging the same plough. No gush,
please--but at the same time no ill-will! Loyal?--to your loyalties? Oh
yes--quite sufficiently--so long as you don't ask us to let it interfere
with our loyalty to our own! Don't be such fools as to expect us to take
much interest in your Imperial orgies. But we're all right! Only let us
alone--we're all right!"

Such seemed to be the voice of this queer, kindly, satiric personality.
London generally falls into the arms of those who flout her; and
Mariette, with his militant Catholicism, and his contempt for our
governing ideals, became the fashion. As for Anderson, the contact with
English Ministers and men of affairs had but carried on the generous
process of development that Nature had designed for a strong man.
Whereas in Mariette the vigorous, self-confident English world--based on
the Protestant idea--produced a bitter and profound irritation, Anderson
seemed to find in that world something ripening and favouring that
brought out all the powers--the intellectual powers at least--of his
nature. He did his work admirably; left the impression of a "coming man"
on a great many leading persons interested in the relations between
England and Canada; and when as often happened Elizabeth and he found
themselves at the same dinner-table, she would watch the changes in him
that a larger experience was bringing about, with a heart half proud,
half miserable. As for his story, which was very commonly known, in
general society, it only added to his attractions. Mothers who were
under no anxieties lest he might want to marry their daughters, murmured
the facts of his unlucky _provenance_ to each other, and then the more
eagerly asked him to dinner.

Meanwhile, for Elizabeth life was one long debate, which left her often
at night exhausted and spiritless. The shock of their first meeting at
Martindale, when all her pent-up yearning and vague expectation had been
met and crushed by the silent force of the man's unaltered will, had
passed away. She understood him better. The woman who is beloved
penetrates to the fact through all the disguises that a lover may
attempt. Elizabeth knew well that Anderson had tones and expressions for
her that no other woman could win from him; and looking back to their
conversation at the Glacier House, she realised, night after night, in
the silence of wakeful hours, the fulness of his confession, together
with the strength of his recoil from any pretension to marry her.

Yes, he loved her, and his mere anxiety--now, and as things stood--to
avoid any extension or even repetition of their short-lived intimacy,
only betrayed the fact the more eloquently. Moreover, he had reason,
good reason, to think, as she often passionately reminded herself, that
he had touched her heart, and that had the course been clear, he might
have won her.

But--the course was not clear. From many signs, she understood how
deeply the humiliation of the scene at Sicamous had entered into a proud
man's blood. Others might forget; he remembered. Moreover, that sense of
responsibility--partial responsibility at least--for his father's guilt
and degradation, of which he had spoken to her at Glacier, had, she
perceived, gone deep with him. It had strengthened a stern and
melancholy view of life, inclining him to turn away from personal joy,
to an exclusive concern with public duties and responsibilities.

And this whole temper had no doubt been increased by his perception of
the Gaddesdens' place in English society. He dared not--he would
not--ask a woman so reared in the best that England had to give, now
that he understood what that best might be, to renounce it all in favour
of what he had to offer. He realised that there was a generous weakness
in her own heart on which he might have played. But he would not play;
his fixed intention was to disappear as soon as possible from her life;
and it was his honest hope that she would marry in her own world and
forget him. In fact he was the prey of a kind of moral terror that here
also, as in the case of his father, he might make some ghastly mistake,
pursuing his own will under the guise of love, as he had once pursued it
under the guise of retribution--to Elizabeth's hurt and his own remorse.

All this Elizabeth understood, more or less plainly. Then came the
question--granted the situation, how was she to deal with it? Just as he
surmised that he could win her if he would, she too believed that were
she merely to set herself to prove her own love and evoke his, she could
probably break down his resistance. A woman knows her own power.
Feverishly, Elizabeth was sometimes on the point of putting it out, of
so provoking and appealing to the passion she divined, as to bring him,
whether he would or no, to her feet.

But she hesitated. She too felt the responsibility of his life, as of
hers. Could she really do this thing--not only begin it, but carry it
through without repentance, and without recoil?

She made herself look steadily at this English spectacle with its
luxurious complexity, its concentration within a small space of all the
delicacies of sense and soul, its command of a rich European tradition,
in which art and literature are living streams springing from
fathomless depths of life. Could she, whose every fibre responded so
perfectly to the stimulus of this environment, who up till now--but for
moments of revolt--had been so happy and at ease in it, could she wrench
herself from it--put it behind her--and adapt herself to quite another,
without, so to speak, losing herself, and half her value, whatever that
might be, as a human being?

As we know, she had already asked herself the question in some fashion,
under the shadow of the Rockies. But to handle it in London was a more
pressing and poignant affair. It was partly the characteristic question
of the modern woman, jealous, as women have never been before in the
world's history, on behalf of her own individuality. But Elizabeth put
it still more in the interests of her pure and passionate feeling for
Anderson. He must not--he should not--run any risks in loving her!

On a certain night early in December, Elizabeth had been dining at one
of the great houses of London. Anderson too had been there. The dinner
party, held in a famous room panelled with full-length Vandycks, had
been of the kind that only London can show; since only in England is
society at once homogeneous enough and open enough to provide it. In
this house, also, the best traditions of an older regime still
prevailed, and its gatherings recalled--not without some conscious
effort on the part of the hostess--the days of Holland House, and Lady
Palmerston. To its smaller dinner parties, which were the object of so
many social ambitions, nobody was admitted who could not bring a
personal contribution. Dukes had no more claim than other people, but as
most of the twenty-eight were blood-relations of the house, and some
Dukes are agreeable, they took their turn. Cabinet Ministers, Viceroys,
Ambassadors, mingled with the men of letters and affairs. There was
indeed a certain old-fashioned measure in it all. To be merely
notorious--even though you were amusing--was not passport enough. The
hostess--a beautiful tall woman, with the brow of a child, a quick
intellect, and an amazing experience of life--created round her an
atmosphere that was really the expression of her own personality;
fastidious, and yet eager; cold, and yet steeped in intellectual
curiosities and passions. Under the mingled stimulus and restraint of
it, men and women brought out the best that was in them. The talk was
good, and nothing--neither the last violinist, nor the latest
_danseuse_--was allowed to interfere with it. And while the dress and
jewels of the women were generally what a luxurious capital expects and
provides, you might often find some little girl in a dyed frock--with
courage, charm and breeding--the centre of the scene.

