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´╗┐Title: An Algonquin Maiden: A Romance of the Early Days of Upper Canada
Author: Adam, G. Mercer (Graeme Mercer), 1830-1912, Wetherald, A. Ethelwyn, 1857-1940
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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images generously made available by the Canadian Institute
for Historical Microreproductions.



AN ALGONQUIN MAIDEN

A ROMANCE OF THE EARLY DAYS OF UPPER CANADA

BY

G. MERCER ADAM AND A. ETHELWYN WETHERALD



Entered according to Act of Parliament, in the year one thousand eight
hundred and eighty-six, by GRAEME MERCER ADAM and AGNES ETHELWYN
WETHERALD, in the Office of the Minister of Agriculture, Ottawa.



TO THE VETERAN PUBLISHER, John Lovell, Esq., OF MONTREAL, WHO HAS
SPENT A LONG AND BUSY LIFE IN THE VARIED SERVICE OF HIS COUNTRY, THIS
MODEST EFFORT IN THE FIELD OF CANADIAN FICTION IS AFFECTIONATELY AND
ADMIRINGLY DEDICATED BY THE AUTHORS.



CONTENTS.

  CHAPTER I.

The Young Master of Pine Towers

  CHAPTER II.

An Upper Canadian Household

  CHAPTER III.

"When Summer Days were Fair"

  CHAPTER IV.

Indian Annals and Legends

  CHAPTER V.

The Algonquin Maiden

  CHAPTER VI.

Catechisings

  CHAPTER VII.

An Accident

  CHAPTER VIII.

Convalescence

  CHAPTER IX.

On the Way to the Capital

  CHAPTER X.

York and the Maitlands

  CHAPTER XI.

After "The Ball"

  CHAPTER XII.

A Kiss and its Consequences

  CHAPTER XIII.

Rival Attractions

  CHAPTER XIV.

"Muddy Little York"

  CHAPTER XV.

Politics at the Capital

  CHAPTER XVI.

Love's Protestations

  CHAPTER XVII.

A Picnic in the Woods

  CHAPTER XVIII.

The Commodore Surrenders

  CHAPTER XIX.

At Stamford Cottage

  CHAPTER XX.

The Coming of Wanda

  CHAPTER XXI.

The Passing of Wanda

  CHAPTER XXII.

Love's Rewards



AN ALGONQUIN MAIDEN.



CHAPTER I.

THE YOUNG MASTER OF PINE TOWERS.


It was a May morning in 1825--spring-time of the year, late spring-time
of the century. It had rained the night before, and a warm pallor in
the eastern sky was the only indication that the sun was trying to
pierce the gray dome of nearly opaque watery fog, lying low upon that
part of the world now known as the city of Toronto, then the town of
Little York. This cluster of five or six hundred houses had taken up a
determined position at the edge of a forest then gloomily forbidding
in its aspect, interminable in extent, inexorable in its resistance to
the shy or to the sturdy approaches of the settler. Man _versus_
nature--the successive assaults of perishing humanity upon the almost
impregnable fortresses of the eternal forests--this was the struggle
of Canadian civilization, and its hard-won triumphs were bodied forth
in the scattered roofs of these cheap habitations. Seen now through
soft gradations of vapoury gloom, they took on a poetic significance,
as tenderly intangible as the romantic halo which the mist of years
loves to weave about the heads of departed pioneers, who, for the most
part, lived out their lives in plain, grim style, without any thought
of posing as "conquering heroes" in the eyes of succeeding generations.

From the portico of one of these dwellings, under a wind-swayed sign
which advertised it to be a place of rest and refreshment, stepped a
man of more than middle age, whose nervous gait and anxious face
betokened a mind ill at ease. He had the look and air of a highly
respectable old servitor,--one who had followed the family to whom he
was bound by ties of life-long service to a country of which he
strongly disapproved, not because it offered a poor field for his own
advancement, but because, to his mind, its crude society and narrow
opportunities ill became the distinction of the Old World family to
whose fortunes he was devoted. Time had softened these prejudices, but
had failed to melt them; and if they had a pardonable fashion of
congealing under the stress of the Canadian winter, they generally
showed signs of a thaw at the approach of spring. At the present
moment he had no thought, no eyes, for anything save a mist-enshrouded
speck far off across the waters of Lake Ontario. All the impatience
and longing of the week just past found vent through his eyes, as he
watched that pale, uncertain, scarcely visible mote on the horizon. As
he reached the shore the fog lifted a little, and a great sunbeam,
leaping from a cloud, illumined for a moment the smooth expanse of
water; but the new day was as yet chary of its gifts. It was very
still. The woods and waves alike were tranced in absolute calm. The
unlighted heavens brooded upon the silent limpid waters and the
breathless woods, while between them, with restless step, and heart as
gloomy as the morning, with secret, sore misgiving, paced the old
servant, his attention still riveted upon that distant speck. The
sight of land and home to the gaze of a long absent wanderer, wearied
with ocean, is not more dear than the first glimpse of the approaching
sail to watching eyes on shore.

Was it in truth the packet vessel for whose coming he had yearningly
waited, or the dark wing of a soaring bird, or did it exist only in
imagination? The tide of his impatience rose anew as the dim object
slowly resolved itself into the semblance of a sail, shrouded in the
pale, damp light of early morning. Unwilling to admit to his usually
grave unimpressible self the fact that he was restless and disturbed,
he reduced his pace to a dignified march, extended his chosen beat to
a wider margin of the sandy shore, and, parting the blighted branches
of a group of trees, that bore evidence of the effect of constant
exposure to lake winds, he affected to examine them critically. But
the hand that touched the withered leaves trembled, and his sight was
dimmed with something closely resembling the morning's mist. When he
again raised his eyes to that white-sailed vessel it looked to his
hopeless gaze absolutely becalmed. The slow moments dragged heavily
along. The mantle of fog was wholly lifted at last, and the lonely
watcher was enveloped in the soft beauty of the morning. A light cloud
hung motionless, as though spell-bound, above the mute and moveless
trees, while before him the dead blue slopes of heaven were unbroken
by a single flying bird, the wide waste of water unlighted, save by
that unfluttering sail.

And now, like a visible response to his silent but seemingly
resistless longing, a boat was rapidly pushed away from the larger
craft, and the swift flash and fall of the oars kept time to the
pulsing in the old man's breast. Again ensued that inglorious conflict
between self-respecting sobriety of demeanour and long suppressed
emotion, which ended only when the boat grated on the sand, and a
blonde stalwart youth leaped ashore. The old man fell upon his neck
with tears and murmured ejaculations of gratitude and welcome; but
young impatient hands pushed him not ungently aside, and a youthful
voice, high and intense from anxiety, urgently exclaimed:

"My mother! How is my mother?"

"She yet breathes, thank God. She has been longing for your coming as
a suffering saint longs for heaven. She must see you before she dies!"

The young man turned a little aside with down-bent head. His positive
blue eyes looked almost feverishly bright; and the lip, on which he
had unconsciously bitten hard, now released from pressure, quivered
perceptibly; but with the unwillingness or inability of youth to admit
the inevitableness of a great grief he burst forth with:

"Is that all you have to say to me?" And then, as his keen eye noticed
the tears still undried upon the cheeks of the old man, he sighed
heavily. "Can nothing be done? Is there no help? It doesn't seem
possible!" He ground his heel heavily into the sand. "Say something,
Tredway," he entreated, "anything with a gleam of hope in it."

Tredway shook his head. "The only hope that remains is that you will
reach home in time to receive her last words. This is the second time
that I have come down expecting to meet you."

The young fellow with his erect military air and noticeably handsome
face betrayed a remote consciousness that he was perhaps worth the
trouble of coming after twice. As they together hastened up from the
beach the younger of the two briefly narrated the cause of his
delay--a delay occasioned by stress of weather on the Atlantic, and
the state of the roads in the valley of the Mohawk, on the journey
from the seaboard. He had lost not an hour, the young man said, in
obeying the summons of his father, the Commodore, to quit England and
return to his Canadian home ere his much-loved mother passed from the
earth.

Eager to reach that home, which was on the shores of Lake Simcoe, the
young Cadet bade the old servitor hasten to get their horses ready
when they would instantly set forth. As they were about to mount, the
younger of the two was accosted by an old friend, now an attache of
Government House, who, learning of the arrival of the packet, and
expecting the young master of Pine Towers, had strolled down to the
landing-place to welcome the newcomer and ask him to partake of the
Governor's hospitality. The young man, however, begged his friend to
have him excused, and with dutiful messages of respect for the
Governor and his household, and a cordial adieu to his former
boon-companion, he rapidly set off for home, closely followed by his
attendant.

Coming up the old military road, cut out between York and Holland
Landing by His Majesty's corps of Queen's Rangers, under the _regime_
of Governor Simcoe, both horsemen fell into a brief silence, broken by
sorrowful inquiries from the younger man regarding the subject which
lay so close to the heart of each. "Dying!" he exclaimed in deep
sadness, and with the utter incapacity of young and ardent life to
conceive the reality of death. "And my own mother. It seems natural
enough for other mothers to die--but mine! Heaven help us! We never
know the meaning of grief until it comes to our own threshold."

The old steward viewed with a desolate stare the May landscape,
brightly lit with sunshine and bloom, and said wearily:

"But what can one expect in this wretched, half-civilized country? Now
in England--"

His voice lingered long upon that fondly loved word, and his young
master concluded the sentence with,

"There would be little hope, but in this 'brave new world,' where the
odour of the woods is a tonic, and the air brings healing and balm,
how can death exist? Ah, Tredway, this is a beautiful country!"

"To me there is but one beautiful country--that is England." Again
there was that lingering intonation.

Edward Macleod gave vent to a short melancholy laugh. The allurements
of an old civilization were over-ripe to his taste. Promise appealed
to his imagination; fulfilment was a dull fact. Along with the
unmistakable evidences of birth and breeding in his person, there was
in his fresh youth and buoyancy something joyously akin to the
vigorous young life about him.

"England," said Tredway, with his disapproving regard fixed upon the
wilderness around, "is a garden."

"And I take no delight in gardens," declared Edward. "I was never
intended for a garden statue. This long day's journey under the giant
trees of the wild, unconquered woods seems to gratify some savage
instinct of my nature. The old country is well adapted to keep alive
old customs, old notions, old traditions; but for me I am a Canadian,
my mind is wearied with over-much civilization. I hate the English
love of land for land's sake. That line of hills, swelling in massive
curves, and crowned, not with a tottering ruin, serving to hang some
legendary romance or faded rag of superstition upon, but with stately
trees--that is my idea of the beautiful."

He struck into a sharp gallop, his bright head above the dark blue
military cloak forming a picturesque feature in the woodland, and the
flying heels of his spirited horse seeming to add a rattling chorus of
applause to his patriotic sentiments. The old retainer ambled along in
his wake, but more slowly. His idea of the beautiful was not quite so
recklessly defiant. Presently, for he was still jaded from the effects
of his long journey on the previous day, he relaxed his attempt at
speed, and soon lost sight of his companion altogether. The vision of
waving cloak and flying steed vanished in the green aisles of the
forest.

Along the Oak Ridges--situate some thirty miles from York--which the
two horsemen now neared, a Huguenot settlement had been formed about
the close of the eighteenth century. The settlers were French officers
of the noblesse order, who, during the French Revolution, when the
royalist cause became desperate, emigrated to England, thence to
Canada, where, by the bounty of the Crown, they were given grants of
land in this portion of the Province of Upper Canada. Here many of
these _emigres_ had made clearings on the Ridges, and reared _chateaux_
for themselves and their households after the manner of their ancestral
homes in Languedoc and Brittany. Into the grounds of one of these
mansions had the younger horseman disappeared to pay his hurried
respects to the stately dame who was its owner, and who, with her fair
daughter, were intimate friends of the Macleod family.

Almost before the old man had time to wonder what mad freak had kept
his young master so long from the beaten road, he was at his side
again.

"I have been trying to get a glimpse of my little friend, Helene," he
said, in explanation of his absence, "but the DeBerczy mansion is as
empty as a church on Monday. They still go to Lake Simcoe in summer,
I suppose. But what does this early flight portend?"

"It was caused solely by the serious nature of your mother's illness.
Madame and Mademoiselle have been now five weeks at 'Bellevue.'"

The young man's face darkened, or rather lost the brightness that
habitually played upon it, like gleams of sunshine on a stream, which,
when disappearing, show the depth of the tide beneath.

"You would scarcely know the young lady now," continued Tredway. "The
difference between fifteen and eighteen is the difference between
childhood and womanhood."

"I suppose she has grown like a young forest tree, and holds her
graceful head almost as high."

"She is well grown, and very beautiful, but not bewitching like your
sister Rose."

"Ah! dear little Rose! But she, too, I doubt not, is a bud no longer.
It's odd how much easier it is for a girl to be a woman than for a boy
to become a man." There was something vaguely suggestive of regret in
the gesture with which young Macleod lightly brushed his short upper
lip, whose hirsute adornment was not, in its owner's estimation, all
that it ought to have been. "I was twenty-one last winter. Do I look
very young?" he inquired, with the natural anxiety of a man who has
recently escaped the ignominy of being in his teens.

"You look altogether too young," dryly returned the ancient servitor,
"to appreciate the worth of a country where old customs, old ideas,
and old traditions are respected."

"Then may youth always be mine!" exclaimed Edward, looking round him
with the glow in his heart, sure to be felt by the devout worshipper
of Nature in the large and beautiful presence of her whom he adores.
The region about him, esteemed the epitome of dreariness in winter,
held now in its depths a vast luxury of vegetation. The wild vines ran
knotted and twisted about the trunks and branches of multitudinous
trees, and the fallen logs were draped with moss, lichens, and
delicate ferns. Passing through this boundless wilderness, they seemed
to look into a succession of woodland chambers, thickly carpeted with
wild flowers, gorgeously festooned with creeping and parasitical
plants hanging from the branches, and secured in their leafy seclusion
by walls of abundant foliage. In one of these natural parlours they
paused for their mid-day repast--mid-day in the world without, but
here, where only vagrant gleams of the spring sun pierced the forest
solitudes, gloomy with spruce and pine, there was a sense of morning
in the air. This appearance was heightened by the delicate curtains of
cobweb, strung with shining pearls, which still might be seen after
the fog at early dawn. There was no sound except sometimes that of an
invisible bird, singing in the upper air, or when a partridge, roused
by approaching steps, started from the hollow, and rapidly whirring
away directly before them was again startled into flight when they
overtook it.

The road they followed cut straight through the forest, and, disdaining
to enclose the hills in graceful curves, attacked and surmounted them
in the direct fashion common to our forefathers, when they encountered
obstacles of any serious nature. The absence of human sight or voice
gave a strangeness to the sound of their own utterances, and there
were frequent lapses into that sad silence which fell upon them as
naturally as the gloom from the overshadowing boughs above. The old
attendant who viewed every member of the family whom he served and
loved just as the first man regarded the world at his first glimpse of
it--that is, as an extension of his own consciousness--was deeply
moved at the sight of his young master's sombre face. Edward's heart,
indeed, ached painfully. The perpetual repetition of this luxuriance
of young fresh life in the woods of May was a constant reminder of a
life that until lately had been as vigorously beautiful, and now
perhaps had passed away from this world forever.

Leaving their weary horses at Holland Landing, they took boat down the
river and bay, desiring to hasten their arrival at the family mansion,
nearly opposite to what is now the prettily situated town of Barrie.
Edward sat apart and gazed long and silently at the waving tree lines,
dark against a luminous, cool, gray sky, with its scattered but serene
group of clouds. All his desire for home and for her who was the
sunshine of it had resolved itself into a yearning that gnawed
momentarily at his heart. Instead of the fair sky and landscape and
silent waterways of his New World home, he saw or rather felt, the
hush of a dim chamber, whose wasted occupant had travelled far into
the valley of the shadow of death. His wet eyes, looking abroad upon
the outer world, were as the eyes of those who see not. The afternoon
sunshine paled and thinned, but beneath the chill of the spring day
there lay a warm hint of the untold tenderness of midsummer.
Unconsciously to himself the prophecy brought a feeling of comfort to
his heart, in its reminder of the glory of that summer to which his
mother might even now be passing--"the glory that was to be revealed."

It was early twilight when Edward Macleod reached his beautiful home
overlooking Kempenfeldt Bay. The broad, solid-built house, with its
commanding position, and spacious verandas, seemed just such a mansion
as an old naval officer, who was reduced to the insipid necessity of a
life on shore, would choose to dwell in. One might almost be tempted
to call it a fine piece of marine architecture, in some of its
fanciful reminders of an ocean vessel. Its solitariness, its pointed
turrets and gables, its proud position on what might be termed the
topmost wave of earth in that region, the flying flag at its summit,
and the ample white curtains that fluttered sail-like in the open
windows, all heightened the resemblance. From its portal down to the
bay, extended a noble avenue of hardwood trees--oak, walnut and
elm--never planted by the hand of man. Their gracious lives the
woodman had spared, and now, with their outstretched branches,
catching the faint evening breeze, they seemed to breathe a sad
benediction upon the returning youth, who walked hurriedly and
tremblingly beneath them.

As he stepped from their leafy shadow upon the sunset-gilded lawn, he
was startled by an apparition which seemed suddenly to take shape from
a sweet-scented thicket of lilacs now in profuse bloom at the rear of
the house. A dark, lissome creature, beautiful as a young princess,
but a princess in the disguise of a savage, darted past him. So sudden
was the appearance, and so swift the flight of this dusky Diana,
speeding through the blossoming shrubs of spring, that his mind
retained only a general impression of a face, perfect-featured and
olive-tinted, and a form robed in a brilliant and barbarous admixture
of scarlet, yellow, and very dark blue.

But the next moment every sensation and emotion gave way to
overwhelming and profound grief, for his sister Rose, hurrying to meet
him, threw herself into his arms with an abandon of sorrow that seemed
to leave no room for hope. The fatal question burned a moment on his
lips, then died away unuttered, leaving them pale as ashes, and a big
tear fell upon the bright head of the girl whom he now believed to be
with himself motherless. But in a moment his father took his hand in a
tense, strong grasp, and drew him quickly forward. "She yet breathes,"
he whispered, "but is unable to recognize any of us. Heaven grant she
may know you. For days past her moan has been, 'I cannot die until I
see my son, until I see my first-born.'"

His voice broke as they entered the chamber of death. The young man,
feeling strangely weak and blind, sat down beside the bed, for the
awful hush of this darkened room weighed heavily upon him. As in a
terrible dream he saw the sorrowing forms of his younger brother and
sister, crouching at his feet, poor Rose drooping in the doorway, his
father's trembling hands grasping a post of the high, old-fashioned
bedstead, and, on the other side of the bed a youthful stranger, whose
black dress and very black hair divinely framed a face and throat of
milky whiteness. These objects left but a weak impression upon his
dulled senses, for all his soul was going out in resistless longing
towards the fast-ebbing life that seemed to be slipping away from his
feeble grasp. He stroked the little bloodless hand, and kissed
repeatedly the wasted cheek, uttering at the same time low murmurs of
entreaty that she would look upon him once more before she died. All
in vain. Utterly still and unresponsive as death itself, she lay
before him. "Dear mother," he implored, "it is your son, your own
Edward that calls you. Can you not hear? Will you not come back to me
a single moment? Ah, I cannot let you go; I cannot, I cannot!" His
voice sank in a passionate murmur of grief. "You will look at me once,
will you not? Oh, mother, mother, mother!"

He had fallen to his knees, with his face on the pillow close to hers,
and his last words smote upon her ear like the inarticulate wail of an
infant whose life must perish along with the strong sustaining life of
her who gave it birth. The head turned ever so slightly, the eyelids
quivered faintly and lifted, and her eyes looked fully and tenderly
upon her son. Then, with a mighty effort, she raised one transparent
hand, and brought it feebly, flutteringly, higher and higher, until
it lay upon his cheek. A strange faint light of unearthly sweetness
played about her lips. It was a light as sweet and beautiful as
her own life had been, but now it paled and faded--brightened
again--flickered a moment--and then went out forever.

The sad sound of children weeping broke the silence of the
death-chamber. Edward still knelt, and Rose was bowed with grief; but
the old Commodore's courageous voice sounded as though wrung from the
depths of his sorely-stricken heart:

"The Lord gave, and the Lord--" his tongue failed him, but after a
momentary struggle he continued in shaking tones--"and the Lord taketh
away. _Blessed_--"

He could say no more.

Surely the blessing that, for choking sobs, could not find utterance
on earth, was heard in heaven, and abundantly returned upon the brave
and desolate spirit of him who strove to pronounce it.



CHAPTER II.

AN UPPER CANADIAN HOUSEHOLD.


The breakfast-room of Pine Towers, on a bright, sunny morning, some
three or four days after the death of its much-respected mistress,
held a large concourse of the notables of York, and other private and
official gentry of the Province. They had come to take part, on the
previous day, in the funeral obsequies; and were now, after a night's
rest and bountiful morning repast, about to return to the Capital.
Among the number gathered to pay respect to the deceased lady's
memory, as well as to show their regard and sympathy for the bereaved
husband, the good old Commodore, were many whose names were "household
words" in the early days of Upper Canada. Sixty years have passed over
the Province since the notable gathering, and all who were then
present have paid the debt of nature. Hushed now as are their voices,
the Macleod breakfast-room, on the morning we have indicated, was a
perfect babel of noise. The solemn pageant of the previous day, and
the sacred griefs of those whom the grim Enemy had made desolate,
seemed at the moment to have been forgotten by the departing throng;
and for a time the young master of Pine Towers, as he bade adieu to
his father's guests, witnessed a scene in sharp contrast to yesterday's
orderly decorum. It was with a sigh of relief that Edward Macleod saw
the last of the miscellaneous vehicles move off, and the final guest
take the road to the bateaux on the lake, to convey him and those who
were returning by water to Holland Landing, there to find the means of
reaching the Capital.

Entering the house, empty now of all but those who were left of its
usual inmates, including his sister's friend, the beautiful
Helene--whom he had hardly had an opportunity to more than greet on
his return from England--an overpowering sense of desolation fell upon
him. Seating himself near his mother's favourite window, the young
man's loneliness and bereavement found vent in tears. All the past
came vividly before him--a mother's life-long devotion and tender
care; her thousand winning ways and loving endearments; her pride in
his future career and prospects; and the recollection of the many
innocent confidences which a mother loves to pour into the ear of a
handsome, grown-up son, whose filial affection and chivalrous devotion
assure her that she still possesses charms to which her husband and
his contemporaries of a previous generation had been wont sedulously
to pay tribute. "Ah, beautiful mother, it is not to-day nor to-morrow
that I shall fully realize that I am to see thee no more on earth,"
said the young man musingly, as he left his seat and strode nervously
up and down the room, while his favourite hound from a rug by the
large open fire-place eyed his agitated movements.

Presently the young man's soliloquies were interrupted by the timid
entrance of his sister, Rose, followed by the more decided and stately
tread of the charming Helene.

"Ah, Edward," said his sister, "you are alone. Have all our guests
gone?"

"Yes," was the reply, "and I am not sorry to have the house again to
ourselves."

"You, of course, include Helene among the latter," observed Rose
interrogatively.

"I do, certainly," was Edward's instant and cordial response, as he
offered Helene his hand to conduct her down the steps into the
conservatory and out on to the lawn. "Miss DeBerczy, of course, is one
of us, though you told me this morning that she, too, expressed a wish
to be gone."

Helene interrupted these remarks with the explanation that her wish to
take leave was owing to a mandate of her mother's which had reached
her that morning.

"We shall all be sorry at your leaving us so soon," was Edward's
courteous rejoinder. "But, when you go," he added, "you must permit me
to accompany you to 'Bellevue,' for I wish to pay my respects to your
mamma; it is a long time now since we met. Besides, I have to deliver
to her the cameos I brought her from England and the family trinkets
your uncle entrusted to my care."

"Mamma, I know, is eager to receive them, and will be delighted to
welcome you back. In her note, by the way, she tells me that Captain
John Franklin has written to her from York, asking permission to call
upon her on his way north. You know that the Arctic Expedition is to
go overland, by way of Penetanguishene and Rupert's Land, and is to
effect a junction with Captain Beechey's party operating from Hudson's
Bay."

"So I learned before I left England," replied Edward. "I hope my
father," he added, "will be able to meet the members of the Expedition.
It would rouse him from his grief, and I know that he takes a great
interest in Captain Franklin's project."

The conversation was now monopolized by the ladies, for Helene took
Rose aside to tell that young lady that her mamma had given her some
news of a young and handsome land-surveyor, of Barrie, of whom she had
heard Rose speak in terms of warm admiration.

The gentleman referred to was Allan Dunlop, who, Helene related, had
been very useful at York to Captain Franklin, in giving him information
as to the route to be followed by his Expedition on its way to the
"hoarse North sea."

Rose visibly coloured as she listened to the young man's praises, in
the extract Helene's mother had enclosed from Captain Franklin's
communication. That young lady protested, however, that Allan Dunlop
was her brother's friend, not hers. "Indeed," she added, "we have only
occasionally met at the Church at Barrie, and I have not even been
introduced to him."

"Ah, and how is it that his name is always on your lips after every
service I hear you have attended across the bay?" queried Helene
archly.

The tints deepened on Rose's sweet, bright face as she apologetically
urged "that at such times there was doubtless nothing better to talk
about."

Happily for Rose the embarrassing conversation was interrupted by the
return of her brother, who rejoined the ladies to say that on the
highway, at the end of the avenue down which he had strolled, a party
of marines and English shipwrights, in command of a naval officer, had
just passed on their way to the post, near Barrie, to proceed on the
morrow by the Notawassaga river to the Georgian Bay, and on to the new
naval station at Penetanguishene. A Mr. Galt, who accompanied the
party, and was on his way to the Canada Land Company's reserve in the
Huron district, had brought him letters from York, among which, he
added, was one from his old friend, Allan Dunlop, condoling with him
on the loss of his mother and sending his respectful compliments to
his father and his family.

"How curious!" observed Helene, "why, we've just been talking of Mr.
Dunlop."

"You mean to say," interposed Rose, "that _you_ have just been talking
of him."

"Well! that is quite a coincidence, Miss DeBerczy, but do you know my
friend?" asked Edward.

"No, I've not that pleasure," replied the beautiful Huguenot, "but
your sister, I believe, knows him--"

"Oh, Helene! I do _not_!" said Rose, interruptingly.

Edward turned towards his sister, and for a moment regarded her
lovingly. After a pause, he said, "Well, Sis, if you _do_ know him,
you know one of the best and most promising of my early acquaintances,
and from what I have heard of him since my return, I feel that I want
to improve my own acquaintance with him, and shall not be sorry to
know that he has become your friend as well as mine."

"But, Edward, you must wait till I _do_ know him," said Rose with some
emphasis. "I know your friend by sight only, and have never spoken to
him; though, I confess, I have heard a good deal of him in the recent
election, and much that is favourable, though papa has taken a great
dislike to him on account of his political opinions."

"Ah, papa's Tory prejudices would be sure to do injustice to Dunlop,"
Edward rejoined; "but, I fear," he added, "there is need in the
political arena of Upper Canada of just such a Reformer as he."

At this stage of the conversation the old Commodore was observed on
the veranda, and Tredway approached the group to announce that lunch
was on the table.

Commodore Macleod, as may be inferred from his son's remark about his
father's Tory prejudices, was a Tory of the old school, a member of
the Legislative Council of Upper Canada, and a firm ally and stiff
upholder of the Provincial Executive, who had earned for themselves,
by their autocratic rule, the rather sinister designation of "the
Family Compact." As a trusted friend and loyal supporter of the
oligarchy of the day, whom a well-known radical who figured prominently
in the later history of the Province was wont to speak of as that army
of placemen and pensioners, "Paymasters, Receivers, Auditors, King,
Lords and Commons, who swallowed the whole revenue of Upper
Canada"--the reference to a man of the type of young Dunlop, who
aspired to political honours, was particularly distasteful, and sure
to bring upon the object of his bitter animadversion the full vials of
his wrath.

Ralph Macleod was a grand specimen of the sturdy British seamen, who
contributed by their prowess to make England mistress of the seas. He
entered the navy during the war with Holland, and served under Lord
Howe, when that old "sea-dog," in 1782, came to the relief of
Gibraltar, against the combined forces of France and Spain. He served
subsequently under Lord Rodney, in the West Indies, and was a shipmate
of Nelson's in Sir John Jervis' victory over the Spanish fleet off
Cape St. Vincent. For his share in that action Macleod gained his
captaincy, while his friend Commodore Nelson was made a Rear-Admiral.
In 1797 he was wounded at Camperdown while serving under Admiral
Duncan, and retired with the rank of Commodore.

Early in the century, he married an English lady and came to Canada,
where for a time he held various posts on the naval stations on the
Lakes, and was with Barclay, on his flagship, _The Detroit_, in the
disaster on Lake Erie, in September, 1813. Narrowly escaping capture
by Commander Perry's forces at Put-in-Bay, he joined General Proctor
in his retreat from Amherstburg to the Thames, and was present at the
battle of Moravian Town, where the Indian chief, Tecumseh, lost his
life.

When the Treaty of Ghent terminated the war and left Canada in
possession of her own, Commodore Macleod, with other old naval
officers, retired from the service, and took grants of land in the
neighbourhood of Lake Simcoe. Being possessed of considerable private
means, the Commodore built a palatial residence on the borders of that
lake, and varied the monotony of a life ashore by an engrossing
interest in politics and the active duties of a Legislative Councillor.
The illness of his wife, to whom he was devoted, had in the past two
years almost entirely withdrawn him from political life, and lost to
his colleagues in the Upper House the services of one who took grim
pleasure in strangling bills obnoxious to the dominant faction which
originated in the Lower Chamber. His temporary withdrawal from the
Legislative Council, and the lengthened absence in England of Dr.
Strachan, that sturdy ecclesiastic who was long the ruling spirit of
the "Family Compact," emboldened the leaders of Reform to inveigh
against the Hydra-headed abuses of the time, and sow broadcast the
dragon-teeth of discontent and the seeds of a speedy harvest of
sedition.

Already, Wm. Lyon Mackenzie had unfolded, in the lively columns of
_The Colonial Advocate_, his "plentiful crop of grievances;" while the
harsh operations of the Alien Act, the interdicting of immigrants from
the United States, the arrogant claims of the Anglican Church to the
exclusive possession of the Clergy Reserves, and the jobbery and
corruption that prevailed in the Land-granting Department of the
Government, all contributed to fan the flame of discontent and sap the
loyalty of the colony. In the Legislative Assembly each recurring
session added to the clamour of opposition, and emphasized the demand
for Responsible Government and Popular Rights. But as yet such demands
were looked upon as the ravings of lunacy or the impertinences of
treason. Constitutional Government, even in the mother-land, was not
yet fully attained; and, in a distant dependency, it was not to be
expected that the prerogative of the Crown, or the rights and
privileges of its nominee, an irresponsible Executive, were to be made
subordinate to the will of the people. "Take care what you are about
in Canada," were the irate words William IV. hurled at his ministers,
some few years after the period of which we are writing. "By--!" added
this constitutional monarch, "I will never consent to alienate the
Crown Lands nor to make the Council elective."

With such outbursts of royal petulance and old-time kingcraft, and
similar ebullitions from Downing Street, exhorting the Upper Canadian
Administration to hold tight the reins of government, the reforming
spirit of the period had a hard time of it in entering on its many
years conflict with an arrogant and bureaucratic Executive. Of many of
the members of the ruling faction of the time it may not become us now
to speak harshly, for most of them were men of education and
refinement, and in their day did good service to the State. If, in the
exercise of their office, they lacked consideration at times for the
less favoured of their fellow-colonists, they had the instincts and
bearing of gentlemen, save, it may be, when, in conclave, occasion
drove them to a violent and contemptuous opposition to the will of the
people. But men--most of all politicians--naturally defend the
privileges which, they enjoy; and the exceptional circumstances of the
country seemed at the time to give to the holders of office a
prescriptive right to their position and emoluments.

At the period of which we are writing, there was much need of wise
moderation on the side of the governed as well as on that of the
governing class. But of moderation there was little; and the nature of
the evils complained of, the non-conciliatory attitude of the ruling
oligarchy, and the licence which a "Free Press,"--recently introduced
into the colony,--gave in formulating charges of corruption, and in
loosening the tongue of invective, made it almost impossible to
discuss affairs of State, save in the heated terms familiar to
irritated and incensed combatants. It was at this period that the
young land-surveyor, Allan Dunlop, entered the Legislative Assembly
and took his seat as member for the Northern division of the Home
District. Though warmly espousing the cause of the people in the
ever-recurring collisions with the different branches of the
Government, and as warmly asserting the rights and privileges of the
popular Chamber in its struggles with the autocracy of the Upper
House, the young Parliamentarian was equally jealous of the reasonable
prerogative of the Crown, and temperate in the language he used when
he had occasion to decry its abuse. He was one of the few in the
Legislature who, while they recognized that the old system of
government was becoming less and less suited to the genius and wants
of the young Canadian community, at the same time wished to usher in
the new _regime_ with the moderation and tact which mark the work of
the thoughtful politician and the aims of the true statesman. It has
been said that one never knows what is inside a politician. What was
inside the Reformer, Allan Dunlop, was all that became a patriot and
a high-minded gentleman.



CHAPTER III.

"WHEN SUMMER DAYS WERE FAIR."


Afterwards--for close upon the coming of every grief, however great,
fall the slow, dull footsteps of Afterwards--, the bereaved Macleod
family took up again the occupations and interests of life in the
benumbed fashion of those whose nerves are slow in recovering the
effect of a great shock. Edward alone bore a brave front, though his
heart at times failed him. He was something of a puzzle to the friend
of his sister, who could not reconcile the tears which she saw in his
eyes one moment to the jest she heard from his lips the next, and who
marvelled in secret that the utter abandon of his grief at the bedside
of his dying mother had not been followed by a state of settled
melancholy after her death. To the cool, steadfast nature of
Mademoiselle DeBerczy this alternate light and shade, gaiety and
grief, in the heart of Rose, as well as of her brother, was difficult
to understand; but now she began faintly to perceive that to their
ardent temperament sunshine came as naturally as it did to the first
day of spring, which, while it ached with the remembrance of winter,
could not wholly repress on that account its natural brightness.
Certainly Edward Macleod, though his unusually pale face gave evidence
of the suffering which he had lately experienced--nay, which he was
even now experiencing--could not say that life for him was utterly
without consolation. For the sake of the stricken household, for the
sake of her who had left them desolate, he would be a man; and, being
that complex creature, a man, involves not only the lofty virtues of
courage and self-forgetfulness, but also a tender susceptibility to
the charms of these perfect spring days, and to the no less alluring
charms of a maiden in the spring-time of youth.

Nearly a week had elapsed since the funeral of Mrs. Macleod, and now a
second message from home had been received by Helene DeBerczy,
reminding her that her invalid mother had claims which could no longer
be set aside. If Madame DeBerczy's language was seldom imperative, her
intention abundantly made up for the deficiency. Consequently, her
daughter was now reluctantly turning her face homeward--a dull
outlook, brightened only by the prospect of a boat-ride down the bay
with Edward and Rose.

"And to think," said Edward to Helene, as the trio paced the long
avenue together, "that I scarcely recognized you on the evening of my
return!"

"That is not surprising. I am an entirely different person from the
one you left three years ago."

"Let me see," mused the young man, "three years ago you were a little
inclined to be haughty and cold, occasionally difficult to please, and
sometimes exacting. On the whole, 'tis pleasant to reflect that you
are an entirely different person now."

He turned towards her with a merry glance, but her face was invisible.
She wore one of those long straw bonnets, no doubt esteemed very
pretty and stylish in that day, but marred by what a disciple of
Fowler might call a remarkable phrenological development of the
anterior portion. This severely intellectual quality in the bonnets of
that time naturally stood in the way of the merely sensuous delights
of observation. Edward had barely time to be reminded of an unused
well, in whose dark, shallow depths his boyish eyes had once
discovered a cluster of white water-lilies, languidly opening to the
light, when the liquid eyes and lily-like face in the inner vista of
this well-like bonnet again confronted him.

"Is that the sort of person I used to be?" she queried, with the
incredulity one naturally feels on being presented with a slightly
exaggerated outline of one's own failings. "What pleasant memories you
must have carried away with you!"

"I did, indeed--myriads of them. Some of the pleasantest were
connected with our last dance together. Do you remember it?"

A slight warmth crept up, not into her cheeks, but into her eyes. "I
have never forgiven you for that," she said.

"And you don't deserve forgiveness," declared Rose, championing the
cause of her friend.

"Ah, well," said the culprit, "perhaps I had better wait till I
deserve it before I plead for it."

How strange and far away, almost like part of their childhood, seemed
the time of which he spoke. Like a painted picture, suddenly thrust
before their view, the scene came back to them. A windy night in late
Autumn, illumined without only by the broad shafts of light from the
Commodore's mansion, and within by the leaping flames in the big hall
fire-place. The young people had improvised a dance in the great hall,
and Helene had tantalizingly bestowed most of her favours upon Fred
Jarvis, a handsome youngster of twenty, who frequently improved his
opportunities of becoming the special object of Edward's boyish
enmity. To fall a willing victim to the pangs of jealousy formed,
however, no part of this young gentleman's intention. Returning late
in the evening, he caught a glimpse of Fred and Helene dancing a
stately minuet together, and, lightly securing his horse at the door,
he entered the hall, just as Helene was protesting that she was too
tired to dance any longer. "Just once with me," he pleaded; and their
winged footsteps kept time to the tumultuous throbbing of the music.
The young girl suddenly grew faint. "Give me air," she cried, and at
the words Edward's strong arm swept her across the broad veranda, and
up on the waiting steed. Mounting behind her, like another young
Lochinvar, they dashed wildly off, but just in what direction could
not be told, for Helene, in mingled consternation, exhaustion, and
alarm, had fainted in earnest, and Edward, in the endeavour to hold
her limp, unconscious figure before him, had dropped the reins. The
steed, however, with a prudent indisposition for pastures new at that
hour of the night, turned into a stubble-field, and brought up at a
haystack. How, in the utter darkness, and with the wind blowing a
gale, the young man managed to restore his companion to consciousness
and bring her back to the house, were mysteries which Rose could never
attempt to penetrate with any degree of satisfaction. Helene, of
course, was superbly angry, and even this bare mention of the escapade
brought fire to her eyes and a loftier poise to the well-set head.
Strongly set about the heart of this young Huguenot were barriers of
pride, that could not be overleaped in a day--scarcely in a life-time.

"It is a bargain, then," said Edward, with a mischievous light in his
smile, "you will never forgive, and I shall never forget."

"I wish, if it isn't asking too much, that you would allow me to
forget. I particularly want to forget everything unpleasant on a
morning as beautiful as this," rejoined Helene.

It was indeed an ideal morning. The sky was as soft and warm, as blue
and white, as only the skies of early summer can be. Treading the
mingled shadow and light, thrown from the interlacing boughs above,
they came at last to the blue curves of Kempenfeldt Bay, whose waves
lapped lightly on the beach. Here they found the two younger Macleod
children, who had come to see the party off. Just as the latter
arrived, the youth, Herbert, who had been amusing himself rocking a
punt in a creek by the shore, managed to upset the craft and
precipitate himself into deep water. The mishap had no more serious
result--for the lad was a good swimmer--than to frighten Rose, and
deprive her of the anticipated pleasure of a visit to "Bellevue" with
Helene and her brother Edward. Bidding the former a hurried goodbye,
with injunctions to her brother to take care of her friend, Rose
disappeared with the children into the woods.

The young man now released a row-boat from its bondage to the shore,
helped his companion into it, and pushed it far out upon its native
element. A new day in the New World, and a long boat-ride before
them--what could they wish for more? Edward, at least, enjoyed the
prospect extremely, especially when he could get the bonnet rightly
focused. This was a matter somewhat difficult of achievement, as its
owner had to his mind a heedless habit of dodging, and his remarks,
instead of being didactic and improving in their nature, were
necessarily exclamatory and interrogative, in order to gain the
attention of his fair _vis-a-vis_. Being a young gentleman of literary
tastes he thought of Addison's dissertation upon the fan, and its
great adaptability to the purposes of the coquette. To the mind of
this impartial critic, a fan was not half so effective and terrible a
weapon as the present style of bonnet.

"Bother Addison!" he suddenly exclaimed aloud.

"I beg your pardon," said a voice from the depths of the obnoxious
head-gear before him.

"I was thinking of the author of _The Spectator_. You know Johnson
says we ought to give our days and nights to the study of Addison.
Don't you think it would be more profitable for us to devote our days
and nights to the study of Nature?"

"Undoubtedly; and especially in this short-summered region, where
there are only a few months of the year in which one can pursue one's
studies out of doors. My days are spent on the shore, and as for my
nights--well, even at night I often go to sleep to the fancy that I am
drifting over the water with just such a gentle movement as this."

"I hope," said Edward gravely, "that you have an efficient oarsman.
You couldn't row and sleep at the same time, you know."

He looked up to see if his companion was struck with the force of this
observation, but although they were moving towards the east, the
bonnet pointed due north. There was also a slight suspicion of the
wintry north in the tone with which she replied:

"Oh, there is no labour connected with it; I am merely drifting--drifting
to the Isle of Sleep."

"That is a pretty idea, but it is too lonely and listless to suit me.
I should prefer to have a young lady in the boat--and a pair of oars."

"In that case you would have to row," and, with a slightly mocking
accent, "you couldn't row and sleep at the same time, you know."

"In that case I should never want to sleep. No, please, Miss DeBerczy,
don't look to the north again. Every time your gaze is riveted upon
that frozen region my heart sinks within me. I feel as if I were not
entertaining you as well as I should."

"Oh, don't let that illusion disturb you. I have never doubted that
you were entertaining me as well as you--could."

A brief silence fell upon them, broken only by the regular plash of
the oars. In the young man's conversational attacks there had been
nothing but a light play of sunny humour, but in this last retort of
hers there was something like the glimmer of cold steel. It wounded
him, yet he was unwilling either to conceal or reveal the hurt. But
Helene DeBerczy had this weakness, common to generous souls, that she
could not utter an ungenerous remark without suffering more than her
victim. So, scarcely more than a minute elapsed before she said
appealingly,

"You are not going to leave me with the last word, are you?"

"Is not that what your sex specially like to have?"

"Perhaps so. I should prefer to have the _best_ word, and--"

"And let a certain well-known gentleman take the hindmost?" supplied
the young man smilingly.

"If he only would! What a shocking thing to say, but with me it is
always conscience who has the very hindmost word; and my conscience is
perfect mistress of the art of saying disagreeable things. At the
present moment she is trying to make me believe that I have been
unpardonably rude to you."

"She is mistaken then, for even if it were possible for you to be
rude, I could not fail to pardon you immediately."

"There! now you have had the best word. It is useless for me to try to
say anything better than that. Perhaps the most becoming thing I could
do would be to relapse into ignominious silence."

"Silence! Desolation! And with a two-mile pull yet before us! If I
have had the best word you have uttered the worst one. What so
terrible as silence?"

"It is said to be golden."

"And, like the gold that Robinson Crusoe discovered on his island, it
is of no particular use to anyone."

"It is one of the charms of Nature."

"A charm that I have never discovered. What about the ever-present hum
of multitudinous insects, the song of birds, the moan of winds, the
laughter of leaping water? It seems to me that Nature is all voice."

