Project Gutenberg's The Peace of Roaring River, by George van Schaick

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Title: The Peace of Roaring River

Author: George van Schaick

Illustrator: W. H. D. Koerner

Release Date: October 28, 2009 [EBook #30349]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


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“God bless you, Madge,” said the man. “I will come soon.” See page 306












Copyright, 1918



Second Printing


I. The Woman Scorned 13
II. What Happened to a Telegram 26
III. Out of a Wilderness 42
IV. To Roaring River 71
V. When Gunpowder Speaks 102
VI. Deeper in the Wilderness 124
VII. Carcajou Is Shocked 152
VIII. Doubts 165
IX. For the Good Name of Carcajou 189
X. Stefan Runs 211
XI. A Visit Cut Short 223
XII. Help Comes 237
XIII. A Widening Horizon 251
XIV. The Hoisting 279
XV. The Peace of Roaring River 290


“God bless you, Madge,” said the man. “I will come soon.” See page 306 Frontispiece
Truth flashed upon her! In a few moments she would see for the first time the man she was to marry 98
“I’m glad you were not hurt. Rather unexpected, wasn’t it” 122
He put out a brown hand and touched the girl’s arm 270





The Woman Scorned

To the village of Carcajou came a young man in the spring. The last patches of snow were disappearing from under the protecting fronds of trees bursting into new leaf. From the surface of the lakes the heavy ice had melted and broken, and still lay in shattered piles on the lee shores. Black-headed chickadees, a robin or two, and finally swallows had appeared, following the wedges of geese returning from the south on their way to the great weedy shoals of James’ Bay.

The young man had brought with him a couple of heavy packs and some tools, but this did not suffice. He entered McGurn’s store, after hesitating between the Hudson’s Bay Post and the newer building. A newcomer he was, and something of a tenderfoot, but he made no pretence of knowing it all. A gigantic Swede he addressed gave him valued advice, 14 and Sophy McGurn, daughter of the proprietor, joined in, smilingly.

She was a rather striking girl, of fiery locks and, it was commonly reported, of no less flaming temper. To Hugo Ennis, however, she showed the most engaging traits she possessed. The youth was good-looking, well built, and his attire showed the merest trifle of care, such as the men of Carcajou were unused to bestow upon their garb. The bill finally made out by Sophia amounted to some seventy dollars.

“Come again, always glad to see you,” called the young lady as Hugo marched out, bearing a part of his purchases.

For a month he disappeared in the wilderness and finally turned up again, for a few more purchases. On the next day he left once more with Stefan, the big Swede, and nothing of the two was seen again until August, when they returned very ragged, looking hungry, their faces burned to a dull brick color, their limbs lankier and, if anything, stronger than ever. The two sat on the verandah of the store and Hugo counted out money his companion had earned as guide and helper. When they entered the store Miss Sophia smiled again, graciously, and nodded a head adorned with a bit of new ribbon. There 15 were a few letters waiting for Hugo, which she handed out, as McGurn’s store was also the local post-office. The young man chatted with her for some time. It was pleasant to be among people again, to hear a voice that was not the gruff speech of Stefan, given out in a powerful bass.

“More as two months ve traipse all ofer,” volunteered the latter. “Ye-es, Miss Sophy, ma’am, ve vork youst like niggers. Und it’s only ven ve gets back real handy here, by de pig Falls, dat ve strike someting vhat look mighty good. Hugo here he build a good log-shack. He got de claim all fix an’ vork on it some to vintertime. Nex spring he say he get a gang going. Vants me for foreman, he do.”

This was pleasant news. Hugo would be a neighbor, for what are a dozen miles or so in the wilderness? He would be coming back and forth for provisions, for dynamite, for anything he needed.

“We had a fine trip anyway, and saw a lot of country,” declared Hugo, cheerfully.

“Ve get one big canoe upset in country close in by Gowganda,” said Stefan again. “Vidout him Hugo I youst git trowned.”

“That wasn’t anything,” exclaimed Hugo, hastily.


“It was one tamn pig ting for me, anyvays,” declared Stefan, roaring out with contented laughter.

Miss Sophy was not greatly pleased when Hugo civilly declined an invitation to have dinner with her ma and pa. The young man was disappointing. He spoke cheerfully and pleasantly but appeared to take scant notice of her new ribbon, to pay little heed to her grey-blue eyes.

After this, once or twice a week, Hugo would come in again, for important or trifling purchases. It might be a hundred pounds of flour or merely a new pipe. He was the only man in Carcajou who took off his cap to her when he entered the store, but when she would have had him lean over the counter and chat with her he seemed to be just as pleased to gossip with lumberjacks and mill-men, or even with Indians who might come in for tobacco or tea and were reputed to have vast knowledge of the land to the North. Once he half promised to come to a barn-dance in which Scotty Humphrey would play the fiddle, and she watched for him, eagerly, but he never turned up, explaining a few days later that his dog Maigan, an acquisition of a couple of months before, had gone lame and that it would have been a shame to leave the poor old fellow alone.


Sophy met him in the village street and he actually bowed to her without stopping, as if there might be more important business in the world than gossiping with a girl. She began to feel, after a time, that she actually disliked him. The station agent, Kid Follansbee, admired her exceedingly, and had timidly ventured some words of hopeful flirtation as a preliminary to more serious proposals. Two or three other youths of Carcajou only needed the slightest sign of encouragement, and there was a conductor of the passenger train who used to blow kisses at her, once in a while, from the steps of the Pullman. In spite of all this Sophy continued to smile and talk softly, whenever he entered the store, and he would answer civilly and cheerfully, and ask the price of lard or enquire for the fish-hooks that had been ordered from Ottawa. He would pat the head of the big dog that was always at his heels, throw a coin on the counter, slip his change in his pocket and go out again, as if time had mattered, when, as she knew perfectly well, he really hadn’t much to do. The poor fellow, she decided, was really stupid, in spite of his good looks.

The worst of it all was that some folks had taken notice of her efforts to attract Hugo’s attention. The people of Carcajou were good-natured 18 but prone to guffaws. One or two asked her when the wedding would take place, and roared at her indignant denials.

In the meanwhile Hugo was utterly ignorant of the feelings that had arisen in Miss Sophy McGurn’s bosom. He worked away at a great rocky ledge, and loud explosions were not uncommon at the big falls of Roaring River. Also he cut a huge pile of firewood against the coming of winter, and, from time to time, would take a rod and lure from the river some of the fine red square-tailed trout that abounded in its waters. A few books on mining and geology, and an occasional magazine, served his needs of mental recreation. A French Canadian family settled about a mile north of his shack soon grew friendly with him. There were children he was welcomed by, and a batch of dogs that tried in vain to tear Maigan to pieces, until with club and fang they were taught better manners. To the young man’s peculiar disposition such surroundings were entirely satisfactory. There was a freedom in it, a sense of personal endeavor, a hope of success, that tinted his world in gladdening hues.

When autumn came he shouldered his rifle and went out to the big swampy stretches of the upper river, where big cow moose and 19 their ungainly young, soon to be abandoned, wallowed in the oozy bottoms of shallow ponds and lifted their heads from the water, chewing away at the dripping roots of lily-pads. There were deer, also, and he caught sight of one or two big bull-moose but forebore to shoot, for the antlers were still in velvet and there was not enough snow on the ground to sledge the great carcasses home. He contented himself with a couple of bucks, which he carried home and divided with his few neighbors, also bringing some of the meat to Stefan’s wife at Carcajou. Later on he killed two of the big flathorns, hung the huge quarters to convenient trees and went back to Papineau’s, the Frenchman’s place, for the loan of his dog-team.

After this came the winter with heavy falls of snow and cold that sent the tinted alcohol in the thermometer at the station down very close to the bulb. Carcajou and its inhabitants seemed to go to sleep. The village street was generally deserted. Even the dogs stayed indoors most of the day, hugging the cast-iron stoves. At this time all the Indians were away at their winter hunting grounds, and many of the lumberjacks had gone further south where the weather did not prevent honest toil. The big sawmill was utterly silent and the river, 20 wont to race madly beneath the railroad bridge, had become a jumbled mass of ice and rock.

The only men who kept up steady work in and near Carcajou formed the section gang on the railroad. One day, in the middle of winter, and in quickly gathering shadows, Pete Coogan, their foreman, was walking the track back towards the village and had reached the big cut whose other end led to the bridge at Carcajou. The wind bit hard as it howled through the opening in the hill and the man walked wearily, pulling away at a short and extinct pipe and thinking of little but the comfort that would be his after he reached his little house and kicked off his heavy Dutch stockings. A hot and hearty meal would be ready for him, and after this he would light another pipe and listen to his wife’s account of the village doings. Since before daylight he had been toiling hard with his men, in a place where tons of ice and snow had thundered down a mountainside and covered the rails, four or five feet deep. The work had been hurried, breathless, anxious, but finally they had been able to remove the warning signals after clearing the track in time to let the eastbound freight thunder by, with a lowing of cold, starved cattle tightly 21 packed and a squealing of hogs by the legion. A frost-encased man had waived a thickly-mittened hand at them from the top of a lumber car, and the day’s work was over, all but clearing a great blocked culvert, lest an unexpected thaw or rain might flood the right of way. To these men it was all in the day’s work and unconscious passengers snored away in their berths, unknowing of the heroic toil their safety required.

So Pete walked slowly, his grizzled head bent against the blast as he struggled between the metals, listening. At a sudden shrieking roar he moved deliberately to one side, his back resting against a bank of snow left by the giant circular plough whose progress, on the previous day, had been that of a slow but irresistible avalanche. A crashing whistle tore the air and the wind of the rushing train pulled at his clothes and swirled sharp flakes into his eyes. Yet he dimly saw something white flutter down to his feet and he picked it up. It chanced to be a paper tossed out by some careless hand, a rather disreputable sheet printed some thousand miles away, one of the things that lie like scabs on the outer hide of civilization. It was much too dark and cold for him to think of removing a mitten and searching for the glasses in his coat 22 pocket. But the respect is great, in waste places, for the printed word. There news of the great outside world trickles in slowly, and he carefully stuffed the thing between two of the big horn buttons of his red-striped mackinaw.

There were but a few minutes more of toil for him. At last he passed over the bridge, in a flurry of swirling ice-crystals, and finally made his way into McGurn’s store, which is across the way from the railway depot.

“Cold night,” he announced, stamping his feet near the door.

“Follansbee he says they report fifty below at White River,” a man sitting by the stove informed him.

Coogan nodded and approached the counter.

“Give me a plug, Miss Sophy,” he told the girl who sat at a rough counter, adding figures. “The wind’s gettin’ real sharp and I got the nose most friz off’n my face.”

The girl rose, with a yawn, and handed him the tobacco. She swept his ten-cent piece in a drawer and sat down again. One of the men lounging about the great white-topped stove in the middle of the room pointed to Coogan’s coat.

“Ye’re that careless, Pete,” he said. “I ’low that’s a bundle o’ thousand dollar bills as is droppin’ off’n yer coat.”


The old section foreman looked down.

“Oh! I’d most forgot. This here’s some kind o’ paper I picked up on the track. Beats anything how passengers chucks things off. Mike Smith ’most got killed last week with an empty bottle. Lucky he had his big muskrat cap on. May be ye’d like to see it, Miss Sophy? Guess my old woman wouldn’t have no use for it as it don’t seem to have any picters in it.”

He was about to place it on the counter when one of the men took it from his hand and held it under the hanging oil lamp.

“Why!” he chuckled, somewhat raspingly. “It’s just what Sophy needs real bad. Ye wants ter study that real careful, Sophy. It’ll show ye as there’s just as good fish in the sea as was ever took out of it.”

The girl leaned far out over the counter and snatched the paper away from him.

“Yes, there’s just as good fish as that there Ennis lad,” repeated the man.

A single glance had acquainted Sophy with the title. It was the Matrimonial Journal. She flung it down to her feet, angrily.

“You get out of here with your Ennis!” she cried. “I wouldn’t––wouldn’t marry him if he was the last man on earth. I––I just despise him!”


“And that’s real lucky for ye,” snickered the man. “I heard him say––lemme see––yes, ’bout three-four days ago, as he wasn’t nowise partial ter carrots. It’s a wegetable as he couldn’t never bear the sight of.”

The girl’s hand went up to her fine head of auburn hair and a deep red rose from her cheeks to its roots. Her narrow lips became a mere slit in her face and her steely eyes flashed.

“And––and he’s the kind as thinks himself a gentleman!” she hissed out. “Get out o’ here, all of ye! There ain’t a man in Carcajou as I’d wipe my boots on. Clear out o’ here, I tell ye!”

The three men left, Pete silently and disapprovingly, the other two guffawing.

“I don’t believe as how that lad Ennis ever said anything o’ the kind,” declared the foreman. “He’s a fine bye, he is, and it ain’t like him.”

“Of course he didn’t,” the village joker assured him. “But ’twas too much of a chance ter get a rise out er Sophy for me to lose it. Ain’t she the hot-tempered thing? Just the same she wuz dead sot on gettin’ him, we all know that, an’ she’s mad clear through.”

“Well, I don’t see as yer got any call ter 25 rile the gal, just the same,” ventured Pete. “Like enough she can’t help herself, she can’t, and just because she got a temper like a sorrel mare ain’t no good reason ter be hurtin’ her feelin’s.”

But the other two chuckled again and started towards the big boarding-house, whose ceilings and walls were beautifully covered with stamped metal plates guaranteed to last for ever and sell for old iron afterwards. Its corrugated iron roof, to most of Carcajou’s population, represented the very last word in architectural glory.

Within the store Miss Sophy was biting her nails, excitedly, and felt all the fury of the woman scorned.



What Happened to a Telegram

Customers were rare on such terribly cold nights. For a long time Sophy McGurn held her chin in the palm of her hand, staring about her from time to time, without seeing anything but the visions her anger evolved. Presently, however, she took up the small bag of mail and sorted out a few letters and papers, placing them in the individual boxes. But while she worked the heightened color of her face remained and her teeth often closed upon her lower lip. There was a postal card addressed to Hugo Ennis. She turned it over, curiously, but it proved to be an advertisement of some sort of machinery and she threw it from her, impatiently.

“Supper’s ready, Sophy,” cried a shrill voice. “Train’s in and father’ll be here in a minute. Get the table fixed.”

“I’m coming,” she answered.

For a minute she busied herself putting down plates and knives and forks. She heard her father coming in. He had been away on 27 some business at the next station. She heard him kicking off his heavy felt shoes and he came into the room in his stocking-feet.

“Hello, Ma! Hello, Sophy! Guess ye’ve been settin’ too close to the hot stove, ain’t ye? Yer face is red as a beet.”

“My face is all right!” she exclaimed, angrily. “Them as don’t like it can look the other way!”

Her mother, a quiet old soul, looked at her in silence and dished out the broiled ham and potatoes. The old gentleman snickered but forebore to add more fuel to the fire. He was a prudent man with a keen appreciation of peace. They sat down. Under a chair the old cat was playing with her lone kitten, sole remnant of a large litter. An aggressive clock with a boldly painted frame was beating loudly. Beneath the floor the oft-repeated gnawing of a mouse or rat went on, distractingly. From the other side of the road, in spite of double-windows and closed doors, came the wail of an ill-treated violin.

“One of these days I’m goin’ over to Carreau’s an’ smash that fiddle,” suddenly asserted Sophy, truculently. “It’s gettin’ on my nerves. Talk o’ cats screechin’!”

“I wouldn’t do that, Sophy,” advised her mother, patiently. “Not but what it’s mighty 28 tryin’, sometimes, for Cyrille he don’t ever get further’n them two first bars of ‘The Campbells are comin’.’”

Sophy sniffed and poured herself out strong tea. She drank two cups of it but her appetite was evidently poor, for she hardly touched her food. Her father was engaged in a long explanation of the misdeeds of a man who had sold him inferior pork, as she folded her napkin, slipped it into her ring, and went back into the store. Here she sat on her stool again, tapping the counter with closed knuckles. Her eyes chanced to fall upon the paper she had thrown down on the floor, and she picked it up and began to read. Pete Coogan, when he had brought it into the store, unknowingly had set big things in motion. He would have been amazed at the consequences of his act.

Presently Sophy became deeply interested. The pages she turned revealed marvelous things. Even to one of her limited attainments in the way of education and knowledge of the world the artificiality of many of the advertisements was apparent. Others made her wonder. It was marvelous that there were so many gentlemen of good breeding and fine prospects looking hungrily for soul-mates, and such a host of women, young or, in 29 a few instances, confessing to the early thirties, seeking for the man of their dreams, for the companion who would understand them, for the being who would bring poetry into their lives. Some, it is true, hinted at far more substantial requirements. But these, in the brief space of a few lines, were but hazily revealed. Among the men were lawyers needing but slight help to allow them to reach wondrous heights of forensic prosperity. There were merchants utterly bound to princely achievement. Also there was a sprinkling of foreign gentlemen suggesting that they might exchange titles of high nobility for some little superfluity of wealth. Good looks were not so essential as a kindly, liberal disposition, they asserted, and also hinted that youth in their brides was less important than the quality of bank accounts. The ladies, as described by themselves, were tall and handsome, or small and vivacious. Some esteemed themselves willowy while others acknowledged Junoesque forms. But all of them, of either sex, high or short, thin or stout, appeared to think only of bestowing undying love and affection for the pure glory of giving, for the highest of altruistic motives. Other and more trivial things were spoken of, as a rule, in a second short paragraph which, to 30 the initiated, would have seemed rather more important than the longer announcements. At any rate, that which they asked in exchange for the gifts they were prepared to lavish always appeared to be quite trivial, at first sight.

Sophy McGurn, as she kept on reading, was not a little impressed. Yet, gradually, a certain native shrewdness in her nature began to assert itself. She had helped her father in the store for several years and knew that gaudy labels might cover inferior goods. She by no means believed all the things she read. At times she even detected exaggeration, lack of candor, motives less allowable than the ones so readily advanced.

“Guess most of them are fakes,” she finally decided, not unwisely. “But there’s some of them must get terribly fooled. I––I wonder....”

Her cogitations were interrupted by a small boy who entered and asked for a stamped envelope. A few people, later on, came in to find out if there was any mail for them. But during the intervals she kept on poring over those pages. One by one the lights of Carcajou were going out. Carreau’s fiddle had stopped whining long before. The cat lay asleep in the wood-box, near the stove, with the kitten nestled against her. Old McGurn 31 called down to her that it was time for bed, but the girl made no answer.

Yes, it was a marvelous idea that had come to her. She saw a dim prospect of revenge. It was as if the frosted windows had gradually cleared and let in the light of the stars. Hugo Ennis had made a laughing-stock of her. He didn’t like carrots, forsooth! She was only too conscious of the failure of her efforts to attract him. But he had noticed them and commented on them to others, evidently. It was enough to make one wild!

The oil in the swinging lamp had grown very low and the light dim by the time she finished a letter, in which she enclosed some money. Then she stamped it and placed it in the bag that would be taken up in the morning, for the eastbound express. Finally she placed the heavy iron bar against the front door and went up the creaking stairs to her room as the loud-ticking clock boomed out eleven strokes, an unearthly hour for Carcajou.

A couple of weeks later a copy of the Matrimonial Journal was forwarded to A.B.C., P.O. Box 17, Carcajou, Ontario, Canada. Miss Sophy McGurn retired with it to her room, looked nervously out of the window, lest any one might have observed her, 32 and searched the pages feverishly. Yes! There it was! Her own words appeared in print!

A wealthy young man owning a silver mine in Canada would like to correspond with a young lady who would appreciate a fine home beside a beautiful river. In exchange for all that he can bestow upon her he only seeks in the woman he will marry an affectionate and kindly disposition suited to his own. Write A.B.C., P.O. Box 17, Carcajou, Ontario, Can.

During the next few days it was with unwonted eagerness that Sophy opened the mail bags. Finally there came a letter, followed by five, all in different handwritings and in the same mail. For another week or ten days others dribbled in. They were all from different women, cautiously worded, asking all manner of questions, venturing upon descriptions of themselves. Unanimously they proclaimed themselves bubbling over with affection and kindliness. The girl was impressed with the wretched spelling of most of them, with the evident tone of artificiality, with the patent fact that the writers were looking for a bargain. All these letters, even the most poorly written, gave Sophy the impression that the correspondents were dangerous people, she knew not why, and might perhaps hoist her with her own petard. She studied them over and over again, with a feeling of 33 disappointment, and reluctantly decided that the game was an unsafe one.

Two days had gone by without a letter to A.B.C. when at last one turned up. At once it seemed utterly different, giving an impression of bashfulness and timidity that contrasted with the boldness or the caution of the others. That night, with a hand disguised as best she could, the girl answered it. She knew that several days must elapse before she could obtain a reply and awaited it impatiently. It was this, in all probabilities, that made her speak snappishly to people who came to trade in the store or avail themselves of the post-office.

“I’m a fool,” she told herself a score of times. “They all want the money to come here and it must be enough for the return journey. This last one ain’t thought of it, but she’ll ask also, in her next letter, I bet. And I haven’t got it to send; and if I had it I wouldn’t do so. They might pocket it and never turn up. And anyway I might be getting in trouble with the postal authorities. Guess I better not answer when it comes. I’ll have to find some other way of getting square with him.”

By this time she regretted the dollars spent from her scant hoard for the advertisement, 34 but the reply came and the game became a passionately interesting one. She answered the letter again, using a wealth of imagination.

“She’ll sure answer this one, but then I’ll say I’ve changed my mind and have decided that I ain’t going to marry. Takes me really for a man, she does. Must be a fool, she must. And she ain’t asked for money, ain’t that funny? If she writes back she’ll abuse me like a pickpocket, anyway. Won’t he be mad when he gets the letter!”

Sophy’s general knowledge of postal matters and of some of the more familiar rules of law warned her that she was skating on thin ice. Yet her last letter had ventured rather far. In her first letter she had merely signed with the initials, but this time she had boldly used Hugo Ennis’s name. She thought she would escape all danger of having committed a forgery by simply printing the letters.

“And besides, there ain’t any one can tell I ever wrote those letters,” she reassured herself, perhaps mistakenly. “If there’s ever any enquiry I’ll stick to it that some one just dropped them in the mail-box and I forwarded them as usual. When it comes to her answers they’ll all be in Box 17, unopened, and I can say I held them till called for, according to rules. I never referred to them in 35 what I wrote. Just told her to come along and promised her all sorts of things.”

Again she waited impatiently for an answer, which never came. Instead of it there was a telegram addressed to Hugo Ennis, which was of course received by Follansbee, the station agent, who read it with eyes rather widely opened. He transcribed the message and entrusted it to big Stefan, the Swede, who now carried mail to a few outlying camps.

“It’s a queer thing, Stefan,” commented Joe. “Looks like there’s some woman comin’ all the way from New York to see yer friend Hugo.”

“Vell, dat’s yoost his own pusiness, I tank,” answered the Swede, placidly.

“Sure enough, but it’s queer, anyways. Did he ever speak of havin’ some gal back east?”

“If he had it vould still be his own pusiness,” asserted Stefan, biting off a chew from a black plug and stowing away the telegram in a coat pocket. Hugo Ennis was his friend. Anything that Hugo did was all right. Folks who had anything to criticize in his conduct were likely to incur Stefan’s displeasure.

The big fellow’s dog-team was ready. At his word they broke the runners out of the 36 snow, barking excitedly, but for the time being they were only driven across the way to the post-office for the mail-bag.

Sophy handed the pouch to him, her face none too agreeable.

“Dat all vhat dere is for Toumichouan?” asked the man.

“Yes, that’s all,” answered the girl, snappily. “There’s a parcel here for Papineau and a letter for Tom Carew’s wife. If you see any one going by way of Roaring River tell him to stop there and let ’em know.”

“You can gif ’em to me, too,” said Big Stefan. “I’m goin’ dat vay. I got one of dem telegraft tings for Hugo Ennis.”

Sophy rushed out from behind the counter.

“Let me see it!” she said.

“No, ma’am,” said Stefan, calmly. “It is shut anyvays, de paper is. Follansbee he youst gif it to me. I tank nobotty open dat telegraft now till Hugo he get it.”

He tucked the mail-bag and the parcel under one arm and went out, placing the former in a box that was lashed to the toboggan. Then he clicked at his dogs, who began to trot off easily towards the rise of ground at the side of the big lake. It was a sheet of streaky white, smooth or hummocky according to varying effects of wind and falling levels. 37 Far out on its surface he saw two black dots that were a pair of ravens, walking in dignified fashion and pecking at some indistinguishable treasure trove. At the summit of the rise he clicked again and the dogs went on faster, the man running behind with the tireless, flat-footed gait of the trained traveler of the wilderness.

In the meanwhile old McGurn was busy in the store and Sophy put on her woollen tuque and her mitts.

“I’m going over to the depot and see about that box of Dutch socks,” she announced.

“’T ain’t due yet,” observed her father.

“I’m going to see, anyway,” she answered.

In the station she found Joe Follansbee in his little office. The telegraphic sounder was clicking away, with queer sudden interruptions, in the manner that is so mysterious to the uninitiated.

“Are you busy, Joe?” she asked him, graciously.

“Sure thing!” answered the young fellow, grinning pleasantly. “There’s the usual stuff. The 4.19 is two hours late, and I’ve had one whole private message. Gettin’ to be a busy place, Carcajou is.”

“Who’s getting messages? Old man Symonds at the mill?”


“Ye’ll have to guess again. It’s a wire all the way from New York.”

“What was it about, Joe?” she asked, in her very sweetest manner.

Indeed, the inflection of her voice held something in it that was nearly caressing. Kid Follansbee had long admired her, but of late he had been quite hopeless. He had observed the favor in which Ennis had seemed to stand before the girl, and had perhaps been rather jealous. It was pleasant to be spoken to so agreeably now.

“We ain’t supposed to tell,” he informed her, apologetically. “It’s against the rules. Private messages ain’t supposed to be told to anyone.”

“But you’ll tell me, Joe, won’t you?” she asked again, smiling at him.

It was a chance to get even with the man he deemed his rival and he couldn’t very well throw it away.

“Well, I will if ye’ll promise not to repeat it,” he said, after a moment’s hesitation. “It’s some woman by the name of Madge who’s wired to Ennis she’s coming.”

“But when’s she due, Joe?”

“It just says ‘Leaving New York this evening. Please have some one to meet me. Madge Nelson.’”


“For––for the land’s sakes!”

She turned, having suddenly become quite oblivious of Joe, who was staring at her, and walked back slowly over the hard-packed snow that crackled under her feet in the intense cold.

“I––I don’t care,” she told herself, doggedly. “I––I guess she’ll just tear his eyes out when she finds out she’s been fooled. She’ll be tellin’ everybody and––and they’ll believe her, of course, and––and like enough they’ll laugh at him, now, instead of me.”

During this time Stefan rode his light toboggan when the snow was not too hummocky, or when the grade favored his bushy-tailed and long-nosed team. At other times he broke trail for them or, when the old tote-road allowed, ran alongside. With all his fast traveling it took him nearly three hours to reach the shack that stood on the bank, just a little way below the great falls of Roaring River. Here he abandoned the old road that was so seldom traveled since lumbering operations had been stopped in that district, owing to the removal of available pine and spruce. At a word from him the dogs sat down in their traces, their wiry coats giving out a thin vapor, and he went down the path to the log building. The door was closed and he had 40 already noted that no film of smoke came from the stove-pipe. While it was evident that Ennis was not at home Stefan knocked before pushing his way in. The place was deserted, as he had conjectured. Drawing off his mitt he ascertained that the ashes in the stove were still warm. There was a rough table of axe-hewn boards and he placed the envelope on it, after which he kindled a bit of fire and made himself a cup of hot tea that comforted him greatly. After this it took but a minute to bind on his heavy snowshoes again and he rejoined his waiting dogs, starting off once more in the hard frost, his breath steaming and once more gathering icicles upon his short and stubby yellow moustache.

It was only in the dusk of the short winter’s day that Hugo Ennis returned to his home, carrying his gun, with Maigan scampering before him. It was quite dark within the shack and he placed the bag that had been on his shoulders upon the table of rough planks. After this he drew off his mitts and unfastened his snowshoes after striking a light and kindling the oil lamp. Then he pulled a couple of partridges and a cold-stiffened hare out of the bag, which he then threw carelessly in a corner. Whether owing to the dampness of melting snow or the stickiness of fir-balsam 41 on the bottom of the bag, the envelope Stefan had left for him stuck to it and he never saw the telegram that had been sent from the far-away city.



Out of a Wilderness

A couple of days before Sophy’s advertisement appeared in the Matrimonial Journal a girl rose from her bed in one of the female wards of the great hospital on the banks of the East River, in New York. On the day before the visiting physician had stated that she might be discharged. She was not very strong yet but the hospital needed every bed badly. Pneumonia and other diseases were rife that winter.

A kindly nurse carried her little bag for her down the aisle of the ward and along the wide corridor till they reached the elevator. Madge Nelson was not yet very steady on her feet; once or twice she stopped for a moment, leaning against the walls owing to slight attacks of dizziness. The car shot down to their floor and the girl entered it.

“Good-by and good luck, my dear,” said the kindly nurse. “Take good care of yourself!”

Then she hurried back to the ward, where 43 another suffering woman was being laid on the bed just vacated.

Madge found herself on the street, carrying the little bag which, in spite of its light weight, was a heavy burden for her. The air was cold and a slight drizzle had followed the snow. The chilly dampness made her teeth chatter. Twice she had to hold on to the iron rails outside the gates of the hospital, for a moment’s rest. After this she made a brave effort and, hurrying as best she could, reached Third Avenue and waited for a car. There was room in it, fortunately, and she did not have to stand up. Further down town she got out, walked half a block west, and stopped before a tenement-house, opening the door. The three flights up proved a long journey. She collapsed on a kitchen chair as soon as she entered. A woman who had been in the front room hastened to her.

“So you’re all right again,” she exclaimed. “Last week the doctor said ’t was nip and tuck with you. You didn’t know me when I stood before ye. My! But you don’t look very chipper yet! I’ll make ye a cup of hot tea.”

Madge accepted the refreshment gratefully. It was rather bitter and black but at least it was hot and comforting. Then she 44 went and sought the little bed in the dim hall-room, whose frosted panes let in a yellow and scanty light. For this she had been paying a dollar and a half a week, and owed for the three she had spent in the hospital. Fortunately, she still had eleven dollars between herself and starvation. After paying out four-fifty the remainder might suffice until she found more work.

She was weary beyond endurance and yet sleep would not come to her, as happens often to the overtired. Before her closed eyes a vague panorama of past events unrolled itself, a dismal vision indeed.

There was the coming to the great city, after the widowed mother’s death, from a village up the state. The small hoard of money she brought with her melted away rather fast, in spite of the most economical living. But at last she had obtained work in a factory where they made paper boxes and paid a salary nearly, but not quite, adequate to keep body and soul together. From this she had drifted to a place where they made shirts. Here some hundreds of motor-driven sewing-machines were running and as many girls bent over the work, feverishly seeking to exceed the day’s stint and make a few cents extra. A strike in this place sent her to another, 45 with different work, which kept her busy till the hands were laid off for part of the summer.

And always, in every place, she toiled doggedly, determinedly, and her pretty face would attract the attention of foremen or even of bosses. Chances came for improvement in her situation, but the propositions were nearly always accompanied by smirks and smiles, by hints never so well covered but that they caused her heart to beat in indignation and resentment. Sometimes, of course, they merely aroused vague suspicions. Two or three times she accepted such offers. The result always followed that she left the place, hurriedly, and sought elsewhere, trudging through long streets of mercantile establishments and factories, looking at signs displayed on bits of swinging cardboard or pasted to dingy panes.

Throughout this experience, however, she managed to escape absolute want. She discovered the many mysteries which, once revealed, permit of continued existence of a sort. The washing in a small room, that had to be done on a Sunday; the making of small and unnutritious dishes on a tiny alcohol stove; the reliance on suspicious eggs and milk turned blue; the purchase of things 46 from push-carts. She envied the girls who knew stenography and typewriting, and those who were dressmakers and fitters and milliners, all of which trades necessitate long apprenticeship. The quiet life at home had not prepared her to earn her own living. It was only after the mother’s death that an expired annuity and a mortgage that could not be satisfied had sent her away from her home, to become lost among the toilers of a big city.

For a year she had worked, and her clothing was mended to the verge of impending ruin, and her boots leaked, and she had grown thin, but life still held out hope of a sort, a vague promise of better things, some day, at some dim period that would be reached later, ever so much later, perhaps. For she had still her youth, her courage, her indomitable tendency towards the things that were decent and honest and fair.

At last she got a better position as saleswoman in one of the big stores, whereupon her sky became bluer and the world took on rosier tints. She was actually able to save a little money, cent by cent and dime by dime, and her cheerfulness and courage increased apace.

It was at this time that typhoid struck her down and the big hospital saw her for the 47 first time. For seven long weeks she remained there, and when finally she was able to return to the great emporium she found that help was being laid off, owing to small trade after the holidays. She sought further but the same conditions prevailed and she was thankful to find harder and more scantily paid work in another factory, in which she packed unending cases with canned goods that came in a steady flow, over long leather belts.

So she became thinner again, and wearier, but held on, knowing that the big stores would soon seek additional help. The winter had come again, and with it a bad cough which, perforce, she neglected. One day she could not rise from her bed and the woman who rented a room to her called in the nearest doctor who, after a look at the patient and a swift, understanding gaze at the surroundings, ordered immediate removal to the hospital.

So now she was out of the precincts of suffering again, but the world had become a very hard place, an evil thing that grasped bodies and souls and churned them into a struggling, crying, weeping mass for which nothing but despair loomed ahead. She would try again, however. She would finish wearing out the soles of her poor little boots in a further hunt for work. At last sleep came to her, and the 48 next morning she awoke feeling hungry, and perhaps a bit stronger. Some sort of sunlight was making its way through the murky air. She breakfasted on a half-bottle of milk and a couple of rolls and went out again, hollow-eyed, weary looking, to look for more work.

For the best part of three days she staggered about the streets of the big city, answering advertisements found in a penny paper, looking up the signs calling for help, that were liberally enough displayed in the manufacturing district.

Then, one afternoon, she sank down upon a bench in one of the smaller parks, utterly weary and exhausted. Beside her, on the seat, lay a paper which she picked up, hoping to find more calls for willing workers. But despair was clutching at her heart. In most of the places they had looked at her and shaken their heads. No! They had just found the help they wanted. The reason of her disappointments, she realized, lay in the fact that she looked so ill and weary. They did not deem her capable of doing the needed work, in spite of her assurances.

So she held up the paper and turned over one or two pages, seeking the title. It was the Matrimonial Journal! It seemed like a scurrilous joke on the part of fate. What had she 49 to do with matrimony; with hopes for a happy, contented home and surcease of the never-ending search for the pittance that might keep her alive? She hardly knew why she folded it and ran the end into the poor little worn plush muff she carried. When she reached her room again she lighted the lamp and looked it over. It was merely something with which to pass a few minutes of the long hours. She read some of those advertisements and the keen instinct that had become hers in little less than two years of hard city life made her feel the lack of genuineness and honesty pervading those proposals and requests. When she chanced to look at that far demand from Canada, however, she put the paper down and began to dream.

Her earlier and blessed years had been spent in a small place. Her memory went back to wide pastures and lowing cattle, to gorgeously blossoming orchards whose trees bent under their loads of savory fruit, long after the petals had fallen. She felt as if she could again breathe unpolluted air, drink from clear springs and sit by the edges of fields and watch the waves of grain bending with flashes of gold before the breezes. Time and again she had longed for these things; the mere thought of them brought a hunger 50 to her for the open country, for the glory of distant sunsets, for the sounds of farm and byre, for the silently flowing little river, bordered with woodlands that became of gold and crimson in the autumn. She could again see the nesting swallows, the robins hopping over grasslands, the wild doves pairing in the poplars, the chirping chickadees whose tiny heads shone like black diamonds, as they flitted in the bushes. The memory of it all brought tears to her eyes.

What a wonderful outlook this thing presented, as she read it again. A home by a beautiful river! A prosperous youth who needed but kindliness and affection to make him happy! Why had he not found a suitable mate in that country? She remembered hearing, or reading somewhere, that women are comparatively few in the lands to which men rush to settle in wildernesses. And perhaps the women he had met were not of the education or training he had been accustomed to.

The idea of love, as it had been presented by the men she had been thrown with, in factory and office, was repugnant to her. But, if this was true, the outlook was a different one. Not for a moment did she imagine that it was a place wherein a woman might live in idleness and comparative luxury. No! 51 Such a man would require a helpmeet, one who would do the work of his house, one who would take care of the home while he toiled outside. What a happy life! What a wondrous change from all that she had experienced! There were happy women in the world, glorying in maternity, watching eagerly for the home-coming of their mates, blessed with the love of a good man and happy to return it in full measure. It seemed too good to be true. She stared with moistened eyes. If this was really so the man had doubtless already received answers and chosen. There must be so many others looking like herself for a haven of safety, for deliverance from lives that were unendurable. Who was she that she should aspire to this thing? To such a man she could bring but health impaired, but the remnants of her former strength. In a bit of looking-glass she saw her dark-rimmed eyes and deemed that she had lost all such looks as she had once possessed.

