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´╗┐Title: A Romany of the Snows, vol. 3
 - Being a Continuation of the Personal Histories of "Pierre and His People" and the Last Existing Records of Pretty Pierre
Author: Parker, Gilbert
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Romany of the Snows, vol. 3
 - Being a Continuation of the Personal Histories of "Pierre and His People" and the Last Existing Records of Pretty Pierre" ***

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A ROMANY OF THE SNOWS

BEING A CONTINUATION OF THE PERSONAL HISTORIES OF "PIERRE AND HIS PEOPLE"
AND THE LAST EXISTING RECORDS OF PRETTY PIERRE

By Gilbert Parker

Volume 3.


THE BRIDGE HOUSE
THE EPAULETTES
THE HOUSE WITH THE BROKEN SHUTTER
THE FINDING OF FINGALL
THREE COMMANDMENTS IN THE VULGAR TONGUE



THE BRIDGE HOUSE

It stood on a wide wall between two small bridges.  These were approaches
to the big covered bridge spanning the main channel of the Madawaska
River, and when swelled by the spring thaws and rains, the two flanking
channels divided at the foundations of the house, and rustled away
through the narrow paths of the small bridges to the rapids.  You could
stand at any window in the House and watch the ugly, rushing current,
gorged with logs, come battering at the wall, jostle between the piers,
and race on to the rocks and the dam and the slide beyond.  You stepped
from the front door upon the wall, which was a road between the bridges,
and from the back door into the river itself.

The House had once been a tavern.  It looked a wayfarer, like its patrons
the river-drivers, with whom it was most popular.  You felt that it had
no part in the career of the village on either side, but was like a rock
in a channel, at which a swimmer caught or a vagrant fish loitered.

Pierre knew the place, when, of a night in the springtime or early
summer, throngs of river-drivers and their bosses sauntered at its doors,
or hung over the railing of the wall, as they talked and smoked.

The glory of the Bridge House suddenly declined.  That was because
Finley, the owner, a rich man, came to hate the place--his brother's
blood stained the barroom floor.  He would have destroyed the house but
that John Rupert, the beggared gentleman came to him, and wished to rent
it for a dwelling.

Mr. Rupert was old, and had been miserably poor for many years, but he
had a breeding and a manner superior to anyone at Bamber's Boom.  He was
too old for a labourer, he had no art or craftsmanship; his little money
was gone in foolish speculations, and he was dependent on his
granddaughter's slight earnings from music teaching and needlework.  But
he rented an acre of ground from Finley, and grew vegetables; he gathered
driftwood from the river for his winter fire, and made up the accounts of
the storekeeper occasionally.  Yet it was merely keeping off starvation.
He was not popular.  He had no tongue for the meaningless village talk.
People held him in a kind of awe, and yet they felt a mean satisfaction
when they saw him shouldering driftwood, and piling it on the shore to be
dragged away--the last resort of the poor, for which they blush.

When Mr. Rupert asked for the House, Finley knew the chances were he
would not get the rental; yet, because he was sorry for the old man, he
gave it to him at a low rate.  He closed up the bar-room, however, and it
was never opened afterwards.

So it was that Mr. Rupert and Judith, his granddaughter, came to live
there.  Judith was a blithe, lissome creature, who had never known
comfort or riches: they were taken from her grandfather before she was
born, and her father and mother both died when she was a little child.
But she had been taught by her grandmother, when she lived, and by her
grandfather, and she had felt the graces of refined life.  Withal, she
had a singular sympathy for the rude, strong life of the river.  She was
glad when they came to live at the Bridge House, and shamed too: glad
because they could live apart from the other villagers; shamed because it
exposed her to the curiosity of those who visited the House, thinking it
was still a tavern.  But that was only for a time.

One night Jules Brydon, the young river-boss, camped with his men at
Bamber's Boom.  He was of parents Scotch and French, and the amalgamation
of races in him made a striking product.  He was cool and indomitable,
yet hearty and joyous.  It was exciting to watch him at the head of his
men, breaking up a jam of logs, and it was a delight to hear him of an
evening as he sang:

              "Have you heard the cry of the Long Lachine,
               When happy is the sun in the morning?
               The rapids long and the banks of green,
               As we ride away in the morning,
                  On the froth of the Long Lachine?"

One day, soon after they came, the dams and booms were opened above,
and forests of logs came riding down to Bamber's Boom.  The current was
strong, and the logs came on swiftly.  As Brydon's gang worked, they saw
a man out upon a small raft of driftwood, which had been suddenly caught
in the drive of logs, and was carried out towards the middle channel.
The river-drivers laughed, for they failed to see that the man was old,
and that he could not run across the rolling logs to the shore.  The old
man, evidently hopeless, laid down his pike-pole, folded his hands, and
drifted with the logs.  The river-drivers stopped laughing.  They began
to understand.

Brydon saw a woman standing at a window of the House waving her arms,
and there floated up the river the words, "Father!  father!"  He caught
up a pikepole, and ran over that spinning floor of logs to the raft.  The
old man's face was white, but there was no fear in his eyes.

"I cannot run the logs," he said at once; "I never did; I am too old, and
I slip.  It's no use.  It is my granddaughter at that window.  Tell her
that I'll think of her to the last.  .  .  .  Good-bye!"

Brydon was eyeing the logs.  The old man's voice was husky; he could not
cry out, but he waved his hand to the girl.

"Oh, save him!" came from her faintly.

Brydon's eyes were now on the covered bridge.  Their raft was in the
channel, coming straight between two piers.  He measured his chances.  He
knew if he slipped, doing what he intended, that both might be drowned,
and certainly Mr. Rupert; for the logs were close, and to drop among them
was a bad business.  If they once closed over there was an end of
everything.

"Keep quite still," he said, "and when I throw you catch."

He took the slight figure in his arms, sprang out upon the slippery logs,
and ran.  A cheer went up from the men on the shore, and the people who
were gathering on the bridges, too late to be of service.  Besides, the
bridge was closed, and there was only a small opening at the piers.  For
one of these piers Brydon was making.  He ran hard.  Once he slipped and
nearly fell, but recovered.  Then a floating tree suddenly lunged up and
struck him, so that he dropped upon a knee; but again he was up, and
strained for the pier.  He was within a few feet of it as they came to
the bridge.  The people gave a cry of fear, for they saw that there was
no chance of both making it; because, too, at the critical moment a space
of clear water showed near the pier.  But Brydon raised John Rupert up,
balanced himself, and tossed him at the pier, where two river-drivers
stood stretching out their arms.  An instant afterwards the old man was
with his granddaughter.  But Brydon slipped and fell; the roots of a tree
bore him down, and he was gone beneath the logs!

There was a cry of horror from the watchers, then all was still.  But
below the bridge they saw an arm thrust up between the logs, and then
another arm crowding them apart.  Now a head and shoulders appeared.
Luckily the piece of timber which Brydon grasped was square, and did not
roll.  In a moment he was standing on it.  There was a wild shout of
encouragement.  He turned his battered, blood-stained face to the bridge
for an instant, and, with a wave of the hand and a sharp look towards the
rapids below, once more sprang out.  It was a brave sight, for the logs
were in a narrower channel and more riotous.  He rubbed the blood out of
his eyes that he might see his way.  The rolling forest gave him no
quarter, but he came on, rocking with weakness, to within a few rods of
the shore.  Then a half-dozen of his men ran out on the logs,--they were
packed closely here,--caught him up, and brought him to dry ground.

They took him to the Bridge House.  He was hurt more than he or they
thought.  The old man and the girl met them at the door.  Judith gave a
little cry when she saw the blood and Brydon's bruised face.  He lifted
his head as though her eyes had drawn his, and, their looks meeting,
he took his hat off.  Her face flushed; she dropped her eyes.  Her
grandfather seized Brydon's big hand, and said some trembling words of
thanks.  The girl stepped inside, made a bed for him upon the sofa, and
got him something to drink.  She was very cool; she immediately asked
Pierre to go for the young doctor who had lately come to the place, and
made ready warm water with which she wiped Brydon's blood-stained face
and hands, and then gave him some brandy.  His comrades standing round
watched her admiringly, she was so deft and delicate.  Brydon, as if to
be nursed and cared for was not manly, felt ashamed, and came up quickly
to a sitting posture, saying, "Pshaw!  I'm all right!"  But he turned
sick immediately, and Judith's arms caught his head and shoulders as he
fell back.  His face turned, and was pillowed on her bosom.  At this she
blushed, but a look of singular dignity came into her face.  Those
standing by were struck with a kind of awe; they were used mostly to the
daughters of habitants and fifty-acre farmers.  Her sensitive face spoke
a wonderful language: a divine gratitude and thankfulness; and her eyes
had a clear moisture which did not dim them.  The situation was trying to
the river-drivers--it was too refined; and they breathed more freely when
they got outside and left the girl, her grandfather, Pierre, and the
young doctor alone with the injured man.

That was how the thing began.  Pierre saw the conclusion of events from
the start.  The young doctor did not.  From the hour when he bound up
Brydon's head, Judith's fingers aiding him, he felt a spring in his blood
new to him.  When he came to know exactly what it meant, and acted, it
was too late.  He was much surprised that his advances were gently
repulsed.  He pressed them hard: that was a mistake.  He had an idea,
not uncommon in such cases, that he was conferring an honour.  But he was
very young.  A gold medal in anatomy is likely to turn a lad's head at
the start.  He falls into the error that the ability to demonstrate the
medulla oblongata should likewise suffice to convince the heart of a
maid.  Pierre enjoyed the situation; he knew life all round; he had boxed
the compass of experience.

He believed in Judith.  The old man interested him: he was a wreck out of
an unfamiliar life.

"Well, you see," Pierre said to Brydon one day, as they sat on the high
cross-beams of the little bridge, "you can't kill it in a man--what he
was born.  Look, as he piles up the driftwood over there.  Broken down,
eh?  Yes, but then there is something--a manner, an eye.  He piles the
wood like champagne bottles.  On the raft, you remember, he took off his
hat to death.  That's different altogether from us."

He gave a sidelong glance at Brydon, and saw a troubled look.

"Yes," Brydon said, "he is different; and so is she."

"She is a lady," Pierre said, with slow emphasis.  "She couldn't hide it
if she tried.  She plays the piano, and looks all silk in calico.  Made
for this?"--he waved his hand towards the Bridge House.  "No, no!  made
for--"

He paused, smiled enigmatically, and dropped a bit of wood on the swift
current.

Brydon frowned, then said: "Well, made for what, Pierre?"

Pierre looked over Brydon's shoulder, towards a pretty cottage on the
hillside.  "Made for homes like that, not this," he said, and he nodded
first towards the hillside, then to the Bridge House.  (The cottage
belonged to the young doctor.) A growl like an animal's came from Brydon,
and he clinched the other's shoulder.  Pierre glanced at the hand, then
at Brydon's face, and said sharply: "Take it away."

The hand dropped; but Brydon's face was hot, and his eyes were hard.

Pierre continued: "But then women are strange.  What you expect they will
not--no.  Riches?--it is nothing; houses like that on the hill, nothing.
They have whims.  The hut is as good as the house, with the kitchen in
the open where the river welts and washes, and a man--the great man of
the world to them--to play the little game of life with.  .  .  .  Pshaw!
you are idle: move; you are thick in the head: think hard; you like the
girl: speak."