"Then, suppose," said the undaunted young lady, lifting her languorous
lids, "that we listen to her voice."

There was no answering this; but, as the bonnet now veered towards the
sunny south, and the boat rounding the sharp corner of the bay
abruptly turned in the same direction, the young man was surprised to
find himself looking his companion fully in the face, caught in the
sudden sunshine of her smile.

"I was about to remark," he said, emboldened by this token of favour,
"that there is nothing I delight in so much as listening to the voice
of nature--that is human nature."

The smile deepened into a rippling laugh. "I am in one of my inhuman
moods this morning," she said, "but I believe my forte is action
rather than speech. Let me take your place, and those oars, please."

He resigned them both, and at once; not because the unusual exertion
had made any appreciable inroad upon his strength, but because he
foresaw new phases of picturesqueness in the young girl's dainty
handling of the oars. Nor was he disappointed. The skirt of her dress
was narrow and long, beginning, like an infant's robe, a few inches
below the arms, and thence descending in softly curving lines to her
feet, with as little hint of rigidity or compression about the
tenderly rounded waist as about the full fair throat above it. She
stretched out a pair of shoes, incredibly small and unmistakably
French, and bent her slender gauntleted hands blithely to their task.
The newborn sweetness of the spring morning was about them. On the
heavily wooded shore the great evergreens towered darkly against the
sun, but its beams fell with dazzling brightness upon the meadowy
undulations of the lake. Above them they heard at times the wild cry
of the soaring gull, or the apparently disembodied voice of some
unseen bird. Behind them they left the beautiful stretch of Kempenfeldt
Bay, gleaming in the sunshine, and now they slowly ascended the waters
of Cook's Bay, called after the great circumnavigator, under whom many
of the naval officers who had settled in the region had served,
Governor Simcoe's father, after whom the old Lac des Clies--as the
French called it--had received its modern name, being a shipmate.

But, now, Helene, whose slender strength had succumbed to the
difficulties of propelling their little craft, resumed her old seat,
and her bonnet, like a dark lantern, sometimes allowed a charming
light to be reflected upon surrounding objects, and then as suddenly
withdrew it. In the blue distance, near the mouth of the Holland
River, they caught the first glimpse of "Bellevue"--the home of the
DeBerczy's. The long sunlit run had after all been too brief. Edward
began to realize that some days might elapse before this pleasure
could be repeated. He drew in his oars, and let the boat rock idly on
the tide. His companion gave him an inquiring glance. "I wish," said
he, "that you would do me a favour."

"Isn't that rather an extraordinary request?"

"Not at all. It is a very natural remark. It has not yet advanced so
far as to be a request."

"Oh! well, of course, I can't grant what isn't a request."

"Does that mean that you can grant what is one?"

"Sometimes."

"How good of you! But, as I said before, I had only expressed a wish.
Aren't you in the least interested in my wishes?"

"If you were interested in mine you would take up those oars again."

"And thereby shorten the term of your imprisonment by me! Your
kindness emboldens me to make known my desire. I wish you would let me
examine something that appears to be hanging to your bonnet."

"Is it a grub--a caterpillar--a spider?" These horrors were mentioned
in the order of their detestability, and with a rising accent.

"Really, I wouldn't like to say, unless you remove the bonnet." She
gave a convulsive twitch to the strings, and pulled them into a hard
knot. "Can't you brush it off?" she asked Edward breathlessly.

"Pray do not be so alarmed. No, indeed, I couldn't brush it off. It
sticks too fast for that. I wish," he said, as she made a frantic
lurch towards him, "that you could be mild but firm--I mean not quite
so agitated." Her breath came in quick perfumed wafts into his face,
as his steady fingers strove to undo the knot in her ribbons. But even
after this lengthy business was concluded his trouble (if it could
rightly be called a trouble) was only half over, for the careful Rose,
with a prudent foreknowledge of the power of lake breezes to
disarrange, if not carry away altogether, the headgear of helpless
woman, had by some ingenious arrangement of hair-pins fastened the
bonnet to the raven locks of her friend in such a manner that it could
not be removed without endangering the structure of her elaborate
hair-architecture. So it was among the dark waves of rapidly
down-flowing tresses that Helene's voice was again heard beseeching
him to tell her what it was.

"Your scientific curiosity seems to be almost as great as your fear of
the insect creation. But, really, it is quite a harmless little
fellow. See!" and he pointed to a steel beetle set with a view to
ornamental effect in the centre of a little rosette of ribbons.

"Oh, shameless!" exclaimed the young girl, sinking her lily-white face
again among the abundant waves of her hair.

"Yes, I daresay he is ashamed enough to think that he isn't alive when
he sees that you regret it so much."

It is very annoying to be obliged to laugh when one has just made up
one's mind to be very angry; but Mademoiselle DeBerczy, with all her
haughtiness, was endowed with a sense of humour; so it was with only a
weak show of reproachful indignation that she at last threw back her
head and exclaimed:

"How could you--when I have such a horror of every sort of creeping
thing--and you knew what it was all the time!"

"Oh, excuse me, I did not know--that is, I wasn't positive. At a
distance I thought it was some sort of a big fly--a blue-bottle. Now I
see it is a blue beetle."

The young lady deigned no reply.

"I am sorry that you were frightened, but you don't seem to be a bit
sorry on account of my sufferings."

"Your sufferings?"

"Yes, see how surprised you are even to know that they existed! But
they are over now. At frequent intervals, all through this long
voyage, I have been forced to look at a heavenly body through a
telescope--that is, when I could get the telescope properly adjusted
to my vision. The difficulties of adjustment have cost me a world of
trouble."

She gazed at him a moment in wide-eyed amazement, and then without
attempting to solve the riddle of his remarks, proceeded to reduce her
wind-blown locks to something like their usual law and order. The dark
heavy waves, rioting in the breeze, seemed to offer a problem to the
deft white fingers that fluttered among them, but they were speedily
subjugated, and the despised bonnet was added as the crowning touch.
Not a moment too soon, for the boat grated on the sandy beach, and the
austere windows of her home were looking coldly down upon her. A pair
of austere eyes were also fixedly regarding her; but of this Helene
was happily unconscious. Perhaps it was the instinct of hospitality
alone that made her smile so brightly upon the brother of her friend,
as they walked up to the house together. The grounds about "Bellevue,"
not so ample as those surrounding the home of the old Commodore, gave
equal evidence of wealth and taste, and reminded one of a little park
set in the midst of the wilderness. The garden borders were bright
with crocuses and snowdrops and rich in promises of future bloom,
while from the orchard slopes on the left came a fair vision of
wall-like masses of foliage, frescoed with blossoms and the perfumed
touch of the blithe breezes at play among them. Entering the quaint,
dimly-lighted hall, they passed under long plumes of peacock feathers,
o'erhanging the arched doorway leading into the drawing-room. The
floors were waxed and polished, the apartments spacious and lofty with
elaborate cornices and panels. Leaving her guest in mute contemplation
of a tiny wood fire in a great fire-place, the young girl ran lightly
up the broad, low stairway, pausing at the half-way landing to gaze
dreamily from a casemated window out upon the sparkling waters of the
lake. Some of its brightness was reflected in her eyes, as, with a
step less discreet and deferential than that which usually
characterized her approaches to her mother's bedchamber, she passed on
to a half-closed door, tapped lightly upon it, and then pushed it wide
open.

"Ah, my daughter, what tidings do you bring?"

"He has come!" declared the girl, proclaiming with unaffected gladness
what was at that moment a great event in her life.

"He!"

The chilly palm which the elder lady had extended, without rising, for
the customary greeting, was not so chilly as the tone with which she
uttered this offending pronoun. Helene, suddenly remembering with deep
self-reproach the grief that her mother must feel in the loss of her
old friend, took the cold fingers in both her warm white hands, and
whispered tenderly:

"She has gone!"

Madame DeBerczy was not overcome by this intelligence. She had indeed
learned the sad truth from Tredway, who had been despatched to
"Bellevue" by the Commodore immediately upon the death of his wife.
Consequently, at this moment, her heart did not suffer so much as her
sense of propriety--which her enemies asserted was a more vital organ.

"I trust," she said, not unkindly, but with a sort of majestic
displeasure, "that you do not mention these facts to me in what you
consider the order of their importance."

The young girl was chilled. She moved away to one of the spindle-legged
chairs near a window, and played absently with the knotted fringes of
the old-fashioned dimity curtain. "I mention them in the order of
their occurrence," she said gently. "Dear Mrs. Macleod could scarcely
close her eyes on earth until they rested upon her son. He brought me
over in his boat this morning, and is waiting below to see you. Do you
feel able to go down?"

"I hope I shall always be able to respond to social requirements, and
the son of my old friend must not be slighted. Were you about to
suggest that I receive him in my bedchamber?"

Helene, who had risen with charming alertness at the first intimation
of her mother's intentions, now confronted that frigid dame with the
subdued radiance of her glance. "Ah, dear mother!" she murmured
deprecatingly. Daughterly submissiveness, tender consideration for an
invalid's querulous moods, gentle insistence upon her own right to be
happy in spite of them, were all radiated from the softly spoken
words. Rigid propriety may have slain its thousands, perhaps its tens
of thousands, but the elder lady foresaw with terrible clearness that
it would never find a victim in this blithe girl, who refrained from
dancing down the stairs before her simply because her happiness was
accustomed to find expression in her looks, not in her actions.
However, motherly allegiance to duty might curb if it could not
altogether control. "Is it possible that I heard you humming a tune as
you came through the hall?" she inquired.

"No, no; it is impossible! I hummed it so low that you certainly could
not have heard it!"

Dignified rebuke was out of the question, as they had reached the foot
of the stairway. In another moment Edward Macleod was bending
profoundly over the hand of his hostess. The aristocratic, little old
lady, with her delicate faded face, always seemed to him like some
rare piece of porcelain or other fragile, highly-finished object. He
led her to the easiest chair, and drew his own close beside her, only
interrupting the absorbed attention which he gave to her remarks by
soft inquiries regarding her health, or compliments upon the way in
which her not very vigorous constitution had withstood the severity of
the Canadian winter.

This noble dame, though she had been accustomed to a Northern climate,
had never reconciled herself to it. She still longed for _la belle
France_. Those who accompanied her husband to this portion of Upper
Canada, on the outbreak of the French Revolution, had either returned
to France or had gone to settle in French Canada, at the capital of
which Helene was born shortly after the death of her father. The old
friendship of General DeBerczy for Commodore Macleod, and the fact
that the latter was the executor of her husband's estate and the
guardian of her daughter, had led her to return to the Huguenot colony
on the Oak Ridges, and summer always found Madame and her household at
her northern villa, near the Macleod residence, on Lake Simcoe. Here
Edward passed the day gossiping with the old lady, and sauntering
about the trim grounds with the stately Helene until the afternoon was
far advanced.

After taking his leave of Madame DeBerczy, Edward cast a fugitive
glance about him in search of her daughter, but that young lady, for
reasons of her own, was absent. He suffered a vague disappointment, as
he took his way to the shore, but at the water's edge a girlish form
overtook him, and a superb bouquet of hot-house flowers was placed in
his hand.

"I brought them for you to place upon--upon--"

She hesitated. It sounded like wanton cruelty to say "your mother's
grave" to him, whose idea of everything lovely on earth must be
signified in the word "mother," everything terrible in the word
"grave." But he understood her, and thanked her, while his heart and
eyes filled fast. On that lonely homeward row the burden of his
bereavement lay heavily upon him, and the remembrance of his happy
morning with his childhood's friend, though sweet, was almost as faint
as the fragrance exhaled from the rare exotics at his feet. The pure
tender curves of the white camellias reminded him of Helene. She
herself was the rare product of choicest care and cultivation--the
flower of an old and complex civilization. The fancy pleased him at
first, and then woke in his mind a certain vague disdain. What place
had hot-house plants, either human or otherwise, in this wild new
land, whose illimitable forests as yet were almost strangers to axe
and fire?

In a remote and solitary corner of his own domain, the Commodore had
made for his dead wife a last abiding-place. Thitherward, and alone,
the motherless youth bent his steps in the soft glow of sunset. The
stillness of the place was broken only by the whisper of the trees
overhead, the faint hum of insects, and the low murmur of the lapping
waters of the lake. Walking with downbent head and step so light that
his footfall made no slightest sound upon the young grass in his path,
he did not see the form of a half wild, wholly beautiful girl, emerge
from the deep gloom of the woods before him. Nor did she observe him,
for her attention was wholly bent upon the armful of forest-flowers,
which she let fall upon the grave with a passionate gesture of grief.
The young man, looking up in startled amaze, recognized the strange,
fantastic figure that had fled before his approach on the evening of
his return home. He scarcely noticed her odd costume of mingled blue
and yellow, so drawn was he to the dusky splendour of her face. The
warm vitality of the mantling cheek, and the charm of the lustrous
lips, were matched in hue by a blood-coloured 'kerchief, carelessly
knotted about the supple, tawny throat, behind which streamed a
profuse abundance of deep-black hair. Giving him one frightened
glance, she turned and sped like some strange tropic bird upon the
wind. Moved by wonder, curiosity, and admiration, the young man gave
stealthy chase; but, after following in the wake of her flying feet by
bush and brier, and through the tangled thickets of the forest, he had
the poor satisfaction of losing sight of her altogether, and then
gaining one last glimpse of her, as, from the dense shadowy point
where she became invisible, shot out a birch-bark canoe, and the dying
sunset illumined with all the hues of victory the superb form of an
Algonquin maiden rapidly rowing away. Hot, irritated, and tired,
Edward returned home, nor did he observe that, in this fruitless
chase, one of the pure buds that Helene had given him had fallen from
his breast, on which he had pinned it, and had been rudely crushed
beneath his heel.



CHAPTER IV.

INDIAN ANNALS AND LEGENDS.


The last flame of sunset had gone out on a horizon of ashy paleness,
as the light bark of the Indian girl swept up the beach, and its
occupant, after making it secure, loitered idly home. Here, undismayed
by observation, she was as gracefully at ease as a fawn in its leafy
covert, and as quickly startled into flight at the tread of a stranger.

So lightly did her moccasined feet press the underbrush that no sound
preceded her coming, until she reached the blanketed opening of a
wigwam where sat an aged Algonquin chief, very grave, very dignified,
very far from being immaculately clean. The young girl was not
intimidated by this picturesque combination of dignity and dirt.
Perhaps it was the absence of these qualities in the young cadet that
caused her sudden flight from him. Seating herself on a bearskin, not
far from her foster-father, she interchanged with him mellow syllables
of greeting. The chief placed a finger upon her moist brow, and
inquired the cause of her haste.

"It was the young kinsman of the Wild Rose who followed me. His head
is beautiful as the sun, but he moves, alas, yes, he moves more
slowly."

"Then, why this haste?" queried the Indian, who, though he could boast
all the keen and subtle instincts of his race, was apparently in some
matters as obtuse as a white man.

The girl bowed her face upon her slim brown hands.

"I do not like the glances of his eye," she said. "They are strong and
dazzling as sunbeams on the water."

The chief smoked in meditative silence. "You go too often to the
dwelling of the Wild Rose, my daughter."

"Ah, yes; but to-night her pink face is dewy wet, I know, and she is
alone. The Moon-in-a-black-cloud has gone to the home of her people."

"Then let her seek consolation in the slow moving sun. The pale-faced
nation are not fit associates for an Algonquin maiden. Mother Earth
has no love for them; they are quick to wash away her lightest
finger-touch upon them. They are pale and lifeless as a rock over
which the stream washes continually. Their men are afraid of the rain;
their women of the sunshine."

"It is even so. The Wild Rose covers her head, and even her hands,
when she leaves the house."

At this mournful assent the chief warmed to his task of depreciation.

"They are degraded, these pale faces, they are poor-spirited, mean,
contemptible; unable to cope with the wild beasts of the forest, they
settle down in weak resignation to grow vegetables; nothing stirs them
from their state of ignoble content except the call to battle, and
that is responded to not in defence of the lives of their fathers,
their wives and children, but merely to settle some petty quarrel
between the chiefs of their nations.

"Ah, they are a strange, servile race! They work with their hands."
The Indian paused and looked down at the wrinkled yet shapely members
that lay before him. "They look upon the grand forest as their natural
enemy, burning, cutting, mutilating, until they have made that odious
thing 'a clearing,' when a house is built with the dead bodies of the
beautiful trees that have fallen by their hand."

"But surely they are not wholly bad," pleaded the girl, her kind heart
refusing to accept the belief that even the lowest of humanity could
be utterly worthless.

The chief was not to be turned from the swift current of his thoughts
by idle interruptions.

"Their religion is dead, buried in a book, and they put it from them
as easily as they put the book on the shelf. Our religion is alive,
broad as the earth, deep as the sky. They go into a _house_ to
worship; _our_ temple is fashioned by the great Spirit, and our
prayers ascend continually like the white smoke from our wigwams. Ah,
but they should be pitied not blamed. They are far from the heart of
nature--they have ceased to be her children."

"It is money they worship, and the soul of a man becomes like that
which he adores. They mourn bitterly for their dead, because they feel
how great is the distance between them and the land of spirits. I have
heard that there are white men who do not believe that this land
exists, but that cannot be true."

There were some depths of degradation that even his far-reaching
imagination failed to compass. Wanda listened wearily, though she
manifested no signs of impatience.

"The pale-faced women are sometimes very beautiful," she said.

"Yes; but they are strange, unnatural creatures. In times of anger
they attack their helpless little ones, talking in a harsh voice,
pinching, beating, slapping them, doing everything but bite them."

His listener did not shudder. The Indian, no matter how much his
feelings may be stirred, is unaccustomed to evince emotion.

"With us," continued the old man, "an angry woman frequently pulls her
husband's hair; for is he not her husband to do with what she likes?
but to fall upon her own flesh and blood--that is unnatural and
horrible. It is as if she should wilfully injure her own person,
bruise it with stones or sear it with hot irons. Perhaps it is because
the pale-faced tribes suffer so much in childhood that they are weak
and cowardly in manhood. They shrink and cry like a wounded panther at
the touch of pain."

The girl who had not dwelt upon it except in her thoughts was
nevertheless filled with a gently uplifting sense of race superiority.
Her admiration of Rose was tinged with pity. Poor garden flower,
confined for life to the dull walks and prim parterres of a fixed
enclosure, when she might roam the wild paths of the forest; condemned
to sleep in a close room, on stifling feathers, and bathe in an
elongated tub, when she might feel the elasticity of hemlock boughs
beneath her, inhale the perfumed breath of myriad trees, and plunge at
sunrise into the gleaming waters of the lake. It was indeed a pitiable
life.

They entered the wigwam, and seated themselves on the rush mats that
lay upon the ground. About them were carelessly disposed some dressed
skins of the beaver and otter, a brace of wild duck, fishing tackle,
and the accoutrements of the chase, a rifle, powder-horn and shot
pouch. The chief himself, in his buckskin garment, tightened by a
wampum belt, his deer-skin moccasins, scarlet cloth leggings and
blanket, was not the least picturesque object of the interior. Usually
reticent, he found great difficulty to-night in withdrawing his mind
from the subject that had taken such violent possession of it.

"The influence of the white race is spreading," he said. "Like the
poison vines of the forest it touches all who come near it with fatal
effect. The tribe of the Hurons is infected with it, and they are
becoming mere tillers of the soil--miserable earth-worms! Men were
made to be free as the bounding deer or the flowing stream, but they
have paled and weakened, they have become wretched grovellers on the
ground."

Wanda's large eyes held a smouldering fire of repressed indignation.
Her mother had been a Huron.

The story of that dark time, far back in the annals of Canada, when
the Huron hunting-grounds in this region were laid waste by the
destroyer, had been told her so often that her childish imagination
had been filled with horror, and a passionate sense of outraged
justice and impossible revenge stirred within her at the bare mention
of her mother's martyred tribe. She did not vent her feelings in
bitter or retaliatory speech--that is the weakness of fairer-faced
women--but through her brain rushed like a swift stream a vivid
recollection of the tragic tale as it fell from the lips of her Huron
mother upon her young horror-stricken heart.

Less than two hundred years before, the poetry of Indian life among
the peaceful shades of this virgin wilderness was turned into a tale
too ghastly for human imagination, too terrible for human endurance.
At that time the Huron settlements on the borders of Lakes Simcoe and
Couchiching, and between Nottawasaga and Matchedash bays, numbered
from twenty to thirty thousand souls. The picturesque country, thickly
dotted with Indian towns, was for many years the scene of Champlain's
zealous efforts to erect in these western wilds the standard of the
Cross. While he won, among the Hurons, converts to his faith and a
colony to his country, they found in him a leader in a fateful attack
upon their ancient and most obdurate enemies, the Iroquois. The result
of the expedition was failure and discomfiture, but years afterwards,
when Champlain was dead, and the "great-souled and giant-statured Jean
de Brebeuf" became known as the apostle of the tribe, this foray
brought most disastrous consequences upon the unsuspecting Hurons.

Not far from the present site of Barrie was the frontier town of St.
Joseph, where the Jesuit Fathers, in view of the perils surrounding
them, had concentrated their forces in a central stronghold, with a
further inland defence at Ste. Marie, near the site of the present
town of Penetanguishene. Here, at St. Joseph, after years of incessant
labour, of discomforts and discouragements without parallel in the
annals of our country, the ardent souls whose enthusiasm for faith and
duty had become the dominant principle of their life, were swept away
in the red tide of blood that was opened by the Iroquois. One still
fair morning in the summer of 1648, while most of the warriors were
absent at the chase, and a company of devout worshippers were
celebrating Mass in the Mission Chapel, their brutish enemies
descended upon their peaceful domains, and by means of every torture
conceivable to the savage imagination practically exterminated the
tribe. Before the century had half-ended the mission post of St.
Ignace was similarly invaded by the Iroquois, who, after they wearied
of the pastime of hacking the flesh off their prisoners with tomahawks
and hatchets, and scorching them with red-hot irons, bound them at
last to the stake and mercifully allowed the swift-mounting flames to
end their sufferings. Whole families were bound in their houses before
the town was set on fire, and their wild cries mingled with the wilder
laughter of their inhuman captors. The few who escaped were so wounded
and mutilated that before they could reach a place of safety numbers
of them died frozen in the woods.

The remembrance of this dark tale never failed to stir the young girl
to a sort of slow self-contained fury, but the blood of the
peace-loving Hurons was in her veins, and could not long be dominated
by the vengeful propensities of her haughty Algonquin father.
Invariably with the mixture of blood comes the warring of diverse
emotions, the dissatisfaction with the present life, the secret
yearning for something better, the impulse towards something worse.
She sighed furtively, and half-impatiently went outside to tend the
evening camp-fire. The blazing branches illuminated the starless
summer night, and cast a superb glow over the beautiful half-clothed
figure crouching not far from them. Beyond, the dark blue bay ebbed
and flowed languidly.

Some days elapsed before Wanda again made her appearance in the
neighbourhood of the Commodore's mansion. This was caused partly by
shyness, partly by fear of meeting the bold-eyed youth, whose interest
in her had been so painfully apparent. At length Rose, who had noted
with wonder and a little anxiety this unusual absence, suggested to
her brother that they call upon one of her Indian friends. To this
Edward demurred, on the ground that the work in which he happened to
be engaged at the time could not possibly wait. But when he learned
that the beautiful Wanda was the friend alluded to he agreed to go
with her at once, saying that the work he was doing could wait as well
as not. Such was the manner in which brotherly affection was manifested
sixty years ago.

It was a still, almost breathless evening in June. From the meadows,
thickly starred with dew, rose the thin high chorus of the crickets,
while above, the commingling of gray cloud and crimson sunset had
subsided into dusk and golden twilight, which were giving place to the
white radiance of the moon slowly climbing the warm heights of heaven.
It was so quiet that the sound of waves and insects seemed like the
softest whispers of nature. Rose and Edward had rowed down the bay for
Helene, who usually accompanied them on their impromptu excursions by
lake and wood. Seen in the pale brilliance of sky and water her
loveliness had an almost unearthly quality, perfectly akin to the
night, but giving her a strange effect of soft remoteness from her
friends. The light from a brazier, fitted into a stanchion in the prow
of the boat, in which some pieces of birch-bark were kindled, brought
the deep dark shadow of the woods into sharp relief, and gave a more
vivid brilliance to the immediate surroundings; but along the dimly-lit
path in the forest all the magical influences of the night held sway.
Beneath the tangled underbrush they caught glimpses of the rich and
fantastic vegetation with which the earth was clothed, while above
them, intermingled with the shadows cast by the vaulted boughs, played
the vivid brightness of the moon. Some of the trees were deeply
girdled--a slow method of killing them. These lingering deaths affected
the trio with melancholy. A wounded inmate of the grove, standing in
mute and pathetic resignation to its fate, loses first the feeling of
the sap that, blood-like, circulates through every limb, then all its
leafy honours fade, and its death is slow and inevitable as the death
of a forsaken woman who carries a deep hurt at the heart.

Near where a group of lofty elms lifted their beautiful heads up to
the moonlight they found the old chief busily engaged in mending his
seine. He greeted them with entire self-possession, rising and giving
his hand to each, after which he resumed his occupation in tranquil
content, as though the duties of hospitality were now over. The young
ladies, however, without waiting for any further exhibition of
courtesy, seated themselves on a mossy log, and bestowed upon their
host and his employment the flattering attention, which, if it failed
to make an impression upon him, would certainly prove him more--or
less--than mortal man. Edward, meantime, finding a convenient bough a
few feet above his head, amused himself in swinging by his hands, with
a view to muscular development. The contrast between the sad dignity
of the aged Indian, the lone survivor of a despised race, and the
light-heartedness of the fair boy, upon whom all the hopes of his
family centred, struck both girls forcibly. After a few sympathetic
inquiries regarding the health of the chief, Rose asked after the
whereabouts of Wanda.

"She is not here," he replied. "She flies from our home as a bird
flies from its cage, returning only when she is weary, or when the
shades of night are upon the land."

"Do you know where she is?" inquired Edward, dropping to his feet, and
seating himself on a log facing the others.

"Somewhere in the forest," replied the Indian, indicating the direction
by a broad sweep of the hand, which might include a thousand acres.

This was sufficiently indefinite. "It appears to be characteristic of
this young lady that she is either a vanished joy, or just on the
point of becoming one. Have you any idea how far away she is?" he
asked.

"Something more than twice the flight of an arrow," tranquilly
answered the Indian--"yes, much more. It used to be that she went
short distances, but she now goes a papoose's journey of half a
sun--sometimes further." He viewed his impatient guest a moment with
gravity, and added, "yes, much further."

"And you trust her all alone?"

"She is an Algonquin maiden. She fears nothing."

"And why is an Algonquin superior to a Huron, for instance?" The young
man, leaning idly back, and caressing the Indian dog of the chief,
pursued his questions without any definite purpose, but merely to draw
out his reserved-looking host.

"Why is the fleet deer that spurns the soil better than the dull ox
that tills it? Or why is the eagle better than the hen that picks up
corn in your doorway? But there was a time when in all the land no
Indian could be found who was tame and stupid--what you call
civilized."

"Tell us a legend of that time, will you not?" pleaded Rose, who had
been watching in silence for a fitting opportunity to make her
favourite request.

"Ah, please do," said Edward, and the three settled themselves
comfortably to listen.

"It was a great many moons ago," began the chief, "long before the
time of my grandfather. All the Indian races were then as one people,
living in peace, and speaking one tongue. Not one of them worked with
his hands. The deer, the beaver, the otter, the antelope, and the bear
flourished and fattened for all, and were caught with scarcely any
skill or effort. The men were never wearied in the chase, nor the
women with pounding corn. None of the white races had as yet come upon
the earth to molest and insult the guardian spirits of hill and stream
and stately wood, and the red men, then as now, were in the habit of
propitiating these deities by offerings of maize, bright coloured
flowers, or belts of wampum laid upon the mountains, or dropped into
caves or streams. Yes, every one lived without fear of his neighbour,
and the red ochre with which our tribes paint their faces in war was
used only to decorate the pipe of peace.

"One day it happened that a few chosen ones of all these tribes were
met together upon a plain, about the distance of four bow-shots across.
Very green and shining it looked to the eye, for it was in the
Flower-moon, and the great star of day was bright in the heaven. By
its clear light they saw, far in the distance, two strange, enormous
things moving towards them. But whether these things were writhing
wreaths of thunder clouds descended to earth, or gigantic trees
denuded of their foliage and suddenly gifted with the power of motion,
or whether they were wild beasts of a size never seen before, they
could not tell. But presently they found them to be immense creatures
in the form of rattlesnakes, poisoning the air with their vile
effluvia, and destroying every green tree and living thing in their
path. Every delicate plant and creeping thing was poisoned by their
breath, and the larger animals were devoured in the flap of a bird's
wing. With them came terrific lightnings that rent the trees and cleft
the solid rock, and thunders which caused the earth to reel like a man
who had drank many times of fire-water. Nearer and nearer they
approached, and now the chosen residents of this fair plain were
filled with alarm for their lives, and at once began to build
fortifications against the terrible intruders. The snakes, who
appeared to prefer the flesh of man to that of the other animals,
crawled up close to the defence of their enemies, and flung their long
horrible bodies against it, but in vain. It was useless to attack them
with bows and arrows, on account of the scales which enveloped them
like an armour. Those who ventured without the walls were instantly
swallowed, while those within, who had fasted many suns, were growing
weak from want of food.

"Now there was among them a chief, called the Big Bear, who was very
brave and cunning. He had been a hunter of the deer and wolf ever
since he had been pronounced a man. No danger was so great that he
could not find a trail out of it. So when he began to speak all the
people who remained gathered round him.

"'Brothers and chiefs,' he said, 'I perceive that one of our enemies
is a woman, because she is less sluggish in her movements than the
other, and her eyes are bright and deceitful. Besides she cares not to
eat all the time, but she will sometimes go to view herself in the
river, or when she thinks no one is looking will slyly turn her head
to see the graceful movements of her tail. Brothers, my plan is this:
Let me contrive to win the heart of this vain squaw-snake, and then
with her aid I shall be able to destroy her husband; afterwards we may
compass the destruction of the faithless wife. If I perish it is in a
good cause, I am a willing martyr.'

"This good man proceeded that very night to carry out his noble
purpose. The sky was full of shining lights as he mounted the
fortification, and bent toward her, murmuring: 'Ah, beautiful creature,
thy form is graceful as a winding stream, and thine eyes are two stars
reflected in it. That stupid man-snake, lying in heavy sleep, how can
he appreciate you? He is withered and worthless as a last year's leaf.
As for me I flee to you from the dull women of my tribe, who are like
so many dead trees, that stand even after life has left them. You are
alive and beautiful in every movement, like the long curving wave that
breaks upon the beach.'

"Oh, there is no doubt that Big Bear knew all about the best way to
make love, for very soon the squaw-snake began to show great
discontent with her husband, to scold him in a high voice, and to wish
that he were dead; whereas she greeted Big Bear with much affection,
warming her glittering head in his breast, and embracing him several
times by coiling round and round him. But she was careful to turn her
head away, so as not to poison him by her breath. As for Big Bear,
though he was glad to win her love, he wished her not to love him too
well as she had a wonderful dexterity in snapping off the heads of
those whom she admired. Her consent to the death of her husband was
easily gained, and she bade him dip the points of two arrows in the
poison of her sting. This he did and after retiring within the
fortification he levelled one arrow at the head of the husband, while
he deposited the other in that of the wicked wife. The horrid monsters
rolled over in agony, and rent the air with their death-shrieks, while
all the people gathering about Big Bear, called him their brother,
because by his wonderful knowledge of the arts of flirtation he had
delivered them from great peril. But the most grievous result of the
danger through which they had passed was this, that the poison ejected
by the snakes in their death-agonies affected all the tribes of the
earth to such an extent that each began to use a different language
which could not be comprehended by the others. Since that time a young
man of one race very seldom weds with the daughter of another, because
she does not understand the lies he tells."

"Is it necessary for him to tell her what is not true, in order to
marry her?" asked Edward.

"It is customary," replied the chief, gravely returning to his task,
without the suspicion of a smile.

"Oh, strange peculiarity of the red men," softly exclaimed Helene. She
begged for another legend, but the Indian had relapsed into his normal
state of imperious dignity; so, after thanking him for the extravaganza,
to which they had listened with admirable self-possession, they
returned to the beach, the dog plunging joyfully into the green depths
of the forest before them. The great woods were warm, odorous,
breathless. Rose pushed back the damp blonde locks from her brow. "I
wish you could have seen Wanda," she said. "The girl is quite a beauty.
Half wild, of course, but with a sort of barbaric splendour about her
that dazzles and bewilders one. You will understand when you see her,
why the Indians speak the word 'pale-face' with a contemptuous
inflection."

"I suppose," mused Edward, "that paleness to them means weakness, lack
of blood, vitality, courage, and all that most becomes a man. Yet as a
matter of taste I prefer white to copper colour." His blue eyes were
bent upon the lily-like face of Helene.

"Wait till you see her," was his sister's laughing response.

"And that will be many moons hence, to use the language of our
story-teller, if she continues as elusive as the wind. I have had
glimpses of her, or rather of the flutter of her vanishing raiment.
A being with a wonderfully perfect face, clothed in heterogeneous and
many-coloured garments, and educated on the amazing fictions with
which her foster-father's memory seems to be stored, would be worth
waiting to see."

But he had not long to wait. As he stood on the beach in the absence
of his companions, who were carefully retracing their steps to the
wigwam in search of a glove, presumably dropped by the way, he caught
sight of the Indian girl, her back turned towards him, lazily rocking
herself in his boat. For a moment he thrilled with the excitement of a
hunter in the presence of that desirable object, "a splendid shot."
Then he crept stealthily forward, sprang into the boat, and before the
startled girl could recover from her amazement, he was rowing her far
out on the moonlit bay. "There!" he cried, exultantly, bending an
ardent yet laughing gaze upon her, "now you may run away as fast as
you like."

The girl neither spoke nor moved. A great fire of resentment was
burning in her heart, and its flames mounted to her cheeks. "My soul!"
he murmured, "how beautiful you are!" She faced him fully and fairly,
with the magnificent disdain of an empress in exile. In some way she
gave him the impression that this brilliant little escapade was rather
a poor joke after all. "Do me the favour of moving a muscle," he
pleaded mockingly, and his request was lavishly granted. Before he
could guess her intention she was in the water, knocking an oar from
his hand in her rapid exit, and swimming at an incredible rate of
speed for the nearest point of land, from which she sped like a hunted
thing to the woods.

Left alone in this unceremonious fashion the young man paddled
ruefully after his missing oar, and then struck out boldly after the
escaped captive, with the intention of apologizing for what now seemed
to him rather a cowardly performance; but the footsteps of the flying
maiden left no trace upon the beach. His discomfited gaze rested on no
living thing save the approaching figures of his sister and her friend,
whose humane inquiries and frequent jests concerning the half wild,
wholly dripping, vision that had crossed their path, contributed in no
way to the young man's enjoyment of their homeward row.



CHAPTER V.

THE ALGONQUIN MAIDEN.


Early on one of those matchless summer mornings, for he loved to adopt
the hours kept by the birds, Edward set forth alone on a voyage of
discovery. The wilds of his native land had a great and enduring
fascination for him. He never ceased to enjoy the charm of a forest so
dense that one might stay in it for days without the danger of
discovery. Wandering as he listed, hurrying or loitering as it pleased
him, and resting when weary beneath the outstretched arms of the
over-shadowing wood, he drank deeply of the simple joys of a free and
careless savage life. His whole nature became sensitive and receptive,
like that of a poet, an absorbent of the beauty and music of earth and
air.

The long bright hours of this particular day were spent in exploring
bayous and marshes, and in paddling among the ledges and around the
lovely islands of Lake Couchiching. The dazzling blue expanse--mirror
of a sky as blue--was broadly edged with reeds and rushes, flags and
water-lilies, and framed by the thickly wooded shore and the green
still cliffs that overhung the quiet waves. The air was laden with the
sweet faint odours of early summer, and a soft breeze was lightly
blowing under skies as soft. The youthful voyager went ashore, and for
a long time lay stretched on the sand with his gun watching for
wild-fowl.

The woods were brilliant with flowers, blue larkspur, scarlet lichens,
the white and yellow and purple cyprepedium, or lady's slipper, called
by the Indians 'moccasin flower,' the purple and scarlet iris, the
bright pink blossom of the columbine, and all the other wind-blown and
world-forgotten flowerets of the forest.

As the day grew warmer he betook himself for coolness to a quiet
leaf-screened nook, beneath a rudely sculptured cliff, mantled in
foliage. Here he reclined after his midday lunch, gazing out upon a
sky so blue that it seemed a sea washing the invisible shores of
heaven, and dreaming of as many things as usually occupy the fancy of
a young man on an idle June day. But one event of which he did not
dream was rapidly approaching. A wild bird more brilliant and
beautiful than any he had so patiently waited for with his gun was
preparing to fall at his feet. Just above his head the Algonquin
maiden, Wanda, who like himself had strayed far from home, was
reposing warm and wearied in utter unconsciousness of the proximity of
any human being. The shining waters of the lake beneath her gave her a
sudden charming inspiration. Springing up with the alertness of one
upon whom fatigue lies as lightly as dew upon the sward, she swiftly
disrobed, and remained a moment graceful as a young maple in autumn,
standing in beautiful undress, its delicate limbs bare of leaves, and
all its light raiment fallen in a many coloured heap to the ground.

In the natural _abandon_ of the situation, Wanda neared the edge of
the overhanging cliff, and sprang far out into the water. Edward, who
was still lounging under the rock, was startled by the flashing
outline--like a meteor from the heavens--of a human figure, which, in
the twinkling of an eye, had cleaved the smooth surface of the lake,
sank far into its depths, and reappeared some distance off. The
glistening waters seemed to set in diamonds the beautifully shaped
head and neck of the Indian maiden as she disported herself in the
cool lake, and made for a point of land where a winding pathway,
covered to the water's edge by a profuse growth of young trees, led up
to the cliff above.

Recalling the classical story, familiar to his youth, and the judgment
of the gods--"Henceforth be blind for thine eyes have seen too
much!"--the young man concealed himself from view from the lake and
waited for some time before venturing to regain the cliff overhead.

The fear of not being able to overtake the Indian beauty prevented
Edward from remaining a prisoner quite as long as his sense of
propriety dictated. But his fear was justified. She had almost reached
the vanishing point of his vision when he finally emerged from his
involuntary hiding-place. When at last he came up with her she
confronted him with the wide innocent gaze of a child suddenly
startled in its play. Then the swift instinct of the savage, the
uncontrollable desire to fly, took possession of her. But the young
man laid a light detaining hand upon her slim brown wrist. "Don't
leave me," he entreated, "I want to ask you the way home."

It was the only pretext he could invent on the spur of the moment, and
it answered his purpose admirably. She stopped to view with undisguised
amazement, tempered with faint scorn, a human being who was so ignorant
of the commonest affairs of life as to lose himself in the woods. She
never dreamed of doubting his word. "I will be your guide," she said,
with grave friendliness.

"You are very kind. I am afraid," said the youth with well-feigned
discouragement, "that we are a long way from home."

"This is my home," said Wanda, as they stepped into the shadow of the
limitless forest. "It is only white men who are content to live on a
little patch of ground and shut the sky away from them. The Indian is
at home everywhere."

"That is certainly an advantage, for when a person's home is spread
all over the continent he can never be lost. What should I have done
if I had not met you?"

She made no reply. Flitting before him like some gorgeous bird, he was
obliged to follow her at a pace that was anything but agreeable on
this hot afternoon. Presently she turned and came back. He was leaning
against a tree, breathing heavily, and exhibiting every symptom of
extreme fatigue.

"You are forcing me to lead a terribly fast life," he declared. "You
have no idea of how tired I am."

She laid a smooth brown hand upon his heart. If it beat faster at the
touch it was not sufficiently rapid to cause alarm. "You are not tired
at all," she declared with the air of a wise physician who is not to
be imposed upon, "besides there is need for haste. It is going to
rain."

And indeed the intense heat of the summer afternoon threatened to find
relief in a thunder shower. The atmosphere suddenly cooled and
darkened. The strange, shrill, foreboding chirp of a bird was the only
sound heard in the forest, except the rushing of a new-risen hurrying
wind in the tree-tops. Then came the loud patter of rain on the leaves
overhead, accompanied by a heavy crash of thunder.

"The Great Spirit is angry," murmured the young girl, her eyes
dilating, and her breast heaving.

"Well, experience teaches me that the best course to pursue when
people are angry is to keep perfectly still until the storm blows
over. It's no use talking back. Ah! don't do that," he implored as
she stooped and kissed the ground.

"But I must. It will propitiate the angry spirit and preserve us from
danger."

"Oh, how can you waste your sweetness on the desert earth, in that
fashion? It _may_ preserve us from danger, but it is likely to have a
contrary effect on me."

The temporary shelter afforded by the interlacing branches overhead
was now beaten down by the strength of the storm, which descended in
torrents. "Ah! you are afraid," he observed softly, drawing nearer to
her.

"It is for you," she responded, "The rain is no more to me than it is
to a red squirrel, but you, poor canary bird, your yellow head should
be safe in its own cage."

This anxious, motherly tone brought a smile to the lips of the young
man. A sudden thought struck his guide. Grasping his hand she drew him
swiftly along until they reached the hollow trunk of an immense oak,
into which she hastily thrust him. "There is not room for both," she
declared, looking like a dripping naiad, as the rain-drops thickened
about her. "Then there is not room for me," responded Edward, whose
sense of chivalry rebelled at the idea of looking from a place of
security upon an unprotected woman, exposed to the fury of the storm.
He drew her reluctant form beside him, but she was impatient and ill
at ease in her enforced shelter, as though she had been one of the
untamed things of the wood, caught and prisoned against its will.
Outside the rain fell fast, while within crouched this beautiful
creature as remotely as possible from her human companion, and gazing
longingly forth upon the wild elements of whose life her own life
seemed to form a vital part. Her pulse beat fast in sympathy with the
fast beating rain. Her large liquid eyes were dark as woodland pools.
She did not pay her companion the compliment of being embarrassed in
the slightest degree by his presence. Her only feeling was one of
physical discomfort in her cramped position, and impatience with the
man who could imagine that for her such protection was necessary. It
crossed his mind that here was a veritable child of nature, untamed,
untamable, not only in her habits and surroundings, her modes of life
and thought, but in her very nature, in every fibre of her being,
every emotion of her mind. Her superb unconsciousness chagrined and
then irritated him. A beautiful woman might as well be a beautiful
statue as to persist in behaving like one. A sudden rash desire took
possession of the youth to test the quality of this superhuman
indifference. The opportunity was tempting, the moment auspicious; he
might never be so near her again. He laid one hand upon her arm, and
bent his fair head till it reached her shoulder. Then he bestowed a
lingering kiss upon the lovely curve of her cheek where it melted into
her neck. She turned her proud head slowly, and looked at him through
eyes that deepened and glowed.

"Wanda!" he breathed softly.

For answer he received a stinging blow on the face. Nor was he
consoled by the spectacle of a wild girl darting from under the
shelter of the tree, and vanishing from his sight.



CHAPTER VI.

CATECHISINGS.


