Flower of the North by James Oliver Curwood
I II III IV V
VI VII VIII IX X
XI XII XIII XIV
XV XVI XVII
XVIII XIX XX XXI
XXII XXIII XXIV
TO MY COMRADES OF THE GREAT NORTHERN WILDERNESS, THOSE FAITHFUL
COMPANIONS WITH WHOM I HAVE SHARED THE JOYS AND HARDSHIPS OF THE
"LONG SILENT TRAIL," AND ESPECIALLY TO THAT "JEANNE D'ARCAMBAL."
WHO WILL FIND IN HERSELF THE HEROINE OF THIS STORY, THE WRITER
GRATEFULLY DEDICATES THIS VOLUME.
"Such hair! Such eyes! Such color! Laugh if you will, Whittemore, but
I swear that she was the handsomest girl I've ever laid my eyes
There was an artist's enthusiasm in Gregson's girlishly sensitive face
as he looked across the table at Whittemore and lighted a cigarette.
"She wouldn't so much as give me a look when I stared," he added. "I
couldn't help it. Gad, I'm going to make a full-page 'cover' of her
to-morrow for Burke's. Burke dotes on pretty women for the cover of his
magazine. Why, demmit, man, what the deuce are you laughing at?"
"Not at this particular case, Tom," apologized Whittemore. "But—
His eyes wandered ruminatively about the rough interior of the little
cabin, lighted by a single oil-lamp hanging from a cross- beam in the
ceiling, and he whistled softly.
"I'm wondering," he went on, "if you'll ever strike a place where you
won't see 'one of the most beautiful things on earth.' The last one was
at Rio Piedras, wasn't it, Tom? A Spanish girl, or was she a Creole? I
believe I've got your letter yet, and I'll read it to you to-morrow. I
wasn't surprised. There are pretty women down in Porto Rico. But I didn't
think you'd have the nerve to discover one up here—in the
"She's got them all beat," retorted the artist, flecking the ash from
the tip of his cigarette.
"Even the Valencia girl, eh?"
There was a chuckling note of pleasure in Philip Whittemore's voice as
he leaned half across the table, his handsome face, bronzed by snow and
wind, illumined in the lamp-glow. Gregson, in strong contrast, with his
round, smooth cheeks, slim hands, and build that was almost womanish,
leaned over his side to meet him. For the twentieth time that evening the
two men shook hands.
"Haven't forgotten Valencia, eh?" chuckled the artist, gloatingly.
"Lord, but I'm glad to see you again, Phil. Seems like a century since we
were out raising the Old Ned together, and yet it's less than three years
since we came back from South America. Valencia! Will we ever forget it?
When Burke handed me his first turn-down a month ago and said, 'Tom, your
work begins to show you want a rest,' I thought of Valencia, and was so
confoundedly homesick for those old days when you and I pretty nearly
started a revolution, and came within an ace of getting our scalps
lifted, that I moped for a week. Gad, do I remember it? You got out by
fighting, and I through a pretty girl."
"And your nerve," chuckled Whittemore, crushing the other's hand.
"That was when I made up my mind you were the nerviest man alive, Greggy.
Did you ever learn what became of Donna Isobel?"
"She appeared twice in Burke's, once as the 'Goddess of the Southern
Republics' and again as 'The Girl of Valencia.' She married that
reprobate of a Carabobo planter, and I believe they're happy."
"It seems to me there were others," continued Whittemore, pondering
for a moment in mock seriousness. "There was one at Rio whom you swore
would make your fortune if you could get her to sit for you, and whose
husband was on the point of putting six inches of steel into you for
telling her so, when I explained that you were young and harmless, and a
little out of your head—"
"With your fist," cried Gregson, joyously. "Gad, but that was a mighty
blow! I can see that knife now. I was just beginning my paternoster
when—chug!—and down he went! And he deserved it. I said
nothing wrong. In my very best Spanish I asked her if she would sit for
me, and why the devil did he take that as an insult? And she was
"Of course," agreed Whittemore. "If I remember, she was 'the loveliest
creature you had ever seen.' And after that there were others—a
score of them at least, each lovelier than the one before."
"They make up my life," said Gregson, more seriously than he had yet
spoken. "They're the only thing I can draw and do well. I'd think an
editor was mad if he asked me to do something without a pretty woman in
it. God bless 'em, I hope I'll go on seeing them forever. When I can't
see beauty in woman I want to die."
"And you always want to see it in the superlative degree."
"I insist upon it. If she lacks something, as Donna Isobel wanted
color, I imagine that it is there, and she is perfect! But this one that
I saw to-night is perfect! Now what I want to know is this, Who the deuce
—"where can she be found, and will she sit for a 'Burke,' two or
three miscellaneous, and a 'study' for the annual sale," struck in
Whittemore. "Is that it?"
"Exactly. You've a natural ability for hitting the nail on the head,
"And Burke told you to take a rest."
Gregson offered his cigarettes.
"Yes, Burke is a good-natured, poetic old soul who has a horror of
spiders, snakes, and sky-scrapers. He said to me: 'Greggy, go and seek
nature in some quiet, secluded place, and forget everything for a
fortnight or two except your clothes and half a dozen cases of beer.'
Rest! Nature! Beer! Think of those cheerful suggestions, Phil, while I
was dreaming of Valencia, of Donna Isobels, and places where Nature cuts
up as though she had been taking champagne all her life. Gad, your letter
came just in time!"
"And I told you little enough in that," said Philip, quickly, rising
and pacing uneasily back and forth across the cabin floor. "I gave you
promise of excitement, and urged you to join me if you could. And why?
He turned sharply, and faced Gregson across the table.
"I wanted you to come because the thing that happened down in
Valencia, and that other at Rio, isn't a circumstance to the hell that's
going to cut loose pretty soon up here—and I'm in need of help.
Understand? It's not fun—this time. I'm playing a single hand in
what looks like a losing game. If I ever needed a fighter in my life I
need one now. That's why I sent for you."
Gregson shoved back his chair and rose to his feet. He was a head
shorter than his companion, of almost delicate physique. Yet there was
something in the cold gray-blue of his eyes, a peculiar hardness of his
chin, that compelled one to look at him twice and rendered first judgment
unsafe. His slim fingers closed like steel about Philip's.
"Now you're coming down to business, Phil," he exclaimed. "I've been
waiting with the patience of Job—or of little Bobby Tuckett, if you
remember him, who began courting Minnie Sheldon seven years ago—and
married her the day after I got your letter. I was too busy figuring out
what you hadn't written to go to the wedding. I tried to read between the
lines, and fell down completely. I've been thinking all the way up from
Le Pas, and I'm still at sea. You called. I came. What's up?"
"It's going to sound a little mad—at first, Greggy," chuckled
Whittemore, lighting his pipe. "It's going to give your esthetic tastes a
jar. Look here!"
He seized Gregson by the arm and led him to the door.
The cold northern sky was brilliant with stars. The cabin, its logs
half smothered in dying masses of verdure which had climbed about it
during the summer, was built on the summit of one of the wind-cropped
ridges which are called mountains in the far north. Into that north swept
infinite wilderness, white and gray where the starlit tops of the spruce
rose up at their feet, black in the distance. From somewhere out of it
there came the low, weeping monotone of surf beating on a shore. Philip,
with one hand on Gregson's shoulder, pointed with the other into the
lonely desolation which they were facing.
"There isn't much between us and the Arctic Ocean, Greggy," he said.
"See that light off there, like a great fire that has half a mind to die
out one minute and flares up the next? Doesn't it remind you of the night
we got away from Carabobo, when Donna Isobel pointed out our way to us,
with the moon coming up over the mountains as a guide? That isn't the
moon. It's the aurora borealis. You can hear the wash of the Bay down
there, and if you're keen you can catch the smell of icebergs. There's
Fort Churchill—a rifle-shot beyond the ridge, asleep. There's
nothing but Hudson's Bay Company's posts, Indian camps, and trappers
between here and civilization, which is four hundred miles down there.
Seems like a quiet and peaceful country, doesn't it? There's something
about it that makes you thrill and wonder if this isn't the biggest part
of the universe after all. Listen! Hear the Indian dogs wailing down at
Churchill! That's the primal voice in this world, the voice of the wild.
Even that beating of the surf is filled with the same thing, for it's
rolling up mystery instead of history. It is telling what man doesn't
know, and in a language which he cannot understand. You're a beauty
scientist, Greggy. This must sink deep."
"It does," said Gregson. "What the deuce are you getting at,
"I'm arriving gradually and without undue haste to the point, Greggy.
I'm about to tell you why I induced you to join me up here. I hesitate at
the last word. It seems almost brutal, taking into consideration your
philosophy of beauty, to drop from all this—from that blackness and
mystery out there, from Donna Isobels and pretty eyes, down
Gregson, lighting a fresh cigarette, held the match so that the tiny
flame lighted up his companion's face for a moment.
"Look here," he expostulated, "you haven't got me up here to go—
"Yes—and no," said Philip. "But even if I have—"
He caught Gregson by the arm again, and there was a tightness in the
grip of his fingers which convinced the other that he was speaking
"Do you remember what started the revolution down in Honduras the
second week after we struck Puerto Barrios, Greggy? It was a girl, wasn't
"Yes, and she wasn't half pretty at that."
"It was less than a girl," went on Philip. "Scene: the palm plaza at
Ceiba. President Belize is drinking wine with his cousin, the fiancee of
General O'Kelly Bonilla, the half Irish, half Latin- American leader of
his forces, and his warmest friend. At a moment when their corner of the
plaza is empty Belize helps himself to a cousinly kiss. O'Kelly,
unperceived, arrives in time to witness the act. From that moment his
friendship for Belize turns to hatred and jealousy. Within three weeks he
has started a revolution, beats the government forces at Ceiba, chases
Belize from the capital, gets Nicaragua mixed up in the trouble, and
draws three French, two German, and two American war-ships to the scene.
Six weeks after the wine-drinking he is President of the Republic, en
facto. And all of this, Greggy, because of a kiss. Now, if a kiss can
start a revolution, unseat a President, send a government to smash, what
must be the possibilities of a fish?"
"I'm getting interested," said Gregson. "If there's a climax, come to
it, Phil. I admit that there must be enormous possibilities in —a
fish. Go on!"
For a moment the two men stood in silence, listening to the sullen
beat of surf beyond the black edge of forest. Then Philip led the way
back into the cabin.
Gregson followed. In the light of the big oil-lamp which hung
suspended from the ceiling he noticed something in Whittemore's face he
had not observed before, a tenseness about the muscles of his mouth, a
restlessness in his eyes, rigidity of jaw, an air of suppressed emotion
which puzzled him. He was keenly observant of details, and knew that
these things had been missing a short time before. The pleasure of their
meeting that afternoon, after a separation of nearly two years, had
dispelled for a time the trouble which he now saw revealing itself in his
companion's face and attitude, and the lightness of Whittemore's manner
in beginning his explanation for inducing him to come into the north had
helped to complete the mask. There occurred to him, for an instant, a
picture which he had once drawn of Whittemore as he had known him in
certain stirring times still fresh in the memory of each—a picture
of the old, cool, irresistible Whittemore, smiling in the face of danger,
laughing outright at perplexities, always ready to fight with a
good-natured word on his lips. He had drawn that picture for Burke's, and
had called it "The Fighter." Burke himself had criticized it because of
the smile. But Gregson knew his man. It was Whittemore.
There was a change now. He had grown older, surprisingly older. There
were deeper lines about his eyes. His face was thinner. He saw, now, that
Philip's lightness had been but a passing flash of his old buoyancy, that
the old life and sparkle had gone from him. Two years, he judged, had
woven things into Philip's life which he could not understand, and he
wondered if this was why in all that time he had received no word from
his old college chum.
They had seated themselves at opposite sides of the table, and from an
inside pocket Philip produced a small bundle of papers. From these he
drew forth a map, which he smoothed out under his hands.
"Yes, there are possibilities—and more, Greggy," he said. "I
didn't ask you up here to help me fight air and moonshine. And I've
promised you a fight. Have you ever seen a rat in a trap with a
blood-thirsty terrier guarding the little door that is about to be
opened? Thrilling sport for the prisoner, isn't it? But when the rat
happens to be human—"
"I thought it was a fish," protested Gregson, mildly. "Pretty soon
you'll be having it a girl in a trap—or at the end of a fish-
"And if I should?" interrupted Philip, looking steadily at him. "What
if I should say there is a girl—a woman—in this
trap—not only one, but a score, a hundred of them? What then,
"I'd say there was going to be a glorious scrap."
"And so there is, the biggest and most unusual scrap of its kind you
ever heard of, Greggy. It's going to be a queer kind of fight —and
queer fighting. And it's possible—very probable—that you and
I will get lost in the shuffle somewhere. We're two, no more. And we're
going up against forces which would make a dozen South American
revolutions look like thirty cents. More than that, it's likely we'll be
in the wrong locality when certain people rise in a wrath which a Helen
of Troy aroused in another people some centuries ago. See
He turned the map to Gregson, pointing with his finger.
"See that red line? That's the new railroad to Hudson's Bay. It is
well above Le Pas now, and its builders plan to complete it by next
spring. It is the most wonderful piece of railroad building on the
American continent, Greggy—wonderful because it has been neglected
so long. Something like a hundred million people have been asleep to its
enormous value, and they're just waking up now. That road, cutting across
four hundred miles of wilderness, is opening up a country half as big as
the United States, in which more mineral wealth will be dug during the
next fifty years than will ever be taken from Yukon or Alaska. It is
shortening the route from Montreal, Duluth, Chicago, and the Middle West
to Liverpool and other European ports by a thousand miles. It means the
making of a navigable sea out of Hudson's Bay, cities on its shores, and
great steel-foundries close to the Arctic Circle— where there is
coal and iron enough to supply the world for hundreds of years. That's
only a small part of what this road means, Greggy. Two years
ago—you remember I asked you to join me in the adventure—I
came up seeking opportunity. I didn't dream then—"
Whittemore paused, and a flash of his old smile passed over his
"I didn't dream that fate had decreed me to stir up what I'm going to
tell you about, Greggy. I followed the line of the proposed railroad,
looking for chances. All Canada was asleep, or too much interested in its
west, and gave me no competition. I was alone west of the surveyed line;
east of it steel-corporation men had optioned mountains of iron and
another interest had a grip on coal-fields. Six months I spent among the
Indians, French, and half-breeds. I lived with them, trapped and hunted
with them, and picked up a little Cree and French. The life suited me. I
became a northerner in heart and soul, if not quite yet in full
experience. Clubs and balls and cities grew to be only memories. You know
how I have always hated that hothouse sort of existence, and you know
that same world of clubs and balls and cities has gripped at my throat,
downing me again and again, as though it returned my sentiment with
interest. Up here I learned to hate it more than ever. I was completely
happy. And then—"
He had refolded the map, and drew another from the bundle of papers.
It was drawn in pencil.
"And then, Greggy," he went on, smoothing out this map where the other
had been, "I struck my chance. It fairly clubbed me into recognizing it.
It came in the middle of the night, and I sat up with a camp-fire
laughing at me through the flap in my tent, stunned by the knockout it
had given me. It seemed, at first, as though a gold-mine had walked up
and laid itself down at my feet, and I wondered how there could be so
many silly fools in this world of ours. Take a look at that map, Greggy.
What do you see?"
Gregson had listened like one under a spell. It was one of his
careless boasts that situations could not faze him, that he was immune to
outward betrayals of sensation. This seeming indifference—his
light-toned attitude in the face of most serious affairs would have made
a failure of him in many things. But his tense interest did not hide
itself now. A cigarette remained unlighted between his fingers. His eyes
never took themselves for an instant from his companion's face. Something
that Whittemore had not yet said thrilled him. He looked at the map.
"There's not much to see," he said, "but lakes and rivers."
"You're right," exclaimed Philip, jumping suddenly from his chair and
beginning to walk back and forth across the cabin. "Lakes and
rivers—hundreds of them—thousands of them! Greggy, there are
more than three thousand lakes between here and civilization and within
forty miles of the new railroad. And nine out of ten of those lakes are
so full of fish that the bears along 'em smell fishy. Whitefish,
Gregson—whitefish and trout. There is a fresh- water area
represented on that map three times as large as the whole of the five
Great Lakes, and yet the Canadians and the government have never wakened
up to what it means. There's a fish supply in this northland large enough
to feed the world, and that little rim of lakes that I've mapped out
along the edge of the coming railroad represents a money value of
millions. That was the idea that came to me in the middle of the night,
and then I thought—if I could get a corner on a few of these lakes,
secure fishing privileges before the road came—"
"You'd be a millionaire," said Gregson.
"Not only that," replied Philip, pausing for a moment in his restless
pacing. "I didn't think of money, at first; at least, it was a secondary
consideration after that night beside the camp- fire. I saw how this big
vacant north could be made to strike a mighty blow at those interests
which make a profession of cornering meatstuffs on the other side, how it
could be made to fight the fight of the people by sending down an
unlimited supply of fish that could be sold at a profit in New York,
Boston, or Chicago for a half of what the trust demands. My scheme wasn't
aroused entirely by philanthropy, mind you. I saw in it a chance to get
back at the very people who brought about my father's ruin, and who kept
pounding him after he was in a corner until he broke down and died. They
killed him. They robbed me a few years later. They made me hate what I
was once, a moving, joyous part of—life down there. I went from the
north, first to Ottawa, then to Toronto and Winnipeg. After that I went
to Brokaw, my father's old partner, with the scheme. I've told you of
Brokaw—one of the deepest, shrewdest old fighters in the Middle
West. It was only a year after my father's death that he was on his feet
again, as strong as ever. Brokaw drew in two or three others as strong as
himself, and we went after the privileges. It was a fight from the
beginning. Hardly were our plans made public before we were met by
powerful opposition. A combination of Canadian capital quickly organized
and petitioned for the same privileges. Old Brokaw knew what it meant. It
was the hand of the trust—disguised under a veneer of Canadian
promoters. They called us 'aliens'—American 'money-grabbers'
robbing Canadians of what justly belonged to them. They aroused
two-thirds of the press against us, and yet—"
The lines in Whittemore's face softened. He chuckled as he pulled out
his pipe and began filling it.
"They had to go some to beat the old man, Greggy. I don't know just
how Brokaw pulled the thing off, but I do know that when we won out three
members of parliament and half a dozen other politicians were honorary
members of our organization, and that it cost Brokaw a hundred thousand
dollars! Our opponents had raised such a howl, calling upon the
patriotism of the country and pointing out that the people of the north
would resent this invasion of foreigners, that we succeeded in getting
only a provisional license, subject to withdrawal by the government at
any time conditions seemed to warrant it. I saw in this no blow to my
scheme, for I was certain that we could carry the thing along on such a
square basis that within a year the whole country would be in sympathy
with us. I expressed my views with enthusiasm at our final meeting, when
the seven of us met to complete our plans. Brokaw and the other five were
to direct matters in the south; I was to have full command of affairs in
the north. A month later I was at work. Over here"—he leaned over
Gregson's shoulder and placed a forefinger on the map—"I
established our headquarters, with MacDougall, a Scotch engineer, to help
me. Within six months we had a hundred and fifty men at Blind Indian
Lake, fifty canoemen bringing in supplies, and another gang putting in
stations over a stretch of more than a hundred miles of lake country.
Everything was working smoothly, better than I had expected. At Blind
Indian Lake we had a shipyard, two warehouses, ice-houses, a company
store, and a population of three hundred, and had nearly completed a
ten-mile roadbed for narrow-gauge steel, which would connect us with the
main line when it came up to us. I was completely lost in my work. At
times I almost forgot Brokaw and the others. I was particularly careful
of the funds sent up to me, and had accomplished my work at a cost of a
little under a hundred thousand. At the end of the six months, when I was
about to make a visit into the south, one of our warehouses and ten
thousand dollars' worth of supplies went up in smoke. It was our first
misfortune, and it was a big one. It was about the first matter that I
brought up after I had shaken hands with Brokaw."
Philip's face was set and white as he stood in the middle of the room
looking at Gregson.
"And what do you think was his reply, Greggy? He looked at me for a
moment, a peculiar twitching around the corners of his mouth, and then
said, 'Don't allow a trivial matter like that to worry you, Philip.
Why—we've already cleaned up a million on this little fish
Gregson sat up with a jerk.
"A million! Great Scott—"
"Yes, a million, Greggy," said Philip, softly, with his old fighting
smile. "There was a hundred thousand dollars to my credit in a First
National Bank. Pleasant surprise, eh?"
Gregson had dropped his cigarette. His slim hands gripped the edges of
the table. He made no reply as he waited for Whittemore to continue.
For a full minute Philip paced back and forth without speaking. Then
he stopped, and faced Gregson, who was staring at him.
"A million, Greggy," he repeated, in the same soft voice. "A hundred
thousand dollars to my credit—in a First National Bank! While I was
up here hustling to get affairs on a working basis, eager to show the
government and the people what we could do and would do, triumphing in
our victory over the trust, and figuring each day on my scheme of making
this big, rich north deal a staggering blow to those accursed
combinations down there, they were at work, too. While I was dreaming and
doing these things, Brokaw and the others had formed the Great Northern
Fish and Development Company, had incorporated it under the laws of New
Jersey, and had already sold over a million dollars' worth of stock! The
thing was in full swing when I reached headquarters. I had authorized
Brokaw to act for me, and I found that I was vice- president of one of
the biggest legalized robbery combinations of recent years. More money
had been spent in advertising than in development work. Hundreds of
thousands of copies of my letters from the north, filled to the brim with
the enthusiasm I had felt for my work and projects, had been sent out
broadcast, luring buyers of stock. In one of these letters I had said
that if a half of the lakes I had mapped out were fished the north could
be made to produce a million tons of fish a year. Two hundred thousand
copies of this letter were sent out, but Brokaw and his associates had
omitted the words, 'If a half of the lakes mapped out were fished.' It
would take fifteen thousand men, a thousand refrigerator cars, and a
capital of five million to bring this about. I was stunned by the
enormity of their fraud, and yet when I threatened to bring the whole
thing to smash Brokaw only laughed and pointed out that not a single
caution had been omitted. In all of the advertising it was frankly stated
that our license was provisional, subject to withdrawal if the company
did not keep within laws. That very frankness was an advertisement. It
was something different. It struck home where it was meant to
strike— among small and unfledged investors. It roped them in by
thousands. The shares were ten dollars each, and non-assessable. Five out
of six orders were from one to five shares; ninety-nine out of every
hundred were not above ten shares. It was damnable. The very people for
whom I wanted the north to fight had been humbugged to the tune of a
million and a quarter dollars. Within a year Brokaw and the others had
floated a scheme which was worse than any trust, for the trusts pay back
a part of their steals in dividends. And _I_ was responsible! Do you
realize that, Greggy? It was I who started the project. It was my reports
from the north which chiefly induced people to buy. And this
company—a company of robbers licensed under the law—I am its
founder and its vice- president!"
Philip dropped back into his chair. The face that he turned to Gregson
was damp with perspiration, though the room was chilly.
"You stayed in," said Gregson.
"I had to. There wasn't a loophole left open to me. There wasn't a
single point at which I could bring attack against Brokaw and the others.
They were six veritable Bismarcks of deviltry and shrewdness. They hadn't
over-stepped the law. They had sold a million and a quarter of stock on a
hundred-thousand-dollar investment, but Brokaw only laughed when I raged
at this. 'Why, Philip,' he said, 'we value our license alone at over a
million!' And there was no law which could prevent them from placing that
value upon it, or more. There was one thing that I could do—and
only one. I could resign, decline to accept my stock and the hundred
thousand, and publicly announce why I had broken off my connections with
the company. I was about to do this when cooler judgment prevailed. It
occurred to me that there would have to be an accounting. The company
might sell a million and a quarter of stock—but in the end there
would have to be an accounting. If I was out of the game it would be
easily made. If I was in—well, do you see, Greggy? There was still
a chance of making the company win out as a legitimate enterprise, even
though it began under the black flag of piratical finance and fraud.
Brokaw and the others were astonished at the stand I took. It was like
throwing a big, ripe plum into the fire Brokaw was the first to hedge. He
came over to my side in a private interview which we had, and for the
first time I convinced him completely of the tremendous possibilities
before us. To my surprise he began to show actual enthusiasm in my favor.
We figured out how the company, if properly developed, could be made to
pay a dividend of fifty cents a share on the stock issued within two
years. This, I thought, would be at least a partial return of the
original steal. Brokaw worked the thing through in his own way. He was
authorized to vote for one of the directors, who was in Europe, and he
won over two of the others. As a consequence we voted all of the money in
the treasury, nearly six hundred thousand dollars, and the remainder of
the stock that was on the market, for development purposes. Brokaw then
made the proposition that the company buy up any interest that wished to
withdraw. The two M. P.'s and a professional promoter from Toronto
immediately sold out at fifty thousand each. With their original hundred
thousand these three retired with an aggregate steal of nearly half a
million. Pretty good work for yours truly, eh, Greggy! Good Heaven, think
of it! I started out to strike a blow, to launch a gigantic project for
the people, and this was what I had hatched! Robbery, bribery,
He paused, his hands clenched until the blue veins stood out on them
Gregson spoke, uneasily.
Philip's fingers relaxed their grip on the table.
"If that had been all, I wouldn't have called you up here," he
continued. "I've taken a long time in coming down to the real hell of the
affair, because I wanted you to understand the situation from the
beginning. After I left Brokaw I came north again. I possessed all the
funds necessary to make an honest working organization out of the
Northern Fish and Development Company. I hired two hundred additional
men, added twenty new fishing- stations, began a second road-bed to the
main line, and started a huge dam at Blind Indian Lake. We had thirty
horses, driven up through the wilderness from Le Pas, and twenty teams on
the way. There didn't appear to be an important obstacle in the path of
our success, and I had recovered most of my old enthusiasm when Brokaw
sprung a new mine under my feet.
"He had written a long letter almost immediately after I left him,
which had been delayed at several places. In it he told me that he had
discovered a plot to wreck our enterprise, that some powerful force was
about to be pitted against us in the very country we were holding. I
could see that Brokaw was tremendously worked up when he wrote the
letter, and that for once he felt himself outwitted by a rival faction,
and realized to the full a danger which it took me some time to
comprehend. He had discovered absolute evidence, he said, that the bunch
of trust capitalists whom he had beaten were about to attack us in
another way. Their forces were already moving into the north country.
Their object was to stir up the country against us, to bring about that
condition of unrest and antagonism between the people of the north and
ourselves which would compel the government to take away our license.
Remember, this license was only provisional. It was, in fact, left to the
people of the north to decide whether we should remain among them or not.
If they turned against us there would be only one thing for the
government to do.
"At first Brokaw's letter caused me no very great uneasiness. I knew
the people up here. I knew that the Indian, the Breed, the Frenchman, and
the White of this God's country were as invulnerable to bribery as Brokaw
himself is to the pangs of conscience. I loved them. I had faith in them.
I knew them to possess an honor which is not known down there, where we
have a church on every four corners, and where the Word of God is
preached day and night on the open streets. I felt myself warming with
indignation as I replied to Brokaw, resenting his insinuations as to the
crimes which a 'half-savage' people might be induced to commit for a
little whisky and a little money. And then—"
Whittemore wiped his face. The lines settled deeper about his
"Greggy, a week after I received this letter two warehouses were
burned on the same night at Blind Indian Lake. They were three hundred
yards apart. There is absolutely no doubt that it was incendiarism."
He waited in silence, but Gregson still sat watching him in
"That was the beginning—three months ago. Since then some
mysterious force has been fighting us at every step. A week after the
warehouses burned, a dredge and boat-building yard, which we had
constructed at considerable expense at the mouth of the Gray Beaver, was
destroyed by fire. A little later a 'premature' explosion of dynamite
cost us ten thousand dollars and two weeks' labor of fifty men. I
organized a special guard service, composed of fifty of my best men, but
it seemed to do no good. Since then we have lost three miles of road-bed,
destroyed by a washout. A terrific charge of dynamite had been used to
let down upon us the water of a lake which was situated at the top of a
ridge near our right of way. Whoever our enemies are, they seem to know
our most secret movements, and attack us whenever we leave a vulnerable
point open. The most surprising part of the whole affair is this: in
spite of my own efforts to keep our losses quiet the rumor has spread for
hundreds of miles around us, even reaching Churchill, that the
northerners have declared war against our enterprise and are determined
to drive us out. Two-thirds of my men believe this. MacDougall, my
engineer, believes it. Between my working forces and the Indians, French,
and half-breeds about us there has slowly developed a feeling of
suspicion and resentment. It is growing— every day, every hour. If
it continues it can result in but two things—ruin for ourselves,
triumph for those who are getting at us in this dastardly manner. If
something is not done very soon— within a month—perhaps
less—the country will run with the blood of vengeance from
Churchill to the Barrens. If what I expect to happen does happen there
will be no government road built to the Bay, the new buildings at
Churchill will turn gray with disuse, the treasures of the north will
remain undisturbed, the country itself will slip back a hundred years.
The forest people will be filled with hatred and suspicion so long as the
story of great wrong travels down from father to son. And this wrong,
Philip's face was white, cold, almost passionless in the grim hardness
that had settled in it. He unfolded a long typewritten letter, and handed
it to Gregson.
"That letter is the final word," he explained. "It will tell you what
I have not told you. In some way it was mixed in my mail and I did not
discover the error until I had opened it. It is from the headquarters of
our enemies, addressed to the man who is in charge of their plot up
"He waited, scarce breathing, while Gregson bent over the typewritten
pages. He noted the slow tightening of the other's fingers as he turned
from the first sheet to the second; he watched Gregson's face, the slow
ebbing of color, the gray white that followed it, the stiffening of his
arms and shoulders as he finished. Then Gregson looked up.
"Good God!" he breathed.
For a full half-minute the two men gazed at each other across the
table, without speaking.
Philip broke the silence.
"It is impossible!" gasped Gregson. "I cannot believe this!
It—it might have happened a thousand—two thousand years
ago—but not now. My God, man!" he cried, more excitedly. "You do
not mean to tell me that you believe this will be done?"
"Yes," replied Philip.
"It is impossible!" exclaimed Gregson again, crushing the letter in
his hand. "A man doesn't live—a combination doesn't exist—
that would start such a hell loose as this—in this way!"
Philip smiled grimly.
"The man does live, and the combination does exist," he said, slowly.
"Greggy, I have known of men, and of combinations who have spent
millions, who have sacrificed everything of honor and truth, who have
driven thousands of men, women, and children to starvation—and
worse—to achieve a victory in high finance. I have known of men and
combinations who have broken almost every law of man and God in the fight
for money and power. And so have you! You have associated with some of
these men. You have laughed and talked with them, smoked with them, and
have dined at their tables. You spent a week at Selden's summer borne,
and it was Selden who cornered wheat three years ago and raised the price
of bread two cents a loaf. It was Selden who brought about the bread
riots in New York, Chicago, and a score of other cities, who swung wide
the prison doors for thousands, whose millions were gained at a cost of
misery, crime, and even death. And Selden is only one out of thousands
who live to-day, watching for their opportunities, giving no heed to
those who may fall under the juggernaut of their capital. This isn't the
age of petty discrimination, Greggy. It's the age of the almighty dollar,
and of the fight for it. And there's no chivalry, no quarter shown in
this fight. Men of Selden's stamp don't stop at women and children. The
scrubwoman's dollar is just as big as yours or mine, and if a scheme
could be promoted whereby every scrubwoman in America could be safely
robbed of a dollar you'd find thousands of men down there in our cities
ready to go into it to-morrow. And to such men as these what is the
sacrifice of a few women up here?"
Gregson dropped the letter, crumpled and twisted, upon the table.
"I wonder—if I understand," he said, looking into Philip's white
face. "There has undoubtedly been previous correspondence, and this
letter contains the final word. It shows that your enemies have already
succeeded in working up the forest people against you, and have filled
them with suspicion. Their last blow is to be—"
He stopped, and Philip nodded at the horrified question in his
"Greggy, up here there is one law which reigns above all other law.
When I was in Prince Albert a year ago I was sitting on the veranda of
the little old Windsor Hotel. About me were a dozen wild men of the
north, who had come down for a day or two to the edge of civilization.
Most of those men had not been out of the forests for a year. Two of them
were from the Barrens, and this was their first glimpse of civilized life
in five years. As we sat there a woman came up the street. She turned in
at the hotel. About me there was a sudden lowering of voices, a shuffling
of feet. As she passed, every one of those twelve rose from their seats
and stood with bowed heads and their caps in their hands until she had
gone. I was the only one who remained sitting! That, Greggy, is the one
great law of life up here, the worship of woman because she is woman. A
man may steal, he may kill, but he must not break this law. If he steals
or kills, the mounted police may bring the offender to justice; but if he
breaks this other law there is but one punishment, and that is the
punishment of the people. That is what this letter purposes to
do—to break this law in order that its penalty may fall upon us.
And if they succeed, God help us!"
It was Gregson who jumped to his feet now. He took half a dozen
nervous steps, paused, lighted a cigarette, and looked down into Philip's
"I understand now where the fight is coming in," he said. "If this
thing goes through, these people will rise and wipe you off the map.
They'll lay it to you and your men, of course. And I fancy it won't be a
job half done if they feel about it as I'd feel. But," he demanded,
sharply, "why don't you put the affair into the hands of the proper
authorities—the police or the government? You've got—By
George, you must have the name of the man to whom that letter was
Philip handed him a soiled white envelope, of the kind in which
official documents are usually mailed.
"That's the man."
Gregson gave a low whistle.
"Lord—Fitzhugh—Lee!" he read, slowly, as though scarce
believing his eyes. "Great Scott! A British peer!"
The cynical smile on Philip's lips cut his words short.
"Perhaps," he said. "But if there is a British lord up here he isn't
very well known, Greggy. No one knows of him. No one has heard a rumor of
him. That is why we can't go to the police or the government. They'd give
small credence to what we've got to show. This letter wouldn't count the
weight of a feather without further evidence, and a lot of it. Besides,
we haven't time to go to the government. It is too far away and too slow.
And as for the police—I know of three in this territory, and there
are fifteen thousand square miles of mountains and plains and forest in
their 'beat.' It's up to you and me to find this Lord Fitzhugh. If we can
do that we will be in a position to put a kibosh on this plot in a hurry.
If we fail to run him down—"
"We'll have to watch our chances. I've told you all that I know, and
you're on an even working basis with me. At first I thought that I
understood the object of those who are planning to ruin us in this
cowardly manner. But I don't now. If they ruin us they also destroy the
chances of any other company that may be scheming to usurp our place. For
that reason I—"
"There must still be other factors in the game," said Gregson, as
"There are. I want you to work out your own suspicions, Greggy, and
then we'll compare notes. Lord Fitzhugh is the key to the whole
situation. No matter who is at the bottom of this plot, Lord Fitzhugh is
the man at the working end of it. We don't care so much about the writer
of this letter as the one to whom it was written. It is evident that he
had planned to be at Churchill, for the letter is addressed to him here.
But he hasn't shown up. He has never been here, so far as I can
"I'd give a year's growth for a copy of the BRITISH PEERAGE or a WHO'S
WHO," mused Gregson, flecking the ashes from his cigarette. "Who the
deuce can this Lord Fitzhugh be? What sort of an Englishman would mix up
in a dirty job of this kind? You might imagine him to be one of the men
behind the guns, like Brokaw. But, by George, he's working the dirty end
of it himself, according to that letter!"
"You're beginning to use your head already, Greggy," said Philip, a
little more cheerfully. "I've asked myself that question a hundred times
during the last three days, and I'm more at sea than ever. If it had been
plain Tom Brown or Bill Jones, the name would not have suggested anything
beyond what you have read in the letter. That's the question: Why should
a Lord Fitzhugh Lee be mixed up in this affair?"
The two men looked at each other keenly for a few moments in
"It suggests—" began Gregson.
"That there may be a bigger scheme behind this affair than we imagine.
In fact, it suggests to me that the northerners are being stirred up
against you and your men for some other and more powerful reason than to
make you get out of the country and compel the government to withdraw
your license. So help me God, I believe there's more behind it!"
"So do I," said Philip, quietly.
"Have you any suspicions of what might be the more powerful
"None. I know that British capital is heavily interested in mineral
lands east of the surveyed line. But there is none at Churchill. All
operations have been carried on from Montreal and Toronto."
"Have you written to Brokaw about this letter?"
"You are the first to whom I have revealed its contents," said Philip.
"I have neglected to tell you that Brokaw is so worked up over the affair
that he is joining me in the north. The Hudson's Bay Company's ship,
which comes over twice a year, touches at Halifax, and if Brokaw followed
out his intentions he took passage there. The ship should be in within a
week or ten days. And, by the way"—Philip stood up and thrust his
hands deep in his pockets as he spoke, half smiling at Gregson—"it
gives me pleasure to hand you a bit of cheerful information along with
that," he added. "Miss Brokaw is coming with him. She is very
Gregson held a lighted match until it burnt his finger-tips.
"The deuce you say! I've heard—"
"Yes, you have heard of her beauty, no doubt. I am not a special
enthusiast in your line, Greggy, but I will confirm your opinion of Miss
Brokaw. You will say that she is the most beautiful girl you have ever
seen, and you will want to make heads of her for BURKE'S. I suppose you
wonder why she is coming up here? So do I."
There was a look of perplexity in Philip's eyes which Gregson might
have noticed if he had not gone to the door to look out into the
"What makes the stars so big and bright up in this country, Phil?" he
"Because of the clearness of the atmosphere through which you are
looking," replied Philip, wondering what was passing through the other's
mind. "This air—compared with ours—is just like a piece of
glass that has been cleaned of a year's accumulation of dirt."
Gregson whistled softly for a few moments. Then he said, without
"She's got to go some if she beats the girl I saw this evening, Phil."
He turned at Philip's silence, and laughed. "I beg your pardon, old man,
I didn't mean to speak of her as if she were a horse. I mean Miss
"And I don't particularly like the idea of betting on the merits of a
pretty girl," replied Philip, "but I'll break the rule for once, and
wager you the best hat in New York that she does beat her."
"Done!" said Gregson. "A little gentle excitement of this sort will
relieve the tension of the other thing, Phil. I've heard enough of
business for to-night. I'm going to finish a sketch that I have begun of
her before I forget the fine points. Any objection?"
"None at all," said Philip. "Meanwhile I'll go out to breathe a
He put on his coat and took down his cap from a peg in the wall.
Gregson had seated himself under the lamp and was sharpening a pencil. As
Philip went to go out Gregson drew an envelope from his pocket and tossed
it on the table.
"If you should happen to see any one that looks like—her," he
said, nodding toward the envelope, "kindly put in a word for me, will
you? I did that in a hurry. It's not half flattering."
Philip laughed as he picked up the envelope.
"The most beau—" he began.
He caught himself with a jerk. Gregson, looking up from his
pencil-sharpening, saw the smile leave his lips and a quick flush leap
into his bronzed cheeks. He stared at the face on the envelope for a half
a minute, then gazed speechlessly at Gregson.
It was Gregson who laughed, softly and without suspicion.
"How does your wager look now?" he taunted.
"She—is—beautiful," murmured Philip, dropping the envelope
and turning to the door, "Don't wait for me, Greggy. Go to bed."
He heard Gregson laugh behind him, and he wondered, as he went out,
what Gregson would say if he told him that he had drawn on the back of
the old envelope the beautiful face of Eileen Brokaw!
A dozen steps beyond the door Philip paused in the shadow of a dense
spruce, half persuaded to return. From where he stood he could see
Gregson bending over the table, already at work on the picture. He
confessed that the sketch had startled him. He knew that it had sent the
hot blood rushing to his face, and that only through a fortunate
circumstance had Gregson ascribed its effect upon him to something that
was wide of the truth. Miss Brokaw was a thousand or more miles away. At
this moment she was somewhere in the North Atlantic, if their ship had
left Halifax. She had never been in the north. More than that, he knew
that Gregson had never seen Miss Brokaw, and had heard of her only
through himself and the society columns of the newspapers. How could he
explain his possession of the sketch?
He drew a step or two nearer to the open door, and stopped again. If
he returned to question Gregson it would draw him perilously near to
explanations which he did not care to make, to the one secret which he
wished to guard from his friend's knowledge. After all, the picture was
only a resemblance. It could be nothing but a resemblance, even though it
was so striking and unusual that it had thrown him off his guard at
first. When he returned later and looked at it again he would no doubt be
able to see his error.