Yet something kept urging her. It was some sort of a fraud, doubtless. The man was probably not in earnest. A letter from her would obtain no attention from him. A minute later she was seated at the table, in spite of all these misgivings, and writing to 52 this man she had never seen or heard of. She stated candidly that life had been too hard for her and that she would do her best to be a faithful and willing helper to a man who would treat her kindly. It was a poor little despairing letter whose words sounded like a call for rescue from the deep. After she had finished it she threw it aside, deciding that it was useless to send it. An hour later she rushed out of the house, procured a stamp at the nearest drug-store, and threw the letter in a box at the street-corner. As soon as it was beyond her reach she would have given anything to recall it. Her pale face had become flushed with shame. A postman came up just then, who took out a key fastened to a brass chain. She asked him to give her back her letter. But he swept up all the missives and locked the box again, shaking his head.

“Nothing doing, miss,” he told her, gruffly.

Before her look of disappointment he halted a few seconds to explain some measure, full of red-tape, by which she might perhaps obtain the letter again from the post-office. To Madge it seemed quite beyond the powers of man to accomplish such a thing. And, moreover, the die was cast. The thing might as well go. She would never hear from it again.


The next day she found work in a crowded loft, poorly ventilated and heated, and came home to throw herself upon her bed, exhausted. Her landlady’s children were making a terrible noise in the next room, and the racket shot pains through her head. On the morrow she was at work again, and kept it up to the end of the week. When she returned on Saturday, late in the afternoon, with her meagre pay-envelope in her ragged muff, she had forgotten all about her effort to obtain freedom.

“There’s a letter for ye here, from foreign parts,” announced Mrs. MacRae. “Leastwise ’t ain’t an American stamp.”

Madge took it from her, wondering. A queer tremor came over her. The man had written!

Once in her room she tore the envelope open. The handwriting was queer and irregular. But a man may write badly and still be honest and true. And the words she read were wonderful. This individual, who merely signed A. B. C., was eager to have her come to him. She would be treated with the greatest respect. If the man and the place were not suited to her she would naturally be at liberty to return immediately. It was unfortunate that his occupations absolutely prevented 54 his coming over at once to New York to meet her. If she would only come he felt certain that she would be pleased. The hosts of friends he had would welcome her.

Thus it ran for three pages and Madge stared at the light, a tremendous longing tearing at her soul, a great fear causing her heart to throb.

She forgot the meagre supper she had brought with her and finally sat down to write again. Like the first letter it was a sort of confession. She acknowledged again that life no longer offered any prospect of happiness to her. After she looked again in the little glass she wrote that she was not very good-looking. To her own eyes she now appeared ugly. But she said she knew a good deal about housekeeping, which was true, and was willing to work and toil for a bit of kindness and consideration. Her face was again red as she wrote. There was something in all this that shocked her modesty, her inborn sense of propriety and decency. But, after all, she reflected that men and women met somehow, and became acquainted. And the acquaintance, in some cases, became love. And the love eventuated in the only really happy life a man or a woman could lead.


Nearly another week went by before the second answer arrived. It again urged her to come. It spoke of the wonderful place Carcajou was, of the marvel that was Roaring Falls, of the greatness of the woodlands of Ontario. Indeed, for one of her limited attainments, Sophy’s letter was a remarkable effort. This time the missive was signed in printed letters: HUGO ENNIS. This seemed queer. But some men signed in very puzzling fashion and this one had used this method, in all likelihood, in order that she might be sure to get the name right. And it was a pleasant-sounding name, rather manly and attractive.

The letter did not seem to require another answer. Madge stuffed it under her pillow and spent a restless night. On the next day her head was in a whirl of uncertainty. She went as far as the Grand Central Station and inquired about the price of a ticket to Carcajou. The man had to look for some time before he could give her the information. It was very expensive. The few dollars in her pocket were utterly inadequate to such a journey, and she returned home in despair.

On the Monday morning, at the usual hour, she started for the factory. She was about to take the car when she turned back and made 56 her way to her room again. Her mind was made up. She would go!

She opened a tiny trunk she had brought with her from her country home and searched it, swiftly, hurriedly. She was going. It would not do to hesitate. It was a chance. She must take it!

She pulled out a little pocketbook and opened it swiftly. Within it was a diamond ring. It had been given to her mother by her father, in times of prosperity, as an engagement ring. And she had kept it through all her hardships, vaguely feeling that a day might come when it might save her life. She had gone very hungry, many a time, with that gaud in her possession. She had felt that she could not part with it, that it was something that had been a part of her own dear mother, a keepsake that must be treasured to the very last. And now the moment had come. She placed the little purse in her muff, clenched her hand tightly upon it, and went out again into the street.

She looked out upon the thoroughfare in a new, impersonal way. She felt as if now she were only passing through the slushy streets on her way to new lands. From the tracks of the Elevated Road dripped great drops of turbid water. The sky was leaden and an 57 easterly wind, in spite of the thaw, brought the chill humidity that is more penetrating than colder dry frost.

She hastened along the sidewalk flooded with the icy grime of the last snowfall. It went through the thin soles of her worn boots. Once she shivered in a way that was suggestive of threatened illness and further resort to the great hospital. Before crossing the avenue she was compelled to halt, as the great circular brooms of a monstrous sweeper shot forth streams of brown water and melting snow. Then she went on, casting glances at the windows of small stores, and finally stopped before a little shop, dark and uninviting, whose soiled glass front revealed odds and ends of old jewelry, watches, optical goods and bric-a-brac that had a sordid aspect. She had long ago noticed the ancient sign disposed behind the panes. It bore the words:

“We buy Old Gold and Jewelry”

For a moment only she hesitated. Her breath came and went faster as if a sudden pain had shot through her breast. But at once she entered the place. From the back of the store a grubby, bearded, unclean old man wearing a black skullcap looked at her keenly over the edge of his spectacles.


“I––I want to sell a diamond,” she told him, uneasily.

He stared at her again, studying her poor garb, noticing the gloveless hands, appraising the worn garments she wore. He was rubbing thin long-fingered hands together and shaking his head, in slow assent.

“We have to be very careful,” his voice quavered. “We have to know the people.”

“Then I’ll go, of course,” she answered swiftly, “because you don’t know me.”

The atmosphere of the place was inexpressibly distasteful to her and the old man’s manner was sneaking and suspicious. She felt that he suspected her of being a thief. Her shaking hand was already on the doorknob when he called her back, hurrying towards her.

“What’s your hurry? Come back!” he called to her. “Of course I can’t take risks. There’s cases when the goods ain’t come by honest. But you look all right. Anyway ’t ain’t no trouble to look over the stuff. Let me see what you’ve got. There ain’t another place in New York where they pay such good prices.”

She returned, hesitatingly, and handed to him a small worn case that had once been covered with red morocco. He opened it, 59 taking out the ring and moving nearer the window, where he examined it carefully.

“Yes. It’s a diamond all right,” he admitted, paternally, as if he thus conferred a great favor upon her. “But of course it’s very old and the mounting was done years and years ago, and it’s worn awful thin. Maybe a couple of dollars worth of gold, that’s all.”

“But the stone?” she asked, anxiously.

“One moment, just a moment, I’m looking at it,” he replied, screwing a magnifying glass in the socket of one of his eyes. “Diamonds are awful hard to sell, nowadays––very hard, but let me look some more.”

He was turning the thing around, estimating the depth of the gem and studying the method of its cutting.

“Very old,” he told her again. “They don’t cut diamonds that way now.”

“It belonged to my mother,” she said.

“Of course, of course,” he quavered, repellently, so that her cheeks began to feel hot again. She was deeply hurt by his tone of suspicion. The sacrifice was bad enough––the implication was unbearable.

“I don’t think you want it,” she said, coldly. “Give it back to me. I can perhaps do better at a regular pawnshop.”


But he detained her again, becoming smooth and oily. He first offered her fifty dollars. She truthfully asserted that her father had paid a couple of hundred for it. After long bargaining and haggling he finally agreed to give her eighty-five dollars and, worn out, the girl accepted. She was going out of the shop, with the money, when she stopped again.

“It seems to me that I used to see pistols, or were they revolvers, in your show window,” she said.

He lifted up his hands in alarm.

“Pistols! revolvers! Don’t you know there’s the Sullivan law now? We ain’t allowed to sell ’em––and you ain’t allowed to buy ’em without a license––a license from the police.”

“Oh! That’s a pity,” said Madge. “I’m going away from New York and I thought it might be a good idea to have one with me.”

The old man looked keenly at her again, scratching one ear with unkempt nails. Finally he drew her back of a counter, placing a finger to his lips.

“I’m taking chances,” he whispered. “I’m doing it to oblige. If ye tell any one you got it here I’ll say you never did. My word’s as good as yours.”


“I tell you I’m going away,” she repeated. “I––I’m never coming to this city again––never as long as I live. But I want to take it with me.”

When she finally went out she carried a cheap little weapon worth perhaps four dollars, and a box of cartridges, for which she paid him ten of the dollars he had handed out to her. It was with a sense of inexpressible relief that she found herself again on the avenue, in spite of the drizzle that was coming down. The air seemed purer after her stay in the uninviting place. Its atmosphere as well as the old man’s ways had made her feel as if she had been engaged in a very illicit transaction. She met a policeman who was swinging his club, and the man gave her an instant of carking fear. But he paid not the slightest heed to her and she went on, breathing more freely. It was as if the great dark pall of clouds hanging over the city was being torn asunder. At any rate the world seemed to be a little brighter.

She went home and deposited her purchase, going out again at once. She stopped at a telegraph office where the clerk had to consult a large book before he discovered that messages could be accepted for Carcajou in the Province of Ontario, and wrote out the 62 few words announcing her coming. After this she went into other shops, carefully consulting a small list she had made out. Among other things she bought a pair of stout boots and a heavy sweater. With these and a very few articles of underwear, since she could spare so little, she returned to the Grand Central and purchased the needed ticket, a long thing with many sections to be gradually torn off on the journey. Berths on sleepers, she decided, were beyond her means. Cars were warm, as a rule, and as long as she wasn’t frozen and starving she could endure anything. Not far from the house she lived in there was an express office where a man agreed to come for her trunk, in a couple of hours.

Then she climbed up to Mrs. MacRae’s.

“I’m going to leave you,” announced the girl. “I––I have found something out of town. Of course I’ll pay for the whole week.”

The woman expressed her regret, which was genuine. Her lodger had never been troublesome and the small rent she paid helped out a very poor income mostly derived from washing and scrubbing.

“I hope it’s a good job ye’ve found, child,” she said. “D’ye know for sure what kind o’ 63 place ye’re goin’ to? Are you certain it’s all right?”

“Oh! If it isn’t I’ll make it so,” answered Madge, cryptically, as she went over to her room. Here, from beneath the poor little iron bed, she dragged out a small trunk and began her packing. For obvious reasons this did not take very long. It was a scanty trousseau the bride was taking with her to the other wilderness. After her clothes and few other possessions had been locked in, the room looked very bare and dismal. She sat on the bed, holding a throbbing head that seemed very hot with hands that were quite cold. After a time the expressman came and removed the trunk. There was a lot of time to spare yet and Madge remained seated. Thoughts by the thousand crowded into her brain––the gist of them was that the world was a terribly harsh and perilous place.

“I––I can’t stay here any longer!” she suddenly decided, “or I’ll get too scared to go. I––I must start now! I’ll wait in the station.”

So she bade Mrs. MacRae good-by, after handing her a dollar and a half, and received a tearful blessing. Then, carrying out a small handbag, she found herself once more on the sidewalk and began to breathe more freely. 64 The die was cast now. She was leaving all this mud and grime and was gambling on a faint chance of rest and comfort, with her dead mother’s engagement ring, the very last thing of any value that she had hitherto managed to keep. It was scarcely happiness that she expected to find. If only this man might be good to her, if only he placed her beyond danger of immediate want, if only he treated her with a little consideration, life would become bearable again!

As she walked along the avenue the pangs of hunger came to her, keenly. For once she would have a sufficient meal! She entered a restaurant and ordered lavishly. Hot soup, hot coffee, hot rolls, a dish of steaming stew with mashed potatoes, and finally a portion of hot pudding, furnished her with a meal such as she had not tasted for months and months. A sense of comfort came to her, and she placed five cents on the table as a tip to the girl who had waited on her. She was feeling ever so much better as she went out again. She had spent fifty cents for one meal, like a woman rolling in wealth. At a delicatessen shop she purchased a loaf of bread and a box of crackers, with a little cold meat. She knew that meals on trains were very expensive.

As she reached the station she felt that she 65 had burned her bridges behind her. She could never come back, since the few dollars that were left would never pay for her return.

“But I’m not coming back,” she told herself grimly. “I’m my own master now.”

She felt the bottom of her little bag. Yes, the pistol was there, a protector from insult or a means towards that end she no longer dreaded.

“No! I’ll never come back!” she repeated to herself. “I’ll never see this city again. It––it’s been too hard, too cruelly hard!”

The girl was glad to sit down at last on one of the big benches in the waiting-room. It was nice and warm, at any rate, and the seat was comfortable enough. Her arm had begun to ache from carrying the bag, and she had done so much running about that her legs felt weary and shaky. A woman sitting opposite looked at her for an instant and turned away. There was nothing to interest any one in the garments just escaping shabbiness, or in the pale face with its big dark-rimmed eyes. People are very unconscious, as a rule, of the tragedy, the drama or the comedy being enacted before their eyes.

Gradually Madge began to feel a sense of 66 peace stealing over her. She was actually beginning to feel contented. It was a chance worth taking, since things could never be worse. And then there was that thing in her bag. Presently a woman came to sit quite close to her with a squalling infant in her arms and another standing at her knee. She was a picture of anxiety and helplessness. But after a time a man came, bearing an old cheap suit-case tied up with clothes-line, who spoke in a foreign tongue as the woman sighed with relief and a smile came over her face.

Yes! That was it! The coming of the man had solved all fears and doubts! There was security in his care and protection. With a catch in her breathing the girl’s thoughts flew over vast unknown expanses and went to that other man who was awaiting her. Her vivid imagination presented him like some strange being appearing before her under forms that kept changing. The sound of his voice was a mystery to her and she had not the slightest idea of his appearance. That advertisement stated that he was young and the first letter had hinted that he possessed fair looks. Yet moments came in which the mere idea of him was terrifying, and this, in swiftly changing moods, changed to forms that seemed to bring 67 her peace, a surcease of hunger and cold, of unavailing toil, of carking fear of the morrow.

At times she would look about her, and the surroundings would become blurred, as if she had been weeping. The hastening people moved as if through a heavy mist and the announcer’s voice, at intervals, boomed out loudly and called names that suggested nothing to her. Again her vision might clear and she would notice little trivial things, a bewildered woman dragging a pup that was most unwilling, a child hauling a bag too heavy for him, a big negro with thumbs in the armholes of his vest, yawning ponderously. For the hundredth time she looked at the big clock and found that she still had over an hour to wait for her train. Again she lost sight of the ever-changing throngs, of the massive structure in which she seemed to be lost, and the roar of the traffic faded away in the long backward turning of her brain, delving into the past. There was the first timid yet hopeful coming to the big city and the discovery that a fair high-school education, with some knowledge of sewing and fancywork, was but poor merchandise to exchange for a living. Her abundance of good looks, at that time, had proved nothing but a hindrance and a danger. Then had come the 68 bitter toil for a pittance, and sickness, and the hospital, and the long period of convalescence during which everything but the ring had been swept away. She had met the sharp tongues of slatternly, disappointed landladies, while she looked far and wide for work. At first she had been compelled to ask girls on the street for the meaning of cards pasted on windows or hanging in doorways. Words such as “Bushel girls on pants” or “Stockroom assistants” had signified nothing to her. Month by month she had worked in shops and factories where the work she exacted from her ill-nourished body sapped her strength and thinned her blood. Nor could she compete with many of the girls, brought up to such labor, smart, pushing, inured to an existence carried on with the minimum of food and respirable air.

The red came to her cheeks again as she remembered insults that had been proffered to her. It deepened further as she thought of that paper picked up on a bench of a little city square. The fear of having made a terrible mistake returned to her, more strongly than ever. Her efforts towards peace now seemed immodest, bold, unwomanly. But that first vision had been so keen of a quiet-voiced man extending a strong hand to welcome 69 and protect as he smiled at her in pleasant greeting! Her vague notions of a far country in which was no wilderness of brick and mortar but only the beauty of smiling fields or of scented forests had filled her heart with a passionate longing. And the last thing the doctor had told her, in the hospital, was that she ought to live far away from the city, in the pure air of God’s country. It was with a hot face and a throbbing heart that she now remembered the poor little letters she had written. Even the sending of that telegram now filled her with shame. And yet....

With clamorous voice the man was announcing her train. After a heart-rending moment’s hesitation she hastened to where a few people were waiting. The gates opened and she was pushed along. It was as if her own will could no longer lead her, as if she were being carried by a strong tide, with other jetsam, towards shores unknown.

At last she was seated in an ordinary coach, than which man has never devised sorrier accommodation for a long journey. Finally the train started and she sought to look out of the window but obtained only a blurred impression of columns and pillars lighted at intervals by flickering bulbs. They made her eyes ache. But presently she made out, to her 70 left, the dark surface of a big river. A few more lights were glinting upon it, appearing and disappearing. Vaguely she made out the outlines of a few vessels that were battling against the drifting ice, for she could see myriad sparks flying from what must have been the smokestacks of tugs or river steamers.

Her fellow passengers were mostly laborers or emigrants going north or west. The air was tainted with the scent of garlic. Children began to cry and later grew silent or merely fretful. Finally the languor of infinite weariness came over the girl and she lay back, uncomfortably, and tried to sleep. At frequent intervals she awoke and sat up again, with terror expressed in her face and deep blue eyes. Once she fell into a dream and was so startled that she had to restrain herself from rushing down the aisle and seeking to escape from some unknown danger that seemed to be threatening her.

Again she passed a finger over the blurred glass and sought to look out. The train seemed to be plunging into strange and grisly horrors. Overwrought as she was a flood of tears came to her eyes and seemed to bring her greater calm, so that at last she fell into a deeper sleep, heavy, visionless, no longer attended with sudden terrors.



To Roaring River

At last the morning came and Madge awoke. At first she could not realize where she was. Her limbs ached from their cramped position and a pain was gnawing at her, which meant hunger. In spite of the heaters in the car a persistent chilliness had come over her, and all at once she was seized by an immense discouragement. She felt that she was now being borne away to some terrible place. Those people called it Roaring River. Now that she thought of it the very name represented something that was gruesome and panicky. But then she lay back and reflected that its flood would be cleaner and its bed a better place to leap into, if her fears were realized, than the turbid waters of the Hudson. She knew that she was playing her last stake. It must result in a life that could be tolerated or else in an end she had battled against, to the limit of endurance.

She quietly made a meal of the provisions she had brought. Her weary brain no longer 72 reacted to disturbing thoughts and vague fears and she felt that she was drifting, peacefully, to some end that was by this time nearly indifferent to her. The day wore on, with a long interval in Ottawa, where she dully waited in the station, the restaurant permitting her to indulge in a comforting cup of coffee. All that she saw of the town was from the train. There was a bridge above the tracks, near the station, and on the outskirts there were winding and frozen waterways on which some people skated. As she went on the land seemed to take an even chillier aspect. The snow was very deep. Farms and small villages were half buried in it. The automobiles and wheeled conveyances of New York had disappeared. Here and there she could see a sleigh, slowly progressing along roads, the driver heavily muffled and the horse traveling in a cloud of vapor. When night came they were already in a vast region of rock and evergreen trees, of swift running rivers churning huge cakes of ice, and the dwellings seemed to be very few and far between. The train passed through a few fairly large towns, at first, and she noted that the people were unfamiliarly clad, wearing much fur, and the inflections of their voices were strange to her. By this time the train was 73 running more slowly, puffing up long grades and sliding down again with a harsh grinding of brakes that seemed to complain. When the moon rose it shone over endless snow, broken only by dim, solid-looking masses of conifers. Here and there she could also vaguely discern rocky ledges upon which gaunt twisted limbs were reminders of devastating forest fires. There were also great smooth places that must have been lakes or the beds of wide rivers shackled in ice overlaid with heavy snow. Whenever the door of the car was opened a blast of cold would enter, bitingly, and she shivered.

Came another morning which found her haggard with want of sleep and broken with weariness. But she knew that she was getting very near the place and all at once she began to dread the arrival, to wish vainly that she might never reach her destination, and this feeling continued to grow keener and keener.

Finally the conductor came over to her and told her that the train was nearing her station. Obligingly he carried her bag close to the door and she stood up beside him, swaying a little, perhaps only from the motion of the car. The man looked at her and his face expressed some concern but he remained silent until the train stopped.


Madge had put on her thin cloak. The frosted windows of the car spoke of intense cold and the rays of the rising sun had not yet passed over the serrated edges of the forest.

“I’m afraid you’ll find it mighty cold, ma’am,” ventured the conductor. “Hope you ain’t got to go far in them clothes. Maybe your friends ’ll be bringing warmer things for you. Run right into the station; there’s a fire there. Joe ’ll bring your baggage inside. Good morning, ma’am.”

She noticed that he was looking at her with some curiosity, and her courage forsook her once more. It was as if, for the first time in her life, she had undertaken to walk into a lion’s cage, with the animal growling and roaring. She felt upon her cheeks the bite of the hard frost, but there was no wind and she was not so very cold, at first. She looked about her as the train started. Scattered within a few hundred yards there were perhaps two score of small frame houses. At the edge of what might have been a pasture, all dotted with stumps, stood a large deserted sawmill, the great wire-guyed sheet-iron pipe leaning over a little, dismally. A couple of very dark men she recognized as Indians looked at her without evincing the slightest show of interest. From a store across the 75 street a young woman with a thick head of red hair peeped out for an instant, staring at her. Then the door closed again. After this a monstrously big man with long, tow-colored wisps of straggling hair showing at the edges of his heavy muskrat cap, and a ragged beard of the same color, came to her as she stood upon the platform, undecided, again a prey to her fears. The man smiled at her, pleasantly, and touched his cap.

“Ay tank you’re de gal is going ofer to Hugo Ennis,” he said, in a deep, pleasant voice.

She opened her mouth to answer but the words refused to come. Her mouth felt unaccountably dry––she could not swallow. But she nodded her head in assent.

“I took de telegraft ofer to his shack,” the Swede further informed her, “but Hugo he ain’t here yet. I tank he come soon. Come inside de vaiting-room or you freeze qvick. Ain’t you got skins to put on?”

She shook her head and he grasped her bag with one hand and one of her elbows with the other and hurried her into the little station. Joe Follansbee had a redhot fire going in the stove, whose top was glowing. The man pointed at a bench upon which she could sit and stood at her side, shaving tobacco from a 76 big black plug. She decided that his was a reassuring figure and that his face was a good and friendly one.

“Do you think that––that Mr. Ennis will come soon?” she finally found voice to ask.

“Of course, ma’am. You yoost sit qviet. If Hugo he expect a leddy he turn up all right, sure. It’s tvelve mile ofer to his place, ma’am, and he ain’t got but one dog.”

She could not quite understand what the latter fact signified. What mattered it how many dogs he had? She was going to ask for further explanation when the door opened and the young woman who had peeped at her came in. She was heavily garbed in wool and fur. As she cast a glance at Madge she bit her lips. For the briefest instant she hesitated. No, she would not speak, for fear of betraying herself, and she went to the window of the little ticket-office.

“Anything for us, Joe?” she asked.

“No. There’s no express stuff been left,” he answered. “Your stuff’ll be along by freight, I reckon. Wait a moment and I’ll give you the mail-bag.”

“You can bring it over. It––it doesn’t matter about the goods.”

She turned about, hastily, and nodded to big Stefan. Then she peered at Madge again, 77 with a sidelong look, and left the waiting-room.

As so often happens she had imagined this woman who was coming as something entirely different from the reality. She had evolved vague ideas of some sort of adventuress, such as she had read of in a few cheap novels that had found their way to Carcajou. In spite of the mild and timid tone of the letters she had prepared to see some sort of termagant, or at least a woman enterprising, perhaps bold, one who would make it terribly hot for the man she would believe had deceived her and brought her on a fool’s errand. This little thin-faced girl who looked with big, frightened eyes was something utterly unexpected, she knew not why.

“And––and she ain’t at all bad-looking,” she acknowledged to herself, uneasily. “She don’t look like she’d say ‘Boo’ to a goose, either. But then maybe she’s deceiving in her looks. A woman who’d come like that to marry a man she don’t know can’t amount to much. Like enough she’s a little hypocrite, with her appearance that butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. And my! The clothes she’s got on! I wonder if she didn’t look at me kinder suspicious. Seemed as if she was taking me in, from head to foot.”


In this Miss Sophy was probably mistaken. Madge had looked at her because the garb of brightly-edged blanketing, the fur cap and mitts, the heavy long moccasins, all made a picture that was unfamiliar. There was perhaps some envy in the look, or at least the desire that she also might be as well fended against the bitter cold. She had the miserable feeling that comes over both man and woman when feeling that one’s garments are out of place and ill-suited to the occasion. Once Madge had seen a moving-picture representing some lurid drama of the North, and some of the women in it had worn that sort of clothing.

Big Stefan had lighted his pipe and sought a seat that creaked under his ponderous weight. He opened the door of the stove and threw two or three large pieces of yellow birch in it.

“Guess it ain’t nefer cold vhere you comes from,” he ventured. “You’ll haf to put on varm tings if you goin’ all de vay to Roaring Rifer Falls.”

“I’m afraid I have nothing warmer than this,” the girl faltered. “I––I didn’t know it was so very cold here. And––and I’m nicely warmed up now, and perhaps I won’t feel it so very much.”


“You stay right here an’ vait for me,” he told her, and went out of the waiting-room, hurriedly. But he opened the door again.

“If Hugo he come vhile I am avay, you tell him I pring youst two three tings from my voman for you. I’m back right avay. So long, ma’am!”

She was left alone for at least a quarter of an hour, and it reminded her of a long wait she had undergone in the reception-room of the hospital. Then, as now, she had feared the unknown, had shivered at the thought that presently she would be in the hands of strange people who might or not be friendly, and be lost among a mass of suffering humanity. Twice she heard the runners of sleighs creaking on the ground, and her heart began to beat, but the sounds faded away. Joe, the station agent, came in and asked her civilly whether she was warm enough, telling her that outside it was forty below. Wood was cheap, he told her, and he put more sticks in the devouring stove. After she had thanked him and given him the check for her little trunk he vanished again, and she listened to the telegraph sounder.

Stefan, returning, was hailed at the door of the store by Sophy McGurn.


“Who’s the strange lady, Stefan?” she asked, most innocently.

“It’s a leddy vhat is expectin’ Hugo Ennis,” he answered.

“How queer!” said the girl, airily.

“Ay dunno,” answered the Swede. “Vhen Hugo he do a thing it ain’t nefer qveer, Ay tank.”

She turned away and Stefan stepped over to the depot and opened the door. Madge looked up, startled and again afraid. It was a relief to her to see Stefan’s friendly face. She had feared.... She didn’t know what she dreaded so much––perhaps a face repellent––a man who would look at her and in whose eyes she might discern insult or contempt.

The big Swede held an armful of heavy clothing.

“Ye can’t stay here, leddy,” he said. “You come ofer to my house since Ennis he no coming. Dese clothes is from my ole vomans. Mebbe ye look like––like de dooce in dem, but dat’s better as to freeze to death. An you vants a big breakfass so you goes vid me along. Hey dere! Joe! If Ennis he come you tell him come ofer to me, ye hear?”

A few minutes later Madge was trudging over the beaten snow by the side of her huge 81 companion. Her head was ensconced within the folds of a knitted shawl and over her thin cloak she wore an immense mackinaw of flaming hues whose skirts fell ’way below her knees. Over her boots, protestingly, she had drawn on an amazing pair of things made of heavy felt and ending in thick rubber feet, that were huge and unwieldy. Her hands were lost in great scarlet mitts. It is possible that at this time there was little feminine vanity left in her, yet she looked furtively to one side or the other, expecting scoffing glances. She felt sure that she looked like one of the fantastically-clad ragamuffins she had seen in the streets of New York, at Christmas and Thanksgiving. But the pair met but one or two Indian women who wore a garb that was none too æsthetic and who paid not the slightest attention to them, and a few men who may possibly have wondered but, with the instinctive civility of the North, never revealed their feelings.

As a matter of fact she had hardly believed in this cold, at first. The station agent’s announcement had possessed little meaning for her. There was no wind; the sun was shining brightly now; during the minute she had remained on the station platform she had felt nothing unusual. As a matter of fact she had 82 enjoyed the keen brisk air after the tepid stuffiness of the cars. But presently she began to realize a certain tingling and sharp quality of the air. The little of her face that was exposed began to feel stiff and queer. Even through the heavy clothing she now wore she seemed to have been plunged in a strange atmosphere. For an instant, after she finally reached Stefan’s house, the contrast between the cold outside and the warm living-room, that was also the kitchen, appeared to suffocate her.

A tall stout woman waddled towards her, smiling all over and bidding her a good-day. She helped remove the now superfluous things.

“De yoong leddy she come all de vay from Nev York, vhat is a real hot country, I expect,” explained Stefan, placidly and inaccurately. “Sit down, leddy, an haf sometings to eat. You needs plenty grub, good an’ hot, in dem cold days. Ve sit down now. Here, Yoe, and you, Yulia, come ofer an’ talk to de leddy! Dem’s our children, ma’am, and de baby in de grib.”

Madge was glad to greet the rosy, round-cheeked children, who advanced timidly towards her and stared at her out of big blue eyes.


Hesitatingly she took the seat Stefan had indicated with a big thumb, and suddenly a ravenous hunger came upon her. The great pan full of sizzling bacon and fat pork; the steaming and strongly scented coffee; the great pile of thick floury rolls taken out of the oven, appeared to constitute a repast fit for the gods. Stefan and his family joined hands while the mother asked a short blessing, during which the children were hard put to it to stop from staring again at the stranger.

“And so,” ventured the good wife, amiably, “you iss likely de sister from Hugo Ennis, ma’am?”

Madge’s fork clattered down upon her enamel-ware plate.

“No,” she said. “I––of course I’m not his sister.”

“Excoose me. He don’t nefer tell nobody as he vas marrit, Hugo didn’t. Ve vas alvays tinking he vos a bachelor mans, yoost like most of dem young mans as come to dese countries.”

“But––but I’m not his wife, either!” cried Madge, nervously.

“I––I don’t yoost understand, den,” said the good woman, placidly. “Oh! mebbe you help grub-stake him vhile he vork at de rocks for dat silfer and you come see how he gettin’ along. Ve tank he do very vell.”


“Yes, Hugo he got some ore as is lookin’ very fine, all uncofered alretty,” Stefan informed her. “Und it’s such a bretty place he haf at de Falls.”

The man doubtless referred to the scenery but Madge was under the impression that he was speaking of the house in which this Ennis lived. It was strange that he had said nothing to these people, who evidently knew him well, in regard to the reason of her coming. It was probably a well-meant discretion that had guided his conduct, she thought, but it had caused her some little embarrassment.

“In his letter Mr. Ennis said that I was to come straight to this place, to Carcajou. He told me that I would be taken to his house at Roaring River Falls, that I might see it. I––I suppose there is a village up there or––or some houses, where I may stay.”

Stefan stared at her, scratching his touzled yellow head, and turned to his wife, who was looking at him as she poised a forkful of fat bacon in the air, forgetfully.

“Maybe de leddy means Papineau’s,” he said. “But if Hugo Ennis he say for her to come then it is all right, sure. Hugo vould do only vhat is right. He is my friend. He safe my life. So if he don’t turn up by de time ve finish breakfast I hitch up dem togs an’ 85 take you dere real qvick. Mebbe he can’t come for you, some vay. Mebbe Maigan hurt or sick so he can’t pull toboggan. You vant to go, no?”

“I––I suppose so,” faltered the girl. “I––I must see him, as soon as possible, and––and....”

“Dat’s all right,” interrupted Stefan. “So long you vants to go I take you up dere. No trouble for to do anyting for Hugo and his friends. De dogs is strong an’ fresh. Ve go up there mighty qvick, I bet you, ma’am.”

Mrs. Olsen was not used to question her husband’s decisions. There seemed to be something rather mysterious about all this, but she was a placid soul who could wait in peace for the explanation that would doubtless be forthcoming. Anyway there was Papineau’s house about a mile away from the Falls, and the girl could find shelter there. She smiled at her guest pleasantly and urged her to eat more. For some minutes Madge’s appetite had forsaken her. But the temptation of good food in abundance overcame her alarm. She felt the comfort of a quiet, God-fearing, civil-spoken household. They were rough people, in their way, but they seemed so genuine, so friendly, so full of the desire to help her and put her at her ease, that she was 86 again reassured. Her hunger assailed her and she ate what she considered a huge breakfast, though Stefan Olsen’s family seemed to wonder at her scanty ability to dispose of the things they piled upon her plate. When large brown griddle-cakes were finally placed before her she could eat but a single one.

“Mebbe,” said the good woman, “in Nev York you ain’t used to tings like ve country people have.”

Used to them, forsooth! Indeed she had not been used to such things. She remembered the small bottles of bluish milk, the butter doled out in yellow lumps of strong taste, the couple of rolls that would make a meal, the cup of tea or coffee of pale hue, the bits of meat she could afford but once in several days. No, indeed she had not been used to such things, in the last two years.

“Vhen you stays in dis coontry for a vhiles den you can eat like a goot feller and not like a little bird,” Stefan assured her, comfortingly. “Den you get nice and fat, and red on de cheeks, and strong.”

Mrs. Olsen was still smiling at her, as she sat with plump hands folded on an ample stomach. The two children had become used to her and came near. A seat was given to her near the stove. Lack of sleep during the 87 two hard nights spent on the train caused her head to nod, once or twice.

“Mebbe you vants to rest a bit before ve goes,” suggested Stefan. “Dere’s plenty time if you like.”

But this roused her to alert attention. She must go, at once, for all this suspense and uncertainty must be ended. For some happy moments she had thought no more of the man who was expecting her. The comfort she had enjoyed had temporarily banished him from her thoughts.

“No––oh, no!” she cried. “I––I’ll be glad to leave as soon as you are ready to take me!”

At this moment she became keenly puzzled. She still had a very few dollars in her purse and wondered whether she ought to offer payment for her meal. Instinct wisely prompted her to keep the little pocketbook in her bag. They would undoubtedly have been surprised and perhaps offended.

Stefan drew on his great Dutch stockings and pulled his fur cap over his ears. An instant after he had left the room Madge heard loud barking. As she looked out of the window, scratching off a little of the frost that covered the panes, she saw the big Swede surrounded by five large dogs which he was hitching 88 to a toboggan. Then he got on the thing and the animals galloped away. A few minutes later he returned, with her small trunk lashed to the back part of the sled. He entered the house and took a straw-filled pillow and a huge bearskin and bore them out.

In the meanwhile Mrs. Olsen was helping Madge to resume her outlandish garb.

“Mebbe Mr. Ennis he not know you vhen you come so all wrapped up. Mebbe he tink it is a bear. Yes, put dis on too, you vants it all,” she declared. “It’s all of twelve mile out dere. If you not need de tings no longer, by and by you send ’em back. It’s all right. I no need ’em. Yoost keep ’em so long vhat you like. Didn’t Hugo Ennis tell you bring varm clothes vid you?”

“No,” said Madge. “I––I don’t think he spoke of them.”

“Mens is awful foolish some times,” asserted the good woman. “Dey pay no attention to tings everybotty knows all about. I tank Stefan he alretty now, so I say good-by and come again, ma’am. Alvays happy ter see you again vhen you comes, sure.”

The little girl came to Madge and rose upon her toes, for a kiss. More timidly the boy only proffered a hand. Mrs. Olsen kissed her pale cheek with a resounding smack.


“Mens is fonny sometimes,” she said. “If tings isn’t all right like you expect mebbe at Papineau’s you come back here soon as you finish vhat you haf to do at Roaring Rifer. I haf anodder bed I can fix up in de back room real easy. Good py, ma’am, and look out careful for your nose!”

With this incomprehensible bit of advice Mrs. Olsen opened the door, swiftly, and closed it just as fast. Madge saw her smiling at her through the window-pane. Stefan made her sit down on the pillow, over which he had laid the bearskin, which he then wrapped over her shoulders and body and limbs.

“Now ve starts right off,” he told her. “Look out careful for your nose, leddy,” he also advised before calling to his dogs, who strained away at the long traces and trotted away, pulling heartily.

Wearing a pair of huge snowshoes Stefan followed or kept at the side of the toboggan. They left the road and struck a sort of path that led them up a hill. To her right hand she could see a vast expanse of frozen lake stretching away to the north. In some places the snow appeared to be quite level while in others it was deeply wrinkled in ridges caused by the winds. Presently the trees grew more 90 abundant along the way. They were silvery birches and the yellow ones, and poplars with slender branches ending in tiny bare twigs. The conifers still wore thick coats of dark green, excepting the tamaracks, that only carried a few long golden needles. These big trees were dotted over with great lumps of snow and ice which occasionally clattered down through the branches.