A June Sunday in the country, radiant, cloudless, odorous with the
breath of countless blossoms, thrilled with the melody of unnumbered
voices, was just beginning. The first blush of morning lay warm upon
sky and lake--the splendour above perfectly matched by the splendour
below,--as Rose Macleod opened her casement window fronting the east,
and looked out upon the myriad tender tints, the new yet ever familiar
harmonies of light and colour with which the world was clothed. The
gray walls of the Commodore's home on this side were hung with
climbing plants, and as his pretty daughter leaned out of her chamber
window a dewy branch of roses, loosened from its fastening, struck her
softly on the cheek. The touch gave her a thrill, delicately keen--a
pleasure, sharp as pain. No life was abroad yet except the birds, but
the morning-glories were all awake. She could see their wealth of
tender bloom outspread upon the rugged heap of rocks, warm with
sunshine, that separated between a corner of the flower-smothered turf
and the dark shadow of the almost impenetrable woods.

With her golden head drooped in drowsy meditation upon her folded arms
she would have made a picture for a painter, a picture rose-tinted and
rose-framed. But no painter was there to look upon her except the sun,
and his ardent attentions becoming altogether too warm to be agreeable
he was incontinently shut outside. She turned away with that slight
sense of intoxication that comes from gazing too long upon the
inexpressible beauty of a world that is dimmed only by the complaints
and forebodings of querulous humanity. In the cool dimness of the
pretty many-windowed room she stood a moment irresolutely, and then
went in search of inspiration to a row of well-used books, over which
she ran a pink reflective finger-tip. But nothing there responded to
her need. It is a rare book that is worthy to hold the attention of
maidenhood on a June morning.

So, as further slumber was impossible, she presently slipped down
stairs, and stepped out upon the broad veranda. Afterwards came the
younger children, Herbert and Eva, whose usually bright faces were
shadowed now with the consciousness that it was Sunday, a fact that
was aggravated rather than palliated by the radiant perfection of the
weather. The Commodore, who was the most sympathetic soul alive,
would, if he could have followed his own unperverted instincts, have
had his children as happy on Sunday as on any other day, but it was
necessary to make concessions to the Puritan spirit of the time, which
ruled that a certain degree of discomfort and restraint should mark
the first day of the week. But every dull look vanished as the
father's step was heard, for his was one of those genial, warm-hearted,
caressing natures, which are calculated to dispel the chill of even an
old-fashioned Sunday. There was also a hearty brusqueness in the tone
of his voice, something of the sea in the swing of his gait, and even
in the movement of his full kindly gray eye, which could not fail to
inspire confidence. His children flew to him at once, laying violent
hands upon him, and clinging to his arms with decorously subdued
shrieks of merriment, as he walked briskly to and fro.

"Where's Edward?" he demanded of his eldest daughter, as they
approached that young lady, who was pensively reclining in a rustic
chair.

"Not up yet, papa," she dreamily responded, uplifting her face for his
morning salutation.

"Not _awake_ yet," corrected Herbert, with a boy's unmistakable
contempt for the luxurious habits of his elders.

"Lazy dog!" commented the Commodore, in a voice whose irateness was
wholly assumed. "If I had come down late to breakfast when I was young
I would have been sent back to bed again."

"That is what Ed. would like," declared Herbert. "He said it was no
use calling Sunday a day of rest unless one could get all the rest one
wanted, and it was hardly worth while for him to get up at all on a
day when he couldn't fish or shoot or go out in his boat."

"The young barbarian! After all the care and pains expended on his
bringing up. What shall we do about it, Rosy?"

"Call him again!" said Herbert, who, with the ever-fertile mind of
tender youth, was never destitute of practical suggestions.

"Bright boy! run at once and ring the bell just outside his door." As
the child departed to make the clangour, so much more delightful to
his own ears than to those for whom it was intended, Eva observed:

"But he came in so late last night, papa, and looked very tired."

The Commodore patted the head of his little girl, but he continued to
direct towards her elder sister a glance of half-humorous inquiry.
Poor Rose knitted her pretty brows in troubled perplexity. She had
been informed in the "Advice to Young Women," "Duties of Womanhood,"
and other ethical works of the day, that a sister's influence is
illimitable, and she felt besides an added weight of responsibility
towards her motherless sister and brothers. "I don't know, papa," she
said at last, "unless we all take to the backwoods, live in a wigwam,
and feast on the fruits of the chase. Edward chafes a good deal under
the restraints of civilized life."

"Ah, here comes the prodigal son!" joyously exclaimed Eva, who ran to
meet her favourite brother, oblivious of the smiles produced by her
unflatteringly inapt remark.

"Don't kill any calf for me," entreated Edward, thrusting his younger
sister's straight yellow locks over her face, until it was hard to say
where her features ended and the back of her head began. "I deserve
it, but I don't like it. Veal is my detestation."

"Upon my word," said the old gentleman, looking very hard at a
discoloured spot just above the left eye of his eldest born, "it looks
as though I had been trying to kill the prodigal instead of the calf.
That's a bad bruise, my boy."

"'Tis, sir," responded Edward, in a tone which implied that meek
assent was all that could be expected from him to a proposition so
very self-evident. He felt uncomfortably conscious that the eyes of
the assembled family were upon him, and glanced half enviously at Eva,
as though the ability to shake a sunny mane over one's face at will
was something to be thankful for. The breakfast bell roused them from
a momentary silence, but the shadow of this mysterious bruise seemed
to follow them even to the table. Herbert and Eva, aged respectively
ten and twelve, had that superabundant love of information so
characteristic of their tender years. They sat in round-eyed silence,
bringing the battery of their glances to bear upon their unfortunate
brother, who at last could endure it no longer.

"Upon my life!" he exclaimed, "one would think I was the
governor-general, or some wild animal in a menagerie, to become the
object of so much concentrated and distinguished attention."

"Which would you say he was, Eva?" asked Herbert.

"Which what?" inquired that young lady.

"Sir Peregrine Maitland, or a wild animal?"

"Oh, Sir Peregrine, of course. See what a lofty, scornful way he has
of looking at us. And yet he is not really proud; he is willing to sit
down with us at our humble board, just as though he was a common
person."

"Children!" said Rose with soft reproach, but her voice trembled, and
the imps were subjugated only outwardly.

"Anything particular going on in Barrie?" queried the Commodore,
turning to his eldest son.

"Really, I can't say. I haven't been over in several days."

"Oh, I imagined you were there last night."

"I never go there at night," protested the young man, with unnecessary
vehemence. It was clear to him now that his father and sister held a
very low opinion of him indeed. Probably they thought he had been hurt
in some vulgar tavern brawl, or drunken street fight. The idea was
loathsome to him. He had not a single low taste or trait of character.

"I'm afraid," said Herbert, shaking his head with mock regret, "that
you are a very wild fellow."

"He means that you are very fond of the wilds," interpreted Rose,
hurriedly endeavouring to avert the threatened domestic storm. "Eva,"
she continued, taking up that irrepressible damsel before she could
give utterance to the uncalled-for remark, which was but too evidently
burning upon her lips, "do you know your catechism?"

"Yes," replied her sister, in rather an aggrieved tone, for she did
not relish this change in the conversation, "I know it--to a certain
extent."

"Eva looks as though she would prefer to catechise Edward," slyly
interpolated her father; and under this shameless encouragement the
young lady boldly observed:

"Indeed, I should. I should like to begin right at the beginning with,
'Can you tell me, dear child, who made you'--have that big black
bruise on your brow?"

"I can," responded Edward, imperturbably. "It was a beautiful little
beast, not much bigger than you are, but a great deal prettier."

"Was it, really?" Any offence that might have been taken at the
uncomplimentary nature of the reply was swallowed up in eager
curiosity. "What was it?"

"Well, that I can't tell you. I never saw anything like it before."

"That's queer," said Herbert. "What colour was it?"

"Oh, black and brown and all the loveliest shades of scarlet--with
cruel, little, white teeth, sharp and strong as a squirrel's teeth."

"But it didn't bite you," said Rose, with a puzzled glance at the
white brow, whose delicate fairness made the discolouration more
conspicuous.

"No, but it looked fully capable of biting--enchanting little brute!"

"Why on earth didn't you shoot it?" questioned the Commodore, rousing
himself to the exploration of this new mystery.

The young man laughed a little guiltily. "To tell the truth the idea
never once entered my head. You have no idea what beautiful eyes it
had."

"Oh--sentimentalist!"

"Yes, I was sentimental enough yesterday, but it will be long before I
am troubled that way again."

"At any rate," said Herbert, as they drifted back to the shadowing
veranda, whose flowery screen the sun had not yet penetrated, "you
can't go to church."

"I wish I could take you all over in my sail-boat," said his elder
brother, wistfully surveying the blue waters of Kempenfeldt Bay.

"Ed., you are a heathen," declared Miss Eva, whose usual adoring
advocacy of her brother's opinions was paralized by this assault upon
the proprieties; "it's wicked to ride in a boat on Sunday."

"But it's perfectly right to ride in a carriage," added Herbert, with
a view to giving information, and not with any satirical intention.

There was no reply. If it is a crime to possess a too great
susceptibility to the ever-deepening charm of woods and waters then
Edward Macleod was the chief of sinners. In his father he had a secret
sympathizer, for the old gentleman himself was not without strong
leanings toward a free and careless, if not semi-savage, life. But no
hint of this escaped him in the presence of the younger children,
whose air of severe morality, born of renewed attacks and final
triumph over the difficulties of the Sunday School lesson, he
considered it unwise to disturb.

Church service was not a painfully long or tedious affair. The little
wooden structure, erected for that purpose in Barrie, had the air of
trying to be in sweet accord with the outlying wilderness, from the
dark green drapery of ivy which charitably strove to hide its raw
newness. The town itself (for in a new country everything in excess of
a post-office is called a town) was wrapped in Sabbath stillness. The
little church was well filled, for a bright Sunday in a country
village draws the inhabitants from their homes as infallibly as bees
from their hives. Workers and drones they were all there, bowed
together under the sense of a common need, and of faith in a common
Helper, which alone makes men free and equal.

Like a light in a dark place gleamed the bright head of Rose Macleod
in the farthest corner of the family pew. A vagrant sunbeam, like a
golden arrow, pierced the gloom about her, but to the disappointment
of _one_ interested observer, it failed to reach the rich coils, so
nearly resembling it in colour. This observer presently reminded
himself that he had come there to worship the divine, as revealed in
holy writ, not in human beauty; nevertheless he could not forbear
sending another stealthy glance, which, more accurately aimed than the
sunbeam, rested fully and lingeringly upon the shadowy recess, where a
glowing amber-golden head bloomed richly forth against the frigid
back-ground of a bare wooden wall. The dainty little lady, enveloped
in the antique richness of a stiff brocade, should have been made
aware by some mysteriously occult means of a strange thrill at the
heart, caused by the protracted gaze of a handsome fellow-worshipper,
but to tell the truth her thoughts were piously intent upon the
enormity of her own sins, and the necessity of reclaiming her brother
from the very literal wildness of his ways.

Service was over; the still air seemed vibrant with the notes of the
last hymn, and tender with the just-uttered words of the benediction,
as this stately little damsel, with the peculiar air of distinction
which set so charmingly upon her doll-like personality, passed down
the aisle and out into the sunshine. She had looked on him--she had
been conscious of his existence; but it was seemingly in the same way
that she had noticed the wooden pews against which her rich little
robe was trailing, and the floor which felt the pressure of her dainty
feet. Allan Dunlop standing among the outcoming worshippers, whose
greetings he mechanically responded to, silently anathematized the
soulless edict of society, which forbids a man to stand and gaze after
a vanishing vision in feminine form. The receding figure was not
wholly unconscious, however, of the mute homage of which she had been
the recipient.

A few hours later this lovely possessor of all the graces and virtues,
according to the newly-awakened imagination of her unknown admirer,
reclined in her shell-pink apartment, in which the breezes blowing
through the lattice sounded like the _andante_ of the sea, and sighed
for the forbidden fruit of a half-finished novel. But the sigh
perished with the breath that gave it birth. The next moment she
sternly doubled a very diminutive fist, and demanded of herself
whether that was the best use that could be made of her time and
opportunities. Then she looked about for some missionary work. It was
not far to seek, for the children, weary of purposeless drifting on
the still monotonous tide of Sunday afternoon, came battering at her
door with united hands and voices, demanding a story. In the midst of
her recital she suddenly bethought herself of Edward and inquired
after his whereabouts.

"Roaming up and down the strawberry patch," said Eva.

"Seeking what he may devour," added her brother, unconsciously giving
a scriptural turn to his information.

"For shame, Herbert!"

"Shame enough! He never offered me one."

The subject of this discussion passed the open door shortly after and
looked rather forlornly in upon the interested trio. On his way
upstairs a casement window that stood ajar swung softly open as he
passed it, touched by the invisible fingers of the breeze; and the
young man was not comforted by the picture suddenly revealed to
him--the picture of a slim shape in a light canoe darting bird-like
over the water. Rose felt a vague pang of pity, but had no opportunity
to go to him. Her ministrations were in active demand by the younger
pair from whom she was unable to free herself until twilight fell,
when they voluntarily resigned her to a need greater than their own.
On many a summer night in years past they had seen their father and
mother pace the winding length of the avenue together. Now, when the
tender gloom of evening was beginning, and the solitary figure of the
Commodore was seen going with drooped head toward his favourite walk,
it was Rose who ran with eager step to take the vacant place at his
side. If his heart was saddened by that shadowy presence, which walks
at eventide by the side of him who is bereaved, it could not be wholly
cast down so long as warm clinging hands were about his arm, a bright
face looking up into his, and a clear voice, from which every note of
sadness was excluded, murmuring a thousand entertaining nothings in
his ear.

If Rose was a never-failing fountain of alluring fiction to Herbert
and Eva, and the comfort of life to her father, she was the
sympathizing _confidante_ of her elder brother, who unburdened his
heart to her in a private interview just before retiring.

"But what under the sun made you kiss her?" inquired this practical
young lady.

"Oh, murder, Rose, what a question! What under the sun makes one taste
a peach or pluck a flower?"

"But if the peach or the flower does not belong to you? Well, I'll not
lecture you, Edward; you have sufficiently expiated your offence."

"I never dreamed," returned the delinquent, "that a kiss for a blow,
which is the Christian's rule of morals, could be translated by the
poor savage into a blow for a kiss."

"Probably you terrified her. That old chief has brought her up in the
belief that the white man is a compound of all the vices."

"Well, she behaved as though I might be that. She never paused to
consider the ruin she had wrought, but darted off like a flash of
lightning."

Rose laughed; but after she departed the smile upon her brother's face
quickly vanished. Not that the bruise on his brow was so severe, but
he found it impossible to forgive the blow to his vanity.

"Beautiful little brute!" he muttered under his breath, "I haven't
done with her yet. She'll live to give me something prettier than this
in return for my caresses."



CHAPTER VII.

AN ACCIDENT.


Some days later, Edward, mounted on his favourite Black Bess, waiting
for Rose to accompany him in a morning gallop, was amazed to see that
venturesome young lady prepare to seat herself on Flip, a crazy little
animal scarcely more than a colt, whose character for unsteadiness was
notorious.

"I have set my heart on him," was all Rose could say in answer to her
brother's protestations.

"Set your heart on him as much as you please," returned Edward, "so
long as you do not set your person on him."

"In England," ventured, the respectful Tredway, "young ladies
generally prefer a more trustworthy animal."

"Well, when we go to England," responded Rose, casting her arms around
the neck of her slandered steed, "we'll do as the English do--won't we
Flip, dear? In this country we'll have just a little of our own wild
way."

From this decision there was no appeal. The words were scarcely spoken
when there was a swift scamper of heels, a smothered sound, half
shriek, half laughter, from Rose's lips, a cloud of dust, and that was
all. Edward's alarm was changed to amusement as the pony, after its
first wild flight, settled down into a sort of dancing step, ambling,
pirouetting, curvetting, sidling, arching its wilful neck at one
moment, and rushing off at a rate that bade fair to break its rider's
at the next.

By fits and starts--a great many of them--they managed to make their
way to "Bellevue," where the lovely Helene, arrayed in the alluring
coolness of a white _neglige_, and with her braided locks drooping to
her waist, came down the walk to meet them.

"Rose Macleod!" she exclaimed, for Black Bess was still far in the
rear, and she imagined her friend unaccompanied, "and on that
desperately dangerous little Flip!"

"The very same," responded Rose saucily, "but I don't know how long I
may remain on him. We want you to join us in a glorious old gallop."

"Good morning, Mademoiselle," exclaimed Edward, reining in his black
steed. "I hope Madame DeBerczy is better than usual, as I have some
thoughts of leaving my wild sister with her. She's every bit as
unmanageable as Flip."

"Leave me, indeed," retorted Rose, "as though I could trust you alone
in the woods--with a pretty girl."

The last words were inaudible, save to Helene, between whom and Rose
there passed a subtle glance which gave Edward a vague alarm. Could it
be that Helene had received intelligence of his encounter with Wanda?
No, it was clearly impossible. There was nothing of mocking in her
look--nothing but the pretty consciousness of a girl who could not
forget that her shoulders and arms were gleaming beneath the mist of a
muslin altogether too thin, and a weight of loosened braids altogether
too thick, to be proper subjects for a young man's contemplation.

She presently vanished within, and reappeared before they had time to
be impatient. In her close-clinging habit, with her black braids
securely pinned, a handful of lilies drooping at her waist, and the
whole of her fair young figure invested with a sort of stately
maidenliness, she formed a sufficient contrast to Rose, who, perched
defiantly upon her wicked little steed, looked every inch a rogue.
Mademoiselle DeBerczy's white horse was slim and graceful as became
its owner, who glanced with lady-like apprehension at the dashings and
plungings and other dog-like vagaries of Flip. "Dear me, Rose," she at
last remarked rather nervously, "I can't bear to look at you."

"Then don't look at me!" exclaimed the wild girl, "go on with Edward;
Flip and I are going to make a morning of it."

The young man nothing loth drew in Black Bess beside the milk-white
palfrey, and began to comment upon the beauty of the morning, of the
woods through which they were passing, and, lastly, of an Indian
child, who, straying away from a settlement of wigwams, perched itself
upon a stump, and surveyed the cavalcade with round-eyed interest.

"The loveliest Indian girl I ever saw," remarked Helene, "is Wanda,
the Algonquin chief's adopted daughter. But this is no news to you, as
I hear that you were quite forcibly struck by her."

Oh, the ambiguities of the English language! There was not a quiver of
an eye-lash, not the slightest curl of the scarlet lips, and the wide
dark eyes were seemingly free from guile; but, nevertheless, Edward
suffered again that vague alarm which had sprung into being at the
gate of "Bellevue."

"I think her very pretty, certainly," he returned, "but I can't say
that I admire her."

"I am surprised at that. Rose told me that she made quite an
impression upon you."

Ought this to be taken literally? The lily-white face was no tell-tale.
Could one so fair be so deceitful? This matter must be further probed.

"The impression was not altogether a pleasant one," he confessed with
a rising flush.

"Not pleasant? You are very hard to please. She is not only remarkably
handsome but she has a vigorous personality--a sort of native force
that is sure to make its mark."

"I fear I am not an admirer of force--that is in a woman."

"I am sure you have no reason to be. It is possible that even the
beautiful Wanda might not be above browbeating a man."

"Oh, she might do worse than that," said Edward, with the coolness
born of desperation. "She might sink so low as to basely persecute him
with her knowledge of a secret extracted from his sister. Don't you
think that would be treating him very contemptibly."

"It would depend altogether upon what sort of treatment he deserved."

"It occurs to me that the unfortunate creature we have in mind has
suffered enough."

It was evident that Helene thought so too. She said nothing, but the
sweet eyes that had refrained from mocking at him could not hide a
tinge of remorse. This pledge of peace was quickly noted by the
much-enduring youth, whose gratitude might have found vocal expression
had not his attention that moment been called off by an approaching
pedestrian, who suddenly appeared at a curve in the Penetanguishene
road, which, after partly retracing their steps, they had now reached.

"What, Dunlop, as I live!" he exclaimed, eagerly reining in his steed,
and extending a cordial hand. "My dear fellow, how long have you been
at home, and why have I been left in ignorance of your coming?"

The young man who had paid Helene the doubtful tribute of a
disappointed glance, returned the greeting warmly, but in more
measured terms. "I was at church on Sunday," he said, "for the first
time since my return home. Why weren't you there?"

"Ugh!" said Edward, as though the recollection had been an icicle
suddenly thrust down his back. "Why, to tell the truth, I performed an
act of worship on the day before, and the consequence was so frightful
that I was discouraged from further attempts at prayer and praise. I
hadn't the heart to go."

"You hadn't the _face_ to go!" softly corrected Helene.

"Exactly. Your knowledge of the facts is copious and profound. Excuse
me! Miss DeBerczy, let me present to you Mr. Allan Dunlop, Provincial
land-surveyor, member for the Home District, future leader in
parliament, and a man after my own heart!"

The stranger looked as though a less elaborate introduction might have
pleased him better. "Edward you are as extravagant as ever," he
exclaimed, and then, turning to the lady, with a sort of shy sincerity,
"Don't believe him, Miss DeBerczy. I am studying politics and
practicing surveying, but that is all."

"And you mean to say that you are not a man after my own heart,"
demanded Edward, threatening him with his riding-whip; "then, perhaps,
you will be good enough to tell me whose heart you _are_ after."

An embarrassed laugh broke from Allan's lips, as he thought
involuntarily of the queenly little creature, golden crowned and
richly robed, whose reign had begun, so far as he knew, on the Sunday
previous. Oddly enough, the same personage came at that moment to
Helene's mind, and she hurriedly inquired, "Why, where can Rose be?"

"Here she comes," said Edward, after a backward glance, and here
indeed she came. With her bright hair flying in the breeze, her riding
hat rakishly askew, one glove invisible, and the other tucked for safe
keeping under the saddle, her riding-habit gray with dust, and
fantastically trimmed with thorns and nettles, her blue eyes at their
bluest, her pink cheeks at their rosiest, she produced a very powerful
effect upon the minds of her spectators. Perhaps it would not be too
much to say that she produced three distinct effects upon their minds.

Helene was the first to recover the faculty of speech. "Why, you are a
regular little brier rose!" she exclaimed laughingly, wheeling her
horse about so as to remove what appeared to be the larger part of a
blackberry bush from her friend's habit, and improving the opportunity
to insert a pin in the ragged edges of a dreadful looking rent, which
the premature removal of the blackberry bush had revealed.

Edward introduced his friend to Rose with a gravity which was too
evidently born of the belief that she had never before presented quite
so disreputable an appearance. Allan knew his goddess under this
quaint disguise, and his heart beat a loud recognition. The cool
graceful black and white propriety of Helene DeBerczy was barren of
significance compared with the slightest strand of yellow wilful hair
that blew about the pink-shamed face of his friend's sister.

With renewed expressions of good-feeling and the promise, by Allan, of
an early visit to Pine Towers, the young men separated, the riding
party moving off in the same order as before, Helene and Edward going
first, leaving Rose and Flip to follow at their own discretion.

But the latter, who had exhausted every known device for his own
amusement, now suddenly discovered and put into instant execution
another way to annoy his pretty mistress. This was to stand perfectly
still--inexorably, indomitably, immovably still. In vain Rose whipped,
begged, prayed, and almost wept. But Flip was thereby only strengthened
in his decision. Rose's companions had vanished around the bend in the
road. Though lost to sight they were to memory obnoxious. How mean of
Edward to go off in that cool, careless way, without a thought of her
left behind! How contemptible of Helene to leave her without so much
as a hair-pin to repair the ravages made by that horrible little horse.
And now, worse and worse, Allan Dunlop, who might have had the
gentlemanliness to make himself invisible as soon as possible, came
hurrying back to be a further witness of her dishevelled embarrassment.

"I am afraid your horse is a little fractious," he suggested
respectfully.

"Oh, no," replied Rose, earnestly, scarcely conscious of what she
said. "Only--sometimes--he won't go."

This was a statement which Flip seemed in no wise disposed to
contradict.

"Perhaps if you will allow me to pet him a little, we may induce a
change in his behaviour." He drew near and laid his head upon the
pony's mane, accidentally brushing with his moustache the warm little
hand upon the reins. Its owner drew it away, while an expression of
absolute pain crossed her face. "I don't know what you can think of
me," she said contritely. "I lost one of my gloves in reaching for a
branch above my head, and its no use wearing the other and trying to
be half respectable." She was miserably conscious that she was not
even that, as she tried to fasten up her loosely waving locks, and
thought of the awful rent in her habit, through which that saving pin
had slipped and been lost sight of forever, like a weary little
missionary in a very large field of labour. The skirt beneath was
deplorably short, and her feet, though small, were not small enough to
be invisible. Her chivalrous attendant seemed quite unconscious of
these glaring deficiencies in her appearance, as he looked up with a
bright smile, and said: "There, I think he will go now." At the word
Flip began a slow undulating movement, something akin to that produced
by a rocking-horse, which while it "goes" fast enough makes no
perceptible progress. Poor Rose, excited and unstrung by her morning's
adventures, dropped the reins in disgust, and then with one hand
clutching her skirt, and the other her hair, she resigned herself to a
fit of uncontrollable laughter. The next moment the wilful horse made
a wild plunge forward, and the wilful girl was flung with terrible
force against a heap of stones on the roadside. Colourless, motionless,
breathless, she lay at the feet of Allan Dunlop, whose heart turned
sick as he discerned among the yellow locks outspread on the gray
stones a slender stream of blood.

For a moment the young man stood horror-struck. Fortunately he was not
far from home, and there he proceeded at once to take the almost
lifeless girl. As he was about to lift her gently in his arms, a low
moan escaped her lips, the significance of which he was not slow to
catch. Unable to speak, almost unable to move, she made a slight
writhing motion of the limbs, accompanied by a convulsive twitch at
the torn gown. Allan Dunlop was not dull-witted enough to suppose that
her ankle was sprained. His sensibilities and sympathies were
exquisitely quick and fine. Catching up an end of the unfortunate
riding-habit he twisted it closely about the helplessly exposed little
feet--an act of delicacy which received a faint glance of grateful
recognition before she lapsed into utter unconsciousness. Gathering
her into his arms he carried her as he might have carried a child to
the shelter of his own house. But here a fresh dilemma presented
itself. Not a soul was in the house. His father had not yet returned
from market, his mother and the servant were absent, he knew not
where. Placing her on a couch he bathed with awkwardly gentle fingers
the wound in her head, and dared even to wipe away a few drops of
blood from the little pallid face. Still the white lids lay motionless
over the blue eyes, and the girlish form was unmoved by a breath. He
stood anxiously looking down at her, wondering what his mother would
do in his place, and feeling in every fibre a man's natural
helplessness in the presence of a suffering woman. "What can I do for
you?" he asked, as she at last opened her eyes, and gazed
half-frightened at her strange surroundings.

"Thank you, I believe I am quite comfortable, except--except for the
dreadful pain. I feel so terribly shaken." And the poor child broke
into uncontrollable sobs.

"Oh, don't cry!" begged Allan, who might with equal truth have claimed
that he too felt terribly shaken. "I can't imagine where my mother has
gone." He stared miserably out of the window a moment, and then
returned to his patient, with the air of a man who is not going to
shirk a duty, no matter how difficult it may be.

"If you could dry your eyes," he began with a sort of brotherly
gentleness, "and tell"--

"I'm afraid I can't. I don't dare move my right hand from under me,
the pain is so acute in my back, and there is something dreadfully
wrong with my left arm."

Dreadfully wrong indeed! It hung limp and broken. The young man was
spurred by the sight to instant, decisive action.

"Miss Macleod," he said, "I will have to leave you alone, and go at
once for a physician and your father. Do you think you can be very
brave?"

Her tears flowed afresh at the question. This time he wiped them away
himself. "Oh, I'm afraid I couldn't be that," she said. "I never
could. But I'll promise not to run away before you come back."

She _is_ a brave little soul after all, he thought, as he waved his
hand, and hurried off to the stable; but that is a woman's courage--cry
one moment and make a joke the next.

Mrs. Dunlop, who was not as far distant from home as her son had
supposed, entered the house a few minutes after his departure,
followed by the servant, both bearing great baskets of raspberries.
The two women were sufficiently astonished at sight of the unexpected
and most unfortunate guest; but Allan's mother would scarcely allow
Rose to pronounce a word of her penitent confession. It was enough for
her to know that here was an opportunity for her to relieve suffering,
and she improved it with characteristic tact and delicacy. The
open-eyed and open-mouthed maid was sent on various small missions of
mercy, which she attacked with zeal, in the hope that thereby in some
way her abounding thirst for information might be assuaged.

Very soon after, the quiet farm-house became the rendezvous of an
unusual number of strangers. Helene and Edward, who had returned to
see if Allan could tell them anything concerning the whereabouts of
the missing girl, came first. Helene, full of grief and contrition
because she had not remained by the side of Rose through the entire
length of her perilous undertaking, and Edward, whose brotherly
sympathy was tinged by the magnanimous consciousness that nothing
would tempt him to remind her that he had warned her of the evil which
had resulted in her downfall. Afterwards came the physician who set
the broken arm, and forbade the patient's removal, and then the
Commodore, in whose brawny neck his daughter hid a wet, pitiful face.

"It was my fault, Papa," she whispered, "and it's a miracle I'm not
broken up into more pieces than I am. I deserve to be. I'm as full of
penitence as I am of pain. But don't you be troubled about me. Mrs.
Dunlop is as good and kind as it is possible to be. I am sure they are
very nice people."

Very nice people perhaps, but very little to the Commodore's taste. As
he turned to greet the man, upon whose hospitality his daughter had
been so literally and unexpectedly thrown, he was scarcely his frank,
genial, outspoken self. There was a secret root of prejudice against
this unpretending farmer, whose son's political views were as far from
his own as the east is from the west, and whose social position was
decidedly inferior. Not that the kindly Commodore was gifted with that
microscopic eye which is too easily impressed by the infinitesimal
gradations of society, but he retained too much of the Old World
feeling for class distinctions to make him oblivious to the difference
in their rank.

"Good heavens! Edward," he exclaimed, in a conversation with his son a
few days after the accident, "what uncommonly low ground our little
Rose has been suddenly transplanted to. That old farmer looks as stiff
and straight as one of his own furrows, and his son, what's-his-name?
is of the same mould."

"It's remarkably rich mould, Father. Not such low ground as one might
think."

"Rich! What, in dollars and cents?"

"No; better than that. In knowledge and sense. Allan Dunlop is a very
bright fellow."

"Oh! I _thought_ the paternal acres could scarcely afford a sufficient
yield of potatoes and parsnips to furnish material wealth. As for the
sense you speak of, I hope your friend possesses enough to keep him
from making love to your sister."

"He is far too proud to make love to one whom he considers his social
superior, though she might do worse than permit it."

"Oh, dear yes; she might have been thrown into a settlement of
savages, and wedded to the first wild Indian that ran to pick her up."

Edward's cheek reddened perceptibly.

"Or she might marry a snob," he said.

"Come, Edward," returned the Commodore, with a breezy laugh, "you must
not insinuate that your old father is such a disagreeable sort of
person. But, seriously, you don't consider Allan Dunlop your equal, do
you?"

"No," said Edward, "I don't think him my equal."

"That's the sensible way to look at it. Not but that he is as good and
necessary in his way as the earth he tills and the vegetables he
sells."

"Oh, it is the father--who, by the way, is an old soldier--that tills
and sells. The son, as you know, is a young rising politician--a
radical."

"I am only too well aware of that, but why couldn't he stick to the
plough? Its the unluckiest business imaginable, Edward, that we should
have played into their hands in this way. They are the last sort of
people to whom one cares to be under a personal obligation."

Edward had no balm to apply to his father's irritation. "When I say
that I don't consider Allan my equal," he explained, "I mean that I
fancy him my superior."

His father laughed aloud. "You seem to have a good many fancies," he
said, tolerantly, and continued to smoke in meditative silence.

And still among the people of whom her father and brother held such
entirely opposite opinions lay the helpless Rose, victim of a slow
fever, which left her, as Helene pityingly said, weak as a roseleaf.
But Helene seldom saw her now. Edward and his father were also all but
banished from her bedside. "Really," said Dr. Ardagh to the Commodore,
"I must insist upon absolute quiet as the first requisite for my
patient's recovery. Those daily visits are exciting and harmful. Mrs.
Dunlop has a perfect genius for sick-nursing, and you can safely leave
your daughter to her. She is really a remarkable woman!"

The Commodore made a wry face. "Not long ago Edward would have me
believe that the Dunlops, father and son, were endowed with uncommon
mental power. Now it appears that the mother is similarly gifted. My
poor child hasn't brains enough to keep her from riding an unsafe
colt, but it is to be hoped she knows enough to appreciate the
advantages of her situation."

The doctor raised his eyebrows at this peculiar pleasantry, but
managed to harrow his listener's heart by intimating that it would be
a confoundedly strange thing if young Dunlop did not appreciate _his_
advantages.



CHAPTER VIII.

CONVALESCENCE.


To be slowly recovering from a severe illness is almost like being
again a very little child. So thought Rose Macleod, as she lay between
lavender-scented sheets, in the quaint stone cottage, whose deep
old-fashioned window seats, and low whitewashed ceilings, were
becoming as familiar to her as the stately halls of her home. The
protracted leisure of convalescence was growing burdensome to her. So
many days had she watched the lights and shadows woven throughout the
greenery, just outside her window, or listened to the weird measure of
the rain when the wind surged like a sea through the foliage, or held
her breath for joy when a flying bird pulsed vividly across the sky,
or counted the milk-white flowers of the locust tree, as they strewed
the ground with blossoms, or noted the exact moment when the
morning-glories softly clasped their purple petals together, as though
unable to contain a greater fulness of joy than was brought by the
summer morning. It was now early evening, and Rose gave vent to a
little uncontrollable sigh. Mrs. Dunlop came as quickly to the bedside
as though the sigh had been the sound of a trumpet. She was a very
pleasant object for weary invalid eyes to rest upon. Her dark hair was
satin-smooth, her voice and movements were quiet and refined. There
was in her face that mingling of shyness and sincerity, irradiated by
a look of the keenest intelligence, which reminded Rose of Allan,
between whom and his mother there was a strong resemblance.

"I have something to tell you," she said gently. "As my prisoner you
have behaved in such an exemplary manner, keeping all the rules of the
institution, and making no attempt to run away, that I have decided to
give you the freedom of another room."

"Oh, am I to go into another room?" Had a voyage to Europe been
proposed to her it could scarcely have suggested pleasanter ideas of
change. "A new wall-paper, and a new window! What more could I ask
for? But how am I to get there? What means of transportation have
you?"

"That is just what I am thinking of. I could dress you in my gray
wrapper, and then--would you mind if Allan were to help me to lift you
to the couch in my room?"

Rose shuddered a little. A faint pink stained for a moment the
whiteness of her cheek. "I shouldn't mind it if I were senseless," she
said, "but I don't want him to think I have lost my senses again. No,
we'll have to give up that idea."

But Mrs. Dunlop was not the sort of person to give up an idea without
good cause. "The mountain must then go to Mahomet," said she, and
wheeling the couch close to the sick-bed, she arranged the invalid
cosily among the cushions, and pushed her slowly into her own
apartment. "If I were twice as large as you are," she added, "instead
of being just your size, I should have carried you in half the time."

But another and more serious consequence followed that same evening
upon the striking similarity in figure between Mrs. Dunlop and Miss
Macleod. Golden twilight had changed to dim dusk, but Rose still lay
with her fair head almost buried among the cushions. She expected a
visit from her father that evening, and the temptation to show him
what she could do and dare was irresistible. All her hostess's hints
that bed-time had arrived were wasted upon deaf ears. At last, in a
little anxiety as to the result of her experiment, if the Commodore
did not arrive, Mrs. Dunlop went out to the front gate to see if there
were signs of his approach. At the same moment Allan entered the house
by the back door, and looked about for his mother. Impelled by a
"fatalistic necessity" he went up to her room, the sound of his
carefully modulated tread upon the stairway filling the heart of Rose
with delight, for was not that her own father, who had probably been
informed at the gate of the change in her condition and surroundings,
and who was coming up so softly in order to surprise her. Allan,
meanwhile, glancing in, saw nothing in the gray gloom but a small
figure in a well-known wrapper, stretched wearily upon the couch.
"Poor little mother," he thought. "She is quite tired out." He went up
to her intending to bestow a filial caress upon her cheek, but before
his design could be accomplished he was drawn close by a single arm
around his neck, and repeatedly kissed. "You blessed darling!" she
softly exclaimed, "here I've been waiting for you, and _waiting_ for
you and longing--_Oh_!" That silky moustache and that chin, that was
_not_ stubby, could they belong to a gentleman of sixty years? Her
right arm fell limp and useless as the other. "I thought you were my
father," she said in a weak voice of mingled disappointment, anger and
shame.

"And I thought you were my mother," was all the guilty wretch could
offer in extenuation of his conduct.

The people whose parts this unfortunate pair had been playing with
such ill success were now heard at the door below. Allan felt like a
criminal as he stole into the hall, and thence into his own room; but
the Commodore could scarcely understand the propriety of a strange and
otherwise objectionable young man holding a moonless _tete-a-tete_
with his daughter. In any case his presence would involve disagreeable
explanations. If her cheeks were as flushed as his own no doubt her
doting parent would ascribe it to renewed health and strength.

But the young man, sitting alone in the perfumed darkness of that
summer night, with his hot head fallen upon the window-sill, did not
imagine that the fire that burned along his own veins was an
indication of health. On the contrary, he feared it the symptom of a
dreaded disease--the fever and delirium of love. What was that little
yellow-haired girl to him? Nothing! nothing! Yet her kisses burned
upon his lips, and every drop of blood in his body seemed to
contradict his nonchalant nothing with a passionate everything! Yes,
she was in truth the lamp of his life, but in that radiant light how
pitiful his life appeared. How pitiful, and yet how beautiful, for in
the tender illumination of her imagined love rough places became
smooth, dark ways bright, and the heights of possible achievement were
faintly flushed with all the delicate tints of dawn--the dawn of a
diviner day than any he had yet looked upon. When he went to sleep it
was to dream of walking in a wilderness of roses. Pale and drooping,
broken and dying, red and roguish, blushing, wanton, wild and warm,
each bore some fantastic resemblance to Rose Macleod, and each was set
about with "little wilful thorns." The hand which he eagerly
outstretched to pluck the loveliest rose of all was pierced and
bleeding. Still he did not despair of reaching it. But as his longing
eyes drew nearer and nearer the stately little beauty turned suddenly
a deep blood-red, and then he saw that the crimson drops falling from
his own wounds had worked this transformation. He hid her in his
bosom, and held her there. But the closer she was pressed the richer
and more fragrant was the breath she exhaled, intoxicating all his
senses, and the farther into his heart went the cruel thorns, until in
mingled pain and rapture he awoke.

This Allan Dunlop, though born and bred on a farm, had in him the
spring of a higher and finer life. He was a man of delicate instincts,
refined feelings, and great native sensibility, inherited from his
mother, at whose history we may take a rapid backward glance.

Far away in one of the stately homes of "Merrie England," when the
eighteenth century was old, a gentlewoman, young, charming, and full
of an habitually repressed life and gaiety, waited for her cavalier,
the youthful riding-master who had little to recommend himself to her
gracious kindness save that deep but indefinable charm which a
handsome man on a spirited charger is so prone to exert on the
feminine imagination. The morning was fair, the lady was fairer, and
the heart of her gallant attendant beat faster than the feet of his
steed, as the flying skirt of her robe swept his stirrup, and the soft
length of her mist-like veil blew before his eyes and caressed his
brown cheek. It was not the only mist that blew before his eyes nor
before her's either, poor child! for the rival contrast between this
wild rush over hedge and ditch and bright green meadow and the stiffly
guarded walks and ways of home had spurred her imagination also into a
gallop. "We will never come back," he said jestingly, "we will ride
away into a world of our own!" but there was something reckless in his
laugh and a formidable note of earnestness in his jesting. He never
dreamed that her pulse beat quicker after his careless speeches, and
he was in truth a good deal in awe of her, for the buckram propriety
which had encased her like a garment ever since she could remember was
not easily thrown aside. This young pair, though as deeply in love
with each other as it is possible for man and maid to be, had never
acknowledged the fact by a syllable. Anna Sherwood was too shy and
prim; Richard Dunlop too poor and proud. He had been a trooper in a
cavalry regiment, afterwards riding-master in a garrison town in
England, and since his coming to Canada, and before taking to farming,
he held the position of fort-adjutant at Penetanguishene; at present
he was tutor in equestrian arts to the young lady whom he passionately
loved. Of her there is little to tell except that until this dashing
young fellow crossed her path she had experienced about as much change
and variety in her life as though she had been a plant grown in a
flower-pot. On sunny days she was allowed the outside air; on stormy
days she was kept within. She toiled not, neither did she spin.
Nothing was required of her except colourless acquiescence in a life
of torpid, unnatural, unendurable _ennui_.

The young lady's only guardian was a wealthy maiden aunt, who was as
rich as she was old maidish--a statement likely to thrill the heart of
any mammon-worshipper among her acquaintance--and whose special pride
was the exemplary manner in which she had brought up her brother's
child. The daring young fellow who had presumed to fall in love with
this model niece followed her uninvited into the family sitting-room
on returning from their ride, a proceeding which rather alarmed the
gentle Anna, though her much dreaded relative was absent. He did not
sit down, but took a decisive stand on the hearth-rug. He looked like
a man who has something he must say, though the saying of it will all
but cost him his life. She sat down with a strange foreboding at her
heart of something terrible to come. The austere influences of her
aunt's home were upon her. She sat in prim composure, pale hands
clasped, and pale lids drooping upon cheeks that had lost every
particle of the warmth and glow gained by exercise. "Miss Sherwood,"
he began, "there is something I have been longing to say to you for
weeks past, and though it is a perfectly useless, almost impertinent
thing to say, still I cannot leave it burning in my heart any longer.
It is that you are dearer to me than any woman on earth--and always
will be." His voice broke a little, but he went bravely on. "You need
not think that I shall annoy you with frequent repetitions of this
fact, or that I expect to gain anything by the statement of it. I know
that you are proud and self-sufficing, and," a little bitterly, "that
I can never be anything more to you than the dust thrown up by your
horse's heels--a necessary evil. I don't know why I should tell you
this, except that I cannot suffer in silence any longer. I am going to
leave you now--to leave you forever. Won't you say good-bye? Is there
nothing you will say to me, little Nan?"

In spite of himself his voice had sunk to a tone of caressing
tenderness. The pale proud girl had listened to him without moving a
fibre or lifting an eyelash. But now there came a great flow of blood
to her face, a swift rush of tears to her eyes.

"Nothing," she said, "except"--

She wrung her hands: pride dies very hard.

"Except that I love you, Dick!"

His eyes blazed. "Then, by Heaven," he cried, "we shall never part."
He caught her to his breast and held her there a moment without
speaking. He was too dazed to speak. The scene was dramatic; and Miss
Maria Sherwood, who entered the room at that moment, did not approve
of the drama. She held that it was sensational in conduct, scurrilous
in character, scandalous in its consequences; and it is highly
probable that from this brief glimpse of it she saw no reason to
change her opinions. Act second, as may be imagined, was stormy and
exciting, gaining in interest as it progressed, and the last scene in
these private theatricals saw the hero and heroine shipped off to
Canada--that better country, where the lives and loves of those to
whom fate has been cruel are graciously spared, under conditions
adverse enough but still endurable.

