The Bride's Dead
by Gouverneur Morris
Only Farallone's face was untroubled. His big, bold eyes held a kind
of grim humor, and he rolled them unblinkingly from the groom to the
bride, and back again. His duck trousers, drenched and stained with
sea-water, clung to the great muscles of his legs, particles of damp
sand glistened upon his naked feet, and the hairless bronze of his
chest and columnar throat glowed through the openings of his torn and
buttonless shirt. Except for the life and vitality that literally
sparkled from him, he was more like a statue of a shipwrecked sailor
than the real article itself. Yet he had not the proper attributes of a
shipwrecked sailor. There was neither despair upon his countenance nor
hunger; instead a kind of enjoyment, and the expression of one who has
been set free. Indeed, he must have secured a kind of liberty, for
after the years of serving one master and another, he had, in our
recent struggle with the sea, but served himself. His was the mind and
his the hand that had brought us at length to that desert coast. He it
was that had extended to us the ghost of a chance. He who so recently
had been but one of forty in the groom's luxurious employ; a polisher
of brass, a holy-stoner of decks, a wage-earning paragon who was not
permitted to think, was now a thinker and a strategist, a wage-taker
from no man, and the obvious master of us three.
The bride slept on the sand where Farallone had laid her. Her
stained and draggled clothes were beginning to dry and her hair to
blaze in the pulsing rays of the sun. Her breath came and went with the
long-drawn placidity of deep sleep. One shoe had been torn from her by
the surf, and through a tear in her left stocking blinked a pink and
tiny toe. Her face lay upon her arm and was hidden by it, and by her
blazing hair. In the loose-jointed abandon of exhaustion and sleep she
had the effect of a flower that has wilted; the color and the fabric
were still lovely, but the robust erectness and crispness were gone.
The groom, almost unmanned and wholly forlorn, sat beside her in a kind
of huddled attitude, as if he was very cold. He had drawn his knees
close to his chest, and held them in that position with thin, clasped
fingers. His hair, which he wore rather long, was in a wild tangle, and
his neat eye-glasses with their black cord looked absurdly out of
keeping with his general dishevelment. The groom, never strong or
robust, looked as if he had shrunk. The bride, too, looked as if she
had shrunk, and I certainly felt as if I had. But, however strong the
contrast between us three small humans and the vast stretches of empty
ocean and desert coast, there was no diminution about Farallone, but
the contrary. I have never seen the presence of a man loom so strongly
and so large. He sat upon his rock with a kind of vastness, so bold and
strong he seemed, so utterly unperturbed.
Suddenly the groom, a kind of querulous shiver in his voice, spoke.
The brandy, Farallone, the brandy.
The big sailor rolled his bold eyes from the groom to the bride, but
returned no answer.
The groom's voice rose to a note of vexation.
I said I wanted the brandy, he said.
Farallone's voice was large and free like a fresh breeze.
I heard you, said he.
Well, snapped the groom, get it.
Get it yourself, said Farallone quickly, and he fell to whistling
in a major key.
The groom, born and accustomed to command, was on his feet shaking
You damned insolent loafer he shouted.
Cut it outcut it out, said the big sailor, you'll wake her.
The groom's voice sank to an angry whisper.
Are you going to do what I tell you or not?
Not, said Farallone.
I'llthe groom's voice loudenedhis eye sought an ally in mine.
But I turned my face away and pretended that I had not seen or heard.
There had been born in my breast suddenly a cold unreasoning fear of
Farallone and of what he might do to us weaklings. I heard no more
words and, venturing a look, saw that the groom was seating himself
once more by the bride.
If you sit on the other side of her, said Farallone, you'll keep
the sun off her head.
He turned his bold eyes on me and winked one of them. And I was so
taken by surprise that I winked back and could have kicked myself for
Farallone helped the bride to her feet. That's right, he said with
a kind of nursely playfulness, and he turned to the groom.
Because I told you to help yourself, he said, doesn't mean that
I'm not going to do the lion's share of everything. I am. I'm fit. You
and the writer man aren't. But you must do just a little more than
you're able, and that's all we'll ask of you. Everybody works this
voyage except the woman.
I can work, said the bride.