Madge looked up and the world seemed to assume a wondrous new beauty such as she had never known. The blue above was wonderfully clear and bright. Over the snow the sunlight was beating strongly, though it appeared to give little or no heat. Yet in the great patches of shadow through which they passed at times it felt colder still.

“Yoost keep on feelin’ yer nose,” Stefan told her, as the dogs rested for a moment at the top of a small hill. “You mustn’t let it get frost-bited, ma’am. It ain’t such a awful big nose you got, leddy, but you sure vouldn’t look so bretty if it drop off. Ha, ha!”

He laughed out loudly, apparently enjoying his ponderous joke greatly, but she felt that she must heed his advice and frequently carried the big mitt Mrs. Olsen had lent her to her face. They came to a great expanse of deep forest where, in places, the ground was 91 nearly bare of snow. The pulling was hard here and the dogs toiled along more slowly and panted as their cloudy breaths rose in steamy puffs. Madge admired them. They seemed such strong, willing animals. When they rested for a moment they would lie down and bite off the little balls of ice that formed beneath their toes, but at a word they would leap up again and throw themselves against their breast-bands, eagerly. In one difficult place Madge protested.

“The poor things are working so hard,” she said. “Couldn’t I get out and walk for a while? I don’t feel tired at all now, but your poor dogs do, I’m sure.”

“No, ma’am,” replied Stefan. “They ain’t tired. They yoost look so because they work hard. In dis country togs and men has to work hard or go hoongry. In a moment you sees how dey run again, vhen dey get good going. Dem togs can go dis vay all day and be fresh again to-morrow. Eferybody here knows vhat my team o’ togs can do, ma’am.”

It was evident that he was proud of them, and Madge decided that it was with good reason. They had started again and reached an expanse of burnt land, upon which the snow was crusted and the road was on a down grade. The team that had panted so hard, 92 with lolling tongues, threw itself into the collars and trotted off again, briskly, while Stefan followed with the short-stepped and effortless flat-footed run that covers so much ground in the north. The girl had to balance herself rather carefully at times, for the surface was by no means a level one. The toboggan swayed and bumped over hidden things that may have been stumps or rocks, or great buried ruts of the previous fall.

It was all so new and wonderful! A sense of enjoyment actually stole over her. But for the feeling of stiffness in her face she felt comfortably warm. Without ever meeting a soul, through a country that seemed utterly deserted of man, they went on for several miles. Once Stefan stopped the toboggan in order to show her tracks of a bear. It was wonderful to think that such animals roamed about her. The Swede told her that they were utterly harmless, that they always fled as soon as their keen eyes or sharp ears revealed the neighborhood of their enemies, the men who coveted their thick and long-haired hides worth a good many dollars. But she saw few living things; once there was a great snowy owl that rose heavily and then flew swiftly and in silence from a stump in a brulé, disappearing among the trees like an animated shadow, 93 yes, a shadow of sudden death to hares and partridges cowering beneath the fronds of wide-spreading conifers or in the great tangles of frost-killed long grasses.

It was altogether another world, strange and of rugged beauty. She felt as if she had been transported from the seething city into the vast peace of some landscape of moon or stars. Every bit of the old harsh world was now left behind and there was no longer any hint of cruelty in the snowy plains and hills and forest; nothing reminded her of despairing hunger, of the disbelief that had stolen upon her in the possibility of eking out much longer a life that was too hard to sustain. What if her errand seemed fantastic, unreal, since this new world also was like some illusion of a dream? The great stillness appeared to be friendly––the bent tops of snow-laden trees surely bowed a welcome to her––the shining sun and the pure air, in spite of bitter cold, drove the blood more rapidly through her veins and she no longer deemed life to be a mere form of suffering, such as she had undergone during the last year of her losing contest in the cruel, pitiless town.

Suddenly, as Stefan trudged behind in a narrow part of the old tote-road, a big white hare crossed the path ahead of the dogs, perhaps 94 seeking to escape the pursuit of some marten or weasel. At once the team broke into a headlong gallop, a helter-skelter pursuit, while their master roared at them unavailingly. Down a small declivity they flew. A moment later one side of the toboggan rose suddenly and the passenger felt herself being shot off into the snow. As the sled upset the little trunk lashed to its back caught into something and firmly anchored the whole contrivance, a few yards further on, and perforce the animals stopped with hanging tongues and steaming breaths.

An instant later Stefan was helping Madge arise. He looked at her in deep concern.

“Dem tamn togs!” he roared. “I hope you ain’t hurted none, leddy?”

With his assistance she rose quickly from the snow. It is possible that she had scarcely had time enough to become afraid. At any rate this new life that had come to her asserted itself, irresistibly, for there was something in its essence that would not be denied. In the heart that had been overburdened something broke, like a flood bursting its bonds. She threw up her head and uplifted her hands as laughter, pealing and rippling unrestrained, shook her slender frame from head to foot until tears ran down the now reddened cheeks 95 and turned to tiny globes of ice. She was making up for weeks and months of sombre thoughts, of despair, of shrewd suffering.

“Tank gootness!” roared Stefan. “First I tink dem togs yoost kill you dead. If so I take de pelts off ’em all alife, de scoundrels!”

“Oh! Please don’t punish them,” she cried. “It––it was so funny! Oh, dear! I––I must stop laughing! It––it hurts my sides!”

She ran off among the dogs and threw herself down on the crusted snow, passing one arm over a shaggy back. The animal looked at her, uncertainly, but suddenly he passed a big moist tongue over her face. Could he have realized that her saving grace might avert condign punishment? The girl petted him as Stefan turned the toboggan and its load right side up.

“You ain’t feared of dem togs,” he called to her. “And you vasn’t afraid vhen dey dump you out. You’s a blucky gal all right, leddy!”

A moment later she was again wrapped up in the bearskin and the dogs, loudly threatened but unpunished, owing to her intercession, resumed their journey. They had gone but a few hundred yards further when Madge smelled wood-smoke. A few minutes later 96 they came in sight of a low-built shack of heavy planks evidently turned out in a sawpit and resting on walls of peeled spruce logs. The dogs trotted toward it and a woman came out as Stefan stopped his team.

“I got a letter for you, Mis’ Carew,” he announced. “I got it dis morning at de post-office and bring it as I come along dis vay.”

He searched a pocket of his coat while the woman looked at Madge curiously.

“Won’t you come in and warm yourself a while?” she asked, civilly. “I can make you a hot cup of tea in a minute.”

“Thank you! Thank you ever so much,” answered Madge. “I––I think we’d better hurry on.”

Stefan had found the letter and handed it to Mrs. Carew.

“Wait a moment, Stefan, won’t you?” asked the woman. “There might possibly be some message you could take for me.”

The man lit his pipe while the woman went indoors. A moment later she came out, excitedly.

“Oh! Stefan,” she cried. “I’m so glad you came. My man’s away with the dogs, gone after a load of moose-meat, and won’t be back till to-morrow. And my daughter Mary’s very sick at Missanaibie and wants 97 me to come right over. Could you take me over to the depot in time for the afternoon train west? Are you going back to-day?”

Stefan pulled out a big silver watch and studied it.

“Yes, ma’am,” he answered. “I’m yoost goin’ over to Hugo’s wid dis leddy. If I go real smart I can get back in time, but I got to hurry a bit. So long! I come right soon back. Leave a vord for Tom und be ready de moment I come. I make it, sure!”

With this assurance he started off again, while the woman was still crying out her thanks. There was a long bit of good going now, which they covered at a good pace. Madge was thinking how helpful all these people were, how naturally they gave, how readily they asked for the help that was always welcome, as far as she could see. Yes, it was all so very different.

“Won’t the dogs be dreadfully tired,” she asked, “if you go back so soon?”

“No, leddy,” he asserted. “Twenty-four miles ain’t much of a trip. Dey make tvice dat if need come. And me too, sure t’ing!”

As she looked at him she knew that he spoke the simple truth. Even the people of this country seemed to be built differently. All of them looked sturdy, self-reliant, strong to endure, 98 and, more than anything, ready to share everything either with stranger or with friend. In spite of the weariness she felt after her long journey and of the ache in her bones that was coming from the unusual manner of her travelling, she felt that this was a blessed country, a haven of rest that held promise of wonderful peace. All at once they came in sight of a river, snow-shackled like all the others, except for black patches where the under-running flood so hurried in rapid places that the surface could not freeze. From such air-holes, as they are called, steam arose that was like the smoke of fires.

“What is that river?” she called.

“Dat’s de Roaring Rifer, leddy,” Stefan informed her. “Ve’s only a little vays to go now. Maybe five minute.”

At this moment, as in a flash, all of her vague and carking fears returned to the girl, and her hand went to her breast. It was only a little way now! And it was no dream––no figment of her imagination! The beginning of the real adventure was at hand! Truth flashed upon her. In a few moments she would see for the first time the man she was to marry. She blushed fiery red. Instinctively she looked about her, like some wild thing vainly seeking for a way to escape impending peril. What would he be like? What would he think of her? Oh! She now knew that it had all been a frightful mistake! Her limbs shook with a sudden bitter coldness that had fallen upon her like one of the masses that became displaced from the great trees, and she could not keep her teeth from chattering. Then, in her ears, began to boom a strong continuous sound that was ominous, threatening.

Truth flashed upon her! In a few moments she would see for the first time the man she was to marry


“What’s that?” she stammered, trembling.

“Dat’s de noise of dem big Falls of Roaring River,” answered Stefan.

An instant later, Madge never knew why, the dogs were snarling in a fight. In a moment Stefan was among them, wielding his short-handled and long-lashed whip. A trace was broken. By the time the damage was repaired and the dogs pacified some ten minutes or more had been wasted. The man looked at his watch.

“I ain’t got so much time left,” he said. “I got to hurry back for Mis’ Carew. Lucky ve’re most dere now.”

A few seconds after they had started again they came to an opening, towards which Stefan pointed, and the girl’s heart sank within her.

She saw nothing of the distant falls surrounded 100 by a growth in which every twig scintillated with the frost lavished by the river’s vapor. She never noticed the great circular pool with its deep banks, or the wonderful view, far across country, of mountains washed in pale blues and lavenders, of the sun-flooded bright expanse of open ground, partly fenced in with axe-hewn rails. She could only stare at a little shack, the smallest she had seen in that country, and at the thread of smoke coming from the length of stove-pipe protruding from the ice-covered roof, and to her it looked like the home of misery.

A few yards farther on the team stopped. From here the hut could only be faintly distinguished through a growth of birches and firs.

“You can get off de toboggan now, leddy,” Stefan told her. “I puts off your trunk too. Hugo he come and get it. I call to him.”

She rose to her feet, speechless, amazed, with fear causing a terrible throbbing in her throat. She would have protested but could not find her voice. As soon as Stefan had unlashed the trunk and put it down on the frozen ground he turned his team around.

“Oh! Hugo!” he bellowed. “Oh! Hugo! Here’s de leddy.”

For an instant there was no reply, but while 101 Stefan yelled again she saw, through a small opening in the interlaced branches, that the door opened. A huge dog came out and rolled in the snow, barking. The man waved a hand.

“I can’t vait a moment. Good-by, leddy, I must go. You tell Hugo why I hurry so.”

The man had jumped on the toboggan and he was already being borne away, swiftly, by his team of wild shaggy brutes that seemed never to have known a weary moment in their lives. And she stood there, at the foot of a great blasted pine, terror-stricken, wondering what further torture of mind and body the world had in store for her.

But for that hut the place was a frozen desert, with no other sign of man. And she was alone––alone with him––and the fierce-looking dog was now running towards her. She leaned back against the tree, feeling that without some support she must collapse at its foot.



When Gunpowder Speaks

Hugo Ennis, a man well under thirty, tall and spare of form, with the lithe and active limbs that are capable of hard and prolonged action, had stood for a time by the tough door of his little shack. It was a single-roomed affair, quite large enough for a lone man, which he had carefully built of peeled logs. Within it there was a bunk fixed against the wall, upon which his heavy blankets had been folded in a neat pile, for he was a man of some order. Near the other end there was a stove, a good one that could keep the place warm and amply sufficed for his simple cookery. The table was of axe-hewn cedar planks and the two chairs had been rustically designed of the same material. Between the logs forming the walls the spaces had been chinked with moss, covered with blue clay taken from the river-bank, above the falls. Strong pegs had been driven into the heavy wood and from them hung traps and a couple of guns, with spare snowshoes 103 and odd pieces of apparel. In a corner of the room there were steel hand-drills, heavy hammers, a pick and a shovel. Against the walls he had built strong shelves that held perhaps a score of books and a varied assortment of groceries. More of these latter articles had been placed on a swinging board hung from the roof, out of reach of thieving rodents.

He had been looking down, over the great rocky ledge at one side of his shack, into the big pool of the Roaring River, which at this time was but a wild jam of huge slabs of ice insecurely soldered together by snow and the spray from the falls. Beneath that jumbled mass he knew that the water was straining and groaning and swirling until it found under the thick ice the outlet that would lead it towards the big lake to the eastward. Although the middle of March was at hand there was not the slightest sign of any breaking up. He knew that it would take a long time yet before the snows began to melt, the ice to become thinner on the lakes and the waters to rise, brown and turbid with the earth torn from the banks and the sand ever ground up in the rough play of turbulent waters with rolling boulders.

Yet the coming of spring was not so very 104 far off now and the days were growing longer. It would take but a few weeks before the first great wedges of flying geese would pass high above him in their journey to the shallows of the Hudson’s Bay, where they nested in myriads. And then other birds would follow until the smallest arrived, chirping with the joy of the slumbering earth’s awakening.

It was a glorious country, he truly believed. The winter had been long but the hunting and trapping had kept him busy enough. The days had seemed too short to become dreary and he had slept long during the nights, seldom awakening at the rumblings of the maddened pent-up waters or the sharp explosions of great trees cracking in the fierce cold. But he was glad of the prospect of renewed hard work upon his claim, of promising toil to expose further the great silver-bearing veins of calcite that wound their way through the harder rock. He knew that his find was of the sort that had flooded the Nipissing and the Gowganda countries with eager searchers and delvers, and created villages and even towns in a wilderness where formerly the moose wandered in the great hardwood swamps and the deer were often chased by ravening packs of baying wolves.

His attention had reverted to the great 105 sharp-muzzled dog that had been crouching at his feet, and he bent down and began to pull out small porcupine quills that had become fastened in the animal’s nose and lips.

“Maybe some day you’ll learn enough to let those varmints alone, Maigan, old boy,” he said, having become accustomed to long conversations with his companion. “I expect you’re pretty nearly as silly as a man. Experience teaches you mighty little. Dogs and men have been stung since the beginning of the world, I expect, and keep on making the same old mistakes. Hold hard, old fellow! I know it hurts like the deuce but these things have just got to come out.”

Maigan is the name of the wolf, in some of the Indian dialects, and Hugo’s friend seemed but little removed from a wolfish ancestry. He evidently did his best to bear the punishment bravely, for he never whimpered. At times, however, he sought hard to pull his muzzle away. Finally, to his great relief, the last serrated quill was pulled out and he jumped up, placing his paws on the man’s shoulders, perhaps to show he held no grudge. After his master had petted him, an excitable red squirrel required his immediate attention and, as usual, led him to a fruitless chase. He returned soon, scratching at the boards, and 106 his master let him in and closed the door. A moment later the animal’s sharp ears pricked up; the wiry hair on his back rose and he uttered a low growl.

“Keep still, Maigan!” ordered his master. “Wonder who’s coming? Maybe one of Papineau’s young ones.”

The fire was getting low and he put a couple of sticks of yellow birch in the stove. A few seconds later he heard a shout that came from behind the saplings which, in some places, concealed the old tote-road from his view. No one but Big Stefan could bellow out so powerfully, to be sure. He opened the door and Maigan leaped out. In more leisurely fashion he followed and stopped, in astonishment, as he caught sight of the dog-team flying back towards Carcajou.

“That’s a queer start!” he commented. “First time I ever knew him not to stop for a cup of tea and a talk.”

He thought he saw something like a black box through the branches and went up. It must be something Stefan had left for him. He walked up the path in leisurely fashion. There was evidently no hurry. He was feeling a little disappointment, for he had become fond of Stefan during his long prospecting trip and would have been glad of a chat to 107 the invariable accompaniment of the hospitable tea-kettle. He had just made some pretty good biscuits, too. It was a pity the Swede wouldn’t share them with him. He reached the black box which, to his surprise, turned out to be a small corded trunk lying on the hard dry snow, with a cheap leather bag on top of it. He looked about him in wonder and stopped, suddenly, staring in astonishment at the form of a woman, shapeless in great ill-fitting garments too big for her. She was leaning back against the great bare trunk of the old blasted pine and the dog was skulking around her, curiously. Then he hurried towards her, calling out a word of warning to Maigan, who seemed to realize that this was no enemy. And as he came the woman, deathly pale, seemed to look upon him as if he had been some terrifying ghost. She put out her hands, just a little, as if seeking to protect herself from him.

“Are––are you Hugo Ennis?” she faltered.

“That’s my name,” he said. “Every one knows me around here. What––what can I do for you?”

“My––my name is Madge Nelson,” she Stammered. “I––I’m Madge Nelson from––from New York.”

“How do you do, Miss Nelson?” he said, 108 quietly, touching his fur cap. “You––I’m afraid you’ve had a mighty cold ride. What’s happened to Stefan to make him go back? Lost something on the road, has he?”

“I––I’m afraid I’m the only lost thing around here,” she said, seeking to hold back the tears that were beginning to well up in her eyes. “Oh! I think––I think I’m becoming mad!” she suddenly cried out, bitterly. “Is––is that your––your house, the––the residence you spoke of?”

“The––the residence!” he repeated. “And I spoke of it, did I? Well, I suppose that anything with a roof on it is a residence, if you come to that. Yes, that’s it, the little shack among the birches, and you’d better come in till Stefan gets back, for it’s mighty cold here and––and if you’re from New York you’re not used to this sort of thing. It’s the best I can offer you, but I really never thought it worth talking about. It’s the slight improvement on a dog-kennel that we folks have to be contented with, in these parts. Come right in; you look half frozen.”

“And––and that is the sort of place you’ve brought me to?” she cried, her eyes now flashing at him in anger.

“Well, it seems to me that it’s Stefan that brought you,” he replied, rather abashed.


“That––that’s only a mean quibble,” she retorted, hotly. “And––and where’s the town––or the village––and the other people, the friends who were to greet me?”

The young man was beginning to feel rather provoked at her questions.

“The nearest settlers are a short mile away,––the Papineaus, very decent French Canadians. Tom Carew’s shack you must have passed on your way here. The only village, of course, is Carcajou, and that’s twelve long miles away. But Mrs. Papineau is a real good old soul, if that’s where you expect to stop. A dozen kids about the place but they’re jolly little beggars. Her husband’s trapping now, I believe, but of course I’ll take you up there.”

At this she seemed to feel somewhat relieved. It was evident that she was in no great peril. Yet she looked again at his shack, with her lower lip in the bite of her teeth.

“You––you didn’t really believe I’d come,” she said, her mouth quivering. “You––you were just making fun of me, I see, with––with that residence and––and the ladies who were ready to welcome me. Where are they?”

Ennis was scratching his head, or the cap over it, as he stared again at her. He realized 110 that some amazing, terrible mistake must have been made, as he thought––or that this girl must be the victim of some dreadful misunderstanding, if not of a foul plot. He began to pity her. She looked so weak, so helpless, in spite of the anger she had shown.

“There––there are no ladies,” he said, lamely, “except Mrs. Papineau and Mrs. Carew. They’re first-rate women, both of ’em. And of course Mrs. Papineau is your only resource till to-morrow, unless Stefan is coming back for you.”

“He isn’t,” she declared. “I said nothing about going back.”

“That’s awkward,” he admitted. “You’ll tell me all about this thing later on, won’t you, because I might be able to help you out. But you’ll be all right for a while, anyway. I’ll take you there.”

“Please start at once,” she cried, desperately. “I––I can’t stay here for another instant.”

“I can be ready in a very few minutes,” he told her, quietly. “But won’t you please come over to the shack. I’m sure you’re beginning to feel the cold. You––you’re shivering and––and I’m afraid you look rather ill.”

She had insisted on Stefan’s taking back 111 some of the things she had borrowed from his wife, and had been standing there in rather inadequate clothing. Ennis pulled off his heavy mackinaw jacket.

“You must put this on at once,” he told her, gently enough, “and come right over there with me.”

Madge shrank from him, as if she feared to be touched by him, and yet there was something in the frank way in which he addressed her, perhaps also in the clear and unembarrassed look of his eyes, that was gradually allaying her fears and the fierce repulsion of the first few moments. Finally, chilled as she was to the very marrow of her bones, she consented to accept his offer and submitted to his helping her on with the coat.

“There’s a good fire in the shack just now,” he told her. “It’s absolutely necessary for you to get thoroughly warmed up before you start off again. A cup of hot tea would do you a lot of good, too, after that long ride on Stefan’s toboggan. It’s no joke of an undertaking for a––a young lady who isn’t used to such things.”

Madge was still hesitating. The suffering look that had come into her eyes moved the young man to greater pity for her.

“I––I give you my word you have absolutely 112 nothing to fear,” he assured her, whereupon she followed him meekly, feeling very faint now. She half feared that she might have to clutch at his sleeve, if her footsteps failed her, for she felt that at any moment she might stagger and fall. She gasped again as she looked at the shack they were nearing, but, as she beheld the scenery of the great pool, something in it that was very grand and beautiful appealed to her for an instant. Yet she felt crushed by it, as if she had been some infinitesimal insect beside that stupendous crashing of waters, before the great ledges whose tops were hirsute with gnarled firs and twisted jack-pines. She stopped for a moment, perhaps owing to her weakness, or possibly because of awe at the majesty of the scene.

“I just love it,” said the man. “It grows more utterly splendid every time one looks at it. See that mass of rubbish on the top of that great hemlock. It is the nest of a pair of ospreys. They come every year, I’ve been told. Last summer I saw them circling high up in the heavens, at times, and they would utter shrill cries as if they had been the guardians of the falls and warned me off. But we had better hurry in, Miss––Miss Nelson.”

For an instant she had listened, wondering. 113 This man did not speak like a common toiler of city or country. His manner, somewhat distant, in no way reminded her of the coarse familiarity she had often been subjected to in shop and factory. But a moment later such thoughts passed off and she followed him, resentfully, feeling that she was to some extent forced to submit to his will. As Ennis pulled the door open and held it for her to walk in, he looked at her keenly. He had suddenly remembered hearing that exposure to intense cold had sometimes actually disturbed the brains of people; that it had brought on some form of insanity. He wondered whether, perhaps, this had been the case with her? It was with greater concern and sympathy that he felt he must treat her. The vagaries of her language, the reproaches she seemed to think he deserved, were doubtless things she was not responsible for. And then she looked so weary, so overcome, so ready to collapse with faintness!

Madge entered the shack. It had been swept, neatly enough, and everything was arranged in orderly fashion, except some loose things piled up in one corner, out of the way. The little stove was glowing, and the draft was purring softly. The girl pulled off her mitts and held her reddened hands to it while 114 Hugo brought her one of his rough chairs. Then, without a word, he placed a kettle on the fire, after which he brought out a white enameled cup and a small pan containing some of his biscuits. After cogitating for a moment he also placed on the table a tin of sardines.

Madge had dropped upon the chair, and began to feel more unutterably weary than ever. The heat, close to the stove, became too great for her and she moved her chair to the table, a couple of feet away, and placed her arms upon it. Her head fell forward on them, and when, a few moments later, Hugo spoke to her and she lifted up her face he was dismayed as he saw the tears that were running down her cheeks. The man could only bite his lips. What consolation or comfort could he proffer? It was perhaps better to appear to take no notice of her distress. But the weeping of genuine suffering and unhappiness is a hard thing for a youth to see. The impulse had come to him to cry out for information, to beg her to explain, to question her, to get at the bottom of all this mystery. He was held from this by the renewed thought that her mind was probably affected. He might further irritate her or cause her still deeper chagrin. Even if he erred in this idea the 115 moment was probably ill-chosen. It would be better for her to tell her tale before others also. He would wait until after he had taken her over to Papineau’s. She looked so harmless and weak that the idea that she might prove dangerous never entered his head.

The kettle began to sing and a moment later the water was boiling hard.

“I can’t offer you much of a meal, Miss Nelson,” he said, seeking to make his voice as pleasant as possible. “You’ve probably never tried sour-dough biscuits. Mrs. Papineau’s are better, but you may be able to manage one or two of these. That good woman’s a mighty good cook, as cooking goes in these parts. Here’s a can of condensed milk; won’t you help yourself? You must really try to eat something. Do you think you could try a little cold corned beef? I have some canned stuff that’s not half bad. Or it would take but a moment to broil you a partridge I got yesterday. But I’ll open these sardines first.”

He went to work with a large jack-knife, but she thanked him, briefly, in a low voice, and refused to accept anything but the tea and a bit of the biscuit. She wondered why he didn’t also sit down to eat. It bothered her to see him hovering over her like some sort of 116 waiter. He was probably staring at her, when her head was turned, and enjoying his dastardly jest. When she thought of those letters she had received and of all they contained of lies, of unimaginable falsehoods, the man began again to repel her like some venomous reptile. She could have shrieked out as he came near. What an actor he was! What control he held over voice and face as he pretended to know nothing about her. His effort had been evident, from the very first instant they had met, to disclaim the slightest knowledge of her or of the reasons for her coming! She felt utterly bewildered. He answered to that name of Hugo Ennis and had admitted that this was Roaring River, as Stefan had also told her. Moreover, the big Swede knew perfectly well that she was coming and expected. In word, in action, in every move of his, this man was lying, stupidly, coarsely, with features indifferent or pretending concern. It was unbearable.

She turned and looked at him again, swiftly but haggardly. She would never have conceived the possibility of a man dissembling so, in letters first and lying again in every move and every tone of his voice. How could he keep it so tranquil and unmoved? Yet when he came near her again, insisting on 117 filling her cup once more, she seemed for an instant to forget the rough clothes, the mean little shack, the strange conspiracy of which she was the victim and which had aroused her passionate protests. Over the first mouthfuls of hot tea she had nearly choked, but she had found the warm brew welcome and its odor grateful and pleasant. It mingled in some way with the scent of the balsam boughs with which the bunk was covered and over which the blankets reposed. She had experienced something like this feeling in the hospital, the first time she had been an inmate of it. It was as if again she had been very ill and awakened in an unfamiliar and bewildering place. The great weakness she experienced was something like that which she had felt in the great ward, where the rows of beds stretched before her and at either side. Some were screened, she remembered, and held the poor creatures for whom there was no longer any hope. It was as if now a turn of her head could have revealed a white-capped nurse moving silently, deftly bringing comfort. Her hands had become quite warm again; she passed one of them over her brow as if this motion might have dispelled some strange vision.

The big dog, Maigan, came to her and laid 118 his sharp head and pointed cold muzzle on her lap, and she stroked it, mechanically. This, at any rate, was something genuine and friendly that had come to her. Again and again she passed her hand over the rough neck and head. At this, however, something within her broke again and her head fell once more on her arms as she sobbed,––sobbed as if her heart would break.

“I––I’m afraid you must have gone through a good deal of––of unhappiness,” faltered the man, anxiously. “It––it’s really too bad and I’d give anything if I could....”

But the girl lifted up her hand, as if to check his words. What right had a man who was guilty of such conduct to begin proffering a repentance that was unavailing, nay, contemptible? Did he think that a few halting words could atone for his cruelty, could dispel the evil he had wrought?

At this he kept silent again, during long minutes, appalled as men always are at the first sight of a woman’s tears. He felt utterly helpless to console or advise, and was becoming more and more bewildered at this interruption of his lonely and quiet life. Since she didn’t want him to speak he would hold his tongue. If she hadn’t looked so dreadfully unhappy he would have deemed her an infernal 119 nuisance and hurried her departure. But in this case how could a fellow be brutal to a poor thing that wailed like a child, that seemed weaker than one and more in need of gentle care?

Soon she rose from the table, determinedly, with some of her energy renewed by the food and hot drink.

“If you please, let us go now,” she told him, firmly.

“I’m entirely at your service,” he answered. “I think you had better let me lend you a cap. That thing you have on your head can hardly keep your ears from freezing. I have a new one that’s never been worn. Wait a moment.”

His search was soon rewarded. She had kept on but her inefficient little New York hat with its faded buds and wrinkled leaves and now tried to remove it. Her hands trembled, however, and the strain of travel had been hard. All at once, as she pulled away, her coiled hair escaped all restraint of pins and fell down upon her shoulders, in a great waving chestnut mass. At this Hugo opened the door and ran out, returning a couple of minutes later with the bag that had been left on the trunk.

“I––I expect you need some of your things,” he ventured.


She looked at him with some gratitude. Most men wouldn’t have thought of it. Nodding her thanks she opened the thing and was compelled to pull out various articles before she could get at her comb and brush. Her movements were still very nervous. It was embarrassing to be there before that man with one’s hair all undone and awry. Something fell from her hand, striking the edge of the table and toppling to the floor. There was a deafening explosion and the shack was full of the dense smoke of black powder. When Madge recovered from her terror the young man, looking very pale, had bent down and picked up the fallen weapon. For a moment she thought there was a strange look in his eyes.

“I––I’m so sorry!” she exclaimed.

“If––if you were to hit a man with that thing he’d get real mad,” he said, repeating an age-worn joke. “At any rate I’m glad you were not hurt. Rather unexpected, wasn’t it? I really think you’d better let me take the other shells out. It’s a nasty little cheap weapon and, I should judge, quite an unsafe bit of hardware for a lady to handle. Whoever gave you that thing ought to be spanked. But––but, then, of course you didn’t know it was loaded.”


“I––I did know it was loaded!” cried Madge. “I––I had the man load it for me! I––I thought it might protect me from insult, perhaps, or––or let me take matters in my own hands, if need be. I––I didn’t know what sort of place I would be coming to or––or what sort of man would––would receive me! I––I felt safer with it!”

Maigan was still ferreting out corners of the room, having leaped up at the shot as if the idea had come to him that some rat or chipmunk must lie dead somewhere. There nearly always was something to pick up when his master fired.

“Keep still, boy!” ordered the latter. “I think we’d better count that as a miss. I’ll wait outside until you’ve fixed yourself up, Miss Nelson, and are ready to go. I’ll have to hitch up Maigan first. As soon as you come out I’ll wrap you in my blankets; you’ll be quite comfortable. We haven’t very far to go, anyway.”

“Thank you––it––it won’t take me a minute,” she answered, without looking at him.

She had discovered in a corner of the shack a bit of looking-glass he used to shave by, and stood before it, never noticing that he made a rather long job of drawing on his heavy fur 122 coat. He went out with his dog and got the sled ready, with a wry look upon his face. Then, as there was nothing more to do, he sat down upon the rough bench that stood near the door. He winced and made a grimace as his hand went up to his shoulder.

“The little fool,” he told himself. “She seems to have been loaded for bear. Glad it was a thirty-two instead of a forty-five Colt. I didn’t think it was anything, just a bad scratch, after the first sting of it, but it feels like fire and brimstone now. It’s an infernal nuisance. Good Lord! Suppose she’d plugged herself instead of me. That would have been a fix for fair!”

This idea evidently horrified him. He had a vision of blood and tears and screams, of having to rush off to Carcajou to telegraph for the nearest doctor. Perhaps people would even have suspected him. He saw Madge with her big dark-rimmed eyes and that perfectly wonderful hair, lying dead or dying on the floor of his shack. It was utterly gruesome, unspeakable, and a strong shiver passed over him.

“But I wonder who the deuce she was going to shoot with that thing?” he finally asked himself. “Oh, she must be crazy, the poor little thing! It’s really too bad!”

“I’m glad you were not hurt. Rather unexpected, wasn’t it”


He then thought of what a fool he had been to give her back that gimcrack pistol. She probably had more shells. He must contrive to get them away from her. There was no saying what an insane person might do.

“I wish Stefan would turn up soon,” he cogitated. “I’d give a lot to find out what he knows about her. It was mighty funny his never stopping here for a minute.”



Deeper in the Wilderness

Within the shack Madge was now ready to start. Hugo’s big woolen cap was pulled down well over her ears and she again wore a coat much too large for her, a thing which, in other days long gone, might have made her laugh.

As she moved to the door she hesitated. Where was she going to? What object was there in moving there or anywhere else? The wild dream that had come upon her in the big city was dispelled and nothing on earth remained but the end that must come in some way or other. Of course she had no desire to remain in this shack, but neither had she any desire for anything else. What was the use of anything she might do? By this time she was stranded high and dry among breakers innumerable, with never the slightest outlook towards safety. The few dollars in her pockets offered no possibility of return. This man might give her enough to get back, if she asked him. It was the least he could do. But 125 she would rather have torn out her tongue than ask him for money. And it would only be going back to that dreadful city in which she had suffered so much. No, it was unthinkable! Better by far for her to lie down somewhere in that great forest and die. And now she was about to see more strangers and remain over night in new surroundings. Where would she drift to after that?

She made a gesture of despair. Her down-hanging arms straightened rigidly at her side, with the fists clenched as when one seeks to be brave in the face of impending agony. Her head was thrown back and her eyes nearly closed. In that position she remained for a moment, her brain whirling, her head on fire with a burning pain. Then the tension relaxed a little and she cast another look about her, without seeing anything, after which she pushed the door open and stepped out upon the crunching snow.

Hugo rose at once, albeit somewhat stiffly, and spoke to the dog who stood up, with head turned to watch the proceedings.

“I don’t think I’d better take the trunk on this trip,” he explained. “It would make a rather heavy load for just one dog. We’ll take your bag, of course, and I can bring the trunk over to-morrow morning. It will be 126 perfectly safe there by the road. We haven’t any thieves in this country, that I know of. Now will you please sit down there, in the middle. Maigan will pull you all right. I’ll get the blankets.”

“But––couldn’t I walk? You said it was only a mile. I––I think I could manage that,” ventured Madge, dully.

“I don’t think you could,” he answered. “I’m sure you’re quite played out. In some places the snow is bound to be soft. I could give you a pair of snowshoes but you wouldn’t know how to use them and they’d tire you to death. You’ve already had a pretty hard day, I know. Maigan won’t mind it in the least. He’d take the trunk, too, readily enough, but that would make slow going.”

She obeyed. What did she care? What difference could it make? He wrapped the blankets over her, after she had sat down on an old wolfskin he had covered the sled with. After this he took a long line attached to the toboggan and passed it over his right shoulder, pulling at the side of the dog, who toiled on briskly. When they reached the tote-road it seemed rougher than ever and the country wilder. To her right Madge could see the river that was nothing but a winding jumble of snow-capped rocks and grinding ice, with 127 here and there patches of inky-looking water, where the ice-crust had split asunder. Also she dully noted places where the water seemed to froth up over the surface, boiling in great suds from which rose, straight up in the still air, a cloud of heavy gray vapor. The cold felt even more intense than earlier in the day. It impressed the girl as if some tremendous force were bearing down mightily upon the world and holding it in thrall. With the lowering of the sun the shadows had grown longer. After a time the slight sound of the man’s snowshoes over the crackling snow, of the scraping toboggan, of the panting dog, began to seem to Madge like some sort of desecration of a stillness in which man was nothing and only an eternal and vengeful power reigned supreme. In spite of the patches of sunlight filtering down through branches or glaring upon the river there was now something dismal in all this, and she began to feel the cold again, penetrating, relentless, evil in its might.

They had gone about half way when, on the top of a slight rise, both dog and man stopped for a moment’s rest. The latter looked quite exhausted. His face was set hard, in an expression she could not fathom.

“Really, I think I could walk,” said the 128 girl again. “There––there’s no reason you should work so hard for me. And––and you look terribly tired.”

“Oh, no!” he disclaimed, hastily. “I––I could pull you all by myself if––well, it’s only a short distance away now, and Maigan is doing nearly all the work, anyway. I––I don’t think anything I can do for you can quite make up for all that you seem to have gone through.”

He looked at her, very gravely, as he sat down upon a fallen log, close at hand, after clearing off some snow with a sweep of his mitt. There was something very sad, she thought, an expression of pain upon his face which she noted and which led her into a very natural error. She was compelled to consider these things as evidences of regret, of a conscience that was beginning to irk him badly. Her head bent down till she was staring into her lap; she felt that tears were once more dangerously near.

No thought came to her of appealing to this man, of suing for pity and charity, but she began to speak, the words coming from a full heart that gave her pain were spoken in low tones, nearly as if she had been talking to herself.

“I––I’m thinking of the boys who were 129 stoning the frog,” she began, haltingly. “You remember. It was fun for them but death to the frog. I––I think a good many things work that way in the world, don’t––don’t you, Mr. Ennis? You––you don’t really look like––like a very bad man. If––if you had a sister or mother you’d––you’d probably be kind to them. What––what do you think of it yourself, honestly? A––a girl, who’s a fool, of course, but after all just a girl, is dying of loneliness and misery in a big city. She––she can’t stand it any more, not––not for another day. And then she finds that paper and like––like an utter fool she answers that advertisement. It––it looked like a bare chance of––of being able to keep body and soul together, and––and remain honest and decent, which––which is a hard enough thing for a girl to do, in––in some places. And then the man answers back. She––I never expected he would, but he did, and he offered all sorts of wonderful things that––that looked like heaven itself to––to a hungry failure of a girl to whom life had become too heavy a burden to bear. And––and so she answers that letter and––and tries to tell the truth about herself, and says that––that she is prepared to carry out her part of the bargain if––if the man has spoken truly of 130 himself––if––if he can respect her––treat her like a woman who––who is ready to do her best to––to deserve a little kindness and consideration. And he tells her again to come––to come as soon as possible, and––and there was nothing to detain her for a moment. The city had been too cruel––too utterly cruel. And then she comes here and finds that––that it was all lies––wicked lies––I’m sorry, it’s the only word I can use.”

