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´╗┐Title: Mrs. Falchion, Volume 2.
Author: Parker, Gilbert
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mrs. Falchion, Volume 2." ***

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MRS. FALCHION

By Gilbert Parker


BOOK II.

THE SLOPE OF THE PACIFIC


CHAPTER XI

AMONG THE HILLS OF GOD

"Your letters, sir," said my servant, on the last evening of the college
year.  Examinations were over at last, and I was wondering where I should
spend my holidays.  The choice was very wide; ranging from the Muskoka
lakes to the Yosemite Valley.  Because it was my first year in Canada, I
really preferred not to go beyond the Dominion.  With these thoughts in
my mind I opened my letters.  The first two did not interest me;
tradesmen's bills seldom do.  The third brought a thumping sensation of
pleasure--though it was not from Miss Treherne.  I had had one from her
that morning, and this was a pleasure which never came twice in one day,
for Prince's College, Toronto, was a long week's journey from London,
S.W.  Considering, however, that I did receive letters from her once a
week, it may be concluded that Clovelly did not; and that, if he had, it
would have been by a serious infringement of my rights.  But, indeed, as
I have learned since, Clovelly took his defeat in a very characteristic
fashion, and said on an important occasion some generous things about me.

The letter that pleased me so much was from Galt Roscoe, who, as he had
intended, was settled in a new but thriving district of British Columbia,
near the Cascade Mountains.  Soon after his complete recovery he had been
ordained in England, had straightway sailed for Canada, and had gone to
work at once.  This note was an invitation to spend the holiday months
with him, where, as he said, a man "summering high among the hills of
God" could see visions and dream dreams, and hunt and fish too--
especially fish.  He urged that he would not talk parish concerns at me;
that I should not be asked to be godfather to any young mountaineers; and
that the only drawback, so far as my own predilections were concerned,
was the monotonous health of the people.  He described his summer cottage
of red pine as being built on the edge of a lovely ravine; he said that
he had the Cascades on one hand with their big glacier fields, and mighty
pine forests on the other; while the balmiest breezes of June awaited
"the professor of pathology and genial saw-bones."  At the end of the
letter he hinted something about a pleasant little secret for my ear when
I came; and remarked immediately afterwards that there were one or two
delightful families at Sunburst and Viking, villages in his parish.  One
naturally associated the little secret with some member of one of these
delightful families.  Finally, he said he would like to show me how it
was possible to transform a naval man into a parson.

My mind was made up.  I wrote to him that I would start at once.  Then
I began to make preparations, and meanwhile fell to thinking again about
him who was now the Reverend Galt Roscoe.  After the 'Fulvia' reached
London I had only seen him a few times, he having gone at once into the
country to prepare for ordination.  Mrs. Falchion and Justine Caron I had
met several times, but Mrs. Falchion forbore inquiring for Galt Roscoe:
from which, and from other slight but significant matters, I gathered
that she knew of his doings and whereabouts.  Before I started for
Toronto she said that she might see me there some day, for she was going
to San Francisco to inspect the property her uncle had left her, and in
all probability would make a sojourn in Canada.  I gave her my address,
and she then said she understood that Mr. Roscoe intended taking a
missionary parish in the wilds.  In his occasional letters to me while we
all were in England Roscoe seldom spoke of her, but, when he did, showed
that he knew of her movements.  This did not strike me at the time as
anything more than natural.  It did later.

Within a couple of weeks I reached Viking, a lumbering town with great
saw-mills, by way of San Francisco and Vancouver.  Roscoe met me at the
coach, and I was taken at once to the house among the hills.  It stood on
the edge of a ravine, and the end of the verandah looked over a verdant
precipice, beautiful but terrible too.  It was uniquely situated; a nest
among the hills, suitable either for work or play.  In one's ears was the
low, continuous din of the rapids, with the music of a neighbouring
waterfall.

On the way up the hills I had a chance to observe Roscoe closely.
His face had not that sturdy buoyancy which his letter suggested.  Still,
if it was pale, it had a glow which it did not possess before, and even a
stronger humanity than of old.  A new look had come into his eyes,
a certain absorbing earnestness, refining the past asceticism.
A more amiable and unselfish comrade man never had.

The second day I was there he took me to call upon a family at Viking,
the town with a great saw-mill and two smaller ones, owned by James
Devlin, an enterprising man who had grown rich at lumbering, and who
lived here in the mountains many months in each year.

Mr. James Devlin had a daughter who had had some advantages in the East
after her father had become rich, though her earlier life was spent
altogether in the mountains.  I soon saw where Roscoe's secret was to
be found.  Ruth Devlin was a tall girl of sensitive features, beautiful
eyes, and rare personality.  Her life, as I came to know, had been one of
great devotion and self-denial.  Before her father had made his fortune,
she had nursed a frail-bodied, faint-hearted mother, and had cared for,
and been a mother to, her younger sisters.  With wealth and ease came a
brighter bloom to her cheek, but it had a touch of care which would never
quite disappear, though it became in time a beautiful wistfulness rather
than anxiety.  Had this responsibility come to her in a city, it might
have spoiled her beauty and robbed her of her youth altogether; but in
the sustaining virtue of a life in the mountains, warm hues remained on
her cheek and a wonderful freshness in her nature.  Her family worshipped
her--as she deserved.

That evening Roscoe confided to me that he had not asked Ruth Devlin to
be his wife, nor had he, indeed, given her definite tokens of his love.
But the thing was in his mind as a happy possibility of the future.  We
talked till midnight, sitting at the end of the verandah overlooking the
ravine.  This corner, called the coping, became consecrated to our many
conversations.  We painted and sketched there in the morning (when we
were not fishing or he was not at his duties), received visitors, and
smoked in the evening, inhaling the balsam from the pines.  An old man
and his wife kept the house for us, and gave us to eat of simple but
comfortable fare.  The trout-fishing was good, and many a fine trout was
broiled for our evening meal; and many a fine string of trout found its
way to the tables of Roscoe's poorest parishioners, or else to furnish
the more fashionable table at which Ruth Devlin presided.  There were
excursions up the valley, and picnics on the hill-sides, and occasional
lunches and evening parties at the summer hotel, a mile from us farther
down the valley, at which tourists were beginning to assemble.

Yet, all the time, Roscoe was abundantly faithful to his duties at Viking
and in the settlement called Sunburst, which was devoted to salmon-
fishing.  Between Viking and Sunburst there was a great jealousy and
rivalry; for the salmon-fishers thought that the mills, though on a
tributary stream, interfered, by the sawdust spilled in the river, with
the travel and spawning of the salmon.  It needed all the tact of both
Mr. Devlin and Roscoe to keep the places from open fighting.  As it was,
the fire smouldered.  When Sunday came, however, there seemed to be truce
between the villages.  It appeared to me that one touched the primitive
and idyllic side of life: lively, sturdy, and simple, with nature about
us at once benignant and austere.  It is impossible to tell how fresh,
bracing, and inspiring was the climate of this new land.  It seemed to
glorify humanity, to make all who breathed it stalwart, and almost
pardonable even in wrong-doing.  Roscoe was always received respectfully,
and even cordially, among the salmon-fishers of Sunburst, as among the
mill-men and river-drivers of Viking: not the less so, because he had an
excellent faculty for machinery, and could talk to the people in their
own colloquialisms.  He had, besides, though there was little exuberance
in his nature, a gift of dry humour, which did more than anything else,
perhaps, to make his presence among them unrestrained.

His little churches at Viking and Sunburst were always well attended--
often filled to overflowing--and the people gave liberally to the
offertory: and I never knew any clergyman, however holy, who did not view
such a proceeding with a degree of complacency.  In the pulpit Roscoe was
almost powerful.  His knowledge of the world, his habits of directness,
his eager but not hurried speech, his unconventional but original
statements of things, his occasional literary felicity and unusual tact,
might have made him distinguished in a more cultured community.  Yet
there was something to modify all this: an occasional indefinable
sadness, a constant note of pathetic warning.  It struck me that I never
had met a man whose words and manner were at times so charged with
pathos; it was artistic in its searching simplicity.  There was some
unfathomable fount in his nature which was even beyond any occurrence of
his past; some radical, constitutional sorrow, coupled with a very
strong, practical, and even vigorous nature.

One of his most ardent admirers was a gambler, horse-trader, and watch-
dealer, who sold him a horse, and afterwards came and offered him thirty
dollars, saying that the horse was worth that much less than Roscoe had
paid for it, and protesting that he never could resist the opportunity of
getting the best of a game.  He said he did not doubt but that he would
do the same with one of the archangels.  He afterwards sold Roscoe a
watch at cost, but confessed to me that the works of the watch had been
smuggled.  He said he was so fond of the parson that he felt he had to
give him a chance of good things.  It was not uncommon for him to
discourse of Roscoe's quality in the bar-rooms of Sunburst and Viking,
in which he was ably seconded by Phil Boldrick, an eccentric, warm-
hearted fellow, who was so occupied in the affairs of the villages
generally, and so much an advisory board to the authorities, that he
had little time left to progress industrially himself.

Once when a noted bully came to Viking, and, out of sheer bravado and
meanness, insulted Roscoe in the streets, two or three river-drivers came
forward to avenge the insult.  It was quite needless, for the clergyman
had promptly taken the case in his own hands.  Waving them back, he said
to the bully: "I have no weapon, and if I had, I could not take your
life, nor try to take it; and you know that very well.  But I propose to
meet your insolence--the first shown me in this town."

Here murmurs of approbation went round.

"You will, of course, take the revolver from your pocket, and throw it on
the ground."

A couple of other revolvers were looking the bully in the face, and he
sullenly did as he was asked.

"You have a knife: throw that down."

This also was done under the most earnest emphasis of the revolvers.
Roscoe calmly took off his coat.  "I have met such scoundrels as you on
the quarter-deck," he said, "and I know what stuff is in you.  They call
you beachcombers in the South Seas.  You never fight fair.  You bully
women, knife natives, and never meet any one in fair fight.  You have
mistaken your man this time."

He walked close up to the bully, his face like steel, his thumbs caught
lightly in his waistcoat pockets; but it was noticeable that his hands
were shut.

"Now," he said, "we are even as to opportunity.  Repeat, if you please,
what you said a moment ago."

The bully's eye quailed, and he answered nothing.  "Then, as I said, you
are a coward and a cur, who insults peaceable men and weak women.  If I
know Viking right, it has no room for you."  Then he picked up his coat,
and put it on.

"Now," he added, "I think you had better go; but I leave that to the
citizens of Viking."

What they thought is easily explained.  Phil Boldrick, speaking for all,
said: "Yes, you had better go--quick; but on the hop like a cur, mind
you: on your hands and knees, jumping all the way."

And, with weapons menacing him, this visitor to Viking departed,
swallowing as he went the red dust disturbed by his hands and feet.

This established Roscoe's position finally.  Yet, with all his popularity
and the solid success of his work, he showed no vanity or egotism, nor
ever traded on the position he held in Viking and Sunburst.  He seemed to
have no ambition further than to do good work; no desire to be known
beyond his own district; no fancy, indeed, for the communications of his
labours to mission papers and benevolent ladies in England--so much the
habit of his order.  He was free from professional mannerisms.

One evening we were sitting in the accustomed spot--that is, the coping.
We had been silent for a long time.  At last Roscoe rose, and walked up
and down the verandah nervously.

"Marmion," said he, "I am disturbed to-day, I cannot tell you how:
a sense of impending evil, an anxiety."

I looked up at him inquiringly, and, of purpose, a little sceptically.

He smiled something sadly and continued: "Oh, I know you think it
foolishness.  But remember that all sailors are more or less
superstitious: it is bred in them; it is constitutional, and
I am afraid there's a good deal of the sailor in me yet."

Remembering Hungerford, I said: "I know that sailors are superstitious,
the most seasoned of them are that.  But it means nothing.  I may think
or feel that there is going to be a plague, but I should not enlarge the
insurance on my life because of it."

He put his hand on my shoulder and looked down at me earnestly.  "But,
Marmion, these things, I assure you, are not matters of will, nor yet
morbidness.  They occur at the most unexpected times.  I have had such
sensations before, and they were followed by strange matters."

I nodded, but said nothing.  I was still thinking of Hungerford.  After a
slight pause he continued somewhat hesitatingly:

"I dreamed last night, three times, of events that occurred in my past;
events which I hoped would never disturb me in the life I am now
leading."

"A life of self-denial," ventured I.  I waited a minute, and then added:
"Roscoe, I think it only fair to tell you--I don't know why I haven't
done so before--that when you were ill you were delirious, and talked of
things that may or may not have had to do with your past."

He started, and looked at me earnestly.  "They were unpleasant things?"

"Trying things; though all was vague and disconnected," I replied.

"I am glad you tell me this," he remarked quietly.  "And Mrs. Falchion and
Justine Caron--did they hear?"  He looked off to the hills.

"To a certain extent, I am sure.  Mrs. Falchion's name was generally
connected with--your fancies....  But really no one could place any
weight on what a man said in delirium, and I only mention the fact
to let you see exactly on what ground I stand with you."

"Can you give me an idea--of the thing I raved about?"

"Chiefly about a girl called Alo, not your wife, I should judge--who was
killed."

At that he spoke in a cheerless voice: "Marmion, I will tell you all the
story some day; but not now.  I hoped that I had been able to bury it,
even in memory, but I was wrong.  Some things--such things--never die.
They stay; and in our cheerfulest, most peaceful moments confront us,
and mock the new life we are leading.  There is no refuge from memory and
remorse in this world.  The spirits of our foolish deeds haunt us, with
or without repentance."  He turned again from me and set a sombre face
towards the ravine.  "Roscoe," I said, taking his arm, "I cannot believe
that you have any sin on your conscience so dark that it is not wiped out
now."

"God bless you for your confidence.  But there is one woman who, I fear,
could, if she would, disgrace me before the world.  You understand," he
added, "that there are things we repent of which cannot be repaired.  One
thinks a sin is dead, and starts upon a new life, locking up the past,
not deceitfully, but believing that the book is closed, and that no good
can come of publishing it; when suddenly it all flames out like the
letters in Faust's book of conjurations."

"Wait," I said.  "You need not tell me more, you must not--now; not until
there is any danger.  Keep your secret.  If the woman--if THAT woman--
ever places you in danger, then tell me all.  But keep it to yourself
now.  And don't fret because you have had dreams."

"Well, as you wish," he replied after a long time.  As he sat in silence,
I smoking hard, and he buried in thought, I heard the laughter of people
some distance below us in the hills.  I guessed it to be some tourists
from the summer hotel.  The voices came nearer.

A singular thought occurred to me.  I looked at Roscoe.  I saw that he
was brooding, and was not noticing the voices, which presently died away.
This was a relief to me.  We were then silent again.



CHAPTER XII

THE WHIRLIGIG OF TIME

Next day we had a picnic on the Whi-Whi River, which, rising in the far
north, comes in varied moods to join the Long Cloud River at Viking.

     [Dr. Marmion, in a note of his MSS., says that he has purposely
     changed the names of the rivers and towns mentioned in the second
     part of the book, because he does not wish the locale to be too
     definite.]

Ruth Devlin, her young sister, and her aunt Mrs. Revel, with Galt Roscoe
and myself, constituted the party.  The first part of the excursion had
many delights.  The morning was fresh and sweet, and we were all in
excellent spirits.  Roscoe's depression had vanished; but there was an
amiable seriousness in his manner which, to me, portended that the faint
roses in Ruth Devlin's cheeks would deepen before the day was done,
unless something inopportune happened.

As we trudged gaily up the canon to the spot where we were to take a big
skiff, and cross the Whi-Whi to our camping-ground, Ruth Devlin, who was
walking with me, said: "A large party of tourists arrived at Viking
yesterday, and have gone to the summer hotel; so I expect you will be gay
up here for some time to come.  Prepare, then, to rejoice."

"Don't you think it is gay enough as it is?" I answered.  "Behold this
festive throng."

"Oh, it is nothing to what there might be.  This could never make Viking
and 'surrounding country' notorious as a pleasure resort.  To attract
tourists you must have enough people to make romances and tragedies,--
without loss of life, of course,--merely catastrophes of broken hearts,
and hair-breadth escapes, and mammoth fishing and shooting achievements,
such as men know how to invent,"--it was delightful to hear her voice
soften to an amusing suggestiveness, "and broken bridges and land-slides,
with many other things which you can supply, Dr. Marmion.  No, I am
afraid that Viking is too humdrum to be notable."

She laughed then very lightly and quaintly.  She had a sense of humour.

"Well, but, Miss Devlin," said I, "you cannot have all things at once.
Climaxes like these take time.  We have a few joyful things.  We have
splendid fishing achievements,--please do not forget that basket of trout
I sent you the other morning,--and broken hearts and such tragedies are
not impossible; as, for instance, if I do not send you as good a basket
of trout to-morrow evening; or if you should remark that there was
nothing in a basket of trout to--"

"Now," she said, "you are becoming involved and--inconsiderate.
Remember, I am only a mountain girl."

"Then let us only talk of the other tragedies.  But are you not a little
callous to speak of such things as if you thirsted for their occurrence?"

"I am afraid you are rather silly," she replied.  "You see, some of the
land up here belongs to me.  I am anxious that it should 'boom'--that is
the correct term, is it not?--and a sensation is good for 'booming.'
What an advertisement would ensue if the lovely daughter of an American
millionaire should be in danger of drowning in the Long Cloud, and a
rough but honest fellow--a foreman on the river, maybe a young member of
the English aristocracy in disguise--perilled his life for her!  The
place of peril would, of course, be named Lover's Eddy, or the Maiden's
Gate--very much prettier, I assure you, than such cold-blooded things as
the Devil's Slide, where we are going now, and much more attractive to
tourists."

"Miss Devlin," laughed I, "you have all the eagerness of the incipient
millionaire.  May I hope to see you in Lombard Street some day, a very
Katherine among capitalists?--for, from your remarks, I judge that you
would--I say it pensively--'wade through slaughter to a throne.'"

Galt Roscoe, who was just ahead with Mrs. Revel and Amy Devlin, turned
and said: "Who is that quoting so dramatically?  Now, this is a picnic
party, and any one who introduces elegies, epics, sonnets, 'and such,'
is guilty of breaking the peace at Viking and its environs.  Besides,
such things should always be left to the parson.  He must not be
outflanked, his thunder must not be stolen.  The scientist has unlimited
resources; all he has to do is to be vague, and look prodigious; but the
parson must have his poetry as a monopoly, or he is lost to sight, and
memory."

"Then," said I, "I shall leave you to deal with Miss Devlin yourself,
because she is the direct cause of my wrong-doing.  She has expressed the
most sinister sentiments about Viking and your very extensive parish.
Miss Devlin," I added, turning to her, "I leave you to your fate, and I
cannot recommend you to mercy, for what Heaven made fair should remain
tender and merciful, and--"

"'So young and so untender!'" she interjected, with a rippling laugh.
"Yet Cordelia was misjudged very wickedly, and traduced very ungallantly,
and so am I.  And I bid you good-day, sir."

Her delicate laugh rings in my ears as I write.  I think that sun and
clear skies and hills go far to make us cheerful and harmonious.
Somehow, I always remember her as she was that morning.

She was standing then on the brink of a new and beautiful experience, at
the threshold of an acknowledged love.  And that is a remarkable time to
the young.

There was something thrilling about the experiences of that morning,
and I think we all felt it.  Even the great frowning precipices seemed
to have lost their ordinary gloom, and when some young white eagles rose
from a crag and flew away, growing smaller as they passed, until they
were one with the snow of the glacier on Mount Trinity, or a wapiti
peeped out from the underwood and stole away with glancing feet down the
valley; we could scarcely refrain from doing some foolish thing out of
sheer delight.  At length we emerged from a thicket of Douglas pine upon
the shore of the Whi-Whi, and, loosening our boat, were soon moving
slowly on the cool current.  For an hour or more we rowed down the river
towards the Long Cloud, and then drew into the shade of a little island
for lunch.  When we came to the rendezvous, where picnic parties
generally feasted, we found a fire still smoking and the remnants of a
lunch scattered about.  A party of picnickers had evidently been there
just before us.  Ruth suggested that it might be some of the tourists
from the hotel.  This seemed very probable.

There were scraps of newspaper on the ground, and among them was an empty
envelope.  Mechanically I picked it up, and read the superscription.
What I saw there I did not think necessary to disclose to the other
members of the party; but, as unconcernedly as possible, for Ruth
Devlin's eyes were on me, I used it to light a cigar--inappropriately,
for lunch would soon be ready.

"What was the name on the envelope?" she said.  "Was there one?"

I guessed she had seen my slight start.  I said evasively: "I fancy there
was, but a man who is immensely interested in a new brand of cigar--"

"You are a most deceitful man," she said.  "And, at the least, you are
selfish in holding your cigar more important than a woman's curiosity.
Who can tell what romance was in the address on that envelope--"

"What elements of noble tragedy, what advertisement for a certain
property in the Whi-Whi Valley," interrupted Roscoe, breaking off the
thread of a sailor's song he was humming, as he tended the water-kettle
on the fire.

This said, he went on with the song again.  I was struck by the wonderful
change in him now.  Presentiments were far from him, yet I, having read
that envelope, knew that they were not without cause.  Indeed, I had an
inkling of that the night before, when I heard the voices on the hill.
Ruth Devlin stopped for a moment in the preparations to ask Roscoe what
he was humming.  I, answering for him, told her that it was an old
sentimental sea-song of common sailors, often sung by officers at
their jovial gatherings.  At this she pretended to look shocked, and
straightway demanded to hear the words, so that she could pronounce
judgment on her spiritual pastor and master.

He good-naturedly said that many of these old sailor songs were amusing,
and that he often found himself humming them.  To this I could testify,
and he sang them very well indeed--quietly, but with the rolling tone of
the sailor, jovial yet fascinating.  At our united request, his humming
became distinct.  Three of the verses I give here:

              "The 'Lovely Jane' went sailing down
                 To anchor at the Spicy Isles;
               And the wind was fair as ever was blown,
                 For the matter of a thousand miles.

              "Then a storm arose as she crossed the line,
                 Which it caused her masts to crack;
               And she gulped her fill of the whooping brine,
                 And she likewise sprained her back.

              "And the capting cried, 'If it's Davy Jones,
                 Then it's Davy Jones,' says he,
              'Though I don't aspire to leave my bones
                 In the equatorial sea.'"

What the further history of the 'Lovely Jane' was we were not informed,
for Ruth Devlin announced that the song must wait, though it appeared to
be innocuous and child-like in its sentiments, and that lunch would be
served between the acts of the touching tragedy.  When lunch was over,
and we had again set forth upon the Whi-Whi, I asked Ruth to sing an old
French-Canadian song which she had once before sung to us.  Many a time
the woods of the West had resounded to the notes of 'En Roulant ma
Boule', as the 'voyageurs' traversed the long paths of the Ottawa, St.
Lawrence, and Mississippi; brave light-hearted fellows, whose singing
days were over.

By the light of coming events there was something weird and pathetic in
this Arcadian air, sung as it was by her.  Her voice was a mezzo-soprano
of rare bracing quality, and she had enough natural sensibility to give
the antique refinement of the words a wistful charm, particularly
apparent in these verses:

              "Ah, cruel Prince, my heart you break,
               In killing thus my snow-white drake.

              "My snow-white drake, my love, my King,
               The crimson life-blood stains his wing.

              "His golden bill sinks on his breast,
               His plumes go floating east and west--

              "En roulant ma boule:
                 Rouli, roulant, ma boule roulant,
               En roulant ma boule roulant,
                 En roulant ma boule!"

As she finished the song we rounded an angle in the Whi-Whi.  Ahead of
us lay the Snow Rapids and the swift channel at one side of the rapids
which, hurrying through a rocky archway, was known as the Devil's Slide.
There was one channel through the rapids by which it was perfectly safe
to pass, but that sweep of water through the Devil's Slide was sometimes
a trap of death to even the most expert river-men.  A half-mile below the
rapids was the confluence of the two rivers.  The sight of the tumbling
mass of white water, and the gloomy and colossal grandeur of the Devil's
Slide, a buttress of the hills, was very fine.

But there was more than scenery to interest us here, for, moving quickly
towards the Slide, was a boat with three people in it.  They were
evidently intending to attempt that treacherous passage, which culminated
in a series of eddies, a menace to even the best oarsman ship.  They
certainly were not aware of their danger, for there came over the water
the sound of a man's laughing voice, and the two women in the boat were
in unconcerned attitudes.  Roscoe shouted to them, and motioned them
back, but they did not appear to understand.

The man waved his hat to us, and rowed on.  There was but one thing for
us to do: to make the passage quickly through the safe channel of the
rapids, and to be of what service we could on the other side of the
Slide, if necessary.  We bent to the oars, and the boat shot through the
water.  Ruth held the rudder firmly, and her young sister and Mrs. Revel
sat perfectly still.  But the man in the other boat, thinking, doubtless,
that we were attempting a race, added his efforts to the current of the
channel.  I am afraid that I said some words below my breath scarcely
proper to be spoken in the presence of maidens and a clerk in holy
orders.  Roscoe was here, however, a hundred times more sailor than
parson.  He spoke in low, firm tones, as he now and then suggested a
direction to Ruth Devlin or myself.  Our boat tossed and plunged in the
rapids, and the water washed over us lightly once or twice, but we went
through the passage safely, and had turned towards the Slide before the
other boat got to the rocky archway.

We rowed hard.  The next minute was one of suspense, for we saw the boat
shoot beneath the archway.  Presently it emerged, a whirling plaything in
treacherous eddies.  The man wildly waved his arm, and shouted to us.
The women were grasping the sides of the boat, but making no outcry.  We
could not see the faces of the women plainly yet.  The boat ran forward
like a race-horse; it plunged hither and thither.  An oar snapped in the
rocks, and the other one shot from the man's hand.  Now the boat swung
round and round, and dipped towards the hollow of a whirlpool.  When we
were within a few rods of them, it appeared to rise from the water, was
hurled on a rock, and overturned.  Mrs. Revel buried her face in her
hands, and Ruth gave a little groan, but she held the rudder firmly, as
we swiftly approached the forms struggling in the water.  All,
fortunately, had grasped the swamped boat, and were being carried down
the stream towards us.  The man was caring resolutely for himself, but
one, of the women had her arm round the other, supporting her.  We
brought our skiff close to the swirling current.  I called out words of
encouragement, and was preparing to jump into the water, when Roscoe
exclaimed in a husky voice: "Marmion, it is Mrs. Falchion."

Yes, it was Mrs. Falchion; but I had known that before.  We heard her
words to her companion: "Justine, do not look so.  Your face is like
death.  It is hateful."

Then the craft veered towards the smoother water where we were.  This was
my opportunity.  Roscoe threw me a rope, and I plunged in and swam
towards the boat.  I saw that Mrs. Falchion recognised me; but she made
no exclamation, nor did Justine Caron.  Their companion, however, on the
other side of the boat, was eloquent in prayers to be rescued.  I caught
the bow of the boat as it raced past me, and with all my strength swung
it towards the smoother water.  I ran the rope I had brought, through the
iron ring at the bow, and was glad enough of that; for their lives
perhaps depended on being able to do it.  It had been a nice calculation
of chances, but it was done.  Roscoe immediately bent to the oars, I
threw an arm around Justine, and in a moment Roscoe had towed us into
safer quarters.  Then he drew in the rope.  As he did so, Mrs. Falchion
said: "Justine would drown so easily if one would let her."

