THE FOREIGNER A TALE OF SASKATCHEWAN
In Western Canada there is to be seen to-day that most fascinating of all human phenomena, the making of a nation. Out of breeds diverse in traditions, in ideals, in speech, and in manner of life, Saxon and Slav, Teuton, Celt and Gaul, one people is being made. The blood strains of great races will mingle in the blood of a race greater than the greatest of them all.
It would be our wisdom to grip these peoples to us with living hooks of justice and charity till all lines of national cleavage disappear, and in the Entity of our Canadian national life, and in the Unity of our world-wide Empire, we fuse into a people whose strength will endure the slow shock of time for the honour of our name, for the good of mankind, and for the glory of Almighty God.
C.W.G. Winnipeg, Canada, 1909.
I The City on the Plain II Where East meets West III The Marriage of Anka IV The Unbidden Guest V The Patriot's Heart VI The Grip of British Law VII Condemned VIII The Price of Vengeance IX Brother and Sister X Jack French of the Night Hawk Ranch XI The Edmonton Trail XII The Making of a Man XIII Brown XIV The Break XV The Maiden of the Brown Hair XVI How Kalman found His Mine XVII The Fight for the Mine XVIII For Freedom and for Love XIX My Foreigner
THE CITY ON THE PLAIN
Not far from the centre of the American Continent, midway between the oceans east and west, midway between the Gulf and the Arctic Sea, on the rim of a plain, snow swept in winter, flower decked in summer, but, whether in winter or in summer, beautiful in its sunlit glory, stands Winnipeg, the cosmopolitan capital of the last of the Anglo-Saxon Empires,—Winnipeg, City of the Plain, which from the eyes of the world cannot be hid. Miles away, secure in her sea-girt isle, is old London, port of all seas; miles away, breasting the beat of the Atlantic, sits New York, capital of the New World, and mart of the world, Old and New; far away to the west lie the mighty cities of the Orient, Peking and Hong Kong, Tokio and Yokohama; and fair across the highway of the world's commerce sits Winnipeg, Empress of the Prairies. Her Trans-Continental railways thrust themselves in every direction, —south into the American Republic, east to the ports of the Atlantic, west to the Pacific, and north to the Great Inland Sea.
To her gates and to her deep-soiled tributary prairies she draws from all lands peoples of all tribes and tongues, smitten with two great race passions, the lust for liberty, and the lust for land.
By hundreds and tens of hundreds they stream in and through this hospitable city, Saxon and Celt and Slav, each eager on his own quest, each paying his toll to the new land as he comes and goes, for good or for ill, but whether more for good than for ill only God knows.
A hundred years ago, where now stands the thronging city, stood the lonely trading-post of The Honourable, The Hudson's Bay Company. To this post in their birch bark canoes came the half-breed trapper and the Indian hunter, with their priceless bales of furs to be bartered for blankets and beads, for pemmican and bacon, for powder and ball, and for the thousand and one articles of commerce that piled the store shelves from cellar to roof.
Fifty years ago, about the lonely post a little settlement had gathered—a band of sturdy Scots. Those dour and doughty pioneers of peoples had planted on the Red River their homes upon their little "strip" farms—a rampart of civilization against the wide, wild prairie, the home of the buffalo, and camp ground of the hunters of the plain.
Twenty-five years ago, in the early eighties, a little city had fairly dug its roots into the black soil, refusing to be swept away by that cyclone of financial frenzy known over the Continent as the "boom of '81," and holding on with abundant courage and invincible hope, had gathered to itself what of strength it could, until by 1884 it had come to assume an appearance of enduring solidity. Hitherto accessible from the world by the river and the railroad from the south, in this year the city began to cast eager eyes eastward, and to listen for the rumble of the first trans-continental train, which was to bind the Provinces of Canada into a Dominion, and make Winnipeg into one of the cities of the world. Trade by the river died, but meantime the railway from the south kept pouring in a steady stream of immigration, which distributed itself according to its character and in obedience to the laws of affinity, the French Canadian finding a congenial home across the Red River in old St. Boniface, while his English-speaking fellow-citizen, careless of the limits of nationality, ranged whither his fancy called him. With these, at first in small and then in larger groups, from Central and South Eastern Europe, came people strange in costume and in speech; and holding close by one another as if in terror of the perils and the loneliness of the unknown land, they segregated into colonies tight knit by ties of blood and common tongue.
Already, close to the railway tracks and in the more unfashionable northern section of the little city, a huddling cluster of little black shacks gave such a colony shelter. With a sprinkling of Germans, Italians and Swiss, it was almost solidly Slav. Slavs of all varieties from all provinces and speaking all dialects were there to be found: Slavs from Little Russia and from Great Russia, the alert Polak, the heavy Croatian, the haughty Magyar, and occasionally the stalwart Dalmatian from the Adriatic, in speech mostly Ruthenian, in religion orthodox Greek Catholic or Uniat and Roman Catholic. By their non-discriminating Anglo-Saxon fellow-citizens they are called Galicians, or by the unlearned, with an echo of Paul's Epistle in their minds, "Galatians." There they pack together in their little shacks of boards and tar-paper, with pent roofs of old tobacco tins or of slabs or of that same useful but unsightly tar-paper, crowding each other in close irregular groups as if the whole wide prairie were not there inviting them. From the number of their huts they seem a colony of no great size, but the census taker, counting ten or twenty to a hut, is surprised to find them run up into hundreds. During the summer months they are found far away in the colonies of their kinsfolk, here and there planted upon the prairie, or out in gangs where new lines of railway are in construction, the joy of the contractor's heart, glad to exchange their steady, uncomplaining toil for the uncertain, spasmodic labour of their English-speaking rivals. But winter finds them once more crowding back into the little black shacks in the foreign quarter of the city, drawn thither by their traditionary social instincts, or driven by economic necessities. All they ask is bed space on the floor or, for a higher price, on the home-made bunks that line the walls, and a woman to cook the food they bring to her; or, failing such a happy arrangement, a stove on which they may boil their varied stews of beans or barley, beets or rice or cabbage, with such scraps of pork or beef from the neck or flank as they can beg or buy at low price from the slaughter houses, but ever with the inevitable seasoning of garlic, lacking which no Galician dish is palatable. Fortunate indeed is the owner of a shack, who, devoid of hygienic scruples and disdainful of city sanitary laws, reaps a rich harvest from his fellow-countrymen, who herd together under his pent roof. Here and there a house surrendered by its former Anglo-Saxon owner to the "Polak" invasion, falls into the hands of an enterprising foreigner, and becomes to the happy possessor a veritable gold mine.
Such a house had come into the possession of Paulina Koval. Three years ago, with two children she had come to the city, and to the surprise of her neighbours who had travelled with her from Hungary, had purchased this house, which the owner was only too glad to sell. How the slow-witted Paulina had managed so clever a transaction no one quite understood, but every one knew that in the deal Rosenblatt, financial agent to the foreign colony, had lent his shrewd assistance. Rosenblatt had known Paulina in the home land, and on her arrival in the new country had hastened to proffer his good offices, arranging the purchase of her house and guiding her, not only in financial matters, but in things domestic as well. It was due to Rosenblatt that the little cottage became the most populous dwelling in the colony. It was his genius that had turned the cellar, with its mud floor, into a dormitory capable of giving bed space to twenty or twenty-five Galicians, and still left room for the tin stove on which to cook their stews. Upon his advice, too, the partitions by which the cottage had been divided into kitchen, parlour, and bed rooms, were with one exception removed as unnecessary and interfering unduly with the most economic use of valuable floor space. Upon the floor of the main room, some sixteen feet by twelve, under Rosenblatt's manipulation, twenty boarders regularly spread their blankets, and were it not for the space demanded by the stove and the door, whose presence he deeply regretted, this ingenious manipulator could have provided for some fifteen additional beds. Beyond the partition, which as a concession to Rosenblatt's finer sensibilities was allowed to remain, was Paulina's boudoir, eight feet by twelve, where she and her two children occupied a roomy bed in one corner. In the original plan of the cottage four feet had been taken from this boudoir for closet purposes, which closet now served as a store room for Paulina's superfluous and altogether wonderful wardrobe.
After a few weeks' experiment, Rosenblatt, under pressure of an exuberant hospitality, sought to persuade Paulina that, at the sacrifice of some comfort and at the expense of a certain degree of privacy, the unoccupied floor space of her boudoir might be placed at the disposal of a selected number of her countrymen, who for the additional comfort thus secured, this room being less exposed to the biting wind from the door, would not object to pay a higher price. Against this arrangement poor Paulina made feeble protest, not so much on her own account as for the sake of the children.
"Children!" cried Rosenblatt. "What are they to you? They are not your children."
"No, they are not my children, but they are my man's, and I must keep them for him. He would not like men to sleep in the same room with us."
"What can harm them here? I will come myself and be their protector," cried the chivalrous Rosenblatt. "And see, here is the very thing! We will make for them a bed in this snug little closet. It is most fortunate, and they will be quite comfortable."
Still in Paulina's slow-moving mind lingered some doubt as to the propriety of the suggested arrangement. "But why should men come in here? I do not need the money. My man will send money every month."
"Ah!" cried the alert and startled Rosenblatt, "every month! Ah! very good! But this house, you will remember, is not all paid for, and those English people are terrible with their laws. Oh, truly terrible!" continued the solicitous agent. "They would turn you and your children out into the snow. Ah, what a struggle I had only last month with them!"
The mere memory of that experience sent a shudder of horror through Rosenblatt's substantial frame, so that Paulina hastened to surrender, and soon Rosenblatt with three of his patrons, selected for their more gentle manners and for their ability to pay, were installed as night lodgers in the inner room at the rate of five dollars per month. This rate he considered as extremely reasonable, considering that those of the outer room paid three dollars, while for the luxury of the cellar accommodation two dollars was the rate.