Rot! said Farallone. We'll ask you to walk ahead, like a kind of
north star. Only we'll tell you which way to turn. Do you see that
sugar-loaf? You head for that. Vamoose! We'll overhaul you.
The bride moved upon the desert alone, her face toward an easterly
hill that had given Farallone his figure of the sugar-loaf. She had no
longer the effect of a wilted flower, but walked with quick, considered
steps. What the groom carried and what I carried is of little moment.
Our packs united would not have made the half of the lumbersome weight
that Farallone swung upon his giant shoulders.
Follow the woman, said he, and we began to march upon the
shoe-and-stocking track of the bride. Farallone, rolling like a ship (I
had many a look at him over my shoulder) brought up the rear. From time
to time he flung forward a phrase to us in explanation of his
I take command because I'm fit; you're not. I give the orders
because I can get 'em obeyed; you can't. And, again: You don't know
east from west; I do.
All the morning he kept firing disagreeable and very personal
remarks at us. His proposition that we were not in any way fit for
anything he enlarged upon and illustrated. He flung the groom's
unemployed ancestry at him; he likened the groom to Rome at the time of
the fall, which he attributed to luxury; he informed me that only men
who were unable to work, or in any way help themselves, wrote books.
The woman's worth the two of you, he said. Her people were workers.
See it in her stride. She could milk a cow if she had one. If anything
happens to me she'll give the orders. Mark my words. She's got a head
on her shoulders, she has.
The bride halted suddenly in her tracks and, turning, faced the
Are you going to allow this man's insolence to run on forever? she
The groom frowned at her and shook his head covertly.
Pooh, said the bride, and I think I heard her call him my
champion, in a bitter whisper. She walked straight back to
Farallone and looked him fearlessly in the face.
The bigger a man is, Mr. Farallone, she said, and the stronger,
the more he ought to mind his manners. We are grateful to you for all
you have done, but if you cannot keep a civil tongue in your head, then
the sooner we part company the better.
For a full minute the fearless eyes snapped at Farallone, then,
suddenly abashed, softened, and turned away.
There mustn't be any more mutiny, said Farallone. But you've got
sand, you have. I could love a woman like you. How did you come to
hitch your wagon to little Nicodemus there? He's no star. You deserved
a man. You've got sand, and when your poor feet go back on you, as they
will in this swill (here he kicked the burning sand), I'll carry you.
But if you hadn't spoken up so pert, I wouldn't. Now you walk ahead and
pretend you're Christopher Columbus De Soto Peary leading a flock of
sheep to the Fountain of Eternal Youth.... Bear to the left of the
sage-brush, there's a tarantula under it....
We went forward a few steps, when suddenly I heard Farallone's voice
in my ear. Isn't she splendid? he said, and at the same time he
thumped me so violently between the shoulders that I stumbled and fell.
For a moment all fear of the man left me on the wings of rage, and I
was for attacking him with my fists. But something in his steady eye
brought me to my senses.
Why did you do that? I meant to speak sharply, but I think I
Because, said Farallone, when the woman spoke up to me you began
to brindle and act lion-like and bold. For a minute you looked
dangerousfor a little feller. So I patted your back, in a friendly
wayas a kind of remindera feeble reminder.
We had dropped behind the others. The groom had caught up with the
bride, and from his nervous, irritable gestures I gathered that the
poor soul was trying to explain and to ingratiate himself. But she
walked on, steadily averted, you might say, her head very high, her
shoulders drawn back. The groom, his eyes intent upon her averted face,
kept stumbling with his feet.
Just look, said Farallone in a friendly voice. Those whom God
hath joined together. What did the press say of it?
I don't remember, I said.
You lie, said Farallone. The press called it an ideal match. My
God! he criedand so loudly that the bride and the groom must have
heardthink of being a woman like that and getting hitched to a
little bit of a fuss with a few fine feathers; and with a kind of
sing-song he began to misquote and extemporize:
Just for a handful of silver she left me,
Just for a yacht and a mansion of stone,
Just for a little fool nest of fine feathers
She wed Nicodemus and left me alone.
But she'd never seen me, he went on, and mused for a moment.