These were her first words to me.  I am sure I never can sufficiently
admire the mere courage of the woman and her presence of mind in danger.
Immediately afterwards she said--and subsequently it seemed to me
marvellous: "You are something more than the chorus to the play this
time, Dr. Marmion."

A minute after, and Justine was dragged into our boat, and was followed
by Mrs. Falchion, whose first words to Roscoe were: "It is not such a
meeting as one would plan."

And he replied: "I am glad no harm has come to you."

The man was duly helped in.  A poor creature he was, to pass from this
tale as he entered it, ignominiously and finally here.  I even hide his
nationality, for his race are generally more gallant.  But he was
wealthy, had an intense admiration for Mrs. Falchion, and had managed to
secure her in his boat, to separate from the rest of the picnic party--
chiefly through his inefficient rowing.

Dripping with water as Mrs. Falchion was, she did not, strange to say,
appear at serious disadvantage.  Almost any other woman would have done
so.  She was a little pale, she must have felt miserable, but she
accepted Ruth Devlin's good offices--as did Justine Caron those of Mrs.
Revel--with much self-possession, scanning her face and form critically
the while, and occasionally turning a glance on Roscoe, who was now cold
and impassive.  I never knew a man who could so banish expression from
his countenance when necessary.  Speaking to Belle Treherne long
afterwards of Mrs. Falchion's self-possessed manner on this occasion,
and of how she rose superior to the situation, I was told that I must
have regarded the thing poetically and dramatically, for no woman could
possibly look self-possessed in draggled skirts.  She said that I always
magnified certain of Mrs. Falchion's qualities.

That may be so, and yet it must be remembered that I was not predisposed
towards her, and that I wished her well away from where Roscoe was.

As for Justine Caron, she lay with her head on Mrs. Revel's lap, and
looked from beneath heavy eyelids at Roscoe with such gratitude and--but,
no, she is only a subordinate in the story, and not a chief factor, and
what she said or did here is of no vital consequence at this moment!  We
rowed to a point near the confluence of the two rivers, where we could
leave our boats to be poled back through the rapids or portaged past
them.

On the way Mrs. Falchion said to Roscoe: "I knew you were somewhere in
the Rockies; and at Vancouver, when I came from San Francisco, I heard
of your being here.  I had intended spending a month somewhere in the
mountains, so I came to Viking, and on to the summer hotel: but really
this is too exciting for recreation."

This was spoken with almost gay outward manner, but there was a note in
her words which I did not like, nor did I think that her eye was very
kind, especially when she looked at Ruth Devlin and afterwards at Roscoe.

We had several miles to go, and it was nightfall--for which Mrs. Falchion
expressed herself as profoundly grateful--when we arrived at the hotel.
Our parting words were as brief as, of necessity, they had been on our
journey through the mountains, for the ladies had ridden the horses which
we had sent over for ourselves from Viking, and we men walked in front.
Besides, the thoughts of some of us were not at all free from misgiving.
The spirit possessing Roscoe the night before seemed to enter into all
of us, even into Mrs. Falchion, who had lost, somewhat, the aplomb with
which she had held the situation in the boat.  But at the door of the
hotel she said cheerfully: "Of course, Dr. Marmion will find it necessary
to call on his patients to-morrow--and the clergyman also on his new
parishoners."

The reply was left to me.  I said gravely: "Let us be thankful that both
doctor and clergyman are called upon to use their functions; it might
easily have been only the latter."

"Oh, do not be funereal!" she replied.  "I knew that we were not to
drown at the Devil's Slide.  The drama is not ended yet, and the chief
actors cannot go until 'the curtain.'--Though I am afraid that is not
quite orthodox, is it, Mr. Roscoe?"

Roscoe looked at her gravely.  "It may not be orthodox as it is said, but
it is orthodox, I fancy, if we exchange God for fate, and Providence for
chance. . . .  Good-night."

He said this wearily.  She looked up at him with an ironical look, then
held out her hand, and quickly bade him good-night.  Partings all round
were made, and, after some injunctions to Mrs. Falchion and Justine Caron
from myself as to preventives against illness, the rest of us started for
Sunburst.

As we went, I could not help but contrast Ruth and Amy Devlin, these two
gentle yet strong mountain girls, with the woman we had left.  Their
lives were far from that dolorous tide which, sweeping through a selfish
world, leaves behind it the stain of corroding passions; of cruelties,
ingratitude, hate, and catastrophe.  We are all ambitious, in one way or
another.  We climb mountains over scoria that frays and lava that burns.
We try to call down the stars, and when, now and then, our conjuring
succeeds, we find that our stars are only blasting meteors.  One moral
mishap lames character for ever.  A false start robs us of our natural
strength, and a misplaced or unrighteous love deadens the soul and
shipwrecks just conceptions of life.

A man may be forgiven for a sin, but the effect remains; it has found its
place in his constitution, and it cannot be displaced by mere penitence,
nor yet forgiveness.  A man errs, and he must suffer; his father erred,
and he must endure; or some one sinned against the man, and he hid the
sin--But here a hand touched my shoulder!  I was startled, for my
thoughts had been far away.  Roscoe's voice spoke in my ear: "It is as
she said; the actors come together for 'the curtain.'"

Then his eyes met those of Ruth Devlin turned to him earnestly and
inquiringly.  And I felt for a moment hard against Roscoe, that he should
even indirectly and involuntarily, bring suffering into her life.  In
youth, in early manhood, we do wrong.  At the time we seem to be injuring
no one but ourselves; but, as we live on, we find that we were wronging
whomsoever should come into our lives in the future.  At the instant I
said angrily to myself: "What right has he to love a girl like that, when
he has anything in his life that might make her unhappy, or endanger her
in ever so little!"

But I bit my tongue, for it seemed to me that I was pharisaical; and I
wondered rather scornfully if I should have been so indignant were the
girl not so beautiful, young, and ingenuous.  I tried not to think
further of the matter, and talked much to Ruth,--Gait Roscoe walked with
Mrs. Revel and Amy Devlin,--but I found I could not drive it from my mind.
This was not unnatural, for was not I the "chorus to the play"?



CHAPTER XIII

THE SONG OF THE SAW

There was still a subdued note to Roscoe's manner the next morning.
He was pale.  He talked freely however of the affairs of Viking and
Sunburst, and spoke of business which called him to Mr. Devlin's great
saw mill that day.  A few moments after breakfast we were standing in the
doorway.  "Well," he said, "shall we go?"

I was not quite sure where he meant to go, but I took my hat and joined
him.  I wondered if it would be to the summer hotel or the great mill.
My duty lay in the direction of the hotel.  When we stepped out, he
added: "Let us take the bridle-path along the edge of the ravine to the
hotel."

The morning was beautiful.  The atmosphere of the woods was of soft,
diffusive green--the sunlight filtering through the transparent leaves.
Bowers of delicate ferns and vines flanked the path, and an occasional
clump of giant cedars invited us: the world was eloquent.

Several tourists upon the verandah of the hotel remarked us with
curiosity as we entered.  A servant said that Mrs. Falchion would be glad
to see us; and we were ushered into her sitting-room.  She carried no
trace of yesterday's misadventure.  She appeared superbly well.  And yet,
when I looked again, when I had time to think upon and observe detail,
I saw signs of change.  There was excitement in the eyes, and a slight
nervous darkness beneath them, which added to their charm.  She rose,
smiling, and said: "I fear I am hardly entitled to this visit, for I am
beyond convalescence, and Justine is not in need of shrift or diagnosis,
as you see."

I was not so sure of Justine Caron as she was, and when I had paid my
respects to her, I said a little priggishly (for I was young), still not
too solemnly: "I cannot allow you to pronounce for me upon my patients,
Mrs. Falchion; I must make my own inquiries."

But Mrs. Falchion was right.  Justine Caron was not suffering much from
her immersion; though, speaking professionally, her temperature was
higher than the normal.  But that might be from some impulse of the
moment, for Justine was naturally a little excitable.

We walked aside, and, looking at me with a flush of happiness in her
face, she said: "You remember one day on the 'Fulvia' when I told you
that money was everything to me; that I would do all I honourably could
to get it?"

I nodded.  She continued: "It was that I might pay a debt--you know it.
Well, money is my god no longer, for I can pay all I owe.  That is, I can
pay the money, but not the goodness, the noble kindness.  He is most
good, is he not?  The world is better that such men as Captain Galt
Roscoe live--ah, you see I cannot quite think of him as a clergyman.
I wonder if I ever shall!"  She grew suddenly silent and abstracted, and,
in the moment's pause, some ironical words in Mrs. Falchion's voice
floated across the room to me: "It is so strange to see you so.  And you
preach, and baptise; and marry, and bury, and care for the poor and--ah,
what is it?--'all those who, in this transitory life, are in sorrow,
need, sickness, or any other adversity'? . . . And do you never long for
the flesh-pots of Egypt?  Never long for"--here her voice was not quite
so clear--"for the past?"

I was sure that, whatever she was doing, he had been trying to keep the
talk, as it were, on the surface.  I was equally sure that, to her last
question, he would make no reply.  Though I was now speaking to Justine
Caron, I heard him say quite calmly and firmly: "Yes, I preach, baptise,
marry, and bury, and do all I can for those who need help."

"The people about here say that you are good and charitable.  You have
won the hearts of the mountaineers.  But you always had a gift that
way."--I did not like her tone.--"One would almost think you had founded
a new dispensation.  And if I had drowned yesterday, you would,
I suppose, have buried me, and have preached a little sermon about me.
--You could have done that better than any one else! . . .  What
would you have said in such a case?"

There was an earnest, almost a bitter, protest in the reply.

"Pardon me, if I cannot answer your question.  Your life was saved, and
that is all we have to consider, except to be grateful to Providence.
The duties of my office have nothing to do with possibilities."

She was evidently torturing him, and I longed to say a word that would
torture her.  She continued: "And the flesh-pots--you have not answered
about them: do you not long for them--occasionally?"

"They are of a period," he answered, "too distant for regret."

"And yet," she replied softly, "I fancied sometimes in London last year,
that you had not outgrown that antique time--those lotos-days."

He made no reply at once, and in the pause Justine and I passed out to
the verandah.

"How long does Mrs. Falchion intend remaining here, Miss Caron?" I said.

Her reply was hesitating: "I do not quite know; but I think some time.
She likes the place; it seems to amuse her."

"And you--does it amuse you?"

"It does not matter about me.  I am madame's servant; but, indeed, it
does not amuse me particularly."

"Do you like the place?"

The reply was somewhat hurried, and she glanced at me a little nervously.
"Oh yes," she said, "I like the place, but--"

Here Roscoe appeared at the door and said, "Mrs. Falchion wishes to see
Viking and Mr. Devlin's mills, Marmion.  She will go with us."

In a little time we were on our way to Viking.  I walked with Mrs.
Falchion, and Roscoe with Justine.  I was aware of a new element in Mrs.
Falchion's manner.  She seemed less powerfully attractive to me than in
the old days, yet she certainly was more beautiful.  It was hard to trace
the new characteristic.  But at last I thought I saw it in a decrease of
that cold composure, that impassiveness, so fascinating in the past.
In its place had come an allusive, restless something, to be found in
words of troublesome vagueness, in variable moods, in an increased
sensitiveness of mind and an undercurrent of emotional bitterness--she
was emotional at last!  She puzzled me greatly, for I saw two spirits
in her: one pitiless as of old; the other human, anxious, not unlovely.

At length we became silent, and walked so side by side for a time.  Then,
with that old delightful egotism and selfishness--delightful in its very
daring--she said: "Well, amuse me!"

"And is it still the end of your existence," I rejoined--"to be amused?"

"What is there else to do?" she replied with raillery.

"Much.  To amuse others, for instance; to regard human beings as
something more than automata."

"Has Mr. Roscoe made you a preaching curate?  I helped Amshar at the
Tanks."

"One does not forget that.  Yet you pushed Amshar with your foot."

"Did you expect me to kiss the black coward?  Then, I nursed Mr. Roscoe
in his illness."

"And before that?"

"And before that I was born into the world, and grew to years of
knowledge, and learned what fools we mortals be, and--and there--is that
Mr. Devlin's big sawmill?"

We had suddenly emerged on a shelf of the mountainside, and were looking
down into the Long Cloud Valley.  It was a noble sight.  Far to the north
were foothills covered with the glorious Norfolk pine, rising in steppes
till they seemed to touch white plateaus of snow, which again billowed to
glacier fields whose austere bosoms man's hand had never touched; and
these suddenly lifted up huge, unapproachable shoulders, crowned with
majestic peaks that took in their teeth the sun, the storm, and the
whirlwinds of the north, never changing countenance from day to year and
from year to age.

Facing this long line of glory, running irregularly on towards that sea
where Franklin and M'Clintock led their gay adventurers,--the bold
ships,--was another shore, not so high or superior, but tall and sombre
and warm, through whose endless coverts of pine there crept and idled the
generous Chinook winds--the soothing breath of the friendly Pacific.
Between these shores the Long Cloud River ran; now boisterous, now soft,
now wallowing away through long channels, washing gorges always dark as
though shaded by winter, and valleys always green as favoured by summer.
Creeping along a lofty narrow path upon that farther shore was a mule
train, bearing packs which would not be opened till, through the great
passes of the mountain, they were spilled upon the floors of fort and
post on the east side of the Rockies.

Not far from where the mule train crept along was a great hole in the
mountain-side, as though antique giants of the hills had tunnelled
through to make themselves a home or to find the eternal secret of the
mountains.  Near to this vast dark cavity was a hut--a mere playhouse,
it seemed, so small was it, viewed from where we stood.  From the edge
of a cliff just in front of this hut, there swung a long cable, which
reached almost to the base of the shore beneath us; and, even as we
looked, we saw what seemed a tiny bucket go swinging slowly down that
strange hypotenuse.  We watched it till we saw it get to the end of its
journey in the valley beneath, not far from the great mill to which we
were bound.

"How mysterious!" said Mrs. Falchion.  "What does it mean?  I never saw
anything like that before.  What a wonderful thing!"

Roscoe explained.  "Up there in that hut," he said, "there lives a man
called Phil Boldrick.  He is a unique fellow, with a strange history.  He
has been miner, sailor, woodsman, river-driver, trapper, salmon-fisher;
--expert at the duties of each of these, persistent at none.  He has a
taste for the ingenious and the unusual.  For a time he worked in Mr.
Devlin's mill.  It was too tame for him.  He conceived the idea of
supplying the valley with certain necessaries, by intercepting the mule
trains as they passed across the hills, and getting them down to Viking
by means of that cable.  The valley laughed at him; men said it was
impossible.  He went to Mr. Devlin, and Mr. Devlin came to me.  I have,
as you know, some knowledge of machinery and engineering.  I thought the
thing feasible but expensive, and told Mr. Devlin so.  However, the
ingenuity of the thing pleased Mr. Devlin, and, with that singular
enterprise which in other directions has made him a rich man, he
determined on its completion.  Between us we managed it.  Boldrick
carries on his aerial railway with considerable success, as you see."

"A singular man," said Mrs. Falchion.  "I should like to see him.  Come,
sit down here and tell me all you know about him, will you not?"

Roscoe assented.  I arranged a seat for us, and we all sat.

Roscoe was about to begin, when Mrs. Falchion said, "Wait a minute.  Let
us take in this scene first."

We were silent.  After a moment I turned to Mrs. Falchion, and said: "It
is beautiful, is it not?"

She drew in a long breath, her eyes lighted up, and she said, with a
strange abandon of gaiety: "Yes, it is delightful to live."

It seemed so, in spite of the forebodings of my friend and my own
uneasiness concerning him, Ruth Devlin, and Mrs. Falchion.  The place was
all peace: a very monotony of toil and pleasure.  The heat drained
through the valley back and forth in visible palpitations upon the roofs
of the houses, the mills, and the vast piles of lumber: all these seemed
breathing.  It looked a busy Arcady.  From beneath us life vibrated with
the regularity of a pulse: distance gave a kind of delighted ease to
toil.  Event appeared asleep.

But when I look back now, after some years, at the experiences of that
day, I am astonished by the running fire of events, which, unfortunately,
were not all joy.

As I write I can hear that keen wild singing of the saw come to us
distantly, with a pleasant, weird elation.  The big mill hung above the
river, its sides all open, humming with labour, as I had seen it many a
time during my visit to Roscoe.  The sun beat in upon it, making a broad
piazza of light about its sides.  Beyond it were pleasant shadows,
through which men passed and repassed at their work.  Life was busy all
about it.  Yet the picture was bold, open, and strong.  Great iron hands
reached down into the water, clamped a massive log or huge timber,
lightly drew it up the slide from the water, where, guided by the hand-
spikes of the men, it was laid upon its cradle and carried slowly to the
devouring teeth of the saws: there to be sliced through rib and bone in
moist sandwiched layers, oozing the sweet sap of its fibre; and carried
out again into the open to be drained to dry bones under the exhaust-
pipes of the sun: piles upon piles; houses with wide chinks through which
the winds wandered, looking for tenants and finding none.

To the north were booms of logs, swilling in the current, waiting for
their devourer.  Here and there were groups of river-drivers and their
foremen, prying twisted heaps of logs from the rocks or the shore into
the water.  Other groups of river-drivers were scattered upon the banks,
lifting their huge red canoes high up on the platforms, the spring's and
summer's work of river-driving done; while others lounged upon the grass,
or wandered lazily through the village, sporting with the Chinamen, or
chaffing the Indian idling in the sun--a garish figure stoically watching
the inroads of civilisation.  The town itself was squat but amiable:
small houses and large huts; the only place of note and dignity, the new
town hall, which was greatly overshadowed by the big mill, and even by
the two smaller ones flanking it north and south.

But Viking was full of men who had breathed the strong life of the hills,
had stolen from Nature some of her brawny strength, and set themselves up
before her as though a man were as great as a mountain and as good a
thing to see.  It was of such a man that Galt Roscoe was to tell us.  His
own words I will not give, but will speak of Phil Boldrick as I remember
him and as Roscoe described him to us.

Of all the men in the valley, none was so striking as Phil Boldrick.
Of all faces his was the most singular; of all characters his the most
unique; of all men he was the most unlucky, save in one thing--the regard
of his fellows.  Others might lay up treasures, not he; others lose money
at gambling, not he--he never had much to lose.  But yet he did all
things magniloquently.  The wave of his hand was expansive, his stride
was swaying and decisive, his over-ruling, fraternal faculty was always
in full swing.  Viking was his adopted child; so much so that a gentleman
river-driver called it Philippi; and by that name it sometimes went, and
continues still so among those who knew it in the old days.

Others might have doubts as to the proper course to pursue under certain
circumstances; it was not so with Phil.  They might argue a thing out
orally, he did so mentally, and gave judgment on it orally.  He was
final, not oracular.  One of his eyes was of glass, and blue; the other
had an eccentricity, and was of a deep and meditative grey.  It was a
wise and knowing eye.  It was trained to many things--like one servant in
a large family.  One side of his face was solemn, because of the gay but
unchanging blue eye, the other was gravely humourous, shrewdly playful.
His fellow citizens respected him; so much so, that they intended to give
him an office in the new-formed corporation; which means that he had
courage and downrightness, and that the rough, straightforward gospel
of the West was properly interpreted by him.

If a stranger came to the place, Phil was sent first to reconnoitre; if
any function was desirable, Phil was requested to arrange it; if justice
was to be meted out, Phil's opinion had considerable weight--for he had
much greater leisure than other more prosperous men; if a man was taken
ill (this was in the days before a doctor came), Phil was asked to
declare if he would "shy from the finish."

I heard Roscoe more than once declare that Phil was as good as two
curates to him.  Not that Phil was at all pious, nor yet possessed of
those abstemious qualities in language and appetite by which good men are
known; but he had a gift of civic virtue--important in a wicked world,
and of unusual importance in Viking.  He had neither self-consciousness
nor fear; and while not possessed of absolute tact in a social way, he
had a knack of doing the right thing bluntly, or the wrong thing with an
air of rightness.  He envied no man, he coveted nothing; had once or
twice made other men's fortunes by prospecting, but was poor himself.
And in all he was content, and loved life and Viking.

Immediately after Roscoe had reached the mountains Phil had become his
champion, declaring that there was not any reason why a man should not
be treated sociably because he was a parson.  Phil had been a great
traveller, as had many who settled at last in these valleys to the
exciting life of the river: salmon-catching or driving logs.  He had
lived for a time in Lower California and Mexico, and had given Roscoe the
name of The Padre: which suited the genius and temper of the rude
population.  And so it was that Roscoe was called The Padre by every one,
though he did not look the character.

As he told his story of Phil's life I could not help but contrast him
with most of the clergymen I knew or had seen.  He had the admirable ease
and tact of a cultured man of the world, and the frankness and warmth of
a hearty nature, which had, however, some inherent strain of melancholy.
Wherever I had gone with him I had noticed that he was received with
good-humoured deference by his rough parishioners and others who were
such only in the broadest sense.  Perhaps he would not have succeeded so
well if he had worn clerical clothes.  As it was, of a week day, he could
not be distinguished from any respectable layman.  The clerical uniform
attracts women more than men, who, if they spoke truly, would resent it.
Roscoe did not wear it, because he thought more of men than of function,
of manliness than clothes; and though this sometimes got him into trouble
with his clerical brethren who dearly love Roman collar, and coloured
stole, and the range of ritual from a lofty intoning to the eastward
position, he managed to live and himself be none the worse, while those
who knew him were certainly the better.

When Roscoe had finished his tale, Mrs. Falchion said: "Mr. Boldrick must
be a very interesting man;" and her eyes wandered up to the great hole in
the mountain-side, and lingered there.  "As I said, I must meet him," she
added; "men of individuality are rare."  Then: "That great 'hole in the
wall' is, of course, a natural formation."

"Yes," said Roscoe.  "Nature seems to have made it for Boldrick.  He uses
it as a storehouse."

"Who watches it while he is away?" she said.  "There is no door to the
place, of course."

Roscoe smiled enigmatically.  "Men do not steal up here: that is the
unpardonable crime; any other may occur and go unpunished; not it."

The thought seemed to strike Mrs. Falchion.  "I might have known!" she
said.  "It is the same in the South Seas among the natives--Samoans,
Tongans, Fijians, and others.  You can--as you know, Mr. Roscoe,"--her
voice had a subterranean meaning,--" travel from end to end of those
places, and, until the white man corrupts them, never meet with a case of
stealing; you will find them moral too in other ways until the white man
corrupts them.  But sometimes the white man pays for it in the end."

Her last words were said with a kind of dreaminess, as though they had no
purpose; but though she sat now idly looking into the valley beneath, I
could see that her eyes had a peculiar glance, which was presently turned
on Roscoe, then withdrawn again.  On him the effect was so far disturbing
that he became a little pale, but I noticed that he met her glance
unflinchingly and then looked at me, as if to see in how far I had been
affected by her speech.  I think I confessed to nothing in my face.

Justine Caron was lost in the scene before us.  She had, I fancy,
scarcely heard half that had been said.  Roscoe said to her presently:
"You like it, do you not?"

"Like it?" she said.  "I never saw anything so wonderful."

"And yet it would not be so wonderful without humanity there," rejoined
Mrs. Falchion.  "Nature is never complete without man.  All that would
be splendid without the mills and the machinery and Boldrick's cable,
but it would not be perfect: it needs man--Phil Boldrick and Company in
the foreground.  Nature is not happy by itself: it is only brooding and
sorrowful.  You remember the mountain of Talili in Samoa, Mr. Roscoe, and
the valley about it: how entrancing yet how melancholy it is.  It always
seems to be haunted, for the natives never live in the valley.  There is
a tradition that once one of the white gods came down from heaven, and
built an altar, and sacrificed a Samoan girl--though no one ever knew
quite why: for there the tradition ends."

I felt again that there was a hidden meaning in her words; but Roscoe
remained perfectly still.  It seemed to me that I was little by little
getting the threads of his story.  That there was a native girl; that the
girl had died or been killed; that Roscoe was in some way--innocently I
dared hope--connected with it; and that Mrs. Falchion held the key to the
mystery, I was certain.  That it was in her mind to use the mystery,
I was also certain.  But for what end I could not tell.  What had passed
between them in London the previous winter I did not know: but it seemed
evident that she had influenced him there as she did on the 'Fulvia', had
again lost her influence, and was now resenting the loss, out of pique or
anger, or because she really cared for him.  It might be that she cared.

She added after a moment: "Add man to nature, and it stops sulking: which
goes to show that fallen humanity is better than no company at all."

She had an inherent strain of mockery, of playful satire, and she told
me once, when I knew her better, that her own suffering always set her
laughing at herself, even when it was greatest.  It was this
characteristic which made her conversation very striking, it was so
sharply contrasted in its parts; a heartless kind of satire set against
the most serious and acute statements.  One never knew when she would
turn her own or her interlocutor's gravity into mirth.

Now no one replied immediately to her remarks, and she continued: "If I
were an artist I should wish to paint that scene, given that the lights
were not so bright and that mill machinery not so sharply defined.  There
is almost too much limelight, as it were; too much earnestness in the
thing.  Either there should be some side-action of mirth to make it less
intense, or of tragedy to render it less photographic; and unless, Dr.
Marmion, you would consent to be solemn, which would indeed be droll;
or that The Padre there--how amusing they should call him that!--should
cease to be serious, which, being so very unusual, would be tragic, I do
not know how we are to tell the artist that he has missed a chance of
immortalising himself."

Roscoe said nothing, but smiled at her vivacity, while he deprecated her
words by a wave of his hand.  I also was silent for a moment; for there
had come to my mind, while she was speaking and I was watching the scene,
something that Hungerford had said to me once on board the 'Fulvia'.
"Marmion," said he, "when everything at sea appears so absolutely
beautiful and honest that it thrills you, and you're itching to write
poetry, look out.  There's trouble ahead.  It's only the pretty pause in
the happy scene of the play before the villain comes in and tumbles
things about.  When I've been on the bridge," he continued, "of a night
that set my heart thumping, I knew, by Jingo! it was the devil playing
his silent overture.  Don't you take in the twaddle about God sending
thunderbolts; it's that old war-horse down below.--And then I've kept a
sharp lookout, for I knew as right as rain that a company of waterspouts
would be walking down on us, or a hurricane racing to catch us
broadsides.  And what's gospel for sea is good for land, and you'll find
it so, my son."

I was possessed of the same feeling now as I looked at the scene before
us, and I suppose I seemed moody, for immediately Mrs. Falchion said:
"Why, now my words have come true; the scene can be made perfect.  Pray
step down to the valley, Dr. Marmion, and complete the situation, for you
are trying to seem serious, and it is irresistibly amusing--and
professional, I suppose; one must not forget that you teach the young
'sawbones' how to saw."