As he said this, there showed beneath them the front timbers of a small
crib of logs with a crew of two men, making for the rapids and the slide
below.  Here was an adventure, for running the rapids with so slight a
craft and small a crew was smart work.  Pierre, measuring the distance,
and with a "Look out, below!" swiftly let himself down by his arms as
far as he could, and then dropped to the timbers, as lightly as if it
were a matter of two feet instead of twelve.  He waved a hand to Brydon,
and the crib shot on.  Brydon sat eyeing it abstractedly till it ran into
the teeth of the rapids, the long oars of the three men rising and
falling to the monotonous cry.  The sun set out the men and the craft
against the tall dark walls of the river in strong relief, and Brydon was
carried away from what Pierre had been saying.  He had a solid pleasure
in watching, and he sat up with a call of delight when he saw the crib
drive at the slide.  Just glancing the edge, she shot through safely.
His face blazed.

"A pretty sight!" said a voice behind him.

Without a word he swung round, and dropped, more heavily than Pierre,
beside Judith.

"It gets into our bones," he said.  "Of course, though it ain't the same
to you," he added, looking down at her over his shoulder.  "You don't
care for things so rough, mebbe?"

"I love the river," she said quietly.

"We're a rowdy lot, we river-drivers.  We have to be.  It's a rowdy
business."

"I never noticed that," she replied, gravely smiling.  "When I was small
I used to go to the river-drivers' camps with my brother, and they were
always kind to us.  They used to sing and play the fiddle, and joke; but
I didn't think then that they were rowdy, and I don't now.  They were
never rough with us."

"No one'd ever be rough with you," was the reply.  "Oh yes," she said
suddenly, and turned her head away.  She was thinking of what the young
doctor had said to her that morning; how like a foolish boy he had acted:
upbraiding her, questioning her, saying unreasonable things, as young
egoists always do.  In years she was younger than he, but in wisdom much
older: in all things more wise and just.  He had not struck her, but with
his reckless tongue he had cut her to the heart.  "Oh yes," she repeated,
and her eyes ran up to his face and over his great stalwart body; and
then she leaned over the railing and looked into the water.

"I'd break the man into pieces that was rough with you," he said between
his teeth.

"Would you?" she asked in a whisper.  Then, not giving him a chance to
reply, "We are very poor, you know, and some people are rough with the
poor--and proud.  I remember," she went on, simply, dreamily, and as if
talking to herself, "the day when we first came to the Bridge House.  I
sat down on a box and looked at the furniture--it was so little--and
cried.  Coming here seemed the last of what grandfather used to be.  I
couldn't help it.  He sat down too, and didn't say anything.  He was very
pale, and I saw that his eyes ached as he looked at me.  Then I got angry
with myself, and sprang up and went to work--and we get along pretty
well."

She paused and sighed; then, after a minute: "I love the river.  I don't
believe I could be happy away from it.  I should like to live on it, and
die on it, and be buried in it."

His eyes were on her eagerly.  But she looked so frail and dainty that
his voice, to himself, sounded rude.  Still, his hand blundered along the
railing to hers, and covered it tenderly--for so big a hand.  She drew
her fingers away, but not very quickly.  "Don't!" she said, "and--and
someone is coming!"

There were footsteps behind them.  It was her grandfather, carrying
a board fished from the river.  He grasped the situation, and stood
speechless with wonder.  He had never thought of this.  He was a
gentleman, in spite of all, and this man was a common river-boss.
Presently he drew himself up with an air.  The heavy board was still in
his arms.  Brydon came over and took the board, looking him squarely in
the eyes.

"Mr. Rupert," he said, "I want to ask something."  The old man nodded.

"I helped you out of a bad scrape on the river?"  Again the old man
nodded.

"Well, mebbe, I saved your life.  For that I'm going to ask you to draw
no more driftwood from the Madawaska--not a stick, now or ever."

"It is the only way we can keep from freezing in winter."  Mr. Rupert
scarcely knew what he said.  Brydon looked at Judith, who turned away,
then answered: "I'll keep you from freezing, if you'll let me, you--and
Judith."

"Oh, please let us go into the house," Judith said hastily.

She saw the young doctor driving towards them out of the covered bridge!

When Brydon went to join his men far down the river he left a wife behind
him at the Bridge House, where she and her grandfather were to stay until
the next summer.  Then there would be a journey from Bamber's Boom to a
new home.

In the late autumn he came, before he went away to the shanties in the
backwoods, and again in the winter just before the babe was born.  Then
he went far up the river to Rice Lake and beyond, to bring down the
drives of logs for his Company.  June came, and then there was a sudden
sorrow at the Bridge House.  How great it was, Pierre's words as he stood
at the door one evening will testify.  He said to the young doctor: "Save
the child, and you shall have back the I O U on your house."  Which was
also evidence that the young doctor had fallen into the habit of
gambling.

The young doctor looked hard at him.  He had a selfish nature.  "You can
only do what you can do," he said.

Pierre's eyes were sinister.  "If you do not save it, one would guess
why."

The other started, flushed, was silent, and then said: "You think I'm a
coward.  We shall see.  There is a way, but it may fail."

And though he sucked the diphtheria poison from the child's throat, it
died the next night.

Still, the cottage that Pierre and Company had won was handed back with
such good advice as only a worldwise adventurer can give.

Of the child's death its father did not know.  They were not certain
where he was.  But when the mother took to her bed again, the young
doctor said it was best that Brydon should come.  Pierre had time and
inclination to go for him.  But before he went he was taken to Judith's
bedside.  Pierre had seen life and death in many forms, but never
anything quite like this: a delicate creature floating away upon a summer
current travelling in those valleys which are neither of this life nor
of that; but where you hear the echoes of both, and are visited by
solicitous spirits.  There was no pain in her face--she heard a little,
familiar voice from high and pleasant hills, and she knew, so wise are
the dying, that her husband was travelling after her, and that they would
be all together soon.  But she did not speak of that.  For the knowledge
born of such a time is locked up in the soul.

Pierre was awe-stricken.  Unconsciously he crossed himself.

"Tell him to come quickly," she said, "if you find him,"--her fingers
played with the coverlet,--"for I wish to comfort him.  .  .  .  Someone
said that you were bad, Pierre.  I do not believe it.  You were sorry
when my baby went away.  I am--going away--too.  But do not tell him
that.  Tell him I cannot walk about.  I want him to carry me--to carry
me.  Will you?"  Pierre put out his hand to hers creeping along the
coverlet to him; but it was only instinct that guided him, for he could
not see.  He started on his journey with his hat pulled down over his
eyes.

One evening when the river was very high and it was said that Brydon's
drives of logs would soon be down, a strange thing happened at the Bridge
House.

The young doctor had gone, whispering to Mr. Rupert that he would come
back later.  He went out on tiptoe, as from the presence of an angel.
His selfishness had dropped away from him.  The evening wore on, and in
the little back room a woman's voice said:

"Is it morning yet, father?"

"It is still day.  The sun has not set, my child."

"I thought it had gone, it seemed so dark."

"You have been asleep, Judith.  You have come out of the dark."

"No, I have come out into the darkness--into the world."

"You will see better when you are quite awake."

"I wish I could see the river, father.  Will you go and look?"

Then there was a silence.  "Well?" she asked.

"It is beautiful," he said, "and the sun is still bright."

"You see as far as Indian Island?"

"I can see the white comb of the reef beyond it, my dear."

"And no one--is coming?"

"There are men making for the shore, and the fires are burning, but no
one is--coming this way.  .  .  .  He would come by the road, perhaps."

"Oh no, by the river.  Pierre has not found him.  Can you see the Eddy?"

"Yes.  It is all quiet there; nothing but the logs tossing round it."

"We used to sit there--he and I--by the big cedar tree.  Everything was
so cool and sweet.  There was only the sound of the force-pump and the
swallowing of the Eddy.  They say that a woman was drowned there, and
that you can see her face in the water, if you happen there at sunrise,
weeping and smiling also: a picture in the water.  .  .  .  Do you think
it true, father?"

"Life is so strange, and who knows what is not life, my child?"

"When baby was dying I held it over the water beneath that window, where
the sunshine falls in the evening; and it looked down once before its
spirit passed like a breath over my face.  Maybe, its look will stay, for
him to see when he comes.  It was just below where you stand....  Father,
can you see its face?"  "No, Judith; nothing but the water and the
sunshine."

"Dear, carry me to the window."

When this was done she suddenly leaned forward with shining eyes and
anxious fingers.  "My baby!  My baby!" she said.

She looked up the river, but her eyes were fading, she could not see far.
"It is all a grey light," she said, "I cannot see well."  Yet she smiled.
"Lay me down again, father," she whispered.

After a little she sank into a slumber.  All at once she started up.
"The river, the beautiful river!" she cried out gently.  Then, at the
last, "Oh, my dear, my dear!"

And so she came out of the valley into the high hills.  Later he was left
alone with his dead.  The young doctor and others had come and gone.  He
would watch till morning.  He sat long beside her, numb to the world.  At
last he started, for he heard a low clear call behind the House.  He went
out quickly to the little platform, and saw through the dusk a man
drawing himself up.  It was Brydon.  He caught the old man's shoulders
convulsively.  "How is she?" he asked.  "Come in, my son," was the low
reply.  The old man saw a grief greater than his own.  He led the husband
to the room where the wife lay beautiful and still.  "She is better, as
you see," he said bravely.

The hours went, and the two sat near the body, one on either side.  They
knew not what was going on in the world.

As they mourned, Pierre and the young doctor sat silent in that cottage
on the hillside.  They were roused at last.  There came up to Pierre's
keen ears the sound of the river.

"Let us go out," he said; "the river is flooding.  You can hear the
logs."

They came out and watched.  The river went swishing, swilling past, and
the dull boom of the logs as they struck the piers of the bridge or some
building on the shore came rolling to them.

"The dams and booms have burst!" Pierre said.  He pointed to the camps
far up the river.  By the light of the camp-fires there appeared a wide
weltering flood of logs and debris.  Pierre's eyes shifted to the Bridge
House.  In one room was a light.  He stepped out and down, and the other
followed.  They had almost reached the shore, when Pierre cried out
sharply: "What's that?"

He pointed to an indistinct mass bearing down upon the Bridge House.  It
was a big shed that had been carried away, and, jammed between timbers,
had not broken up.  There was no time for warning.  It came on swiftly,
heavily.  There was a strange, horrible, grinding sound, and then they
saw the light of that one room move on, waving a little to and fro-on to
the rapids, the cohorts of logs crowding hard after.

Where the light was two men had started to their feet when the crash
came.  They felt the House move.  "Run-save yourself!" cried the old man
quietly.  "We are lost!"

The floor rocked.

"Go," he said again.  "I will stay with her."

"She is mine," Brydon said; and he took her in his arms.  "I will not
go."

They could hear the rapids below.  The old man steadied himself in the
deep water on the floor, and caught out yearningly at the cold hands.

"Come close, come close," said Brydon.  "Closer; put your arms round
her."

The old man did so.  They were locked in each other's arms--dead and
living.

The old man spoke, with a piteous kind of joy: "We therefore commit her
body to the deep--!"

The three were never found.



THE EPAULETTES

Old Athabasca, chief of the Little Crees, sat at the door of his lodge,
staring down into the valley where Fort Pentecost lay, and Mitawawa his
daughter sat near him, fretfully pulling at the fringe of her fine
buckskin jacket.  She had reason to be troubled.  Fyles the trader had
put a great indignity upon Athabasca.  A factor of twenty years before,
in recognition of the chief's merits and in reward of his services, had
presented him with a pair of epaulettes, left in the Fort by some officer
in Her Majesty's service.  A good, solid, honest pair of epaulettes, well
fitted to stand the wear and tear of those high feasts and functions at
which the chief paraded them upon his broad shoulders.  They were the
admiration of his own tribe, the wonder of others, the envy of many
chiefs.  It was said that Athabasca wore them creditably, and was no more
immobile and grand-mannered than became a chief thus honoured above his
kind.