Having seen medo you guess what she's saying to herself? She's
saying: 'Thank God I'm not too old to begin life over again,' or
thinking it. Look at him! Even you wouldn't have been such a joke. I've
a mind to kick the life out of him. One little kick with bare toes.
Life? There's no life in himnothing but a jenny-wren.
The groom, who must have heard at least the half of Farallone's
speech, stopped suddenly and waited for us to come up. His face was red
and whiteblotchy with rage and vindictiveness. When we were within
ten feet of him he suddenly drew a revolver and fired it point-blank at
Farallone. He had no time for a second shot. Farallone caught his wrist
and shook it till the revolver spun through the air and fell at a
distance. Then Farallone seated himself and, drawing the groom across
his knee, spanked him. Since the beginning of the world children have
been punished by spankings, and the event is memorable, if at all, as a
something rather comical and domestic. But to see a grown man spanked
for the crime of attempted murder is horrible. Farallone's fury got the
better of him, and the blows resounded in the desert. I grappled his
arm, and the recoil of it flung me head over heels. When Farallone had
finished, the groom could not stand. He rolled in the sands, moaning
and hiding his face.
The bride was white as paper; but she had no eye for the groom.
Did he miss you? she said.
No, said Farallone, he hit meNicodemus hit me.
Where? said the bride.
In the arm.
Indeed, the left sleeve of Farallone's shirt was glittering with
I will bandage it for you, she said, if you will tell me how.
Farallone ripped open the sleeve of his shirt.
What shall I bandage it with? asked the bride.
Anything, said Farallone.
The bride turned her back on us, stooped, and we heard a sound of
tearing. When she had bandaged Farallone's wound (it was in the flesh
and the bullet had been extracted by its own impetus) she looked him
gravely in the face.
What's the use of goading him? she said gently.
Look, said Farallone.
The groom was reaching for the fallen revolver.
Drop it, bellowed Farallone.
The groom's hand, which had been on the point of grasping the
revolver's stock, jerked away. The bride walked to the revolver and
picked it up. She handed it to Farallone.
Now, she said, that all the power is with you, you will not go on
You carry it, said Farallone, and any time you
think I ought to be shot, why, you just shoot me. I won't say a word.
Do you mean it? said the bride.
I cross my heart, said Farallone.
I sha'n't forget, said the bride. She took the revolver and
dropped it into the pocket of her jacket.
Vamoose! said Farallone. And we resumed our march.
The line between the desert and the blossoming hills was as
distinctly drawn as that between a lake and its shore. The sage-brush,
closer massed than any through which we had yet passed, seemed to have
gathered itself for a serried assault upon the lovely verdure beyond.
Outposts of the sage-brush, its unsung heroes, perhaps, showed here and
there among ferns and wild rosesleafless, gaunt, and dead; one
knotted specimen even had planted its banner of desolation in the shade
of a wild lilac and there died. A twittering of birds gladdened our
dusty ears, and from afar there came a splashing of water. Our feet,
burned by the desert sands, torn by yucca and cactus, trod now upon a
cool and delicious moss, above which nodded the delicate blossoms of
the shooting-star, swung at the ends of strong and delicate stems. In
the shadows the chocolate lilies and trilliums dully glinted, and flag
flowers trooped in the sunlight. The resinous paradisiacal smell of
tarweed and bay-tree refreshed us, and the wonder of life was a
something strong and tangible like bread and wine.
The wine of it rushed in particular to Farallone's head; his brain
became flooded with it; his feet cavorted upon the moss; his bellowed
singing awoke the echoes, and the whole heavenly choir of the birds
You, Nicodemus, he cried gayly, thought that man was given a nose
to be a tripod for his eye-glassesbut nowoh, smellsmell!
His great bulk under its mighty pack tripped lightly, dancingly at
the bride's elbow. Now his agile fingers nipped some tiny, scarce
perceivable flower to delight her eye, and now his great hand scooped
up whole sheaves of strong-growing columbine, and flung them where her
feet must tread. He made her see great beauties and minute, and
whatever had a look of smelling sweet he crushed in his hands for her
He was no longer that limb of Satan, that sardonic bully of the
desert days, but a gay wood-god intent upon the gentle ways of wooing.