WHERE EAST MEETS WEST
The considerate thoughtfulness of Rosenblatt relieved Paulina of the necessity of collecting these monthly dues, to her great joy, for it was far beyond her mental capacity to compute, first in Galician and then in Canadian money, the amount that each should pay; and besides, as Rosenblatt was careful to point out, how could she deal with defaulters, who, after accumulating a serious indebtedness, might roll up their blankets and without a word of warning fade away into the winter night? Indeed, with all her agent's care, it not unfrequently happened that a lodger, securing a job in one of the cordwood camps, would disappear, leaving behind him only his empty space upon the floor and his debt upon the books, which Rosenblatt kept with scrupulous care. Occasionally it happened, however, that, as in all bookkeeping, a mistake would creep in. This was unfortunately the case with young Jacob Wassyl's account, of whose perfidy Paulina made loud complaints to his friends, who straightway remonstrated with Jacob upon his return from the camp. It was then that Jacob's indignant protestations caused an examination of Rosenblatt's books, whereupon that gentleman laboured with great diligence to make abundantly clear to all how the obliteration of a single letter had led to the mistake. It was a striking testimony to his fine sense of honour that Rosenblatt insisted that Jacob, Paulina, and indeed the whole company, should make the fullest investigation of his books and satisfy themselves of his unimpeachable integrity. In a private interview with Paulina, however, his rage passed all bounds, and it was only Paulina's tearful entreaties that induced him to continue to act as her agent, and not even her tears had moved him had not Paulina solemnly sworn that never again would she allow her blundering crudity to insert itself into the delicate finesse of Rosenblatt's financial operations. Thenceforward all went harmoniously enough, Paulina toiling with unremitting diligence at her daily tasks, so that she might make the monthly payments upon her house, and meet the rapacious demands of those terrible English people, with their taxes and interest and legal exactions, which Rosenblatt, with meritorious meekness, sought to satisfy. So engrossed, indeed, was that excellent gentleman in this service that he could hardly find time to give suitable over-sight to his own building operations, in which, by the erection of shack after shack, he sought to meet the ever growing demands of the foreign colony.
Before a year had gone it caused Rosenblatt no small annoyance that while he was thus struggling to keep pace with the demands upon his time and energy, Paulina, with lamentable lack of consideration, should find it necessary to pause in her scrubbing, washing, and baking, long enough to give birth to a fine healthy boy. Paulina's need brought her help and a friend in the person of Mrs. Fitzpatrick, who lived a few doors away in the only house that had been able to resist the Galician invasion. It had not escaped Mrs. Fitzpatrick's eye nor her kindly heart, as Paulina moved in and out about her duties, that she would ere long pass into that mysterious valley of life and death where a woman needs a woman's help; and so when the hour came, Mrs. Fitzpatrick, with fine contempt of "haythen" skill and efficiency, came upon the scene and took command. It took her only a few moments to clear from the house the men who with stolid indifference to the sacred rights of privacy due to the event were lounging about. Swinging the broom which she had brought with her, she almost literally swept them forth, flinging their belongings out into the snow. Not even Rosenblatt, who lingered about, did she suffer to remain.
"Y're wife will not be nadin' ye, I'm thinkin', for a while. Ye can just wait till I can bring ye wurrd av y're babby," she said, pushing him, not unkindly, from the room.
Rosenblatt, whose knowledge of English was sufficient to enable him to catch her meaning, began a vigorous protest:
"Eet ees not my woman," he exclaimed.
"Eat, is it!" replied Mrs. Fitzpatrick, taking him up sharply. "Indade ye can eat where ye can get it. Faith, it's a man ye are, sure enough, that can niver forget y're stomach! An' y're wife comin' till her sorrow!"
"Eet ees not my—" stormily began Rosenblatt.
"Out wid ye," cried Mrs. Fitzpatrick, impatiently waving her big red hands before his face. "Howly Mother! It's the wurrld's wonder how a dacent woman cud put up wid ye!"
And leaving him in sputtering rage, she turned to her duty, aiding, with gentle touch and tender though meaningless words, her sister woman through her hour of anguish.
In three days Paulina was again in her place and at her work, and within a week her household was re-established in its normal condition. The baby, rolled up in an old quilt and laid upon her bed, received little attention except when the pangs of hunger wrung lusty protests from his vigorous lungs, and had it not been for Mrs. Fitzpatrick's frequent visits, the unwelcome little human atom would have fared badly enough. For the first two weeks of its life the motherly-hearted Irish woman gave an hour every day to the bathing and dressing of the babe, while Irma, the little girl of Paulina's household, watched in wide-eyed wonder and delight; watched to such purpose, indeed, that before the two weeks had gone Mrs. Fitzpatrick felt that to the little girl's eager and capable hands the baby might safely be entrusted.
"It's the ould-fashioned little thing she is," she confided to her husband, Timothy. "Tin years, an' she has more sinse in the hair outside av her head than that woman has in the brains inside av hers. It's aisy seen she's no mother of hers—ye can niver get canary burrds from owls' eggs. And the strength of her," she continued, to the admiring and sympathetic Timothy, "wid her white face and her burnin' brown eyes!"
And so it came that every day, no matter to what depths the thermometer might fall, the little white-faced, white-haired Russian girl with the "burnin'" brown eyes brought Paulina's baby to be inspected by Mrs. Fitzpatrick's critical eye. Before a year had passed Irma had won an assured place in the admiration and affection of not only Mrs. Fitzpatrick, but of her husband, Timothy, as well.
But of Paulina the same could not be said, for with the passing months she steadily descended in the scale of Mrs. Fitzpatrick's regard. Paulina was undoubtedly slovenly. Her attempts at housekeeping—if housekeeping it could be called—were utterly contemptible in the eyes of Mrs. Fitzpatrick. These defects, however, might have been pardoned, and with patience and perseverance might have been removed, but there were conditions in Paulina's domestic relations that Mrs. Fitzpatrick could not forgive. The economic arrangements which turned Paulina's room into a public dormitory were abhorrent to the Irish woman's sense of decency. Often had she turned the full tide of her voluble invective upon Paulina, who, though conscious that all was not well—for no one could mistake the flash of Mrs. Fitzpatrick's eye nor the stridency of her voice—received Mrs. Fitzpatrick's indignant criticism with a patient smile. Mrs. Fitzpatrick, despairing of success in her efforts with Paulina, called in the aid of Anka Kusmuk, who, as domestic in the New West Hotel where Mrs. Fitzpatrick served as charwoman two days in the week, had become more or less expert in the colloquial English of her environment. Together they laboured with Paulina, but with little effect. She was quite unmoved, because quite unconscious, of moral shock. It disturbed Mrs. Fitzpatrick not a little to discover during the progress of her missionary labours that even Anka, of whose goodness she was thoroughly assured, did not appear to share her horror of Paulina's moral condition. It was the East meeting the West, the Slav facing the Anglo-Saxon. Between their points of view stretched generations of moral development. It was not a question of absolute moral character so much as a question of moral standards. The vastness of this distinction in standards was beginning to dawn upon Mrs. Fitzpatrick, and she was prepared to view Paulina's insensibility to moral distinctions in a more lenient light, when a new idea suddenly struck her:
"But y're man; how does he stand it? Tell me that."
The two Galician women gazed at each other in silence. At length Anka replied with manifest reluctance:
"She got no man here. Her man in Russia."
"What!" exclaimed Mrs. Fitzpatrick in a terrible voice. "An' do ye mane to say! An' that Rosenblatt—is he not her husband? Howly Mother of God," she continued in an awed tone of voice, "an' is this the woman I've been havin' to do wid!"
The wrath, the scorn, the repulsion in her eyes, her face, her whole attitude, revealed to the unhappy Paulina what no words could have conveyed. Under her sallow skin the red blood of shame slowly mounted. At that moment she saw herself and her life as never before. The wrathful scorn of this indignant woman pierced like a lightning bolt to the depths of her sluggish moral sense and awakened it to new vitality. For a few moments she stood silent and with face aflame, and then, turning slowly, passed into her house. It was the beginning of Paulina's redemption.
THE MARRIAGE OF ANKA
The withdrawing of Mrs. Fitzpatrick from Paulina's life meant a serious diminution in interest for the unhappy Paulina, but with the characteristic uncomplaining patience of her race she plodded on with the daily routine at washing, baking, cleaning, mending, that filled up her days. There was no break in the unvarying monotony of her existence. She gave what care she could to the two children that had been entrusted to her keeping, and to her baby. It was well for her that Irma, whose devotion to the infant became an absorbing passion, developed a rare skill in the care of the child, and it was well for them all that the ban placed by Mrs. Fitzpatrick upon Paulina's house was withdrawn as far as Irma and the baby were concerned, for every day the little maid presented her charge to the wise and watchful scrutiny of Mrs. Fitzpatrick.
The last days of 1884, however, brought an event that cast a glow of colour over the life of Paulina and the whole foreign colony. This event was none other than the marriage of Anka Kusmuk and Jacob Wassyl, Paulina's most popular lodger. A wedding is a great human event. To the principals the event becomes the pivot of existence; to the relatives and friends it is at once the consummation of a series of happenings that have absorbed their anxious and amused attention, and the point of departure for a new phase of existence offering infinite possibilities in the way of speculation. But even for the casual onlooker a wedding furnishes a pleasant arrest of the ordinary course of life, and lets in upon the dull grey of the commonplace certain gleams of glory from the golden days of glowing youth, or from beyond the mysterious planes of experience yet to be.
All this and more Anka's wedding was to Paulina and her people. It added greatly to Paulina's joy and to her sense of importance that her house was selected to be the scene of the momentous event. For long weeks Paulina's house became the life centre of the colony, and as the day drew nigh every boarder was conscious of a certain reflected glory. It is no wonder that the selecting of Paulina's house for the wedding feast gave offence to Anka's tried friend and patron, Mrs. Fitzpatrick. To that lady it seemed that in selecting Paulina's house for her wedding Anka was accepting Paulina's standard of morals and condoning her offences, and it only added to her grief that Anka took the matter so lightly.