Hugo was staring at her, open-mouthed, but before he could utter a word she began again:

“The man had never meant it, of course––he wasn’t awaiting her at all, as he had promised––and when she finally comes to him he speaks coldly, cynically, denying his words, pretending he knows nothing. It––it’s a rather clumsy way of getting out of it, seems to me. Anyway he saw that his joke had been carried too far. It––it hasn’t proved such a very good one, has it? It––it has turned out to be pretty poor fun. I––I dare say I deserve it all. It––it was awful folly on my part, I see it now, and––and I’m ashamed, dreadfully ashamed––I feel the redness mounting to––to the very roots of my hair––and it overwhelms me. Don’t––don’t you feel something of––of the same sort, or––or 131 do you still think the joke was a good one?”

She had grown rather excited and it was quite true that a deep blush was now mantling her face. In her halting speech––in the words that had come slowly at first, and then had flowed more rapidly, there had been wounded pride beside the deep resentment and the pain.

“Do––do you really believe such a thing?” answered the man, wincing again. “You speak of something that is an abomination, that would stink in a decent man’s nostrils. And––and you speak of shame! Do you think such a word could express all that a man would be overwhelmed with if he had done such a thing? Great Heavens! Miss Nelson, a man having once committed such a crime would be humiliated for the rest of his life, it seems to me. It would be an unpardonable sin for which there could be no forgiveness, none surely on the part of the woman, and none that the man could ever grant himself. It––it surely isn’t possible that any such thing has occurred, that any man could so lower himself beneath all the dirt that his feet have ever trodden.”

He spoke strongly, his face now also high in color, his voice tremulous and indignant, 132 his hard right fist clenched till the arm vibrated with the strain.

Madge looked at him again. For a moment his tone had been convincing and she had nearly believed that he spoke the truth. But the evidence against him was too strong.

“That––that big Stefan, your friend, the man who says that you saved his life, knew that I was coming,” she faltered, her voice shaking while her body felt limp with the infinite discouragement that had returned to her in full. “He brought you my message, at least he told me so. What––what is the use of my saying anything more? I––I think we might as well be going on, if––if you and your dog are rested. He––he looks like a decent fellow, Maigan does. There are things a dog wouldn’t do, I’m sure.”

“Miss Nelson, as God is my judge, I’m guiltless in this matter,” the man’s voice rang out.

“Go on, Maigan, mush on!” he called, and leaned forward on the rope, passed over one shoulder. Her last words had brought a moment of anger and indignation. Save for the few words he had uttered he felt it useless to protest his innocence, and the notion of her insanity returned to him, strongly. But those were strange things she had said about Stefan 133 and that message. As soon as possible he would go over to Carcajou and interview his friend the Swede. The girl’s disordered mind must have distorted something that he said. He began to wonder whether there was any truth at all about her story, whether she really came from New York, whether she was not some poor creature escaped from some place for the care of the insane. But then how had she got hold of his name and how had she ever heard of Roaring River? The more he puzzled over these problems the more tangled they appeared to be.

“I dare say I’ll find out about it soon enough,” he told himself, impatiently, for the pain he suffered began to grow worse with every step, and an unaccountable weariness had come over him. That thing on his shoulder must be a mere scratch, he tried to persuade himself, in spite of the sharp pangs it gave him. Manlike he grew more obstinate as his strength began to fail, and pulled harder, with the sweat now running down his clammy forehead and freezing on his face.

Maigan, also, was bending hard to his task, and they went along steadily and rapidly. The toboggan was crackling and slithering over the snow upon which the dark indigo shadows were throwing uncanny designs. 134 The track was smooth and level now and the dog could manage very well alone, so that Hugo pulled no longer. Once, as he chanced to stumble, the girl thought she heard a groan from him. She began to wish that she had been able to believe him, but it was utterly impossible, although she suddenly found it in her heart to pity him, to extenuate the abomination of his conduct. Why that last sacrilegious lie he had uttered? The man was suffering; it looked as if the iron were entering his soul. Oh! the pity of it! If he had only acknowledged his offence and begged her pardon she might perhaps have forgiven. A moment later, however, the grim outlook before her presented itself again. There were two things for her to choose from; one was that fitly named Roaring River along whose bank the road wound its snaky trail and the other consisted in the cheap little pistol in her bag. Well, there might be comfort after all in this wild land, upon the scented fallen needles of the pines or under that pure white ice. Her features, which for a moment had become stony and hard, now softened again. It was best to endeavor to harbor no more thoughts of contempt and hatred when one’s own soul might soon be suing for forgiveness.

They topped another rise of ground beyond 135 which there was a hollow, a tiny valley nestled among great firs and poplars and birches. In the middle of it Madge saw another and much larger shack. It might really have been called a house, but for its being made of logs. A film of smoke was rising straight up in the still air, from a chimney built of rough stones, and some dogs began to bark loudly. A woman came out, with a child hanging to her skirts, and shaded her eyes with her hand while she scolded the animals, who slunk away slowly.

Bonjour,” she called out, cheerfully. “Ah! It is Monsieur Hugo! How you do, sare? Glad for see you! Come along quick. It ees cole again, terrible cole.”

For a second she stared at the young woman on the toboggan, but her civility came at once uppermost and she smiled pleasantly, and rushed up to help Madge arise, brushing off some of the snow that had fallen on her from the trees.

“Come inside quick. I have it good hot in de house. You all perished wid dat cole, Mees. Now you get varm again and I make tea tout de suite.”

She had seized Madge’s hands in her own big and capable ones, with the never-failing hospitality and friendliness of the wilderness, 136 and led her indoors at once. Hugo let Maigan loose, with a word of warning, for the other dogs had begun to circle about him jealously, and growled a little, probably for the sake of form, for they took good care to keep out of reach of his long fangs. They had tried him once before and knew that he was their master. Hugo, thankful that the journey was ended, took up the girl’s bag and followed her into the house, after he had taken off his snowshoes, a job he accomplished with some difficulty.

“Mrs. Papineau,” he began, “this young lady came over to my place, a couple of hours ago, and––and there’s been some––some mistake. She thought there was a village here, I believe. She only expects to remain with you till to-morrow, I think, and till then I will be ever so grateful if you will make her as comfortable as possible. I’m afraid she’s dreadfully tired and cold. I expect to return in the morning to take her back to Carcajou, unless––unless she would prefer to rest a day or two here.”

“Ver ’appy to see de lady,” declared Mrs. Papineau, heartily. “Tak’ off you coat, Monsieur Hugo, an’ sit here by de fire. Hey! Baptiste, you bring more big piece of birch. Colette, put kettle on for bile water qvick. 137 Tak’ dis seat, lady. I pull off dem blanket. You no need dem more. Turriple cole now. Las’ night we ’ear de wolfs ’untin’ along dem ’ardwood ridges, back of de river; it ees always sign of big cole. And de river she crack awful, and de trees dey split like guns shoot. Glad you come an’ get varm, Mees.”

Madge looked about her, after she had smiled at the woman in thanks. For the second time that day she had entered a home of kindly and well-disposed people that seemed to be built of an altogether different clay from that which composed the folk of the big city. In Stefan’s home the atmosphere had been gentle, one of earnest, quiet toil, with the simple accompaniment of a kindly religious belief according to the Lutheran persuasion. In the dwelling she had now entered, of fervent French Canadians, she noted the vivid chromo of a departed pope facing the still gaudier representation of the British Royal family, if the printed legend could be believed. They were shown in all the colors of the rainbow, as were also some saints whose glaring portraits hung on either side of the door, surmounted by dried palms reminiscent of Easter festivals. There seemed to be any number of children, from an infant lying in a homemade cradle of boards, 138 one of which displayed an advertisement of soap, to a bashful youth who looked at Hugo as if he worshipped him and a freckled, gawky and friendly-faced girl of fifteen who stood around, evidently delighted to see people and anxious to be civil to them.

And this welcome she had received seemed to be characteristic of all these folks living in the back of beyond. Everywhere she had met friendliness; people had seemed actually eager to help; they smiled as if life had been a thing of joy in which the good things must be distributed far and near and enjoyed by all. They seemed ready to share their possessions with strangers that chanced within their gates. It was a spirit intensely restful, consoling, bringing peace to one’s heart. It gave the girl a brief vision of something that was heavenly. She felt that she could so easily have made her home in this amazing region that opened its arms and actually welcomed new faces. But the thought came to her that she had only been vouchsafed a fleeting glance at it and to gaze, as Moses did of old, upon a Promised Land she could never really enter.

“It is no need for to h’ask, Monsieur Hugo,” Madge heard the woman saying. “Ve do h’all ve can, sure! It ees a gladness to see de yong lady an’ heem pretty face, all 139 red vid de cole. Come by de fire, mees. Celestine ’ere she pull aff your beeg Dutch stockin’. Dey no belong you, sure. Colette, push heem chair near for de lady. Hippolyte, put couple steeks now on ze fire. Mees, I ’ope you mak’ yourself to home now. Monsieur Hugo, you stop for to h’eat a bite vid us. Ve haf’ in de shed still one big quarter from de orignal, de beeg mose vat my man he shoot two veeks ago. Und dere pleanty patates, pleanty pork, all you vant.”

“No, thank you ever so much, I––I think I’d better be going. It will be dark pretty soon. I know perfectly well that you will take excellent care of Miss Nelson and so I think I’ll say good-by now.”

Some of the children trooped around him, disappointed, and Mrs. Papineau came nearer, eying him curiously. Suddenly her keen eyes caught something and she pointed with a finger.

“Vat de mattaire vid you h’arm?” she asked, excitedly. “’Ow you get ’urted?”

“Oh! That! That’s nothing,” he answered, drawing back. “’Tisn’t worth bothering about. Good-night!”

“You no be one beeg fool, Monsieur Hugo!” she ordered him, masterfully. “Now you sit down an’ let me look heem arm right 140 avay quick. Ven de cole strike heem he get bad sure, dat h’arm.”

In spite of his objections she laid violent hands on him, insisting on pulling off his coat, whereupon a dark patch had spread. She also drew off the heavy sweater he wore underneath it, which was stained even more deeply. When she sought to roll up the sleeve of his flannel shirt it would not go up high enough, but the remedy was close at hand, in the form of a pair of scissors, and she swiftly ripped up a seam. On the outer part of the shoulder she revealed a rather large and jagged wound that was all smeared with blood, which still oozed from it slowly.

“Who go an’ shoot you?” she asked angrily. “I see de ’ole in de coat an’ de sweater. I know some one shoot. Vat for he shoot?”

“Well, it was just a silly little accident with a pistol,” he acknowledged with much embarrassment. “It––it won’t be anything after it’s washed off. It feels all right enough and I wish you wouldn’t bother about it. I’ll attend to it after I get home. It––it’s stopped hurting now.”

But he was compelled to submit to the washing of his injury and to the application of some sort of a dressing which Mrs. Papineau appeared to put on rather skilfully. 141 Wounds of all sorts are but too common in the wilderness, unfortunately, and doctors few and far between. The children had crowded around him, looking in awe, and their mother kept ordering them away. Madge had risen from her seat and looked at the injury, horrified and trembling. The man had never said a word when that bullet had found its billet in his shoulder, and yet it must have hurt him dreadfully. He––he might have been killed, owing to her clumsiness, she reflected in consternation. And now he said nothing to explain how it had happened––he actually seemed to be trying to shield her.

“I––I’m dreadfully sorry,” said the girl, impulsively. “It––it was all my fault, because I let the revolver fall and it went off. But I didn’t know he was hurt. He never told me, and he insisted on pulling at that sled, with his dog.”

“Yes, it was just a little accident,” admitted Hugo, “and we’re making altogether too much fuss about it. It really doesn’t amount to anything, Miss Nelson, and it feels splendidly now. I’m ever so much obliged to you, Mrs. Papineau. And so I’ll say good-night. I hope you’ll rest well, Miss Nelson. I’ll be here in good time to-morrow, never fear.”

He shook hands with the housewife, who 142 took care to wipe her own upon her apron in preparation for the ceremony. To the children he bade a comprehensive farewell, after which he turned again to Madge, advanced a step and then hesitated. He had doubtless meant to shake hands with her also but, at the last moment, probably feared a rebuff. At any rate he nodded, bringing a smile to his features, and opened the door into the bitter cold. After he had put on his snowshoes again and hitched up Maigan to the toboggan he disappeared into the darkness. For an instant Madge listened, but she heard no sound. Everything was still outside, but for the rare crackings of ice and timber. Seeking her chair again she leaned forward now with her elbows resting on her knees and her face held in the hollow of her hands. At this time a little child came to her and touched her arm. She looked at it. The little girl had long straight black hair, great beady eyes and the prettiest mouth imaginable. The cheeks were like red apples. She lifted the little thing to her knees and the child nestled against her bosom. Madge now looked at the woman, busily engaged with her few pots and pans, and a feeling of envy came to her, a longing for the sweet and kindly motherhood that was becoming a fierce craving for that beautiful 143 peace which appeared to have become so firmly established in these little houses of the frozen wilds. She had elsewhere seen love of children, little ones petted and made much of, husbands coming home to a cheery welcome, but it had not seemed the same. The women so often seemed weary, pale, and worked beyond their strength. Most of them became querulous at times, apt to speak loudly of intolerable wrongs or of ill-doings of neighbors across the dark hallways. Here it looked as if quiet order, cheerful obedience, willingness on the part of all, were ingrained in the people. Indeed, it was ever so different.

By this time the rough table was set and Mrs. Papineau deplored the fact that Hugo had not consented to remain.

“Heem is ’urted more as vat he tink,” she confided to the girl. “To-morrow somebody go to de leetle shack an’ fin’ ’ow he is. One dog heem not much nurse, eh?”

These words made Madge feel uncomfortable. Once or twice the idea had come to her that such a man ought to be punished, that he should be made to suffer, that he deserved anything that could make him realize how heinous his conduct had been. But now she had a vague impression that she was sorry for him, that it was on her account that he had 144 refused to stay and had gone out at once in the gathering darkness that had come so swiftly. But in spite of these thoughts and of all the emotions she had undergone Madge felt again the besetting pangs of fierce hunger. The slices of moose-meat sizzling in the pan filled the place with appetizing odor. The mother placed her brood at the long table but helped her guest first, and plentifully. How these people ate and expected others to eat! Never could they have heard of the scanty meals of working girls, of the cups of blue milk, of bitter tea, or of the little rolls and bits of meat purchased at so-called delicatessen stores. The girl ate hungrily and the meal was soon over, but as soon as it was finished the terrible weariness came upon her again and she was thankful to lie down upon a hard mattress of ticking filled with the aromatic twigs of balsam fir, beneath heavy blankets and a wonderful robe of hareskins.

Before she could fall asleep, however, the experiences of her crowded day passed weirdly before her eyes; yet her despair seemed to be contending with a strange feeling that was certainly not hope. It was perhaps merely a weak acquiescence to conditions that her immense fatigue and wearied brain made her accept, dully, stupidly, since she had 145 lost all power of resistance. It was something like the enforced peace of a wounded thing that has just been able to crawl back into its burrow and has found the rest its body craves for.

In the midst of so large a family one could not aspire to the lone possession of a bed. The little girl she had held in her lap had been placed beside her, not without many apologies from Mrs. Papineau. In the darkness she could feel the little warm body nestling against her, and hear the soft and regular breathing. It was comforting since it brought a feeling that the little one protected her, in some strange way, and was leading her in paths of darkness with a little warm hand and a heart that was unafraid and confident of the morrow’s shining sun. Very soon there came a restless sleep which at first was filled with uncanny visions, from which she awakened once or twice in fear. But at last came entire surcease from suffering as the brain that had been overwrought ceased to toil.

In the meanwhile Hugo had slowly made his way back to his shack. If his arm hurt he had now little consciousness of it. The thing that disturbed him most was that girl’s unshakable belief in his villainy. Was she really insane? He had had no opportunity to communicate that thought to Mrs. Papineau. 146 But then, after her arrival, she had seemed so absolutely rational in all that she had said and done that the idea had, for the time being, passed away from his mind. And what if, at least in part, she had spoken the truth? What if some amazing distortion of reality had truly and honestly given her these beliefs, through evidence that must be all against him? The words she had spoken before starting for the Papineaus’, and the further ones uttered on the tote-road, while he rested, held a drama so poignant that it struck a chill to his heart. She might, after all, have been speaking the truth as she had been misled into believing it! But then there must be some amazing conspiracy at work, some foul doings whose objects utterly escaped him and which left him staring at the little lamp now burning on his table, as if it might perhaps have revealed some key to the amazing problem.

Was it possible that a weak and slender woman could actually be compelled to carry on a fight against hunger and illness, with never a friend on earth, until she was finally so beaten down to the ground that her soul cried in agony for relief? According to her she had seized upon the only resource open to her, in which there was but a dim outlook 147 towards safety. Then she had found herself the victim of a hellish jest, apparently, or of a conspiracy so base that one sickened at the mere thought of it. There was no doubt that those big eyes of the suffering woman haunted the man, while the accents of her despair still rang in his ears and distressed him. The expression of the crucified had been on that pale face of hers, which had reddened so deeply when a sense of shame had overwhelmed her. It was as if he had beheld a drowning woman and been utterly prevented from extending a saving hand to her. More strongly he began to feel that some one had surely sinned against that woman, and feelings of vengefulness, none the less bitter for all their vagueness, began to obsess him.

Once, on his way back from Papineau’s, Maigan had pressed close to him, as if for safety. From the great hardwood ridges of his right he had heard a long and familiar sound. It was the one the Frenchwoman had mentioned, the fitful baying of wolves on the track of a deer. Picturing to himself the overtaking and pulling down of the victim, he shivered, hardened though he was to the unending tragedies of the wilderness, and hurried along faster, although he knew he stood in no danger.


When he had reached his shack by the Roaring River he had entered it and lighted the small lamp. It chanced to be the last match in his pocket that he used for the purpose. There was no need to open the big package that stood on a shelf, since he remembered having left two or three small boxes in his hunting bag. He went over to the corner where he had left it and bent over, somewhat painfully. As he lifted it from the floor he saw an envelope and picked it up. It was addressed to him. Tearing it open he stared at the words “Starting this evening. Please have some one meet me. Madge Nelson.”

With clenched fist he struck the table a blow that startled Maigan, who barked, leaping up to his feet.

“It’s all right, boy,” said his master. “Men are pretty big fools, excepting when they’re nothing but infernal cowards. I tell you, boy, some one will have to pay heavily for this. Good Lord! Who would have thought of such a thing? I––I think I must be getting crazy! But no––she’s over there at Papineau’s, and some one wrote to her, and everything she said was the plain truth, as she understood it. Great Heavens! It’s no wonder she looked at me as if I’d been the dirt under her feet. That thing’s got to be 149 straightened out, somehow, but first I must see Stefan, of course.”

For a moment a wild idea came to him of going over to Carcajou in the darkness. Such an undertaking was by no means particularly difficult for a strong man, who knew the way, but suddenly he realized that he was played out and would never reach his destination that night. This irked his soul, unbearably, until he had recourse to his old briar pipe. In spite of the fact that his arm was beginning to hurt him badly he sat near the stove, where he had kindled a fire again, thinking hard. He was racking his brain to seek some motive that could have impelled any one he knew to play such a frightful joke. One after another he named every man he had ever known or even merely met in Carcajou and the surrounding, sparsely settled country. But they were nearly all friends of his, he knew, or at least had no reason to bear him ill-will. There was one chap he had had quite a scrap with one day, over a dog-fight in which the man had urged his animal first and then kicked Maigan when he saw his brute having by far the worst of it. But soon afterwards they had shaken hands and the matter had been forgotten. Besides, the fellow was now working in Sudbury, far east down the line. 150 No, that wasn’t a trail worth following. The more he thought the matter over the more utterly mysterious it seemed to become. But of one thing he was determined. He was going to move heaven and earth to get at the bottom of all this, and when he found out who was responsible the fur would fly.

It was perhaps fortunate for her that the idea of the red-headed girl in old McGurn’s store never entered his head for a moment. She had always been friendly, perhaps even a little forward in her attentions to him, though he had always paid her rather scant notice. He had never been more than decently civil to her.

When he sought his bunk, an hour or two later, a long time elapsed before he could fall asleep. It seemed to him that his head throbbed a good deal, and that shoulder was growing mightily uncomfortable. He hoped it would be better in the morning. Finally he fell asleep, restlessly. Upon the floor, stretched out upon an old deerskin close to the stove, Maigan was sleeping more profoundly, though now and then he whined and sighed in his slumber, perhaps dreaming of hares and porcupines. A cricket ensconced beneath the flat stones under the stove began to chirp, shrilly. Outside a big-horned owl 151 was hooting, dismally, while the big falls continued to roar out their eternal song. And thus the long night wore out till a flaming crimson and copper dawn came up, with flashing rays that stabbed the great rolling clouds while the trees kept on cracking in the intense frost and the ice in the big pool churned and groaned under the torment of waters seeking to burst their shackles.



Carcajou Is Shocked

After Stefan had started away with Madge, Miss Sophy McGurn, who had been on the watch, was delighted to see Mrs. Olsen coming to the store. She greeted her customer more pleasantly than ever and served her with a bag of beans, two spools of black thread and a pound of the best oleo-butter. The older woman was nothing loath to talk, and confirmed the girl’s suspicion that Stefan had taken that young woman to Hugo’s. Mrs. Olsen insisted on the fact that her visitor was a real pretty girl, though awfully thin and looking as if a breath would blow her over. She also commented on the lack of suitable clothing for such dreadful weather, and on the utter ignorance Madge seemed to display of anything connected with Carcajou or, in fact, any part of Ontario. When questioned, cautiously, she admitted that she knew no reason whatever for the girl’s coming, but she hastened to assert that Stefan had said it was all right, which settled the question, and, 153 with her rather waddling gait, started off for her house again.

As soon as Stefan returned Sophy saw that he still had a woman on his toboggan. She hurried to meet him and was grievously disappointed when she found out it was Mrs. Carew. But she boldly went up to Stefan.

“Hello! Stefan!” she said. “Where did you leave your passenger of this morning?”

“Hello! Sophy!” he answered, placidly. “I leaf de yong leddy vhere she ban going, I tank.”

“She isn’t coming back to-night?”

“Mebbe yes, mebbe no,” he answered, grabbing Mrs. Carew’s bag and hurrying with her into the station, for the engine’s whistle announced that he had made the journey with little or no time to spare.

Sophy made her way back to the store, meeting Mrs. Kilrea on her way. To this lady she confided that a young woman had gone up to Hugo Ennis’ shack and had not returned. Wasn’t it queer? And Mrs. Olsen had said that she wasn’t Hugo’s wife or sister. Wasn’t it funny? But of course she supposed it was all right.

Mrs. Kilrea called on old Mrs. Follansbee, who told Mrs. McIntosh. This lady was a Cree Indian that had become more or less 154 civilized. The white women would speak to her on account of her husband Aleck, who was really a very nice man. At any rate all the ladies of Carcajou were soon aware of the unusual happening, scenting strange news and perhaps even a bit of scandal.

Big Stefan, having urged his team to their utmost, now fed them carefully and locked them up in his shed, a local habit providing against bloody fights that were objected to not so much on moral principle as because these contests often resulted in the disabling of valuable animals. It also prevented incursions among the few sheep of the neighborhood or long hunts in which dogs indulged by themselves, returning with sore feet and utterly unable to move for a day or two. The animals, before falling asleep, were biting off the crackling icicles that had formed in the hair growing between their padded toes. The journey had not exhausted them in the slightest and on the morrow they would be perfectly fit for further travel, if need be.

Neither was Stefan weary. After supper he quietly strolled over to the store where some of Carcajou’s choicest spirits were gathered, since the village boasted no saloon. Here the news was discussed, as spread out by the few who got a daily or weekly paper from 155 Ottawa or Sudbury, or gathered in the immediate neighborhood by the local gossips.

“Hello, Stefan!” exclaimed Miles Parker, who was supposed to watch over the sawmill and see that the machinery didn’t suffer too much during the long period of disuse. “How did ye find the travelin’ to-day? See ye didn’t manage ter freeze them whiskers off’n yer face, did ye?”

“Dey’re yoost vhere dey belongs, I tank,” answered Stefan, quietly. “Miss Sophy, if you haf time I take two plugs Lumberman’s Joy terbacker.”

“Stefan he’s so all-fired big he got to keep a chew on each side of his face,” explained Pat Kilrea, a first-rate mechanic who was then busy with the construction of a little steamer that was to help tow down to the mill some big booms of logs, as soon as the lake opened. “He ain’t able to get no satisfaction except from double action.”

At this specimen of local wit and humor the others grinned but Stefan remained quite unmoved. Miss Sophy waited on him, scanning his face, eager to ask more questions, while she feared to say a word. It may have been her conscience which made her uneasy. Of course she believed that the precautions she had taken rendered it impossible for any one 156 to accuse her, or at any rate to prove anything. Still, a certain anxiety remained, which she was unable to restrain. She would have given a good deal to know what had taken place. Never had she doubted that the scene would occur right there at the station in Carcajou. That telegram had badly upset her plans, apparently. And then it was queer that Hugo had not come down after receiving it, if only to try to find out what it meant. Finally, one of the men, having none of her reasons for keeping still, came forth with a direct question.

“I reckon you got out to Roarin’ Falls all safe with that there pooty gal, didn’t ye?” he asked.

It was Joe Follansbee who had sought this information, being only too eager to hint at something wrong on the part of a man he had long deemed a rival. At his words, however, Sophy sniffed and turned up her nose.

“I didn’t see anything very pretty about her,” she said.

“Well, I didn’t see as how she was so real awful pretty,” Joe hastened to observe. “She ain’t the style I admire, by no manner of means.”

This strategic withdrawal was destined to meet with entire failure, however. Sophy 157 turned to the boxes of plug that were stored on the shelves and pretended to busy herself with their order and symmetry. But she was again listening, eagerly.

“What d’ye say, Stefan?” joined Pat Kilrea. “How’d she stand the trip? Did ye see if her nose was still on her face when ye got there?”

“I tank so,” opened Stefan, gravely, “but it wouldn’t matter so much vith de leddy. Maybe she ain’t so much use for it like you haf for yours, to stick into oder people’s pusinesses.”

Stefan continued to shave off curly bits from his plug, while the laughter turned against the engineer. Carcajou, like a good many other places, commonly favored the top-dog when it came to betting. The answering grin in Pat’s face was a rather sour one. If any other man had spoken to him thus there might have been a lively fight, but no one in Carcajou, and a good many miles around it, cared to engage in fisticuffs with the Swede. A story was current of how he had once manhandled four drunken lumberjacks, in spite of peavies and sticks of cordwood.

“Well, you’re getting to be a good deal of a lady’s man, Stefan,” said Aleck McIntosh, a fellow who was supposed to be a scion of 158 Scottish nobility receiving remittances from his country. The most evident part of his income, however, appeared to be contributed by his Cree wife, who took in the little washing Carcajou indulged in and made the finest moccasins in Ontario. “Going off with one and coming back with another. I dare say you prefer carrying females to lugging the mails around.”

“Mebbe I likes it better but it’s more hard on dem togs,” asserted Stefan, judicially.

“And––and ye left her at Hugo’s shack, did ye?” ventured Pat again, whereat Stefan nodded in assent and lighted his pipe.

“Did she say she was anyways related to him? His sister or something like that?” persisted the engineer.

“Well, I tank she say somethin’ about bein’ his grandmother,” retorted Stefan, “but I can tell you something, Pat. If you vant so much know all about it vhy you not put on your snowshoes an’ tak’ a run down there. It ban a real nice little valk.”

As Pat Kilrea suffered from the handicap of having been born with a club-foot, which didn’t prevent him from being an excellent man with machinery but made walking rather burdensome for him, the others guffawed again while the Swede opened the door and 159 walked off, the crusted snow crackling under his big feet.

“In course it’s none of my business, like enough,” said Pat, virtuously, as he scratched a match on his trousers’ leg, “but such goings on don’t seem right, nohow. ’Tain’t right an’ proper, because it gives a bad example. I’ve knowed folks rid on a rail or even tarred and feathered for the like of that.”

Carcajou’s sterling sense of propriety, as represented by half a dozen male gossips, immediately agreed with him. The matter, they decided, should be looked into.

“And––and what d’ye think about it, Miss Sophy?” asked Joe, desirous of opening conversation again with the young woman and redeeming himself.

“Things like that is beneath me to talk about,” she asserted, coldly. “And what’s more, I don’t care to hear about ’em. It––it’s time ye got back to the depot, Joe Follansbee and I’m goin’ to close up anyways and give ye all a chance to burn your own oil.”

At this delicate invitation to vacate the premises the men rose and trooped out. Once outside, however, they felt compelled in spite of the bitter cold to comment a little further on the situation.

Sophy McGurn put up the large iron bar 160 that was used to secure the front door, when the store was closed. Then she put some papers away in the safe under the counter and went up to the family sitting room, where her mother was knitting and her father, with an open paper on his lap and his spectacles pushed up over his forehead, was fast asleep in a big and highly varnished oaken rocker trimmed with scarlet plush.

“I’m goin’ to bed,” she announced; “good-night.”

The old gentleman awoke with a start and the mother, looking over her glasses, bade her good-night and sweet dreams, according to a long-established formula.

“Don’t know what’s the matter with Sophy, she’s that restless an’ nervous,” said her mother.

“She always was, fur’s I know,” answered McGurn. “If she’s gettin’ the complaint worse she must be sickenin’ for something.”

The subject of these remarks, once in her room, was in no hurry to woo the slumber she had expressed a desire for. In her mind anxiety was battling with anger and disappointment. Whether or not she really loved Ennis, or had turned to him merely because his general ways and appearance showed him to be a man of some breeding, with education 161 superior to the usual standard of Carcajou, such as she would have been glad to marry, at any rate her brow narrowed, her lips closed into a thin straight line and her hands were clenched tight. What she had done would probably utterly prevent any renewal of the friendship she had tried to establish, since Hugo would perhaps be run out of the place. Moreover, that girl was really very pretty, in spite of what she had said downstairs, and this stranger was now over there. Sophy had expected to see her return with Stefan, perhaps also with Hugo, and the girl’s face would have shown marks of tears, and Hugo would have been in a towering rage, and gradually the people of Carcajou would have been made aware, somehow, of what had happened, and the settler of Roaring Falls would be the butt of laughter, if not of scurrilous remarks. But now the dark night had come and Carcajou was very still under the starlight.

The old cat scratching at her door startled her. The profound silence that followed appeared to irk her badly. After a long time there was the shriek of the night-freight’s whistle and the great rumbling of the arriving train, the grinding of brakes, shouts that sounded harshly, various loud thumps as cars were shunted off to the siding. And then the 162 train started again, groaning and clattering and heaving up the grade through the cut, after which the intense stillness returned and she lay awake, her eyes peering through darkness, her senses all alert and her nerves a-quiver, until nearly the coming of dawn.

But the men who had gone out, before scattering to their homes, had reached a unanimous conclusion. It was true that excitement was rare in Carcajou, but this was a matter of upholding the fair reputation of the mill and four or five dozen shacks and frame houses that constituted the village. It was decided that a committee must go over to the Falls and investigate.

“I won’t say but what Hugo Ennis he’s been mostly all right, fur’s we know,” acknowledged Phil Prouty of the section gang. “But then he warn’t brought up in these here parts an’ he can’t be allowed to flout the morals o’ this community in any sich way. If it’s like we fears, the gal’ll have ter pack off an’ him promise ter behave or leave the country. Them’s my sentiments. We better go to-morrow.”

At this, however, there were some objections. It might be that on the next day the young woman would return. Then their trip would be useless. And then two days later 163 would be Sunday, on which there would be less interference with their occupations, especially as it was the off day in church, where the services were held but twice a month. It was voted to start then at an early hour. There was a strong team of horses used to lumbering that could be trusted to manage the old tote-road, drawing Sam Kerrigan’s big sleigh.

“Hosses used ter do it,” asserted the latter, “and they kin do it again.”

“Maybe Stefan’d take you up with them dogs of his, Kilrea,” suggested one of the men, grinning.

“No! And by the way, byes. Ye don’t want ter let that there Swede know nothin’ of this. He’s too thick with Hugo, he is, and we don’t want him around raisin’ any ruction if there happens to be a bit o’ loud talk. He’d be liable to raise a rumpus, he would.”

This appeared to be excellent strategy and it met with unanimous approval. The men dispersed to their respective shacks and houses, to discuss the matter further with their wives, in case any of them were still awake. One or two of the sturdier ladies at once volunteered to lend further dignity to the proceedings with their presence and could not 164 be dissuaded from joining the Carcajou Vigilantes.

In the meanwhile the unconscious objects of all these plans were happily unaware of the fate in store for them. Madge, with a little child that had snuggled into her arms, had found a forgetfulness that was a blessing. In spite of her weariness and of the emotions she had undergone, the good food and pure air had produced some effect upon her. She slumbered perhaps more deeply and restfully than she had for many long months. And Hugo Ennis, in pain, tossed in his bunk, his mind racked with uneasy thoughts and his wounded shoulder throbbing, till he slept also.




It was with a violent start that Hugo awoke, feeling chilled to the bone in spite of his heavy blankets. His injured shoulder was so stiff that for some minutes he was scarcely able to move it. He got out of his bunk, his whole frame shaking with the cold, and managed to kindle a fire in the stove. But presently he felt warm again, rather unaccountably warm, in fact, and his face grew quite red. Curiously enough, for a man with the vast appetite of hard workers in cold regions, he did not at all feel inclined to eat. Yet he prepared some food, according to custom, and sat before a tin pint dipper of strong hot tea. This he managed to swallow, with some approach to comfort, but when he tried to eat the first few mouthfuls satiated him and he pushed the remainder away.

He had opened the door to let Maigan go out, and when the dog returned after a good roll in the snow Hugo swept his breakfast of 166 rolled oats and bread into a pan and fed it to his companion.

“You’re certainly not going hungry because my own grub doesn’t taste right, old boy,” he commented.

Men of the wilderness learn to speak to their dogs, or even to think out aloud, when no living thing chances to be near. It answers to the inherited need of speech, to an instinct so long inbred in man that he must needs, at times, hear the sound of a voice, even if it be but his own, or go crazy.

Maigan wagged his tail and gobbled up the food. When he saw his master fastening on his snowshoes he barked loudly. Hugo allowed him to romp about for a few minutes before hitching him up to the toboggan.

A few minutes later they were on their way to Papineau’s. An attempt to smoke his pipe was immediately abandoned by the young man. For some reason it tasted wretchedly. While the start was made at a good pace little more than a couple of hundred yards had been covered before Hugo realized that he was going ever so slowly. Maigan was stopping all the time and waiting for him. What on earth was the matter? He judged that the poor night’s sleep had had some ill effect upon him. It couldn’t be his shoulder. Certainly 167 not! The pain in it was no more than any chap could bear, even if he had to make a wry face over it at times. He wondered whether anything he had eaten on the previous day could have disagreed with him. He decided that it probably was some canned meat he had bought at McGurn’s. That explained the thing quite satisfactorily to him. Anyway, it was bound to wear off soon. Such things always did. With this cheering thought he sought to lengthen his stride again, but a moment later he was dragging himself along, dully, wondering what was the matter with him.

He was anxious to see Madge again. He must tell her of the finding of her message. Surely he would be able to talk to her, calmly and quietly, and to obtain from her all that she knew of this strange jumble of mysteries. He hoped that she had been able to rest, that he would find her less weary and overwrought. This girl had been badly treated, sinned against most grievously. If there was anything he could do he would offer his services eagerly.

“I expect she’ll want to turn right back to Carcajou,” he told himself. “I wish I were feeling more fit for the journey. If Papineau is home from his trapping he will help me 168 out. But I’ll feel all right soon. This is bound to pass off. If I get too tired when I reach Carcajou, Stefan will put me up for the night. It––it seems a pity that girl will have to go.”

He trudged along behind the toboggan. He could have ridden on it, most of the way, but wanted to keep Maigan fresh for the trip to Carcajou, for the trunk would have to go also. The light sled was nothing for the dog to pull, of course, and sometimes he dashed ahead so that his pace became too great for his master. Then he would stop and sit down in his traces, to wait until he was overtaken. The road was unaccountably long, that morning, but at last they came in sight of the Papineau homestead and the cleared land upon which some crops of oats and potatoes had already been raised, amid the short stumps of the half-cleared land. In summer the river ran very slowly at this place, and big trout were ever making rings on the surface which they broke in their dashes after all sorts of flies and beetles. On the land opposite, where there had once been a forest fire, the red weeds that follow conflagrations grew strong and rank in the summer time and little saplings sprouted up among the charred and wrecked trunks of the brulé. But at this time it all looked very bleak and desolate.