At first the bride turned away her senses from his offerings to eye and
nostril; for a time she made shift to turn aside from the flowers that
he cast for her feet to tread. But after a time, like one in a trance,
she began to yield up her indifference and aloofness. The magic of the
riotous spring began to intoxicate her. I saw her turn to the sailor
and smile a gracious smile. And after awhile she began to talk with
We came at length to a bright stream, from whose guileless
superabundance Farallone, with a bent pin and a speck of red cloth,
jerked a string of gaudy rainbow-trout. He made a fire and began to
broil them; the bride searched the vicinal woods for dried branches to
feed the fire. The groom knelt by the brook and washed the dust from
his face and ears, snuffing the cool water into his dusty nose and
blowing it out.
And I lay in the shade and wondered by what courses the brook found
its way to what sea or lake; whether it touched in its wanderings only
the virginal wilderness, or flowed at length among the habitations of
Farallone, of a sudden, jerked up his head from the broiling and
answered my unspoken questions.
A man, he said, who followed this brook could come in a few days
to the river Maria Cleofas, and following that, to the town of that
name, in a matter of ten days more. I tell you, he went on, because
some day some of you may be going that voyage; no ill-found voyage
eitherspring-water and trout all the way to the river; and all the
rest of the way river-water and trout; and at this season birds' eggs
in the reeds and a turtlelike terrapin, and Brodeia roots and wild
onion, and young sassafrasa child could do it. Eat that.... he
tossed me with his fingers a split, sputtering, piping hot trout....
We spent the rest of that day and the night following by the stream.
Farallone was in a riotous good-humor, and the fear of him grew less in
us until we felt at ease and could take an unmixed pleasure in the
Early the next morning he was astir, and began to prepare himself
for further marching, but for the rest of us he said there would be one
day more of rest.
Who knows, he said, but this is Sunday?
Where are you going? asked the bride politely.
Me? said Farallone, and he laughed. I'm going house-huntingnot
for a house, of course, but for a site. It's not so easy to pick out
just the place where you want to spend the balance of your days. The
neighborhood's easy, but the exact spot's hard. He spoke now directly
to the bride, and as if her opinion was law to him. There must be sun
and shade, mustn't there? Spring-water?running water? A hill handy to
take the view from? An easterly slope to be out of the trades? A big
tree or two.... I'll find 'em all before dark. I'll be back by dark or
at late moonrise, and you rest yourselves, because to-morrow or the
next day we go at house-raising.
Had he left us then and there, I think that we would have waited for
him. He had us, so to speak, abjectly under his thumbs. His word had
come to be our law, since it was but child's play for him to enforce
it. But it so happened that he now took a step which was to call into
life and action that last vestige of manhood and independence that
flickered in the groom and me. For suddenly, and not till after a
moment of consideration, he took a step toward the bride, caught her
around the waist, crushed her to his breast, and kissed her on the
But she must have bitten him, for the tender passion changed in him
to an unmanly fury.
You damned cat! he cried; and he struck her heavily upon the face
with his open palm. Not once only, but twice, three, four times, till
she fell at his feet.
By that the groom and I, poor, helpless atoms, had made shift to
grapple with him. I heard his giant laugh. I had one glimpse of the
groom's face rushing at mineand then it was as if showers of stars
fell about me. What little strength I had was loosened from my joints,
and more than half-senseless I fell full length upon my back. Farallone
had foiled our attack by the simple method of catching us by the hair
and knocking our heads together.
I could hear his great mocking laugh resounding through the forest.
Let him go, I heard the groom moan.
The bride laughed. It was a very curious laugh. I could not make it
out. There seemed to be no anger in it, and yet how, I wondered, could
there be anything else?
When distance had blotted from our ears the sound of Farallone's
laughter, and when we had humbled ourselves to the bride for allowing
her to be maltreated, I told the groom what Farallone had said about a
man who should follow the stream by which we were encamped.
See, I said, we have a whole day's start of him. Even he can't
make that up. We must go at once, and there mustn't be any letting up
till we get somewhere.
The groom was all for running away, and the bride, silent and white,
acquiesced with a nod. We made three light packs, and started
bolted is the better word.