"I'm just affronted at ye, Anka," she complained, "that ye can step inside the woman's dure."
"Ah, cut it out!" cried Anka, rejoicing in her command of the vernacular. "Sure, Paulina is no good, you bet; but see, look at her house—dere is no Rutenian house like dat, so beeg. Ah!" she continued rapturously, "you come an' see me and Jacob dance de 'czardas,' wit Arnud on de cymbal. Dat Arnud he's come from de old country, an' he's de whole show, de whole brass band on de park."
To Anka it seemed an unnecessary and foolish sacrifice to the demands of decency that she should forego the joy of a real czardas to the music of Arnud accompanying the usual violins.
"Ye can have it," sniffed Mrs. Fitzpatrick with emphatic disdain; all the more emphatic that she was conscious, distinctly conscious, of a strong desire to witness this special feature of the festivities. "I've nothing agin you, Anka, for it's a good gurrl ye are, but me and me family is respectable, an' that Father Mulligan can tell ye, for his own mother's cousin was married till the brother of me father's uncle, an' niver a fut of me will go beyant the dure of that scut, Paulina." And Mrs. Fitzpatrick, resting her hands upon her hips, stood the living embodiment of hostility to any suggested compromise with sin.
But while determined to maintain at all costs this attitude toward Paulina and her doings, her warm-hearted interest in Anka's wedding made her very ready with offers of assistance in preparing for the feast.
"It's not much I know about y're Polak atin'," she said, "but I can make a batch of pork pies that wud tempt the heart of the Howly Moses himsilf, an' I can give ye a bilin' of pitaties that Timothy can fetch to the house for ye."
This generous offer Anka gladly accepted, for Mrs. Fitzpatrick's pork pies, she knew from experience, were such as might indeed have tempted so respectable a patriarch as Moses himself to mortal sin. The "bilin' of pitaties," which Anka knew would be prepared in no ordinary pot, but in Mrs. Fitzpatrick's ample wash boiler, was none the less acceptable, for Anka could easily imagine how effective such a contribution would be in the early stages of the feast in dulling the keen edge of the Galician appetite.
The preparation for the wedding feast, which might be prolonged for the greater part of three days, was in itself an undertaking requiring careful planning and no small degree of executive ability; for the popularity of both bride and groom would be sufficient to insure the presence of the whole colony, but especially the reputed wealth of the bride, who, it was well known, had been saving with careful economy her wages at the New West Hotel for the past three years, would most certainly create a demand for a feast upon a scale of more than ordinary magnificence, and Anka was determined that in providing for the feast this demand should be fully satisfied.
For a long time she was torn between two conflicting desires: on the one hand she longed to appear garbed in all the glory of the Western girl's most modern bridal attire; on the other she coveted the honour of providing a feast that would live for years in the memory of all who might be privileged to be present. Both she could not accomplish, and she wisely chose the latter; for she shrewdly reasoned that, while the Western bridal garb would certainly set forth her charms in a new and ravishing style, the glory of that triumph would be short-lived at best, and it would excite the envy of the younger members of her own sex and the criticism of the older and more conservative of her compatriots.
She was further moved to this decision by the thought that inasmuch as Jacob and she had it in mind to open a restaurant and hotel as soon as sufficient money was in hand, it was important that they should stand well with the community, and nothing would so insure popularity as abundant and good eating and drinking. So to the preparation of a feast that would at once bring her immediate glory and future profit, Anka set her shrewd wits. The providing of the raw materials for the feast was to her an easy matter, for her experience in the New West Hotel had taught her how to expend to the best advantage her carefully hoarded wages. The difficulty was with the cooking. Clearly Paulina could not be expected to attend to this, for although her skill with certain soups and stews was undoubted, for the finer achievements of the culinary art Paulina was totally unfitted. To overcome this difficulty, Anka hit upon the simple but very effective expedient of entrusting to her neighbours, who would later be her guests, the preparing of certain dishes according to their various abilities and inclinations, keeping close account in her own shrewd mind of what each one might be supposed to produce from the materials furnished, and stimulating in her assistants the laudable ambition to achieve the very best results. Hence, in generous quantities she distributed flour for bread and cakes in many varieties, rice and beans and barley, which were to form the staple portion of the stews, cabbage and beets and onions in smaller measure—for at this season of the year the price was high—sides of pork, ropes of sausages, and roasts of beef from neck and flank. Through the good offices of the butcher boy that supplied the New West Hotel, purchased with Anka's shyest smile and glance, were secured a considerable accumulation of shank bones and ham bones, pork ribs and ribs of beef, and other scraps too often despised by the Anglo-Saxon housekeeper, all of which would prove of the greatest value in the enrichment of the soups. For puddings there were apples and prunes, raisins and cranberries. The cook of the New West Hotel, catching something of Anka's generous enthusiasm, offered pies by the dozen, and even the proprietor himself, learning of the preparations and progress, could think of nothing so appropriate to the occasion as a case of Irish whiskey. This, however, Anka, after some deliberation, declined, suggesting beer instead, and giving as a reason her experience, namely, that "whiskey make too quick fight, you bet." A fight was inevitable, but it would be a sad misfortune if this necessary part of the festivities should occur too early in the programme.
Gradually, during the days of the week immediately preceding the ceremony, there began to accumulate in the shacks about, viands of great diversity, which were stored in shelves, in cupboards,—where there were any,—under beds, and indeed in any and every available receptacle. The puddings, soups and stews, which, after all, were to form the main portion of the eating, were deposited in empty beer kegs, of which every shack could readily furnish a few, and set out to freeze, in which condition they would preserve their perfect flavour. Such diligence and such prudence did Anka show in the supervision of all these arrangements, that when the day before the feast arrived, on making her final round of inspection, everything was discovered to be in readiness for the morrow, with the single exception that the beer had not arrived. But this was no over-sight on the part of Jacob, to whom this portion of the feast had been entrusted. It was rather due to a prudence born of experience that the beer should be ordered to be delivered at the latest possible hour. A single beer keg is an object of consuming interest to the Galician and subjects his sense of honour to a very considerable strain; the known presence of a dray load of beer kegs in the neighbourhood would almost certainly intensify the strain beyond the breaking point. But as the shadows of evening began to gather, the great brewery dray with its splendid horses and its load of kegs piled high, drew up to Paulina's door. Without loss of time, and under the supervision of Rosenblatt and Jacob himself, the beer kegs were carried by the willing hands of Paulina's boarders down to the cellar, piled high against the walls, and carefully counted. There they were safe enough, for every man, not only among the boarders but in the whole colony, who expected to be present at the feast, having contributed his dollar toward the purchase of the beer, constituted himself a guardian against the possible depredations of his neighbours. Not a beer keg from this common store was to be touched until after the ceremony, when every man should have a fair start. For the preliminary celebrations during the evening and night preceding the wedding day the beer furnished by the proprietor of the New West Hotel would prove sufficient.
It was considered a most fortunate circumstance both by the bride and groom-elect, that there should have appeared in the city, the week before, a priest of the Greek Catholic faith, for though in case of need they could have secured the offices of a Roman priest from St. Boniface, across the river, the ceremonial would thereby have been shorn of much of its picturesqueness and efficacy. Anka and her people had little regard for the services of a Church to which they owed only nominal allegiance.
The wedding day dawned clear, bright, and not too cold to forbid a great gathering of the people outside Paulina's house, who stood reverently joining with those who had been fortunate enough to secure a place in Paulina's main room, which had been cleared of all beds and furniture, and transformed for the time being into a chapel. The Slav is a religious man, intensely, and if need be, fiercely, religious; hence these people, having been deprived for long months of the services of their Church, joined with eager and devout reverence in the responses to the prayers of the priest, kneeling in the snow unmoved by and apparently unconscious of the somewhat scornful levity of the curious crowd of onlookers that speedily gathered about them. For more than two hours the religious part of the ceremony continued, but there was no sign of abating interest or of waning devotion; rather did the religious feeling appear to deepen as the service advanced. At length there floated through the open window the weirdly beautiful and stately marriage chant, in which the people joined in deep-toned guttural fervour, then the benediction, and the ceremony was over. Immediately there was a movement toward the cellar, where Rosenblatt, assisted by a score of helpers, began to knock in the heads of the beer kegs and to hand about tin cups of beer for the first drinking of the bride's health. Beautiful indeed, in her husband's eyes and the eyes of all who beheld her, appeared Anka as she stood with Jacob in the doorway, radiant in the semi-barbaric splendour of her Slavonic ancestry.
This first formal health-drinking ceremony over, from within Paulina's house and from shacks roundabout, women appeared with pots and pails, from which, without undue haste, but without undue delay, men filled tin cups and tin pans with stews rich, luscious, and garlic flavoured. The feast was on; the Slav's hour of rapture had come. From pot to keg and from keg to pot the happy crowd would continue to pass in alternating moods of joy, until the acme of bliss would be attained when Jacob, leading forth and up and down his lace-decked bride, would fling the proud challenge to one and all that his bride was the fairest and dearest of all brides ever known.
Thus with full ceremonial, with abundance of good eating, and with multitudinous libations, Anka was wed.
THE UNBIDDEN GUEST
The northbound train on the Northern Pacific Line was running away behind her time. A Dakota blizzard had held her up for five hours, and there was little chance of making time against a heavy wind and a drifted rail. The train was crowded with passengers, all impatient at the delay, as is usual with passengers. The most restless, if not the most impatient, of those in the first-class car was a foreign-looking gentleman, tall, dark, and with military carriage. A grizzled moustache with ends waxed to a needle point and an imperial accentuated his foreign military appearance. At every pause the train made at the little wayside stations, this gentleman became visibly more impatient, pulling out his watch, consulting his time table, and cursing the delay.