But the years went, and there came a man to Fort Pentecost who knew not
Athabasca.  He was young, and tall and strong, had a hot temper, knew
naught of human nature, was possessed by a pride more masterful than his
wisdom, and a courage stronger than his tact.  He was ever for high-
handedness, brooked no interference, and treated the Indians more as
Company's serfs than as Company's friends and allies.  Also, he had an
eye for Mitawawa, and found favour in return, though to what depth it
took a long time to show.  The girl sat high in the minds and desires of
the young braves, for she had beauty of a heathen kind, a deft and dainty
finger for embroidered buckskin, a particular fortune with a bow and
arrow, and the fleetest foot.  There were mutterings because Fyles the
white man came to sit often in Athabasca's lodge.  He knew of this, but
heeded not at all.  At last Konto, a young brave who very accurately
guessed at Fyles' intentions, stopped him one day on the Grey Horse
Trail, and in a soft, indolent voice begged him to prove his regard in
a fight without weapons, to the death, the survivor to give the other
burial where he fell.  Fyles was neither fool nor coward.  It would have
been foolish to run the risk of leaving Fort and people masterless for an
Indian's whim; it would have been cowardly to do nothing.  So he whipped
out a revolver, and bade his rival march before him to the Fort; which
Konto very calmly did, begging the favour of a bit of tobacco as he went.

Fyles demanded of Athabasca that he should sit in judgment, and should at
least banish Konto from his tribe, hinting the while that he might have
to put a bullet into Konto's refractory head if the thing were not done.
He said large things in the name of the H.B.C., and was surprised
that Athabasca let them pass unmoved.  But that chief, after long
consideration, during which he drank Company's coffee and ate Company's
pemmican, declared that he could do nothing: for Konto had made a fine
offer, and a grand chance of a great fight had been missed.  This was in
the presence of several petty officers and Indians and woodsmen at the
Fort.  Fyles had vanity and a nasty temper.  He swore a little, and with
words of bluster went over and ripped the epaulettes from the chief's
shoulders as a punishment, a mark of degradation.  The chief said
nothing.  He got up, and reached out his hands as if to ask them back;
and when Fyles refused, he went away, drawing his blanket high over his
shoulders.  It was wont before to lie loosely about him, to show his
badges of captaincy and alliance.

This was about the time that the Indians were making ready for the
buffalo, and when their chief took to his lodge, and refused to leave it,
they came to ask him why.  And they were told.  They were for making
trouble, but the old chief said the quarrel was his own: he would settle
it in his own way.  He would not go to the hunt.  Konto, he said, should
take his place; and when his braves came back there should be great
feasting, for then the matter would be ended.

Half the course of the moon and more, and Athabasca came out of his
lodge--the first time in the sunlight since the day of his disgrace.
He and his daughter sat silent and watchful at the door.  There had been
no word between Fyles and Athabasca, no word between Mitawawa and Fyles.
The Fort was well-nigh tenantless, for the half-breeds also had gone
after buffalo, and only the trader, a clerk, and a half-breed cook
were left.

Mitawawa gave a little cry of impatience: she had held her peace so long
that even her slow Indian nature could endure no more.  "What will my
father Athabasca do?" she asked.  "With idleness the flesh grows soft,
and the iron melts from the arm."

"But when the thoughts are stone, the body is as that of the Mighty Men
of the Kimash Hills.  When the bow is long drawn, beware the arrow."

"It is no answer," she said: "what will my father do?"

"They were of gold," he answered, "that never grew rusty.  My people were
full of wonder when they stood before me, and the tribes had envy as they
passed.  It is a hundred moons and one red midsummer moon since the Great
Company put them on my shoulders.  They were light to carry, but it was
as if I bore an army.  No other chief was like me.  That is all over.
When the tribes pass they will laugh, and my people will scorn me if
I do not come out to meet them with the yokes of gold."

"But what will my father do?" she persisted.

"I have had many thoughts, and at night I have called on the Spirits who
rule.  From the top of the Hill of Graves I have beaten the soft drum,
and called, and sung the hymn which wakes the sleeping Spirits: and I
know the way."

"What is the way?"  Her eyes filled with a kind of fear or trouble,
and many times they shifted from the Fort to her father, and back again.
The chief was silent.  Then anger leapt into her face.

"Why does my father fear to speak to his child?" she said.  "I will
speak plain.  I love the man: but I love my father also."

She stood up, and drew her blanket about her, one hand clasped proudly on
her breast.  "I cannot remember my mother; but I remember when I first
looked down from my hammock in the pine tree, and saw my father sitting
by the fire.  It was in the evening like this, but darker, for the pines
made great shadows.  I cried out, and he came and took me down, and laid
me between his knees, and fed me with bits of meat from the pot.  He
talked much to me, and his voice was finer than any other.  There is no
one like my father--Konto is nothing: but the voice of the white man,
Fyles, had golden words that our braves do not know, and I listened.
Konto did a brave thing.  Fyles, because he was a great man of the
Company, would not fight, and drove him like a dog.  Then he made my
father as a worm in the eyes of the world.  I would give my life for
Fyles the trader, but I would give more than my life to wipe out my
father's shame, and to show that Konto of the Little Crees is no dog.
I have been carried by the hands of the old men of my people, I have
ridden the horses of the young men: their shame is my shame."

The eyes of the chief had never lifted from the Fort: nor from his look
could you have told that he heard his daughter's words.  For a moment he
was silent, then a deep fire came into his eyes, and his wide heavy brows
drew up so that the frown of anger was gone.  At last, as she waited, he
arose, put out a hand and touched her forehead.

"Mitawawa has spoken well," he said.  "There will be an end.  The yokes
of gold are mine: an honour given cannot be taken away.  He has stolen;
he is a thief.  He would not fight Konto: but I am a chief and he shall
fight me.  I am as great as many men--I have carried the golden yokes: we
will fight for them.  I thought long, for I was afraid my daughter loved
the man more than her people: but now I will break him in pieces.  Has
Mitawawa seen him since the shameful day?"

"He has come to the lodge, but I would not let him in unless he brought
the epaulettes.  He said he would bring them when Konto was punished.
I begged of him as I never begged of my own father, but he was hard as
the ironwood tree.  I sent him away.  Yet there is no tongue like his in
the world; he is tall and beautiful, and has the face of a spirit."

From the Fort Fyles watched the two.  With a pair of field-glasses he
could follow their actions, could almost read their faces.  "There'll be
a lot of sulking about those epaulettes, Mallory," he said at last,
turning to his clerk.  "Old Athabasca has a bee in his bonnet."

"Wouldn't it be just as well to give 'em back, sir?"  Mallory had been at
Fort Pentecost a long time, and he understood Athabasca and his Indians.
He was a solid, slow-thinking old fellow, but he had that wisdom of the
north which can turn from dove to serpent and from serpent to lion in the
moment.

"Give 'em back, Mallory?  I'll see him in Jericho first, unless he goes
on his marrow-bones and kicks Konto out of the camp."

"Very well, sir.  But I think we'd better keep an eye open."

"Eye open, be hanged!  If he'd been going to riot he'd have done so
before this.  Besides, the girl--!"  Mallory looked long and earnestly at
his master, whose forehead was glued to the field-glass.  His little eyes
moved as if in debate, his slow jaws opened once or twice.  At last he
said: "I'd give the girl the go-by, Mr. Fyles, if I was you, unless I
meant to marry her."  Fyles suddenly swung round.  "Keep your place,
blast you, Mallory, and keep your morals too.  One'd think you were a
missionary."  Then with a sudden burst of anger: "Damn it all, if my men
don't stand by me against a pack of treacherous Indians, I'd better get
out."

"Your men will stand by you, sir: no fear.  I've served three traders
here, and my record is pretty clean, Mr. Fyles.  But I'll say it to your
face, whether you like it or not, that you're not as good a judge of the
Injin as me, or even Duc the cook: and that's straight as I can say it,
Mr. Fyles."

Fyles paced up and down in anger--not speaking; but presently threw up
the glass, and looked towards Athabasca's lodge.  "They're gone," he said
presently; "I'll go and see them to-morrow.  The old fool must do what
I want, or there'll be ructions."

The moon was high over Fort Pentecost when Athabasca entered the silent
yard.  The dogs growled, but Indian dogs growl without reason, and no one
heeds them.  The old chief stood a moment looking at the windows, upon
which slush-lights were throwing heavy shadows.  He went to Fyles'
window: no one was in the room.  He went to another: Mallory and Duc were
sitting at a table.  Mallory had the epaulettes, looking at them and
fingering the hooks by which Athabasca had fastened them on.  Duc was
laughing: he reached over for an epaulette, tossed it up, caught it and
threw it down with a guffaw.  Then the door opened, and Athabasca walked
in, seized the epaulettes, and went swiftly out again.  Just outside the
door Mallory clapped a hand on one shoulder, and Duc caught at the
epaulettes.

Athabasca struggled wildly.  All at once there was a cold white flash,
and Duc came huddling to Mallory's feet.  For a brief instant Mallory and
the Indian fell apart, then Athabasca with a contemptuous fairness tossed
his knife away, and ran in on his man.  They closed; strained, swayed,
became a tangled wrenching mass; and then Mallory was lifted high into
the air, and came down with a broken back.

Athabasca picked up the epaulettes, and hurried away, breathing hard, and
hugging them to his bare red-stained breast.  He had nearly reached the
gate when he heard a cry.  He did not turn, but a heavy stone caught him
high in the shoulders, and he fell on his face and lay clutching the
epaulettes in his outstretched hands.

Fyles' own hands were yet lifted with the effort of throwing, when he
heard the soft rush of footsteps, and someone came swiftly into his
embrace.  A pair of arms ran round his shoulders--lips closed with his--
something ice-cold and hard touched his neck--he saw a bright flash at
his throat.

In the morning Konto found Mitawawa sitting with wild eyes by her
father's body.  She had fastened the epaulettes on its shoulders.
Fyles and his men made a grim triangle of death at the door of the Fort.



THE HOUSE WITH THE BROKEN SHUTTER

              "He stands in the porch of the world--
                  (Why should the door be shut?)
               The grey wolf waits at his heel,
                  (Why is the window barred?)
               Wild is the trail from the Kimash Hills,
               The blight has fallen on bush and tree,
               The choking earth has swallowed the streams,
               Hungry and cold is the Red Patrol:
                  (Why should the door be shut?)
               The Scarlet Hunter has come to bide--
                  (Why is the window barred?)"

Pierre stopped to listen.  The voice singing was clear and soft, yet
strong--a mezzo-soprano without any culture save that of practice and
native taste.  It had a singular charm--a sweet, fantastic sincerity.
He stood still and fastened his eyes on the house, a few rods away.  It
stood on a knoll perching above Fort Ste. Anne.  Years had passed since
Pierre had visited the Fort, and he was now on his way to it again, after
many wanderings.  The house had stood here in the old days, and he
remembered it very well, for against it John Marcey, the Company's man,
was shot by Stroke Laforce, of the Riders of the Plains.  Looking now,
he saw that the shutter, which had been pulled off to bear the body away,
was hanging there just as he had placed it, with seven of its slats
broken and a dark stain in one corner.  Something more of John Marcey
than memory attached to that shutter.  His eyes dwelt on it long he
recalled the scene: a night with stars and no moon, a huge bonfire to
light the Indians, at their dance, and Marcey, Laforce, and many others
there, among whom was Lucille, the little daughter of Gyng the Factor.
Marcey and Laforce were only boys then, neither yet twenty-three, and
they were friendly rivals with the sweet little coquette, who gave her
favors with a singular impartiality and justice.  Once Marcey had given
her a gold spoon.  Laforce responded with a tiny, fretted silver basket.
Laforce was delighted to see her carrying her basket, till she opened it
and showed the spoon inside.  There were many mock quarrels, in one of
which Marcey sent her a letter by the Company's courier, covered with
great seals, saying, "I return you the hairpin, the egg-shell, and the
white wolf's tooth.  Go to your Laforce, or whatever his ridiculous name
may be."