I was piqued, annoyed.  I said, though I admit it was not cleverly said:
"Mrs. Falchion, I am willing to go and complete that situation, if you
will go with me; for you would provide the tragedy--plenty of it; there
would be the full perihelion of elements; your smile is the incarnation
of the serious."

She looked at me full in the eyes.  "Now that," she said, "is a very good
'quid pro quo'--is that right?--and I have no doubt that it is more or
less true; and for a doctor to speak truth and a professor to be under
stood is a matter for angels.  And I actually believe that, in time, you
will be free from priggishness, and become a brilliant conversationalist;
and--suppose we wander on to our proper places in the scene. . . .
Besides, I want to see that strange man, Mr. Boldrick."



CHAPTER XIV

THE PATH OF THE EAGLE

We travelled slowly down the hillside into the village, and were about to
turn towards the big mill when we saw Mr. Devlin and Ruth riding towards
us.  We halted and waited for them.  Mr. Devlin was introduced to Mrs.
Falchion by his daughter, who was sweetly solicitous concerning Mrs.
Falchion and Justine Caron, and seemed surprised at finding them abroad
after the accident of the day before.  Ruth said that her father and
herself had just come from the summer hotel, where they had gone to call
upon Mrs. Falchion.  Mrs. Falchion heartily acknowledged the courtesy.
She seemed to be playing no part, but was apparently grateful all round;
yet I believe that even already Ruth had caught at something in her
presence threatening Roscoe's peace; whilst she, from the beginning, had,
with her more trained instincts, seen the relations between the clergyman
and his young parishioner.--But what had that to do with her?

Between Roscoe and Ruth there was the slightest constraint, and I thought
that it gave a troubled look to the face of the girl.  Involuntarily, the
eyes of both were attracted to Mrs. Falchion.  I believe in that moment
there was a kind of revelation among the three.  While I talked to Mr.
Devlin I watched them, standing a little apart, Justine Caron with us.
It must have been a painful situation for them; to the young girl because
a shadow was trailing across the light of her first love; to Roscoe
because the shadow came out of his past; to Mrs. Falchion because she was
the shadow.  I felt that trouble was at hand.  In this trouble I knew
that I was to play a part; for, if Roscoe had his secret and Mrs.
Falchion had the key to it, I also held a secret which, in case of
desperate need, I should use.  I did not wish to use it, for though
it was mine it was also another's.  I did not like the look in Mrs.
Falchion's eyes as she glanced at Ruth: I was certain that she resented
Roscoe's regard for Ruth and Ruth's regard for Roscoe; but, up to that
moment, I had not thought it possible that she cared for him deeply.
Once she had influenced me, but she had never cared for me.

I could see a change in her.  Out of it came that glance at Ruth, which
seemed to me the talon-like hatred that shot from the eyes of Goneril and
Regan: and I was sure that if she loved Roscoe there would be mad trouble
for him and for the girl.  Heretofore she had been passionless, but there
was a dormant power in her which had only to be wickedly aroused to wreck
her own and others' happiness.  Hers was one of those volcanic natures,
defying calculation and ordinary conceptions of life; having the fullest
capacity for all the elementary passions--hatred, love, cruelty, delight,
loyalty, revolt, jealousy.  She had never from her birth until now felt
love for any one.  She had never been awakened.  Even her affection for
her father had been dutiful rather than instinctive.  She had provoked
love, but had never given it.  She had been self-centred, compulsive,
unrelenting.  She had unmoved seen and let her husband go to his doom--
it was his doom and death so far as she knew.

Yet, as I thought of this, I found myself again admiring her.  She was
handsome, independent, distinctly original, and possessing capacity for
great things.  Besides, so far, she had not been actively vindictive--
simply passively indifferent to the sufferings of others.  She seemed to
regard results more than means.  All she did not like she could empty
into the mill of the destroying gods: just as General Grant poured
hundreds of thousands of men into the valley of the James, not thinking
of lives but victory, not of blood but triumph.  She too, even in her
cruelty, seemed to have a sense of wild justice which disregarded any
incidental suffering.

I could see that Mr. Devlin was attracted by her, as every man had been
who had ever met her; for, after all, man is but a common slave to
beauty: virtue he respects, but beauty is man's valley of suicide.
Presently she turned to Mr. Devlin, having, as it seemed to me, made
Roscoe and Ruth sufficiently uncomfortable.  With that cheerful
insouciance which was always possible to her on the most trying
occasions, she immediately said, as she had often said to me, that she
had come to Mr. Devlin to be amused for the morning, perhaps the whole
day.  It was her way, her selfish way, to make men her slaves.

Mr. Devlin gallantly said that he was at her disposal, and with a kind of
pride added that there was plenty in the valley which would interest her;
for he was a frank, bluff man, who would as quickly have spoken
disparagingly of what belonged to himself, if it was not worthy,
as have praised it.

"Where shall we go first?" he said.  "To the mill?"

"To the mill, by all means," Mrs. Falchion replied; "I have never been in
a great saw-mill, and I believe this is very fine.  Then," she added,
with a little wave of the hand towards the cable running down from Phil
Boldrick's eyrie in the mountains, "then I want to see all that cable can
do--all, remember."

Mr. Devlin laughed.  "Well, it hasn't many tricks, but what it does it
does cleverly, thanks to The Padre."

"Oh yes," responded Mrs. Falchion, still looking at the cable; "The
Padre, I know, is very clever."

"He is more than clever," bluffly replied Mr. Devlin, who was not keen
enough to see the faint irony in her tones.

"Yes," responded Mrs. Falchion in the same tone of voice, "he is more
than clever.  I have been told that he was once very brave.  I have been
told that once in the South Seas he did his country a great service."

She paused.  I could see Ruth's eyes glisten and her face suffuse, for
though she read the faint irony in the tone, still she saw that the tale
which Mrs. Falchion was evidently about to tell, must be to Galt Roscoe's
credit.  Mrs. Falchion turned idly upon Ruth and saw the look in her
face.  An almost imperceptible smile came upon her lips.  She looked
again at the cable and Phil Boldrick's eyrie, which seemed to have a
wonderful attraction for her.  Not turning away from it, save now and
then to glance indolently at Mr. Devlin or Ruth, and once enigmatically
at myself, she said:

"Once upon a time--that is the way, I believe, to begin a pretty story--
there were four men-of-war idling about a certain harbour of Samoa.  One
of the vessels was the flag-ship, with its admiral on board.  On one of
the other vessels was an officer who had years before explored this
harbour.  It was the hurricane season.  He advised the admiral not to
enter the harbour, for the indications foretold a gale, and himself was
not sure that his chart was in all respects correct, for the harbour had
been hurriedly explored and sounded.  But the admiral gave orders, and
they sailed in.

"That day a tremendous hurricane came crying down upon Samoa.  It swept
across the island, levelled forests of cocoa palms, battered villages to
pieces, caught that little fleet in the harbour, and played with it in a
horrible madness.  To right and left were reefs, behind was the shore,
with a monstrous surf rolling in; before was a narrow passage.  One
vessel made its way out--on it was the officer who had surveyed the
harbour.  In the open sea there was safety.  He brought his vessel down
the coast a little distance, put a rope about him and in the wild surf
made for the shore.  I believe he could have been court-martialled for
leaving his ship, but he was a man who had taken a great many risks of
one kind and another in his time.  It was one chance out of a hundred;
but he made it--he got to the shore, travelled down to the harbour where
the men-of-war were careening towards the reefs, unable to make the
passage out, and once again he tied a rope about him and plunged into the
surf to try for the admiral's ship.  He got there terribly battered.
They tell how a big wave lifted him and landed him upon the quarter-deck
just as big waves are not expected to do.  Well, like the hero in any
melodrama of the kind, he very prettily piloted monsieur the admiral and
his fleet out to the open sea."

She paused, smiling in an inscrutable sort of way, then turned and said
with a sudden softness in her voice, though still with the air of one who
wished not to be taken with too great a seriousness: "And, ladies and
gentlemen, the name of the ship that led the way was the 'Porcupine'; and
the name of the hero was Commander Galt Roscoe, R.N.; and 'of such is the
kingdom of heaven!'"

There was silence for a moment.  The tale had been told adroitly, and
with such tact as to words that Roscoe could not take offence--need not,
indeed, as he did not, I believe, feel any particular self-consciousness.
I am not sure but he was a little glad that such evidence should have
been given at the moment, when a kind of restraint had come between him
and Ruth, by one who he had reason to think was not wholly his friend
might be his enemy.  It was a kind of offset to his premonitions and to
the peril over which he might stumble at any moment.

To me the situation was almost inexplicable; but the woman herself was
inexplicable: at this moment the evil genius of us all, at that doing
us all a kind of crude, superior justice.  I was the first to speak.

"Roscoe," I said, "I never had heard of this, although I remember the
circumstance as told in the newspapers.  But I am glad and proud that I
have a friend with such a record."

"And, only think," said Mrs. Falchion, "he actually was not court-
martialled for abandoning his ship to save an admiral and a fleet.  But
the ways of the English Admiralty are wonderful.  They go out of their
way to avoid a court-martial sometimes, and they go out of their way to
establish it sometimes."

By this time we had started towards the mill.  Roscoe walked ahead with
Ruth Devlin.  Mr. Devlin, Mrs. Falchion, Justine Caron and myself walked
together.

Mrs. Falchion presently continued, talking, as it seemed to me, at the
back of Roscoe's head:

"I have known the Admiralty to force an officer to resign the navy
because he had married a native wife.  But I never knew the Admiralty to
court-martial an officer because he did not marry a native wife whom he
OUGHT to have married: but, as I said, the ways of the Admiralty are past
admiration."

I could see Roscoe's hand clinch at his side, and presently he said over
his shoulder at her: "Your memory and your philosophy are as wonderful
as the Admiralty are inscrutable."

She laughed.  "You have not lost your old gift of retort," she said.
"You are still amusing."

"Well, come," said Mr. Devlin cheerfully, "let's see if there isn't
something even more amusing than Mr. Roscoe in Viking.  I will show you,
Mrs. Falchion, the biggest saw that ever ate the heart out of a Norfolk
pine."

At the mill Mrs. Falchion was interested.  She asked questions concerning
the machinery which mightily pleased Mr. Devlin, they were so apt and
intelligent; and herself assisted in giving an immense log to the teeth
of the largest saw, which, with its six upright blades, ate, and was
never satisfied.  She stooped and ran her ungloved hand into the sawdust,
as sweet before the sun has dried it as the scent of a rose.  The rich
smell of the fresh-cut lumber filled the air, and suggested all kinds of
remote and pleasant things.  The industry itself is one of the first that
comes with the invasion of new territory, and makes one think of man's
first work in the world: to fell the tree and till the soil.  It is
impossible to describe that fierce, jubilant song of the saw, which even
when we were near was never shrill or shrieking: never drowning our
voices, but vibrant and delightful.  To Mrs. Falchion it was new; she was
impressed.

"I have seen," she said to Mr. Devlin, "all sorts of enterprises, but
never anything like this.  It all has a kind of rough music.  It is
enjoyable."

Mr. Devlin beamed.  "I have just added something to the mill that will
please you," he said.

She looked interested.  We all gathered round.  I stood between Mrs.
Falchion and Ruth Devlin, and Roscoe beside Justine Caron.

"It is the greatest mill-whistle in the country," he continued.  "It will
be heard from twelve to twenty-five miles, according to the condition of
the atmosphere.  I want big things all round, and this is a masterpiece,
I guess.  Now, I'll let you hear it if you like.  I didn't expect to use
it until to-night at nine o'clock, when, also for the first time, I am to
light the mills by electricity; a thing that's not been attempted yet in
any saw-mill on the Continent.  We're going to work night and day for a
couple of months."

"This is all very wonderful.  And are you indebted to Mr. Roscoe in these
things too?--Everybody seems to need him here."

"Well," said the mill-owner, laughing, "the whistle is my own.  It's the
sort of thing I would propose--to blow my trumpet, as it were; but the
electricity and the first experiments in it I owe to The Padre."

"As I thought," she said, and turned to Roscoe.  "I remember," she added,
"that you had an electrical search-light on the 'Porcupine', and that you
were fond of electricity.  Do you ever use search-lights here?  I should
think they might be of use in your parish.  Then, for a change, you could
let the parish turn it upon you, for the sake of contrast and
edification."

For the moment I was exceedingly angry.  Her sarcasm was well veiled,
but I could feel the sardonic touch beneath the smiling surface.  This
innuendo seemed so gratuitous.  I said to her, almost beneath my breath,
that none of the others could hear: "How womanly!"

She did no more than lift her eyebrows in acknowledgment, and went on
talking lightly to Mr. Devlin.  Roscoe was cool, but I could see now in
his eyes a kind of smouldering anger; which was quite to my wish.
I hoped he would be meek no longer.

Presently Ruth Devlin said: "Would it not be better to wait till to-
night, when the place is lighted, before the whistle is blown?  Then you
can get a better first impression.  And if Mrs. Falchion will come over
to our home at Sunburst, we will try and amuse her for the rest of the
day--that is, after she has seen all here."

Mrs. Falchion seemed struck by the frankness of the girl, and for an
instant debated, but presently said: "No, thank you.  When all is seen
now, I will go to the hotel, and then will join you all here in the
evening, if that seems feasible.  Perhaps Dr. Marmion will escort me
here.  Mr. Roscoe, of course, has other duties."

"I shall be happy," I said, maliciously smiling, "to guide you to the
sacrifice of the saw."

She was not disturbed.  She touched Mr. Devlin's arm, and, looking archly
at him, nodded backwards towards me.  "'Beware the anaconda!'" she said.

It was impossible not to be amused; her repartee was always so
unrestrained.  She disarmed one by what would have been, in a man,
insolent sang-froid: in her it was piquancy, daring.

Presently she added: "But if we are to have no colossal whistle and no
electric light till evening, there is one thing I must have: and that is
your remarkable Phil Boldrick, who seems to hold you all in the palm of
his hand, and lives up there like a god on his Olympus."

"Well, suppose you go and call on him," said Roscoe, with a touch of dry
humour, his eye on the cable that reached to Boldrick's perch.

She saw her opportunity, and answered promptly: "Yes, I will call on him
immediately,"--here she turned towards Ruth,--"if Miss Devlin and
yourself will go with me."

"Nonsense," interposed Mr. Devlin.  "Besides, the cage will only hold two
easily.  Anyhow, it's absurd."

"Why is it absurd?  Is there any danger?" queried Mrs. Falchion.

"Not unless there's an idiot at the machinery."

"I should expect you to manage it," she persisted.

"But no woman has ever done it."

"I will make the record."  And, turning to Ruth: "You are not afraid?"

"No, I am not afraid," said the girl bravely, though she acknowledged to
me afterwards that while she was not afraid of anything where her own
skill was called in question, such as mountain-climbing, or even puma-
hunting, she did not joyfully anticipate swinging between heaven and
earth on that incline.  "I will go," she added,  "if my father will let
me. . . .  May I?" she continued, turning to him.

Perhaps something of the father's pride came up in him, perhaps he had
just got some suspicion that between his daughter and Mrs. Falchion there
was a subterranean rivalry.  However it was, he gave a quick, quizzical
look at both of them, then glanced at Roscoe, and said: "I'll make no
objections, if Ruth would like to introduce you to Phil.  And, as Mrs.
Falchion suggested, I'll 'turn the crank.'"

I could see that Roscoe had a bad moment.  But presently he appeared to
me perfectly willing that Ruth should go.  Maybe he was as keen that she
should not appear at a disadvantage beside Mrs. Falchion as was her
father.

A signal was given, and the cage came slowly down the cable to the mill.
We could see Boldrick, looking little bigger than a child at the other
end, watching our movements.  At the last moment Mr. Devlin and Roscoe
seemed apprehensive, but the women were cool and determined.  I noticed
Mrs. Falchion look at Ruth curiously once or twice after they entered the
cage, and before they started, and what she saw evidently gave her a
higher opinion of the girl, for she laid her hand on Ruth's arm suddenly,
and said: "We will show these mere men what nerve is."

Ruth nodded, then 'bon voyage' was said, and the signal was given.  The
cage ascended at first quickly, then more slowly, swaying up and down a
little on the cable, and climbing higher and higher through the air to
the mountain-side.  What Boldrick thought when he saw the two ascending
towards him, he expressed to Mr. Devlin later in the day in vigorous
language: what occurred at his but Ruth Devlin told me afterwards.  When
the cage reached him, he helped the two passengers out, and took them to
his hut.  With Ruth he had always been a favourite, and he welcomed her
with admiring and affectionate respect.

"Never b'lieved you could have done it, Miss Devlin--never!  Not but what
I knew you weren't afraid of anything on the earth below, or the waters
under the earth; but when you get swinging there over the world, and not
high enough to get a hold on heaven, it makes you feel as if things was
droppin' away from you like.  But, by gracious! you did it like an eagle--
you and your friend."

By this time he was introduced, and at the name of Mrs. Falchion,
he cocked his head, and looked quizzically, as if trying to remember
something, then drew his hand once or twice across his forehead.
After a moment he said: "Strange, now, ma'am, how your name strikes me.
It isn't a common name, and I've heerd it before somewhere--somewhere.
It isn't your face that I've seen before--for I'd have remembered it if
it was a thousand years ago," he added admiringly.  "But I've heard some
one use it; and I can't tell where."

She looked curiously at him, and said: "Don't try to remember, and it
will come to you in good time.  But show us everything about your place
before we go back, won't you, please?"

He showed them his hut, where he lived, quite alone.  It was supplied
with bare necessaries, and with a counter, behind which were cups and a
few bottles.  In reference to this, Boldrick said: "Temperance drinks for
the muleteers, tobacco and tea and sugar and postage stamps and things.
They don't gargle their throats with anything stronger than coffee at
this tavern."

Then he took them to the cave in which puma, bear, and wapiti skins were
piled, together with a few stores and the kits of travellers who had left
their belongings in Boldrick's keeping till they should come again.
After Mrs. Falchion and Ruth had seen all, they came out upon the
mountain-side and waved their handkerchiefs to us, who were still
watching from below.  Then Boldrick hoisted a flag on his hut, which he
used on gala occasions, to celebrate the event, and, not content with
this, fired a 'feu de joie', managed in this way:  He took two anvils
used by the muleteers and expressmen to shoe their animals, and placed
one on the other, putting powder between.  Then Mrs. Falchion thrust a
red-hot iron into the powder, and an explosion ensued.  I was for a
moment uneasy, but Mr. Devlin reassured me, and instantly a shrill
whistle from the little mills answered the salute.

Just before they got into the cage, Mrs. Falchion turned to Boldrick,
and said: "You have not been trying to remember where you heard my name
before?  Well, can you not recall it now?"

Boldrick shook his head.  "Perhaps you will recall it before I see you
again," she said.

They started.  As they did so, Mrs. Falchion said suddenly, looking at
Boldrick keenly: "Were you ever in the South Seas?"

Boldrick stood for an instant open-mouthed, and then exclaimed loudly,
as the cage swung down the incline: "By Jingo!  No, ma'am, I was never
there, but I had a pal who come from Samoa."

She called back at him: "Tell me of him when we meet again.  What was his
name?"

They were too far down the cable now for Boldrick's reply to reach them
distinctly.  The descent seemed even more adventurous than the ascent,
and, in spite of myself, I could not help a thrill of keen excitement.
But they were both smiling when the cage reached us, and both had a very
fine colour.

"A delightful journey, a remarkable reception, and a very singular man
is your Mr. Boldrick," said Mrs. Falchion.

"Yes," replied Mr. Devlin, "you'll know Boldrick a long time before you
find his limits.  He is about the most curious character I ever knew, and
does the most curious things.  But straight--straight as a die, Mrs.
Falchion!"

"I fancy that Mr. Boldrick and I would be very good friends indeed," said
Mrs. Falchion; "and I purpose visiting him again.  It is quite probable
that we shall find we have had mutual acquaintances."  She looked at
Roscoe meaningly as she said this, but he was occupied with Ruth.

"You were not afraid?" Roscoe said to Ruth.  "Was it not a strange
sensation?"

"Frankly, at first I was a little afraid, because the cage swings on the
cable, and it makes you uncomfortable.  But I enjoyed it before we got to
the end."

Mrs. Falchion turned to Mr. Devlin.  "I find plenty here to amuse me,"
she said, "and I am glad I came.  To-night I want to go up that cable and
call on Mr. Boldrick again, and see the mills and the electric light, and
hear your whistle, from up there.  Then, of course, you must show us the
mill working at night, and afterwards--may I ask it?--you must all come
and have supper with me at the summer hotel."

Ruth dropped her eyes.  I saw she did not wish to go.  Fortunately
Mr. Devlin extricated her.  "I'm afraid that will be impossible,
Mrs. Falchion," he said: "much obliged to you all the same.  But I am
going to be at the mill pretty near all night, and shouldn't be able
to go, and I don't want Ruth to go without me."

"Then it must be another time," said Mrs. Falchion.

"Oh, whenever it's convenient for Ruth, after a day or two, I'll be ready
and glad.  But I tell you what: if you want to see something fine, you
must go down as soon as possible to Sunburst.  We live there, you know,
not here at Viking.  It's funny, too, because, you see, there's a feud
between Viking and Sunburst--we are all river-men and mill-hands at
Viking, and they're all salmon-fishers and fruit-growers at Sunburst.
By rights I ought to live here, but when I started I thought I'd build my
mills at Sunburst, so I pitched my tent down there.  My wife and the
girls got attached to the place, and though the mills were built at
Viking, and I made all my money up here, I live at Sunburst and spend my
shekels there.  I guess if I didn't happen to live at Sunburst, people
would be trailing their coats and making Donnybrook fairs every other day
between these two towns.  But that's neither here nor there.  Take my
advice, Mrs. Falchion, and come to Sunburst and see the salmon-fishers
at work, both day and night.  It is about the biggest thing in the way
of natural picturesqueness that you'll see--outside my mills.  Indians,
half-breeds, white men, Chinamen--they are all at it in weirs and cages,
or in the nets, and spearing by torch-light!--Don't you think I would do
to run a circus, Mrs. Falchion?--Stand at the door, and shout: 'Here's
where you get the worth of your money'?"

Mrs. Falchion laughed.  "I am sure you and I will be good friends; you
are amusing.  And, to be perfectly frank with you, I am very weary of
trying to live in the intellectual altitudes of Dr. Marmion--and The
Padre."

I had never seen her in a greater strain of gaiety.  It had almost a kind
of feverishness--as if she relished fully the position she held towards
Roscoe and Ruth, her power over their future, and her belief (as I think
was in her mind then) that she could bring back to her self Roscoe's old
allegiance.  That she believed this, I was convinced; that she would
never carry it out, was just as strong: for I, though only the chorus in
the drama, might one day find it in my power to become, for a moment, one
of the principal actors--from which position I had declined one day when
humiliated before Mrs. Falchion on the 'Fulvia'.  Boyd Madras was in my
mind.

After a few minutes we parted, agreeing to meet again in the valley in
the evening.  I had promised, as Mrs. Falchion had suggested, to escort
her and Justine Caron from the summer hotel to the mill.  Roscoe had
duties at both Viking and Sunburst and would not join us until we all met
in the evening.  Mr. Devlin and Ruth rode away towards Sunburst.  Mrs.
Falchion, Justine, and myself travelled slowly up the hillside, talking
chiefly upon the events of the morning.  Mrs. Falchion appeared to
admire greatly the stalwart character of Mr. Devlin; in a few swift,
complimentary words disposed of Ruth; and then made many inquiries
concerning Roscoe's work, my own position, and the length of my stay
in the mountains; and talked upon many trivial matters, never once
referring--as it seemed to me, purposely--to our past experiences on
the 'Fulvia', nor making any inquiry concerning any one except Belle
Treherne.

She showed no surprise when I told her that I expected to marry Miss
Treherne.  She congratulated me with apparent frankness, and asked for
Miss Treherne's address, saying she would write to her.  As soon as she
had left Roscoe's presence she had dropped all enigmatical words and
phrases, and, during this hour I was with her, was the tactful,
accomplished woman of the world, with the one present object: to make her
conversation agreeable, and to keep things on the surface.  Justine Caron
scarcely spoke during the whole of our walk, although I addressed myself
to her frequently.  But I could see that she watched Mrs. Falchion's face
curiously; and I believe that at this time her instinct was keener by far
to read what was in Mrs. Falchion's mind than my own, though I knew much
more of the hidden chain of events connecting Mrs. Falchion's life and
Galt Roscoe's.

I parted from them at the door of the hotel, made my way down to Roscoe's
house at the ravine, and busied myself for the greater part of the day in
writing letters, and reading on the coping.  About sunset I called for
Mrs. Falchion, and found her and Justine Caron ready and waiting.  There
was nothing eventful in our talk as we came down the mountain-side
towards Viking--Justine Caron's presence prevented that.  It was dusk
when we reached the valley.  As yet the mills were all dark.  The only
lights visible were in the low houses lining the banks of the river.
Against the mountainside there seemed to hang one bunch of flame like a
star, large, red, and weird.  It was a torch burning in front of Phil
Boldrick's hut.  We made our way slowly to the mill, and found Mr.
Devlin, Ruth, and Roscoe, with Ruth's sister, and one or two other
friends, expecting us.

"Well," said Mr. Devlin heartily, "I have kept the show waiting for you.
The house is all dark, but I guess you'll see a transformation scene
pretty quick.  Come out," he continued, "and let us get the front seats.
They are all stalls here; nobody has a box except Boldrick, and it is up
in the flies."

"Mr. Devlin," said Mrs. Falchion, "I purpose to see this show not only
from the stalls, but from the box in the flies.  Therefore, during the
first act, I shall be here in front of the foot-lights.  During the
second act I shall be aloft like Tom Bowling--"

"In other words--" began Mr. Devlin.

"In other words," added Mrs. Falchion, "I am going to see the valley and
hear your great horn blow from up there!"  She pointed towards the star
in front of Phil's hut.

"All right," said Mr. Devlin; "but you will excuse me if I say that I
don't particularly want anybody to see this performance from where Tom
Bowling bides."

We left the office and went out upon the platform, a little distance from
the mill.  Mr. Devlin gave a signal, touched a wire, and immediately it
seemed as if the whole valley was alight.  The mill itself was in a blaze
of white.  It was transfigured--a fairy palace, just as the mud barges in
the Suez Canal had been transformed by the search-light of the 'Fulvia'.
For the moment, in the wonder of change from darkness to light, the
valley became the picture of a dream.  Every man was at his post in the
mill, and in an instant work was going on as we had seen it in the
morning.  Then, all at once, there came a great roar, as it were, from
the very heart of the mill--a deep diapason, dug out of the throat of the
hills: the big whistle.

"It sounds mournful--like a great animal in pain," said Mrs. Falchion.
"You might have got one more cheerful."

"Wait till it gets tuned up," said Mr. Devlin.  "It hasn't had a chance
to get the burs out of its throat.  It will be very fine as soon as the
engine-man knows how to manage it."

"Yes," said Ruth, interposing, "a little toning down would do it good--
it is shaking the windows in your office; feel this platform tremble!"