That life and love can continue to exist beneath bleak foreign skies,
when grim Poverty howls wolf-like at the door, and the winds of
seemingly year-long winters are scarcely less fierce, was the
proposition these courageous young people set themselves to prove. No
day dawned so dark that was not illumined for him by the repetition of
that shamelessly unmaidenly speech, "I love you, Dick." As for her,
she never ceased to smile at the blindness of a man who could imagine
that luxurious imprisonment for life without him could be more
alluring than the greatest hardships endured in the perpetual sunshine
of his love.

Of this pair, whose romance had outlasted the sordid cares and
trials of life in the backwoods, Allan Dunlop, with his exquisite
susceptibilities, and ambitious aims, was the honest fruit. He was not
visible to Rose for some days after their emotional and wholly
involuntary encounter in his mother's room, and then he brought her a
great handful of her fragrant namesakes. She had been promoted for
half-an-hour to a huge well-cushioned chair, in which she reclined
rather languidly. The roses formed a pretext for a little desultory
conversation, and then Allan, noticing the invalid's little ears were
turning pink, presumably at the recollection of their last meeting,
could not forbear saying:

"I feel that I ought to beg your pardon, Miss Macleod, for the way I
treated you the other evening. It was a brutal assault, though wholly
unintentional."

Poor Rose, who remembered that it was she who made the assault,
expressed the belief that she would rather it were forgotten than
forgiven.

"I'm afraid I can't forget it. Some things make too deep an impression.
Of course," he added, in his embarrassment, "it was the last thing I
should have wished to do."

"Of course!" echoed the miserable girl, wondering if he meant what he
said.

"Allan," said his mother, entering the room at that moment, "what are
you saying to distress my patient? I don't like the look of these
feverish cheeks."

"I fear I have committed the unpardonable sin, as Miss Rose refuses to
pardon it."

Mrs. Dunlop, who was in absolute ignorance of the subject of
conversation, looked smilingly from one to the other.

"Promise her that the offence will never be repeated, Allan," she
said, "and then it may receive forgiveness."

The young man coloured scarlet. "The conditions are too hard," he
murmured. "I think, on the whole, I should prefer to go unforgiven."
And he hastily rose and left the room.

But if Rose Macleod was not free from afflictions of a sentimental
nature, her brother Edward was even less so. This young man sorely
missed the girlish society which his sister in happier days had
constantly drawn about her. One afternoon, when time hung particularly
heavy on his hands, he decided to go over to "Bellevue," ostensibly to
give Madame DeBerczy the latest information concerning Rose, but
really to solace his soul with a sight of the beautiful Helene. On his
way over he chanced to overtake the Algonquin girl, Wanda, whom he
proceeded to upbraid in no measured terms for the way in which she had
treated him.

"Ah, don't!" she cried at last, covering her ears with her hands,
"your words are like hailstones, sharp and cruel and cold."

"Then will you not say that you are sorry?" he pleaded, bending his
fair head once more perilously near to the soft, brown neck.

"Sorry that you deserved the blow? yes; certainly!"

"Wanda," cried Edward, an irrepressible smile breaking through his
assumed anger, "you are a witch, and a wicked witch, too. It is like
your race to be cruel and merciless, indifferent to the pain you
inflict, and--"

"No, no," retorted the girl, indignantly, "it is not true." She was
irradiated by her wrath. The usual faint yet warm redness of her face
had changed to a deeper hue, and her eyes were smouldering fires.
Edward had never seen her look so handsome; but his attention was
distracted from her at that instant by some rough, prickly shrubs,
near which they were passing. He put out his hand instinctively to
keep them from touching his companion, and a sharp thorn pierced his
palm. He immediately affected to be in great pain.

"It is easy for the pale-face to suffer," she said tauntingly.

"It is impossible for your race to be pitiful," he replied in the same
tone.

Again she flushed hotly, and, as if to disprove his assertion, she
seized his hand, and pressed it closely to her angrily, heaving bosom,
as she tried to extract the thorn from it. But it had penetrated too
far, and with a quick impatient ah! she bent her warm red lips to his
palm and strove to reach the thorn with her little white teeth. After
several attempts she was at last successful, and looked up with an air
of innocent triumph.

"I take back my cruel words," Edward said. "I am sure you can be a
little pitiful." Then he put her gently but hastily aside, for they
were close upon "Bellevue," and he was eager to meet Helene.

With a grieved, child-like wonder the beautiful, ignorant savage
watched him, as he hurried across the velvet lawn, among beds of
brilliant flowers, to greet a lily-like maiden, clad in what, in her
uncivilized eyes, appeared to be a mingling of mist and moonbeams. It
was the first time that he had shown a wish to leave her. Hitherto she
had been the object of his pursuit, of his devotion, of his ardent
desire. Now, like a cold blast, his neglect struck chill upon her
heart, and she turned back into the forest solitudes with all the
brightness suddenly and strangely gone out of her life.

But instead of being translated to the earthly paradise of a beautiful
woman's favour, Edward, to his own great disappointment and chagrin,
found himself in a very different atmosphere. Helene was cold, nearly
silent, utterly indifferent. She was looking unusually well. The rich
harmonious contrasts of face and hair--the midnight darkness of the
one breaking into the radiant dawn of the other--never before
impressed him so vividly. But she was terribly distant. The young man
assured himself rather bitterly that if she were a thousand miles off
she could not have been more oblivious of his presence. She was
alluring even in her indifference, graceful, elegant, angelic--but an
angel carved in ice. "I have been so unfortunate as to offend you," he
said at parting, as they stood alone in the soft, moonless, summer
dusk.

"I don't know; is it a matter of much importance?" There was an accent
of weariness in her voice, but the tone was hard.

"Yes, to me. You are as cold as death!"

"What a very unpleasant fancy!" She shivered lightly, and extended the
tips of her very chilly fingers to him in a last good-night.

Mademoiselle Helene was intensely proud. She had been an unobserved
witness of the scene between Edward and Wanda in the wood, and, of
course, had made her own misinterpretation. A man who could permit a
low, untutored savage to fawn upon him in that way, kissing his hand
repeatedly, and flushing with gratified vanity, presumably at his
words of endearment, could scarcely expect to be treated otherwise
than with disdain by the high-bred girl whom he had previously
delighted to honour. As for Edward he was sorely hurt and bewildered.
Helene's treatment of him he considered decidedly curt, and natural
resentment burned within him at the thought. But before he reached
home his anger had passed away, and with it all remembrance of the
cold maiden and the unpleasant evening she had given him. In their
place lived an intense recollection of a tawny woman, beautiful and
warm-blooded; and his heart thrilled with a tumult of emotions at the
memory of her lustrous velvet lips closely pressed within his wounded
hand.



CHAPTER IX.

ON THE WAY TO THE CAPITAL.


From early summer to late autumn, from assurance of bloom to certainty
of frost, is but a step--the step between life and death. The
murmuring leaves and waters on the shores of Kempenfeldt Bay had
learned a louder and harsher melody--the wild wind-prophecy of winter.
For a brief season Indian summer came to re-illumine the despairing
days, and the larches, set aflame by her hand, flashed like lights.
Then through the softly tinted wood broke the Autumn brightness upon
delicate shimmering birch trees, red sumachs, purple tinged sassafras,
golden rod and asters; but now the oaks and beeches had changed their
velvet green raiment to dull brown, and all the wild woods, after the
pitiless and well-nigh perpetual rains of Fall, were stricken and
discoloured. Madame and Mademoiselle DeBerczy had flown with the
birds, and were now domiciled in their winter home at the Oak Ridges,
whither Rose Macleod, in response to an urgent invitation from Helene,
had accompanied them, and whence she wrote letters of entreaty to her
father, urging him to take a house in York for the winter.

"Not that it is so particularly lively," she wrote, "but it is not
quite so deathly as at Pine Towers. Edward will be willing to come, I
know, desperate lover of nature that he is, for there is nothing in
the woods now but eternal requiem over lost and buried beauty, of
which, in the natural vanity of youth, he may be tempted to consider
himself a part. As for the children they will build snow-houses, and
sit down in them, thus ensuring permanent bad colds, and the other
member of your family, if she returns home, will 'look before and
after, and sigh for what is not.' Is not that a sufficiently
depressing picture? Dear papa, you know that, like the bad little boys
in a certain class of Sunday School literature, I can't be ruled
except by kindness. Now see what an immense opportunity I have given
you to govern me according to approved Sunday School ethics!"

She paused a moment, considering not what could be said, but what
could be omitted from a missive which was to be convincing as well as
caressing in its nature, when Helene entered the room.

"Love letter, Rose?" she inquired carelessly.

"Certainly," responded her friend, "all my letters are love letters.
Would you have me write to a person I didn't love?"

"Why, I couldn't help it, that is supposing the letter you are writing
is addressed to Allan Dunlop. Of course he is a person you don't love."

"There is no reason why I should."

"No reason? O ingratitude! After he dived under the heels of a fiery
horse, carried you nearly lifeless into the house, and took off his
boots every time he entered it for six weeks thereafter. How much
further could a man's devotion go?"

"I am beginning to find out," said Rose, with a slight return of an
invalid's irritation, "how far a _woman's_ devotion can go."

Helene arched her delicate brows. "Are you offended?" she asked,
anxiously. "Ah, don't be! I'll take back every word. He _didn't_ take
off his boots, nor carry you in, nor pick you up, and, let me see--what
other assertion did I make? Oh, yes. Of course he is a person you _do_
love. But oh, Rose, Rose, what are you blushing about? This isn't the
time of year for roses to blush."

"Upon my word, Helene, you are enough to make a stone wall blush."

"Ah, you are thinking of the stone walls of a certain farm cottage. I
can imagine you sitting propped up in bed, with a volume of hymns
marking the line, 'Stone walls do not a prison make,' with a big
exclamation-point, and a 'So true!'"

Rose leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes.

"Are you very tired, dear?" inquired her friend, with real tenderness.

"Very tired," was the languid reply, that was not without a satirical
intonation. "It seems as though my rest was a good deal broken."

"Broken bone! broken heart! broken rest! dear me! Well, I suppose they
follow each other in natural sequence."

"Helene," said her mother, "you are chattering like a magpie. What is
it all about?"

"Broken utterances, mamma. Not worth piecing together and repeating."

Madame DeBerczy, seated alone at the other end of the apartment,
turned upon her daughter a face of such majestic severity as
effectually to quell that young lady's recklessly merry mood. But it
was not for long. The irrepressible joyousness of her nature was not
permanently subdued until two weeks later, when the family were
surprised by the unlooked-for appearance of Edward Macleod. This young
man was the bearer of good-tidings. His father and the rest of the
family were even now domiciled at an hotel in York waiting for Rose to
arrive in order to consult her preferences before selecting a house.
The announcement made both girls happy, but when it was discovered
that Edward was to take his sister away in a few hours their joy was
changed to lamentation. To be separated, hateful thought! How could it
be endured? They withdrew for a brief space to consider this weighty
problem, leaving Edward in dignified conversation with Madame
DeBerczy. He was strangely reminded of his first visit to her after
his return from England. Alike, and yet how different. Then the
prophecy of summer's golden perfection was in the air. But his hopes
with it had too-quickly ripened and died. The coolness that had sprang
up between Helene and himself had grown and strengthened into the
permanent winter of discontent. He was recalled from the chilling
reflections into which this thought had plunged him by the concluding
words of a remark by Madame DeBerczy: "I approve of a certain amount
of life and animation," she said, "but they are inclined to be too
frisky."

"What on earth is she talking about?" queried Edward inaudibly. He
could form no idea, but he was suddenly extricated from his dilemma by
observing the antics of two pet kittens on the hearth-rug.

"Altogether too frisky," he acquiesced, "but charming little pets."

"It appears to me," said the lady, with a good deal of frigidity in
her manner, "that they should be something better than that."

"Oh, you could scarcely expect such young things to be stately and
dignified, Madame DeBerczy. They seem to me very pretty and graceful."

"In my day prettiness and grace were not considered so essential for
young ladies as dignity and stateliness."

"Young ladies! Really, I beg your pardon, dear Madame, for my
inattention. I imagined you were talking of kittens." He blushed so
vividly over his mistake that a more circumspect old lady even than
the one he was addressing would have found it hard not to forgive him.

But now the girls re-entered the room with looks of deep dejection.
"We have decided that we can't part," said Helene. "United we stand,
divided we fall."

"And so," said Rose boldly, addressing Madame DeBerczy, "we have come
to ask if Helene cannot go back with us for a few days." She paused a
moment, for in asking a favour of so lofty a personage as Madame
DeBerczy, she was never certain whether she ought to prostrate herself
on the floor in oriental fashion, or merely bend the knee. In this
case she did neither. But her sweet pleading eyes spoke "libraries,"
so Helene told her afterwards. The imaginative objections already
forming in the mother's mind vanished away, and she was prevailed upon
to give her consent.

"Though it leaves me rather at the mercy of Sophia," she said, as she
went out to lunch.

Edward lifted an inquiring pair of eyes.

"Sophia is my new maid," explained his hostess. "Her ideas on the
subject of liberty and equality are extreme. Sometimes," she added
mournfully, "I am in doubt as to whether I have hired Sophia, or
Sophia has hired me."

The young people longed to exchange covert glances of amusement, but
this relief was denied them. It was no laughing matter to the stately
sufferer at the head of the table. Rose spoke in the decent accents of
sympathy and condolence, but her brother and friend were not profuse
of speech. The latter was thinking of possible explanations and
reconciliations that might arise through the frequent opportunities of
meeting with Edward, which a temporary residence under the same roof
would entail, and the former was feasting his beauty-loving eyes upon
a strikingly lovely picture on the other side of the table--the
picture of two heads, golden-yellow and raven-black, against the rich
background of a peacock-tinted tapestry screen.

They were much less picturesque in their winter wraps, as they whirled
away under the leafless trees, but they made up for it in merriment.
Edward and Helene were secretly glad of the presence of Rose. It was
impossible to be frigidly formal with that sunny face beaming up now
at one, then at the other. This deep young person had made up her mind
that she would spare no pains to bring about a better state of feeling
between the two. When conversation lagged or threatened to become
formally precise, she gave utterance to some amazing piece of
nonsense, which compelled a laugh from the others, or else indulged in
prettily assumed alarm, lest their horse should prove untrustworthy.

"When you see a horse's ears move," she declared, "it is a sign that
he is vicious. Flip's ears were never still."

"Why, Rose," cried her brother, "this horse is no more like Flip than
an old cow is like a wild cat. Besides his ears don't move."

"Oh, yes, they do," remarked Helene, with the calmness of scientific
conviction. "When a horse moves his ears have got to move too. They
are not detachable. It is the same with other animals."

"Where is my note-book?" inquired Edward, after a fruitless search in
his various pockets, while Rose observed "Well, you may say what you
please, but I feel sure he is not safe."

"Indeed, he isn't," echoed the driver. "He's liable to turn around any
moment and bite you. It's a good thing the livery stable man hitched
him up head first, else we might all have been devoured by the
ferocious beast."

Such pleasantries might have been indefinitely extended had not
unusual sounds of mirth and minstrelsy coming from behind arrested
their attention.

"Why, it is the Elmsleys," softly exclaimed Rose. "Dear me! I haven't
seen Grace and Eleanor for months."

These young ladies hailed her with every expression of delight as the
carriages came to a stand-still together. They had a prodigious amount
to say. At last, as the horses were growing restive, Mrs. Elmsley
invited Miss Macleod to join their family party, as they also were on
their way to York.

"_Do_!" echoed the daughters, and Rose accepted with alacrity. "The
horse we have isn't at all safe," she explained, "and I am quite
nervous on the subject since my accident last summer."

"Rose," demanded Helene, in a low aside, but with a tragic countenance,
"you surely are not going to leave me?"

The girl laughed as she accepted Mr. Elmsley's proffered assistance
from one vehicle into the other. "Why, you are quite a grown woman,"
observed that gentleman, apparently much impressed by her mature
proportions, "and it seems like only the other day that you were seven
years old, and used to kiss me when we met."

"Well, I'll kiss you again," replied the saucy Rose, adding after a
moment's pause,--"when I am seven years old."

"I warn you, Mrs. Elmsley," said Edward, shaking his head with doleful
foreboding, "that girl knows how to look like the innocent flower she
is named after, and be the serpent under it."

"Did you know," said his slandered sister, addressing the same lady,
and indicating the pair she had basely forsaken, "those are the very
two that were with me when I was so badly hurt last summer. Do you
wonder that I am glad to escape from them?"

The party drove off amid jests and laughter, while the young ladies,
applying their lips once more to a leaf of grass-ribbon each had in
her hand, produced such sounds as, according to their father, might,
Orpheus-like, have drawn stones and brickbats after them, but from a
murderous rather than a magnetic motive.

"I wonder if Rose is really nervous," said Edward, breaking the
silence that bound them after the departure of the others.

"I think she is really nonsensical," said Rose's friend, not very
blandly.

"Are you then so sorry to be left alone with me?"

The young lady evaded the question, but became extremely loquacious.
She intimated that almost any companionship, or none at all, could be
endured on this beautifully melancholy autumn day, and called his
attention to the leaves underfoot, which had grown brown and ragged,
like the pages of a very old book on which the centuries had laid
their slow relentless fingers. In a burst of girlish confidence she
told him that always, after the wild winds had stripped from the
shuddering woodland its last leaves, and the pitiless rains had washed
it clean, the spectacle of bare-branched trees, standing against the
gentle gloom of a pale November sky, reminded her of a company of
worldings, from whom every vestige of earthly ambition, pride and
prosperity had fallen away. "Anything," she said to herself,
"_anything_ to keep the talk from becoming personal."

"I can understand that," said Edward, "but the influences of
unworldliness--I was almost saying other-worldliness--are nowhere felt
as in the woods. Sometimes they exert a strange spell upon me. The
petty pride and shallow subterfuges of fashionable life are impossible
in nature's solitudes. Don't you think so?"

"Yes;" assented Helene, not seeing whither her unthinking acquiescence
might lead her.

"That is why I dare to ask you why you have been so cold and formal
towards me, so unlike your old self, for the last three months?"

No petty pride could help her now, no shallow subterfuges come to her
aid. She had declared that they were impossible here. She could not
turn her face away from his truth-compelling gaze. Why had Rose left
her alone to be tortured in this dreadful way? How could she confess
to him that jealousy and wounded vanity had caused the change in her
demeanour? "I cannot tell you," she said at last. She had turned paler
even than usual, but her eyes burned.

"I am sorry to have given you pain," he said almost tenderly, and then
the confession broke from her in a little storm of pent-up emotion.

"It was because I ceased to respect you! How could I respect a man who
would allow a wild ignorant creature to caress his hands and hang upon
his words?"

He turned a face of pure bewilderment upon her. "If you mean the
Algonquin girl, Wanda," he said, "she has never treated me otherwise
than with indifference, anger and contempt." He explained the scene of
which Helene had been an involuntary witness, and the proud girl felt
humiliated and belittled. But he was too generous and perhaps too
clever to allow her to suppose that he attributed her coldness to weak
jealousy. That would have placed her at a disadvantage which her pride
would never have forgiven.

"So you believed me to be a vain contemptible idiot," he said, "Then
you did perfectly right to scorn me." He drove on furiously, with
tense lips and contracted brow. She had misjudged him cruelly, but he
would not descend to harsh accusation. Helene was decidedly
uncomfortable. "I have never scorned you," she said. "It was because
I believed you superior to the folly and weakness of ordinary men that
it grieved me to think you were otherwise."

"It grieved you," he repeated in a softer tone. "Hereafter I wish you
would confide all your griefs to me the moment you are aware of them."

"To tell the truth, I don't expect to have any more." She laughed her
old joyous friendly laugh, and he stretched his arm across her lap to
adjust the robe more closely to her form. Her attitude towards him had
completely changed, concretely as well as abstractly, for now she sat
cosily and contentedly by his side, instead of perching herself a yard
away, and allowing the winter winds to emphasize the coldness that had
existed between them. This wonderful improvement in the mental
atmosphere made them oblivious to a change in the outer air until
Helene remarked upon the peculiar odour of smoke about them. This
increased until it became almost stifling. Evidently the blazing brush
heap, lit by the hand of some thrifty settler, had extended further
than he was aware of. The smoke blew past them, and they were in the
midst of that vividly picturesque spectacle--a fire in the forest. The
flames ran swiftly up the dry, dead limbs, turning trees into huge
blazing torches, and the light underbrush beneath them took on
beautiful and fantastic shapes of fire. The gray sky was illumined
with fiery banners, while, like scarlet-clothed imps at a carnival,
the flames leaped and danced among the twigs and smaller branches.

The hot breeze blowing on her cheek filled Helene with sudden alarm,
and Edward urged the horse to a quicker pace. But the frightened
creature needed no urging. With a great shuddering leap he sprang
forward as though a thousand fire-fiends from the infernal regions had
been after him. Helene uttered a half-suppressed shriek, and clung
strenuously to Edward's arm. Suddenly he gave a loud gasp of dismay.
On the road directly before them a pile of brush had caught the blaze
and stretched before their startled eyes like a burning bridge. All
attempts to stop or turn around were useless. The horse was wholly
beyond control. For a moment they were enveloped in smoke and flame,
shut into a fiery furnace, from which an instant later they emerged
from danger, but with a badly singed steed and an unpleasant odour of
fire upon them. Edward had pushed Helene to the bottom of the
carriage, and flung the robe over her. Now he drew her trembling, and
sobbing a little, back to his side. She was shaking excessively, and
in order to restore her equanimity there was clearly nothing else to
be done but to hold her closely in his arms, let fall his face to
hers, and breathe in her ear every word of sympathy and comfort that
came to his mind. She lay weakly with closed eyes upon his breast,
while the excitement in her pulses gradually died away. When she
opened her eyes the short November day was nearly at its close, and
York was in sight. She drew away to her own corner of the seat, not
with any visible blushes, for her complexion never lost its warm
whiteness, but her eyes glowed, and her lips were 'like a thread of
scarlet.'

"I am glad Rose was not with us," she said, feeling a pressing need to
say something, and in default of anything better to say, "as she is
even more nervous than I am."

"Yes, I am _very_ glad she was not with us," assented Edward, with an
unusual amount of brotherly fervour, while he turned his horse in the
direction of the only available hotel in the Capital, where the
wearied travellers were content to rest for a few days before setting
out in search of a new home.



CHAPTER X.

YORK AND THE MAITLANDS.


There are difficulties in the way of one who would describe an event
after an immortal poet has given it a setting in lines that a
worshipping world will not willingly let die. A tree, it is said, is
never struck by lightning more than once, and it is safe to suppose
that a subject is never illumined by the rays of heaven-descended
genius without being as thoroughly exhausted. Nevertheless, with our
tame domestic lantern, let us endeavour to throw a little prosaic
light over the details of a scene that has been irradiated by the
imagination of a Byron.

It was one of the events of the season to the social world of that
foreign town, but to us it is one of the events of the century. On an
evening in June, 1815, in the city of Brussels, the Duchess of
Richmond gave a ball on so magnificent a scale that even the gray
heads of society's veteran devotees were a little turned, and the
chestnut and golden pates of their juniors tossed sleeplessly on their
pillows for several nights preceding it. After all, humanity is
perpetually and overpoweringly interested in nothing except humanity.
On the evening appointed there was a vast beautiful throng, moving
through halls as beautiful and more vast; there was the witchery of
soft lights and softer sounds, of odours and colours that enchant the
senses; there were banks of flowers, each of whose tiny blossoms
yielded its dying breath to make the world sweeter for an hour, and
among them, under the starry lights, in warm human veins, flowed a
thousand streams; very blue, not so blue, and even common crimson. But
all flowed faster than usual, perhaps the better to warm the lovely
bare shoulders and arms, or to paint the sweet cheeks above them in
the vivid hues of glad, intense young life. Intermingled with the
costly robes and flashing gems on the ideal figures of fair women,
gleamed the brilliant uniforms of brave men. "A thousand hearts beat
happily"--with one exception. This was in the possession of the second
daughter of a duke. She was even then remarkable for her beauty and
for a certain imperious, condescending grace. The gay throng of which
she was a part was no more to her than so many buttercups and daisies;
and these sumptuous apartments, so far as they concerned her, might
have been a series of green meadows. At last her indifferent glance,
travelling over the room, encountered an object that faintly flushed
her cheek, and brightened the eyes, whose orbit of vision was now
limited to the circle immediately about her. Cold indifference had
changed to throbbing impatience. Ah, why did he not come! With whom
was he lingering? She dared not look up lest her glance, like a swift,
bright messenger, should tell him all her heart, and draw him
magnetically to her side. No, he must come of his own choice, and
quickly, else her mood would change. Soft strains of music arose,
melting, aching, dying upon the air. Her heart melted, ached, and
apparently died also, for it turned cold and hard as she glanced at
her watch, and saw that it was more than a minute, nearly _two_
minutes (two eternities they seemed to her) since she began to be glad
that she had come.

The next instant her long-lashed lids were raised in spite of herself,
and she confronted a singularly tall and attractive-looking gentleman,
whose face, from its pensive sadness, had a certain poetic charm. He
begged the honour of the next dance with her. She regretted that he
was too late. He looked disappointed, but ventured to name the next
one. She was sorry, but it was impossible. Had she room for him
anywhere at all on her list? She shook her head prettily but
inexorably. The handsomest coquette and the plainest school-ma'am have
this in common, that they detest and punish tardiness. The young man
was overpowered by his sense of loss. It was small comfort to stand
and look at the beautiful girl. When the gates of paradise are closed
against one it matters little whether they are made of gold or of
iron. Inwardly he bestowed some very hard names upon himself for
imagining that that peerless creature would be allowed to await a
willing wall-flower his languidly deferred appearance.

Again those heavenly strains rose and throbbed upon the air. It was
maddening. The keenness of his disappointment gave his face an
intensity of ardent expression that certainly did not detract from its
charm in the eyes of the girl who at that instant glanced up into it.
The next moment he was pressed aside--very decorously, very
courteously, even apologetically pushed aside, but still compelled by
an insinuating patrician hand to make room for its owner, a gentleman
whose extremely lofty title had already drawn the homage of a hundred
admiring pairs of eyes upon him, and whose prevailing expression was a
haughty consciousness of accustomed and assumed success. The young
lady whom he now honoured with a request to dance did not think of his
title, nor of his condescension, nor of him. She declined with
characteristic indifference on the plea that she was already engaged,
and turning placed her hand on the arm of Sir Peregrine Maitland,
whose suddenly bewildered and enraptured heart, if it had never before
given its assent to the time-worn proposition that all is fair in love
as well as in war, certainly could not hesitate now. Perhaps the
triumphs of the ball-room are not less thrilling than those of the
battle-field. "Why were you so cruel to me a moment ago?" he murmured,
looking down into eyes that but too clearly reflected the happiness of
his own.

"For the same reason that I am kind to you now," she responded like a
flash.

He did not ask her the reason. Perhaps he was intuitively and
blissfully aware of it. Did ever maiden discover a more demurely
daring way of telling her lover that she loved him?

But now, caressed by little wafts of perfume, and half-dazed by the
blaze of lights and colours around and above them, they were drifting
as on a tide upon soft swelling waves of music. In liquid undulations
of sweet sound they floated insensibly down the windings of the waltz,
nor dreamed of danger till the note of warning came. It was a
prodigious note--nothing less than the boom of a cannon--and the
signal for instant, perhaps life-long, separation.

                            "Who could guess,
  If ever more should meet those mutual eyes?
  Since upon night so sweet such awful morn could rise."

But, as we know, two pairs at least of those mutual eyes were destined
to meet again, and meet as gladly and warmly as when their owners
danced together on the evening before the battle of Waterloo. But the
chill atmosphere of a father's disapproval lay between them. It is
reasonable to suppose that the fourth Duke of Richmond and Lennox was
not so susceptible to the charms of pensive and picturesque young
gentlemen as was his wilful daughter. Among the names on a list of
invitations to a party given by the latter appeared that of Sir
Peregrine Maitland, which, coming under the cold parental eye, was
promptly erased. At the same time he inquired of his daughter why she
permitted that undesirable gentleman to hang about her skirts--why she
did not let him go. The response was that after this decided slight he
probably _would_ go; she added with a little sigh that she did not
know where. The duke profanely and contemptuously mentioned a locality
which shall be nameless. The young lady made no reply. She believed in
division of labour, and in former domestic affairs of this sort her
stern parent had invariably said what he pleased, while she contented
herself with merely doing what she pleased.

Proverbially, actions speak louder than words, and the present case
was no exception, for while the echo of her father's speech did not go
beyond the walls of the apartment they were in, her own rash
performance, which was a direct consequence of it, was a few days
later noised abroad through all Paris. This was an evening call at the
lodgings of Sir Peregrine Maitland. She came in unannounced, flushed,
eager, defiant, lovely, letting fall the rich train of her robe, which
she had caught up in a swift flight through the streets, and throwing
off her enveloping cloak, which scattered a shower of sparkling drops
on brow and bosom, and beautiful bare arms, for a light shower had
fallen. "They would not let you come to me, so I have come to you,"
she declared with a daring little laugh. "I have run away from my
guests. There is a houseful of them and they tire me to death.
Everyone tires me to-night except you." The gentleman stood before her
speechless with bewilderment. "I believe," she said with a little
pout, like a spoiled child, "that you are not glad to see me."

"Glad to see you," he repeated, "dearest, yes! But not in this way, at
this time."

She turned aside, but the drops that glittered on her cheek now were
not caused by the rain. Her shimmering silken robes seemed to utter
continuous soft whispers of applause to her nervous yet graceful
movements. Altogether she was an incongruous object in the unhome-like
bareness of a bachelor's apartments. "You are not very cordial,
monsieur," she remarked in a cold tone, as she stood with her back to
him, staring hard at an uninteresting picture above the mantel-shelf;
"it seems to be a pleasure to you to receive an evening caller, but
not exactly a rapture." She smiled her old imperious smile as she
threw herself into a tired-looking chair, while her host, with very
obvious reluctance, sank into one just opposite. For an instant her
beauty smote upon his brain. He leaned forward until his face touched
the lapful of rare old laces that flowed wave-like from waist to knee
on the dress of the girl he loved.

"Darling," he murmured, "it is a rapture"--then he suddenly drew
himself very far back in his chair--"but not exactly a pleasure!"

She rose again and moved restlessly about the room. He stood pale,
speechless, waiting for her to go--a waiting that was almost a
supplication. "How could you have the courage to come to me," he
breathed as she drew near him.

"Because I hadn't the courage to stay away from you. I am brave enough
to do, but not to endure."

"My poor love! if this escapade becomes public you will have enough to
endure."

"I do not care for the world." She stood facing him with the absolute
sincerity and trust of irresistible love. "I care for you," she said.

He took the little jewelled hand and reverently kissed it. "Ah, don't
do that!" she cried, drawing it away with a quick impatient frown. He
drew away, supposing that he had offended her, while she, giving him
the puzzled incredulous look that a woman must give a man when she
discovers, not that his intuitions are duller than her own, but that
he has no intuitions at all, continued her tour about the room.

"Sweetheart," he said, following her, but not venturing to lay a
finger upon her, "you _must_ go." His voice was earnest and very
tender.

"The same idea has occurred to me," she said, "but I dislike to hurry.
There is nothing so vulgar as haste." Her old mocking tone had
returned, and in despair he threw himself back into his seat.

Something in the pathetic grace of his attitude and the beauty of his
sensitive poetic face smote upon the heart that, with all its
perversity, belonged alone to him. She ran to him and knelt at his
side, with her white arms outstretched across his knees, and her
lovely head bowed upon them. The young man realized with sharp
distinctness that the fear of society is not the strongest feeling
that can animate the human frame. He uttered a few passionate words of
endearment, and would have gathered her closely into his breast, but
she, without looking up, sprang suddenly from him and, seizing her
cloak, sped wind-like to her home.

But there were consequences. Madame Grundy, who is chief among those
for whom Satan finds some mischief still, openly declared that there
were some forms of imprudence that could be tolerated and some that
could not, and that this particular indiscretion must, with reluctance,
be relegated to the latter class. The irate father of the erring one
coincided with this view of things, and a speedy marriage was the
result. "Not guilty--but she mustn't do so again!" had evidently been
the verdict of society.

A few months later, in 1818, Sir Peregrine Maitland, his affairs of
love happily settled, was appointed ruler of Upper Canada, where his
attention was turned to affairs of State. But there was one subject in
connection with his courtship-days which had never been satisfactorily
settled, and upon which he did not venture to question his wife until
several years had elapsed. Then, late one afternoon, it recurred to
him in that unaccountable way in which bygone events are accustomed to
rise at odd times and lay claim to the attention.

"Dear," he said, "why did you object to my kissing your hand the
evening you called on me in Paris?"

"You may lay out the corn-coloured silk, Emma," said Lady Sarah to her
maid, who came that moment with an inquiry upon toilette matters. Then
as the girl disappeared she resumed her novel, peeping over the top of
it at her husband.

"As though I wanted you to kiss my _hand_!" she said.

"_Oh_!" A sudden light seemed to dawn upon the dense masculine
understanding. Sir Peregrine was very proud of his beautiful wife. At
the private reception which she gave that evening the corn-coloured
silk gown was the centre of a group of government officials and the
social dignitaries of the time, between herself and whom the ball of
conversation kept lightly moving.

She turned from them to greet an old friend. "Ah, Commodore, so you
are really settled here for the winter. Rose told me that you had some
thoughts of remaining out in the bush through the cold season, in the
cosy but rather too exclusive manner of a family of chipmunks. What
have you been doing all summer?"

"Keeping myself unspotted from the world," replied the gentleman, with
a stately bow to the lady, and a sportive glance at the worthy
representatives of the social world surrounding her.

"How very scriptural! Do Bibles grow on bushes in the backwoods that
quotation of them comes so easily?"

"I don't know, I'm sure. Such searching theological questions are, I
suppose, what a man must expect to confront when he forsakes the
simple and sequestered life of the chipmunks."

"Well, I am disappointed. I supposed from the expression of your eyes
that you were going to say something complimentary."

"My dear Lady Sarah, do compliments grow on street corners in the
metropolis that the expectation of them comes so easily?"

"No, indeed--nor in drawing-rooms either, apparently. It is a novelty
to meet a man who persists in making his conversation impersonal; but
it is really cold-hearted of you to think of remaining so long away
from us."

"How can you say so! Absence, you know, makes the heart grow fonder."

"Does it?" The lady made a feint of moving away. "Now if it were only
possible for me to absent myself," she said, laughingly.

"Impossible! That is for me to do." And the gentleman withdrew with
flattering haste.

In his place appeared a blonde young man, with deep sea-blue eyes and
a bright buoyant expression, on whose arm his hostess laid a soft
detaining hand. "Were you on the point of asking me to walk about a
little?" she inquired. "I am going to accept with alacrity."

The young fellow, who would scarcely have made the suggestion in the
face and eyes of several among the most distinguished of his fellow
citizens immediately surrounding her, was not slow to respond, though
he assumed an expression of alarm.

"I fear this is a deep-laid plot," he remarked. "I saw my father
leaving you in haste a moment ago. Probably he has offended you, and
you are about to visit the iniquities of the parents upon the
children. Pray are you taking me apart in order to spare my sensitive
feelings? So kind of you!"

"Well, it was not my benevolent intention to lecture you at all,
either in public or private, but since you speak of it so feelingly no
doubt the need exists. First tell me what you have been doing all
summer."

"Living out in the wild woods among the wild flowers, wild animals,
wild Indians, and--"

"What a wild young man! I am positively afraid of you."

"Delightful! Please oblige me by remaining so. It is difficult for me
to be appalling for any length of time, yet the emotion of fear must
be cultivated in your mind at all hazards."

"And why?"

"Because you will never dare to lecture the awe-inspiring being of
whom you are in mortal terror."

"Oh! are you sure of that? I met a famous lecturer the other day, and
he assured me that he never stepped before an audience without
suffering from fright; yet he did not spare his hearers on that
account."

"Such is the hardheartedness of man. We expect more from a woman."

"More of a lecture, or more hardheartedness?"

"More of the latter--from you."

"Well I am under the impression that you will receive, before long, a
good deal of the former from a young lady present. Are you aware that
we are observed?"

"I am sure that one of us is the observed of all observers."

"It is kind of you not to add that politeness forbids you to say
which. But what I mean is that since we began to talk I have twice
encountered a glance from the darkest eyes I ever saw."

"They must belong to Mademoiselle DeBerczy."

"They do. That girl's eyes and hair are black enough to cast a gloom
over the liveliest conversation."

"But her smiles are bright enough to illumine the gloom."

"Then it is a shame that she should waste them upon that rather
slow-looking young man in front of her. Will you take me back to my
seat and then go and see if you can release her from bondage?"

The request was immediately acceded to, and not long afterwards Helene
DeBerczy and Edward Macleod were exchanging the light talk, not worth
reporting, that springs so easily from those whose hearts are light.

Meantime where was Rose? To all outward appearance she was demurely
listening to the remarks of a distinguished statesman, whose opinions
were held to be of great weight, and whose form, at any rate, fully
merited this description. He was so delighted to think that one so
young and fair could be so deep. Alas! she _was_ deep in a sense the
gifted gentleman never knew. For, while the sweet head bowed assent,
and the rose-bud lips unclosed to utter such remarks as "Ah, indeed!
You surprise me!" and "Very true!" to statements of profound national
import, her maiden meditations were as free as fancy. Before her
mental vision the brilliant rooms with their gay well-dressed
assemblage melted away, and in their place was a fair green meadow,
wide and waving and deliciously cool under the declining sun of a
summer evening. The last load of the second crop of hay was on its way
to the barn, when a great longing desire took possession of her to
ride on it. She walked out to the field, very slowly and feebly, but
still she actually walked--and the whole cavalcade came to a dead stop
at sight of her, for she had never been able to go any farther than
the gate since her accident. Mr. Dunlop, and Allan, and the hired man,
and even the oxen all stopped, and looked at her as though they
expected to hear that the house was afire, or that the servant girl
had run away with the butcher's boy. But when they found that nothing
was wanted except a ride on a load of hay Mr. Dunlop said, "bless the
child!" and held her up as high as he could reach. Then Allan lifted
her the rest of the way, blushing as he did so. She remembered how
beautifully clean he looked in his white shirt sleeves, and what clear
warm shades of brown there were in the eyes and on the cheeks under
the broad straw hat. She remembered, too, with a little warmth of
feeling--not a _very_ uncomfortable warmth of feeling--how, when the
waggon made a great lurch going over a ditch, she had uttered a little
scream, and laid strenuous hands of appeal upon the white sleeved arm,
and how, when they came to another ditch, a brown palm had held fast
to her trembling hand until the danger was over. Halfway in the barn
door he made the oxen stop, until she had stood on tip toe, and put
her hand among the little swallows in a nest under the eaves. Ah, what
was there in the memory of new-mown hay to fill her with this sharp
sweet pain? She awoke from her dream to a consciousness that the
gentleman beside her was saying that it was sufficiently clear to
every enlightened understanding that unless tum tum tum tum measures
were instantly adopted mum mum mum mum would be the inevitable result.

"Oh, no doubt of it," said Rose, and then there was a readjustment of
the group in her immediate vicinity. Lady Sarah Maitland appeared with
a bewitching smile and begged to introduce the honourable gentleman,
who had been discoursing with so much eloquence to a friend of hers.
The 'friend' hovered in the distance, but even in perspective it was
clear to be seen that he was a man of great powers of endurance.

The honourable gentleman concealed under a flattered smile his
distaste for the proposition, and in a few moments his place was
occupied by Lady Sarah, who took one of the little hands, soft and
pink as a handful of rose-leaves, between her own.

"I wonder if I might venture to ask a favour," she said.

"I'm sure I should never venture to refuse it," returned the young
girl, with all a young girl's appreciation of kindness coming from a
thoroughbred woman of the world.

"Then I wish very much that you would sing one of your favourite
songs. It would be a great pleasure to very many of us."

"I'll not wait to be coaxed," was the reply, after a moment's
hesitation. "It is only really good singers who can afford to do
that."

In spite of her dimpled figure and child-face, Rose Macleod had a very
stately little way with her, and it served to repel one pair of eyes
that for the first time that evening caught sight of her as she moved
towards the instrument. A little queen! That was what he had always
called her in his heart. _His_ little queen! Oh, how had he dared to
enthrone her there? Presumptuous idiot! she was as far from him as the
stars are from the weeds. But the girl at the piano thought of nothing
but the sharp, sweet odour of new-mown hay. Sharp as a sword and sweet
as love, it pierced and thrilled her being. Then, like a fragrant
blossom, a melody sprang from the hidden sources of her pain. The
sympathetic musical expressiveness of her voice, and its pure
penetrating quality filled the room, and riveted the attention of
every one in it. Others came in from adjoining rooms, until, in the
press of the throng, a young man was forced, in spite of himself,
nearer and nearer to the instrument, and found himself close beside
the fair girl-goddess of song, just as the last words left her lips.
Like one awaking from sleep she looked at him, and then the glad light
of recognition swept up to her eyes. Her dream had come true. "Oh,"
she exclaimed, "it is Allan!"



CHAPTER XI

AFTER "THE BALL."


She was conscious of what she had said an instant afterwards and
blushed to the brow. If any one at that moment had asked her what's in
a name, and she had been compelled to reveal her inmost convictions,
the fair Rose, who by any other name would be as sweet, would have
answered "impropriety, embarrassment, a host of unpleasant emotions."
It was impossible to explain to him that she had been helping him to
make hay that evening in Lady Sarah Maitland's parlours, and that that
was why the name that she had heard so frequently in the meadow had
left her lips so easily and naturally that night. Better try and seem
unconscious. But unconsciousness, like happiness, comes unsought or
not at all. As for Allan, his own name had never made such music in
his ears and surely to no lone watcher waiting for the dawn could the
first blush of morn be more welcome than was to him this lovely
mantling bloom on the face of the girl he loved.

"Charming!" "Exquisite!" "Do sing something else!" were the
exclamations rained upon her as she ceased to sing, but she looked
only to him.

"How is it I have never heard you sing before?" he inquired, with the
applause that the others had uttered shining unspoken in his eyes.

"You have too many professional singers about your home. I am afraid
to sing before them. Did you ever hear birds called 'the angels of
earth?'"

"Never."

"Well, if nobody else originated the phrase I am willing to do
so--rather than that it shouldn't be originated at all."

"It may be a pretty idea," said Allan, "and yet it fails to suit my
critical taste." They withdrew a little from the crowd, and found a
quiet place in which to sit and chat, for now a pianist of note had
been led a willing sacrifice to the place Rose vacated.

"You must be hard to please," said Rose. "What can be more like an
angel than a bird? It has wings, and it sings, and it is rejoicingly
happy. It seems to be particularly blest every moment of its blessed
little life."

"Very likely. Nevertheless I think a flower much more closely
resembles an angel."

"A flower? Why, there is scarcely a point of resemblance."

The young man laughed, but the slight whimsical frown between his
brows deepened.

"Now that isn't at all what I expected you to say. I thought you might
be kind enough to inquire, 'What flower?' and then I could reply, 'The
queen of flowers.'"