In this way the pretty game ran on, the little goldenhaired, golden-
faced, golden-voiced child dancing so gayly in their hearts, but nestling
in them too, after her wilful fashion, until the serious thing came--the
tragedy.

On the mad night when all ended, she was in the gayest, the most elf-like
spirits.  All went well until Marcey dug a hole in the ground, put a
stone in it, and, burying it, said it was Laforce's heart.  Then Laforce
pretended to ventriloquise, and mocked Marcey's slight stutter.  That was
the beginning of the trouble, and Lucille, like any lady of the world,
troubled at Laforce's unkindness, tried to smooth things over--tried very
gravely.  But the playful rivalry of many months changed its composition
suddenly as through some delicate yet powerful chemical action, and the
savage in both men broke out suddenly.  Where motives and emotions are
few they are the more vital, their action is the more violent.  No one
knew quite what the two young men said to each other, but presently,
while the Indian dance was on, they drew to the side of the house, and
had their duel out in the half-shadows, no one knowing, till the shots
rang on the night, and John Marcey, without a cry, sprang into the air
and fell face upwards, shot through the heart.

They tried to take the child away, but she would not go; and when they
carried Marcey on the shutter she followed close by, resisting her
father's wishes and commands.  And just before they made a prisoner of
Laforce, she said to him very quietly--so like a woman she was--"I will
give you back the basket, and the riding-whip, and the other things, and
I will never forgive you--never--no, never!"

Stroke Laforce had given himself up, had himself ridden to Winnipeg,
a thousand miles, and told his story.  Then the sergeant's stripes had
been stripped from his arm, he had been tried, and on his own statement
had got twelve years' imprisonment.  Ten years had passed since then--
since Marcey was put away in his grave, since Pierre left Fort Ste.
Anne, and he had not seen it or Lucille in all that time.  But he knew
that Gyng was dead, and that his widow and her child had gone south or
east somewhere; of Laforce after his sentence he had never heard.

He stood looking at the house from the shade of the solitary pine-tree
near it, recalling every incident of that fatal night.  He had the gift
of looking at a thing in its true proportions, perhaps because he had
little emotion and a strong brain, or perhaps because early in life his
emotions were rationalised.  Presently he heard the voice again:

              "He waits at the threshold stone--
                  (Why should the key-hole rust?)
               The eagle broods at his side,
                  (Why should the blind be drawn?)
               Long has he watched, and far has he called
               The lonely sentinel of the North:
               "Who goes there?" to the wandering soul:
               Heavy of heart is the Red Patrol
                  (Why should the key-hole rust?)
               The Scarlet Hunter is sick for home,
                  (Why should the blind be drawn?)"

Now he recognised the voice.  Its golden timbre brought back a young
girl's golden face and golden hair.  It was summer, and the window with
the broken shutter was open.  He was about to go to it, when a door of
the house opened, and a girl appeared.  She was tall, with rich, yellow
hair falling loosely about her head; she had a strong, finely cut chin
and a broad brow, under which a pair of deep blue eyes shone-violet blue,
rare and fine.  She stood looking down at the Fort for a few moments,
unaware of Pierre's presence.  But presently she saw him leaning against
the tree, and she started as from a spirit.

"Monsieur!" she said--"Pierre!" and stepped forward again from the
doorway.

He came to her, and "Ah, p'tite Lucille," he said, "you remember me, eh?
--and yet so many years ago!"

"But you remember me," she answered, "and I have changed so much!"

"It is the man who should remember, the woman may forget if she will."

Pierre did not mean to pay a compliment; he was merely thinking.

She made a little gesture of deprecation.  "I was a child," she said.

Pierre lifted a shoulder slightly.  "What matter?  It is sex that I mean.
What difference to me--five, or forty, or ninety?  It is all sex.  It is
only lovers, the hunters of fire-flies, that think of age--mais oui!"

She had a way of looking at you before she spoke, as though she were
trying to find what she actually thought.  She was one after Pierre's own
heart, and he knew it; but just here he wondered where all that ancient
coquetry was gone, for there were no traces of it left; she was steady of
eye, reposeful, rich in form and face, and yet not occupied with herself.
He had only seen her for a minute or so, yet he was sure that what she
was just now she was always, or nearly so, for the habits of a life leave
their mark, and show through every phase of emotion and incident whether
it be light or grave.

"I think I understand you," she said.  "I think I always did a little,
from the time you stayed with Grah the idiot at Fort o' God, and fought
the Indians when the others left.  Only--men said bad things of you, and
my father did not like you, and you spoke so little to me ever.  Yet I
mind how you used to sit and watch me, and I also mind when you rode the
man down who stole my pony, and brought them both back."

Pierre smiled--he was pleased at this.  "Ah, my young friend," he said,
"I do not forget that either, for though he had shaved my ear with a
bullet, you would not have him handed over to the Riders of the Plains
--such a tender heart!"

Her eyes suddenly grew wide.  She was childlike in her amazement, indeed,
childlike in all ways, for she was very sincere.  It was her great
advantage to live where nothing was required of her but truth, she had
not suffered that sickness, social artifice.

"I never knew," she said, "that he had shot at you--never!  You did not
tell that."

"There is a time for everything--the time for that was not till now."

"What could I have done then?"

"You might have left it to me.  I am not so pious that I can't be
merciful to the sinner.  But this man--this Brickney--was a vile
scoundrel always, and I wanted him locked up.  I would have shot him
myself, but I was tired of doing the duty of the law.  Yes, yes," he
added, as he saw her smile a little.  "It is so.  I have love for
justice, even I, Pretty Pierre.  Why not justice on myself?  Ha!  The
law does not its duty.  And maybe some day I shall have to do its work on
myself.  Some are coaxed out of life, some are kicked out, and some open
the doors quietly for themselves, and go a-hunting Outside."

"They used to talk as if one ought to fear you," she said, "but"--she
looked him straight in the eyes--"but maybe that's because you've never
hid any badness."

"It is no matter, anyhow," he answered.  "I live in the open, I walk in
the open road, and I stand by what I do to the open law and the gospel.
It is my whim--every man to his own saddle."

"It is ten years," she said abruptly.

"Ten years less five days," he answered as sententiously.

"Come inside," she said quietly, and turned to the door.

Without a word he turned also, but instead of going direct to the door
came and touched the broken shutter and the dark stain on one corner with
a delicate forefinger.  Out of the corner of his eye he could see her on
the doorstep, looking intently.

He spoke as if to himself: "It has not been touched since then--no.
It was hardly big enough for him, so his legs hung over.  Ah, yes, ten
years--  Abroad, John Marcey!"  Then, as if still musing, he turned to
the girl: "He had no father or mother--no one, of course; so that it
wasn't so bad after all.  If you've lived with the tongue in the last
hole of the buckle as you've gone, what matter when you go!  C'est egal
--it is all the same."

Her face had become pale as he spoke, but no muscle stirred; only her
eyes filled with a deeper color, and her hand closed tightly on the door-
jamb.  "Come in, Pierre," she said, and entered.  He followed her.
"My mother is at the Fort," she added, "but she will be back soon."

She placed two chairs not far from the open door.  They sat, and Pierre
slowly rolled a cigarette and lighted it.

"How long have you lived here?" he asked presently.

"It is seven years since we came first," she replied.  "After that night
they said the place was haunted, and no one would live in it, but when my
father died my mother and I came for three years.  Then we went east, and
again came back, and here we have been."

"The shutter?" Pierre asked.

They needed few explanations--their minds were moving with the same
thought.

"I would not have it changed, and of course no one cared to touch it.
So it has hung there."

"As I placed it ten years ago," he said.

They both became silent for a time, and at last he said: "Marcey had no
one,--Sergeant Laforce a mother."

"It killed his mother," she whispered, looking into the white sunlight.
She was noting how it was flashed from the bark of the birch-trees near
the Fort.

"His mother died," she added again, quietly.  "It killed her--the gaol
for him!"

"An eye for an eye," he responded.

"Do you think that evens John Marcey's death?" she sighed.

"As far as Marcey's concerned," he answered.  "Laforce has his own
reckoning besides."

"It was not a murder," she urged.

"It was a fair fight," he replied firmly, "and Laforce shot straight."
He was trying to think why she lived here, why the broken shutter still
hung there, why the matter had settled so deeply on her.  He remembered
the song she was singing, the legend of the Scarlet Hunter, the fabled
Savior of the North.

              "Heavy of heart is the Red Patrol--
                  (Why should the key-hole rust?)
               The Scarlet Hunter is sick for home,
                  (Why should the blind be drawn?)"

He repeated the words, lingering on them.  He loved to come at the truth
of things by allusive, far-off reflections, rather than by the sharp
questioning of the witness-box.  He had imagination, refinement in such
things.  A light dawned on him as he spoke the words--all became clear.
She sang of the Scarlet Hunter, but she meant someone else!
That was it--

              "Hungry and cold is the Red Patrol--
                  (Why should the door be shut?)
               The Scarlet Hunter has come to bide,
                  (Why is the window barred?)"

But why did she live here?  To get used to a thought, to have it so near
her, that if the man--if Laforce himself came, she would have herself
schooled to endure the shadow and the misery of it all?  Ah, that was it!
The little girl, who had seen her big lover killed, who had said she
would never forgive the other, who had sent him back the fretted-silver
basket, the riding-whip, and other things, had kept the criminal in her
mind all these years; had, out of her childish coquetry, grown into--
what?  As a child she had been wise for her years--almost too wise.
What had happened?  She had probably felt sorrow for Laforce at first,
and afterwards had shown active sympathy, and at last--no, he felt that
she had not quite forgiven him, that, whatever was, she had not hidden
the criminal in her heart.  But why did she sing that song?  Her heart
was pleading for him--for the criminal.  Had she and her mother gone to
Winnipeg to be near Laforce, to comfort him?  Was Laforce free now, and
was she unwilling?  It was so strange that she should thus have carried
on her childhood into her womanhood.  But he guessed her--she had
imagination.

"His mother died in my arms in Winnipeg," she said abruptly at last.
"I'm glad I was some comfort to her.  You see, it all came through me--
I was so young and spoiled and silly--John Marcey's death, her death,
and his long years in prison.  Even then I knew better than to set the
one against the other.  Must a child not be responsible?  I was--I am!"

"And so you punish yourself?"

"It was terrible for me--even as a child.  I said that I could never
forgive, but when his mother died, blessing me, I did.  Then there came
something else."

"You saw him, there amie?"

"I saw him--so changed, so quiet, so much older--all grey at the temples.
At first I lived here that I might get used to the thought of the thing
--to learn to bear it; and afterwards that I might learn--" She paused,
looking in half-doubt at Pierre.

"It is safe; I am silent," he said.

"That I might learn to bear--him," she continued.

"Is he still--" Pierre paused.

She spoke up quickly.  "Oh no, he has been free two years."

"Where is he now?"

"I don't know."  She waited for a minute, then said again, "I don't know.
When he was free, he came to me, but I--I could not.  He thought, too,
that because he had been in gaol, that I wouldn't--be his wife.  He
didn't think enough of himself, he didn't urge anything.  And I wasn't
ready--no--no--no--how could I be!  I didn't care so much about the gaol,
but he had killed John Marcey.  The gaol--what was that to me!  There was
no real shame in it unless he had done a mean thing.  He had been wicked
--not mean.  Killing is awful, but not shameful.  Think--the difference--
if he had been a thief!"