Elizabeth in white, and wearing some fine jewels which had been her
mother's, had found herself placed on the left of her host, with an
ex-Viceroy of India on her other hand. Anderson, who was on the opposite
side of the table, watched her animation, and the homage that was
eagerly paid her by the men around her. Those indeed who had known her
of old were of opinion that whereas she had always been an agreeable
companion, Lady Merton had now for some mysterious reason blossomed into
a beauty. Some kindling change had passed over the small features.
Delicacy and reserve were still there, but interfused now with a
shimmering and transforming brightness, as though some flame within
leapt intermittently to sight.

Elizabeth more than held her own with the ex-Viceroy, who was a person
of brilliant parts, accustomed to be flattered by women. She did not
flatter him, and he was reduced in the end to making those efforts for
himself, which he generally expected other people to make for him.
Elizabeth's success with him drew the attention of several other persons
at the table besides Anderson. The ex-Viceroy was a bachelor, and one
of the great _partis_ of the day. What could be more fitting than that
Elizabeth Merton should carry him off, to the discomfiture of
innumerable intriguers?

After dinner, Elizabeth waited for Anderson in the magnificent gallery
upstairs where the guests of the evening party were beginning to gather,
and the musicians were arriving. When he came she played her usual fairy
godmother's part; introducing him to this person and that, creating an
interest in him and in his work, wherever it might be useful to him. It
was understood that she had met him in Canada, and that he had been
useful to the poor delicate brother. No other idea entered in. That she
could have any interest in him for herself would have seemed incredible
to this world looking on.

"I must slip away," said Anderson, presently, in her ear; "I promised to
look in on Philip if possible. And to-morrow I fear I shall be
too busy."

And he went on to tell her his own news of the day--that the Conference
would be over sooner than he supposed, and that he must get back to
Ottawa without delay to report to the Canadian Ministry. That afternoon
he had written to take his passage for the following week.

It seemed to her that he faltered in telling her; and, as for her, the
crowd of uniformed or jewelled figures around them became to her, as he
spoke, a mere meaningless confusion. She was only conscious of him, and
of the emotion which at last he could not hide.

She quietly said that she would soon follow him to Portman Square, and
he went away. A few minutes afterwards, Elizabeth said good-night to her
hostess, and emerged upon the gallery running round the fine Italianate
hall which occupied the centre of the house. Hundreds of people were
hanging over the balustrading of the gallery, watching the guests coming
and going on the marble staircase which occupied the centre of the hall.

Elizabeth's slight figure slowly descended.

"Pretty creature!" said one old General, looking down upon her. "You
remember--she was a Gaddesden of Martindale. She has been a widow a long
time now. Why doesn't someone carry her off?"

Meanwhile Elizabeth, as she went down, dreamily, from step to step, her
eyes bent apparrently upon the crowd which filled all the spaces of the
great pictorial house, was conscious of one of those transforming
impressions which represent the sudden uprush and consummation in the
mind of some obscure and long-continued process.

One moment, she saw the restless scene below her, the diamonds, the
uniforms, the blaze of electric light, the tapestries on the walls, the
handsome faces of men and women; the next, it had been wiped out; the
prairies unrolled before her; she beheld a green, boundless land invaded
by a mirage of sunny water; scattered through it, the white farms; above
it, a vast dome of sky, with summer clouds in glistening ranks climbing
the steep of blue; and at the horizon's edge, a line of snow-peaks. Her
soul leapt within her. It was as though she felt the freshness of the
prairie wind upon her cheek, while the call of that distant
land--Anderson's country--its simpler life, its undetermined fates, beat
through her heart.

And as she answered to it, there was no sense of renunciation. She was
denying no old affection, deserting no ancient loyalty. Old and new; she
seemed to be the child of both--gathering them both to her breast.

Yet, practically, what was going to happen to her, she did not know. She
did not say to herself, "It is all clear, and I am going to marry George
Anderson!" But what she knew at last was that there was no dull
hindrance in herself, no cowardice in her own will; she was ready, when
life and Anderson should call her.

At the foot of the stairs Mariette's gaunt and spectacled face broke in
upon her trance. He had just arrived as she was departing.

"You are off--so early?" he asked her, reproachfully.

"I want to see Philip before he settles for the night."

"Anderson, too, meant to look in upon your brother."

"Yes?" said Elizabeth vaguely, conscious of her own reddening, and of
Mariette's glance.

"You have heard his news?" He drew her a little apart into the shelter
of a stand of flowers. "We both go next week. You--Lady Merton--have
been our good angel--our providence. Has he been saying that to you? All
the same--_ma collégue_--I am disappointed in you!"

Elizabeth's eye wavered under his.

"We agreed, did we not--at Glacier--on what was to be done next to our
friend? Oh! don't dispute! I laid it down--and you accepted it. As for
me, I have done nothing but pursue that object ever since--in my own
way. And you, Madam?"

As he stood over her, a lean Don Quixotish figure, his long arms akimbo,
Elizabeth's fluttering laugh broke out.

"Inquisitor! Good night!"

"Good night--but--just a word! Anderson has done well here. Your public
men say agreeable things of him. He will play your English game--your
English Imperialist game--which I can't play. But only, if he is
happy--if the fire in him is fed. Consider! Is it not a patriotic duty
to feed it?"

And grasping her hand, he looked at her with a gentle mockery that
passed immediately into that sudden seriousness--that unconscious air of
command--of which the man of interior life holds the secret. In his
jests even, he is still, by natural gift, the confessor, the director,
since he sees everything as the mystic sees it, _sub specie
æternitatis_.

Elizabeth's soft colour came and went. But she made no reply--except it
were through an imperceptible pressure of the hand holding her own.

At that moment the ex-Viceroy, resplendent in his ribbon of the Garter,
who was passing through the hall, perceived her, pounced upon her, and
insisted on seeing her to her carriage. Mariette, as he mounted the
staircase, watched the two figures disappear--smiling to himself.