Rose looked down a moment at the warm pink hands restlessly twining
and intertwining in her lap. "I am glad I did not make the inquiry,"
she said.

"You don't like clumsy compliments?"

"I believe I don't like any kind from you."

"Why, please?"

"I don't know exactly, unless because it seems natural to expect
something better."

Allan Dunlop was dimly aware that a compliment of a very high order
had been paid to himself. "Our best friends are those who compel us to
do our best," he said. "I hope you will always expect something better
of me than anything I have done."

It was the speech of an ambitious young man. They both recognized the
note of earnestness that seemed to place them for a moment above the
frivolous crowd about them. Only for a moment; then they lapsed easily
into the light talk so natural to the occasion.

"Have you had a pleasant evening?" he asked.

"Very pleasant." Her mind reverted once more to her delightful
reverie, and the scent of new-mown hay was again about her. Then, as
though he could read her thoughts, she brought them back to the
present with a quick little blush, and mentioned the name of the
gentleman who had absorbed so large a part of her time, if not of her
attention, through the evening.

"Now, why should she blush when she mentions his name?" thought poor
Allan, with a sharp jealous pang at his heart, for the man she alluded
to was an eligible bachelor, who had successfully resisted the charms
of one generation of maidens. "If you find Mr. Gallon's conversation
so interesting," he said, rather forlornly, "mine will seem dull by
contrast. What was he expatiating upon?"

"Politics, mostly."

"Are you interested in that subject? I think of going into politics
more deeply myself some time."

"Do you, indeed? More than you have?" If he had spoken of going into a
decline Rose could not have looked more foreboding. Allan glanced
across half-enviously at the personage who had the power to invest
that topic with interest. "He seems to be more than usually roused
to-night."

Rose suppressed a yawn. "Does he talk better when he is roused than he
does when he's asleep?" she asked.

"Surely he displayed no signs of sleepiness when talking with you."

"No; but I cannot answer for myself."

That senseless pang of jealousy died a very easy death after all, and
the only sufferer from it would have been entirely happy were it not
for the advancing form of Commodore Macleod, who came in search of his
daughter, and bore her off with a speed that left her lover a little
chilled and daunted.

The Canadian winter with its bright, fierce days and sparkling nights
was upon them, but it held no terrors for the young hearts who met it
in a mood as defiantly merry as its own. Only a suffering or morbid
nature sees in winter the synonym of death and decay; fancies that
mourning and desolation is the burden of the gaily whistling winds;
and regards the bare trees, rid of their dusty garments, and quietly
resting, as shivering skeletons, and the dancing snow-flakes as the
colourless pall that hides from sight all there is of life and
loveliness. Nature, when the labours of the year are over, sinks to
rest beneath her fleecy coverings, lulled to sleep in the kindly, yet
frosty, arms of the Northern tempest. What wild weird lullabies are
sung to her unheeding ears, dulled by the lethargy of sleep. How early
falls the darkness, and how late the long night lingers, the better to
ensure repose to the sweet mistress of the earth! How bright the
starry eyes of heaven keeping watch above her rest!

The Macleods had settled in a furnished house, through which Rose had
already diffused the charm of her dainty personality. She was kneeling
before the hearth, like a young fire-worshipper, one snowy afternoon,
and thinking a little drearily that the close environment of a
snow-storm in town rendered it almost as lonely as the country, when a
visitor was announced, the sound of whose name seemed to make the
solitude populous. It was Allan Dunlop, whom she instantly forgave for
so soon availing himself of her permission to call, when she realized
how welcome a break his coming made in the cheerless monotony of the
day. He caught a glimpse of bright hair against a background of
blazing logs, and then she came forward to meet him, not eagerly, not
shyly, but with a charming manner in which both eagerness and shyness
were suggested. At that moment all the warmth and brightness of the
bleak colourless world shone for him in the eyes and hair of this
sweet girl, and in the glowing fire-place before which she drew his
chair.

"It is exactly the sort of day on which one expects to be free from
the annoyance of callers," he said. "Ought I to apologize?"

"By all means--instantly--and in the most profuse and elaborate
terms." She assumed her grand air, mounted a footstool, and stood
looking over his head with her saucy chin elevated, waiting for the
abject petition that did not come. The young man's heart rendered the
tribute of an unmistakable throb to its "little queen;" but emotional
declarations are out of place after a short acquaintance, especially
when there exists a decided belief that they will be listened to in an
unfriendly spirit, or, what is infinitely worse, in a friendly spirit.
It was the fear of making Rose his friend that steeled Allan's
determination to bide his time, and that rendered his present reply
rather more stiff than sensational.

"I beg a thousand pardons," he began, when she interrupted him with--

"Oh, that is too many. Do try and be a little more moderate in your
demands. Would it please you to have me spend the whole afternoon in
forgiving you?"

Allan laughed--a blithe contented little laugh. "Any way that you like
to spend the afternoon will please me," he said, "so long as I am not
deprived of your presence. Oh, not _that_ way," he added, as a little
frown crept between her golden-brown eyebrows, "that way excepted."

"Very well. I'll not frown at you, but you must promise not to come so
near again to the verge of a compliment."

"I promise. Anything to keep a frown from marring the--I mean from
your face. But the difficulty is to think of anything that is as easy
to say."

"You might better remind me of my faults."

"Oh, you could scarcely expect me to be eloquent on that subject. I
didn't know that they exist--that is to say, I am incapable of
speaking upon a subject so wide reaching and profound. Are they like
unto the snow-flakes for multitude?"

"No, not quite so numerous, but far worse in quality. For instance,
the other day I never smiled at papa the least bit when I said, good
morning!"

"Horrible! what an unnatural daughter!"

"It was because he wouldn't let me dance as often as I wanted to the
night before. He said he must draw the line somewhere. It is strange
that the word _somewhere_ in that sentence invariably means the
precise point where it is most painful to have it drawn."

Allan Dunlop, who had already had some experience of the Commodore's
ability to draw the line at the sensitive point designated by his
daughter, murmured only, "very strange."

"Not that he was in the least unkind about it," continued Rose. "Papa
is always lovely to me, no matter how I behave."

"Very lovely?"

"_Very_ lovely."

"I never before was so struck with the truths of heredity," mused the
young man. "You are exactly like him."

"_Oh_!" the girl dropped her face in her hands a moment, and then
thrust them out with the palms toward her guest. "You have need to beg
a thousand pardons and a thousand more to cover the offences you have
committed. And you have broken your promise!"

"What a harsh accusation! I promised not to come to the verge of a
compliment. Do you think that was on the verge?"

"No! It was too blunt--too dreadfully--"

"It is a pleasure to hear you so emphatically contradict an assertion
made by yourself."

"That is a mere quibble--a legal quibble. Well, there is no doubt that
you would make a very successful lawyer."

"Is that a compliment, or does it approach the verge of one?"

Before this problem could be solved Herbert, who was deeply engaged in
a game of checkers with his younger sister, at the other end of the
apartment, suddenly announced: "Rose, here is Mr. Galton coming across
the street, making directly for our house."

"Oh, dear!" was the very inhospitable exclamation of its pretty
mistress. Then as she caught an amused glance from Allan's eyes, she
added demurely, "I am so glad."

"Perhaps it would be better for me to go." The words escaped with
obvious reluctance.

"Better for which of us?"

"For both, I think."

"Your charities are conducted on too large a scale. Now, if you could
only content yourself with benefiting _one_ of us you would remain. I
have a dread of that man."

"So have I, but from a different motive. As your dread increases, mine
grows less."

Close analysis and consideration of this fact gave a very becoming
tint to her cheeks as she welcomed the entering guest. "Ah, Miss
Rose," he exclaimed, "blooming as ever, in spite of wintry days. Do
you know I came very near going past your door?" He allowed the
announcement of this providentially averted calamity to sink deep into
her heart, while he bowed to Allan.

"This is an unexpected pleasure," murmured the young lady, with
sufficient formality to prevent her words from being dangerously
insincere.

"Unexpected to you and a pleasure to me?" queried the gentleman, with
a keen glance at the pair, whose _tete-a-tete_ he had evidently
disturbed, "or do your words bear reference to the idea of seeing me
going past your door?"

The amount of truth in these very good guesses startled the girl to
whom they were addressed into an uncomfortable sense of guilt. "How
can you accuse me of anything so horrid?" she said, drawing her chair
not far from him, and looking into his face with the appreciative air
and attitude that are not to be resisted.

"Mr. Galton," said Herbert, who, having completed the game, and
vanquished his sister, could afford to turn his attention to the
frivolous conversation of his elders, "do you know what Rose said
when she saw you coming? She said, 'Oh, dear, I am so glad!'"

"Herbert," implored Rose, crimsoning under these carefully reported
words, and fearing that Mr. Galton, not being aware of the motive
which prompted them, would not know whether to be ecstatic or
sarcastic, "you are a terrible boy!"

"Herbert has done me a great kindness," exclaimed the flattered
gentleman, who considered Rose's embarrassment quite natural, and very
pleasing under the circumstances. "All my doubts of a welcome he has
happily removed."

In the fear that these doubts might unhappily return if he were
allowed to continue conversation with a too-confiding younger brother,
Rose devoted herself with nervous intentness to his entertainment, and
succeeded brilliantly. Fragments of laughter and chat drifted across
to where Eva was trying to persuade Allan into playing checkers.

"Just one game, please, Mr. Dunlop," pleaded the little damsel, in
resistless accents.

"If you but knew what a wretched player I am," said the young man
gloomily.

"Oh, _are_ you a wretched player?" she exclaimed brightly, "I am so
glad. Then there is some chance for me." She added confidentially, "I
am even more wretched."

"I hope you may never have the same reason to be," said Allan, with a
half-suppressed glance at the lively pair near the window.

A lover, from his very nature, must be decidedly unhappy or supremely
blest, and it is scarcely to be expected that perfect felicity can
reign in a heart whose pretty mistress is spending her smiles on
another man. Allan did not believe that Rose really cared for Mr.
Galton--he had seen too many proofs to the contrary--but he did
believe that she was giving that objectionable gentleman every reason
to think that she did care. With how many men did she pursue this
course of action, and was he to believe her guilty of careless
coquetry? Upon how many admirers may a rose breathe perfume and still
keep its innocent heart sweet for its lover? These were the questions
that rankled in his mind, while Eva set the checkers in place.

"Perhaps I can keep you from getting a king," she said exultantly.

"If I can only keep my queen," observed the young man absently.

"Why, Mr. Dunlop, there are no queens in this game; it isn't like
chess."

"There! you see how little I know about it," was the regretful reply.

Despite this painful manifestation of ignorance the two combatants
appeared for a while to be very equally matched. Then the advantage
was clearly on Allan's side. His king committed frightful havoc among
the scattered ranks of the enemy, till suddenly, as he observed the
painful stress of attention and warm colour in the face of his fair
little foe, a strange and unaccountable languor fell upon his troops.
They seemed to care not whether they lived or died, while their
shameless commander, surveying them with anxious countenance, gave
vent to his emotion in such ejaculations as, "Dear me!" "Why didn't I
see that move?" or, "The idea of your taking two men at one jump!" At
last the announcement that he was completely vanquished was joyfully
made by Eva, and incredulously listened to by Herbert, who viewed his
sister's opponent with amazement, not unmingled with pity.

"The battle is indeed lost!" Herbert said, quoting the historic words
in a consolatory way; "but there is time to win another."

"I'm afraid not," said Allan, rising and preparing to depart.

"I wish that you could have won the game, too," said Eva, suddenly
stricken with remorse in the midst of her good-fortune.

"You are a very kind little girl. I can depend on you to consider my
feelings."

The accent, ever so slight, upon the "you" aroused Rose's attention.
"Why, you are not going?" she exclaimed, coming towards him.

"Such is my charitable intention," he replied, smiling with sad eyes.

"I was only waiting for you to finish your game before bringing Mr.
Galton to the fire to talk politics with you."

"That is a warm topic, and a warm place."

"Perhaps Mr. Dunlop fears that we shall quarrel on the subject. You
know we are on different sides, Miss Macleod."

"We shall hardly come to blows, I think," returned Allan, with the
look of bright good-fellowship which made him a favourite with both
political parties.

"The idea of your quarrelling with anybody!" said Rose, as she
accompanied him to the door.

"I may have a very serious disagreement with him some time," replied
her jealous though unacknowledged lover, "but it will not be about
politics."

He ran hastily down the steps, unconsciously brushing against
Commodore Macleod, who favoured him with a bow of about the same
temperature as the weather. Muttering a hurried excuse, he went on
into the cold gloom of the early winter twilight, shivering slightly,
not from the chill without, but from the deadlier chill within. 'What
a pompous unbearable old fellow the elder Macleod was. How could he
endure to have him for a father-in-law? Ah! how could he endure not
to have him?' The fear that he might never stand in a closer
relationship to a man for whom he had so little liking lay heavily
upon him.

That same evening the object of these mingled emotions laid a
detaining hand upon the shoulder of his pretty daughter as she bent to
bestow a bed-time kiss upon his grizzled moustache. "I wish to have a
little conversation with you, my dear, on a serious subject."

"Oh, but Papa," replied the spoiled girl, "I am not at all in a
serious frame of mind."

"It is highly probable that you will find yourself so at the end of
our talk."

"Charming prospect! After such an inducement as that I can't resist
any longer." She sank back into a low chair near a great case of
books, for they were sitting in the cosy library.

"I met young Dunlop coming out of the house as I was coming in," began
the Commodore. "I was sorry to see that."

"I was sorry to see it, too, Papa, but he couldn't be persuaded to
stay longer."

"That is not a very respectful answer to give to your old father;
nevertheless, I am glad to hear it, as it assures me that you have not
reached the point when his absence will leave you sad."

"Oh, no! But I am willing to admit that over Mr. Galton's departure I
did come very near shedding tears--of joy."

"I hope my little girl will have no cause to shed any other kind."

"His little girl" endeavoured to look oracular as she replied: "That
will largely depend upon the nature of the information you are about
to communicate to me."

"It is only a request, my dear! I wish for your own sake that you
would have as little as possible to do with that young Dunlop."

There was an appreciable interval of silence. Rose stared hard at the
fire. Her father added, "Of course, I do not wish you to do anything
unreasonable."

"I am sure of that," said the girl softly, "nor anything unkind."

The gentleman stirred a little uneasily in his chair. "You must
remember," he said, "that the greatest unkindness one can do another
is to encourage false hopes in him."

"How would you like me to treat him?"

"Oh, my dear child, I can't tell. You know perfectly well yourself. Be
preoccupied, absent-minded, indifferent, when he comes. Make him
repeat what he says, and then answer him at random. Look as though you
had a thousand things to distract your attention, and treat him as
though he were the chair on which he is sitting."

"And you think that would be an ample and delicate return for the
countless kindnesses shown me by himself, and his people last summer?"

"Oh, hang himself and his people!" was the Commodore's mental comment.
Aloud he said, "Well, the young fellow could hardly leave you to
perish under the horse's heels. What he did was only common decency."

"Then, perhaps, it would be as well to treat him with common decency.
Don't you think that desirable quality is omitted from your course of
treatment?" Her tones were those of caressing gentleness, but the
flame of the firelight was not more red than the cheek on which it
gleamed.

"Why, bless me, Rose, I don't want you to give him the cut direct.
There is no need to put him either in paradise or the inferno. Better
adopt a happy medium."

"Yes; but purgatory is rather an unhappy medium."

"Well, my dear, I have nothing more to say. I suppose it is natural
that you should set aside the counsel of a man who has loved you for
nineteen years in favour of the attention of one who has known you
about the same number of weeks."

"Papa, you are unjust!" The repressed tears came at last, but they
were dried as quickly as they dropped.

"Can't you understand," he continued in a softened tone, "that I would
willingly give him anything in return for his kindness--except my
eldest daughter?"

"That is a gift he would never value. A society man might do so, but
the idea of a young fellow of talent and energy and ambition and
brains looking at a little goose like me!"

The Commodore laughed. "No doubt it would be a great hardship for him
to look at you; but young men of talent, ambition and that sort of
thing are not afraid of hardship. In fact they grow to love it. So you
think he would not value the gift?" He laughed again very heartily.

"I am perfectly certain," declared the young girl, with impressive
earnestness, "that he will never stoop to ask you for it."

"Then there is nothing more to be said," replied the Commodore, with
an air of great relief. "The whole question could not be more
satisfactorily settled. You are my own loyal little girl and--and you
don't think me a dreadfully cross old bear, do you?"

She went straight to his arms. "How can I help it," she asked, with
her customary bright smile, "when you give me such a bearish hug?"

But alone in her room, the smile vanished in a tempest of fast-coming
tears. There was a reason for them, but she was unconscious of it
then. Later she discovered it to lie in the fact that in her heart of
hearts she was not a "loyal little girl" at all, but an "out and out
little traitor and rebel."



CHAPTER XII.

A KISS AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.


It was late afternoon in a Canadian midwinter day. Cold and still,
with a coldness so intense that the blinding brightness of the sun
made no discernable impression on the densely packed snow, and with a
stillness absolutely undisturbed by any slightest breath of blustering
wind. Before the early twilight came, Rose Macleod, wrapped in furs
from dainty head to well-booted feet, ran lightly down stairs, tapping
softly at the library door on the way.

"I am all ready, Papa," she said, illumining the room for a moment
with a pair of dark blue eyes and crimson cheeks. "Don't you think it
will be a beautiful night?"

"Very beautiful, and cold enough to kill an Esquimaux. I confess it
would be a pleasure to know that in a few hours you would be safe
under the blankets instead of junketing over at Madame DeBerczy's."

"I shall be just as safe under the buffalo robes, just as warm, and a
great deal happier."

"Very well; be off then. By the way, how many are in your party?"

"Oh, nearly a dozen at least."

"Then there is a possibility that you will not all perish. Tell the
survivors to report themselves here as early tomorrow morning as
possible."

There was a sound of bells and a mingling of merry voices as a
sleigh-load of young people drove up to the door, and waited for Rose
to join them. "Delays are dangerous," observed Edward, as his sister,
after opening the door, was suddenly stung by the reflection that she
had not taken a last comprehensive view of herself in the glass, and
turned to the hall mirror to rectify the omission.

"Particularly, when it is below zero," said another.

"What is she doing now?" patiently inquired a third.

"Airing the hall," responded a girlish voice. "Oh, no, she is really
coming! Rose," she called, "come and sit by me."

"No, there is more room here," said another voice; while still another
exclaimed, "I have been keeping such a cosy little corner here for
you."

She stood in smiling hesitancy a moment, when her hand, from which she
had removed the glove in order to adjust an unruly hair-pin, was taken
by another hand, firm and warm and gloveless, and she was drawn almost
unconsciously to the side of its owner. It was Allan Dunlop who had
thus taken summary possession of her, and incurred a little of her
dignified displeasure.

"You left me no room for choice," she said in a slightly offended
tone.

"I beg your pardon, I was thinking only of leaving you room for a
seat."

She was silent. It was very difficult to keep this young man at a
distance, when there was such a very little distance between them, and
yet she must be true to the promise tacitly given to her father. She
must be cool, indifferent, uninterested. "It isn't a matter of any
importance," she said absently.

"I'm afraid it is to me," he continued in a lower tone, "I know
scarcely a soul here, and declined Edward's invitation to join you on
that account."

"Oh, it is very easy to become acquainted with a sleighing-party." She
greeted the two young ladies on the other side of him, and introduced
him to them. They were refined, attractive-looking girls, but they had
a fatal defect. They absorbed social heat and light instead of
radiating them. It seemed as though they might be saying: "There, now,
you got us into an unpleasant situation by inviting us here, and it's
your duty to make us happy; but we're not having a good time at all,
and we'd like to know what you're going to do about it." Allan did the
best he could, not half-heartedly, for he was accustomed to do
thoroughly whatever he attempted, and his success was marked. Those
grave girls, who, heretofore, had always seemed to be haunted by some
real or fancied neglect, were in a gale of semi-repressed merriment.
The mirth was infectious, and as the horses flew over the frozen road,
the gay jingle of bells mingled happily with the joyous laughter of
young voices. Poor Rose, whose natural love for society and capacity
for fun-making had induced her to set very pleasant hopes upon this
sleigh-ride, found herself, much to her surprise, the only silent one
of the company. With Allan's gracefully unconcerned personality on one
side, a middle-aged lady of rather severe aspect--the matron of the
party--on the other, and just opposite a pair who were very agreeably
and entirely engaged _with_ as well as _to_ each other, all means of
communication seemed to be hopelessly cut off. It was really very
unreasonable for Allan to act in this way. He was saving her the
trouble of treating him badly and keeping him at a distance; but,
strange to say, there are some disagreeable duties of which one does
not wish to be relieved. If it were possible to be overwhelmingly
dignified when one is buried shoulder deep in bear and buffalo
skins--but that was out of the question.

The clear crystalline day began to be softly shadowed by twilight.
Behind them lay the town, its roofs and spires robed in swan's-down,
while on all sides the fallen logs and deep underbrush, the level
stubbles and broad irregular hollows, and all the vast sweep of dark
evergreen forest, melting away in immeasurable distance, was a
dazzling white waste of snow. In the bright moonshine it sparkled as
though studded with innumerable stars. Above them was a marvellously
brilliant sky.

Suddenly, under a group of trees that stretched their ghostly arms
across the roadway, the cavalcade came to a full stop; and Edward, who
was driving, looked round with a face of gloomy foreboding at the
merrymakers.

"What is the matter?" demanded half-a-dozen voices.

"We shall have to go back," announced the young man, with a look of
forced resignation.

"Go back!" echoed the same voices an octave higher, "why, what has
happened?"

"Nothing, except that Rose ought to take another look at herself in
the hall mirror. There is something fatally wrong with her appearance."

"About which part of my appearance?" demanded the young lady, who was
too well acquainted with her brother to be at all surprised or
disturbed by anything he could say.

"I don't know, I'm sure. Perhaps its the _tout ensemble_. Yes, that's
just what it is."

"Do drive on, Edward, and don't be ridiculous. It's too cold to
discuss even so important a subject as that."

"I am sure you must be suffering from the cold." It was Allan who
spoke, turning round to her in a tone of quick, low tenderness.

"Not in the least!" Every small emphatic word was keen and hard as a
piece of ice. Then, in the white moonlight, she confronted something
that made her heart sink, it was the unmistakable look of mental
suffering, a look that showed her that he at any rate was suffering
from the cold--the sharp stinging cold of a winter whose beginning was
pressing bitterly upon them, whose end, so far as they could see, was
death.

The mansion of Madame DeBerczy sent out broad shafts of light through
its many windows to welcome the latest addition to the brilliant
throng already assembled in its ample interior. Madame herself was
superb in a regal-looking gown that became her aristocratic old
countenance as a rich setting becomes an antique cameo. Her stately
rooms were aglow with immense fire-places, each holding a small
cart-load of hissing and crackling wood, the reflected light gleaming
brightly from the shining fire-irons, while a number of brass
sconces--the picturesque chandeliers of the past--polished to the
similitude of gold, were softly shimmering overhead. The beautiful
English furniture of the last century, artistic yet home-like; the old
world cabinets, covered with surface carving, solid yet graceful in
appearance; tiles, grave and cheerful in design, set into oaken
mantel-pieces; peacock coloured screens, and ample crimson curtains,
edged with heavy silken borders of gold, all lent their aid to
brighten and enrich the rooms that to-night were graced by some of the
best society from Upper Canada's; most ambitious little town of York.
Mademoiselle Helene, beautiful in a blush rose gown, with a few
star-shaped flowers of the same shade in her silky hair, was the
magical living synthesis of this small world of warmth and colour in
the eyes of her lover. These eyes were more than usually brilliant
from his long ride in the keen air, and the yellow locks upon the
smooth white brow were several noticeable inches above the heads of
those around him. As he walked down the crowded rooms, in enviable
proximity to the blushing dress, his handsome face and half careless,
half military air drew the attention of more than one bright pair of
eyes.

"Rather a pretty boy," commented a pompous-looking gentleman,
patronizingly.

"But entirely too fair," was the disapproving response of the critical
young lady beside him, whose own complexion and opinion were certainly
free from the undesirable quality she referred to. "Of course, a pink
face is attractive--in a doll."

"Then the daughter of our hostess escapes the imputation of being
doll-like."

"Oh, she is quite too overgrown for that. It's a pity she has that
peculiar complexion through which the blood never shows."

In another group, an enthusiastic young creature whispered to her
mother: "Mamma, do notice Miss DeBerczy's face; white as a cherry
blossom, and her lips the cherries themselves. Isn't she just like
a picture?"

"Yes, dear," drawled mamma, adjusting her eye-glass with an air of
rendering impartial justice, "like a very ill-painted picture. Why
don't she lay on her colours a little more artistically?"

"Oh, she doesn't lay them on, they're natural."

"Well, Lena, you should not be so quick to notice and comment upon
natural defects. Not one of us is free from them, and it is
uncharitable and unkind to make them the subject of remark."

Thus silenced and put in the wrong the young lady ventured nothing
further.

"Edward," said Helene, later in the evening, "really you ought to
dance with somebody else. There are dozens of charming girls here."

"Which dozen did you wish me to dance with?"

"Don't be nonsensical, please. Haven't you any preference?"

"Oh, decidedly, yes." He glanced at a _petite_ maiden, whose figure
and movements were light and fairy-like. "But I'm afraid she would
refuse me."

"I don't think she would."

"That isn't sufficient. My vanity is painfully sensitive to the
smallest danger of slight."

The fairy-like person had unconsciously assumed an appreciative, not
to say sympathetic, expression. Helene smiled. "Your fears are very
becoming to your youth and modesty, but I think I may go so far as to
say I am sure she will not refuse."

"That is joyful news." Another set was forming, and he rose with hand
extended to Helene. "You said you were sure she would not refuse," he
responded to her look of blank amaze; and then, as she yielded to the
irresistible entreaty in his eyes, he murmured softly, "How could you
imagine I had any other preference but you?"

"One imagines a great many strange things," she replied. "Once I
fancied that you preferred an Indian girl."

"_How could you_!" he repeated with intense emphasis. All that part of
his life seemed vague and far away as though he had dreamed it in some
prehistoric period of his existence. It refused to take the hues and
proportion of reality. Yes, that was nothing but a wild fantastic
dream--the sort of dream from which one wakes with a wretchedly bad
taste in the mouth. This rare girl, with the flower-like curves and
colours, was the only reality. And yet, was she reality? Her dress,
wreathed flame-like from warm white shoulders to satin shod feet, lay
in rich glowing lengths upon the waxed and polished floor. Her
beautiful head, too heavily weighted with braids and coils of raven
blackness, swayed slumberously upon the dainty white neck, and he
could not tell whether he better liked to see the dark lashes lying
upon her cheeks or uplifted to reveal the magical eyes beneath. He was
very much in love. The soft intoxicating strains of music went to his
head like wine. He was powerless to struggle against the thrilling
illusion of the hour. When the others returned to their seats or
promenaded the brilliant rooms they escaped alone and unobserved into
the conservatory. Here they beheld the greatest possible contrast to
the desolate wintry waste without. The air was heavy and languorous
with the odour of tropic flowers. The music, almost oppressive in the
crowded parlours, melted deliciously upon the ear as they wandered
away. Helene, when she noticed that they were quite alone, suffered a
vague alarm. She told herself in one moment that it was not possible
that Edward would choose this opportunity for a formal declaration of
his love, and the next moment she reminded herself that impossible
things are the ones that frequently come to pass. The idea, like an
ill-shaped burden, pressed uncomfortably upon her.

A maiden's heart, like a summer night, knows and loves its own secret.
All through the mysterious deep hours of sleep it holds the secret
closely wrapped in darkness, pure as the dew on the grass, innocent as
the little leaves in the forest, glorious as the countless stars of
heaven. Some time, and soon enough, the dawn will come. Then the stars
will pale before a glory more intense, the countless little leaves,
like delicate human emotions, will wake and stir, and the white mists
of maidenliness will be warmed with heavenly radiance. But after
sunrise comes the day--the long prosaic day of duty and denial, of
work and its rewards, of sober, plain realities. Why should the night
of mystery and beauty hasten towards the common light? Her being
thrilled under the first faint approaches of the dawn, and yet--yet a
little longer, oh, ardent, impetuous, all-conquering Sun! It seemed as
though the girl's very soul were pleading. The rich-hued,
fragrance-laden flowers in the sweet dim place bent their heads to
listen, but her impassioned lover paid no heed to the unspoken prayer.
The sense of her beauty--of her unsurpassable charm, mingled with the
voluptuous music--pierced his heart with insupportable pain. Could she
not feel his unuttered love? Her lily-like face was cool and pale, but
in that warm-coloured robe it seemed as though her very body blushed.
In leaning over to reach a peculiar flower that attracted her
attention, a little wave of her gown rested upon his knee, and it
seemed to his infatuated vision that the insensate fabric throbbed as
well as glowed from the momentary contact. Helene kept up a continual
flow of small talk, of which he heard not a syllable. Rising hurriedly,
her long train caught in a low branch that stretched across the walk,
and he bent to extricate it.

"How is it that you dare to touch the hem of my garment?" she demanded
laughingly.

"Oh, I can dare more than that," he cried. The conviction that she
loved him, as indeed she did, gave him a sort of desperate courage. He
took her in his arms and held her close, kissing her passionately on
lips and eyes and soft white shoulders. She neither moved nor spoke,
but stood, when he released her, confronting him with a sort of
frigid, fascinated stare. "Oh, what have I done? Helene," he exclaimed
tremblingly. "I thought you loved me."

"_I_?" she questioned with haughty disdain, "_love_?" she demanded
with incredulous contempt, "_you_?"

The concentrated fires of her wrath and scorn were heaped upon this
final monosyllable. Every word was a fierce insulting interrogation.
Surely the traditional "three sweet words" had never before been
uttered with such tragic effect. She stood before him a living statue
of outraged pride, clothed in a fiery robe of righteous indignation;
then she turned and passed out of his sight, leaving the young man to
his reflections.

They were bitter enough in all truth. He still cared for Helene, he
loved her as he loved himself. But it is only fair to add that he held
himself in the very smallest estimation. He had acted like a drunken
fool. How would he like any man alive to treat his little Rose in that
style? But then she might have behaved reasonably about it. She had
trampled on his heart, and left it sore and bruised and bleeding. Very
well, he was not a child to cry out when he was hurt. He went back to
the gay throng, and saw, as in a cruel dream, the girl who despised
him scattering profuse smiles upon others. No matter! Nothing could
possibly be of any importance now. Rose was making her way with some
difficulty towards him. How wan and tired she looked. Was it possible
that any one besides himself was suffering? The idea was absurd.

"Isn't it time for us to go, Edward?" she said. "Madame DeBerczy has
invited our party to remain over to-morrow, but I promised papa not to
desert him any longer than was strictly necessary." Edward found the
proposition a most welcome one. They could not leave Oak Ridges too
soon, nor remain away from it too long.

His sister's drooping little figure attracted the attention of Helene.
"Do you talk of going?" Helene asked. "Well, so you shall go--to bed;
and the very first bed we come to." She bent caressingly over the
little golden head of her friend. Their beautiful arms were
interlinked. Rose glanced irresolutely at her brother.

"You will need to put on the extra wraps you brought," he said, "as it
is particularly cold at this hour of the morning." Helene was ignored
utterly. He did not seem to know that she was present. The proud girl
was wounded to the quick. She was not visible at their leave-takings.
When every one was gone she went away upstairs, telling herself at
every step that she hated, hated, Edward Macleod; that he was in all
things and in every way detestable. She did not weep nor bewail. The
tears showed as seldom in her eyes as the blood in her cheeks, and her
pride was of the inflexible sort that scorns to relax when its
possessor is alone. She dropped into a heavy troubled sleep, and
dreamed that she was solitary in a frozen land, whose only sunshine
was the golden head of her lover. In the strange fantastic manner of
dreams he seemed to be a very little child, whose light warm weight
lay along her arms, close to the heart above which he had pressed
those burning kisses. It was bitter cold; but the whole scene was like
a picture of winter. She could not feel it--she could feel nothing but
the aching of her own heart, the warm breath growing ever warmer, and
the clinging hands, clinging ever closer, of the child she loved. The
sense of delicious languor changed to a feeling of heaviness--almost
suffocation. Every golden hair of the head upon her breast pierced her
like a ray of brightest sunshine. Hastily putting him from her she
fled away with the wintry winds, herself as wild and swift and
soulless as they. But presently coming to look for the child, and
unable to find him, she realized that he was lost, and then she woke,
trembling with deep, tearless sobs.

"What is it, my dearest?" called Madame DeBerczy from the next room.

"Nothing, mother, dear, but a troubled dream."

"Ah, it is the excitement of these late hours. Try to sleep again."

But Helene could sleep no more. A few days later she heard that Edward
Macleod, with a party of friends, had gone on a shooting expedition to
the Muskoka country.



CHAPTER XIII.

RIVAL ATTRACTIONS.


The current of a strong human affection, when it is thrown back upon
itself, must find vent in another direction. The weakest stream of
passion, when its chosen course is impeded by an immovable obstacle,
does not sink by gentle degrees into the earth, and thus, lost to
sight, become merely a thing of memory. There is disturbance and
disorder; banks are overflowed; and fields, once made fruitful and
beautiful by the softly-flowing river, lie sodden and unwholesome,
flooded by the dangerous waves. For days and nights Edward's brain was
surging with the sound of rushing waters. The tumultuous feelings so
strongly excited, so completely overthrown that evening in the
conservatory with Helene, would not subside. They beat upon his
desolate heart in great waves of rage, remorse, despair, and love,
like the beating of lonely waters upon a shipwrecked shore.

Hence it was that he welcomed the idea conveyed in a letter from a
friend in Barrie that they, with another boon companion, should go
hunting in Muskoka. Edward wrote an immediate agreement to the
proposition, mentioning Pine Towers as the place most convenient for
them to meet and lay plans for future action. He at once made
preparations to depart, for the idea of delay was intolerable to him.
The very atmosphere of the town was poisonous--the demands of society
not to be tolerated. He told his family that his old longing for the
wilds had come upon him, the sort of _ennui_ that nothing but the
odour of the woods could cure. The close of the day following found
him on the frozen shores of Kempenfeldt Bay, now clasped in the icy
arms of winter. The wind was wild among the leafless trees along the
avenue, but the desolation of his home was a visible response to the
sorer desolation of his heart.

The two or three old servants remaining in the lonely house were
delighted to see the young master home again. Olympia, the coloured
cook, whose high-sounding cognomen was usually reduced to Olly, gave
him a welcome equal to what might be expected from a whole plantation
of darkies. Her eyes and teeth shone in perpetual smiles, her gaily
turbaned head and dusky hands gesticulated in perfect time to the
exclamations poured out upon him.

"Well, my soul!" she cried; "well, my soul! Marse Ed., its good to see
you home again. Come in, chile, come right in! How mis'able you do
look to be sure. Just like a ghost, so cold and white. Shan't I mix
you a little something warm?"

"Oh, no, Olly, I'm all right; just a little tired after my long
journey, that's all."

She recognized the lifelessness in his tone, the jaded look and air of
one who is fighting a hard battle in the face of sure defeat. "You's
sick, honey," she exclaimed, with the ready sympathy of her race, "and
you's come back to old Olly to take care ob you. Dat's right, chile,
I'll just mix you a little warm--"

"Oh, dear, no, Olly, thank you; its comfort enough just to be quiet
and to be at home."

She left him in the parlour, but he pushed on after her into the great
fire-lit kitchen, partly because he detested the society of his own
thoughts, partly because it suited his present mood to be made much of
by the kindly old woman, to whom his mother all her life had been a
"chile." It was almost like being a boy again to sit in the chimney
corner and tell old Olly the story of his journey in all its details.
But before the recital was half-finished, something stirred in the
semi-darkness, on the other side of the fire-place.

"Why, bress my heart," said Olly, "I t'ought you was a dog, Wanda, you
sat dat quiet. What's de matter wid you, gal? Whar's your manners?"

The graceful shrinking figure would gladly have escaped out of sight,
but at the sound of her name Edward came forward to greet the Indian
girl. Olly, with many muttered protestations against the rudeness
shown to her young mahs'r, lifted the trap-door, and vanished down
cellar. The pale life-weary young man was alone with the sweet womanly
savage.

He held the little hand she offered him very closely and kindly.

"Are you glad to see me, Wanda?" he asked.

That was the keynote of his mental state. He was not glad to see
anyone or anything, but he was still interested to know that someone
cared for him. In his present mood it was certainly more pleasant to
feel that others were kindly disposed towards him than that they were
indifferent. The Algonquin maiden, on her side, was filled with a soft
delicious emotion. In the summer, when this daring young man pursued
her, she repulsed him; but in the winter, when he left her, she
thought of him. The natural result of her meditations upon so
fascinating a subject it is not difficult to conjecture. She began to
believe in the reality of his regard for her, and to fancy that he had
left her because of her harshness, of which he had frequently
complained. Now, could it be possible that his coming had anything to
do with the thought of her? Yes, she replied, she was glad to see him;
her blushing beautiful face gave eloquent testimony to the fact. He
released her then, and followed Olly into the dining-room, where a
small but sumptuous repast was laid, for nothing in the house above
nor in the cellar beneath was considered too good for young mahs'r.
"You'd be sprised, Marse Ed.," confided the old woman, "de improvement
made by dat chile since I took her in han'. It jus' went agin my
stomach to see her runnin' wild, widout a frien' in de worl', cept
dose heathen Injuns. She t'ought a heap ob yer mudder, an' I could'nt
tell her 'nough about her. Dat gave me a holt on her, you see, and
dars no denyin' she's changed a lot since las' summer."

"Tell her to come in here," said Edward, "and I'll judge for myself."

So in a few moments she came in, though with obvious reluctance, and
took the chair that Edward placed for her at the table. It was a novel
experience to the young man to find his wishes so implicitly obeyed by
this hitherto almost unapproachable girl. He felt disposed to exercise
this wonderful newly-acquired authority. "You must eat something,
Wanda," he observed; "I dislike to eat alone."

This was the sharpest test that could have been applied to the
improvement he wished to discover, but the girl's incomparable native
grace never failed her. It was impossible that she should either
lounge in her chair or sit stiffly erect in it. Her use of knife and
fork was marked, not by awkwardness but by extreme deliberation, and
careful observation of the manner in which Edward wielded his own. She
wore a dark grey dress, which he dimly remembered to have seen on his
sister Rose, and which that young lady had altered to fit the
Algonquin girl. The entire absence of colour in the dress intensified
by contrast the rich hues of cheek and lip, and the deep blackness of
eyes and hair. The only detail of her appearance which displeased his
taste was the strings of cheap glass beads wound about neck and waist.
Was there a vein of cheapness and vulgarity in her character to
correspond with this outward manifestation? He believed not. It was so
easy to believe everything that was good of this shy sweet personage.
He examined her narrowly and critically in the new and remarkable
_role_ she was compelled to play as the guest and equal of himself.
There was a surprising almost ludicrous similarity between the native
unconsciousness and dignity of the Indian and that of certain
high-bred dames whereof he knew, and yet there was about her the
unmistakable something that proved her wholly unversed in the ways of
society. Her dainty hands were very brown; her manner without being
constrained was certainly not easy; and her expression was that of a
bird, one moment resigned to imprisonment, the next panting for
liberty. In one word she was untamed. But was she untamable? His heart
beat faster at the thought. When the tea things were removed he threw
himself upon the couch; while the girl, sitting before the blazing
hearth, took between her hands and drew upon her knees the slender
head of his favourite hound. They made a striking picture, and the
blue, beauty-loving eyes of the spectator looked longingly upon it.
The dark lovely face bent forward seemed more childish in its soft
curves since the capacity to love and suffer had wakened in her
breast. Her sweet lips trembled with repressed feeling.

"Wanda," said Edward, "don't waste caresses on that unthankful brute.
He doesn't need them."

She looked at him with wide startled eyes. "Come to _me_," he breathed
in resistless accents. "Ah, Wanda, you pitied me once when I had a
scratch on my hand. Can not you pity me now when I have a sword in my
heart?"

It was not love that called her; it was the despairing cry of one who
was perishing to be loved. She rose after a moment, steadying herself
by a hand on the chair-back, for her beautiful frame was swayed by
irresolution, love, shame and pride. Slowly, very slowly, with the
sweet uncertain footsteps of a baby that fears to tread the little
distance between itself and the waiting irresistible arms of love, she
came towards him. It seemed at every moment that she must break away
and fly, as she had flown from him in the woods of summer. When she
reached his side her proud head fell, then the drooping shoulders bent
lower and lower till the uncertain knees at last failed her, and she
sank trembling on the cushion at his side with her arms about his
face. It was the attitude of protection, not that of a weak craving
for it. The fierce pain for which he asked her pity could arise from
nothing else but his love for her. This was the reasoning of the
simple savage--a reasoning that reached the hitherto unsounded depths
of passion and pathos in her nature. The young man, who bore in his
heart a bitter recollection of the scornful repulse offered by one
beautiful girl, could not resist the matchless tenderness so freely
given by another. He laid his face wearily against her arm, and she
bent over him murmuring words of uncontrollable love and pity.

Afterwards he asked himself what in the name of all the powers of evil
he meant by it; but this was some days afterwards. A long tramp
through the frozen woods in search of game had brought him a single
wild animal and a great many sober thoughts. In the rough log house in
which he and his companions were camping for a week, there was neither
room nor opportunity for private meditation; but the conviction came
to him with the luminous abruptness of lightning that he had used this
ignorant girl merely as a salve for his wounded vanity, and cruelly
deceived her by so doing. Not that his early passion for the Indian
girl had died a natural death. On the contrary it had been fanned into
fresh flame by the novel charm of her sweet approachableness. None the
less, but rather all the more clearly, he saw the detestable
selfishness of his own course. But, unfortunately, his tenderness for
her kept pace with his self-contempt. His feelings toward Helene and
Wanda at the present moment were just such as a man might entertain
toward the enemy who had conquered him, and the woman who, in his
greatest need, had succoured and saved him. For the one a bitterness
that could not rise to the crowning revenge of forgiveness, for the
other a passion of gratitude that would last a life-time.

"It appears to me," said Ridout, who was the most outspoken of the
party, "that we have a precious dull time of it in the evenings.
Macleod, here, is about as talkative as the deer he has slain."

The trio had been smoking in silence before a huge fire, but this
reference to Edward's great exploit of the day roused them to
conversation.

"It is no unusual thing for Macleod to distinguish himself in that
direction," said Boulton, the elder of the two. "He has long been
known as the champion _dear_-killer."

This wretched attempt at a pun was loftily ignored by the subject of
it.

"Alas, 'tis too true!" mourned the other. "Come, Ned, try to be
entertaining for once; tell us about the pretty Indian girl you were
mooning with."

"What did you say?" demanded Edward, freezingly.

"You heard perfectly well what I said."

"What do you mean by it?"

"Oh, I _mean_ the pretty squaw you were _spooning_ with, if that suits
you better."

"Gently, Tom," interposed Boulton parenthetically, "don't mention
_all_ the meanness you mean."

"I would like to inquire what right you have to mention any of it,"
exclaimed Edward wrathfully.