Pierre nodded.  "Then some one should have killed him!" he said.
"Well, after?"

"After--after--ah, he went away for a year.  Then he came back; but no,
I was always thinking of that night I walked behind John Marcey's body
to the Fort.  So he went away again, and we came here, and here we have
lived."

"He has not come here?"

"No; once from the far north he sent me a letter by an Indian, saying
that he was going with a half-breed to search for a hunting party,
an English gentleman and two men who were lost.  The name of one
of the men was Brickney."

Pierre stopped short in a long whiffing of smoke.  "Holy!" he said,
"that thief Brickney again.  He would steal the broad road to hell if he
could carry it.  He once stole the quarters from a dead man's eyes.  Mon
Dieu! to save Brickney's life, the courage to do that--like sticking your
face in the mire and eating!--But, pshaw!--go on, p'tite Lucille."

"There is no more.  I never heard again."

"How long was that ago?"

"Nine months or more."

"Nothing has been heard of any of them?"

"Nothing at all.  The Englishman belonged to the Hudson's Bay Company,
but they have heard nothing down here at Fort Ste. Anne."

"If he saves the Company's man, that will make up the man he lost for
them, eh--you think that, eh?"  Pierre's eyes had a curious ironical
light.

"I do not care for the Company," she said.  "John Marcey's life was his
own."

"Good!" he added quickly, and his eyes admired her.  "That is the thing.
Then, do not forget that Marcey took his life in his hands himself, that
he would have killed Laforce if Laforce hadn't killed him."

"I know, I know," she said, "but I should have felt the same if John
Marcey had killed Stroke Laforce."

"It is a pity to throw your life away," he ventured.  He said this for a
purpose.  He did not think she was throwing it away.

She was watching a little knot of horsemen coming over a swell of the
prairie far off.  She withdrew her eyes and fixed them on Pierre.  "Do
you throw your life away if you do what is the only thing you are told
to do?"

She placed her hand on her heart--that had been her one guide.

Pierre got to his feet, came over, and touched her on the shoulder.

"You have the great secret," he said quietly.  "The thing may be all
wrong to others, but if it's right to yourself--that's it--mais oui!
If he comes," he added "if he comes back, think of him as well as Marcey.
Marcey is sleeping--what does it matter?  If he is awake, he has better
times, for he was a man to make another world sociable.  Think of
Laforce, for he has his life to live, and he is a man to make this
world sociable.

               'The Scarlet Hunter is sick for home--
                  (Why should the door be shut?)'"

Her eyes had been following the group of horsemen on the plains.  She
again fixed them on Pierre, and stood up.

"It is a beautiful legend--that," she said.

"But?--but?" he asked.

She would not answer him.  "You will come again," she said; "you will--
help me?"

"Surely, p'tite Lucille, surely, I will come.  But to help--ah,
that would sound funny to the Missionary at the Fort and to others!"

"You understand life," she said, "and I can speak to you."

"It's more to you to understand you than to be good, eh?"

"I guess it's more to any woman," she answered.  They both passed out of
the house.  She turned towards the broken shutter.  Then their eyes met.
A sad little smile hovered at her lips.

"What is the use?" she said, and her eyes fastened on the horsemen.

He knew now that she would never shudder again at the sight of it,
or at the remembrance of Marcey's death.

"But he will come," was the reply to her, and her smile almost settled
and stayed.

They parted, and as he went down the hill he saw far over, coming up,
a woman in black, who walked as if she carried a great weight.  "Every
shot that kills ricochets," he said to himself:

"His mother dead--her mother like that!"

He passed into the Fort, renewing acquaintances in the Company's store,
and twenty minutes after he was one to greet the horsemen that Lucille
had seen coming over the hills.  They were five, and one had to be helped
from his horse.  It was Stroke Laforce, who had been found near dead at
the Metal River by a party of men exploring in the north.

He had rescued the Englishman and his party, but within a day of the
finding the Englishman died, leaving him his watch, a ring, and a cheque
on the H. B. C.  at Winnipeg.  He and the two survivors, one of whom was
Brickney, started south.  One night Brickney robbed him and made to get
away, and on his seizing the thief he was wounded.  Then the other man
came to his help and shot Brickney: after that weeks of wandering, and
at last rescue and Fort Ste. Anne.

A half-hour after this Pierre left Laforce on the crest of the hill above
the Fort, and did not turn to go down till he had seen the other pass
within the house with the broken shutter.  And later he saw a little
bonfire on the hill.  The next evening he came to the house again
himself.  Lucille rose to meet him.

"'Why should the door be shut?"' he quoted smiling.

"The door is open," she answered quickly and with a quiet joy.

He turned to the motion of her hand, and saw Laforce asleep on a couch.

Soon afterwards, as he passed from the house, he turned towards the
window.  The broken shutter was gone.

He knew now the meaning of the bonfire the night before.



THE FINDING OF FINGALL

"Fingall!  Fingall!--Oh, Fingall!"

A grey mist was rising from the river, the sun was drinking it
delightedly, the swift blue water showed underneath it, and the top of
Whitefaced Mountain peaked the mist by a hand-length.  The river brushed
the banks like rustling silk, and the only other sound, very sharp and
clear in the liquid monotone, was the crack of a woodpecker's beak on a
hickory tree.

It was a sweet, fresh autumn morning in Lonesome Valley.  Before night
the deer would bellow reply to the hunters' rifles, and the mountain-goat
call to its unknown gods; but now there was only the wild duck skimming
the river, and the high hilltop rising and fading into the mist, the
ardent sun, and again that strange cry--

"Fingall!--Oh, Fingall!  Fingall!"

Two men, lounging at a fire on a ledge of the hills, raised their eyes to
the mountain-side beyond and above them, and one said presently:

"The second time.  It's a woman's voice, Pierre."  Pierre nodded, and
abstractedly stirred the coals about with a twig.

"Well, it is a pity--the poor Cynthie," he said at last.

"It is a woman, then.  You know her, Pierre--her story?"

"Fingall!  Fingall!--Oh, Fingall!"

Pierre raised his head towards the sound; then after a moment, said:

"I know Fingall."

"And the woman?  Tell me."

"And the girl.  Fingall was all fire and heart, and devil-may-care.
She--she was not beautiful except in the eye, but that was like a flame
of red and blue.  Her hair, too--then--would trip her up, if it hung
loose.  That was all, except that she loved him too much.  But women--
et puis, when a woman gets a man between her and the heaven above and the
earth beneath, and there comes the great hunger, what is the good!  A man
cannot understand, but he can see, and he can fear.  What is the good!
To play with life, that is not much; but to play with a soul is more than
a thousand lives.  Look at Cynthie."

He paused, and Lawless waited patiently.  Presently Pierre continued:

Fingall was gentil; he would take off his hat to a squaw.  It made no
difference what others did; he didn't think--it was like breathing to
him.  How can you tell the way things happen?  Cynthie's father kept the
tavern at St. Gabriel's Fork, over against the great saw-mill.  Fingall
was foreman of a gang in the lumberyard.  Cynthie had a brother--Fenn.
Fenn was as bad as they make, but she loved him, and Fingall knew it
well, though he hated the young skunk.  The girl's eyes were like two
little fire-flies when Fingall was about.

"He was a gentleman, though he had only half a name--Fingall--like that.
I think he did not expect to stay; he seemed to be waiting for something
--always when the mail come in he would be there; and afterwards you
wouldn't see him for a time.  So it seemed to me that he made up his mind
to think nothing of Cynthie, and to say nothing."

"Fingall!  Fingall!--Oh, Fingall!"

The strange, sweet, singing voice sounded nearer.  "She's coming this
way, Pierre," said Lawless.

"I hope not to see her.  What is the good!"

"Well, let us have the rest of the story."

"Her brother Fenn was in Fingall's gang.  One day there was trouble.
Fenn called Fingall a liar.  The gang stopped piling; the usual thing did
not come.  Fingall told him to leave the yard, and they would settle some
other time.  That night a wicked thing happened.  We were sitting in the
bar-room when we heard two shots and then a fall.  We ran into the other
room; there was Fenn on the floor, dying.  He lifted himself on his
elbow, pointed at Fingall--and fell back.  The father of the boy stood
white and still a few feet away.  There was no pistol showing--none at
all.

"The men closed in on Fingall.  He did not stir--he seemed to be thinking
of something else.  He had a puzzled, sorrowful look.  The men roared
round him, but he waved them back for a moment, and looked first at the
father, then at the son.  I could not understand at first.  Someone
pulled a pistol out of Fingall's pocket and showed it.  At that moment
Cynthie came in.  She gave a cry.  By the holy!  I do not want to hear a
cry like that often.  She fell on her knees beside the boy, and caught
his head to her breast.  Then with a wild look she asked who did it.
They had just taken Fingall out into the bar-room.  They did not tell
her his name, for they knew that she loved him.

"'Father,' she said all at once, 'have you killed the man that killed
Fenn?'

"The old man shook his head.  There was a sick colour in his face.

"'Then I will kill him,' she said.

"She laid her brother's head down, and stood up.  Someone put in her hand
the pistol, and told her it was the same that had killed Fenn.  She took
it, and came with us.  The old man stood still where he was; he was like
stone.  I looked at him for a minute and thought; then I turned round and
went to the bar-room; and he followed.  Just as I got inside the door,
I saw the girl start back, and her hand drop, for she saw that it was
Fingall; he was looking at her very strange.  It was the rule to empty
the gun into a man who had been sentenced; and already Fingall had heard
his, 'God-have-mercy!'  The girl was to do it.

"Fingall said to her in a muffled voice, 'Fire--Cynthie!'

"I guessed what she would do.  In a kind of a dream she raised the pistol
up--up--up, till I could see it was just out of range of his head, and
she fired.  One!  two!  three!  four!  five!  Fingall never moved a
muscle; but the bullets spotted the wall at the side of his head.  She
stopped after the five; but the arm was still held out, and her finger
was on the trigger; she seemed to be all dazed.  Only six chambers were
in the gun, and of course one chamber was empty.  Fenn had its bullet in
his lungs, as we thought.  So someone beside Cynthie touched her arm,
pushing it down.  But there was another shot, and this time, because of
the push, the bullet lodged in Fingall's skull."

Pierre paused now, and waved with his hand towards the mist which hung
high up like a canopy between the hills.

"But," said Lawless, not heeding the scene, "what about that sixth
bullet?"

"Holy, it is plain!  Fingall did not fire the shot.  His revolver was
full, every chamber, when Cynthie first took it."

"Who killed the lad?"

"Can you not guess?  There had been words between the father and the
boy: both had fierce blood.  The father, in a mad minute, fired; the boy
wanted revenge on Fingall, and, to save his father, laid it on the other.
The old man?  Well, I do not know whether he was a coward, or stupid, or
ashamed--he let Fingall take it."

"Fingall took it to spare the girl, eh?"

"For the girl.  It wasn't good for her to know her father killed his own
son."

"What came after?"

"The worst.  That night the girl's father killed himself, and the two
were buried in the same grave.  Cynthie--"

"Fingall!  Fingall!--Oh, Fingall!"