But on the way home the cloud of sisterly grief descended on
Elizabeth. How could she think of herself--when Philip was
ill--suffering--threatened? And how would he bear the news of
Anderson's hastened departure?

As soon as she reached home, she was told by the sleepy butler that Mrs.
Gaddesden was in the drawing-room, and that Mr. Anderson was still
upstairs with Philip.

As she entered the drawing-room, her mother came running towards her
with a stifled cry:

"Oh, Lisa, Lisa!"

In terror, Elizabeth caught her mother in her arms.

"Mother--is he worse?"

"No! At least Barnett declares to me there is no real change. But he has
made up his mind, to-day, that he will never get better. He told me so
this evening, just after you had gone; and Barnett could not satisfy
him. He has sent for Mr. Robson." Robson was the family lawyer.

The two women looked at one another in a pale despair. They had reached
the moment when, in dealing with a sick man, the fictions of love drop
away, and the inexorable appears.

"And now he'll break his heart over Mr. Anderson's going!" murmured the
mother, in an anguish. "I didn't want him to see Philip to-night--but
Philip heard his ring--and sent down for him."

They sat looking at each other, hand in hand--waiting--and listening.
Mrs. Gaddesden murmured a broken report of the few words of conversation
which rose now, like a blank wall, between all the past, and this
present; and Elizabeth listened, the diamonds in her hair and the folds
of her satin dress glistening among the shadows of the half-lit room,
the slow tears on her cheeks.

At last a step descended. Anderson entered the room.

"He wants you," he said, to Elizabeth, as the two women rose. "I am
afraid you must go to him."

The electric light immediately above him showed his frowning, shaken
look.

"He is so distressed by your going?" asked Elizabeth, trembling.

Anderson did not answer, except to repeat insistently--

"You must go to him. I don't myself think he is any worse--but--"

Elizabeth hurried away. Anderson sat down beside Mrs. Gaddesden, and
began to talk to her.

When his sister entered his room, Philip was sitting up in an arm-chair
near the fire; looking so hectic, so death-doomed, so young, that his
sister ran to him in an agony--"Darling Philip--my precious Philip--why
did you want me? Why aren't you asleep?"

She bent over him and kissed his forehead, and then taking his hand she
laid it against her cheek, caressing it tenderly.

"I'm not asleep--because I've had to think of a great many things," said
the boy in a firm tone. "Sit down, please, Elizabeth. For a few days
past, I've been pretty certain about myself--and to-night I screwed it
out of Barnett. I haven't said anything to you and mother, but--well,
the long and short of it is, Lisa, I'm not going to recover--that's all
nonsense--my heart's too dicky--I'm going to die."

She protested with tears, but he impatiently asked her to be calm. "I've
got to say something--something important--and don't you make it harder,
Elizabeth! I'm not going to get well, I tell you--and though I'm not of
age--legally--yet I do represent father--I am the head of the
family--and I have a right to think for you and mother. Haven't I?"

The contrast between the authoritative voice, the echo of things in him,
ancestral and instinctive, and the poor lad's tremulous fragility, was
moving indeed. But he would not let her caress him.

"Well, these last weeks, I've been thinking a great deal, I can tell
you, and I wasn't going to say anything to you and mother till I'd got
it straight. But now, all of a sudden, Anderson comes and says that
he's going back. Look here, Elizabeth--I've just been speaking to
Anderson. You know that he's in love with you--of course you do!"

With a great effort, Elizabeth controlled herself. She lifted her face
to her brother's as she sat on a low chair beside him. "Yes, dear
Philip, I know."

"And did you know too that he had promised me not to ask you to marry
him?"

Elizabeth started.

"No--not exactly. But perhaps--I guessed."

"He did then!" said Philip, wearily. "Of course I told him what I
thought of his wanting to marry you, in the Rockies; and he behaved
awfully decently. He'd never have said a word, I think, without my
leave. Well--now I've changed my mind!"

Elizabeth could not help smiling through her tears. With what merry
scorn would she have met this assertion of the _patria potestas_ from
the mouth of a sound brother! Her poor Philip!

"Dear old boy!--what have you been saying to Mr. Anderson?"

"Well!"--the boy choked a little--"I've been telling him that--well,
never mind!--he knows what I think about him. Perhaps if I'd known him
years ago--I'd have been different. That don't matter. But I want to
settle things up for you and him. Because you know, Elizabeth, you're
pretty gone on him, too!"

Elizabeth hid her face against his knee--without speaking. The boy
resumed:

"And so I've been telling him that now I thought differently--I hoped he
would ask you to marry him--and I knew that you cared for him--but
that he mustn't dream of taking you to Canada. That was all
nonsense--couldn't be thought of! He must settle here. You've lots of
money--and--well, when I'm gone--you'll have more. Of course Martindale
will go away from us, and I know he will look after mother as well
as you."

There was silence--till Elizabeth murmured--"And what did he say?"

The lad drew himself away from her with an angry movement.

"He refused!"

Elizabeth lifted herself, a gleam of something splendid and passionate
lighting up her small face.

"And what else, dear Philip, did you expect?"

"I expected him to look at it reasonably!" cried the boy. "How can he
ask a woman like you to go and live with him on the prairies? It's
ridiculous! He can go into English politics, if he wants politics. Why
shouldn't he live on your money? Everybody does it!"

"Did you really understand what you were asking him to do, Philip?"

"Of course I did! Why, what's Canada compared to England? Jolly good
thing for him. Why he might be anything here! And as if I wouldn't
rather be a dustman in England than a--"

"Philip, my dear boy! do rest--do go to bed," cried his mother
imploringly, coming into the room with her soft hurrying step. "It's
going on for one o'clock. Elizabeth mustn't keep you talking like this!"

She smiled at him with uplifted finger, trying to hide from him all
traces of emotion.

But her son looked at her steadily.

"Mother, is Anderson gone?"

"No," said Mrs. Gaddesden, with hesitation. "But he doesn't want you to
talk any more to-night--he begs you not. Please--Philip!"

"Ask him to come here!" said Philip, peremptorily. "I want to talk to
him and Elizabeth."