"Oh, none--none, whatever. Only it was town talk in Barrie last Fall
that you had become infatuated with the sweet little squaw to such an
extent that your charming sister, with commendable prudence and
foresight, had you put out of harm's way as speedily as possible.
There's no accounting for such reports."

"I don't understand it at all," said Edward, with mingled anger and
humiliation. "How can people be so silly?"

"Exactly what your slanderers inquired of each other. Impossible to
tell what they meant." The young man laughed rather disagreeably as he
went off to bed.

"Look here, Ned," said Boulton, bringing a sympathetic hand down upon
his friend's shoulder, "don't you take any notice of what Tom Ridout
or any of his set may say. Of course every young fellow makes a fool
of himself _some time_, in _some_ direction; it's natural and proper,
and just what is expected of him. All is he shouldn't make a complete
fool of himself, and nobody believes that of you."

"Ugh!" said Edward, and relapsed into gloomy silence, from which he
awoke to find himself alone, with the candle sputtering in its socket.
He took off his boots, and threw one of them viciously, but with
unerring aim, at the expiring light, and so went despondently to bed.

"Our fair friend appears to be quite as susceptible to the remarks
made upon his wild-wood acquaintance as to the wild-wood acquaintance
herself." This was the observation of Ridout, as he and Boulton went
the following morning to investigate the trap they had set.

"Don't be a fool, Tom," said Boulton, with a perfectly unruffled face
and tone, "that is, any more of one than you can help. Of course every
young cub like you is expected to be one to a certain extent, but what
I mean is don't be a _big_ one."

It was impossible to be angry with words so placidly spoken. "I don't
know what can make you so wondrous kind to Macleod," said Ridout,
"unless it is a fellow-feeling, and I wouldn't have thought that of
you, Boulton. But look here," surveying the empty trap with boyish
disgust, "nothing taken in but ourselves! Well, we'll have to make it
unpleasant for Tommy. That's the only comfort left us."

Tommy was the coloured boy, who was cook, housekeeper and general
factotum for the three. When ill-luck overtook them it was felt to be
some slight compensation to be at liberty to make it unpleasant for
Tommy. But one day, towards the end of their self-imposed exile, it
stormed so heavily and incessantly that they were compelled to remain
within doors, and here Tommy's unfailing good-nature deprived the
abuse with which he was heaped of all its power to charm and console.
On the principle which governs the selection of a victim by the
shipwrecked and storm-beaten remnant of a crew at sea, there was
nothing more natural than that Edward Macleod should fall a prey to
the general famishing desire for amusement. Boulton had been idly
humming the air of an Indian love-song, in which Ridout joined aloud,
substituting the name of Wanda for that of the ideal heroine. As the
sentiment of the song was of the most languorous and 'die-away' sort
it was impossible that the two men should abstain from mingling their
smiles. The conclusion of the singing was followed by a few remarks
from Ridout, one of which provoked a shout of uproarious laughter. For
a moment Edward's face was alive with intense suffering; the next it
had paled and hardened into marble-like rigidity.

"I wonder if either of you are aware," he said, with cold distinctness
of utterance, "that the subject of your conversation is to be my wife."

Tom Ridout stared a moment in unbelieving amazement, and then blushed
to the eyes. "I beg your pardon," he stammered, "I never thought--I
didn't dream--" He broke down completely, unable to grasp the
statement that shed such a different light upon their idle talk.
Boulton was not subject to fluctuation of emotion, and there was no
visible manifestation of a change in his feelings. The match he struck
while Edward was speaking went out. He reached for another; it also
went out.

"It seems to me," he said mildly, taking his unlighted pipe from his
lips, "that these are the worst matches I ever saw."

Ridout had recovered some of his usual self-assurance. "It seems to
_me_," he declared boldly, "that it's the worst match I ever heard
of."

"Worst or best," said Edward, with dogged resolution, "it will be
necessary for you to speak of it with respect--in my presence."

This seemed to be the end of the matter; but Boulton, who had at last
got his pipe agoing, could not forbear offering a few final words on
the subject.

"It's all right, Ned," he remarked, in his gentlest and kindest tones,
"perfectly right and natural that a young fellow should make a fool
of himself. That's exactly what's expected of him. But it isn't
necessary that he should make an _everlasting_ fool of himself.
Not--strictly--necessary."

Edward rose and left the room.

To leave the room in a region upon which unpicturesque prosperity has
not yet descended is equivalent to leaving the house, and that is
exactly what the young man did. Of course there was a loft above that
was reached by a perilously steep pair of stairs; but he was not a cur
to creep away into a kennel. He went out and battled with the pitiless
storm, a fiercer storm beating within his breast than that which raged
without. The crazy words he had just uttered were not spoken simply to
stop the idle talk of his companions; they were the ultimate
expression of the thoughts over which he had brooded for days past.
Helene was dead to him, and her mocking ghost haunted the desolate
chambers of his heart, filling them with scornful laughter. But now
upon the door of this wretched habitation had timidly knocked another
guest--a guest of blooming and throbbing flesh and blood. Should he
deny her admittance? Unlearned was she as one of the shy birds of the
forest, but then she was eminently teachable. If his love for her
could not be called a liberal education was it not something better?
Was it not a liberal and lasting joy? After all, what did women know,
any way? A few miserable half-learned accomplishments, the aggregate
of which did not amount to so much as the eagle's feather on the proud
little head of his darling. Yes, he dared to say it--his darling! He
pictured her in winter as sitting by his side, before the fire, the
delicate head of his pet dog encircled by her arm; in summer they
would roam in blest content together through the endless forests of
this beautiful new world.

And so with all his doubts triumphantly set aside he returned to the
house, and during the remainder of their stay his continued flow of
exuberant good spirits seemed to confirm the rightfulness of his
conclusions. On his way back to York he stopped a few hours at his old
home, for the sake of a brief stolen interview with Wanda. She met him
with little low murmurs of tenderness and joy, and parted from him as
a girl parts from the man in whose love she has absolute confidence,
for whose sake she would willingly die.

When he reached home, his appearance of high health and persistent
overflow of liveliness were ascribed by his family to continuous
out-door exercise, nor did they dream that the sweet fever and
delirium of love was upon him. Rose gave him an anxious glance or two,
but poor Rose had trouble enough of her own. That cold night at the
Oak Ridges, which had completely killed Edward's hopes with regard to
Helene, had cast a light but lasting frost over her own. It had been
painful enough to avoid Allan, but it was no less painful to be
deprived of that privilege. The truth was he had given her very few
opportunities to put into practice the course of treatment recommended
by her father. Had she been the heroine of a novel there would
inevitably have been misunderstandings of the most serious and
complicated character. But she was mortal, and withal a very
tender-hearted little maiden, and the secret of her cold tones and
wistful glances, though for a while it sorely puzzled Allan, was at
last divined by the sure intuition of love. They met frequently at
various social gatherings, but it was as though a solid sheet of glass
intervened between them. Through this apparently impalpable medium
they could see, and smile, and speak, but no tender touch of palm, or
breath of love, or thrill of quickened heart-beat could be felt
between. How many times had Allan Dunlop been tempted to outstretch
his hand and shatter this glassy surface! It were easily done but at
the price of possible sharp pain and aching wounds, and the greater
horror of seeing the sweet grieving face on the other side shrink away
from him, startled by the shock. No, he would bide his time. And so,
while his eyes grew hollow, his close shut lips remained very
resolute. Love _can_ wait (though waiting is the hardest task ever
assigned it), but only on condition that it is given the food it needs.

Allan kept his love alive on glimpses of sunny hair, and sad little
smiles, and fragments of talk, that, light and conventional as they
might seem to chance listeners, were to him clothed with lovely hidden
meanings. Sometimes when the eyes met by chance the small warm hands
plucked nervously at the flowers she carried, or there was a restless
consciousness in step and glance, or a scarcely perceptible quiver of
the curved lip, or a piteous droop of the regal little head. Very
slight things were these, yet out of them Memory and Imagination made
a sumptuous feast, at which Love, like a starveling prince in exile,
sat down with never sated appetite.



CHAPTER XIV.

MUDDY LITTLE YORK.


If the course of true love could be persuaded to forsake its ancient
uncomfortable method in favour of a single harrassed lover, surely the
trials of Allan Dunlop might soften its harsh turbulence, and move it
to a gentler flow. Rose was devoted to her father, and the tie between
them, made stronger by her mother's death, was not of a nature to be
affected by the sighing breath of a mere lover. Then she was as
lovable as she was lovely, and there was nothing in the cordial liking
of a host of friends to encourage the growth of any morbid desire for
the affection of a poor and insignificant outsider. There were other
insurmountable points on the mountain chain of circumstance that lay
between him and his heart's dearest wish. The Commodore's inherent
reverence for birth and breeding, and his comparative indifference to
brain, was one of them. The obstinate pride of Allan's undistinguished
and ambitious self was another.

Of all sorts of pride the sort that goes with inferiority, not of
person, or behaviour, or talents, but of mere social position, is the
most inveterate. This unreasonable feeling was the mightiest of all
the obstructions that, mountain-like, lay between them; but on its
rough sides--flowers on an arid rock--grew the yearning affections,
seemingly rootless, yet continuing to bloom in secret, scarce
discovered beauty. Of what use was it, he asked himself in bitterness,
to brood over these impassable barriers, to cultivate a faith in the
power of his own affection strong enough to remove them, to cherish
the vain imagination that this incomparably sweet girl and his own
plain self were made for each other, and that no earthly obstacle
could suffice to separate them? Upon his soul had fallen the edict of
society, "What man hath put asunder let no higher power join together!"

And so he hardened his heart and closed his eyes to the heavenly
vision of girlish beauty and purity that shone forever in the upper
skies of his consciousness, as clear as the star of evening, and
almost as far away. But tears flow as easily beneath closed lids as
when the eyes are wide open, and to the hardest heart come moments of
reverie, of sudden waking from sleep, or involuntary lapsing into day
dream, when, like a sword in the heart, comes the thought of one too
dearly loved. Do his best he could not escape these moments of
exquisite torture. The poem he was reading fell fantastically into the
tune of the last waltz down which he and Rose had drifted together.
The prose--and very prosy--work he impatiently seized in the hope of
banishing that witching melody from his brain, simply followed the
perverted feet of the poem. Down the dull page danced the meaningless
syllables, keeping time to the delicious strain in a way that was
simply appalling to a mind whose intellectual processes were, as a
rule, thoroughly well regulated. If he walked the street there was
small chance but that some half-turned head or fluttering robe among
the women he met would remind him of the sweetest head and prettiest
drapery in the world.

Always along the misty aisles of his consciousness sped this little
lovely vision, now hasting, now delaying, now bending with melting
tenderness toward him, now mockingly eluding his grasp, never out of
sight, never within reach. No wonder he grew pale and heavy-eyed and
_distrait_. But no one of those who noticed that he ate little and
spoke little, and walked with weary footsteps, knew that he was a
haunted man--haunted not by any pale spectre, but by veritable flesh
and blood, gold crowned, pink tinted, and illumined by the bluest eyes
this side of the blue heavens. It is useless for those who are
troubled in this way to say they _will not_ be haunted. Celestial
visits are planned with reference to anything but the convenience of
their recipient.

Allan Dunlop was spoken of as 'a pushing young man,' but in affairs of
the heart he did not push--he simply waited. Not that he had any faith
in the so-called beneficent influences of time--for what young lover
is willing to believe that the slow drag of months and years over his
passion will crush all life from it at last?--but he had the delicacy
of nature which forbids the gross intrusion of personal wishes and
desires upon unwilling ears. He had, besides, a spark of that
old-world loyalty which is prone to uphold the claim of the father in
the face of despairing aspirants for the daughter's hand.

This unwillingness to take an advantage, or to push it when it was
thrust upon him, was not without a certain allurement for Rose. She
was accustomed to be sought after; but the man who unconsciously
occupied a higher place in her estimation than any by whom she was
surrounded, held himself aloof. Probably he despised her and the
frivolous society in which she moved. It was a depressing reflection,
for the regard of those whom we believe to be our superiors is
infinitely more precious than the adoration of those who are not.

To the lover, as to the good general, the knowledge of when not to
approach is of inestimable importance. Scarce are the girls upon whose
hearts a tender impression can be made in the middle of an ordinary
work-a-day forenoon, or who can give sigh for sigh immediately after a
hearty dinner. Very few are those who, at all times, are equally
approachable and appreciative. Allan's stern, self-denying course of
action, to which he considered himself forced, could not have been
better chosen had he had nothing at heart but the aim of furthering
his own interests. In Rose's imagination he had always formed an
admirable contrast to the purposeless, objectless young men of her
acquaintance, and his wise withdrawal after he had roused her
interest, she interpreted as indifference. So let it be, thought the
young lady, assuming a feeling of entire content. But assumed feelings
are not lasting. She who had been the life of society now grew very
weary of it. She yawned secretly in rooms of entertainment, or
invented lame excuses for her non-appearance there. "I can't think
what is the matter with me," she said to herself. "I never cared for
solitude, and I don't now; but I care less for common people and
commonplace talk."

It was perfectly consistent with this state of feeling that, on one of
the most disagreeable of all disagreeable March days, she should go
out alone for a long walk which had no definite direction nor object.
There was a certain satisfaction in matching her restless mood with
the restless weather, in feeling herself now gently buoyed along, now
almost lifted up and borne away on the strong wings of the rushing
wind. Great soft flakes of snow were falling, and yielding up their
heavenly purity at the first touch of earth, and the dull sunless day,
weary of its own existence, was with seeming relief dying into night.
Rose walked very fast without being aware of the fact. It is a
peculiarity of windy weather that it begets a mental exaltation, in
which even the clumsiest body seems to partake of the immortal energy
of the soul. Rose's trim figure moved as softly and swiftly as a
sail-boat before the wind. Nevertheless it was with a feeling of
dismay that she found herself at the edge of night and far from home.
She had been dreaming as she walked, and now--the usual fate of
dreamers--she found herself abruptly brought face to face with reality.
The big flakes were still falling, the wind still urging her forward,
as she turned to retrace her steps. But now progress became difficult.
The wind was in her face, and the snow blinded her eyes. She had
turned so suddenly that the broad-shouldered, heavily-coated young
pedestrian, who had been following in her wake, was astounded to see
her, with down-bent head, swiftly advance and abruptly fling herself
upon him with an impetuosity born of sightless but determined
resistance to the rampant breezes. The next instant, with a movement
equally impetuous, and a deeply drawn "oh!" she swept aside and looked
straight into the eyes of Allan Dunlop. "I didn't know it was you,"
she murmured, her cheeks turning to flame beneath his gaze.

"No, you usually treat me with more _hauteur_. I never expected you to
make all the advances in this way."

"Oh, shameless!" exclaimed Rose, clasping both daintily gloved hands
first to her ears, then to her eyes. Then, mockingly, she responded,
"I never expected to find you so approachable."

They were very glad to meet again. They did not say so, but what
necessity existed for the verbal expression of a fact so apparent in
the face looking down and in the face that for more than a moment at a
time was unable to look up. She laid her hand within his arm, and they
faced the storm together. "What were you doing at this end of the
town?" she asked, fearing he would make the same inquiry of her.

"Following in your footsteps," he replied. "I was not sure who it was,
but your gait reminded me so much of yourself."

What light words to make a little heart beat faster! The wind would
have blown them away if she had not caught them.

"Ah, yes, no doubt a moving spectacle, but," glancing at the rough
pavement which had grown worse and worse, until in pure self pity it
came to an end, "I'm afraid that for the last half-hour I have led you
a hard life of it."

"It was hard--very. This side-walk is a disgrace to the town, and it
usually has a depressing effect on me to be out in windy, uncertain
kind of weather, but I think"--the wind blew an end of her long silken
scarf caressingly about his neck--"I think it was worth while."

In his heart he added, "Little darling, what rough road would I not
travel in pursuit of you, if only you would turn at last to throw
yourself in my arms."

They walked on for a little in silence. When love looks out of the
eyes, and hesitates on the lips, and trembles in the arm that feels
the confiding pressure of a tiny hand, it seems as though words were a
crude, primitive method of communicating ideas. Nevertheless, so
strong is the power of habit, that there are few who can resist the
imagined necessity to talk if one feels like it, and make talk if one
does not. So presently Rose remarked upon the beauty of the town. Even
in his love wrapt state the idea struck Allan as slightly absurd.

"Where do you find it?" he asked in amused perplexity, looking at the
little wooden houses and shops, the meagre beginnings of a city that
as yet had no time to be beautiful, and noted the vile mud with which
the streets were thickly overlaid. "Though, of course," he added,
"there is scarcely anything to be seen save darkness, and that element
is strictly necessary to an appreciation of the beauties of 'Muddy
Little York.'"

"Oh," exclaimed Rose, "don't you see the lights flashing in the
windows, and in every little muddy pool on the street? Think of the
concentrated life in these little human nests set against the vast
wilderness. Look at those faint yellow rays mingling with the slanting
lines of snow, with the deep woods and dark sky in the distance. If it
isn't beauty it is poetry."

Her foot slipped a little on an unexpected piece of ice, and his arm
felt the momentary pressure of both hands. "It is everything heavenly
you can mention," said Allan devoutly.

He noticed the slight instantaneous withdrawal, and was impelled to be
practical, if possible; so he began to dilate at length upon the
future glories of York. "This will be a great city, some day," he said.

"Possibly, but who loves greatness? People may say what they please
against muddy little York. To me it is dear because it is so little."

"Yes, there is an unexplainable charm in littleness." He glanced
thoughtfully down at the dainty figure beside him, while Rose wondered
if it would be possible for her to make a remark to which he could not
give a personal application. It was impossible for them to walk on in
silence, as though this were a lover's idle stroll. Her face warmed at
the mere fancy. No, she must e'en try again.

"Particularly when it is a little breeze," she said. "Now, a huge,
awkward, overgrown affair like this changes what ought to be a caress
into an assault."

"Yes; but you brave little creature, how blithely you face it. I wish
I could shelter you from the storm. I wish I could defend you from all
the storms of life."

His voice broke, and the girl felt as though her heart would burst. No
bold, imperious, master spirit was this, demanding her love and life
as if they were his by natural right. It was as though she had been
newly roused by a faint knock at the door; and now, before her foot
was set upon the stair that led down to the entering guest, he had
turned away again.

"I like your way of meeting the tempest," he continued. "You face it
for a moment with mocking defiance, then you step aside to escape a
fierce gust, or turn your head to avoid at least half its violence.
You seem to be coquetting with old Boreas. For me, I can't play with
the foe; I simply have to meet him and fight him till my strength is
exhausted--then rest till I can get breath--then up and at it again.
Do you remember those old lines:

  "'A little I'me hurt but not yett slaine,
  I'le but lye down and bleed awhile,
  And then I'le rise and fight againe!'"

"Oh, heaven help me," thought poor Rose, "what _can_ I say now? There
is nothing in the world to say." She fell to crying bitterly, as she
safely could under cover of the snow and the darkness; but after a
minute she controlled herself, and was, to outward appearance,
tranquil and buoyant as before.

They had reached the house. He stepped inside the warmly-lighted hall
just for a moment, as Rose, with a gesture of dismay, threw off her
wraps, and disclosed an inappropriately elaborate little gown,
partially soaked by the storm. "I suppose I need not have put on
anything so fine as this to go out in on a wet day, but I am fond of
dressing, not for others, but for myself. I prefer feeling effects to
producing them. Do you think me very selfish?"

"Oh, yes; everything that is hard, unfeeling, and unlike your sweet
little self."

She had already mounted a few steps of the stairway, as he had said he
could not stay. His outstretched hand held hers in a last good-by, but
instead of going he touched a fold of the damp edge of her gown. "It
is very wet," he said. "You are shockingly careless." And then,
without daring to meet the divine eyes bent upon him, he lifted her
hand reverently to his lips, and so went forth into the night and the
storm.

"Rose," said the Commodore, interrupting her at the head of the
stairs, "who is it that has just gone?"

"Mr. Dunlop," said his daughter hesitatingly; "he overtook--he met--I
met him on my way home, and he came with me." The young girl's face
was a flame, and her heart was a song. She felt that she was
aggressively, barbarously happy, and tried to modify the unruly
emotion out of deference to her father's anticipated anger. He looked
extremely annoyed.

"I am sorry to seem arbitrary," he said, "but in future, my dear, it
will greatly oblige me if you will so conduct yourself towards that
young man as to discourage him from meeting or overtaking you, or
accompanying you home."

"Very well, Papa." Not a ray of light faded from her eyes, not a
particle of warmth from her smile. She had heard him make similar
remarks before, and they affected her the same as if he had said: "It
is yet winter; don't be deceived into supposing that spring-time is
coming." Ah! but under the snows of winter, what power can hinder the
countless delicate roots of spring flowers from thrilling into life?



CHAPTER XV.

POLITICS AT THE CAPITAL.


But more was destined to burgeon into blossom than the flowers of
spring. Allan Dunlop's fame as a politician had grown concurrently
with the growth of his love. In the Legislature he had won for himself
a prominent position, and was known as a sagacious counsellor, a
persuasive speaker, a ready and effective debater, and a good steady
worker on Committees. No name carried more weight in Parliament than
his, and his influence in the country was as marked as was his
influence in the House. This was as readily conceded by his political
opponents as it was claimed by his friends. He had, moreover, a
prepossessing manner, a comely presence, and a countenance which, when
animated, was not wanting in expression or fire. He was, withal, the
most modest and lovable of men; and had he not sat on the Opposition
benches he would have been courted by the Tory supporters of the
Government and been fawned upon by the leading members of "The Family
Compact."

Allan Dunlop had, however, entered the House as a radical, but of a
moderate type; and though he dealt the Executive many trenchant blows,
and did yeoman service in advancing the cause of Reform, he was too
loyal a man to rank with the "heated enthusiasts" who were threatening
to overturn the Constitution and make a republic out of the colony,
and too judicious and right-minded to affirm that the Administration
of the Province was wholly evil and corrupt. On the contrary, while he
insisted that the Executive should pay more deference to the voice of
the Parliamentary majority, and so avoid the ever-cropping-up
conflicts between the Administration and the popular Chamber, he
recognized the fact that the evils complained of had their origin in
defects in the Act which gave the Province its Constitution; and being
engrained in the paternal system of government that had long been in
vogue could not possibly be at once and satisfactorily remedied.

It was true that in none of the other Provinces was power so firmly
centralized in the hands of a dominant and exclusive class, as was the
case in Upper Canada. But this state of things, Allan Dunlop conceded,
was a legacy from the period of military rule which followed the
Conquest, and the natural consequence of appointing members to seats
in the Executive and Legislative Councils _for life_. Dunlop was also
well aware that the social condition of the Province, at that early
period, tended to centre power and authority of necessity in the hands
of a few leading men. All the public offices were in their gift; and
the entire public domain, including the Crown and Clergy Land
reserves, was also in their hands. Hence it was that through the
patronage at their disposal the "Family Compact" were enabled to fill
the Lower House with their supporters and adherents, and, in large
measure, to shape the Provincial Legislation, so as to maintain their
hold of office and perpetuate a monopoly of power. That the ruling
oligarchy used their positions autocratically, and kept a heavy hand
upon the turbulent and disaffected, was true; but their respect for
British institutions, and their staunch loyalty to the Crown, at a
time when republican sentiments were dangerously prevalent, were
virtues which might well offset innumerable misdeeds, and square the
account in any unprejudiced arraignment.

But though Allan Dunlop possessed a mind eminently fair and judicial,
and, Reformer as he was, could dispassionately discuss the "burning
questions" of the time, there were abuses connected with the mode of
governing which he stoutly strove to remedy, and injustice done to
loyal settlers in the iniquitous land system that prevailed which
roused his indignation and called forth many a bitter phillipic in the
House. These trenchant attacks of the young land-surveyor were greatly
feared by the Executive, and were the cause of much trepidation and
uneasiness in the Legislative Council.

For a time Commodore Macleod, who had now returned to his accustomed
duties in the Upper House, took pleasure in replying to Dunlop's
attacks in the Lower Chamber; but the young Parliamentarian, though he
treated his opponent with courtly deference, had so effective a way of
demolishing the Commodore's arguments and of genially turning the
shafts of his invective upon his adversary, that he soon abandoned the
attempt to break a lance with his young and able antagonist. Dunlop's
temper was habitually sweet and always under command, and this gave
him a great advantage over his sometimes irascible opponents. His
manner, however, was at times fiery--especially when exposing cases of
hardship and injustice, when his arraignment of the Executive was
vehement and uncompromising. But the "Family Compact" was at the
period too firmly entrenched and buttressed about by patronage for
Allan Dunlop to effect much reform in the system of government, though
his assaults were keenly felt in the Upper House, and they made a
powerful impression in the country, which heartily endorsed the young
land-surveyor's strenuous appeals for the redress of long-existing
abuses, and the concession of Responsible Government.

"What a noble fellow that young Dunlop is!" said Lady Sarah Maitland
to her escort in the House, as the youthful tribune closed an
impassioned appeal on behalf of settlers from the United States, who
had been subjected to great hardships and outrage by the tools of the
Government.

"A pestilent rascal!" was the testy rejoinder of the old Commodore,
who, with his daughter Rose, had accompanied her Ladyship on the day
in question to the House of Assembly.

"Nay! you shall not say that of him, Commodore, for I mean to invite
him to accompany us to Stamford Cottage at the close of the Session,
if he will give me that pleasure," said Lady Sarah, warmly.

"Sir Peregrine will have something to say to that, Madame," was the
Commodore's blunt reply, "and Mr. Attorney-General, here," he added,
"ought to arrest you for wishing to consort with seditious agitators
and evil-disposed persons."

"I think I ought to take you both into custody," interposed
Attorney-General Robinson, "for spoiling with your quarrel the effect
of young Dunlop's speech. It was admirable, both in tone and matter,
and I shall at once look into the grievances he complained of. Don't
you think, Miss Macleod, that your father is unreasonably prejudiced
against the member for your section of the Home District?"

"I think him everything harsh and unpaternal when politics is the
subject of conversation," replied that young lady guardedly.

"Ah! politics is an unclean game," observed the courtly leader of the
House; "but it would be vastly sweeter and cleaner were all our
politicians of the type of Dunlop. I think him a grand fellow--but, I
agree with you, Commodore, that he should be on the other side."

"Or we should be on _his_ side, Mr. Attorney-General," said Lady
Sarah, with a meaning glance at Rose Macleod.

At this juncture, the Attorney-General, having to address the House,
took leave of the ladies, and the Government House party rose and left
the Chamber.

Later in the day, the Attorney-General took occasion to refer to
Dunlop's speech, and to commend its temperate and courteous tone,
though the matter his young friend brought to the notice of the
Government, said the Attorney-General, if true, severely reflected on
the management of one of the Departments, which, the speaker added,
he would take care at once to inquire into.

Other matters occupied the attention of the House for the remainder of
the afternoon, and when the Speaker rose to retire a buzz of
conversation ensued on the stirring topics to be brought up at the
evening's sitting. Two of these topics related to matters which, at
the period, convulsed the community, and threatened to overthrow the
fabric of society in the colony, if not the Constitution itself. One
was the case of Captain Matthews, a member of the Assembly, who was
charged with disturbing the tranquillity of the Province by requesting
the orchestra, at the theatre of York, to play sundry seditious tunes
at the close of an entertainment, and thus inferentially to pay
disrespect to His Majesty's crown and person. The other was the
escapade of a number of young people in York, of respectable standing,
who had committed a gross breach of the peace in breaking into and
ransacking the printing-office of Wm. Lyon Mackenzie, smashing the
presses of that martyr to Reform, and throwing into the lake the type
which had been used in setting up some pungent articles against the
Government.

"Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth!" the moralizing
bystander of the period might have observed, as he took note of the
electrical condition of the political atmosphere of York, and, indeed,
of the whole Province--the result of the indiscretion of one man, and
the partisan frolic of half a dozen lads, who had inherited, with the
bluest of Tory blood, the prejudices of their fathers. The wrecking of
the Mackenzie printing-office was, of course, a serious conspiracy
against the peace of a youthful and law-abiding community. But it will
occur to the modern reader of the transaction, that the act was
scarcely so heinous as to bring it before the country's legislature,
and become the subject of a grave Parliamentary inquiry.

The act has to be viewed, however, in the light of preceding events,
and with a knowledge of facts in the thrilling drama of Reform, at the
time being enacted on the political stage of Upper Canada. Society in
the Province was long wont to poise itself between two opinions, as to
the degree of justification for the course which Reform took at the
time of the Gourlay agitation, and which, in Mackenzie's day,
culminated in rebellion. The issues of the conflict have, however,
settled that point; and though Tory bias loves still to stand by the
"Family Compact," the popular sympathies are with the actors who were
whilom outlawed, and on whose heads the Crown did them the honour, for
a time, to set a high value.

Chief among these actors, at the time of which we are writing, was he
whose printing-presses had just been ruthlessly demolished, and whose
fonts of type youthful Torydom had gleefully consigned to the deep.
The provocation had been a long series of intemperate newspaper
criticism of the Government, numerous inflammatory appeals to the
people to rise against constituted authority, and much scurrilous
abuse of leading members of the "Family Compact," who wished, as a
safeguard against revolution and chaos, to crush the "patriot"
Mackenzie, and drive him from the Province. But though thorny as was
then the path of Reform, and galling the insult and injury done to its
martyrs, Mackenzie did not shrink from pursuing the course he had cut
out for himself; and his intense hatred of injustice, and sturdy
defiance of those whom he held responsible for the maladministration
of affairs, gained him many adherents and sympathizers. The outrage
that had just been committed on his property vastly increased the
number of the latter, while popular indignation compelled the
Government to disown the act, and to make it, as we have seen, the
subject of Parliamentary inquiry. From the Parliament the matter went
to the Courts, and there the scapegraces, who had been concerned in
the outrage, were mulcted in a large amount, which their parents, high
government officials, had ruefully to pay over to the aggrieved
printer and incipient rebel. Thus ended one act in the drama of these
distraught times. How shall we keep our countenance and deal with the
other?

Let us first tell the story, as we gather it, in the main, from the
Journals of the House. For some time previous to the meeting of the
Legislature, in 1826, partisans of the Administration had got in the
habit of noting defections from the loyal side among men of substance
and position in the colony, and particularly among members of the
representative Chamber, where the cry for Responsible Government was
waxing loud, and where sullen protests were almost daily heard against
the system of official patronage and favouritism that prevailed in the
government of the Province. The Administration being now in the
minority in the popular Chamber, and "the long shadows of Canadian
Radicalism" having begun to settle upon the troubled "Family Compact,"
it became important to note the increasing defections, real or
fancied, in the Legislative Assembly, so that, if possible, the
"bolters" might be coaxed or bribed back, or, failing that, that they
might, in some way, be jockeyed out of the House and made to suffer
for their defection. Among those who had recently taken the bit in
their teeth was a Captain Matthews, a retired officer, in receipt of a
pension, who represented the county of Middlesex, and had of late gone
over to Democracy. For this act he was "put upon the list," and became
a marked man on the mental tablets of the myrmidons of the Executive.

About this time there came to York a company of strolling actors from
the neighbouring Republic, whose fortunes were at a low ebb, and whose
dignity had very much run down at the heels. To revive their fortunes,
they gave an entertainment in the extemporized theatre of the town,
under the kindly proffered patronage of the members of the Legislature.
It was New Year's Eve, and the fun--the age was still a bibulous
one--waxed fast and furious. At last the curtain dropped, and the
modest orchestra struck up "God save the king!" Hats were at once
doffed, and from among the standing audience came a loud but unsteady
voice, calling upon the orchestra to "play up" Hail Columbia! or
Yankee Doodle.

The sober section of the play-house was stunned. Was it possible that
Democracy could go to such lengths--within sight of the "royal arms,"
over the Lieutenant-Governor's box, and with the decaying notes of the
national anthem in Tory ears?

It was but too true. Again and again rose the shout for the seditious
tunes. Abashed loyalty sought to escape from the house, but the crowd
jostled and intervened. The scene now became uproarious. Affrighted
Conservatives were seen to jam their hats on their heads--the only
mark of disapproval possible--and glare defiance at those who impeded
the exit. The Tory member for Stormonth--it was afterwards admitted in
evidence--stripped his coat and threatened to knock any two of the
opposing Radicals down. Meanwhile the orchestra, unable to accomplish
the higher flight of "Hail Columbia!" struck up the commoner and more
objectionable tune; and three grave legislators, it is said, danced
while "Yankee Doodle" was played. The Democratic orgie at last spent
itself with the music, and after a while all breathed the outer,
communistic air of heaven.

After the racket comes the reckoning; and Captain Matthews, whose
share in inducing the play-house fiddlers to discourse republican
music to monarchical ears was reported with due exaggerations and
aspersions on his loyalty, to the military authorities, speedily found
himself the victim of an infamous plot. Distorted accounts of the
scene at the theatre had been sent to the Commander of the Forces, at
Quebec; and the member for Middlesex was specially singled out as the
seditious rioter on the occasion, and the leader in what was termed "a
disloyal and disgraceful affair." Presently there came an order for
Capt. Matthews to report himself to the military authorities at
Quebec, and at that port to take ship for England, where he was to be
tried by court-martial. To enable him to obey the summons it was first
necessary to obtain leave of absence from the Legislature; and the
motion that was to come up in the Assembly that evening, was, whether
the House, on the evidence before it, would agree to release the
incriminated officer from his Parliamentary duties so as to face the
frivolous charge at the "Horse-Guards" in London.

The discussion opened by the presentation to the House of the report
of the Committee of Inquiry that had sat upon the matter--a report
which exonerated Captain Matthews from the charge preferred against
him, and relieved him from the scandalous accusation of disloyalty.
The report closed with a protest against the tendency, on the part of
the Government, to resort to espionage and inquisitorial measures, in
endeavouring to rid the Province of those obnoxious to the ruling
faction, and in attempting to undermine the independence of the
Legislature by scandalizing its members and awing them into political
subserviency. The conviction was reiterated that there was no ground
for the charge against Captain Matthews, the malignity and falsity of
which was due to political hostility to that gentleman.

A lively debate ensued on the motion to receive the report, members of
the Government fiercely objecting to its reception by the House, and
the Opposition as warmly insisting on its acceptance. The temper of
the Government was not improved when young Dunlop rose, and, in a few
quiet and well-chosen words, asserted the right of Parliament to
protect its members from officious military arraignment on frivolous
and vexatious pretexts. It was the duty of the Government, remarked
the young tribune, to calm, not to augment, the fever of popular
excitement by acts of an arbitrary and autocratic character,--such as
instigating ridiculous prosecutions, and casting doubt on the loyalty
of men who had long and faithfully served the Crown, and whose only
fault was to set their country above their party.

That the existence of Upper Canada as a colony of the Crown--Dunlop
continued--was imperiled by paying some exigent actors from the other
side of the line the compliment of calling for a national air dear to
republican hearts and ears, he did not for a moment believe. He was,
at the same time, he affirmed, keenly sensitive to the beguiling
effects of enlivening music, and--falling into a lighter vein--he
confessed that he did not know what might be the consequence if the
members of the Government organized themselves into a well-trained
minstrel troupe and entered the neighbouring Republic singing the
pathetic airs of the Old Dominion, artfully interspersed with the
soul-stirring strains of the "British Grenadiers" and "Rule Britannia."
He thought, moreover, that if the grave and reverend seigniors of the
"Family Compact" would blacken their faces as they had blackened their
hearts, and "star" it through the lowly hamlets of the Province,
singing, say, the Jacobite airs of a previous generation, it would do
more to cement the attachment of Canada to the Crown than all the
efforts of the combined army of officials, placemen, and henchmen of
the Government _plus_ the Judges, the Sheriffs, the Recorder, the
Incumbents of fat Clergy Reserves, the Gauge's, Tollmen, Hangmen,
Customs Officers, Turnkeys, and Landing-Waiters.

Seriously, Allan Dunlop added,--and he had no apology to make for
indulging in levity in discussing this frivolous matter--it was
beneath the dignity of the House to occupy itself with the further
consideration of the charges against the honourable member for
Middlesex. These charges were so trivial and ill-founded, and they
originated in such a trumpery fear lest the Crown should suffer
indignity where indignity was in no wise offered to it, that he begged
the House to dismiss the matter forthwith and refuse Captain Matthews
leave to absent himself from his Parliamentary duties. After a
scattering fusilade of small talk from both sides of the House, the
report of the Committee was received, leave was refused, and the
disturbing question was laid at rest.

Those who have followed, it may be with interest, this veracious piece
of history, and are curious to learn the fate of the honourable member
for Middlesex, will find the story graphically told in Mr. Dent's
"Canadian Rebellion," Vol. I., chap. 6. The authors take the liberty
of appending Mr. Dent's closing paragraph: "But though Captain
Matthews," says the historian, "had been cleared by the Legislature,
he had still to run the gauntlet of the military inquisition. They
could not compel his attendance during the existence of the Parliament
then in being, but they possessed an effectual means of reducing him
to ultimate submission. This power they exercised; his pension was
stopped--a very serious matter to a man with a large family and many
responsibilities. He continued to fight the battles of Reform with
dogged courage and pertinacity as long as his means admitted of his
doing so, but he was soon reduced to a condition of great pecuniary
distress, and was compelled to succumb. Broken-hearted and worn out,
he resigned his seat in the Assembly, and returned to England, where,
after grievous delay, he succeeded in getting his pension restored. He
never returned to Canada, and survived the restoration of his pension
but a short time. Thus, through the malignity of a selfish and secret
cabal, was Upper Canada deprived of the services of a zealous and
useful citizen and legislator, whose residence among us, had it been
continued, could not have failed to advance the cause of freedom and
justice."



CHAPTER XVI.

LOVE'S PROTESTATIONS.


During the rest of the dreary winter the memory of that enchanted walk
through mire and darkness and driving snow, kept two hearts--Rose's
and Allan's--fully awake. A pity, too; for sleep covers a multitude of
sufferings, and when the most impressible part of our being is wrapped
in unconsciousness, we can make shift to go through the world with
only an endurable number of the usual aches and ailments. If these
young hearts had ever really slumbered since their owners met for the
first time, less than a year before, it had been rather an uneasy
repose; and now that they were fully awake, it was to find not the
glory of the dawn, but a dark bleak day, whose beginning could
scarcely be distinguished from the night out of which it emerged,
whose end was so far--so drearily far away. Things went on as before
in their old monotonous manner. Winter relented into spring, and the
intimacy that had warmed almost into acknowledged love that wild March
evening had apparently died of its own intensity. Rose and Allan met
occasionally, but with mutual avoidance; she from innate loyalty to
her father--he from a pride that was too strong to plead. So the
endless conflict went on, but not alone in the minds of the lovers.

The doughty Commodore was daily suffering in his own person the just
punishment, which is but too apt to overtake the man, who in a point
of difference with a woman ends by having his own way. This stern
parent liked to think of himself as generous, compassionate, and
tender-hearted; and he had been grievously cheated out of this
agreeable sensation. His daughter's absolute and sweet-natured loyalty
to his will sharpened his sense of deprivation. Was it possible that
he was unnatural and tyrannical? The answer to this question was what
Rose's pale cheeks seemed to require of him, and he chafed under the
mute, unconscious, persistent repetition of the query. He recommended
her to take long walks, but she came back from them paler and more
lifeless than before. He began to see that it was possible to gain
one's own point and lose something infinitely more precious. It hurt
him to see her suffer, and he despised himself as the suspected cause
of her sufferings. He asked himself how he could have endured it if,
in his courting days, he had been shut out from the woman he loved.
She was infinitely his superior, he thought with a swelling heart, and
then his arm fell on the back of the chair beside him, and his hand
clenched, as he grimly wondered what bolts or bars would suffice to
have kept them apart. If she was alive now would she have taken this
cruelly peremptory course with their daughter? He revolved the
question with a sore heart. It admitted of but one answer. In all her
sweet and gentle life his wife had never been either peremptory or
cruel.

Unknown to Rose her father's stout heart showed signs of thawing with
the weather. He began to inform himself warily, and by indirect means,
with regard to the character, circumstances, and prospects of Allan
Dunlop, in much the same way as we make a study of the drug, hitherto
supposed to be a poison, but now believed capable of saving the life
of a loved one. In his present mood of despondency and anxiety it
seemed that every fresh fact that he learned served to raise Allan and
lower himself in his own estimation. It is difficult to atone for a
wrong so delicate that one shrinks from expressing it in words, and
yet the need of making at least one attempt at reparation was pressing
sorely upon him.

So it was with almost a girlish bound of the heart that the Commodore
read aloud, one morning, in all the polysyllabic glory of newspaper
English, an account of the heroic way in which a young child was saved
from drowning by the prompt and daring action of Allan Dunlop. It was
an opportunity for praising his enemy, and the worthy gentleman was
almost as relieved and happy as the rescued child. "Upon my word,
Rose," he said, turning to the silent girl at the other end of the
breakfast table, "that young Dunlop is a much finer fellow than I
supposed him to be."

"Yes, Papa," she assented meagrely. She had no idea of undoing the
work of weeks--the work of steeling herself against the sweetness of
recollection--by too warm an interest in the subject.

"The idea of a child paddling about alone in a boat during that
horrible storm," continued the Commodore, more impatient, if the truth
were known, with his daughter's lukewarmness than with the waifs
recklessness. "Not one man in a thousand," he continued abruptly,
"would have ventured out on Lake Ontario in that raging tempest."

"People of plebeian origin usually have a well-developed muscular
system," remarked Rose.

"But they are not fond of risking their life in the interest of their
muscles," returned the gentleman, annoyed at the girl's obstinacy, nor
dreaming how sweet from his lips sounded his praise of her lover.

"It depends upon what their life is worth. Common folks, who suffer
under the well-merited contempt of their social superiors, must grow
at last to despise what better educated people know to be despicable."

"No doubt, it is as you say," replied her father. He was thoroughly
irritated, and all his benevolent notions took flight, as they are apt
to do when the object of our philanthropy proves perverse. "I was
about to suggest that you invite him to your party to-morrow night;
but in the present state of feeling perhaps it would be better not."

"I haven't the least idea that he would come," returned the girl. "He
isn't the sort of person to allow himself to be taken up and dropped
at random."

"Well, settle it to suit yourself," he concluded. She reflected
bitterly that this privilege came when it was too late. Nevertheless,
she was grateful for it, and scolded herself soundly for giving her
father undutiful replies. She also remarked in the solitude of her own
room that she did not care a particle whether Allan came or not, and
then with a fluttering heart she wrote him a note of invitation. When
Tredway was requested to deliver it that ancient servitor manifested
so much interest in his errand that the blue eyes of his young
mistress lingered on him a moment in surprise.

"I am under very great obligations to Mr. Dunlop," he said. "I may say
that I owe my life to him?"

"You, too!" laughed the girl. "Why it was only the other day that he
rescued a strange child from the wild waves."

"He rescued me from the wild woods," said the man, with the
impressiveness of one who wishes to celebrate the most remarkable
escape on record. Tredway had a profound objection to the woods. In
the previous summer he had, with great reluctance, served as
commissary general to a party of young men, who went in pursuit of a
week's sport to Burlington Bay. Edward and Allan were of the number,
and when Tredway was lost on a little expedition of his own, to the
nearest shanty in quest of provisions, it was Allan who went in search
of him, and after some difficulty brought him back to camp. The event
had been a source of some amusement to the rest; but to the mind of
its hero it had lost nothing of its tragic aspect. "The woods are
very confusing to a person of my life and habits," he observed
deprecatingly.