He walked on through the spruce shadows and up a narrow trail that led
to the bald knob of the ridge, feeling his way with his right hand before
him when the denseness of the forest shut out the light of the stars and
the moon, until at last he stood out strong and clear under the glow of
the skies, with the world sweeping out in black and gray mystery around
him. To the north was the Bay, reaching away like a vast black plain.
Half a mile distant two or three lights were burning over Fort Churchill,
red eyes peering up out of the deep pool of darkness; to the south and
west there swept the gray, starlit distances which lay between him and
He leaned against a great rock, resting his elbows in a carpet of
moss, and his eyes turned into the mystery of those distances. The sea of
spruce-tops that rose out of the ragged valley at his feet whispered
softly in the night wind; from out of their depths trembled the low hoot
of an owl; over the vaster desolation beyond hovered a weird and unbroken
silence. More than once the spirit of this world had come to him in the
night and had roused him from his slumber to sit alone out under the
stars, imagining all that it might tell him if he could read the voice of
it in the whispering of the trees, if he could but understand it as he
longed to understand it, and could find in it the peace which he knew
that it all but held for him. The spirit of it had never been nearer to
him than to-night. He felt it close to him, so near that it seemed like
the warm, vibrant touch of a presence at his side, something which had
come to him in a voiceless loneliness as great as his own, watching and
listening with him beside the rock. It seemed nearer to him since he had
seen and talked with Gregson. It was much nearer to him since a few
minutes ago, when he had looked upon what he had first thought to be the
face of Eileen Brokaw.
And this was the world—the spirit—that had changed him. He
wondered if Gregson had seen the change which he tried so hard to
conceal. He wondered if Miss Brokaw would see it when she came, and if
her soft, gray eyes would read to the bottom of him as they had fathomed
him once before upon a time which seemed years and years ago. Thoughts
like these troubled him. Twice that day he had found stealing over him a
feeling that was almost physical pain, and yet he knew that this pain was
but the gnawing of a great loneliness in his heart. In these moments he
had been sorry that he had brought Gregson back into his life. And with
Gregson he was bringing back Eileen Brokaw. He was more than sorry for
that. The thought of it made him grow warm and uncomfortable, though the
night air from off the Bay was filled with the chill tang of the northern
icebergs. Again his thoughts brought him face to face with the old
pictures, the old life. With them came haunting memories of a Philip
Whittemore who had once lived, and who had died; and with these ghosts of
the past there surged upon him the loneliness which seemed to crush and
stifle him. Like one in a dream he was swept back. Over the black spruce
at his feet, far into the gray, misty distances beyond, over forests and
mountains and the vast, grim silences his vision reached out until he saw
life as it had begun for him, and as he had lived it for a time. It had
opened fair. It had given promise. It had filled him with hope and
ambition. And then it had changed.
Unconsciously he clenched his hands as he thought of what had
followed, of the black days of ruin, of death, of the dissolution of all
that he had hoped and dreamed for. He had fought, because he was born a
fighter. He had risen again and again, only to find misfortune still at
his face. At first he had laughed, and had called it bad luck. But the
bad luck had followed him, dogging him with a persistence which developed
in him a new perspective of things. He dropped away from his clubs. He
began to measure men and women as he had not measured them before, and
there grew in him slowly a revulsion for what those measurements
revealed. The spirit that was growing in him called out for bigger
things, for the wild freedom which he had tasted for a time with
Gregson—for a life which was not warped by the gilded amenities of
the crowded ballroom to-night, by the frenzied dollar-fight to-morrow. No
one could understand that change in him. He could find no spirit in
sympathy with him, no chord in another breast that he could reach out and
touch and thrill with understanding. Once he had hoped— and
A deep breath, almost a sigh, fell from his lips as he thought of that
last night, at the Brokaw ball. He heard again the laughter and chatter
of men and women, the soft rustle of skirts—and then the break, the
silence, as the low, sweet music of his favorite waltz began, while he
stood screened behind a bank of palms looking down into the clear gray
eyes of Eileen Brokaw. He saw himself as he had stood then, leaning over
her slim white shoulders, intoxicated by her beauty, his face pale with
the fear of what he was about to say; and he saw the girl, with her
beautiful head thrown a little back, so that her golden hair almost
touched his lips, waiting for him to speak. For months he had fought
against the fascination of her beauty. Again and again he had almost
surrendered to it, only to pull himself back in time. He had seen this
girl, as pure-looking as an angel, strike deeply at the hearts of other
men; he had heard her laugh and talk lightly of the wounds she had made.
Behind the eyes which gazed up at him, dear and sweet as pools of sunlit
water, he knew there lay the consuming passion for power, for admiration,
for the froth- like pleasures of the life that was swirling about them.
Sincerity was but their mask. He knew that the beautiful gray eyes lied
to him when he saw in them all that he held glorious in womanhood.
He laughed softly to himself as the picture grew in his mind, and he
saw Ransom come blundering in through the palms, mopping his red face and
chattering inane things to little Miss Meesen. Ransom was always
blundering. This time his blunder saved Philip. The passionate words died
on his lips; and when Ransom and Miss Meesen turned about in a giggling
flutter, he spoke no words of love, but opened up his heart to this girl
whom he would have loved if she had been like her eyes. It was his last
hope—that she would understand him, see with him the emptiness of
his life, sympathize with him.
And she had laughed at him!
She had risen to her feet; there had come for an instant a flash like
that of fire in her eyes; her voice trembled a little when she spoke.
There was resentment in the poise of her white shoulders as Ransom's
voice came to them in a loud laugh from behind the palms; her red lips
showed disdain and anger. She hated Ransom for breaking in; she despised
Philip for allowing the interruption to tear away her triumph. Her own
betrayal of herself was like tonic to Philip. He laughed joyously when he
was alone out in the cool night air. Ransom never knew why Philip hunted
him out and shook his fat hand so warmly at parting.
Philip again felt himself in the fever of that night as he turned from
the rock and began picking his way down the side of the ridge toward the
Bay. He found himself wondering what had become of good-natured,
dense-headed Ransom, who had all he could do to spend his father's
allowance. From Ransom his thoughts turned to little Harry Dell, Roscoe,
big Dan Philips, and three or four others who had sacrificed their hearts
at Miss Brokaw's feet. He grimaced as he thought of young Dell, who had
worshiped the ground she walked on, and who had gone straight to the
devil when she threw him over. He wondered, too, where Roscoe was. He
knew that Roscoe would have won out if it had not been for the financial
crash which took his brokerage firm off its feet and left him a pauper.
He had heard that Roscoe had gone up into British Columbia to recuperate
his fortune in Douglas fir. As for big Dan—
Philip stumbled over a rock, and rose with a bruised knee. The shock
brought him back to realities, and a few moments later he stood upon the
narrow boulder-strewn beach, rubbing his knee and calling himself a fool
for allowing the old thoughts to stir him up. Out there, somewhere,
Brokaw and his daughter were coming. That Miss Brokaw was with her father
was a circumstance which was of no importance to him. At least he told
himself so, and set his face toward Churchill.
To-night the stars and the moon seemed to be more than usually
brilliant. About him the great masses of rock, the tumbling surf, the
edge of the forest, and the Bay itself were illumined as if by the light
of a softly radiant day. He looked at his watch and found that it was
past midnight. He had been up since dawn, and yet he felt no touch of
fatigue, no need of sleep. He took off his cap and walked bareheaded in
the mellow light, his moccasined feet falling lightly, his eyes alert to
all that this wonderful night world might hold for him. Ahead of him rose
a giant mass of rock, worn smooth and slippery by the water dashed
against it in the crashing storms of countless centuries, and this he
climbed, panting when he reached the top. His eyes turned to where he saw
Fort Churchill sleeping along the edge of the Bay.
In that same spot, a great pool of night-glow between two forest-
crowned ridges, it had lain for hundreds of years. He passed the ancient
landing-place of rocks, built a hundred and fifty years ago for the first
ships that came over the strange sea; he stood upon the tumbled
foundations of the Fort, that was still older, and saw the starlight
glinting on one of the brass cannon that lay where it had fallen amid the
debris, untouched and unmoved since the days, ages-gone, when it had last
thundered its welcome or its defiance through the solitudes; he walked
slowly along the shore where the sea had lashed wearily for many a year,
to reach the wilderness dead, and where now, triumphant, the frothing
surf bared gun-case coffins and tumbled the bones of men down into its
sullen depths. And such men! Men who had lived and died when the world
was unborn in a half of its knowledge and science, when red blood was the
great capital, strong hearts the winners of life. And there were women,
too, women who had come with these men, and died with them, in the
opening-up of a new world. It was such men as these, and such women as
these, that Philip loved, and he walked with bared head and swiftly
beating heart over the unmarked jungle of the dead.
And then he came to other things, the first low log buildings of
Churchill, to the silence of sleeping life. New buildings loomed
up—working quarters of men who were grubbing for dollars, the new
wharves, the skeletons of elevators, sullen, windowless warehouses, the
office-buildings of men who were already fighting and quarreling and
gripping at one another's throats in the struggle for supremacy, for the
biggest and ripest plums in this new land of opportunity. The
dollar-fight had begun, and the things that already marked its presence
loomed monstrous and grotesque to Philip, as if jeering at the forgotten
efforts of those whom the sea was washing away. And suddenly it struck
Philip that the sea, working ceaselessly, digging away at its dead, was
not the enemy of the nameless creatures in the gun-case coffins, but that
it was a friend, stanch through centuries, rescuing them now from the
desecration that was to come; and for a moment he was resistless to the
spirit that moved him about and made him face that sea with something
that was almost a prayer in his heart.
As he turned he saw that a light had appeared in one of the low log
buildings which contained the two offices of the Keewatin Mines and Lands
Company. The light, and the bulky shadow of old Pearce, which appeared
for a moment on one of the drawn curtains, aroused Philip to other
thoughts. Since his arrival at Churchill he had made the acquaintance of
Pearce, and it struck him now that just such a man as this might be Lord
Fitzhugh Lee. The Keewatin Mines and Lands Company had no mines and few
lands, and yet Pearce had told him that they were doing a hustling
business down south, selling stock on mineral claims that couldn't be
worked for years. After all, was he any better than Pearce?
The old bitterness rose in him. He was no better than Pearce, no
better than this Lord Fitzhugh himself, and it was fate—fate and
people, that had made him so. He walked swiftly now, following close
along the shore in the hard stretch kept bare by the tides, until he came
to the red coals of half a dozen Indian fires on the edge of the forest
beyond the company's buildings. A dog scented him and howled. He heard a
guttural voice break in a word of command from one of the tepees, and
there was silence again.
He turned to the right, burying himself deeper and deeper into the
great silence of the north, his quick steps keeping pace with the
thoughts that were passing through his brain. Fate, bad luck,
circumstance—they had been against him. He had told himself this a
hundred times, had laughed at them with the confidence of one who knew
that some day he would rise above these things in triumph. And yet what
were these elements of fortune, as he had called them, but people? A
feeling of personal resentment began to oppress him. People had downed
him, and not circumstance and bad luck. Men and women had made a failure
of him, and not fate. For the first time it occurred to him that the very
men and women whom Brokaw and his associates had duped, whom Pearce was
duping, would play the game in the same way if they had the opportunity.
What if he had played on the winning side, if he had enlisted his
fighting energies with men like Brokaw and Pearce, fought for money and
power in place of this other thing, which seemed to count so little?
Other men would have given much to have been in his favor with Eileen
Brokaw. He might have been in the front of this other fight, the winning
fight, the possessor of fortune, a beautiful woman—
He stopped suddenly. It seemed to him that he had heard a voice. He
had climbed from out of the shadow of the forest until he stood now on a
gray cliff of rock that reached out into the Bay, like the point of a
great knife guarding Churchill. A block of sandstone rose in his path,
and he passed quietly around it. In another instant he had flattened
himself against it.
A dozen feet away, full in the moonlight, three figures sat on the
edge of the cliff, as motionless as though hewn out of rock.
Instinctively Philip's hand slipped to his revolver holster, but he drew
it back when he saw that one of the three figures was that of a woman.
Beside her crouched a huge wolf-dog; on the other side of the dog sat a
man. The man was resting in the attitude of an Indian, with his elbows on
his knees, his chin in the palms of his hands, gazing steadily and
silently out over the Bay toward Churchill.
It was his companion that held Philip motionless against the face of
the rock. She, too, was leaning forward, gazing in that same steady,
silent way toward Churchill. She was bareheaded. Her hair fell loose over
her shoulders and streamed down her back until it piled itself upon the
rock, shining dark and lustrous in the light of the moon. Philip knew
that she was not an Indian.
Suddenly the girl sat erect, and then sprang to her feet, partly
facing him, the breeze rippling her hair about her face and shoulders,
her eyes turned to the vast gray depths of the world beyond the forests.
For an instant she turned so that the light of the moon fell full upon
her, and in that moment Philip thought that her eyes had searched him out
in the shadow of the rock and were looking straight into his own. Never
had he seen such a beautiful face among the forest people. He had dreamed
of such faces beside camp-fires, in the deep loneliness of long nights in
the forests, when he had awakened to bring before him visions of what
Eileen Brokaw might have been to him if he had found her one of these
people. He drew himself closer to the rock. The girl turned again to the
edge of the cliff, her slender form silhouetted against the starlit sky.
She leaned over the dog, and he heard her voice, soft and caressing, but
he could not understand her words. The man lifted his head, and he
recognized the swarthy, clear-cut features of a French half-breed. He
moved away as quietly as he had come.
The girl's voice stopped him.
"And that is Churchill, Pierre—the Churchill you have told me
of, where the ships come in?"
"Yes, that is Churchill, Jeanne."
For a moment there was silence. Then, clear and low, with a wild,
sobbing note in her voice that thrilled Philip, the girl cried:
"And I hate it, Pierre. I hate it—hate it—hate it!"
Philip stepped out boldly from the rock.
"And I hate it, too," he said.
Scarce had he spoken when he would have given much to have recalled
his words, wrung from his lips by that sobbing note of loneliness, of
defiance, of half pain in the girl's voice. It was the same note, the
same spirit crying out against his world that he had listened to in the
moaning of the surf as it labored to carry away the dead, and in the wind
that sighed in the spruce- tops below the mountain, only now it was the
spirit speaking through a human voice. Every fiber in his body vibrated
in response to it, and he stood with bared head, filled with a wild
desire to make these people understand, and yet startled at the effect
which his appearance had produced.
The girl faced him, her eyes shining with sudden fear. Quicker than
her own was the movement of the half-breed. In a flash he was upon his
feet, his dark face tense with action, his right hand gripping at
something in his belt as he bent toward the figure in the center of the
rock. His posture was that of an animal ready to spring. Close beside him
gleamed the white fangs of the wolf-dog. The girl leaned over and twisted
her fingers in the tawny hair that bristled on the dog's neck. Philip
heard her speak, but she did not move her eyes from his face. It was the
tableau of a moment, tense, breathless. The only thing that moved was the
shimmer of steel. Philip caught the gleam of it under the half- breed's
"Don't do that, M'sieur," he said, pointing at the other's belt. "I am
sorry that I disturbed you. Sometimes I come up here—alone
—to smoke my pipe and listen to the sea down there. I heard you say
that you hate Churchill, and I hate it. That is why I spoke."
He turned to the girl.
"I am sorry. I beg your pardon."
He looked at her with new wonderment. She had tossed back her loose
hair, and stood tall and straight in the moonlight, her dark eyes gazing
at him now calmly and without affright. She was dressed in rich yellow
buckskin, as soft as chamois. Her throat was bare. A deep collar of lace
fell over her shoulders. One hand, raised to her breast, revealed a wide
gauntlet cuff of red or purple plush, of a fashion two centuries old. Her
lips were parted, and he saw the faintest gleam of her white teeth, the
quick rising and falling of her bosom. He had spoken directly to her, yet
she gave no sign of having heard him.
"You startled us, that is all, M'sieur," said Pierre, quietly. His
English was excellent, and as he spoke he bowed low to Philip. "It is I
whom you must pardon, M'sieur—for betraying so much caution."
Philip held out his hand.
"My name is Whittemore—Philip Whittemore," he said. "I'm staying
at Churchill until the ship comes in and—and I hope you'll let me
sit here on the rock."
For an instant Pierre's fingers gripped his hand, and he bowed low
again like a courtier. Philip saw that he, too, wore the same big,
old-fashioned cuffs, and that it was not a knife that hung at his belt,
but a short rapier.
"And I am Pierre—Pierre Couchee," he said. "And this—is my
sister—Jeanne. We do not belong to Fort Churchill, but come from
Fort o' God. Good night, M'sieur!"
The girl had taken a step back, and now she swept him a courtesy so
low that her fallen hair streamed over her shoulders. She spoke no word,
but passed quickly with Pierre up the rock, and while Philip stood
stunned and speechless they disappeared swiftly into the white gloom of
Mutely he gazed after them. For a long time he stood staring beyond
the rocks, marveling at the strangeness of this thing that had happened.
An hour before he had stood with bared head over the ancient dead at
Churchill, and now, on the rock, he had seen the resurrection of what he
had dreamed those dead to be in life. He had never seen people like
Pierre and Jeanne. Their strange dress, the rapier at Pierre's side, his
courtly bow, the low, graceful courtesy that the girl had made him, all
carried him back to the days of the old pictures that hung in the
factor's room at Churchill, when high-blooded gallants came into the
wilderness with their swords at their sides, wearing the favors of court
ladies next their hearts. Pierre, standing there on the rock, with his
hand on his rapier, might have been Grosellier himself, the prince's
favorite, and Jeanne—
Something white on the rock near where the girl had been sitting
caught Philip's eyes. In a moment he held in his fingers a small
handkerchief and a broad ribbon of finely knit lace. In her haste to get
away she had forgotten these things. He was about to run to the crest of
the cliff and call loudly for Pierre Couchee when he held the
handkerchief and the lace close to his face and the delicate perfume of
heliotrope stopped him. There was something familiar about it, something
that held him wondering and mystified, until he knew that he had lost the
opportunity to recall Pierre and his companion. He looked at the
handkerchief more, closely. It was a dainty fabric, so soft that it gave
barely the sensation of touch when he crushed it in the palm of his hand.
For a few moments he was puzzled to account for the filmy strip of lace.
Then the truth came to him. Jeanne had used it to bind her hair!
He laughed softly, joyously, as he wound the bit of fabric about his
fingers and retraced his steps toward Churchill. Again and again he
pressed the tiny handkerchief to his face, breathing of its sweetness;
and the action suddenly stirred his memory to the solution of its
mystery. It was this same sweetness that had come to him on the night
that he had looked down into the beautiful face of Eileen Brokaw at the
Brokaw ball. He remembered now that Eileen Brokaw loved heliotrope, and
that she always wore a purple heliotrope at her white throat or in the
gold of her hair. For a moment it struck him as singular that so many
things had happened this day to remind him of Brokaw's daughter. The
thought hastened his steps. He was anxious to look at the picture again,
to convince himself that he had been mistaken. Gregson was asleep when he
re-entered the cabin. The light was burning low, and Philip turned up the
wick. On the table was the picture as Gregson had left it. This time
there was no doubt. He had drawn the face of Eileen Brokaw. In a spirit
of jest he had written under it, "The Wife of Lord Fitzhugh."
In spite of their absurdity the words affected Philip curiously. Was
it possible that Miss Brokaw had reached Fort Churchill in some other way
than by ship? And, if not, was it possible that in this remote corner of
the earth there was another woman who resembled her so closely? Philip
took a step toward Gregson, half determined to awaken him. And yet, on
second thought, he knew that Gregson could not explain. Even if the
artist had learned of his affair with Miss Brokaw and had secured a
picture of her in some way, he would not presume to go this far. He was
convinced that Gregson had drawn the picture of a face that he had seen
that day. Again he read the words at the bottom of the sketch, and once
more he experienced their curious effect upon him—an effect which
it was impossible for him to analyze even in his own mind.
He replaced the picture upon the table and drew the handkerchief and
bit of lace from his pocket. In the light of the lamp he saw that both
were as unusual as had been the picturesque dress of the girl and her
companion. Even to his inexperienced eyes and touch they gave evidence of
a richness that puzzled him, of a fashion that he had never seen. They
were of exquisite workmanship. The lace was of a delicate ivory color,
faintly tinted with yellow. The handkerchief was in the shape of a heart,
and in one corner of it, so finely wrought that he could barely make out
the silken letters, was the word "Camille."
The scent of heliotrope rose more strongly in the closed room, and
from the handkerchief Philip's eyes turned to the face of Eileen Brokaw
looking at him from out of Gregson's sketch. It was a curious
coincidence. He reached over and placed the picture face down. Then he
loaded his pipe, and sat smoking, his vision traveling beyond the table,
beyond the closed door to the lonely black rock where he had come upon
Jeanne and Pierre. Clouds of smoke rose about him, and he half closed his
eyes. He saw the girl again, as she stood there; he saw the moonlight
shining in her hair, the dark, startled beauty of her eyes as she turned
upon him; he heard again the low sobbing note in her voice as she cried
out her hatred against Churchill. He forgot Eileen Brokaw now, forgot in
these moments all that he and Gregson had talked of that day. His
schemes, his fears, his feverish eagerness to begin the fight against his
enemies died away in thoughts of the beautiful girl who had come into his
life this night. It seemed to him now that he had known her for a long
time, that she had been a part of him always, and that it was her spirit
that he had been groping and searching for, and could never find. For the
space of those few moments on the cliff she had driven out the emptiness
and the loneliness from his heart, and there filled him a wild desire to
make her understand, to talk with her, to stand shoulder to shoulder with
Pierre out there in the night, a comrade.
Suddenly his fingers closed tightly over the handkerchief. He turned
and looked steadily at Gregson. His friend was sleeping, with his face to
Would not Pierre return to the rock in search of these articles which
his sister had left behind? The thought set his blood tingling. He would
go back—and wait for Pierre. But if Pierre did not
He laughed softly to himself as he drew paper toward him and picked up
the pencil which Gregson had used. For many minutes he wrote steadily.
When he had done, he folded what he had written and tied it in the
handkerchief. The strip of lace with which Jeanne had bound her hair he
folded gently and placed in his breast pocket. There was a guilty flush
in his face as he stole silently to the door. What would Gregson say if
he knew that he— Phil Whittemore, the man whom he had once
idealized as "The Fighter," and whom he believed to be proof against all
love of woman—was doing this thing? He opened and closed the door
At least he would send his message to these strange people of the
wilderness. They would know that he was not a part of that Churchill
which they hated, that in his heart he had ceased to be a thing of its
breed. He apologized again for his sudden appearance on the rock, but the
apology was only an excuse for other things which he wrote, in which for
a few brief moments he bared himself to those whom he knew would
understand, and asked that their acquaintance might be continued. He felt
that there was something almost boyish in what he was doing; and yet, as
he hurried over the ridge and down into Churchill again, he was thrilled
as no other adventure had ever thrilled him before. As he approached the
cliff he began to fear that the half-breed would not return for the
things which Jeanne had left, or that he had already re-visited the rock.
The latter thought urged him on until he was half running. The crest of
the cliff was bare when he reached it. He looked at his watch. He had
been gone an hour.
Where the moonlight seemed to fall brightest he dropped the
handkerchief, and then slipped back into the rocky trail that led to the
edge of the Bay. He had scarcely reached the strip of level beach that
lay between him and Churchill when from far behind him there came the
long howl of a dog. It was the wolf-dog. He knew it by the slow, dismal
rising of the cry and the infinite sadness with which it as slowly died
away until lost in the whisperings of the forest and the gentle wash of
the sea. Pierre was returning. He was coming back through the forest.
Perhaps Jeanne would be with him.
For the third time Philip climbed back to the great moonlit rock at
the top of the cliff. Eagerly he faced the north, whence the wailing cry
of the wolf-dog had come. Then he turned to the spot where he had dropped
the handkerchief, and his heart gave a sudden jump.
There was nothing on the rock. The handkerchief was gone!
Philip stood undecided, his ears strained to catch the slightest
sound. Ten minutes had not elapsed since he had dropped the handkerchief.
Pierre could not have gone far among the rocks. It was possible that he
was concealed somewhere near him now. Softly he called his name.
"Pierre—ho, Pierre Couchee!"
There was no answer, and in the next breath he was sorry that he had
called. He went silently down the trail. He had come to the edge of
Churchill when once more he heard the howl of the dog far back in the
forest. He stopped to locate as nearly as he could the point whence the
sound came, for he was certain now that the dog had not returned with
Pierre, but had remained with Jeanne, and was howling from their
Gregson was awake and sitting on the edge of his bunk when Philip
entered the cabin.
"Where the deuce have you been?" he demanded. "I was just trying to
make up my mind to go out and hunt for you. Stolen—lost—or
something like that?"
"I've been thinking," said Philip, truthfully.
"So have I," said Gregson. "Ever since you came back, wrote that
letter, and went out again—"
"You were asleep," corrected Philip. "I looked at you."
"Perhaps I was—when you looked. But I have a hazy recollection
of you sitting there at the table, writing like a fiend. Anyway, I've
been thinking ever since you went out of the door, and—I'd like to
read that Lord Fitzhugh letter again."
Philip handed him the letter. He was quite sure from his friend's
manner of speaking that he had seen nothing of the handkerchief and the
Gregson seized the paper lazily, yawned, and slipped it under the
blanket which he had doubled up for a pillow.
"Do you mind if I keep it for a few days. Phil?" he asked.
"Not in the least, if you'll tell me why you want it," said
"I will—when I discover a reason myself," replied his friend,
coolly, stretching himself out again in the bunk. "Remember when I
dreamed that Carabobo planter was sticking a knife into you,
Phil?—and the next day he tried it? Well, I've had a funny dream, I
want to sleep on this letter. I may want to sleep on it for a week.
Better turn in if you expect to get a wink between now and morning."
For half an hour after he had undressed and extinguished the light
Philip lay awake reviewing the incidents of his night's adventure. He was
certain that his letter was in the hands of Pierre and Jeanne, but he was
not so sure that they would respond to it. He half expected that they
would not, and yet he felt a deep sense of satisfaction in what he had
done. If he met them again he would not be quite a stranger. And that he
would meet them he was not only confident, but determined. If they did
not appear in Fort Churchill he would hunt out their camp.
He found himself asking a dozen questions, none of which he could
answer. Who was this girl who had come like a queen from out of the
wilderness, and this man who bore with him the manner of a courtier? Was
it possible, after all, that they were of the forests? And where was Fort
o' God? He had never heard of it before, and as he thought of Jeanne's
strange, rich dress, of the heliotrope-scented handkerchief, of the
old-fashioned rapier at Pierre's side, and of the exquisite grace with
which the girl had left him he wondered if such a place as this Fort o'
God must be could exist in the heart of the desolate northland. Pierre
had said that they had come from Fort o' God. But were they a part of
He fell asleep, the resolution formed in his mind to investigate as
soon as he found the opportunity. There would surely be those at
Churchill who would know these people; if not, they would know of Fort o'
Philip found Gregson awake and dressed when he rolled out of his bunk
a few hours later. Gregson had breakfast ready.
"You're a good one to have company," growled the artist. "When you go
out mooning again please take me along, will you? Chuck your head in that
pail of water and let's eat. I'm starved."
Philip noticed that his companion had tacked the sketch against one of
the logs above the table.
"Pretty good for imagination, Greggy," he said, nodding. "Burke will
jump at that if you do it in colors."
"Burke won't get it," replied Gregson, soberly, seating himself at the
table. "It won't be for sale."
Gregson waited until Philip had seated himself before he answered.
"Look here, old man—get ready to laugh. Split your sides, if you
want to. But it's God's truth that the girl I saw yesterday is the only
girl I've ever seen that I'd be willing to die for!"
"To be sure," agreed Philip. "I understand."
Gregson stared at him in surprise. "Why don't you laugh?" he
"It is not a laughing matter," said Philip. "I say that I understand.
And I do."
Gregson looked from Philip's face to the picture.
"Does it—does it hit you that way, Phil?"
"She is very beautiful."
"She is more than that," declared Gregson, warmly. "If I ever looked
into an angel's face it was yesterday, Phil. For just a moment I met her
"And they were—"
"I mean—the color," said Philip, engaging himself with the
"They were blue or gray. It is the first time I ever looked into a
woman's eyes without being sure of the color of them. It was her hair,
Phil—not this tinsel sort of gold that makes you wonder if it's
real, but the kind you dream about. You may think me a loon, but I'm
going to find out who she is and where she is as soon as I have done with
"And Lord Fitzhugh?"
A shadow passed over Gregson's face. For a few moments he ate in
silence. Then he said:
"That's what kept me awake after you had gone—thinking of Lord
Fitzhugh and this girl. See here, Phil. She isn't one of the kind up
here. There was breeding and blood in every inch of her, and what I am
wondering is if these two could be associated in any way. I don't want it
to be so. But—it's possible. Beautiful young women like her don't
come, traveling up to this knob-end of the earth alone, do they?"
Philip did not pursue the subject. A quarter of an hour later the two
young men left the cabin, crossed the ridge, and walked together down
into Churchill. Gregson went to the Company's store, while Philip entered
the building occupied by Pearce. Pearce was at his desk. He looked up
with tired, puffy eyes, and his fat hands lay limply before him. Philip
knew that he had not been to bed. His oily face strove to put on an
appearance of animation and business as Philip entered.
Philip produced a couple of cigars and took a chair opposite him.
"You look bushed, Pearce," he began. "Business must be rushing. I saw
a light in your window after midnight, and I came within an ace of
calling. Thought you wouldn't like to be interrupted, so I put off my
business until this morning."
"Insomnia," said Pearce, huskily. "I can't sleep. Suppose you saw me
at work through the window?" There was almost an eager haste in his
"Saw nothing but the light," replied Philip, carelessly. "You know
this country pretty well, don't you, Pearce?"
"Been 'squatting' on prospects for eight years, waiting for this
damned railroad," said Pearce, interlacing his thick fingers. "I guess I
"Then you can undoubtedly tell me the location of Fort o' God?"
"Fort o' What?"
"Fort o' God."
Pearce looked blank.
"It's a new one on me," he said, finally. "Never heard of it." He rose
from his chair and went over to a big map hanging against the wall.
Studiously he went over it with the point of his stubby forefinger. "This
is the latest from the government," he continued, with his back to
Philip, "but it ain't here. There's a God's Lake down south of Nelson
House, but that's the only thing with a God about it north of
"It's not so far south as that," said Philip, rising.
Pearce's little eyes were fixed on him shrewdly.
"Never heard of it," he repeated. "What sort of a place is it, a
"I have no idea," replied Philip. "I came for information more out of
curiosity than anything else. Perhaps I misunderstood the name. I'm much
He left Pearce in his chair and went directly to the factor's
quarters. Bludsoe, chief factor of the Hudson's Bay Company in the far
north, could give him no more information than had Pearce. He had never
heard of Fort o' God. He could not remember the name of Couchee. During
the next two hours Philip talked with French, Indian, and half-breed
trappers, and questioned the mail runner, who had come in that morning
from the south. No one could tell him of Fort o' God.
Had Pierre lied to him? His face flushed with anger as this thought
came to him. In the next breath he assured himself that Pierre was not a
man who would lie. He had measured him as a man who would fight, and not
one who would lie. Besides, he had voluntarily given the information that
he and Jeanne were from Fort o' God. There had been no excuse for
He purposely directed his movements so that he would not come into
contact with Gregson, little dreaming that his artist friend was working
under the same formula. He lunched with the factor, and a little later
went boldly back to the cliff where he had met Jeanne and Pierre the
preceding night. Although he had now come to expect no response to what
he had written, he carefully examined the rocks about him. Then he set
out through the forest in the direction from which had come the howling
of the wolf-dog.
He searched until late in the afternoon, but found no signs of a
recent camp. For several miles he followed the main trail that led
northward from Fort Churchill. He crossed three times through the country
between this trail and the edge of the Bay, searching for smoke from the
top of every ridge that he climbed, listening for any sound that might
give him a clue. He visited the shack of an old half-breed deep in the
forest beyond the cliff, but its aged tenant could give him no
information. He had not seen Pierre and Jeanne, nor had he heard the
howling of their dog.
Tired and disappointed, Philip returned to Churchill. He went directly
to his cabin and found Gregson waiting for him. There was a curious look
in the artist's face as he gazed questioningly at his friend. His
immaculate appearance was gone. He looked like one who had passed through
an uncomfortable hour or two. Perspiration had dried in dirty streaks on
his face, and his hands were buried dejectedly in his trousers pockets.
He rose to his feet and stood before his companion.
"Look at me, Phil—take a good long look," he urged.
"Am I awake?" demanded the artist. "Do I look like a man in his right
senses? Eh, tell me!"
He turned and pointed to the sketch hanging against the wall.
"Did I see that girl, or didn't I?" he went on, not waiting for Philip
to answer. "Did I dream of seeing her? Eh? By thunder, Phil—" He
whirled upon his companion, a glow of excitement taking the place of the
fatigue in his eyes. "I couldn't find her to-day. I've hunted in every
shack and brush heap in and around Churchill. I've hunted until I'm so
tired I can hardly stand up. And the devil of it is, I can find no one
else who got more than a glimpse of her, and then they did not see her as
I did. She had nothing on her head when I saw her, but I remember now
that something like a heavy veil fell about her shoulders, and that she
was lifting it when she passed. Anyway, no one saw her like—that."
He pointed to the sketch. "And she's gone—gone as completely as
though she came in a flying-machine and went away in one. She's
"Unless she is in concealment right here in Churchill. She's gone
"You have reason to suspect that she would be hiding," said Philip,
concealing the effect of the other's words upon him.
Gregson was uneasy. He lighted a cigarette, puffed at it once or
twice, and tossed it through the open door. Suddenly he reached in his
coat pocket and pulled out an envelope.
"Deuce take it, if I know whether I have or not!" he cried.
"But— look here, Phil. I saw the mail come in to-day, and I walked
up as bold as you please and asked if there was anything for Lord
Fitzhugh. I showed the other letter, and said I was Fitzhugh's agent. It
went. And I got—this!"
Philip snatched at the letter which Gregson held out to him. His
fingers trembled as he unfolded the single sheet of paper which he drew
forth. Across it was written a single line:
Don't lose an hour. Strike now.
There was nothing more, except a large ink blot under the words. The
envelope was addressed in the same hand as the one he had previously
received. The men stared into each other's face.
"It's singular, that's all," pursued Gregson. "Those words are
important. The writer expects that they will reach Lord Fitzhugh
immediately, and as soon as he gets them you can look for war. Isn't that
their significance? I repeat that it is singular this girl should come
here so mysteriously, and disappear still more so, just at this
psychological moment; and it is still more puzzling when you take into
consideration the fact that two hours before the runner came in from the
south another person inquired for Lord Fitzhugh's mail!"
"And they told you this?"
"Yes. It was a man who asked—a stranger. He gave no name and
left no word. Now, if it should happen to be the man who was with the
girl when I saw her—and we can find him—we've as good as got
this Lord Fitzhugh. If we don't find him—and mighty soon—it's
up to us to start for your camps and put them into fighting shape. See
"But we've got the letter," said Philip. "Fitzhugh won't receive the
final word, and that will delay whatever plot he has ready to
"My dear Phil," said Gregson, softly. "I always said that you were the
fighter and I the diplomat, yours the brawn and mine the brain. Don't you
see what this means? I'll gamble my right hand that these very words have
been sent to Lord Fitzhugh at two or three different points, so that they
would be sure of reaching him. I'm just as positive that he has already
received a copy of the letter which we have. Mark my words, it's catch
Lord Fitzhugh within the next few days—or fight!"
Philip sat down, breathing heavily.
"I'll send word to MacDougall," he said. "But I—I must wait for
"Why not leave word for Brokaw and join MacDougall?"
"Because when the ship comes in I believe that a large part of this
mystery will be cleared up," replied Philip. "It is necessary that I
remain here. That will give us a few days in which to make a further
search for these people."
Gregson did not urge the point, but replaced the second letter in his
pocket with the first. During the evening he remained at the cabin.
Philip returned to Churchill. For an hour he sat among the ruins of the
old fort, striving to bring some sort of order out of the chaos of events
that had occurred during the past few days. He was almost convinced that
he ought to reveal all that he knew to Gregson, and yet several reasons
kept him from doing so. If Miss Brokaw was on the London ship when it
arrived at Churchill, there would be no necessity of disclosing that part
of his own history which he was keeping secret within himself. If Eileen
was not on the ship her absence would be sufficient proof to him that she
was in or near Churchill, and in this event he knew that it would be
impossible for him to keep from associating with her movements not only
those of Lord Fitzhugh, but also those of Jeanne and Pierre and of Brokaw
himself. He could see but two things to do at present, wait and watch. If
Miss Brokaw was not with her father, he would take Gregson fully into his
The next morning he despatched a messenger with a letter for
MacDougall, at Blind Indian Lake, warning him to be on his guard and to
prepare the long line of sub-stations for possible attack. All this day
Gregson remained in the cabin.
"It won't do for me to make myself too evident," he explained. "I've
called for Lord Fitzhugh's mail, and I'd better lie as low as possible
until the corn begins to pop."
Philip again searched the forests to the north and west with the hope
of finding some trace of Pierre and Jeanne. The forest people were
beginning to come into Churchill from all directions to be present at the
big event of the year—the arrival of the London ship—and
Philip made inquiries on every trail. No one had seen those whom he
described. The fourth and fifth days passed without any developments. So
far as he could discover there was no Fort o' God, no Jeanne and Pierre
Couchee. He was completely baffled. The sixth day he spent in the cabin
with Gregson. On the morning of the seventh there came from far out over
the Bay the hollow booming of a cannon.
It was the signal which for two hundred years the ships from over the
sea had given to the people of Churchill.
By the time the two young men had finished their breakfasts and
climbed to the top of the ridge overlooking the Bay, the vessel had
dropped anchor half a mile off shore, where she rode safe from the rocks
at low tide. Along the shore below them, where Churchill lay, the forest
people were gathered in silent, waiting groups. Philip pointed to the
factor's big York boat, already two-thirds of the way to the ship.
"We should have gone with Bludsoe," he said. "Brokaw will think this a
shabby reception on our part, and Miss Brokaw won't be half flattered.
We'll go down and get a good position on the pier."
Fifteen minutes later they were thrusting themselves through the crowd
of men, women, children, and dogs congregated at the foot of the long
stone pier alongside which the ship would lie for two or three hours at
each high tide. Philip stopped among a number of Crees and half-breeds,
and laid a detaining hand upon Gregson's arm.
"This is near enough, if you don't want to make yourself conspicuous,"
The York boat was returning. Philip pulled a cigar from his pocket and
lighted it. He felt his heart throbbing excitedly as the boat drew
nearer. He looked at Gregson. The artist was taking short, quick puffs on
his cigarette, and Philip wondered at the evident eagerness with which he
was watching the approaching craft.
Until the boat ran close up under the pier its sail hid the occupants.
While the canvas still fluttered in the light wind Bludsoe sprang from
the bow out upon the rocks with a rope. Three or four of his men
followed. With a rattle of blocks and rings the sheet dropped like a huge
white curtain, and Philip took a step forward, scarce restraining the
exclamation that forced itself to his lips at the picture which it
revealed. Standing on the broad rail, her slender form poised for the
quick upward step, one hand extended to Bludsoe, was Eileen Brokaw! In
another instant she was upon the pier, facing the strange people before
her, while her father clambered out of the boat behind. There was a smile
of expectancy on her lips as she scanned the dark, silent faces of the
forest people. Philip knew that she was looking for him. His pulse
quickened. He turned for a moment to see the effect of the girl's
appearance upon Gregson.
The artist's two hands had gripped his arm. They closed now until his
fingers were like cords of steel. His face was white, his lips set into
thin lines. For a breath he stood thus, while Miss Brokaw's scrutiny
traveled nearer to them. Then, suddenly, he released his hold and darted
back among the half-breeds and Indians, his face turning to Philip's in
one quick, warning appeal.
He was not a moment too soon, for scarce had he gone when Miss Brokaw
caught sight of Philip's tall form at the foot of the pier. Philip did
not see the signal which she gave him. He was staring at the line of
faces ahead of him. Two people had worked their way through that line,
and suddenly every muscle in his body became tense with excitement and
joy. They were Pierre and Jeanne!