“She couldn’t ever have lived in such a country,” he told himself, with perhaps a tinge of regret. “Poor little thing, I wonder what’s to become of her? The whole thing’s a shame––a ghastly shame. Wait till Stefan and I find out all about it. Somebody’s got to get hurt, that’s all!”

Maigan had already hauled the toboggan to the door of the big shack, and the other animals had come near to renew assurances of armed neutrality. The good woman of the house appeared just as Hugo came up. She must have been rather staggered by his appearance, for she drew back, staring at him and shaking her head in decided disapproval.

“’Ow many mile you call heem to de depot at Carcajou,” she asked him, with hands on her hips and a severe look on her face.

“Why, it’s twelve miles to my shack and one more to this place,” he answered, dully. “You know that just as well as I. Don’t you remember the county surveyors told us so last year?”

“An’ you tink you goin’ pull dat toboggan all way back wid you h’arm all bad an’ you seek, lookin’ lak’ one ghosts! Excuse me, Monsieur Hugo, but you one beeg fool. My man Papineau ’e come back from de traps to-morrow an’ heem pull de young lady ’ome 170 wid de dogs. You no fit to go. I tink you go to bed right now, bes’ place for you, sure.”

She pulled him inside, holding on to his uninjured arm as if he had been under arrest. She was a masterful woman, to be sure. Madge had arisen from a chair and Mrs. Papineau addressed her. A glance at the man’s countenance had left the girl appalled. His features were drawn, the brown tint of his face had changed to a characterless gray, his eyes looked sunken and brighter, as if some fever brought a flame into them.

“Sure you no in h’awful beeg ’urry for to go ’ome, Mees?” asked the hostess. “Dis man heem real seek. Heem no fit for valk all vay back to Carcajou now. To-morrow my man take you. Papineau he no forgif me if I let Monsieur Hugo go aff an’ heem so seek.”

“Why, of course! I’m not in any special hurry. To-morrow will do just as well. He––he mustn’t think of going to-day and––and it doesn’t matter in the least. It––it makes no difference at all.”

“Do you really think that you can manage to stay here for another day?” the young man asked her, as he dropped rather heavily on a bench by the table. “I don’t think there ’s really much the matter with me, really, and 171 I’m sure I could manage it if you’re anxious to get away. But perhaps to-morrow....”

“Mrs. Papineau has been ever so kind to me,” answered the girl, slowly. “That sort of thing is such a comfort, especially when––when one isn’t used to it. Nobody ever took such care of me over there in New York. I’ve had plenty to eat and a nice warm place to sleep in. I haven’t been used to much luxury where––where I came from. And––and you mustn’t mind me. It will always be time enough to go, but––but I won’t know how to thank this––this kindly woman.”

Hugo didn’t know whether these words held a reproach to him, but they sounded very hopeless and sad. The girl had sat down again, on a low stool near the fire. A chimney had been built in a corner, to supplement the stove, and she was looking intently at the bright flames leaping up and the fat curling smoke that rose in little patches, as bits of white bark twisted and crackled. Mrs. Papineau had gone back to the stove at the other end of the room, where she and her eldest girl had been washing dishes. In the rising sparks of the logs on fire Madge saw queer designs, strange moving forms her eyes followed mechanically. She felt that she was merely 172 waiting––waiting for the worst that was yet to come, but the heat was grateful.

“If that’s the case we might as well postpone the trip for a day,” Hugo acknowledged, somewhat shamefacedly. “I don’t often get played out but for some reason I’m not quite up to the mark to-day.”

“You keep still an’ rest yourself a bit,” Mrs. Papineau ordered, coming back to him and feeling his pulse gravely, whereat she made a wry face. She informed him that he undoubtedly had a fever and must remain absolutely quiet while she brewed him a decoction of potent herbs she had herself picked and stored away.

Madge looked at Hugo again, anxiously, feeling that her careless handling of that little pistol was undoubtedly responsible for his illness. Their eyes met and he managed to smile.

“A mere man can do nothing but obey when a woman commands, Miss Nelson,” he declared, with a weak attempt at jocularity. “I’m sure it’s dreadful stuff she’s going to make me swallow. Still, I’m glad of a short rest.”

He drew his chair a little nearer, and, speaking in a lower voice, went on:

“I’ll tell you, Miss Nelson. We––we 173 perhaps owe one another some explanations. It happens that I’ve found something. It’s the queerest thing ever happened. I’d like to explain....”

“What is the use, Mr. Ennis?” she replied, her voice revealing an intense discouragement. “And besides, you are ill now. It––it doesn’t really matter what has happened, I suppose. I couldn’t expect anything else, I dare say. I was a fool to come, to––to believe what I did. And––and I’m ashamed, it––it seems as if the least little pride that was left me has gone––gone for ever. Please––please don’t say anything more. It distresses me and can’t possibly do any good.”

She turned away from him to stare into the fire again and watch the little tongues of flame following threads of dry moss, till her face, which had colored for a moment, became pale again and her lips quivered at the thoughts that had returned to her. Uppermost was that feeling of shame of which she had spoken. She had realized that she had come to this man she had never met, ready to say: “Here I am, Madge Nelson, to whom you wrote in New York. If you really want me for your wife I am willing. In exchange for food, for rest, for a little peace of mind I am ready to try to learn to love you, to respect and obey 174 you, and I will be glad to work for you, to keep your home, to do my duty like a diligent and faithful wife.” But the man had looked at her with eyes genuinely surprised, because he had not really expected her. And of course she had found no favor in his sight. She was an inconvenient stranger whom he did not know how to get rid of, and on the spur of the moment he had found recourse in clumsy lies. By this time he had probably thought out some fables with which he expected to soothe her. At any rate he must despise her, in spite of the fact that he seemed to try to be civil and even kind. The important thing was that the end had come. In her little purse six or seven dollars were left, not enough to take her even half the distance to New York, to the great city she had learned to hate and fear. For nothing on earth would she have accepted money from Hugo. At least that shred of pride remained. It was therefore evident that but one way, however dark, was open before her, since the end must come.

But that unutterable weariness was still upon her. She was not pressed for time, thank goodness. She had been given food in abundance and unwonted warmth and, for some hours, the wonderful sharp tingling air of the forest had driven the blood more swiftly 175 through her veins. Moments had come during which it had seemed a blessing merely to breathe and a marvelous gift to be free from pain. But she was not so very strong yet. In another day, or perhaps two, she might feel better able to take that last leap. It would be that river––the Roaring River. That––that little gun made horrid jagged wounds. On her way to Papineau’s she had noticed any number of great air-holes in the ice. In such places she had even heard the rumbling of the water on its rushing journey towards the sea. It seemed an easy, restful, desirable end to all her troubles. She would slip away by herself and these dear kindly people would never know, she hoped. Like so many others, she had gambled and lost, and perhaps she deserved to lose. Who could say? If she had sinned in coming to this place she would bear the punishment bravely. It would surely be very swift; there would be but a gasp or two from the stunning chill of the icy water, after which must come swift oblivion. The world was indeed a very harsh and dangerous place. She would be glad to leave it; there could be nothing to regret.

She raised her eyes once more and looked about her. The heat from the birchen logs and the sizzling jack-pine penetrated her. 176 Somewhere she had read or heard that, to those condemned, a few last comforts were usually proffered. It would be easier to find the end after a few more hours of this blessed peace. It would have been more gruesome to meet it while suffering from hunger with the very marrow of one’s bones freezing and one’s teeth chattering. She was glad enough to sit still on that rough stool. She did not want to be taken back, even to that little village of Carcajou. The little children had made such good friends with her, and would have climbed all over her had their mother not reproved them; the very dogs had come up and rubbed against her, and put their muzzles in her lap. Two of them were but half-grown pups. And best of all the big-hearted and full-bosomed mother of the family always spoke in words that were so friendly, even affectionate. It had been a wonderful vision of a better world from which she did not want to awaken too soon.

In the meanwhile Hugo had been compelled, not without a wry face, to swallow the bitter potion Mrs. Papineau had prepared for him.

“I think I’ll be going,” he remarked.

“You rest one leetle time yet,” ordered the 177 housewife. “You haf noding for to do. Feel better soon when you rest after de medicine. You no ’urry.”

Perhaps nothing loath he had sat down again, with his chair tilted back a little till the back rested on the table. Madge was sitting nearly in front of him, with her back slightly turned, and he could see the tightly pinned mass of the hair he had seen flooding her shoulders in his shack, and the comely curve of her neck as she leaned forward, staring into the fire. For a time this drove away the pain that was in his wounded arm and the hot, throbbing feeling of discomfort that it gave him. What irked him was the realization of the tragedy brought to this girl somehow and the understanding of all that she must have suffered.

Hugo had not always lived in the wilderness. He also had been of the town during a period of his life, until the longing had come for the greater freedom of the open spaces, of the regions which in their greatness bring forth the sturdier qualities of manhood.

He was thinking of the scorn that had been in her voice when she had told him of the fierce impulse that had bidden her escape from the bondage of carking poverty and care. It had only resulted in bringing disappointment 178 and the shame, the outraged womanhood that had burned upon her cheeks. And this appealed to him with an irresistible force since that effort on her part showed that she at least possessed courage and the readiness to go far afield in search of an avenue of escape. Weaker souls would long ago have given up the fight.

He had just tried to begin an explanation and find the truth out from her, but she had shaken her head and said it was useless. She did not understand; how could she? Yet he had been sorely disappointed. It had scarcely been a rebuff on her part for she had spoken gently enough, in that low despairing voice of hers. He must wait another and better occasion and hope that he would be able to clear himself of wrongdoing.

At this time a man’s practical nature suggested to him the thought that she must be very poor––that she had perhaps expended her last resources in coming to Carcajou. If this was the case, what would it avail for him to take her back to the railway? What would happen to her then? He could not allow her to depart without finding out how such matters stood, and he wondered in what manner he could make her accept some money and how he could make amends to her for the injury 179 she had sustained at some unknown individual’s hands. But the more he puzzled his brain the less he could discover any efficient way of coming to her assistance. She had said that every bit of pride had been torn from her, but he knew that this was not altogether true. The flashing of her eyes and the indignation of her voice had contradicted her words efficiently. She would probably resent his offer, refuse to accept anything from him. Yet, if he managed to persuade her that he was guiltless, it was possible....

But here his thoughts were interrupted by Mrs. Papineau, who insisted on inspecting his wound again and made a wry face when she looked at it.

“I beg you pardon for to tell de truth, Monsieur Hugo,” she said, “but I tink you one beeg fool man for come here to-day. I tink maybe you get bad seek wid dat h’arm. You stay ’ere to-day an’ for de night. I make you a bed in dis room on de floor, by Jacques an’ Baptiste an’ Pierre. My man Philippe ’e come to-morrow, maybe to-night, an’ I send heem to Carcajou so he telegraph to de docteur for see you, eh?”

“You’re awfully good, Mrs. Papineau,” answered the young man, with the obstinacy of his kind. “I’m perfectly sure I’ll be all 180 right to-morrow, or the next day at the most. And I’ll come back and see how Miss Nelson is getting on. I think I’ll move now so I’ll say good-by. I’m a lot better now. I suppose it’s on account of that stuff you made me drink; it was bad enough to be fine medicine. I hope the rest will do you some good also, Miss Nelson. You’re looking a lot better than yesterday.”

Mrs. Papineau first thought of preventing his exit by main force but felt compelled to let him have his way. She lacked the courage of her convictions and allowed him to depart, with his dog running ahead with the toboggan. She peered at him through one of the small panes and saw that he was walking fairly easily.

“Maybe heem be all right soon,” she confided hopefully to Madge, while she mixed dough in a pan. “But heem one beeg fool man all de same.”

“I––I can hardly believe that,” objected the girl. “Why do you think so?”

“All mans is beeg fools ven dey is ’urted or seek, my dear. Dey don’t know nodings ’ow to tak’ care for heemselves. Dey don’t never haf sense dat vay. Alvays tink dey so strong noding happen, ever. But just same Hugo Ennis one mighty fine man, I say dat sure. I 181 rather de ole cow die as anyting ’appen to heem.”

Without interrupting her work, and later as she toiled, at her washtub, the good woman launched forth in lengthy praise of Hugo. From her conversation it appeared that he had helped one or two fellows with small sums of money and good advice. In the autumn he had fished out an Indian who had upset his boat while netting whitefish in rough weather, on the lake, and every one knew that Stefan’s life had been saved by him. At any rate the Swede said so, for Hugo never liked much to speak of such things. And then he was a steady fellow, a hard worker, good at the traps and not afraid of work of any kind. And then he was friendly to everybody. Had Madge noticed how gentle he was with the little children? That was always a sign of a good man.

“Yes, mees,” she concluded. “Some time I tink heem de bes’ man as ever lif. Heem Hugo not even ’urt one dog, or anyting.”

So he wouldn’t hurt even a dog! Madge repeated these words to herself. Then why had he played such a sorry joke on a woman who had never injured him? She wondered whether he would be sorry, afterwards, if––if he ever chanced to learn what had become 182 of her––after everything was all over. It might be that he had just been a big fool, as the Canadian woman had called him, and never reflected on the possible consequences of his action. But then he should have had the manhood to acknowledge his fault and beg her pardon, instead of resorting at once to clumsy lies and pretending utter ignorance. In many ways such conduct seemed inconsistent with the man, now that she had had further opportunity of seeing him. And then there was no doubt that he looked very ill. She was really very sorry for her share in that accident, and yet––and yet men had been shot dead for smaller offenses than he had meted out to her. He might have been killed, of course, and her quickened imagination caused her to see him stretched stark upon the floor of that little cabin, on those rough boards that smelled of resiny things. And then people would have come and she would have been accused of his murder, of course. It would have been her weapon that had done it, and they would have found motive enough for the deed in the story she would have been compelled to relate. They wouldn’t have believed in any accident. And then, instead of being able to end everything in some air hole of Roaring River, she would have been 183 dragged to some jail to eke out her days in a prison, if she had not been hanged.

The next day she awaited his coming somewhat anxiously. She felt that she must know how he was before––before taking that last step. After all he had tried to be considerate, except in the matter of those amazing lies. During the afternoon Mrs. Papineau, growing anxious, sent little Baptiste over to enquire after him. The small boy returned, saying that he had seen two squirrels and a rabbit on the tote-road, and the track of a fox, and that he had found Hugo sitting by the fire. And Hugo had declared that he was all right and––and perhaps he wasn’t pleased, because he spoke very shortly and had told him to hurry home. So Baptiste had left, and on his way he had seen partridges sitting on a fir sapling, and if he’d had a gun, or even some rocks....

But this circumstantial narrative was interrupted by the barking of the dogs. The sun was about setting. Madge looked out of the window, while Mrs. Papineau rushed to the door. It was a man arriving with a toboggan and two big dogs.

“Dat my man Philippe coming,” announced the woman, happily.

She held the door open, letting in a blast of cold air, and the man entered, tired with 184 long tramping. From the toboggan he removed a load of pelts, dead hares that would serve chiefly for bait, his blankets and the indispensable axe. Mrs. Papineau volubly explained the guest’s presence and he greeted her kindly.

“You frien’ of Hugo Ennis,” he said. “Den you is velcome an’ me glad for see you, mademoiselle.”

He was a pleasant-faced, stocky and broad-limbed man of rather short stature, and his manner was altogether kindly and pleasant. The simplicity and cordiality of his manner was entirely in keeping with the ways of his family. It was curious that all the people she had met so far seemed to have come to an agreement in speaking well of Ennis.

The man sat down, after the smallest of the children had swarmed all over him, and took off his Dutch stockings, waiting for the plenteous meal and the hot tea his wife was preparing. Meanwhile, to lose no time, he began to skin a pine marten.

“Plent’ much good luck dis time,” he said, turning to Madge. “Five vison, vat you call mink, and a pair martens. Also one fox, jus’ leetle young fox but pelt ver’ nice. You want for see?”

She inspected the pelts and looked at the 185 animals that were yet unskinned, realizing for the first time how men went off in the wilds for days and weeks and months at a time, in bitterest weather, to provide furs for fine ladies.

The darkness had come and the big oil lamp was lighted. The children played about her for a time and gradually sought their couches in bunks and truckle-beds. The man was relating incidents of the trapping to his wife, who nodded understandingly. Beaver were getting plentiful along the upper reaches of the Roaring; it was a pity that the law prevented their killing for such a long time. He had seen tracks of caribou, that are scarce in that region; but they were very old tracks, not worth following, since these animals are such great travelers.

During this conversation Madge would listen, at times, and turn towards the door. She had a vague idea that Ennis might come, since the boy’s account had been somewhat reassuring. When she finally went to bed behind an improvised screen in a corner of the big living-room, she was long unable to sleep, owing to obsessing thoughts that wouldn’t be banished. Over and over again she reminded herself of all that had happened. It stood to reason that the man had written 186 those letters; how could it be otherwise? The proofs in her hands were too conclusive to permit her to pay any heed to his denials. The amazing thing was that when one looked at him it became harder and harder to believe him capable of such wrongdoing.

As she tossed in her bed she began to be assailed with doubts. These worried her exceedingly. He had firmly asserted his innocence. Supposing that he was telling the truth, what then? In such a case, impossible as it seemed, she had accused him unjustly, and her conduct towards him had been unpardonable. And then she had refused to listen to him, when he had sought to begin some sort of explanation. Why shouldn’t one believe a man with such frank and honest eyes, one who wouldn’t harm even a dog and was loved and trusted by little children? Of course, it was quite unintentionally that she had wounded his body, but if he chanced to be innocent she had also wounded his feelings, deeply, in spite of which he had seemed sorry for her, and had been very kind. He had promised to come again to give her further help. If he was guilty it was but a sorry attempt to make slight amends. If he was not at fault, it showed that he was a mighty fine man. Madge felt that she would rather 187 believe in his innocence, in spite of the fact that if he could prove it she would be covered with confusion.

“It seems to me that I ought to have given him that opportunity he was seeking,” she told herself, rather miserably.

Before she fell asleep she decided that on the morrow she would walk over to his shack if he did not turn up in the forenoon. He might be in want of care, in spite of what the small boy had said. If he was all right she would sit down and question him. The letters she had received were in her bag; she would show them to him. Now that she thought of it, the curious, ill-formed, hesitating character of the writing seemed utterly out of keeping with the man’s apparent nature. He ought to have written strongly and boldly, it seemed to her. Gradually she was becoming certain that his word of honor that he had never penned them, or caused some one else to do it for him, would suffice to change the belief she had held. Yes––she would go there, even before noon. If she met him on the road they could as well speak out in the open air. And if she could be sure that she had been mistaken in regard to him, she would beg his pardon, because he had tried to be good to her, with little encouragement on her 188 part. She––she didn’t want him to think afterwards––when everything would be ended, that she had been ungrateful and unjust. Of course, the great effort had failed; nearly everything was ended now and there were no steps that could be retraced. Someone had been very wicked and cruel, that was certain. But she didn’t care who it was; it could make no difference. She really hoped it was not Hugo Ennis.

In the darkness her tense features relaxed and her body felt greater ease. Finally her eyes closed and she slept.



For the Good Name of Carcajou

The morning came clear and somewhat warmer. Beyond the serrated edges of the woodlands covering far-away hills were masses of sunlit rolling clouds that seemed as if they were utterly immovable and piled up as a background to the purpling beauty of the mountains.

Madge awoke early. Outside the house the dogs were stirring, the two young ones chasing one another over the snow and rolling over it while the others nosed about more sedately. She heard a ponderous yawn from Papineau, on the other side of the slender partition, and a general scurrying of small feet and the moving of washbasins. When she came out Mrs. Papineau had already kindled the wood in the fireplace and was stirring the hot embers in the stove. From without she heard sounds of lusty chopping.

She wrapped a borrowed knitted scarf about her neck and put on Hugo’s woolen tuque, after which she stepped out. There 190 was a wondrous brilliancy over the world. On trees hung icicles that took on the appearance of gems. The cold air made her breathe so deeply that she felt amazingly strong and well. The oldest boy’s smiting with his axe came in thumps that awakened a little echo, coming from over there where the river narrowed down between high banks. It was very wonderful; it gave one a desire to live; it seemed a pity that one must so soon say good-by to all this. It––it was perhaps better not to think of that just now.

She went indoors again. There were potatoes to be peeled and the girl, in spite of protests, took up a knife and went to work. It was such a pleasure to do something to help. Indeed she had been idle too long, allowing these people to do everything for her while she crouched disconsolately in warm corners. At present all the weariness and weakness seemed to have left her. It was just like a fresh beginning instead of the ending of a life. It would have made her happy to think that, somewhere in the world, providing it were away from the city, she might have found honest work to do in exchange for some of this wonderful peace. If she could only have remained among these gentle and placid people and let her existence flow on, easily, without 191 pain and the constant worry for the morrow. It was like some marvelous dream from which she was compelled to awaken at once, for she realized that there was no place for her in this household. The older children were already of the greatest assistance to their parents, and there was no room for her in the crowded shack. She had caused these people some inconvenience, which they had accepted cheerfully, it was true, but which she could not keep on inflicting on them. But for some hours––some blessed hours, she could play at being happy and pretend that life was sweet. She could smile now, when these people spoke to her, and she hugged some of the little ones without apparent reason.

“You stay ’ere some more day,” Mrs. Papineau told her, “an’ den you look lak’ oder gal sure. Get fat an’ lose de black roun’ you h’eyes. You now a tousan’ time better as ven you come, you bet. Dis a fine coontree, Canada, for peoples get strong an’ hoongree an’ work ’ard an’ sleep good.”

“It’s a perfectly beautiful and wonderful country,” cried the girl, enthusiastically. “I––I wish I could always live here.”

“You one so prettee gal,” commented the good woman. “Some day you fin’ one good ’usban’ an’ marry an’ h’always lif in dis coontree. 192 Den you is happy and strong. Plenty mans in dis coontree want wife to ’elp an’ mak’ good ’ome. It one h’awful big lan’.”

Yes, there was any amount of room in this great country. And the woman wanted her to go and find a good husband! Well, she had come far to seek one. It––it had not been a pleasant experience. She saw herself wandering about this wilderness looking for another man who would take her to wife. Oh, the shame of it––the hot flashing of her cheeks when she thought of it! No, she was now looking on all this as a pauper looks into the shop-front displaying the warm clothing that would keep the bitter cold from him, or as starvelings of big cities, through the windows of great restaurants and hostelries, stare upon the well-fed people sating themselves with an abundance of good cheer. She must remain outside and now the end of it all was near.

They had their breakfast, during which Mrs. Papineau said that she was becoming anxious about Hugo. Presently she would send one of the children again. Papineau wouldn’t do because he knew nothing about sick people. She would go over there herself soon. If he was sick she would bring him a loaf of bread. It would soon be ready to 193 bake; the dough was still rising behind the stove. There might be other things to be attended to. Not more than an hour would elapse before she was ready to go. She remarked that men were a very helpless lot whenever they were ill, and became grumpy and took feminine tact to manage.

The feeling of anxiety that had gradually come over the girl became deeper. If the man was ill, it was her fault. What had possessed her to spend some of her scant store of money in that dirty little shop for a pistol? Of course, she realized that a vague feeling of danger had guided her––that the thing could be a means of defense or offer a way to end her troubles. And it had only served to injure a man who, if he had sinned against her, manifested at any rate some desire to treat her kindly.

But the thought that he might not be guilty returned to her, insistently. It was on her part a change of thought that was not due to carefully reasoned considerations, to any deep study of conditions, for when she tried to argue the matter out she became involved in a thousand contradictions and her head would begin to ache in dizzy fashion. Rather it was some sort of instinct, one of the conclusions so often and quickly reached by the feminine 194 mind and apt, in spite of everything, to prove accurate and reliable.

“Mrs. Papineau,” she said, suddenly, “I think I will go over there now. I––I have rested long enough and the fresh air will be good for me. I will come back very soon, I suppose, but if––if Mr. Ennis should be ill you will find me there.”

Her proposal was assented to without the slightest objection. The good woman insisted on furnishing her with footwear better suited to the tote-road than the boots she wore. On the trail the snow would be fairly well beaten down and there would be little need of snowshoes if she picked her way carefully. She could not lose her way. Still, it might be as well for one of the children to go with her. People who were not used to the woods sometimes strayed off a trail and got in trouble.

Under escort of the second oldest girl Madge started, briskly. She had covered but a short distance before she wondered that she felt so strong and well. The plain substantial food she had eaten and the bright, stimulating air were filling her with a new life. She walked along quite fast, for she was now anxious to see this man again. If she had been wrong she wanted to make amends. But what if he were very ill? She thought of the 195 lonely little shack and the lack of any comfort and care within it. He might be lying there helplessly, with only a dog for a companion. At every turn of the little road she looked ahead, keenly, thinking that perhaps she might meet him on his way to the Papineau’s. As she hurried on she felt that the house had perhaps been too warm and it was splendid to be walking beneath the snow-laden trees, to see the little clouds of her breath going out into the frosty air and to hear the crackling of the clean snow under her feet.

The child was walking sturdily at her side and told her of some Christmas presents Hugo had brought. It was evident that to the children of that family he was a very wonderful being, a sort of Santa Claus who had done his full duty and one to be forever after welcomed with joyous shrieks. And father said he was a very good shot, and Stefan Olsen, the big man, thought there was no one like him. And he could sing songs and tell stories, wonderful stories. Madge, as she listened to the girl, suddenly wondered whether it was not possible that the loneliness of such a life might not in some way have disturbed the man’s mind, at least temporarily. Wasn’t it possible for one, in such a case, to do queer things and never remember anything about 196 them afterwards? No one better than she knew what a terrible and maddening thing loneliness was. She recollected distracting hours spent in little hall-bedrooms while she tried to mend, after an exhausting day’s work, the poor clothing that wore out so terribly soon, and how at times she had felt that she must be becoming crazy.

“But no! He couldn’t have done it. He––he’s a very quiet sensible man, I should think, and––and he wouldn’t hurt even a dog,” she repeated to herself.

They were journeying quite fast over the trail that snaked along through the woods, bending here and there in order to avoid boulders and stumps and fallen trees but always coming in sight of the frozen river again. At times Madge trudged through rather deep snow. Also she stubbed her toes upon rocks and stumbled over branches broken off by the great gales of winter. But it really wasn’t very hard. And the child kept on chattering about Monsieur Hugo and asking eager questions about the big city. Was it true that as far as one could see there were houses standing right up against one another for miles and miles, and that people swarmed in them as do the wild bees in hollow trees? It was natural for bees to do such things, and 197 for ants, and for the minnows in shoals down in the river, but why did people have to crowd in such a way? How could they breathe?

Finally they came in sight of the shack and the child gave a swift glance.

“No smoke, mees,” she said. “Heem go away, or mebbe heem seek.”

Madge hurried along faster for an instant, and then stopped short. What if neither of the child’s conclusions was correct? If she went over there and knocked at the door he might come out, looking rather surprised. She had told him that she had come to Carcajou, looking for an unknown husband, for a man she was willing to accept under certain conditions, just because her life had become intolerable. He might lift his brow and perhaps ask her quite civilly to come in. But what would he think? Would he imagine that she was running after him and trying to compel him to marry her? It was not alone the frost that brought color to her cheeks now. No, it would never do.

“I think I will wait here,” she told the little girl. “Will you please go and find out if Mr. Ennis is there, and whether he is all right again? I’ll sit down on this log and wait till you come back.”

The child looked rather puzzled but she 198 ran down the path that led to the cabin. Madge saw her stopping in front of the door, at which she knocked. She heard her call out and then wait, as if listening. At once came Maigan’s voice. He was barking but the sound was not an angry one. Rather it sounded plaintively. Finally the girl pulled the door open, after fumbling at the latch, and the dog ran out, barking again and rolling in the snow. Then he sniffed the air and discovered Madge, at once running towards her and pushing his muzzle in her hand. She stroked his head and he ran back, going but a few steps and turning around to see if she followed. She rose slowly, a sense of fear coming over her, and hesitatingly went down the path also. At this moment the child came out, looking frightened, and hastened over to her.

“Heem seek––very seek,” she cried, and Madge found herself running now, with her heart beating and her breath coming fast. The terrifying idea came to her that perhaps he was dead. But as she entered the place the man rose painfully on his bunk. His face was amazingly pale and his features drawn––hardly recognizable.

“Sorry, must beg your pardon––I intended to come over,” he told her, hoarsely. 199 “It––it’s some silly sort of a fever. I––I’ll be better pretty soon. It’s that blessed arm of mine, I think, and––and I’m frightfully thirsty. If––if you’ll ask the kid....”

Madge peered about her, but there was no water in sight. Even if there had been any she knew it would have frozen solid in the fireless shack whose interior had struck a chill through her. She seized a pail.

“Where does one get it?” she asked. “Or do you have to melt ice?”

“There’s a spring. It’s halfway down to the pool. Never quite freezes over. Let that girl go for it, Miss Nelson. Or––or I may go myself in a minute. Only waiting till––till my teeth stop chattering. Then I can light––light the fire and––and make hot tea. It––it’s such a stupid nuisance and––and I’m giving you a lot of bother.”

But Madge ran out of the shack and down to that spring, where the clear water seemed to be boiling out of the ground, since a little cloud of steam rose from it. But it was just pure icy water and she filled the pail and hurried back with it. When she returned the child was efficiently engaged in making a fire in the little stove. The man had sunk down on his bunk again and she went up to him. His teeth were no longer chattering, but his 200 cheekbones now bore patches of deep red. When she ventured to touch his hand, she found that it was burning hot. At this an awful, distressing, unreasoning fear came upon her. She––she had killed this man, for––for he certainly was going to die, she thought. Even in the big hospital she had never seen a face more strongly stamped with the marks of impending death. It was frightful!

She gave him water which he drank greedily, calling for more. She had to hold the cup, since his hand shook too badly. Dully, feeling stricken with a great desolation, she prepared some tea and gave it to him. She had found some biscuits in a box but he refused to eat anything. Presently he was lying flat again on his bunk, with his eyes closed, and when she spoke he made no answer. But he was breathing, she noted. Perhaps he had fallen asleep. It might do him a great deal of good, she thought.

The child had thrown herself down on the floor, next to Maigan, who was stretched out at length, enjoying the welcome heat of the stove. From time to time the animal lifted his head and looked towards his master anxiously. He knew that something was all wrong, but now that these other people had 201 come everything would doubtless be made all right.

For some time Madge kept still, sitting down on a stool she had drawn to the side of the bunk. She had the resigned patience innate in so many women, but presently she could stand it no longer. Something must be done at once. Valuable time was passing and no help was being obtained. Things simply couldn’t go on this way!

Rising again she called the child.

“We must go and get a doctor at once,” she whispered, breathlessly. “I––I’m horribly afraid. Come outside with me.”

She caught the little girl’s arm in her impatience, and took her out.

“Your––your friend, Monsieur Hugo, is dreadfully ill, do you understand, child? I heard your mother say that one could telegraph from Carcajou for a doctor. We’ve got to do it! How long would it take me to get there?”

The girl was evidently scared, but she looked at Madge with some of the practical sense of one versed with the difficulties of life in the wilds.

“If you ’lone you never get dere. If Maigan work for you maybe three-four hour,” answered the child. “Heem go a 202 leetle way den turn back for de shack. No leave master.”

There came upon Madge a dreadful feeling of helplessness. The man looked terribly ill; she felt that he was probably going to die. This great wilderness suddenly grew as wicked in her eyes as that of the city. Nay, it was even worse. She remembered how ill she had become and how she had struggled to fight off the sickness, in a little lone room of a top floor. But as soon as people had come she had been bundled away to the hospital. A wagon had come, with a doctor in a white coat, and they had clattered off. The people in the hospital had seemed interested, indifferent, friendly, according to their several dispositions, but she had been taken care of, and fed, and washed, and some of the nurses had sweet faces, after all, and after a time she had recovered. All this had seemed rather terrible at the time, but what was it compared to this lying desperately ill in a freezing hut, too feeble to procure even the cup of water craved by a dry tongue and lips that were parched?

“I can surely walk that distance,” she cried, but the child shook her head again.

“You no good for walk far,” she asserted. “You jus’ fall down dead. Twelve mile and 203 snow deep some place. Moch cole as freeze you quick when tired.”

“Then what’s to be done?” asked Madge, entering the house again, followed by the child. “I think I ought to try to get to Carcajou.”

“Please don’t,” said the man, hoarsely, looking as if he had awakened suddenly, and lifting himself up on one elbow painfully. “I’ll––I’ll be all right to-morrow, sure––surest thing you know, and––and I’ll take you down myself, with old––old Maigan.”

“Please hurry back to your house and tell your mother to come over as soon as she can,” Madge told the child. “Perhaps your father could go. I didn’t think of it at first.”

“Now you spik’ lak’ you know someting,” said the girl, with refreshing frankness. “I ’urry all right. Get modder quick.”

She started, her little legs flying over the snow, and Madge closed the door again.

She put a little more wood in the stove and sat down by the bunk. The man’s eyes were closed again. It was strange that he had heard her so distinctly, and that he had gathered the impression that she wanted to get to Carcajou on her own account. And––and he had said he would take her himself. Again 204 his first thought had been to do something for her, to be of service to her.

One of his hands was lying outside the blankets, and instinctively Madge placed her own upon it. She was frightened to feel how hot it was. The pulse her fingers sought was beating wildly. She felt glad that she was there. The man didn’t care for her and she––well, she supposed that she disliked him, but she wasn’t going to let him die there alone in a corner, like a wounded animal in some obscure den among the rocks. For the moment her own troubles were pretty nearly forgotten, for there was something for her to do. She had been but a useless by-product of humanity in the great melting pot of the world and had proved incapable of rising above the dross and making even a poor place for herself. But this man was young and strong and able, bearing all the marks of one destined to be of use. He had looked splendid in his efficient and sturdy manhood and therefore there was something wrong, utterly wrong and against the course of nature in his being about to be snuffed out before her very eyes, just because she had dropped that abominable pistol. It––it just couldn’t be!

She leaned forward again and looked upon his face, that was ashen under the coating of 205 tan. Once he opened his eyes and looked at her, but the lids closed down again and once more she became obsessed by the idea that she might have been very unjust to him, that she had perhaps insulted and wronged him. All at once the face she was looking at became blurred, but it was because she saw it through a mist of gathering tears. It had been easy, when she had bought that pistol, to think of killing a man; now it seemed frightful, abominable, and the resentment she had felt against the man was turning against herself in spite of the fact that it had been an accident, just a miserable accident.

Long minutes, forty or fifty of them, went by as she waited and listened. But presently Maigan, that had laid his head in her lap and was looking at her pitifully, as if he had been begging her to help the man he loved, rose suddenly and dashed to the door, barking. It proved to be Papineau and his wife, who was very breathless.

The man came in, looked at Hugo and rushed out again. He took the time to exchange his toboggan for Hugo’s, which was lighter and to which he hitched his three powerful dogs. Madge went to him.

“You’ll hurry, won’t you?” she cried. “I––I’m afraid, I’m horribly afraid. 206 Don’t––don’t come back without a doctor will you?”

“You bet de life, mees, I make dem dog ’urry plenty moch. Yes, ma’am, you bet!” he repeated, calmly, but looking at her with the strong steely eyes that seemed peculiar to these men of the great North.

He ran with his team up the path. When he reached the tote-road the girl saw that he had jumped on the sled, which was tearing away to the southward.

Within the shack Mrs. Papineau busied herself in many ways, placing things in order and fussing about the stove, upon which she had placed a pot containing more herbs she had brought with her. Every few minutes she interrupted her work in order to take another look at Hugo. Once or twice Madge saw a big tear roll down her fat cheeks, which she swiftly wiped off with her sleeve. A little later she managed to make the man swallow some of her concoction. He appeared to obey unconsciously, but when she spoke to him he just babbled something which neither of the women understood. Finally the Frenchwoman sat down at the side of Madge, snuffling a little, and began to whisper.

“Big strong man one day,” she commented, “an’ dis day seek an’ weak lak one leetle child. 207 Eet is de way so strange of de Providence. It look lak de good Lord make one fine man, fines’ Heem can make––a man as should get de love of vomans an’ leetle children––an’ den Heem mak up his min’ for to tak heem avay. An’ Heem good Lord know why, but I tink I better pray. Maybe de good Lord Heem ’ear an’ tink let heem lif a whiles yet, eh?”

And so the woman knelt down and repeated prayers, for the longest time, speaking hurriedly the invocations she had all her life, known by heart, and ending each one with the devout crossing of her breast. Then Madge, for the first time in a very long while, remembered words she had so often heard in the little village church at home, which promised that whenever two or three were gathered together in the name of the Lord, He would be among them. Yes, she had heard that assurance often in the place of worship she could now see so vividly, in which the open windows, on summer days, let in the droning of the bees and the scent of honeysuckle outside. So she knelt beside the other woman and began to pray also, haltingly, in words that came well-nigh unbidden because they were the call of a heart in sore travail which had long forgotten how to pray for itself. 208 And it seemed as if the great Power above must surely be listening.

Finally Mrs. Papineau rose. She was compelled to go back home and see that the children were fed. She promised she would return in a short time. The doctor would certainly not come before night, perhaps not even until early morning, for he would be compelled to make a journey on the train. Papineau would wait for him, of course. As soon as he had sent the message he would give the dogs a good feed and they would be ready for the return. Then when the doctor turned up, Papineau would rush him to Roaring River, and––and if the Lord was willing he might be able to do something, providing....