For a mile or more, so thick was the underwood, we walked in the bed
of the stream; now freely, where it was smooth-spread sand, and now
where it narrowed and deepened among rocks, scramblingly and with many
a splashing stumble. The bride met her various mishaps with a kind of
silent disdain; she made no complaints, not even comments. She made me
think of a sleep-walker. There was a set, far-off, cold expression upon
her usually gentle and vivacious face, and once or twice it occurred to
me that she went with us unwillingly. But when I remembered the
humiliation that Farallone had put upon her and the blows that he had
struck her, I could not well credit the recurrent doubt of her
willingness. The groom, on the other hand, recovered his long-lost
spirits with immeasurable rapidity. He talked gayly and bravely, and
you would have said that he was a man who had never had occasion to be
ashamed of himself. He went ahead, the bride following next, and he
kept giving a constant string of advices and imperatives. That stone's
loose; keep to the left, there's a hole. Splashdashdamn, look
out for that one. Branches that hung low across our course he bent and
held back until the bride had passed. Now he turned and smiled in her
face, and now he offered her the helping hand. But she met his
courtesies, and the whole punctilious fabric of his behavior, with the
utmost absence and nonchalance. He had, it seemed, been too long in
contempt to recover soon his former position of husband and beloved.
For long days she had contemplated his naked soul, limited, weak,
incapable. He had shown a certain capacity for sudden, explosive
temper, but not for courage of any kind, or force. Nor had he played
the gentleman in his helplessness. Nor had I. We had not in us the
stuff of heroes; at first sight of instruments of torture we were of
those who would confess to anything, abjure, swear falsely, beg for
mercy, change our so-called religionsanything. The bride had learned
to despise us from the bottom of her heart. She despised us still. And
I would have staked my last dollar, or, better, my hopes of escaping
from Farallone, that as man and wife she and the groom would never live
together again. I felt terribly sorry for the groom. He had, as had I,
been utterly inefficient, helpless, babyish, and cowardlyyet the odds
against us had seemed overwhelming. But now as we journeyed down the
river, and the distance between us and Farallone grew more, I kept
thinking of men whom I had known; men physically weaker than the groom
and I, who, had Farallone offered to bully them, would have fought him
and endured his torture till they died. In my immediate past, then,
there was nothing of which I was not burningly ashamed, and in the
not-too-distant future I hoped to separate from the bride and the
groom, and never see them or hear of them in this world again. At that,
I had a real affection for the bride, a real admiration. On the yacht,
before trouble showed me up, we had bid fair to become fast and
enduring friends. But that was all overa bud, nipped by the frost of
conduct and circumstance, or ever the fruit could so much as set. For
many days now I had avoided her eye; I had avoided addressing her; I
had exerted my ingenuity to keep out of her sight. It is a terrible
thing for a man to be thrown daily into the society of a woman who has
found him out, and who despises him, mind, soul, marrow, and bone.
The stream broke at length from the forest and, swelled by a sizable
tributary, flowed broad and deep into a rolling, park-like landscape.
Grass spread over the country's undulations and looked in the distance
like well-kept lawns; and at wide intervals splendidly grown live-oaks
lent an effect of calculated planting. Here our flight, for our muscles
were hardened to walking, became easy and swift. I think there were
hours when we must have covered our four miles, and even on long,
upward slopes we must have made better than three. There is in swift
walking, when the muscles are hard, the wind long, and the atmosphere
exhilarating, a buoyant rhythm that more, perhaps, than merited
success, or valorous conduct, smoothes out the creases in a man's soul.
And so quick is a man to recover from his own baseness, and to ape
outwardly his transient inner feelings, that I found myself presently,
walking with a high head and a mind full of martial thoughts.
All that day, except for a short halt at noon, we followed the river
across the great natural park; now paralleling its convolutions, and
now cutting diagonals. Late in the afternoon we came to the end of the
park land. A more or less precipitous formation of glistening quartz
marked its boundary, and into a fissure of this the stream, now a small
river, plunged with accelerated speed. The going became difficult. The
walls of the fissure through which the river rushed were smooth and
water-worn, impossible to ascend; and between the brink of the river
and the base of the walls were congestions of boulders, jammed
drift-wood, and tangled alder bushes. There were times when we had to
crawl upon our hands and knees, under one log and over the next. To add
to our difficulties darkness was swiftly falling, and we were glad,
indeed, when the wall of the fissure leaned at length so far from the
perpendicular that we were able to scramble up it. We found ourselves
upon a levelish little meadow of grass. In the centre of it there grew
a monstrous and gigantic live-oak, between two of whose roots there
glittered a spring. On all sides of the meadow, except on that toward
the river, were superimpending cliffs of quartz. Along the base of
these was a dense growth of bushes.