"Oh, yes, indeed," returned Rose, "and so very different from England."

The gratitude with which Tredway listened to this remark was not
unmixed with regret that the tone in which it was uttered was sportive
rather than serious. He was consoled, however, by the reflection that
national differences could not be expected to oppress the heart of
unthinking youth as it did that of sad maturity.

The unreasoning joy that flamed in Allan Dunlop's face, as he glanced
over the dainty note, faded into ashen paleness as he remembered what
its response must be. "Sit down, Tredway," he said mechanically, "I
will have an answer ready in a moment." Grateful to be relieved of the
pains of indecision by the necessity for prompt action he took up a
pen and wrote rapidly:

"DEAR MISS MACLEOD:

It is very hard for me to refuse your kind invitation to be with you
to-morrow night, but it is impossible to accept it. If I were invited
to Paradise, 'for one night only,' with the knowledge that I must
forego my share of its delights thenceforth, I should wish to return
the same answer. Have I no right to hint that your presence is my
Paradise? Forgive me for it, and for my rudeness and perverseness,
which all arises out of my consuming and indestructible love for you.
The only thing I can say that can condone this offence is that I never
cease trying to destroy your image in my heart. So far the results are
extremely discouraging; but I cannot resign the hope that Time, the
great healer, may also prove, like other notable physicians, the great
destroyer. Ah! what am I saying? I can never say enough to you, and
yet already I have said too much. God bless the sweet ruler of my life
and heart forever, and grant that every ill that threatens her may
fall instead upon the head of her unworthy lover.

Will you not write me a word of forgiveness for resisting the
temptation to go to you?

      Ever your worshipper,

              ALLAN DUNLOP."

He ended with a strange feeling of the incongruity of this declaration
of passion with his surroundings, the stuffy unhomelike chambers on
King Street, and the rather severe presence of a man, whose existence
emphasized all the hated social distinction that never weighed so
heavily on him as at present. This rigorous representative of his
class took the message delivered to him, and stood for a moment
hesitatingly in the doorway.

"Your people are quite well, I hope, Tredway," said Allan.

"Yes, sir, thank you. Quite well, with the exception of Miss Rose. She
is looking badly."

"I am very sorry. I made no inquiries about her, because, since her
accident last summer, she has never been otherwise than well. I wish,"
and his tones were sad and sincere as his meaning, "that I could do
something for her."

"Thank you, sir. It is taking a great liberty to say so, but your
visits are so infrequent that I believe Miss Rose is under the
impression that you did not greatly care."

"Oh, I _care_ enough, quite enough," he added mentally. "The fact is
there is danger of my caring too much, and nobody knows better than
you, Tredway, that that would be the greatest piece of folly I could
perpetrate. Miss Rose is vastly my social superior."

The old man bowed his head as though this were too obvious a truth to
need comment. Then he said encouragingly:

"Ah, there is nothing but the remains of their former greatness left
to the Macleods. They are growing more and more _bourgeois_ since
coming to this degenerate country.

"Yes, I imagine that their family dignity, in such times as these, may
be a little out of repair; but I can hardly venture to build vain
hopes on the ruins. You are a good fellow, Tredway; good-bye!"

A few days later the coveted answer to his missive came.

"DEAR MR. DUNLOP:

Since I am to see you no more it seems unnecessary if not unkind of me
to write and prolong the pain of parting. But if you were dying, and
should tell me with nearly your latest breath what you wrote in your
letter, I should want you to know that the confession was dear and
sacred to me--something I should remember all the rest of my life.

I am not willing to believe that your future will be wholly bereft of
consolation. One who is capable of imperiling his life to save that of
an unknown child ought to know that he can never find any better
company than his own. But you need never be lonely; I hear your name
and career frequently spoken of with warm appreciation by your
friends, among whom I hope you will always number

      Yours very sincerely,

              ROSE MACLEOD."

"Ah!" ejaculated Allan, as he read and re-read this brief epistle,
"she does not despise my love, but she recognizes its hopelessness."
With the usual bluntness of masculine perception he failed to see that
it was impossible for her to ignore what he himself was accustomed to
dwell upon at such dreary length. If he was profoundly convinced that
there was no hope, she could scarcely condescend to suggest that there
might be a glimmer. So the young man continued to be wrapped in the
darkness which was largely born of his own imagination.

"What rank," he wrote, in immediate response, "shall I assign you
among my friends? One's friend may be simply an acquaintance of long
standing, who cherishes no special animosity toward one, or it may be
the stranger of a year ago, who now is knit into the very fibre of
one's being. Just so closely woven with my inmost self have you grown,
dear, and to put the thought of you away from me is like putting my
own eyes from me. Do you think I can be trusted as a friend? I foresee
that I shall be the most faithless one ever known, for I have never
been your friend, and I don't know how to begin to be one, whereas I
have had nearly a year's experience in loving you. But I am jesting
with a sore heart. It is strange that I can jest at all; and yet I
know that I am richer and happier in owning the smallest corner of
your heart, than if I possessed the whole of any other woman's."

He wrote a great deal more of the same sort, by turns light, fanciful,
woful or desperate. But all this Rose ignored. "I am very glad," she
wrote demurely, "that you are rich and happy on such insufficient
grounds. I could scarcely deny a corner of my heart to any of my
friends, but the rest of them are well enough acquainted with me to
know that the possession is not a source of unmixed joy. This illusion
of yours must be destroyed, and, as you will see, my share of this
correspondence is going to tend gently but inexorably towards that
end. I still cherish hopes of retaining your friendship. It is so much
more difficult for a man to be a woman's friend than it is for him to
be by turns her worshipper and oppressor--and you are made to conquer
difficult things, and be made stronger by them. You have admirable
qualities--self-forgetfulness, lofty purpose, a will that never
falters, a heart that never faints. I discovered all these before I
received your letters. Otherwise, do you think I would have discovered
them at all?"

Thus preached this adorable little high-priest of heroic self-denial,
and when she had made an end she burst into tears, and wished that
Allan were there to wipe them away.



CHAPTER XVII.

A PICNIC IV THE WOODS.


Winter had passed, and in hot haste--literal hot haste--the time of
the singing of birds had come. It was early in the season when the
Macleods returned to their summer home, but "lily-footed spring" was
there before them. Earth, air, and sky were bathed in a glory of
sunlight, which strove to penetrate the dark labyrinth of the pines
through which the wind sang. The bay was embowered in gleaming
foliage. In its clear waters the Indians plunged or paddled, or lay in
attitudes picturesquely inert upon its shores. Above it in graceful
curves the unwearying gulls were sinking, rising, and wheeling aloft.

On one of these halcyon days of early summer Rose Macleod was
re-reading a letter from her friend Helene; which, though a mere
elegant scrawl in the first place, and now yellow and worn with age,
has been with some difficulty deciphered by the writers of this
veracious history.

"We shall return to Bellevue next week," she wrote, "though what
possible benefit can accrue from our returning I cannot pretend to
say. Either home is distasteful to me; so is the rest of the world; so
are the people in it. Enviable condition, is it not? I seem to be
afflicted with a sort of dreadful mental indigestion. Everything I see
and hear and read disagrees with me, so I suppose it is only a natural
consequence that I should be disagreeable. Oh, dear, dear! What is the
good of living, Rose? What is the use or beauty of anything? The Rev.
the Archdeacon of York half-playfully says I need to be regenerated.
Dr. Widmer says my circulation is weak. Poor mamma says nothing; but
she looks a world of reproach. I wish she would take the scriptural
rod to me. That would improve the circulation, I fancy; and if it
didn't produce a state of regeneration it might at least be a
practical step towards it. But I don't know why I should make a jest
of my own misery, when I want nothing on earth except to be a little
child again, so I could creep off into the long grass somewhere, and
cry all my sick heart away. I used to be able to cry when I was five
or six years old, but now it is a lost art.

"By the way, speaking of tears reminds me that your friend, Mr.
Dunlop, was here last evening, and, while shewing him some views of
foreign scenes, we suddenly came across that old, little painting of
yourself, in which the artist represented you as a stiff-jointed
child, with a row of curls the colour and shape of shavings neatly
glued to a little wooden head. You remember how we used to make fun of
it. I always said that picture was bad enough to bring tears, and
there was actually quite a perceptible moisture in his eyes as he
looked at it. Who would have supposed that he possessed so much
aesthetic sensibility?

"Well, I am only wearying you, so I will close. Don't be troubled
about me, dear. Sometimes I am violently interested in my own
unreasonable sufferings, and at other times I am wholly indifferent to
them; but nothing can befall my perverse nature that shall alter the
tenderness always existing for you in the heart of your loving

              HELENE."

Rose read all but the concluding paragraphs aloud to her brother, who,
standing at the open door, was looking idly out upon the leaf and
blossom of a lovely garden. "What a stream of unalloyed egotism!" he
said. "In a woman it's a detestable quality."

"Oh, you should say a rare quality," amended Rose, with a smile that
ended in a sigh.

"Well, it's something that can't be too rare." A fading spring lily
dropped on the doorstep by one of the children received an impatient
kick, as though he would dismiss the present conversation in a similar
manner. "Rose," he said, "I wish you would ask Wanda to our
sailing-party to-morrow."

"Why, Edward, I might as well ask a blue-bird. She will come if it
happens to suit her inclination at the moment, otherwise not."

"Don't you think a regular invitation would please her?"

"Oh, dear, no; it isn't as though she were a civilized creature. You
don't seem to grasp the fact that she's only a wild thing of the
woods."

A pause ensued. "There are other facts," resumed Edward a little
unsteadily, "that I _have_ grasped. One is that she is the most
beautiful woman I ever saw; another--that I love her."

Rose put up her hands as though to save her eyes from some hideous
sight, "It can't be true!" she exclaimed.

"My dear little sister, it is true; and your inability to accept it is
not a very flattering tribute to my good taste."

"It _can't_ be true," repeated Rose. "You must mean that you have
merely taken a fancy to her."

"Well, it is a fancy that has grown to enormous proportions. I cannot
live without her. If that is fancy it has all the strength of
conviction."

"Oh, Edward, you can't really love her. It is only her beauty that you
care for."

"You might as well say that the sunflower doesn't really love the sun;
it is only the sunshine that it cares for. Wanda's beauty is part of
herself."

"And it will remain so a dozen, or perhaps a score, of years. After
that you will have for your wife a coarse ignorant woman, forever
chafing at the restrictions of civilized life; angering, annoying and
humiliating you in a thousand ways, a woman whom you cannot admire,
whom it will be impossible for you to respect."

Edward's eyes blazed. Not until that moment did his sister realize how
complete was his infatuation for Wanda.

"It is you who are ignorant and coarse," he cried, "in your remarks
upon the girl who is my promised wife. No matter what befalls her, she
will always be clothed in the unfading beauty of my love."

Rose was deeply grieved. She stood with clasped hands looking
despairingly at her brother. "You poor boy," she breathed, "you poor
motherless boy! What can I say to you?"

"Well, there are a good many things that you can say; but what I
should prefer you to say would be to the effect that you will break it
as gently as possible to Papa."

"I shall not break it at all," declared the girl warmly. "It would
nearly kill poor father. Haven't you any consideration for him?"

"Yes; sufficient to make me wish that the truth should be clothed in
your own sweet persuasive accents, when it is conveyed to him. I don't
wish to jar him any more than is necessary."

"Edward, you are perfectly heartless!"

"That is the natural consequence of losing one's heart, isn't it?"

"Oh, then, you are only jesting. It's a very good joke, but in
questionable taste."

"Dear Rose, believe me, I was never more in earnest than at present."

"Except when you are out hunting. I have seen you go without food and
sleep simply because you were on the track of some beautiful wild
creature that was forced to yield its liberty and life merely to
gratify your whim. It is in that despicable way that you would treat
Wanda."

The young man smiled. He perceived that his sister was changing her
tactics.

"You are very considerate and tender of Wanda," he said, "but not so
much as I expect to be."

The conversation, which was growing more and more unsatisfactory, was
abruptly terminated by the entrance of one of the other members of the
family.

As a natural result of this interview Wanda was invited to go with
them in the sail-boat next day. Rose was clear-witted enough to see
that persistent opposition would only intensify the halo of romance
which her infatuated brother had discovered upon the brow of the
Algonquin Maiden, and that outward acquiescence would give the
attachment an air of prosaic tameness, if anything could. Besides, a
scandal is made more scandalous when the offender's family are known
to be in a state of hopelessly outraged enmity.

Thus bravely reasoned Rose, while her heart sank within her. She was
not prepared for the worst, but it was necessary that she should
behave in all points as if she were; otherwise the worst might be
hastened. It was impossible to view Wanda in the light of a possible
sister-in-law; nevertheless, she gave her the pink cambric dress for
which the Indian girl had so often expressed admiration, and
supplemented the kindness with a pair of gloves, destined never to be
worn, and a straw hat, whose trimming was speedily torn off and its
place supplied by wampum, gorgeous feathers, the stained quills of the
porcupine, with tufts of moose hair, dyed blue and red.

Certainly she looked very pretty as she stood on the shore next day,
all ready for departure. Even Rose, who for the first time in her kind
little life would willingly have noticed personal defects, was forced
to admit that Wanda was looking and acting particularly well; the only
apparent fault being a lack of harmony between herself and her dress.
They were two separate entities, not only in fact but in appearance,
and they were seemingly in a state of subdued but constant warfare.
The truth was, that this wild girl of the woods was secretly chafing
against the stiffly starched prison in which she found herself
helplessly immured.

It was very pleasant out on the water. The fresh vigour of the breeze
filling the sail with life, the waves swirling up about the sides of
the boat, the dancing motion of their little craft upon the water, the
changing tints, the shadows and ripples of the bay gave them a quiet
yet keen delight. Their destination was a point of land on Lake
Simcoe, where a party of picnicers was already assembled. A group of
girls came down to the shore as they landed, and bore Rose and Eva
away with them. In the leafy distance Edward caught a glimpse of
Helene DeBerczy, and in his heart the young man thanked heaven that he
was not as other men are, or even as the callow youths who were
hanging upon her utterances.

After a while, Edward observed Wanda standing apart, and looking at
the marauders in her loved woods as a man might look upon the enemies
who, with fire and sword, were desolating the home of his fathers.
Between her and these gay girls there was a difference, not of degree
but of kind. They loved the forest as a background for themselves; she
loved it as herself. The curious eyes fixed upon her were more
respectful in their gaze when Edward quietly took his place beside
her. Presently, Rose with her devoted adherents joined them, and every
effort was put forth to make the Indian girl feel at home in her home.
But for the most part they were futile. Wanda was thoroughly ill at
ease, though she concealed the fact with the native stolidity of her
race. But love's intuitions are keen, and Edward realized that his
little sweetheart was very uncomfortable. What could be the reason?
Her dress seemed incongruous, and yet it was perfectly in accord with
the linen and lawns and flower-dotted muslins about her.

"Laura," observed a young lady behind him, in a muffled whisper which
he could not choose but hear, "do look at Helene DeBerczy's costume.
Could anything be more out of place at a picnic?" Edward's gaze,
involuntarily straying to the garb which was so singularly
inappropriate, rested upon the filmiest of black stuffs, exquisite as
cobweb, through which were revealed the long perfect arms, and the
tender curves of neck and shoulder. From this gracious figure was
exhaled invisible radiations--the luxurious sense of refined
womanliness. How gross and earthly, how fatally commonplace and
prosaic seemed everyone about her. The violently high spirits of the
other girls, their scramblings for flowers and shriekings at snakes,
their too obvious blushes and iron-clad flirtations, seemed not to
come a-nigh her. "Her soul was like a star and dwelt apart." The young
man assured himself that he was not falling in love with her again; he
was merely laying at her feet an involuntary tribute of admiration,
the sort of admiration which he might feel for a rare poem.

Meanwhile the girl with whom he was in love had made what Edward
called "an object" of herself. By this uncertain phrase he did not
mean an object of admiration, poetic or otherwise. Left for a brief
season to her own devices Wanda had torn and muddied her gown, lost
her hat, and in other respects behaved, as a maiden lady present
remarked, precisely like an overgrown child of five years, who has
"never had any bringing up." All the children had taken an immense
fancy to her, and she was delighting them with her dexterity in
climbing trees when Edward cast a hot, shamed, imploring look at his
sister, to which she responded by saying:

"Wanda, you must be very tired. Come and sit down a while and rest."

The girl, seeing Edward a little apart from the others, took a seat
beside him, at which distinct mark of preference the rest smiled. Her
lover alone wore a heavy frown. He glanced at the frouzy hair, to
which not even the beauty of the face beneath could reconcile him;
then at the scratched and sun-burned hands, and lastly at the stained
and battered gown. "Wanda," he said with stern brevity, "how did you
get your dress so wet?"

"Wading the brook," she replied, surveying the dripping and discoloured
skirt with entire indifference.

"That is very improper. You shouldn't do such things. Why are you not
quiet?"

"Only the dead are quiet; but perhaps you wish to kill me."

The remark was startling, but it was unaccompanied by a ray of emotion
in face or voice. Only in the large soft eyes lay a depth of suffering
such as he had seen in the look of a dying fawn, wounded by his hand.
"Your words pierce like arrows," she said.

"Dear Wanda, forgive me; I am expecting too much of you. It is
exceedingly cruel of me to make you suffer so."

"Wanda!" called one of a group of children, "come and swing us,
please."

"Don't go," whispered Edward decisively. He himself strode over to
them, lifted one chubby youngster after another into the huge swing,
and sent them flying into the tree-tops. It was a form of pastime that
he detested; but he was not going to have Wanda at the beck and call
of "those little ruffians." At last, with the sympathetic assurance
that if they wanted any more swinging they were at liberty to get it
from each other, he left them, and rejoined the Indian girl.

"Wanda!" said Helene, as she spread a shawl on the ground, "just step
across to our carriage, will you, and bring me a cushion you will find
there."

"You must not!" declared Edward, in a low savage whisper, preparing to
go himself; but the girl was off like a swallow before the wind. He
met her on the way back, took the cushion from her, and presented it
to its owner with a bow of exaggerated deference. Helene's black brows
expressed the utmost astonishment; but as she confronted Edward's
wrathful gaze her own eyes caught fire, and the two who once had been
so nearly lovers now manifested no other emotion toward each other
save repressed and concentrated hate.

"I wish you to understand," said the exasperated young man to Wanda,
as he accompanied her to dinner, "that you are not a servant, and you
mustn't obey anyone's commands."

"No," was the slow reply, "I shall obey no one's commands, not even
yours;" and with these words she turned and fled into the woods. The
ever-present desire to escape had conquered at last.

"How kind you are to that unfortunate girl!" observed the lady next
him at dinner. "She must try your patience so much."

Edward admitted that his patience had been tried; but he was in no
mood to expatiate upon the subject. He had a very slight idea of what
he was eating and drinking, or of what all the talking was about. The
sunshine flecking the open clearing gave him a feeling that he would
soon have a dreadful headache. After it was over he lay down, and
tried to forget his troubles in a noontide nap. Gradually the voices
about him softened and died away. For a moment he was floating upon
the still waters of sleep, and then he drifted back to shore. Opening
his eyes he found himself alone with Helene, who was asleep among her
wrappings at a little distance. The rest had strayed away in pairs and
groups, out of hearing if not out of sight. The unconscious figure
seemed clothed in an atmosphere of ethereal sweetness, and Edward
caught himself wondering whether the root of an affection, whose life
is years long, is ever removed from the heart, unless the heart is
removed with it. He began seriously to doubt, not his constancy to
Wanda, but his inconstancy to Helene. Suddenly she opened her eyes and
caught his glance. He withdrew it at once, and in the embarrassment of
the moment made some inane remark upon the beauty of the day. Helene
rose with deliberation, put one white hand to the well-brushed head,
trim and shining as a raven's wing, and with the utmost tranquillity
answered "yes." Certainly she had the most irritating way in the world
of pronouncing the words which usually sound sweetest from a woman's
lips. He did not wait to continue a conversation so unpropitiously
begun, but went off on a lonely exploring tramp along the shore.

Late in the afternoon as he was returning, he noticed a nondescript
figure sitting solitary on the bank, which, as he approached resolved
itself into the superb outline of his Indian love. Unconscious of
observation she threw herself backward, in an attitude as remarkable
for its beauty as for its unconventionality. She seemed to be
luxuriating with a sort of animal content in the brightness of the
sunshine, the softness of the odorous breeze, and the warmth of the
water in which her slim bare feet were dabbling; she dug her brown
fingers in the earth, as though the very touch of the soil was intense
delight. The hated dress was reduced to ruinous pink rags, which
became her untamed beauty as the habiliments of civilization never
could have done. Her slowly approaching lover viewed her with mingled
amusement and horror, while deep in his heart flowed the dark; current
of a great despair. Hearing his footsteps she nerved herself for the
expected reproaches, which he knew were worse than useless; but seeing
in his face nothing but undisguised admiration, she sprang lightly to
her feet and threw herself upon his neck. Edward kissed her, but it
was with a thrill of ineffable self-contempt, and a sharp consciousness
that the only charm this girl possessed for him was that she allowed
him to kiss her. Then he drew away and brushed with fastidious glove
the dust his coat retained from contact with her shoulder.

"See what I have found!" she exclaimed, holding up a small trinket that
glittered in the sunlight. "It belongs to the Moon-in-a-black-cloud."

It was a little gold locket, which he had often noticed on the neck of
Helene. Shortly before Wanda's abrupt flight, she had pointed with
childish curiosity to the slender bright chain clearly visible beneath
the transparent folds of the black gown, and the young lady had
obligingly drawn the locket from its secret place upon her heart, for
the gratification of its admirer. Left for a time on the outside of
her dress, one of the tiny links must have severed, and the pretty
trinket slipped to the ground unnoticed by its owner. The young man in
whose hand it now lay was tempted to a dishonourable action. He had
often begged Helene to show him the contents of this locket--a favour
which had uniformly been denied. Now the opportunity was his without
the asking. Nothing rewarded his curiosity save a lock of yellow hair,
probably cut from the head of Rose. Queer fancy, he thought, for one
girl to cherish the tresses of another. Suddenly he was struck by an
idea that sent the blood throbbing to his temples. He examined the
tress a second time. The bright hair growing upon his sister's head he
knew had a reddish tinge, and its silky length terminated in ring-like
curls. This was short and straight, of a pale colour, and showed by
its unevenness that it had been "shingled." His heart beat as though
it would burst. "You must take this back to its owner," he said
imperatively.

Wanda slipped her hand in his. "We will go together," she said.

He glanced at her bare feet and ruined raiment, and realized with a
burning flush that he was thoroughly ashamed of her. No, he could not
take the hand of his future wife and face that crowd of curious
worldlings. The mere touch of her soiled fingers was repugnant to him.
She seemed like some coarse weed, whose vivid hues he might admire in
passing, but which he would shrink from wearing on his person.

"It will be better for you to go alone," he replied. "Don't tell the
lady that anyone beside yourself has seen the locket. I will come
presently."

But he lingered a long time after she left him, drinking against his
will the sharp waters of bitter-sweet reflection. There came back to
him an afternoon a year ago, when his sister Eva, out of childish love
of mischief, had stolen up behind him, and cut off the lock of hair
which fell over his brow.

"Mere masculine vanity," she had said, as the scissors snapped. He had
sprung up instantly, and pursued her as she fled shrieking down the
avenue. Helene, who was the only other occupant of the room had looked
almost shocked at their conduct, and his pet lock of hair had
mysteriously disappeared. Since then during how many days and nights
had it been rising and falling upon the proud bosom, that he knew very
well would be cold in death before it would give evidence of a
quickened heart-beat in his presence. The knowledge he had gained by
the discovery of the locket made Helene dangerously dear to him, and
yet relieved him of not a particle of his duty towards Wanda. He saw
neither of the girls again that day, but he carried home with him a
stinging memory of both. Late that night he was pacing his room with
sick heart and aching head, while in the next apartment Rose was
assuring herself that the picnic had been a great success. "Really,"
she meditated, "nothing could possibly be worse--or better--than the
way in which Wanda behaved."



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE COMMODORE SURRENDERS.


A few weeks later there was another excursion to the emerald glooms of
the forest, but this was limited in number to the Macleods and
DeBerczys, with a few of their intimate friends. Wanda was absent on
one of her indefinite expeditions--indefinite in length as well as in
object, though the wigwam of her foster-feather was one of the points
of interest visited by the party. Conspicuous among the numerous
Indians in the settlement in the neighbourhood of Orillia was the last
of the Algonquins, partly because of the pathos which attaches to the
sole survivor in any region of a nearly extinct race, partly because
of the mantle of traditional glory that had fallen upon him from the
shoulders of valorous ancestors. He declined to join the revellers at
their midday feasting under the trees, but his unexpected appearance
afterwards suggested a pleasant substitute for the noon-day siesta.
"Talk about the storied memories of the past, in the old world," said
Edward, leaning back on the mossy sward, and gazing up through green
branches to the blue heaven, "this country has had its share of them,
and here is the man," clapping a friendly hand on the Indian's
shoulder, "who can tell us about them."

"Ah, do!" implored Herbert and Eva.

"Ah, don't!" entreated their father. "If there's anything that spoils
the sylvan shades for me, it is to learn that they were once the scene
of battle axes and blood spilling, and such like gruesomeness."

"But we _ought_ to know about it," said Helene. "It's history."

"That makes it all the worse. If it were fiction I wouldn't care."

"Now, Papa," said Rose, "that evinces a depraved taste. People will
blame your home-training. Consider my feelings."

"That is what I supposed I was doing, my dear, in praying to be
delivered from a tale that would make your blood run cold."

"What a delightful way for one's blood to run in this weather," lazily
remarked one of the Boulton girls, and the other said she was pining
for a story of particular horror.

"Oh, a story, by all means," said the Commodore, "but let it be a
tradition or something of that sort." Then turning to the Chief: "Does
not our brother know the legend of the unfortunate wretch of a man who
was set upon and abused by a lot of unmerciful women, because he
barbarously forbade them to learn all the history they wanted?
Something of that sort would be appropriate."

"Our brother" shook his head. "That is beyond my skill, but I can
relate a story of the times before ever women were brought into the
world."

"Rather dull times for the men, weren't they?" inquired one of the
party.

"It is the belief of some of our race that they were very good times,"
replied the Chief, tranquilly. "The men of that period, free from the
influence of the other sex, have been spoken of as a much better race
of beings than they are to-day. At that time you never heard of such a
thing as a man being cross to his wife, or too attentive to his
neighbour's wife, and when the husband came back from the chase
without meat there was no one to scold him. Every man had his own way,
and dwelt in peace in his own wigwam. As fast as they died out the
Manito created more, and as they had no families they had nothing to
fight for, nothing to defend, and, consequently, there were few wars
among them. There were, I am sorry to say, some disadvantages. The men
were obliged to weed corn, dry fish, mend nets, fell trees, carry
logs, and do other women's work, which, as we know, is a great
degradation. Also, when they were sick or in trouble, some of the
weaker ones were heard to declare that they wished women were
invented, but as a rule they were blithe and gay as warriors in the
dance that follows a great victory. There were many ennobling
influences in this world before women entered it. Vanity did not
exist. Simplicity was the rule, especially in attire, which ordinarily
consisted of hunting coats and leggings, deerskin moccasins and
coloured blankets, enriched with beads. It was only once in a while
that they appeared in black eagle plumes, and gorgeous feathers,
garters gay with beads, moccasins worked with stained porcupine
quills, leggings of scarlet cloth, embroidered and decorated with
tufts of moosehair, dyed blue and red, robes curiously plaited of the
bark of the mulberry, and adorned with bear claws, hawks' bills and
turtle shells. Besides being plain and quiet in their dress they were
very upright in their lives. No man ever was known to lie to his
neighbour; but now when you see a man and woman too frequently
together you may be sure he is telling her things that come true about
as often as larks fall from the skies. Neither were men in those days
ever deceived; but now they are tangled in women's wiles as easily as
a partridge is caught in a net. There were no cowards, for men at all
times are staunch and bold, whereas a woman has nothing but the heart
of a little bird in her breast. All nature shared in man's prosperity.
The corn grew to the height of a young forest tree, and in the
hunting-grounds the deer and bears were as thick as stars.

"But the chief glory of man in those days was his long, superb and
glossy tail; for at that time it could not be said that the horses
were more highly gifted than he. You must often have noticed the pride
with which horses switch their tails about, apparently to drive off
flies, but really to show their superiority to the race they serve.
The reproach of having no tail is one that is hard to bear; but at the
time of which I speak all men were endowed with luxuriant tails, some
of them black as the shell of a butternut when it is fully ripe,
others the colour of the setting sun, but all trimmed with shells, gay
coloured beads and flowers, and strings of alligators' teeth. Those
who say that there is nothing on earth so beautiful as a woman did not
live in the time when tails were invented. Nothing could surpass the
pride their owners took in them, nor the scorn that was heaped upon
the hapless creature whose tail was short or scanty.

"But, as often happens to people who have all and more than they need,
so it was with our ancestors. From being simply proud of their tails
they began to grow vain and useless, caring for nothing but their own
ease and adornment, neglecting to harvest the maize, feeble in the
chase, sleeping sometimes for the space of nearly a moon, and unable
to take more than a woman's journey of six suns at a time. Then the
Manito reflected and said to himself: 'This will never do. Man was not
made to be a mere groundling. His greatest luxury must be taken from
him, and in its place there must be given him something to tax his
patience and strengthen his powers.' So one fine morning every man in
the world woke up to find his tail missing. Great was the surprise and
lamentation, and this was not lessened by the sudden appearance of the
women, who came in number like that of the flight of pigeons in the
moon before the snow moon. No prayers could avail to stay their
coming, and from that time all the troubles in the world began. No man
was allowed to have his own way thenceforward, nor was he permitted to
plod along in his old, slow, comfortable fashion, but each one in
terror went to work as swift as a loon flying before a high wind."

The laugh that arose at the end of this not strictly authentic
narrative was prolonged by a strange voice, and Allan Dunlop, who,
unobserved, had made his appearance among them, now came forward to
exchange greetings with his friends. Herbert and Eva Macleod hung
enraptured about him, while he went to congratulate the old Indian
upon his gifts as a story-teller. Then Edward's warm hand clasped his.
"Come over and see my father," he said. "Oh, no, he is asleep. He
generally sleeps in the afternoon of the day."

"A very good plan when one comes to the afternoon of one's days,"
observed Allan, and then he went over to speak to Rose.

Her little soft hand fluttered up to his as a bird flutters to its
nest. They had not met since that stormy March night. Since then he
had confessed, in correspondence between them, that life was a
perpetual struggle between him and love, and she had asked--though not
in so many words--if it would make it any easier for him to know that
she was engaged in the same struggle with the same great enemy. Ah,
with what a fine pen had she written that, and with what pale ink, and
nervous, nearly illegible strokes, and how she had crowded it down to
the very edge of the paper. But he had read it, and it was fixed on
his mind as clearly as though it had been written in lightning on the
dark horizon of his future. And now, though his brown eyes were
warming into black, and her cheeks were the colour of the flower after
which she was named, they talked of conventional things in an
indifferent way, as is the customary and proper thing to do. They saw
little of each other through the remainder of the afternoon, but when
they were making ready for the sail home, Eva, at Allan's invitation,
sprang into his little light boat.

"Come with me, Rose," she cried, "Mr. Dunlop is going to row me home,
and it will be better worth while if there are two of us."

The excuses which Rose instantly invented were not so strong as the
vehement tones in which her sister uttered her invitation, and to
avoid attracting attention or remark she gently seated herself in the
boat, which Allan exultantly pushed away from the shore. The delight
of being for a little while almost alone with his love was
intoxicating. The younger girl, who had counted so ardently upon the
pleasure of Allan's society, found herself in a short time too sleepy
to enjoy it. Her pale, pretty head nodded drowsily, and at last found
a resting-place in the lap of her sister. The other two did not
exchange many words. It would have been a shame to disturb the
play-worn little maid. The night was very beautiful; the stars seemed
softly remote. Beneath their light the woods gleamed mysteriously, and
the waves were hushed into a dream of peace. The bay that at sunset
had seemed a sea of melted gold, now held the young moon trembling in
its liquid embrace. About them played the ineffable caresses of the
light evening breeze.

"Rose," said Allan, softly.

She looked up with conscious resistance, but it was too late for that
now. The imperious passion of his mood met the sad grace of her
attitude. His speech flowed fast and warm as if it had been blood from
his veins. She felt herself weakening into helpless tears. "Ah, spare
me!" she cried. "It is all so hopeless. My father--"

"I am coming to see your father to-morrow," he said. "It will be a
hard battle, but it must be decided at once."

He helped them to land, and they walked in silence to the house. At
the doorway, in which Eva had disappeared, Rose took Allan's
outstretched hand in both of hers, and drawing it close, laid her
weary, wet little face down upon it. The sound of voices and laughter
came up from the beach, and she hastily released herself and fled to
her room.

The next afternoon Eva Macleod, with an air of considerable
importance, tapped at the door of her father's apartment. "Papa," she
said, with that fondness for a choice diction observable in carefully
reared young ladies at the beginning of their teens, "may I have a
private conversation with you?"

"Why, certainly, my dear! A little talk, I suppose, you mean."

Without heeding this undignified interruption, Miss Eva gave her
parent a very accurate report of the dramatic scene in the boat the
evening before, of which she had been an interested auditor.

"Of course," she added, in conscientious defence, "I didn't want them
to suppose I was sleeping, but if I had opened my eyes it would have
been very embarrassing for us all."

"Humph!" said her father. "Does Rose know that you were awake?"

"No, I have not broached the topic to her," replied Eva, with an
affectation of maturer speech.

"Humph!" said the gentleman again; a quizzical glance at his younger
daughter breaking for a moment through the gloom with which he was
meditating the fate of the elder one. "Well, I am glad you 'broached'
it to me; I shall--"

"Papa," interrupted Eva, with bated breath, glancing down from the
window at which she stood, "there is Allan now."

"_Allan_! You are mightily well acquainted. I see I must prepare to
make an unconditional surrender."

He walked in a nervous and disquieted manner out of the room. At the
head of the stairs he encountered Mademoiselle DeBerczy, on her way
up.

"Helene," he said, with the desperation of one who in the fifty-ninth
minute after the eleventh hour does not entirely despair of a gleam of
hope, "I wish you would tell me in two words if Rose loves Allan
Dunlop. Does she?"

"_Don't_ she!" exclaimed Helene, with explosive earnestness, and the
two words were sufficient. Their effect was not lessened by subsequent
occurrences. On opening the drawing-room door Rose hastened to his
side, turning her back, as she did so, upon a young man of ardent but
entirely self-respectful aspect, standing not far distant.

"Oh, Papa!" she cried in her extremity, "save me from him. He loves
me!"

"Is that the only reason?" asked her father.

"No; there is a greater one. _I love him_!"

"Ah!" murmured Allan softly, "it is to _me_ you should say that."

"She shall have unlimited opportunities for saying it to you,"
observed the elder gentleman, with kindly promptness, but with a sore
heart. "After a while," he added, turning to Allan, with his hand on
the door knob, "I will be glad to see you."

In this sentence, which is an interesting illustration of the power of
manners over mind, the word "will" was purposely substituted for the
customary "shall." It was only by an active effort of will that the
good Commodore could be glad to see his daughter's suitor. But their
interview, if it did not prove a death-blow to his prejudices, at
least inflicted serious injuries upon them, from which they never
afterwards recovered. He was won over by the young fellow's manliness,
which, when contrasted with mere gentlemanliness, apart from it, puts
the latter at a striking disadvantage, even in the mind of the
confirmed aristocrat. There was also a tinge of absurdity in the idea
of being ashamed of a son-in-law of whom his country was beginning to
be proud. Perhaps it was as well that he should arrive unaided at this
opinion, for Allan had won the rest of the household to his side, and
a belief in which one is entirely alone must contain something more
than mere pride of birth in order to support its possessor in comfort.
Even the loyal Tredway would have failed to respond to his imagined
need, for this faithful servitor had long since discovered that the
happiness of his young mistress was more to be desired than the
preservation of any fancied superiority on the part of the family to
which he was devotedly attached.



CHAPTER XIX.

AT STAMFORD COTTAGE.


Not more than three miles from the Falls of Niagara, between them and
Queenston, lies the pretty village of Stamford, in which, over sixty
years ago, Upper Canada's Lieutenant-Governor built the summer home
which became his favourite place of abode. Set in the midst of a vast
natural park, its appearance corresponded perfectly to Mrs. Jameson's
description of an elegant villa, framed in the interminable forests.
Here, within sound of the great cataract and, on clear, typically
Canadian days, within sight of York, thirty miles distant across the
lake, Sir Peregrine and Lady Sarah Maitland found a grateful retreat
from the cares of public life. Not that they loved society less, but
solitude more; especially, to use a Hibernicism, when that solitude
was shared. In the early summer of 1827 Stamford Cottage was filled
with people after its pretty mistress's own heart. If she suspected
one of her guests of being also after the heart of another, it did not
endear him the less to her. Why should she not remove from the paths
of her _proteges_ the scarcely perceptible obstacles which prevented
them from being as happily married as herself? But one day she
discovered that the role of match-maker is as arduous as it is
alluring, and with this she went at once to her husband's study.

"Dear," she began, "I have become greatly interested in a young man,
and I thought it only right that you should know about it before it
goes any further."

"Ah, yes, certainly." The gentleman looked rather abstracted. "And the
young fellow--is he interested too?"

"Oh, interested is a feeble word. He is desperately in love."

"Then you haven't taken me into your confidence a moment too soon. Has
he declared his passion?"

"No; that's just the trouble. He goes mooning round and mooning round,
and never saying a word. And I'm sure," added the lady in an aggrieved
tone, "I've given him every opportunity. Yesterday after infinite
pains I brought him and Helene together in the arbour, and made some
pretext for escaping into the house. What did that--infant--do but
follow me out?"

"Quite natural, if his feelings towards you are such as you have
described."

"Towards _me_! You don't imagine I am talking of myself."

"That is what your words would lead one to believe."

"Oh, dear husband, you know perfectly well what I mean. I do think
that when a man sets out to be stupid he succeeds a thousand times
better than a woman. Surely you have noticed how badly Edward Macleod
and Helene DeBerczy are behaving."

"Really, my dear, I have not. I supposed they were behaving remarkably
well."

"In one sense--yes. They are as 'polite as peas.' But why _should_
they be polite?"

"Well, it is a custom of the country, I suppose. It's hard to account
for all the strange things one sees in a foreign land."

"My object is not so much to account for it as to put an end to it.
It's ridiculous for two people, who have known each other from
babyhood, to be standing aloof, and looking as if the honour of each
other's acquaintance was the last thing to be desired. And now
Mademoiselle Helene wants to go home. She does not complain or repine
or importune, but every day, and several times a day, she presents the
idea to her mother, with varying degrees of emphasis, and in the tone
of one who believes that continual dropping will wear away the stone.
Madame DeBerczy as yet remains sweetly obdurate. She is enjoying her
visit, and there seems to be no special good reason why it should be
terminated. I particularly wish them to stay, as I want if possible to
bring about a better understanding between Helene and Edward. We must
not let them escape."

In pursuance of the policy suggested by his wife, Sir Peregrine took
occasion to have a special kindly little chat with Helene, with a view
to overcome her reluctance to remain. Naturally of a reserved
disposition his cordial hospitality found expression in looks and
actions rather than words, and these took a greater value from the
infrequency with which they were uttered.

"What is this I hear about your wanting to leave us?" he said,
addressing Helene, who, with her mother, was seated on his left at
dinner that evening. "Have you really grown very tired of us all?"

The young lady laid down her knife and fork, and the unconscious
movement, combined with her unusual pallor, gave one the impression
that she was indeed very tired.

"No, Sir Peregrine, only of myself. I seem to be suffering from a
prolonged attack of spring fever. Don't you think home is the best
place for those who have the bad taste to be in poor health?"

"No doubt of it," replied the gentleman, at which she gave him a
grateful glance, thinking she had won an unexpected ally; "but," he
continued, "I hoped you would feel at home here."

Helene assured him that it was impossible for her to enjoy her visit
more than she was doing. As she made this perfectly sincere statement
her melancholy eyes by chance encountered the deep blue ones of her
unacknowledged lover. In their depths lurked an expression of absolute
relief. Could he then be glad to hear of their projected departure?
She hoped so. It would be very much better for both. "Has it never
occurred to you," she asked of Sir Peregrine, "that the pleasantest
things in this world are very seldom the best for us?"

"I am sorry to hear you say that," he rejoined pleasantly, "as I was
about to ask you to go out driving with me to-morrow morning. There is
a view near the Falls that I believe you have never yet seen, and the
gratification of showing it to you would be to me one of the
pleasantest things in the world."

The young lady very willingly admitted that this was an exception to
the rule she had just laid down. Lady Sarah, who thus far had approved
her husband's tactics, now gave him a slightly questioning glance, but
he returned her such a look of self-confident good cheer, that she
knew at once he must be involved in a deep-laid plot of his own. As a
rule she had small respect for masculine plots, and before another day
had elapsed her sentiment on the subject was abundantly shared by at
least two of her guests. Mademoiselle DeBerczy had always entertained
a genuine admiration and liking for the Lieutenant-Governor. His
chivalrous courtesy, picturesque appearance, and the exquisite
refinement of his tone and manner pleased her fastidious taste. So it
was with almost a light heart that she made her preparations next
morning for the drive. But when seated in the carriage, and waiting
with a bright face the appearing of her delinquent attendant, it was
not pleasant to be told by the gentleman himself that important
dispatches had just arrived by the morning's mail, which demanded his
personal and immediate attention. "Besides that fact," said His
Excellency, "I had forgotten an appointment I have with the Hon. Mr.
Hamilton Merritt to talk over his great project of the Welland Canal
between the two Lakes, and I cannot disappoint him." He couldn't think
of asking her to wait until the sun was hot, and the pleasure of the
drive spoiled, added the Lieutenant-Governor. But here was Edward
Macleod, who would no doubt be glad to take his place. At this
announcement Helene longed to fly to her room, but she could think of
no valid excuse. The young man, sitting with the last _Gazette_ in
hand in a rustic chair on the veranda, listened to the summons with
silent horror. He actually turned pale, but like Helene, he could
think of no possible excuse for evading the turn affairs had taken. He
rose mechanically, gave inarticulate utterance to the pleasure he did
not feel, and took his seat beside the unhappy girl, who shrank
visibly into her corner.

"Admirable!" exclaimed Lady Sarah, softly stepping out to witness the
unusual phenomenon of Edward and Helene driving away together. "I
never supposed a man _could_ have so much sagacity and foresight. Here
have I been cudgelling my brains to keep those two from playing hide
and seek--no, hide and _avoid_--ever since they came, and now you
accomplish it in the easiest and most natural way in the world. See
what it is to have a clever husband! How did you happen to think of
those important dispatches?"

Emphasis would indicate too coarsely the delicate stress laid upon the
last two words. The gentleman looked extremely puzzled.

"_Happen_ to think? I am _obliged_ to think of them."

"Really? What a lucky accident! So you are not the sly designing
schemer I supposed. Ah, well, you are the soul of honour, and that is
infinitely better."