"Well, I bargained for a big whistle and I've got it: and I guess they'll
know if ever there's a fire in the town!"  Just as he said this, Roscoe
gave a cry and pointed.

We all turned, and saw a sight that made Ruth Devlin cover her face with
her hands and Mrs. Falchion stand horror-stricken.  There, coming down
the cable with the speed of lightning, was the cage.  In it was a man--
Phil Boldrick.  With a cry and a smothered oath, Mr. Devlin sprang
towards the machinery, Roscoe with him.  There was nobody near it, but
they saw a boy whose duty it was that night to manage the cable, running
towards it.  Roscoe was the first to reach the lever; but it was too
late.  He partially stopped the cage, but only partially.  It came with
a dull, sickening thud to the ground, and Phil Boldrick--Phil Boldrick's
broken, battered body--was thrown out.

A few minutes later Boldrick was lying in Mr. Devlin's office.

Ill luck for Viking in the hour of her success.  Phil's shattered hulk is
drifting.  The masts have gone by the board, the pilot from the captain's
side.  Only the man's "unconquerable soul" is on the bridge, watching the
craft dip at the bow till the waters, their sport out, should hugely
swallow it.

We were all gathered round.  Phil had asked to see the lad who, by
neglecting the machinery for a moment, had wrecked his life.  "My boy,"
he said, "you played an ugly game.  It was a big mistake.  I haven't any
grudge agen you, but be glad I'm not one that'd haunt you for your cussed
foolishness. . . .  There, now, I feel better; that's off my mind!"

"If you're wanting to show remorse or anything," he continued, "there's
my friend, Mr. Roscoe, The Padre--he's all right, you understand!--Are
you there? . . .  Why don't you speak?"  He stretched out his hand.
The lad took it, but he could not speak: he held it and sobbed.

Then Phil understood.  His brow wrinkled with a sudden trouble.  He said:
"There, never mind.  I'm dying, but it isn't what I expected.  It doesn't
smart nor tear much; not more than river-rheumatism.  P'r'aps I wouldn't
mind it at all if I could see."

For Phil was entirely blind now.  The accident had destroyed his
remaining eye.  Being blind, he had already passed that first corridor
of death--darkness.  Roscoe stooped over him, took his hand, and spoke
quietly to him.  Phil knew the voice, and said with a faint smile: "Do
you think they'd plant me with municipal honours--honours to pardners?"

"We'll see to that, Phil," said Mr. Devlin from behind the clergyman.

Phil recognised the voice.  "You think that nobody'll kick at making it
official?"

"Not one, Phil."

"And maybe they wouldn't mind firin' a volley--Lights out, as it were:
and blow the big whistle?  It'd look sociable, wouldn't it?"

"There'll be a volley and the whistle, Phil--if you have to go," said Mr.
Devlin.

There was a silence, then the reply came musingly: "I guess I hev to go.
. . . I'd hev liked to see the corporation runnin' longer, but maybe
I can trust the boys."

A river-driver at the door said in a deep voice: "By the holy! yes, you
can trust us."

"Thank you kindly. . . .  If it doesn't make any difference to the
rest, I'd like to be alone with The Padre for a little--not for religion,
you understand, for I go as I stayed, and I hev my views,--but for
private business."

Slowly, awkwardly, the few river-drivers passed out--Devlin and Mrs.
Falchion and Ruth and I with them--for I could do nothing now for him--he
was broken all to pieces.  Roscoe told me afterwards what happened then.

"Padre," he said to Roscoe, "are we alone?"

"Quite alone, Phil."

"Well, I hevn't any crime to tell, and the business isn't weighty; but I
hev a pal at Danger Mountain--"  He paused.

"Yes, Phil?"

"He's low down in s'ciety; but he's square, and we've had the same
blanket for many a day together.  I crossed him first on the Panama
level.  I was broke--stony broke.  He'd been shipwrecked, and was ditto.
He'd been in the South Seas; I in Nicaragua.  We travelled up through
Mexico and Arizona, and then through California to the Canadian Rockies.
At last we camped at Danger Mountain, a Hudson's Bay fort, and stayed
there.  It was a roughish spot, but we didn't mind that.  Every place
isn't Viking.  One night we had a difference--not a quarrel, mind you,
but a difference.  He was for lynchin' a fellow called Piccadilly,
a swell that'd come down in the world, bringin' the worst tricks of
his tribe with him.  He'd never been a bony fidy gentleman--just an
imitation.  He played sneak with the daughter of Five Fingers, an Injin
chief.  We'd set store by that girl.  There wasn't one of us rough nuts
but respected her.  She was one of the few beautiful Injin women I've
seen.  Well, it come out that Piccadilly had ruined her, and one morning
she was found dead.  It drove my pal well-nigh crazy.  Not that she was
anything partik'ler to him; but the thing took hold of him unusual."

Now that I know all concerning Roscoe's past life, I can imagine that
this recital must have been swords at his heart.  The whole occurrence is
put down minutely in his diary, but there is no word of comment upon it.

Phil had been obliged to stop for pain, and, after Roscoe had adjusted
the bandages, he continued:

"My pal and the others made up their minds they'd lynch Piccadilly; they
wouldn't give him the benefit of the doubt--for it wasn't certain that
the girl hadn't killed herself. . . .  Well, I went to Piccadilly, and
give him the benefit.  He left, and skipped the rope.  Not, p'r'aps, that
he ought to hev got away, but once he'd showed me a letter from his
mother,--he was drunk too, at the time,--and I remembered when my brother
Rodney was killed in the Black Hills, and how my mother took it; so I
give him the tip to travel quick."

He paused and rested.  Then presently continued: "Now, Padre, I've got
four hundred dollars--the most I ever had at one time in my life.  And
I'd like it to go to my old pal--though we had that difference, and
parted.  I guess we respect each other about the same as we ever did.
And I wish you'd write it down so that the thing would be municipal."

Roscoe took pencil and paper and said: "What's his name, Phil?"

"Sam--Tonga Sam."

"But that isn't all his name?"

"No, I s'pose not, but it's all he ever had in general use.  He'd got it
because he'd been to the Tonga Islands and used to yarn about them.  Put
'Tonga Sam, Phil Boldrick's Pal at Danger Mountain, ult'--add the 'ult,'
it's c'rrect.--That'll find him.  And write him these words, and if you
ever see him say them to him--'Phil Boldrick never had a pal that crowded
Tonga Sam.'"

When the document was written, Roscoe read it aloud, then both signed it,
Roscoe guiding the battered hand over the paper.

This done, there was a moment's pause, and then Phil said: "I'd like to
be in the open.  I was born in the open--on the Madawaska.  Take me out,
Padre."

Roscoe stepped to the door, and silently beckoned to Devlin and myself.
We carried him out, and put him beside a pine tree.

"Where am I now?" he said.  "Under the white pine, Phil."  "That's
right.  Face me to the north."

We did so.  Minutes passed in silence.  Only the song of the saw was
heard, and the welting of the river.  "Padre," he said at last hurriedly,
"lift me up, so's I can breathe."

This was done.

"Am I facin' the big mill?"

"Yes."

"That's c'rrect.  And the 'lectric light is burnin' in the mill and in
the town, an' the saws are all goin'?"

"Yes."

"By gracious, yes--you can hear 'em!  Don't they scrunch the stuff,
though!"  He laughed a little.  "Mr. Devlin an' you and me hev been
pretty smart, hevn't we?"

Then a spasm caught him, and after a painful pause he called: "It's the
biggest thing in cables. . . .  Stand close in the cage. . . .  Feel
her swing!--Safe, you bet, if he stands by the lever. . . ."

His face lighted with the last gleam of living, and he said slowly: "I
hev a pal--at Danger Mountain."



CHAPTER XV

IN THE TROUGH OF THE WINDS

The three days following the events recorded in the preceding chapter
were notable to us all.  Because my own affairs and experiences are of
the least account, I shall record them first: they will at least throw
a little light on the history of people who appeared previously in this
tale, and disappeared suddenly when the 'Fulvia' reached London, to make
room for others.

The day after Phil Boldrick's death I received a letter from Hungerford,
and also one from Belle Treherne.  Hungerford had left the Occidental
Company's service, and had been fortunate enough to get the position of
first officer on a line of steamers running between England and the West
Indies.  The letter was brusque, incisive, and forceful, and declared
that, once he got his foot firmly planted in his new position, he would
get married and be done with it.  He said that Clovelly the novelist had
given a little dinner at his chambers in Piccadilly, and that the guests
were all our fellow-passengers by the 'Fulvia'; among them Colonel Ryder,
the bookmaker, Blackburn the Queenslander, and himself.

This is extracted from the letter:

     . . . Clovelly was in rare form.--Don't run away with the idea
     that he's eating his heart out because you came in just ahead in the
     race for Miss Treherne.  For my part--but, never mind!--You had
     phenomenal luck, and you will be a phenomenal fool if you don't
     arrange for an early marriage.  You are a perfect baby in some
     things.  Don't you know that the time a woman most yearns for a man
     is when she has refused him?  And Clovelly is here on the ground,
     and they are in the same set, and though I'd take my oath she would
     be loyal to you if you were ten thousand miles from here for ten
     years, so far as a promise is concerned, yet remember that a promise
     and a fancy are two different things.  We may do what's right for
     the fear o' God, and not love Him either.  Marmion, let the marriage
     bells be rung early--a maiden's heart is a ticklish thing. . . .

     But Clovelly was in rare form, as I said; and the bookmaker, who
     had for the first time read a novel of his, amiably quoted from it,
     and criticised it during the dinner, till the place reeked with
     laughter.  At first every one stared aghast ("stared aghast!"--how
     is that for literary form?); but when Clovelly gurgled, and then
     haw-hawed till he couldn't lift his champagne, the rest of us
     followed in a double-quick.  And the bookmaker simply sat calm and
     earnest with his eye-glass in his eye, and never did more than
     gently smile.  "See here," he said ever so candidly of Clovelly's
     best character, a serious, inscrutable kind of a man, the dignified
     figure in the book--"I liked the way you drew that muff.  He was
     such an awful outsider, wasn't he?  All talk, and hypocrite down to
     his heels.  And when you married him to that lady who nibbled her
     food in public and gorged in the back pantry, and went 'slumming'
     and made shoulder-strings for the parson--oh, I know the kind!"--
     [This was Clovelly's heroine, whom he had tried to draw, as he said
     himself, "with a perfect sincerity and a lovely worldly-mindedness,
     and a sweet creation altogether."]  "I said, that's poetic justice,
     that's the refinement of retribution.  Any other yarn-spinner would
     have killed the male idiot by murder, or a drop from a precipice, or
     a lingering fever; but Clovelly did the thing with delicate torture.
     He said, 'Go to blazes,' and he fixed up that marriage--and there
     you are!  Clovelly, I drink to you; you are a master!"

     Clovelly acknowledged beautifully, and brought off a fine thing
     about the bookmaker having pocketed L5000 at the Derby, then
     complimented Colonel Ryder on his success as a lecturer in London
     (pretty true, by the way), and congratulated Blackburn on his coming
     marriage with Mrs. Callendar, the Tasmanian widow.  What he said of
     myself I am not going to repeat; but it was salaaming all round,
     with the liquor good, and fun bang over the bulwarks.

     How is Roscoe?  I didn't see as much of him as you did, but I liked
     him.  Take my tip for it, that woman will make trouble for him some
     day.  She is the biggest puzzle I ever met.  I never could tell
     whether she liked him or hated him; but it seems to me that either
     would be the ruin of any "Christom man."  I know she saw something
     of him while she was in London, because her quarters were next to
     those of my aunt the dowager (whose heart the gods soften at my
     wedding!) in Queen Anne's Mansions, S.W., and who actually liked
     Mrs. F., called on her, and asked her to dinner, and Roscoe too,
     whom she met at her place.  I believe my aunt would have used her
     influence to get him a good living, if he had played his cards
     properly; but I expect he wouldn't be patronised, and he went for a
     "mickonaree," as they say in the South Seas. . . .  Well, I'm off
     to the Spicy Isles, then back again to marry a wife.  "Go thou and
     do likewise."

     By the way, have you ever heard of or seen Boyd Madras since he
     slipped our cable at Aden and gave the world another chance?
     I trust he will spoil her wedding--if she ever tries to have one.
     May I be there to see!

Because we shall see nothing more of Hungerford till we finally dismiss
the drama, I should like to say that this voyage of his to the West
Indies made his fortune--that is, it gave him command of one of the
finest ships in the English merchant service.  In a storm a disaster
occurred to his vessel, his captain was washed overboard, and he was
obliged to take command.  His skill, fortitude, and great manliness,
under tragical circumstances, sent his name booming round the world; and,
coupled, as it was, with a singular act of personal valour, he had his
pick of all vacancies and possible vacancies in the merchant service, boy
(or little more) as he was.  I am glad to say that he is now a happy
husband and father too.

The letter from Belle Treherne mentioned having met Clovelly several
times of late, and, with Hungerford's words hot in my mind, I determined,
though I had perfect confidence in her, as in myself, to be married at
Christmas-time.  Her account of the courtship of Blackburn and Mrs.
Callendar was as amusing as her description of an evening which the
bookmaker had spent with her father, when he said he was going to marry
an actress whom he had seen at Drury Lane Theatre in a racing drama.
This he subsequently did, and she ran him a break-neck race for many a
day, but never making him unhappy or less resourceful.  His verdict, and
his only verdict, upon Mrs. Falchion had been confided to Blackburn, who
in turn confided it to Clovelly, who passed it on to me.

He said: "A woman is like a horse.  Make her beautiful, give her a high
temper and a bit of bad luck in her youth, and she'll take her revenge
out of life; even though she runs straight, and wins straight every time;
till she breaks her heart one day over a lost race.  After that she is
good to live with for ever.  A heart-break for that kind is their
salvation: without it they go on breaking the hearts of others."

As I read Belle's and Hungerford's letters my thoughts went back again
--as they did so often indeed--to the voyage of the 'Fulvia', and then to
Mrs. Falchion's presence in the Rocky Mountains.  There was a strange
destiny in it all, and I had no pleasant anticipations about the end;
for, even if she could or did do Roscoe no harm, so far as his position
was concerned, I saw that she had already begun to make trouble between
him and Ruth.

That day which saw poor Boldrick's death put her in a conflicting light
to me.  Now I thought I saw in her unusual gentleness, again an unusual
irony, an almost flippant and cruel worldliness; and though at the time
she was most touched by the accident, I think her feeling of horror at it
made her appear to speak in a way which showed her unpleasantly to Mr.
Devlin and his daughter.  It may be, however, that Ruth Devlin saw
further into her character than I guessed, and understood the strange
contradictions of her nature.  But I shall, I suppose, never know
absolutely about that; nor does it matter much now.

The day succeeding Phil's death was Sunday, and the little church at
Viking was full.  Many fishers had come over from Sunburst.  It was
evident that people expected Roscoe to make some reference to Phil's
death in his sermon, or, at least, have a part of the service
appropriate.  By a singular chance the first morning lesson was David's
lamentation for Saul and Jonathan.  Roscoe had a fine voice.  He read
easily, naturally--like a cultivated layman, not like a clergyman; like a
man who wished to convey the simple meaning of what he read, reverently,
honestly.  On the many occasions when I heard him read the service,
I noticed that he never changed the opening sentence, though there were,
of course, others from which to choose.  He drew the people to their feet
always with these words, spoken as it were directly to them:

     "When the wicked man turneth away from the wickedness that he hath
     committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save
     his soul alive."

I noticed this morning that he instantly attracted the attention of every
one, and held it, with the first words of the lesson:

     "The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the
     mighty fallen!"

It seemed to me as if the people at first almost tried to stop breathing,
so intense was the feeling.  Mrs. Falchion was sitting very near me, and
though she had worn her veil up at first, as I uncharitably put it then,
to disconcert him, she drew it rather quickly down as his reading
proceeded; but, so far as I could see, she never took her eyes off
his face through the whole service; and, impelled in spite of myself,
I watched her closely.  Though Ruth Devlin was sitting not far from her,
she scarcely looked that way.

Evidently the text of the sermon was not chosen that it might have some
association with Phil's death, but there was a kind of simple grandeur,
and certainly cheerful stalwartness, in his interpretation and practical
rendering of the text:

     "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah?
     . . . travelling in the greatness of his strength?  I that speak
     in righteousness, mighty to save."

A man was talking to men sensibly, directly, quietly.  It was impossible
to resist the wholesome eloquence of his temperament; he was a revelation
of humanity: what he said had life.

I said to myself, as I had before, Is it possible that this man ever did
anything unmanly?

After the service, James Devlin--with Ruth--came to Roscoe and myself,
and asked us to lunch at his house.  Roscoe hesitated, but I knew it was
better for him not to walk up the hills and back again immediately after
luncheon; so I accepted for us both; and Ruth gave me a grateful look.
Roscoe seemed almost anxious not to be alone with Ruth--not from any
cowardly feeling, but because he was perplexed by the old sense of coming
catastrophe, which, indeed, poor fellow, he had some cause to feel.  He
and Mr. Devlin talked of Phil's funeral and the arrangements that had
been made, and during the general conversation Ruth and I dropped behind.

Quite abruptly she said to me: "Who is Mrs. Falchion?"

"A widow--it is said--rich, unencumbered," I as abruptly answered.

"But I suppose even widows may have pedigrees, and be conjugated in the
past tense," was the cool reply.  She drew herself up a little proudly.

I was greatly astonished.  Here was a girl living most of her life in
these mountains, having only had a few years of social life in the East,
practising with considerable skill those arts of conversation so much
cultivated in metropolitan drawing-rooms.  But I was a very dull fellow
then, and had yet to learn that women may develop in a day to wonderful
things.

"Well," I said in reply, "I suppose not.  But I fear I cannot answer
regarding the pedigree, nor a great deal about the past, for I only met
her under two years ago."

"And yet I have imagined that you knew her pretty well, and that Mr.
Roscoe knew her even better--perhaps," she said suggestively.

"That is so," I tried to say with apparent frankness, "for she lived in
the South Seas with her father, and Roscoe knew her there."

"She is a strange woman, and quite heartless in some ways; and yet, do
you know, I like her while I dislike her; and I cannot tell why."

"Do not try to tell," I answered, "for she has the gift of making people
do both.--I think she likes and dislikes herself--as well as others."

"As well--as others," she replied slowly.  "Yes, I think I have noticed
that.  You see," she added, "I do not look at people as most girls of my
age: and perhaps I am no better for that.  But Mrs. Falchion's
introduction to me occurred in such peculiar circumstances, and the
coincidence of your knowing her was so strange, that my interest is
not unnatural, I suppose."

"On the contrary," I said, "I am only surprised that you have restrained
your curiosity so much and so long.  It was all very strange; though the
meeting was quite to be expected, as Mrs. Falchion herself explained that
day.  She had determined on coming over to the Pacific Coast; this place
was in her way; it is a fashionable resort; and she stood a good chance
of finding old friends."

"Yes--of finding--old friends," was the abstracted reply.  "I like Miss
Caron, her companion, very much better than--most women I have met."

This was not what she was going to say, but she checked herself, lest
she might be suspected of thinking uncharitably of Mrs. Falchion.  I,
of course, agreed with her, and told her the story of Galt Roscoe and
Hector Caron, and of Justine's earnestness regarding her fancied debt
to Roscoe.

I saw that the poison of anxiety had entered the girl's mind; and it
might, perhaps, bear fruit of no engaging quality.  In her own home,
however, it was a picture to see her with her younger sisters and
brothers, and invalid mother.  She went about very brightly and sweetly
among them, speaking to them as if she was mother to them all, angel of
them all, domestic court for them all; as indeed she was.  Here there
seemed no disturbing element in her; a close observer might even have
said (and in this case I fancy I was that) that she had no mind or heart
for anything or anybody but these few of her blood and race.  Hers was a
fine nature--high, wholesome, unselfish.  Yet it struck me sadly also,
to see how the child-like in her, and her young spirit, had been so early
set to the task of defence and protection: a mother at whose breasts
a child had never hung; maternal, but without the relieving joys of
maternity.

I knew that she would carry through her life that too watchful, too
anxious tenderness; that to her last day she would look back and not
remember that she had a childhood once; because while yet a child she had
been made into a woman.

Such of the daughters of men make life beautiful; but themselves are
selfish who do not see the almost intolerable pathos of unselfishness
and sacrifice.  At the moment I was bitter with the thought that, if Mrs.
Falchion intended anything which could steal away this girl's happiness
from her, even for a time, I should myself seek to retaliate--which was,
as may appear, in my power.  But I could not go to Mrs. Falchion now and
say: "You intend some harm to these two: for God's sake go away and leave
them alone!"  I had no real ground for making such a request.  Besides,
if there was any catastrophe, any trouble, coming, or possible, that
might hasten it, or, at least, give it point.

I could only wait.  I had laid another plan, and from a telegram I had
received in answer to one I had sent, I believed it was working.  I did
not despair.  I had, indeed, sent a cable to my agent in England, which
was to be forwarded to the address given me by Boyd Madras at Aden.
I had got a reply saying that Boyd Madras had sailed for Canada by the
Allan Line of steamers.  I had then telegraphed to a lawyer I knew in
Montreal, and he had replied that he was on the track of the wanderer.

All Viking and Sunburst turned out to Phil Boldrick's funeral.
Everything was done that he had requested.  The great whistle roared
painfully, revolvers and guns were fired over his grave, and the new-
formed corporation appeared.  He was buried on the top of a foot-hill,
which, to this day, is known as Boldricks' Own.  The grave was covered by
an immense flat stone bearing his name.  But a flagstaff was erected
near, no stouter one stands on Beachy Head or elsewhere,--and on it was
engraved:

                             PHIL BOLDRICK,

                   Buried with Municipal Honours on
                    the Thirtieth day of June 1883.

               This to his Memory, and for the honour of
                          Viking and Sunburst.

"Padre," said a river-driver to Galt Roscoe after the rites were
finished, "that was a man you could trust."

"Padre," added another, "that was a man you could bank on, and draw your
interest reg'lar.  He never done a mean thing, and he never pal'd with a
mean man.  He wasn't for getting his teeth on edge like some in the valley.
He didn't always side with the majority, and he had a gift of doin' things
on the square."

Others spoke in similar fashion, and then Viking went back to work, and
we to our mountain cottage.

Many days passed quietly.  I saw that Galt Roscoe wished to speak
to me on the subject perplexing him, but I did not help him.  I knew
that it would come in good time, and the farther off it was the better.
I dreaded to hear what he had to tell, lest, in spite of my confidence in
him, it should really be a thing which, if made public, must bring ruin.
During the evenings of these days he wrote much in his diary--the very
book that lies by me now.  Writing seemed a relief to him, for he was
more cheerful afterwards.  I know that he had received letters from the
summer hotel, but whether they were from Mrs. Falchion or Justine Caron I
was not then aware, though I afterwards came to know that one of them was
from Justine, asking him if she might call on him.  He guessed that the
request was connected with Hector Caron's death; and, of course, gave his
consent.  During this time he did not visit Ruth Devlin, nor did he
mention her name.  As for myself, I was sick of the whole business,
and wished it well over, whatever the result.

I make here a few extracts from Roscoe's diary, to show the state of his
mind at this period:

     Can a man never get away from the consequences of his wickedness,
     even though he repents?  . . . Restitution is necessary as well
     as repentance; but when one cannot make restitution, when it is
     impossible--what then?  I suppose one has to reply, Well, you have
     to suffer, that is all. . . .  Poor Alo!  To think that after all
     these years, you can strike me!

     There is something malicious in the way Mercy Falchion crosses my
     path.  What she knows, she knows; and what she can do if she
     chooses, I must endure.  I cannot love Mercy Falchion again, and
     that, I suppose, is the last thing she would wish now.  I cannot
     bring Alo back.  But how does that concern her!  Why does she hate
     me so?  For, underneath her kindest words,--and they are kind
     sometimes,--I can detect the note of enmity, of calculating scorn.
     . . . I wish I could go to Ruth and tell her all, and ask her to
     decide if she can take a man with such a past. . . .  What a
     thing it is to have had a clean record of unflinching manliness at
     one's back!

I add another extract:

     Phil's story of Danger Mountain struck like ice at my heart.  There
     was a horrible irony in the thing: that it should be told to me, of
     all the world, and at such a time.  Some would say, I suppose, that
     it was the arrangement of Providence.  Not to speak it profanely, it
     seems to be the achievement of the devil.  The torture was too
     malicious for God. . . .

     Phil's letter has gone to his pal at Danger Mountain. . . .

The fourth day after the funeral Justine Caron came to see Galt Roscoe.
This was the substance of their conversation, as I came to know long
afterwards.

"Monsieur," she said, "I have come to pay something of a debt which I owe
to you.  It is a long time since you gave my poor Hector burial, but I
have never forgotten, and I have brought you at last--you must not shake
your head so--the money you spent. . . .  But you MUST take it.  I
should be miserable if you did not.  The money is all that I can repay;
the kindness is for memory and gratitude always."

He looked at her wonderingly, earnestly, she seemed so unworldly,
standing there, her life's ambition not stirring beyond duty to her dead.
If goodness makes beauty, she was beautiful; and yet, besides all that,
she had a warm, absorbing eye, a soft, rounded cheek, and she carried in
her face the light of a cheerful, engaging spirit.

"Will it make you happier if I take the money?" he said at last, and his
voice showed how she had moved him.

"So much happier!" she answered, and she put a roll of notes into his
hand.

"Then I will take it," he replied, with a manner not too serious, and he
looked at the notes carefully; "but only what I actually spent, remember;
what I told you when you wrote me at Hector's death; not this ample
interest.  You forget, Miss Caron, that your brother was my friend."

"No I cannot forget that.  It lives with me," she rejoined softly.  But
she took back the surplus notes.  "And I have my gratitude left still,"
she added, smiling.

"Believe me, there is no occasion for gratitude.  Why, what less could
one do?"

"One could pass by on the other side."

"He was not fallen among thieves," was his reply; "he was among
Englishmen, the old allies of the French."

"But the Priests and the Levites, people of his own country--Frenchmen--
passed him by.  They were infamous in falsehood, cruel to him and to me.
--You are an Englishman; you have heart and kindness."

He hesitated, then he gravely said: "Do not trust Englishmen more than
you trust your own countrymen.  We are selfish even in our friendships
often.  We stick to one person, and to benefit that one we sacrifice
others.  Have you found all Englishmen--and WOMEN unselfish?"  He looked
at her steadily; but immediately repented that he had asked the question,
for he had in his mind one whom they both knew, too well, perhaps; and he
added quickly: "You see, I am not kind."

They were standing now in the sunlight just outside the house.  His hands
were thrust down in the pockets of his linen coat; her hands opening and
shutting her parasol slightly.  They might, from their appearance, have
been talking of very inconsequent things.

Her eyes lifted sorrowfully to his.  "Ah, monsieur," she rejoined, "there
are two times when one must fear a woman."  She answered his question
more directly than he could have conjectured.  But she felt that she must
warn him.

"I do not understand," he said.