Mrs. Gaddesden protested in vain. The mother and daughter looked at each
other with flushed faces, holding a kind of mute dialogue. Then
Elizabeth rose from her seat by the fire.

"I will call Mr. Anderson, Philip. But if we convince you that what you
ask is quite impossible, will you promise to go quietly to bed and try
to sleep? It breaks mother's heart, you know, to see you straining
yourself like this."

Philip nodded--a crimson spot in each cheek, his frail hands twining and
untwining as he tried to compose himself.

Elizabeth went half-way down the stairs and called. Anderson hurried out
of the drawing-room, and saw her bending to him from the shadows, very
white and calm.

"Will you come back to Philip a moment?" she said, gently. "Philip has
told me what he proposed to you."

Anderson could not find a word to say. In a blind tumult of feeling he
caught her hand, and pressed his lips to it, as though appealing to her
dumbly to understand him.

She smiled at him.

"It will be all right," she whispered. "My poor Philip!" and she led him
back to the sick room.

"George--I wanted you to come back, to talk this thing out," said
Philip, turning to him as he entered, with the tyranny of weakness.
"There's no time to waste. You know--everybody knows--I may get
worse--and there'll be nothing settled. It's my duty to settle--"

Elizabeth interrupted him.

"Philip darling!--"

She was hanging over his chair, while Anderson stood a few feet away,
leaning against the mantelpiece, his face turned from the brother and
sister. The intimacy--solemnity almost--of the sick-room, the midnight
hour, seemed to strike through Elizabeth's being, deepening and yet
liberating emotion.

"Dear Philip! It is not for Mr. Anderson to answer you--it is for me. If
he could give up his country--for happiness--even for love--I should
never marry him--for--I should not love him any more."

Anderson turned to look at her. She had moved, and was now standing in
front of Philip, her head thrown back a little, her hands lightly
clasped in front of her. Her youth, her dress, her diamonds, combined
strangely with the touch of high passion in her shining eyes, her
resolute voice.

"You see, dear Philip, I love George Anderson--"

Anderson gave a low cry--and, moving to her side, he grasped her hand.
She gave it to him, smiling--and went on:

"I love him--partly--because he is so true to his own people--because I
saw him first--and knew him first--among them. No! dear Philip, he has
his work to do in Canada--in that great, great nation that is to be. He
has been trained for it--no one else can do it but he--and neither you
nor I must tempt him from it."

The eyes of the brother and sister met. Elizabeth tried for a lighter
tone.

"But as neither of us _could_ tempt him from it--it is no use
talking--is it?"

Philip looked from her to Anderson in a frowning silence. No one spoke
for a little while. Then it seemed to them as though the young man
recognised that his effort had failed, and his physical weakness shrank
from renewing it. But he still resisted his mother's attempt to put an
end to the scene.

"That's all very well, Lisa," he said at last, "but what are you going
to do?"

Elizabeth withdrew her hand from Anderson's.

"What am I going to do? _Wait_--just that!"

But her lip trembled. And to hide it she sank down again in the low
chair in front of her brother, propping her face in both hands.

"Wait?" repeated Philip, scornfully--"and what for?"

"Till you and mother--come to my way of thinking--and"--she
faltered--"till Mr. Anderson--"

Her voice failed her a moment. Anderson stood motionless, bending
towards her, hanging upon her every gesture and tone.

"Till Mr. Anderson--" she resumed, "is--well!--is brave enough
to--trust a woman! and--oh! good Heavens!"--she dashed the tears from
her eyes, half laughing, as her self-control broke down--"clever enough
to save her from proposing to him in this abominable way!"

She sprang to her feet impatiently. Anderson would have caught her in
his arms; but with a flashing look, she put him aside. A wail broke from
Mrs. Gaddesden:

"Lisa--you won't leave us!"

"Never, darling--unless you send me!--or come with me! And now, don't
you think, Philip dearest, you might let us all go to bed? You are
really not worse, you know; and Mother and I are going to carry you off
south--very, very soon."

She bent to him and kissed his brow. Philip's face gradually changed
beneath her look, from the tension and gloom with which he had begun the
scene to a kind of boyish relief--a touch of pleasure--of mischief even.
His high, majestical pretensions vanished away; a light and volatile
mind thought no more of them; and he turned eagerly to another idea.

"Elizabeth, do you know that you have proposed to Anderson?"

"If I have, it was your fault."

"He hasn't said Yes?"

Elizabeth was silent. Anderson came forward--but Philip stopped him
with a gesture.

"He can't say Yes--till I give him back his promise," said the boy,
triumphantly. "Well, George, I do give it you back--on one
condition--that you put off going for a week, and that you come back as
soon as you can. By Jove, I think you owe me that!"

Anderson's difficult smile answered him.

"And now you've got rid of your beastly Conference, you can come in, and
talk business with me to-morrow--next day--every day!" Philip resumed,
"can't he, Elizabeth? If you're going to be my brother, I'll jolly well
get you to tackle the lawyers instead of me--boring old idiots! I
say--I'm going to take it easy now!"

He settled himself in his chair with a long breath, and his eyelids
fell. He was speaking, as they all knew, of the making of his will. Mrs.
Gaddesden stooped piteously and kissed him. Elizabeth's face quivered.
She put her arm round her mother and led her away. Anderson went to
summon Philip's servant.

A little later Anderson again descended the dark staircase, leaving
Philip in high spirits and apparently much better.

In the doorway of the drawing-room, stood a white form. Then the man's
passion, so long dyked and barriered, had its way. He sprang towards
her. She retreated, catching her breath; and in the shadows of the empty
room she sank into his arms. In the crucible of that embrace all things
melted and changed. His hesitations and doubts, all that hampered his
free will and purpose, whether it were the sorrows and humiliations of
the past--or the compunctions and demurs of the present--dropped away
from him, as unworthy not of himself, but of Elizabeth. She had made him
master of herself, and her fate; and he boldly and loyally took up the
part. He had refused to become the mere appanage of her life, because he
was already pledged to that great idea he called his country. She loved
him the more for it; and now he had only to abound in the same sense, in
order to hold and keep the nature which had answered so finely to his
own. He had so borne himself as to wipe out all the social and external
inequalities between them. What she had given him, she had had to sue
him to take. But now that he had taken it, she knew herself a weak woman
on his breast, and she realised with a happy tremor that he would make
her no more apologies for his love, or for his story. Rather, he stood
upon that dignity she herself had given him--her lover, and the captain
of her life!