He caught his breath at what happened then. He saw Jeanne falter for a
moment. He noticed that she was now dressed like the others about her,
and that Pierre, who stood at her shoulder, was no longer the fine
gentleman of the rock. The half-breed bent over her, as if whispering to
her, and then Jeanne ran out from those about her to Eileen, her
beautiful face flushed with joy and welcome as she reached out her arms
to the other woman. Philip saw a sudden startled look leap into Miss
Brokaw's face, but it was gone as quickly as it appeared. She stared at
the forest girl, drew herself haughtily erect, and, with a word which he
could not hear, turned to Bludsoe and her father. For an instant Jeanne
stood as if some one had struck her a blow. Then, slowly, she turned. The
flush was gone from her face. Her beautiful mouth was quivering, and
Philip fancied that he could hear the low sobbing of her breath. With a
cry in which he uttered no name, but which was meant for her, he sprang
forward into the clear space of the pier. She saw him, and darted back
among her people. He would have followed, but Miss Brokaw was coming to
him now, her hand held out to him, and a step behind were Brokaw and the
"Philip!" she cried.
He spoke no word as he crushed her hand. The hot grip of his fingers,
the deep flush in his face, was interpreted by her as a welcome which it
did not require speech to strengthen. He shook hands with Brokaw, and as
the three followed after the factor his eyes sought vainly for Pierre and
They were gone, and he felt suddenly a thrill of repugnance at the
gentle pressure of Eileen Brokaw's hand upon his arm.
Philip did not see the hundred staring eyes that followed in
wonderment the tall, beautiful girl who walked at his side. He knew that
Miss Brokaw was talking and laughing, and that he was nodding his head
and answering her, while his brain raged for an idea that would give him
an excuse for leaving her to follow Jeanne and Pierre. The facts that
Gregson had left him so strangely, that Eileen had come with her father,
and that, instead of clearing up the mystery in which they were so deeply
involved, the arrival of the London ship had even more hopelessly
entangled them, were forgotten for the moment in the desire to intercept
Jeanne and Pierre before they could leave Churchill. Miss Brokaw herself
unconsciously gave him the opportunity for which he was seeking.
"You don't look very happy, Philip," she exclaimed, in a chiding
voice, meant only for his ears. "I thought—perhaps—my coming
would make you glad."
Philip caught eagerly at the half question in her voice.
"I feared you would notice it," he said, quickly. "I was afraid you
would think me indifferent because I did not go out to meet you in the
boat, and because I stood hidden at the end of the pier when you landed.
But I was looking for a man. I have been hunting for him for a long time.
And I saw his face just as we came through the crowd. That is why I
am—am rattled," he laughed. "Will you excuse me if I go back? Can
you find some excuse for the others? I will return in a few minutes, and
then you will not say that I am unhappy."
Miss Brokaw drew her hand from his arm.
"Surely I will excuse you," she cried. "Hurry, or you may lose him. I
would like to go with you if it is going to be exciting."
Philip turned to Brokaw and the factor, who were close behind
"I am compelled to leave you here," he explained. "I have excused
myself to Miss Brokaw, and will rejoin you almost immediately."
He lost no time in hurrying back to the shore of the Bay. As he had
expected, Jeanne and her companion were no longer in sight. There was
only one direction in which they could have disappeared so quickly, and
this was toward the cliff. Once hidden by the fringe of forest, he
hastened his steps until he was almost running. He had reached the base
of the huge mass of rock that rose up from the sea, when down the narrow
trail that led to the cliff there came a figure to meet him. It was an
Indian boy, and he advanced to question him. If Jeanne and Pierre had
passed that way the boy must surely have seen them.
Before he had spoken the lad ran toward him, holding out something in
his hand. The question on Philip's lips changed to an exclamation of joy
when he recognized the handkerchief which he had dropped upon the rock a
few nights before, or one so near like it that he could not have told
them apart. It was tied into a knot, and he felt the crumpling of paper
under the pressure of his fingers. He almost tore the bit of lace and
linen in his eagerness to rescue the paper, which a moment later he held
in his fingers. Three short lines, written in a fine, old-fashioned hand,
were all that it held for him. But they were sufficient to set his heart,
Will Monsieur come to the top of the rock to-night, some time between
the hours of nine and ten.
There was no signature to the note, but Philip knew that only Jeanne
could have written it, for the letters were almost of miscroscopic
smallness, as delicate as the bit of lace in which they had been
delivered, and of a quaintness of style which added still more to the
bewildering mystery which already surrounded these people. He read the
lines half a dozen times, and then turned to find that the Indian boy was
slipping sway through the rocks.
"Here—you," he commanded, in English. "Come back!"
The boy's white teeth gleamed in a laugh as he waved his hand and
leaped farther away. From Philip his eyes shifted in a quick, searching
glance to the top of the cliff. In a flash Philip followed its direction.
He understood the meaning of the look. From the cliff Jeanne and Pierre
had seen his approach, and their meeting with the Indian boy had made it
possible for them to intercept him in this manner. They were probably
looking down upon him now, and in the gladness of the moment Philip
laughed up at the bare rocks and waved his cap above his head as a signal
of his acceptance of the strange invitation he had received.
Vaguely he wondered why they had set the meeting for that night, when
in three or four minutes he could have joined them up there in broad day.
But the central tangle of the mystery that had grown up about him during
the past few days was too perplexing to embroider with such a minor
detail as this, and he turned back toward Churchill with the feeling that
everything was working in his favor. During the next few hours he would
clear up the tangle, and in addition to that he would meet Jeanne and
Pierre. It was the thought of Jeanne, and not of the surprises which he
was about to explain, that stirred his blood as he hurried back to the
It was his intention to return to Eileen and her father. But he
changed this. He would first hunt up Gregson and begin his work there. He
knew that the artist would be expecting him, and he went directly to the
cabin, escaping notice by following along the fringe of the forest.
Gregson was pacing back and forth across the cabin floor when Philip
arrived. His steps were quick and excited. His hands were thrust deep in
his trousers pockets. The butts of innumerable half-smoked cigarettes lay
scattered under his feet. He ceased his restless movement upon his
companion's interruption, and for a moment or two gazed at Philip in
"Well," he said, at last, "have you got anything to say?"
"Nothing," said Philip. "It's beyond me, Greggy. For Heaven's sake
give me an explanation!"
There was nothing womanish in the hard lines of Gregson's face now. He
spoke with the suggestion of a sneer.
"You knew—all the time," he said, coldly. "You knew that Miss
Brokaw and the girl whom I drew were one and the same person. What was
the object of your little sensation?"
Philip ignored his question. He stepped quickly up to Gregson and
seized him by the arm.
"It is impossible!" he cried, in a low voice. "They cannot be the same
person. That ship out there has not touched land since she left Halifax.
Until she hove in sight off Churchill she hasn't been within two hundred
miles of a coast this side of Hudson's Strait. Miss Brokaw is as new to
this country as you. It is beyond all reason to suppose anything
"Nevertheless," said Gregson, quietly, "it was Miss Brokaw whom I saw
the other day, and that is Miss Brokaw's picture."
He pointed to the sketch, and freed his arm to light another
cigarette. There was a peculiar tone of finality in his voice which
warned Philip that no amount of logic or arguing on his part would change
his friend's belief. Gregson looked at him over his lighted match.
"It was Miss Brokaw," he said again. "Perhaps it is within reason to
suppose that she came to Churchill in a balloon, dropped into town for
luncheon, and departed in a balloon, descending by some miraculous chance
aboard the ship that was bringing her father. However it may have
happened, she was in Churchill a few days ago. On that hypothesis I am
going to work, and as a consequence I am going to ask you for the
indefinite loan of the Lord Fitzhugh letter. Will you give me your word
to say nothing of that letter— for a few days?"
"It is almost necessary to show it to Brokaw," hesitated Philip.
"Almost—but not quite," Gregson caught him up. "Brokaw knows the
seriousness of the situation without that letter. See here, Phil—
you go out and fight, and let me handle this end of the business. Don't
reveal me to the Brokaws. I don't want to meet—her—yet,
though God knows if it wasn't for my confounded friendship for you I'd go
over there with you this minute. She was even more beautiful than when I
"Then there is a difference," laughed Philip, meaningly.
"Not a difference, but a little better view," corrected the
"Now, if we could only find the other girl, what a mess you'd be in,
Greggy! By George, but this is beginning to have its humorous as well as
its tragic side. I'd give a thousand dollars to have this other
golden-haired beauty appear upon the scene!"
"I'll give a thousand if you produce her," retorted Gregson.
"Good!" laughed Philip, holding out a hand. "I'll report again this
afternoon or to-night."
Inwardly he felt himself in no humorous mood as he retraced his steps
to Churchill. He had thought to begin his work of clearing up the
puzzling situation with Gregson, and Gregson had failed him completely by
his persistence in the belief that Miss Brokaw was the girl whose face he
had seen more than a week before. Was it possible, after all, that the
ship had touched at some point up the coast? The supposition was
preposterous. Yet before rejoining the Brokaws he sought out the captain
and found that the company's vessel had come directly from Halifax
without a change or stop in her regular course. The word of the company's
captain cleared up his doubts in one direction; it mystified him more
than ever in another. He was convinced that Gregson had not seen Miss
Brokaw until that morning. But who was Eileen's double? Where was she at
this moment? What peculiar combination of circumstance had drawn them
both to Churchill at this particularly significant time? It was
impossible for him not to associate the girl whom Gregson had
encountered, and who so closely resembled Eileen, with Lord Fitzhugh and
the plot against his company. And it struck him with a certain feeling of
dread that, if his suspicions were true, Jeanne and Pierre must also be
mixed up in the affair. For had not Jeanne, in her error, greeted Eileen
as though she were a dear friend?
He went directly to the factor's house, and knocked at the door
opening into the rooms occupied by Brokaw and his daughter. Brokaw
admitted him, and at Philip's searching glance about the room he nodded
toward a closed inner door and said:
"Eileen is resting. It's been a hard trip on her, Phil, and she hasn't
slept for two consecutive nights since we left Halifax."
Philip's keen glance told him that Brokaw himself had not slept much.
The promoter's eyes were heavy, with little puffy bags under them. But
otherwise he betrayed no signs of unrest or lack of rest. He motioned
Philip to a chair close to a huge fireplace in which a pile of birch was
leaping into flame, offered him a cigar, and plunged immediately into
"It's hell, Philip," he said, in a hard, quiet voice, as though he
were restraining an outburst of passion with effort. "In another three
months we'd have been on a working basis, earning dividends. I've even
gone to the point of making contracts that show us five hundred per cent,
profit. And now—this!"
He dashed his half-burned cigar into the fire, and viciously bit the
end from another.
Philip was lighting his own, and there was a moment's silence, broken
sharply by the financier.
"Are your men prepared to fight?"
"If it's necessary," replied Philip. "We can at least depend upon a
part of them, especially the men at Blind Indian Lake. But—this
fighting—Why do you think it will come to that? If there is
fighting we are ruined."
"If the people rise against us in a body—yes, we are ruined.
That is what we must not permit. It is our one chance. I have done
everything in my power to beat this movement against us down south, and
have failed. Our enemies are completely masked. They have won popular
sentiment through the newspapers. Their next move is to strike directly
at us. Whatever is to happen will happen soon. The plan is to attack us,
to destroy our property, and the movement is to be advertised as a
retaliation for heinous outrages perpetrated by our men. It is possible
that the attack will not be by northerners alone, but by men brought in
for the purpose. The result will be the same—if it succeeds. The
attack is planned to be a surprise. Our one chance is to meet it, to
completely frustrate it—to strike an overwhelming blow, and to
capture enough of our assailants to give us the evidence we must
Brokaw was excited. He emphasized his words with angry sweeps of his
arms. He clenched his fists, and his face grew red. He was not like the
old, shrewd, indomitable Brokaw, completely master of himself, never
revealing himself beyond the unruffled veil of his self-possession, and
Philip was surprised. He had expected that Brokaw's wily brain would
bring with it half a dozen schemes for the quiet undoing of their
enemies. And now here was Brokaw, the man who always hedged himself in
with legal breast-works—who never revealed himself to the shot of
his enemies—enlisting himself for a fight in the open! Philip had
told Gregson that there would be a fight. He was firmly convinced that
there would be a fight. But he had never believed that Brokaw would come
to join in it. He leaned toward the financier, his face flushed a little
by the warmth of the fire and by the knowledge that Brokaw was
relinquishing the situation entirely into his hands. If it came to
fighting, he would win. He was confident of himself there. But—
"What will be the result if we win?" he asked.
"If we secure those who will give the evidence we need—evidence
that the movement against us is a plot to destroy our company, the
government will stand by us," replied Brokaw. "I have sounded the
situation there. I have filed a formal declaration to the effect that
such a movement is on foot, and have received a promise that the
commissioner of police will investigate the matter. But before that
happens our enemies will strike. There is no time for red tape or
investigations. We must achieve our own salvation. And to achieve that we
"And if we lose?"
Brokaw lifted his hands and shoulders with a significant gesture.
"The moral effect will be tremendous," he said. "It will be shown that
the entire north is inimical to our company, and the government will
withdraw our option. We will be ruined. Our stockholders will lose every
In moments of mental energy Philip was restless. He rose from his
chair now and moved softly back and forth across the carpeted floor of
the big room, shrouded in tobacco smoke. Should he break his word to
Gregson and tell Brokaw of Lord Fitzhugh? But, on second thought, what
good would come of it? Brokaw was already aware of the seriousness of the
situation. In some one of his unaccountable ways he had learned that
their enemies were to strike almost immediately, and his own revelation
of the Fitzhugh letters would but strengthen this evidence. He would keep
his faith with Gregson for the promised day or two. For an hour the two
men were alone in the room. At the end of that time their plans were
settled. The next morning Philip would leave for Blind Indian Lake and
prepare for war. Brokaw would follow two or three days later.
A heavy weight seemed lifted from Philip's shoulders when he left
Brokaw. After months of worry and weeks of physical inaction he saw his
way clear for the first time. And for the first time, too, something
seemed to have come into his life that filled him with a strange
exhilaration, and made him forgetful of the gloom that had settled over
him during these last months. That night he would see Jeanne. His body
thrilled at the thought, until for a time he forgot that he would also
see and talk with Eileen. A few days before he had told Gregson that it
would be suicidal to fight the northerners; now he was eager for action,
eager to begin and end the affair—to win or lose. If he had stopped
to analyze the change in himself he would have found that the beautiful
girl whom he had first seen on the moonlit rock was at the bottom of it.
And yet Jeanne was a northerner, one of those against whom his actions
must be directed. But he had confidence in himself, confidence in what
that night would bring forth. He was like one freed from a bondage that
had oppressed him for a long time, and the fact that he might be
compelled to fight Jeanne's own people did not destroy his hopefulness,
the new joy and excitement that he had found in life. As he hurried back
to his cabin he told himself that both Jeanne and Pierre had read what he
had sent to them in the handkerchief; their response was a proof that
they understood him, and deep down a voice kept telling him that if it
came to fighting they three, Pierre, Jeanne, and himself, would rise or
fall together. A few hours had transformed him into Gregson's old
appreciation of the fighting man. Long and tedious months of diplomacy,
of political intrigue, of bribery and dishonest financiering, in which he
had played but the part of a helpless machine, were gone. Now he held the
whip-hand; Brokaw had acknowledged his own surrender. He was to
fight—a clean, fair fight on his part, and his blood leaped in
every vein like marshaling armies. That nights on the rock, he would
reveal himself frankly to Pierre and Jeanne. He would tell them of the
plot to disrupt the company, and of the work ahead of him. And after
He thrust open the door of his cabin, eager to enlist Gregson in his
enthusiasm. The artist was not in. Philip noticed that the cartridge-belt
and the revolver which usually hung over Gregson's bunk were gone. He
never entered the cabin without looking at the sketch of Eileen Brokaw.
Something about it seemed to fascinate him, to challenge his presence.
Now it was missing from the wall.
He threw off his coat and hat, filled his pipe, and began gathering up
his few possessions, ready for packing. It was noon before he was
through, and Gregson had not returned. He boiled himself some coffee and
sat down to wait. At five o'clock he was to eat supper with the Brokaws
and the factor; Eileen, through her father, had asked him to join her an
hour or two earlier in the big room. He waited until four, and then left
a brief note for Gregson upon the table.
It was growing dusk in the forest. From the top of the ridge Philip
caught the last red glow of the sun, sinking far to the south and west. A
faint radiance of it still swept over his head and mingled with the
thickening gray gloom of the northern sea. Across the dip in the Bay the
huge, white-capped cliff seemed to loom nearer and more gigantic in the
whimsical light. For a few moments a red bar shot across it, and as the
golden fire faded and died away Philip could not but think it was like a
torch beckoning to him. A few hours more, and where that light had been
he would see Jeanne. And now, down there, Eileen was waiting for him.
His pulse quickened as he passed beyond the ancient fort, over the
burial-place of the dead, and into Churchill. He met no one at the
factor's, and the door leading into Miss Brokaw's room was partly ajar. A
great fire was burning in the fireplace, and he saw Eileen seated in the
rich glow of it, smiling at him as he entered. He closed the door, and
when he turned she had risen and was holding out her hands to him. She
had dressed for him, almost as on that night of the Brokaw ball. In the
flashing play of the fire her exquisite arms and shoulders shone with
dazzling beauty; her eyes laughed at him; her hair rippled in a golden
flood. Faintly there came to him, filling the room slowly, tingling his
nerves, the sweet scent of heliotrope—the perfume that had filled
his nostrils on that other night, a long time ago, the sweet scent that
had come to him in the handkerchief dropped on the rock, the breath of
the bit of lace that had bound Jeanne's hair!
Eileen moved toward him. "Philip," she said, "now are you glad to see
Her voice broke the spell that had held him for a moment.
"I am glad to see you," he cried, quickly, seizing both her hands.
"Only I haven't quite yet awakened from my dream. It seems too wonderful,
almost unreal. Are you the old Eileen who used to shudder when I told you
of a bit of jungle and wild beasts, and who laughed at me because I loved
to sleep out-of-doors and tramp mountains, instead of decently behaving
myself at home? I demand an explanation. It must be a wonderful
"There has been a change," she interrupted him. "Sit down, Philip
—there!" She nestled herself on a stool, close to his feet, and
looked up at him, her hands clasped under her chin, radiantly lovely.
"You told me once that girls like me simply fluttered over the top of
life like butterflies; that we couldn't understand life, or live it,
until somewhere—at some time—we came into touch with nature.
Do you remember? I was consumed with rage then —at your frankness,
at what I considered your impertinence. I couldn't get what you said out
of my mind. And I'm trying it."
"And you like it?" He put the question almost eagerly.
"Yes." She was looking at him steadily, her beautiful gray eyes
meeting his own in a silence that stirred him deeply. He had never seen
her more beautiful. Was it the firelight on her face, the crimson
leapings of the flames, that gave her skin a richer hue? Was it the
mingling of fire and shadow that darkened her cheeks? An impulse made him
utter the words which passed through his mind.
"You have already tried it," he said. "I can see the effects of it in
your face. It would take weeks in the forests to do that."
The gray eyes faltered; the flush deepened.
"Yes, I have tried it. I spent a half of the summer at our cottage on
"But it is not tan," he persisted, thrilled for a moment by the
discoveries he was making. "It is the wind; it is the open; it is the
smoke of camp-fires; it is the elixir of balsam and cedar and pine. That
is what I see in your face—unless it is the fire."
"It is the fire, partly," she said. "And the rest is the wind and the
open of the seas we have come across, and the sting of icebergs. Ugh: my
face feels like nettles!"
She rubbed her cheeks with her two hands, and then held up one hand to
"Look," she said. "It's as rough as sand-paper. Isn't that a change? I
didn't even wear gloves on the ship. I'm an enthusiast. I'm going down
there with you, and I'm going to fight. Now have you got anything to say
against me, Mr. Philip?"
There was a lightness in her words, and yet not in her voice. In her
manner was an uneasiness, mingled with an almost childish eagerness for
him to answer, which Philip could not understand. He fancied that once or
twice he had caught the faintest sign of a break in her voice.
"You really mean to hazard this adventure?" he cried, softly, in his
astonishment. "You, whom wild horses couldn't drag into the wilderness,
as you once told me!"
"Yes," she affirmed, drawing her stool back out of the increasing heat
of the fire. Her face was almost entirely in shadow now, and she did not
look at Philip. "I am beginning to—to love adventure," she went on,
in an even voice. "It was an adventure coming up. And when we landed down
there something curious happened. Did you see a girl who thought that she
She stopped, and a sudden flash of the fire lit up her eyes, fixed on
him intently from between her shielding hands.
"I saw her run out and speak to you," said Philip, his heart beating
at double-quick. He leaned over so that he was looking squarely into Miss
"Did you know her?" she asked.
"I have seen her only twice—once before she spoke to you."
"If I meet her again I shall apologize," said Eileen. "It was her
mistake, and she startled me. When she ran out to me like that, and held
out her hands I—I thought of beggars."
"Beggars!" almost shouted Philip. "A beggar!" He caught himself with a
laugh, and to cover his sudden emotion turned to lay a fresh piece of
birch on the fire. "We don't have beggars up here."
The door opened behind them and Brokaw entered. Philip's face was red
when he greeted him. For half an hour after that he cursed himself for
not being as clever as Gregson. He knew that there was a change in Eileen
Brokaw, a change which nature had not worked alone, as she wished him to
believe. Then, and at supper, he tried to fathom her. At times he
detected the metallic ring of what was unreal and make-believe in what
she said; at other times she seemed stirred by emotions which added
immeasurably to the sweetness and truthfulness of her voice. She was
nervous. He found her eyes frequently seeking her father's face, and more
than once they were filled with a mysterious questioning, as if within
Brokaw's brain there lurked hidden things which were new to her, and
which she was struggling to understand. She no longer held the old
fascination for Philip, and yet he conceded that she was more beautiful
than ever. Until to-night he had never seen the shadow of sadness in her
eyes; he had never seen them darken as they darkened now, when she
listened with almost feverish interest to the words which passed between
himself and Brokaw. He was certain that it was not a whim that had
brought her into the north. It was impossible for him to believe that he
had piqued at her vanity until she had leaped into action, as she had
suggested to him while they were sitting before the fire. Could it be
that she had accompanied her father because he—Philip
Whittemore—was in the north?
The thought drew a slow flush into his face, and his uneasiness
increased when he knew that she was looking at him. He was glad when it
came time for cigars, and Eileen excused herself. He opened the door for
her, and told her that he probably would not see her again until morning,
as he had an important engagement for the evening. She gave him her hand,
and for a moment he felt the clinging of her fingers about his own.
"Good night," she whispered.
She drew her hand half away, and then, suddenly, raised her eyes
straight to his own. They were calm, quiet, beautiful, and yet there came
a quick little catch in her throat as she leaned so close to him that she
touched his breast, and said:
"It will be best—best for everything—everybody—if
you can influence father to stay at Fort Churchill."
She did not wait for him to reply, but hurried toward her room. For a
moment Philip stared after her in amazement. Then he took a step as if to
follow her, to call her back. The impulse left him as quickly as it came,
and he rejoined Brokaw and the factor.
He looked at his watch. It was seven o'clock. At half-past seven he
shook hands with the two men, lighted a fresh cigar, and passed out into
the night. It was early for his meeting with Pierre and Jeanne, but he
went down to the shore and walked slowly in the direction of the cliff.
He was still an hour early when he arrived at the great rock, and sat
down, with his face turned to the sea.
It was a white, radiant night, such as he had seen in the tropics.
Only here, in the north, his vision reached to greater distances.
Churchill lay lifeless in its pool of light; the ship hung like a black
silhouette in the distance, with a cloud of jet-black smoke rising
straight up from its funnels, and spreading out high up against the sky,
a huge, ebon monster that cast its shadow for half a mile over the Bay.
The shadow held Philip's eyes. Now it was like a gigantic face, now like
a monster beast—now it reached out in the form of a great
threatening hand, as though somewhere in the mystery of the north it
sought a spirit-victim as potent as itself.
Then the spell of it was broken. From the end of the shadow, which
reached almost to the base of the cliff on which Philip sat, there came a
sound. It was a clear, metallic sound that left the vibration of steel in
the air, and Philip leaned over the edge of the rock. Below him the
shadow was broken into a pool of rippling starlight. He heard the faint
dip of paddles, and suddenly a canoe shot from the shadow out into the
clear light of the moon and stars.
It was a large canoe. In it he could make out four figures. Three of
them were paddling; the fourth sat motionless in the bow. They passed
under him swiftly, guiding their canoe so that it was soon hidden in the
shelter of the cliff. By the faint reflections cast by the disturbed
water, Philip saw that the occupants of the canoe had made an effort to
conceal themselves by following the course of the dense shadow. Only the
chance sound had led him to observe them.
Under ordinary circumstances the passing of a strange canoe at night
would have had no significance for him. But at the present time it
troubled him. The manner of its approach through the shadow, the strange
quiet of its occupants, the stealth with which they had shot the canoe
under the cliff, were all unusual. Could the incident have anything to do
with Jeanne and Pierre?
He waited until he heard the tiny bell in his watch tinkle the
half-hour, and then he set out slowly over the moonlit rocks to the
north. Jeanne and Pierre would surely come from that direction. It was
impossible to miss them. He walked without sound in his moccasins,
keeping close to the edge of the cliff so that he could look out over the
Bay. Two or three hundred yards beyond the big rock the sea-wall swung in
sharply, disclosing the open water, like a still, silvery sheet, for a
mile or more. Philip scanned it for the canoe, but as far as he could see
there was not a shadow.
For a quarter of a mile he walked over the rocks, then returned. It
was nine o'clock. The moment had arrived for the appearance of Jeanne and
Pierre. He resumed his patrol of the cliff, and with each moment his
nervousness increased. What if Jeanne failed him? What if she did not
come to the rock? The mere thought made his heart sink with a sudden
painful throb. Until now the fear that Jeanne might disappoint him, that
she might not keep the tryst, had not entered his head. His faith in this
girl, whom he had seen but twice, was supreme.
A second and a third time he patrolled the quarter mile of cliff.
Again his watch tinkled the half-hour, and he knew that the last minutes
of the appointed time had come.
The third and last time he went beyond the quarter-mile limit,
searching in the white distances beyond. A low wind was rising from the
Bay; it rustled in the spruce and balsam tops of the forest that reached
up to the barren whiteness of the rock plateau on which he stood; under
him he heard, growing more and more distinct, the moaning wash of the
swelling tide. A moment of despair possessed him, and he felt that he had
Suddenly the wind brought to him a different sound—a shout far
down the cliff, a second cry, and then the scream of a woman, deadened by
the wash of the sea and the increasing sweep of the wind among the
He stood for a moment powerless, listening. The wind lulled, and the
woman's cry now came to him again—a voice that was filled with
terror rising in a wild appeal for help. With an answering shout he ran
like a swift-footed animal along the cliff. It was Jeanne who was
calling! Who else but Jeanne would be out there in the gray
night—Jeanne and Pierre? He listened as he ran, but there came no
other sound. At last he stopped, and drew in a great breath, to send out
a shout that would reach their ears.
Above the fierce beating of his heart, the throbbing intake of his
breath, he heard sounds which were not of the wind or the sea. He ran on,
and suddenly the cliff dropped from under his feet, and he found himself
on the edge of a great rift in the wall of rock, looking across upon a
strange scene. In the brilliant moonlight, with his back against a rock,
stood Pierre, his glistening rapier in his hand, his thin, lithe body
bent for the attack of three men who faced him. It was but a moment's
tableau. The men rushed in. Muffled cries, blows, a single clash of
steel, and Pierre's voice rose above the sound of conflict. "For the love
of God, give me help, M'sieur!" He had seen Philip rush up to the edge of
the break in the cliff, and as he fought he cried out again.
"Shoot, M'sieur! In a moment it will be too late!"
Philip had drawn his heavy revolver. He watched for an opportunity.
The men were fighting now so that Pierre had been forced between his
assailants and the breach in the wall. There was no chance to fire
without hitting him.
"Run, Pierre!" shouted Philip. "Run—"
He fired once, over the heads of the fighters, and as Pierre suddenly
darted to one side in obedience to his command there came for the first
time a shot from the other side. The bullet whistled close to his ears. A
second shot, and Pierre fell down like one dead among the rocks. Again
Philip fired—a third and a fourth time, and one of the three who
were disappearing in the white gloom stumbled over a rock, and fell as
Pierre had fallen. His companions stopped, picked him up, and staggered
on with him. Philip's last shot missed, and before he could reload they
were lost among the upheaved masses of the cliff.
"Pierre!" he called. "Ho! Pierre Couchee!"
There was no answer from the other side.
He ran along the edge of the break, and in the direction of the forest
he found a place where he could descend. In his haste he fell; his hands
were scratched, blood flowed from a cut in his forehead when he dragged
himself up to the face of the cliff again. He tried to shout when he saw
a figure drag itself up from among the rocks, but his almost superhuman
exertions had left him voiceless. His wind whistled from between his
parted lips when he came to Pierre.
Pierre was supporting himself against a rock. His face was streaming
with blood. In his hand he held what remained of the rapier, which had
broken off close to the hilt. His eyes were blazing like a madman's, and
his face was twisted with an agony that sent a thrill of horror through
"My hurt is nothing—nothing-M'sieur!" he gasped, understanding
the look in Philip's face. "It is Jeanne! They have gone—gone with
Jeanne!" The rapier slipped from his hand and he slid weakly down against
the rock. Philip dropped upon his knees, and with his handkerchief began
wiping the blood from the half-breed's face. For a few moments Pierre's
head hung limp against his shoulder.
"What is it, Pierre?" he urged. "Tell me—quick! They have gone
Pierre's body grew rigid. With one great effort he seemed to marshal
all of his strength, and straightened himself.
"Listen, M'sieur," he said, speaking calmly. "They set upon us as we
were going to meet you at the rock. There were four. One of them is
dead—back there. The others—with Jeanne—have gone in
the canoe. It is death—worse than death—for her—"
His body writhed. In a passion he strove to rise to his feet. Then
with a groan he sank back, and for a moment Philip thought he was
"I will go, Pierre," he cried. "I will bring her back. I swear
Pierre's hand detained him as he went to rise.
"At the next break—there is a canoe. They have gone for the
Pierre's voice was growing weaker. In a spasm of sudden fear at the
dizziness which was turning the night black for him he clutched at
"If you save her, M'sieur, do not bring her back," he whispered,
hoarsely. "Take her to Fort o' God. Lose not an hour—not a minute.
Trust no one. Hide yourselves. Fight—kill—but take her to
Fort o' God! You will do this—M'sieur—you promise—"
He fell back limp. Philip lowered him gently, holding his head so that
he could look into the staring eyes that were still open and
"I will go, Pierre," he said. "I will take her to Fort o' God. And
A shadow was creeping over Pierre's eyes. He was still fighting to
understand, fighting to hold for another breath or two the consciousness
that was fast slipping from him.
"Listen," cried Philip, striving to rouse him. "You will not die. The
bullet grazed your head, and the wound has already stopped bleeding.
To-morrow you must go to Churchill and hunt up a man named
Gregson—the man I was with when you and Jeanne came to see the
ship. Tell him that an important thing has happened, and that he must
tell the others I have gone to the camps. He will understand. Tell
He struggled to find some final word for Gregson. Pierre still looked
at him, his eyes half closed now.
Philip bent close down.
"Tell him," he said, "that I am on the trail of Lord Fitzhugh!"
Scarcely had he uttered the name when Pierre's closing eyes shot open.
A groaning cry burst from his lips, and, as if that name had aroused the
last spark of life and strength within him into action, he wrenched
himself from Philip's arms, striving to speak. A trickle of fresh blood
ran over his face. Incoherent sounds rattled in his throat, and then,
overcome by his effort, he dropped back unconscious. Philip wound his
handkerchief about the wounded man's head and straightened out his limbs.
Then he rose to his feet and reloaded his revolver. His hands were steady
now. His brain was clear; the enervating thrill of excitement had gone
from his body. Only his heart beat like a racing engine.
He turned and ran in the direction which Pierre's assailants had
taken, his head lowered, his revolver held in front of him, on a level
with his breast. He had not gone a hundred yards when something stopped
him. In his path, with its face turned straight up to the moonlit sky,
lay the body of a man. For an instant Philip bent over it. The broken
blade of Pierre's rapier glistened under the man's throat. One lifeless
hand clutched at it, as though in the last moment of life he had tried to
draw it forth. The face was distorted, the eyes were still open, the lips
parted. Death had come with terrible suddenness.
Philip bent lower, and stared into the face of the dead man. Where had
he seen that face before?
Suddenly he remembered. He drew back, and a cold sweat seemed to break
out all at once over his face and body. This man who lay with the broken
blade of Pierre Couchee's rapier in his breast had come ashore from the
London ship that day in company with Eileen and her father!
For a space he was overwhelmed by the discovery. Everything that had
happened—the scene upon the rock when he first met Jeanne, the
arrival of the ship, the moment's tableau on the pier when Jeanne and
Eileen stood face to face—rushed upon him now as he gazed down into
the staring eyes at his feet. What did it all mean? Why had Lord
Fitzhugh's name been sufficient to drag the half-breed back from the
brink of unconsciousness? What significance was there in this strange
combination of circumstances that persisted in drawing Pierre and Jeanne
into the plot that threatened himself? Had there been truth, after all,
in those last words that he impressed upon the fainting senses of Pierre
Couchee's message to Gregson?
He waited to answer none of the questions that leaped through his
brain. To-morrow some one would find Pierre, or Pierre would crawl down
into Churchill. And then there would be the dead man to account for. He
shuddered as he returned his revolver into his holster and braced his
limbs. It was an unpleasant task, but he knew that it must be
done—to save Pierre. He lifted the body clear of the rocks, and
bending under its weight carried it to the edge of the cliff. Far below
sounded the wash of the sea. He shoved his burden over the edge, and
listened. After a moment there came a dull splash.
Then he hastened on, as Pierre had guided him.
Soon Philip slackened his pace, and looked anxiously ahead of him.
From where he stood the cliff sloped down to a white strip of beach that
reached out into the night as far as he could see, hemmed close in by the
black gloom of the forest. Half-way down the slope the moonlight was cut
by a dark streak, and he found this to be the second break. He had no
difficulty in descending. Its sides were smooth, as though worn by water.
At the bottom white, dry sand slipped under his feet. He made his way
between the walls, and darkness shut him in. The trail grew rougher. Near
the shore he stumbled blindly among huge rocks and piles of crumbling
slate, wondering why Jeanne and Pierre had come this way when they might
have taken a smoother road. Close to the stony beach, where the light was
a little better, he made out the canoe which Pierre had drawn into the
Not until he had dragged it into the moonlight at the edge of the
water did he see that it was equipped as if for a long journey. Close to
the stern was a bulging pack, with a rifle strapped across it. Two or
three smaller caribou-skin bags lay in the center of the canoe. In the
bow was a thick nest of bearskin, and he knew that this was for
Cautiously Philip launched himself, and with silent sweeps of the
paddle that made scarcely the sound of a ripple in the water set out in
the direction of Churchill. Jeanne's captors had a considerable start of
him, but he felt confident of his ability to overtake them shortly if
Pierre had spoken with truth when he said that they would head for the
Churchill River. He had observed the caution with which Pierre's
assailants had approached the cliff, and he was sure that they would
double that caution in their return, especially as their attack had been
interrupted at the last moment. For this reason he paddled without great
haste, keeping well within the concealment of the precipitous shore, with
his ears and eyes keenly alive to discover a sign of those who were ahead
Opposite the rock where Pierre and Jeanne were to have met him he
stopped and stood up in the canoe. The wind had dispelled the smoke
shadow. Between him and the distant ship lay an unclouded sea. Two-thirds
of the distance to the vessel he made out the larger canoe, rising and
falling with the smooth undulations of the tide. He sank upon his knees
again and unstrapped Pierre's rifle. There was a cartridge in the
chamber. He made sure that the magazine was loaded, and resumed his
His mind worked rapidly. Within half an hour, if he desired, he could
overtake the other canoe. And what then? There were three to one, if it
came to a fight—and how could he rescue Jeanne without a fight? His
blood was pounding eagerly, almost with pleasure at the promise of what
was ahead of him, and he laughed softly to himself as he thought of the
The ship loomed nearer; the canoe vanished behind it. A brief stop, a
dozen words of explanation, and Philip knew that he could secure
assistance from the vessel. After all, would that not be the wisest
course for him to pursue? For a moment he hesitated, and paddled more
slowly. If others joined with him in the rescue of Jeanne what excuse
could he offer for not bringing her back to Churchill? What would happen
if he returned with her? Why had Pierre roused himself from something
that was almost death to entreat him to take Jeanne to Fort o' God?
At the thought of Fort o' God a new strength leaped into his arms and
body, urging him on to cope with the situation single-handed. If he
rescued Jeanne alone, and went on with her as he had promised Pierre,
many things that were puzzling him would be explained. It occurred to him
again that Jeanne and Pierre might be the key to the mysterious plot that
promised to crash out the life of the enterprise he had founded in the
north. He found reasons for this belief. Why had Lord Fitzhugh's name had
such a startling effect upon Pierre? Why was one of his assailants a man
fresh from the London ship that had borne Eileen Brokaw and her father as
passengers? He felt that Jeanne could explain these things, as well as
her brother. She could explain the strange scene on the pier, when for a
moment she had stood crushed and startled before Eileen. She could clear
up the mystery of Gregson's sketch, for if there were two Eileen Brokaws,
Jeanne would know. With these arguments he convinced himself that he
should go on alone. Yet, behind them there was another and more powerful
motive. He confessed to himself that he would willingly accept double the
chances against him to achieve Jeanne's rescue without assistance and to
accompany her to Fort o' God. The thought of their being together, of the
girl's companionship— perhaps for days—thrilled him with
exquisite anticipation. An hour or so ago he had been satisfied in the
assurance that he would see her for a few minutes on the cliff. Since
then fate had played his way. Jeanne was his own, to save, to defend, to
carry on to Fort o' God.
Not for a moment did he hesitate at the danger ahead of him, and yet
his pursuit was filled with caution. Gregson, the diplomat, would have
seen the necessity of halting at the ship for help; Philip was confident
in himself. He knew that he would have at least three against him, for he
was satisfied that the man whom he had wounded on the cliff was still in
fighting trim. There might be others whom he had not taken into
He passed so close under the stern of the ship that his canoe scraped
against her side. For a few minutes the vessel had obstructed his view,
but now he saw again, a quarter of a mile distant, the craft which he was
pursuing. Jeanne's captors were heading straight for the river, and as
the canoe was now partly broadside to him he could easily make out the
figures in her, but not distinctly enough to make sure of their number.
He shoved out boldly into the moonlight, and, instead of following in his
former course, he turned at a sharp angle in the direction of the shore.
If the others saw him, which was probable, they would think that he was
making a landing from the ship. Once he was in the deep fringe of shadow
along the shore he could redouble his exertions and draw nearer to them
without being observed.
No sooner had he readied the sheltering gloom than he bent to his
paddle and the light birch-bark fairly hissed through the water. Not
until he found himself abreast of the pursued did it occur to him that he
could beat them out to the mouth of the Churchill and lie in wait for
them. Every stroke of his paddle widened the distant between him and the
larger canoe. Fifteen minutes later he reached the edge of the huge delta
of wild rice and reeds through which the sluggish volume of the river
emptied into the Bay. The chances were that the approaching canoe would
take the nearest channel into the main stream, and Philip concealed
himself so that it would have to pass within twenty yards of him.
From his ambuscade he looked out upon the approaching canoe. He was
puzzled by the slowness of its progress. At times it seemed to stand
still, and he could distinguish no movement at all among its occupants.
At first he thought they were undecided as to which course to pursue, but
a few minutes more sufficed to show that this was not the reason for
their desultory advance. The canoe was headed for the first channel. The
solution came when a low but clear whistle signaled over the water.
Almost instantly there came a responsive whistle from up the channel.
Philip drew a quick breath, and a new sensation brought his teeth
together in sudden perplexity. It looked as though he had a bigger fight
before him than he had anticipated.
At the signal from up-stream he heard the quick dip of paddles, and
the canoe cut swiftly toward him. He drew back the hammer of Pierre's
rule, and cleared a little space through the reeds and grass so that his
view into the channel was unobstructed. Three or four well-directed
shots, a quick dash out into the stream, and he would possess Jeanne.