"You hear?  Yes, like that all the time as she sat on the floor,
her hair about her like a cloud, and the dead bodies in the next room.
She thought she had killed Fingall, and she knew now that he was
innocent.  The two were buried.  Then we told her that Fingall was not
dead.  She used to come and sit outside the door, and listen to his
breathing, and ask if he ever spoke of her.  What was the good of lying?
If we said he did, she'd have come in to him, and that would do no good,
for he wasn't right in his mind.  By and by we told her he was getting
well, and then she didn't come, but stayed at home, just saying his name
over to herself.  Alors, things take hold of a woman--it is strange!
When Fingall was strong enough to go out, I went with him the first time.
He was all thin and handsome as you can think, but he had no memory,
and his eyes were like a child's.  She saw him, and came out to meet him.
What does a woman care for the world when she loves a man?  Well, he just
looked at her as if he'd never seen her before, and passed by without a
sign, though afterwards a trouble came in his face.  Three days later he
was gone, no one knew where.  That is two years ago.  Ever since she has
been looking for him."

"Is she mad?"

"Mad?  Holy Mother! it is not good to have one thing in the head all the
time!  What do you think?  So much all at once!  And then--"

"Hush, Pierre!  There she is!" said Lawless, pointing to a ledge of rock
not far away.

The girl stood looking out across the valley, a weird, rapt look in her
face, her hair falling loose, a staff like a shepherd's crook in one
hand, the other hand over her eyes as she slowly looked from point to
point of the horizon.

The two watched her without speaking.  Presently she saw them.  She gazed
at them for a minute, then descended to them.  Lawless and Pierre rose,
doffing their hats.  She looked at both a moment, and her eyes settled on
Pierre.  Presently she held out her hand to him. "I knew you--yesterday,"
she said.

Pierre returned the intensity of her gaze with one kind and strong.

"So--so, Cynthie," he said; "sit down and eat."

He dropped on a knee and drew a scone and some fish from the ashes.  She
sat facing them, and, taking from a bag at her side some wild fruits, ate
slowly, saying nothing.  Lawless noticed that her hair had become grey at
her temples, though she was but one-and-twenty years old.  Her face,
brown as it was, shone with a white kind of light, which may, or may not,
have come from the crucible of her eyes, where the tragedy of her life
was fusing.  Lawless could not bear to look long, for the fire that
consumes a body and sets free a soul is not for the sight of the quick.
At last she rose, her body steady, but her hands having that tremulous
activity of her eyes.

"Will you not stay, Cynthie?" asked Lawless very kindly.

She came close to him, and, after searching his eyes, said with a smile
that almost hurt him, "When I have found him, I will bring him to your
camp-fire.  Last night the Voice said that he waits for me where the mist
rises from the river at daybreak, close to the home of the White Swan.
Do you know where is the home of the White Swan?  Before the frost comes
and the red wolf cries, I must find him.  Winter is the time of sleep.

"I will give him honey and dried meat.  I know where we shall live
together.  You never saw such roses!  Hush! I have a place where we can
hide."

Suddenly her gaze became fixed and dream-like, and she said slowly:
"In all time of our tribulation, in all time of our wealth, in the hour
of death, and in the Day of Judgment, Good Lord, deliver us!"

"Good Lord, deliver us!" repeated Lawless in a low voice.  Without
looking at them, she slowly turned away and passed up the hill-side, her
eyes scanning the valley as before.

"Good Lord, deliver us!" again said Lawless.  "Where did she get it?"

"From a book which Fingall left behind."

They watched her till she rounded a cliff, and was gone; then they
shouldered their kits and passed up the river on the trail of the wapiti.

One month later, when a fine white surf of frost lay on the ground,
and the sky was darkened often by the flight of the wild geese southward,
they came upon a hut perched on a bluff, at the edge of a clump of pines.
It was morning, and Whitefaced Mountain shone clear and high, without a
touch of cloud or mist from its haunches to its crown.

They knocked at the hut door, and, in answer to a voice, entered.  The
sunlight streamed in over a woman, lying upon a heap of dried flowers in
a corner.  A man was kneeling beside her.  They came near, and saw that
the woman was Cynthie.

"Fingall!" broke out Pierre, and caught the kneeling man by the
shoulder.  At the sound of his voice the woman's eyes opened.

"Fingall!--Oh, Fingall!" she said, and reached up a hand.

Fingall stooped and caught her to his breast: "Cynthie! poor girl!  Oh,
my poor Cynthie!" he said.  In his eyes, as in hers, was a sane light,
and his voice, as hers, said indescribable things.

Her head sank upon his shoulder, her eyes closed; she slept.  Fingall
laid her down with a sob in his throat; then he sat up and clutched
Pierre's hand.

"In the East, where the doctors cured me, I heard all," he said, pointing
to her, "and I came to find her.  I was just in time; I found her
yesterday."

"She knew you?" whispered Pierre.

"Yes, but this fever came on."  He turned and looked at her, and,
kneeling, smoothed away the hair from the quiet face.  "Poor girl!"
he said; "poor girl!"

"She will get well?" asked Pierre.

"God grant it!" Fingall replied.  "She is better--better."

Lawless and Pierre softly turned and stole away, leaving the man alone
with the woman he loved.

The two stood in silence, looking upon the river beneath.  Presently a
voice crept through the stillness.  "Fingall!  Oh, Fingall!--Fingall!"

It was the voice of a woman returning from the dead.



THREE COMMANDMENTS IN THE VULGAR TONGUE


I

"Read on, Pierre," the sick man said, doubling the corner of the wolf-
skin pillow so that it shaded his face from the candle.

Pierre smiled to himself, thinking of the unusual nature of his
occupation, raised an eyebrow as if to someone sitting at the other side
of the fire,--though the room was empty save for the two--and went on
reading:

     "Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the
     noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a
     rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!

     "The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God
     shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased
     as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling
     thing before the whirlwind.

     "And behold at evening-tide trouble; and before the morning he is
     not.  This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them
     that rob us."

The sick man put up his hand, motioning for silence, and Pierre, leaving
the Bible open, laid it at his side.  Then he fell to studying the figure
on the couch.  The body, though reduced by a sudden illness, had an
appearance of late youth, a firmness of mature manhood; but the hair was
grey, the beard was grizzled, and the face was furrowed and seamed as
though the man had lived a long, hard life.  The body seemed thirty years
old, the head sixty; the man's exact age was forty-five.  His most
singular characteristic was a fine, almost spiritual intelligence, which
showed in the dewy brightness of the eye, in the lighted face, in the
cadenced definiteness of his speech.  One would have said, knowing
nothing of him, that he was a hermit; but again, noting the firm,
graceful outlines of his body, that he was a soldier.  Within the past
twenty-four hours he had had a fight for life with one of the terrible
"colds" which, like an unstayed plague, close up the courses of the body,
and carry a man out of the hurly-burly, without pause to say how much or
how little he cares to go.

Pierre, whose rude skill in medicine was got of hard experiences here and
there, had helped him back into the world again, and was himself now a
little astonished at acting as Scripture reader to a Protestant invalid.
Still, the Bible was like his childhood itself, always with him in
memory, and Old Testament history was as wine to his blood.  The lofty
tales sang in his veins: of primitive man, adventure, mysterious and
exalted romance.  For nearly an hour, with absorbing interest, he had
read aloud from these ancient chronicles to Fawdor, who held this Post of
the Hudson's Bay Company in the outer wilderness.

Pierre had arrived at the Post three days before, to find a half-breed
trapper and an Indian helpless before the sickness which was hurrying to
close on John Fawdor's heart and clamp it in the vice of death.  He had
come just in time.  He was now ready to learn, by what ways the future
should show, why this man, of such unusual force and power, should have
lived at a desolate post in Labrador for twenty-five years.

"'This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob
us--'"  Fawdor repeated the words slowly, and then said: "It is good to
be out of the restless world.  Do you know the secret of life, Pierre?"

Pierre's fingers unconsciously dropped on the Bible at his side, drumming
the leaves.  His eyes wandered over Fawdor's face, and presently he
answered, "To keep your own commandments."

"The ten?" asked the sick man, pointing to the Bible.  Pierre's fingers
closed the book.  "Not the ten, for they do not fit all; but one by one
to make your own, and never to break--comme ca!"

"The answer is well," returned Fawdor; "but what is the greatest
commandment that a man can make for himself?"

"Who can tell?  What is the good of saying, 'Thou shalt keep holy the
Sabbath day,' when a man lives where he does not know the days?  What is
the good of saying, 'Thou shalt not steal,' when a man has no heart to
rob, and there is nothing to steal?  But a man should have a heart, an
eye for justice.  It is good for him to make his commandments against
that wherein he is a fool or has a devil.  Justice,--that is the thing."

"'Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour'?" asked
Fawdor softly.

"Yes, like that.  But a man must put it in his own words, and keep the
law which he makes.  Then life does not give a bad taste in the mouth."

"What commandments have you made for yourself, Pierre?"

The slumbering fire in Pierre's face leaped up.  He felt for an instant
as his father, a chevalier of France, might have felt if a peasant had
presumed to finger the orders upon his breast.  It touched his native
pride, so little shown in anything else.  But he knew the spirit behind
the question, and the meaning justified the man.  "Thou shalt think with
the minds of twelve men, and the heart of one woman," he said, and
paused.

"Justice and mercy," murmured the voice from the bed.

"Thou shalt keep the faith of food and blanket."  Again Pierre paused.

"And a man shall have no cause to fear his friend," said the voice again.

The pause was longer this time, and Pierre's cold, handsome face took on
a kind of softness before he said, "Remember the sorrow of thine own
wife."

"It is a good commandment," said the sick man, "to make all women safe
whether they be true--or foolish."

"The strong should be ashamed to prey upon the weak.  Pshaw!  such a
sport ends in nothing.  Man only is man's game."

Suddenly Pierre added: "When you thought you were going to die, you gave
me some papers and letters to take to Quebec.  You will get well.  Shall
I give them back?  Will you take them yourself?"

Fawdor understood: Pierre wished to know his story.  He reached out a
hand, saying, "I will take them myself.  You have not read them?"

"No.  I was not to read them till you died--bien?" He handed the packet
over.

"I will tell you the story," Fawdor said, turning over on his side, so
that his eyes rested full on Pierre.

He did not begin at once.  An Esquimau dog, of the finest and yet wildest
breed, which had been lying before the fire, stretched itself, opened its
red eyes at the two men, and, slowly rising, went to the door and sniffed
at the cracks.  Then it turned, and began pacing restlessly around the
room.  Every little while it would stop, sniff the air, and go on again.
Once or twice, also, as it passed the couch of the sick man, it paused,
and at last it suddenly rose, rested two feet on the rude headboard of
the couch, and pushed its nose against the invalid's head.  There was
something rarely savage and yet beautifully soft in the dog's face,
scarred as it was by the whips of earlier owners.  The sick man's hand
went up and caressed the wolfish head.  "Good dog, good Akim!" he said
softly in French.  "Thou dost know when a storm is on the way; thou dost
know, too, when there is a storm in my heart."

Even as he spoke a wind came crying round the house, and the parchment
windows gave forth a soft booming sound.  Outside, Nature was trembling
lightly in all her nerves; belated herons, disturbed from the freshly
frozen pool, swept away on tardy wings into the night and to the south;
a herd of wolves, trooping by the hut, passed from a short, easy trot to
a low, long gallop, devouring, yet fearful.  It appeared as though the
dumb earth were trying to speak, and the mighty effort gave it pain,
from which came awe and terror to living things.

So, inside the house, also, Pierre almost shrank from the unknown sorrow
of this man beside him, who was about to disclose the story of his life.
The solitary places do not make men glib of tongue; rather, spare of
words.  They whose tragedy lies in the capacity to suffer greatly, being
given the woe of imagination, bring forth inner history as a mother gasps
life into the world.

"I was only a boy of twenty-one," Fawdor said from the pillow, as he
watched the dog noiselessly travelling from corner to corner, "and I had
been with the Company three years.  They had said that I could rise fast;
I had done so.  I was ambitious; yet I find solace in thinking that I saw
only one way to it,--by patience, industry, and much thinking.  I read a
great deal, and cared for what I read; but I observed also, that in
dealing with men I might serve myself and the Company wisely.