EPILOGUE

About nine months later than the events told in the last chapter, the
August sun, as it descended upon a lake in that middle region of the
northern Rockies which is known as yet only to the Indian trapper,
and--on certain tracks--to a handful of white explorers, shone on a boat
containing two persons--Anderson and Elizabeth. It was but twenty-four
hours since they had reached the lake, in the course of a long camping
expedition involving the company of two guides, a couple of half-breed
_voyageurs_, and a string of sixteen horses. No white foot had ever
before trodden the slender beaches of the lake; its beauty of forest and
water, of peak and crag, of sun and shadow, the terror of its storms,
the loveliness of its summer--only some stray Indian hunter, once or
twice in a century perhaps, throughout all the æons of human history,
had ever beheld them.

But now, here were Anderson and Elizabeth!--first invaders of an
inviolate nature, pioneers of a long future line of travellers and
worshippers.

They had spent the day of summer sunshine in canoeing on the broad
waters, exploring the green bays, and venturing a long way up a
beautiful winding arm which seemed to lose itself in the bosom of superb
forest-skirted mountains, whence glaciers descended, and cataracts leapt
sheer into the glistening water. Now they were floating slowly towards
the little promontory where their two guides had raised a couple of
white tents, and the smoke of a fire was rising into the evening air.

Sunset was on the jagged and snow-clad heights that shut in the lake to
the eastward. The rose of the sky had been caught by the water and
interwoven with its own lustrous browns and cool blues; while
fathom-deep beneath the shining web of colour gleamed the reflected
snows and the forest slopes sliding downwards to infinity. A few
bird-notes were in the air--the scream of an eagle, the note of a
whip-poor-will, and far away across the lake a dense flight of wild duck
rose above a reedy river-mouth, black against a pale band of sky.

They were close now to the shore, and to a spot where lightning and
storm had ravaged the pines and left a few open spaces for the sun to
work. Elizabeth, in delight, pointed to the beds of wild strawberries
crimsoning the slopes, intermingled with stretches of bilberry, and
streaks of blue and purple asters. But a wilder life was there. Far
away the antlers of a swimming moose could be seen above the quiet lake.
Anderson, sweeping the side with his field glass, pointed to the ripped
tree-trunks, which showed where the brown bear or the grizzly had been,
and to the tracks of lynx or fox on the firm yellow sand. And as they
rounded the point of a little cove they came upon a group of deer that
had come down to drink.

The gentle creatures were not alarmed at their approach; they raised
their heads in the red light, seeing man perhaps for the first time, but
they did not fly. Anderson stayed the boat--and he and Elizabeth watched
them with enchantment--their slender bodies and proud necks, the bright
sand at their feet, the brown water in front, the forest behind.

Elizabeth drew a long breath of joy--looking back again at the dying
glory of the lake, and the great thunder-clouds piled above the forest.

"Where are we exactly?" she said. "Give me our bearings."

"We are about seventy miles north of the main line of the C.P.R., and
about forty or fifty miles from the projected line of the Grand Trunk
Pacific," said Anderson. "Make haste, dearest, and name your lake!--for
where we come, others will follow."

So Elizabeth named it--Lake George--after her husband; seeing that it
was his topographical divination, his tracking of the lake through the
ingenious unravelling of a score of Indian clues which had led them at
last to that Pisgah height whence the silver splendour of it had first
been seen. But the name was so hotly repudiated by Anderson on the
ground of there being already a famous and an historical Lake George on
the American continent, that the probability is, when that noble sheet
of water comes to be generally visited of mankind, it will be known
rather as Lake Elizabeth; and so those early ambitions of Elizabeth
which she had expressed to Philip in the first days of her Canadian
journeying, will be fulfilled.

[Illustration: "LAKE ELIZABETH"]

Alas!--poor Philip! Elizabeth's black serge dress, and the black ribbon
on her white sun-hat were the outward tokens of a grief, cherished deep
in her protesting, pitiful heart. Her brother had lived for some four
months after her engagement to Anderson; always, in spite of encouraging
doctors, under the same sharp premonition of death which had dictated
his sudden change of attitude towards his Canadian friend. In the
January of the new year, Anderson had joined them at Bordighera, and
there, after many alternating hopes and fears, a sudden attack of
pneumonia had slit the thin-spun life. A few weeks later, at Mrs.
Gaddesden's urgent desire, and while she was in the care of a younger
sister to whom she was tenderly attached, there had been a quiet wedding
at Genoa, and a very pale and sad Elizabeth had been carried by her
Anderson to some of the beloved Italian towns, where for so long she had
reaped a yearly harvest of delight. In Rome, Florence, and Venice she
must needs rouse herself, if only to show the keen novice eyes, beside
her what to look at, and to grapple with the unexpected remarks which
the spectacle evoked from Anderson. He looked in respectful silence at
Bellini and Tintoret; but the industrial growth of the north, the
strikes of _braccianti_ on the central plains, and the poverty of Sicily
and the south--in these problems he was soon deeply plunged, teaching
himself Italian in order to understand them.

Then they had returned to Mrs. Gaddesden, and to the surrender of
Martindale to its new master. For the estate went to a cousin, and when
the beauty and the burden of it were finally gone, Philip's gentle
ineffectual mother departed with relief to the moss-grown dower-house
beside Bassenthwaite lake, there to sorrow for her only son, and to find
in the expansion of Elizabeth's life, in Elizabeth's letters, and the
prospects of Elizabeth's visits, the chief means left of courage and
resignation. Philip's love for Anderson, his actual death in those
strong arms, had strengthened immeasurably the latter's claim upon her;
and in March she parted with him and Elizabeth, promising them boldly
that she would come to them in the fall, and spend a Canadian winter
with them.