This was his first thought. It was followed by others, rapid as
lightning, that restrained his eagerness. The night-glow was treacherous
to shoot by. What if he should miss, or hit Jeanne—or in the sudden
commotion and destruction of his shots the canoe should be overturned? A
single error, the slightest mishap to himself, would mean the
annihilation of his hopes. Even if he succeeded in directing his shots
with accuracy, both himself and Jeanne would almost immediately be under
fire from those above.
He dropped back again behind the screen of reeds. The canoe drew
nearer. A moment more and it was almost abreast of him, and his heart
pounded like a swiftly beating hammer when he saw Jeanne in the stern.
She was leaning back as though unconscious. He could see nothing of her
face, but as the canoe passed within ten yards of his hiding-place he saw
the dark glow of her disheveled hair, which fell thickly over the object
against which she was resting. It was but a moment's view, and they were
gone. He had not looked at the three men in the canoe. His whole being
was centered upon Jeanne. He had seen no sign of life—no movement
in her body, not the flutter of a hand, and all his fears leaped like
brands of burning fire into his brain. He thought of the inhuman plot
which Lord Fitzhugh's letter had revealed; in the same breath Pierre
Couchee's words rang in his ears—"It is death—worse than
death —for her—"
Was Jeanne the first victim of that diabolical scheme to awaken the
wrath of the northland? In the madness which possessed him now Philip
shoved out his canoe while there was still danger of discovery.
Fortunately none of the pursued glanced back, and a turn in the channel
soon hid them from view. Philip had recovered his self-possession by the
time he reached the turn. He assured himself that Jeanne was unharmed as
yet, and that when he saw her she had probably fainted from excitement
and terror. Her fate still lay before her, somewhere in the deep and
undisturbed forests up the Churchill. His one hope was to remain
undiscovered and to rescue her at the last moment when she was taken
ashore by her captors.
He followed, close up against the reeds, never trusting himself out of
the shadows. After a little he heard voices, and a second canoe appeared.
There was a short pause, and the two canoes continued side by side up the
channel. A quarter of an hour brought both the pursuers and the pursued
into the main stream, which lay in black gloom between forest walls that
cut out all light but the shimmer of the stars.
No longer could Philip see those ahead of him, but he guided himself
by occasional voices and the dip of paddles. At times, when the stream
narrowed and the forest walls gave him deeper shelter, he drew perilously
near with the hope of overhearing what was said, but he caught only an
occasional word or two. He listened in vain for Jeanne's voice. Once he
heard her name spoken, and it was followed by a low laugh from some one
in the canoe that had waited at the mouth of the Churchill. A dozen times
during the first half-hour after they entered the main stream Philip
heard this same laughing voice.
After a time there fell a silence upon those ahead. No sound rose
above the steady dip of paddles, and the speed of the two canoes
increased. Suddenly, from far up the river, there came a voice, faintly
at first, but growing steadily louder, singing one of the wild half-breed
songs of the forest. The voice broke the silence of those in the canoes.
They ceased paddling, and Philip stopped. He heard low words, and after a
few moments the paddling was resumed, and the canoes turned in toward the
shore. Philip followed their movement, dropping fifty yards farther down
the stream, and thrust big birch-bark alongside a thick balsam that had
fallen into the river.
The singing voice approached rapidly. Five minutes later a long
company canoe floated down out of the gloom. It passed so near that
Philip could see the picturesque figure in the stern paddling and
singing. In the bow kneeled an Indian working in stoic silence. Between
them, in the body of the canoe, sat two men whom he knew at a glance were
white men. The strangers and their craft slipped by with the quickness of
Again Philip heard movements above him, and once more he took up the
pursuit. He wondered why Jeanne had not called for help when the company
canoe passed. If she was not hurt or unconscious, her captors had been
forced to hold a handkerchief or a brutal hand over her mouth, perhaps at
her throat! His blood grew hot with rage at the thought.
For three-quarters of an hour longer the swift paddling up-stream
continued without interruption. Then the river widened into a small lake,
and Philip was compelled to hold back until the two canoes, which he
could see clearly now, had passed over the exposed area.
By the time he dared to follow, Jeanne's captors were a quarter of a
mile ahead of him. He no longer heard their paddles when he entered the
stream at the upper end of the lake, and he bent to his work with greater
energy and less caution. Five minutes—ten minutes passed, and he
saw nothing, heard nothing. His strokes grew more powerful and the canoe
shot through the water with the swift cleavage of a knife. A perspiration
began to gather on his face, and a sudden chilling fear entered him.
Another five minutes and he stopped. The river swept out ahead of him,
broad and clear, for a quarter of a mile. There was no sign of the
For a few moments he remained motionless, drifting back with the slow
current of the stream, stunned by the thought that he had allowed
Jeanne's captors to escape him. Had they heard him and dropped in to
shore to let him pass? He swung his canoe about and headed down-stream.
In that case he could not miss them, if he used caution. But if they had
turned into some creek hidden in the gloom—were even now picking
their way through a secret channel that led back from the
A groan burst from his lips as he thought of Jeanne. In that half mile
of river he could surely find where the canoes had gone, but it might be
too late. He went down in mid-stream, searching the shadows of both
shores. His heart sank like lead when he came to the lake. There was but
one thing to do now, and he ran his canoe close along the right-hand
shore, looking for an opening. His progress was slow. A dozen times he
entangled himself in masses of reeds and rice, or thrust himself under
over-hanging tree-tops and vines to investigate the deeper gloom beyond.
He had returned two-thirds of the distance to the straight-water where he
had given up the pursuit when the bow of his canoe ran upon a smooth,
sandy bar that shelved out thirty or forty feet from the shore. Scarcely
had he felt the grate of sand when with a powerful shove he sent his
canoe back, and almost in the same instant Pierre's rifle leveled
menacingly shoreward. Drawn up high and dry on the sand-bar were the two
For a space Philip expected that his appearance would be the signal
for some movement ashore; but as he drifted slowly away, his rifle still
leveled, he was filled more and more with the belief that he had not been
discovered. He allowed himself to drift until he knew that he was hidden
in the shadows, and then quietly worked himself in to shore. Making no
sound, he pulled himself up the bank and crept among the trees toward the
bar. There was no one guarding the canoes. He heard no sound of voice, no
crackling of brush or movement of reeds. For a full minute he crouched
and listened. Then he crept nearer and found where both reeds and brush
were trampled down into a path that led away from the river.
His heart gave a bound of joy, and he darted along the path, holding
his rifle ready for instant use. The trail wound through the tall grass
of a dry swamp meadow and, two hundred yards beyond the river, plunged
into a forest. He had barely entered this when he saw the glow of a fire.
It was only a short distance ahead, hidden in a deep hollow that
completely concealed its existence from the keenest eyes that might pass
along the river. Stealing cautiously to the crest of the little knoll
between him and the light, Philip found himself within fifty feet of a
A big canvas tent was the first thing to come within his vision. The
fire was built against this face of a rock in front of this, and over the
fire hovered a man dragging out beds of coals with a forked stick. Almost
at the same moment a second man appeared from the tent, bearing two huge
skillets in one hand and a big pot in the other. At a glance Philip knew
that they were preparing to cook a meal, and that it was for many instead
of two. Wildly he searched the firelit spaces and the shadows for a sign
of Jeanne. He saw nothing. She was not in the camp. The five or six men
who had fled up the river with her were not there. His fingers dug deep
in the earth under him at the discovery, and once more appalling fears
overwhelmed him. Perhaps she had already met her fate a little deeper in
He crept over the edge of the knoll and worked himself down through
the low bush on the opposite side, which would bring him within a dozen
feet of the man over the fire. There he would have them at his mercy, and
at the point of his revolver would compel them to tell him where Jeanne
had been taken. The advantage was all in his favor. It would not be
difficult to make them prisoners and leave them secured while he followed
after their companions.
He was intent only upon his plan, and did not take his eyes from the
men over the fire. He came to the end of the bush, and crouched with head
and shoulders exposed, his revolver in his hand. Suddenly a sound close
to the tent startled him. It was a low cough. The men over the fire made
no movement to look behind them, but Philip turned.
In the shadow of a tree, which had concealed her until now, sat
Jeanne. She was tense and straight. Her white face was turned to him. Her
beautiful eyes glowed like stars. Her lips were parted; he could see her
quick, excited breathing. She saw him! She knew him! He could see the joy
of hope in her face and that she was crushing back an impulse to cry out
to him, even as he was restraining his own mad desire to shout out his
defiance and joy. And there in the firelight, his face illumined, and
oblivious for the moment of the presence of the two men, Philip
straightened himself and held out his arms with a glad smile to
Hardly had he turned to the men, ready to spring out upon them, when
there came a terrific interruption. There was a sudden crash in the brush
behind him, a menacing snarl, and a huge wolfish brute launched itself at
his throat. The swift instinct of self- preservation turned the weapon
intended for the men over the fire upon this unexpected assailant. The
snarling fangs of the husky were gleaming in his face and the animal's
body was against the muzzle of his revolver when Philip fired. Though he
escaped the fangs, he could not ward off the impact of the dog's body,
and in another moment he was sprawling upon his back in the light of the
camp. Before Philip could recover himself Jeanne's startled guards were
upon him. Flung back, he still possessed his pistol, and pulled the
trigger blindly. The report was muffled and sickening. At the same moment
a heavy blow fell upon his head, and a furious weight crushed him back to
the ground. He dropped his revolver. His brain reeled; his muscles
relaxed. He felt his assailant's fingers at his throat, and their menace
brought back every ounce of fighting strength in his body. For a moment
he lay still, his eyes closed, the warm blood flowing over his face. He
had worked this game once before, years ago. He even thought of that time
now, as he lay upon his back. It had worked then, and it worked now. The
choking fingers at his throat loosened; the weight lifted itself a little
from his chest. The lone guard thought that he was unconscious, and
Jeanne, who had staggered to her feet, thought that he was dead.
It was her cry, terrible, filled with agony and despair, that urged
him into action an instant too soon. His foe was still partly on his
guard, rising with a caution born of more than one wilderness episode,
when with a quick movement Philip closed with him. Locked in a deadly
grip, they rolled upon the ground; and, with a feeling of despair which
had never entered into his soul before, the terrible truth came to Philip
that the old strength was gone from his arms and that with each added
exertion he was growing weaker. For a moment he saw Jeanne. She stood
almost above them, her hands clutched at her breast. And as he looked,
she suddenly turned and ran to the fire. An instant more and she was
back, a red-hot brand in her hand. Philip saw it flash close to his eyes,
felt the heat of it; and then a scream, animal-like in its ferocity and
pain, burst from the lips of his antagonist. The man reeled backward,
clutching at his thick neck, where Jeanne had thrust the burning stick.
Philip rose to his knees. His fist shot out like lightning against the
other's jaw, and the second guard fell back in a limp heap.
Even as the blow fell, a loud shout came from close back in the
forest, followed by the crashing of many feet tearing through the
Philip and Jeanne stood face to face in the firelight.
"Quick!" he cried. "We must hurry!"
He bent over to pick up his revolver from the ground. His movement was
followed by a low sob of pain. Jeanne was swaying as though about to
faint. She fell in a crumpled heap before he could reach her side.
"You are hurt!" he exclaimed. "Jeanne! Jeanne!"
He was upon his knees beside her, crying out her name, half holding
her in his arms.
"No, no! I am not hurt—much," she replied, trying to recover
herself. "It is my ankle. I sprained it—on the cliff.
She became heavier against his arm. Her eyes were limpid with
Rising, Philip caught her in his arms. The crashing of brush was
within pistol-shot distance of them, but in that moment he felt no fear.
Life leaped back into his veins. He wanted to shout back his defiance as
he ran with Jeanne along the path to the river. He could feel her pulsing
against him. His lips were in her hair. Her heart was beating wildly
against his own. One of her arms was about his shoulder, her hand against
his neck. Life, love, the joy of possession swept through him in burning
floods, and it seemed in these first moments of his contact with Jeanne,
in the first sound of her voice speaking to him, that the passionate
language of his soul must escape through his lips. For this moment he had
risked his life, had taken a hundred chances; he had anticipated, and yet
he had not dreamed beyond a hundredth part of what it would mean for him.
He looked down into the white face of the girl as he ran. Her beautiful
eyes were open to him. Her lips were parted; her cheek lay against his
breast. He did not realize how close he was holding her until, at last,
he stopped where he had hidden the canoe. Then he felt her beating and
throbbing against him, as he had felt the quivering life of a frightened
bird imprisoned in his hands. She drew a deep breath when he opened his
arms, and lifted her head. Her loose hair swept over his breast and
He spoke no word as he placed her in the canoe. Not a whisper passed
between them as the canoe sped swiftly from the shore. A hundred yards
down the stream Philip headed straight across the river and plunged into
the shadows along the opposite bank.
Jeanne was close to him. He could hear her breathing. Suddenly he felt
the touch of her hand.
"M'sieur, I must ask—about Pierre!"
There was the thrill of fear in the low words. She leaned back, her
face a pale shadow in the deep gloom; and Philip bent over until he felt
her breath, and the sweetness of her hair filled his nostrils. Quickly he
whispered what had happened. He told her that Pierre was hurt, but not
badly, and that he had promised to take her on to Fort o' God.
"It is up the Churchill?" he questioned.
"Yes," she whispered.
They heard voices now, and almost opposite them they saw shadowy
figures running out to the canoes upon the sand-bar.
"They will think that we are escaping toward Churchill," said Philip,
gloatingly. "It is the nearest refuge. See—"
One of the canoes was launched, and shot swiftly down the river. A
moment later the second followed. The dip of paddles died away, and
Philip laughed softly and joyously.
"They will hunt for us from now until morning between here and the
Bay. And then they will look for you again in Churchill."
Philip was conscious, almost without seeing, that Jeanne had bowed her
head in her arms and that she was giving way now to the terrific strain
which she had been under. Not until he heard a low sob, which she strove
hard to choke back in her throat, did he dare to lean over again and
touch her. Whatever was throbbing in his heart, he knew that he must hide
"You read the letter?" he asked, softly.
"Then you know—that you are safe with me!"
There was pride and strength, the ring of triumph in his voice. It was
the voice of a man thrilled by his own strength, by the warmth of a great
love, by the knowledge that he was the protector of a creature dearer to
him than all else on earth. The truth of it set Jeanne quivering. She
reached out until in the darkness her two hands found one of Philip's,
and for a moment she held his paddle motionless in midair.
"Thank you, M'sieur," she whispered. "I trust you, as I would trust
All the words that women had ever spoken to him were as nothing to
those few that fell softly from Jeanne's lips; in the clinging pressure
of her fingers as she uttered them were the concentrated joys of all that
he had dreamed of in the touch of women. He knelt silent, motionless,
until her hands left his own.
"I am to take you to Fort o' God," he said, fighting to keep the
tremble of joy out of his voice. "And you—you must guide me."
"It is far up the Churchill," she replied, understanding the question
he intended. "It is two hundred miles from the Bay."
He put his strength into his paddle for ten minutes, and then ran the
canoe into shore fully half a mile above the sand-bar. He stepped out
into water up to his knees.
"We must risk a little time here to attend to your injured ankle," he
explained. "Then you can arrange yourself comfortably among these robes
in the bow. Shall I carry you?"
"You can—help," said Jeanne. She gave him her hand and made an
effort to rise. Instantly she sank back with a sob of pain.
It was strange that her pain should fill him with a wonderful joy. He
knew that she was suffering, that she could not walk or stand alone. And
yet, back at the camp, she had risen in her torture and had come to his
rescue. She could not bear her own weight now, but then she had run to
him and had fought for him. The knowledge that she had done this, and for
him, filled him with an exquisite sensation.
"I must carry you," he said, speaking to her with the calm decision
that he might have voiced to a little child. His tone reassured her, and
she made no remonstrance when he lifted her in his arms. For a brief
moment she lay against him again, and when he lowered her upon the bank
his hand accidentally touched the soft warmth of her face.
"My specialty is sprains," he said, speaking a little lightly to raise
her spirits for the instant's ordeal through which she must pass. "I have
doctored half a dozen during the last three months. You must take off
your moccasin and your stocking, and I will make a bandage."
He drew a big handkerchief from his pocket and dipped it in the water.
Then he searched along the shore for a dozen paces, until he found an
Indian willow. With his knife he scraped off a handful of bark, soaked it
in water, crushed it between his hands, and returned to her. Jeanne's
little foot lay naked in the starlight.
"It will hurt just a moment," he said, gently. "But it is the only
cure. To-morrow it will be strong enough for you to stand upon. Can you
bear a little hurt?"
He knelt before her and looked up, scarce daring to touch her foot
before she spoke.
"I may cry," she said.
Her voice fluttered, but it gave him permission. He folded the wet
handkerchief in the form of a bandage, with the willow bark spread over
it. Then, very gently, he seized her foot in one hand and her ankle in
"It will hurt just a little," he soothed. "Only a moment."
His fingers tightened. He put into them the whole strength of his
grip, pulling downward on the foot and upward on the ankle until, with a
low cry, Jeanne flung her hands over his.
"There, it is done," he laughed, nervously. He wrapped the bandage
around so tightly that Jeanne could not move her foot, and tied it with
strips of cloth. Then he turned to the canoe while she drew on her
stocking and moccasin.
He was trembling. A maddening joy pounded in his brain. Jeanne's voice
came to him sweetly, with a shyness in it that made him feel like a boy.
He was glad that the night concealed his face. He would have given worlds
to have seen Jeanne's.
"I am ready," she said.
He carried her to the bow of the canoe and fixed her among the robes,
arranging a place for her head so that she might sleep if she wished. For
the first time the light was so that he could see her plainly as she
nestled back in the place made for her. Their eyes met for a moment.
"You must sleep," he urged. "I shall paddle all night."
"You are sure that Pierre is not badly hurt?" she asked, tremulously.
"You—you would not—keep the truth from me?"
"He was not more than stunned," assured Philip. "It is impossible that
his wound should prove serious. Only there was no time to lose, and I
came without him. He will follow us soon."
He took his position in the stern, and Jeanne lay back among the
bearskins. For a long time after that Philip paddled in silence. He had
hoped that Jeanne would give him an opportunity to continue their
conversation, in spite of his advice to her to secure what rest she
could. But there came no promise from the bow of the canoe. After half an
hour he guessed that Jeanne had taken him at his word, and was
It was disappointing, and yet there came a pleasurable throb with his
disappointment. Jeanne trusted him. She was sleeping under his protection
as sweetly as a child. Fear of her enemies no longer kept her awake or
filled her with terror. This night, under these stars, with the
wilderness all about them, she had given herself into his keeping. His
cheeks burned. He dipped his paddle noiselessly, so that he might not
interrupt her slumber. Each moment added to the fullness of his joy, and
he wished that he might only see her face, hidden in the darkness of her
hair and the bear-robes.
The silence no longer seemed a silence to him. It was filled with the
beating of his heart, the singing of his love, a gentle sigh now and then
that came like a deeper breath between Jeanne's sweet lips. It was a
silence that pulsated with a voiceless and intoxicating life for him, and
he was happy. In these moments, when even their voices were stilled,
Jeanne belonged to him, and to him alone. He could feel the warmth of her
presence. He felt still the thrill of her breast against his own, the
touch of her hair upon his lips, the gentle clinging of her arms. The
spirit of her moved, and sat awake, and talked with him, just as the old
spirit of his dreams had communed with him a thousand times in his
loneliness. Dreams were at an end. Now had come reality.
He looked up into the sky. The moon had dropped below the southwestern
forests, and there were only the stars above him, filling a gray-blue
vault in which there was not even the lingering mist of a cloud. It was a
beautifully clear night, and he wondered how the light fell so that it
did not reveal Jeanne in her nest. The thought that came to him then set
his heart tingling and made his face radiant. Even the stars were
guarding Jeanne, and refused to disclose the mystery of her slumber. He
laughed within himself. His being throbbed, and suddenly a voice seemed
to cry softly, trembling in its joy:
"Jeanne! Jeanne! My beloved Jeanne!"
With horror Philip caught himself too late. He had spoken the words
aloud. For an instant reality had transformed itself into the old dream,
and his dream-spirit had called to its mate for the first time in words.
Appalled at what he had said, Philip bent over and listened. He heard
Jeanne's breathing. It was deeper than before. She was surely asleep!
He straightened himself and resumed his paddling. He was glad now that
he had spoken. Jeanne seemed nearer to him after those words.
Before this night he never realized how beautiful the wilderness was,
how complete it could be. It had offered him visions of new life, but
these visions had never quite shut out the memories of old pain. He
watched and listened. The water rippled behind his canoe; it trickled in
a soothing cadence after each dip of his paddle; he heard the gentle
murmur of it among the reeds and grasses, and now and then the gurgling
laughter of it, like the faintest tinkling of dainty bells. He had never
understood it before; he had never joined in its happiness. The night
sounds came to him with a different meaning, filled him with different
sensations. As he slipped quietly around a bend in the river he heard a
splashing ahead of him, and knew that a moose was feeding, belly-deep, in
the water. At other times the sound would have set his fingers itching
for a rifle, but now it was a part of the music of the night. Later he
heard the crashing of a heavy body along the shore and in the distance
the lonely howl of a wolf. He listened to the sounds with a quiet
pleasure instead of creeping thrills which they once sent through him.
Every sound spoke of Jeanne—of Jeanne and her world, into which
each stroke of his paddle carried them a little deeper.
And yet the truth could not but come to him that Jeanne was but a
stranger. She was a creature of mystery, as she lay there asleep in the
bow of the canoe; he loved her, and yet he did not know her. He confessed
to himself, as the night lengthened, that he would be glad when morning
came. Jeanne would clear up a half of his perplexities then, perhaps all
of them. He would at least learn more about herself and the reason for
the attack at Fort Churchill.
He paddled for another hour, and then looked at his watch by the light
of a match. It was three o'clock.
Jeanne had not moved, but as the match burned out between his fingers
she startled him by speaking.
"Is it nearly morning, M'sieur?"
"An hour until dawn," said Philip. "You have been sleeping a long
time—" Her name was on his lips, but he found it a little more
difficult to speak now. And yet there was a gentleness in Jeanne's
"M'SIEUR" which encouraged him. "Are you getting hungry?" he asked.
"Pierre and my father always ask me that when THEY are starving,"
replied Jeanne, sitting erect in her nest so that Philip saw her face and
the shimmer of her hair. "There is everything to eat in the pack, M'sieur
Philip, even to a bottle of olives."
"Good!" cried Philip, delighted, "But won't you please cut out that
'm'sieur?' My greatest weakness is a desire to be called by my first
name. Will you?"
"If it pleases you," said Jeanne. "There is everything there to eat,
and I will make you a cup of coffee, M'sieur—"
There was a ripple of laughter in the girl's voice. Philip fairly
"You were prepared for this journey," he said. "You were going to
leave after you saw me on the rock. I have been wondering why—why
you took enough interest in me—"
He knew that he was blundering, and in the darkness his face turned
red. Jeanne's tact was delightful.
"We were curious about you," she said, with bewitching candor. "Pierre
is the most inquisitive creature in the world, and I wanted to thank you
for returning my handkerchief. I'm sorry you didn't find a bit of lace
which I lost at the same time!"
"I did!" exclaimed Philip.
He bit his tongue, and cursed himself at this fresh break. Jeanne was
silent. After a moment she said:
"Shall I make you some coffee?"
"Will you be able to do it? Your foot—"
"I had forgotten that," she said. "It doesn't hurt any more. But I can
show you how."
Her unaffected ingenuousness, the sweetness of her voice, the
simplicity and ease of her manner delighted Philip, and at the same time
filled him with amazement. He had never met a forest girl like Jeanne.
Her beauty, her queen-like bearing, when she had stood with Pierre on the
rock, had puzzled him and filled him with admiration. But now her voice,
the music of her words, her quickness of perception added tenfold to
those impressions. It might have been Miss Brokaw who was sitting there
in the bow talking to him, only Jeanne's voice was sweeter than Miss
Brokaw's; and even in the lightest of the words she had spoken there was
a tone of sincerity and truth. It flashed upon Philip that Jeanne might
have stepped from a convent school, where gentle voices had taught her
and language was formed in the ripe fullness of music. In a moment he
believed that something like this had happened.
"We will go ashore," he said, searching for an open space. "This must
be tedious to you, if you are not accustomed to it."
"Accustomed to it, M'sieur—Philip!" exclaimed Jeanne, catching
herself. "I was born here!"
"In the wilderness?"
"At Fort o' God."
"You have not always lived there?"
For a brief space Jeanne was silent.
"Yes, always, M'sieur. I am eighteen years old, and this is the first
time that I have ever seen what you people call civilization. It is my
first visit to Fort Churchill. It is the first time I have ever been away
from Fort o' God."
Jeanne's voice was low and subdued. It rang with truth. In it there
was something that was almost tragedy. For a breath or two Philip's heart
seemed to stop its beating, and he leaned far over, looking straight and
questioningly into the beautiful face that met his own. In that moment
the world had opened and engulfed him in a wonder which at first his mind
could not comprehend.
The canoe ran among the reeds, with its bow to the shore. Philip's
astonishment still held him motionless.
"A little while ago you asked me if I would tell you anything but
—but—the truth," he stammered, trying to find words to
express himself, "and this—"
"Is the truth," interrupted Jeanne, a little coolly. "Why should I
tell you an untruth, M'sieur?"
Philip had asked himself that same question shortly after their first
meeting on the cliff. And now in the girl's question there was sounded a
warning for him to be more discreet.
"I did not mean that," he cried, quickly. "Please forgive me.
Only—it is so wonderful, so almost IMPOSSIBLE to believe. Do you
know what I thought of for three-quarters of the night after I left you
and Pierre on the rock? It was of years—centuries ago. I put you
and Pierre back there. It seemed as though you had come to me from out of
another world, that you had strayed from the chivalry and beauty of some
royal court, that a queen's painter might have known and made a picture
of you, as I saw you there, but that to me you were only the vision of a
dream. And now you say that you have always lived here!"
He saw Jeanne's eyes glowing. She had lifted herself from among the
bearskins and was leaning toward him. Her face was quivering with
emotion; her whole being seemed concentrated on his words.
"M'sieur—Philip—did we seem—like that?" she asked,
"Yes, or I would not have written the letter," replied Philip. He
leaned forward over the pack, and his face was close to Jeanne's. "I had
just passed over the place where men and women of a century or two ago
were buried, and when I saw you and Pierre I thought of them; of
Mademoiselle D'Arcon, who left a prince to follow her lover to a grave
back there at Churchill, and I wondered if Grosellier—"
"Grosellier!" cried the girl.
She was breathing quickly, excitedly. Suddenly she drew back with a
little, nervous laugh.
"I am glad you thought of us like THAT," she added. "It was
Grosellier, le grand chevalier, who first lived at Fort o' God!"
Philip could no longer restrain himself. He forgot that the canoe was
lying motionless among the reeds and that they were to go ashore. In a
voice that trembled with his eagerness to be understood, to win her
confidence, he told her fully of what had happened that night on the
cliff. He repeated Pierre's instructions to him, described his terrible
fear for her, and in it all withheld but one thing—the name of Lord
Fitzhugh Lee. Jeanne listened to him without a word. She sat as erect as
one of the slender reeds among which the canoe was hidden. Her dark eyes
never left his face. They seemed to have grown darker when he
"May the great God reward you for what you have done," she said, in a
low voice, quivering with a suppressed passion. "You are brave, M'sieur
Philip—as brave as I have dreamed of men being."
Philip's heart throbbed with delight, and yet he said quickly:
"It isn't THAT. I have done nothing—nothing more than Pierre
would have done for me. But don't you understand? If there is to be a
reward for the little I have given—I could ask for nothing greater
than your confidence and Pierre's. There are reasons, and perhaps if I
told you those you would understand."
"I do understand, without further explanation," answered Jeanne, in
the same low, strained voice. "You fought for Pierre on the cliff, and
you have saved—me. We owe you everything, even our lives. I
understand, M'sieur Philip," she said, more softly, leaning still nearer
to him; "but I can tell you nothing."
"You prefer to leave that to Pierre," he said a little hurt. "I beg
"No, no! I don't mean that!" she cried, quickly. "You misunderstand
me. I mean that you know as much of this whole affair as I do, that you
know what I know, and perhaps more."
The emotion which she had suppressed burst forth now in a choking sob.
She recovered herself in an instant, her eyes still upon Philip.
"It was only a whim of mine that took us to Churchill," she went on,
before he could find words to say. "It is Pierre's secret why we lived in
our own camp and went down into Churchill but once— when the ship
came in. I do not know the reason for the attack. I can only
"And your guess—"
Jeanne drew back. For a moment she did not speak. Then she said,
without a note of harshness in her voice, but with the finality of a
"Father may tell you that when we reach Fort o' God!"
And then she suddenly leaned toward him again and held out both her
"If you only could know how I thank you!" she exclaimed,
For a moment Philip held her hands. He felt them trembling. In
Jeanne's eyes he saw the glisten of tears.
"Circumstances have come about so strangely," he said, his heart
palpitating at the warm pressure of her fingers, "that I half believed
you and Pierre could help me in—in an affair of my own. I would
give a great deal to find a certain person, and after the attack on the
cliff, and what Pierre said, I thought—"
He hesitated, and Jeanne gently drew her hands from him.
"I thought that you might know him," he finished. "His name is Lord
Jeanne gave no sign that she had heard the name before. The question
in her eyes remained unchanged.
"We have never heard of him at Fort o' God," she said.
Philip shoved the canoe more firmly upon the shore and stepped over
"This Fort o' God must be a wonderful place," he said, as he bent over
to help her. "You have aroused something in me I never thought I
possessed before—a tremendous curiosity."
"It is a wonderful place, M'sieur Philip," replied the girl, holding
up her hands to him. "But why should you guess it?"
"Because of you," laughed Philip. "I am half convinced that you take a
wicked delight in bewildering me."
He found Jeanne a comfortable spot on the bank, brought her one of the
bearskins, and began collecting a pile of dry reeds and wood.
"I am sure of it," he went on. He struck a match, and the reeds flared
into flame, lighting up his face,
Jeanne gave a startled cry.
"You are hurt!" she exclaimed. "Your face is red with blood."
Philip jumped back.
"I had forgotten that. I'll wash my face."
He waded into the edge of the water and began scrubbing himself. When
he returned, Jeanne looked at him closely. The fire illumined her pale
face. She had gathered her beautiful hair in a thick braid, which fell
over her shoulder. She appeared lovelier to him now than when he had
first seen her in the night-glow on the cliff. She was dressed the same.
He observed that the filmy bit of lace about her slender throat was torn,
and that one side of her short buckskin skirt was covered with half-dried
splashes of mud. His blood rose at these signs of the rough treatment of
those who had attacked her. It reached fever-heat when, coming nearer, he
saw a livid bruise on her forehead close up under her hair.
"They struck you?" he demanded.
He stood with his hands clenched. She smiled up at him.
"It was my fault," she explained. "I'm afraid I gave them a good deal
of trouble on the cliff."
She laughed outright at the fierceness in Philip's face, and so sweet
was the sound of it to him that his hands relaxed and he laughed with
"So help me, you're a brick!" he cried.
"There are pots and kettles and coffee and things to eat in the pack,
M'sieur Philip," reminded Jeanne, softly, as he still remained staring
down upon her.
Philip turned to the canoe, with a laugh that was like a boy's. He
threw the pack at Jeanne's feet and unstrapped it. Together they sorted
out the things they wanted, and Philip cut crotched sticks on which he
suspended two pots of water over the fire. He found himself whistling as
he gathered an armful of wood along the shore. When he came back Jeanne
had opened a bottle of olives and was nibbling at one, while she held out
another to him on the end of a fork.
"I love olives," she said. "Won't you have one?"
He accepted the thing, and ate it joyously, though he hated
"Where did you acquire the taste?" he asked. "I thought it took a
course at college to make one like 'em."
"I've been to college," answered Jeanne, quietly. There was a glow in
her cheeks now, a swift flash of tantalizing fun in her eyes, as she
fished after another olive. "I have been a student—a TENERIS
ANNIS," she added, and he stood stupefied.
"That's Latin!" he gasped.
"Oui, M'sieur. Wollen Sie noch eine Olive haben?"
Laughter rippled in her throat. She held out another olive to him, her
face aglow. Firelight danced in her hair, flooding its darker shadows
with lights of red and gold.
"I was sure of it," he exclaimed, convinced. "That's post-graduate
Latin and senior German, or I'm as mad as a March hare! Where—
where did you go to school?"
"At Fort o' God. Quick, M'sieur Philip, the water is boiling
Philip sprang to the fire. Jeanne handed him coffee, and set out cold
meat and bread. For the first time that night he pulled out his pipe and
filled it with tobacco.
"You don't mind if I smoke, do you, Miss Jeanne?" he groaned. "Under
some circumstances tobacco is the only thing that will hold me up. Do you
know that you are shaking my confidence in you?"
"I have told you nothing but the truth," retorted Jeanne, innocently.
She was still busying herself over the pack, but Philip caught the
slightest gleam of her laughing teeth.
"You are making fun of me," he remonstrated. "Tell me—where is
this Fort o' God, and what is it?"
"It is far up the Churchill, M'sieur Philip. It is a log chateau,
built hundreds and hundreds of years ago, I guess. My father, Pierre, and
I, with one other, live there alone among the savages. I have never been
so far away from home before."
"I suppose," said Philip, "that the savages up your way converse in
Latin, Greek, and German—"
"Latin, FRENCH, and German," corrected Jeanne. "We haven't added a
Greek course yet."
"I know of a girl," mused Philip, as though speaking to himself, "who
spent five years in a girls' college, and she can talk nothing but light
English. Her name is Eileen Brokaw."
Jeanne looked up, but only to point to the coffee.
"It is done," she advised, "unless you like it bitter."
Philip knew that Jeanne was watching him as he lifted the coffee from
the fire and placed the pot on the ground to cool. His mind was in a
hopeless tangle—a riot of things he would like to say, throbbing
with a hundred questions he would like to ask, one after another. And yet
Jeanne seemed bewitchingly unconscious of his uneasiness. Not one of his
references to names and events so vital to himself had in any way
produced a change in her. Was she, after all, innocent of all knowledge
in the things he wished to know? Was it possible that she was entirely
ignorant as to the identity of the men who had attacked Pierre and
herself on the cliff? Was it true that she did not know Eileen Brokaw,
that she had never heard of Lord Fitzhugh Lee, and that she had always
lived among the wild people of the north? By what miracle performed here
in the heart of a savage world could this girl talk to him in German and
Latin? Was she making fun of him? He turned to look at her and found her
dark, clear eyes upon him. She smiled at him in a tired little way, and
he saw nothing but sweetness and truth in her face. In an instant every
suspicion was swept away. He felt like a criminal for having doubted her;
and for a moment he was on the point of confessing to her what had been
in his thoughts. He restrained himself, and went to the river to wash the
pot-black from his hands. Jeanne was a mystery to him, a mystery that
delighted him and filled him each moment with a deeper love. He saw the
life and freedom of the forests in her every movement—in the
gesture of her hands, the bird-like poise of her pretty head, the lithe
grace of her slender body. She breathed the forests. It glowed in her
eyes, in the rich red of her lips, and revealed its beauty and strength
in the unconfined wealth of her gold-brown hair. In a dozen ways he could
see her primitiveness, her kinship to the wilderness. She had told him
the truth. Her eyes smiled truth at him as he came up the bank. No other
woman's eyes had ever looked at him like hers; none had he seen so
beautiful. And yet in them he saw nothing that she would not have
expressed in words—companionship, trust, thankfulness that he was
there to care for her. Such eyes as those belonged only to the
wilderness, brimming with the flawless beauty of an undefiled nature. He
had seen them, but not so beautiful, in Cree women. He thought of Eileen
Brokaw's eyes as he looked at Jeanne's. They were very beautiful, but
they were DIFFERENT. Jeanne's could not lie.
On a white napkin Jeanne had spread out cold meat, bread, pickles, and
cheese, and Philip brought her the coffee. He noticed that she was
resting a little of her weight upon her injured ankle.
"Better?" he asked, indicating the bandaged ankle with a nod of his
"Much," replied Jeanne, as tersely. "I'm going to try standing upon it
in a few minutes. But not now. I'm starved."
She gave him his coffee and began eating with a relish that made him
want to sit back and watch her. Instead, he joined her; and they ate like
two hungry children. It was when she turned him out a second cup of
coffee that Philip noticed her hand tremble a little.
"If Pierre was here we would be quite happy, M'sieur Philip," she
said, uneasily. "I can't understand why he asked you to run away with me
to Fort o' God. If he is not badly hurt, as you have told me, why do we
not hide and wait for him? He would overtake us to-morrow."
"There—there was no time to talk over plans," answered Philip,
inwardly embarrassed for a moment by the unexpectedness of Jeanne's
question. A vision of Pierre, bleeding and unconscious on the cliff,
leaped into his mind, and the thought that he had lied to Jeanne and must
still make her believe what was half false sickened him. There was, after
all, a chance that Pierre would never again come up the Churchill.
"Perhaps Pierre thought we would be hotly pursued," he went on, seeing no
escape from the demand in the girl's eyes. "In that event it would be
best for me to get you to Fort o' God as quickly as possible. You must
remember that Pierre was thinking of you. He can care for himself. It may
take him two or three days to get back the strength of—of his arm,"
he finished, blindly.
"He was wounded in the arm?"
"And on the head," said Philip. "It was only a scalp wound,
however—nothing at all, except that it dazed him a little at the
Jeanne pointed to the reflection of the fire on the river.
"If we should be pursued?" she suggested.
"There is no danger," assured Philip, though he had left the flap of
his revolver holster unbuttoned. "They will search for us between their
camp and Churchill."
"Citius venit periculum cum contemnitur," remonstrated Jeanne, half
She was pale, but Philip saw that she was making a tremendous effort
to appear brave and cheerful.
"Perhaps you are right," laughed Philip, "but I swear that I don't
know what you mean. I suppose you picked that lingo up among the
He caught the faintest gleam of Jeanne's white teeth again as she bent
"I have a tutor at home," she explained, softly. "You shall meet him
when we reach Fort o' God. He is the most wonderful man in the
Her words sent a strange chill through Philip. They were filled with
an exquisite tenderness, a pride that sent her eyes back to his, glowing.
The questions that he had meant to ask died and faded away. He thought of
her words of a few minutes before, when he had asked about Fort o' God.
She had said, "My father, Pierre, and I, WITH ONE OTHER, live there
alone." The OTHER was the tutor, the man who had come from civilization
to teach this beautiful girl those things which had amazed him, and this
man was THE MOST WONDERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD. He had no excuse for the
feelings which were aroused in him. Only he knew, as he rose to his feet,
that a part of his old burden seemed suddenly to have returned to his
shoulders, and the old loneliness was beating at the door of his heart.
He rearranged the pack in silence, and the strength and joy of life were
gone from his arms when he helped Jeanne back to her place among the
bear-skins. He did not notice that her eyes were watching him curiously,
or that her lips trembled once or twice, as if about to speak words which
never came. Jeanne, as well as he, seemed to have discovered something
which neither dared to reveal in that last five minutes on the shore.
"There is one thing that I must know," said Philip, when they were
about to start, "and that is where to find Fort o' God? Is it on the
"It is on the Little Churchill, M'sieur, near Waskiaowaka Lake."
Darkness concealed the effect of her words upon Philip. For a moment
he stared like one struck dumb. He stifled the exclamation that rose to
his lips. He felt himself trembling. He knew that if he spoke his voice
would betray him.
NEAR WASKIAOWAKA LAKE! And Waskiaowaka was within thirty miles of his
own camp on the Blind Indian! If a bomb had burst under his feet he could
not have been more amazed than at this information, given to him in
Jeanne's quiet voice. Fort o' God—within thirty miles of the scene
where very soon he was to fight the great battle of his life! He dug his
paddle into the water and sent the canoe hissing up the river. His blood
pounded like that of a racehorse on the home-stretch. Of all the things
that had happened, of all he had learned, this was the most significant.
Every thought ran like a separate powder-flash to a single idea, to one
great, overpowering question. Were Fort o' God and its people the key to
the plot against himself and his company? Was it the rendezvous of those
who were striving to work his ruin? Doubt, suspicion, almost belief came
to him in those few moments, in spite of himself.