Occasionally he glanced out through the window across the white plain that stretched level to the horizon, specked here and there by infrequent little black shacks and by huge stacks of straw half buried in snow. Suddenly his attention was arrested by a trim line of small buildings cosily ensconced behind a plantation of poplars and Manitoba maples.
"What are those structures?" he enquired of his neighbour in careful book English, and with slightly foreign accent.
"What? That bunch of buildings. That is a Mennonite village," was the reply.
"Yes," replied his neighbour. "Dutch, or Russian, or something."
"Yes, Russian," answered the stranger quickly. "That is Russian, surely," he continued, pointing eagerly to the trim and cosy group of buildings. "These Mennonites, are they prosperous—ah—citizens—ah—settlers?"
"You bet! They make money where other folks would starve. They know what they're doing. They picked out this land that everybody else was passing over—the very best in the country—and they are making money hand over fist. Mighty poor spenders, though. They won't buy nothing; eat what they can't sell off the farm."
"Aha," ejaculated the stranger, with a smile.
"Yes, they sell everything, grain, hogs, eggs, butter, and live on cabbages, cheese, bread."
"Aha," repeated the stranger, again with evident approval.
"They are honest, though," continued his neighbour judicially; "we sell them implements."
"Ah, implements?" enquired the stranger.
"Yes, ploughs, drills, binders, you know."
"Ah, so, implements," said the stranger, evidently making a mental note of the word. "And they pay you?"
"Yes, they are good pay, mighty good pay. They are good settlers, too."
"Not good for soldiers, eh?" laughed the stranger.
"Soldiers? No, I guess not. But we don't want soldiers."
"What? You have no soldiers? No garrisons?"
"No, what do we want soldiers for in this country? We want farmers and lots of them."
The stranger was apparently much struck with this remark. He pursued the subject with keen interest. If there were no soldiers, how was order preserved? What happened in the case of riots? What about the collecting of taxes?
"Riots? There ain't no riots in this country. What would we riot for? We're too busy. And taxes? There ain't no taxes except for schools."
"Not for churches?" enquired the foreigner.
"No, every man supports his own church or no church at all if he likes it better."
The foreigner was deeply impressed. What a country it was, to be sure! No soldiers, no riots, no taxes, and churches only for those who wanted them! He made diligent enquiry as to the Mennonite settlements, where they were placed, their size, the character of the people and all things pertaining to them. But when questioned in regard to himself or his own affairs, he at once became reticent. He was a citizen of many countries. He was travelling for pleasure and to gather knowledge. Yes, he might one day settle in the country, but not now. He relapsed into silence, sitting with his head fallen forward upon his breast, and so sat till the brakeman passing through shouted, "Winnipeg! All change!" Then he rose, thanked with stiff and formal politeness his seat-mate for his courtesy, put on his long overcoat lined with lambskin and adorned with braid, placed his lambskin cap upon his head, and so stood looking more than ever like a military man.
The station platform at Winnipeg was the scene of uproar and confusion. Railway baggagemen and porters, with warning cries, pushed their trucks through the crowd. Hotel runners shouted the rates and names of their hotels. Express men and cab drivers vociferously solicited custom. Citizens, heedless of every one, pushed their eager way through the crowd to welcome friends and relatives. It was a busy, bustling, confusing scene. But the stranger stood unembarrassed, as if quite accustomed to move amid jostling crowds, casting quick, sharp glances hither and thither.
Gradually the platform cleared. The hotel runners marched off in triumph with their victims, and express drivers and cab men drove off with their fares, and only a scattering few were left behind. At one end of the platform stood two men in sheepskin coats and caps. The stranger slowly moved toward them. As he drew near, the men glanced at first carelessly, then more earnestly at him. For a few moments he stood gazing down the street, then said, as if to himself, in the Russian tongue, "The wind blows from the north to-night."
Instantly the men came to rigid attention.
"And the snow lies deep," replied one, raising his hand in salute.
"But spring will come, brother," replied the stranger.
One of the men came quickly toward him, took his hand and kissed it.
"Fool!" said the stranger, drawing away his hand, and sweeping his sharp glance round the platform. "The bear that hunts in the open is himself soon hunted."
"Ha, ha," laughed the other man loudly, "in this country there is no hunting, brother."
"Fool!" said the stranger again in a low, stern voice. "Where game is, there is always hunting."
"How can we serve? What does my brother wish?" replied the man.
"I wish the house of Paulina Koval. Do you know where it is?"
"Yes, we know, but—" the men hesitated, looking at each other.
"There is no place for our brother in Paulina Koval's house," said the one who had spoken first. "Paulina has no room. Her house is full with her children and with many boarders."
"Indeed," said the stranger, "and how many?"
"Well," replied the other, counting upon his fingers, "there is Paulina and her three children, and—"
"Two children," corrected the stranger sharply.
"No, three children. Yes, three." He paused in his enumeration as if struck by a belated thought. "It is three children, Joseph?" he proceeded, turning to his friend.
Joseph confirmed his memory. "Yes, Simon, three; the girl, the boy and the baby."
The stranger was clearly perplexed and disturbed.
"Go on," he said curtly.
"There is Paulina and the three children, and Rosenblatt, and—"
"Rosenblatt!" The word shot from the stranger's lips with the vehemence of a bullet from a rifle. "Rosenblatt in her house! S-s-s-o-o-o!" He thrust his face forward into the speaker's with a long hissing sound, so fiercely venomous that the man fell back a pace. Quickly the stranger recovered himself. "Look you, brothers, I need a room for a few days, anywhere, a small room, and I can pay well."
"My house," said the man named Joseph, "is yours, but there are six men with me."
Quickly the other took it up. "My poor house is small, two children, but if the Elder brother would accept?"
"I will accept, my friend," said the stranger. "You shall lose nothing by it." He took up the bag that he had placed beside him on the platform, saying briefly, "Lead the way."
"Your pardon, brother," said Simon, taking the bag from him, "this is the way."
Northward across the railway tracks and up the street for two blocks, then westward they turned, toward the open prairie. After walking some minutes, Simon pointed to a huddling group of shacks startlingly black against the dazzling snow.
"There," he cried with a laugh, "there is little Russia."
"Not Russia," said Joseph, "Galicia."
The stranger stood still, gazing at the little shacks, and letting his eye wander across the dazzling plain, tinted now with crimson and with gold from the setting sun, to the horizon. Then pointing to the shacks he said, "That is Canada. Yonder," sweeping his hand toward the plain, "is Siberia. But," turning suddenly upon the men, "what are you?"
"We are free men," said Joseph. "We are Canadians."
"We are Canadians," answered Simon more slowly. "But here," laying his hand over his heart, "here is always Russia and our brothers of Russia."
The stranger turned a keen glance upon him. "I believe you," he said. "No Russian can forget his fatherland. No Russian can forget his brother." His eyes were lit with a dreamy light, as he gazed far beyond the plain and the glowing horizon.
At the door of the little black shack Simon halted the party.
"Pardon, I will prepare for my brother," he said.
As he opened the door a cloud of steaming odours rushed forth to meet them. The stranger drew back and turned his face again to the horizon, drawing deep breaths of the crisp air, purified by its sweep of a thousand miles over snow clad prairie.
"Ah," he said, "wonderful! wonderful! Yes, that is Russia, that air, that sky, that plain."
After some minutes Simon returned.
"Enter," he said, bowing low. "This is your house, brother; we are your slaves."
It was a familiar Russian salutation.
"No," said the stranger, quickly stretching out his hand. "No slaves in this land, thank God! but brothers all."
"Your brothers truly," said Simon, dropping on his knee and kissing the outstretched hand. "Lena," he called to his wife, who stood modestly at the other side of the room, "this is the Elder of our Brotherhood."
Lena came forward, dropped on her knees and kissed the outstretched hand.
"Come, Margaret," she cried, drawing her little girl of six toward the stranger, "come and salute the master."
Little Margaret came forward and offered her hand, looking up with brave shyness into the stranger's face.
"Shame! shame!" said Lena, horrified. "Kneel down! Kneel down!"
"She does not understand how to salute," said her father with an apologetic smile.
"Aha, so," cried the stranger, looking curiously at the little girl. "Where did you learn to shake hands?"
"In school," said the child in English.
"In school?" replied the stranger in the same language. "You go to school. What school?"
"The public school, sir."
"And do they not teach you to kneel when you salute in the public school?"
"No, sir, we never kneel."
"What then do you learn there?"
"We sing, and read, and write, and march, and sew."
"Aha!" cried the stranger delighted. "You learn many things. And what do you pay for all this?" he said in Russian to the father.
"Wonderful!" cried the stranger. "And who taught her English?"
"No one. She just learned it from the children."
"Aha, that is good."
The father and mother stood struggling with their pride in their little girl. A sound of shouting and of singing made the stranger turn toward the window.
"What is that?" he cried.
"A wedding," replied Simon. "There is a great wedding at Paulina's. Every one is there."
"At Paulina's?" said the stranger. "And you, why are you not there?"
"We are no friends of Rosenblatt."
"Rosenblatt? And what has he to do with it?"
"Rosenblatt," said Joseph sullenly, "is master in Paulina's home."
"Aha! He is master, and you are no friends of his," returned the stranger. "Tell me why this is so?"
"We are Russian, he is Bukowinian; he hires men to the railroad, we hire ourselves; he has a store, we buy in the Canadian stores, therefore, he hates us."
The stranger nodded his head, comprehending the situation.
"And so you are not invited to the wedding."
"No, we are not invited to the wedding," said Joseph in a tone of regret.
"And they are your friends who are being married?"
"And there is good eating and drinking?"
"Yes," cried Joseph eagerly. "Such a feast! Such a load of beer! And such a dance!"
"It is a pity," said the stranger, "to miss it all. You fear this Rosenblatt," he continued, with a hardly perceptible sneer.
"Fear!" cried Simon. "No! But one does not enter a shut door."