But she had to interrupt herself to wipe away another big tear. She placed a hand upon the girl’s shoulder, seeking to encourage her a little, and started off, her heavy footsteps crackling over the snow. Then silence came again, but for the hurried breathing of the sick man and the occasional sighs of Maigan, who refused food offered to him.

Madge forced herself to eat a little, dimly realizing that for a time there might be need of all her strength. After this she sat down again, feeling crushed with the sense of her helplessness and with the thought of the terribly 209 long hours that must elapse before the doctor could arrive.

Once Hugo seemed to awaken, as if from a sleep. The hand that had lain so still seemed to grope, searchingly, and she placed her own upon it.

“Take you over––all right––to-morrow,” he said. “It––it’s a pity, because––because you’re so––so good and kind, now,” he muttered. “She––she thinks I––I’m the dirt under her feet. Ain’t––ain’t you there, Stefan?”

His eyes searched the room for a moment. Then, with a look of disappointment, his head sagged down on the pillow again and he lay quiet for a long time, till he began to mutter words that were disconnected and meaningless to her.

The noon hour came and went, with a glowing sun that shone brightly over the snow and tinted the mist from the great falls with the colors of the rainbow. But Madge did not see it, for within the little shack the panes were dimmed by the frost. The stove crackled and spat, with the sudden little explosions of wood fires. Close to it one felt very warm but the heat did not extend far, since the cold seemed to be seeking ever to penetrate the room, making its way beneath the door and 210 through some of the chinked spaces between the logs. It affected Madge now as a sort of enemy, this cold that seemed to be on the watch for victims. It was one of the things that were always rising up in order to crush struggling men and women.

Another hour elapsed, that had been cruelly long, when Maigan suddenly leaped up and stood before the door, with hair bristling all over him and standing like a ridge along his back. He scratched furiously and looked back, as if demanding to be let out, and kept up a long, ominous growl that was very different from his usual bark.

Madge went to the door, feeling very uneasy. She opened it, after slipping her hand under Maigan’s collar. Upon the tote-road she saw a large sled that had been drawn by a pair of strong, shaggy horses, which a man was blanketing. From where she stood she heard confused voices of men and women, all of whom were strangers to her. They seemed to be consulting together. Finally they came down the path towards the shack, nine or ten of them, walking slowly and looking grim and unfriendly. Maigan was now barking fiercely and Madge had to struggle with him to prevent his dashing out towards them.



Stefan Runs

Philippe Papineau rode nearly all the way on the toboggan, sparing the dogs only in the hardest places on rising ground. The animals had been well-fed on the previous night and the trip around the trapping line had not been a hard one. It represented but a mere fifty miles or so, over which they had only hauled one man’s food in three days, with his blankets and a small shelter-tent he used when forced to stop away from one of the small huts he had built on the line. In fact, there had been little need of three dogs, but Papineau had taken them because it kept up their training. In the pink of condition, therefore, the team bade fair to equal Stefan’s best performances.

The Frenchman was within sight of the smokestack rising from Carcajou’s sawmill when he opened his eyes, widely. A pair of horses was coming along the old road, drawing a big sled. As the old lumber trail was used only by dog-teams, as a rule, this surprised 212 him. A moment later he clucked at his dogs, which drew to one side, and the horses, from whose shaggy bodies a cloud of steam was rising, came abreast of him. The sled stopped.

“Hello there, Papineau!” called one of the men. “Going in for provisions? Thought you hauled in a barrel of flour last week.”

“Uh huh,” assented Philippe, non-committally.

“Is that fellow Ennis over to his shack?” asked McIntosh, the squaw-man.

“Uh huh,” repeated the settler.

“D’ye happen to know whether there’s a––a young ’ooman there too?”

“Vat you vant wid dat gal?” asked Papineau this time.

“We’re just goin’ visitin’, like,” Pat Kilrea informed him. “It’s sure a fine day for a ride in the country. And so that there young ’ooman’s been up there a matter o’ three-four days, ain’t she?”

“I tink so,” assented Philippe.

“D’ye know who she is?” asked Mrs. Kilrea, a severe looking and angular woman.

“Sure, heem gal is friend o’ Hugo,” answered the Frenchman, simply. “Mebbe you better no go to-day. Hugo heem seek. I got to ’urry, so good-by.”


He lashed his dogs on again, while Pat cracked his whip and the party went on. Mrs. Kilrea was looking rather horrified, thought Sophy McGurn. Her turn was coming at last. There would be a scene that would repay her for her trouble, she gleefully decided.

As they went on at a steady pace, over a road which none but horses inured to lumbering could have followed without breaking a leg or getting hopelessly stalled in deep snow, Philippe hurried over to the station and got Joe Follansbee to send a telegram. The young man would have given a good deal to have made one of the party but his official duties detained him.

“Who wants a doctor?” he asked, curiously.

“Hugo,” answered Papineau, impatiently. “You don’t h’ask so moch question, you fellar. Jus’ telegraph quick now an’ h’ask for answer ven dat docteur he come, you ’ear me?”

Joe looked at the Frenchman, intending to resent his sharp orders, but thought better of it. The small, square-built, wide-shouldered man was not one to be trifled with. He was known as a calm, cool sort of a chap with little sense of humor, and the youth reflected that, in this neck of the woods, it was best not to trifle with men who were apt to end a quarrel by fighting over an acre of ground and mauling 214 one another until one or both parties were utterly unrecognizable, even to their best friends.

“Come back in about an hour and I expect I’ll have an answer,” he told the Frenchman, quite meekly.

The latter went into McGurn’s store and purchased some tobacco and a few needed groceries. Suddenly he bethought himself of Stefan.

Mon Dieu!” he exclaimed. “Heem ought know right avay, sure.”

He drove his team around to Stefan’s smithy but failed to find him. At the house Mrs. Olsen told him that her husband had gone out a half an hour ago. He would probably be at Olaf Jonson’s, at the other end of the village. Thither drove Philippe and found his man.

“’Ello, Stefan, want for see you right avay,” said the trapper. “Come ’long!”

The Swede hastened to him.

“Vat it iss, Philippe?” he asked, eyeing the dogs expertly. “Py de looks off tem togs I tink you ban in some hurry, no?”

“Uh huh! I come to telegraph for de docteur. Hugo heem ’urted h’awful bad. Look lak’ heem die, mebbe.”

Stefan bellowed out an oath and began running 215 towards his house at a tremendous gait. Papineau jumped on his toboggan and followed, only catching up after they had gone a couple of hundred yards. When they reached Olsen’s, the latter went in, shouted out the news and came out again. With the help of Papineau he hitched up his own great team of five.

“Tank you for lettin’ me know, Papineau,” he said. “I get ofer dere so tam qvick you don’t belief, I tank. So long!”

“’Old ’ard! ’Old ’ard!” shouted the Frenchman. “Vat for you tink Pat Kilrea an’ McIntosh, an’ Prouty an’ Kerrigan and more, an’ also vomans is goin’ up dere to de Falls? Dey say go visitin’. Dey don’t nevaire go make visits before dat vay. An’ dey h’ask me all ’bout de demoiselle, de gal vat is up dere, an’ I see Mis’ Kilrea an’ Kerrigan’s voman look one de oder in de face. Look mean lak’ de devil, dem vomans! I dunno, but I tink dey up to no good, dem crowd. If I no have to stay for docteur I go right back qvick. D’ye tink dey vant ter bodder Hugo, or de lady, Stefan?”

The latter swore again.

“If dey bodder ’em I tvists all dere necks like chickens, I tank,” he cried, excitedly. “How long ago did they leave?”


“Vell, most a h’our, now, I tink, and dem’s Kerrigan’s horses, as is five year olds an’ stronk lak’ de devil. Dey run good on de five-mile flat, dey do, sure, an’ odder places vhere snow is pack nice.”

This time Stefan didn’t answer. He shouted at his team, that started on the run, but Zeb Foraker’s St. Bernard, who could lick any dog in Carcajou singly, chanced to leap over the garden fence and come at them. In a moment a half dozen dogs were piled up in a fight. Stefan stepped into the snarl. A moment later he had the biggest animal, that was supposed to weigh close to two hundred, by the tail. With a wonderful heave he lifted it up and swung it over his master’s fence into a leafless copper beach that graced the plot, whence the animal fell to the ground, looking dazed. It took several minutes to straighten out the tangled traces and the leader was hopelessly lame. He had to be taken out and left at home. All the time Stefan’s language brought scared faces to the windows of neighboring shacks. It was a good thing, probably, that few people in Carcajou understood Swedish. Still, from the sound of it they judged that it must be something pretty bad. Finally he was off again, lacking the smartest animal in his team. The others, however, probably 217 considered that this was no occasion for further bad behavior and old Jennie, mother of three of the bunch, led it without making any serious mistakes.

For the life of him Stefan couldn’t conceive why anyone should want to bother Hugo or the pretty lady. It was the very strangeness and mystery of the thing that aroused him. He never entertained the idea that Papineau was mistaken. The Frenchman was a fine smart fellow, one who loved Hugo, and a man not given to idle notions or to exaggeration. If he thought there was something wrong this must be the case.

On a long upgrade he ran at the side of his dogs, his great chest heaving at the tremendous effort. On the level he rode, urging the animals on and keeping his eyes on the tracks of the horses and sleigh, while his strong stern face seemed immovably frozen into an expression of grim determination. Anyone who touched his friend Hugo would have to reckon with him, indeed. The man was one of the few beings he cared for, like his wife or the young ones. Such a friendship was a possession, something he owned, a treasure he would not be robbed of and was prepared to defend, as he would have defended his little hoard of money, the home he had built, with 218 the berserker fury of his ancestors. He was conscious of his might, conscious that there were few men on earth who could stand up against him in the rough and tumble fighting current in the far wilderness. He knew that he could go through such a crowd as was threatening his friend like a devastating cyclone through a cornfield.

“If dey’s qviet un’ reasonable I don’t ’urt nobotty but yoost tell ’em git out of here, tarn qvick,” he projected. “But if dem mens is up to anything rough I hope dey says dere prayers alretty, because I yoost bust ’em all up, you bet.”

The team was pulling hard, the breaths coming out in swift little puffs from their nostrils. Sometimes they walked, with tongues hanging out, while again they trotted easily, or, down the hills, galloped with the long easy lope of their wolfish ancestors. And Stefan calculated the speed the horses could have made here, and again over there. By the tracks he saw where they had trotted along good ground, or toiled more slowly over rough places. The man grinned when he came to spots where they must have proceeded very slowly with the heavy sleigh, and his brows corrugated when he saw that they had speeded up again.


“Dey drive tern horses fast,” he reflected. “Dey don’t vant trafel dis road back in dark, sure ting, to break dere necks. Dey vant make qvick vork. But I ban goin’ some, too, you bet.”

He was taking man’s eternal pleasure in swift motion, yet the anxiety remained with him that he might not catch up with them before they arrived. He knew that nothing could take place if he were there a minute before them. But if he was a minute late, what then? When this idea recurred, his face would take on its grim expression, the look wherewith Vikings once struck terror among their enemies. He hoped for the sake of that crowd that he might not be late, as well as for the good of his friend, for he would crush them, the men at any rate, and send the women trudging home, wishing they had never been born.

In him the two individualities that make up nearly every human being swung and seesawed. The kind-hearted, helpful, considerate man kept on surging upward, in the trust that his arrival would avert all trouble. Then this phase of his being would pass off and the great primal creature would take its place and come uppermost, with lustful ideas of vengeance, visions in which everything was 220 tinged with red, and then his great voice would ring out in the still woods and the dogs would pull desperately, with never a pause, and the toboggan would slither and slide and groan, and the crunching snow seemed to complain, and the masses of snow suspended to great hemlocks and firs dropped down suddenly, with thuds that were like the echoes of great smiting clubs.

When again he ran beside the dogs, in a long pull uphill, the sense of personal effort comforted him. He was doing something. Once the toe of one of his snowshoes caught in the snaky root of a big spruce and he fell ponderously, without a word, and picked himself up again. Dimly he was conscious that it had injured him a little, but he scarcely felt it. It was like some hurt received in the heat and passion of battle, that a man never really feels till the excitement has passed. His team had kept on, galloping fast, but he never called to them, knowing that harder ground would presently slow them. And he ran on, his great limbs appearing to possess the strength of machinery wrought of steel and iron, while his enormous chest hoarsely drew in and cast forth great clouds. But he was not working beyond his power, merely getting the best he knew out of the thews that 221 made him more efficient than most men, when it came to the toil of the wilds. He knew better than to play himself out so that he would arrive exhausted and unable to contend with the whole of his might. He was conscious as he ran that he would arrive nearly unbreathed and ready for any fray. And after he had swept off the intruders he would look upon the face of his friend, the man who for months had shared food with him, and the scented bedding of the woods, and the toil, and the downpours, and the clouds of black flies and mosquitoes, and who had always smiled through fair days and foul, and who, at the risk of his life, had saved him.

And that friendship was so strong that it must help the sick man. How could one be ill with a friend near by who had so much strength to give away, such determination to make all things well, such fierce power to contend with all inimical things? He would take him in his arms and bid him be of good cheer and courage, and the man would respond, would smile, would feel that strength being added to his own, so that he would soon be well again.

All this might be deepest folly, and was not formulated as we have been compelled to put it down in these pages. Rather it was but 222 a simple trust, a faith based on love and hope, a belief originating in the mind of one of a nature so trusting and inclined to goodness that until the last moment he would never believe in the victory of powers of evil.

So Stefan caught up with his dogs again and stepped on the toboggan, without stopping them, and the great trunks of forest giants seemed to slip by him swiftly, while here and there, by dint of some formation of hillside or gorge, his ears grew conscious of the far-away roar of the great falls. From a little summit he saw the cloud of rising vapor, all of a mile away. At every turn he peered ahead, keenly disappointed on each occasion, for the party was not in sight. So he urged the dogs faster. The big sleigh must surely be just ahead, beyond the next turn.

“Oh, if dey touch one hair of de head of Hugo, den God pity dem!” he cried out.

And the dogs ran on, more swiftly than ever, breathing easily still in spite of the nearly three hundred pounds of manhood they drew, and the roar of the falls became more distinct, while to the right, away down below, the river swirled under the groaning ice and sped past wildly, towards the east and the south, as if seeking to save itself from the embrace of the North.



A Visit Cut Short

Like the great majority of the denizens of the wilderness, Maigan could be a steadfast friend or a bitter enemy. He would readily have given his life for the one and torn the other asunder. Not being very far removed from a wolfish ancestry he was necessarily suspicious, intolerant at first of strangers and prepared to use his clean and cutting fangs at the shortest notice. But he was also more cautious than the dog of civilization and less apt to blurt his feelings right out. After his first outburst he appeared to quiet down, growling but a very little, very low, and stood at the girl’s side, watchful and ready for immediate action.

Madge stood on the wooden step that had been cleared of snow, in front of the little door of rough planks. She watched the people coming in Indian file down the path that had been beaten down in the deep snow. For a moment she had thought that they might be bringing help, that miraculously a 224 doctor had been found at once, that these people were friends eager to help, to remove the sick man to Carcajou and thence to some hospital further down the railway line. But such people would have cried out inquiries. They would have come with some shout of greeting. But these newcomers came along without a word until their leader was but a few yards away, when he stopped and looked at the girl during a moment’s silence.

“Where’s Hugo Ennis?” he finally asked, gruffly.

“He is in the shack,” replied the girl, timidly. “He is dreadfully ill and lying on his bunk.”

“What’s the matter with him?”

“He was shot––shot by accident, and now I’m afraid that he is going to die.”

“Well, I’ll go in and see. We’ll all go in. We’re mighty cold after that long ride. Stand aside!”

“I think you might go in,” the girl told him, still blocking the way, “but the others must not. I––I won’t allow him to be disturbed. Don’t––don’t you understand me? I’m telling you that he’s dying. I––I won’t have him disturbed. And––and who are you? You don’t look like a friend of his. What’s your purpose in coming here?”


The first feeling of timidity that had seized her seemed to have left her utterly. There remained to her but an instinct––a will to defend the man, to protect him from unwarranted intrusion, and she spoke with authority. But another of the visitors addressed her.

“We’re folks belongin’ to these townships,” he said. “What we want to know is who you are, and what right ye’ve got to order us about and say who’s goin’ in and who’s to keep out?”

Something in his words caused her cheeks to burn, but strangely enough she felt quite calm and strong in her innocence of any evil, and she answered quietly enough.

“My name is Madge Nelson, if you want to know, and I am here at this moment because I am taking care of Mr. Ennis. I feel responsible for his welfare and will continue until he is better and able to speak for himself, or––or until he is dead. I repeat that one of you may come in––but no more.”

It appeared that her manner impressed the men to some extent, if not the three women who crowded behind. One of the visitors was scratching the back of his neck.

“Look a-here, Aleck, I reckon that gal is talking sense, if Hugo’s real bad like she says. We ain’t got no call to butt in an’ make him 226 worse. I know when Mirandy was sick the Doc he told me ter take a club if I had to, to keep folks out. Let Pat Kilrea go in if he wants to an’ we’ll stay outside an’ wait.”

“Sure, that’s right enough,” said old man Prouty.

Pat advanced, but Maigan began to growl.

“Say, young ’ooman, I’ll bash that dog’s head in if you don’t keep him still,” he said, truculently. “Keep a holt of him.”

Madge pulled the dog back and quieted him.

“Be good, Maigan,” she said. “It’s all right, old fellow.”

She entered the shack behind Pat Kilrea and closed the door. In doing this she meant no offense to the others, who didn’t mind, knowing that with a cold of some twenty below people don’t care for an excess of ventilation. They stood, the men silently, the women putting their heads together and whispering.

“Ain’t she the brazen sassy thing?” remarked Mrs. Kilrea.

“Guess she ain’t no better’n she should be,” opined Sophy, acidly, as she watched the door keenly.

Pat Kilrea went to the bunk and for an instant considered the sick man’s face. Then he scratched his head again.


“Hello, Hugo!” he finally called out. “What’s the matter with ye? Ain’t––ain’t tryin’ to hide behind a gal’s skirts, are ye?”

His arm was seized from behind. The girl’s eyes flashed at him.

“I––I don’t know who you are!” she exclaimed. “But if––if you say such things I’ll turn that dog on you, so help me God!”

“I––I don’t reckon as I meant it,” stammered Pat. “He––he does look turriple sick, now me eyes is gettin’ used to the light. Why, why don’t you speak, man?”

But the sufferer on the bunk made no answer save in some low fast words that were disconnected and meaningless. Slowly, nearly tenderly, Pat touched a hand that felt burning hot and a forehead that was moist and clammy. Then he turned to the girl again.

“Well, I must say I’m sorry,” he acknowledged. “Looks to me like he was done for. What are ye goin’ to do for him? We––we didn’t reckon to find nothin’ like this when we come, though Papineau told us he were sick.”

“Mr. Papineau’s errand was to telegraph for the doctor,” she replied, with a hand pressed to her bosom. “At––at first, when I heard you coming, I thought he had perhaps arrived and––and that you were intending 228 to take him away. Do––do you really think he’s going to die?”

“Well, I’m scared it looks a good deal that way. Of course we might be able to take him in the sleigh, but––but he don’t look much as if he could stand the trip––does he?––an’––an’ I don’t reckon we can do much good stayin’ round here either.”

He stepped over to the door and opened it.

“That gal’s right,” he said. “Hugo looks desperate sick.”

“Sure it ain’t nothin’ that’s ketchin’, are ye?” asked his wife, drawing back a little.

“I didn’t never hear that pistol bullets was contagious,” he answered.

“But who did it?” cried McIntosh. “And––and how d’ye know ’twas just an accident. Seems to me we’d ought to find out something more about it. It––it don’t sound just natural.”

“I tell you he was shot by accident. I did it, God forgive me,” faltered Madge.

Sophy McGurn, at this, pushed her way forward until she stood in front of Madge, and pointed an accusing finger at her. Her eyes were flashing. To Maigan her move seemed a threatening one and she recoiled as the animal crouched a little, with fangs bare and lips slavering.


“Hold him, miss, hold him quick!” cried Aleck Mclntosh. “Git back there, Sophy, what’s the matter with ye? D’ye want to be torn to pieces? What’s that ye was goin’ to say?”

“She––she never shot him by accident! She––she did it on purpose, for revenge, that’s what she did, the she-devil!”

She was still standing before Madge and her voice was shaking with excitement, while her arms and hands trembled with her passion.

“What’s all that?” cried Pat Kilrea. “Ye wasn’t here to see, was ye? How d’ye know she done it a-purpose, for revenge? Ye must have some reason for sayin’ such things. Out with ’em!”

But now Sophy was shrinking back, afraid of her own outburst, fearing that she might have revealed something. Her voice shook again as she replied.

“I––I ain’t got any reason,” she stammered. “I––I was just thinking so. It––it came to me all of a sudden. Maybe I’m mistaken.”

“Mistaken, was it?” asked Pat Kilrea. “Folks ain’t got any right to be mistaken when it comes to accusin’ others of murder. If you hadn’t had some reason to speak that way ye’d have kept yer mouth shut, I’m 230 thinking. Why don’t ye come right out with it?”

“I––I didn’t really mean anything by it,” stammered Sophy again.

“What revenge was that you was referring to?” he persisted.

“Nothing––nothing at all. How should I know what she would do?”

“Then you ought to have kept still an’ held yer tongue,” said Pat.

“But it seems to me as if we’d ought to investigate this thing a little,” ventured Prouty. “We ain’t got anythin’ here but this ’ere young ’ooman’s word for what’s happened. She can tell us how it came about, anyways, seems to me, and we can judge if it sounds sensible and correct like.”

“That’s right,” put in Kilrea. “That’s fair and proper.”

“I am perfectly willing to tell you all I know about it,” asserted Madge, quietly. “I––I came here to see Mr. Ennis on a matter that––that concerns us only. And I had occasion to open my bag. Among the things in it there was a revolver. It fell out of my hands and exploded, and––and the bullet struck him. I––I never knew that he had been shot. He never even told me, and then he hitched the dog to the sleigh and took me 231 over to Mrs. Papineau’s, where I have been staying. And it was she who discovered that he had been injured. She’ll tell you so herself if you go to her. And––and he told her it was an accident, as he would tell you now if––if he wasn’t dying.”

“You’d fixed it up to spend the night at Papineau’s?” asked Mrs. Kilrea, who had hitherto kept somewhat in the background.

“That was the arrangement we had made,” answered the girl. “There was no other place where I could stay. But I’d have gone up there alone if I’d known how badly he was hurt. I’ve stayed with them ever since, of course, for there was no one to take me back. Mr. Papineau hadn’t returned. He was trapping.”

“I don’t see but what she must be tellin’ the truth,” opined Mrs. Kilrea. “There ain’t anything wrong or improper in all this, savin’ a girl handlin’ a revolver, which ain’t wise. We can go over to Papineau’s and make sure it’s just as she says.”

“But there’s one thing ain’t clear,” said Pat Kilrea. “What business did she come on, anyways?”

Madge drew herself up and looked at him calmly.

“I’ve already told you that this concerns 232 Mr. Ennis and myself,” she told him, “and I deny that you have any right....”

Just then there was a roar from the tote-road as big Stefan, lashing his dogs, bumped down the path at a wild gallop and, a minute later, threw himself off the sled and was among them.

“How do, peoples?” he shouted, advancing truculently towards Pat and Mclntosh. “Papineau telt me as how Hugo he get hurted bad and sick. And he say you peoples ask him whole lot qvestions about him. I vant to know vhat all you is doin’ here, und––und if I ain’t satisfied I take some of you and––and vipe up de ground vid you, hear me!”

His manner was ominously calm, but his words sent a shiver through the crowd. He was and looked a tremendous figure. He had moved to the side of the girl, as if to defend her, and his clear blue eyes went searchingly from one man to the next.

“Papineau he tells me in Carcajou it look like you come ofer here to make drouble for Hugo an’ mebbe for dis young leddy. So I come here fast like my togs can take me, sure ting. Und I vant to know vhen you vants to start droubles. Der leddies can move leetle vay to one side if dey like, to make room. Ve need plenty, I tank. Who vant to start de 233 row now, who begin? I tak’ you vun at a time or altogedder, how you like!”

He took a step forward and the men all moved back hurriedly. The ladies had swiftly accepted his advice and were retreating fast, now and then looking back in terror.

“But look here, Stefan, what are you butting in for?” Kilrea took courage to ask while he kept discreetly out of reach. “We came to see if everything was all right and proper here. We’re satisfied now and are going back. Got to hurry away, sun’s getting low.”

The Swede sniffed at him contemptuously, and drew off a big mitt of muskrat hide. With some difficulty he drew from his clothing a huge silver watch and looked at it.

“Glad you vas in a hurry. I tank I ’elp you a bit make tings lifely. I gif you all yoost tree minutes ter get started. Den if any man he ain’t aboard dat sleigh I yoost vipes up de ground vit him a bit. If you knows vhat is good for ye, den make tracks, qvick. I ban gettin’ hurry mineself, eh!”

“But what right have you to be ordering us about?” shouted Aleck Mclntosh, imprudently.

“My frient, you’s knowed as de laziest man in Carcajou and some say in Ontario. I helps you along, sure.”


He had dashed towards him with devastating speed. The fellow turned to run, but a second later the slack of some of his garments was in Stefan’s huge hand. Struggling and backing he found himself half lifted, half propelled on the ground, all the way to the sled. There he was lifted high and dumped in, like a bag of feed.

“Any oders as need help?” roared Stefan.

But they were hastening for all they were worth. Kilrea took the reins. The three women were already seated. The others jumped in and the horses started home again, even before the Carcajou Vigilantes had finished spreading robes over their shaky knees. Striking a bit of flat bare rock, the runners spat out fire and squealed, after which the heavy sled slithered and slipped over the crackling snow, so that presently the outfit disappeared around the first bend in the tote-road.

Miss Sophy McGurn looked particularly down-hearted. None of the interesting events she expected had taken place. She had merely succeeded in nearly giving herself away and arousing suspicions.

And the girl was still there, with Hugo! She had believed that Hugo would be found sheepish and embarrassed, or in a regular 235 fury, while the stranger would weep and wring her hands and seek to explain. And the invading crowd was to have manifested its indignation at this breach of all decency and proper custom, and sent the woman away, while they would have told the man what they thought of him, in spite of his rage, and warned him that he must mend his ways or quit the country.

And now they had all been driven away, and that girl had stood and spoken as if she had some right to be there, and had been indignant at any inquiry into her motives for coming to Roaring River. Worse than all Pat Kilrea and his wife seemed to have turned against her, after absolving the two of blame.

She shrank back, drawing her fur cap further down over her eyes and ears. Now the cold seemed more bitter than she had ever felt it before, in spite of the thermometer’s rise, and the road was so long and dreary that it seemed as if it never would end.

And Hugo Ennis was dying––and in her heart Sophy McGurn felt certain that the girl had shot to kill, and was waiting there until he should die. Perhaps she had rummaged about the place and found money or other valuables, for Ennis always seemed to have some funds, though he spent prudently and 236 carefully, and never seemed to have dollars to throw away. And the end of it would be that the girl would leave and the man would be dead and all the dreams of marriage first and of a revenge following had turned into this thing, which was a nightmare.

She reached her home half frozen, in spite of the robes, and could not eat her food. Her mother had a few mild words to say about long excursions out in the back country, in this sort of weather. Then the girl left the table suddenly, and slammed the door of her room shut, in a towering rage. A little later, after she had lain down, came tears, for it seemed to her at this time that she had never truly loved Ennis until she heard that he was dying, and now he was lost to her forever.



Help Comes

Stefan had watched the departure of those people grimly, until he felt sure that they would not return. Madge had stood near him. In her desolation it was splendid to have him there with her, to be no longer obliged to stare at the sick man’s face in lonely terror, to feel that if there was any help needed he would be at hand, with all his immense strength and courage.

“I tank dey don’t mean much badness,” the man explained to her. “Mebbe ye knows peoples in dis countree ain’t much to do in dis vintertime and dey gets fonny iteas about foolin’ araount. Dey goes home all qviet now, you bet, and don’t talk to nobotty vhat tam fools dey bin, eh!”

They both entered the shack again and the big fellow went up to the bunk upon which lay his friend. For a very long time he looked at him, finally touching a hand with infinite care and gentleness. After this he turned to Madge a face expressive of deepest pain.


“Leetle leddy,” he said, gently, “vos it true as you shot him? Papineau he telt me so. A accident, he said it vos.”

The girl looked at him imploringly, with elbows bent but hands stretched towards him, as if she were suing for forgiveness. The man was seated on a stool, waiting for her answer.

“Yes, it was an accident––a terrible accident,” sobbed Madge, whose strength and courage seemed to leave her suddenly. “You––you believe me, don’t you?”

It is hard to say whether it was weakness or the excess of her emotion that forced her down to her knees. She grasped one of the huge hands the man had extended towards her. He laid the other upon her bent back, very softly.

“In course I do, you poor leetle leddy. Yes, I sure beliefe you. Dere vosn’t anybotty vould hurt Hugo, unless dey vos grazy, you bet. He ban a goot friend to me––ay, he ban a goot friend to all peoples.”

He helped her up, very tenderly, and made her sit on a stool close to the one he occupied. There was a very long interval of silence, during which his great face and beard were hidden in the hollow of his hands. Then he spoke again, in a very low voice, as if he 239 had been addressing the smallest of his own babes.

“You poor leetle leddy,” he repeated, “I feels most turriple sorry for Hugo, for it most tear my heart out yoost to look at him. But vhen I looks at you I feels turriple sorry for you too. I knows vhat it must be, sure ting, for a leetle leddy like you to be sittin’ here, in dis leetle shack, a-lookin’ at de man she lofe an see de life goin’ out of him. Last fall Hugo ban gone a vhiles back East again, and vhen you comes I tank mebbe you some nice gal he promise to marry. Even vhen de telegraft come I make sure it is so. I pring de bit paper here myself an’ vaits a vhiles, but he no come and I haf to go on. I vanted to see de happy face on him. I say to myself, ‘Hah! You rascal Hugo, you nefer tell nodding to your ole friend Stefan, but he know all de same.’ But vhen I got to go I couldn’t say nodding. I leaf de paper on de table here an’ I tank how happy he is vhen he come home an’ find it. You poor leetle leddy!”

The man was mistaken, most honestly so, for no idea of love had ever entered Hugo’s head, and none had come to Madge. Yet the big fellow’s words seemed to stab the girl to the heart and she moaned. She felt that she 240 could not allow Hugo’s friend to remain undeceived. There had been already too many mysteries, too many lies––she would have no share in them if she could help it.

“I––I wasn’t in love with him when I came, Stefan,” she faltered. “He––he was a stranger to me. I had never seen him––never in all my life. I came here because––because there has been some terrible mistake––in some letters, queer letters that bade me come here and––and meet a man who wanted a wife. And I––I was a poor miserable sick girl in New York and––and I just couldn’t keep body and soul together anymore––and––and be a good decent girl. And those letters seemed so beautiful that I felt I must come and see the man who wrote them, and––and I was ready to marry him if he would be kind to me and––and treat me decently and––and keep me from starvation and suffering. And when I came here he didn’t know anything about it, and––and I thought he lied. But––but I never thought to do him any harm. I took the little pistol out of the bag, because I was looking for something else, and it went off! Oh!”

She hid her face in her hands, as if the whole scene had been again enacted before her, and the man heard her sobbing.


“Hugo he nefer tell no lie,” said Stefan, softly. “I don’t know vhat all dis mean, you bet. But I am glad you ban come like a stranger. I am glad he no lofe you, and den I am sorry, too, for you so nice gal, vid voice so soft and such prettee eyes, I tank if he lofe you den you sure lofe him too. Den you two so happy in dis place, ma’am.”

He interrupted himself, striking his fist upon his chest, as if to still a pain in it, and went on again.

“You haf no idea how prettee place dis is, leetle leddy, in de summertime. A vonderful place to be happy in. De big falls dey make music all day and at night dey sings you to sleep, like de modder she sings leetle babies. Und de big birches dey lean ofer, so beautiful, and de birds dey comes all rount, nesting in all de bushes. Oh, such a vonderful place for a man and a voman to love, dem falls of dat Roaring Rifer! Hugo he cleared such a goot piece, oder side of dat leetle hill, vhere de oats vould grow fine. And down by de Rifer, on de north side, he find silver, plenty silver in big veins, like dey got east of us, in Nipissing countree. So I tank one day he ban a rich man and haf a prettee little voman and plenty nice kiddies, leetle children like one lofes to see, and dey all lif here so happy.”


His voice grew suddenly hoarse. It was with an effort that he spoke again.

“An’ now he don’ know me––or you or Maigan, and––and my goot dear frient Hugo he look like he ban dyin’!”

Stefan stopped abruptly again, apparently overcome. His face, tanned by frost and sun to a hue of dull brick, also lay in the hollow of his hands. The vastness of his grief seemed to be commensurate with his size. But when he looked up Madge saw that his eyes were dry, for he was suffering according to the way of strong men with the agony that clutches at the breast and twists a cord about the temples. In his helplessness before the peril he was pitiful to see, since all his confidence had gone, his pride in his power, his faith in his ability to surmount all things by the mere force of his will. And the present weakness of the man augmented the girl’s own sorrow, even though his being there was relief of a sort.

The Swede looked about him vaguely, and then his eyes became fixed on a point of the log wall, as if through it he had been able to discern things that lay beyond.

“Hugo an’ me,” he began again, very slowly and softly, “ve vent off north from here, a year an’ a half it is now, after de ice she vent off de lakes. And ve trafel long vays, 243 most far as vhere de Albany she come down in James Bay. Ve vos lookin’ for silfer an’ copper an’ tings like dat. An’ dere come one day vhen ve gets awful rough water on a lake and ve get upset. Him Hugo he svim like a otter, he do, but me I svim like a stone. De shore he ban couple hundret yard off, mebbe leetle more. I hold on to de bow and Hugo he grab de stern. So he begin push for shore, svimmin’ vid his feet, but dat turriple slow going, vid de canoe all under vater, yoost holdin’ us up a bit, and it vos cold, awful turriple cold in dat vater. He calls to me ve can’t make it dat vay, ve don’t make three-four yards a minute. Den I calls for him to let go, for I ban tanking he safe his life anyvay, svimmin’ ashore vhere ve had our camp close by. Und vhat you tank he do, ma’am? He yell to me not be tam fool, dat vhat he do! He say, ‘How I look at your voman an’ de kids in de face, vhen I gets back vidout you?’ So he lets go and my end sink deep so I let go an’ vos fighting to keep up but he grab me and say to take holt of his shoulter. He swear he trown vid me if I don’t. So I done it, ma’am, and he svim, svim turriple hard, draggin’ me ashore. I yoost finds my feet on de bottom vhen he keels ofer, like dead, vid de cold and de playin’ out. So I takes him in 244 my arms and runs in. I had matches in my screw-box but my fingers vos dat froze I couldn’t get ’em out first. But I manages make a fire, by an’ by, and I rubs de life back into him again. And––and you know vhat is first ting he say vhen he vake up?”

Madge shook her head.

“Him Hugo yoost say, ‘Now I kin look Mis’ Olsen in de face, vhen ve gets back, eh, old pard?’”

The man kept still again, looking anxiously at the sufferer and watching the hurried breathing. The feeling of his uselessness was evidently a torture to him, but his heart was too full for him to remain silent very long.

“An’ now I am here an’ can do nodings. I ban no more use dan––dan de tog dere. My God, leddy, tell me vhat I can do! He most trown himself an’ freeze to death to safe me dat time an’ I got sit still like a big tam fool an’ him goin’ under vidout a hand to pull him out. All de blood in my body, every drop, I gif to safe him. Don’t you beliefe? I remember vhen de vaves and de vind pring dot canoe ashore. Ve lose not a ting because eferyting is lashed tight. Py dat time he vos vhistling and singin’ alretty, like nodings efer happen. Ve had de big fire roarin’, I tell you, and vhen I say again he safe my life he 245 yoost laugh like it is a fine yoke an’ say: ‘Oh, shut up, Stefan, ve’re a pair big fools to get upset, anyvays. And some tay you do yoost same ting for me, I bet.’ And now––now I can do nodings––nodings at all.”

He seemed to be in an agony of despair. Madge had hardly realized that the suffering of men could reach such an intensity. She rose and placed her little hand on the giant’s shoulder. The huge frame was shaking convulsively, in great sobs that brought no tears with them. Then, all at once, he rose and faced her, shamefacedly.

“Poor leetle leddy,” he faltered, “I ban makin’ you unhappy vid dem story. I ban sorry be such a big tam fool, but I can no help it. It––it is stronger as me.”

For a time he paced up and down the little shack, struggling hard to keep himself in hand. Once he seized his shaggy head in his great paws and seemed to be trying to squeeze out of it the unendurable pain that was in it.

“De sun he begin go town,” he said, stopping suddenly. “Vhy don’t dat Papineau get back? It get dark soon. I tank I take de togs an’ go down de road. Mebbe his team break down. His leader ban a young tog.”