He looked at Jeanne. The gray dawn was breaking, and now light
followed swiftly and dissolved the last mist. In the chill of early
morning, when with the approach of the sun a cold, uncomfortable sweat
rises heavily from the earth and water, Jeanne had drawn one of the
bearskins closely about her. Her head was bare. Her hair, glistening with
damp, clung in heavy masses about her face. There was a bewitching
childishness about her, a pathetic appeal to him in the forlorn little
picture she made—so helpless, and yet so confident in him. Every
energy in him leaped up in defiance of the revolution which for a few
moments had stirred within him. And Jeanne, as though she had read the
working of his mind, looked straight at him and smiled, with a little
purring note in her throat that took the place of a thousand words. It
was such a smile, and yet not one of love, which puts the strength of ten
men in one man's arms; and Philip laughed back at her, every chord in his
body responding in joyous vibration to the delicate note that had come
with it. No matter what events might find their birth at Fort o' God,
Jeanne was innocent of all knowledge of plot or wrong-doing. Once for all
Philip convinced himself of this.
The thought that came to him, as he looked at Jeanne, found voice
through his lips.
"Do you know," he said, "if I never saw you again I would always have
three pictures of you in my memory. I would never forget how you looked
when I first saw you on the cliff—or as I see you now, wrapped in
your bearskins. Only—I would think of you—as you smiled."
"And the third picture?" questioned Jeanne, little guessing what was
in his mind. "Would that be at the fire, when I burned the bad man's
She stopped herself, and pouted her mouth in sudden vexation, while a
flush which Philip could easily see rose in her cheeks.
"When I doctored your foot?" he finished, rather unchivalrously,
chuckling in his delight at her pretty discomfiture. "No, that wouldn't
be the third, Miss Jeanne. The other scene which I shall never forget was
that on the stone pier at Churchill, when you met a beautiful girl who
was coming off the ship."
The blood leaped to Jeanne's face. Her soft lips tightened. A sudden
movement, and the bearskin slipped from her shoulders, leaving her
leaning a little forward, her eyes blazing. A dozen words had transformed
her from the child he had fancied her to a woman quivering with some
powerful emotion, her beautiful head proud and erect, her nostrils
dilating with the quickness of her breath.
"That was a mistake," she said. There was no sign of passion in her
voice. It trembled a little, but that was all. "It was a mistake, M'sieur
Philip. I thought that I knew her, and—and I was wrong.
You—you must not remember THAT!"
"I am no better than a wild beast," groaned Philip, hating himself.
"I'm the biggest idiot in the world when it comes to saying the wrong
thing, I never miss a chance. I didn't mean to say anything—that
"You haven't," interrupted the girl, quickly, seeing the distress in
his face. "You haven't said a thing that's wrong. Only I don't want you
to remember THAT picture. I want you to think of me as— as—I
burned the bad man's neck."
She was laughing now, though her breast was rising and falling a
little excitedly and the deep color was still in her cheeks.
"Will you?" she entreated.
"Until I die," he exclaimed.
She was fumbling under the luggage, and dragged forth a second
"I've had an easy time with you, M'sieur Philip," she said, turning so
that she was kneeling with her back to him. "Pierre makes me work. Always
I kneel here, in the bow, and paddle. I am ashamed of myself. You have
worked all night."
"And I feel as fresh as though I had slept for a week," declared
Philip, his eyes devouring the slim figure a paddle's length in front of
For an hour they continued up the river, with scarcely a word between
them to break the silence. Their paddles rose and fell with a rhythmic
motion; the water rippled like low music under their canoe; the spell of
the silent shores, of voiceless beauty, of the wilderness awakening into
day appealed to them both and held them quiet. The sun broke faintly
through the drawn mists behind. Its first rays lighted up Jeanne's
rumpled hair, so that her heavy braid, partly undone and falling upon the
luggage behind her, shone in rich and changing colors that fascinated
Philip. He had thought that Jeanne's hair was very dark, but he saw now
that it was filled with the rare life of a Titian head, running from red
to gold and dark brown, with changing shadows and flashes of light. It
was beautiful. And Jeanne, as he looked at her, he thought to be the most
beautiful thing on earth. The movement of her arms, the graceful, sinuous
twists of her slender body as she put her strength upon the paddle, the
poise of her head, the piquant tilt to her chin whenever she turned so
that he caught a half profile of her flushed, eager face all filled his
cup of admiration to overflowing. And he found himself wondering,
suddenly, how this girl could be a sister to Pierre Couchee. He saw in
her no sign of French or half-breed blood. Her hair was fine and soft,
and waved about her ears and where it fell loose upon the back. The color
in her cheeks was as delicate as the tints of the bakneesh flower. She
had rolled up her broad cuffs to give her greater freedom in paddling,
and her arms shone white and firm, glistening with the wet drip of the
paddle. He was marveling at her relationship to Pierre when she looked
back at him, her face aglow with exercise and the spice of the morning,
and he saw the sunlight as blue as the sky above him in her eyes. If he
had not known, he would have sworn that there was not a drop of Pierre's
blood in her veins.
"We are coming to the first rapids, M'sieur Philip," she announced.
"It is just beyond that ugly mountain of rock ahead of us, and we will
have a quarter-mile portage. It is filled with great stones and so swift
that Pierre and I nearly wrecked ourselves coming down."
It was the most that had been said since the beginning of that
wonderful hour that had come before the first gleam of sunrise, and
Philip, laying his paddle athwart the canoe, stretched himself and
yawned, as though he had just awakened.
"Poor boy," said Jeanne; and it struck him that her words were
strangely like those which Eileen might have spoken had she been there,
only an artless comradeship replaced what would have been Miss Brokaw's
tone of intimacy. She added, with genuine sympathy in her face and voice:
"You must be exhausted, M'sieur Philip. If you were Pierre I should
insist upon going ashore for a number of hours. Pierre obeys me when we
are together. He calls me his captain. Won't you let me command you?"
"If you will let me call you—my captain," replied Philip. "Only
there is one thing—one reservation. We must go on. Command me in
everything else, but we must go on—for a time. To-night I will
sleep. I will sleep like the dead. So, My Captain," he laughed, "may I
have your permission to work to-day?"
Jeanne was turning the bow shoreward. Her back was turned to him
"You have no pity on me," she pouted. "Pierre would be good to me, and
we would fish all day in that pretty pool over there. I'll bet it's full
Her words, her manner of speaking them, was a new revelation to
Philip. She was delightful. He laughed, and his voice rang out in the
clear morning like a school-boy's. Jeanne pretended that she saw nothing
to laugh at, and no sooner had the canoe touched shore than she sprang
lightly out, not waiting for his assistance. With a laughing cry, she
stumbled and fell. Philip was at her side in an instant.
"You shouldn't have done that," he objected. "I am your doctor, and I
insist that your foot is not well."
"But it is!" cried Jeanne, and he saw that there was laughter instead
of pain in her eyes. "It's the bandage. My right foot feels like that of
a Chinese debutante. Ugh! I'm going to undo it."
"You've been to China, too," mused Philip, half to himself.
"I know that it's filled with yellow girls, and that they squeeze
their feet like this," said Jeanne, unlacing her moccasin. "My tutor and
I have just finished a delightful trip along the Great Wall. We'd go to
Peking, in an automobile, if I wasn't afraid."
Philip's groan was audible. He went to the canoe, and Jeanne's red
lips curled in a merriment which it was hard for her too suppress. Philip
did not see. When he had unloaded the canoe and turned, Jeanne was
walking slowly back and forth, limping a little.
"It's all right," she said, answering the question on his lips. "I
don't feel any pain at all, but my foot's asleep. Won't you please
unstrap the small pack? I'm going to make my toilet while you are gone
with the canoe."
Half an hour later Philip unshouldered the canoe at the upper end of
the rapids. His own toilet articles were back in the cabin with Gregson,
but he took a wash in the river and combed his hair with his fingers.
When he returned, there was a transformation in Jeanne. Her beautiful
hair was done up in shining coils. She had changed her bedraggled skirt
for another of soft, yellow buckskin. At her throat she wore a fluffy
mass of crimson stuff which seemed to reflect a richer rose-flush in her
cheeks. A curious thought came to Philip as he looked at her. Like a
flash the memory of a certain night came to him—when it had taken
Miss Brokaw and her maid two hours to make a toilet for a ball. And
Jeanne, in the heart of a wilderness, had made herself more beautiful
than Eileen. He imagined, as she stood before him, a little embarrassed
by the admiration in his eyes, the sensation Jeanne would create in a
ballroom at home. And then he laughed—laughed joyously at thoughts
which he could not reveal to Jeanne, and which she, by some quick
intuition, knew that she should not ask him to express.
Twice again Philip made the portage, accompanied the second time by
Jeanne, who insisted on carrying a small pack and two paddles. In spite
of his determination and splendid physique, Philip began to feel the
effects of the tremendous strain which he had been under for so long. He
counted back and found that he had slept but six hours in the last
forty-eight. There was a warning ache in his shoulders and a gnawing pain
in the bones of his forearms. But he knew that he had not yet made
sufficient headway up the Churchill. It would not be difficult for him to
make a camp far enough back in the bush to avoid discovery; but, at the
same time, if he and Jeanne were pursued, the stop would give their
enemies a chance to get ahead of them. This danger he wished to
He flattered himself that Jeanne saw no signs of his weakening. He did
not know that Jeanne put more and more effort into her paddle, until her
arms and body ached, because she saw the truth.
The Churchill narrowed and its current became swifter as they
progressed. Five portages were made between sunrise and eleven o'clock.
They ate dinner at the fifth, and rested for two hours. Then the journey
was resumed. It was three o'clock when Jeanne dropped her paddle and
turned to Philip. There were deep lines in his face. He smiled, but there
was more of haggard misery than cheer in the smile. There was an
unnatural flush in his cheeks, and he began to feel a burning pain where
the blow had fallen upon his head before. For a full half-minute Jeanne
looked at him without speaking. "Philip," she said—and it was the
first time she had spoken his name in this way, "I insist upon going
ashore immediately. If you do not land—now—in that opening
ahead, I shall jump out, and you can go on alone."
"As you say—my Captain Jeanne," surrendered Philip, a little
Jeanne guided the canoe to the shore, and was the first to spring out,
while Philip steadied the light craft with his paddle. She pointed to the
"We will want the tent—everything," she said, "because we are
going to camp here until to-morrow."
Once on shore, Philip's dizziness left him. He pulled the canoe high
up on the bank, and then Jeanne and he set off, side by side, to explore
the high, wooded ground back from the river. They followed a well-worn
moose trail, and two or three hundred yards from the stream came upon a
small opening cluttered by great rocks and surrounded by clumps of birch,
spruce, and banskian pine. The moose trail crossed this rough open space;
and, following it to the opposite side, Philip and Jeanne came upon a
clear, rippling little stream, scarcely two yards in width, hidden in
places under thick caribou moss and jungles of seedling pines. It was an
ideal camping spot, and Jeanne gave a little cry of delight when they
found the cold water of the creek.
Philip then returned to the river, concealed the canoe, covered up all
traces of their landing, and began to carry the camping outfit back to
the open. The small silk tent for Jeanne's use he set up in a little
grassy corner of the clearing, and built their fire a dozen paces from
it. With a sort of thrilling pleasure he began cutting balsam boughs for
Jeanne's bed. He cut armful after armful, and it was growing dusk in the
forest by the time he was done. In the glow and the heat of the fire
Jeanne's cheeks were as pink as an apple. She had turned a big flat rock
into a table, and as she busied herself about this she burst suddenly
into a soft ripple of song; then, remembering that it was not Pierre who
was near her, she stopped. Philip, with his last armful of bedding, was
directly behind her, and he laughed happily at her over the green mass of
balsam when she turned and saw him looking at her.
"You like this?" he asked.
"It is glorious!" cried Jeanne, her eyes flashing. She seemed to grow
taller before him, and stood with her head thrown back, lips parted,
gazing upon the wilderness about her. "It is glorious!" she repeated,
breathing deeply. "There is nothing in the whole world that could make me
give this up, M'sieur Philip. I was born in it. I want to die in it.
Her face clouded for a moment as her eyes rested upon his.
"Your civilization is coming north to spoil it all," she added, and
turned to the rock table.
Philip dropped his load.
"Supper is ready," she said, and the cloud had passed.
It was Jeanne's first reference to his own people, to the invasion of
civilization into the north, and there recurred to Philip the words in
which she had cried out her hatred against Churchill. But Jeanne did not
betray herself again. She was quiet while they were eating, and Philip
saw that she was very tired. When they had finished, they sat for a few
minutes watching the lowering flames of the fire. Darkness had gathered
about them. Their faces and the rock were illumined more and more faintly
as the embers died down. A silence fell upon them. In the banskians close
behind them an owl hooted softly, a cautious, drumming note, as though
the night- bird possessed still a fear of the newly dead day. The brush
gave out sound—voices infinitesimally small, strange quiverings,
rustlings that might have been made by wind, by breath, by shadows,
almost. Overhead the tips of the spruce and tall pines whispered among
themselves, as they never commune by day. Spirits seemed to move among
them, sending down to Jeanne's and Philip's listening ears a restful,
sleepy murmur. Farther back there sounded a deep sniff, where a moose,
traveling the well-worn trail, stopped in sudden fear and wonder at the
strange man-scent which came to its nostrils. And still farther, from
some little lake nameless and undiscovered in the black depths of the
forest to the south, a great northern loon sent out its cowardly cry of
defiance to all night things, and then plunged deep under water, as
though frightened into the depths by its own mad jargon. The fire died
lower. Philip moved a little nearer to the girl, whose breathing he could
"Jeanne," he said, softly, fighting to keep himself from touching her
hand, "I know what you mean—I understand. Two years ago I gave up
civilization for this. I am glad that I wrote to you as I did, for now
you will believe me and know that I understand. I love this world up here
as you love it. I am never going back again."
Jeanne was silent.
"But there is one thing, at least one—which I cannot understand
in you," he went on, nerving himself for what might come a moment later.
"You are of this world—you hate civilization—and yet you have
brought a man into the north to teach you its ways. I mean this man who
you say is the most wonderful man in the world."
He waited, trembling. It seemed an eternity before Jeanne answered.
And then she said:
"He is my father, M'sieur Philip."
Philip could not speak. Darkness hid him from Jeanne. She did not see
that which leaped into his face, and that for a moment he was on the
point of flinging himself at her feet.
"You spoke of yourself, of Pierre, of your father, and of one other at
Fort o' God," said Philip. "I thought that he—the other —was
"No, it is Pierre's sister," replied Jeanne.
"Your sister! You have a sister?"
He could hear Jeanne catch her breath.
"Listen, M'sieur,'" she said, after a moment. "I must tell you a
little about Pierre, a story of something that happened a long, long time
ago. It was in the middle of a terrible winter, and Pierre was then a
boy. One day he was out hunting and he came upon a trail—the trail
of a woman who had dragged herself through the snow in her moccasined
feet. It was far out upon a barren, where there was no life, and he
followed. He found her, M'sieur, and she was dead. She had died from cold
and starvation. An hour sooner he might have saved her, for, wrapped up
close against her breast, he found a little child—a baby girl, and
she was alive. He brought her to Fort o' God, M'sieur—to a noble
man who lived there almost alone; and there, through all these years, she
has lived and grown up. And no one knows who her mother was, or who her
father was, and so it happens that Pierre, who found her, is her brother,
and the man who has loved her and cared for her is her father."
"And she is the other at Fort o' God—Pierre's sister," said
Jeanne rose from the rock and moved toward the tent, glimmering
indistinctly in the night. Her voice came back chokingly.
"No, M'sieur. Pierre's real sister is at Fort o' God. I am the one
whom he found out on the barren."
To the night sounds there was added a heart-broken sob, and Jeanne
disappeared in the tent.
Philip sat where Jeanne had left him. He was powerless to move or to
say a word that might have recalled her. Her own grief, quivering in that
one piteous sob, overwhelmed him. It held him mute and listening, with
the hope that each instant the tent-flap might open and Jeanne reappear.
And yet if she came he had no words to say. Unwittingly he had probed
deep into one of those wounds that never heal, and he realized that to
ask forgiveness would be but another blunder. He almost groaned as he
thought of what he had done. In his desire to understand, to know more
about Jeanne, he had driven her into a corner. What he had forced from
her he might have learned a little later from Pierre or from the father
at Fort o' God. He thought that Jeanne must despise him now, for he had
taken advantage of her helplessness and his own position. He had saved
her from her enemies; and in return she had opened her heart, naked and
bleeding, to his eyes. What she had told him was not a voluntary
confidence; it was a confession wrung from her by the rack of his
questionings—the confession that she was a waif-child, that Pierre
was not her brother, and that the man at Fort o' God was not her father.
He had gone to the very depths of that which was sacred to herself and
those whom she loved.
He rose and stirred the fire, and stray ends of birch leaped into
flame, lighting his pale face. He wanted to go to the tent, kneel there
where Jeanne could hear him, and tell her that it was all a mistake. Yet
he knew that this could not be, neither the next day nor the next, for to
plead extenuation for himself would be to reveal his love. Two or three
times he had been on the point of revealing that love. Only now, after
what had happened, did it occur to him that to disclose his heart to
Jeanne would be the greatest crime he could commit. She was alone with
him in the heart of a wilderness, dependent upon him, upon his honor. He
shivered when he thought how narrow had been his escape, how short a time
he had known her, and how in that brief spell he had given himself up to
an almost insane hope. To him Jeanne was not a stranger. She was the
embodiment, in flesh and blood, of the spirit which had been his
companion for so long. He loved her more than ever now, for Jeanne the
lost child of the snows was more the earthly revelation of his beloved
spirit than Jeanne the sister of Pierre. But—what was he to
He left the fire and went to the pile of balsam which he had spread
out between two rocks for his bed. He lay down and pulled Pierre's
blanket over him, but his fatigue and his desire for sleep seemed to have
left him, and it was a long time before slumber finally drove from him
the thought of what he had done. After that he did not move. He heard
none of the sounds of the night. A little owl, the devil-witch, screamed
horribly overhead and awakened Jeanne, who sat up for a few moments in
her balsam bed, white-faced and shivering. But Philip slept. Long
afterward something warm awakened him, and he opened his eyes, thinking
that it was the glow of the fire in his face. It was the sun. He heard a
sound which brought him quickly into consciousness of day. It was Jeanne
singing softly over beyond the rocks.
He had dreaded the coming of morning, when he would have to face
Jeanne. His guilt hung heavily upon him. But the sound of her voice, low
and sweet, filled with the carroling happiness of a bird, brought a glad
smile to his lips. After all, Jeanne had understood him. She had forgiven
him, if she had not forgotten.
For the first time he noticed the height of the sun, and he sat bolt
upright. Jeanne saw his head and shoulders pop over the top of the rocks,
and she laughed at him from their stone table.
"I've been keeping breakfast for over an hour, M'sieur Philip," she
cried. "Hurry down to the creek and wash yourself, or I shall eat all
Philip rose stupidly and looked at his watch.
"Eight o'clock!" he gasped. "We should have been ten miles on the way
by this time!"
Jeanne was still laughing at him. Like sunlight she dispelled his
gloom of the night before. A glance around the camp showed him that she
must have been awake for at least two hours. The packs were filled and
strapped. The silken tent was down and folded. She had gathered wood,
built the fire, and cooked breakfast while he slept. And now she stood a
dozen paces from him, blushing a little at his amazed stare, waiting for
"It's deuced good of you, Miss Jeanne!" he exclaimed. "I don't deserve
such kindness from you."
"Oh!" said Jeanne, and that was all. She bent over the fire, and
Philip went to the creek.
He was determined now to maintain a more certain hold upon himself. As
he doused his face in the cold water his resolutions formed themselves.
For the next few days he would forget everything but the one fact that
Jeanne was in his care; he would not hurt her again or compel her
It was after nine o'clock before they were upon the river. They
paddled without a rest until twelve. After lunch Philip confiscated
Jeanne's paddle and made her sit facing him in the canoe.
The afternoon passed like a dream to Philip, He did not refer again to
Fort o' God or the people there; he did not speak again of Eileen Brokaw,
of Lord Fitzhugh, or of Pierre. He talked of himself and of those things
which had once been his life. He told of his mother and his father, who
had died, and of the little sister, whom he had worshiped, but who had
gone with the others. He bared his loneliness to her as he would have
told them to the sister, had she lived; and Jeanne's soft blue eyes were
filled with tenderness and sympathy. And then he talked of Gregson's
world. Within himself he called it no longer his own.
It was Jeanne who questioned now. She asked about cities and great
people, about books and WOMEN. Her knowledge amazed Philip. She might
have visited the Louvre. One would have guessed that she had walked in
the streets of Paris, Berlin, and London. She spoke of Johnson, of
Dickens, and of Balzac as though they had died but yesterday. She was
like one who had been everywhere and yet saw everything through a veil
that bewildered her. In her simplicity she unfolded herself to Philip,
leaf by leaf, petal by petal, like the morning apios that surrenders its
mysteries to the sun. She knew the world which he had come from, its
people, its cities, its greatness; and yet her knowledge was like that of
the blind. She knew, but she had never seen; and in her wistfulness to
see as HE could see there was a sweetness and a pathos which made every
fiber in his body sing with a quiet and thrilling joy. He knew, now, that
the man who was at Fort o' God must, indeed, be the most wonderful man in
the world. For out of a child of the snows, of the forest, of a savage
desolation, he had made Jeanne. And Jeanne was glorious!
The afternoon passed, and they made thirty miles before they camped
for the night. They traveled the next day, and the one that followed. On
the afternoon of the fourth they were approaching Big Thunder Rapids,
close to the influx of the Little Churchill, sixty miles from Fort o'
These days, too, passed for Philip with joyous swiftness; swiftly
because they were too short for him. His life, now, was Jeanne. Each day
she became a more vital part of him. She crept into his soul until there
was no longer left room for any other thought than of her. And yet his
happiness was tampered by a thing which, if not grief, depressed and
saddened him at times. Two days more and they would be at Fort o' God,
and there Jeanne would be no longer his own, as she was now. Even the
wilderness has its conventionality, and at Fort o' God their comradeship
would end. A day of rest, two at the most, and he would leave for the
camp on Blind Indian Lake. As the time drew nearer when they would be but
friends and no longer comrades, Philip could not always hide the signs of
gloom which weighed upon him. He revealed nothing in words; but now and
then Jeanne had caught him when the fears at his heart betrayed
themselves in his face. Jeanne became happier as their journey approached
its end. She was alive every moment, joyous, expectant, looking ahead to
Fort o' God; and this in itself was a bitterness to Philip, though he
knew that he was a fool for allowing it to be so. He reasoned, with dull,
masculine wit, that if Jeanne cared for him at all she would not be so
anxious for their comradeship to end. But these moods, when they came,
passed quickly. And on this afternoon of the fourth day they passed away
entirely, for in an instant there came a solution to it all. They had
known each other but four days, yet that brief time had encompassed what
might not have been in as many years. Life, smooth, uneventful, develops
friendship slowly; an hour of the unusual may lay bare a soul. Philip
thought of Eileen Brokaw, whose heart was still a closed mystery to him;
who was a stranger, in spite of the years he had known her. In four days
he had known Jeanne a lifetime; in those four days Jeanne had learned
more of him than Eileen Brokaw could ever know. So he arrived at the
resolution which made him, too, look eagerly ahead to the end of the
journey. At Fort o' God he would tell Jeanne of his love.
Jeanne was looking at him when the determination came. She saw the
gloom pass, a flush mount into his face; and when he saw her eyes upon
him he laughed, without knowing why.
"If it is so funny," she said, "please tell me."
It was a temptation, but he resisted it.
"It is a secret," he said, "which I shall keep until we reach Fort o'
Jeanne turned her face up-stream to listen. A dozen times she had done
this during the last half-hour, and Philip had listened with her. At
first they had heard a distant murmur, rising as they advanced, like an
autumn wind that grows stronger each moment in the tree-tops. The murmur
was steady now, without the variations of a wind. It was the distant
roaring of the rocks and rushing floods of Big Thunder Rapids. It grew
steadily from a murmur to a moan, from a moan to rumbling thunder. The
current became so swift that Philip was compelled to use all his strength
to force the canoe ahead. A few moments later he turned into shore.
From where they landed, a worn trail led up to one of the precipitous
walls of rock and shut in the Big Thunder Rapids. Everything about them
was rock. The trail was over rock, worn smooth by the countless feet of
centuries—clawed feet, naked feet, moccasined feet, the feet of
white men. It was the Great Portage, for animal as well as man. Philip
went up with the pack, and Jeanne followed behind him. The thunder
increased. It roared in their ears until they could no longer hear their
own voices. Directly above the rapids the trail was narrow, scarcely
eight feet in width, shut in on the land side by a mountain wall, on the
other by the precipice. Philip looked behind, and saw Jeanne hugging
close to the wall. Her face was white, her eyes shone with terror and
awe. He spoke to her, but she saw only the movement of his lips. Then he
put down his pack and went close to the edge of the precipice.
Sixty feet below him was the Big Thunder, a chaos of lashing foam, of
slippery, black-capped rocks bobbing and grimacing amid the rushing
torrents like monsters playing at hide-and-seek. Now one rose high, as
though thrust up out of chaos by giant hands; then it sank back, and
milk-white foam swirled softly over the place where it had been. There
seemed to be life in the chaos—a grim, terrible life whose voice
was a thunder that never died. For a few moments Philip stood fascinated
by the scene below him. Then he felt a touch upon his arm. It was Jeanne.
She stood beside him quivering, dead-white, Almost daring to take the
final step. Philip caught her hands firmly in his own, and Jeanne looked
over. Then she darted back and hovered, shuddering, near the wall.
The portage was a short one, scarce two hundred yards in length, and
at the upper end was a small green meadow in which river voyagers camped.
It still lacked two hours of dusk when Philip carried over the last of
"We will not camp here," he said to Jeanne pointing to the remains of
numerous fires and remembering Pierre's exhortation. "It is too public,
as you might say. Besides, that noise makes me deaf."
"Let us hurry," she said. "I'm—I'm afraid of THAT!"
Philip carried the canoe down to the river, and Jeanne followed with
the bearskins. The current was soft and sluggish, with tiny maelstroms
gurgling up here and there, like air-bubbles in boiling syrup. He only
half launched the canoe, and Jeanne remained while he went for another
load. The dip, kept green by the water of a spring, was a pistol-shot
from the river. Philip looked back from the crest and saw Jeanne leaning
over the canoe. Then he descended into the meadow, whistling. He had
reached the packs when to his ears there seemed to come a sound that rose
faintly above the roar of the water in the chasm. He straightened himself
The cry came twice—his own name, piercing, agonizing, rising
above the thunder of the floods. He heard no more, but raced up the slope
of the dip. From the crest he stared down to where Jeanne had been. She
was gone. The canoe was gone. A terrible fear swept upon him, and for an
instant he turned faint. Jeanne's cry came to him again.
Like a madman he dashed up the rocky trail to the chasm, calling to
Jeanne, shrieking to her, telling her that he was coming. He reached the
edge of the precipice and looked down. Below him was the canoe and
Jeanne. She was fighting futilely against the resistless flood; he saw
her paddle wrenched suddenly from her hands, and as it went swirling
beyond her reach she cried out his name again. Philip shouted, and the
girl's white face was turned up to him. Fifty yards ahead of her were the
first of the rocks. In another minute, even less, Jeanne would be dashed
to pieces before his eyes. Thoughts, swifter than light, flashed through
his mind. He could do nothing for her, for it seemed impossible that any
living creature could exist amid the maelstroms and rocks ahead. And yet
she was calling to him. She was reaching up her arms to him. She had
faith in him, even in the face of death.
There was no M'SIEUR to that cry now, only a moaning, sobbing prayer
filled with his name.
"I'm coming, Jeanne!" he shouted. "I'm coming! Hold fast to the
He ran ahead, stripping off his coat. A little below the first rocks a
stunted banskian grew out of an earthy fissure in the cliff, with its
lower branches dipping within a dozen feet of the stream. He climbed out
on this with the quickness of a squirrel, and hung to a limb with both
hands, ready to drop alongside the canoe. There was one chance, and only
one, of saving Jeanne. It was a chance out of a thousand—ten
thousand. If he could drop at the right moment, seize the stern of the
canoe, and make a rudder of himself, he could keep the craft from turning
broadside and might possibly guide it between the rocks below. This one
hope was destroyed as quickly as it was born. The canoe crashed against
the first rock. A smother of foam rose about it and he saw Jeanne
suddenly engulfed and lost. Then she reappeared, almost under him, and he
launched himself downward, clutching at her dress with his hands. By a
supreme effort he caught her around the waist with his left arm, so that
his right was free.
Ahead of them was a boiling sea of white, even more terrible than when
they had looked down upon it from above. The rocks were hidden by mist
and foam; their roar was deafening. Between Philip and the awful
maelstrom of death there was a quieter space of water, black, sullen, and
swift—the power itself, rushing on to whip itself into ribbons
among the taunting rocks that barred its way to the sea. In that space
Philip looked at Jeanne. Her face was against his breast. Her eyes met
his own, and In that last moment, face to face with death, love leaped
above all fear. They were about to die, and Jeanne would die in his arms.
She was his now—forever. His hold tightened. Her face came nearer.
He wanted to shout, to let her know what he had meant to say at Fort o'
God. But his voice would have been like a whisper in a hurricane. Could
Jeanne understand? The wall of foam was almost in their faces. Suddenly
he bent down, crushed his face to hers, and kissed her again and again.
Then, as the maelstrom engulfed them, he swung his own body to take the
brunt of the shock.
He no longer reasoned beyond one thing. He must keep his body between
Jeanne and the rocks. He would be crushed, beaten to pieces, made
unrecognizable, but Jeanne would be only drowned. He fought to keep
himself half under her, with his head and shoulders in advance. When he
felt the floods sucking him under, he thrust her upward. He fought, and
did not know what happened. Only there was the crashing of a thousand
cannon in his ears, and he seemed to live through an eternity. They
thundered about him, against him, ahead of him, and then more and more
behind. He felt no pain, no shock. It was the SOUND that he seemed to be
fighting; in the buffeting of his body against the rocks there was the
painlessness of a knife-thrust delivered amid the roar of battle. And the
sound receded. It was thundering in retreat, and a curious thought came
to him. Providence had delivered him through the maelstrom. He had not
struck the rocks. He was saved. And in his arms he held Jeanne.
It was day when he began the fight, broad day. And now it was night.
He felt earth, under his feet, and he knew that he had brought Jeanne
ashore. He heard her voice speaking his name; and he was so glad that he
laughed and sobbed like a babbling idiot. It was dark, and he was tired.
He sank down, and he could feel Jeanne's arms striving to hold him up,
and he could still hear her voice. But nothing could keep him from
sleeping. And during that sleep he had visions. Now it was day, and he
saw Jeanne's face over him; again it was night, and he heard only the
roaring of the flood. Again he heard voices, Jeanne's voice and a man's,
and he wondered who the man could be. It was a strange sleep filled with
strange dreams. But at last the dreams seemed to go. He lost himself. He
awoke, and the night had turned into day. He was in a tent, and the sun
was gleaming on the outside. It had been a curious dream, and he sat up
There was a man sitting beside him. It was Pierre.
"Thank God, M'sieur!" he heard. "We have been waiting for this. You
"Pierre!" he gasped.
Memory returned to him. He was awake. He felt weak, but he knew that
what he saw was not the vision of a dream.
"I came the day after you went through the rapids," explained Pierre,
seeing his amazement. "You saved Jeanne. She was not hurt. But you were
badly bruised, M'sieur, and you have been in a fever."
"No. She cared for you until I came. She is sleeping now."
"I have not been this way—very long, have I, Pierre?"
"I came yesterday," said Pierre. He bent over Philip, and added: "You
must remain quiet for a little longer, M'sieur. I have brought you a
letter from M'sieur Gregson, and when you read that I will have some
broth made for you."
Philip took the letter and opened it as Pierre went quietly out of the
tent. Gregson had written him but a few lines. He wrote:
MY DEAR PHIL,—I hope you'll forgive me. But I'm tired of this
mess. I was never cut out for the woods, and so I'm going to dismiss
myself, leaving all best wishes behind for you. Go in and fight. You're a
devil for fighting, and will surely win. I'll only be in the way. So I'm
going back with the ship, which leaves in three or four days. Was going
to tell you this on the night you disappeared. Am sorry I couldn't shake
hands with you before I left. Write and let me know how things come out.
Stunned, Philip dropped the letter. He lifted his eyes, and a strange
cry burst from his lips. Nothing that Gregson had written could have
wrung that cry from him. It was Jeanne. She stood in the open door of the
tent. But it was not the Jeanne he had known. A terrible grief was
written in her face. Her lips were bloodless, her eyes lusterless; deep
suffering seemed to have put hollows in her cheeks. In a moment she had
fallen upon her knees beside him and clasped one of his hands in both of
"I am so glad," she whispered, chokingly.
For an instant she pressed his hands to her face.
"I am so glad—"
She rose to her feet, swaying slightly. She turned to the door, and
Philip could hear her sobbing as she left him.
Not until the silken flap of the tent had fallen behind Jeanne did
power of movement and speech return to Philip. He called her name and
straggled to a sitting posture. Then he staggered to his feet. He could
scarcely stand. Shooting pains passed like flashes of electricity through
his body. His right arm was numb and stiff, and he found that it was
thickly bandaged. His head ached, his legs could hardly support him. He
went to raise his left hand to his head, but stopped it in front of him,
while a slow smile of understanding crept over his face. It was swollen
and covered with livid bruises. He wondered if his body looked that way,
and sank down exhausted upon his balsam bed. A minute later Pierre
returned with a cup of broth in his hand.
Philip looked at him with less feverish eyes now. There was an
unaccountable change in the half-breed's appearance, as there had been in
Jeanne's. His face seemed thinner. There was a deep gloom in his eyes, a
dejected droop to his shoulders. Philip accepted the broth, and drank it
slowly, without speaking. He felt strengthened. Then he looked steadily
at Pierre. The old pride had fallen from Pierre like a mask. His eyes
dropped under Philip's gaze.
Philip held up a hand.
The half-breed grasped it and waited. His lips tightened.
"What is the matter?" demanded Philip. "What has happened to Jeanne?
You say she was not hurt—"
"By the rocks, M'sieur," interrupted Pierre, quickly, kneeling beside
Philip. "Listen. It is best that I tell you. You are a man, you will
understand, without being told all. From Churchill I brought news which
it was necessary for me to tell Jeanne. It was terrible news, and she is
distressed under its weight. Your honor will not allow you to inquire
further, M'sieur. I can tell you no more than this—that it is a
grief which belongs to but one person on earth—herself. I ask you
to help me. Be blind to her unhappiness, M'sieur. Believe that it is the
distress of the peril through which she has passed. A little later I will
tell you all, and you will understand. But it is impossible now. I
confide this much in you—I ask you this—because—"
Pierre's eyes were half closed, and he looked as though unseeing over
"I ask you this," he repeated, softly, "because I have guessed—
that you love her."
A cry of joy burst from Philip's lips.
"I do, Pierre—I do—I do—"
"I have guessed it," said Pierre. "You will help me—to save
"Then you will go with us to Fort o' God, and from there you will go
at once to your camp on Blind Indian Lake."
Philip felt the sweat breaking out over his face. He was still weak.
His voice was unnatural, and trembled.
"You know—" he gasped.
"Yes, I know, M'sieur," replied Pierre. "I know that you are in charge
there, and Jeanne knows. We knew who you were before we appointed to meet
you on the cliff. You must return to your men."
Philip was silent. For the moment every hope was crushed within
He looked at Pierre. The half-breed's eyes were glowing, his haggard
cheeks were flushed.
"And this is necessary?"
"It is absolutely necessary, M'sieur."
"Then I will go. But first, Pierre, I must know a little more. I
cannot go entirely blind. Do they fear my men—at Fort o' God?"
"One more question, Pierre. Who is Lord Fitzhugh Lee?"
For an instant Pierre's eyes widened. They grew black, and burned with
a strange, threatening fire. He rose slowly to his feet, and placed both
hands upon Philip's shoulders. For a full minute the two men stared into
each other's face. Then Pierre spoke. His voice was soft and low,
scarcely above a murmur, but it was filled with something that struck a
chill to Philip's heart.
"I would kill you before I would answer that question, M'sieur," he
said. "No other person has ever done for Jeanne and I what you have done.
We owe you more than we can ever repay. Yet if you insist upon an answer
to that question you make of me an enemy; if you breathe that name to
Jeanne, you turn her away from you forever."
Without another word he left the tent.
For many minutes Philip sat motionless where Pierre had left him. The
earth seemed suddenly to have dropped from under his feet, leaving him in
an illimitable chaos of mind. Gregson had deserted him, with almost no
word of explanation, and he would have staked his life upon Gregson's
loyalty. Under other circumstances his unaccountable action would have
been a serious blow. But now it was overshadowed by the mysterious change
that had come over Jeanne. A few hours before she had been happy,
laughing and singing as they drew nearer to Fort o' God; each hour had
added to the brightness of her eyes, the gladness in her voice. The
change had come with Pierre. and at the bottom of it all was Lord
Fitzhugh Lee. Pierre had warned him not to mention Lord Fitzhugh's name
to Jeanne, and yet only a short time before he had spoken the name boldly
before Jeanne, and she had betrayed no sign of recognition or of fear.
More than that, she had assured him that she had never heard the name
before, that it was not known at Fort o' God.
Philip bowed his head in his hands, and his fingers clutched in his
hair. What did it all mean? He went back to the scene on the cliff, when
Pierre had roused himself at the sound of the name; he thought of all
that had happened since Gregson had come to Churchill, and the result was
a delirium of thought that made his temples throb. He was
sure—now—of but few things. He loved Jeanne—loved her
more than he had ever dreamed that he could love a woman, and he believed
that it would be impossible for her to tell him a falsehood. He was
confident that she had never heard of Lord Fitzhugh until Pierre overtook
them in their flight from Churchill. He could see but one thing to do,
and that was to follow Pierre's advice, accepting his promise that in the
end everything would come out right. He had faith in Pierre.
He rose to his feet and went to the tent-flap. An embarrassing thought
came to him, and he stopped, a flush of feverish color suddenly mounting
into his pale cheeks. He had kissed Jeanne in the chasm, when death
thundered in their faces. He had kissed her again and again, and in those
kisses he had declared his love. He was glad, and yet sorry; the
knowledge that she must know of his love filled him with happiness, and
yet with it there was the feeling that it would place a distance between
him and Jeanne.
Jeanne was the first to see him when he came out of the tent. She was
sitting beside a small balsam shelter, and Pierre was busy over a fire,
with his back turned to them. For a moment the two looked at each other
in silence, and then Jeanne came toward him, holding out one of her
hands. He saw that she was making a strong effort to appear natural, but
there was something in his own face that made her attempt a poor one. The
hand that she gave him trembled. Her lips quivered. For the first time
her eyes failed to meet his own in their limpid frankness.
"Pierre has told you what happened," she said. "It was a miracle, and
I owe you my life. I have had my punishment for being so careless." She
tried to laugh at him now, and drew her hand away. "I wasn't beaten
against the rocks, like you, but—"
"It was terrible," interrupted Philip, remembering Pierre's words, and
eager to put her at ease. "You have stood up under it beautifully. I am
afraid of after effects. You must not collapse under the strain now."
Pierre heard his last words and a smile flashed over his dark face as
he encountered Philip's glance.
"It is true, M'sieur," he said. "I know of no other woman who would
have stood up under such a thing as Jeanne has done. MON DIEU, when I
found a part of the canoe wreckage far below I thought that both of you
Philip began to feel that he had foolishly overestimated his strength.
There was a weakness in his limbs that surprised him, and a sudden chill
replaced the fever in his blood. Jeanne placed her hand upon his arm and
thrust him gently toward the tent.
"You must not exert yourself," she said, watching the pallor in his
face. "You must be quiet, until after dinner."
He obeyed the pressure of her hand. Pierre followed into the tent, and
for a moment he was compelled to lean heavily upon the half- breed.
"It is the reaction, M'sieur," said Pierre. "You are weak after the
fever. If you could sleep—"
"I can," murmured Philip, dizzily, dropping upon his balsam. "But,
"I have something—to say to you—no questions—"
"Not now, M'sieur."
Philip heard the rustling of the flap, and Pierre was gone. He felt
more comfortable lying down. Dizziness and nausea left him, and he slept.