"Aha, but think of it," said the stranger, "the feasting and the dancing, and the beer! I would go to this wedding feast myself, were I not a stranger. I would go if I knew the bride."
"We will take our brother," cried Joseph eagerly. "Our friends will welcome him."
"I like not Rosenblatt."
"But Rosenblatt will be too drunk by this time," suggested the stranger.
"Not he," replied Simon. "He never gets drunk where there is a chance to gather a dollar."
"But the feast is free?"
"Yes, the feast is free, but there is always money going. There is betting and there is the music for the dancing, which is Rosenblatt's. He has hired Arnud and his cymbal and the violins, and the dancers must pay."
"Aha, very clever," replied the stranger. "This Rosenblatt is a shrewd man. He will be a great man in this city. He will be your lord some day."
The eyes of both men gleamed at his jibes. "Aha," the stranger continued, "he will make you serve him by his money. Canada is, indeed, a free country, but there will be master and slaves here, too."
It was a sore spot to the men, for the mastery of Rosenblatt was no imagination, but a grim reality. It was with difficulty that any man could get a good job unless by Rosenblatt's agency. It was Rosenblatt who contracted for the Galician labour. One might hate Rosenblatt, or despise him, but it was impossible to ignore him.
"What say you, my brothers," said the stranger, "shall we attend this feast?"
The men were eager to go. Why should Rosenblatt stand in their way? Were they not good friends of Jacob and Anka? Was not every home in the colony open to a stranger, and especially a stranger of rank? Simon swallowed his pride and led the way to Paulina's house.
There was no need of a guide to the house where the feasting was in progress. The shouting and singing of the revellers hailed them from afar, and as they drew near, the crowd about the door indicated the house of mirth. Joseph and Simon were welcomed with overflowing hospitality and mugs of beer. But when they turned to introduce the stranger, they found that he had disappeared, nor could they discover him anywhere in the crowd. In their search for him, they came upon Rosenblatt, who at once assailed them.
"How come you Slovaks here?" he cried contemptuously.
"Where the trough is, there the pigs will come," laughed one of his satellites.
"I come to do honour to my friend, Jacob Wassyl," said Simon in a loud voice.
"Of course," cried a number of friendly voices. "And why not? That is quite right."
"Jacob Wassyl wants none of you here," shouted Rosenblatt over the crowd.
"Who speaks for Jacob Wassyl?" cried a voice. It was Jacob himself, standing in the door, wet with sweat, flushed with dancing and exhilarated with the beer and with all the ardours of his wedding day. For that day at least, Jacob owned the world. "What?" he cried, "is it my friend Simon Ketzel and my friend Joseph Pinkas?"
"We were not invited to come to your wedding, Jacob Wassyl," replied Simon, "but we desired to honour your bride and yourself."
"Aye, and so you shall. You are welcome, Simon Ketzel. You are welcome, Joseph Pinkas. Who says you are not?" he continued, turning defiantly to Rosenblatt.
Rosenblatt hesitated, and then grunted out something that sounded like "Slovak swine!"
"Slovak!" cried Jacob with generous enthusiasm. "We are all Slovak. We are all Polak. We are all Galician. We are all brothers. Any man who says no, is no friend of Jacob Wassyl."
Shouts of approval rose from the excited crowd.
"Come, brothers," shouted Jacob to Simon and Joseph, "come in. There is abundant eating. Make way for my friends!" He crowded back through the door, taking especial delight in honouring the men despised of Rosenblatt.
The room was packed with steaming, swaying, roaring dancers, both men and women, all reeking with sweat and garlic. Upon a platform in a corner between two violins, sat Arnud before his cymbal, resplendent in frilled shirt and embroidered vest, thundering on his instrument the favourite songs of the dancers, shouting now and then in unison with the melody that pattered out in metallic rain from the instrument before him. For four hours and more, with intervals sufficient only to quench their thirst, the players had kept up their interminable accompaniment to dance and song. It was clearly no place for hungry men. Jacob pushed his way toward the inner room.
"Ho! Paulina!" he shouted, "two plates for men who have not eaten."
"Have not eaten!" The startling statement quickened Paulina's slow movements almost to a run. "Here, here," she said, "bring them to the window at the back."
Another struggle and Jacob with his guests were receiving through the window two basins filled with luscious steaming stew.
As they turned away with their generous host, a man with a heavy black beard appeared at the window.
"Another hungry man, Paulina," he said quietly in the Galician tongue.
"Holy Virgin! Where have these hungry men been?" cried Paulina, hurrying with another basin to the window.
The man fumbled and hesitated as he took the dish.
"I have been far away," he said, speaking now in the Russian tongue, in a low and tense voice.
Paulina started. The man caught her by the wrist.
"Quiet!" he said. "Speak no word, Paulina."
The woman paled beneath the dirt and tan upon her face.
"Who is it?" she whispered with parched lips.
"You know it is Michael Kalmar, your husband. Come forth. I wait behind yon hut. No word to any man."
"You mean to kill me," she said, her fat body shaking as if with palsy.
"Bah! You Sow! Who would kill a sow? Come forth, I say. Delay not."
He disappeared at once behind the neighbouring shack. Paulina, trembling so that her fingers could hardly pin the shawl she put over her head, made her way through the crowd. A few moments she stood before her door, as if uncertain which way to turn, her limbs trembling, her breath coming like sobs. In this plight Rosenblatt came upon her.
"What is the matter with you, Paulina?" he cried. "What is your business here?"
A swift change came over her.
"I am no dog of yours," she said, her sullen face flaming with passion.
"What do you mean?" cried Rosenblatt. "Get into your house, cat!"
"Yes! cat!" cried the woman, rushing at him with fingers extended.
One swift swoop she made at his face, bringing skin and hair on her nails. Rosenblatt turned, and crying, "She is mad! She is mad!" made for the shelter of the cellar, followed by the shouts and jeers of the men standing about.
Raging, at the door Paulina sought entrance, crying, "I was a good woman. He made me bad." Then turning away, she walked slowly to the back of her house and passed behind the neighbouring shack where the man stood waiting her.
With dragging steps she approached, till within touch of him, when, falling down upon her knees in the snow, she put her head upon his feet.
"Get up, fool," he cried harshly.
She rose and stood with her chin upon her breast.
"My children!" said the man. "Where are my children?"
She pointed towards the house of her neighbour, Mrs. Fitzpatrick. "With a neighbour woman," she said, and turned herself toward him again with head bowed down.
"And yours?" he hissed.
She shuddered violently.
"Speak," he said in a voice low, calm and terrible. "Do you wish me to kill you where you stand?"
"Yes," she said, throwing her shawl over her face, "kill me! Kill me now! It will be good to die!"
With a curse, his hand went to his side. He stood looking at her quietly for a few moments as if deliberating.
"No," he said at length, "it is not worth while. You are no wife of mine. Do you hear?"
She gave no sign.
"You are Rosenblatt's swine. Let him use you."
Another shudder shook her.
"Oh, my lord!" she moaned, "kill me. Let me die!"
"Bah!" He spat on the snow. "Die, when I have done with you, perhaps. Take me where we can be alone. Go."
She glanced about at the shacks standing black and without sign of life.
"Come," she said, leading the way.
He followed her to a shack which stood on the outskirts of the colony. She pushed open the door and stood back.
"Go in," he said savagely. "Now a light."
He struck a match. Paulina found a candle which he lit and placed on a box that stood in the corner.
"Cover that window," he commanded.
She took a quilt from the bed and pinned it up. For a long time he stood motionless in the centre of the room, while she knelt at his feet. Then he spoke with some deliberation.
"It is possible I shall kill you to-night, so speak truly to me in the name of God and of the Holy Virgin. I ask you of my children. My girl is eleven years old. Have you protected her? Or is she—like you?"
She threw off her shawl, pulled up her sleeves.
"See," she cried, "my back is like that. Your daughter is safe."
Livid bars of purple striped her arms. The man gazed down at her.
"You swear this by the Holy Cross?" he said solemnly.
She pulled a little iron cross from her breast and kissed it, then looked up at him with dog's eyes of entreaty.
"Oh, my lord!" she began. "I could not save myself. I was a stranger. He took my money. We had no home."
"Stop, liar," he thundered, "I gave you money when you left Galicia."
"Yes, I paid it for the house, and still there was more to pay."
"Liar again!" he hissed; "I sent you money every month. I have your receipts for it."
"I had no money from you," she said humbly. "He forced me to have men sleep in my house and in my room, or lose my home. And the children, what could I do? They could not go out into the snow."
"You got no money from me?" he enquired.
Again she kissed the little cross. "I swear it. And what could I do?"
"Do!" cried the man, his voice choked with rage. "Do! You could die!"
"And the children?"
He was silent, looking down upon her. He began to realize the helplessness of her plight. In a strange land, she found herself without friends, and charged with the support of two children. The money he had given her she had invested in a house, through Rosenblatt, who insisted that payments were still due. No wonder he had terrified her into submission to his plans.
While his contempt remained, her husband's rage grew less. After a long silence he said, "Listen. This feast will last two days?"
"Yes, there is food and drink for two days."
"In two days my work here will be done. Then I go back. I must go back. My children! my children! what of my children? My dead Olga's children!" He began to pace the room. He forgot the woman on the floor. "Oh, fatherland! My fatherland!" he cried in a voice broken with passionate grief, "must I sacrifice these too for thee? God in heaven! Father, mother, brother, home, wife, all I have given. Must I give my children, too?" His strong dark face was working fiercely. His voice came harsh and broken. "No, no! By all the saints, no! I will keep my children for Olga's sake. I will let my wretched country go. What matter to me? I will make a new home in this free land and forget. Ah, God! Forget? I can never forget! These plains!" He tore aside the quilt from the window and stooping looked out upon the prairie. "These plains say Russia! This gleaming snow, Russia! Ah! Ah! Ah! I cannot forget, while I live, my people, my fatherland. I have suffered too much to forget. God forget me, if I forget!" He fell on his knees before the window, dry sobs shaking his powerful frame. He rose and began again to stride up and down, his hands locked before him. Suddenly he stood quite still, making mighty efforts to regain command of himself. For some moments he stood thus rigid.