"Of course you do not.  Only women themselves understand that the two
times when one must fear a woman are when she hates, and when she loves--
after a kind.  When she gets wicked or mad enough to hate, either through
jealousy or because she cannot love where she would, she is merciless.
She does not know the honour of the game.  She has no pity.  Then,
sometimes when she loves in a way, she is, as you say, most selfish.
I mean a love which--is not possible.  Then she does some mad act--all
women are a little mad sometimes.  Most of us wish to be good, but we are
quicksilver. . . ."

Roscoe's mind had been working fast.  He saw she meant to warn him
against Mrs. Falchion.  His face flushed slightly.  He knew that Justine
had thought well of him, and now he knew also that she suspected
something not creditable or, at least, hazardous in his life.

"And the man--the man whom the woman hates?"

"When the woman hates--and loves too, the man is in danger."

"Do you know of such a man?" he almost shrinkingly said.

"If I did I would say to him, The world is wide.  There is no glory in
fighting a woman who will not be fair in battle.  She will say what may
appear to be true, but what she knows in her own heart to be false--false
and bad."

Roscoe now saw that Justine had more than an inkling of his story.

He said calmly: "You would advise that man to flee from danger?"

"Yes, to flee," she replied hurriedly, with a strange anxiety in her
eyes; "for sometimes a woman is not satisfied with words that kill.  She
becomes less than human, and is like Jael."

Justine knew that Mrs. Falchion held a sword over Roscoe's career;
she guessed that Mrs. Falchion both cared for him and hated him too;
but she did not know the true reason of the hatred--that only came out
afterwards.  Woman-like, she exaggerated in order that she might move
him; but her motive was good, and what she said was not out of keeping
with the facts of life.

"The man's life even might be in danger?" he asked.

"It might."

"But surely that is not so dreadful," he still said calmly.

"Death is not the worst of evils."

"No, not the worst; one has to think of the evil word as well.  The evil
word can be outlived; but the man must think of those who really love
him--who would die to save him--and whose hearts would break if he
were killed.  Love can outlive slander, but it is bitter when it has to
outlive both slander and death.  It is easy to love with joy so long as
both live, though there are worlds between.  Thoughts fly and meet; but
Death makes the great division. . . .  Love can only live in the
pleasant world."

Very abstractedly he said: "Is it a pleasant world to you?"

She did not reply directly to that, but answered: "Monsieur, if you know
of such a man as I speak of, warn him to fly."  And she raised her eyes
from the ground and looked earnestly at him.  Now her face was slightly
flushed, she looked almost beautiful.

"I know of such a man," he replied, "but he will not go.  He has to
answer to his own soul and his conscience.  He is not without fear, but
it is only fear for those who care for him, be they ever so few.  And he
hopes that they will be brave enough to face his misery, if it must come.
For we know that courage has its hour of comfort. . . .  When such a
man as you speak of has his dark hour he will stand firm."

Then with a great impulse he added: "This man whom I know did wrong, but
he was falsely accused of doing a still greater.  The consequence of the
first thing followed him.  He could never make restitution.  Years went
by.  Some one knew that dark spot in his life--his Nemesis."

"The worst Nemesis in this life, monsieur, is always a woman," she
interrupted.

"Perhaps she is the surest," he continued.  "The woman faced him in the
hour of his peace and--" he paused.  His voice was husky.

"Yes, 'and,' monsieur?"

"And he knows that she would ruin him, and kill his heart and destroy his
life."

"The waters of Marah are bitter," she murmured, and she turned her face
away from him to the woods.  There was no trouble there.  The birds were
singing, black squirrels were jumping from bough to bough, and they could
hear the tapping of the woodpecker.  She slowly drew on her gloves, as if
for occupation.

He spoke at length as though thinking aloud: "But he knows that, whatever
comes, life has had for him more compensations than he deserves.  For, in
his trouble, a woman came, and said kind words, and would have helped him
if she could."

"There were TWO women," she said solemnly.

"Two women?" he repeated slowly.

"The one stayed in her home and prayed, and the other came."

"I do not understand," he said: and he spoke truly.

"Love is always praying for its own, therefore one woman prayed at home.
The other woman who came was full of gratitude, for the man was noble,
she owed him a great debt, and she believed in him always.  She knew that
if at any time in his life he had done wrong, the sin was without malice
or evil."

"The woman is gentle and pitiful with him, God knows."

She spoke quietly now, and her gravity looked strange in one so young.

"God knows she is just, and would see him fairly treated.  She is so far
beneath him! and yet one can serve a friend though one is humble and
poor."

"How strange," he rejoined, "that the man should think himself miserable
who is befriended in such a way!  Mademoiselle, he will carry to his
grave the kindness of this woman."

"Monsieur," she added humbly, yet with a brave light in her eyes, "it is
good to care whether the wind blows bitter or kind.  Every true woman is
a mother, though she have no child.  She longs to protect the suffering,
because to protect is in her so far as God is. . . .  Well, this woman
cares that way. . . ."  She held out her hand to say good-bye.  Her
look was simple, direct, and kind.  Their parting words were few and
unremarkable.

Roscoe watched Justine Caron as she passed out into the shade of the
woods, and he said to himself: "Gratitude like that is a wonderful
thing."  He should have said something else, but he did not know,
and she did not wish him to know: and he never knew.



CHAPTER XVI

A DUEL IN ARCADY

The more I thought of Mrs. Falchion's attitude towards Roscoe, the more
I was puzzled.  But I had at last reduced the position to this: Years
ago Roscoe had cared for her and she had not cared for him.  Angered
or indignant at her treatment of him, Roscoe's affections declined
unworthily elsewhere.  Then came a catastrophe of some kind, in which
Alo (whoever she was) suffered.  The secret of this catastrophe Mrs.
Falchion, as I believe, held.  There was a parting, a lapse of years,
and then the meeting on the 'Fulvia': with it, partial restoration of Mrs.
Falchion's influence, then its decline, and then a complete change of
position.  It was now Mrs. Falchion that cared, and Roscoe that shunned.
It perplexed me that there seemed to be behind Mrs. Falchion's present
regard for Roscoe some weird expression of vengeance, as though somehow
she had been wronged, and it was her duty to punish.  In no other way was
the position definable.  That Roscoe would never marry her was certain to
my mind.  That he could not marry her now was also certain--to me; I had
the means to prevent it.  That she wished to marry him I was not sure,
though she undoubtedly cared for him.  Remained, therefore,
the supposition that if he cared for her she would do him no harm,
as to his position.  But if he married Ruth, disaster would come--
Roscoe himself acknowledged that she held the key of his fortunes.

Upon an impulse, and as a last resort, I had taken action whereby in
some critical moment I might be able to wield a power over Mrs. Falchion.
I was playing a blind game, but it was the only card I held.  I had heard
from the lawyer in Montreal that Madras, under another name, had gone to
the prairie country to enter the mounted police.  I had then telegraphed
to Winnipeg, but had got no answer.

I had seen her many times, but we had never, except very remotely,
touched upon the matter which was uppermost in both our minds.  It was
not my wish to force the situation.  I knew that my opportunity would
come wherein to spy upon the mind of the enemy.  It came.  On the evening
that Justine Caron called upon Roscoe, I accidentally met Mrs. Falchion
in the grounds of the hotel.  She was with several people, and as I spoke
to her she made a little gesture of invitation.  I went over, was
introduced to her companions, and then she said:

"Dr. Marmion, I have not yet made that visit to the salmon-fishers at
Sunburst.  Unfortunately, on the days when I called on Miss Devlin, my
time was limited.  But now I have a thirst for adventure, and time hangs
heavy.  Will you perform your old office of escort, and join a party,
which we can make up here, to go there to-morrow?"

I had little love for Mrs. Falchion, but I consented, because it seemed
to me the chance had come for an effective talk with her; and I suggested
that we should go late in the afternoon of the next day, and remain till
night and see the Indians, the half-breeds, and white fishermen working
by torch-light on the river.  The proposition was accepted with delight.

Then the conversation turned upon the feud that existed between Viking
and Sunburst, the river-drivers and the fishers.  During the last few
days, owing to the fact that there were a great many idle river-men
about, the river-driving for the season being done, there had been more
than one quarrel of a serious nature at Sunburst.  It had needed a great
deal of watchfulness on the part of Mr. Devlin and his supporters to
prevent fighting.  In Sunburst itself, Mr. Devlin had much personal
influence.  He was a man of exceedingly strong character, bold, powerful,
persuasive.  But this year there had been a large number of rough,
adventurous characters among the river-men, and they seemed to take
delight in making sport of, and even interfering with, the salmon-
fishers.  We talked of these things for some time, and then I took my
leave.  As I went, Mrs. Falchion stepped after me, tapped me on the arm,
and said in a slow, indolent tone:

"Whenever you and I meet, Dr. Marmion, something happens--something
strange.  What particular catastrophe have you arranged for to-morrow?
For you are, you know, the chorus to the drama."

"Do not spoil the play by anticipation," I said.

"One gets very weary of tragedy," she retorted.  "Comedy would be a
relief.  Could you not manage it?"

"I do not know about to-morrow," I said, "as to a comedy.  But I promise
you that one of these days I will present to you the very finest comedy
imaginable."

"You speak oracularly," she said; "still you are a professor, and
professors always pose.  But now, to be perfectly frank with you, I do
not believe that any comedy you could arrange would be as effective as
your own."

"You have read 'Much Ado about Nothing'," I said.

"Oh, it is as good as that, is it?" she asked.

"Well, it has just as good a final situation," I answered.  She seemed
puzzled, for she saw I spoke with some undercurrent of meaning.  "Mrs.
Falchion," I said to her suddenly and earnestly, "I wish you to think
between now and to-morrow of what I am just going to say to you."

"It sounds like the task set an undergraduate, but go on," she said.

"I wish you to think," said I, "of the fact that I helped to save your
life."

She flushed; an indignant look shot into her face, and her voice
vibrating, she said:

"What man would have done less?"  Then, almost immediately after, as
though repenting of what she had said, she continued in a lower tone
and with a kind of impulsiveness uncommon to her: "But you had courage,
and I appreciate that; still, do not ask too much.  Good-night."

We parted at that, and did not meet again until the next afternoon, when
I joined her and her party at the summer hotel.  Together we journeyed
down to Sunburst.

It was the height of the salmon-fishing season.  Sunburst lay cloyed
among the products of field and forest and stream.  At Viking one got the
impression of a strong pioneer life, vibrant, eager, and with a touch of
Arcady.  But viewed from a distance Sunburst seemed Arcady itself.  It
was built in green pastures, which stretched back on one side of the
river, smooth, luscious, undulating to the foot-hills.  This was on one
side of the Whi-Whi River.  On the other side was a narrow margin, and
then a sheer wall of hills in exquisite verdure.  The houses were of
wood, and chiefly painted white, sweet and cool in the vast greenness.
Cattle wandered shoulders deep in the rich grass, and fruit of all kinds
was to be had for the picking.  The population was strangely mixed.
Men had drifted here from all parts of the world, sometimes with their
families, sometimes without them.  Many of them had settled here after
mining at the Caribou field and other places on the Frazer River.
Mexican, Portuguese, Canadian, Californian, Australian, Chinaman, and
coolie lived here, side by side, at ease in the quiet land, following a
primitive occupation with primitive methods.

One could pick out the Indian section of the village, because not far
from it was the Indian graveyard, with its scaffolding of poles and brush
and its offerings for the dead.  There were almost interminable rows of
scaffolding on the river's edge and upon the high bank where hung the
salmon drying in the sun.  The river, as it ambled along, here over
shallows, there over rapids and tiny waterfalls, was the pathway for
millions and millions of salmon upon a pilgrimage to the West and North--
to the happy hunting grounds of spawn.  They came in droves so thick at
times that, crowding up the little creeks which ran into the river, they
filled them so completely as to dam up the water and make the courses a
solid mass of living and dead fish.  In the river itself they climbed the
rapids and leaped the little waterfalls with incredible certainty; except
where man had prepared his traps for them.  Sometimes these traps were
weirs or by-washes, made of long lateral tanks of wicker-work.  Down
among the boulders near the shore, scaffoldings were raised, and from
these the fishermen with nets and wicker-work baskets caught the fish as
they came up.

We wandered about during the afternoon immensely interested in all
that we saw.  During that time the party was much together, and my
conversation with Mrs.  Falchion was general.  We had supper at a quiet
little tavern, idled away an hour in drinking in the pleasant scene; and
when dusk came went out again to the banks of the river.

From the time we left the tavern to wander by the river I managed to be a
good deal alone with Mrs. Falchion.  I do not know whether she saw that I
was anxious to speak with her privately, but I fancy she did.  Whatever
we had to say must, in the circumstances, however serious, be kept
superficially unimportant.  And, as it happened, our serious conference
was carried on with an air of easy gossip, combined with a not artificial
interest in all we saw.  And there was much to see.  Far up and down the
river the fragrant dusk was spotted with the smoky red light of torches,
and the atmosphere shook with shadows, through which ran the song of the
river, more amiable than the song of the saw, and the low, weird cry of
the Indians and white men as they toiled for salmon in the glare of the
torches.  Here upon a scaffolding a half-dozen swung their nets and
baskets in the swift river, hauling up with their very long poles thirty
or forty splendid fish in an hour; there at a small cascade, in great
baskets sunk into the water, a couple of Indians caught and killed the
salmon that, in trying to leap the fall, plumped into the wicker cage;
beyond, others, more idle and less enterprising, speared the finny
travellers, thus five hundred miles from home--the brave Pacific.

Upon the banks the cleaning and curing went on, the women and children
assisting, and as the Indians and half-breeds worked they sang either the
wild Indian melodies, snatches of brave old songs of the 'voyageurs' of a
past century, or hymns taught by the Jesuit missionaries in the persons
of such noble men as Pere Lacombe and Pere Durieu, who have wandered up
and down the vast plains of both sides of the Rockies telling an old
story in a picturesque, heroic way.  These old hymns were written in
Chinook, that strange language,--French, English, Spanish, Indian,
arranged by the Hudson's Bay Company, which is, like the wampum-belt,
a common tongue for tribes and peoples not speaking any language but
their own.  They were set to old airs--lullabies, chansons, barcarolles,
serenades, taken out of the folk-lore of many lands.  Time and again had
these simple arcadian airs been sung as a prelude to some tribal act that
would not bear the search-light of civilisation--little by the Indians
east of the Rockies, for they have hard hearts and fierce tongues, but
much by the Shuswaps, Siwashes, and other tribes of the Pacific slope,
whose natures are for peace more than for war; who, one antique day,
drifted across from Japan or the Corea, and never, even in their wild,
nomadic state, forgot their skill and craft in wood and gold and silver.

We sat on the shore and watched the scene for a time, saying nothing.
Now and again, as from scaffolding to scaffolding, from boat to boat, and
from house to house, the Chinook song rang and was caught up in a slow
monotone, so not interfering with the toil, there came the sound of an
Indian drum beaten indolently, or the rattle of dry hard sticks--a
fantastic accompaniment.

"Does it remind you of the South Seas?" I asked Mrs. Falchion, as, with
her chin on her hand, she watched the scene.

She drew herself up, almost with an effort, as though she had been lost
in thought, and looked at me curiously for a moment.  She seemed trying
to call back her mind to consider my question.  Presently she answered
me: "Very little.  There is something finer, stronger here.  The
atmosphere has more nerve, the life more life.  This is not a land for
the idle or vicious, pleasant as it is."

"What a thinker you are, Mrs. Falchion!"

She seemed to recollect herself suddenly.  Her voice took on an
inflection of satire.  "You say it with the air of a discoverer.  With
Columbus and Hervey and you, the world--" She stopped, laughing softly
at the thrust, and moved the dust about with her foot.

"In spite of the sarcasm, I am going to add that I feel a personal
satisfaction in your being a woman who does think, and acts more on
thought than impulse."

"'Personal satisfaction' sounds very royal and august.  It is long,
I imagine, since you took a--personal satisfaction--in me."

I was not to be daunted.  "People who think a good deal and live a fresh,
outdoor life--you do that--naturally act most fairly and wisely in time
of difficulty--and contretemps."

"But I had the impression that you thought I acted unfairly and unwisely
--at such times."

We had come exactly where I wanted.  In our minds we were both looking at
those miserable scenes on the 'Fulvia', when Madras sought to adjust the
accounts of life and sorely muddled them.

"But," said I, "you are not the same woman that you were."

"Indeed, Sir Oracle," she answered: "and by what necromancy do you know?"

"By none.  I think you are sorry now--I hope you are--for what--"

She interrupted me indignantly.  "You go too far.  You are almost--
unbearable.  You said once that the matter should be buried, and yet here
you work for an opportunity, Heaven knows why, to place me at a
disadvantage!"

"Pardon me," I answered; "I said that I would never bring up those
wretched scenes unless there was cause.  There is cause."

She got to her feet.  "What cause--what possible cause can there be?"

I met her eye firmly.  "I am bound to stand by my friend," I said.
"I can and I will stand by him."

"If it is a game of drawn swords, beware!" she retorted.  "You speak to
me as if I were a common adventuress.  You mistake me, and forget that
you--of all men--have little margin of high morality on which to
speculate."

"No, I do not forget that," I said, "nor do I think of you as an
adventuress.  But I am sure you hold a power over my friend, and--"

She stopped me.  "Not one word more on the subject.  You are not to
suppose this or that.  Be wise do not irritate and annoy a woman like me.
It were better to please me than to preach to me."

"Mrs. Falchion," I said firmly, "I wish to please you--so well that some
day you will feel that I have been a good friend to you as well as to
him--"

Again she interrupted me.  "You talk in foolish riddles.  No good can
come of this."

"I cannot believe that," I urged; "for when once your heart is moved by
the love of a man, you will be just, and then the memory of another man
who loved you and sinned for you--"

"Oh, you coward!" she broke out scornfully--"you coward to persist in
this!"

I made a little motion of apology with my hand, and was silent.  I was
satisfied.  I felt that I had touched her as no words of mine had ever
touched her before.  If she became emotional, was vulnerable in her
feelings, I knew that Roscoe's peace might be assured.  That she loved
Roscoe now I was quite certain.  Through the mists I could see a way,
even if I failed to find Madras and arrange another surprising situation.
She was breathing hard with excitement.

Presently she said with incredible quietness, "Do not force me to do hard
things.  I have a secret."

"I have a secret too," I answered.  "Let us compromise."

"I do not fear your secret," she answered.  She thought I was referring
to her husband's death.  "Well," I replied, "I honestly hope you never
will.  That would be a good day for you."

"Let us go," she said; then, presently: "No, let us sit here and forget
that we have been talking."

I was satisfied.  We sat down.  She watched the scene silently, and
I watched her.  I felt that it would be my lot to see stranger things
happen to her than I had seen before; but all in a different fashion.
I had more hope for my friend, for Ruth Devlin, for--!

I then became silent even to myself.  The weltering river, the fishers
and their labour and their songs, the tall dark hills, the deep gloomy
pastures, the flaring lights, were then in a dream before me; but I was
thinking, planning.

As we sat there, we heard noises, not very harmonious, interrupting the
song of the salmon-fishers.  We got up to see.  A score of river-drivers
were marching down through the village, mocking the fishers and making
wild mirth.  The Indians took little notice, but the half-breeds and
white fishers were restless.

"There will be trouble here one day," said Mrs. Falchion.

"A free fight which will clear the air," I said.

"I should like to see it--it would be picturesque, at least," she added
cheerfully; "for I suppose no lives would be lost."

"One cannot tell," I answered; "lives do not count so much in new lands."

"Killing is hateful, but I like to see courage."

And she did see it.



CHAPTER XVII

RIDING THE REEFS

The next afternoon Roscoe was sitting on the coping deep in thought, when
Ruth rode up with her father, dismounted, and came upon him so quietly
that he did not hear her.  I was standing in the trees a little distance
away.

She spoke to him once, but he did not seem to hear.  She touched his arm.
He got to his feet.

"You were so engaged that you did not hear me," she said.

"The noise of the rapids!" he answered, after a strange pause, "and your
footstep is very light."

She leaned her chin on her hand, rested against the rail of the coping,
looked meditatively into the torrent below, and replied: "Is it so
light?"  Then after a pause: "You have not asked me how I came,
who came with me, or why I am here."

"It was first necessary for me to conceive the delightful fact that you
are here," he said in a dazed, and, therefore, not convincing tone.

She looked him full in the eyes.  "Please do not pay me the ill
compliment of a compliment," she said.  "Was it the sailor who spoke then
or the--or yourself?  It is not like you."

"I did not mean it as a compliment," he replied.  "I was thinking about
critical and important things."

"'Critical and important' sounds large," she returned.

"And the awakening was sudden," he continued.  "You must make allowance,
please, for--"

"For the brusque appearance of a very unimaginative, substantial, and
undreamlike person?  I do.  And now, since you will not put me quite at
my ease by assuming, in words, that I have been properly 'chaperoned'
here, I must inform you that my father waits hard by--is, as my riotous
young brother says, 'without on the mat.'"

"I am very glad," he replied with more politeness than exactness.

"That I was duly escorted, or that my father is 'without on the mat'?
. . . However, you do not appear glad one way or the other.  And now
I must explain our business.  It is to ask your company at dinner (do
consider yourself honoured--actually a formal dinner party in the
Rockies!) to meet the lieutenant-governor, who is coming to see our
famous Viking and Sunburst. . . .  But you are expected to go out
where my father feeds his--there, see--his horse on your 'trim parterre.'
And now that I have done my duty as page and messenger without a word of
assistance, Mr. Roscoe, will you go and encourage my father to hope that
you will be vis-a-vis to his excellency?"  She lightly beat the air with
her whip, while I took a good look at the charming scene.

Roscoe looked seriously at the girl for an instant.  He understood too
well the source of such gay social banter.  He knew it covered a hurt.
He said to her: "Is this Ruth Devlin or another?"

And she replied very gravely: "It is Ruth Devlin and another too," and
she looked down to the chasm beneath with a peculiar smile; and her eyes
were troubled.

He left her and went and spoke to her father whom I had joined, but,
after a moment, returned to Ruth.  Ruth turned slightly to meet him as he
came.  "And is the prestige of the house of Devlin to be supported?" she
said; "and the governor to be entertained with tales of flood and field?"

His face had now settled into a peculiar calmness.  He said with a touch
of mock irony: "The sailor shall play his part--the obedient retainer of
the house of Devlin."

"Oh," she said, "you are malicious now!  You turn your long accomplished
satire on a woman."  And she nodded to the hills opposite, as if to tell
them that it was as they had said to her: those grand old hills with
which she had lived since childhood, to whom she had told all that had
ever happened to her.

"No, indeed no," he replied, "though I am properly rebuked.  I fear I am
malicious--just a little, but it is all inner-self-malice: 'Rome turned
upon itself.'"

"But one cannot always tell when irony is intended for the speaker of it.
Yours did not seem applied to yourself," was her slow answer, and she
seemed more interested in Mount Trinity than in him.

"No?"  Then he said with a playful sadness: "A moment ago you were not
completely innocent of irony, were you?"

"But a man is big and broad, and should not--he should be magnanimous,
leaving it to woman, whose life is spent among little things, to be
guilty of littlenesses.  But see how daring I am--speaking like this to
you who know so much more than I do. . . .  Surely, you are still only
humorous, when you speak of irony turned upon yourself--the irony so icy
to your friends?"

She had developed greatly.  Her mind had been sharpened by pain.  The
edge of her wit had become poignant, her speech rendered logical and
allusive.  Roscoe was wise enough to understand that the change in her
had been achieved by the change in himself; that since Mrs. Falchion
came, Ruth had awakened sharply to a distress not exactly definable.
She felt that though he had never spoken of love to her, she had a right
to share his troubles.  The infrequency of his visits to her of late, and
something in his manner, made her uneasy and a little bitter.  For there
was an understanding between them, though it had been unspoken and
unwritten.  They had vowed without priest or witness.  The heart speaks
eloquently in symbols first, and afterwards in stumbling words.

It seemed to Roscoe at this moment, as it had seemed for some time, that
the words would never be spoken.  And was this all that had troubled her
--the belief that Mrs. Falchion had some claim upon his life?  Or had she
knowledge, got in some strange way, of that wretched shadow in his past?

This possibility filled him with bitterness.  The old Adam in him awoke,
and he said within himself "God in heaven, must one folly, one sin, kill
me and her too?  Why me more than another!  . . . And I love her, I
love her!"

His eyes flamed until their blue looked all black, and his brows grew
straight over them sharply, making his face almost stern. . . .  There
came swift visions of renouncing his present life; of going with her--
anywhere: to tell her all, beg her forgiveness, and begin life over
again, admitting that this attempt at expiation was a mistake; to have
his conscience clear of secret, and trust her kindness.  For now he was
sure that Mrs. Falchion meant to make his position as a clergyman
impossible; to revenge herself on him for no wrong that, as far as he
knew, he ever did directly to her.  But to tell this girl, or even
her father or mother, that he had been married, after a shameful,
unsanctified fashion, to a savage, with what came after, and the awful
thing that happened--he who ministered at the altar!  Now that he looked
the thing in the face it shocked him.  No, he could not do it.

She said to him, while he looked at her as though he would read her
through and through, though his mind was occupied with a dreadful
possibility beyond her:

"Why do you look so?  You are stern.  You are critical.  Have I--
disimproved so?"

The words were full of a sudden and natural womanly fear, that something
in herself had fallen in value.  They had a pathos so much the more
moving because she sought to hide it.

There swam before his eyes the picture of happiness from which she
herself had roused him when she came.  He involuntarily, passionately,
caught her hand and pressed it to his lips twice; but spoke nothing.

"Oh! oh!--please!" she said.  Her voice was low and broken, and she
spoke appealingly.  Could he not see that he was breaking her heart,
while filling it also with unbearable joy?  Why did he not speak and make
this possible, and not leave it a thing to flush her cheeks, and cause
her to feel he had acted on a knowledge he had no right to possess till
he had declared himself in speech?  Could he not have spared her that?--
This Christian gentleman, whose worth had compassed these mountains and
won the dwellers among them--it was bitter.  Her pride and injured heart
rose up and choked her.

He let go her hand.  Now his face was partly turned from her, and she saw
how thin and pale it was.  She saw, too, what I had seen during the past
week, that his hair had become almost white about the temples; and the
moveless sadness of his position struck her with unnatural force, so
that, in spite of herself, tears came suddenly to her eyes, and a slight
moan broke from her.  She would have run away; but it was too late.

He saw the tears, the look of pity, indignation, pride, and love in her
face.

"My love!" he cried passionately.  He opened his arms to her.

But she stood still.  He came very close to her, spoke quickly, and
almost despairingly: "Ruth, I love you, and I have wronged you; but here
is your place, if you will come."

At first she seemed stunned, and her face was turned to her mountains,
as though the echo of his words were coming back to her from them, but
the thing crept into her heart and flooded it.  She seemed to wake, and
then all her affection carried her into his arms, and she dried her eyes
upon his breast.

After a time he whispered, "My dear, I have wronged you.  I should not
have made you care for me."