Then Anderson and Elizabeth journeyed West in hot haste to face a
general election. Anderson was returned, and during three or four months
at Ottawa, Elizabeth was introduced to Canadian politics, and to the
swing and beat of those young interests and developing national hopes
which, even after London, and for the Londoner, lend romance and
significance to the simpler life of Canada's nascent capital. But
through it all both she and Anderson pined for the West, and when
Parliament rose in early July, they fled first to their rising
farm-buildings on one of the tributaries of the Saskatchewan, and then,
till the homestead was ready, and the fall ploughing in sight, they had
gone to the Rockies, in order that they might gratify a passionate wish
of Elizabeth's--to get for once beyond beaten tracks, and surprise the
unknown. She pleaded for it as their real honeymoon. It might never be
possible again; for the toils of life would soon have snared them.

And so, after a month's wandering beyond all reach of civilisation,
they were here in the wild heart of Manitou's wild land, and the red and
white of Elizabeth's cheek, the fire in her eyes showed how the god's
spell had worked....

       *       *       *       *       *

The evening came. Their frugal meal, prepared by one of the Indian
half-breeds, and eaten in a merry community among beds of orchids and
vetch, was soon done; and the husband and wife pushed off again in the
boat--for the densely wooded shores of the lake were impassable on
foot--to watch the moon rise on this mysterious land.

And as they floated there, often hand in hand, talking a little, but
dreaming more--Anderson's secret thoughts reviewed the past year, and
the incredible fortune which had given him Elizabeth.

Deep in his nature was still the old pessimism, the old sadness. Could
he make her happy? In the close contact of marriage he realised all that
had gone to the making of her subtle and delicate being--the influences
of a culture and tradition of which he was mostly ignorant, though her
love was opening many gates to him. He felt himself in many respects her
inferior--and there were dark moments when it seemed to him inevitable
that she must tire of him. But whenever they overshadowed him, the
natural reaction of a vigorous manhood was not far off. Patriotism and
passion--a profound and simple pride--stood up and wrestled with his
doubt. She was not less, but more, than he had imagined her. What was in
truth his safeguard and hers, was the fact that, at the very root of
her, Elizabeth was a poet! She had seen Canada and Anderson from the
beginning in the light of imagination; and that light was not going to
fail her now. For it sprang from the truth and glow of her own nature;
by the help of it she _made_ her world; and Canada and Anderson moved
under it, nobly seen and nobly felt.

This he half shrinkingly understood, and he repaid her with adoration,
and a wisely yielding mind. For her sake he was ready to do a hundred
things he had never yet thought of, reading, inquiring, observing, in
wider circles and over an ampler range. For as the New World, through
Anderson, worked on Elizabeth--so Europe, through Elizabeth, worked on
Anderson. And thus, from life to life, goes on the great
interpenetrating, intermingling flux of things!

It seemed as though the golden light could not die from the lake, though
midsummer was long past. And presently up into its midst floated the
moon, and as they watched the changing of the light upon the northern
snow-peaks, they talked of the vast undiscovered regions beyond, of the
valleys and lakes that no survey has ever mapped, and the rivers that
from the beginning of time have spread their pageant of beauty for the
heavens alone; then, of that sudden stir and uproar of human
life--prospectors, navvies, lumbermen--that is now beginning to be heard
along that narrow strip where the new line of the Grand Trunk Pacific is
soon to pierce the wilderness--yet another link in the girdling of the
world. And further yet, their fancy followed, ever northward--solitude
beyond solitude, desert beyond desert--till, in the Yukon, it lit upon
gold-seeking man, dominating, at last, a terrible and hostile earth,
which had starved and tortured and slain him in his thousands, before he
could tame her to his will.

And last--by happy reaction--it was the prairies again--their fruitful
infinity--and the emigrant rush from East and South.

"When we are old"--said Elizabeth softly, slipping her hand into
Anderson's--"will all this courage die out of us? Now--nothing of all
this vastness, this mystery frightens me. I feel a kind of insolent,
superhuman strength!--as if I--even I--could guide a plough, reap corn,
shoot rapids, 'catch a wild goat by the hair--and hurl my lances at
the sun!'"

"With this hand?" said Anderson, looking at it with a face of
amusement. But Elizabeth took no heed--except to slip the other hand
after it--both into the same shelter.

She pursued her thought, murmuring the words, the white lids falling
over her eyes:

"But when one is feeble and dying, will it all grow awful to me?
Suddenly--shall I long to creep into some old, old corner of England or
Italy--and feel round me close walls, and dim small rooms, and dear,
stuffy, familiar streets that thousands and thousands of feet have worn
before mine?"

Anderson smiled at her. He had guided their boat into a green cove where
there was a little strip of open ground between the water and the
forest. They made fast the boat, and Anderson found a mossy seat under a
tall pine from which the lightning of a recent storm had stripped a
great limb, leaving a crimson gash in the trunk. And there Elizabeth
nestled to him, and he with his arm about her, and the intoxication of
her slender beauty mastering his senses, tried to answer her as a plain
man may. The commonplaces of passion--its foolish promises--its blind
confidence--its trembling joy--there is no other path for love to travel
by, and Elizabeth and Anderson trod it like their fellows.

Six months later on a clear winter evening Elizabeth was standing in
the sitting-room of a Saskatchewan farmhouse. She looked out upon a
dazzling world of snow, lying thinly under a pale greenish sky in which
the sunset clouds were just beginning to gather. The land before her
sloped to a broad frozen river up which a wagon and a team of horses was
plodding its way--the steam rising in clouds round the bodies of the
horses and men. On a track leading to the river a sledge was
running--the bells jingling in the still, light air. To her left were
the great barns of the homestead, and beyond, the long low cowshed, with
a group of Shorthorns and Herefords standing beside the open door. Her
eyes delighted in the whiteness of the snow, or the touches of orange
and scarlet in the clumps of bush, in a note of crimson here and there,
among the withered reeds pushing through the snow, or in the thin
background of a few taller trees--the "shelter-belt" of the farm--rising
brown and sharp against the blue.