We'll rest here, said the groom. What a place. It's a natural
fortress. Only one way into it. He stood looking down at the noisy
river and considering the steep slope we had just climbed. See this
boulder? he said. It's wobbly. If that damned longshoreman tries to
get us here, all we've got to do is to choose the psychological moment
and push it over on him.
The groom looked quite bellicose and daring. Suddenly he flung his
fragment of a cap high into the air and at the very top of his lungs
The echoes answered him, and the glorious, abused word was tossed
from cliff to cliff, across the river and back, and presently died
At that, from the very branches of the great oak that stood in the
centre of the meadow there burst a titanic clap of laughter, and
Farallone, literally bursting with merriment, dropped lightly into our
I can only speak for myself. I was frightenedI say it deliberately
and truthfullyalmost into a fit. And for fully five minutes I
could not command either of my legs. The groom, I believe, screamed.
The bride became whiter than paperthen suddenly the color rushed into
her cheeks, and she laughed. She laughed until she had to sit down,
until the tears literally gushed from her eyes. It was not hysterics
eithercould it have been amusement? After a while, and many prolonged
gasps and relapses, she stopped.
This, said Farallone, is my building site. Do you like it?
Oh, oh, said the bride, I think it's the mmost ammamusing
site I ever saw, and she went into another uncontrollable burst of
Ohoh, she said at length, and her shining eyes were turned from
the groom to me, and back and forth between us, if you could
have seen your faces!
It seemed strange to us, an alteration in the logical and natural,
but neither the groom nor I received corporal punishment for our
attempt at escape. Farallone had read our minds like an open book; he
had, as it were, put us up to the escapade in order to have the pure
joy of thwarting us. That we should have been drawn to his exact
waiting-place like needles to the magnet had a smack of the
supernatural, but was in reality a simple and explicable happening. For
if we had not ascended to the little meadow, Farallone, alertly
watching, would have descended from it, and surprised us at some
further point. That we should have caught no glimpse of his great bulk
anywhere ahead of us in the day-long stretch of open, park-like country
was also easily explained. For Farallone had made the most of the
journey in the stream itself, drifting with a log.
And although, as I have said, we were not to receive corporal
punishment, Farallone visited his power upon us in other ways. He would
not at first admit that we had intended to escape, but kept praising us
for having followed him so loyally and devotedly, for saving him the
trouble of a return journey, and for thinking to bring along the bulk
of our worldly possessions. Tiring at length of this, he switched to
the opposite point of view. He goaded us nearly to madness with his
criticisms of our inefficiency, and he mocked repeatedly the groom's
ill-timed cry of Liberty.
Liberty! he said, you never knew, you never will know, what that
isyou miserable little pin-head. Liberty is for great natures.
'Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage.'
But the woman shall know what liberty is. If she had wanted to leave
me there was nothing to stop her. Do you think she'd have followed the
river, leaving a broad trail? Do you think she'd have walked right into
this meadowunless she hadn't cared? Not she. Did you ask her advice,
you self-sufficiencies? Not you. You were the men-folk, you thought,
and you were to have the ordering of everything. You make me sick, the
pair of you....
He kept us awake until far into the night with his jibes and his
Well, he said lastly, good-night, girls. I'm about sick of you,
and in the morning we part company....
At the break of dawn he waked us from heavy sleepme with a cuff,
the groom with a kick, the bride with a feline touch upon the hair.
And now, said he, be off.
He caught the bride by the shoulder.
Not you, he said.
I am to stay? she asked, as if to settle some trivial and
Do you ask? said he; Was man meant to live alone? This will be
enough home for us. And he turned to the groom. Get, he said
Mr. Farallone, said the brideshe was very white, but calm,
apparently, and collectedyou have had your joke. Let us go now, or
better, come with us. We will forget our former differences, and you
will never regret your future kindnesses.