She did not seem to notice that he spoke of wrong.  She said: "I was
yours, Galt, even from the beginning, I think, though I did not quite
know it.  I remember what you read in church the first Sunday you came,
and it has always helped me; for I wanted to be good."

She paused and raised her eyes to his, and then with sweet solemnity she
said: "The words were:

     "'The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds'
     feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places.'"

"Ruth," he answered, "you have always walked on the high places.  You
have never failed.  And you are as safe as the nest of the eagle, a noble
work of God."

"No, I am not noble; but I should like to be so.  Most women like
goodness.  It is instinct with us, I suppose.  We had rather be good than
evil, and when we love we can do good things; but we quiver like the
compass-needle between two poles.  Oh, believe me! we are weak; but we
are loving."

"Your worst, Ruth, is as much higher than my best as the heaven is--"

"Galt, you hurt my fingers!" she interrupted.

He had not noticed the almost fierce strength of his clasp.  But his life
was desperately hungry for her.  "Forgive me, dearest.--As I said, better
than my best; for, Ruth, my life was--wicked, long ago.  You cannot
understand how wicked!"

"You are a clergyman and a good man," she said, with pathetic negation.

"You give me a heart unsoiled, unspotted of the world.  I have been in
some ways worse than the worst men in the valley there below."

"Galt, Galt, you shock me!" she said.

"Why did I speak?  Why did I kiss your hand as I did?  Because at the
moment it was the only honest thing to do; because it was due you that I
should say: 'Ruth, I love you, love you so much'"--here she nestled close
to him--"'so well, that everything else in life is as nothing beside it
--nothing! so well that I could not let you share my wretchedness.'"

She ran her hand along his breast and looked up at him with swimming
eyes.

"And you think that this is fair to me? that a woman gives the heart for
pleasant weather only?  I do not know what your sorrow may be, but it is
my right to share it.  I am only a woman; but a woman can be strong for
those she loves.  Remember that I have always had to care for others--
always; and I can bear much.  I will not ask what your trouble is, I only
ask you"--here she spoke slowly and earnestly, and rested her hand on his
shoulder--"to say to me that you love no other woman; and that--that no
other woman has a claim upon you.  Then I shall be content to pity you,
to help you, to love you.  God gives women many pains, but none so great
as the love that will not trust utterly; for trust is our bread of life.
Yes, indeed, indeed!"

"I dare not say," he said, "that it is your misfortune to love me, for in
this you show how noble a woman can be.  But I will say that the cup is
bitter-sweet for you. . . .  I cannot tell you now what my trouble is;
but I can say that no other living woman has a claim upon me. . . .
My reckoning is with the dead."

"That is with God," she whispered, "and He is just and merciful too. . . .
Can it not be repaired here?"  She smoothed back his hair, then let her
fingers stray lightly on his cheek.

It hurt him like death to reply.  "No, but there can be punishment here."

She shuddered slightly.  "Punishment, punishment," she repeated
fearfully--"what punishment?"

"I do not quite know."  Lines of pain grew deeper in his face. . . .
"Ruth, how much can a woman forgive?"

"A mother, everything."  But she would say no more.  He looked at her
long and earnestly, and said at last: "Will you believe in me no matter
what happens?"

"Always, always."  Her smile was most winning.

"If things should appear dark against me?"

"Yes, if you give me your word."

"If I said to you that I did a wrong; that I broke the law of God, though
not the laws of man?"

There was a pause in which she drew back, trembling slightly, and looked
at him timidly and then steadily, but immediately put her hands bravely
in his, and said: "Yes."

"I did not break the laws of man."

"It was when you were in the navy?" she inquired, in an awe-stricken
tone.

"Yes, years ago."

"I know.  I feel it.  You must not tell me.  It was a woman, and this
other woman, this Mrs. Falchion knows, and she would try to ruin you,
or"--here she seemed to be moved suddenly by a new thought--"or have you
love her.  But she shall not, she shall not--neither!  For I will love
you, and God will listen to me, and answer me."

"Would to Heaven I were worthy of you!  I dare not think of where you
might be called to follow me, Ruth."

"'Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge:
thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God,'" she rejoined in a
low voice.

"'Thy God my God!'" he repeated after her slowly.  He suddenly wondered
if his God was her God; whether now, in his trouble, he had that comfort
which his creed and profession should give him.  For the first time he
felt acutely that his choice of this new life might have been more a
reaction from the past, a desire for expiation, than radical belief that
this was the right and only thing for him to do.  And when, some time
after, he bade Ruth good-bye, as she went with her father, it came to him
with appalling conviction that his life had been a mistake.  The twist of
a great wrong in a man's character distorts his vision; and if he has a
tender conscience he magnifies his misdeeds.

In silence Roscoe and I watched the two ride down the slope.  I guessed
what had happened: afterwards I was told all.  I was glad of it, though
the end was not yet promising.  When we turned to go towards the house
again, a man lounged out of the trees towards us.  He looked at me, then
at Roscoe, and said:

"I'm Phil Boldrick's pal from Danger Mountain."  Roscoe held out his
hand, and the man took it, saying: "You're The Padre, I suppose, and Phil
was soft on you.  Didn't turn religious, did he?  He always had a streak
of God A'mighty in him; a kind of give-away-the-top-of-your-head chap;
friend o' the widow and the orphan, and divvy to his last crust with a
pal.  I got your letter, and come over here straight to see that he's
been tombed accordin' to his virtues; to lay out the dollars he left me
on the people he had on his visitin' list; no loafers, no gophers, not
one; but to them that stayed by him I stay, while prog and liquor last."

I saw Roscoe looking at him in an abstracted way, and, as he did not
reply, I said: "Phil had many friends and no enemies."  Then I told him
the tale of his death and funeral, and how the valley mourned for him.

While I spoke he stood leaning against a tree, shaking his head and
listening, his eyes occasionally resting on Roscoe with a look as
abstracted and puzzled as that on Roscoe's face.  When I had finished he
drew his hand slowly down his beard and a thick sound came from behind
his fingers.  But he did not speak.

Then I suggested quietly that Phil's dollars could be put to a better use
than for prog and liquor.

He did not reply to this at all; but after a moment's pause, in which he
seemed to be studying the gambols of a squirrel in a pine tree, he rubbed
his chin nervously, and more in soliloquy than conversation said: "I
never had but two pals that was pals through and through.  And one was
Phil and the other was Jo--Jo Brackenbury."

Here Roscoe's hand, which had been picking at the bark of a poplar,
twitched suddenly.

The man continued: "Poor Jo went down in the 'Fly Away' when she swung
with her bare ribs flat before the wind, and swamped and tore upon the
bloody reefs at Apia. . . .  God, how they gnawed her!  And never a
rag holdin' nor a stick standin', and her pretty figger broke like a tin
whistle in a Corliss engine.  And Jo Brackenbury, the dandiest rip, the
noisiest pal that ever said 'Here's how!' went out to heaven on a tearing
sea."

"Jo Brackenbury--" Roscoe repeated musingly.  His head was turned away
from us.

"Yes, Jo Brackenbury; and Captain Falchion said to me" (I wonder that I
did not start then) "when I told him how the 'Fly Away' went down to Davy,
and her lovers went aloft, reefed close afore the wind--'Then,' says he,
'they've got a damned sound seaman on the Jordan, and so help me! him
that's good enough to row my girl from open sea, gales poundin' and
breakers showin' teeth across the bar to Maita Point, is good enough for
use where seas is still and reefs ain't fashionable.'"

Roscoe's face looked haggard as it now turned towards us.  "If you will
meet me," he said to the stranger, "to-morrow morning, in Mr. Devlin's
office at Viking, I will hand you over Phil Boldrick's legacy."

The man made as if he would shake hands with Roscoe, who appeared not to
notice the motion, and then said: "I'll be there.  You can bank on that;
and, as we used to say down in the Spicy Isles, where neither of you have
been, I s'pose, Talofa!"

He swung away down the hillside.

Roscoe turned to me.  "You see, Marmion, all things circle to a centre.
The trail seems long, but the fox gets killed an arm's length from his
hole."

"Not always.  You take it too seriously," I said.  "You are no fox."

"That man will be in at the death," he persisted.

"Nonsense, Roscoe. He does not know you.  What has he to do with you?
This is overwrought nerves.  You are killing yourself with worry."

He was motionless and silent for a minute.  Then he said very quietly:
"No, I do not think that I really worry now.  I have known"--here he laid
his hand upon my shoulder and his eyes had a shining look--"what it is to
be happy, unspeakably happy, for a moment; and that stays with me.  I am
a coward no longer."

He drew his finger tips slowly across his forehead.  Then he continued:
"To-morrow I shall be angry with myself, no doubt, for having that
moment's joy, but I cannot feel so now.  I shall probably condemn myself
for cruel selfishness; but I have touched life's highest point this
afternoon, Marmion."

I drew his hand down from my shoulder and pressed it.  It was cold.
He withdrew his eyes from the mountain, and said: "I have had dreams,
Marmion, and they are over.  I lived in one: to expiate--to wipe out--
a past, by spending my life for others.  The expiation is not enough.
I lived in another: to win a woman's love; and I have, and was caught up
by it for a moment, and it was wonderful.  But it is over now, quite
over. . . .  And now for her sake renunciation must be made, before
I have another dream--a long one, Marmion."

I had forebodings, but I pulled myself together and said firmly: "Roscoe,
these are fancies.  Stop it, man.  You are moody.  Come, let us walk, and
talk of other things."

"No, we will not walk," he said, "but let us sit there on the coping and
be quiet--quiet in that roar between the hills."  Suddenly he swung
round, caught me by the shoulders and held me gently so.

"I have a pain at my heart, Marmion, as if I'd heard my death sentence;
such as a soldier feels who knows that Death looks out at him from iron
eyes.  You smile: I suppose you think I am mad."

I saw that it was best to let him speak his mind.  So I answered: "Not
mad, my friend.  Say on what you like.  Tell me all you feel.  Only, for
God's sake be brave, and don't give up until there's occasion.  I am sure
you exaggerate your danger, whatever it is."

"Listen for a minute," said he: "I had a brother Edward, as good a lad
as ever was; a boisterous, healthy fellow.  We had an old nurse in our
family who came from Irish hills, faithful and kind to us both.  There
came a change over Edward.  He appeared not to take the same interest in
his sports.  One day he came to me, looking a bit pale, and said: 'Galt,
I think I should like to study for the Church.'  I laughed at it, yet it
troubled me in a way, for I saw he was not well.  I told Martha, the
nurse.  She shook her head sadly, and said: 'Edward is not for the
Church, but you, my lad.  He is for heaven.'

"'For heaven, Martha?' laughed I.

"'In truth for heaven,' she replied, 'and that soon.  The look of his eye
is doom.  I've seen it since I swaddled him, and he will go suddenly.'

"I was angry, and I said to her,--though she thought she spoke the
truth,--'This is only Irish croaking.  We'll have the banshee next.'

"She got up from her chair and answered me solemnly: 'Galt Roscoe, I HAVE
heard the banshee wail, and sorrow falls upon your home.  And don't you
be so hard with me that have loved you, and who suffers for the lad that
often and often lay upon my breast.  Don't be so hard; for your day of
trouble comes too.  You, not he, will be priest at the altar.  Death will
come to him like a swift and easy sleep; but you will feel its hand upon
your heart and know its hate for many a day, and bear the slow pangs of
it until your life is all crushed, and you go from the world alone, Love
crying after you and not able to save you, not even the love of woman--
weaker than death. . . .  And, in my grave, when that day comes beside
a great mountain in a strange land, I will weep and pray for you; for I
was mother to you too, when yours left you alone bewhiles, never, in this
world, to come back.'

"And, Marmion, that night towards morning, as I lay in the same room with
Edward, I heard his breath stop sharply.  I jumped up and drew aside the
curtains to let in the light, and then I knew that the old woman spoke
true. . . .  And now! . . .  Well, I am like Hamlet--and I can say
with him: 'But thou wouldst not think how ill all's here about my heart
--but it is no matter!"' . . . .

I tried to laugh and talk away his brooding, but there was little use,
his convictions were so strong.  Besides, what can you do with a
morbidness which has its origin in fateful circumstances?

I devoutly wished that a telegram would come from Winnipeg to let me know
if Boyd Madras, under his new name, could be found.  I was a hunter on a
faint trail.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE STRINGS OF DESTINY

When Phil's pal left us he went wandering down the hillside, talking to
himself.  Long afterwards he told me how he felt, and I reproduce his
phrases as nearly as I can.

"Knocked 'em, I guess," he said, "with that about Jo Brackenbury. . . .
Poor Jo!  Stuck together, him and me did, after she got the steel in her
heart."  . . . He pulled himself together, shuddering. . . .  "Went
back on me, she did, and took up with a cursed swell, and got it cold--
cold.  And I?  By Judas!  I never was shut of that.  I've known women,
many of 'em, all countries, but she was different.  I expect now, after
all these years, that if I got my hand on the devil that done for her,
I'd rattle his breath in his throat.  There's things that clings.  She
clings, Jo Brackenbury clings, and Phil Boldrick clings; and they're
gone, and I'm left to go it alone.  To play the single hand--what!--by
Jiminy!"

He exclaimed thus on seeing two women approach from the direction of the
valley.  He stood still, mouth open, staring.  They drew near, almost
passed him.  But one of them, struck by his intense gaze, suddenly turned
and came towards him.

"Miss Falchion!  Miss Falchion!" he cried.  Then, when she hesitated as
if with an effort of memory, he added: "Don't you know me?"

"Ah," she replied abruptly, "Sam Kilby!  Are you Sam Kilby, Jo
Brackenbury's friend, from Samoa?"

"Yes, miss, I'm Jo Brackenbury's friend; and I've rowed you across the
reefs with him more than once I guess so!  But it's a long way from Apia
to the Rockies, and it's funny to meet here."

"When did you come here--and from where?"

"I come to-day from the Hudson's Bay post at Danger Mountain.  I'm Phil
Boldrick's pal."

"Ah," she said again, with a look in her eyes not pleasant to see, "and
what brings you up here in the hills?"  Hers was more than an ordinary
curiosity.

"I come to see the Padre who was with Phil--when he left.  And the
Padre's a fair square sort, as I reckon him, but melancholy, almighty
melancholy."

"Yes, melancholy, I suppose," she said, "and fair square, as you say.
And what did you say and do?"

"Why, we yarned about Phil, and where I'd get the legacy to-morrow; and
I s'pose I had a strong breeze on the quarter, for I talked as free as if
we'd grubbed out of the same dough-pan since we was kiddies."

"Yes?"

"Yes siree; I don't know how it was, but I got to reelin' off about Jo--
queer, wasn't it?  And I told 'em how he went down in the 'Fly Away', and
how the lovely ladies--you remember how we used to call the whitecaps
lovely ladies--fondled him out to sea and on to heaven."

"And what did--the Padre--think of that?"

"Well, he's got a heart, I should say, and that's why Phil cottoned to
him, maybe,--for he looked as if he'd seen ghosts.  I guess he'd never
had a craft runnin' 'tween a sand-bar and a ragged coral bank; nor seen a
girl like the 'Fly Away' take a buster in her teeth; nor a man-of-war
come bundlin' down upon a nasty glacis, the captain on the bridge,
engines goin' for all they're worth, every man below battened in, and
every Jack above watchin' the fight between the engines and the
hurricane. . . .  Here she rolls six fathoms from the glacis that'll
rip her copper garments off, and the quiverin' engines pull her back; and
she swings and struggles and trembles between hell in the hurricane and
God A'mighty in the engines; till at last she gets her nose at the neck
of the open sea and crawls out safe and sound. . . .  I guess he'd
have more marble in his cheeks, if he saw likes o' that, Miss Falchion?"

Kilby paused and wiped his forehead.

She had listened calmly.  She did not answer his question.  She said:
"Kilby, I am staying at the summer hotel up there.  Will you call on me--
let me see . . . . say, to-morrow afternoon?--Some one will tell you the
way, if you do not know it. . . .  Ask for MRS. Falchion, Kilby, not
Miss Falchion. . . .  You will come?"

"Why, yes," he replied, "you can count on me; for I'd like to hear of
things that happened after I left Apia--and how it is that you are Mrs.
Falchion, for that's mighty queer."

"You shall hear all that and more."  She held out her hand to him and
smiled.  He took it, and she knew that now she was gathering up the
strings of destiny.

They parted.

The two passed on, looking, in their cool elegance, as if life were the
most pleasant thing; as though the very perfume of their garments would
preserve them from that plague called trouble.

"Justine," said Mrs. Falchion, "there is one law stranger than all; the
law of coincidence.  Perhaps the convenience of modern travel assists it,
but fate is in it also.  Events run in circles.  People connected with
them travel that way also.  We pass and re-pass each other many times,
but on different paths, until we come close and see each other face to
face."

She was speaking almost the very words which Roscoe had spoken to me.
But perhaps there was nothing strange in that.

"Yes, madame," replied Justine; "it is so, but there is a law greater
than coincidence."

"What, Justine?"

"The law of love, which is just and merciful, and would give peace
instead of trouble."

Mrs. Falchion looked closely at Justine, and, after a moment, evidently
satisfied, said: "What do you know of love?"

Justine tried hard for composure, and answered gently: "I loved my
brother Hector."

"And did it make you just and merciful and--an angel?"

"Madame, you could answer that better.  But it has not made me be at war;
it has made me patient."

"Your love--for your brother--has made you that?"  Again she looked
keenly, but Justine now showed nothing but earnestness.

"Yes, madame."

Mrs. Falchion paused for a moment, and seemed intent on the beauty of the
pine-belted hills, capped by snowy peaks, and wrapped in a most hearty
yet delicate colour.  The red of her parasol threw a warm soft ness upon
her face.  She spoke now without looking at Justine.

"Justine, did you ever love any one besides your brother?--I mean another
man."

Justine was silent for a moment, and then she said: "Yes, once."  She was
looking at the hills now, and Mrs. Falchion at her.

"And you were happy?"  Here Mrs. Falchion abstractedly toyed with a piece
of lace on Justine's arm.  Such acts were unusual with her.

"I was happy--in loving."

"Why did you not marry?"

"Madame--it was impossible--quite."  This, with hesitation and the
slightest accent of pain.

"Why impossible?  You have good looks, you were born a lady; you have a
foolish heart--the fond are foolish."  She watched the girl keenly, the
hand ceased to toy with the lace, and caught the arm itself--"Why
impossible?"

"Madame, he did not love me, he never could."

"Did he know of your love?"

"Oh no, no!"  This with trouble in her voice.

"And you have never forgotten?"

The catechism was merciless; but Mrs. Falchion was not merely malicious.
She was inquiring of a thing infinitely important to her.  She was
searching the heart of another, not only because she was suspicious, but
because she wanted to know herself better.

"It is easy to remember."

"Is it long since you saw him?"

The question almost carried terror with it, for she was not quite sure
why Mrs. Falchion questioned her.  She lifted her eyes slowly, and there
was in them anxiety and joy.  "It seems," she said, "like years."

"He loves some one else, perhaps?"

"Yes, I think so, madame."

"Did you hate her?"

"Oh no; I am glad for him."

Here Mrs. Falchion spoke sharply, almost bitterly.  Even through her soft
colour a hardness appeared.  "You are glad for him?  You would see
another woman in his arms and not be full of anger?"

"Quite."

"Justine, you are a fool."

"Madame, there is no commandment against being a fool."

"Oh, you make me angry with your meekness!"  Here Mrs. Falchion caught a
twig from a tree by her, snapped it in her fingers, and petulantly threw
its pieces to the ground.  "Suppose that the man had once loved you, and
afterwards loved another--then again another?"

"Madame, that would be my great misfortune, but it might be no wrong in
him."

"How not a wrong in him?"

"It may have been my fault.  There must be love in both--great love, for
it to last."

"And if the woman loved him not at all?"

"Where, then, could be the wrong in him?"

"And if he went from you,"--here her voice grew dry and her words were
sharp,--"and took a woman from the depths of--oh, no matter what! and
made her commit--crime--and was himself a criminal?"

"It is horrible to think of; but I should ask myself how much I was to
blame. . . .  What would you ask yourself, madame?"

"You have a strain of the angel in you, Justine.  You would forgive Judas
if he said, 'Peccavi.'  I have a strain of Satan--it was born in me--
I would say, You have sinned, now suffer."

"God give you a softer heart," said Justine, with tender boldness and
sincerity.

At this Mrs. Falchion started slightly, and trouble covered her face.
She assumed, however, a tone almost brusque, artificially airy and
unimportant.

"There, that will do, thank you. . . .  We have become serious and
incomprehensible.  Let us talk of other things.  I want to be gay. . . .
Amuse me."

Arrived at the hotel, she told Justine that she must not be disturbed
till near dinner-time, and withdrew to her sitting-room.  There she sat
and thought, as she had never done in her life before.  She thought upon
everything that had happened since the day when she met Galt Roscoe on
the 'Fulvia'; of a certain evening in England, before he took orders,
when he told her, in retort to some peculiarly cutting remark of hers,
that she was the evil genius of his life: that evening when her heart
grew hard, as she had once said it should always be to him, and she
determined again, after faltering many times, that just such a genius she
would be; of the strange meeting in the rapids at the Devil's Slide, and
the irony of it; and the fact that he had saved her life--on that she
paused a while; of Ruth Devlin--and here she was swayed by conflicting
emotions; of the scene at the mill, and Phil Boldrick's death and
funeral; of the service in the church where she meant to mock him, and,
instead, mocked herself; of the meeting with Tonga Sam; of all that
Justine had said to her: then again of the far past in Samoa, with which
Galt Roscoe was associated, and of that first vow of vengeance for a
thing he had done; and how she had hesitated to fulfil it year after year
till now.

Passing herself slowly back and forth before her eyes, she saw that she
had lived her life almost wholly alone; that no woman had ever cherished
her as a friend, and that on no man's breast had she ever laid her head
in trust and love.  She had been loved, but it had never brought her
satisfaction.  From Justine there was devotion; but it had, as she
thought, been purchased, paid for, like the labour of a ploughboy.  And
if she saw now in Justine's eyes a look of friendship, a note of personal
allegiance, she knew it was because she herself had grown more human.

Her nature had been stirred.  Her natural heart was struggling against
her old bitterness towards Galt Roscoe and her partial hate of Ruth
Devlin.  Once Roscoe had loved her, and she had not loved him.  Then, on
a bitter day for him, he did a mad thing.  The thing became--though
neither of them knew it at the time, and he not yet--a great injury to
her, and this had called for the sharp retaliation which she had the
power to use.  But all had not happened as she expected; for something
called Love had been conceived in her very slowly, and was now being
born, and sent, trembling for its timid life, into the world.

She closed her eyes with weariness, and pressed her hands to her temples.

She wondered why she could not be all evil or all good.  She spoke and
acted against Ruth Devlin, and yet she pitied her.  She had the nettle to
sting Roscoe to death, and yet she hesitated to use it.  She had said to
herself that she would wait till the happiest moment of his life, and
then do so.  Well, his happiest moment had come.  Ruth Devlin's heart was
all out, all blossomed--beside Mrs. Falchion's like some wild flower to
the aloe. . . .  Only now she had come to know that she had a heart.
Something had chilled her at her birth, and when her mother died, a
stranger's kiss closed up all the ways to love, and left her an icicle.
She was twenty-eight years old, and yet she had never kissed a face in
joy or to give joy.  And now, when she had come to know herself, and
understand what others understand when they are little children in their
mother's arms, she had to bow to the spirit that denies.  She drew
herself up with a quiver of the body.

"O God!" she said, "do I hate him or love him!"  Her head dropped in her
hands.  She sat regardless of time, now scarcely stirring, desperately
quiet.  The door opened softly and Justine entered.  "Madame," she said,
"pardon me; I am so sorry, but Miss Devlin has come to see you, and I
thought--"

"You thought, Justine, that I would see her."  There was unmistakable
irony in her voice.  "Very well. . . .  Show her in."

She rose, stretched out her arms as if to free herself of a burden,
smoothed her hair, composed herself, and waited, the afternoon sun just
falling across her burnished shoes, giving her feet of gold.  She chanced
to look down at them.  A strange memory came to her: words that she had
heard Roscoe read in church.  The thing was almost grotesque in its
association.  "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who
bringeth glad tidings, who publisheth peace!"

Ruth Devlin entered, saying, "I have come, to ask you if you will dine
with us next Monday evening?"

Then she explained the occasion of the dinner party, and said: "You see,
though it is formal, I am asking our guests informally;" and she added as
neutrally and as lightly as she could--"Mr. Roscoe and Dr. Marmion have
been good enough to say that they will come.  Of course, a dinner party
as it should be is quite impossible to us simple folk, but when a
lieutenant-governor commands, we must do the best we can--with the
help of our friends."

Mrs. Falchion was delighted, she said, and then they talked of trivial
matters, Ruth smoothing out the folds of her riding-dress with her whip
more earnestly, in preoccupation, than the act called for.  At last she
said, in the course of the formal talk: "You have travelled much?"

"Yes, that has been my lot," was the reply; and she leaned back in the
gold-trimmed cane chair, her feet still in the belt of sunlight.

"I have often wished that I might travel over the ocean," said Ruth, "but
here I remain--what shall I say?--a rustic in a bandbox, seeing the world
through a pin-hole.  That is the way my father puts it.  Except, of
course, that I think it very inspiring to live out here among wonderful
mountains, which, as Mr. Roscoe says, are the most aristocratic of
companions."

Some one in the next room was playing the piano idly yet expressively.
The notes of Il Trovatore kept up a continuous accompaniment to their
talk, varying, as if by design, with its meaning and importance, and yet
in singular contrast at times to their thoughts and words.  It was almost
sardonic in its monotonous persistence.

"Travel is not all, believe me, Miss Devlin," was the indolent reply.
"Perhaps the simpler life is the happier.  The bandbox is not the worst
that may come to one--when one is born to it.  I am not sure but it is
the best.  I doubt that when one has had the fever of travel and the
world, the bandbox is permanently habitable again."

Mrs. Falchion was keen; she had found her opportunity.

On the result of this duel, if Ruth Devlin but knew it, depends her own
and another's happiness.  It is not improbable, however, that something
of this was in her mind.  She shifted her chair so that her face was not
so much in the light.  But the belt of sunlight was broadening from Mrs.
Falchion's feet to her dress.

"You think not?" Ruth asked slowly.

The reply was not important in tone.  Mrs. Falchion had picked up a paper
knife and was bending it to and fro between her fingers.

"I think not.  Particularly with a man, who is, we will say, by nature,
adventurous and explorative.  I think if, in some mad moment, I
determined to write a novel, it should be of such a man.  He flies wide
and far; he sees all; he feeds on novelty; he passes from experience to
experience--liberal pleasures of mind and sense all the way.  Well, he
tires of Egypt and its flesh-pots.  He has seen as he hurried on--I hope
I am not growing too picturesque--too much of women, too many men.  He
has been unwise--most men are.  Perhaps he has been more than unwise;
he has made a great mistake, a social mistake--or crime--less or more.
If it is a small one, the remedy is not so difficult.  Money, friends,
adroitness, absence, long retirement, are enough.  If a great one, and he
is sensitive--and sated--he flies, he seeks seclusion.  He is afflicted
with remorse.  He is open to the convincing pleasures of the simple and
unadorned life; he is satisfied with simple people.  The snuff of the
burnt candle of enjoyment he calls regret, repentance.  He gives himself
the delights of introspection, and wishes he were a child again--yes,
indeed it is so, dear Miss Devlin."