The woman, who had been kneeling all the while, crept to his feet.
"My lord will give his children to me," she said in a low voice.
"You!" he cried, drawing back from her. "You! What could you do for them?"
"I could die for them," she said simply, "and for my lord."
"For me! Ha!" His voice carried unutterable scorn.
She cowered back to the floor.
"My children I can slay, but I will leave them in no house of lust."
"Oh!" she cried, clasping her hands upon her breast and swaying backwards and forwards upon her knees, "I will be a good woman. I will sin no more. Rosenblatt I shall send—"
"Rosenblatt!" cried the man with a fierce laugh. "After two days Rosenblatt will not be here."
"You will—?" gasped the woman.
"He will die," said the man quietly.
"Oh, my lord! Let me kill him! It would be easy for me at night when he sleeps. But you they will take and hang. In this country no one escapes. Oh! Do not you kill him. Let me."
Breathlessly she pleaded, holding him by the feet. He spurned her with contempt.
"Peace, fool! He is for none other than me. It is an old score. Ah, yes," he continued between his teeth, "it is an old score. It will be sweet to feel him slowly die with my fingers in his throat."
"But they will take you," cried the woman.
"Bah! They could not hold me in Siberia, and think you they can in this land? But the children," he mused. "Rosenblatt away." With a sudden resolve he turned to the woman. "Woman," he said, in a voice stern and low, "could you—"
She threw herself once more at his feet in a passion of entreaty. "Oh, my lord! Let me live for them, for them—and—for you!"
"For me?" he said coldly. "No. You have dishonoured my name. You are wife of mine no longer. Do you hear this?"
"Yes, yes," she panted, "I hear. I know. I ask nothing for myself. But the children, your children. I would live for them, would die for them!"
He turned from her and gazed through the window, pondering. That she would be faithful to the children he well knew. That she would gladly die for him, he was equally certain. With Rosenblatt removed, the house would be rid of the cause of her fall and her shame. There was no one else in this strange land to whom he could trust his children. Should death or exile take him in his work—and these were always his companions—his children would be quite alone. Once more he turned and looked down upon the kneeling woman. He had no love for her. He had never loved her. Simply as a matter of convenience he had married her, that she might care for the children of his dead wife whom he had loved with undying and passionate love.
"Paulina," he said solemnly, but the contempt was gone from his voice, "you are henceforth no wife of mine; but my children I give into your care."
Hitherto, during the whole interview, she had shed no tear, but at these words of his she flung her arms about his knees and burst into a passion of weeping.
"Oh, my lord! My dear lord! Oh, my lord! my lord!" she sobbed, wildly kissing his very boots.
He drew away from her and sat down upon a bench.
"Listen," he said. "I will send you money. You will require to take no man into your house for your support. Is there any one to whom I could send the money for you?"
She thought for a few moments.
"There is one," she said, "but she does not love me. She will come no longer into my house. She thinks me a bad woman." Her voice sank low. Her face flamed a dark red.
"Aha," said the man, "I would see that woman. To-morrow you will bring me to her. At dusk to-morrow I will pass your house. You will meet me. Now go."
She remained kneeling in her place. Then she crawled nearer his feet.
"Oh, my lord!" she sobbed, "I have done wrong. Will you not beat me? Beat me till the blood runs down. He was too strong for me. I was afraid for the children. I had no place to go. I did a great wrong. If my lord would but beat me till the blood runs down, it would be a joy to me."
It was the cry of justice making itself heard through her dull soul. It was the instinctive demand for atonement. It was the unconscious appeal for reinstatement to the privileges of wifehood.
"Woman," he said sternly, "a man may beat his wife. He will not strike a woman that is nothing to him. Go."
Once more she clutched his feet, kissing them. Then she rose and without a word went out into the dusky night. She had entered upon the rugged path of penitence, the only path to peace for the sinner.
After she had gone, the man stepped to the door and looked after her as if meditating her recall.
"Bah!" he said at length, "she is nothing to me. Let her go."
He put out the light, closed the door and passing through the crowd of revellers, went off to Simon's house.
THE PATRIOT'S HEART
The inside of Paulina's house was a wreck. The remains of benches and chairs and tables mingled with fragments of vessels of different sorts strewn upon the filth-littered floor, the windows broken, the door between the outer and inner rooms torn from its hinges, all this debris, together with the battered, bruised and bloody human shapes lying amidst their filth, gave eloquent testimony to the tempestuous character of the proceedings of the previous night.
The scene that greeted Paulina's eyes in the early grey of the morning might well have struck a stouter heart than hers with dismay; for her house had the look of having been swept by a tornado, and Paulina's heart was anything but stout that morning. The sudden appearance of her husband had at first stricken her with horrible fear, the fear of death; but this fear had passed into a more dreadful horror, that of repudiation.
Seven years ago, when Michael Kalmar had condescended to make her his wife, her whole soul had gone forth to him in a passion of adoring love that had invested him in a halo of glory. He became her god thenceforth to worship and to serve. Her infidelity meant no diminution of this passion. Withdrawn from her husband's influence, left without any sign of his existence for two years or more, subjected to the machinations of the subtle and unscrupulous Rosenblatt, the soul in her had died, the animal had lived and triumphed. The sound of her husband's voice last night had summoned into vivid life her dead soul. Her god had moved into the range of her vision, and immediately she was his again, soul and body. Hence her sudden fury at Rosenblatt; hence, too, the utter self-abandonment in her appeal to her husband. But now he had cast her off. The gates of Heaven, swinging open before her ravished eyes for a few brief moments, had closed to her forever. Small wonder that she brought a heavy heart to the righting of her disordered home, and well for her that Anka with her hearty, cheery courage stood at her side that morning.
Together they set themselves to clear away the filth and the wreckage, human and otherwise. Of the human wreckage Anka made short work. Stepping out into the frosty air, she returned with a pail of snow.
"Here, you sluggards," she cried, bestowing generous handfuls upon their sodden faces, "up with you, and out. The day is fine and dinner will soon be here."
Grunting, growling, cursing, the men rose, stretched themselves with prodigious yawning, and bundled out into the frosty air.
"Get yourselves ready for dinner," cried Anka after them. "The best is yet to come, and then the dance."
Down into the cellar they went, stiff and sore and still growling, dipped their hands and heads into icy water, and after a perfunctory toilet and a mug of beer or two all round, they were ready for a renewal of the festivities. There was no breakfast, but as the day wore on, from the shacks about came women with provisions for the renewal of the feast. For Anka, wise woman, had kept some of the more special dishes for the second day. But as for the beer, though there were still some kegs left, they were few enough to give Jacob Wassyl concern. It would be both a misfortune and a disgrace if the beer should fail before the marriage feast was over. The case was serious enough. Jacob Wassyl's own money was spent, the guests had all contributed their share, Rosenblatt would sooner surrender blood than money, and Jacob was not yet sufficiently established as a husband to appeal to his wife for further help.
It was through Simon Ketzel that deliverance came, or rather through Simon's guest, who, learning that the beer was like to fail, passed Simon a bill, saying, "It would be sad if disgrace should come to your friends. Let there be plenty of beer. Buy what is necessary and keep the rest in payment for my lodging. And of my part in this not a word to any man."
As a result, in the late afternoon a dray load of beer kegs appeared at Paulina's back door, to the unspeakable relief of Jacob and of his guests as well, who had begun to share his anxiety and to look forward to an evening of drouth and gloom.
As for Simon Ketzel, he found himself at once upon the very crest of a wave of popularity, for through the driver of the dray it became known that it was Simon that had come so splendidly to the rescue.
Relieved of anxiety, the revellers gave themselves with fresh and reckless zest to the duty of assuring beyond all shadow of doubt, the good health of the bride and the groom, and of every one in general in flowing mugs of beer. Throughout the afternoon, men and women, and even boys and girls, ate and drank, danced and sang to the limit of their ability.
As the evening darkened, and while this carouse was at its height, Paulina, with a shawl over her head, slipped out of the house and through the crowd, and so on to the outskirts of the colony, where she found her husband impatiently waiting her.
"You are late," he said harshly.
"I could not find Kalman."
"Kalman! My boy! And where would he be?" exclaimed her husband with a shade of anxiety in his voice.
"He was with me in the house. I could not keep him from the men, and they will give him beer."
"Beer to that child?" snarled her husband.
"Yes, they make him sing and dance, and they give him beer. He is wonderful," said Paulina.
Even as she spoke, a boy's voice rose clear and full in a Hungarian love song, to the wild accompaniment of the cymbal.
"Hush!" said the man holding up his hand.
At the first sound of that high, clear voice, the bacchanalian shoutings and roarings fell silent, and the wild weird song, throbbing with passion, rose and fell upon the still evening air. After each verse, the whole chorus of deep, harsh voices swelled high over the wailing violins and Arnud's clanging cymbal.
"Good," muttered the man when the song had ceased. "Now get him."
"I shall bring him to yonder house," said Paulina, pointing to the dwelling of Mrs. Fitzpatrick, whither in a few minutes she was seen half dragging, half carrying a boy of eight, who kept kicking and scratching vigorously, and pouring forth a torrent of English oaths.
"Hush, Kalman," said Paulina in Galician, vainly trying to quiet the child. "The gentleman will be ashamed of you."
"I do not care for any gentleman," screamed Kalman. "He is a black devil," glancing at the black bearded man who stood waiting them at the door of the Fitzpatrick dwelling.
"Hush, hush, you bad boy!" exclaimed Paulina, horrified, laying her hand over the boy's mouth.
The man turned his back upon them, pulled off his black beard, thrust it into his pocket, gave his mustaches a quick turn and faced about upon them. This transformation froze the boy's fury into silence. He shrank back to his mother's side.