It was the deep, refreshing sleep that always follows the awakening from
fever. When he awoke he felt like his old self, and went outside. Pierre
was alone; a blanket was drawn across the front of the balsam shelter,
and the half-breed nodded toward it in response to Philip's inquiring
Philip ate lightly of the food which Pierre had ready for him. When he
had finished he leaned close to him, and said:
"You have warned me to ask no questions, and I am going to ask none.
But you have not forbidden me to tell you things which I know. I am going
to talk to you about Lord Fitzhugh Lee."
Pierre's dark eyes flashed.
"Listen!" demanded Philip. "I seek your confidence no further. But I
shall tell you what I know of Lord Fitzhugh Lee, if it makes us fight. Do
you understand? I insist upon this because you have as good as told me
that this man is your enemy, and that he is at the bottom of Jeanne's
trouble. He is also my enemy. And after I have told you why—you may
change your determination to keep me a stranger to your trouble. If
not—well, you can hold your tongue then as well as now."
Quickly, without moving his eyes from Pierre's face, Philip told his
own story of Lord Fitzhugh Lee. And as he continued a strange change came
over the half-breed. When he came to the letters revealing the plot to
turn the northerners against his company a low cry escaped Pierre's lips.
His eyes seemed starting from his head. Drops of sweat burst out upon his
face. His fingers worked convulsively, something rose in his throat and
choked him. When Philip had done he buried his face in his hands. For a
few moments he remained thus, and then suddenly looked up. Livid spots
burned in his cheeks, and he fairly hissed at Philip.
"M'sieur, if this is not the truth—if this is a lie—"
He stopped. Something in Philip's eyes told him to go no further. He
was fearless, and he saw more than fearlessness in Philip's face. Such
men believe, when they come together.
"It is the truth," said Philip.
With a low, strained laugh Pierre held out his hand as a pledge of his
"I believe in you, M'sieur," he said, and it seemed an effort for him
to speak. "Do you know what I would have thought, if you had told this to
Jeanne before I came?"
"I would have thought, M'sieur, that she threw herself purposely into
the death of the Big Thunder rocks."
"My God, you mean—"
"That is all, M'sieur. I can say no more. Ah, there is Jeanne!" he
cried, more loudly. "Now we will take down the tent, and go."
Jeanne stood a dozen steps behind them when Philip turned. She greeted
him with a smile, and hastened to assist Pierre in gathering up the
things about the camp. Philip was not blind to her efforts to evade him.
He could see that it was a relief to her when they were at last in
Pierre's canoe, and headed up the river. They traveled till late in the
evening, and set up Jeanne's tent by starlight. The journey was continued
at dawn. Late the following afternoon the Little Churchill swept through
a low, woodless country, called the White Fox Barren. It was a narrow
barren and across it lay the forest and the ridge mountains. Behind these
mountains and the forest the sun was setting. Above all else there rose
out of the gathering gloom of evening a single ridge, a towering mass of
rock which caught the last glow of the sun, and blazed like a
The canoe stopped. Jeanne and Pierre both gazed toward the great
Then Jeanne, who was in the bow, turned her face to Philip, and the
glow of the rock itself suffused her cheeks as she pointed over the
"M'sieur Philip," she said, "there is Fort o' God!"
There was a low tremble in Jeanne's voice. The canoe swung broadside
to the slow current, and Philip looked in astonishment at the change in
Pierre. The tired half-breed had uncovered his head, and knelt with his
face turned to that last crimson glow in the sky, like one in prayer. But
his eyes were open, there was a smile on his lips, and he was breathing
quickly. Pride and joy came where there had been the lines of grief and
exhaustion. His shoulders were thrown back, his head erect, and the fire
of the distant rock reflected itself in his eyes. From him Philip turned,
so that he could look into Jeanne's face. The girl, too, had changed.
Again these two were the Pierre and Jeanne whom he had seen that first
night on the moonlit cliff. Pierre seemed no longer the half-breed, but
the prince of the rapier and broad cuffs; and Jeanne, smiling proudly at
Philip, made him an exquisite little courtesy from her cramped seat in
the bow, and said:
"M'sieur Philip, welcome to Fort o' God!"
"Thank you," he said, and stared toward the sun-capped rock.
He could see nothing but the rock, the black forests, and the desolate
barren stretching between. Fort o' God, unless it was the rock itself,
was still a mystery hidden in the gathering gloom. The canoe began moving
slowly onward, and Jeanne turned so that her eyes searched the stream
ahead. A thick wall of stunted forest shut out the barren from their
view; the stream grew narrower, and on the opposite side a barren ridge,
threatening them with torn and upheaved masses of rock, flung the heavy
shadows of evening down upon them. No one spoke. Philip could hear Pierre
breathing behind him: something in the intense quiet—in the awesome
effect which their approach to Fort o' God had upon these two—sent
strange little thrills shooting through his body. He listened, and heard
nothing, not even the howl of a dog. The stillness was oppressive, and
the darkness thickened about them. For half an hour they continued, and
then Pierre headed the canoe into a narrow creek, thrusting it through a
thick growth of wild rice and reeds,
Balsam and cedar and swamp hazel shut them in. Overhead the tall
cedars interlaced, and hid the pale light of the sky. Philip could just
make out Jeanne ahead of him.
And then, suddenly, there came a wonderful change. They shot out of
the darkness, as if from a tunnel, but so quietly that one a dozen feet
away could not have heard the ripple of Pierre's paddle. Almost in their
faces rose a huge black bulk, and in that blackness three or four yellow
lights gleamed like mellow stars. The canoe touched noiselessly upon
sand. Pierre sprang out, still without sound. Jeanne followed, with a
whispered word. Philip was last.
Pierre pulled the canoe up, and Jeanne came to Philip. She held out
her two hands. Her face shone white in the gloom, and there was a look in
her beautiful eyes, as she stood for a moment almost touching him, that
set his heart jumping. She let her hands lie in his while she spoke.
"We have not even alarmed the dogs, M'sieur Philip," she whispered.
"Is not that splendid? I am going to surprise father, and you will go
with Pierre. I will see you a little later, and—"
She rose on tiptoe, and her face was dangerously close to his own.
"And you are very, very welcome to Fort o' God, M'sieur."
She slipped away into the darkness, and Pierre stood beside Philip.
His white teeth were gleaming strangely, and he said in a soft voice:
"M'sieur, that is the first time that I have ever heard those words
spoken at Fort o' God. We welcome no man here who has your blood and your
civilization in his veins. You are greater than a king!"
With a sudden exclamation Philip turned upon Pierre.
"And that is the reason for Jeanne's surprise?" he said. "She wishes
to pave a way for me. I begin to understand!"
"It is true that you might not have received that welcome which you
are certain to receive now from the master of Fort o' God," replied
Pierre, frankly. "So we will go in quietly, and make no disturbance,
while your way is being paved, as you call it."
He walked ahead, with Philip following so closely that he could have
touched him. He made out more distinctly now the lines of the huge black
edifice from which the lights shone. It was a massive structure of logs,
two stories high, a half of it almost completely hidden in the
impenetrable shadow of a great wall of rock. Philip's eyes traveled up
this wall, and he was convinced that he stood under the rock upon whose
towering crest he had seen the last reflection of the evening sun. About
him there were no signs of life or of other habitation. Pierre moved
swiftly. They passed under a small lighted window that was a foot above
Philip's head, and turned around the corner of the building. Here all was
Pierre went straight to a door, and uttered at low word of
satisfaction when he found that it was not barred. He opened it, and
reached out a guiding hand to Philip's arm. Philip entered, and the door
closed softly behind him. He felt the flow of warm air in his face, and
his moccasined feet trod upon something soft and velvety. Faintly, as
though coming from a great distance, he heard a voice singing. It was a
woman's voice, but he knew that it was not Jeanne's.
In spite of himself his heart was beating excitedly. The mystery of
Fort o' God was about him, warm and subtle, like a strange spirit,
sending through him the thrill of anticipation, a hundred fancies, little
fears. Pierre advanced, still guiding him; then he stopped, and chuckled
softly in the darkness. The distant voice had stopped singing, and there
came in place of it the loud barking of a dog, an unintelligible sound of
a voice, and then quiet. Jeanne had sprung her surprise.
Pierre led the way to another room.
"This is to be your room, M'sieur," he explained. "Make yourself
comfortable. I have no doubt that the master of Fort o' God will wish to
see you very soon."
He struck a match as he spoke, and lighted a lamp. A moment more and
he was gone.
Philip looked about him. He was in a room fully twenty feet square,
furnished in a manner that drew from him an audible gasp of astonishment.
At one end of the room was a massive mahogany bed, screened by heavy
curtains which were looped back by silken cords. Near the bed was an
old-fashioned mahogany dresser, with a diamond-shaped mirror, and in
front of it a straight-backed chair adorned with the grotesque carving of
an ancient and long-dead fashion. About him, everywhere, were the
evidences of luxury and of age. The big lamp, which gave a brilliant
light, was of hammered brass; the base of its square pedestal was partly
hidden in the rumples of a heavy damask spread which covered the table on
which it rested. The table itself was old, spindle-legged, glowing with
the mellow luster endowed by many passing generations—a relic of
the days when the originator of its fashion became the favorite of a
capricious and beautiful queen. Soft rugs were upon the floor; from the
walls, papered and hung with odd bits of tapestry, strange faces looked
down upon Philip from out of heavy gilded frames; faces grim, pale,
shadowed; men with plaited ruffles and curls; women with powdered hair,
who gazed down upon him haughtily, as if they wondered at his
One picture was turned with its face to the wall.
Philip sank into a huge arm-chair, cushioned with velvet, and dropped
his cap upon the floor. And this was Fort o' God! He scarcely breathed.
He was back two centuries, and he stared, as if each moment he expected
some manifestation of life in what he saw. He had dreamed his dream over
the dead at Churchill; here it was reality—almost; it lacked but a
breath, a movement, a flutter of life in the dead faces that looked down
upon him. He gazed up at them again, and laughed a little nervously. Then
he fixed his eyes on the opposite wall. One of the pictures was moving.
The thought in his brain had given birth to the movement he had imagined.
It was a woman's face in the picture, young and beautiful, and it nodded
to him, one moment radiant with light, the next caught in shadows that
cast over it a gloom. He jumped from his chair and went so that he stood
directly under it.
A current of warm air shot up into his face from the floor. It was
this air that was causing movement in the picture, and he looked down.
What he discovered broke the spell he was under. About him were the
relics of age, of a life long dead. Rubens might have sat in that room,
and mourned over his handiwork, lost in a wilderness. The stingy Louis
might have recognized in the spindle- legged table a bit of his
predecessor's extravagance, which he had sold for the good of the
exchequer of France; a Gobelin might have reclaimed one of the woven
landscapes on the wall, a Grosellier himself have issued from behind the
curtained bed. Philip himself, in that environment, was the stranger. It
was the current of warm air which brought him back from the eighteenth to
the twentieth century. Under his feet was a furnace!
Even the master of Fort o' God, stern and forbidding as Philip began
to imagine him, might have laughed at the look which came into his face.
Grosellier, the cavalier, had he appeared, Philip would have accepted
with the same confidence that he had accepted Jeanne and Pierre.
But—a furnace! He thrust his hands deep in his pockets, a trick
which was always the last convincing evidence of his perplexity, and
walked slowly around the room. There were two books on the table. One,
bound in faded red vellum, was a Greek Anthology, the other Drummond's
Ascent of Man. There were other books on a quaintly carved shelf, under
the picture which had been turned to the wall. He ran over the titles.
There were a number of French novels, Ely's Socialism, Sir Thomas More's
Utopia, St. Pierre's Paul and Virginia, and a dozen other volumes; there
were Balzac and Hugo, and Dante's Divine Comedy. Amid this array, like a
black sheep lost among the angels, was a finger-worn and faded little
volume bearing the name Camille. Something about this one book, so
strangely out of place in its present company, aroused Philip's
curiosity. It bore the name, too, which he had found worked in the corner
of Jeanne's handkerchief. In a way, the presence of this book gave him a
sort of shock, and he took it in his hands, and opened the cover. Under
his fingers were pages yellow and frayed with age, and in an ancient
type, once black, the title, The Meaning of God. In a large masculine
hand some one had written under this title the accompanying words; "A
black skin often contains a white soul; a woman's beauty, hell."
Philip replaced the book with a feeling of awe. Something in those
words, brutal in their truth—something in the strange whim that had
placed a pearl of purity within the faded and worn mask of the condemned,
seemed to speak to him of a tragedy that might be a key to the mystery of
Fort o' God. From the books he looked up at the picture which had been
turned to the wall. The temptation to see what was hidden overcame him,
and he turned the frame over. Then he stepped back with a low cry of
From out of the proscribed canvas there smiled down upon him a face of
bewildering beauty. It was the face of a young woman, a stranger among
its companions, because it was of the present. Philip stepped to one
side, so that the light from the lamp shone from behind him, and he
wondered if the picture had been condemned to hang with its face to the
wall because it typified the existent rather than the past. He looked
more closely, and drew back step by step, until he was in the proper
focus to bring out every expression in the lovely face. In the picture he
saw each moment a greater resemblance to Jeanne. The eyes, the hair, the
sweetness of the mouth, the smile, brought to him a vision of Jeanne
herself. The woman in the picture was older than Jeanne, and his first
thought was that it must be a sister, or her mother. It came to him in
the next breath that this would be impossible, for Jeanne had been found
by Pierre in the deep snows, on her dead mother's breast. And this was a
painting of life, of youth, of beauty, and not of death and
He returned the forbidden picture to the position in which he had
found it against the wall, half ashamed of the act and thoughts into
which his curiosity had led him. And yet, after all, it was not
curiosity. He told himself that as he washed himself and groomed his
An hour had passed when he heard a low tap at the door, and Pierre
came in. In that time the half-breed had undergone a transformation. He
was dressed in an exquisite coat of yellow buckskin, with the same
old-fashioned cuffs he had worn when Philip first saw him, trousers of
the same material, buckled below the knees, and boot-moccasins with
flaring tops. He wore a new rapier at his waist, and his glossy black
hair was brushed smoothly back, and fell loose upon his shoulders. It was
the courtier, and not Pierre the half-breed, who bowed to Philip.
"M'sieur, are you ready?" he asked.
"Yes," replied Philip.
"Then we will go to M'sieur d'Arcambal, the master of Fort o'
They passed out into the hall, which was faintly illumined now, so
that Philip caught glimpses of deep shadows and massive doors as he
followed behind Pierre. They turned into a second hall, at the end of
which was an open door through which came a flood of light. At this door
Pierre stopped, and with a bow allowed his companion to pass in ahead of
him. The next moment Philip stood in a room twice as large as the one he
had left. It was brilliantly lighted by three or four lamps; he had only
an instant's vision of numberless shelves loaded with books, of walls
covered with pictures, of a ponderous table in front of him, and then he
heard a voice.
A man stepped out from beside the door, and he stood face to face with
the master of Fort o' God.
He was an old man. Beard and hair were white. He was as tall as
Philip; his shoulders were broader; his chest massive; and as he stood
under the light of one of the hanging lamps, his face shining with a pale
glow, one hand upon his breast, the other extended, it seemed to Philip
that all of the greatness and past glory of Fort o' God, whatever they
may have been, were personified in the man he beheld. He was dressed in
soft buckskin, like Pierre. His hair and beard grew in wild disorder, and
from under shaggy eyebrows there burned a pair of deep-set eyes of the
color of blue steel. He was a man to inspire awe; old, and yet young;
white-haired, gray-faced, and yet a giant. One might have expected from
between his bearded lips a voice as thrilling as his appearance; a
rumbling voice, deep-chested, sonorous—and it would have caused no
surprise. It was the voice that surprised Philip more than the man. It
was low, and trembling with an agitation which even strength and pride
could not control.
"Philip Whittemore, I am Henry d'Arcambal. May God bless you for what
you have done!"
A hand of iron gripped his own. And then, before Philip had found
words to say, the master of Fort o' God suddenly placed his arms about
his shoulders and embraced him. Their shoulders touched. Their faces were
close. The two men who loved Jeanne d'Arcambal above all else on earth
gazed for a silent moment into each other's eyes.
"They have told me," said D'Arcambal, softly. "You have brought my
Jeanne home through death. Accept a father's blessing, and with
He stepped back, and swept his arms about the great room.
"Everything—everything—would have gone with her," he said.
"If you had let her die, I should have died. My God, what peril she was
in! In saving her you saved me. So you are welcome here, as a son. For
the first time since my Jeanne was a babe Fort o' God offers itself to a
man who is a stranger and its hospitality is yours so long as its walls
hang together. And as they have done this for upward of two hundred
years, M'sieur Philip, we may conclude that our friendship is to be
He clasped Philip's hands again, and two tears coursed down his gray
cheeks. It was difficult for Philip to restrain the joy his words
produced, which, coming from the lips of Jeanne's father, lifted him
suddenly into a paradise of hope. For many reasons he had come to expect
a none too warm reception at Fort o' God; he had looked ahead to the
place with a grim sort of fear, scarcely definable; and here Jeanne's
father was opening his arms to him. Pierre was unapproachable; Jeanne
herself was a mystery, filling him alternately with hope and despair;
D'Arcambal had accepted him as a son. He could find no words adequate to
his emotion; none that could describe his own happiness, unless it was in
a bold avowal of his love for the girl he had saved. And this his good
sense told him not to make, at the present moment.
"Any man would have done as much for your daughter," he said at last,
"and I am happy that I was the fortunate one to render her
"You are wrong," said D'Arcambal, taking him by the arm. "You are one
out of a thousand. It takes a MAN to go through the Big Thunder and come
out at the other end alive. I know of only one other who has done that in
the last twenty years, and that other is Henry d'Arcambal himself. We
three, you, Jeanne, and I, have alone triumphed over those monsters of
death. All others have died. It seems like a strange pointing of the hand
"We three!" he exclaimed.
"We three," said the old man, "and for that reason you are a part of
Fort o' God."
He led Philip deeper into the great room, and Philip saw that almost
all the space along the walls of the huge room was occupied by shelves
upon shelves of books, masses of papers, piles of magazines
shoulder-high, scores of maps and paintings. The massive table was
covered with books; there were piles on smaller tables; chairs, and the
floor itself, covered with the skins of a score of wild beasts, were
littered with them. At the far end of the room he saw deeper and darker
shelves, where gleamed faintly in the lamplight row upon row of vials and
bottles and strange instruments of steel and glass. A scientist in the
wilderness—a student exiled in a desolation! These were the
thoughts that leaped into his mind, and he knew that in this room Jeanne
had been created; that here, between these centuries-old walls, amid an
environment of strange silence, of whispering age, her visions of the
world had come. Here, separated from all her kind, God, Nature, and a
father had made her of their handiwork.
The old man pointed Philip to a chair near the large table, and sat
down close to him. At his feet was a stool covered with silvery
lynx-skin, and D'Arcambal looked at this, his strong, grim face relaxing
into a gentle smile of happiness.
"There is where Jeanne sits—at my feet," he said. "It has been
her place for many years. When she is not there I am lost. Life ceases.
This room has been our world. To-night you are in Fort o' God; to-morrow
you will see D'Arcambal House. You have heard of that, perhaps, but never
of Fort o' God. That belongs to Jeanne and me, to Pierre—and you.
Fort o' God is the heart, the soul, the life's blood of D'Arcambal House.
It is this room and two or three others. D'Arcambal House is our barrier.
When strangers come, they see D'Arcambal House; plain rooms, of rough
wood; quarters such as you have seen at posts and stations; the mask
which gives no hint of what is hidden within. It is there that we live to
the world; it is here that we live to ourselves. Jeanne has my permission
to tell you whatever she wishes, a little later. But I am curious, and
being an old man must be humored first. I am still trembling. You must
tell me what happened to Jeanne."
For an hour they talked, and Philip went over one by one the events as
they had occurred since the fight on the cliff, omitting only such things
as he thought that Jeanne and Pierre might wish to keep secret to
themselves. At the end of that hour he was certain that D'Arcambal was
unaware of the dark cloud that had suddenly come into Jeanne's life. The
old man's brow was knitted with deep lines, and his powerful jaws were
set hard, as Philip told of the ambush, of the wounding of Pierre, and
the flight of his assailants with his daughter. It was to get money, the
old man thought. The half-breed had suggested that, and Jeanne herself
had given it as her opinion. Why else should they have been attacked at
Churchill? Such things had occurred before, he told Philip. The little
daughter of the factor at Nelson House had been stolen, and held for
ransom. With a hundred questions he wrung from Philip every detail of the
second fight and of the struggle for life in the rapids. He betrayed no
physical excitement, even in those moments of Philip's description when
Jeanne hung between life and death; but in his eyes there was the glow of
red-hot fires. At last there came to interrupt them the low, musical
tinkling of a bell under the table.
D'Arcambal's face lighted up suddenly.
"Ah, I had forgotten," he exclaimed. "Pardon me, Philip. Dinner has
been awaiting us this last half-hour; and besides—"
He reached out and touched a tiny button, which Philip had not
"I am selfish."
He had hardly ceased speaking when footsteps sounded in the hall, and
in spite of every resolution he had made to guard himself against any
betrayal of the emotions burning in his breast, Philip sprang to his
feet. Jeanne had come in under the glow of the lamps and stood now a
dozen feet from him, a vision so exquisitely lovely that he saw nothing
of those who entered behind her, nor heard D'Arcambal's low, happy laugh
at his side. It seemed to him for a moment as if there had suddenly
appeared before him the face of the picture that was turned against the
wall, only more beautiful now, radiant with the glow of living flesh and
blood. But there was something even more startling than this resemblance.
In this moment Jeanne was the fulfilment of his dream; she had come to
him from out of another world. She was dressed in an old- fashioned gown
of pure white, a fabric so delicate that it seemed to float about her
slender form, responsive to every breath she drew. Her white shoulders
revealed themselves above masses of filmy lace that fell upon her bosom;
her slender arms, girlish rather than womanly in their beauty, were bare.
Her hair was bound up in shining coils about her head, with a single
flower nestling amid a little cluster of curls that fell upon her neck.
After his first movement, Philip recovered himself by a strong effort. He
bowed low to conceal the flush in his face. Jeanne swept him a little
courtesy, and then ran past him, with the eagerness of any modern child,
into the outstretched arms of her father.
Laughter and joy rumbled in the beard of the master of Fort o' God as
he looked over Jeanne's head at Philip.
"And this is what you have saved for me," he said.
Then he looked beyond, and for the first time Philip realized there
were others in the room. One was Pierre; the other a pretty, dark-faced
girl, with hair that glistened like a raven's wing in the lamp-glow.
Jeanne left her father's arms and gave her hand to Philip.
"M'sieur Philip, this is my sister, Mademoiselle Couchee," she
Pierre's sister gave Philip her hand, and behind them D'Arcambal
laughed softly in his beard again, and said:
"To-morrow, in D'Arcambal House, you may call her Otille, Philip. But
to-night we are in Fort o' God. Oh, Jeanne, Jeanne, what a witch you
"An angel!" breathed Philip, but no one heard him.
"And this witch," added the old man, "you are to take in to supper,
M'sieur Philip. To night I suppose that I must call you m'sieur, but
to-morrow, when I have on my leather leggings and my skin cap, I will
call you Phil, or Tom, Dick, or Harry, just as I please. This is the
first time, sir, that my Jeanne has ever gone in to dinner on another arm
than mine or Pierre's. And so I may be a little jealous. Proceed."
As Jeanne's hand rested in his arm, and they went into the hall,
Philip could not restrain himself from whispering:
"I am glad—of that."
"And the dress, M'sieur Philip!" exclaimed D'Arcambal behind them, in
the voice of a happy boy. "It is an honor to escort that, to say nothing
of the silly girl that's in it. That dress, sir, belonged to a beautiful
lady who was called Camille, and who died over a century ago."
"Father, please do be good!" protested Jeanne. "Remember!"
"Ah, so I will," said her father. "I had forgotten that you were to
tell M'sieur Philip these things."
They entered another room illuminated by a single huge lamp suspended
above a table spread with silver and fine linen. The room was as great a
surprise as the other two had been. It contained no chairs. What Philip
mentally designated as benches, with deep cushion seats of greenish
leather, were arranged about the table. These same curious seats
furnished other parts of the room. From the pictures on the walls to the
ancient helmet and cuirass that stood up like a legless sentinel in one
corner, this room, like the others, breathed of extreme age. Over a big
open fireplace, in which half a dozen birch logs were burning, hung a
number of old-fashioned weapons; a flintlock, a pair of obsolete French
dueling pistols, a short rapier similar to that which Pierre wore, and
two long swords. Philip noticed that about each of the dueling pistols
was tied a bow of ribbon, dull and faded, as though the passing of
generations had robbed them of beauty and color, to be replaced by the
somberness of age.
During the meal Philip could not but observe that Jeanne was laboring
under some mysterious strain. Her cheeks were brilliantly flushed, and
her eyes were filled with a lustrous brightness that he had never seen in
them before. Their beauty was almost feverish. Several times he caught a
strange little tremor of her white shoulders, as though a sudden chill
had passed through her. He discovered, too, that Pierre was observing
these things, and that there was something forced in the half-breed's
cheerfulness. But D'Arcambal and Otille seemed completely oblivious of
any change. Their happiness overflowed. Philip thought of his last supper
at Churchill, with Eileen Brokaw and her father. Miss Brokaw had acted
strangely then, and had struggled to hide some secret grief or
excitement, as Jeanne was struggling now.
He was glad when the meal was finished, and the master of Fort o' God
rose from his seat. At D'Arcambal's movement his eyes caught Jeanne's,
and then he saw that Pierre was looking sharply at him.
"Jeanne owes you an apology—and an explanation, M'sieur Philip,"
said D'Arcambal, resting a hand upon Jeanne's head. "We are going to
retire, and she will initiate you into the fold of Fort o' God."
Pierre and Otille followed him from the room. For the first time in an
hour Jeanne laughed frankly at Philip.
"There isn't much to explain, M'sieur Philip," she said, rising from
her seat. "You know pretty nearly all there is to know about Fort o' God
now. Only I am sure that I did not appear to value your confidence very
much—a little while ago. It must have seemed ungrateful in me,
indeed, to have told you so little about myself and my home, after what
you did for Pierre and me. But I have father's permission now. It is the
second time that he has ever given it to me."
"And I don't want to hear," exclaimed Philip, bluntly. "I have been
more or less of a brute, Miss Jeanne. I know enough about Fort o' God. It
is a glorious place. You owe me nothing, and for that reason—"
"But I insist," interrupted the girl. "Do you mean to say that you do
not care to listen, when this is the second time in my life that I have
had the opportunity of talking about my home? And the first—didn't
give me any pleasure. This will."
A shadow came into Jeanne's eyes. She motioned him to a seat beside
her in front of the fire. Her nearness, the touch of her dress, the sweet
perfume of her presence, thrilled him. He felt that the moment was near
when the whole world as he knew it was to slip away from him, leaving him
in a paradise, or a chaos of despair. Jeanne looked up at the dueling
pistols. The firelight trembled in the soft folds of lace over her bosom;
it glistened in her hair, and lighted her face with a gentle glow.
"There isn't much to explain," she said again, in a voice so low that
it was hardly more than a whisper. "But what little there is I want you
to know, so that when you go away you will understand. More than two
hundred years ago a band of gentlemen adventurers were sent over into
this country by Prince Rupert to form the Hudson's Bay Company. That is
history, and you know more of it, probably, than I. One of these men was
Le Chevalier Grosellier. One summer he came up the Churchill, and stopped
at the great rock on which we saw the sun setting to-night, and which was
called the Sun Rock by the Indians. He was struck by the beauty of the
place, and when he went back to France it was with the plan of returning
to build himself a chateau in the wilderness. Two or three years later he
did this, and called the place Fort o' God. For more than a century,
M'sieur, Fort o' God was a place of revel and pleasure in the heart of
this desolation. Early in the nineteenth century it passed into the hands
of a man by the name of D'Arcy, and it is said that at one time it housed
twenty gentlemen and as many ladies of France for one whole season. Its
history is obscure, and mostly lost. But for a long time after D'Arcy
came it was a place of adventure, of pleasure, and of mystery, very
little of which remains to-day. Those are his pistols above the fire. He
was killed by one of them out there beside the big rock, in a quarrel
with one of his guests over a woman. We think—here—from
letters that we have found, that her name was Camille. There is a chest
in my room filled with linen that bears her name. This dress came from
that chest. I have to be careful of them, as they tear very easily. After
D'Arcy the place was almost forgotten and remained so until nearly forty
years ago when my father came into possession of it. That, M'sieur, is
the very simple story of Fort o' God. Its old name is forgotten. It lives
only with us. Others know it as D'Arcambal House."
"Yes, I have heard of that," said Philip.
He waited for Jeanne, and saw that her fingers were nervously twisting
a bit of ribbon in her lap.
"Of course, that is uninteresting," she continued. "You can almost
guess the rest. We have lived here—alone. Not one of us has ever
felt the desire to leave this little world of ours. It is curious
—you may scarcely believe what I say—but it is true that we
look out upon your big world and laugh at it and dislike it. I
guess— that I have been taught to hate it—since I can
There was a little tremble in Jeanne's voice, an instant's quivering
of her chin. Philip looked from her face into the fire, and stared hard,
choking back words which were ready to burst from his lips. In place of
them he said, with a touch of bitterness in his voice:
"And I have grown to hate my world, Jeanne. It has compelled me to
hate it. That is why I spoke to you that night on the cliff at
"I have sometimes thought that I have been very wrong," said the girl.
"I have never seen this other world. I know nothing of it, except as I
have been taught. I have no right to hate it, and yet I do. I have never
wanted to see it. I have never cared to know the people who lived in it.
I wish that I could understand, but I cannot; except that father has made
for us, for Pierre and Otille and me, this little world at Fort o' God,
and has taught us to fear the other. I know that there is no other man in
the whole world like my father, and that what he has done must be best.
It is his pride that we bring your world to our doors, but that we never
go to it; he says that we know more about that world than the people who
live there, which of course cannot be so. And so we have grown up amid
the old memories, the pictures, and the dead romances of Fort o' God. We
have taken pleasure in living as we do—in making for ourselves our
own little social codes, our childish aristocracy, our make-believe
world. It is the spirit of Fort o' God that lives with us, and makes us
content; the shadow- faces of men and women who once filled these rooms
with life and pleasure, and whose memory seems to have passed into our
keeping alone. I know them all; many of their names, all of their faces.
I have a daguerreotype of Camille Poitiers, and she must have been very
beautiful. There are the tiniest slippers in the world in her chest, and
ribbons like those which are tied about the pistols. There is a painting
of D'Arcy in your room. It is the picture next to the one that has its
face turned to the wall."
She rose to her feet, and Philip stood beside her. There was a mist in
her eyes as she held out her hand to him.
"I—I—would like to have you—see that picture," she
Philip could not speak. He held the hand Jeanne had given him as they
passed through the long, dimly lighted halls. At the open door to his
room they stopped, and he could feel Jeanne trembling.
"You will tell me—the truth?" she begged, like a child. "You
will tell me what you think—of the picture?"
She went in ahead of him and turned the frame so that the face in the
picture smiled down upon them in all of its luring loveliness. There was
something pathetic in the girl's attitude now. She stood under the
picture, facing Philip, and there was a tense eagerness in her eyes, a
light that was almost supplication, a crying out of her soul to him in a
breathless moment that seemed hovering between pain and joy. It was
Jeanne, an older Jeanne, that looked from out of the picture, smiling,
inviting admiration, bewildering hi her beauty; it was Jeanne, the child,
waiting for him in flesh and blood to speak, her eyes big and dark, her
breath coming quickly, her hands buried in the deep lace on her bosom. A
low word came to Philip's lips, and then he laughed softly. It was a
laugh, almost under his breath, which sweeps up now and then from a soul
in a joy—an emotion—which is unutterable in words. But to
Jeanne it was different. Her dark eyes grew hurt and wounded, two great
tears ran down her paling cheeks, and suddenly she buried her face in her
hands and with a sobbing cry turned from him, with her head bowed under
the smiling face above.
"And you—you hate it, too!" she sobbed. "They all hate it—
Pierre—father—all—all hate it. It must—it must be
bad. They hate her—every one—but me. And—I love her
Her slender form shook with sobs. For a moment Philip stood like one
struck dumb. Then he sprang to her and caught her close in his arms.
"Jeanne—Jeanne—listen," he cried. "To-night I looked at
that picture before I went to see your father, and I loved it because it
is like you. Jeanne, my darling, I love you—I love you—"
She was panting against his breast. He covered her face with kisses.
Her sweet lips were not turned from him, and there filled her eyes a
sudden light that made him almost sob in his happiness.
"I love you, I love you," he repeated, again and again, and he could
find no other words than those.
For an instant her arms clung about his shoulders, and then, suddenly,
they strained against him, and she tore herself free, and, with a cry so
pathetic that it seemed as though her heart had broken in that moment,
she fled from him, and out of the room.
Philip stood where Jeanne had left him, his arms half reaching out to
the vacant door through which she had fled, his lips parted as if to call
her name, and yet motionless, dumb. A moment before he was intoxicated by
a joy that was almost madness. He had held Jeanne in his arms; he had
looked into her eyes, filled with surrender under his caresses and his
avowal of love. For a moment he had possessed her, and now he was alone.
The cry that had wrung itself from her lips, breaking in upon his
happiness like a blow, still rang in his ears, and there was something in
the exquisite pain of it that left him in torment. Heart and soul, every
drop of blood in him, had leaped in the joy of that glorious moment, when
Jeanne's eyes and sweet lips had accepted his love, and her arms had
clung about his shoulders. Now these things had been struck dead within
him. He felt again the fierce pressure of Jeanne's arms as she had thrust
him away, he saw the fright and torture that had leaped into her eyes as
she sprang from him, as though his touch had suddenly become a sacrilege.
He lowered his arms slowly, and went to the hall. It was empty. He heard
no sound, and closed the door.
It was so still that he could hear the excited throbbing of his own
heart. He looked at the picture again, and a strange fancy impressed him
with the idea that it was no longer smiling at him, but that its eyes
were turned to the door through which Jeanne had disappeared. He moved
his position, and the illusion was gone. It was Jeanne looking down upon
him again, an older and happier Jeanne than the one whom he loved. For
the first time he examined it closely. In one corner of the canvas he
found the artist's name, Bourret, and after it the date, 1888. Could it
be the picture of Jeanne's mother? He told himself that it was
impossible, for Jeanne's mother had been found dead in the snow, five
years later than the date of the canvas, and Pierre, the half-breed, had
buried her somewhere out on the barren, so that she was a mystery to all
but him. Even the master of Fort o' God, to whom he had brought the
child, had never seen the woman upon whose cold breast Pierre had found
the little Jeanne.
With nervous hands he replaced the picture with its face to the wall,
and began to pace up and down the room, wondering if D'Arcambal would
send for him. He had hope of seeing Jeanne again that night. He felt sure
that she had gone to her room, and that even D'Arcambal might not know
that he was alone. In that event he had a long night ahead of him, filled
with hours of sleeplessness and torment. He waited for three-quarters of
an hour, and then the idea came to him that he might discover some
plausible excuse for seeking out his host. He was about to act upon this
mental suggestion when he heard a low rustling in the hall, followed by a
distinct and yet timid knock. It was not a man's knock, and filled with
the hope that Jeanne had returned, Philip hastened to the door and opened
He heard soft footsteps retreating rapidly down the hall, but the
lights were out, and he could see nothing. Something had fallen at his
feet, and he bent down to pick it up. The object was a small, square
envelope; and re-entering his room he saw his own name written across it
in Jeanne's delicate hand. His heart beat with hope as he opened the
note. What he read brought a gray pallor into his face:
MONSIEUR PHILIP,—If you cannot forget what I have done, please
at least try to forgive me. No woman in the world could value your love
more than I, for circumstances have proven to me the strength and honor
of the man who gives it. And yet it is as impossible for me to accept it
as it would be for me to give up Fort o' God, my father, or my life,
though I cannot tell you why. And this, I know, you will not ask. After
what has happened to-night it will be impossible for me to see you again,
and I must ask you, as one who values your friendship among the highest
things in my life, to leave Fort o' God. No one must know what has passed
between us. You will go—in the morning. And with you there will
always be my prayers.
The paper dropped from between Philip's fingers and fell to the floor.
Three or four times in his life Philip had received blows that had made
him sick—physical blows. He felt now as though one of these blows
had descended upon him, turning things black before his eyes. He
staggered to the big chair and dropped into it, staring at the bit of
white paper on the floor. If one had spoken to him he would not have
heard. Gregson, in these moments, might have laughed a little nervously,
smoked innumerable cigarettes, and laid plans for a continuance of the
battle to-morrow. But Philip was a fighter of men, and not of women. He
had declared his love, he had laid open his soul to Jeanne, and to a
heart like his own, simple in its language, boundless in its sincerity,
this was all that could be done. Jeanne's refusal of his love was the
end— for him. He accepted his fate without argument. In an instant
he would have fought ten men—a hundred, naked-handed, if such a
fight would have given him a chance of winning Jeanne; he would have
died, laughing, happy, if it had been in a struggle for her. But Jeanne
herself had dealt him the blow.
For a long time he sat motionless in the chair facing the picture on
the wall. Then he rose to his feet, picked up the note, and went to one
of the little square windows that looked out into the night. The moon had
risen, and the sky was full of stars. He knew that he was looking into
the north, for the pale shimmer of the aurora was in his face. He saw the
black edge of the spruce forest; the barren stretched out, pale and
ghostly, into the night shadows.
He made an effort to open the window, but it was wedged tightly in its
heavy sill. He crossed the room, opened the door, and went silently down
the hall to the door through which Pierre had led him a few hours before.
It was not locked, and he passed out into the night. The fresh air was
like a tonic, and he walked swiftly out into the moonlit spaces, until he
found himself in the deep shadow of the Sun Rock that towered like a
sentinel giant above his head. He made his way around its huge base, and
then stopped, close to where they had landed in the canoe. There was
another canoe drawn up beside Pierre's, and two figures stood out clear
in the moonlight.
One of these was a man, the other a woman, and as Philip stopped,
wondering at the scene, the man advanced to the woman and caught her in
his embrace. He heard a voice, low and expostulating, which sounded like
Otille's, and in spite of his own misery Philip smiled at this other love
which had found its way to Fort o' God. He turned back softly, leaving
the lovers as he had found them; but he had scarce taken half a dozen
steps when he heard other steps, and saw that the girl had left her
companion and was hurrying toward him. He drew back close into the shadow
of the rock to avoid possible discovery, and the girl passed through the
moonlight almost within arm's reach of him. At that moment his heart
ceased to beat. He choked back the groaning cry that rose to his lips. It
was not Otille who passed him. It was Jeanne.
In another moment she was gone. The man had shoved his canoe into the
narrow stream, and was already lost in the gloom. Then, and not until
then, did the cry of torture fall from Philip. And as if in echo to it he
heard the sobbing break of another voice, and stepping out into the
moonlight he stood face to face with Pierre Couchee.
It was Pierre who spoke first.
"I am sorry, M'sieur," he whispered, hoarsely. "I know that it has
broken your heart. And mine, too, is crushed."
Something in the half-breed's face, in the choking utterance of his
voice, struck Philip as new and strange. He had seen the eyes of dying
animals filled with the wild pain that glowed in Pierre's, and suddenly
he reached out and gripped the other's hand, and they stood staring into
each other's face. In that look, the cold grip of their hands, the strife
in their eyes, the bare truth revealed itself.
"And you, too—you love her, Pierre," said Philip.
"Yes, I love her, M'sieur," replied Pierre, softly. "I love her, not
as a brother, but as a man whose heart is broken."
"Now—I understand," said Philip.
He dropped Pierre's hand, and his voice was cold and lifeless.
"I received a note—from her, asking me to leave Fort o' God in
the morning," he went on, looking from Pierre out beyond the rock into
the white barren. "I will go to-night."
"It is best," said Pierre.
"I have left nothing in Fort o' God, so there is no need of even
returning to my room," continued Philip. "Jeanne will understand, but you
must tell her father that a messenger came suddenly from Blind Indian
Lake, and that I thought it best to leave without awakening him. "Will
you guide me for a part of the distance, Pierre?"
"I will go with you the whole way, M'sieur. It is only twenty miles,
ten by canoe, ten by land."
They said no more, but both went to the canoe, and were quickly lost
in the gloom into which the other canoe had disappeared a few minutes
ahead of them. They saw nothing of this canoe, and when they came to the
Churchill Pierre headed the birch-bark down- stream. For two hours not a
word passed between them. At the end of that time the half-breed turned
in to shore.