Ruth sat regarding her, her deep eyes glowing.  Mrs. Falchion
continued: "In short, he finds the bandbox, as you call it, suited to his
renunciations.  Its simplicities, which he thinks is regeneration, are
only new sensations.  But--you have often noticed the signification of
a 'but,'" she added, smiling, tapping her cheek lightly with the ivory
knife--"but the hour arrives when the bandbox becomes a prison, when the
simple hours cloy.  Then the ordinary incident is merely gauche, and
expiation a bore.

"I see by your face that you understand quite what I mean. . . .
Well, these things occasionally happen.  The great mistake follows the
man, and, by a greater misery, breaks the misery of the bandbox; or the
man himself, hating his captivity, becomes reckless, does some mad thing,
and has a miserable end.  Or again, some one who holds the key to his
mistake comes in from the world he has left, and considers--considers,
you understand!--whether to leave him to work out his servitude, or,
mercifully--if he is not altogether blind--permit him the means of escape
to his old world, to the life to which he was born--away from the bandbox
and all therein. . . .  I hope I have not tired you--I am sure I have."

Ruth saw the full meaning of Mrs. Falchion's words.  She realised that
her happiness, his happiness--everything--was at stake.  All Mrs.
Falchion's old self was battling with her new self.  She had determined
to abide by the result of this meeting.  She had spoken in a half gay
tone, but her words were not everything; the woman herself was there,
speaking in every feature and glance.  Ruth had listened with an
occasional change of colour, but also with an outward pride to which she
seemed suddenly to have grown.  But her heart was sick and miserable.
How could it be otherwise, reading, as she did, the tale just told her in
a kind, of allegory, in all its warning, nakedness, and vengeance?  But
she detected, too, an occasional painful movement of Mrs. Falchion's
lips, a kind of trouble in the face.  She noticed it at first vaguely
as she listened to the music in the other room; but at length she
interpreted it aright, and she did not despair.  She did not then follow
her first impulse to show that she saw the real meaning of that speech,
and rise and say, "You are insulting," and bid her good-day.

After all, where was the ground for the charge of insult?  The words had
been spoken impersonally.  So, after a moment, she said, as she drew a
glove from a hand slightly trembling: "And you honestly think it is the
case: that one having lived such a life as you describe so unusually,
would never be satisfied with a simple life?"

"My dear, never--not such a man as I describe.  I know the world."

"But suppose not quite such an one; suppose one that had not been so--
intense; so much the social gladiator; who had business of life as well,"
--here the girl grew pale, for this was a kind of talk unfamiliar and
painful to her, but to be endured for her cause,--"as well as 'the flesh-
pots of Egypt;' who had made no wicked mistakes--would he necessarily end
as you say?"

"I am speaking of the kind of man who had made such mistakes, and he
would end as I say.  Few men, if any, would leave the world for--the
bandbox, shall I still say?  without having a Nemesis."

"But the Nemesis need not, as you say yourself, be inevitable.  The
person who holds the key of his life, the impersonation of his mistake--"

"His CRIMINAL mistake," Mrs. Falchion interrupted, her hand with the
ivory knife now moveless in that belt of sunlight across her knees.

"His criminal mistake," Ruth repeated, wincing--"might not it become
changed into mercy, and the man be safe?"

"Safe?  Perhaps.  But he would tire of the pin-hole just the same. . . .
My dear, you do not know life."

"But, Mrs. Falchion," said the girl, now very bravely, "I know the
crude elements of justice.  That is one plain thing taught here in the
mountains.  We have swift reward and punishment--no hateful things called
Nemesis.  The meanest wretch here in the West, if he has a quarrel,
avenges himself openly and at once.  Actions are rough and ready,
perhaps, but that is our simple way.  Hate is manly--and womanly too--
when it is open and brave.  But when it haunts and shadows, it is not
understood here."

Mrs. Falchion sat during this speech, the fingers of one hand idly
drumming the arm of her chair, as idly as when on board the 'Fulvia' she
listened to me telling that story of Anson and his wife.  Outwardly her
coolness was remarkable.  But she was really admiring, and amazed at
Ruth's adroitness and courage.  She appreciated fully the skilful duel
that had kept things on the surface, and had committed neither of them
to anything personal.  It was a battle--the tragical battle of a drawing-
room.

When Ruth had ended, she said slowly: "You speak very earnestly.  You do
your mountains justice; but each world has its code.  It is good for some
men to be followed by a slow hatred--it all depends on themselves.  There
are some who wish to meet their fate and its worst, and others who would
forget it.  The latter are in the most danger always."

Ruth rose.

She stepped forward slightly, so that her feet also were within the
sunlight.  The other saw this; it appeared to interest her.  Ruth looked
--as such a girl can look--with incredible sincerity into Mrs. Falchion's
eyes, and said: "Oh, if I knew such a man, I would be sorry--sorry for
him; and if I also knew that his was only a mistake and not a crime, or,
if the crime itself had been repented of, and atonement made, I would beg
some one--some one better than I--to pray for him.  And I would go to the
person who had his life and career at disposal, and would say to her, if
it were a woman, oh, remember that it is not he alone who would suffer!
I would beg that woman--if it were a woman--to be merciful, as she one
day must ask for mercy."

The girl as she stood there, all pale, yet glowing with the white light
of her pain, was beautiful, noble, compelling.  Mrs. Falchion now rose
also.  She was altogether in the sunlight now.  From the piano in the
next room came a quick change of accompaniment, and a voice was heard
singing, as if to the singer's self, 'Il balen del suo sorris'.  It is
hard to tell how far such little incidents affected her in what she did
that afternoon; but they had their influence.  She said: "You are
altruistic--or are you selfish, or both? . . .  And should the woman
--if it were a woman--yield, and spare the man, what would you do?"

"I would say that she had been merciful and kind, and that one in this
world would pray for her when she needed prayers most."

"You mean when she was old,"--Mrs. Falchion shrank a little at the sound
of her own words.  Now her careless abandon was gone; she seemed to be
following her emotions.  "When she was old," she continued, "and came to
die?  It is horrible to grow old, except one has been a saint--and a
mother. . . .  And even then--have you ever seen them, the women of
that Egypt of which we spoke--powdered, smirking over their champagne,
because they feel for an instant a false pulse of their past?--See how
eloquent your mountains make me!--I think that would make one hard and
cruel; and one would need the prayers of a churchful of good women, even
as good--as you."

She could not resist a touch of irony in the last words, and Ruth, who
had been ready to take her hand impulsively, was stung.  But she replied
nothing; and the other, after waiting, added, with a sudden and wonderful
kindness: "I say what is quite true.  Women might dislike you--many of
them would--though you could not understand why; but you are good, and
that, I suppose, is the best thing in the world.  Yes, you are good," she
said musingly, and then she leaned forward and quickly kissed the girl's
cheek.  "Good-bye," she said, and then she turned her head resolutely
away.

They stood there both in the sunlight, both very quiet, but their
hearts were throbbing with new sensations.  Ruth knew that she had
conquered, and, with her eyes all tearful, she looked steadily,
yearningly at the woman before her; but she knew it was better she should
say little now, and, with a motion of the hand in good-bye,--she could do
no more,--she slowly went to the door.  There she paused and looked back,
but the other was still turned away.

For a minute Mrs. Falchion stood looking at the door through which the
girl had passed, then she caught close the curtains of the window, and
threw herself upon the sofa with a sobbing laugh.

"To her--I played the game of mercy to her!" she cried.  "And she has his
love, the love which I rejected once, and which I want now--to my shame!
A hateful and terrible love.  I, who ought to say to him, as I so long
determined: 'You shall be destroyed.  You killed my sister, poor Alo; if
not with a knife yourself you killed her heart, and that is just the
same.'  I never knew until now what a heart is when killed."

She caught her breast as though it hurt her, and, after a moment,
continued: "Do hearts always ache so when they love?  I was the wife of a
good man oh! he WAS a good man, who sinned for me.  I see it now!--and I
let him die--die alone!"  She shuddered.  "Oh, now I see, and I know what
love such as his can be!  I am punished--punished! for my love is
impossible, horrible."

There was a long silence, in which she sat looking at the floor, her face
all grey with pain.  At last the door of the room softly opened, and
Justine entered.

"May I come in, madame?" she said.

"Yes, come, Justine."  The voice was subdued, and there was in it what
drew the girl swiftly to the side of Mrs. Falchion.  She spoke no word,
but gently undid the other's hair, and smoothed and brushed it softly.

At last Mrs. Falchion said: "Justine, on Monday we will leave here."

The girl was surprised, but she replied without comment: "Yes, madame;
where do we go?"

There was a pause; then: "I do not know.  I want to go where I shall get
rested.  A village in Italy or--" she paused.

"Or France, madame?"  Justine was eager.

Mrs. Falchion made a gesture of helplessness.  "Yes, France will do. . . .
The way around the world is long, and I am tired."  Minutes passed, and
then she slowly said: "Justine, we will go to-morrow night."

"Yes, madame, to-morrow night--and not next Monday."

There was a strange only half-veiled melancholy in Mrs. Falchion's next
words: "Do you think, Justine, that I could be happy anywhere?"

"I think anywhere but here, madame."

Mrs. Falchion rose to a sitting posture, and looked at the girl fixedly,
almost fiercely.  A crisis was at hand.  The pity, gentleness, and honest
solicitude of Justine's face conquered her, and her look changed to one
of understanding and longing for companionship: sorrow swiftly welded
their friendship.

Before Mrs. Falchion slept that night, she said again: "We will leave
here to-morrow, Justine, for ever."

And Justine replied: "Yes, madame, for ever."



CHAPTER XIX

THE SENTENCE

The next morning Roscoe was quiet and calm, but he looked ten years older
than when I had first seen him.  After breakfast he said to me: "I have
to go to the valley to pay Phil Boldrick's friend the money, and to see
Mr. Devlin.  I shall be back, perhaps, by lunchtime.  Will you go with
me, or stay here?"

"I shall try to get some fishing this morning, I fancy," I said.
"And possibly I shall idle a good deal, for my time with you here is
shortening, and I want to have a great store of laziness behind me for
memory, when I've got my nose to the grindstone."

He turned to the door, and said: "Marmion, I wish you weren't going.  I
wish that we might be comrades under the same roof till--" He paused and
smiled strangely.

"Till the finish," I added, "when we should amble grey-headed, sans
everything, out of the mad old world?  I imagine Miss Belle Treherne
would scarcely fancy that. . . .  Still, we can be friends just the
same.  Our wives won't object to an occasional bout of loafing together,
will they?"

I was determined not to take him too seriously.  He said nothing, and in
a moment he was gone.

I passed the morning idly enough, yet thinking, too, very much about my
friend.  I was anxiously hoping that the telegram from Winnipeg would
come.  About noon it came.  It was not known quite in what part of the
North-west, Madras (under his new name) was, for the corps of mounted
police had been changed about recently.  My letter had, however, been
forwarded into the wilds.

I saw no immediate way but to go to Mrs. Falchion and make a bold bid
for his peace.  I had promised Madras never to let her know that he was
alive, but I would break the promise if Madras himself did not come.
After considerable hesitation I started.  It must be remembered that the
events of the preceding chapter were only known to me afterwards.

Justine Caron was passing through the hall of the hotel when I arrived.
After greetings, she said that Mrs. Falchion might see me, but that they
were very busy; they were leaving in the evening for the coast.  Here
was a pleasant revelation!  I was so confused with delight at the
information, that I could think of nothing more sensible to say than
that the unexpected always happens.  By this time we were within Mrs.
Falchion's sitting-room.  And to my remark, Justine replied "Yes, it is
so.  One has to reckon most with the accidents of life.  The expected is
either pleasant or unpleasant; there is no middle place."

"You are growing philosophic," said I playfully.  "Monsieur," she said
gravely, "I hope as I live and travel, I grow a little wiser."  Still she
lingered, her hand upon the door.

"I had thought that you were always wise."

"Oh no, no!  How can you say so?  I have been very foolish sometimes."
. . . She came back towards me.  "If I am wiser I am also happier,"
she added.

In that moment we understood each other; that is, I read how unselfish
this girl could be, and she knew thoroughly the source of my anxiety,
and was glad that she could remove it.

"I would not speak to any one save you," she said, "but do you not also
think that it is good we go?"

"I have been thinking so, but I hesitated to say so," was my reply.

"You need not hesitate," she said earnestly.  "We have both understood,
and I know that you are to be trusted."

"Not always," I said, remembering that one experience of mine with Mrs.
Falchion on the 'Fulvia'.  Holding the back of a chair, and looking
earnestly at me, she continued: "Once, on the vessel, you remember, in a
hint so very little, I made it appear that madame was selfish. . . .
I am sorry.  Her heart was asleep.  Now, it is awake.  She is unselfish.
The accident of our going away is hers.  She goes to leave peace behind."
"I am most glad," said I.  "And you think there will be peace?"

"Surely, since this has come, that will come also."

"And you--Mademoiselle?"  I should not have asked that question had I
known more of the world.  It was tactless and unkind.

"For me it is no matter at all.  I do not come in anywhere.  As I said,
I am happy."

And turning quickly, yet not so quickly but that I saw her cheeks were
flushed, she passed out of the room.  In a moment Mrs. Falchion entered.
There was something new in her carriage, in her person.  She came towards
me, held out her hand, and said, with the same old half-quizzical tone:
"Have you, with your unerring instinct, guessed that I was leaving, and
so come to say good-bye?"

"You credit me too highly.  No, I came to see you because I had an
inclination.  I did not guess that you were going until Miss Caron told
me."

"An inclination to see me is not your usual instinct, is it?  Was it some
special impulse, based on a scientific calculation--at which, I suppose,
you are an adeptor curiosity?  Or had it a purpose?  Or were you bored,
and therefore sought the most startling experience you could conceive?"
She deftly rearranged some flowers in a jar.

"I can plead innocence of all directly; I am guilty of all indirectly: I
was impelled to come.  I reasoned--if that is scientific--on what I
should say if I did come, knowing how inclined I was to--"

"To get beyond my depth," she interrupted, and she motioned me to a
chair.

"Well, let it be so," said I.  "I was curious to know what kept you in
this sylvan, and I fear, to you, half-barbaric spot.  I was bored with
myself; and I had some purpose in coming, or I should not have had the
impulse."

She was leaning back in her chair easily, not languidly.  She seemed
reposeful, yet alert.

"How wonderfully you talk!" she said, with good-natured mockery.  "You
are scientifically frank.  You were bored with yourself.--Then there is
some hope for your future wife. . . .  We have had many talks in our
acquaintance, Dr. Marmion, but none so interesting as this promises to
be.  But now tell me what your purpose was in coming.  'Purpose' seems
portentous, but quite in keeping."

I noticed here the familiar, almost imperceptible click of the small
white teeth.

Was I so glad she was going that I was playful, elated?  "My purpose,"
said I, "has no point now; for even if I were to propose to amuse you--I
believe that was the old formula--by an idle day somewhere, by an
excursion, an--"

"An autobiography," she broke in soothingly.

"Or an autobiography," I repeated stolidly, "you would not, I fancy, be
prepared to accept my services.  There would be no chance--now that you
are going away--for me to play the harlequin--"

"Whose office you could do pleasantly if it suited you--these adaptable
natures!"

"Quite so.  But it is all futile now, as I say."

"Yes, you mentioned that before.--Well?"

"It is well," I replied, dropping into a more meaning tone.

"You say it patriarchally, but yet flatteringly."  Here she casually
offered me a flower.  I mechanically placed it in my buttonhole.  She
seemed delighted at confusing me.  But I kept on firmly.

"I do not think," I rejoined gravely now, "that there need be any
flattery between us."

"Why?--We are not married."

"That is as radically true as it is epigrammatic," blurted I.

"And truth is more than epigram?"

"One should delight in truth; I do delight in epigram; there seems little
chance for choice here."

It seemed to me that I had said quite what I wished there, but she only
looked at me enigmatically.

She arranged a flower in her dress as she almost idly replied, though she
did not look me full in the face as she had done before: "Well, then, let
me add to your present delight by saying that you may go play till
doomsday, Dr. Marmion.  Your work is done."

"I do not understand."

Her eyes were on me now with the directness she could so well use at
need.

"I did not suppose you would, despite your many lessons at my hands.  You
have been altruistic, Dr. Marmion; I fear critical people would say that
you meddled.  I shall only say that you are inquiring--scientific, or
feminine--what you please!  . . .  You can now yield up your portfolio
of--foreign affairs--of war--shall I say?  and retire into sedative
habitations, which, believe me, you become best. . . .  What concerns
me need concern you no longer.  The enemy retreats.  She offers truce--
without conditions.  She retires. . . .  Is that enough for even you,
Professor Marmion?"

"Mrs. Falchion," I said, finding it impossible to understand why she had
so suddenly determined to go away (for I did not know all the truth until
afterwards--some of it long afterwards), "it is more than I dared to hope
for, though less, I know, than you have heart to do if you willed so.  I
know that you hold some power over my friend."

"Do not think," she said, "that you have had the least influence.  What
you might think, or may have intended to do, has not moved me in the
least.  I have had wrongs that you do not know.  I have changed--that is
all.  I admit I intended to do Galt Roscoe harm.

"I thought he deserved it.  That is over.  After to-night, it is not
probable that we shall meet again.  I hope that we shall not; as,
doubtless, is your own mind."

She kept looking at me with that new deep look which I had seen when she
first entered the room.

I was moved, and I saw that just at the last she had spoken under
considerable strain.  "Mrs. Falchion," said I, "I have THOUGHT harder
things of you than I ever SAID to any one.  Pray believe that, and
believe, also, that I never tried to injure you.  For the rest, I can
make no complaint.  You do not like me.  I liked you once, and do now,
when you do not depreciate yourself of purpose. . . .  Pardon me, but
I say this very humbly too. . . .  I suppose I always shall like you,
in spite of myself.  You are one of the most gifted and fascinating women
that I ever met.  I have been anxious for my friend.  I was concerned to
make peace between you and your husband--"

"The man who WAS my husband," she interrupted musingly.

"Your husband--whom you so cruelly treated.  But I confess I have found
it impossible to withhold admiration of you."

For a long time she did not reply, but she never took her eyes off my
face, as she leaned slightly forward.  Then at last she spoke more gently
than I had ever heard her, and a glow came upon her face.

"I am only human.  You have me at advantage.  What woman could reply
unkindly to a speech like that?  I admit I thought you held me utterly
bad and heartless, and it made me bitter. . . .  I had no heart--once.
I had only a wrong, an injury, which was in my mind; not mine, but
another's, and yet mine.  Then strange things occurred. . . .  At last
I relented.  I saw that I had better go.  Yesterday I saw that; and I am
going--that is all. . . .  I wished to keep the edge of my intercourse
with you sharp and uncompanionable to the end; but you have forced me at
my weakest point. . . ."  Here she smiled somewhat painfully. . . .
"Believe me, that is the way to turn a woman's weapon upon herself.  You
have learned much since we first met. . . .  Here is my hand in
friendliness, if you care to take it; and in good-bye, should we not meet
again more formally before I go."

"I wish now that your husband, Boyd Madras, were here," I said.

She answered nothing, but she did not resent it, only shuddered a little.

Our hands grasped silently.  I was too choked to speak, and I left her.
At that moment she blinded me to all her faults.  She was a wonderful
woman.

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

Galt Roscoe had walked slowly along the forest-road towards the valley,
his mind in that state of calm which, in some, might be thought numbness
of sensation, in others fortitude--the prerogative of despair.  He came
to the point of land jutting out over the valley, where he had stood with
Mrs. Falchion, Justine, and myself, on the morning of Phil Boldrick's
death.

He looked for a long time, and then, slowly descending the hillside, made
his way to Mr. Devlin's office.  He found Phil's pal awaiting him there.
After a few preliminaries, the money was paid over, and Kilby said:

"I've been to see his camping-ground.  It's right enough.  Viking has
done it noble. . . .  Now, here's what I'm goin' to do: I'm goin' to
open bottles for all that'll drink success to Viking.  A place that's
stood by my pal, I stand by--but not with his money, mind you!  No, that
goes to you, Padre, for hospital purposes.  My gift an' his. . . .
So, sit down and write a receipt, or whatever it's called, accordin' to
Hoyle, and you'll do me proud."

Roscoe did as he requested, and handed the money over to Mr. Devlin for
safe keeping, remarking, at the same time, that the matter should be
announced on a bulletin outside the office at once.

As Kilby stood chewing the end of a cigar and listening to the brief
conversation between Roscoe and Mr. Devlin, perplexity crossed his face.
He said, as Roscoe turned round: "There's something catchy about your
voice, Padre.  I don't know what; but it's familiar like.  You never was
on the Panama level, of course?"

"Never."

"Nor in Australia?"

"Yes, in 1876."

"I wasn't there then."

Roscoe grew a shade paler, but he was firm and composed.  He was
determined to answer truthfully any question that was asked him, wherever
it might lead.

"Nor in Samoa?"

There was the slightest pause, and then the reply came:

"Yes, in Samoa."

"Not a missionary, by gracious!  Not a mickonaree in Samoa?"

"No."  He said nothing further.  He did not feel bound to incriminate
himself.

"No?  Well, you wasn't a beachcomber, nor trader, I'll swear.  Was you
there in the last half of the Seventies?  That's when I was there."

"Yes."  The reply was quiet.

"By Jingo!"  The man's face was puzzled.  He was about to speak again;
but at that moment two river-drivers--boon companions, who had been
hanging about the door--urged him to come to the tavern.  This distracted
him.  He laughed, and said that he was coming, and then again, though
with less persistency, questioned Roscoe.  .  "You don't remember me, I
suppose?"

"No, I never saw you, so far as I know, until yesterday."

"No?  Still, I've heard your voice.  It keeps swingin' in my ears; and I
can't remember. . . .  I can't remember! . . .  But we'll have a
spin about it again, Padre."  He turned to the impatient men.  "All
right, bully-boys, I'm comin'."

At the door he turned and looked again at Roscoe with a sharp, half-
amused scrutiny, then the two parted.  Kilby kept his word.  He was
liberal to Viking; and Phil's memory was drunk, not in silence, many
times that day.  So that when, in the afternoon, he made up his mind to
keep his engagement with Mrs. Falchion, and left the valley for the
hills, he was not entirely sober.  But he was apparently good-natured.
As he idled along he talked to himself, and finally broke out into
singing:

             "'Then swing the long boat down the drink,
               For the lads as pipe to go;
               But I sink when the 'Lovely Jane' does sink,
               To the mermaids down below.'

             "'The long boat bides on its strings,' says we,
               'An' we bides where the long boat bides;
               An' we'll bluff this equatorial sea,
               Or swallow its hurricane tides.'

              "But the 'Lovely Jane' she didn't go down,
               An' she anchored at the Spicy Isles;
               An' she sailed again to Wellington Town--
               A matter of a thousand miles."

It will be remembered that this was part of the song sung by Galt Roscoe
on the Whi-Whi River, the day we rescued Mrs. Falchion and Justine Caron.
Kilby sang the whole song over to himself until he reached a point
overlooking the valley.  Then he stood silent for a time, his glance upon
the town.  The walk had sobered him a little.  "Phil, old pal," he said
at last, "you ain't got the taste of raw whiskey with you now.  When a
man loses a pal he loses a grip on the world equal to all that pal's grip
was worth. . . .  I'm drunk, and Phil's down there among the worms--
among the worms! . . .  Ah!" he added in disgust, and, dashing his
hand across his eyes, struck off into the woods again, making his way to
the summer hotel, where he had promised to meet Mrs. Falchion.  He
inquired for her, creating some astonishment by his uncouth appearance
and unsteady manner.

He learned from Justine that Mrs. Falchion had gone to see Roscoe, and
that he would probably meet her if he went that way.  This he did.  He
was just about to issue into a partly open space by a ravine near the
house, when he heard voices, and his own name mentioned.  He stilled and
listened.

"Yes, Galt Roscoe," said a voice, "Sam Kilby is the man that loved Alo--
loved her not as you did.  He would have given her a home, have made her
happy, perhaps.  You, when Kilby was away, married her--in native
fashion--which is no marriage--and KILLED her."

"No, no, I did not kill her--that is not so.  As God is my Judge, that is
not so."

"You did not kill her with the knife? . . .  Well, I will be honest
now, and say that I believe that, whatever I may have hinted or said
before.  But you killed her just the same when you left her."

"Mercy Falchion," he said desperately, "I will not try to palliate my
sin.  But still I must set myself right with you in so far as I can.  The
very night Alo killed herself I had made up my mind to leave the navy.
I was going to send in my papers, and come back to Apia, and marry her as
Englishmen are married.  While I remained in the navy I could not, as you
know, marry her.  It would be impossible to an English officer.  I
intended to come back and be regularly married to her."

"You say that now," was the cold reply.

"But it is the truth, the truth indeed.  Nothing that you might say could
make me despise myself more than I do; but I have told you all, as I
shall have to tell it one day before a just God.  You have spared me: He
will not."

"Gait Roscoe," she replied, "I am not merciful, nor am I just.  I
intended to injure you, though you will remember I saved your life that
night by giving you a boat for escape across the bay to the 'Porcupine',
which was then under way.  The band on board, you also remember, was
playing the music of La Grande Duchesse.  You fired on the natives who
followed.  Well, Sam Kilby was with them.  Your brother officers did not
know the cause of the trouble.  It was not known to any one in Apia
exactly who it was that Kilby and the natives had tracked from Alo's
hut."

He drew his hand across his forehead dazedly.

"Oh, yes I remember!" he said.  "I wish I had faced the matter there and
then.  It would have been better."

"I doubt that," she replied.  "The natives who saw you coming from Alo's
hut did not know you.  You wisely came straight to the Consul's office--
my father's house.  And I helped you, though Alo, half-caste Alo, was--
my sister!"

Roscoe started back.  "Alo--your--sister!" he exclaimed in horror.

"Yes, though I did not know it till afterwards, not till just before my
father died.  Alo's father was my father; and her mother had been
honestly married to my father by a missionary; though for my sake it had
never been made known.  You remember, also, that you carried on your
relations with Alo secretly, and my father never suspected it was you."

"Your sister!"  Roscoe was white and sick.

"Yes.  And now you understand my reason for wishing you ill, and for
hating you to the end."

"Yes," he said despairingly, "I see."

She was determined to preserve before him the outer coldness of her
nature to the last.