"Is it the devil?" he whispered to his mother in Galician.
"Kalman," said the man quietly, in the Russian language, "come to me. I am your father."
The boy gazed at him fearful and perplexed.
"He does not understand," said Paulina in Russian.
"Kalman," repeated his father, using the Galician speech, "come to me. I am your father."
The boy hesitated, looking fixedly at his father. But three years had wiped out the memory of that face.
"Come, you little Cossack," said his father, smiling at him. "Come, have you forgotten all your rides?"
The boy suddenly started, as if waking from sleep. The words evidently set the grey matter moving along old brain tracks. He walked toward his father, took the hand outstretched to him, and kissed it again and again.
"Aha, my son, you remember me," said the father exultantly.
"Yes," said the boy in English, "I remember the ride on the black horse."
The man lifted the boy in his strong arms, kissed him again and again, then setting him down said to Paulina, "Let us go in."
Paulina stepped forward and knocked at the door. Mrs. Fitzpatrick answered the knock and, seeing Paulina, was about to shut the door upon her face, when Paulina put up her hand.
"Look," she cried, pointing to the man, who stood back in the shadow, "Irma fadder."
"What d'ye say?" enquired Mrs. Fitzpatrick.
"Irma fadder," repeated Paulina, pointing to Kalmar.
"Is my daughter Irma in your house?" said he, stepping forward.
"Yer daughter, is it?" said Mrs. Fitzpatrick, looking sharply into the foreigner's face. "An' if she's yer daughter it's yersilf that should be ashamed av it fer the way ye've desarted the lot o' thim."
"Is it permitted that I see my daughter Irma?" said the man quietly.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick scanned his face suspiciously, then called, "Irma darlin', come here an' tell me who this is. Give the babby to Tim there, an' come away."
A girl of between eleven and twelve, tall for her age, with pale face, two thick braids of yellow hair, and wonderful eyes "burnin' brown," as Mrs. Fitzpatrick said, came to the door and looked out upon the man. For some time they gazed steadily each into the other's face.
"Irma, my child," said Kalmar in English, "you know me?"
But the girl stood gazing in perplexity.
"Irma! Child of my soul!" cried the man, in the Russian tongue, "do you not remember your father?" He stepped from the shadow to where the light from the open door could fall upon his face and stood with arms outstretched.
At once the girl's face changed, and with a cry, "It is my fadder!" she threw herself at him.
Her father caught her and held her fast, saying not a word, but covering her face with kisses.
"Come in, come in to the warm," cried the kind-hearted Irish woman, wiping her eyes. "Come in out o' the cold." And with eager hospitality she hurried the father and children into the house.
As they passed in, Paulina turned away. Before Mrs. Fitzpatrick shut the door, Irma caught her arm and whispered in her ear.
"Paulina, is it? Let her shtop—" She paused, looking at the Russian.
"Your pardon?" he enquired with a bow.
"It's Paulina," said Mrs. Fitzpatrick, her voice carrying the full measure of her contempt for the unhappy creature who stood half turning away from the door.
"Ah, let her go. It is no difference. She is a sow. Let her go."
"Thin she's not your wife at all?" said Mrs. Fitzpatrick, her wrath rising at this discovery of further deception in Paulina.
He shrugged his shoulders. "She was once. I married her. She is wife no longer. Let her go."
His contemptuous indifference turned Mrs. Fitzpatrick's wrath upon him.
"An' it's yersilf that ought to take shame to yersilf fer the way ye've treated her, an' so ye should!"
The man waved his hand as if to brush aside a matter of quite trifling moment.
"It matters not," he repeated. "She is only a cow."
"Let her come in," whispered Irma, laying her hand again on Mrs. Fitzpatrick's arm.
"Sure she will," cried the Irish woman; "come in here, you poor, spiritless craythur."
Irma sprang down the steps, spoke a few hurried words in Galician. Poor Paulina hesitated, her eyes upon her husband's face. He made a contemptuous motion with his hand as if calling a dog to heel. Immediately, like a dog, the woman crept in and sat far away from the fire in a corner of the room.
"Ye'll pardon me," said Mrs. Fitzpatrick to Kalmar, "fer not axin' ye in at the first; but indade, an' it's more your blame than mine, fer sorra a bit o' thim takes afther ye."
"They do not resemble me, you mean?" said the father. "No, they are the likeness of their mother." As he spoke he pulled out a leather case, opened it and passed it to Mrs. Fitzpatrick.
"Aw, will ye look at that now!" she cried, gazing at the beautiful miniature. "An' the purty face av her. Sure, it's a rale queen she was, an' that's no lie. An' the girl is goin' to be the very spit av her. An' the bye, he's got her blue eyes an' her bright hair. It's aisy seen where they git their looks," she added, glancing at him.
"Mind yer manners, now thin," growled Tim, who was very considerably impressed by the military carriage and the evident "quality" of their guest.
"Yes, the children have the likeness of their mother," said the father in a voice soft and reminiscent. "It is in their behalf I am here to-night, Madam—what shall I have the honour to name you?"
"Me name, is it?" cried Mrs. Fitzpatrick. "Mishtress Timothy Fitzpatrick, Monaghan that was, the Monaghans o' Ballinghalereen, an owld family, poor as Job's turkey, but proud as the divil, an' wance the glory o' Mayo. An' this," she added, indicating her spouse with a jerk of her thumb, "is Timothy Fitzpatrick, me husband, a dacent man in his way. Timothy, where's yer manners? Shtand up an' do yer duty."
Tim struggled to his feet, embarrassed with the burden of Paulina's baby, and pulled his forelock.
"And my name," said the Russian, answering Timothy's salutation with a profound bow, "is Michael Kalmar, with respect to you and Mr. Vichpatrick."
Mrs. Fitzpatrick was evidently impressed.
"An' proud I am to see ye in me house," she said, answering his bow with a curtsey. "Tim, ye owl ye! Why don't ye hand his honour a chair? Did ye niver git the air o' a gintleman before?"
It took some minutes to get the company settled, owing to the reluctance of the Russian to seat himself while the lady was standing, and the equal reluctance of Mrs. Fitzpatrick to take her seat until she had comfortably settled her guest.
"I come to you, Mrs. Vichpatrick, on behalf of my children."
"An' fine childer they are, barrin' the lad is a bit av a limb betimes."
In courteous and carefully studied English, Kalmar told his need. His affairs called him to Europe. He might be gone a year, perhaps more. He needed some one to care for his children. Paulina, though nothing to him now, would be faithful in caring for them, as far as food, clothing and shelter were concerned. She would dismiss her boarders. There had never been need of her taking boarders, but for the fraud of a wicked man. It was at this point that he needed help. Would Mrs. Fitzpatrick permit him to send her money from time to time which should be applied to the support of Paulina and the children. He would also pay her for her trouble.
At this Mrs. Fitzpatrick, who had been listening impatiently for some moments, broke forth upon him.
"Ye can kape yer money," she cried wrathfully. "What sort av a man are ye, at all, at all, that ye sind yer helpless childer to a strange land with a scut like that?"
"Paulina was an honest woman once," he interposed.
"An' what for," she continued wrathfully, "are ye lavin' thim now among a pack o' haythen? Look at that girl now, what'll come to her in that bloody pack o' thieves an' blackguards, d'ye think? Howly Joseph! It's mesilf that kapes wakin' benights to listen fer the screams av her. Why don't ye shtay like a man by yer childer an' tell me that?"
"My affairs—" began the Russian, with a touch of hauteur in his tone.
"An' what affairs have ye needin' ye more than yer childer? Tell me that, will ye?"
And truth to tell, Mrs. Fitzpatrick's indignation blazed forth not only on behalf of the children, but on behalf of the unfortunate Paulina as well, whom, in spite of herself, she pitied.
"What sort av a heart have ye, at all, at all?"
"A heart!" cried the Russian, rising from his chair. "Madam, my heart is for my country. But you would not understand. My country calls me."
"Yer counthry!" repeated Mrs. Fitzpatrick with scorn. "An' what counthry is that?"
"Russia," said the man with dignity, "my native land."
"Rooshia! An' a bloody country it is," answered Mrs. Fitzpatrick with scorn.
"Yes, Russia," he cried, "my bloody country! You are correct. Red with the blood of my countrymen, the blood of my kindred this hundred years and more." His voice was low but vibrant with passion. "You cannot understand. Why should I tell you?"
At this juncture Timothy sprang to his feet.
"Sit ye down, dear man, sit ye down! Shut yer clapper, Nora! Sure it's mesilf that knows a paythriot whin I sees 'im. Tear-an-ages! Give me yer hand, me boy. Sit ye down an' tell us about it. We're all the same kind here. Niver fear for the woman, she's the worst o' the lot. Tell us, dear man. Be the light that shines! it's mesilf that's thirsty to hear."
The Russian gazed at the shining eyes of the little Irishman as if he had gone mad. Then, as if the light had broken upon him, he cried, "Aha, you are of Ireland. You, too, are fighting the tyrant."
"Hooray, me boy!" shouted Tim, "an' it's the thrue word ye've shpoke, an' niver a lie in the skin av it. Oireland foriver! Be the howly St. Patrick an' all the saints, I am wid ye an' agin ivery government that's iver robbed an honest man. Go on, me boy, tell us yer tale."
Timothy was undoubtedly excited. The traditions of a hundred years of fierce rebellion against the oppression of the "bloody tyrant" were beating at his brain and in his heart. The Russian caught fire from him and launched forth upon his tale. For a full hour, now sitting in his chair, now raging up and down the room, now in a voice deep, calm and terrible, now broken and hoarse with sobs, he recounted deeds of blood and fire that made Ireland's struggle and Ireland's wrongs seem nursery rhymes.