Don't you want to stay? exclaimed Farallone in a tone of
If I did, said the bride gently, I could not, and I would not.
What's to stop you? asked Farallone.
My place is with my husband, said the bride, whom I have sworn to
love, and to honor, and to obey.
Woman, said Farallone, do you love him, do you honor him?
She pondered a moment, then held her head high.
I do, she said.
God bless you, cried the groom.
Rats, said Farallone, and he laughed bitterly. But you'll get
over it, he went on. Let's have no more words. He turned to the
groom and to me.
Will you climb down the cliff or shall I throw you?
Let us all go, said the bride, and she caught at his trembling
arm, and I will bless you, and wish you all good thingsand kiss you
If you go, said Farallone, and his great voice trembled, I die.
You are everything. You know that. Would I have hit you if I hadn't
loved you sopoor little cheek! His voice became a kind of mumble.
Let us go, said the bride, if you love me.
Not you, said Farallone, while I live. I would not be such
a fool. Don't you know that in a little while you'll be glad?
Is that your final word? said the bride.
It must be, said Farallone. Are you not a gift to me from God?
I think you must be mad, said the bride.
I am unalterable, said Farallone, as God made meI am.
And you are mine to take.
Do you remember, said the bride, what you said when you gave me
the revolver? You said that if ever I thought it best to shoot youyou
would let me do it.
I remember, said Farallone, and he smiled.
That was just talk, of course? said the bride.
It was not, said Farallone; shoot me.
Let us go, said the bride. Her voice faltered.
Not you, said Farallone, while I live.
His voice, low and gentle, had in it a kind of far-off sadness. He
turned his eyes from the bride and looked the rising sun in the face.
He turned back to her and smiled.
You haven't the heart to shoot me, he said. My darling.
Let us go.
Letyougo! He laughed. Sendawaymymate!
His eyes clouded and became vacant. He blinked them rapidly and
raised his hand to his brow. It seemed to me that in that instant,
suddenly come and suddenly gone, I perceived a look of insanity in his
face. The bride, too, perhaps, saw something of the kind, for like a
flash she had the revolver out and cocked it.
Splendid, cried Farallone, and his eyes blazed with a tremendous
love and admiration. This is something like, he cried. Two forces
face to facea man and a bulletlove behind them both. Ah, you do
love medon't you?
Let us go, said the bride. Her voice shook violently.
Not you, said Farallone, while I live.
He took a step toward her, his eyes dancing and smiling. Do you
know, he said, I don't know if you'll do it or not. By my soul, I
don't know. This is living, this is. This is gambling. I'll do nothing
violent, he said, until my hands are touching you. I'll move toward
you slowly one slow step at a timewith my arms openlike
thisyou'll have plenty of chance to shoot mewe'll see if you'll do
We shall see, said the bride.
They faced each other motionless. Then Farallone, his eyes glorious
with excitement and passion, his arms open, moved toward her one slow,
Wait, he cried suddenly. This is too good for them. He
jerked his thumb toward the groom and me. This is a sight for
godsnot jackasses. Go down to the river, he said to us. If you hear
a shot come back. If you hear a screamthen as you value your
We did not move.
The bride, her voice tense and high-pitched, turned to us.
Do as you're told, she cried, or I shall ask this man to throw
you over the cliff. She stamped her foot.
And this man, said Farallone, will do as he's told.
There was nothing for it. We left them alone in the meadow and
descended the cliff to the river. And there we stood for what seemed
the ages of ages, listening and trembling.
A faint, far-off detonation, followed swiftly by louder and fainter
echoes, broke suddenly upon the rushing noises of the river. We
commenced feverishly to scramble back up the cliff. Half-way to the top
we heard another shot, a second later a third, and after a longer
interval, as if to put a quietus upon some final show of lifea
A nebulous drift of smoke hung above the meadow.
Farallone lay upon his face at the bride's feet. The groom sprang to
her side and threw a trembling arm about her.
Come away, he cried, come away.
But the bride freed herself gently from his encircling arm, and her
eyes still bent upon Farallone
Not till I have buried my dead, she said.