For an instant Madge felt like begging him to remain. Ay, she could have shrieked out 246 her terror at the idea of being left alone with the man that was dying, as she thought, but she also succeeded in controlling herself, realizing that if the man was not allowed to do something, anything that would require the strength of his thews and divert the turmoil of his brain, he might go mad.

“As––as you think best,” she assented, with her head bent low.

Stefan took his cap and fitted it over his great shock of hair, but at this moment Maigan rose and went to the door, whining.

“Some one ban comin’, but it ain’t Papineau,” said Stefan.

It proved to be Mrs. Papineau, hurrying down the path and carrying a basket. She explained that the cow had had a calf, hence her delay. Puffing and breathless she scolded them for not lighting the lamp and bustled about the place, declaring that the two watchers should have made tea and that it took an experienced mother of many to know how to handle things.

“I have made strong soup vid moose-meat,” she told them. “Heem do Monsieur Hugo moch good. I put on de stove now an’ get hot.”

She spoke confidently, just as usual, as if nothing out of the ordinary were going on 247 in the shack, but it was a transparent effort to encourage the others, and she was not able to keep it up long. She happened to look at Hugo again, and suddenly her face fell and her hands went up, while she buried her face in her blue apron and sobbed right out.

“De good Lord Heem bring an’ de good Lord Heem take away,” was what she said, and it sounded like a knell in the ears of the others.

Since the light was beginning to fail Madge lit the little lamp. Mrs. Papineau took some of the soup out of the pot and stirred it with a spoon to cool it, and then she lifted the sick man’s head. Her voice became soft and caressing, as if she had spoken to a child.

“My leetle Hugo,” she said, “dere’s a good fellar. Try an’ drink, jus’ one bit. H’open mouth, dat way. Now you swallow, dere’s good boy. An’ now you try heem again, jus’ one more spoon. H’it is awful good, from de big moose what Philippe he get. Jus’ one more spoon an’ I not bodder you no more.”

Whether Hugo understood or not no one could have told. At any rate, with infinite patience, she was able to feed him a little, until he finally pushed her hand away from him.


Stefan, whose back had been resting on the door and whose arms had been hanging dejectedly at his side, took a step towards the girl.

“Ay go down de road a bit an’ meet Papineau if he come back,” he proposed. “If de togs is tired I take de doctor on my toboggan. Get back qvicker dat vay. So long! I comes back soon anyvays, sure.”

He started away at a swift pace, his strong dogs, amply rested, barking and throwing themselves hard upon the breastpieces of their harness. After he was out of hearing the two women sat very close together, for mutual comfort and consolation, and the older one began to speak in a low whisper.

“You very lucky, mademoiselle. It ees lucky it ain’t you h’own man as lie dere an’ you haf to see heem like dat. It is turriple ting to see. One time Papineau heem get h’awful seek, an’ I watch him five––no, six day and de nights. An’ it vos back in de Grand Nord, no doctor nor noding at all. An’ me wid my little Justine jus’ two month ole in my h’arms. An’ den come de day ven de good Lord Heem ’ear ’ow I pray all de time an’ Papineau heem begin to get vell again. But de time vos like having big knife planted in my ’eart, jus’ like dat.”


She made a gesture as if she had stabbed herself, and went on:

“You not know ’ow ’appy you must be you no love a man as goin’ for die soon. You––you go crazy times like dat!”

But Madge made no answer and could only continue to stare at the form that seemed to grow dimmer as the small oil lamp cast flickering shadows in the room. In her ears the continued, eternal sound of the great falls had taken on an ominous character. It was like some solemn dirge that rose and fell, unaccountably, like the breathing of a vast force that could reck nothing of the piteous tragedy being enacted. It appeared to be growing ever so much colder again. A few feet away from the stove it was freezing. She sought to look out of the little window but great massing clouds had hidden the crimson of sunset. A strong wind was arising and caused the great firs and spruces to groan dismally. The minutes were again becoming cruel things that tortured one with their maddening slowness. The girl became conscious of the beats of her heart, unaccountably slow, as she thought.

And then, for a moment, that heart stopped utterly. A shout had come from the little lumber road and Maigan was barking at the door excitedly, in spite of the older woman’s 250 scolding. The toboggan slithered over the snow and there was a patter of dogs’ feet.

Madge threw the door open and let in a man in a great coonskin coat, who was carrying a bag. In spite of the heaviest fur mitts his hands were chilled and for a moment he held them to the glow of the stove, before turning calmly to his patient, after a curt nod to each of the women.



A Widening Horizon

“I’m Dr. Starr,” the man introduced himself. “It’s turning mighty cold again. We only hit the high places after I got on Stefan’s toboggan, I can tell you. How the man kept up with his team I can’t tell you, but he ran all the way.”

He threw off his heavy coat and turned to the bunk.

“Now let’s see what we’ve got here,” he said.

The two women were scanning his face, holding their breaths, but Mrs. Papineau had the lamp and held it so as to cast some light on Hugo. The doctor’s expression, however, was quite inscrutable.

“Your husband?” he asked the girl, who shook her head. “Well, perhaps it’s a good thing he’s not. Put a lot of water to boil on the stove, please. Can’t you find another lamp here––this one doesn’t give much light?”

There was no lamp but they found a package of candles which were soon flickering on 252 the table, stuck in the necks of bottles. The doctor was pulling a lot of things out of his bag, coolly. To Madge it seemed queer that he could be so unaffected by what he saw. Presently he went to work, after baring the injured shoulder.

After it was all over it seemed to the girl like some dreadful nightmare. After just one keen glance the doctor had probably decided that her young hands would afford him the better help. And so she had been obliged to remain at his side and look upon the sinewy shoulder and the arm that had been laid bare, and at the angry and inflamed wound which had been flooded with iodine. And then had come the picking up of shining instruments just taken out of one of the boiling vessels. Her teeth left imprints on her lips and she felt that she was surely going to stagger and fall as the man made long slashing incisions. From them he took out a piece of cloth and a bullet that had been flattened against the bone. After this there was a lot more disinfecting and the placing of red tubes of rubber deep down in the wound, which was finally covered with a large dressing. But it was only after this was all finished that Madge dropped on a stool, feeling sick and shaken.

“Oh, you’re not such a very bad soldier, 253 after all,” commented the doctor, quietly, as he gathered up his instruments to clean and boil them again. “I can’t say that I’m optimistic about this case––but perhaps you don’t quite understand such big words. I mean that I haven’t any great hopes for this lad, but at least he has some little chance now. There was none whatever before. Of course it depends a lot on the nursing he gets. If I thought for a moment that he could stand the trip I’d take him away with me, but that’s out of the question.”

Then he turned to Stefan.

“I’ll have to catch the first freight back in the morning, my man. Will you take me to Carcajou in good time? I can’t afford to miss it. Too many needing me just now east of here!”

“Ay, I take you––if Hugo he no worse. But if tings is goin’ wrong, I’ll let Papineau do it. I––I can’t leaf no more. Vhen I starts from here I tank I can’t stand it a moment––but vhen I get off on de road, I gets grazy to come back. I––I don’t know vhat I vants!”

The doctor looked at him curiously, appreciating the depth of the man’s emotion and gauging the strength of the superb creature he was.


“I won’t let you take me if it isn’t safe,” he told him, and turned to his patient again.

“Do you expect to stay up all night?” he suddenly asked the girl.

“I––I am anxious to, if I can be of the slightest help.”

“One can never tell,” he replied. “I might be glad to have you with me. You don’t lose your head––and you’re efficient.”

Presently Papineau arrived with his dogs and took his wife home. The good lady had looked upon the doctor’s cutting with profound disfavor. A suggestion of hers about herbs had been treated with scant respect. Before leaving she spoke to Madge.

“I stay h’all night too––but it ain’t no good, because if he lif to-morrow night den you go sleep an’ I stay ’ere. Before I go to bed I prays moch. I––I ’opes he lif through de night––heem no more bad as heem was, anyvays, an’ dat someting.”

So they went away sorrowfully, to the little new-born calf and the babies and the children who needed them, and Stefan sat on the floor with his back to the wall, while Maigan snuggled up against him.

Dr. Starr remained all night, sometimes dozing a little on his chair, with the ability of the man often called at night to take little 255 snatches of sleep here and there, but Madge was at all times wide awake. Some time after midnight Hugo appeared to be sleeping quietly. The valuable candles had been extinguished, of course, but the little lamp was burning, shaded on one side by a piece of birch bark. Stefan had gradually curled up on the floor, under the table, where he was out of the way, and was snoring lustily. In the morning, doubtless, he would most honestly insist that he had not slept an instant. Out of doors the Swede’s dogs had dug holes in the snow and, with sensitive noses covered by their bushy tails, were awaiting in slumber the next call from their master. The great falls kept up their moan and the trees swayed and cracked. A wind-borne branch, falling on the roof, made a sudden racket that was startling.

At frequent intervals Madge rose and gave Hugo some water, for which he always seemed grateful, or adjusted the pillow beneath his head. Once, when she sat down again, she saw the doctor’s eyes fixed upon her, gravely.

“You have the necessary instinct,” he told her, “and the patience and perseverance. I don’t know what your plans may be for the future, but you would make a good nurse.”


Madge shrugged her shoulders, the tiniest bit. She didn’t know. It didn’t matter what she was fit for. The world so far had been a failure. The only important thing before her now was to do her best to help pull the sick man out of the jaws of death, if it could possibly be done. She sat down again, and after a time that seemed like an age the utter blackness without began to turn to gray and, in spite of the constantly replenished stove, the chill of the early morning struck deep into her. As the doctor looked at his watch she rose and began to make tea, which comforted them.

“Do you expect to keep on looking after this man?” the doctor asked her, abruptly, between two mouthfuls.

“Yes, of course, if I may,” she answered.

“I should say that you will simply have to, if his life is to be saved, or at least if he’s to have a fair chance. I shall be compelled to go pretty soon. As it is I won’t get back home before noon and there are several bad cases I must see to-day. I’ll return the day after to-morrow; it’s the best I can do, for it is absolutely impossible for me to remain here. Now just listen to me very carefully while I give you the necessary directions. I think I’d better write some of them out so that you will 257 be sure not to forget them. See if you can find me a bit of paper somewhere.”

On one of the shelves there was a small homemade desk in which she rummaged. She found a number of loose bits of paper, some of them scribbled over in pencil and others with ink. They were apparently accounts, notes concerning various supplies and a few letters from various places. Finding a clean sheet she brought it to the doctor who rapidly wrote at length upon it. At this moment Stefan awoke, with a portentous yawn, but a second later he had leaped to his feet and was scanning their faces anxiously.

“I tank mebbe I doze for a moment,” he informed them. “How is Hugo gettin’ long?”

“For the present he looks to me somewhat better,” answered the doctor. “There doesn’t seem to be any immediate danger, and I’ll have to start back in a few minutes. We’ve had a cup of tea, but you’d better make some breakfast ready.”

Stefan bestirred himself and presently a potful of rolled oats was being stirred carefully for fear of burning, and bacon was sputtering in the pan. The kettle was singing again and Madge was cutting slices from a loaf left by Mrs. Papineau. The three sat 258 down to the table and ate hungrily, abundantly, as people have to who make stern demands upon their vitality.

The doctor made a few more remarks about the treatment of his patient. He had carefully laid on the table the little tablets of medicine, the bottle containing an antiseptic, the cotton and gauze that must be used to renew the dressing. Then he went out, breathing deeply of the sharp and aromatic air, and a moment later he and Stefan were gone, the latter promising to return at once, with a few needed supplies from the store. Madge was alone now with Hugo, who was again sleeping quietly. She read over the doctor’s directions carefully while she stood by the little window, as the lamp had been extinguished.

A few minutes later she decided to place the paper in the little desk again, for safe-keeping. Without the slightest curiosity her eyes fell again upon some of the writing on loose sheets. But presently she was staring at it hard as a strong conviction made its way into her brain. After this she went to the other shelf where some books had been placed and opened one of them, and then another. On the flyleaf was written, in bold characters, “Hugo Ennis.” The writing was exactly the same as that which appeared on the 259 scattered leaves, for she compared them carefully.

“There can be no doubt––he never wrote those letters,” she decided. “But––but I knew very well he couldn’t have written them. It––it isn’t like him.”

The idea came again that he could have obtained some one to write for him, but it was immediately cast aside. The man would not engage in dirty work himself––far less would he get others to do it for him. She––she had abused and insulted him––called him a liar, as far as she could remember, and again her face felt hot and burning.

Once more she sat down by the bunk, after she had given Maigan a big feed of oats, with a small remnant of the bacon grease. She felt humbled now, as if her accusations constituted some unforgivable, despicable sin. This man had never intended to do her the slightest harm. He really never knew that she was coming. And through her stupid clumsiness his life was now ebbing. The doctor’s long words sounded dreadfully in her ears: general sepsis, blood poisoning, a system overwhelmed by the toxines of virulent microbes; they reverberated in her ears like so many sentences of death. Was there any hope that this outflowing life would ever turn in 260 its course and return like an incoming tide? Would she again see him able to lift up his head, to speak in words no longer dictated by the vagaries of delirium? She would give anything to be able to ask his pardon humbly after his mind cleared again. Oh, it was unthinkable that he should die, that the end might be coming soon, and that she must go forth with that unspeakable load of misery in her heart.

Maigan restlessly kept on coming to her and placing his head in her lap, as if seeking comfort. Once she bent over and put her cheek against his jaw and furry ear. He was a companion in misery.

When she lifted up her head again to stare once more at the sufferer, with eyes heavily ringed with black, he slowly opened his own and looked at her vaguely, for at first there was not the slightest sign of recognition in them. Presently, however, the girl saw something that looked like a faint smile.

“How––how long have I been asleep?” he asked, weakly. “And have––have you been here all the time?”

She nodded, conscious that her heart was now beating with excitement, and his eyes closed again. But his hand had sought the one she had laid on the blanket and rested on 261 it, for a few moments. It was the ever-recurring call of the man for the comfort of a woman’s touch, for the protection his strength gathers from her weakness.

“You––you’re ever so good and kind,” he said again, in a low hoarse voice, after which he kept still again, for the longest time.

In spite of the gray pall of clouds over the sky and the complaining of the gale-swept tops of the great trees, in spite of the vast dull roar of the great falls, that had seemed a dirge, a ray of cheer had entered the little shack. It had seemed to her like such a paltry and mean excuse for a dwelling, when she had first seen it, and had been so thoroughly in keeping with the sordid nature she had at once attributed to this man whom she believed to have brought her there with amazing lies. But now, in some way, it had become a link, and the only one, that still attached her a little to the world. It appeared to her like the one place where she had been able to obtain a little rest from her miserable thoughts. Indeed, it had now become infinitely desirable. If the man could have stood up again and greeted her it would have become a haven of unspeakable comfort, since she would realize that for once her efforts had not been in vain, and that she had helped bring him back to 262 life. But of course she knew that she must leave it soon, that whether he died or recovered, the only trail she could follow would be one that would lead to the banks of the Roaring River, where the big air holes were. And yet, so strongly is hope implanted in the human heart, this termination of her adventure seemed to have receded into a dimmer future, like the knowledge which we have that some day all must die but which we consider pertains only to some vague and distant period that we shall not reach for a long time.

Hugo was sleeping quietly now and the girl’s hand upon his pulse detected a feeble and swift flowing of the blood-current which, in spite of its weakness, was an improvement. But the great thing was that another day had come and he was still living, and his breathing came quietly. If––if she had loved the man, she never would have been able to go through all this without a breaking down of her little strength. As Stefan had said, and as Mrs. Papineau had also intimated, it was fortunate for her that she did not love him. Indeed, it was ever so much better. She was glad indeed that he had recognized and praised her, and then his voice had never expressed the slightest sign of reproach. She was happy that he had found comfort in her presence 263 beside his couch and––and had been able to smile at her.

Madge opened the door to let Maigan out. The air was full of feathery masses of snow blown from treetops. Sheltered as she was from the wind, the cold was no longer so penetrating. In the east the gray was tinted through the agency of long rifts in which dull shades of red broke through and were reflected even upon the white at her feet. It was not a cheery world just then, since the sun did not shine and the great fronds of evergreens loomed very dark, but the vastness of the wooded valley sloping down beneath her and stretching beyond the limits of her vision impressed her with a sense of greatness and of power. It was a tremendously big, strong and inexorable world, in which was being fought the unending and apparently unjust battle of the mighty against the weak, of the wolves and lynxes against the deer and hares, of a myriad furred and sharp-fanged things against the feebler and defenseless things of the forest. But also it was a world capable of bringing forth majestic things; able and willing to reward toil; in which, despite all of nature’s unceasing cruelty, there could reign happiness and the accomplishment of a heart’s desire.


All this was not clearly shaped in Madge’s mind. She was merely undergoing a vague and potent influence that penetrated her very soul. She closed the door again very softly, and when she sat again it was with a strange feeling of contentment, or at any rate a surcease of bitter thoughts, which affected her gently, like the heat of the little stove.

Maigan soon scratched at the door again, and through the frosted glass Madge saw Mrs. Papineau approaching. She was looking rather tired and dismal. It was evident, from her panting, that she had hurried, but now she was coming very slowly, as if afraid to hear bad news. But when she finally came in and looked at Hugo, her fat face took on some of its wonted cheerfulness.

“Heem no look so bad now,” she asserted. “Who know? Mebbe get all right again, eh? What Docteur Starr heem say before he go?”

Madge was compelled to give her a long account of how the night had passed and to describe every move and relate every word of the doctor.

“Dat’s good,” approved Mrs. Papineau. “Now you go to our ’ouse an’ get to bed an’ ’ave sleep. If de children make noise tell ’em I slap ’em plenty ven I get back, sure. You 265 need bad for to sleep––h’eyes look tired an’ red.”

She explained that Papineau had been obliged to go off after some traps that were not very far away, and would return by midday. She insisted upon the need of Madge to impress the children with the virtues of silence. They had already been informed that if they did not keep still when the lady returned they would be given to the loup-garou and other mythical and traditional terrors of habitant childhood.

“Me stay ’ere all day. Den you come back an’ stay de night, if you lak’. You tell me vat I do.”

The good lady found her endeavors useless, however. Hadn’t the doctor said that incessant care might perhaps, with luck, bring about a recovery? And Hugo had been better––he had spoken––he might speak again and want something she might get him. Moreover, the dressing was to be changed very soon and the drainage tubes were to be flushed out once in so often with the solution the doctor had left. To have gone away then would have been desertion; she never entertained the thought for an instant.

Hence she attended to these things, in the presence of Mrs. Papineau, who looked quite 266 awed at the proceedings. Generally the man seemed quite unconscious of what she did, and there was little complaint from him; just a few moans and perhaps a slight drawing away when she hurt him slightly in spite of her gentle handling. Finally Madge consented to rest a little, providing she was not forced to leave the shack. In the absence of other accommodation Mrs. Papineau had spread a heavy blanket on the floor, with odds and ends of spare clothing. It was only after the good woman had solemnly promised to awaken her in case there was the slightest need that the girl at last lay down, feeling dead tired but without the slightest desire to sleep, as she thought. But it did not take a very long time before her eyes closed and she was deep in slumber that was heavy and dreamless. Maigan came and curled up beside her. He thoroughly approved of her.

It was only after midday that she awoke, startled, as if conscious of having been remiss in her duty, and raised herself quickly to a sitting posture.

“Is––is everything all right?” she asked, anxiously.

Upon being reassured she tried to lie down again, at Mrs. Papineau’s urging, but sleep refused to come. Indeed, she felt greatly 267 rested. And then she began to feel very hungry and had a meal of bread and tea, with a few dried prunes. It was not a very fine repast, but Madge was amazed to see what a lot she could eat. When she rose from the table she felt conscious that in some way she had gained strength, in spite of her weariness. After this she renewed the dressings again, taking the greatest pains with them. It was getting dark when Mrs. Papineau left her, utterly indifferent to the howling of wolves on the distant ridges. She had offered to remain but Madge knew that her presence was needed at home, owing to the little ones. Moreover, the girl was getting accustomed to her weird surroundings.

In the faithful Maigan there was a protector. Besides, she still counted among the living; she was engaged in work that called for and brought out all her womanhood. In spite of her fears for the man the longing for his recovery was becoming mingled with a vague confidence, with the idea of a possibility that something might happen that would gradually develop in some sort of promise for a future that would not be all sorrow and toil. It was perhaps simply a temporary forgetfulness of self when confronted with what was a greater and stronger interest. The girl 268 Madge had become less important when compared to the dying man. She was merely an instrument wherewith destiny helped to shape certain indefinite ends. Her own turn had not yet come, and her personality was submerged in a simple acquiescence in plans and decrees she could not understand.

It appeared that the dreariness of the long hours had lessened. The imminent threat of the day before was no longer so vivid and racking, for the man kept on breathing with fair ease, and his pulse was perhaps a little stronger. She was wondering why Stefan had not returned as he had promised, when the now familiar sound of dogs and sled fell again on her ears. To her joy and surprise she found that it was the doctor, returning with the Swede.

“Managed to get away after all,” explained the former. “It’s the devil’s own thing to think there’s a chap somewhere that a fellow might perhaps help, and then be obliged to let him go because others are calling for you. Women are desperately fond of asking their husbands if they would save them or their mothers first, in case of need. It’s the deuce and all of a question to answer. But we fellows who practice on the edge of the wilderness 269 are all the time confronted by beastly questions of that sort. How is he?”

“I really think he’s better,” she hastened to inform him, and described how the sick man had spoken and been quite lucid for some moments. Dr. Starr went in and stopped at the side of the bunk, looking down with his chin resting on his hand.

To Madge he had seemed to be a man of few words, rather stern in his manner and apt, as she thought, to view humanity from a very materialistic point of view. His recent speech was the longest she had heard from him. In a somewhat cynical vein he had referred to some hard problems the lone practitioner has to solve at times.

“At any rate, he seems to be holding his own,” he finally admitted. “I can’t see that he is a bit worse. It seems to me that you’re a pretty capable nurse. Some brains and lots of good strong will.”

He looked away from her as he talked and began to rub his hands together.

“Tell you what,” he said, turning again to her. “This night might be the decisive one, and I think I’ll stick it out here again. I’ll catch the freight back in the morning, as I did to-day. We’ll have a look at the wound now, and see how those drains are working. 270 Did you follow my orders? But I think I needn’t ask. Put more water on the stove, Stefan.”

Madge had been holding the lamp for him, and when the doctor passed his hand over Hugo’s forehead the eyes opened and the man blinked. Also there seemed to be a relaxing of the tense, hollow-cheeked face.

“She––she’s saving my life,” he whispered, hoarsely. “She’s tireless and––and kindness itself. Don’t––don’t let her get played out.”

He put out a brown hand that had rapidly become very thin and touched the girl’s arm, after which he lay back, exhausted by his slight effort. The doctor went to work again, baring the wound, injecting fluids, adjusting the drains, and as he busied himself he always found the girl at his side, with all that he needed ready at his hand.

“That’ll do for a while,” he finally said. “The drainage is good. He isn’t absorbing much poison now, that’s sure. If we can keep up his strength he’s going to pull through, I hope. Get us a bite of supper, Stefan, I’m as hungry as a bear.”

He put out a brown hand and touched the girl’s arm


During the night the doctor dozed off again, at times, like a man well versed in conserving his energy. But whenever he awoke he found Madge wide awake, intently observing the patient or busy with something for his comfort. The sky had cleared again and the great trunks were again cracking in the frost of the bright and starlit night. Dr. Starr had been staring for some moments at the girl. He shivered a little and drew his stool nearer the stove. Stefan was again snoring on the floor.

“Come over here,” he told Madge in a low voice, “bring your seat with you. I want to get something off my mind.”

“You needn’t answer if you don’t wish to,” he told her, “but––but there’s something rather tragic about that little face of yours. I don’t think it’s idle curiosity, but I’d like to know. I might as well confess that I’ve been questioning that fellow Stefan about you, but the sum of his knowledge is best represented by zero. I can assure you that I don’t want to intrude and that I won’t be a bit offended if you tell me it’s none of my business.”

“What do you want to know?” asked Madge, rather frightened, although she did not know why.

“You are aware, of course, that we doctors are used to seeing pain and usually try to get at the cause, so that we may better know how to 272 relieve it. I should judge that you have known a lot of suffering; that sort of thing leaves marks. Fortunately, they can often be effaced in the young. I have been thinking that you were in need of a friend. No! Don’t draw back! I’ll say right now that my wife ’s the best woman on earth and I’ve got four kids. You ought to see the little rascals. Now I might as well tell you that I’m grateful to you for taking such good care of my patient. I’d also be glad of a chance to help you a little, or give advice if you happen to need any.”

Madge stared at him for a moment during which her eyes became somewhat blurred. The doctor’s offer seemed like the first really disinterested and friendly one that had been proffered to her for some years. In that vast New York she had become unused to that sort of thing. The other people in this place had been ever so kind, of course, but it was on account of their friend Hugo. At first she hesitated.

“You look like a man that can be trusted,” she said, very low.

“I feel that I am,” he answered, simply.

Then, gradually, moved by that desire to confess and trust in a friend that is one of the best qualities of human nature, she told of 273 her coming, in halting, interrupted words. The doctor kept silent, nodding now and then so that she became impressed with a certainty that he understood. At times that deep red color suffused her cheeks, but they would soon become pale again, all the more so for her dark-ringed eyes. Little by little her story became easier to tell. She had sketched it out in a few broad lines, but the man to whom she spoke happened to know the world. Her speaking relieved her burdened heart and gave her greater strength.

“And––and I think that’s all,” she faltered at last. “Do––do you really understand? Do you think I’ve been a shameless creature to venture into this? Can you realize what it is to be at the very end of one’s tether?”

The doctor looked at her, the tiny wrinkles in the corners of his eyes becoming more pronounced. He put out his long-fingered, capable hand to her, and she stretched out her own, timidly, in response.

“You and I, from this time on, are a pair of friends,” he told her. “Indeed, I’m acquainted with that huge beehive you came from, with its drones and its workers, its squanderers and its makers. I studied there for a couple of years, and I know why some of the women have a choice between the river 274 and even fouler waters. But let me tell you what I think of this matter. The desperate effort you made to save yourself may not have been very good judgment. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred such an endeavor would be worse than jumping from the frying-pan into the fire. But at least it argues something strong and genuine in you. You came because you felt that you could not give up the fight without one last supreme trial. Such a thing would take a lot of pluck.”

He stopped for a moment, looking into the whites of her eyes.

“And now you’ve made up your mind that all your struggle has been in vain and that the end is in sight. Now I can’t tell where that end lies, Miss Nelson, but it looks to me as if it had retired into the far distance. You are going to keep on taking care of this man, of course. He needs you badly, in the first place, and the toil and stress of it will be good for your soul. And then saving a life is tremendously interesting. There’s nothing like it. But your new life is only to begin when this job is finished.”

“I––I don’t understand,” said the girl, watching him eagerly.

“When you’re through with this case, Stefan will bring you back to Carcajou. 275 There he’ll put you on the train and send you to me. I can assure you that my wife will welcome you. She’s that sort, strong and friendly and helpful. My poor little chaps don’t see very much of their daddy, but they’ve got a mother who’s a wonder, to make up for it. Now our village can’t yet afford a trained nurse, though some day I’m going to have a little hospital and two or three of them. The railroad will help. But in the meanwhile you’re going to work for me, at little more than a servant’s wages. You’re quick and intelligent and have a pair of gentle and capable hands. There are scores and scores of little houses and shacks where your presence would be simply invaluable. My wife tries it, but she can’t do it all, with the kids and the husband to look after. I shall work you like a horse, when you get strong enough, but every bit of the work will help some poor devil. My wife can give you a bed, a seat at our table and plenty of good wise friendship. In all this you’re going to give away a lot more than you will receive. How does it strike you?”

But Madge was weeping silently, with her face held in her hands. The doctor had certainly not tried to make his proposition very attractive, and yet she felt as if she were emerging 276 from deep waters in which she had been suffocating. Now there was pure air to breathe and there would always be God’s sunlight to cheer one and bring blessed warmth. From the slough of despond she was being drawn into the glory of hope.

“I shall try,” she promised. “Oh, how hard I’m going to try! It––it seems just like some wonderful dream. But––but can I really earn all this––are you sure that it isn’t––”

“Charity on my part?” interrupted the doctor. “Not a bit, Miss Nelson. We’re scantily provided with women in these new countries. And there are enough poor fellows who get hurt in the mines, or on the railroad, to give you plenty of employment without counting the regular settlers. A good woman’s face at their side may make the end easier for some of them and help others get well quicker.”

“If––if you are very sure––”

“I know what I’m talking about. You see, Miss Nelson, there is really no need of any one despairing in one of those big cities, so long as there is enough strength and courage left to get out of them. In this great expanse of wilderness toilers are needed, but we can’t use mollycoddles. The men have to 277 hew and dig and plow, and need women to work at their sides, to look after the injured, to teach the little ones, to keep the rough crowd civilized and human. More than all they are needed to become the mothers of a strong breed engaged in the conquest of a new world, one that is being made first with the axe and the hoe and in which the victory represents germinating seed and happy usefulness. Countries such as this are not suited to the dross of humanity. We cannot find employment for the weak, the lazy, or the shiftless. The first of these are to be pitied, of course, but we cannot help them. To the red-blooded and the clean of heart it offers all that sturdy manhood and womanhood can desire. Surely you can see how wide our horizons are, how full of promise is this new world that stretches out its welcoming arms to you!”

“I see––I see it all,” answered the girl. “Oh, what a glorious vision it is! How can I ever thank you?”

“You don’t have to,” replied the man, sharply. “If you decide to accept my offer I will be the one to feel grateful.”

He looked at her keenly, and was doubtless satisfied with what he saw. Then he tilted back the legs of his stool, rested his head on 278 the log wall behind him, and took another good sound nap.

He went away again just before sunrise, and Madge was left once more alone with the sick man. Soon she noticed that his eyes opened frequently, and followed her when she happened to move about the room. She could see that her presence strengthened him. In Hugo’s mind, however, there was the dim impression that he was returning from a long blindfolded journey that had left no impressions of anything but vague pain and deep weariness. And it was utterly wonderful to be greeted by a gentle voice and given care such as had not been his since childhood.



The Hoisting

On the few rests the dogs were compelled to take on their way back to Carcajou, Dr. Starr again questioned Stefan, carefully. The story Madge had told him was interesting, it sounded a little like some of those tales of detectives and plots marvelously unraveled, but the trouble was that no sleuth was at work and the mystery was as deep as ever. He inquired carefully in regard to the enemies Hugo might have made, but struck an absolute blank. Yes, there was one fellow Hugo had licked, but a couple of weeks later the young man had obliged him with a small loan, which had been cheerfully repaid, and the individual in question had moved a couple of hundred miles east. Oh, that was way back last summer!

Having thus easily eliminated the masculine element of Carcajou, it took no great effort on the doctor’s part to turn to the women. Were there any who had reason to dislike him; had he made love to any of them?


“Hugo make lofe to any gals in Carcajou!” exclaimed Stefan, holding a burning match in his fingers and letting it go out. “Hugo don’t nefer make lofe to nobotty. Dere’s McGurn’s gal over to the store as looked like she vanted bad to make lofe to him; alvays runnin’ after Hugo, she vos. Vhen he go in de post-office she alvays smile awful sveet at Hugo, and dere’s dem as say she vere pretty mad because he don’t never pay no attention. Vhat he care for de red-headed t’ing?”

“She looks after all the mail, doesn’t she?” asked the doctor.

“Yes, McGurn he too busy vid oder t’ings. De gal tends to all de letters an’ papers.”

This seemed an indication worth following. When they reached the depot at Carcajou, Joe Follansbee informed them that the freight would be about an hour late. Madge had, during the course of her story, told the doctor all about the visit of the Carcajou Vigilantes, and from Stefan he had obtained the names of the people who had made up the party. Most of them were known to him, since he was frequently called to Carcajou, especially when the mill was running. From the girl he had obtained the letters she received from Hugo, as she had formerly believed. The 281 matter could not be allowed to rest. He must investigate things further. Meeting old man Prouty, whom he had once cured of rheumatism, he drew him aside. The old man quite willingly told of his share in the event.

“We only wanted to see that everything was straight and aboveboard,” he told the doctor. “And there wouldn’t have been no fuss there at all if Sophy McGurn hadn’t come out kinder crazy; the way them excitable women-folks does, sometimes.”

“What did she do?” asked Dr. Starr.

“Oh, she went an’ accused that young ’ooman over there of havin’ tried to murder Hugo. Said somethin’ about the gal wantin’ to get square on him for––for somethin’ or other as ain’t very clear. But soon as Pat Kilrea he begins to pin her down to facts she takes it all back an’ says she don’t really know nothin’.”

“Thanks, Mr. Prouty, I’m very much obliged to you. I’ll stroll over there.”

He walked over to the general store and post-office where he was greeted by old McGurn, who at his request produced a box of cigars.

“Yes, Doc, I can recommend them,” he said. “There was a drummer stopped here last week who said they smelled just like real 282 Havanas. I bought two barrels of crockery off him.”

The doctor nodded, admiring the drummer’s diplomacy, and walked over to the other counter behind which Miss Sophy was standing.

“How do you do, Miss McGurn?” he said, amiably.

“How d’ye do? How’s Hugo––Hugo Ennis?” she asked, eagerly.

“He may perhaps pull through, though he’s still hanging on to a pretty thin chance. I suppose you know that you’re soon going to be called as a witness?”

“Me?” she exclaimed. “What for?”

“Well, that story about an accident looks rather fishy to me, you know. I have an idea that it wouldn’t be a bad thing to have the sheriff come over here and investigate things a little. We’re beginning to get too civilized on this line to stand for gun-play. I’ve talked over the matter with some of the people who went with you to Roaring River, and I gather that you are the only one who can enlighten us a little.”

“I––I don’t know anything!” she stammered.

“You’re probably too modest, Miss McGurn, or you may perhaps be trying to 283 shield some one. That shows your kind heart, of course, but it won’t quite do for the law. At any rate you will tell us what aroused your suspicions. It’s very important, you know, for the slightest clue may be of service. And then, of course, there is the matter of the letters.”

“What letters?” cried the girl, biting her lips.

“Oh, just some letters that passed through this office. Let me see, where did I put them? Always indispensable to secure all documents. Miss Nelson gave them to me.”

Very slowly he pulled the letters out of his pocket, while his keen eyes searched Sophy’s face, gravely. She was distinctly ill at ease, he observed.

“There has been a queer mix-up. These documents can hardly be called forgery, since there is no attempt to imitate the real handwriting of the person who is supposed to have written them. It’s simply a clumsy attempt to deceive, as far as I can see. But the strange thing is that several letters came from New York, apparently, and have never been received. It seems that they must have come through this office and the post-office authorities will be asked to trace them. They are always glad to hear of any irregularities, of 284 course, and will send an expert here, naturally, if mere inquiry does not suffice. Those chaps are wonderfully clever, you know. They seem to be able to find out anything they want to know. The letters I am showing you came through Carcajou, there’s your stamp on the envelopes. The detective will compare this handwriting with that of every man, woman and child in Carcajou and the neighborhood, and while it is certainly disguised, there’s so much of it that they will certainly find out who sent them. It––it’s going to prove devilish tough for somebody, you may be sure. Of course I’m no lawyer and can’t tell what the charge will be, perhaps conspiracy of some sort, or making use of the mails for some fraudulent or––or some prohibited purpose. But that’s evidently no concern of ours and I know you’ll help the authorities to the best of your ability. You will naturally do all you can because no postmaster likes to have any irregularity in his office. That sort of thing generally means taking it away from the holder and putting it in other hands. Your father would be pretty angry if anything like that happened, because while you attend to the mails, he’s really the responsible party.”

Miss Sophy may not have realized how 285 keenly the doctor was looking at her. He was now feeling quite certain that his suspicions had fallen on the guilty party. Here was a jealous woman who evidently knew a good deal. Putting two and two together is the very essence of scientific thought and Dr. Starr was no beginner. Sophy’s foot was beating a rapid tattoo on the floor. On her face the color kept going and coming.

“Somebody has done a very foolish thing,” continued the doctor. “Perhaps it was not realized that it was also a very wicked one. At any rate there is a lot of trouble coming. I will bid you good-day.”

He turned on his heels, lighting the cigar he had bought and looking quite unconcerned. Sophy hastened around the counter and intercepted him at the door, following him out. She touched his arm.

“Do––do they suspect any one?” she asked.

“I think I may have spoken too much, Miss McGurn,” answered the doctor, with a face that had suddenly become exceedingly stern. “It is not for me to answer your question. Of course, it’s in my power to tell the sheriff that there is no longer any suspicion that the shooting was otherwise than accidental, and I could perhaps also persuade 286 Miss Nelson not to follow this matter of the letters any further. I think that she would follow my advice in the matter. But I have no intention of interfering until––until I know everything––down––to––the––last––word!”

He accentuated this by striking with his fist into an open hand, slowly, as if driving in a rebellious spike. They were alone on the little veranda of the store. Within her breast the girl’s heart was throbbing with fear––with the terror of exposure and unknown punishments. She felt that this man knew the exact truth and she had the sensation of some animal cornered and seeing but a single avenue of escape.