Within the farmhouse sitting-room flamed a great wood fire, which shed
its glow on the white walls, on the prints and photographs and books
which were still Elizabeth's companions in the heart of the prairies, as
they had been at Martindale. The room was simplicity itself, yet full
of charm, with its blue druggetting, its pale green chairs and
hangings. At its further end, a curtain half drawn aside showed another
room, a dining-room, also firelit--with a long table spread for tea, a
bare floor of polished woodblocks, and a few prints on the walls.

The wagon she had seen on the river approached the homestead. The man
who was driving it--a strong-limbed, fair-haired fellow--lifted his cap
when he saw Elizabeth at the window. She nodded and smiled at him. He
was Edward Tyson, one of the two engine-drivers who had taken her and
Philip through the Kicking Horse Pass. His friend also could be seen
standing among the cattle gathered in the farmyard. They had become
Anderson's foremen and partners on his farm of twelve hundred acres, of
which only some three hundred acres had been as yet brought under
plough. The rest was still virgin prairie, pasturing a large mixed herd
of cattle and horses. The two North-Countrymen had been managing it all
in Anderson's Parliamentary absences, and were quite as determined as he
to make it a centre of science and progress for a still remote and
sparely peopled district. One of the kinsmen was married, and lived in a
small frame house, a stone's throw from the main buildings of the farm.
The other was the head of the "bothy" or boarding-house for hired men,
a long low building, with cheerful white-curtained windows, which could
be seen just beyond the cow-house.

As she looked over the broad whiteness of the farmlands, above which the
sunset clouds were now tossing in climbing lines of crimson and gold,
rising steeply to a zenith of splendour, and opening here and there,
amid their tumult, to show a further heaven of untroubled
blue--Elizabeth thought with lamentation that their days on the farm
were almost done. The following week could see them at Ottawa for the
opening of the session. Anderson was full of Parliamentary projects;
important work for the Province had been entrusted to him; and in the
general labour policy of the Dominion he would find himself driven to
take a prominent part. But all the while his heart and Elizabeth's were
in the land and its problems; for them the true, the entrancing Canada
was in the wilds. And for Anderson, who through so many years, as an
explorer and engineer, had met Nature face to face, his will against
hers, in a direct and simple conflict, the tedious and tortuous methods
of modern politics were not easy to learn. He must indeed learn them--he
was learning them; and the future had probably great things in store for
him, as a politician. But he came back to the Saskatchewan farm with
joy, and he would leave it reluctantly.

"If only I wasn't so rich!" thought Elizabeth, with compunction. For she
often looked with envy on her neighbours who had gone through the real
hardships of the country; who had bought their Canadian citizenship with
the toil and frugality of years. It seemed to her sometimes that she was
step-child rather than daughter of the dear new land, in spite of her
yearning towards it.

And yet money had brought its own romance. It had enabled Anderson to
embark on this ample farm of nearly two square miles, to staff it with
the best labour to be got, on a basis of copartnership, to bring herds
of magnificent cattle into these park-like prairies, to set up
horse-breeding, and to establish on the borders of the farm a large
creamery which was already proving an attraction for settlers. It was
going to put into Elizabeth's hands the power of helping the young
University of Strathcona just across the Albertan border, and perhaps of
founding in their own provincial capital of Regina a training college
for farm-students--girls and boys--which might reproduce for the West
the college of St. Anne's, that wonderful home of all the useful arts,
which an ever-generous wealth has given to the Province of Quebec.
Already she had in her mind a cottage hospital--sorely wanted--for the
little town of Donaldminster, wherein the weaklings of this great
emigrant army now pouring into the country might find help.

Her heart, indeed, was full of schemes for help. Here she was, a woman
of high education, and much wealth, in the midst of this nascent
community. Her thoughts pondered the life of these scattered farms--of
the hard-working women in them--the lively rosy-cheeked children. It was
her ambition so to live among them that they might love her--trust
her--use her.

Meanwhile their own home was a "temple of industrious peace." Elizabeth
was a prairie housewife like her neighbours. She had indeed brought out
with her from Cumberland one of the Martindale gardeners and his young
wife and sister; and the two North-Country women shared with the farm
mistress the work of the house, till such time as Anderson should help
the husband to a quarter-section of his own, and take someone else to
train in his place. But the atmosphere of the house was one of friendly
equality. Elizabeth--who had herself gone into training for a few weeks
at St. Anne's--prided herself on her dairy, her bread, her poultry. One
might have seen her, on this winter afternoon, in her black serge dress
with white cap and apron, slipping into the kitchen behind the
dining-room, testing the scones in the oven, looking to the preparations
for dinner, putting away stores, and chatting to the two clear-eyed
women who loved her, and would not for the world have let her try her
strength too much! For she who was so eagerly planning the help of
others must now be guarded and cherished herself--lest ill befall!

But now she was at the window watching for Anderson.

The trail from Donaldminster to Battleford passed in front of the house,
dividing the farm. Presently there came slowly along it a covered wagon
drawn by a pair of sorry horses and piled at the back with household
possessions. In front sat a man of slouching carriage, and in the
interior of the wagon another figure could be dimly seen. The whole
turn-out gave an impression of poverty and misfortune; and Elizabeth
looked at it curiously.

Suddenly, the wagon drew up with a jerk at the gate of the farm, and the
man descended, with difficulty, his limbs being evidently numb
with cold.

Elizabeth caught up a fur cloak and ran to the door.

"Could you give us a bit of shelter for the night?" said the man
sheepishly. "We'd thought of getting on to Battleford, but the little
un's bad--and the missus perished with cold. We'd give you no trouble if
we might warm ourselves a bit."

And he looked under his eyebrows at Elizabeth, at the bright fire behind
her, and all the comfort of the new farmhouse. Yet under his shuffling
manner there was a certain note of confidence. He was appealing to that
Homeric hospitality which prevails throughout the farms of the
Northwest.