"Let us reckon together," she said.  "I helped to--in fact, I saved your
life at Apia.  You helped to save my life at the Devil's Slide.  That is
balanced.  You did me--the honour to say that you loved me once.  Well,
one of my race loved you.  That is balanced also.  My sister's death came
through you.  There is no balance to that.  What shall balance Alo's
death? . . .  I leave you to think that over.  It is worth thinking
about.  I shall keep your secret, too.  Kilby does not know you.  I doubt
that he ever saw you, though, as I said, he followed you with the natives
that night in Apia.  He was to come to see me to-day.  I think I intended
to tell him all, and shift--the duty--of punishment on his shoulders,
which I do not doubt he would fulfil.  But he shall not know.  Do not ask
why.  I have changed my mind, that is all.  But still the account remains
a long one.  You will have your lifetime to reckon with it, free from any
interference on my part; for, if I can help it, we shall never meet again
in this world--never. . . .  And now, good-bye."

Without a gesture of farewell she turned and left him standing there, in
misery and bitterness, but in a thankfulness too, more for Ruth's sake
than his own.  He raised his arms with a despairing motion, then let them
drop heavily to his side. . . .

And then two strong hands caught his throat, a body pressed hard against
him, and he was borne backward--backward--to the cliff!



CHAPTER XX

AFTER THE STORM

I was sitting on the verandah, writing a letter to Belle Treherne.  The
substantial peace of a mountain evening was on me.  The air was clear,
and full of the scent of the pines and cedars, and the rumble of the
rapids came musically down the canon.  I lifted my head and saw an eagle
sailing away to the snow-topped peak of Trinity, and then turned to watch
the orioles in the trees.  The hour was delightful.  It made me feel how
grave mere living is, how noble even the meanest of us becomes sometimes
--in those big moments when we think the world was built for us.  It is
half egotism, half divinity; but why quarrel with it?

I was young, ambitious; and Love and I were at that moment the only
figures in the universe really deserving attention!  I looked on down a
lane of cedars before me, seeing in imagination a long procession of
pleasant things; of--  As I looked, another procession moved through the
creatures of my dreams, so that they shrank away timidly, then utterly,
and this new procession came on and on, until--I suddenly rose, and
started forward fearfully, to see--unhappy reality!--the body of Galt
Roscoe carried towards me.

Then a cold wind seemed to blow from the glacier above and killed all the
summer.  A man whispered to me: "We found him at the bottom of the ravine
yonder.  He'd fallen over, I suppose."

I felt his heart.  "He is not dead, thank God!" I said.

"No, sir," said the other, "but he's all smashed."  They brought him in
and laid him on his bed.  I sent one of the party for the doctor at
Viking, and myself set to work, with what appliances I had, to deal with
the dreadful injuries.  When the doctor came, together we made him into
the semblance of a man again.  His face was but slightly injured, though
his head had received severe hurts.  I think that I alone saw the marks
on his throat; and I hid them.  I guessed the cause, but held my peace.

I had sent round at once to James Devlin (but asked him not to come till
morning), and also to Mrs. Falchion; but I begged her not to come at all.
I might have spared her that; for, as I afterwards knew, she had no
intention of coming.  She had learned of the accident on her way to
Viking, and had turned back; but only to wait and know the worst or the
best.

About midnight I was left alone with Roscoe.  Once, earlier in the
evening, he had recognised me and smiled faintly, but I had shaken my
head, and he had said nothing.  Now, however, he was looking at me
earnestly.  I did not speak.  What he had to tell me was best told in his
own time.

At last he said faintly:  "Marmion, shall I die soon?"

I knew that frankness was best, and I replied: "I cannot tell, Roscoe.
There is a chance of your living."

He moved his head sadly.  "A very faint chance?"

"Yes, a faint one, but--"

"Yes?  'But'?"  He looked at me as though he wished it over.

"But it rests with you whether the chance is worth anything.  If you are
content to die, it is gone."

"I am content to die," he replied.

"And there," said I, "you are wrong and selfish.  You have Ruth to live
for.  Besides, if you are given the chance, you commit suicide if you do
not take it."

There was a long pause, and then he said: "You are right; I will live if
I can, Marmion."

"And now YOU are right."  I nodded soothingly to him, and then asked him
to talk no more; for I knew that fever would soon come on.

He lay for a moment silent, but at length whispered: "Did you know it was
not a fall I had?"  He raised his chin and stretched his throat slightly,
with a kind of trembling.

"I thought it was not a fall," I replied.

"It was Phil's pal--Kilby."

"I thought that."

"How could you--think it?  Did--others--think so?" he asked anxiously.

"No, not others; I alone.  They thought it accident; they could have no
ground for suspicion.  But I had; and, besides, there were marks on your
throat."

"Nothing must happen to him, you understand.  He had been drinking, and
--and he was justified.  I wronged him in Samoa, him and Mrs. Falchion."

I nodded and put my fingers on my lips.

Again there was silence.  I sat and watched him, his eyes closed, his
body was motionless.  He slept for hours so, and then he waked rather
sharply, and said half deliriously: "I could have dragged him with me,
Marmion."

"But you did not.  Yes, I understand.  Go to sleep again, Roscoe."

Later on the fever came, and he moaned and moved his head about his
pillow.  He could not move his body--it was too much injured.

There was a source of fear in Kilby.  Would he recklessly announce what
he had done, and the cause of it?  After thinking it over and over, I
concluded that he would not disclose his crimes.  My conclusions were
right, as after events showed.

As for Roscoe, I feared that if he lived he must go through life maimed.
He had a private income; therefore if he determined to work no more in
the ministry, he would, at least, have the comforts of life.

Ruth Devlin came.  I went to Roscoe and told him that she wished to see
him.  He smiled sorrowfully and said: "To what end, Marmion?  I am a
drifting wreck.  It will only shock her."  I think he thought she would
not love him now if he lived--a crippled man.

"But is this noble?  Is it just to her?" said I.

After a long time he answered: "You are right again, quite right.  I am
selfish.  When one is shaking between life and death, one thinks most of
one's self."

"She will help to bring you back from those places, Roscoe."

"If I am delirious ever, do not let her come, will you, Marmion?  Promise
me that."  I promised.

I went to her.  She was very calm and womanly.  She entered the room,
went quietly to his bedside, and, sitting down, took his hand.  Her smile
was pitiful and anxious, but her words were brave.

"My dearest," she said, "I am so sorry.  But you will soon be well, so we
must be as patient and cheerful as we can."

His eyes answered, but he did not speak.  She leaned over and kissed his
cheek.  Then he said: "I hope I may get well."

"This was the shadow over you," she ventured.  "This was your
presentiment of trouble--this accident."

"Yes, this was the shadow."

Some sharp thought seemed to move her, for her eyes grew suddenly hard,
and she stooped and whispered: "Was SHE there--when--it happened, Galt?"

He shrank from the question, but he said immediately: "No, she was not
there."

"I am glad," she added, "that it was only an accident."

Her eyes grew clear of their momentary hardness.  There is nothing in
life like the anger of one woman against another concerning a man.

Justine Caron came to the house, pale and anxious, to inquire.  Mrs.
Falchion, she said, was not going away until she knew how Mr. Roscoe's
illness would turn.

"Miss Caron," I said to her, "do you not think it better that she should
go?"

"Yes, for him; but she grieves now."

"For him?"

"Not alone for him," was the reply.  There was a pause, and then she
continued: "Madame told me to say to you that she did not wish Mr. Roscoe
to know that she was still here."

I assured her that I understood, and then she added mournfully: "I cannot
help you now, monsieur, as I did on board the 'Fulvia'.  But he will be
better cared for in Miss Devlin's hands, the poor lady! . . .  Do you
think that he will live?"

"I hope so.  I am not sure."

Her eyes went to tears; and then I tried to speak more encouragingly.

All day people came to inquire, chief among them Mr. Devlin, whose big
heart split itself in humanity and compassion.  "The price of the big
mill for the guarantee of his life!" he said over and over again.  "We
can't afford to let him go."

Although I should have been on my way back to Toronto, I determined to
stay until Roscoe was entirely out of danger.  It was singular, but in
this illness, though the fever was high, he never was delirious.  It
would almost seem as if, having paid his penalty, the brain was at rest.

While Roscoe hovered between life and death, Mr. Devlin, who persisted
that he would not die, was planning for a new hospital and a new church,
of which Roscoe should be president and padre respectively.  But the
suspense to us all, for many days, was very great; until, one morning
when the birds were waking the cedars, and the snow on Mount Trinity was
flashing coolness down the hot valley, he waked and said to me: "Marmion,
old friend; it is morning at last."

"Yes, it is morning," said I.  "And you are going to live now?  You are
going to be reasonable and give the earth another chance?"

"Yes, I believe I shall live now."

To cheer him, I told him what Mr. Devlin intended and had planned; how
river-drivers and salmon-fishers came every day from the valley to
inquire after him.  I did not tell him that there had been one or two
disturbances between the river-drivers and the salmon-fishers.  I tried
to let him see that there need be no fresh change in his life.  At length
he interrupted me.

"Marmion," he said, "I understand what you mean.  It would be cowardly of
me to leave here now if I were a whole man.  I am true in intention, God
knows, but I must carry a crippled arm for the rest of my life, must I
not? . . . . and a crippled Padre is not the kind of man for this
place.  They want men straight on their feet."

"Do you think," I answered, "that they will not be able to stand the
test?  You gave them--shall I say it?--a crippled mind before; you give
them a crippled body now.  Well, where do you think the odds lie?  I
should fancy with you as you are."

There was a long silence in which neither of us moved.  At last he turned
his face towards the window, and, not looking at me, said lingeringly:
"This is a pleasant place."

I knew that he would remain.

I had not seen Mrs. Falchion during Roscoe's illness; but every day
Justine came and inquired, or a messenger was sent.  And when, this
fortunate day, Justine herself came, and I told her that the crisis was
past, she seemed infinitely relieved and happy.  Then she said:

"Madame has been ill these three days also; but now I think she will be
better; and we shall go soon."

"Ask her," said I, "not to go yet for a few days.  Press it as a favour
to me."  Then, on second thought, I sat down and wrote Mrs. Falchion a
note, hinting that there were grave reasons why she should stay a little
longer: things connected with her own happiness.  Truth is, I had
received a note that morning which had excited me.  It referred to Mrs.
Falchion.  For I was an arch-plotter--or had been.

I received a note in reply which said that she would do as I wished.
Meanwhile I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of some one.

That night a letter came to Roscoe.  After reading it shrinkingly he
handed it to me.  It said briefly:

     I'm not sorry I did it, but I'm glad I hevn't killed you.  I was
     drunk and mad.  If I hadn't hurt you, I'd never hev forgive myself.
     I reckon now, there's no need to do any forgivin' either side.
     We're square--though maybe you didn't kill her after all.  Mrs.
     Falchion says you didn't.  But you hurt her.  Well, I've hurt you.
     And you will never hear no more of Phil's pal from Danger Mountain.

Immediately after sunset of this night, a storm swept suddenly down the
mountains, and prevented Ruth and her father from going to Viking.  I
left them talking to Roscoe, he wearing such a look on his face as I like
to remember now, free from distress of mind--so much more painful than
distress of body.  As I was leaving the room, I looked back and saw Ruth
sitting on a stool beside Roscoe's chair, holding the unmaimed hand in
hers; the father's face shining with pleasure and pride.  Before I went
out, I turned again to look at them, and, as I did so, my eye fell on the
window against which the wind and rain were beating.  And through the wet
there appeared a face, shocking in its paleness and misery--the face of
Mrs. Falchion.  Only for an instant, and then it was gone.

I opened the door and went out upon the verandah.  As I did so, there was
a flash of lightning, and in that flash a figure hurried by me.  One
moment, and there was another flash; and I saw the figure in the beating
rain, making toward the precipice.

Then I heard a cry, not loud, but full of entreaty and sorrow.  I moved
quickly toward it.  In another white gleam I saw Justine with her arms
about the figure, holding it back from the abyss.  She said with
incredible pleading:

"No, no, madame, not that!  It is wicked--wicked."

I came and stood beside them.

The figure sank upon the ground and buried a pitiful face in the wet
grass.

Justine leaned over her.

She sobbed as one whose harvest of the past is all tears.  Nothing human
could comfort her yet.

I think she did not know that I was there.  Justine lifted her face to
me, appealing.

I turned and stole silently away.



CHAPTER XXI

IN PORT

That night I could not rest.  It was impossible to rid myself of the
picture of Mrs. Falchion as I had seen her by the precipice in the storm.
What I had dared to hope for had come.  She had been awakened; and with
the awakening had risen a new understanding of her own life and the lives
of others.  The storm of wind and rain that had swept down the ravine was
not wilder than her passions when I left her with Justine in the dark
night.

All had gone well where the worst might have been.  Roscoe's happiness
was saved to him.  He felt that the accident to him was the penalty he
paid for the error of his past; but in the crash of penalties Mrs.
Falchion, too, was suffering; and, so far as she knew, must carry with
her the remorse of having seen, without mercy, her husband sink to a
suicide's grave.  I knew that she was paying a great price now for a
mistaken past.  I wished that I might make her remorse and sorrow less.
There was a way, but I was not sure that all would be as I wished.  Since
a certain dreadful day on the 'Fulvia', Hungerford and I had held a secret
in our hands.  When it seemed that Mrs. Falchion would bring a great
trouble and shame into Roscoe's life, I determined to use the secret.  It
must be used now only for Mrs. Falchion's good.  As I said in the last
chapter, I had received word that somebody was coming whose presence must
take a large place in the drama of these events: and I hoped the best.

Until morning I lay and planned the best way to bring things to a
successful issue.  The morning came--beautiful after a mad night.  Soon
after I got up I received a note, brought by a boy from Viking, which
gave me a thrill of excitement.  The note requested me to go to Sunburst.
But first I sent a note to Mrs. Falchion, begging her in the name of our
new friendship not to leave the mountains that day.  I also asked that
she would meet me in Sunburst that evening at eight o'clock, at a place
indicated by me.  I asked for a reply by the messenger I sent, and urged
her to ask no questions, but to trust me as one who only wished to do her
a great service, as I hoped her compliance would make possible.  I waited
for the reply, and it bore but the one word--"Yes."

Greatly pleased, I started down the valley.  It was still early when I
reached Sunburst.  I went directly to the little tavern from whence the
note had come, and remained an hour or more.  The result of that hour's
conversation with the writer of the note was memorable, as was the hour
itself.  I began to hope fondly for the success of my scheme.

From the tavern I went to the village, with an elation hardly disturbed
by the fact that many of the salmon-fishers were sullen, because of
foolish depredations committed the evening before by idle river-men and
mill-hands of Viking.  Had I not been so occupied with Mrs. Falchion and
an event wherein she must figure, I should have taken more seriously the
mutterings of the half-breeds, the moroseness of the Indians, and the
nervous threatenings of the white fishers: the more so because I knew
that Mr. Devlin had started early that morning for the Pacific Coast, and
would not be back for some days.

No two classes of people could be more unlike than the salmon-fishers of
Sunburst and the mill-hands and river-drivers of Viking.  The life of the
river-men was exciting, hardy, and perilous; tending to boisterousness,
recklessness, daring, and wild humour: that of the salmon-fishers was
cheerful, picturesque, infrequently dangerous, mostly simple and quiet.
The river-driver chose to spend his idle hours in crude, rough
sprightliness; the salmon-fisher loved to lie upon the shore and listen
to the village story-teller,--almost official when successful,--who
played upon the credulity and imagination of his listeners.  The river-
driver loved excitement for its own sake, and behind his boisterousness
there was little evil.  When the salmon-fisher was roused, his anger
became desperately serious.  It was not his practice to be boisterous for
the sake of boisterousness.

All this worked for a crisis.

From Sunburst I went over to Viking, and for a time watched a handful of
river-drivers upon a little island in the centre of the river, working to
loosen some logs and timber and foist them into the water, to be driven
down to the mill.  I stood interested, because I had nothing to do of any
moment for a couple of hours.  I asked an Indian on the bank to take his
canoe and paddle me over to the island.  He did so.  I do not know why I
did not go alone; but the Indian was near me, his canoe was at his hand,
and I did the thing almost mechanically.  I landed on the island and
watched with great interest the men as they pried, twisted and tumbled
the pile to get at the key-log which, found and loosened, would send the
heap into the water.

I was sorry I brought the Indian with me, for though the river-drivers
stopped their wild sing-song cry for a moment to call a "How!" at me,
they presently began to toss jeering words at the Indian.  They had
recognised him--I had not--as a salmon-fisher and one of the Siwash tribe
from Sunburst.  He remained perfectly silent, but I could see sullenness
growing on his face.  He appeared to take no notice of his scornful
entertainers, but, instead of edging away, came nearer and nearer to the
tangle of logs--came, indeed, very close to me, as I stood watching four
or five men, with the foreman close by, working at a huge timber.  At a
certain moment the foreman was in a kind of hollow.  Just behind him,
near to the Indian, was a great log, which, if loosened by a slight
impulse, must fall into the hollow where the foreman stood.  The foreman
had his face to us; the backs of the other men were on us.  Suddenly the
foreman gave a frightened cry, and I saw at the same instant the Indian's
foot thrust out upon the big log.  Before the foreman had time to get out
of the hollow, it slid down, caught him just above the ankle and broke
the leg.

I wheeled, to see the Indian in his canoe making for the shore.  He was
followed by the curses of the foreman and the gang.  The foreman was very
quiet, but I could see that there was danger in his eye, and the
exclamations of the men satisfied me that they were planning an inter-
municipal difficulty.

I improvised bandages, set the leg directly, and in a little while we got
to the shore on a hastily constructed raft.  After seeing the foreman
safely cared for, and giving Mr. Devlin's manager the facts of the
occurrence, more than sated with my morning's experience, I climbed the
mountain side, and took refuge from the heat in the coolness of Roscoe's
rooms.

In the afternoon I received a note from Mrs. Falchion, saying that on the
following day she would start for the coast; that her luggage would be
taken to Sunburst at once; and that, her engagement with me fulfilled,
she would spend a night there, not returning again to the hills.  I was
preparing for my own departure, and was kept very busy until evening.
Then I went quickly down into the valley,--for I was late,--and trudged
eagerly on to Sunburst.  As I neared the village I saw that there were
fewer lights--torches and fires--than usual on the river.  I noticed also
that there were very few fishers on the banks or in the river.  But still
the village seemed noisy, and, although it was dusk, I could make out
much stir in the one street along which the cottages and huts ambled for
nearly a mile.

All at once it came to me strongly that the friction between the two
villages had consummated in the foreman's injury, and was here coming to
a painful crisis.  My suspicions had good grounds.  As I hurried on I saw
that the lights usually set on the banks of the river were scattered
through the town.  Bonfires were being lighted, and torches were flaring
in front of the Indian huts.  Coming closer, I saw excited groups of
Indians, half-breeds, and white men moving here and there; and then, all
at once, there came a cry--a kind of roar--from farther up the village,
and the men gathered themselves together, seizing guns, sticks, irons,
and other weapons, and ran up the street.  I understood.  I was
moderately swift of foot those days.  I came quickly after them, and
passed them.  As I did so I inquired of one or two fishers what was the
trouble.

They told me, as I had guessed, that they expected an attack on the
village by the mill-hands and river-drivers of Viking.

The situation was critical.  I could foresee a catastrophe which would
for ever unsettle the two towns, and give the valley an unenviable
reputation.  I was certain that, if Roscoe or Mr. Devlin were present,
a prohibitive influence could be brought to bear; that some one of strong
will could stand, as it were, in the gap between them, and prevent a
pitched battle, and, possibly, bloodshed.  I was sure that at Viking the
river-drivers had laid their plans so secretly that the news of them
would scarcely reach the ears of the manager of the mill, and that,
therefore, his influence, as Mr. Devlin's, would not be available.

Remained only myself--as I first thought.  I was unknown to a great
number of the men of both villages, and familiar with but very few--
chiefly those with whom I had a gossiping acquaintance.  Yet, somehow,
I felt that if I could but get a half-dozen men to take a firm stand with
me, I might hold the rioters in check.

As I ran by the side of the excitable fishers, I urged upon one or two of
them the wisdom and duty of preventing a conflict.  Their reply was--and
it was very convincing--that they were not forcing a struggle, but were
being attacked, and in the case would fight.  My hasty persuasion
produced but little result.  But I kept thinking hard.  Suddenly it came
to me that I could place my hand upon a man whose instincts in the matter
would be the same as mine; who had authority; knew the world; had been in
dangerous positions in his lifetime; and owed me something.  I was sure
that I could depend upon him: the more so that once frail of body he had
developed into a strong, well-controlled man.

Even as I thought of him, I was within a few rods of the house where he
was.  I looked, and saw him standing in the doorway.  I ran and called to
him.  He instantly joined me, and we ran on together: the fishermen
shouting loudly as they watched the river-drivers come armed down the
hill-slope into the village.

I hastily explained the situation to my friend, and told him what we must
do.  A word or two assured me of all I wished to know.  We reached the
scene of the disorder.  The fishermen were bunched together, the river on
the one side, the houses and hills on the other.  The river-drivers had
halted not many yards away, cool, determined and quiet, save for a little
muttering.  In their red shirts, top boots, many of them with long black
hair and brass earrings, they looked a most formidable crowd.  They had
evidently taken the matter seriously, and were come with the intention of
carrying their point, whatever it might be.  Just as we reached the space
between the two parties, the massive leader of the river-drivers stepped
forward, and in a rough but collected voice said that they had come
determined to fight, if fighting were necessary, but that they knew what
the end of the conflict would be, and they did not wish to obliterate
Sunburst entirely if Sunburst accepted the conditions of peace.

There seemed no leader to the fishermen.

My friend said to me quickly: "You speak first."  Instantly I stepped
forward and demanded to know what the terms of peace were.  As soon as I
did so, there were harsh mutterings among the river-drivers.  I explained
at once, waving back some of the fisher-men who were clamouring about me,
that I had nothing whatever to do with the quarrel; that I happened to be
where I was by accident, as I had happened by accident to see the
difficulty of the morning.  But I said that it was the duty of every man
who was a good citizen and respected the laws of his country, to see, in
so far as it was possible, that there should be no breach of those laws.
I spoke in a clear strong voice, and I think I produced some effect upon
both parties to the quarrel.  The reply of the leader was almost
immediate.  He said that all they demanded was the Indian who had so
treacherously injured the foreman of their gangs.  I saw the position at
once, and was dumfounded.  For a moment I did not speak.

I was not prepared for the scene that immediately followed.  Some one
broke through the crowd at my back, rushed past me, and stood between the
two forces.  It was the Indian who had injured the foreman.  He was naked
to the waist, and painted and feathered after the manner of his tribe
going to battle.  There was a wild light in his eye, but he had no
weapon.  He folded his arms across his breast, and said:

"Well, you want me.  Here I am.  I will fight with any man all alone,
without a gun or arrow or anything.  I will fight with my arms--to kill."

I saw revolvers raised at him instantly, but at that the man, my friend,
who stood beside me, sprang in front of the Indian.

"Stop--stop!" he cried.  "In the name of the law!  I am a sergeant of
the mounted police of Canada.  My jurisdiction extends from Winnipeg to
Vancouver.  You cannot have this man except over my body: and for my body
every one of you will pay with your lives; for every blow struck this
night, there will be a hundred blows struck upon the river-drivers and
mill-hands of this valley.  Take care!  Behind me is the law of the land
--her police and her soldiery."

He paused.  There was almost complete silence.  He continued:

"This man is my prisoner; I arrest him."--He put his hand upon the
Indian's shoulder.--"For the crime he committed this morning he shall
pay: but to the law, not to you.  Put up your revolvers, men.  Go back to
Viking.  Don't risk your lives; don't break the law and make yourselves
criminals and outlaws.  Is it worth it?  Be men.  You have been the
aggressors.  There isn't one of you but feels that justice which is the
boast of every man of the West.  You wanted to avenge the crime of this
morning.  But the vengeance is the law's.--Stand back--Stand back!" he
said, and drew his revolver, as the leader of the river-drivers stepped
forward.  "I will kill the first man that tries to lay his hand upon my
prisoner.  Don't be mad.  I am not one man, I am a whole country."

I shall never forget the thrill that passed through me as I saw a man
who, but a handful of months before, was neck deep in his grave, now
blossomed out into a strong, defiant soldier.

There was a pause.  At last the leader of the river-drivers spoke.
"See," he said, "Sergeant, I guess you're right.  You're a man, so help
me!  Say, boys," he continued, turning to his followers, "let him have
the Injin.  I guess he's earned him."

So saying he wheeled, the men with him, and they tramped up the slope
again on their way back to Viking.  The man who had achieved this turned
upon the fishers.

"Back to your homes!" he said.  "Be thankful that blood was not shed
here to-night, and let this be a lesson to you.  Now, go."

The crowd turned, slowly shambled down the riverside, and left us three
standing there.

But not alone.  Out of the shadow of one of the houses came two women.
They stepped forward into the light of the bonfire burning near us.  One
of the women was very pale.

It was Mrs. Falchion.

I touched the arm of the man standing beside me.  He wheeled and saw her
also.  A cry broke from his lips, but he stood still.  A whole life-time
of sorrow, trouble, and love looked out of his eyes.  Mrs. Falchion came
nearer.  Clasping her hands upon her breast, she peered up into his face,
and gasped:

"Oh--oh--I thought that you were drowned--and dead!  I saw you buried in
the sea.  No--no--it cannot be you!  I have heard and seen all within
these past few minutes.  YOU are so strong and brave, so great a man!...
Oh, tell me, tell me, are you in truth my husband?"

He spoke.

"I was your husband, Mercy Falchion.  I was drowned, but this man"--he
turned and touched my shoulder--"this man brought me back to life.  I
wanted to be dead to the world.  I begged him to keep my secret.  A
sailor's corpse was buried in my shroud, and I lived.  At Aden I stole
from the boat in the night.  I came to America--to Canada--to begin a new
life under a new name, never to see you again. . . .  Do not, do not
speak to me--unless I am not to lose you again; unless I am to know that
now you forgive me--that you forgive me--and wish me to live--my wife!"

She put both her hands out, a strange, sorrowful look in her eyes, and
said: "I have sinned--I have sinned."

He took her hands in his.

"I know," he said, "that you do not love me yet; but you may some day."

"No," she said, "I do not love you; but . . . . I am glad you live.  Let
us--go home."


THE END.



ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

A heart-break for that kind is their salvation
A man may be forgiven for a sin, but the effect remains
A man you could bank on, and draw your interest reg'lar
All he has to do is to be vague, and look prodigious (Scientist)
Death is not the worst of evils
Every true woman is a mother, though she have no child
Fear a woman are when she hates, and when she loves
He didn't always side with the majority
He had neither self-consciousness nor fear
Her own suffering always set her laughing at herself
Learned what fools we mortals be
Love can outlive slander
Men do not steal up here: that is the unpardonable crime
She had provoked love, but had never given it
"Still the end of your existence," I rejoined--"to be amused?"
The happy scene of the play before the villain comes in
The threshold of an acknowledged love
There are things we repent of which cannot be repaired
There is no refuge from memory and remorse in this world
Think that a woman gives the heart for pleasant weather only?
Thou wouldst not think how ill all's here about my heart
Time a woman most yearns for a man is when she has refused him
Would look back and not remember that she had a childhood





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