“But I have found out everything I wanted to know, Miss McGurn,” Dr. Starr told her, suddenly. “Unless I have a written confession in my hands I shall let matters take their course. It––is––for––you––to––choose.”

He looked at his watch.

“My train should be here in fifteen minutes,” he told her. “After that it will be too late!”

Then the girl broke down. Wild thoughts had come and gone. If a weapon had been at hand she might, in obedience to the behest 287 of a wild and fiery nature, have stabbed the man who so calmly faced her. But she felt utterly helpless and her fear and despair became supreme.

“I––I’ll write whatever you want me to, if––if you promise not to tell!” she cried.

“I’m not quite prepared to accept conditions,” he answered. “I intend to show the paper to Ennis and to Miss Nelson. They have a right to know the truth. But I can promise that they will carry the matter no farther, and that I shall see that neither the sheriff nor the post-office authorities will interfere. There are but a few minutes left now.”

She rushed into the store again and went to the desk. Her father was no longer in the room. With feverish speed she wrote while the doctor bent over her, suggesting a word now and then. Finally she signed the paper and handed it to him.

“I think you had better give me those answers now,” he suggested. “Those directed to A. B. C.”

From Box 17 she took the letters and handed them over without a word, and the doctor carefully placed them in his pocket with the others.


“I think you’ve been very wise in taking my advice, Miss McGurn,” he told her. “It was the only way out of trouble. Isn’t that the freight’s whistle? I’ll hurry off. Good-day to you.”

He stepped quickly across the space that separated him from the station. On the platform Joe Follansbee greeted him pleasantly.

“A fine clear day, doctor,” said the station agent.

“Yes, everything is beautifully clear now,” answered Dr. Starr amiably. “Shouldn’t wonder if this were about the last of the cold weather.”

Then he got on the caboose, where the crew welcomed him. As one of the company doctors he had the right to ride on anything that came along, and the men were always glad to see him. They made him comfortable in a corner and offered him hot tea and large soggy buns. But he thanked them, smilingly, and sat down in a corner. From his bag he took out a medical journal and was soon immersed in an exceedingly interesting article on hysteria.

Strangely enough, at that very moment Miss Sophy had run up to her room and thrown herself on the bed, face downwards and buried in a pillow. She was weeping 289 and uttering incoherent cries. When her mother came in, alarmed, the old lady was indignantly ordered out again while the girl’s feet beat against the mattress hurriedly, and she bit the knuckles of her hands.



The Peace of Roaring River

It is particularly in the great north countries that the season changes from the lion into the lamb, with a swiftness that is perfectly bewildering. The sick man was getting well. Over a week since, Dr. Starr had declared that all danger had passed. And as the days went by the cold that had shackled the land disappeared so that the frosted limbs by the great falls wept off their coating of gems, and the earth, in great patches, began to show new verdure. Then had come twenty-four hours of a pelting, crashing rain, that had melted away more snow and ice. After the rain was over and the sky had cleared again, Madge had gone out and stood by the brink of the great falls, where she watched the thundering turbid flood as it madly rushed into the great pit below. Incessantly great cakes of ice poised on the brown-white edge above for an instant, and hurled themselves furiously into the chasm as if bent on everlasting devastation. The river itself was rising swiftly and from 291 time to time the great logs that had remained stranded in the upper reaches of the river also plunged into the vortex, where they twisted and sank and rose, endlessly.

There was something fascinating in this vast turmoil of mighty forces, in this leaping forth of a great river now liberated and escaping towards the great lakes and thence to the ocean. Hitherto Madge had gazed upon them timidly, with sudden shivers, as if all this had represented part of the great peril of life and actually threatened her. But now it seemed to have become a part of the immensity of this world, a fragment of the wondrous heritage of nations still to be born. And just as the flood still had a long journey to travel ere it found rest in the Atlantic’s bosom, so now Madge felt that her own course represented but the beginning of a new and greater life.

In spite of many nights spent at that bedside, she looked far better and more robust than when she had first reached Roaring River. Courage had returned to her and with it the will to endure, to live, to seize upon her share of the wondrous glory of this new world that was so fresh and beautiful. And yet her thoughts were very sober; she did not feel that she had reached utter happiness. 292 Her life would now be one of usefulness, according to the doctor’s promise. She felt that faces might become cheerier at her coming and that little children––the children of other people––would welcome her and crow out their little joy.

Several long nights of quiet rest had built her up into a woman that was no longer the factory drudge or the recent inmate of hospitals. One of the Papineau children had come over to remain with Hugo, lest he should need anything. Madge attended him during the day, concocting things on the stove, dressing the fast closing wound and administering the drugs left by the doctor, with the greatest punctuality, and the man’s eyes followed her every motion, generally in silence. She also spoke little. It was as if, upon both of them, a timidity had come that made it hard for them to exchange thoughts. The first time he had wanted to speak of the problem of her coming she failed to encourage him.

“I know all that happened now,” she told him, “and I have long known that you were not at fault, in any way. Indeed, I feel grateful for your forbearance when I first came. But, if you don’t mind, we won’t speak of it again. It––it distresses me.”


He saw plainly that she had blushed, in spite of the fact that she turned her head swiftly away, and remained silent until she came again with a teaspoonful of something he must swallow.

So she sat down again and her mind reverted to the future, which was certainly immeasurably splendid and promising, as compared to the outlook of a fortnight before. In her pockets were the letters she had written to this man. Dr. Starr had brought them to her one day, when Hugo was already able to listen and understand.

“I think they were intended for me,” said the latter, gently.

“No!” exclaimed Madge, reddening and leaping from her stool. “Please give them to me, Dr. Starr. They were sent to an utterly unknown man. They were replies to letters you never sent and therefore they’re not yours. Please––I––I’d rather you didn’t see them!”

The young man had nodded, quietly.

“Of course they’re yours,” he acknowledged. “We––we won’t mention them again, if it’s your wish.”

“Indeed––indeed it is. They were just a cry for help––for a chance to live––perhaps for a little happiness. Dr. Starr has now 294 offered me all these things and I have accepted––ever so gratefully. I––I had taken a step that was utter folly, yes, absolute madness. But now the most wonderful good fortune has brought me the fulfilment of these desires and I want to forget all the rest––the burning shame I have felt as well as the terror with which I approached whatever was in store for me. That part of it will pass away like some bad dream, I hope. It’s––it’s kind of you not to insist on seeing these letters.”

“That’s all right, Miss Nelson,” said the doctor, soothingly. “Hugo, my lad, you owe a good deal to your nurse and I’m glad that you’re properly grateful and not unduly curious.”

But Hugo called Maigan to him, without answering, and patted the animal’s head, after which he remarked that the days were getting much longer.

Came another day when the patient was able to get up, with the aid of Stefan and his nurse, and manifested the usual surprise of the strong man after illness. It was astonishing that his legs were so weak, and he couldn’t understand the dizzy sensations in his head.

After a time he became able to use his arm a little, very cautiously, and his joy was great 295 when it served him to handle a fork, for the first time since he had been ill.

And so now she was standing beside these great falls, thinking very deeply. She was disappointed at herself because she did not feel properly happy and grateful; indeed, she was dropping in her own estimation. If any one, a month before, had placed before her the prospect of honest toil among friendly faces, of usefulness that would benefit her while gaining gratitude from others, she would have deemed herself the happiest woman in the world. Yes, the world should have been a very beautiful and kindly place, now that hunger and pain were eliminated, now that the coming of spring would cause sap to surge up the trees so that the branches would soon clothe themselves in the tender glory of new leafage. Her own existence was on the verge of a fresh new growth that might lead to greater things, and yet she reproached herself because she could not become conscious of a real happiness, of a glorious achievement that had been like an unexpected manna coming to starvelings in a desert. She felt nothing but a quiet acquiescence in the new conditions and accepted her new destiny with a sigh.

She did not realize yet that in her soul a new longing had come, that would not be denied.


She returned slowly to the shack where Hugo sat in an armchair brought all the way from Carcajou on Stefan’s sled. His arm was still in a sling. It was fortunate that it was the left one, for he was very busily engaged in writing.

The girl waited for some time, leaning against the doorpost and watching some chipping sparrows that had recently arrived and were thinking hard about nest-building in the neighboring bushes.

The weeds and grasses and wild flowers were beginning to peep out of the ground, with the haste that is peculiar to northern lands where life is strenuous during the few months of warm fair weather. The tender hues of the burgeoning birches and poplars, streaked with the gleaming silver of their trunks, were casting soft notes upon the strong greens of the conifers and the indigo of their shadows. In the spray of the falls, to her left, a tiny rainbow seemed to dance, and the loud song of the rushing waters was like the call of some great loving voice. She reflected that she would have to go again to a place in which many people lived. It would not be like a city. The same trees and the same waters and the same flowers would be there, very close at hand. Not a single house abutted 297 against another. In the gardens there would be old-fashioned flowers such as she had been familiar with at home, before she had sought the town. Dr. Starr had described it all. Ten minutes’ walk would take one beyond the habitations of men, into woodlands and fields and by a lake that extended into a far wilderness, upon which one could drive a canoe and feel as if one owned a great and beautiful world, for men were seldom on it and above the surface it was peopled chiefly by great diving birds and broods of ducklings. It all sounded, and doubtless was, perfectly ideal.

But presently Hugo had finished his writing and was leaning back in his chair.

“Do you think you would like some of those nice fresh eggs Mrs. Papineau’s little girl brought this morning?” she asked him. “And would you like me to close the door now?”

“Thanks, Miss Nelson,” he said, “I’m sure I should enjoy them ever so much. They’re a rather scarce commodity with us. Too many weasels and skunks and other chicken-eaters to make it a healthy country for hens. As to the door I’ll be glad to have you close it if you feel cold. But it’s delightful for me to be sitting here all wrapped up in blankets and taking in big lungfuls of our 298 forest air. It––it makes a fellow feel like a two-year-old.”

She was about to break the eggs into a pan when she noticed the letter lying on the table.

“Would you like me to get you an envelope, for it?” she asked.

“If you’ll be so kind,” he assented, gravely.

She would have offered to put the paper in the envelope for him also, but he managed it easily enough and closed the flap.

“That’s done,” he said. “I wonder what will come of it?”

To this she could not reply, so she prepared the eggs and brought them to him, with his tea and toast.

“They’re going to be ever so good,” he said, taking up a fork, after which he stared out of the still-opened door.

“If you don’t eat them now, they’ll be cold in a minute,” she warned him.

“Oh, I’d forgotten! I must beg your pardon since you took so much trouble about them.”

He ate them slowly, as if performing some hard and solemn task. When he had finished his meal, Madge cleared the table.

“Is there anything else you would like?” she asked. “One of your books?”

“No, I––I don’t think I want to read, just 299 now. I––I am feeling rather––rather disturbed for the moment.”

“What’s the matter?” she inquired, solicitously.

“It’s this––this habit I’ve gotten into,” he said, “of having a––a nurse at my side. It seems very strange that she will soon be gone. I’ve learnt to depend so much on.... And Stefan is coming to take you away to Carcajou––and then over there to Dr. Starr’s. Then I believe I’m to go and stay with the Papineaus, till I can handle a frying-pan and an axe. The––the prospect is a dismal one.”

She took a little step towards him but he had bent over the letter and was directing it. When this was done he stared at it for a moment and, unsteadily, handed it to the girl, with the writing down.

“I––I would like you to deliver this for me,” he told her. “It is ever so important and––and our post-office isn’t very reliable, I’m afraid. But I know I can trust you.”

She looked at him in surprise and then she looked at the envelope. To her intense amazement she read:

Miss Madge Nelson,

Roaring River.


“What does this mean?” she asked, bewildered.

“I––I’m afraid you will have to read it to find out,” he answered.

She opened the door and rushed out. One fear was in her heart. She dreaded to find money in it. How dared he offer to pay for what she had done? She would lay the envelope on the table, with its contents, and quietly say––well, what could she say?

With the thing in her hand she walked down the path to the edge of the falls, where she sat down on an old big trunk of birch fallen many years ago and partly covered with moss. For one or two long minutes she held it in her lap, gazing at the rushing waters without seeing them. A strange fluttering was at her heart, a curious trepidation that was akin to intense fear caused her neck to throb, but her face was very pale. Finally, with a swift gesture, she tore the envelope open and read:

My Good Little Nurse:

Those other letters were not from me but this one is: you saw me write it. It carries a thousand thanks for your kindness and devotion to your helpless patient. During those dreadfully long hours your presence was a blessing; it could soothe away the pain and bring hope and comfort. 301 In a couple of weeks more I shall be as strong as ever, but I know that without you Roaring River will never be the same. You came here bravely, ready to marry a decent man who would help you bear the burdens of this world, which had proved too heavy for you. Of course the man must be honest and worthy of your trust. After all that you underwent from the first moment of your being left alone on the tote-road I cannot wonder at your desire to go away. But I feel that without you I could never have pulled through and that by this time the prospect of a life spent without you is unbearable.

I am not begging you humbly for your love. I don’t want to owe it to your pity for the man who was so ill, to the deep charity and the kindness of a sweet and unselfish nature. That is why I couldn’t speak out my longing for you and the love that fills my heart, lest I might surprise you into a hasty consent. I could not have restrained my emotion and I know I would have begged and implored––and that might have made it very hard and painful for you to refuse.

Please return to me after you have read and thought this over. If we are to remain but friends you will extend one hand to me and I shall know what it means. I daresay I shall survive that hurt as I survived the other. Have no fear for me.

But if you feel in your heart that you can give me all I long for, that you are willing to become my wife, then stretch both of those little hands to me, since it will take the two to carry such a precious gift.

Your hopeful and grateful patient, 


After she had finished she tried to read the paper again, but it was too hard to see. For a moment she stared at the Roaring Falls through the misty veil of their spray. Thrusting the letter into her bosom she found her feet, suddenly, and ran to the little shack. Hugo had risen and was standing in the doorway, his heart beating fast and his face very pale. As Madge came near she uplifted both hands, but she could hardly see him. Once more her eyes were suffused with tears, but it was as if the glory of a wondrous sunlit world had been too strong for them. She was smiling happily, however, when he took both little hands into his right.

“I––I hurried back,” she panted. “Neither––neither did I feel that––that I could live without you––without this wonderful peace of beautiful Roaring River, and––and the love that it has brought to me!”

A few moments later they heard Big Stefan’s familiar shout from the tote-road. The toboggan could no longer be used and he had driven over a shaggy old horse that had pulled a reliable buckboard.

“Dot’s yoost great!” he roared, as he saw Hugo standing outside the shack. “I tank I’m more pleased as if I find a dozen goldmines, you bet! De leetle leddy she safe you 303 all right––all right. But now I take her avay to Meester Doctor Starr, like he telt me to. De doctor he gif me a bit letter for you, ma’am. I find it soon.”

Two letters on a single day was heavy mail for Roaring River. Madge tore the last one open and read:

My Dear Miss Nelson:

Stefan has promised to bring you to us to-morrow. I want you to come, for my wife and the kiddies are awaiting you. From my latest study of conditions at Roaring River I have gathered that you may not stay with us as long as I had first hoped, but at any rate it will be long enough to do a little fixing and arranging of feminine garments. My instinct tells me that your visit to us will be short since our patient, if you tarry too long, may come and steal you away. He will have to come anyway for, just as I’m the nearest doctor to you, so my friend Jamieson is the nearest parson.

With every best wish, 
Very sincerely yours, 
David Starr. 

Madge handed the letter over to Hugo who quickly looked it over.

“Wonderful fellow is Starr,” he declared.

Stefan took his friend Hugo up in his arms, in spite of protests on the latter’s part that he 304 wanted to try to walk. The young man was a light load, indeed, at this time. He was placed on the seat of the buckboard and, with Stefan carefully leading the horse and Madge walking alongside, was taken up to Papineau’s.

The woodlands were very different now, thought the girl. When she had arrived the great land was plunged in slumber under its mantle of snow. The few birds there were at the time were voiceless, like the partridges that only find a peep when fluffy broods follow them, or some of the larger fowl which only hoot or shriek. The sound-calls of the wilderness had been those of struggling waters, of cracking trees, of snow-masses violently displaced. But now birds were in full song everywhere, carrying trifles of stick and floss and grass wherewith to build their nests. Formerly there had been the uneasy groans and sighs of a gigantic restless sleeper. Now there was the chant of a heart-free nature engaged again in vigorous toil, in wresting the recurrent glory of surging life and hope from the powers of darkness and bitter, benumbing cold. It was a resurrection!

The mile separating the shack from the Papineau homestead had been a long and fatiguing one on the first occasion of Madge’s going to see the wounded man. Now the distance 305 was trivial; a few sturdy steps, a few fillings of one’s lungs with the scent of conifers; and there was the little chimney smoking and the cow with her little calf, and the dogs, and the few hens that had survived the attacks of weasels. Best of all there were her friends, children and babies and the quiet Frenchman and the kind-hearted, red-cheeked, cheery mother whose influence had been paramount in creating a little paradise in the wilds.

She helped Hugo off the buckboard, jealously, deeming herself the only one who could properly handle an invalid, and enthroned him in the best chair, near the open fire.

“You––you are h’all so velcome as I can’t say,” she declared.

“Miss Nelson is going away with Stefan in a few minutes,” said Hugo, cheerfully.

At this Mrs. Papineau’s face fell. She looked positively unhappy.

“Some’ow,” she said, sniffing, “I always ’ope she stay ’ere h’all de time now. I––I never tink she go avay for good. De––de dogs and de calf and––an––de baby and chil’ren dey all love ’er. I h’awful sorry.”

“But––but I’m coming back, Mrs. Papineau,” cried Madge. “I––I can’t live away from––from Roaring River now!”

“Dey two iss ter be marrit!” roared Stefan. 306 “Hey! What you tank? I tank so all de time, you bet!”

At this they all crowded around Madge, and such hand-shakings, and such kisses from the good woman and the children, and such joy depicted on all the faces! She thought that never a bride had received such heartfelt congratulations and good wishes.

But in a couple of hours the old horse was quite rested and had finished the small bag of oats Stefan had brought and eaten plenty of the sweet-scented hay furnished by Papineau, and it was time to go. Strangely enough, at the last moment, the usually crowded house was deserted excepting by two, who found themselves in one another’s arms.

“God bless you, Madge,” said the man. “I will come soon.”

“I shall be waiting,” answered the girl, simply.

And so she rode away again, in the old buckboard that rolled and pitched and heaved and bucked so that very often she got off and walked at the side of Stefan.

Late that night she found herself in the doctor’s home, after a wonderful welcome from his wife and himself. The kiddies had been put to bed.

“I––I feel that––that I am deserting you, 307 that you trusted me to help you with a splendid work,” she said, with head bent down.

“That is not so,” the man answered gravely. “Remember what I told you when I was trying to enlist you. I say that more than for any other purposes, we wanted women, good women, to come and become the mothers of the strong, fine breed that can alone master our wilderness. Hugo is one of those fellows of brawn and brain who are working towards the common happiness in establishing his own. He needs a helper he can love and trust and cherish, one who will in herself be the biggest reward he can ever gain, and make him feel that the bigger part of the purpose of his life has been secured with your promise to marry him. To me the sick and the halt are paramount––but they will have to wait a little. In some way or other they will be looked after, I promise you, for no man in a responsible position can be anything but a problem-solver, in these places, and I’ll find someone, never fear.”

“Yours will be the more important occupation now, my dear,” said the doctor’s wife; “you’ll be in the front ranks of the fighters.”

So the doctor went away and the two women made the sewing-machine hum, and cut and basted and threaded needles. Together they 308 managed to put together all that was indispensable and to discard the frivolous, as became the wives of pioneers.

Two or three weeks went by very fast and one day Sophy McGurn, from behind the shop-window, saw Hugo Ennis standing on the platform of the little station at Carcajou. With him was big Stefan, clad in his best, and the entire Papineau family. Most of the children were about to take the very first railway journey of their lives and the excitement was intense and prolonged. Finally the train came puffing along and went away again, panting on the upgrade, while Miss Sophy bit her nails hard.

There is no doubt that Stefan had kept still, since he had been requested to. No one else in Carcajou knew anything as to the inwardness of the girl’s coming, of Sophy’s share in it, or of the discovery by the doctor of the latter’s duplicity. And yet there was an element in Carcajou that frowned upon the young lady. Her accusation had been reported far and wide. To the settlers of the place her suspicions had seemed uncalled-for and bespeaking a mean and vicious disposition. Hugo, after all, had been everybody’s friend. He was now about to marry this young woman from far-away New York. 309 This utterly disproved Sophy’s statements, wherefore she became more unpopular than ever. A couple of hundred men had come over to work at the sawmill, that was purring and grinding and shrieking again, all day and night. In the course of events they were learning all about the matter, and some of the more ribald asked her jocular questions. It was annoying, to say the least, to have a big logger come in and ask what were the news of the day, and if there was any more murdering going on. She projected to leave Carcajou as soon as she could, and made her parents wish she would, as soon as possible.

The party reached their station and walked over to the church, that stood in what looked like a pasture, with great stumps of trees still dotting the ground. About it was the very small beginning of a graveyard. With the years it would grow but always it would be swept by the winds blowing aromatic scents from the forests beyond the lake. And about the church itself grew simple flowers, some of which were beginning to twine themselves upon the walls. Madge came up the aisle, attended by Stefan and the doctor. Hugo met them, the emotion of the moment having caused some of the pallor to return to his cheeks.


It was soon all over. At the doctor’s house there was a little repast, followed by some simple words that sounded hopeful and strong. An hour later the couple left, but not for a honeymoon in the towns. It was in a place reached after many hours of paddling, where the red trout abounded and the swallows darted over the waters. Here in their tent they could do their own cooking, beginning the life that was to be one of mutual help, of cheerful toil, of achievement and of happiness.

When they came back to Carcajou again, Stefan was waiting for them with a strong team of horses able easily to negotiate the tote-road. This highway, in many places, had been repaired. Fallen trees were cut across and pulled to one side, swampy bits were corduroyed, big holes had been filled in. Indeed, the traffic had become important, all of a sudden, towards the Roaring Falls. Lumber had been hauled there, and many tools, and kegs of nails, and a gang of men had walked over.

Finally they came in sight of the river again, in which were no more black-looking, threatening air-holes. Mostly it was placid now, with rapids that could easily be passed over by ably-managed canoes or bateaux, succeeding the deep still waters now and then 311 and frothing and fuming only as if in play. Here a big blue heron rose from it, and there a couple of kingfishers jabbered and scolded and shrieked. Partridges crossed the road in front of the horses, and the inevitable rabbit scampered away in leisurely fashion.

But they reached the little path that led to the shack without seeing anything of the tiny home or of the falls beyond, for the bushes and shrubs were in full foliage and seemed to be concealing their Eden from passers-by. Madge leaped from the wagon. Her kingdom was over there, just a few rods away, and she was eager to see it again.

Yes! The shack was still there, looking tinier than ever. But very close to it a foundation had been dug from which rose rough walls of broken stone. Upon these strong scantlings had been fastened and men were clapboarding them over into a bigger and finer home.

Above the trees some smoke was showing. It marked a place where a half-score shacks and little barracks were going up, to shelter the men who were to follow deeper those promising veins in the great rocks. There would soon be blasting and more drilling and the breaking up of ore, which would be carried down the river to the railroad. But from 312 the edge of the great falls nothing of all this could be seen. Except for the new house everything seemed to be unchanged. It was with a sentiment of a little awe, of gratefulness, of a surprise which the passing of the weeks had not yet been able to dispel, that Madge realized that this was now her own, the place of her future toil, the spot where she was to found a home and fill it with happiness.

It was marvelous! It was a thousand times more splendid than anything she could have conceived when first she was journeying to this country. And the greatness of it lay in the fact that she understood, that she realized, that she knew that the whole world lay before her and her husband, to make or mar, to convert into a part of the great effort that is always a joy, the upbuilding of a home, or to allow to revert into the wilderness again if strength were lacking.

At first she could not step farther than the little spot from which her dwelling-place first stood revealed.

“What do you think of it, Madge?” asked her husband.

“I think that if I had prayed all my life for a wonderful home, before coming here, I would never have been able to pray for anything 313 so splendid. Think of it––you and I––for years and years that will pass ever so swiftly, together in this glorious place and enjoying perfect peace––the great peace of Roaring River!”

And the man stood by, his heart very full, his thoughts following her own, and a wave of happiness surged into his being, for all that was best in his former dreams was at his hand, since nothing but the woman at his side really counted.


May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap’s list


A New York society girl buys a ranch which becomes the center of frontier warfare. Her loyal superintendent rescues her when she is captured by bandits. A surprising climax brings the story to a delightful close.


The story of a young clergyman who becomes a wanderer in the great western uplands––until at last love and faith awake.


The story describes the recent uprising along the border, and ends with the finding of the gold which two prospectors had willed to the girl who is the story’s heroine.


A picturesque romance of Utah of some forty years ago when Mormon authority ruled. The prosecution of Jane Withersteen is the theme of the story.


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A lovely girl, who has been reared among Mormons, learns to love a young New Englander. The Mormon religion, however, demands that the girl shall become the second wife of one of the Mormons––Well, that’s the problem of this great story.


The young hero, tiring of his factory grind, starts out to win fame and fortune as a professional ball player. His hard knocks at the start are followed by such success as clean sportsmanship, courage and honesty ought to win.


This story tells of the bravery and heroism of Betty, the beautiful young sister of old Colonel Zane, one of the bravest pioneers.


After killing a man in self defense, Buck Duane becomes an outlaw along the Texas border. In a camp on the Mexican side of the river, he finds a young girl held prisoner, and in attempting to rescue her, brings down upon himself the wrath of her captors and henceforth is hunted on one side by honest men, on the other by outlaws.


Joan Randle, in a spirit of anger, sent Jim Cleve out to a lawless Western mining camp, to prove his mettle. Then realizing that she loved him––she followed him out. On her way, she is captured by a bandit band, and trouble begins when she shoots Kells, the leader––and nurses him to health again. Here enters another romance––when Joan, disguised as an outlaw, observes Jim, in the throes of dissipation. A gold strike, a thrilling robbery––gambling and gun play carry you along breathlessly.


By Helen Cody Wetmore and Zane Grey

The life story of Colonel William F. Cody, “Buffalo Bill,” as told by his sister and Zane Grey. It begins with his boyhood in Iowa and his first encounter with an Indian. We see “Bill” as a pony express rider, then near Fort Sumter as Chief of the Scouts, and later engaged in the most dangerous Indian campaigns. There is also a very interesting account of the travels of “The Wild West Show.” No character in public life makes a stronger appeal to the imagination of America than “Buffalo Bill,” whose daring and bravery made him famous.



May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap’s list.

MICHAEL O’HALLORAN. Illustrated by Frances Rogers.

Michael is a quick-witted little Irish newsboy, living in Northern Indiana. He adopts a deserted little girl, a cripple. He also assumes the responsibility of leading the entire rural community upward and onward.

LADDIE. Illustrated by Herman Pfeifer.

This is a bright, cheery tale with the scenes laid in Indiana. The story is told by Little Sister, the youngest member of a large family, but it is concerned not so much with childish doings as with the love affairs of older members of the family. Chief among them is that of Laddie and the Princess, an English girl who has come to live in the neighborhood and about whose family there hangs a mystery.

THE HARVESTER. Illustrated by W. L. Jacobs.

“The Harvester,” is a man of the woods and fields, and if the book had nothing in it but the splendid figure of this man it would be notable. But when the Girl comes to his “Medicine Woods,” there begins a romance of the rarest idyllic quality.

FRECKLES. Illustrated.

Freckles is a nameless waif when the tale opens, but the way in which he takes hold of life; the nature friendships he forms in the great Limberlost Swamp; the manner in which everyone who meets him succumbs to the charm of his engaging personality; and his love story with “The Angel” are full of real sentiment.


The story of a girl of the Michigan woods; a buoyant, loveable type of the self-reliant American. Her philosophy is one of love and kindness towards all things; her hope is never dimmed. And by the sheer beauty of her soul, and the purity of her vision, she wins from barren and unpromising surroundings those rewards of high courage.

AT THE FOOT OF THE RAINBOW. Illustrations in colors.

The scene of this charming love story is laid in Central Indiana. The story is one of devoted friendship, and tender self-sacrificing love. The novel is brimful of the most beautiful word painting of nature, and its pathos and tender sentiment will endear it to all.

THE SONG OF THE CARDINAL. Profusely illustrated.

A love ideal of the Cardinal bird and his mate, told with delicacy and humor.

Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers, New York


May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap’s list.

MOTHER. Illustrated by F. C. Yohn.

This book has a fairy-story touch, counterbalanced by the sturdy reality of struggle, sacrifice, and resulting peace and power of a mother’s experiences.


Frontispiece by F. Graham Cootes.

Out on the Pacific coast a normal girl, obscure and lovely, makes a quest for happiness. She passes through three stages––poverty, wealth and service––and works out a creditable salvation.


Illustrated by Lucius H. Hitchcock.

The story of a sensible woman who keeps within her means, refuses to be swamped by social engagements, lives a normal human life of varied interests, and has her own romance.


Frontispiece by Allan Gilbert.

How Julia Page, reared in rather unpromising surroundings, lifted herself through sheer determination to a higher plane of life.


Frontispiece by Charles E. Chambers.

Rachael is called upon to solve many problems, and in working out these, there is shown the beauty and strength of soul of one of fiction’s most appealing characters.

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A charming story of a quaint corner of New England, where bygone romance finds a modern parallel. The story centers round the coming of love to the young people on the staff of a newspaper––and it is one of the prettiest, sweetest and quaintest of old-fashioned love stories.


A pathetic love story of a young girl, Rosemary. The teacher of the country school, who is also master of the vineyard, comes to know her through her desire for books. She is happy in his love till another woman comes into his life. But happiness and emancipation from her many trials come to Rosemary at last. The book has a touch of humor and pathos that will appeal to every reader.


A love story,––sentimental and humorous,––with the plot subordinate to the character delineation of its quaint people and to the exquisite descriptions of picturesque spots and of lovely, old, rare treasures.


This story tells of the love-affairs of three young people, with an old-fashioned romance in the background. A tiny dog plays an important role in serving as a foil for the heroine’s talking ingeniousness. There is poetry, as well as tenderness and charm, in this tale of a weaver of dreams.


An old-fashioned love story, of a veiled lady who lives in solitude and whose features her neighbors have never seen. There is a mystery at the heart of the book that throws over it the glamour of romance.


A love story in a musical atmosphere. A picturesque, old German virtuoso consents to take for his pupil a handsome youth who proves to have an aptitude for technique, but not the soul of an artist. The youth cannot express the love, the passion and the tragedies of life as can the master. But a girl comes into his life, and through his passionate love for her, he learns the lessons that life has to give––and his soul awakes.

Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers, New York


May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap’s list.

JEWEL: A Chapter in Her Life.

Illustrated by Maude and Genevieve Cowles.

A story breathing the doctrine of love and patience as exemplified in the life of a child. Jewel will never grow old because of the immortality of her love.

JEWEL’S STORY BOOK. Illustrated by Albert Schmitt.

A sequel to “Jewel,” in which the same characteristics of love and cheerfulness touch and uplift the reader.

THE INNER FLAME. Frontispiece in color.

A young mining engineer, whose chief ambition is to become an artist, but who has no friends with whom to realize his hopes, has a way opened to him to try his powers, and, of course, he is successful.


At a fashionable Long Island resort, a stately English woman employs a forcible New England housekeeper to serve in her interesting home. Many humorous situations result. A delightful love affair runs through it all.


Illustrated with Scenes from the Photo Play.

A beautiful woman, at discord with life, is brought to realize, by her new friends, that she may open the shutters of her soul to the blessed sunlight of joy by casting aside self love.


Frontispiece in color by Greene Blumenschien.

A story of a young girl who marries for money so that she can enjoy things intellectual. Neglect of her husband and of her two step children makes an unhappy home till a friend brings a new philosophy of happiness into the household.

CLEVER BETSY. Illustrated by Rose O’Neill.

The “Clever Betsy” was a boat––named for the unyielding spinster whom the captain hoped to marry. Through the two Betsy’s a delightful group of people are introduced.

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SEVENTEEN. Illustrated by Arthur William Brown.

No one but the creator of Penrod could have portrayed the immortal young people of this story. Its humor is irresistible and reminiscent of the time when the reader was Seventeen.

PENROD. Illustrated by Gordon Grant.

This is a picture of a boy’s heart, full of the lovable, humorous, tragic things which are locked secrets to most older folks. It is a finished, exquisite work.

PENROD AND SAM. Illustrated by Worth Brehm.

Like “Penrod” and “Seventeen,” this book contains some remarkable phases of real boyhood and some of the best stories of juvenile prankishness that have ever been written.

THE TURMOIL. Illustrated by C. E. Chambers.

Bibbs Sheridan is a dreamy, imaginative youth, who revolts against his father’s plans for him to be a servitor of big business. The love of a fine girl turns Bibb’s life from failure to success.


A story of love and politics,––more especially a picture of a country editor’s life in Indiana, but the charm of the book lies in the love interest.

THE FLIRT. Illustrated by Clarence F. Underwood.

The “Flirt,” the younger of two sisters, breaks one girl’s engagement, drives one man to suicide, causes the murder of another, leads another to lose his fortune, and in the end marries a stupid and unpromising suitor, leaving the really worthy one to marry her sister.

Ask for Complete free list of G. & D. Popular Copyrighted Fiction

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JOHN BARLEYCORN. Illustrated by H. T. Dunn.

This remarkable book is a record of the author’s own amazing experiences. This big, brawny world rover, who has been acquainted with alcohol from boyhood, comes out boldly against John Barleycorn. It is a string of exciting adventures, yet it forcefully conveys an unforgettable idea and makes a typical Jack London book.

THE VALLEY OF THE MOON. Frontispiece by George Harper.

The story opens in the city slums where Billy Roberts, teamster and ex-prize fighter, and Saxon Brown, laundry worker, meet and love and marry. They tramp from one end of California to the other, and in the Valley of the Moon find the farm paradise that is to be their salvation.

BURNING DAYLIGHT. Four illustrations.

The story of an adventurer who went to Alaska and laid the foundations of his fortune before the gold hunters arrived. Bringing his fortunes to the States he is cheated out of it by a crowd of money kings, and recovers it only at the muzzle of his gun. He then starts out as a merciless exploiter on his own account. Finally he takes to drinking and becomes a picture of degeneration. About this time he falls in love with his stenographer and wins her heart but not her hand and then––but read the story!

A SON OF THE SUN. Illustrated by A. O. Fischer and C. W. Ashley.

David Grief was once a light-haired, blue-eyed youth who came from England to the South Seas in search of adventure. Tanned like a native and as lithe as a tiger, he became a real son of the sun. The life appealed to him and he remained and became very wealthy.

THE CALL OF THE WILD. Illustrations by Philip R. Goodwin and Charles Livingston Bull. Decorations by Charles E. Hooper.

A book of dog adventures as exciting as any man’s exploits could be. Here is excitement to stir the blood and here is picturesque color to transport the reader to primitive scenes.

THE SEA WOLF. Illustrated by W. J. Aylward.

Told by a man whom Fate suddenly swings from his fastidious life into the power of the brutal captain of a sealing schooner. A novel of adventure warmed by a beautiful love episode that every reader will hail with delight.

WHITE FANG. Illustrated by Charles Livingston Bull.

“White Fang” is part dog, part wolf and all brute, living in the frozen north; he gradually comes under the spell of man’s companionship, and surrenders all at the last in a fight with a bull dog. Thereafter he is man’s loving slave.

Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers, New York


May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset and Dunlap’s list.

CHIP OF THE FLYING U. Wherein the love affairs of Chip and Della Whitman are charmingly and humorously told.

THE HAPPY FAMILY. A lively and amusing story, dealing with the adventures of eighteen jovial, big-hearted Montana cowboys.

HER PRAIRIE KNIGHT. Describing a gay party of Easterners who exchange a cottage at Newport for a Montana ranch-house.

THE RANGE DWELLERS. Spirited action, a range feud between two families, and a Romeo and Juliet courtship make this a bright, jolly story.

THE LURE OF THE DIM TRAILS. A vivid portrayal of the experience of an Eastern author among the cowboys.

THE LONESOME TRAIL. A little branch of sage brush and the recollection of a pair of large brown eyes upset “Weary” Davidson’s plans.

THE LONG SHADOW. A vigorous Western story, sparkling with the free outdoor life of a mountain ranch. It is a fine love story.

GOOD INDIAN. A stirring romance of life on an Idaho ranch.

FLYING U RANCH. Another delightful story about Chip and his pals.

THE FLYING U’S LAST STAND. An amusing account of Chip and the other boys opposing a party of school teachers.

THE UPHILL CLIMB. A story of a mountain ranch and of a man’s hard fight on the uphill road to manliness.

THE PHANTOM HERD. The title of a moving-picture staged in New Mexico by the “Flying U” boys.

THE HERITAGE OF THE SIOUX. The “Flying U” boys stage a fake bank robbery for film purposes which precedes a real one for lust of gold.

THE GRINGOS. A story of love and adventure on a ranch in California.

STARR OF THE DESERT. A New Mexico ranch story of mystery and adventure.

THE LOOKOUT MAN. A Northern California story full of action, excitement and love.

Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers, New York

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