And in five minutes, the horses were in the barn, the man sitting by the
kitchen fire, while Elizabeth was ministering to the woman and child.
The new-comers made a forlorn trio. They came from a district some fifty
miles further south, and were travelling north in order to take shelter
for a time with relations. The mother was a girl of twenty, worn with
hardship and privation. The father, an English labourer, had taken up
free land, but in spite of much help from a paternal Government, had not
been able to fulfil his statutory obligation, and had now forfeited his
farm. There was a history of typhoid fever, and as Elizabeth soon
suspected, an incipient history of drink. In the first two years of his
Canadian life the man worked for a farmer during the summer, and loafed
in Winnipeg during the winter. There demoralisation had begun, and as
Elizabeth listened, the shadow of the Old World seemed to be creeping
across the radiant Canadian landscape. The same woes?--the same
weaknesses?--the same problems of an unsound urban life?

Her heart sank for a moment--only to provoke an instant reaction of
cheerfulness. No!--in Canada the human will has still room to work, and
is not yet choked by a jungle growth of interests.

She waited for Anderson to come in, and meanwhile she warmed and
comforted the mother. The poor girl looked round her in amazement at the
pretty spacious room, as she spread her hands, knotted and coarsened by
work, to the blaze. Elizabeth held her sickly babe, rocking it and
crooning to it, while upstairs one of kind-eyed Cumberland women was
getting a warm bath ready, and lighting a fire in the guest-room.

"How old is it?" she asked.

"Thirteen months."

"You ought to give up nursing it. It would be better for you both."

"I tried giving it a bit o' what we had ourselves," said the mother,
dully--"But I nearly lost her."

"I should think so!" laughed Elizabeth indignantly; and she began to
preach rational ways of feeding and caring for the child, while the
mother sat by, despondent, and too crushed and hopeless to take much
notice. Presently Elizabeth gave her back the babe, and went to fetch
hot tea and bread and butter.

"Shall I come and get it in the kitchen?" said the woman, rising.

"No, no--stay where you are!" cried Elizabeth. And she was just carrying
back a laden tray from the dining-room when Anderson caught her.

"Darling!--that's too heavy for you!--what are you about?"

"There's a woman in there who's got to be fed--and there's a man in
there"--she pointed to the kitchen--"who's got to be talked to. Hopeless
case!--so you'd better go and see about it!"

She laughed happily in his face, and he snatched a kiss from her as he
carried off the tray.

The woman by the fire rose again in amazement as she saw the
broad-shouldered handsome man who was bringing in the tea. Anderson had
been tramping through the thin-lying snow all day, inquiring into the
water-supply of a distant portion of the farm. He was ruddy with
exercise, and the physical strength that seemed to radiate from him
intimidated the wanderer.

"Where are you bound to?" he said kindly, as he put down the tea beside
her.

The woman, falteringly, told her story. Anderson frowned a little.

"Well, I'd better go and talk to your husband. Mrs. Anderson will look
after you."

And Elizabeth held the baby, while the woman fed languidly--too tired
and spiritless indeed to eat.

When she could be coaxed no further, Elizabeth took her and the babe
upstairs.

"I never saw anything like this in these parts!" cried the girl, looking
round her at the white-tiled bathroom.

"Oh, they're getting quite common!" laughed Elizabeth. "See how nice and
warm the water is! Shall we bathe the baby?" And presently the child lay
warm and swaddled in its mother's arms, dressed in some baby-clothes
produced by Elizabeth from a kind of travellers' cupboard at the top of
the stairs. Then the mother was induced to try a bath for herself, while
Elizabeth tried her hand at spoon-feeding the baby; and in half an hour
she had them both in bed, in the bright spare-room--the young mother's
reddish hair unbound lying a splendid mass on the white pillows, and a
strange expression--as of some long tension giving way--on her
pinched face.

"We'll not know how to thank you"--she said brokenly. "We were just at
the last. Tom wouldn't ask no one to help us before. But we'd only a
few shillings left--we thought at Battleford, we'd sell our bits of
things--perhaps that'd take us through." She looked piteously at
Elizabeth, the tears gathering in her eyes.

"Oh! well, we'll see about that!" said Elizabeth, as she tucked the
blankets round her. "Nobody need starve in this country! Mr. Anderson'll
be able perhaps to think of something. Now you go to sleep, and we'll
look after your husband."

Anderson joined his wife in the sitting-room, with a perplexed
countenance. The man was a poor creature--and the beginnings of the
drink-craving were evident.

"Give him a chance," said Elizabeth. "You want one more man in the
bothy."

She sat down beside him, while Anderson pondered, his legs stretched to
the fire. A train of thought ran through his mind, embittered by the
memory of his father.

He was roused from it by the perception that Elizabeth was looking
tired. Instantly he was all tenderness, and anxious misgiving. He made
her lie down on the sofa by the fire, and brought her some important
letters from Ottawa to read, and the English newspapers.

From the elementary human need with which their minds had just been
busy, their talk passed on to National and Imperial affairs. They
discussed them as equals and comrades, each bringing their own
contribution.

"In a fortnight we shall be in Ottawa!" sighed Elizabeth, at last.

Anderson smiled at her plaintive voice.

"Darling!--is it such a tragedy?"

"No, I shall be as keen as anybody else when we get there. But--we are
so happy here!"

"Is that really, really true?" asked Anderson, taking her hand and
pressing it to his lips.

"Yes"--she murmured--"yes--but it will be truer still next year!"

They looked at each other tenderly. Anderson stooped and kissed her,
long and closely.

He was called away to give some directions to his men, and Elizabeth lay
dreaming in the firelight of the past and the future, her hands clasped
on her breast, her eyes filling with soft tears. Upstairs, in the room
above her, the emigrant mother and baby lay sleeping in the warmth and
shelter gathered round them by Elizabeth. But in tending them, she had
been also feeding her own yearning, quickening her own hope. She had
given herself to a man whom she adored, and she carried his child on her
heart. Many and various strands would have gone to the weaving of that
little soul; she trembled sometimes to think of them. But no fear with
her lasted long. It was soon lost in the deep poetic faith that
Anderson's child in her arms would be the heir of two worlds, the pledge
of a sympathy, a union, begun long before her marriage in the depths of
the spirit, when her heart first went out to Canada--to the beauty of
the Canadian land, and the freedom of the Canadian life.


THE END





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lady Merton, Colonist" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home