"We take the trail here, M'sieur," he explained.
He went on ahead, walking swiftly, and now and then when Philip caught
a glimpse of his face he saw in it a despair as great as his own. The
trail led along the backbone of a huge ridge, and then twisted down into
a broad plain; and across this they traveled, one after the other, two
moving, silent shadows in a desolation that seemed without end. Beyond
the plain there rose another ridge, and half an hour after they had
struck the top of it Pierre halted, and pointed off into the ghostly
world of light and shadow that lay at their feet.
"Your camp is on the other side of this plain, M'sieur," he said. "Do
you recognize the country?"
"I have hunted along this ridge," replied Philip. "It is only three
miles from here, and I will strike a beaten trail half a mile out yonder.
A thousand thanks, Pierre."
He held out his hand.
Their voices trembled. Their hands gripped hard. A choking lump rose
in Philip's throat, and Pierre turned away. He disappeared slowly in the
gray gloom, and Philip went down the side of the mountain. From the plain
below he looked back. For an instant he saw Pierre drawn like a
silhouette against the sky.
"Good-by, Pierre," he shouted.
"Good-by, M'sieur" came back faintly.
Light and silence dropped about them.
To be alone, even after the painful parting with Pierre, was in one
way a relief to Philip, for with the disappearance of the lonely
half-breed over the mountain there had gone from him the last physical
association that bound him to Jeanne and her people. With Pierre at his
side, Jeanne was still with him; but now that Pierre was gone there came
a change in him—one of those unaccountable transmutations of the
mind which make the passing of yesterdays more like a short dream than a
long and full reality. He walked slowly over the plain, and, when he came
to the trail beaten by the hoofs of his own teams he followed it
mechanically. In his measurement of things now, it seemed only a few
hours since he had traveled over this trail on his way to Fort Churchill;
it might, have been that morning, or the morning before. The weeks of his
absence had passed with marvelous swiftness, now that he looked back upon
them. They seemed short and trivial. And yet he knew that in those weeks
he had lived more of his life than he had ever lived before, or would
ever live again. For a brief spell life had been, filled with joy and
hope—a promise of happiness which a single moment in the shadow of
the Sun Rock had destroyed forever. He had seen Jeanne in another man's
arms; he had read the confirmation of his fears in Pierre's
grief-distorted face, in the strange tremble of his voice, in the words
that he had spoken. He was sorry for Pierre. He would have been glad if
that other man had been the lovable half-breed; if Jeanne, in the poetry
of life and love, had given herself to the one who had saved the spark of
life in her chilled little body years and years ago. And yet in his own
grief he unconsciously rejoiced that it was a man like Pierre who
suffered with him.
This thought of Pierre strengthened him, and he walked faster, and
breathed more deeply of the clear night air. He had lost in the fight for
Jeanne as he had lost in many other fights; but, after all, there was
another and bigger fight ahead of him, which he would begin to-morrow.
Thoughts of his men, of his camps, and of this struggle through which he
must pass to achieve success raised him above his depression, and stirred
his blood with a growing exhilaration. And Jeanne—was she
hopelessly lost to him? He dared to ask himself the question half an hour
after he had separated from Pierre, and his mind flew back to the
portrait-room where he had told Jeanne of his love, and where for a
moment he had seen in her eyes and face the sweet surrender that had
given him a glimpse of his paradise. But what did the sudden change mean?
And after that—the scene in the starlight?
A quickening of his pulse was the answer to these questions. Jeanne
had told him there were only two men at Fort o' God, Pierre and her
father. Then who could be this third? A lover, whom she met
clandestinely? He shivered, and began loading his pipe as he walked. He
was certain that the master of Fort o' God did not know of the tryst
beyond the rock, and he was equally certain that the girl was unaware of
Pierre's knowledge of the meeting. Pierre had remained hidden, like
himself, and he had given Philip to understand that it was not the first
time he had looked upon the meetings of Jeanne and the man they had seen
from the shadow of the rock. And yet, in spite of all evidence, he could
not lose faith in Jeanne.
Suddenly he saw something ahead of him which changed for a moment the
uncomfortable trend of his thoughts. It was a pale streak, rising above
the level of the trail, and stretching diagonally across the plain to the
east. With an exclamation of surprise Philip hastened his steps, and a
moment later stood among the fresh workings of his men. When he had left
for Churchill this streak, which was the last stretch of road-bed between
them and the surveyed line of the Hudson's Bay Railway, had ended two
miles to the south and west. In a little over a month MacDougall had
pushed it on the trail, and well across it in the direction of Gray
Beaver Lake. In that time he had accomplished a work which Philip had not
thought possible to achieve that autumn. He had figured that the heavy
snows of winter would cut them off at the trail. And MacDougall was
beyond the trail, with three weeks to spare!
Something rose up in his blood, warming him with an elation which sent
him walking swiftly toward the end of the road-bed. A quarter of a mile
out on the plain he came to the working end. About him were scattered
half a dozen big scoop shovels and piles of working tools. The embers of
a huge log fire still glowed where dinner had been cooked for the men.
Philip stood for a few moments, looking off into the distance. Another
mile and a half out there was the Gray Beaver, and from the Gray Beaver
there lay the unbroken waterway to the point of their conjunction with
the railway coming up from the south. A sudden idea occurred to Philip.
If MacDougall had built two and a quarter miles of road-bed in five weeks
they could surely complete this other mile and a half before winter
stopped them. In that event, they would have fifteen miles of road,
linking seven lakes, which would give them a splendid winter trail for
men, teams, and dogs to the Gray Beaver. And from the Gray Beaver they
would have smooth ice for twenty miles, to the new road. He had not
planned to begin fishing operations until spring, but he could see no
reason now why they should not commence that winter, setting their nets
through the ice. At Lobstick Creek, where the new road would reach them
sometime in April or May, they could freeze their fish and keep them in
storage. Five hundred tons in stock, and perhaps a thousand, would not be
a bad beginning. It would mean from forty to eighty thousand dollars, a
half of which could be paid out in dividends.
He turned back, whistling softly. There was new life in him, burning
for action. He was eager to see MacDougall, and he hoped that Brokaw
would not be long in reaching Blind Indian Lake. Before he reached the
trail he was planning the accommodation stations, where men and animals
could find shelter. There would be one on the shore of the Gray Beaver,
and from there he would build them at regular intervals of five miles on
He had come to the trail, and was about to turn in the direction of
the camp, when he saw a shadowy figure making its way slowly across the
plain which he had traversed half an hour before. The manner in which
this person was following in his footsteps, apparently with extreme
caution, caused Philip to move quickly behind the embankment of the
road-bed. Two or three minutes later a man crossed into view. Philip
could not see his face distinctly, but by the tired droop of the
stranger's shoulders and his shuffling walk he guessed that what he had
first taken for caution was in reality the tedious progress of a man
nearing exhaustion. He wondered how he had missed him in his own journey
over the trail from the ridge mountains, for he had made twice the
progress of the stranger, and must surely have passed him somewhere
within the last mile or so. The fact that the man had come from the
direction of Fort o' God, that he was exhausted, and that he had
evidently concealed himself a little way back to avoid discovery, led
Philip to cut out diagonally across the plain so that he could follow him
and keep him in sight without being observed. Twice in the next mile the
nocturnal traveler stopped to rest, but no sooner had he reached the
first scattered shacks of the camp than he quickened his steps, darting
quickly among the shadows, and then stopped at last before the door of a
small log cabin within a pistol-shot of Philip's own headquarters. The
cabin was newly built, and Philip gave a low whistle of surprise as he
noted its location. He had, to a certain degree, isolated his own camp
home, building it a couple of hundred yards back from the shore of the
lake, where most of the other cabins were erected. This new cabin was
still a hundred yards farther back, half hidden in a growth of spruce. He
heard the click of a key in a lock and the opening and closing of a door.
A moment later a light flared dimly against a curtained window.
Philip hurried across the open to the cabin occupied by himself and
MacDougall, the engineer. He tried the door, but it was barred. Then he
knocked loudly, and continued knocking until a light appeared within. He
heard the Scotchman's voice, close to the door.
"Who's there?" it demanded.
"None of your business!" retorted Philip, falling into the error of a
joke at the welcome sound of MacDougall's voice. "Open up!"
A bar slipped within. The door opened slowly. Philip thrust himself
against it and entered. In the pale light of the lamp he was confronted
by the red face of MacDougall, and a pair of little eyes that gleamed
menacingly. And on a line with MacDougall's face was an ugly-looking
Philip stopped with a sudden uncomfortable thrill. MacDougall lowered
"Lord preserve us, but that's the time you almost drew a perforation!"
he exclaimed. "It isn't safe to cut-up in these diggings any
more—not with Sandy MacDougall!"
He held out a hand with a relieved laugh, and the two men shook in a
grip that made their fingers ache.
"Is this the way you welcome all of your friends, Mac?"
MacDougall shrugged his shoulders and laid his gun on a table in the
center of the room.
"Can't say that I've got a friend left in camp," he said, with a
curious grimace. "What in thunder do you mean, Phil? I've tried to reason
something out of it, but I can't!"
Philip was hanging up his cap and coat on one of a number of wooden
pegs driven into the long wall. He turned quickly.
"Reason something out of what?" he said.
"Your instructions from Churchill," replied MacDougall, picking up a
big, black-bowled pipe from the table.
Philip sat down with a restful sigh, crossed his legs, loaded his
pipe, and lighted it.
"Thought I made myself lucid enough, even for a Scotchman, Sandy," he
said. "I learned at Churchill that the big fight is going to be pulled
off mighty soon. It's about time for the fireworks. So I told you to put
the sub-camps in fighting shape, and arm every responsible man in this
camp. There's going to be a whole lot of gun-work before you're many days
older. Great Scott, man, don't you understand NOW? What's the
MacDougall was staring at him as if struck dumb.
"You told me—to arm—the camps?" he gasped.
"Yes, I sent you full instructions two weeks ago."
"MacDougall tapped his forehead suspiciously with a stubby
"You're mad—or trying to pull off a poor brand of joke!" he
exclaimed. "If you're dreaming, come out of it. Look here, Phil," he
cried, a little heatedly, "I've been having a hell of a time since you
left the camp, and I want to talk seriously."
It was Philip who stared now. He fairly thrust himself upon the
"Do you mean to say you didn't get my letter telling you to put the
camps in fighting shape?"
"No, I didn't get it," said MacDougall. "But I got the other."
"There was no other!"
MacDougall jumped to his feet, darted to his bunk, and came back a
moment later with a letter. He thrust it almost fiercely into Philip's
hands. A sweat broke out upon his face as he saw its effect upon his
companion. Philip's face was deadly pale when he looked up from the
"My God! you haven't done this?" he gasped.
"What else could I do?" demanded MacDougall. "It's down there in black
and white, isn't it? It charges me to outfit six prospecting parties of
ten men each, arm every man with a rifle and revolver, victual them for
two months, and send them to the points named there. That letter came ten
days ago, and the last party, under Tom Billinger, has been gone a week.
You told me to send your very best men, and I have. It has fairly
stripped the camp of the men we depended upon, and there are hardly
enough guns left to kill meat with."
"I didn't write this letter," said Philip, looking hard at MacDougall.
"The signature is a fraud. The letter which I sent to you, revealing my
discoveries at Churchill, has been intercepted and replaced by this. Do
you know what it means?"
MacDougall was speechless. His square jaw was set like an iron clamp,
his heavy hands doubled into knots on his knees.
"It means—fight," continued Philip.
"To-night—to-morrow—at any moment now. I can't guess why the
blow hasn't fallen before this."
He quickly related to MacDougall the chief facts he had gathered at
Fort Churchill. When he had finished, the young Scotchman reached over to
the table, seized his revolver, and held the butt end of it out to
"Pump me full of lead—for God's sake, do, Phil," he pleaded.
Philip laughed, and gripped his hand.
"Not while I need a few fighters like yourself, Sandy," he objected.
"We're on to the game in time. By to-morrow morning we'll be prepared for
the war. We haven't an hour—perhaps not a minute—to lose. How
many men can you get hold of to-night whom we can depend upon to
"Ten or a dozen, no more. The road gang that we were expecting up from
the Grand Trunk Pacific came three days after you started for
Churchill—twenty-eight of 'em. They're a tough-looking outfit, but
devilish good workers. I believe you could HIRE that gang to do anything.
They won't take a word from me. It's all up to Thorpe, the foreman who
brought 'em up, and they won't obey an order unless it comes through him.
Thorpe could get them to fight, but they haven't anything to fight with,
except a few knives. I've got eight guns left, and I can scrape up eight
men who'll handle them for the glory of it. Thorpe's gang would be mighty
handy in close quarters, if it came to that."
MacDougall moved restlessly, and ran a hand through his tawny
"I almost wish we hadn't invited that bunch up here," he added. "They
look to me like a lot of dollar thugs, but they work like horses. Never
saw such men with the shovel and pick. And fight? They've cleaned up on a
half of the men in camp. If we can get Thorpe—"
"We'll see him to-night," interrupted Philip. "Or to be correct, this
morning. It's one o'clock. How long will it take to round up our best
"Half an hour," said MacDougall, promptly, jumping to his feet. "There
are Roberts, Henshaw, Tom Cassidy, Lecault, the Frenchman, and the two
St. Pierre brothers. They're all crack gun-men. Give 'em each an
automatic and they're worth twenty ordinary men."
A few moments later MacDougall extinguished the light, and the two men
left the cabin. Philip drew his companion's attention to the dimly
lighted window of the cabin to which he had followed the stranger a short
"That's Thorpe's," said the young engineer. "I haven't seen him since
morning. Guess he must be up."
"We'll sound him first," said Philip, starting off.
At MacDougall's knock there was a moment's silence inside, then heavy
footsteps, and the door was flung open. Sandy entered, followed by
Philip. Thorpe stepped back. He was of medium height, yet so athletically
built that he gave the impression of being two inches taller than he
actually was. He was smooth-shaven, and his hair and eyes were black. His
whole appearance was that of a person infinitely superior to what Philip
had expected to find in the gang-foreman. His first words, and the manner
in which they were spoken, added to this impression.
"Good evening, gentlemen."
"Good morning," replied MacDougall, nodding toward Philip. "This is
Mr. Whittemore, Thorpe. We saw your light, and thought you wouldn't mind
Philip and Thorpe shook hands.
"Just in time to have a cup of coffee," invited Thorpe, pleasantly,
motioning toward a steaming pot on the stove. "I just got in from a long
hike out over the new road-bed. Been looking the ground over along the
north shore of the Gray Beaver, and was so interested that I didn't start
for home until dark. Won't you draw up, gentlemen? There are mighty few
who can beat me at making coffee."
MacDougall had noted a sudden change in Philip's face, and as Thorpe
hastened to lift the over-boiling pot from the stove he saw his chief
make a quick movement toward a small table, and pick up an object which
looked like a bit of cloth. In an instant Philip had hidden it in the
palm of his hand. A flush leaped into his cheeks. A strange fire burned
in his eyes when Thorpe turned.
"I'm afraid we can't accept your hospitality," he said. "I'm tired,
and want to get to bed. In passing, however, I couldn't refrain from
dropping in to compliment you on the remarkable work your men are doing
out on the plain. It's splendid."
"They're good men," said Thorpe, quietly. "Pretty wild, but good
He followed them to the door. Outside, Philip's voice trembled when he
spoke to MacDougall.
"You go for the others, and bring them to the office, Sandy," he said.
"I said nothing to Thorpe because I have no confidence in liars, and
Thorpe is a liar. He was not out to the Gray Beaver to- day; for I saw
him when he came in—from the opposite direction. He is a liar, and
he will bear watching. Mind that, Sandy. Keep your eyes on this man
Thorpe. And keep your eyes on his gang. Hustle the others over to the
office as soon as you can."
They separated, and Philip returned to the cabin which they had left a
few minutes before. He relighted the lamp, and with a sharp gasp in his
breath held out before his eyes the object which he had taken from
Thorpe's table. He knew now why Thorpe had come from over the mountains
that night, why he was exhausted, and why he had lied. He clasped his
head between his hands, scarcely believing the evidence of his eyes. A
deeper breath, almost a moan, fell from his twisted lips. For he had
discovered that Thorpe, the gang-foreman, was Jeanne's lover. In his hand
he held the dainty handkerchief, embroidered in blue, which he had seen
in Jeanne's possession earlier that evening—crumpled and
discolored, still damp with her tears!
For many minutes Philip did not move, or look from the bit of damp
fabric which be held between his fingers. His heart was chilled. He felt
sick. Each moment added to the emotion which was growing in him, an
emotion which was a composite of disgust and of anguish.
Jeanne—Thorpe! An eternity of difference seemed to lie between
those two—Jeanne, with her tender beauty, her sweet life, her
idyllic dreams, and Thorpe, the gang-driver! In his own soul he had made
a shrine for Jeanne, and from his knees he had looked up at her, filled
with the knowledge of his own unworthiness. He had worshiped her, as
Dante might have worshiped Beatrice. To him she was the culmination of
all that was sweet and lovable in woman, transcendently above him. And
from this love, this worship of his, she had gone that very night to
Thorpe, the gang-man. He shivered. Going to the stove he thrust in a
handful of paper, dropped the handkerchief in with it, and set the whole
A few moments later the door opened and MacDougall came in. He was
followed by the two swarthy-faced St. Pierres, the camp huntsmen. Philip
shook hands with them, and they passed after the engineer through a
narrow door leading into a room which was known as the camp office,
Cassidy, Henshaw, and the others followed within the next ten minutes.
There was not a man among them whose eyes faltered when Philip put up his
proposition to them. As briefly as possible he told them a part of what
he had previously revealed to MacDougall, and frankly conceded that the
preservation of property and life in the camp depended almost entirely
"You're not the sort of men to demand pay in a pinch like this," he
finished, "and that's just the reason I've confidence enough in you to
ask for your support. There are fifty men in camp whom we could hire to
fight, but I don't want hired fighters. I don't want men who will run at
the crack of a few rifles, but men who are willing to die with their
boots on. I won't offer you money for this, because I know you too well.
But from this hour on you're going to be a part of the Great Northern
Fish and Development Company, and as soon as the certificates can be
signed I'm going to turn over a hundred shares of stock to each of you.
Remember that this isn't pay. It's simply a selfish scheme of mine to
make you a part of the company. There are eight of us. Give us each an
automatic and I'll wager that there isn't a combination in this neck of
the woods strong enough to do us up."
In the pale light of the two oil-lamps the men's faces glowed with
enthusiasm. Cassidy was the first to grip Philip's hand in a pledge of
"When hell freezes over, we're licked," he said. "Where's me
MacDougall brought in the guns and ammunition.
"In the morning we will begin the erection of a new building close to
this one," said Philip. "There is no reason for the building, but that
will give me an excuse for keeping you men together on one job, within
fifty feet of your guns, which we can keep in this room. Only four men
need work at a shift, and I'll put Cassidy in charge of the operations,
if that is satisfactory to the others. We'll have a couple of new bunks
put in here so that four men can stay with MacDougall and me every night.
The other four, who are not on the working shift, can hunt not far from
the camp, and keep their eyes peeled. Does that look good?"
"Can't be beat," said Henshaw, throwing open the breech of his gun.
"Shall we load?"
The room became ominous with the metallic click of loaded cartridge
clips and the hard snap of released chambers.
Five minutes later Philip stood alone with MacDougall. The loaded
rifles, each with a filled cartridge belt hanging over the muzzle, were
arranged in a row along one of the walls.
"I'll stake everything I've got on those men," he exclaimed. "Mac, did
it ever strike you that when you want REAL men you ought to come north
for them? Every one of those fellows is a northerner, except Cassidy, and
he's a fighter by birth. They'll die before they go back on their
MacDougall rubbed his hands and laughed softly.
"What next, Phil?"
"We must send the swiftest man you've got in camp after Billinger, and
get word to the other parties you sent out as quickly as we can. They'll
probably get in too late. Billinger may arrive in time."
"He's been gone a week. It's doubtful if we can get him back within
three," said MacDougall. "I'll send St. Pierre's cousin, that young Crow
Feather, after him as soon as he can get a pack ready. You'd better go to
bed, Phil. You look like a dead man."
Philip was not sure that he could sleep, notwithstanding the physical
strain he had been under during the past twenty-four hours. He was filled
with a nervous desire for continued action. Only action kept him from
thinking of Jeanne and Thorpe. After MacDougall had gone to stir up young
Crow Feather he undressed and stretched out in his bunk, hoping that the
Scotchman would soon return. Not until he closed his eyes did he realize
how tired he was. MacDougall came in an hour later, and Philip was
asleep. It was nine o'clock when he awoke. He went to the cook's shanty,
ate a hot breakfast of griddle-cakes and bacon, drank a pint of strong
coffee, and hunted up MacDougall. Sandy was just coming from Thorpe's
"He's a queer guinea, that Thorpe," said the engineer, after their
first greeting. "He doesn't pretend to do a pound's work. Notice his
hands when you see him again, Phil. They look as though he had been
drumming a piano all his life. But love o' mighty, how he does make the
OTHERS work. You want to go over and see his gang throw dirt."
"That's where I'm going," said Philip. "Is Thorpe at home?"
"Just leaving. There he is now!"
At MacDougall's whistle Thorpe turned and waited for Philip.
"Goin' over?" he asked, pleasantly, when Philip came up.
"Yes. I want to see how your men work without a leader," replied
Philip. He paused for a moment to light his pipe, and pointed to a group
of men down on the lake shore. "See that gang?" he asked. "They're
building a scow. Take away their foreman and they wouldn't be worth their
grub. They're men we brought up from Winnipeg."
Thorpe was rolling a cigarette. Under his arm he held a pair of light
"Mine are different," he laughed, quietly.
"I know that," rejoined Philip, watching the skill of his long white
fingers. "That's why I want to see them in action, when you're away."
"My policy is to know to a cubic foot what a certain number of men are
capable of doing in a certain time," explained Thorpe, as they walked
toward the plain. "My next move is to secure the men who will achieve the
result, whether I am present or not. That done, my work is done. Simple,
There was something likable about Thorpe. Even in his present mood
Philip could not but concede that. He was surprised in Thorpe, in more
ways than one. His voice was low, and filled with a certain companionable
quality that gave one confidence in him immediately. He was apparently a
man of education and of some little culture, in spite of his vocation,
which usually possesses a vocabulary of its own as hard as rock. But
Philip's greatest surprise came when he regarded Thorpe's personal
appearance. He judged that he was past forty, perhaps forty-five, and the
thought made him shudder inwardly. He was twice—almost three
times—as old as Jeanne. And yet there was about him something
irresistibly attractive, a fascination which had its influence upon
Philip himself. His nails dug into tie flesh of his hands when he thought
of this man—and Jeanne.
Thorpe's gang was hard at work when they came to the end of the
rock-bed. Scarcely a man seemed to take notice when he appeared. There
was one exception, a wiry, red-faced little man who raised a hand to his
cap when he saw the foreman.
"That's the sub-foreman," explained Thorpe. "He answers to me." The
little man had given a signal, and Thorpe added, "Excuse me for a moment.
He's got something on his mind."
He drew a few steps aside, and Philip walked along the line of
laboring-men. He grinned and nodded to them, one after another.
MacDougall was right. They were the toughest lot of men he had ever seen
in one gang.
Loud voices turned him about, and he saw that Thorpe and the sub-
foreman had approached a huge, heavy-shouldered man, with whom they
seemed to be in serious altercation. Two or three of the workmen had
drawn near, and Thorpe's voice rang out clear and vibrant.
"You'll do that, Blake, or you'll shoulder your kit back home. And
what goes with you goes with your clique. I know your kind, and you can't
worry me. Take that pick and dig—or hike. There's no two ways about
Philip could not hear what the big man said, but suddenly Thorpe's
fist shot out and struck him fairly on the jaw. In another instant Thorpe
had jumped back, and was facing half a dozen angry, threatening men. He
had drawn a revolver, and his white teeth gleamed in a cool and menacing
"Think it over, boys," he said, quietly. "And if you're not satisfied
come in and draw your pay this noon. We'll furnish you with outfits and
plenty of grub if you don't like the work up here. I don't care to hold
men like you to your contracts."
He came to meet Philip, as though nothing unusual had happened.
"That will delay the completion of our work for a week at least," he
said, as he thrust his revolver into a holster hidden under his coat.
"I've been expecting trouble with Blake and four or five of his pals for
some time. I'm glad it's over. Blake threatens a strike unless I give him
a sub-foremanship and increase the men's wages from six to ten dollars a
day. Think of it. A strike—up here! It would be the beginning of
history, wouldn't it?"
He laughed softly, and Philip laughed from sheer admiration of the
"You think they'll go?" he asked, anxiously.
"I'm sure of it," replied Thorpe. "It's the best thing that can
An hour later Philip was back in camp. He did not see Thorpe again
until after dinner, and then the gang-foreman hunted him up. His face
wore a worried look.
"It's a little worse than I expected," he said. "Blake and eight
others came in for their pay and outfits this noon. I didn't think that
more than three or four would have the nerve to quit."
"I'll furnish you with men to take their places," said Philip.
"There's the hitch," replied Thorpe, rolling a cigarette. "I want my
men to work by themselves. Put half a dozen of your amateur road-men
among them and it will mean twenty per cent. less work done, and perhaps
trouble. They're a tough lot. I concede that. I've thought of a way to
offset the loss of Blake and the others. We can set a gang of your men at
work over at Gray Beaver Lake, and they can build up to meet us."
Philip saw MacDougall soon after his short talk with Thorpe. The
engineer did not disguise his pleasure at the turn which affairs had
"I'm glad they're going," he declared. "If there's to be trouble I'll
feel easier with that bunch out of camp. I'd give my next month's salary
if Thorpe would take his whole outfit back where they came from. They're
doing business with the road-bed all right, but I don't like the idea of
having 'em around when there are throats to be cut, one side or
Philip did not see Thorpe again that day. He selected his men for the
Gray Beaver work, and in the afternoon despatched a messenger over the
Fort Churchill route to meet Brokaw. He was confident that Brokaw and his
daughter would show up during the next few days, but at the same time he
instructed the messenger to go to Churchill if he should not meet them on
the way. Other men he sent to recall the prospecting parties outfitted by
MacDougall. Early in the evening the St. Pierres, Lecault, and Henshaw
joined him for a few minutes in the office. During the day the four had
done scout work five miles on all sides of the camp. Lecault had shot a
moose three miles to the south, and had hung up the meat. One of the St.
Pierres saw Blake and his gang on the way to the Churchill. Beyond these
two incidents they brought in no news. A little later MacDougall brought
in two other men whom he could trust, and armed them with muzzle-loaders.
They were the two last guns in the camp.
With ten men constantly prepared for attack, Philip began to feel that
he had the situation well in hand. It would be practically impossible for
his enemies to surprise the camp, and after their first day's scout duty
the men on the trail would always be within sound of rifle-shots, even if
they did not discover the advance of an attacking force in time to beat
them to camp. In the event of one making such a discovery he was to
signal the others by a series of shots, such as one might fire at a
Philip found it almost impossible to fight back his thoughts of
Jeanne. During the two or three days that followed the departure of Blake
he did not allow himself an hour's rest from early dawn until late at
night. Each night he went to bed exhausted, with the hope that sleep
would bury his grief. The struggle wore upon him, and the faithful
MacDougall began to note the change in his comrade's face. The fourth day
Thorpe disappeared and did not show up again until the following morning.
Every hour of his absence was like the stab of a knife in Philip's heart,
for he knew that the gang-foreman had gone to see Jeanne. Three days
later the visit was repeated, and that night MacDougall found Philip in a
"You're overdoing," he told him. "You're not in bed five hours out of
the twenty-four. Cut it out, or you'll be in the hospital instead of in
the fighting line when the big show comes to town."
Days of mental agony and of physical pain followed. Neither Philip nor
MacDougall could understand the mysterious lack of developments. They had
expected attack before this, and yet ceaseless scout work brought in no
evidence of an approaching crisis. Neither could they understand the
growing disaffection among Thorpe's men. The numerical strength of the
gang dwindled from nineteen down to fifteen, from fifteen to twelve. At
last Thorpe voluntarily asked Philip to cut his salary in two, because he
could not hold his men. On that same day the little sub-foreman and two
others left him, leaving only nine men at work. The delay in Brokaw's
arrival was another puzzle to Philip. Two weeks passed, and in that time
Thorpe left camp three times. On the fifteenth day the Fort Churchill
messenger returned. He was astounded when he found that Brokaw was not in
camp, and brought amazing news. Brokaw and his daughter had departed from
Fort Churchill two days after Pierre had followed Jeanne and Philip. They
had gone in two canoes, up the Churchill. He had seen no signs of them
anywhere along the route.
No sooner had he received the news than Philip sent the messenger
after MacDougall. The Scotchman's red face stared at him blankly when he
told him what had happened.
"That's their first move in the real fight," said Philip, with a hard
ring in his voice. "They've got Brokaw. Keep your men close from this
hour on, Sandy. Hereafter let five of them sleep in our bunks during the
day, and keep them awake during the night."
Five days passed without a sign of an enemy.
About eight o'clock on the night of the sixth MacDougall came into the
office, where Philip was alone. The young Scotchman's usually florid face
was white. He dropped a curse as he grasped the back of a chair with both
hands. It was the third or fourth time that Philip had heard MacDougall
"Damn that Thorpe!" he cried, in a low voice.
"What's up?" asked Philip, his muscles tightening.
MacDougall viciously beat the ash from the bowl of his pipe.
"I didn't want to worry you about Thorpe, so I've kept quiet about
some things," he growled. "Thorpe brought up a load of whisky with him. I
knew it was against the law you've set down for this camp, but I figured
you were having trouble enough without getting you into a mix-up with
him, so I didn't say anything. But this other— is damnable! Twice
he's had a woman sneak in to visit him. She's there again to-night!"
A choking, gripping sensation rose in Philip's throat. MacDougall was
not looking, and did not see the convulsive twitching of the other's
face, or the terrible light that shot for an instant into his eyes.
"A YOUNG woman," said MacDougall, with emphasis. "I don't know who she
is, but I do know that she hasn't a right there or she wouldn't sneak in
like a thief. I'm going to be blunt—damned blunt. I think she's one
of the other men's wives. There are half a dozen in camp."
"Haven't you ever looked—to see if you could recognize her?"
"Haven't had the chance," said MacDougall. "She's been wrapped up both
times, and as it was none of my business I didn't lay in wait. But
now—it's up to you!"
Philip rose slowly. He felt cold. He put on his coat and cap, and
buckled on his revolver. His face was deadly white when he turned to
"She is over there to-night?"
"Sneaked in not half an hour ago, I saw her come out of the edge of
"From the trail that leads out over the plain?"
Philip walked to the door.
"I'm going over to call on Thorpe," he said, quietly. "I may not be
back for some time, Sandy."
In the deep shadows outside he stood gazing at the light in Thorpe's
cabin. Then he walked slowly toward the spruce. He did not go to the
door, but leaned with his back against the building, near one of the
windows. The first shuddering sickness had gone from him. His temples
throbbed. At the sound of a voice inside which was Thorpe's the chill in
his blood turned to fire. The terrible fear that had fallen upon him at
MacDougall's words held him motionless, and his brain worked upon but one
idea—one determination. If it was Jeanne who came in this way, he
would kill Thorpe. If it was another woman, he would give Thorpe that
night to get out of the country. He waited. He heard the gang- man's
voice frequently, once in a loud, half-mocking laugh. Twice he heard a
lower voice—a woman's. For an hour he watched. He walked back and
forth in the gloom of the spruce, and waited another hour. Then the light
went out, and he slipped back to the corner of the cabin.
After a moment the door opened, and a hooded figure came out, and
walked rapidly toward the trail that buried itself amid the spruce.
Philip ran around the cabin and followed. There was a little open beyond
the first fringe of spruce, and in this he ran up silently from behind
and overtook the one he was pursuing. As his hand fell upon her arm the
woman turned upon him with a frightened cry. Philip's hand dropped. He
took a step back.
"My God! Jeanne—it is you!"
His voice was husky, like a choking man's. For an instant Jeanne's
white, terrified face met his own. And then, without a word to him, she
fled swiftly down the trail.
Philip made no effort to follow. For two or three minutes he stood
like a man turned suddenly into hewn rock, staring with unseeing eyes
into the gloom where Jeanne had disappeared. Then he walked back to the
edge of the spruce. There he drew his revolver, and cocked it. The
starlight revealed a madness in his face as he approached Thorpe's cabin.
He was smiling, but it was such a smile as presages death; a smile as
implacable as fate itself.
As Philip approached the cabin he saw a figure stealing away through
the gloom. His first thought was that he had returned a minute too late
to wreak his vengeance upon the gang-foreman in his own home, and he
quickened his steps in pursuit. The man ahead of him was cutting direct
for the camp supply-house, which was the nightly rendezvous of those who
wished to play cards or exchange camp gossip. The supply-house, aglow
with light, was not more than two hundred yards from Thorpe's, and Philip
saw that if he dealt out the justice he contemplated he had not a moment
to lose. He began to run, so quickly that he approached within a dozen
paces of the man he was pursuing without being heard. It was not until
then that he made a discovery which stopped him. The man ahead was not
Thorpe. Suddenly, looking beyond him, he saw a second figure pass slowly
through the lighted door of the supply-house. Even at that distance he
recognized the gang-foreman. He thrust his revolver under his coat and
fell a little farther behind the man he had mistaken for Thorpe so that
when the latter passed within the small circle of light that came from
the supply-house windows he was fifty instead of a dozen paces away.
Something in the other's manner, something strangely and potently
familiar in his slim, lithe form, in the quick, half-running movement of
his body, drew a sharp breath from Philip. He was on the point of calling
a name, but it died on his lips. A moment more and the man passed through
the door. Philip was certain that it was Pierre Couchee who had followed
He was filled with a sudden fear as he ran toward the store. He had
scarcely crossed the threshold when a glance showed him Thorpe leaning
upon a narrow counter, and Pierre close beside him. He saw that the
half-breed was speaking, and Thorpe drew himself erect. Then, as quick as
a flash, two things happened. Thorpe's hand went to his belt, Pierre's
sent a lightning gleam of steel back over his shoulder. The terrible
drive of the knife and the explosion of Thorpe's revolver came in the
same instant. Thorpe crumpled back over the counter, clutching at his
breast. Pierre turned about, staggering, and saw Philip. His eyes lighted
up, and with a moaning cry he stretched out his arms as Philip sprang to
him. Above the sudden tumult of men's feet and excited voices he gasped
out Jeanne's name. Half a dozen men had crowded about them. Through the
ring burst MacDougall, a revolver in his hand. Pierce had become a dead
weight in Philip's arms.
"Help me over to the cabin with him, Mac," he said. He looked around
among the men. It struck him as curious, even then, that he saw none of
Thorpe's gang. "Is Thorpe done for?" he asked.
"He's dead," replied some one.
With an effort Pierre opened his eyes.
"Dead!" he breathed, and in that one word there was a tremble of joy
"Take Thorpe over to his cabin," commanded Philip, as he and
MacDougall lifted Pierre between them. "I will answer for this man."
They could hear Pierre's sobbing breath as they hurried across the
open. They laid him on Philip's bunk and Pierre opened his eyes again. He
looked at Philip.
"M'sieur," he whispered, "tell me—quick—if I must
MacDougall had studied medicine and surgery before engineering, and
took the place of camp physician. Philip drew back while he ripped open
the half-breed's garments and bared his breast. Then he darted to his
bunk for the satchel in which he kept his bandages and medicines,
throwing off his coat as he went. Philip bent over Pierre. Blood was
oozing slowly from the wounded man's right breast. Over his heart Philip
noticed a blood-stained locket, fastened by a babiche string about his
Pierre's hands groped eagerly for Philip's.
"M'sieur—you will tell me—if I must die?" he pleaded.
"There are things you must know—about Jeanne—if I go. It will
not hurt. I am not afraid. You will tell me—"
"Yes," said Philip.
He could scarcely speak, and while MacDougall was at work stood so
that Pierre could not see his face. There was a sobbing note in Pierre's
breath, and he knew what it meant. He had heard that same sound more than
once when he had shot moose and caribou through the lungs. Five minutes
later MacDougall straightened himself. He had done all that he could.
Philip followed him to the back part of the room. Almost without sound
his lips framed the words, "Will he die?"
"Yes," said MacDougall. "There is no hope. He may last until
Philip took a stool and sat down beside Pierre. There was no fear in
the wounded man's face. His eyes were clear. His voice was a little
"I will die, M'sieur," he said, calmly.
"I am afraid so, Pierre."
Pierre's damp fingers closed about his own. His eyes shone softly, and
"It is best," he said, "and I am glad. I feel quite well. I will live
for some time?"
"Perhaps for a few hours, Pierre."
"God is good to me," breathed Pierre, devoutly. "I thank Him. Are we
"Do you wish to be alone?"
Philip motioned to MacDougall, who went into the little office
"I will die," whispered Pierre, softly, as though he were achieving a
triumph. "And everything would die with me, M'sieur, if I did not know
that you love Jeanne, and that you will care for her when I am gone.
M'sieur, I have told you that I love her. I have worshiped her, next to
my God. I die happy, knowing that I am dying for her. If I had lived I
would have suffered, for I love alone. She does not dream that my love is
different from hers, for I have never told her. It would have given her
pain. And you will never let her know. As Our Dear Lady is my witness,
M'sieur, she has loved but one man, and that man is you."
Pierre gave a great breath. A warm flood seemed suddenly to engulf
Philip. Did he hear right? Could he believe? He fell upon his knees
beside Pierre and brushed his dark hair back from his face.
"Yes, I love her," he said, softly. "But I did not know that she loved
"It is not strange," said Pierre, looking straight into his eyes. "But
you will understand—now—M'sieur. I seem to have strength, and
I will tell you all—from the beginning. Perhaps I have done wrong.
You will know—soon. You remember Jeanne told you the story of the
baby—of the woman frozen in the snow. That was the beginning of the
long fight—for me. This—what I am about to tell
you—will be sacred to you, M'sieur?"
"As my life," said Philip.
Pierre was silent for a few moments. He seemed to be gathering his
thoughts, so that he could tell in few words the tragedy of years. Two
brilliant spots burned in his cheeks, and the hand which Philip held was
"Years ago—twenty, almost—there came a man to Fort o'
God," he began. "He was very young, and from the south. D'Arcambal was
then middle-aged, but his wife was young and beautiful. Jeanne says that
you saw her picture—against the wall. D'Arcambal worshiped her. She
was his life. You understand what happened. The man from the
south—the young wife—they went away together."
Pierre coughed. A bit of blood reddened his lips. Philip wiped it away
gently with his handkerchief, hiding the stain from Pierre's eyes.
"Yes," he said, "I understand."
"It broke D'Arcambal's heart," resumed Pierre. "He destroyed
everything that had belonged to the woman. He turned her picture to the
wall. His love turned slowly to hate. It was two years later that I came
over the barrens one night and found Jeanne and her dead mother. The
woman, M'sieur—Jeanne's mother—was D'Arcambal's wife. She was
returning to Fort o' God, and God's justice overtook her almost at its
doors. I carried little Jeanne to my Indian mother, and then made ready
to carry the woman to her husband. It was then that a terrible thought
came to me. Jeanne was not D'Arcambal's daughter. She was a part of the
man who had stolen his wife. I worshiped the little Jeanne even then, and
for her sake my mother and I swore secrecy, and buried the woman. Then we
took the babe to Fort o' God as a stranger. We saved her. We saved
D'Arcambal. No one ever knew."
Pierre stopped for breath.
"Was it best?"
"It was glorious," said Philip, trembling.
"It would have come out right—in the end—if the father had
not returned," said Pierre. "I must hurry, M'sieur, for it hurts me now
to talk. He came first a year ago, and revealed himself to Jeanne. He
told her everything. D'Arcambal was rich; Jeanne and I both had money. He
threatened—we bought him off. We fought to keep the terrible thing
from D'Arcambal. Our money sent him away for a time. Then he returned. It
was news of him I brought up the river to Jeanne—from Churchill. I
offered to kill him—but Jeanne would not listen to that. But the
Great God willed that I should. I killed him to-night—over
A great joy surged above the grief in Philip's heart. He could not
speak, but pressed Pierre's hand harder, and looked into his glistening
Pierre's next words broke his silence, and wrung a low cry from his
"M'sieur, this man Thorpe—Jeanne's father—is the man whom
you know as Lord Fitzhugh Lee."