Timothy listened to the terrible story in an ecstasy of alternating joy and fury, according to the nature of the episode related. It was like living again the glorious days of the moonlighters and the rackrenters in dear old Ireland. The tale came to an abrupt end.
"An' thin what happened?" cried Timothy.
"Then," said the Russian quietly, "then it was Siberia."
"Siberia! The Hivins be about us!" said Tim in an awed voice. "But ye got away?"
"I am here," he replied simply.
"Be the sowl of Moses, ye are! An' wud ye go back agin?" cried Tim in horror.
"Wud he!" said Nora, with ineffable scorn. "Wud a herrin' swim? By coorse he'll go back. An' what's more, ye can sind the money to me an' I'll see that the childer gets the good av it, if I've to wring the neck av that black haythen, Rosenblatt, like a chicken."
"You will take the money for my children?" enquired the Russian.
"I will that."
He stretched out his hand impulsively. She placed hers in it. He raised it to his lips, bending low as if it had been the lily white hand of the fairest lady in the land, instead of the fat, rough, red hand of an old Irish washer-woman.
"Sure, it's mighty bad taste ye have," said Tim with a sly laugh. "It's not her hand I'd be kissin'."
"Bad luck to ye! Have ye no manners?" said Nora, jerking away her hand in confusion.
"I thank you with all my heart," said Kalmar, gravely bowing with his hand upon his heart. "And will you now and then look over—overlook—oversee—ah yes, oversee this little girl?"
"Listen to me now," cried Mrs. Fitzpatrick. "Can she clear out thim men from her room?" nodding her head toward Paulina.
"There will be no men in her house."
"Can she kape thim out? She's only a wake craythur anyway."
"Paulina," said her husband.
She came forward and, taking his hand, kissed it, Mrs. Fitzpatrick looking on in disgust.
"This woman asks can you keep the men out of your room," he said in Galician.
"I will keep them out," she said simply.
"Aye, but can she?" said Mrs. Fitzpatrick, to whom her answer had been translated.
"I can kill them in the night," said Paulina, in a voice of quiet but concentrated passion.
"The saints in Hivin be above us! I belave her," said Mrs. Fitzpatrick, with a new respect for Paulina. "But fer the love o' Hivin, tell her there is no killin' in this counthry, an' more's the pity when ye see some men that's left to run about."
"She will keep the children safe with her life," said Kalmar. "She had no money before, and she was told I was dead. But it matters not. She is nothing to me. But she will keep my children with her life."
His trust in her, his contempt for her, awakened in Mrs. Fitzpatrick a kind of hostility toward him, and of pity for the wretched woman whom, while he trusted, he so despised.
"Come an' take an air o' the fire, Paulina," she said not unkindly. "It's cold forninst the door."
Paulina, while she understood not the words, caught the meaning of the gesture, but especially of the tone. She drew near, caught the Irish woman's hand in hers and kissed it.
"Hut!" said Mrs. Fitzpatrick, drawing away her hand. "Sit down, will ye?"
The Russian rose to his feet.
"I must now depart. I have still a little work to accomplish. To-morrow I leave the city. Permit me now to bid my children farewell."
He turned to the girl, who held Paulina's baby asleep in her arms. "Irma," he said in Russian, "I am going to leave you."
The girl rose, placed the sleeping baby on the bed, and coming to her father's side, stood looking up into his face, her wonderful brown eyes shining with tears she was too brave to shed.
He drew her to him.
"I am going to leave you," he repeated in Russian. "In one year, if all is well, at most in two, I shall return. You know I cannot stay with you, and you know why." He took the miniature from his pocket and opening it, held it before her face. "Your mother gave her life for her country." For some moments he gazed upon the beautiful face in the miniature. "She was a lady, and feared not death. Ah! ah! such a death!" He struggled fiercely with his emotions. "She was willing to die. Should not I? You do not grudge that I should leave you, that I should die, if need be?" An anxious, almost wistful tone crept into his voice.
Bravely the little girl looked up into the dark face.
"I remember my mother," she said; "I would be like her."
"Aha!" cried her father, catching her to his breast, "I judged you rightly. You are her daughter, and you will live worthy of her. Kalman, come hither. Irma, you will care for your brother. He is young. He is a boy. He will need care. Kalman, heart of my life!"
"He does not understand Russian," said Paulina. "Speak in Galician."
"Ha," cried the man, turning sharply upon her as if he had forgotten her existence. "Kalman, my son," he proceeded in Russian, "did you not understand what I said to your sister?"
"Not well, father," said the boy; "a little."
"Alas, that you should have forgotten your mother's speech!"
"I shall learn it again from Irma," said the boy.
"Good," replied the father in Galician. "Listen then. Never forget you are a Russian. This," putting the miniature before him, "was your mother. She was a lady. For her country she gave up rank, wealth, home and at last life. For her country, too, I go back again. When my work is done I shall return."
Through the window came sounds of revelry from the house near by.
"You are not of these cattle," he said, pointing through the window. "Your mother was a lady. Be worthy of her, boy. Now farewell."
The boy stood without word, without motion, without tear, his light blue eyes fixed upon his father's face, his fair skin white but for a faint spot of red on his cheek.
"Obey your sister, Kalman, and defend her. And listen, boy." His voice deepened into a harsh snarl, his fingers sank into the boy's shoulder, but the boy winced not. "If any man does her wrong, you will kill him. Say it, boy? What will you do?"
"Kill him," said the boy with fierce promptitude, speaking in the English tongue.
"Ha! yes," replied his father in English, "you bear your mother's face, her golden hair, her eyes of blue—they are not so beautiful—but you have your father's spirit. You would soon learn to kill in Russia, but in this land you will not kill unless to defend your sister from wrong."
His mood swiftly changed. He paused, looking sadly at his children; then turning to Mrs. Fitzpatrick he said, "They should go to the public school like Simon Ketzel's little girl. They speak not such good English as she. She is very clever."
"Sure, they must go to school," said she. "An' go they will."
"My gratitude will be with you forever. Good-by."
He shook hands with Timothy, then with Mrs. Fitzpatrick, kissing her hand as well. He motioned his children toward him.
"Heart of my heart," he murmured in a broken voice, straining his daughter to his breast. "God, if God there be, and all the saints, if saints there be, have you in their keeping. Kalman, my son," throwing one arm about him, "Farewell! farewell!" He was fast losing control of himself. The stormy Slavic passions were threatening to burst all restraint. "I give you to each other. But you will remember that it was not for my sake, but for Russia's sake, I leave you. My heart, my heart belongs to you, but my heart's heart is not for me, nor for you, but for Russia, for your mother's land and ours."
By this time tears were streaming down his cheek. Sobs shook his powerful frame. Irma was clinging to him in an abandonment of weeping. Kalman stood holding tight to his father, rigid, tearless, white. At length the father tore away their hands and once more crying "Farewell!" made toward the door.
At this the boy broke forth in a loud cry, "Father! My father! Take me with you! I would not fear! I would not fear to die. Take me to Russia!" The boy ran after his father and clutched him hard.
"Ah, my lad, you are your mother's son and mine. Some day you may go back. Who knows? But—no, no. Canada is your country. Go back." The lad still clutched him. "Boy," said his father, steadying his voice with great effort and speaking quietly, "with us, in our country, we learn first, obedience."
The lad dropped his hold.
"Good!" said the father. "You are my own son. You will yet be a man. And now farewell."
He kissed them again. The boy broke into passionate sobbing. Paulina came forward and, kneeling at the father's feet, put her face to the floor.
"I will care for the son of my lord," she murmured.
But with never a look at her, the father strode to the door and passed out into the night.
"Be the howly prophet!" cried Tim, wiping his eyes, "it's harrd, it's harrd! An' it's the heart av a paythriot the lad carries inside av him! An' may Hivin be about him!"
THE GRIP OF BRITISH LAW
It was night in Winnipeg, a night of such radiant moonlight as is seen only in northern climates and in winter time. During the early evening a light snow had fallen, not driving fiercely after the Manitoba manner, but gently, and so lay like a fleecy, shimmering mantle over all things.
Under this fleecy mantle, shimmering with myriad gems, lay Winnipeg asleep. Up from five thousand chimneys rose straight into the still frosty air five thousand columns of smoke, in token that, though frost was king outside, the good folk of Winnipeg lay snug and warm in their virtuous beds. Everywhere the white streets lay in silence except for the passing of a belated cab with creaking runners and jingling bells, and of a sleighing party returning from Silver Heights, their four-horse team smoking, their sleigh bells ringing out, carrying with them hoarse laughter and hoarser songs, for the frosty air works mischief with the vocal chords, and leaving behind them silence again.
All through Fort Rouge, lying among its snow-laden trees, across the frost-bound Assiniboine, all through the Hudson's Bay Reserve, there was no sign of life, for it was long past midnight. Even Main Street, that most splendid of all Canadian thoroughfares, lay white and spotless and, for the most part, in silence. Here and there men in furs or in frieze coats with collars turned up high, their eyes peering through frost-rimmed eyelashes and over frost-rimmed coat collars, paced comfortably along if in furs, or walked hurriedly if only in frieze, whither their business or their pleasure led.
Near the northern limits of the city the signs of life were more in evidence. At the Canadian Pacific Railway station an engine, hoary with frozen steam, puffed contentedly as if conscious of sufficient strength for the duty that lay before it, waiting to hook on to Number Two, nine hours late, and whirl it eastward in full contempt of frost and snow bank and blizzard.
Inside the station a railway porter or two drowsed on the benches. Behind the wicket where the telegraph instruments kept up an incessant clicking, the agent and his assistant sat alert, coming forward now and then to answer, with the unwearying courtesy which is part of their equipment and of their training, the oft repeated question from impatient and sleepy travellers, "How is she now?" "An hour," "half an hour," finally "fifteen minutes," then "any time now." At which cheering report the uninitiated brightened up and passed out to listen for the rumble of the approaching train. The more experienced, however, settled down for another half hour's sleep.