"One day the governor of the Company came from England, and with him a
sweet lady, his young niece, and her brother.  They arranged for a tour
to the Great Lakes, and I was chosen to go with them in command of the
boatmen.  It appeared as if a great chance had come to me, and so said
the factor at Lachine on the morning we set forth.  The girl was as
winsome as you can think; not of such wonderful beauty, but with a face
that would be finer old than young; and a dainty trick of humour had she
as well.  The governor was a testy man; he could not bear to be crossed
in a matter; yet, in spite of all, I did not think he had a wilful
hardness.  It was a long journey, and we were set to our wits to make it
always interesting; but we did it somehow, for there were fishing and
shooting, and adventure of one sort and another, and the lighter things,
such as singing and the telling of tales, as the boatmen rowed the long
river.

"We talked of many things as we travelled, and I was glad to listen to
the governor, for he had seen and read much.  It was clear he liked to
have us hang upon his tales and his grand speeches, which seemed a little
large in the mouth; and his nephew, who had a mind for raillery, was now
and again guilty of some witty impertinence; but this was hard to bring
home to him, for he could assume a fine childlike look when he pleased,
confusing to his accusers.  Towards the last he grew bolder, and said
many a biting thing to both the governor and myself, which more than once
turned his sister's face pale with apprehension, for she had a nice sense
of kindness.  Whenever the talk was at all general, it was his delight to
turn one against the other.  Though I was wary, and the girl understood
his game, at last he had his way.

"I knew Shakespeare and the Bible very well, and, like most bookish young
men, phrase and motto were much on my tongue, though not always given
forth.  One evening, as we drew to the camp-fire, a deer broke from the
woods and ran straight through the little circle we were making, and
disappeared in the bushes by the riverside.  Someone ran for a rifle; but
the governor forbade, adding, with an air, a phrase with philosophical
point.  I, proud of the chance to show I was not a mere backwoodsman at
such a sport, capped his aphorism with a line from Shakespeare's
Cymbeline.

"'Tut, tut!' said the governor smartly; 'you haven't it well, Mr. Fawdor;
it goes this way,' and he went on to set me right.  His nephew at that
stepped in, and, with a little disdainful laugh at me, made some galling
gibe at my 'distinguished learning.'  I might have known better than to
let it pique me, but I spoke up again, though respectfully enough, that
I was not wrong.  It appeared to me all at once as if some principle were
at stake, as if I were the champion of our Shakespeare; so will vanity
delude us.

"The governor--I can see it as if it were yesterday--seemed to go like
ice, for he loved to be thought infallible in all such things as well as
in great business affairs, and his nephew was there to give an edge to
the matter.  He said, curtly, that I would probably come on better in the
world if I were more exact and less cock-a-hoop with myself.  That stung
me, for not only was the young lady looking on with a sort of superior
pity, as I thought, but her brother was murmuring to her under his breath
with a provoking smile.  I saw no reason why I should be treated like a
schoolboy.  As far as my knowledge went it was as good as another man's,
were he young or old, so I came in quickly with my reply.  I said that
his excellency should find me more cock-a-hoop with Shakespeare than with
myself.  'Well, well,' he answered, with a severe look, 'our Company has
need of great men for hard tasks.'  To this I made no answer, for I got
a warning look from the young lady,--a look which had a sort of reproach
and command too.  She knew the twists and turns of her uncle's temper,
and how he was imperious and jealous in little things.  The matter
dropped for the time; but as the governor was going to his tent for the
night, the young lady said to me hurriedly, 'My uncle is a man of great
reading--and power, Mr. Fawdor.  I would set it right with him, if I were
you.'  For the moment I was ashamed.  You cannot guess how fine an eye
she had, and how her voice stirred one!  She said no more, but stepped
inside her tent; and then I heard the brother say over my shoulder, 'Oh,
why should the spirit of mortal be proud!'  Afterwards, with a little
laugh and a backward wave of the hand, as one might toss a greeting to
a beggar, he was gone also, and I was left alone."

Fawdor paused in his narrative.  The dog had lain down by the fire again,
but its red eyes were blinking at the door, and now and again it growled
softly, and the long hair at its mouth seemed to shiver with feeling.
Suddenly through the night there rang a loud, barking cry.  The dog's
mouth opened and closed in a noiseless snarl, showing its keen, long
teeth, and a ridge of hair bristled on its back.  But the two men made
no sign or motion.  The cry of wild cats was no new thing to them.

Presently the other continued: "I sat by the fire and heard beasts howl
like that, I listened to the river churning over the rapids below, and I
felt all at once a loneliness that turned me sick.  There were three
people in a tent near me; I could even hear the governor's breathing; but
I appeared to have no part in the life of any human being, as if I were a
kind of outlaw of God and man.  I was poor; I had no friends; I was at
the mercy of this great Company; if I died, there was not a human being
who, so far as I knew, would shed a tear.  Well, you see I was only a
boy, and I suppose it was the spirit of youth hungering for the huge,
active world and the companionship of ambitious men.  There is no one so
lonely as the young dreamer on the brink of life.  "I was lying by the
fire.  It was not a cold night, and I fell asleep at last without
covering.  I did not wake till morning, and then it was to find the
governor's nephew building up the fire again.  'Those who are born
great,' said he, 'are bound to rise.'  But perhaps he saw that I had had
a bad night, and felt that he had gone far enough, for he presently said,
in a tone more to my liking, 'Take my advice, Mr. Fawdor; make it right
with my uncle.  It isn't such fast rising in the Company that you can
afford to quarrel with its governor.  I'd go on the other tack: don't be
too honest.'  I thanked him, and no more was said; but I liked him
better, for I saw that he was one of those who take pleasure in dropping
nettles more to see the weakness of human nature than from malice.

"But my good fortune had got a twist, and it was not to be straightened
that day; and because it was not straightened then it was not to be at
all; for at five o'clock we came to the Post at Lachine, and here the
governor and the others were to stop.  During all the day I had waited
for my chance to say a word of apology to his excellency, but it was no
use; nothing seemed to help me, for he was busy with his papers and
notes, and I also had to finish up my reports.  The hours went by, and
I saw my chances drift past.  I knew that the governor held the thing
against me, and not the less because he saw me more than once that day in
speech with his niece.  For she appeared anxious to cheer me, and indeed
I think we might have become excellent friends had our ways run together.
She could have bestowed her friendship on me without shame to herself,
for I had come of an old family in Scotland, the Sheplaws of Canfire,
which she knew, as did the governor also, was a more ancient family than
their own.  Yet her kindness that day worked me no good, and I went far
to make it worse, since, under the spell of her gentleness, I looked at
her far from distantly, and at the last, as she was getting from the
boat, returned the pressure of her hand with much interest.  I suppose
something of the pride of that moment leaped up in my eye, for I saw the
governor's face harden more and more, and the brother shrugged an
ironical shoulder.  I was too young to see or know that the chief thing
in the girl's mind was regret that I had so hurt my chances; for she
knew, as I saw only too well afterwards, that I might have been rewarded
with a leaping promotion in honour of the success of the journey.  But
though the boatmen got a gift of money and tobacco and spirits, nothing
came to me save the formal thanks of the governor, as he bowed me from
his presence.

"The nephew came with his sister to bid me farewell.  There was little
said between her and me, and it was a long, long time before she knew the
end of that day's business.  But the brother said, 'You've let, the
chance go by, Mr. Fawdor.  Better luck next time, eh?  And,' he went on,
'I'd give a hundred editions the lie, but I'd read the text according to
my chief officer.  The words of a king are always wise while his head is
on,' he declared further, and he drew from his scarf a pin of pearls and
handed it to me.  'Will you wear that for me, Mr. Fawdor?' he asked; and
I, who had thought him but a stripling with a saucy pride, grasped his
hand and said a God-keep-you.  It does me good now to think I said
it.  I did not see him or his sister again.

"The next day was Sunday.  About two o'clock I was sent for by the
governor.  When I got to the Post and was admitted to him, I saw that my
misadventure was not over.  'Mr. Fawdor,' said he coldly, spreading out a
map on the table before him, 'you will start at once for Fort Ungava, at
Ungava Bay, in Labrador.'  I felt my heart stand still for a moment, and
then surge up and down, like a piston-rod under a sudden rush of steam.
'You will proceed now,' he went on, in his hard voice, 'as far as the
village of Pont Croix.  There you will find three Indians awaiting you.
You will go on with them as far as Point St. Saviour and camp for the
night, for if the Indians remain in the village they may get drunk.  The
next morning, at sunrise, you will move on.  The Indians know the trail
across Labrador to Fort Ungava.  When you reach there, you will take
command of the Post and remain till further orders.  Your clothes are
already at the village.  I have had them packed, and you will find there
also what is necessary for the journey.  The factor at Ungava was there
ten years; he has gone--to heaven.'

"I cannot tell what it was held my tongue silent, that made me only bow
my head in assent, and press my lips together.  I knew I was pale as
death, for as I turned to leave the room I caught sight of my face in a
little mirror tacked on the door, and I hardly recognised myself.

"'Good-day, Mr. Fawdor,' said the governor, handing me the map.  'There
is some brandy in your stores; be careful that none of your Indians get
it.  If they try to desert, you know what to do.'  With a gesture of
dismissal he turned, and began to speak with the chief trader.

"For me, I went from that room like a man condemned to die.  Fort Ungava
in Labrador,--a thousand miles away, over a barren, savage country, and
in winter too; for it would be winter there immediately!  It was an exile
to Siberia, and far worse than Siberia; for there are many there to share
the fellowship of misery, and I was likely to be the only white man at
Fort Ungava.  As I passed from the door of the Post the words of
Shakespeare which had brought all this about sang in my ears."  He ceased
speaking, and sank back wearily among the skins of his couch.  Out of the
enveloping silence Pierre's voice came softly:

"Thou shalt judge with the minds of twelve men, and the heart of one
woman."



II

"The journey to the village of Pont Croix was that of a man walking over
graves.  Every step sent a pang to my heart,--a boy of twenty-one, grown
old in a moment.  It was not that I had gone a little lame from a hurt
got on the expedition with the governor, but my whole life seemed
suddenly lamed.  Why did I go?  Ah, you do not know how discipline gets
into a man's bones, the pride, the indignant pride of obedience!  At that
hour I swore that I should myself be the governor of that Company one
day,--the boast of loud-hearted youth.  I had angry visions, I dreamed
absurd dreams, but I did not think of disobeying.  It was an unheard-of
journey at such a time, but I swore that I would do it, that it should go
into the records of the Company.

"I reached the village, found the Indians, and at once moved on to the
settlement where we were to stay that night.  Then my knee began to pain
me.  I feared inflammation; so in the dead of night I walked back to the
village, roused a trader of the Company, got some liniment and other
trifles, and arrived again at St. Saviour's before dawn.  My few clothes
and necessaries came in the course of the morning, and by noon we were
fairly started on the path to exile.

"I remember that we came to a lofty point on the St. Lawrence just before
we plunged into the woods, to see the great stream no more.  I stood and
looked back up the river towards the point where Lachine lay.  All that
went to make the life of a Company's man possible was there; and there,
too, were those with whom I had tented and travelled for three long
months,--eaten with them, cared for them, used for them all the woodcraft
that I knew.  I could not think that it would be a young man's lifetime
before I set eyes on that scene again.  Never from that day to this have
I seen the broad, sweet river where I spent the three happiest years of
my life.  I can see now the tall shining heights of Quebec, the pretty
wooded Island of Orleans, the winding channel, so deep, so strong.  The
sun was three-fourths of its way down in the west, and already the sky
was taking on the deep red and purple of autumn.  Somehow, the thing that
struck me most in the scene was a bunch of pines, solemn and quiet, their
tops burnished by the afternoon light.  Tears would have been easy then.
But my pride drove them back from my eyes to my angry heart.  Besides,
there were my Indians waiting, and the long journey lay before us.  Then,
perhaps because there was none nearer to make farewell to, or I know not
why, I waved my hand towards the distant village of Lachine, and, with
the sweet maid in my mind who had so gently parted from me yesterday, I
cried, 'Good-bye, and God bless you.'"