Certainly to her mind in the present case that was what appearances
would seem to indicate; but the poor wretches who were tending slowly
toward the brink of some indefinable horror, more awful to their
imaginations than the great cataract itself, thought not so much upon
the means by which they were brought into their present painful
position, as upon the impossibility of escape from it. To the eye of
a casual wayfarer these handsome young people, driving abroad through
the dewy freshness of the morning, with the long lovely day before
them, could not be considered objects of pity.

For a while they took refuge in commonplaces, relieved by lapses of
eloquent silence; then as the winding road conducted them by easy
gradations into greener depths of leafy solitude they looked
involuntarily into each other's eyes, and realized that, beneath all
the bitterness and pride and cruel estrangement, their love was the
truest, most unalterable, part of their life.

"Perhaps," said Edward, speaking as though the words were wrung from
him, "it is better that we should meet once more alone, though it be
for the last time."

The girl gave a low murmur of assent. Her eyes were looking straight
forward. The solitude was permeated by the deep thunder of the Falls,
and it voiced the depth of her despair. "For the last time," she said
within herself, "for the last time."

"I have a favour to ask," he continued, "a favour that I verily
believe a man never yet asked of the woman he loved; and I do love
you, my darling--there, let me say it once, since I can never say it
again--I love you with all my heart and soul." He bowed his head, and
she could see the blue vein in his temple growing bluer and swelling
as he spoke. He had not laid a finger upon her, he could not so much
as lift his eyes up to her face, but a mocking breeze suddenly blew a
fold of her raiment against his cheek, and he kissed it passionately.
Helene held her hands tightly together; they were trembling violently.

"I want to beg of you," he said, still without looking up, "to look
upon me with suspicion, aversion, and distrust; to disbelieve any good
you may hear of me; to hate me if you can; to treat me as long as you
live with uniform coldness and indifference."

"I understand," she replied with icy brevity, "you think there is
danger of my treating you otherwise."

Now, since the discovery of the locket, and its tell-tale contents,
this was precisely the danger that Edward had feared, but he was a
diplomatist.

"Have you ever given me the slightest reason to think so?" he
demanded. "At my least approach your natural pride changes to
haughtiness, arrogance, and scorn. But the one thing greater than
your pride is my love. Ah, you know nothing about it--you cannot
imagine its power. Madmen have warned those who were dearest to them
to fly from their sight, lest in spite of themselves an irreparable
injury be inflicted. And so I urge you to continue avoiding me, to
cast behind not even a single glance of pity, lest in spite of your
pride, in spite of my reason, I should bend all my power to the one
object of winning you."

This calamity, it may be supposed, was not quite so great and horrible
to the mind of the young lady as it was in the excited imagination of
her lover. "I do not understand you," she said quietly. "What is it
you wish to ask of me?"

"Only this: that you will never think of me with the slightest degree
of kindness; that you will drop me from your acquaintance; that you
will forget that I ever existed."

"Very well;" her tones were even quieter than before, and a great deal
colder! "I promise never to think any more of you than I do at this
moment." And all the time she was crying with inward tears, "O,
darling, darling, as though I could think any more of you than I do
now! As though I could, as though I could!"

"Thank you," said Edward, "you are removing a terrible temptation from
my way, and helping to make me stronger and less ignoble than I am.
Let me tell you all about it, Helene. Do you remember that night in
the conservatory last winter, when you treated me so cruelly? Yes, I
own I was a wild animal; but you might have tamed me, and instead you
infuriated me. I went from you to Wanda, the Indian girl with whom I
flirted last summer. She was in civilized garb, in my mother's home,
quiet as a bird that has been driven by the storms of winter into a
place of shelter. I too had been tempest-driven, and her warm welcome,
her beauty and tenderness, stole away my senses. She soothed my
injured vanity, satisfied my desperate hunger for love, and I lived
for weeks in the belief that we were made for each other. But with the
return of summer the untamed spirit of her race took possession of
her, and when I saw her with you,--ah, dearest, is there need for me
to say more? I cannot marry her; every fibre of my being, every
sentiment of my soul, revolts from it; but neither am I such a monster
of iniquity as to try to win any one else, and found my lifelong
happiness upon that poor girl's broken-hearted despair. No, Helene,
you have no right to look at me in that way. I never wronged her in
the base brutish sense of the word--never in a way that the spirit of
my dead mother might not have witnessed--but I have robbed her of her
heart, and find too late that I do not want it. I cannot free her from
her suffering, but at least I shall always share it."

And I too, was Helene's internal response. Aloud she suggested that it
was time for them to return. Her indifference was precisely what
Edward had begged for, but now in return for his confidence it chilled
him. She noticed his disappointment, and with a sudden impulse of
sympathy, she laid a tiny gloved hand upon his arm. "Oh, you are
right," she breathed, "perfectly right. It is infinitely better to
suffer with her than to be happy and contemptible and forget her.
Believe me I shall not be a hindrance to you."

He took in his own the little fluttering hand, and held it in what he
believed to be a quiet friendly clasp. It was an immense relief to
unburden his mind to any one, and her approval was very sweet to a
heart that had been torn for weary days and nights by self-accusation
and self-contempt. Unconsciously he leaned nearer to her, still
holding the little hand, which its owner did not withdraw, because it
was for "the last time." In the reaction from the severe strain of the
days and weeks gone past they were almost light-hearted. Before
re-entering the village Edward stopped the horse in a leafy covert,
where for a few minutes they might be secure from observation.

"It is only to say good-bye, my heart's idol," he explained. "Since I
have proved myself unworthy even of your liking I must go away from you
forever. But our parting must be here in private." He held both her
hands now in a tight, strong grasp, and looked into her face with
unutterable love. "Ah, heaven," he groaned, "I cannot give you up! I
cannot, I cannot!" He bowed his face upon the lilies in her lap, but
the languid bloodless things could not cool the fever in his cheeks.
For her life she could not help laying her hand tenderly upon his
head--the young golden head that lay so wearily close to her empty
arms; but she said nothing. A woman's heart is dumb, not because it is
created so, but because society has decreed that that is the only
proper thing for it to be. "Helene," he murmured, lifting his head
with a strange dazed look, "I believe I have been delirious all the
morning. What possible good could my suffering be to Wanda? I don't
know what I have said, but I wish you would forget it all. I wish you
would remember nothing except that I love you--love you--_love you_!"

The girl laughed aloud and bitterly. "So that is the length of a man's
remorse! No! You have begged me to despise you, and now I shall beg
you not to make it dangerously easy for me to do so."

Her contempt was a tonic. It reminded the young man that he deserved,
not only that but his own contempt as well. They drove home without
exchanging another word.



CHAPTER XX.

THE COMING OF WANDA.


The spectacle of a pair of lovers equally pale and proud alighting at
her door was rather dispiriting to Lady Sarah Maitland, but she did
not lose heart. This she rightly considered to be the proper thing for
_them_, not for her to do. At least they should not escape "the
solitude of the crowd," and opportunities for bringing them into this
sort of solitude were not lacking. The same afternoon an English lord,
who had recently been making a tour of the States, with some officers
of His Majesty's 70th Regiment, then stationed at York, arrived at
Stamford Cottage, and in their honour a large number of guests were
assembled that evening. The soft radiance of mingled moonlight and
candle light, the artistic luxury of the place and its surroundings,
the exquisite robes of soft-voiced women, the cultivated tone and
manner of the men, with a sort of subtle and distinguished aroma of
British nobility shed over the whole--all of these things held for
Edward Macleod a potent witchery. This evening he was in unusually
good spirits, and was entertaining a group of gentlemen, who had
gathered about him in the centre of the large drawing-room, by an
amusing account of his hunting experiences in the backwoods. The
sounds of subdued mirth that followed his recital induced a passing
bevy of ladies to join them. Lady Sarah took the arm of Helene, and
gave him her flattering attention along with the rest. A young man
never talks poorly from the knowledge that he has gained the ear of
his audience.

"Really, a remarkably bright young fellow," confided Lord E---- to Sir
Peregrine, at the close of another story, which was accentuated by
little bursts of gentle laughter.

A slight breeze blew from a suddenly opened door upon the wax tapers,
and the next moment a strange figure made its way through that
brilliantly dressed assemblage, and laid its hand upon the arm of
Edward. With his face flushed and eyes brightened by the sweetly
breathed flattery that, like wine, was apt to go to his brain, he
turned and beheld Wanda. She had evidently walked all the way from her
home for the express purpose of finding him. Her dress, made up of
various coloured garments, the cast-off raiment of those whose charity
had fed and lodged her on the way, was covered with dust; her
magnificent hair lay in a great straggling heap upon her shoulders.
"My father has gone to the spirit-land," she said, "and now I come to
you." Lady Sarah and Rose advanced immediately, with protestations of
pity and sympathy, and entreaties that she would go at once with them
to find food and rest. But she was immovable as granite. "I have come
to _you_," she said, her beautiful eyes fixed upon Edward, and she
uttered a few words of endearment in the Huron tongue. Nobody
understood them but the young man, his sister, and hostess. The latter
lady felt herself growing very cold, but she accompanied the pair to a
private parlour, and returned to her guests with an amused smile upon
her lips.

"Poor thing!" she said in a clear voice, distinctly audible to all.
"Her foster-father died last week, and left no end of messages and
requests to Mr. Macleod, his friend and constant companion in his
hunting expeditions. The girl has that exaggerated idea of filial duty
common to the Indian races. She could not rest until she had fulfilled
his dying wishes."

No; Lady Sarah certainly did not merit the compliment she had given
her husband--she was not the soul of honour--but what would you? With
her cheery voice and confident laugh she had dispelled at a breath the
vile suspicion of scandal. The company experienced a wonderful relief,
and the conversation naturally turned to the peculiarities of savages.
Rose had vanished, and it was generally supposed that she was with her
brother and that queer Indian girl. In reality she was locked in her
room, saturating her pillow with her tears.

Edward was alone with Wanda. For a moment the blood ran hot in his
veins, and he longed to act the part of a man. He longed to take the
hand of this beautiful travel-stained savage, and lead her back into
the midst of those fashionably dressed, superficially smiling, ladies
and gentlemen. He longed to declare, nay, rather to thunder forth, the
words: "This is my promised wife! Through weary days and nights, with
sore feet and sorer heart she has been coming to me. Burned by the sun
and blinded with the dust, hungry and thirsty, and aching in every
fibre, her trust never faltered, her love never failed. And her love
is matched by mine. The loyalty and devotion of my life I lay at her
poor bleeding feet."

That would have satisfied his imagination, but in real life imagination
must always go a-hungering. He sat down beside her with a face far
more weary than her own.

"Wanda," he burst forth, "my poor fatherless, friendless child, what
can I say to you? I am a villain, a coward, a reptile! I thought I
loved you, and I do not. No, though my heart aches for you, I do not
love you. Oh, you look as though I were murdering you, and it is
better for me to murder you now by a few sharp terrible words, than by
a life-time of neglect and loathing."

The colour had all ebbed from her face. She fell on her knees beside
him, and her liquid childish eyes and sweet lips were upraised to his.

"No, no, my little fawn, I must not kiss you. It is wicked to kiss
what we do not love. And I do _not_ love you." He was sheltering
himself behind that assertion, but of a sudden he broke into crying,
and his tears fell upon her face. "Child," he said, rising and pacing
the room, "do you know what it is to many a man, who cares a great
deal for your lips and eyes, and nothing for your mind and soul? It is
to marry a beast! You would be wretched with me. We should grow
inexpressibly tired of each other. Tell me," he cried, stopping short
in his swift walk to and fro, and confronting her with parched lips
and wet eyes, "could you endure to have me say cruel things to you
every day? Could you bear to have me think bitter things of you in my
heart, though I left them unsaid? How could you live under my coldness
and neglect? You must learn to hate me--to scorn me,--to think as
harshly of me as I shall always think of myself."

She was faint and dizzy, but she rose to her feet, and groped feebly
to the door, cowering from him as she went, with her hands over her
eyes. Then she turned back with a low wail of irrepressible anguish.

"I cannot leave you," she said, "I cannot give you up!"

Again he was bound in her chains. Her feverish hands held his, her
burning eyes drank up the dew in his own, her pathetic presence
thrilled him with a sense of love stronger than any he had dreamed of
or imagined. Neglect, cruelty, bitterness, scorn! What did the words
mean? Like poisonous weeds they had grown fast and rank before his
eyes, but in the burning face of this all-conquering love they had
shrunk, withered and dead to the earth. Yes, it was the vile earth
from which they had sprung, and it was in the radiant heavens that
this great love was shining. Wanda's victory was nearly complete. The
only thing lacking to make it so was that she should renounce it
altogether. And this she did--not with conscious art but by that sure
instinct of womanliness which teaches that a man won by other than
indirect methods is not won at all. Then she said, pushing him gently
aside, "I will go away now, and never see you again, because I am a
burden to you. No," for he had put his hand upon her wrist, "you must
not touch me, because--" the words choked her for a moment, and then
they fell from her lips with a sound of fathomless despair--"it is as
though you were my little child that I was forced to leave forever."
Again she had reached the door, but this time it was his arm around
her that brought her back, his protestations of undying affection that
revived her drooping frame.

There was a light tap at the door, which opened to admit Lady Sarah
Maitland. "My maids will attend to this poor child," she said,
addressing Edward. "She will have a bath, and food, and a bed.
Meantime, I want you to help to entertain my guests."

"Really?" The young man frowned at the idea of rejoining that gay
throng. He was in a state of mental exaltation--so far up in the
clouds that the idea of attending a reception given by his brilliant
hostess seemed by contrast spiritless and earthy.

"It would be a great kindness to let me off," he pleaded.

"It would be the greatest kindness to compel you to come," she
insisted. There was a significance in the eye and tone of this
thorough-bred woman of the world that were not without effect upon
Edward, who at once accompanied her. His bright face, collected
manner, and ready speech, lessened the impression made upon the
company by the episode which had drawn general attention to him early
in the evening. Not till after the guests had begun to retire did he
again see Wanda. Running upstairs to get a wrap for the fair shoulders
of a young lady, who preferred a moonlit seat on the lawn to the
rather oppressive warmth within doors, he chanced into a little
sitting-room in which Wanda, left alone for a moment, was resting with
closed eyes in a great easy chair. Fresh from her bath, with her damp
heavy hair lying along the folds of a loose white _neglige_, she
looked almost too tired to smile. Edward advanced with beating heart,
but stopped half-way, suddenly smitten by the sight of a pair of
little bruised feet, carefully bandaged, resting upon a stool--the
little feet that had travelled such a long hard road, that had been
torn and wounded for his sake. A great wave of shame swept over him.

"I am not worthy to stand in your presence," he said penitently,
kneeling at her side.

A low murmur of joy escaped the Indian Maiden's lips.

She drew his head down for a moment under the dusky curtain of her
overhanging hair, and then her eyes closed again.

Edward rose and beheld in the open doorway Helene DeBerczy; her large
gaze, darker than a thunder cloud, was illumined by a long lightning
flash of merciless irony.



CHAPTER XXI.

THE PASSING OF WANDA.


After night comes morning in the material world, but in that inner
sphere of thought and feeling, which is the only reality, it
frequently happens that after night comes a greater depth of darkness.
The early light of successive summer mornings falling into the
sleeping-room of Edward Macleod seemed to mock the heavy gloom which
perpetually enshrouded his heart. He was back in his old home, for the
pleasant circle at Stamford Cottage had broken up shortly after the
unexpected advent of Wanda. A few days of enforced civilization had
affected her more severely than the hard journey preceding it, and she
had returned to her native wilds with the feeling of a bird regaining
its freedom. Where in all the limitless forest she could be found at
any particular time her lover could not tell. He was her lover
still--he must always remain her lover. He had attempted to limit and
define the strange irresistible attraction she exerted over him, he
had voluntarily resolved upon life-long celibacy rather than subject
her to the bitterness of seeing him belong to another; and if in
thought he ever yielded to this great, untamed unrepressed love of
hers, it was with something of the exaltation and ardour of one who
makes a supreme sacrifice.

Edward Macleod was no sentimentalist, and yet he was conscious of a
very delicate, infinitely sad satisfaction in the belief that he would
expiate with his life the folly he had committed in permitting her to
love him. In the loftiest sense he would be true to her. He could not
be selfish and shameless enough to set forever aside the desolation
that his hands had callously wrought. As her sorrow could never be
mitigated it should always be shared. He would do everything for her.
She should be educated, and inducted by gentle degrees into the
refinement of civilization--he fervently hoped that it might not prove
the refinement of cruelty. She should not be left desolate, forsaken,
uncared-for; she should share everything he had except his heart. That
was to be kept empty for her sake--for the sake of the sweet dusky
maiden who had once possessed it.

Who had _once_ possessed it! Ah, was it true then that she no longer
held a claim? He had closed the door hesitatingly and with sharp pain
in her face, but now the bare recollection of the little brown hands
fumbling upon it thrilled him with a blissful sense that perhaps,
after all, his life was not to be the utter sacrifice that he had
supposed. Perhaps this peerless creature by some magical process of
development might yet meet and satisfy his intellectual demands. She
had already the soul of an angel--yes, and the beauty of an angel. And
yet he was not satisfied.

It was this haunting dissatisfaction that kept him a prisoner in his
room, one brilliant afternoon, when the fresh world without seemed too
insupportable a mockery of his jaded and cynical state of mind. He
stepped out upon the little balcony that ran under the windows of his
own and his sister's apartments, and looked with a sore heart upon the
eternal miracle of earth and sky. He sank heavily down upon a low
seat, feeling very old and worn. If the back is fitted to the burden,
it occurred to him that the painful process of adjustment would have
to be continued through an interminable period of years. Perhaps it is
only the stiff, bent shoulders of age that are really fitted to bear
the burdens that impetuous youth find unendurably irksome.

While he sat in utter silence, thrilled occasionally with shrill sweet
bursts of irrepressible bird song, and inwardly tortured by the
hateful whisperings of doubt, remorse and despair, the door of his
sister's apartment was opened, and a murmur of voices told him that
Rose and Helene had returned together from an afternoon drive. Through
the lightly draped open window their conversation, distinctly heard,
forced him into the position of an unintentional eaves-dropper. There
seemed at first no reason why he should withdraw, and when the reason
became apparent he found it impossible to make his presence known.

"Is your brother in the house?" asked Helene, waiting for the answer
before laying aside hat and gloves, and dropping languidly into an
easy chair.

"Oh, no," returned Rose, "he is never at home at this hour of the day.
Why? Did you wish to see him?"

"I? No! I wish never to see him!" The words were uttered in a
passionate undertone.

Rose came directly and beseechingly over to her friend. "Dear Helene,"
she said, "what is this terrible trouble that is preying upon your
life? Every day you grow thinner and whiter and colder--more like a
moonbeam than a mortal woman. Soon I fear you will fade from my grasp
altogether, and I shall have nothing left but the recollection that
you did not care enough for me to confide in me. I am sure there is
something dreadful between you and Edward."

"Something, yes, but not enough; there should be an ocean--a whole
world between us."

"I wish I could help you a little."

"Help me, dearest? It is like your goodness to think of such a thing;
but it is impossible. No, there is nothing tragic, or terrible, or awe
compelling, in my fate. It is nothing, I suppose, beyond the common
lot of a great portion of humanity. It is simply--" she hesitated a
moment, while a choking sob rose in her throat; she clasped her white
hands above her head in a stern effort at self control, and then flung
them down with an irrepressible moan--"it is simply that I am hungry,
and thirsty, and cold, and tired and I want to go back to my old home,
to my only home in the heart of the man I love. My poor child, do I
startle you by talking in this passionate lawless, way? You invited my
confidence, and it is such a relief to give it to you. To every one
else in the world I must keep up the desolate show of appearing
heartless and lifeless, incapable of compassion, of suffering and
yearning. But with you, for a little while, I want to be myself. I am
not a mere drawing-room ornament, prized by its owner, and gazed at by
curious beholders. I am a wretched woman. Oh, Rose, Rose, I am an
inexpressibly wretched woman!"

She caught the little warm hands, sympathizingly outstretched towards
her, and pressed them to her neck, where the veins throbbed fast.

"No, don't pity me yet--only listen to me. I am so tired of living on
husks, I seem to be nothing but a husk myself, brainless, soulless,
and empty. I am so tired of sham and pretence, of keeping up
appearances. I hate appearances. They are all false, unreal, loathsome.
Yes, I am a well-trained puppet; I smile and chatter, dance and sing,
am haughtily self-satisfied; but at night--at night my sick heart
cries like a starving child, and I pace the floor with it until I fear
that its wailings will drive me mad. I heap insults on my darling, and
profess to scorn his tenderness, and all the time I could fly to him,
and rain caresses upon him, and hold him closely folded in the arms of
my love perpetually. No, he is not to blame, and Wanda is not to
blame, for all this wretchedness. I don't understand how a woman can
hate her rival. The fact of their loving the same object gives them a
closer kinship than that between twin sisters. Wanda's sufferings are
too much like my own to permit me even to dislike her. She has rich
beauty, a rarely luxuriant vitality, and the immense advantage of
being free to show her love in a natural way. I have nothing but my
love for her lover! If I could only trample on it, despise it, spurn
it, but I can't, I can't! My love is stronger than my pride, stronger
than my life. It is not a mere fancy of yesterday, it has grown and
strengthened with my years."

"I remember one evening in York, last spring," Helene continued, "when
it was warm enough to leave doors and windows open to admit the free
breeze from the lake; I happened to pass a wretched little shanty in
the lower part of the town. A commonplace woman within was cooking
supper in plain sight of the street, and I thought what a miserable
lot must be hers. Then her husband, a grimy-looking workman came home,
and she put her toil-worn hands about his neck, and gave him a welcome
that left me dazed and desolate, filled with unbearable pain and envy,
because I knew then, as I know now, that for my darling and me there
can be no sweet home-coming, no interposition of my love between him
and the sordid cares of the day. The measure of my need will never be
filled. Ah, _mon Dieu_, it is very hard--it is bitterly hard!"

The low passionate tones died away into absolute silence. Rose's
tender arms were closely clasped about her friend, and her wet cheek
was pressed against the pale face on her shoulder; but she could find
no words to match the heart-sickness that had at last found free vent
in speech. Perhaps the deepest sympathy can be expressed only by
silence. In a few moments Helene looked up gratefully and with a
quivering smile. "Dear little, pet," she said, "it is a sin for me to
burden you with the shameless story of my griefs. I hardly know what I
have been saying, so you must not attach too much importance to it.
After all, it is only a mood." The inevitable reaction after deep
feeling had come.

"I wish with all my heart that I could help you," said Rose,
soothingly but despairingly.

"So you can. Give me those two blue eyes of yours to kiss. They are
blue as wood-violets, and look grieved and sad--so exactly like
Edward's." She leaned over and kissed them fervently. "Oh, I must not
yield to such thoughts. I must control myself. I must be strong. I
must conquer everything. Heaven help me!" The last words sounded like
a piteous prayer, as indeed they were. "Come and sing to me, Rose.
Sing my soul out of this perdition if you can."

The two girls departed to the music-room, and, shortly after, Edward,
with the soundless step of a murderer, crept down stairs and far out
into the forest. Like one driven by an indwelling demon into the
wilderness he walked swiftly with great strides away from his trouble.
No, not away from it, for it surrounded him like the atmosphere.
Sometimes he stopped from sheer exhaustion, and leaned heavily against
a tree, while the perspiration stood on his brow in large drops. At
one of these times there was a rustling among the thick leaves behind
him, and Wanda stole timidly, yet with the fearless innocence of a
child, to his side. He groaned aloud as she hid her face upon his
breast. "Ah, you are sad as a night in the moon of dying leaves," she
said, pulling his arms about her.

"It is because I do not love you," he returned, and the cruel sentence
was softened by the measureless sadness of his tone.

"Oh, but you shall love me!" Each passionate word seemed a link in a
strong chain that bound him inexorably to her. "What does it matter,"
she pleaded, "that you care little for me now? My love is great enough
for both. I can give my life up, but I can never give you up. You are
dearer to me than life!"

She leaned over him, and he felt as in a dream the old potential charm
of her flower-sweet breath and glowing beauty. Still, though he
submitted to her caresses, he did not return them. Within his ears the
impassioned words of Helene were sounding perpetually, deafening him
to every other appeal. His visible presence was with Wanda, his breast
was deeply stirred with pity and affection and remorse for her, but
his soul was left behind with that stricken girl, to whose
broken-hearted confessions he had been a forced listener.

The day had lost its brightness, as though twilight had suddenly laid
her dusky hand across the burning gaze of noon; the shadows deepened
perceptibly about them; the sky threatened, the darkened trees seemed
full of dread, the last gleam of light faded swiftly into the black
approaching clouds, and they were speedily engulfed in one of those
impatient summer showers, whose sharp fury quickly spends itself.
Edward was reminded of that time a year ago when they were alone in
the storm. Again the Indian girl bent reverently to the ground,
exclaiming in awed accents, "The Great Spirit is angry." "He has need
to be angry," muttered the young man, hurrying his companion to a
denser part of the forest, where the thickly intermingled boughs might
form a roof above them. But before they reached it a terrific burst of
thunder broke upon their ears, and a tree beside them was suddenly
snapped by the wind, and flung to the ground. The girl, with the quick
instinct of a savage, stepped aside, pulling hard as she did so upon
the arm of Edward. But he, walking as one in a dream, was scarcely
less unconscious of what was going on around him than when, a moment
later, he lay, felled to the earth by the fallen tree.

Wanda uttered an ejaculation of horror and alarm, and exerting all her
strength she dragged the inanimate figure away from its enshrouding
coverlet of leaves. The rain beat heavily upon the bloodless, upturned
face. "What can I do for you?" she cried in despair, taking his
handkerchief and binding tightly the deep wound on his head. He opened
his eyes languidly, and murmured scarcely above his breath, "Bring
Helene!" She did not pause even to kiss the pale lips, but flew swift
as Love itself upon Love's errand. And yet, in her consuming desire to
obey the least wish of her idol, it seemed to her that every fibre of
her eager frame was clogged and weighted with lead. The rain blinded
her eyes, the tangled underbrush tripped her feet, and more than once
she fell panting and trembling on the dead leaves. Only for a moment;
then she sprang up again, leaping, running, pushing away the branches
that stretched across her path, spurning at every step the solid earth
that interposed so much of its dull bulk between her and her heart's
desire. Reaching the lake she jumped quickly into a boat Edward had
given her, which lay near, and she made haste for Kempenfeldt Bay.

The rain ceased before she reached Pine Towers, and with the first
radiant glance of the sun Helene had come to the wood's edge for the
sake of the forest odours, which are never so pungent and delicious as
immediately after a thunder-storm. In the thinnest, most transparent
of summer white gowns, with her lily-pale face and drooping figure,
she looked like some rare flower which the storm in pity had spared.
So thought Wanda, who, now that the object of her search was in sight,
approached very slowly and wearily, her breast rent by fierce pangs of
jealousy. Why had Edward wished at such a critical time for this
useless weakling? What possible good could she be to him in what might
be his dying moments? And all the time, Helene, fixing her sad eyes
upon this wild girl of the woods, noting her drenched, ragged and
earth-stained raiment, and the dark sullen expression that jealousy
had painted upon her face, saw more than all and above all the
overwhelming beauty, which belittled all externals, and made them
scarcely worth notice. "What wonder," thought Helene, "that Edward is
given up heart and soul to this peerless creature, when the mere sight
of her quickens my slow pulses?"

The two loves of Edward Macleod stood face to face. Wanda explained
her presence in a few cold words. "Some of the family can take a
carriage and everything necessary and go to him by the road," she
said. "You will reach him much sooner by letting me row you across the
bay in my boat."

Helene trembled visibly, and a great longing possessed her to go
instantly to Edward. Then a strong fear seized her. She felt a
profound distrust of this beautiful savage with the coarse garments,
rough speech, and strangely marred visage. Perhaps to revenge herself
for Edward's suspected unfaithfulness she had killed him in the
forest, and wished now to satiate her appetite for vengeance by taking
the woman who loved him to view her ghastly work. Perhaps the whole
story was a fabrication to lure her to some lonely spot in the
boundless woods, where she would be horribly murdered. Perhaps--

"Come!" urged Wanda, with passionate entreaty. "He is dying."

"Is it you who have killed him?" demanded Helene, sternly voicing all
her fears in that black suspicion.

The girl turned away with a quick writhing motion. "No," she groaned,
"it is he who has killed me--with two words--_bring Helene_." She
darted to the house with the news of Edward's accident, and then to
the beach, where Helene was already before her. The tiny skiff was
pushed off, and the two girls were alone together.

As long as she lived Helene DeBerczy remembered that swift boat ride
across the bay. Great masses of black clouds still hung heavily in the
western sky, occasionally pierced by a brilliant flash of sunshine,
that emphasized by contrast the dreariness succeeding it. Below, the
waters were dark and troubled, while from the flat shores rose the
majestic monotony of the forest, chill, shadowy, inscrutable. But
these were as the frame of a picture, that printed itself indelibly
upon the heart of this high-born woman of the world--the picture of a
tropically beautiful face, now for the first time deathly pale, and
seamed with lines of unutterable anguish; of bare rounded arms,
showing in their raised muscles, and in the tense grasp of the oars,
a power of self-repression awful in its strength; of deeply-heaving
bosom, beneath which was raging that old, old conflict between true
and false love--the true love that gives everything, the false love
that grasps everything; of the passionate, eloquent, suffering eyes,
full of jealousy and yearning, fierce hate and fiercer desire, and
behind all, yes, dominating all, the struggle for martyr-like
self-effacement whose cry forever is, not for my sake, but for the
sake of one that I love. Great waves of pity overwhelmed every other
emotion in Helene's breast, as she leaned forward. "My poor child,"
she said, "how intensely you love him! Do not let my coming hurt you
so, I have long ago yielded him to you."

"But he has not yielded himself to me," moaned the girl, her ashen
lips framing the cry that came from her soul. The boat grated in the
sand, and she sprang out, and pulled it upon the beach. Then, taking
in a feverish clasp the delicately-draped arm of the other, she
hurried her to the spot where Edward still lay, deadly pale but
conscious. He did not look at Wanda--he had no eyes save for Helene.
With a little cry of passionate love and sorrow she flung herself
beside him, and drew the white wounded face close to her aching heart.
His broken syllables of love were in her ears, his head was nestled,
like that of a weary child, within her arms, his blood was staining
the white laces on her breast. For a moment Wanda paused and looked
upon them; then noiselessly as a dream she vanished away.

But where in the wide, pitiless world is there a place of refuge for a
woman's broken heart? Instinctively Wanda went back to the boat, and
rowed far out upon the troubled waters. The afternoon's storm had been
but the warning of a wilder one yet to come; the heavy skies shut down
on all sides, adamantine and inexorable as the fate enshrouding her;
from the mute mysterious woods came the sighing of the wind, sinking
now into deep moaning, then rising into a shrill anguish, that was
answered by the sobbing of the waves upon the beach. All nature seemed
stirred to the heart at the hopeless misery of this her cherished
child. But Wanda's eyes were blank, and her ears deafened to the
sights and sounds around her. With the desperation of despair she
rowed fast and strenuously out into the heaving lake, while hours
passed, and the black night, like a pall, enveloped all things
earthly. At last, with her strength utterly gone, she dropped the oars
and drifted wherever the wild tide might choose to take her. Low
mutterings of thunder shook the air, and with them she mingled the
notes of an Indian death-chant. Before the weird, heart-breaking tones
had ceased, the black heavens opened, and tears of pity were rained
upon this desolate human soul. She lay outstretched, her glorious face
upturned to the starless skies, her tired hands far apart over the
sides of the boat. Towards them with wolfish haste rushed the
white-capped breakers, rising in fury as they reached the little
craft, and flinging themselves wildly across it. Wanda paid no heed.
Her voice rose once again, thrilling the air with its wild sweet
melody, and then she sank, without even a convulsive clutch at the
frail bark which overturned upon her.

So perished the life that was naught but a mere empty husk, since
love, its strong sweet occupant, had departed. Alas, poor Wanda! alas,
poor little one, whose sore feet and sorer heart could find no
resting-place in all this wide hard world. The anguished winds moaned
on far into the night; the sad waves, now racked and scourged by the
tempest, sobbed ceaselessly upon the beach; the pitiful heavens
outpoured their flood of tears, but the tortured soul that had
committed the god-like sin of loving too much had found rest at last.



CHAPTER XXII.

LOVE'S REWARDS.


A few days afterwards the body of the Algonquin maiden, recovered from
the waves, was lying in an upper chamber at Pine Towers. Whatever may
have been the supreme agony in which this suffering soul parted from
its human habitation, no trace of it remained upon the inanimate form.
Free from scar or stain it lay, the languid limbs forever motionless,
the cold hands crossed upon a pulseless breast, the beautiful figure,
heavily shadowed in enshrouding tresses, stretched in painless repose,
and on the wonderful face the expression of one who has gained, not
rest and peace--when had she ever hungered for these?--but the look,
almost startling in its intensity, of one who has found love.
Somewhere, sometime, we who struggle through life--nay, rather,
struggle _after_ life--in this world that God so loved, shall find our
longings satisfied; the one yearning cry of our heart shall be
stilled. The poet shall touch the stars, whose pale light now shines
so uncertainly upon his brow; the painter shall put upon canvas a
beauty too deep for words; the worshipper of nature shall thrill with
the knowledge of unspoken secrets; the seeker after truth shall learn
the mysteries of heaven. The infinite Father cannot deny his children;
He will not cheat them. But the lessons of patience are harder to
learn than those of labour.

Upon this poor child of the wilderness had fallen a happiness so
bewildering and so complete that it seemed as though the perfect lips
must open to give utterance to a joy too full to be contained. But to
the man self-accused of robbing her of love and life, this sweet
reflected glory from the other side of the dark gateway brought no
consolation. In that silent room, flooded with cold moonlight, Edward
Macleod stood alone in the dead girl's presence, and felt the bitter
waves of remorse sweep over his soul. Her beauty, touched by the light
of absolute happiness, thrilled him now as never before. From mere
wantonness, he had crushed out the heart of this faultlessly lovely
and innocent creature, and his head fell upon his breast in shame and
self-contempt. God might forgive him, but how could he ever forgive
himself?

The door blew open, and, silently as a vision, Helene came in and
stood beside him. It was a strange place for a lover's tryst--that
bare room with its lifeless occupant, flooded with white unearthly
moonlight "Let me stay with you, Edward," she pleaded, with quivering
lips. "No," she added, in answer to the unspoken fear in his eyes, "I
shall not try to comfort you." She knew intuitively that no consolation
could avail in this hour of silent self-torture. "Only," she whispered,
"you must let me share your grief, for I also have wronged her."

And so, with clasped hands, they bent together and kissed the
beautiful still lips that could never utter an accusing word against
them. Their love founded upon death had suddenly become as mysterious
and sacred as the life of a child whose mother perished when she gave
it birth.

Some months elapsed after the burial of Wanda before Edward ventured
to bring his dearest hopes under the notice of Madame DeBerczy. This
august personage, in whose memory yet lingered frequent rumours of the
young man's flirtations with the nut-brown forest maid, cherished no
particular partiality for him. If Helene's lover had ever entertained
the unfounded illusion that her lily-white hand had been too lightly
won, he might willingly have submitted to the just punishment of his
presumption; but in view of his long struggle to win her favour, it
was dispiriting to learn that there was still a greater height to
conquer,--the lofty indifference of one whom he wished, in spite of
her weaknesses, to make his mother-in-law. Ice, however, will melt
when exposed to a certain degree of heat, and this was where Edward's
naturally sunny disposition and the warmth of his love did him good
service. Before the good lady fairly realized the change that was
passing over her feelings with regard to her daughter's suitor, she
had ceased to speak of him as that frivolous young Macleod, and had
begun to see for herself in his handsome face the sincerity and
sadness that follow in the wake of every deep and painful experience.

From approval it is but a step to appreciation, and this merges by
natural degrees into affection. Helene, who, though she did not
consider Edward faultless, was apt to find his faults more alluring
than the virtues of some others, had at last the satisfaction of
knowing that her mother inclined to take a like view of them; and her
now impatient lover was made glad by a formal acceptance from Madame
DeBerczy of his request for her daughter's hand.

Meantime, Rose and Allan, whose course of love, if it had not suffered
so tempestuous a passage, had still flowed for the most part under
gloomy skies, were at last in the enjoyment of undisputed sunshine. In
this unaccustomed atmosphere the fairest flower of the Macleod family
bloomed anew, and her lover at last beheld his prospects _couleur de
rose_. Allan had accepted an invitation from the old Commodore to
visit Pine Towers, and the impression he made upon his prospective
father-in-law grew daily deeper and pleasanter, till, to the elder
gentleman's sorrow at the thought of parting from his fondly-loved
daughter, was added real regret that he had never before appreciated
the sterling qualities of her chosen husband.

Politically, their views, which had once been wide asunder as the
poles, had now almost unconsciously met and kissed each other. Nor was
this the result of abandoned convictions. Both men continued to
cherish their old notions of things, and to hold to the traditions of
the party to which each was attached. But Allan Dunlop and the
Commodore had come to know and to respect each other, and, as the
result, each took a more dispassionate view of the questions which
disturbed the country and which had ranged them politically on opposite
sides. This change was specially noticeable in the elder of the two.
Though allied to the party who prided themselves in being regarded as
stiff, unbending Tories, Commodore Macleod had an acute sense of what
was just and fair; and under a somewhat rough exterior he had a
kindly, sympathetic heart. This latter virtue in the old gentleman
made him keenly alive to the grievances of the people, and particularly
sensitive to appeals from settlers, the hardships of whose lot, though
he had himself little experience of them, were nevertheless often
present to his mind. His manly character, moreover, though it was
occasionally hid under a sailor's brusque testiness, disposed him to
appreciate manliness in others, and to be sympathetic towards those
whose aims were high and whose motives were good. Thus, despite his
inherent conservatism and pride of birth, he was gradually won over to
regard Dunlop, first with tolerance, then with awakened interest and
respect, and finally with admiration and love.

Dunlop, on the other hand, though he abated nothing in his enthusiasm
for the cause of the people, and never faltered in his loyalty to
duty, came to regard the political situation, if not from the point of
view of his opponents, at least from a point of view which was
eminently statesmanlike and discreet. Influenced by a broader
comprehension of affairs, and by a more complaisant regard for the
country's rulers, who had done and were doing much for the young
commonwealth, however sorely the political system pressed upon the
people, Dunlop placed a check upon his gift of parliamentary raillery,
and refrained from pressing many reforms which time, he knew, would
quietly and with less acrimony bring about.

To these ameliorating influences both men unresistingly submitted
themselves, and, as a consequence, each came nearer to the other;
while the bond of love between Rose and Allan cemented the alliance
political, and threw down all barriers that had once frowned on the
alliance matrimonial. It was a consciousness of this change of feeling
which led Allan Dunlop, on his return for a time to his political
duties at York, to write to Rose in the following strain, and to
assure her of the complete cordiality that now existed, and was sure
to continue to exist, between her father and himself:

  "YORK, November 30th, 1827.

"MY DEAR ROSE: From the paradise of the garden of Pine Towers, with
you as its ineffably sweet, pervading presence, to the inferno of
these Legislative Halls, with their scenes of discord and turbulence,
duty and fate have ruthlessly and unfeelingly banished me. Coming from
your restful presence, how little disposed am I to enter upon the
strifes of these stormy times, and to take up the gage of battle
thrown recklessly down by some knight of the Upper House, whose idea,
either of manly dignity or of Parliamentary warfare, is not that of
the "_preux chevalier, sans peur et sans reproche_."

Yet I would be unworthy of the little queen I serve, whose smiles and
favour are a continuous inspiration to me, were I weakly to forego my
duty, and desire to seek the solace of her presence without having
first acquitted myself with honour on this mimic field of battle. What
is to be the outcome of this strife of tongues, and what the future of
our country, riven asunder as it is by those, on the one side, who are
jealous merely for their own rights and privileges, and, on the other,
by those who care only for the distraction and clamour of fruitless
contention, it were hard to say. With the ever-increasing
complications, the fires of discontent must some day burst into flame.
Even now it wants but the breath of a bold, daring spirit to set the
whole Province in a blaze; and I shudder at the prospect unless a
spirit of conciliation speedily shows itself, and the Executive makes
some surrender of its autocratic powers.

In the discussion of political affairs I had recently with your
father, I am glad to say that we agree very closely as to the inciting
causes of the public discontent, and have a common opinion as to the
best,--indeed, the only satisfactory,--means of applying a remedy.
This unity of feeling must rivet and perpetuate our friendship, and
aid in bringing about, what I ardently desire, some necessary and
immediate reforms in our mode of government. I need hardly say to you,
who are so dear to me, how fervently I hail this mutual understanding
on political matters, and how much I auger from it of weal to the
country and of pleasure and happiness to ourselves. Heaven grant that
all I expect from it may be realized!

I have no news to give you of social matters in York, save of Lady
Mary Willis's Fancy Ball, which is to come off at the close of the
year. Mr. Galt, of the Canada Company, the Robinsons, Hewards,
Hagermans, Widmers, Spragges, and Baldwins--everybody but a few of the
Government House people--are taking a great interest in the coming
affair. There is to be a sleighing-party soon also, from the Macaulays
to the Crookshank's farm, and on to the Denisons. I have been asked to
join it, and wish you were to be here in time, to make one--the
dearest to me!--of the party.

With my respects to your father, kind regards to Edward and Mad'lle
Helene, and abiding love to your sweet self and the little people of
your household,

      I remain, ever and devotedly yours,

              ALLAN DUNLOP."

But there was little need now of formal--or indeed of any--correspondence
between Allan and Rose, for they were soon to be forever together, in
the bonds not only of a common sympathy and a common interest in their
country's welfare, but in that closer union of hearts which both had
secretly longed for and both had feared would never come about. It was
arranged that in the spring of the following year there would be a
double marriage, and that the day that saw Edward united to Helene
would also see the union of Allan and Rose. Even now, preparations for
the interesting event had been set on foot, and society in "Muddy
Little York" was on the tip-toe of excitement over the coming weddings.

As the winter passed, and the month drew near which was to witness the
two-fold alliance, the young people of the Capital took a delirious
interest in every circumstance, however trivial, connected with the
affair. Of course, the double ceremony was to take place at the Church
of St. James, and it was known that the Lieutenant-Governor and Lady
Sarah Maitland, before finally quitting the Province, were to be
present, and that the redoubtable politico-ecclesiastic, the
Archdeacon of York, was to tie the knots, and, in his richest doric,
pronounce both couples severally "mon and wife." The wedding breakfast,
it was also a matter of current talk, was to be at the homestead of a
distinguished member of the local judiciary; and it had also leaked
out that, thereafter, the united couples were to embark on His
Majesty's sloop-of-war, "_The Princess Charlotte_," and be conveyed as
far as Kingston, on the wedding journey to Quebec, where Edward, with
his bride, was to proceed to England to rejoin his regiment, and Allan
and Rose were to spend the honeymoon in some delightful retreat on the
St. Lawrence.

What need is there to continue the chronicle?--save to assure the
modern reader of this old-time story that everything happily came
about as foreshadowed in the gossip we have just related, and that
the after-fortunes of the four happy people who took that early
wedding journey on the St. Lawrence were as bright as those of the
happiest Canadian bride and bridegroom that have ever taken the same
journey since.

  THE END.





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