He coughed violently, and with sudden fear Philip lifted his head so
that it rested against his shoulder. After a moment he lowered it again.
His face was as white as Pierre's after that sudden fit of coughing.
"I talked with him—alone—on the afternoon of the fight on
the rock," continued Pierre, huskily. "He was hiding in the woods near
Churchill, and left for Fort o' God on that same day. I did not tell
Jeanne—until after what happened, and I came up with you on the
river. Thorpe was waiting for us at Fort o' God. It was he whom Jeanne
saw that night beside the rock, but I could not tell you the
truth—then. He came often after that—two, three times a week.
He tortured Jeanne. My God! he taunted her, M'sieur, and made her let him
kiss her, because he was her father. We gave him money—all that we
could get; we promised him more, if he would leave—five thousand
dollars—in three years. He agreed to go— after he had
finished his work here. And that work—M'sieur—was to destroy
you. He told Jeanne, because it made her fear him more. He compelled her
to come to his cabin. He thought she was his slave, that she would do
anything to be free of him. He told her of his plot—how he had
fooled you in the sham fight with one of his men—how those men were
going to attack you a little later, and how he had intercepted your
letter from Churchill and sent in its place the other letter which made
your camp defenseless. He was not afraid of her. She was in his power,
and he laughed at her horror, and tortured her as a cat will a bird. But
A spasm of pain shot over Pierre's face. Fresh blood dyed his lips,
and a shiver ran through his body.
"My God!—water—something—M'sieur," he gasped. "I
must go on!"
Philip raised him again in his arms. He saw MacDougall's head appear
through the door.
"You will rest easier this way, Pierre," he said.
After a few moments Pierre spoke in a gasping whisper.
"You must understand. I must be quick," he said. "We could not warn
you of what Jeanne had discovered. That would have revealed her father.
D'Arcambal would have known—every one. Thorpe plans to dress his
men—like Indians. They are to attack your camp to- morrow night.
Ten days ago we went to the camp of old Sachigo, the Cree, who loves
Jeanne as his own daughter. It was Jeanne's idea— to save you.
Jeanne told him of Thorpe's plot to destroy you, and to lay the blame on
Sachigo's people. Sachigo is out there—in the
mountains—hiding with thirty of his tribe. Two days ago Jeanne
learned where her father's men were hiding. We had planned everything.
To-morrow night—when they move to attack—we were to start a
signal-fire on the big rock mountain at the end of the lake. Sachigo
starts at the signal, and lays in ambush for the others in the ravine
between the two mountains. None of Thorpe's men will come out alive.
Sachigo and his people will destroy them, and none will ever know how it
happened, for the Crees keep their secrets. But now—it is too
late—for me. When it happens—I will be gone. The signal-pile
is built—birch-bark—at the very top of the rock. Jeanne will
wait for me out on the plain—and I will not come. You must fire the
signal, M'sieur—as soon as it is dark. None will ever know.
Jeanne's father is dead. You will keep the secret—of her
"Forever," said Philip.
MacDougall came into the room, He brought a glass, partly filled with
a colored liquid, and placed it to Pierre's lips. Pierre swallowed with
an effort, and with a significant hunch of his shoulders for Philip's
eyes alone the engineer returned to the little room.
"Mon Dieu, how it burns!" said Pierre, as if to himself. "May I lie
down again, M'sieur?"
Philip lowered him gently. He made no effort to speak in these
moments. Pierre's eyes were dark and luminous as they sought his own. The
draught he had taken gave him a passing strength.
"I saw Thorpe again this afternoon," he said, more calmly. "D'Arcambal
thought I had taken Jeanne to visit a trapper's wife down the Churchill.
I saw Thorpe—alone. He had been drinking. He laughed at me, and
said that Jeanne and I were fools—that he would not leave as he had
said he would—but that he would remain —always. I told
Jeanne, and asked her again to let me kill him. But she said no—and
I had taken my oath to her. Jeanne saw him again to-night. I was near the
cabin, and saw you. I told him I would kill him if he did not go. He
laughed again, and struck me. When I came to my feet he was half across
the open; I followed. I forgot my oath. Rage filled my heart. You know
what happened. You will tell Jeanne—so that she will
"Can we not send for her?" asked Philip. "She must be near."
"No, M'sieur," he replied, softly. "It would only give her great pain
to see me—like this. She was to meet me to-night—at twelve
o'clock—on the trail where the road-bed crosses. You will meet her
in my place. When she understands all that has happened you may bring her
here, if she wishes to come. Then—to-morrow night— you will
go together to fire the signal."
"But Thorpe is dead," said Philip. "Will they attack without him?"
"There is another, besides him," said Pierre. "That is one secret
which Thorpe has kept from Jeanne—who the other is—the one
who is paying to have you destroyed. Yes—they will attack."
Philip bent low over Pierre.
"I have known of this plot for a long time, Pierre," he said, tensely.
"I know that this Thorpe, who for some reason has passed as Lord Fitzhugh
Lee, is but the agent of a more powerful force behind him. Have you told
me all, Pierre? Do you know nothing more?"
"Was it Thorpe who attacked you on the cliff at Churchill?"
"No, I am sure that it was not he. If the attack had not failed—
it would have meant loss—for him. I have laid it to the ruffians
who wanted to kill me—and secure Jeanne. You understand—"
"Yes, but I do not believe that was the motive for the attack,
Pierre," said Philip. "Did Thorpe go to see any one in Churchill?"
"I don't know. He was concealing himself in the forest."
A convulsive shudder ran through Pierre's body. He gave a low cry of
pain, and his hand clutched at the babiche cord which held the locket
about his neck.
"M'sieur," he whispered, quickly, "this locket—was on the little
Jeanne—when I found her in the snow. I kept it because it bears the
woman's initials. I am foolish, M'sieur. I am weak. But I would like to
have it buried with me—under the old tree—where Jeanne's
mother lies. And if you could, M'sieur—if you only
could—place something of Jeanne's in my hand—I would rest
Philip bowed his head in silence, while his eyes grew blinding hot.
Pierre pressed his hand.
"She loves you—as I love her," he whispered, so low that Philip
could scarcely hear. "You will love her—always. If you do
not— the Great God will let the curse of Pierre Couchee fall upon
Choking back the great sobs that rose in his breast, Philip sank upon
his knees beside Pierre, and buried his face in his arms like a
heartbroken boy. For several moments there was a silence, punctuated by
the rasping breath of the wounded man. Suddenly this sound ceased, and
Philip felt a cold fear leap through him. He listened, neither breathing
nor lifting his head. In that interval of pulseless quiet a terrible cry
came from Pierre's lips, and when Philip looked up the dying half-breed
had struggled to a sitting posture, blood staining his lips again, his
eyes blazing, his white face damp with the clammy touch of death, and was
staring through the cabin window. It was the window that looked out over
the lake, toward the rock mountain half a mile away. Philip turned,
horrified and wondering. Through the window he saw a glow in the
sky—the glow of a fire, leaping up in a crimson flood from the top
of the mountain!
Again that terrible, moaning cry fell from Pierre's lips, and he
reached out his arms toward the signal that was blazing forth its warning
in the night.
"Jeanne—Jeanne—" he sobbed. "My Jeanne—"
He swayed, and fell back. His words came in choking gasps.
"The signal!" he struggled, fighting to make Philip understand him.
Jeanne—Jeanne—my Jeanne—has lighted—the
A tremor ran through his body, and he lay still. MacDougall ran across
from the half-open door, and put his head to Pierre's breast.
"Is he dead?" asked Philip.
"Will he become conscious again?"
Philip gripped MacDougall by the arm.
"The attack is to be made to-night, Mac," he exclaimed. "Warn the men.
Have them ready. But you—YOU, MacDougall, attend to this man, AND
KEEP HIM ALIVE!"
Without another word he ran to the door and out into the night. The
signal-fire was leaping to the sky. It lighted up the black cap of the
mountain, and sent a thousand aurora fires flashing across the lake. And
Philip, as he ran swiftly through the camp toward the narrow trail that
led to that mountain-top, repeated over and over again the dying words of
"Jeanne—my Jeanne—my Jeanne—"
News of the double tragedy had swept through the camp, and there was a
crowd in front of the supply-house. Philip passed close to Thorpe's house
to avoid discovery, ran a hundred yards up the trail over which Jeanne
had fled a short time before, and then cut straight across through the
thin timber for the head of the lake. He felt no effort in his running.
Low bush whipped him in the face and left no sting. He was not conscious
that he was panting for breath when he came out in the black shadow of
the mountain. This night in itself had been a creation for him, for out
of grief and pain it had lifted him into a new life, and into a happiness
that seemed to fill him with the strength and the endurance of five men.
Jeanne loved him! The wonderful truth cried itself out in his soul at
every step he took, and he murmured it aloud to himself, over and over
again, as he ran.
The glow of the signal-fire lighted up the sky above him, and he
climbed up, higher and higher, scrambling swiftly from rock to rock,
until he saw the tips of the flames licking up into the sky. He had come
up the steepest and shortest side of the ridge, and when he reached the
top he lay upon his face for a moment, his breath almost gone.
The fire was built against a huge dead pine, and the pine was blazing
a hundred feet in the air. He could feel its heat. The monster torch
illumined the barren cap of the rock from edge to edge, and he looked
about him for Jeanne. For a moment he did not see her, and her name rose
to his lips, to be stilled in the same breath by what he saw beyond the
burning pine. Through the blaze of the heat and fire fie beheld Jeanne,
standing close to the edge of the mountain, gazing into the south and
west. He called her name. Jeanne turned toward him with a startled cry,
and Philip was at her side. The girl's face was white and strained. Her
lips were twisted in pain at sight of him. She spoke no word, but a
strange sound rose in her throat, a welling-up of the sudden despair
which the fire-light revealed in her eyes. For one moment they stood
apart, and Philip tried to speak. And then, suddenly, he reached out and
drew her quickly into his arms—so quickly that there was no time
for her to escape, so closely that her sweet face lay imprisoned upon his
breast, as he had held it once before, under the picture at Fort o' God.
He felt her straining to free herself; he saw the fear in her eyes, and
he tried to speak calmly, while his heart throbbed with the passion of
love which he wished to pour into her ears.
"Listen, Jeanne," he said. "Pierre has sent me to you. He has told me
everything—everything, my sweetheart. There is nothing to keep from
me now. I know. I understand. And I love you—love you— love
you—my own sweet Jeanne!"
She trembled at his words. He felt her shuddering in his arms, and her
eyes gazed at him wonderingly, filled with a strange and incredulous
look, while her lips quivered and remained speechless. He drew her
nearer, until his face was against her own, and the warmth of her lips,
her eyes, and her hair entered into him, and near stifled his heart with
"He has told me everything, my little Jeanne," he said again, in a
whisper that rose just above the crackling of the pine. "Everything. He
told me because he knew that I loved you, and because—"
The words choked in his throat. At this hesitation Jeanne drew her
head back, and, with her hands pressing against his breast, looked into
his face. There were in her eyes the same struggling emotions, but with
them now there came also a sweet faltering, a piteous appeal to him, a
faith that rose above her terrors, and the tremble of her lips was like
that of a crying child. He drew her face back, and kissed the quivering
lips, and suddenly he felt the strain against him give way, and Jeanne's
head sobbed upon his breast. In that moment, looking where the roaring
pine sent its pinnacles of flame leaping up into the night, a word of
thanks, of prayer, rose mutely to his lips, and he held Jeanne more
closely, and whispered over and over again in his happiness,
"Jeanne— Jeanne—my sweetheart Jeanne."
Jeanne's sobs grew less and less, and Philip strengthened himself to
tell her the terrible news of Pierre. He knew that in the selfishness of
his own joy he had already wasted precious minutes, and very gently he
took Jeanne's wet face between his two hands and turned it a little
toward his own.
"Pierre has told me everything, Jeanne," he repeated. "Everything
—from the day he found you many years ago to the day your father
returned to torture you." He spoke calmly, even as he felt her shiver in
pain against him. "To-night there was a little trouble down in the camp,
dear. Pierre is wounded, and wants you to come to him.
For an instant Philip was frightened at what happened. Jeanne's breath
ceased. There seemed to be not a quiver of life in her body, and she lay
in his arms as if dead. And then, suddenly, there came from her a
terrible cry, and she wrenched herself free, and stood a step from him,
her face as white as death.
"Yes, he is dead."
"And Pierre—Pierre killed him?"
Philip held out his arms, but Jeanne did not seem to see them. She saw
the answer in his face.
"And—Pierre—is—hurt—" she went on, never
taking her wide, luminous eyes from his face.
Before he answered Philip took her trembling hands in his own, as
though he would lighten the blow by the warmth and touch of his great
"Yes, he is hurt, Jeanne," he said. "We must hurry, for I am afraid
there is no time to lose."
"I fear so, Jeanne."
He turned before the look that came into her face, and led her about
the circle of fire to the side of the mountain that sloped down into the
plain. Suddenly Jeanne stopped for an instant. Her fingers tightened
about his. Her face was turned back into the endless desolation of night
and forest that lay to the south and west. Far out—a mile—two
miles—an answering fire was breaking the black curtain that hid all
things beyond them. Jeanne lifted her face to him. Grief and love, pain
and joy, shone in her eyes.
"They are there!" she said, chokingly. "It is Sachigo, and they are
Once again before they began the descent of the mountain Philip drew
her close in his arms, and kissed her. And this time there was the sweet
surrender to him of all things in the tenderness of Jeanne's lips. Silent
in their grief, and yet communing in sympathy and love in the firm clasp
of their hands, they came down the mountain, through the thin spruce
forest, and to the lighted cabin where Pierre lay dying. MacDougall was
in the room when they entered, and rose softly, tiptoeing into the little
office. Philip led Jeanne to Pierre's side, and as he bent over him, and
spoke softly, the half-breed opened his eyes. He saw Jeanne. Into his
fading eyes there came a wonderful light. His lips moved, and his hands
strove to lift themselves above the crumpled blanket. Jeanne dropped upon
her knees beside him, and as she clasped his chilled hands to her breast
a glorious understanding lighted up her face; and then she took Pierre's
face between her hands, and bowed her own close down to it, so that the
two were hidden under the beauteous halo of her hair. Philip gripped at
his throat to hold back a sob. A terrible stillness came into the room,
and he dared not move. It seemed a long time before Jeanne lifted her
head, slowly, tenderly, as if fearing to awaken a sleeping child. She
turned to him, and he read the truth in her face before she had spoken.
Her voice was low and calm, filled with the sweetness and tenderness and
strength that come only to a woman in the final moment of a great
"Leave us, Philip," she said. "Pierre is dead."
For a moment Philip bowed his head, and then he turned and went
noiselessly from the room, without speaking. As he closed the door softly
behind him he looked back, and from her attitude beside Pierre he knew
that Jeanne was whispering a prayer. A vision flashed before him, so
quick that it had come like a ray of light —a vision of another
hour, years and years ago, when Pierre had knelt beside HER, and when he
had lifted up his wild, half-thought prayer out in the death-chill of the
snowy barrens. And this was his reward, to have Jeanne kneel beside him
as the soul which had loved her so faithfully took its flight.
Philip could not see when he turned his face to the light of the
office. For the first time the grief which he had choked back escaped in
a gasping break in his voice, and he wiped his eyes with his
pocket-handkerchief. He knew that MacDougall was looking upon his
weakness, but he did not at first see that there was another person in
the room besides the engineer. This second person rose to meet him, while
MacDougall remained in his seat, and as he came out into the clearer
light of the room Philip could scarce believe his eyes.
It was Gregson!
"I am sorry that I came in just at this time, Phil," he greeted, in a
Philip stared, still incredulous. He had never seen Gregson as he
looked now. The artist advanced no farther. He did not hold out his hand.
There was none of the joy of meeting in his face. His eyes shifted to the
door that led into the death-chamber, and they were filled with the gloom
of a condemned man. With a low word Philip held out his hand to meet his
old comrade's. Gregson drew back.
"No—not now," he said. "Wait—until you have heard me."
Something in his cold, passionless voice stopped Philip. He saw
Gregson glance toward MacDougall, and understood what he meant. Going to
the engineer, he placed a hand on his shoulder, and spoke so that only he
"She is in there, Mac—with Pierre. She wanted to be alone with
him for a few minutes. Will you wait for her—outside—at the
door, and take her over to Cassidy's wife? Tell her that I will come to
her in a little while."
He followed MacDougall to the door, speaking to him in a low voice,
and then turned to Gregson. The artist had seated himself at one side of
the small office table, and Philip sat down opposite him, holding out his
hand to him again.
"What is the matter, Greggy?"
"This is not a time for long explanations," said the artist, still
holding back his hand. "They can come later, Phil. But to-night—
now—you must understand why I cannot shake hands with you. We have
been friends for a good many years. In a few minutes we will be
enemies—or you will be mine. One thing, before I go on, I must ask
of you. I demand it. Whatever passes between us during the next ten
minutes, say no word against Eileen Brokaw. I will say what you might
say—that for a time her soul wandered, and was almost lost. But it
has come back to her, strong and pure. I love her. Some strange fate has
ordained that she should love me, worthless as I am. She is to be my
Philip's hand was still across the table.
"Greggy—Greggy—God bless you!" he cried, softly. "I know
what it is to love, and to be loved. Why should I be your enemy because
Eileen Brokaw's heart has turned to gold, and she has given it to you?
"Wait," said Gregson, huskily. "Phil, you are breaking my heart.
Listen. You got my note? But I did not desert you so abominably. I made a
discovery that last night of yours in Churchill. I went to Eileen Brokaw,
and to-morrow—some time—if you care I will tell you of all
that happened. First you must know this. I have found the 'power' that is
fighting you down below. I have found the man who is behind the plot to
ruin your company, the man who is responsible for Thorpe's crimes, the
man who is responsible—for— that—in—there."
He leaned across the table and pointed to the closed door.
"And that man—"
For a moment he seemed to choke.
"Is Brokaw, the father of my affianced wife!"
"Good God!" cried Philip. "Gregson, are you mad?"
"I was almost mad, when I first made the discovery," said Gregson, as
cold as ice. "But I am sane now. His scheme was to have the government
annul your provisional license. Thorpe and his men were to destroy this
camp, and kill you. The money on hand from stock, over six hundred
thousand dollars, would have gone into Brokaw's pockets. There is no need
of further detail—now—for you can understand. He knew Thorpe,
and secured him as his agent. It was merely a whim of Thorpe's to take
the name of Lord Fitzhugh instead of something less conspicuous. Three
months before Brokaw came to Churchill he wished to get detailed
instructions to Thorpe which he dared not trust to a wilderness mail
service. He could find no messenger whom he dared trust. So he sent
Eileen. She was at Fort o' God for a week. Then she came to Churchill,
where we saw her. The scheme was that Brokaw should bribe the ship's
captain to run close into Blind Eskimo Point, at night, and signal to
Thorpe and Eileen, who would be waiting. It worked, and Eileen and Thorpe
came on with the ship. At the landing—you remember— Eileen
was met by the girl from Fort o' God. In order not to betray herself to
you she refused to recognize her. Later she told her father, and Thorpe
and Brokaw saw in it an opportunity to strike a first blow. Brokaw had
brought two men whom he could trust, and Thorpe had four or five others
at Churchill. The attack on the cliff followed, the object being to kill
the man, but take the girl unharmed, A messenger was to take the news of
what happened to Fort o' God, and lay the crime to men who had run up to
Churchill from your camp. Chance favored you that night, and you spoiled
their plan. Chance favored me, and I found Eileen. It is useless for me
to go into detail as to what happened after that, except to say
this—that Eileen knew nothing of the proposed attack, that she was
ignorant of the heinousness of the plot against you, and that she was
almost as much a tool of her father as you. Phil—"
For the first time there came a pleading light into Gregson's eyes as
he leaned across the table.
"Phil, if it wasn't for Eileen I would not be here. I thought that she
would kill herself when I told her as much of the story as I knew. She
told me what she had done; she confessed for her father. In that hour of
her agony I could not keep back my love. We plotted. I forged a letter,
and made it possible to accompany Brokaw and Eileen up the Churchill. It
was not my purpose to join you, and so Eileen professed to be taken ill.
We camped, back from the river, and I sent our two Indians back to
Churchill, for Eileen and I wished to be alone with Brokaw in the
terrible hour that was coming. That is all. Everything is revealed. I
have come to you as quickly as I could, to find that Thorpe is dead. In
my own selfishness I would have shielded Brokaw, arguing that he could
pay Thorpe, and work honorably henceforth. You would never have known. It
is Eileen who makes this confession, not I. Phil, her last words to me
were these: 'You love me. Then you will tell him all this. Only after
this, if he shows us a mercy which we do not deserve, can I be your
"There is only one other thing to add. I have shown Brokaw a ray of
hope. He will hand over to you all his rights in the company and the six
hundred thousand in the treasury. He will sign over to you, as repurchase
money for whatever stock you wish to call in, practically his whole
fortune—five hundred thousand. He will disappear, completely and
forever. Eileen and I will hunt out our own little corner in a new world,
and you will never hear of us again. This is what we have planned to do,
if you show us mercy."
Philip had not spoken during Gregson's terrible recital. He sat like
one turned to stone. Rage, wonder, and horror burned so fiercely in his
heart that they consumed all evidence of emotion. And to arouse him now
there came an interruption that sent the blood flushing back into his
face—a low knock at the closed door, a slow lifting of the latch,
the appearance of Jeanne. Through her tears she saw only the man she
loved, and sobbing aloud now, like a child, she stretched out her arms to
him; and when he sprang to her and caught her to his breast, she
whispered his name again and again, and stroked his face with her hands.
Love, overpowering, breathing of heaven, was in her touch, and as she
lifted her face to him of her own sweet will now, entreating him to kiss
her and to comfort her for what she had lost, he saw Gregson moving with
bowed head, like a stricken thing, toward the outer door. In that moment
the things that had been in his heart melted away, and raising a hand
above his head, he called, softly:
"Tom Gregson, my old chum, if you have found a love like this, thank
your God. My own love I would lose if I destroyed yours. Go back to
Eileen. Tell Brokaw that I accept his offers. And when you come back in a
few days, bring Eileen. My Jeanne will love her."
And Jeanne, looking from Philip's face, saw Gregson, for the first
time, as he passed through the door.
Both Philip and Jeanne were silent for some moments after Gregson had
gone; their only movement was the gentle stroking of Philip's hand over
the girl's soft hair. Their hearts were full, too full for speech. And
yet he knew that upon his strength depended everything now. The
revelations of Gregson, which virtually ended the fight against him
personally, were but trivial in his thoughts compared with the ordeal
which was ahead of Jeanne. Both Pierre and her father were dead, and,
with the exception of Jeanne, no one but he knew of the secret that had
died with them. He could feel against him the throbbing of the storm that
was passing in the girl's heart, and in answer to it he said nothing in
words, but held her to him with a gentleness that lifted her face, quiet
and beautiful, so that her eyes looked steadily and questioningly into
"You love me," she said, simply, and yet with a calmness that sent a
curious thrill through him.
"Beyond all else in the world," he replied.
She still looked at him, without speaking, as though through his eyes
she was searching to the bottom of his soul.
"And you know," she whispered, after a moment.
He drew her so close she could not move, and crushed his face down
against her own.
"Jeanne—Jeanne—everything is as it should be," he said. "I
am glad that you were found out in the snows. I am glad that the woman in
the picture was your mother. I would have nothing different than it is,
for if things were different you would not be the Jeanne that I know, and
I would not love you so. You have suffered, sweetheart. And I, too, have
had my share of sorrow. God has brought us together, and all is right in
the end. Jeanne—my sweet Jeanne—"
Gregson had left the outer door slightly ajar. A gust of wind opened
it wider. Through it there came now a sound that interrupted the words on
Philip's lips, and sent a sudden quiver through Jeanne. In an instant
both recognized the sound. It was the firing of rifles, the shots coming
to them faintly from far beyond the mountain at the end of the lake.
Moved by the same impulse, they ran to the door, hand in hand.
"It is Sachigo!" panted Jeanne. She could hardly speak. She seemed to
struggle to get breath, "I had forgotten. They are fighting—"
MacDougall strode up from his post beside the door, where he had been
waiting for the appearance of Jeanne.
"Firing—off there," he said. "What does it mean?"
"We must wait and see," replied Philip. "Send two of your men to
investigate, Mac. I will rejoin you after I have taken Miss d'Arcambal
over to Cassidy's wife."
He moved away quickly with Jeanne. On a sudden rise of the wind from
the south the firing came to them more distinctly. Then it died away, and
ended in three or four intermittent shots. For the space of a dozen
seconds a strange stillness followed, and then over the mountain top,
where there was still a faint glow in the sky, there came the low,
quavering, triumphal cry of the Crees: a cry born of the forest itself,
mournful even in its joy, only half human—almost like a far-away
burst of tongue from a wolf pack on the hunt trail. And after that there
was an unbroken silence.
"It is over," breathed Philip.
He felt Jeanne's fingers tighten about his own.
"No one will ever know," he continued. "Even MacDougall will not guess
what has happened out there—to-night."
He stopped a dozen paces from Cassidy's cabin. The windows were aglow,
and they could hear the laughter and play of Cassidy's two children
within. Gently he drew Jeanne to him.
"You will stay here to-night, dear," he said. "To-morrow we will go to
Fort o' God."
"You must take me home to-night," whispered Jeanne, looking up into
his face. "I must go, Philip. Send some one with me, and you can
come—in the morning—with Pierre—"
She put her hand to his face again, in the sweet touch that told more
of her love than a thousand words.
"You understand, dear," she went on, seeing the anxiety in his eyes.
"I have the strength—to-night. I must return to father, and he will
know everything—when you come to Fort o' God."
"I will send MacDougall with you," said Philip, after a moment. "And
then I will follow—"
"Yes, with Pierre."
For a brief space longer they stood outside of Cassidy's cabin, and
then Philip, lifting her face, said gently:
"Will you kiss me, dear? It is the first time."
He bent down, and Jeanne's lips reached his own.
"No, it is not the first time," she confessed, in a whisper. "Not
since that day—when I thought you were dying—after we came
through the rapids—"
Five minutes later Philip returned to MacDougall. Roberts, Henshaw,
Cassidy, and Lecault were with the engineer.
"I've sent the St. Pierres to find out about the firing," he said.
"Look at the crowd over at the store. Every one heard it, and they've
seen the fire on the mountain. They think the Indians have cornered a
moose or two and are shooting them by the blaze."
"They're probably right," said Philip. "I want a word with you,
He walked a little aside with the engineer, leaving the others in a
group, and in a low voice told him as much as he cared to reveal about
the identity of Thorpe and Gregson's mission in camp. Then he spoke of
"I believe that the death of Thorpe practically ends all danger to
us," he concluded. "I'm going to offer you a pleasanter job than
fighting, Mac. It is imperative that Miss d'Arcambal should return to
D'Arcambal House before morning, and I want you to take her, if you will.
I'm choosing the best man I've got because—well, because she's
going to be my wife, Mac. I'm the happiest man on earth to-night!"
MacDougall did not show surprise.
"Guessed it," he said, shortly, thrusting out a hand and grinning
broadly into Philip's face "Couldn't help from seeing, Phil. And the
firing, and Thorpe, and that half-breed in there—"
Understanding was slowly illuminating his face.
"You'll know all about them a little later, Mac," said Philip softly.
"To-night we must investigate nothing—very far. Miss d'Arcambal
must be taken home immediately. Will you go?"
"She can ride one of the horses as far as the Little Churchill,"
continued Philip. "And there she will show you a canoe. I will follow in
the morning with the body of Pierre, the half-breed."
A quarter of an hour later MacDougall and Jeanne set out over the
river trail, leaving Philip standing behind, watching them until they
were hidden in the night. It was fully an hour later before the St.
Pierres returned. Philip was uneasy until the two dark- faced hunters
came into the little office and leaned their rifles against the wall. He
had feared that Sachigo might have left some trace of his ambush behind.
But the St. Pierres had discovered nothing, and could give only one
reason for the burning pine on the summit of the mountain. They agreed
that Indians had fired it to frighten moose from a thick cover to the
south and west, and that their hunt had been a failure.
It was midnight before Philip relaxed his caution, which he maintained
until then in spite of his belief that Thorpe's men, under Blake, had met
a quick finish at the hands of Sachigo and his ambushed braves. His men
left for their cabins, with the exception of Cassidy, whom he asked to
spend the remainder of the night in one of the office bunks. Alone he
went in to prepare Pierre for his last journey to Fort o' God.
A lamp was burning low beside the bunk in which Pierre lay. Philip
approached and turned the wick higher, and then he gazed in wonder upon
the transfiguration in the half-breed's face. Pierre had died with a
smile on his lips; and with a curious thickening in his throat Philip
thought that those lips, even in death, were craved in the act of
whispering Jeanne's name. It seemed to him, as he stood in silence for
many moments, that Pierre was not dead, but that he was sleeping a quiet,
unbreathing sleep, in which there came to him visions of the great love
for which he had offered up his life and his soul. Jeanne's hands, in his
last moments, had stilled all pain. Peace slumbered in the pale shadows
of his closed eyes. The Great God of his faith had come to him in his
hour of greatest need on earth, and he had passed away into the Valley of
Silent Men on the sweet breath of Jeanne's prayers. The girl had crossed
his hands upon his breast. She had brushed back his long hair. Philip
knew that she had imprinted a kiss upon the silent lips before the soul
had fled, and in the warmth and knowledge of that kiss Pierre had died
And Philip, brokenly, said aloud:
"God bless you, Pierre, old man!"
He lifted the cold hands back, and gently drew the covers which had
hidden the telltale stains of death from Jeanne's eyes. He turned down
Pierre's shirt, and in the lamp-glow there glistened the golden locket.
For the first time he noticed it closely. It was half as large as the
palm of his hand, and very thin, and he saw that it was bent and twisted.
A shudder ran through him when he understood what had happened. The
bullet that had killed Pierre had first struck the locket, and had burst
it partly open. He took it in his hand. And then he saw that through the
broken side there protruded the end of a bit of paper. For a brief space
the discovery made him almost forget the presence of death. Pierre had
never opened the locket, because it was of the old-fashioned kind that
locked with a key, and the key was gone. And the locket had been about
Jeanne's neck when he found her out in the snows! Was it possible that
this bit of paper had something to do with the girl he loved?
Carefully, so that it would not tear, he drew it forth. There was
writing on the paper, as he had expected, and he read it, bent low beside
the lamp. The date was nearly eighteen years old. The lines were faint.
The words were these:
MY HUSBAND,—God can never undo what I have done. I have dragged
myself back, repentant, loving you more than I have ever loved you in my
life, to leave our little girl with you. She is your daughter, and mine.
She was born on the eighth day of September, the seventh month after I
left Fort o' God, She is yours, and so I bring her back to you, with the
prayer that she will help to fill the true and noble heart that I have
broken. I cannot ask your forgiveness, for I do not deserve it. I cannot
let you see me, for I should kill myself at your feet. I have lived this
long only for the baby. I will leave her where you cannot fail to find
her, and by the time you have read this I will have answered for my
sin— my madness, if you can have charity regard it so. And if God
is kind I will hover about you always, and you will know that in death
the old sweetheart, and the mother, has found what she could never again
hope for in life.
Philip rose slowly erect and gazed down into the still, tranquil face
of Pierre, the half-breed.
"Why didn't you open it?" he whispered. "Why didn't you open it? My
God, what it would have saved—"
For a full minute he looked down at Pierre, as though he expected that
the white lips would move and answer him. And then he thought of Jeanne
hurrying to Fort o' God, and of the terrible things which she was to
reveal to her father that night. She was D'Arcambal's own daughter. What
pain—what agony of father and child he might have saved if he had
examined the locket a little sooner! He looked at his watch and found
that Jeanne had been gone three hours. It would be impossible to overtake
MacDougall and the girl unless something had occurred to delay them
somewhere along the trail. He hurried back into the little room, where he
had left Cassidy. In a few words he explained that it was necessary for
him to follow Jeanne and the engineer to D'Arcambal House without a
moment's delay, and he directed Cassidy to take charge of camp affairs,
and to send Pierre's body with a suitable escort the next day.
"It isn't necessary for me to tell you what to do," he finished, "You
Cassidy nodded. Six months before he had buried his youngest child
under a big spruce back of his cabin.
Philip hastened to the stables, and, choosing one of the lighter
animals, was soon galloping over the trail toward the Little Churchill.
In his face there blew a cold wind from Hudson's Bay, and now and then he
felt the sting of fine particles in his eyes. They were the presage of
storm. A shifting of the wind a little to the east and south, and the
fine particles would thicken, and turn into snow. By morning the world
would be white. He came into the forests beyond the plain, and in the
spruce and the cedar tops the wind was half a gale, filling the night
with wailing and moaning sounds that sent strange shivers through him as
he thought of Pierre in the cabin. In such a way, he imagined, had the
north wind swept across the cold barrens on the night that Pierre had
found the woman and the babe; and now it seemed, in his fancies, as
though above and about him the great hand that had guided the half-breed
then was bringing back the old night, as if Pierre, in dying, had wished
it so. For the wind changed. The fine particles thickened, and changed to
snow. And then there was no longer the wailing and the moaning in the
tree-tops, but the soft murmur of a white deluge that smothered him in a
strange gloom and hid the trail. There were two canoes concealed at the
end of the trail on the Little Churchill, and Philip chose the smallest.
He followed swiftly after MacDougall and Jeanne. He could no longer see
either side of the stream, and he was filled with a fear that he might
pass the little creek that led to Fort o' God. He timed himself by his
watch, and when he had paddled for two hours he ran in close to the west
shore, traveling so slowly that he did not progress a mile in half an
hour. And then suddenly, from close ahead, there rose through the
snow-gloom the dismal howl of a dog, which told him that he was near to
Fort o' God. He found the black opening that marked the entrance to the
creek, and when he ran upon the sand-bar a hundred yards beyond he saw
lights burning in the great room where he had first seen D'Arcambal. He
went now where Pierre had led him that night, and found the door
unlocked. He entered silently, and passed down the dark hall until, on
the left, he saw a glow of light that came from the big room. Something
in the silence that was ahead of him made his own approach without sound,
and softly he entered through the door.
In the great chair sat the master of Fort o' God, his gray head bent;
at his feet knelt Jeanne, and so close were they that D'Arcambal's face
was hidden in Jeanne's shining, disheveled hair. No sooner had Philip
entered the room than his presence seemed to arouse the older man. He
lifted his head slowly, looking toward the door, and when he saw who
stood there he raised one of his arms from about the girl and held it out
"My son!" he said.
In a moment Philip was upon his knees beside Jeanne, and one of
D'Arcambal's heavy hands fell upon his shoulder in a touch that told him
he had come too late to keep back any part of the terrible story which
Jeanne had bared to him. The girl did not speak when she saw him beside
her. It was as if she had expected him to come, and her hand found his
and nestled in it, as cold as ice.
"I have hurried from the camp," he said. "I tried to overtake Jeanne.
About Pierre's neck I found a locket, and in the locket— was
He looked into D'Arcambal's haggard face as he gave him the blood-
stained note, and he knew that in the moment that was to come the master
of Fort o' God and his daughter should be alone.
"I will wait in the portrait-room," he said, in a low voice, and as he
rose to his feet he pressed Jeanne's hand to his lips.
The old room was as he had left it weeks before. The picture of
Jeanne's mother still hung with its face to the wall. There was the same
elusive movement of the portrait over the volume of warm air that rose
from the floor. In this room he seemed to breathe again the presence of a
warm spirit of life, as he had felt it on the first night—a spirit
that seemed to him to be a part of Jeanne herself, and he thought of the
last words of the wife and mother—of her promise to remain always
near those whom she loved, to regain after death the companionship which
she could never hope for in life. And then there came to him a thought of
the vast and wonderful mystery of death, and he wondered if it was her
spirit that had been with him more than one lonely night, when his camp-
fire was low; if it was her presence that had filled him with
transcendent dreams of hope and love, coming to him that night beside the
rock at Churchill, and leading him at last to Jeanne, for whom she had
given up her life. He heard again the rising of the wind outside and the
beating of the storm against the window, and he went softly to see if his
vision could penetrate into the white, twisting gloom beyond the glass.
For many minutes he stood, seeing nothing. And then he heard a sound, and
turned to see Jeanne and her father standing in the door. Glory was in
the face of the master of Fort o' God. He seemed not to see
Philip—he seemed to see nothing but the picture that was turned
against the wall. He strode across the room, his great shoulders
straightened, his shaggy head erect, and with the pride of one revealing
first to human eyes the masterpiece of his soul and life he turned the
picture so that the radiant face of the wife and mother looked down upon
him. And was it fancy that for a fleeting moment the smile left the
beautiful lips, and a light, soft and luminous, pleading for love and
forgiveness, filled the eyes of Jeanne's mother? Philip trembled. Jeanne
came across to him silently, and crept into his arms. And then, slowly,
the master of Fort o' God turned toward them and stretched out both of
his great arms.
"My children!" he said.
All that night the storm came out of the north and east. Hours after
Jeanne and her father had left him Philip went quietly from his room,
passed down the hall, and opened the outer door. He could hear the gale
whistling over the top of the great rock, and moaning in the spruce and
cedar forest, and he closed the door after him, and buried himself in the
darkness and wind. He bowed his head to the stinging snow, which came
like blasts of steeled shot, and hurried into the shelter of the Sun
Rock, and stood there after that listening to the wildness of the storm
and the strange whistling of the wind cutting itself to pieces far over
his head. Since man had first beheld that rock such storms as this had
come and gone for countless generations. Two hundred years and more had
passed since Grosellier first looked out upon a wondrous world from its
summit. And yet this storm—to-night—whistling and moaning
about him, filling all space with its grief, its triumph, and its
madness, seemed to be for him—and for him alone. His heart answered
to it. His soul trembled to the marvelous meaning of it. To-night this
storm was his own. He was a part of a world which he would never leave.
Here, beside the great Sun Rock of the Crees, he had found home, life,
happiness, his God. Here, henceforth through all time, he would live with
his beloved Jeanne, dreaming no dreams that went beyond the peace of the
mountains and the forests. He lifted his face to where the storm swept
above him, and for an instant he fancied that high up on the ragged edge
of the rock there might have stood Pierre, with his great, gaping, hungry
heart, filled with pain and yearning, staring off into the face of the
Almighty. And he fancied, too, that beside him there hovered the wife and
mother. And then he looked to Fort o' God. The lights were out. Quiet, if
not sleep, had fallen upon all life within. And it seemed to Philip, as
he went back again through the storm, that in the moaning tumult of the
night there was music instead of sadness.
He did not sleep until nearly morning. And when he awoke he found that
the storm had passed, and that over a world of spotless white there had
risen a brilliant sun. He looked out from his window, and saw the top of
the Sun Rock glistening in a golden fire, and where the forest trees had
twisted and moaned there were now unending canopies of snow, so that it
seemed as though the storm, in passing, had left behind only light, and
beauty, and happiness for all living things.
Trembling with the joy of this, Philip went to his door, and from the
door down the hall, and where the light of the sun blazed through a
window near to the great room where he expected to find the master of
Fort o' God, there stood Jeanne. And as she heard him coming, and turned
toward him, all the glory and beauty of the wondrous day was in her face
and hair. Like an angel she stood waiting for him, pale and yet flushing
a little, her eyes shining and yearning for him, her soul in the tremble
of the single word on her sweet lips.
No more—and yet against each other their hearts told what it was
futile for their lips to attempt. They looked out through the window.
Beyond that window, as far as the vision could reach, swept the barrens,
over which Pierre had brought the little Jeanne. Something sobbing rose
in the girl's throat. She lifted her eyes, swimming with love and tears,
to Philip, and from his breast she reached up both hands gently to his
"They will bring Pierre—to-day—-" she whispered.
"We will bury him out yonder," she said, stroking his face, and he
knew that she meant out in the barren, where the mother lay.
He bowed his face close down against hers to hide the woman's weakness
that was bringing a misty film into his eyes.
"You love me," she whispered. "You love me—love me—and you
will never take me away, but will stay with me always. You will stay
here—dear—in my beautiful world—we
"For ever and for ever," he murmured.
They heard a step, firm and vibrant with the strength of a new life,
and they knew that it was the master of Fort o' God.
"Always—we two—forever," whispered Philip again.