He paused.  Pierre handed him a wooden cup, from which he drank, and then
continued:

"The journey went forward.  You have seen the country.  You know what it
is: those bare ice-plains and rocky unfenced fields stretching to all
points, the heaving wastes of treeless country, the harsh frozen lakes.
God knows what insupportable horror would have settled on me in that
pilgrimage had it not been for occasional glimpses of a gentler life--for
the deer and caribou which crossed our path.  Upon my soul, I was so full
of gratitude and love at the sight that I could have thrown my arms round
their necks and kissed them.  I could not raise a gun at them.  My
Indians did that, and so inconstant is the human heart that I ate
heartily of the meat.  My Indians were almost less companionable to me
than any animal would have been.  Try as I would, I could not bring
myself to like them, and I feared only too truly that they did not like
me.  Indeed, I soon saw that they meant to desert me,--kill me, perhaps,
if they could, although I trusted in the wholesome and restraining fear
which the Indian has of the great Company.  I was not sure that they were
guiding me aright, and I had to threaten death in case they tried to
mislead me or desert me.  My knee at times was painful, and cold, hunger,
and incessant watchfulness wore on me vastly.  Yet I did not yield to my
miseries, for there entered into me then not only the spirit of
endurance, but something of that sacred pride in suffering which
was the merit of my Covenanting forefathers.

"We were four months on that bitter travel, and I do not know how it
could have been made at all, had it not been for the deer that I had
heart to eat and none to kill.  The days got shorter and shorter, and we
were sometimes eighteen hours in absolute darkness.  Thus you can imagine
how slowly we went.  Thank God, we could sleep, hid away in our fur bags,
more often without a fire than with one,--mere mummies stretched out on a
vast coverlet of white, with the peering, unfriendly sky above us; though
it must be said that through all those many, many weeks no cloud perched
in the zenith.  When there was light there was sun, and the courage of it
entered into our bones, helping to save us.  You may think I have been
made feeble-minded by my sufferings, but I tell you plainly that, in the
closing days of our journey, I used to see a tall figure walking beside
me, who, whenever I would have spoken to him, laid a warning finger on
his lips; but when I would have fallen, he spoke to me, always in the
same words.  You have heard of him, the Scarlet Hunter of the Kimash
Hills.  It was he, the Sentinel of the North, the Lover of the Lost.
So deep did his words go into my heart that they have remained with
me to this hour."

"I saw him once in the White Valley," Pierre said in a low voice.  "What
was it he said to you?"

The other drew a long breath, and a smile rested on his lips.  Then,
slowly, as though liking to linger over them, he repeated the words of
the Scarlet Hunter:

        "'O son of man, behold!
          If thou shouldest stumble on the nameless trail,
          The trail that no man rides,
          Lift up thy heart,
          Behold, O son of man, thou hast a helper near!

        "'O son of man, take heed!
          If thou shouldst fall upon the vacant plain,
          The plain that no man loves,
          Reach out thy hand,
          Take heed, O son of man, strength shall be given thee!

        "'O son of man, rejoice!
          If thou art blinded even at the door,
          The door of the Safe Tent,
          Sing in thy heart,
          Rejoice, O son of man, thy pilot leads thee home?'

"I never seemed to be alone after that--call it what you will, fancy or
delirium.  My head was so light that it appeared to spin like a star, and
my feet were so heavy that I dragged the whole earth after me.  My
Indians seldom spoke.  I never let them drop behind me, for I did not
trust their treacherous natures.  But in the end, as it would seem, they
also had but one thought, and that to reach Fort Ungava; for there was no
food left, none at all.  We saw no tribes of Indians and no Esquimaux,
for we had not passed in their line of travel or settlement.

"At last I used to dream that birds were singing near me,--a soft,
delicate whirlwind of sound; and then bells all like muffled silver rang
through the aching, sweet air.  Bits of prayer and poetry I learned when
a boy flashed through my mind; equations in algebra; the tingling scream
of a great buzz-saw; the breath of a racer as he nears the post under the
crying whip; my own voice dropping loud profanity, heard as a lad from
a blind ferryman; the boom! boom! of a mass of logs as they struck a
house on a flooding river and carried it away.  .  .  .

"One day we reached the end.  It was near evening, and we came to the top
of a wooded knoll.  My eyes were dancing in my head with fatigue and
weakness, but I could see below us, on the edge of the great bay, a large
hut, Esquimau lodges and Indian tepees near it.  It was the Fort, my
cheerless prison-house."

He paused.  The dog had been watching him with its flaming eyes; now it
gave a low growl, as though it understood, and pitied.  In the interval
of silence the storm without broke.  The trees began to quake and cry,
the light snow to beat upon the parchment windows, and the chimney to
splutter and moan.  Presently, out on the bay they could hear the young
ice break and come scraping up the shore.  Fawdor listened a while, and
then went on, waving his hand to the door as he began: "Think! this, and
like that always: the ungodly strife of nature, and my sick, disconsolate
life."

"Ever since?" asked Pierre.  "All the time."

"Why did you not go back?"

"I was to wait for orders, and they never came."

"You were a free man, not a slave."

"The human heart has pride.  At first, as when I left the governor at
Lachine, I said, 'I will never speak, I will never ask nor bend the knee.
He has the power to oppress; I can obey without whining, as fine a man as
he.'"

"Did you not hate?"

"At first, as only a banished man can hate.  I knew that if all had gone
well I should be a man high up in the Company, and here I was, living
like a dog in the porch of the world, sometimes without other food for
months than frozen fish; and for two years I was in a place where we had
no fire,--lived in a snow-house, with only blubber to eat.  And so year
after year, no word!"

"The mail came once every year from the world?"  "Yes, once a year the
door of the outer life was opened.  A ship came into the bay, and by that
ship I sent out my reports.  But no word came from the governor, and no
request went from me.  Once the captain of that ship took me by the
shoulders, and said, 'Fawdor, man, this will drive you mad.  Come away to
England,--leave your half-breed in charge,--and ask the governor for a
big promotion.'  He did not understand.  Of course I said I could not go.
Then he turned on me, he was a good man,--and said, 'This will either
make you madman or saint, Fawdor.'  He drew a Bible from his pocket and
handed it to me.  'I've used it twenty years,' he said, 'in evil and out
of evil, and I've spiked it here and there; it's a chart for heavy seas,
and may you find it so, my lad.'

"I said little then; but when I saw the sails of his ship round a cape
and vanish, all my pride and strength were broken up, and I came in a
heap to the ground, weeping like a child.  But the change did not come
all at once.  There were two things that kept me hard."

"The girl?"

"The girl, and another.  But of the young lady after.  I had a half-breed
whose life I had saved.  I was kind to him always; gave him as good to
eat and drink as I had myself; divided my tobacco with him; loved him as
only an exile can love a comrade.  He conspired with the Indians to seize
the Fort and stores, and kill me if I resisted.  I found it out."

"Thou shalt keep the faith of food and blanket," said Pierre.  "What did
you do with him?"

"The fault was not his so much as of his race and his miserable past.  I
had loved him.  I sent him away; and he never came back."

"Thou shalt judge with the minds of twelve men, and the heart of one
woman."

"For the girl.  There was the thing that clamped my heart.  Never a
message from her or her brother.  Surely they knew, and yet never,
thought I, a good word for me to the governor.  They had forgotten the
faith of food and blanket.  And she--she must have seen that I could have
worshipped her, had we been in the same way of life.  Before the better
days came to me I was hard against her, hard and rough at heart."

"Remember the sorrow of thine own wife."  Pierre's voice was gentle.

"Truly, to think hardly of no woman should be always in a man's heart.
But I have known only one woman of my race in twenty-five years!"

"And as time went on?"

"As time went on, and no word came, I ceased to look for it.  But I
followed that chart spiked with the captain's pencil, as he had done it
in season and out of season, and by and by I ceased to look for any word.
I even became reconciled to my life.  The ambitious and aching cares of
the world dropped from me, and I stood above all--alone in my suffering,
yet not yielding.  Loneliness is a terrible thing.  Under it a man--"

"Goes mad or becomes a saint--a saint!"  Pierre's voice became reverent.

Fawdor shook his head, smiling gently.  "Ah no, no.  But I began to
understand the world, and I loved the north, the beautiful hard north."

"But there is more?"

"Yes, the end of it all.  Three days before you came I got a packet of
letters, not by the usual yearly mail.  One announced that the governor
was dead.  Another--"

"Another?" urged Pierre.

--"was from Her.  She said that her brother, on the day she wrote, had by
chance come across my name in the Company's records, and found that I had
been here a quarter of a century.  It was the letter of a good woman.
She said she thought the governor had forgotten that he had sent me here
--as now I hope he had, for that would be one thing less for him to think
of, when he set out on the journey where the only weight man carries is
the packload of his sins.  She also said that she had written to me twice
after we parted at Lachine, but had never heard a word, and three years
afterwards she had gone to India.  The letters were lost, I suppose,
on the way to me, somehow--who can tell?  Then came another thing, so
strange, that it seemed like the laughter of the angels at us.  These
were her words: 'And, dear Mr. Fawdor, you were both wrong in that
quotation, as you no doubt discovered long ago.'  Then she gave me the
sentence as it is in Cymbeline.  She was right, quite right.  We were
both wrong.  Never till her letter came had I looked to see.  How vain,
how uncertain, and fallible, is man!"

Pierre dropped his cigarette, and stared at Fawdor.  "The knowledge of
books is foolery," he said slowly.  "Man is the only book of life.  Go
on."

"There was another letter, from the brother, who was now high up in the
Company, asking me to come to England, and saying that they wished to
promote me far, and that he and his sister, with their families, would be
glad to see me."

"She was married then?"

The rashness of the suggestion made Fawdor wave his hand impatiently.
He would not reply to it.  "I was struck down with all the news," he
said.  "I wandered like a child out into a mad storm.  Illness came; then
you, who have nursed me back to life.  .  .  .  And now I have told all."

"Not all, bien sur.  What will you do?"

"I am out of the world; why tempt it all again?  See how those twenty-
five years were twisted by a boy's vanity and a man's tyranny!"

"But what will you do?" persisted Pierre.  "You should see the faces of
women and children again.  No man can live without that sight, even as a
saint."

Suddenly Fawdor's face was shot over with a storm of feeling.  He lay
very still, his thoughts busy with a new world which had been disclosed
to him.  "Youth hungers for the vanities," he said, "and the middle-aged
for home."  He took Pierre's hand.  "I will go," he added.  "A door will
open somewhere for me."

Then he turned his face to the wall.  The storm had ceased, the wild dog
huddled quietly on the hearth, and for hours the only sound was the
crackling of the logs as Pierre stirred the fire.



ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

Advantage to live where nothing was required of her but truth
Don't be too honest
Every shot that kills ricochets
Not good to have one thing in the head all the time
Remember the sorrow of thine own wife
Secret of life: to keep your own commandments
She had not suffered that sickness, social artifice
Some people are rough with the poor--and proud
They whose tragedy lies in the capacity to suffer greatly
Think with the minds of twelve men, and the heart of one woman
Youth hungers for the vanities





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